The Threshold

I stood staring at the edifice before me, present and real, so close that I could practically touch it, but not truly within reach, just beyond my grasp. It rose up from the earth and towered into the night sky, with something like vertical boards—streaked in red—peeling, and revealing a natural wood beneath; and as it rose to the stars, its sides converged into a peek, like the topmost part of a roof. And I saw that this could be my home, and it had been made for me, and all I had to do was enter. Yet, I couldn’t.

There wasn’t a light inside, but there might have been. The windows were darkened now, but at some time—in the not so distant past—they had been ablaze. Golden light had streamed forth from within and cast the outer landscape in a joyous hue. The rocks, which were strewn here and there upon the footpath that led away from the edifice had been golden, and they rested comfortably in the soil.

What was this place, if not a symbol of my eternal abode? An icon of paradise, or the doorway to it; but also lowering upon me like a casket—leaning, and appearing to be falling onto me. Snuffing out hope; or kindling hope? Perhaps both snuffing and kindling—snuffing false hopes and kindling truer ones.

I was as much a child of the earth as anyone. Just like you are, I’m supposing. And I didn’t want to take that step too quickly, not quite yet, not too soon. Even if the door is open and all it takes is a bit of effort, to light the dark, and to answer the call. No, I still had pain to live, and anxieties called me to listen; there is suffering yet to be had in the guise of desire.

And ambitions, didn’t they still have a role to play—to draw me (and to quarter me)? I jest, or I just play with words for a brief moment. Torture, surely passions would torture me when they could, or I might torture myself were I not protected. If another light didn’t light the way, when my light went dim, I could surely fall, and bruise much more than just my knees. And were it not for that other light, I would be in darkness indeed!

And all of this is simply to say, not so artfully, that I am in need. This world piles on, and over us, and on and on, piling ever on; and we run, we run and try to hide, or try to find, that special peace: that is just around the corner, just over the hill, just beyond the horizon, or streaming from an icon. And all the while, God is watching, watching over us, and waiting, waiting for us.

That edifice—our home—it has a threshold, that we must step over—if we are to enter. What does it take, to take that step? Courage, determination, peace. They say that home is where the heart is. So shall we enter our home across the threshold of our heart? Will we find that glimmer of paradise here, and shining into the world to come?


Who Are You?

I was raised in a time and place—another world really—where we believed that every man and woman, and child even, was worthy and valuable, and each person possessed an inherent dignity by simple virtue of existing. It didn’t matter what color their skin, or what they believed, or where they came from. Admittedly, we didn’t all practice this perfectly, but it was what was taught and what we learned, and how we tried to live with one another; it was the noble goal of our lives, even when we failed to live it out.

In fact, we were taught—and we believed it—that everyone was made in the image and likeness of God. Imagine that! And though each of us failed to live up to that likeness, still, the essence of who we were was divine and filled with dignity. And armed with this belief it was near impossible to see another human being as a thing—an object—or to look down upon them for any reason.

However, this did not mean that we weren’t held to high standards of conduct, in all things; we were made in God’s image after all! So, certainly there were reasons to admonish, or suggest, or instruct one another—to guide—when one of us inevitably lost our way; as it happened to all of us from time to time. And this was an aspect of our love; upholding what was Godly in one another, and therefore most noble and pure within us, and also what is most essentially true about our being human.

But now I live in a new world—and in this time and place—God is being forgotten. And by extension, our awareness of human divinity is also fading away. Now, if one suggests that all people, regardless of race or religion or political affiliation, are created in God’s image and likeness, we might hear in response, “God who?!”

Instead, the people in this world have been taught, and they believe it: “I think, therefore I am! And therefore what I think I am—this is what I am!” What they are, is no longer dependent upon God, but simply upon what they think. More efficient, less complicated, remove the middleman; nobody is the boss of me any longer!

I had the strange experience to visit a place recently—I won’t mention exactly where—but a place populated by folks who had, from a very early age, all been taught that they were not at all the sum of their parts, but completely on the contrary, they were all taught to identify their entire personhood with a mere portion of themselves. They had complete freedom to choose what part they wanted to be, they could be their race, or their gender, or whatever they fancied; in fact, even if they wished to be something that had no relation to themselves at all, they were entitled to be that, if they had the compulsion and desire.

Oh, the freedom they all enjoyed! Whatever they thought they were, suddenly they became that thing! It was a magical place; though it seemed unreal, and in the end, it made me a little bit sad. They could be anything they wanted; but they never knew who they really were.

One group I met there was particularly fascinating to me. They had been raised, of course, like everyone else in this place, with the mantra, “What I think I am, this I am”, but this sect had also been taught from the very beginning: “You are what you eat!” Now to you and me, this is more of a figurative statement, but for them it was literal fact.  And so some believed themselves to be hamburgers, while others were certain that they were soda-pop, and nearly all of them believed, to various degrees, that they were French fries.

They clearly didn’t eat very well. But apart from their poor nutrition, I was concerned for their mental and emotional well-being. And, coming from the world that I did, I also cared deeply about their spiritual health; I could clearly see they were made in God’s image and likeness, even if they couldn’t see it. I wanted to help them see and believe they were more than simply what they ate. They were more than what they thought, or what they felt; and they were more than a mere small portion of themselves—even if they identify deeply with that part—even if they were taught, and believed and accepted, that their complex personhood could be reduced to a mere hamburger.  

So I tried to explain this to them, but you know, folks don’t like being told things. I was accused of hating them, since I didn’t accept what they thought they were. And if I couldn’t see that they were really French fries, then I was obviously a bigot, and I should work on myself, and maybe get my eyes checked. “But!” I protested, “You all can be, and are, so much more than merely what you eat…or simply what you think. Yes, you might be anything, but not in this way; this isn’t really freedom after all. You are an entire human being, a whole and unique part of this wide and grand human family; and this already means that you are something quite special and spectacular!”

And had it been a former time and place—the old world—they might have listened to me; but needless to say—in this world—they canceled me. And when I got back home again, I received an email from their lawyers, inviting me to learn more about people who think they are food. So that I might become a more loving and accepting person in the future.


Alone on Calvary

When I look death in the eyes, I hesitate to think, of you whom I’ve built my life upon. But then I wonder, where did you go—after you promised to protect me from this fate? How is it that I don’t perceive your presence?! But perhaps your still small voice—which my faith, if it were stronger—might perceive, would give me courage not to blink, as I consider this my death. And when I bring you to my mind, I remember, no, you never promised to protect us from this fate—but rather to save us afterwards.

You said this different word, with greater meaning; though somehow now, it’s still cold comfort with death staring me in the face. And I hear the clock is ticking—hear it tick—ticking away my time; and I wait, or I run (it makes no difference) until death comes for me. Then, I shall see you, won’t I see you? Then will I see you come for me?  To comfort me?!

Calvary was long ago—too long it seems, for me to know; but still I strain, to hear your still small voice. And I like to imagine you dressed in white, upon a mighty steed; and a battle cry—a thousand angels at your side—and all coming to rescue me! And if you’ll lead this holy cavalry; would you also come for me?!

Faith is such a fickle thing; it dances on the winds. Feel it slip between our fingers, as we grasp it with both hands. Or if we stretch our arms out wide, and hug the sky from side to side, faith still may not embrace us, though we try with all our might.



Pray, until you are one who prays~

Pray like a flame that will not go out;

burn brightly in unfavorable circumstances.

Pray, until you have become the prayer.


Pray, when prayer is no longer what you do~

Pray when pleasure no longer draws you to it;

when pain will not distract you.

Pray, as prayer is what you are.