Dead Things

dandelion-meadow-macro-fluff-161506Death, dead things. They are grotesque to us. So disturbing is the idea of a dead rotting thing. Dreams are no better when they die. They hurt us, haunt us. Their stench in our nostrils, revolting inside us. They break us in ways that no one can know, in places that never have seen the light of day. They burrow their sorrow where the sun cannot reach and their tendrils hold on, even when we don’t want them too- even when we can’t admit them to anyone, least of all ourselves.

But here is one thing I know. The death of our deepest most vibrant dreams is not the end. Not when God is on the throne and last time I checked, He hadn’t abdicated. This is a new season for me. A season to experience the goodness of God in a whole new light. After all He is the ‘God who brings dead things to life’ and my deadness is just one of His exploits. No not in the context of spiritual salvation. I walked that road long ago, and chose to follow the Fisher of Men. But in the context of my dreams, those longing desires I never revealed to another living soul for fear of hearing the truth: I would never be enough, not if I ever wanted to be on the winning side of my dreams. I knew that was the truth, still, a dream burned within and it never went away. Funny thing is I never thought it was from God. I thought the dream was me.

 

I grew up in church. I know the whole shebang on who God is supposed to be; loving, kind, merciful, a healer, the good father, the God who brings dead things to life. Like Lazarus. Only Lazarus was a big deal, he was not insignificant. What I never realized in those many years of being a Jesus-follower was that God also brings those insignificant dead things to life. But just in the last year I have understood that after 28 years of life and following Him, I don’t actually know God. The depths of His unfathomable wonder are so far beyond what I thought possible, what I have ever conceived about God.

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You see, in the long run, in the grand scheme of things, my meager dreams mean nothing. They are insignificant. But they are not insignificant to me. Thus, because I am significant to God so are my dreams. So are your dreams.

 

In this new season, I am looking back and understanding that in the depths of my despair, God was making a way where there was no way. Where I saw only a dead end, He was carving a path out of stone, like water eroding the banks that contain it. He is bringing my deepest longings, my dreams to fruition. Those dreams I long thought dead. And so I buried them, because that’s what you do with grotesque rotting dead things. You burry them in the earth until only their dry skeletons remain. I mourned the dreams and moved on looking for new fertile ground, unwilling to spend my life crying over spilled milk. Only to have God say ‘it’s not over yet- watch and I will bring those dead bones to life.’

 

Yet, here I am, 7 years after the death of a dream, finding myself in the unfathomable places of God, where like in Ezekiel, He is bringing dead things, my dreams- my deepest darkest longings, to life. I’m learning that God has a back up plan and a backup for the backup. When I miss the mark, am too afraid to trust, am paralyzed by pain and grief and fear of life, He still has another way. He is not limited by our limits. And He will fulfill those things that burn within our hearts because He’s put them there.

 

Yet, this is just barely the shoreline. In 20 years, I’ll probably be saying the same thing still, because there will be so much more to dive into even then. He is the God who brings the broken dead things to life.

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Ezekiel 37:5-6, 12-14

 This is what the Lord God says to these bones:

I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. 

I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you,

and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you

so that you come to life. Then you will KNOW

that I am Yahweh.”…

This is what the Lord God says: I am going to

open your graves and bring you up from them,

 My people, and lead you into the land of Israel.

 13 You will know that I am Yahweh, My people,

when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 

14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you will live,

and I will settle you in your own land.

Then you will know that I am Yahweh.

I have spoken, and I will do it.” 

This is the declaration of the Lord.

 

 

Zenith Nation: The Zenith Commune

Zenith: the point on the celestial sphere vertically above a given position or observer; the highest point.

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Zenith, we sparkle, we fly.

We do the man-made impossible.

We are the ones to envy.

We are the Zenith, The Nation above all the others.

We wiz by at light speeds- physically, mentally we go,

racing toward the end, the end of our lives, the end of times.

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All we do, all we have is AI. It is artificial. It is intelligent.

We all strive, we want to Be, to have, to reach-

To reach the very top.

The Zenith is all there is here,

all anyone dreams of, to be the one whose name regales

the pages of The Heights of society.

We are It, the epitome of all the Nations.

We are the very brightest, the ones always looking to out do.

We out do each other, ourselves, and anyone in the way.

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Anyone in the way of our dreams, our gold, will be crushed,

trampled beneath the weight of brains, of advancements

Monthly, weekly, hourly- too fast to keep up with.

We advance our alloys, our wires, all the invisible data

floating above our heads that make Zenith what it is.

We advance at the price of everyone else.

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We are poise, we are frantic, we are filled to the brim

With all that dies, with all that consumes.

That is who we are. The Consumers.

Devourers of life, of people, of goodness, of evil.

We take it all in and swallow it whole.

We drink in light like a supermassive black hole.

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We create and at such a speed that we hurry our own ends.

We the nation of wires, of self-driving cars, of phones and

worlds in hand- we are the end, cancer filling up the sky.

Zenith, the peak of the human race and yet the bottom, the

Intrepid disasters filling up the air. We are poison,

to ourselves, to the world we devour into toxic nothingness.

The zombie apocalypse… because only what is already full can fill what ails us.

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We’re waiting.

We’re waiting for the apocalypse, the zombies to arise, but we’ve fail to see that it’s already here. We’re it. We’re the ones to fear, the living but dead. It’s just that we can’t see. The deadness is inside, not out.

We float.

We tote all things behind us like a prized possession, but we are dissentgrating. We’re dragging on looking for life in putrid dead marshes. We crave left and right, this thing and that, but nothing satisfies. Nothing hands can grab onto can fill the deep deep void.

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What can satisfy?

What satisfies a punctured heart thats bleeding out with every beat? What is enough to fill the leaky void we call our souls? Nothing short of something vastly unending. Abysmal in proportion. That would be nothing physical, for the physical will change. It will all pass away. It will be eroded piece by piece, grain by grain, moment by moment.  Nothing short of something all sufficient, omniscient, without limit of power or margin of error can even put a dent in our void- only what is already full can fill what ails us.

We wonder.

We wonder around- a needle in our bag, porn in our pocket, murder under our belts. Booze is in hand while we’re trying to navigate stormy seas and we’re hoping to come out alive and unscathed. It’s unrealistic. It’s idiotic. It’s insane.

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We’re insane.

We’re crazy demented, tormented spirits running from the vaccine for our souls as if it were the plague- as if one little book, we fear, could set us ablaze like Chernobyl. Thus, we plunge ourselves deeper into the zombie apocalypse, trying to escape the inevitable, and live the half lived lives we have and call it breathing.

The  zombie apocalypse is already here. We’re it. Awake. Arise. Be set ablaze by the truth you run from.

Posted in Creative writing, Short Story

Gossamer Nation

We came down the mountain and just like that…there they were- the airborne arthropods with gossamer wings, the butterflies- the gossamers as they were called in these parts. They fluttered and whizzed about like tiny leaves blown about by unseen currents of force, flapping their multi-colored wings against the winds.

butterfly-macro-insect-nature-40869As soon as we had crossed the boundary of the Mountain, there they were. Though, there was no physical barrier, no tangible reason for them to not traverse the nations, minus the rule of thumb… magic- there they stayed in the country known to the world as The Gossamer Commonwealth. In reality, no magic held them inside the nation they were named after. They stayed because Gossamer was the one place with absolutely perfect conditions for them to thrive in.

Not many places were left for them to grow in after The Destruction. The wars that almost annihilated the human race took with them many species of beauty. So much was lost after that dark day. The day fire flew from the sky and even the rains became toxic, washing the skin and meat off your bones as if it were a muddied layer of dirt.

Those days are long past now. Though, in some nations the acid rains still come, even now. Yet, when all that was said and done, mankind had never quite fully recovered even after rebuilding a civilization- but how does one recover from that level of destruction? How do you become uncontaminated when everything else around and inside of you is tainted?

That was the toxic rain that started it all, the one inside mankind, beating in their chests like war drums. Still, despite the devastation the delicate gossamers lived. Even when everything else was turning to ash, they heard life calling and followed its bellows.

The-Powers-That-Be knew the gossamers would need a place and called to them- the Papilionidae, to each family, genus, and species they called. So amid the poisoned atmospheres, the Butterflies heard and were drawn in search of a land where they could flourish. By clusters of millions and billions they flew and died. They braved the acid rains, the fire torrents of hell, and flew for life.

Though the carnage was great, the remaining species finally found the promised land and came to rest here: where the grasses run tall, the food plenty; where the sun is bright, and a fixture of cool mornings abide. Not many of their predators made it this far into wild country. Some, but just enough that the butterflies could multiply and their presence never could diminish.

pexels-photo-24887This place, this magical looking land was once called Nadir, like the lowest point of an arc, and the opposite of Zennith in Astronomy- The Nadir Commonwealth. This land was Nadir because it was the exact opposite of what mankind held as beautiful, as the pinnacle of advancement and civilization. It was backward.

As the remaining humans left the poisoned places of earth in search of their own Eden, they found Nadir and settled amid the gossamers. The beauty of it and the vast volume of butterflies that inhabited the place led to many stories among the Nations, legends even. In the stories it was always called Gossamer Commonwealth. Well, in time the name stuck…and the rest is history, as it is said.

Though it’s a beauty, a place of wonder and lushness, do not mistake it for a soft place. It’s a wild place, where only the most fierce can survive, gossamer and human alike. And that is why we’ve come. Gossamer Commonwealth is the vastest nation on the continent but also one of the most uninhabited. So we’ve come to test ourselves. We’ve come to see how the inhabitants of Zennith Nation can get on in the abandoned places of earth where no wires, no lights, no communication happens except the kind that is achieved by hand and foot and mind.

Zennith Nation, the peak of human achievement complete with flying clunks of metal, machines on wheels zooming by at light speeds, phones in hand that do everything for us human beings so we don’t have to lift a finger. Everywhere you turn there are wires galore, wires to make communication, power, and everything in between possible. The Zennith where wires are a way of life and life is, itself, as synthetic as they are.

sunset-summer-2But in Gossamer there are no wires. There are no lights, save the distant evening fires of the neighbors miles off. Here, in the quiet recesses of the wild no man-made noise protruds.

We came, a product of our nation, high tech, in our Rover- the four-wheeled metal Beast that could outrun any beasts of the field. We stopped at the bottom of Lion Mountain and took in the sights. We took in the grandeur of Gossamer and watched mesmerized as the butterflies traversed the open spaces in front of us. One or two, perhaps in clusters of three, they passed every few seconds, and then large sheets of them in multi-colored swaths every few minutes. Every color and kind were there. They lived and flew together.

And so we went. Into the unknown wilds, we went, to find adventure and our courage. As it is said in the old stories, courage is only found in the unknown where the unfamiliar grows. So hand in hand we traveled through dangers and beauties alike until we returned to Zennith and were never the same for we, too, had heard The-Powers-That-Be whisper in the wind and try as we might, we always yearned to hear them again, always drawn to return to that place once more, like the gossamers to open flames.

Frail Body, Death;

 

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This work is dedicated to my life long friend Elena- who is the strongest, toughest girl I have ever known and who is now walking the road of cancer taking her mother home. Love you ET. 

This frail body, these fragile organs,

this contained vessel, cell of muti-sytems.

How easy to end, how simple to die.

 

A hundred ways lend it hands-

to end a thing called a human life.

A thousand ways to go.

 

A single hole, ½ inch wide,

A knife slicing flesh ragged

A drink- calm, cool, turned savage.

 

Blazing liquid, fire to consume,

Ragged wiring producing charge,

All hell-bent on bringing hellfire’s end.

 

Cancer eating you alive,

Aches that call to that angel

Longing to go home, yet unwilling still.

 

All things to beckon that dark angel,

the unwelcomed monster, Death,

an enemy turned friend in the end.

 

So many ways to make one’s end.

So many ways destined on sending us

packing from one life into the next.

 

And all will go, one way or another.

This time or some other.

Mortality is as sure as the dawn.

 

What matters is what stands.

That which is true,

what is real survives.

 

God, in all His mercies,

His beauty-

He remains.

 

That blimp on the map

of history upon which all

cosmos’ orbit.

 

Who He is and what He’s done.

He’s bought us,

insignificant people of dust

 

To carry His mark, the everlasting,

bearing His witness,

claiming His cause.

 

Us, ragged people of flesh,

always running into the arms of death,

we are the chosen, His vessels

 

For what long time we have,

or little, we are redeemed,

the chosen bearers of forever.

 

And forever is all too near,

Though it may seem distant.

It’s but a beat, a single breath away.

A year of Battling Deepest Darkest Things

A year ago today I was sitting in a surgical waiting room, in Florida, facing my single greatest fear in life, as my mom was getting her womanhood chopped off her body in an attempt to save her life against breast cancer. Her getting sick was always one of those things that has weighed heavily on me since moving to Texas 5 years ago and leaving her behind in Florida. Particularly cancer. I dreaded the thought of it. I hated to even consider what I would do if ever I got that call. So I avoided it like the plague.

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Early January 2016 I did get that call.  My mom called and dropped a bombshell. She was going for a biopsy. That’s never good news. Yeah, I felt sick at that point, but I tried holding it together for her sake. I knew it was a hard thing for her to have to face without me. In February, we got the confirmation that it was breast cancer, though a very early stage and surgery would be needed. In the end, my mom decided for a mastectomy. That way she didn’t have to do chemo or radiation. Then to be extra sure, she decided on a double mastectomy.

So there I was March 1. Sitting in a waiting room filled with people and yet feeling so absolutely utterly alone playing ‘what if’ games in my head, endless scenarios echoing throughout my mind. “What if it spread?” “What if it’s in her lymph nodes?” “What if she needs long term care?” “What if she needs chemo after all?”. I knew i would have to move back and I was ok with that. The scenarios kept coming.

There was no shortage of mind and heart crippling fears to draw from. I went through all the scenarios. I made a game plan for each of them, and waited. I wondered the halls in short bursts, and waited. Eventually some of church friends came and waited with me- a welcomed source of comfort and strength in a trial of limits, my limits. Alas, the surgery went well. None of the scenarios I planned for were needed. I stayed with mom a few weeks, taking care of her. I learned what a surgical drain was and how to empty it and a variety of other medical things. I learned to look at my mom’s beautiful smiling face and aquamarine eyes and not fall to pieces over her missing womanhood when in front of her. Eventually, I returned to San Antonio.

img_3497I returned a hollow shell. I couldn’t even look at the pictures of my mom and me on my mantle that had been taken the month before I had moved away. Those times when she had been whole and never would be again. It hurt volumes just remembering her in my childhood days and then having to remind myself that she would never be the woman I truly knew growing up.

You see cancer takes things away from us. Not just physical parts of ourselves, but mental parts too. Strengths that we once had, love for life and joy that were once full, or at least fuller. Cancer devours us whole and without mercy. Not just those victims of its icy claws but their friends, their families as well.

A few months after my mom’s surgery, I got my own “news”. Abdominal mass, they called it. Well safe to say I had no strength left to fight that battle. None even to process the potential of what the outcome of that news could be. I sure knew where I would not run right away. To my mom. She was already broken. I was shattered, broken even more than I had been before, praying to God for strength, for something supernatural to carry me over this threshold of emotional death.

And He did. He carried me on strong shoulders by the arms, the prayers, the feet of other people who upheld me. Those who grieved with me, and held me close, who prayed with me through the mental battles, the numbness, the despair. There were real friends, who called and checked on me and took me on frozen yogurt dates. My church who asked frequently about updates and held me in constant prayer and battled the demons of fear with me, providing strength in tangible volumes. After my diagnosis was all done and the ‘abdominal mass’ turned out to be an ovarian cyst and not cancerous and new battles arouse like, “would they have to take an ovary with the cyst and would I be able to have children, and who would want to marry half a woman who can’t even guarantee them a child if it came to that?”. Well, my warriors were there too. They still fought for me and never tired. They never strayed from their course of being Jesus and God heard our calls in the darkness and answered.

And when my final pathology report came in and was clear, they also upheld me in my joy, celebrating with me all that God had been faithful in, all that He had done. And my heart is grateful. Grateful to God for giving me them, those warrior hearts whose strength far surpasses my own. In a year filled with despair, despite battling my deepest and darkest fears, it has turned into a year filled with God sized lessons that overflow from a God sized love, which I am only beginning to understand despite having grown up in church. And I am thankful. I am thankful for all God has taught me in this season, despite its hardship. Like learning to lean not just on Him but on His people too.

My heart is grateful. It overflows. It will sing a new song.

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Posted in Creative writing, Faith

Not all who wonder are lost-grace to grace

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     I find that standing on the precipice of your dreams, of a calling so much greater than yourself, you feel small and insignificant in its wake and you wonder why me? I’ve recently asked that question. “God why me? Why am I called to this? Who am I that you would call ME, of all people?” Why am I called when there are others far more qualified, far stronger, far more talented than me. Yet, why do I want to step into this calling so much, and yet fear it so greatly at the same time?
     I’ve recently wrestled with this idea of being unworthy of the call I have had spoken into me by God. And the truth is I am unworthy. We all are. Who am I that a perfect God would want anything from me? What could my broken shattered self give him that He doesn’t already have, and have a better version of yet? Who am I that he would call ME into the light of his power, equip me and use ME. What could my average gifts yield in a pool of so much greatness?
     Inevitably, fear creeps in. It threatens to strangle them- those things that set our souls ablaze within us, our dreams. My dreams. My dreams, my soul- life itself, what its all about; all those things that God has set inside us. All of who I am and was created to be is threatened in those moments when fear takes over.
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     So what’s the answer? The answer is Isaiah 55: 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways” … His ways are higher than our ways. They are more noble, intricate, and intentional than we could ever understand or imagine.
     So the only answer to find is : I trust. Trust Him. When the fear comes in, the unworthiness gathers in my heart, I will trust in Him, El Roi the God who sees because HE SEES ME. I will remember that He has never yet let me fall. So I will trust his plan. I will walk out on the open seas, heart in my throat, and I will swim into the calling He has hailed me to. Or die trying. Because I know what God has done for me.
     I know the pits of despair, of anguish, of pain that He has dug me out of and in miraculous ways. I know the hollow nights He heard my screaming into pillows and answered me, even when I stopped asking, even when I stopped singing. Even when I doubted, even when I gave up on Him He never gave up on me. On the contrary. I walked in His favor. His grace, unmerited, going before my feet like a river making a way where there was no way. Carving the path for me out of stone, like water pushing through and eroding rock. And I am stronger for it. I am greater because He chose me, and chooses me everyday despite my meager faith and wonderings.
Instead of death, God offered me life.
It is abundant. It is glorious.
And I will sing…
“How wonderful
How glorious
My Saviour’s scars
Victorious
My chains are gone
My debt is paid
From death to life
And grace to grace”
-“Grace  to Grace” Hillsong-

Forever Altered by Their Simple Presence

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I wrote this poem back in 2007 in honor of a friend who had come from Austria. He’d lived in the US for 5 or 6 years with his aunt and uncle and ultimately decided he would go back to his parents in Europe. That was heart breaking. Not just for me, but for all of us in our youth group. He was a kind hearted guy who was like a brother to me growing up in my teen years. This was the very first time someone close to me had left the picture and permanently. I mourned his loss a long time. Not because he died, but because our friendship changed and over time and seas, it died. I know he got married and is a dad now. He’s happy and that makes me happy. Still, I think of all the fun filled times we had together with our youth group fondly. Doing doughnuts in the church parking lot, stints to Miami. Laughing and singing together. Those were the songs of our youthful hearts.

But reading over this poem recently, I’ve realized that this wasn’t just for him. It’s as valid a statement in my life now as ever. And yes, I can say indeed God has been faithful in bringing me the friendships I always need to sustain me in the darkness as well as the light. So here’s to you! A sweet friend, who’s presence alters me forever…

~                    ~                   ~                       ~                        ~                      ~                       ~                     ~

Life is an incredible journey

That takes us to unimaginable places

And brings amazing people into our lives.

 

It is like riding a wave

With many ups and downs.

 

Sometimes we soar

And sometimes we sink

So deep we believe it is the end.

 

But it is in times like these

That a true friend finds us

And pulls us back up.

 

Each friend we make on our journey

Is special in their own way.

 

Many come and go.

Some we know longer than others.

Some we see every day,

 

While others, we may

never meet face to face;

each leaves us with a lesson.

 

Something we learned

through what we survived together.

 

During the course of our lives,

each lesson shapes us.

It makes us into who we are.

 

Though many friends may only

have a small impact on our lives,

There are a few that deeply change us.

 

Even though we don’t know where

Life’s journey will take us,

 

We can hold on to this:

We’ve been changed by these-

Forever altered by their simple presence.

 

They were meant to be- to be there,

In the midst of our lives and help shape

us into who we were always destined to be.

A Meaning Beyond

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If you don’t know what the White Rose Society was then you may miss the overall power of the message written by Sophie Scholl, one of the members. It was a peaceful band of resistance to the ideals of Nazi Germany. Most of its members were college students. A portion of them were caught with leaflets on campus and executed for treason. Sophie write these words soon before her death. She knew that she wanted so much more and believed in deeper things than what Hitler and his Nazi agenda threw out for all to swallow whole.

All the Nazi issues aside, the deeper issue remains here. Truth. It resounds deep within us. We all know it when we see it. We feel our souls turn over in their graves. The the graves of mass produced artificial lives, plastic lives. They are lives filled to the brim with activities that society tells us (and we tell ourselves) that mean something. They represent status, where we are in life. As if we have somewhere to go every night of the week it means we are deeply connected. Connected to friendships, to people, to places, to what we do. But the truth is, for most of us we are not.

We are running our race on empty looking beside us instead of within. We pretend what we have and what we do can fill the leaky void in or souls, but really nothing but truth can do that. And truth is really a measurable, quantifiable thing.

Ultimately, God is truth and his truth brings us to all the deeper meanings we seek so badly and yet fall short of.