Friday, July 29, 2011

The Library is closing

You're standing on a cloud. Afternoon sun slants down the fluffy hills like liquid gold. The cerulean blue sky above conveys a sense of endless wonder, and your heart longs to go higher and higher. There's an umbrella with a mahogany, U shaped handle in your hand; open for no particular reason. Across the sky a single engine biplane is puttering its way through a cloud, leaving a wake that takes the shape of letters: Love.

"What's up, man?"
"Nothing much. What can I get for you today?"
"Git me two dollar's worth of chopped ham. Sliced thin, but not too thin, you know?"
"Uh huh. Medium."

The slicer moves; back and forth, back and forth. You're in a study, filled with chairs and people. A dark man stands by the fireplace, a white haired woman sits on the sofa, tea vapors and conversation permeate the air. They're all older, except a middle aged man and woman sitting to the right of the fireplace. The fireplace… The orange flames flicker with rage as the woman on the sofa says, "Poison! Who would do such a thing, Marilda?"

"The library will be closing in five minutes. Please bring your selections to the front desk immediately."
Suddenly you have to go, but you don't want to. All fade, but none disappear. With only a slightly heavy heart you step back, through to reality. It's not so bad here, you think. A smile dances across your lips as you imagine what kinds of adventures you'll come across today.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Whispers to my heart

What is beautiful in a day? What makes a thought worthwhile? What makes a good story really good? I think I have part of an answer, because I think anything that claims to be the whole answer is either to broad to really dig into or too shallow to be true.

I think the part of an answer that came to me today is change; the good kind. It's growth in the ways of our Heavenly Father. It's his Word; sharpening us, tooling, and refining. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 This refining can come in very many forms, but the way it came to me today was in whispers.

Whispers can easily get lost in the shuffle. People will respond with, "what?" or not at all sometimes. Those of us with small voices sometimes feel like we must be whispering because of how many times what we say goes unheard. But God's whispers, those are different. They slip right through the noise, like a knife through cake. They'll separate your emotions from the reality of a situation like a torpedo separates a ship from the water. Hebrews 4:12

When the Word of God pierces you through, to the division of soul and spirit, two things happen. Part of you dies, and part of you comes wholly alive. Both are beautiful, wonderful things to experience; because through it we grow closer to what we were originally intended to be: God fearing, God loving, God worshiping beings that have unity with God and with fellow children of God through the Spirit and through Love.

There were three whispers for me today. The first came as I ate breakfast and read through my daily Bible reading plan. Romans 10:8-10 says: "But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.' (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

This really affected me last of all (I'm blogging this here as a way of confessing with my mouth).

The second was a scripture I had memorized only a few weeks ago. Colossians 3:17 "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

There's nothing quite like the realization that something you've been doing for a long while is… well, not really being done in the name of the Lord Jesus. Except, of course, giving said thing up. See, I dream in two ways. I dream to create stories that have a solid measure of reality in them; awe inspiring, thought provoking, pieces of art laced with the truth of God. These are beautiful in my mind; gems given to me by God that I would share with everyone. They induce me to be productive, they give me energy, and they fill me with joy.

My other way of dreaming is not so beautiful. It's my way of escape, and as I think about it I realize it's what I did before I knew God. But it's a habit now. A habit I suddenly knew must die. For, they are dark, mildly depressing dreams. Sure, in the dreams I get through whatever problems I'm trying to address. But it became apparent to me that God was not in them, and that's what made them dark.

I can not, in any conceivable way, do the later kind of dreaming in the name of the Lord Jesus; so, I've decided to give it up. To kill the habit before it kills me (that's the only real way to off a habit). This decision was coupled with the third whisper. Ephesians 4:1-3, which I memorized today says, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in Love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

This scripture seemed to bring it all home, cutting me to the heart. Were the escapism dreams a way of walking worthy of my calling? No. Were my other dreams? Oh, yes. By them I write, and I write well. Then the three fruits of the Spirit mentioned; specific fruits that I have trouble with. Humility, Gentleness, Patience. I've had times where I've practically dripped all three, and times that if they were the only three fruits of the Spirit I would have died of starvation. Looking back I can see that those times line up perfectly with when I've been doing my good dreaming, and with when I've been doing my bad.

Finally, but foremost, was the last verse, "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." The several verses right after make clear the depth of this unity, "There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." It is a unity with God and with one another, fellow Christians united through God. I have experienced this kind of unity before, and been eager to maintain it before in the bond of peace. But not while I've been doing my selfish dreaming. Those are anything but peaceful, and I see now that there is no unity in them.

So, I've said all that to say this: I hereby give up my old ways of dreaming. I put this habit to death in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father that I have the strength to do so through him. Instead of it, I shall seek after the way of dreaming worthy of the calling to which I have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with those around me in Love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How do I say this?

Have you ever wanted to say something, but weren't sure what it was you wanted to say? A vague idea came to you, but you didn't know how to put it into words. Or, have you ever felt like you need to feel a certain way - been on the edge of feeling that way - but then the feeling never materializes? It's like feeling the need to sneeze, and then not being able to do it.

I have a small, 11x20 foot, room. I have it all to myself - other than the snake in the corner cage - and it feels wonderful. It's my quiet escape, my personal hideaway, my den. It's where I go when I absolutely need to get something done, or when I'm trying to figure something out. My dreams paint the walls, and cherished good books litter the floor. Hours fly by in my room like the blink of an eye.

Right now I want to say something. What that something is I can't quite say. There's an indistinct murmur in the back of my mind; something about tears and sighs and life. If it would come into focus, even for an instant, I'd say it. I'd swoop upon it as a hawk on prey, crying, "Ah ha!" And that would probably make me feel better. For, I feel like I ought to be sad. Like I ought to be lost somewhat in a mournful, melancholy reflection on the way my life is tending. But it seems I just can't get up the gumption to feel it. Maybe I'm too worn out. Maybe my heart is tired of feeling this way…

Sometimes my room isn't enough, though. Sometimes I'll sit here, in the sauna like heat, and feel stifled instead of safe. As if the problems in my life are pressing down upon me, demanding my full attention. It's times like these that I run off to the woods. Or simply turn to the wall. Yes, I have a wall. You might be thinking, 'most people do…' but my wall is different. It's under my bed. That might throw you, but you'll understand when I say I have a loft bed.

My dreams on the walls… I look at this wall and I see the snow white paint; scuffed, chipped, and stained in several places. It's a short section of wall, and dust rests on the loft bed support by its side. Quite suddenly, as I watch the wall, it falls away like a pile of leaves in a breath of wind. Behind is a passageway - a hallway of lightly stained beech. A rug carpets the center of the floor, doors disappear off to the left and right, and light flickers from gas fixtures on the walls. It runs on and on; away from my room, my world, what I can taste and see.
Behind each door is a mystery. There, adventure lurks around the corners and excitement buzzes through the air. I see dark trains traveling by moonlight. I see a happy little dragon, concentrating as he sketches into the wee hours of the morn. I see beautiful sunsets, fabulous rainbows, ships cutting the water, and ships cutting the air. A cat who's thoughts can be heard, and a boy riding a bike over a plain; soon to be caught up in a fire storm. There's a lovely young woman who loves a certain park by the river, teaching her charge the rules of grammar. A flying coatrack, a night demon, a curious little boy, a loving old woman, and my King on a white horse; they all populate this passageway in my mind. Sorrow and Joy, meaning and meaninglessness, deep discussions and silly debates, good and evil, and the right word in the right season all whisper along the floorboards.

It's not simply where I can hide. It's not just a place of escape. It's somewhere where I can really be. Where I know what it is that I've been wanting to say, and where I call it out with confidence. Where I know exactly what to feel and when to feel it. Where I can dwell safely in the arms of Love.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dancing Under The Stars

You're head is swimming. You laugh excitedly. You can't remember the last time you've had so much fun; but that's the nature of the beast, isn't it? Good times flit by and laughter fades off like a match in the wind, never really making it far down the hallway of time. A waiter glides past, glasses of punch balanced on a silver tray.

It is a party. A soirée, to see off your beloved friend whats-his-name on his way to another year of college. The band is playing front and center on the emerald lawn, and the dance floor has just opened up to the dancers. There is a cry of excitement and a rush of feet: everyone is dancing! The moon is a blinding spot of light, looking grimly down on the proceedings. You smile up at him.

Everything breaks. A paradigm shift. Your vision seems to blur as a shotgun goes off in your head. Your smile fades to incomprehension. Suddenly the music snaps you back; a lively ditty on the piano. You shake your head and slide back among the dancers. Laughter comes back to your lips as you bump into a gorgeous blond. You look up to the heavens again, taking in the stars.

Then you're a thousand miles away from everything. The blond is speaking, but what she's saying is coming slow, garbled. Your forehead burns, throbs, as if under the unforgiving gaze of the desert sun. It feels like all your hair is being pulled from your scalp. After a moment you try to help it, finding some vague relief in the act. A dull, throbbing pain has filled your head - from the top middle down to your nose - like barrels of cotton in a dress factory.

This is my life when I have a migraine - as I do now. Not the soirée bit, mind you; but everything else. It drives sleep from you, makes you slow and dimwitted, and gives you a taste of what it would be like to actually have your head buried in the sand. Believe me, there's nothing quite like it. You begin fantasizing about having a tap on your brain to relieve some of the pressure with, or maybe just getting an elephant to step on you…

Not very cheery tonight, am I? Sorry, but there' nothing like having your IQ drop a good twenty points right as you get to work and then stay that way for the entirety of the day. Using this blog, though, I'm playing with seeing if writing helps. …And, so far, the answer is yes. It seems I can channel the pain away from my headache with it! Or, at least, distract myself enough that I don't notice it.

Such a break through might very well make me want to go dancing under the stars, but since it's so very late I think I'll have to settle with doing it in my dreams instead. Wow. it really is late. I go! Bon voyage!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Hello, all! The name's Gabriel Tiberius Markley, and I shall be your captain for the duration of this voyage! We'll begin with the roll-call, after it's been determined whether or not the ship is shipshape. What shape is the ship in? Or, better yet, what is the ship's shape? Even more concerning, what is the shape of the ship? Semantic saturation yet, anyone? Maybe it's just me.

Anyways, this is (officially) my blog. There are two things that I think are dreadfully important that you should know before we disembark. The first is that my middle name is not Tiberius. The second is that I'm not sure you know what I know you're getting into, and I just want us to be very clear on that subject because I think that any confusion might lead to misunderstandings further down the road. Understood? Good.

Cast off the starboard lines and make ready the mainsail! I think this ship is shipshape enough to ship out, and - as captain - my thoughts are what count. Next stop: Wherever the Wind Blows!