31 Jul 2004

Small

I am small: I fit in between
two sentences, tighter than a period.
I have imagined great spaces,
taller than Babel, wider
than all the skies that have
ever poured themselves into poetry;
but these visions
all can be thought in the confines
of the tiniest dreaming.
I have found I am only
fulfilling what is right when
I am afflicted, when I am torn
between the two pathways
out of the dreadful
decision, and I am made
smaller still when
the possibility collapses, and
the many potentials I was
becomes the one, actual choice.
The only one that notices me
is me, and sometimes,
even I forget myself, entirely:
I affect so little, the
experience is so much larger than
anything I am, that I am
swallowed by any moment
larger than a hello.
Have you seen me? You will forget.
Even this poem, in one
fell progression from one
minute to the next, one
other thought will extinguish
that you ever read this,
that anything existed here at all.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:04 am

30 Jul 2004

If it is not the Lord’s work, it has no value. If it is not of God, it is transitory, ephemeral, like a puff of vapor that dissipates in the air. Only that which is rooted in Jesus Christ has a foundation that is eternal; only that will withstand — past the end of the world will it stand. But understand, it is amazingly easy to do such work: all it may take is a simple kindness, giving a cup of cold water to a child, some such basic deed [see Matthew 10:42]. Know, too, that the secondary acts, these which speak of waste, of violence, of stupidity: these will not be called to the heart nor the mind when one enters the realm of the infinite [see Isaiah 54:17]. It is ours to choose how much of what we do shall reflect in eternity. The Lord’s work we do continues straight through our deaths; all else is merely ashes scattered in the wind, of which we will know nothing of what once burned, however brightly.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:03 am

29 Jul 2004

From the story of Cain and Abel we learn that we are our brother’s keeper. The classic line came when after Cain killed Abel, God asked Cain where Abel was — whereupon he spoke, “I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?” This, the excuse that many of us have when dealing with one other, that we feel no responsibility for anyone — no, not even our brother. What then should we do? How are we to care? I think we all know. Perhaps the answer comes when we try to love someone. For when we love another, his pain is our pain, his joy ours: whatever befalls him, befalls us, too. I imagine that in love is where we learn it, that, in being human, we see that which is human in someone else. How to love? To love our neighbor as ourself. I am still hopeful; I think we still may be able to do it….

posted by John H. Doe @ 9:48 pm

Expressions of sharp and even violent criticism of religion and the church have been welcomed, for they usually imply sincerity of thought. If caustic criticism of religious institutions and practices is irreligious, then Amos, Isaiah, and Jesus were very irreligious men. In fact, that is exactly what many of their contemporaries took them to be.

– Halford E. Luccock

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:40 am

Dreams are these: the means by which destiny makes itself known.
He who would follow them needs to sacrifice the ordinary.
Dreams: to work at eternity’s frontier, have just this: believe.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:18 am

27 Jul 2004

Thought

Thought my dreams could all be bought,
Thought the stars could all be caught,
Thought that love would wait for me
Down at sunshine’s favorite tree,
And less I thought ’twould ever fade,
The more progressed of Spring’s parade.

Thought that time was just a dream,
Thought them genius all my schemes,
Thought it wouldn’t ever be
The world would ever disagree,
And more I took and not looked back,
So none redeem my mindless tracks.

Thought my wrongs would all prove right,
Thought my past would never bite,
Thought I’d always get my say
If ever there were light of day,
And then it crashed and I was lost,
I learned of every penny’s cost.

Thought I’d never find my way,
Thought my songs would all decay,
Thought to walk but just to fall
Every time into a wall —
Yes, one day I did revive,
But oh what long and pained goodbye.

Thought that you were Heaven’s light?
Thought your day would not turn night?
Thought that you could let it slide
Until your angles’ all been tried?
Then even if I lay the key,
You read my words but won’t hear me.

posted by John H. Doe @ 2:17 am

You can take it with you. It’s easy. Give it all away.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

26 Jul 2004

Why should we believe the man written of, named Jesus? He was a madman, a liar, or He never said those things at all. He contradicts Himself, and besides, who believes in miracles anymore — really? Yet, there is something so compelling to his message: blessed be the poor, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven; what profit you if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul?; love your neighbor as yourself. It makes you need to believe in Him, if you follow the words to their logical conclusions. For it all rests on whether He was sent from God — and if He was, the Kingdom of Heaven that He speaks about is so inextricably tied to His persona, in so much that He says, that you must also accept that He is also divine. If He was not, the pervasiveness of the Kingdom means you cannot believe anything He says at all — for in more ways than one, the medium is the message: He is the Word, incarnate.

Look at his prayers, and those of any saint: the ones of Christ speak with such authority, such a boom of voice: they are like no other. That was why they lay hold of his life, after all, that He said He was the Son of God, who comes with authority even to forgive one’s sins. It would be blasphemy coming from anyone who was not living such a life full through, and they who crucified him called it blasphemy because they understood not that He was doing just that, leading a blameless, healing, miraculous life. If you do not believe and think it is impossible rationalization to set one’s heart in that path to follow the Nazarene, understand that you need not give up logic, nor reason. If you do not want to believe, that is one thing, but never think that you cannot believe. Even that He defeated death: this is telling us what love can really do. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16] Amen.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

24 Jul 2004

We each of us believe ourselves in positions of special knowledge, that we comprehend a little better about things than everyone else. No one knows who we really are but us; no one understands what we go through but our own selves; our reasons, our excuses: there is something about them that make them right. Everyone else? That’s a different story — they’re not us, and they don’t know. Do they? Don’t they? Perhaps only when it is convenient for us, it may be then they should understand our point of view….

It is perhaps a graduation to a certain level of maturity when we truly fathom that there are other people looking out of those other eyes. I think some of us never get around to realizing this; some will always look at the “other” and never see someone who is fundamentally the same as him. But I think it is no mistake that this understanding is a difficult one, that such things are hidden from our normal sight. Like God secret among all things, it takes a certain faith to see this “other,” but such a vision: for who can love who has not this sight? What a reward to he who cares to look….

posted by John H. Doe @ 4:29 am

23 Jul 2004

To serve the Lord is the goal.
To serve the Lord is the journey.
To serve the Lord is the beginning.

posted by John H. Doe @ 5:46 am

Let me say no more about love. I am too vain when it comes to the subject; in my gut, my instinct tells me that for some reason, I have a handle on it. I explain it in terms of paradox: it is all things and nothing at all, both at the same time. It is the way she smiles at me: this is love: everything about life is love; yet, there is no one place in her smile where I can point and say, here is love: love seems to be an imagined thing, altogether. So, that would be something of my understanding… and then, when I think of love like this, I have thing gnawing tinge that I’m missing something. That perhaps, I’m missing the whole thing, that the entirety of love is flashing before my eyes and all I’m seeing is pretty colors. Maybe I understand nothing of love. I wouldn’t be the first.

Maybe the only true understanding of love comes when not thinking of love at all (yes, again with the paradox). I mean, one may only comprehend what its actual essence is in the act of doing it, and not thinking, “I am loving right now.” That love is known when it is completely outside of one’s mind, but is rather in the feet and hands, to go and do what it means for us to do. And we all know how to love, right? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s a good start. Then there’s that last paradox about it: we all know what it is, yet no one can tell you what those four letters really mean. But don’t listen to me; like I said, I’m probably missing what love is entirely. Just a kook running his mouth off. Thank you for suffering me. Let me say no more about love.

posted by John H. Doe @ 4:34 am

22 Jul 2004

Modern man has a God-shaped hole in his heart.

– Jean-Paul Sartre

It is that desire for something better, I think, wherein this hole is expressed, the sentence that starts with “in a perfect world…”. The cynic who only sees the faults in the works of man, the half-empty glass: could it be that he secretly seeks a perfection he cannot name, which he has stopped hoping for (except only as a dull pain that he is missing something, something important)? Do these protest too much? For perhaps thus, man was made imperfect for a reason: to find the piece of him that makes him wonder why….

posted by John H. Doe @ 1:41 am

An Ether

Last night I dined with afterimages
of angels, in whose minds
I was the quotient of their imaginations.
We were served emotions by maids
whose faces were mirrors, and we
ate until only distance remained.
The flavor of despair was akin
to blood, like iron ground into nothing,
only a tingle that something once was.
Solitude tasted of a star grown cold,
reminded me of the air of Autumn
where the leaves had all fallen,
complete, yet yearning. Anger
was the strongest rum pressure
could distill, it churned in my belly
like a violent wave disbelieving its
confinement. And our dessert was joy,
yellow sprouts of light which had
the savor of a tickle, and was gone
before the tongue had finished
tasting. Afterwards, the Book of Life
was opened, and every name
written therein danced ethereally
above the pages and then rained
into my soul to give me new breath.
The air, now heavy with promises,
folded, again and again and again and
again, until finally, being nothing,
everything was as the moment
before creation, empty and perfect.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:19 am

21 Jul 2004

We let these things slide, the matters that are of the true importance. I feel it sometimes, being the Christian, that some of these decisions I make (often unthinking) have the gravity of a weight that I carry into eternity. Only afterwards, however, and most infrequently, do I reflect what import my will’s actions have had. If we do consider them, our choices, what do we find but that we are always wrong?: every last choice we make, however saintly they appear to be, there is at least some little part that was done in some kind of self interest, some kind of spite or flattery. We can never do the right thing for the right reason, these decisions that truly do matter, that make us what we are in this life and the next.

What are we to do? What things really have meaning for us? What do we believe? We ponder for hours on things that matter little, and then to the decisions that make or unmake a life, we toss at them answers at random. But can we — if it were given to us to reverse what we previously did wrong, ours to redeem ourselves for our past actions — would we do whatever is in our power to make things right? Do we see we must? For second chances we cannot ignore, when we do get such chances…. And one might see for only chances, those which cannot be undone, to remember the words of Jesus Christ: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” [Mark 8:36] We all get chances between the two: to get a little bit of soul, or a little bit of the world. Be ready. The choice might matter more that it appears.

posted by John H. Doe @ 3:24 am

20 Jul 2004


Click the pic for a larger version.

posted by John H. Doe @ 4:42 am

19 Jul 2004

This is no toy world. Where would meaning be, if it were? If actions had no real consequence, if no real evil were possible, if there were no real pain? Who could care about anything in a cartoon version of this universe? Things matter. Your choices count. There are actions done that are irrevocable, and mistakes made can be a matter of life and death. This is a world done in earnest; this is a world of powerful moment. There is purpose here that is real, for to succeed is to overcome things not trivial, forces not insignificant. There is a good fight to fight.

posted by John H. Doe @ 3:02 am

Far

Where did I see you? I never saw you.
When your sigh haunted the forests of Heaven,
I fell bottomless. The lower curve of your eye
flew on a dove’s wing one Autumn
when the leaves stilled their breaths to the
hint of your passing. Flight is your touch’s toy.
Your fingers unearthed a depth my understanding
yet kneels to drink, there in the starry
mountain sky as rose petals fluttered endlessly
from your fingertips. I inhaled the
echo of your look, the page of my spirit
I cannot help but rhyme into my every breath.
Where did I see you? I never saw you. Slower
than a dream I gazed into your eyes, but you
were a vision of a farther dreamer than myself.

posted by John H. Doe @ 1:26 am

17 Jul 2004

This is a word about faith, a cogitation about my Lord Jesus Christ. The best — sometimes the only — thing we can do is to put ourselves in His hands, as much as we are able, as much as the heart can muster. What is right and what is wrong: yes, it is clear sometimes what we should do, but complications inevitably arise, and the water turns suddenly and inexplicably murky. And too, there are times when things appear one way, and are quite another. We cannot know all things about all situations, and even if we could — even when we know enough, we still do not choose the right way to go. Faith is not in doing your best and trusting that it is right. Faith is understanding that even our best can be off. Rule of thumb: in choosing between two alternatives, it is usually the harder of the two that is right. Do what you can. Trust that there is a good, and what you do does matter. Believe.

posted by John H. Doe @ 7:19 am

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