Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door,
"Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
A gentle breeze blew through an expansive sky. The air was warm and sweet. The moon hung full, transfixed under acrobatic tight ropes of magnetic lights. There were crowds of people this night (85,000) gazing outward, upward ... inward. The sound of a helicopter's blade slicing air and then suddenly disappearing caused my heart to beat faster. Quick spurts of voices echoed from left to right, fading into clouds of stillness. The vibration of sound rumbled softly and slowly beneath my feet disappearing into silence.
The vibration of waves in an ocean of darkness. Again and again the sound from behind me moved quickly up a chasm of people as if the sound was fluid movement flowing freely along rocks in a creekside bed. People stood motionless waiting in anticipation for something to stir the inside of their souls - frozen obstacles in a pinball motion of tension and release. This third night, i was hot and dripping with sweat under a desert sky, I wore a light fabric gray tank top which flapped freely under a light breeze; held down by three thin strands of silver chains, i felt more as a flag pole tethered between earth and sky.
The scene before me was an ominous looking prison-like building that glowed faintly against translucent light. I felt as though I was in the midst of a scene from the Hunger Games. I stood looking across a multitude of people imagining, searching desperately for one. The hazy, subdued scent of dirt and leaves lingered in the air - a periphery perfume hung in the balance.
Sight, sound and the colors of light across the earth, I reach.
I was recently flying across the United States at sunset. The altitude gave us the vantage point of flying above the clouds. Resembling a beautiful ocean, I gazed out beyond the wings of a plane where orange splashes of color left in it's wake a residual thought - a new earth and sky, where fear, pain and loneliness do not exist but where a new heaven and earth are formed out of the womb of Christ's love.
He has set his foundation on the holy mountain; the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, O city of God. Psalm 87:1-3
Help is only 140 million miles away
Many years ago, I toured the home of Edgar Allan Poe in Baltimore, Maryland. It was late afternoon. There was something eery in the air - a feeling, a prompting - maybe the poem, The Raven whose words haunted through an alley of side-streets and detour signs.
We were lost. Leaving the late Poe's home, I only remember the faint memory of driving down a wrong street at dusk when a group of people came out from behind a stratagem sketch of silhouetted shadows. The brief moment before we quickly put the car in reverse reminded me of being a young woman maybe twenty two years of age leaving a nightclub alone late at night. The moments that followed ushered in a cloud of fear as four young men approached the car trying to open the driver's door. The feeling of danger hung thick and intrusive with only the weight of a metal frame to protect me. With the light breeze of something sinister outside my window, a quick spasm of adrenaline caused an instantaneous motion to put the automatic gear in reverse. Stepping on the gas, heart pounding, I never looked back. Thankful, on the one hand, that I had locked the door but impoverished, on the other, by a poor choice.
In youth group, we talk about not relying on feelings but to stand on what we know to be true. Intuition, sub-conscious, emotions; it is a counterbalance to intellect, truth and foundation. It is not the concrete details that I remember, however, but the subtle vague reservoir of thick, rich oil that i pull my memories from. It is the place where fear and worry dwell but it is also the place where courage and love originate.
On rare occasions, and with a deep sense of reverence, i take a drop of Frankincense and Myrrh - an oil steeped with the elements of faith onto the tip of my finger. Carefully etching the sign of the cross over the door, I guard my heart and soul with the armor of God's truth and promises in the fragrance of His love. Church to me is not just within the metal frame of a building but in the flesh and blood of a bride waiting for her bridegroom.
We have an old set of books by Edgar Allan Poe. Their covers are brown and dreary with years of dust and oils that have tarnished their top coats. We retrieved them about the same time that an unusual medical diagnosis and a series of deaths coincidentally hit our home. Fading by the menacing, lingering aroma of foreboding concern, I relocated the books to a storage room of old papers and pictures. Resting with dust, their clutch is only a distant memory.
Over a year ago, on the day I found an old stagecoach trunk at a garage sale, I toured the local book store where I found a canvas bag with the words, Pride and Prejudice, a Star Wars magazine, an article about Paul McCartney and John Lennon and a children's book - The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe. The whimsical illustrations and expressive eyes of the protagonist changed my thought about the story. It brought levity and love through the words and pictures as the Raven stood above the door of the chambers of the thought of his sweet Elsinore.
Fear - captivating, debilitating and misleading, it is an unsettling fog that creeps through the chambers of our beating hearts. It thrashes through gardens with a sharp blade of doubt and worry and shows itself as an impostor to truth. It steals and robs people of hope and prevents them from living fully as the stronghold anchors potential with a heavy wrath of exasperating billows of smoke. It strikes men and women, young and old equally without discernment and takes captive it's prisoners. It drifts in on clouds of evil intent leaving in it's wake, confusion and doubt.
My birthday is at the end of the month. For years, I dreaded the night before because of the nightmares that loomed. Often waking up with a dry sweat and trembling spirit, I realize now how childish fears wrecked havoc on my unconscious spirit. I feared elements of faith - prophecy and works, clinging desperately to the hushed murmured whispers of prayers to keep me safe. With maturity, those same whispered prayers have awakened me suddenly from a deep sleep to pray - for people and situations. The fragrance of hope, faith and love drifting through a breeze in an open window.
Connection, touch, complexity - I randomly came across a movie on NetFlix which combined the words, Science Fiction and Romance (I know, two words you don't often see together) that created a world without emotion. In the 2015 movie, Equals, a man and woman are drawn together like the gravitational pull of the earth and sun despite the prohibition. Feelings eradicated through a series of injections, the tension against the design of humanity.
This month's blog post is about being lost and the power of the holy spirit to reach from (140 million miles away) to the beating of one heart - yours. It is about love, connection and the complexity of what we cannot fathom.
The sound echoed from left to right and then disappeared. Helicopter sounds slicing through thick desert air into silence. The breeze blew gently though the crowds of people as my shirt flapped in the breeze. My spirit was being swept through the sound of a melody. My body swayed as if it was a red balloon floating up to the skies away from the crowds of people. Hellium drifting me upward.
I prayed under a Full moon.
Snap, Crackle, Pop - something suddenly changed. In just one note, the music and tone was drastrically different. There was an agenda before my eyes; it was one of coersion, the sounds of gun shots and thick smoke. I quickly felt uneasy not knowing for sure if it was part of the dramatization or if something had gone wrong. We made our way toward the exit.
About the same time we retrieved the books of Edgar Allan Poe and received an unusual medical diagnosis, we searched for a kitten for our daughter. For years, I tried desperately to keep that cat locked in the house. On the rare occasion she got out at night, I roamed the neighborhood looking for her and holding her cat treats calling her by name, my heart pounding at the thought of loosing her.
A tortoise shell, her breed is notorious for being elusive. Eventually, she became an inside/outside cat but never strayed far from home. Her beautifully fluffy tail twitched ever so slightly as her slow, intentional stride made her seem as though she was more lioness than domestic cat. With an ever-present curiosity, she jumped into small places seeking to be hidden but her loud purring made me smile.
Little did I know her days were numbered. As my daughter and I packed up her car for an out-of-state college bound road trip, our cat jumped into the automobile looking through boxes and piles of cozy blankets. She didn't stay in the car but I found out later she was gone that next night. The sound when I got back was eery. It was the sound of silence. For the first time in many months, it was so still as though I could hear a pin drop.
Later I learned, coyote females were teaching their young to hunt. Had I known, I would have locked her in or taken her with us but the air was dry and parched with template waves. Just a cat? In a world without emotion, she can be replaced but with a gentle rapping at my chamber door, I allow the feelings in.
In the bible, there is a story buried deep in one of the chapters - it is in Luke 15. It begins with the emotions of a women who has lost her coin ... she is so overcome with joy at finding it, she tells all of the people in her town so they too can be happy at her good luck.
Next there is a story about a lost sheep. Unlike cats, sheep stay together. They eat together. They sleep together. So when one strays away from the flock, the one sheep becomes an easy target for hungry coyote or wolves (or men pursuing a woman leaving alone from a nightclub).
A coin, a sheep ... those don't compare to a son (or a daughter).
Just beyond the two stories of the coin and the sheep is a story about connection, touch and complexity. It is about a deep, abiding love where the clothing of pride is shed. It is about a son who has been gone. Like a red balloon with helium, his jeep trail has taken him to experiences where he has taken risk. The journey has really been on the inside where nobody can see. It is the hidden secrets of the soul where the realization of who we really are rests. It is a change in character. Pride is stripped away to humility. The son is willing to work menial work because he finally knows the value of something really important - he deserves nothing.
That same red balloon with helium not only represents the son's wandering (being lost) but in the son's coming home (being found). It is still a jeep trail on the inside where nobody can see but it is intertwined with connection. The red represents the red stains on a simple wooden cross. Like the teeny, tiny paragraphs of the lost coin and the lost sheep, it is about a teeny, tiny seed of hope; God's son and a ministry for three years but a story that weaves yours and his into an everlasting one.
It is my birthday month and as a kid although I had a recurring bad dream at night, there was a simple class video played by day. It was about a red balloon and I imagined myself being that object of escape. Little did I know, that red balloon years later would represent the prodigal son and the hope that is found in Jesus.
In Luke 15:11, the son came home (humble - deserving nothing) but it is in the father's response that an equally important change takes place.
The father was willing to let his son go - to wander this life's jeep trails of meandering twists and turns of fate and destiny and luck to have courage. It took courage for the son to leave and courage for the father to let go. We don't get the details of the story but as someone with a few miles on my odometer, my guess is that the father had moments of questioning his ability as a parent, as a provider and most importantly as a man. Life has chiseled his character down to something really important - nothing is his to keep.
If we lived in a world of no emotions, then the son coming home would have been just another day. But, as in the movie, love somehow, someway survives. Even in the dry, parched landscape of mortar and concrete, life sprouts through insurmountable obstacles. It is the one thing that lasts - Love - and in an interchange of emotion, the two shall meet.
The father runs to his son, to greet and welcome him home.
I started this website three years ago this month. Although the first publication was January 2014, it began in November as a dream that God could somehow use my experiences in order to point other people toward faith and hope so that they too may grip a promise.
In the process, the real work has been done on the inside where nobody can see. In humility, grasping I deserve nothing and nothing is mine to keep but out of nothing and with nothing, God welcomes me home.
In a final thought this birthday month: it was a melody that swept me away through the song of a prayer. The clothes are that of a peasant whose open suitcase escape the flutter of wings - transformed
Photos are either by Fotolia or myself, information by Wikipedia, videos found on YouTube, song - a clip from the band, Pink Floyd and may be purchased by I-Tunes, stories are my own and inspired by a concert, a Desert trip. Written material (copyright).
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.