Stillness.

Be still my heart, for beats unrelenting

bring only a mindset that is unrepenting.

Adoration falls on things that are formed,

yet Maker of all is the one who is scorned.

Be still my mouth, that you might not flow

forth a torrent of judgment and make a new foe.

Unbridled tongue of flame, lash not;

recall the battles you need not have fought.

Be still my mind, for thoughts dark may come

’til strife, grief, and sorrow become your sum.

Know love, yet with your “wisdom” proclaim

no love to those who are called by one Name.

Until all three are at peace within,

depraved heart of mine will continue to sin.

Forsake God’s rest without a look back;

yet still see a love greater that has not a lack.

Disappointment.

He shuffled into the room, head bent, chin tucked, letting his book bag drop to the laminate floor below.  Unable to bring his eyes level with the rest of the class, closing his eyes granted him a nightmarish reprieve from living in the present.  Memories of shared smiles and time spent together studying after school flooded his senses.  Her scent danced as a shadow across memory’s plane, growing with every deep inhale.  He raised his hand as his name was called for roll, not looking up.  As his heart thumped Daniel, David, Delia, the next name stilled his heart.  Oh, that treacherous word that he had loved.  And yet, he found it not in himself to despise her, but wished his own name to have been blotted out from the chapters of time.  In his mind, she was still the most precious thing in his heart.  Within his heart of hearts, he desperately clung to her as life – she had stolen his past and present with every breath of her existence.

Yet the words they exchanged scorched through his hopes and scorned his dreams.  Calmly spurned as just being “another guy who wanted her as a trophy of some sort and not taking into account her own feelings and personality and who she was,” she turned and walked away from the hallway and apart from his soul.  How could he have shown her that he would have held on until the last breath he had was hers?  That every minute he conceived of could easily be spent on her?  How could he have known what she meant when she said some of the things that she said to him?  His analysis was his end.  He realized it wasn’t his time, his dedication, his anything that she wanted.  He realized that perhaps he hadn’t known her at all, that the mask she wore so well had preyed upon his own predilections.  What an idiot he had been to think that she treated him any differently, with any more attention or devotion than she treated others.

He looked up and color vanished from his sight.  The drab green chalkboard became awash in a disruptive grey, oaken tables took on a stark pallor in contrast with the tired darkness of the plastic chairs.  Forget it all, what point is there in paying attention to anything anyway.  His own naiveté and innocent passion drove him headlong into the disappointment of his life.  He felt at once selfish for expressing his desire, hateful for thinking of his own wants over hers, sorrowful for the loss of her presence, regretful for his decision to speak up, wistful for the times before he made his grand gesture, nostalgic of times when they hardly knew each other, and hopeless as he considered the future ahead without her.  What a blow, the silent fury of a tempest borne of a single, impure desire.  And that purity, had it ever really existed?  He felt ashamed as he condemned himself more and more for only approaching her out of shallow interest, without any consideration of improving her quality of life.  His own life felt wretched and his soul corrupted by the taint of attraction.  The vanity of his own romantic pursuit disgusted him as he became more and more convicted of his own stains.  Daniel, David, Delia…disappointment.

He stood up, swinging his book bag over his shoulder in one motion, the red and black flannel bleakly hanging onto his sunken shoulders.  Eyes facing downwards, the only sounds heard were those of the sliding of a chair, and the friction of his rubber soles aggravating the laminate beneath his feet as he walked out, managing to close the door silently behind him as he looked on to a life of grey expectations.

Poet’s Prayer.

A flighted request to heaven above

for inspiration borne of shattered love.

A prayer for broken-hearted song,

to which listeners may sing along.

~

The heart, in joy, requires no words;

it soars on wings of spirit birds.

Yet tears speak volumes, all their own

in memories past yet to disown.

~

I ask to cry with tears of time,

imbibing force into my rhyme.

The desperate tragedy of life

mars not the countenance of strife.

~

Aghast at sorrow’s fleeing form,

a shredded heart remains still torn.

Before long, pain will set anew

melancholic, hazy, tearful view.

SAD Days, Mayne.

Tonight, I’d like to say that sisters of AACF, we really appreciate you.  Coming from me personally, I don’t think I’ll ever be that good at showing it because 1) I troll hard, 2) I am master of abhorring physical touch other than high fives or fist bumps, 3) it’s hard to really find the words to say sometimes when you show how precious you all are as members of the Body.  I really hope that today was a blessed day for you all, because all of the brothers here at AACF did put their hearts on their sleeves all day today; however, we didn’t merely provide rides, food, laughs, and hopefully memories, for nothing.  We all understand how blessed we all are to have sisters as unique, caring, sympathetic, encouraging, steadfast, faithful, hopeful, and Christ-centered as you.  We know that maybe at times, we might be awkwardly bromantic, and forget to really show our gratitude and simple appreciation of your very presences, but I guess today’s the day that we get to at least try and let you know that we’re not just a bunch of goons, goofing off willy-nilly.  It’s always cool to think about the fact that you sisters do really help your brothers grow in our faiths more by who you are and what you do, without needing the verbosity that I tend to have in my writing.  Personally, I struggle with showing grace, and I guess I’ve found myself constantly shaking my head, somewhat in frustration towards my own lack of grace, but more so in awe of how effortless you make it seem.  It’s really a gift of God that you all are the way you are, and I guess if you remember anything from tonight, may it be that God has made us as family with Christ as our head, and that all of the acts of appreciation and love that you all felt, it came from Christ first.  The theme verse last year (1 John 4:19) says we love because He first loved us.  And I guess I just wanted to continue pointing you sisters to Him and encouraging you to discover how much God appreciates you each day because your earthly brothers can only muster up one day to really be able to go all out for you.

Secondly, I’d like to thank my kitchen staff a bunch.  You know who you are.  It was so awesome to see all of you step up to the occasion, work together to create solutions, and really be able to keep it lighthearted in the kitchen.  Sisters, if you were to see these guys at work…man.  It wouldn’t even matter if your love language was the furthest away from acts of service; the way my brothers serving came together was really God’s mercy and God’s grace.  From the actual kitchen staff to the brothers serving as waiters, I’m real proud of how we all were able to keep a steady composure about us, perhaps showcasing our subtle faith that God would provide us with the way to appreciate our sisters.  For the people I somewhat threw out of the kitchen, I hope you know that there are no hard feelings, it just was necessary to keep the train going.  And what a ride it was.  If I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t have changed my staff one bit, and I’m grateful that God put it in your hearts to step up and serve your sisters so that they might experience the love you have for all of them.

Finally, it’s got to go back to God.  I mean, the very fact that I’m serving at this fellowship alone was determined by God, and the fact that all of us were here, at UCSB, at this time, was all appointed by God way before.  His sovereignty in putting us all in each others’ lives is something we should all reflect on and rejoice in.  In our lives, may the actions we do, the words we speak, the thoughts we bear into existence bring glory to God, for who else is as deserving as He?  God loved us, and from that love, I really do feel like we learn to love one another.  I mean, to see how much some of us in the fellowship have changed since entering it should be testament enough to God’s amazing plan for us.  None of us is perfect to be sure, but we are all being sanctified, and conforming slowly into His image.  To God be the glory forever and ever, amen.

100 Sad Days.

So lately, there’s been a kind of Instagram fad going around with the hashtag “#100happydays.”  Being ever the anti-trendsetter, I thought a bit about what it means for these people to be undertaking a project like this.  The initial reaction was an attempt to see it from their point of view, inwardly knowing that I would judge the heck out of them when I got into my analytical mind.  The aforementioned reaction went something along the lines of, “Well, I guess it certainly is a way for them to make their own lives more optimistic, and adopt an approach to life that would appear to be more fulfilling.”  But not long after that, the inner cynic took the wheel and noted how doing so on a social media site only serves to subtly boast about how well one’s life is going; in a way, it was a humble brag.  At best, it’s a way for secretly pessimistic people to force themselves to see the silver lining in things, but at worst, it’s just another societal construct formed to initiate an underlying competition to see whose life is the most brilliant.

And besides, as a Christian, shouldn’t I have a happy day everyday?  I mean, I go to an incredible campus where I am reminded constantly of the glory of God’s creation; the mountains lie before me, the ocean roars behind me.  Wedged in between the power of His creation and an everlasting display of His depth, there’s simply no way for me to really not be happy.  And so, I find the practice of #100happydays to be something to stray away from.

On the other hand, #100saddays forces me to find something to be sad about and either make light of it, or use it as a time of reflection.  In doing this, I cultivate an inner strength to surmount obstacles in the future that might be headed my way as well as remembering to seek God first in my wrestling and doubt.

Then again, I could just be a snobby, bigoted non-conformist trying his best to rationalize a decision to mock a social networking fad.  Whatever my actual motivation, I just hope that I can use this time productively for God!

Small Ann.

I was struggling for the longest time (maybe half a week or so) deciding what to write about for my 200th blog post here at “A Poet in a World of Prose.” Many things came to mind, yet an angel came into my life today, so I decidedly chose to write about her.

As I finally came to the head of the line at Panda Express to place my order, the waitress asks in mellifluous tone what I would like.  Mildly taken aback by the subtle cheer within the timbre of her voice, I looked away from the glowing orange chicken to observe what stood before me.  Average height, brunette, Panda Express cap.  Name tag says ‘ANNETTE’.

Can I get a box with chow mein?

She then proceeds to fill the allocation for the side dish far beyond full.  Just when I thought she was done filling it, she takes the serving tongs right back and grasps another bundle of glistening chow mein.

And what would you like for your entree?

Can I get orange chicken and teriyaki?

Her deft hands proceeded to swoop down not once, not twice, but three glorious times, dipping into the orange chicken tray and filling another small segment of the take-out box beyond the brim.  With the teriyaki chicken, the knife seemed stuck in a state of perpetual motion until the box was near bursting at the figurative seams.  In an uncertain, awe-filled voice, I dared to ask for kung-pao chicken to make use of my receipt-coupon.  What proceeded afterwards was breathtaking.

With her magical serving tongs, she appeared to stuff half a box of kung-pao chicken into the typically small third entree box.  I almost shed a tear as my heart acknowledged the tremendous gratitude cascading down upon it.

The world is full of devilish men like me.  We sin as easily as we breathe.  Our every action is one of self-service, only seeking to sate the insatiable desire for pleasure within our hearts.  And yet, we have angels on Earth like sweet Annette at Panda Express, understanding our strivings with hunger, and fending off the famine with their hearts of pure generosity.

Dancing Time Away.

Flighted wing of thought replaced his breath,

first love’s sight does shield the mind from cold.

A wind through open cloaks and doors ajar

delays the view beloved and stays the hold.

~

Swift pantomime! The heart’s desire made known

as fool before love’s eyes has saved him whole.

Mountains, stone-faced guards of patient love,

caressed by waves of ocean, endless scroll.

~

What lift has love within a rift,

bereft of time from which to sift?

The silence answers once, “Alone,

for countless shattered souls atone.”