Squeeze It.

There is an inexplicable, intermittent squeezing within me, almost as if I’m being wrung dry; it occurs at a point beyond my sternum but seemingly right beneath the surface of my chest.  It’s a heart with a lost beat, a soul with no whisper, a mind lost in a vacuum of silence.  Of course, I don’t surprise myself when I describe my feelings as if they were magnified to a stage beyond the actuality of circumstances; nothing inspires a writer as much as talking about himself, after all.

Sometimes my thoughts drift to times past, and the bite of it all digests rather poorly, and so, I dig.  I humbly inter my heart’s murmurs and sighs in a grave of silence, but I dutifully pay my respects every so often.  How we treat the dearly deceased – we are caught between remembering them and allowing them to be at peace where they are.  Never quite sure of how to approach the topic, perhaps we skirt around the topic until we are struck by nostalgia, cheeks smarting from tears and from shame at forgetting.  So we continue to tread the tightrope of both stifling and indulging in the poignant moments of our lives, the vignettes that provide the yawning spectrum of emotion within the roll of super 8mm we’re forced to sit and watch.

There’s a calling of sorts to keep a stiff upper lip when these moments occur; after all, what does it matter in the grand scheme of things? There are surely many more experiences to be had, and this next travail is but a trifle in light of the coming sorrows of this life.  Yet why should we compare woes to tragedies?  Is it not enough to take each circumstance at face value, to give it its due share of mourning, and hope to grow and move past it? Must we now trivialize our shared experiences in expectation of greater miseries to come?

Whether or not this is the reality of the world we’ve constructed, I’ll have no part in it.  I know what brings me joy.  Better yet, I know who brings me joy.  In Christ, I’ve found my entire portion and my entire love…so why is it that I feel, from time to time, a longing after something else? There is a yearning in my heart for other things on random occasions, and echoes of uncanny voices calling out for the desired unknown. And yet, the Lord is gracious enough to remind me of my flesh’s weakness in these moments, and He provides me with songs of worship through which I am able to turn my eyes once again to all that I am secure in.  It is exhausting, but though the flesh is weak, the spirit is willing – praise the Lord!  As I pray to extract myself from such wanderings, may the Lord continue to be gracious in enabling me to pursue His will.  And so, even as I shout in the well of my soul for the Lord to remove the veil from me, I do well to just as passionately be silent before Him and soak in the sweetness of His presence. The burden has been lifted.

Crunchatize Me.

*Note: This was taken from my old blog, “Poet in a World of Prose,” which has since been deleted.

I just ate not one, but two of the best bowls of cereal I’ve ever had.  And you know why they were so milk-slurping, sigh-of-relief loosing good?  Nostalgia.

Back when I was a wee little lad who dumped bowls of cereal into the toilet when I either didn’t like the cereal or didn’t want to finish it, cereal was always a bit of a hit or miss.  I knew what Rice Krispies Treats were like, but I was in for the most unpleasant surprise of my life when I decided to opt for the Rice Krispies cereal.  Expecting bits of puffed rice swathed in the most delectable of marshmallow cremes, I was met with individual, non-glazed, bits of rice that strayed so far from sweet that they were almost counted savory.  It was a mortifying experience after I ate my first spoonful, only to realize I had an entire box of this nightmare-inducing breakfast option left.  Ever since that first experience of Rice Krispies, the appetite for the cereal has eluded me.

Living in my household, any food that was colored (read: anything that was American) was denied me due to the artificial food colorings in the food.  This being the case, rare was the occasion when the Captain would visit my pantry.  It was always a party when the Captain was around.  Before a healthy infatuation with the physique of Captain America à la Chris Evans, it was Cap’n Crunch who stole my heart. Whether it was the sweet taste of Original Crunch, or the festively-colored Oops! All Berries, the Cap’n greeted my palate with a pleasant crunch (although I personally favored my cereal a bit soggier than crunchy, but not to the point of dissolving) and a bright blend of berries and buttery breakfast fare.

Today’s bowl of cereal brought all of that childhood cheer back into my life.  Rarely one to eat breakfast nowadays,  I remembered the joy and anticipation that came with hearing Cap’n Crunch tinkle into a glass bowl, gallon of milk ready on the side.  Something about the chill of the milk in tandem with the crunch and flavor of the cereal produced a shiver of recognition back to a time when life was simpler; Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing, and breakfast was a daily routine, since thirteen, a chubby fellow on the scene (sorry Biggie).  Anyhow, as I tipped the bowl into my mouth to finish off the colorfully specked remains of udder water, I happily reminisced on youth, and how nice it is that we’ve never quite left it behind us, even when we think we have.

The Grapefruit.

*Note: This was taken from my old blog, “Poet in a World of Prose,” which has since been deleted.

So, today after a warm family meal – we had hot pot – my parents and I decided to partake in some citrus fruits for dessert.  We split a pomelo betwixt the three of us, and we proceeded to sample what intricate flavors it would present us with.  At first, expectations of “sour,” “bitter,” “grapefruity,” swirled around in my mind, but once my taste buds oriented themselves, I was met pleasantly with “sweet,” “orangey,” and “mildly bitter.” After we murmured with citrus-filled mouths about how it was much better than expected, we moved swiftly to devour the lot of it.  However, there was another, LARGER, grapefruit that lay in store, and apparently it was retrieved from the harvests of…somewhere around home church.  To the eye, it looked appealing, but on the inside, we had yet to find out.  My mom commented every now and then about how it looked nice and that it must be pretty good given its size and how it looks.  My dad retorted with looks mean nothing in the universe of fruits (okay, perhaps that had a little more panache than the actual statement, but it’s fairly close).  I watched as the mild taste of soap lingered on my tongue from the first fruit, like a numb bitterness that is tucked away in the back of the mind; it was like the white noise of the taste bud realm.  My parents eventually began talking about how horrible the fruit was, and my dad remarked that it tasted of gasoline, but he continued to finish the piece despite my mom’s frantic exclamations persuading otherwise.  I decided to join in on the fun, and I was met with something that threw my taste buds awry.  The first taste of the fruit seemed almost savory, and then the bitterness began to kick in exponentially, ultimately landing me somewhere between jet fuel and dank memes.  We all ended up laughing about how terrible the fruit was, and it proved to be an interestingly positive way to end such a negative corporeal occurrence.

In some way, that grapefruit might be me. Kidding, this was just an attempt to slowly inch my way back to writing more consistently; those types of absurd reflections on parallels shall come eventually! It’s nice being back, and it’s nice not having finals 🙂

Knowing God.

*Note: This was taken from my old blog, “Poet in a World of Prose,” which has since been deleted.

Coming fresh off of winter retreat @ CAIW, I think it’d be nice to write down a few thoughts before the post-retreat excitement settles.  This retreat, perhaps more than any other, left me with a sense of it being a very necessary retreat.  The theme of the retreat was “Knowing God,” and the theme verse was Hebrews 8:10-11, which says: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”  I guess all I really want to do at this point is list a few points that I really enjoyed, and maybe ramble on a bit more after having done so…

  1. The death we died upon Adam eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a spiritual death; as such, that death that occurred once sin entered man denied us the ability to have fellowship with God, as we would no longer be beings of spirit as He is; however, He provided His Son that our dead spirits would be made alive again.  I guess this point was refreshing because I feel like it appropriately clarified the death mentioned in Genesis while creating a new way for me to view the Gospel story, including the aspect of spirit into the narrative.
  2. Be an Ananias if you can.  Ananias was praying, and received direction to go seek out Saul, who was praying on his own. The Lord gave specific instructions to Ananias about where to find Saul and what He was going to do through Saul’s life. However, the important thing is that Ananias was waiting for the Lord in prayer, which led to him getting this charge from the Lord.  He was also able to talk to the Lord and voice his concern about following the Lord’s command, which is something that is worth striving for – reaching a point where we can voice our concerns to God, but still be open to His leading.
  3. Philippians 3:7-8, 10 is an internal response to what happened in Acts 9 to Paul.  Paul had many things going his way in regards to his education and his position within society, and yet, at the moment of his conversion, he saw that knowing Christ was worth so much more than knowing about Christ.  He no longer persecuted the believers, but endured persecution alongside them; once pride of his position, he called himself less than the least.  This was the fruit of knowing the value of Christ.
  4. With regards to knowing the Holy Spirit, the example in Exodus 16:1-4 shows that Egypt is perhaps how we were before we were saved, and the flesh desire is for captivity while the spirit leads to freedom.  Being free is really difficult (they didn’t have water or food, it was hot, etc.), and the wilderness is when the Israelites learned to be free.  With Cain and Abel, we see that the desire to serve the Lord may come from the flesh, but the flesh is wrong; nevertheless, we see how the flesh’s first instinct is to kill the Spirit (Cain kills Abel). Learning to live by the spirit is learning to not desire the immediate confirmation of what we’re doing – it involves quieting ourselves and making space for the Lord.
  5. The central matter of the Lord’s Table is that Christ died for us.  Therefore, don’t treat the Lord’s Table lightly – Matthew 26:26-30 gives back up for this practice.  The reason for us bringing our own portion to the Lord’s table is that we are all part of one loaf; God has no need for any of our portions, but just as we wouldn’t come empty-handed to a dinner hosted by President Obama, so too should we treat – to an obviously greater degree – the Lord’s Table; it is the idea of the Lord not needing anything from us, but us bringing the gesture of bringing what we have to Him.
  6. Consecration comes from love.  Joshua 24 shows essentially the entire process of consecration; we need to be reminded of what the Lord has saved us from to produce the response of love for the Lord and a desire to be consecrated to Him.  Consecration is both a one-time declaration, as in Joshua 24:15 (“…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”), but it is also an ongoing process of making that love-inspired choice to be consecrated to the Lord.
  7. Pressing on in our faith, as spoke of in Philippians 3:12-14, involves both looking inward, seeing our sin and shame, but also looking upwards at a loving Father; we press on knowing that there’s a goal and that there’s a prize: knowing Him.  We want to know Him because He loved us so much, and our pressing on is conforming to God’s design for us – it is not so much an active effort on our part as it is a participation in Christ being the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Really hoping 2016 brings about a fresh urgency in my faith, and a greater expectation of the reality of Christ’s return!

Apprehension.

Will my love meet me there

On the top of the mountains, beneath

the sky of his grace?

Will he receive

my worship and provide a quiet place?

How will he know what words to say

how will he capture my heart each day?

Will I be enthralled for moments

fleeting,

only a soul-moving thrill

I’m seeking?

O Lord, have mercy on

my self-wise thoughts.

You are my glory, you are my stay

I am but night that you’ve turned into day.

May I mind you more than I mine myself

for diamonds, where none are

found. In you I hope, and to you I look –

there is a sound.

And so I strain my ears,

Listening.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

The Little Boy.

*Note: This was taken from my old blog, “Poet in a World of Prose,” which has since been deleted.

The man walked along the partially wet sidewalk, sheltered from the drizzling rain by the canopy just above the liquor store.  He stared down at the ground, mind blank and yet processing. He mulled over the death, sifting through his personal reaction to it all.  The rain beckoned for a safe haven, and so into the liquor store he went.  Half mentally present, he proffered a half smile and a swallowed hello before proceeding to look at the various elixirs that stood before him, an ever-present army of vigilant soldiers waiting to be ordered, braving the jarring cold.  “Not strong enough” was the verdict on these soldiers, and so he drifted quietly to the counter, measuring his every step in silence before marking the options that were shelved behind the store clerk.  Between his old friend Morgan and the clear gin, he settled decidedly on the Johnnie Walker, hoping it wouldn’t take long for him to feel and forget in its warmth.  He asked the clerk for the Black Label, and he reached into his back pocket for his wallet to reimburse the apothecary.  Upon holding the neck of the bottle, he turned to leave and stepped into a memory.  He had been playing with his father’s mug, not realizing that there was still coffee in it, and the lukewarm liquid came spilling out over the brim, onto the freshly ironed white shirt that had been prepared for work.  His father turned the corner just as it happened, and he remembered seeing his father processing the scene.  He began to try and use tissues to wipe up the coffee, but it wasn’t working; the shirt was just brown.  His father picked him up and smiled at him, telling him that this was why we didn’t play with Daddy’s cups, and then he took the shirt to the bathroom and tried to get the stain out as soon as he could.  The stained shirt sat soaking in bleach as his father went to iron a sky blue shirt in its stead.  His father hurriedly put on the blue shirt and said goodbye to him and his mother, leaving for the day to go to work.  All that he remembered next was his father coming home, staring a thousand miles beyond everything that he looked at, and crumpling into the dining room chair, elbows on the table, hands in his hair.  His mother saw this and went to comfort him, saying that it was going to be okay and that he would get back on his feet.  His father had nothing to say, and he went to the glass cabinet and took out the big glass bottle with the caramel-brown water inside, and he poured it into a little cup.  He drank, poured again. Drank, poured again. Drank, poured again. Drank.  His father was never the same after that day, and when he didn’t come home one night, the little boy cried.  He cried knowing that it was his fault Daddy didn’t love him.  He cried because he didn’t know what he was doing that made Daddy so upset.  He cried because he never before had to hope Daddy would come home.  The little boy cried then, and as the man stepped back out into the rain, the little boy cried now.

All I See.

*Note: This was taken from my old blog, “Poet in a World of Prose,” which has since been deleted.

I once heard a story about a fall from glory

a prince become slave whose end was kinda gory.

Young genius shown at the age of twelve

and into his dad’s work did he choose to delve.

All by himself with the teachers of the temple

showing them miracles and the God they resembled.

He was the best man at a later wedding

Turning water into wine and guest’s lips he was wetting.

But this great man encountered teachers who had floundered

each speaking against him, man it was a downer.

So downward he descended into this realm of mortal beings

Speaking of the great things that he himself was seeing.

Soon twelve friends appeared at his side asking

for more of his glory, for in it they were basking.

They were not full in wisdom but had hearts to follow

Little did they know he was a man full of sorrow.

In that final hour, he took his last breath full of power

and with his sacrifice did upon humans shower

blessings incomprehensible and somewhat invisible

rising three days later, he proved to be invincible.

A gospel to spread, he now sought out his friends

who each had a strong message to send

in the form of letters and addresses

telling of God’s Son and how He blesses.

Their message reaches out now to modern ears

blessed are they who receive what they hear.

I see a world plunging deep into darkness

devoid of true life and full of dread starkness.

With reason they combat the invisible truth

with all the fibers of their arrogant youth.

But that which is seen is made from that which is not

so put away all the battles you have fought.

Redemption at hand yet it is casually dismissed

the world wreaking havoc with religion as a cyst.

But to follow the Son is not even close to religion;

it’s the cause of a spiritual decision.

Labeled blind for trying to seek out the righteous,

I pray for the world should it try to incite us.

Blind? Nay, merely looking with split vision

as I admire the works of God and His solitary mission:

He came not to judge but seek and save those who were lost

yet it is hard to do when they don’t believe in the cost.

The price of your life is worth more than you think

from the shirt on your body to the rock on your ring.

Your life was paid for in full by pure, untainted blood

a love everlasting and mercy that does flood.

Dismount from your throne of “knowledge” and look God in the face

for it is then when you will know the truth of your deservéd place.