Awakening

From within the numbing doldrums of a mind intent on worry,

on concern, on planning, on being prepared;

Out of the dearth of activating faith in our God above,

in trust, and hope, and love of what is unknown;

A spirit of invigorating life descended upon me,

igniting neurons that had slumbered;

A dove of light brought life to my apathetic mind,

which set me to remembering our God once again.

Oh joy! To remember after having forgotten,

to feel lighting-fast-thought flash here to there;

He shook me awake, like a slap to the face,

cold water over my head, tingling down my spine;

He spoke me alive, “life is to be lived,”

lived in love of Him and for what He has made;

He startled me out of my waiting stupor,

filled with anxious plodding and ponderous ennui;

I turned from my self-absorbed stultifying fear,

whereupon this is how He saved me.

~FS

Serenity

Through the thickets and the vipers of my inner world’s nest,

From every crook and turn and eddy where the demons do infest,

I’m searching for that treasure of a life that will not bite me,

A spiteless, and a fightless place, abounding in serenity,

Where goodness lays me softly down, in that my soul finds rest.

Shut the doors! Shut them fast! Allow this world in, no longer!

That wicked place where everyone is eaten by the stronger,

Find me in a quiet room, with manna from the skies,

Satisfied and peaceful, every tear wiped from my eyes,

At home again, no longer lost upon this earth to wander.  

Is this a Shangri-La, Utopia, or my solipsistic fantasy?

Would heaven breach this world faster, just because I’m weary?

Make-believe will never bring this reality to its knees,

This world outside me—and within—will not do, simply as I please,

When will God come, and finally give, the answer to my query?

~FS

When I Die

When I die I want the wind blowing into my face and around my head, and through whatever hair may still be growing there. Don’t package me up into a warm bed, in a warm room, to patiently await my expiration date. I want to be in the wilds, smelling the fresh pine, and not my own urine—if I am still able to smell anything at all. I want to feel that fresh breeze, blowing into my face; not pure oxygen from a tube thrust up my nose. Let me gaze out towards the horizon, and not up at the ceiling; out at the sky—streaked with golds and purple—and not up at an old brown water stain from a leak hidden someplace above the tiles. If I must go I want to go under the trees, and not in my bed, soiling my sheets. If you see me gasping and clutching at my chest, but I’m near a pond, on a mountain, or on a beach, leave me be. I’m dying my best death. Don’t ruin it for me with a call to the ambulance, or a trip to a hospital. When it is time to lay me down, into the earth, do not burn me. The time for fire is over; if I am to burn, let me burn while still alive: burning with love and burning with hope. Ignite me now with desire for all that is good, and all that is noble. Dress me in a simple gown, and place me in a plain pine box; and drop me into the earth to await my lord and king. And I don’t want to wear a suit, or a tie; those are fine, for other people’s funerals, but not for my own, thank you. I don’t need fanfare, I don’t expect a visit from dignitaries. Just close my eyelids, and set a little cross upon my breast. When I die, just say a little prayer and let me go. 

~FS

Prayer

Prayer is the gravity that anchors our being in peace. Prayer calms the thoughts and puts order to our searching. Prayer is our center and our arrow; it aims us at our target—Jesus Christ. I know that many people today don’t understand a need for Christ, they think he is foolishness, uselessness, or even damaging. But this is confusion, if we think Christ is these things we deny our hope, our strength and our source of healing. All good things within our heart and mind derive from a close relationship with Jesus Christ. Prayer guides us into the intimate depths of this most essential relationship. We must spend time in prayer, to know the peace that brings the chaotic confusion of this life to rest. I understand very little about this world but I understand something about prayer. Prayer is the most essential thing. It is the means of transcending sorrow and pain; it is the balm that allows Christ access to our heart in order to heal us. 

~FS

Pain

Pain casts us into many roles. It is a clever dramatist. One moment we are smug and disdain it—when it is light—the next moment it can torment us into unrecognizable beasts—when it is at its worst. It has the power to inspire, turning us into saints who run to alleviate the pain of others, and it has also the creativity to debase, transmogrifying us into devils who run to destroy others in order to alleviate the pain within ourselves.

I could be a Hitler. Sure. I could be a Mother Teresa as well. I could also be the drug addict laying on the sidewalk. I could be the parent praying fervently at their child’s hospital bedside, or the parent drowning their children in a bathtub. Pain drives us to many different conclusions. It can make us mad, and it can drive us mad. There are not enough tears in heaven, I think, to soothe all the pain on this earth. There is a hope of a future world without pain, but for now, there is enough pain in one square mile of dirt, to fill an entire universe.

Sometimes we are able to bear pain, by God’s grace, and can extend our hearts to others, helping to bear their pain as well. We enter into their pain, and we share it, and together we are softened and drawn close in bonds of charitable love. We endure, we struggle, we pray, we do whatever we can to lessen the pain of those we love. We are broken by the pain, and are subjected to extremes. The pain we feel in our own heart ignites and burns within us, and we pour ourselves out: in anger, in rampant love, in vengeance, in hope and faith, in desperation. The pain we see in others can make us frantic—though once our efforts to help them appear fruitless—it can turn our heart cold, we let ourselves freeze, to protect ourselves from further pain. We cannot look any longer, we turn the other way. It is sensible, what else can we do? The pain of others, especially those we know and love, will tear us to shreds, it will annihilate us, and break us, seemingly, beyond repair.

Sometimes we prefer narcissism, hedonism, or some other diversion from the pain of this life. At some point it just can be too much to bear; everyone has their limit. How can we fault them? Certainly we can judge them, especially if we aren’t feeling too much pain ourselves at the moment. I can’t fault them. Pain dialed up to a certain intensity is the stimulus for all manner of human failings. I’m grateful I haven’t endured that much pain.

But I’ve certainly had my share of it, and more than I’d like. As we all have, I would suspect. So, how can I judge even those who judge, or those who accuse others? Human judgement of others is just one more human response to pain; to the frustration that life, and human nature, isn’t what we wish it would be. Pain is a vicious cycle; one pain leading to another pain, and that pain feeding the next one. There is an end to pain in the next life (supposing you believe in that), but for now, pain is a very demented dramatist—casting us into roles we’d mainly like to avoid.  

~FS

A Real Life

If you make a meal,

but forget to ‘post’ it;

is it real?

You enjoy a sunset,

yet nobody ‘loved’ it;

was it worth it?

A tree falls in the forest,

and nobody heard it;

did it make a sound?

Another day passed,

but you signed no autographs;

do you really matter?

What is the meaning,

of one man breathing?

You are a universe.

If you will put away your phone,

and can find yourself alone;

this is a beginning.

What is the sound,

of your own heart beating?

It is life!

If you can live your life,

when nobody ‘likes’ it;

you are blessed.

~FS

A Call To Peace

Are you perplexed? Are you distressed? Have you despair? Might you be harboring anger? Take a deep breath, and let your mind rest. Look up at the sky, at the wide expanse that stretches beyond view; the calming gray of the clouds rolling by, and the vibrant, clear blue. The sky is untroubled by our worries; let it untrouble you. The sun shines brightly upon us—lightly—and the rain falls, giving us life. If someone you love is nearby, give them a hug. If they are far off, pray for them, and draw them near with your heart; and by the movement of your kind thoughts, they may find light where they are. Charity, the love that gives, is never lost, when given away. Pray for your enemies too, and draw them with hope, into your circle of peace. They may not come willingly—but they are free—let them go as they wish, but always pray for them, calling them silently, with charity and hope. In this way, plant a garden within yourself, which will yield a bountiful harvest of simplicity and sweetness; and clear the weeds of hatred or self-righteousness which choke and constrict all that is good within you.

Give free reign to your goodness, but not that goodness which arises from your indignation; and be kind, but not the kindness that foments self-congratulation. Rather, let your goodness and kindness arise from below, nourished from above. Let your goodness grow up out of the soft soil of humility; hand out the fruit of your labors—to your neighbors, and your foes—from your knees, as it were. Looking up, and never down at them, as you share whatever gift it is that you possess to give them. If you are able, allow the soil of your humility to be fed by Divine Wisdom. Trust not in yourself, if you can resist that temptation; and trust not in the claims of this world, if you can resist that temptation. Rather, look only to the Truth that comes from above; seek it with sincerity and innocence. Cultivate faith and hope, for these things allow one to recognize that Truth.

Our world is at war with itself; with every faction fighting every other faction, tearing each other apart. For those with faith in the God of creation, He is our lodestone to guide us through the miasma of this world. We look for something to lean upon in the confusion that is growing and swirling around us, and it is the cross; the stake that is driven into this earth, and upon which all our hope and salvation hangs. Our world offers us many compelling truths, leading in many directions, to many different ends; but only one Truth leads out of this confusion, and into the light of peace, and into The Life that is eternal joy.

Try not to become addicted to bad news, which only manifests outrage and fear. Take deep breaths and long walks in nature. Fellowship with the plants and the animals, and closeness to the rhythms of creation, will help mollify anger and extinguish fear. For this reason, distance yourself from the allure of digital technology—what we are gaining in convenience we are losing in humanity. This technology is a chimera and it is deceitful, it promises us unification, but is delivering division; it is dividing our human family, and it is conquering us. Use it wisely and sparingly—as a tool—but not as a god, or as a nursemaid.

How can we, who can only understand ourselves in the smallest way, hope to understand the complexities of this world? Who of us understands our own emotions and motivations—how then can we understand what is in the heart of other people? For this reason, try to refrain from judgment or accusation; and keep praying for those you disagree with, or who actively hurt you. Pray for everyone who is suffering; which includes everyone on this planet. Try to do no harm; think before speaking, and wait before acting, and try to refrain from adding further injury to the problems that already are bringing such suffering and pain to our human family. Even so, we cannot avoid offenses, since competing truths are vying for supremacy here, and each truth is incompatible with the other.

For those of faith, hold fast to the Truth that is God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, and defend it with charity, humility and firmness; never desiring offence towards anyone—even though offences will be interpreted and imputed to you by others. For those with a truth other than that found in God—if you are interested and able—begin to pray to God, read the Bible, attend services, befriend other believers, and learn the Truth that leads to ultimate human liberty, peace and eternal life. May God be with all people, and may His peace prevail. Above all, be below all. Make yourself as a little child; we are all little children before the face of God. We think, but we do not know; we act, but we fail. Therefore, forgive all people at all times. Forgiveness is the gateway to the kingdom of peace. Ask forgiveness, and give forgiveness, and may the God of peace gain entry into your heart forevermore.

~FS

A Call To Peace

Are you perplexed? Are you distressed? Have you despair? Might you be harboring anger? Take a deep breath, and let your mind rest. Look up at the sky, at the wide expanse that stretches beyond view; the calming gray of the clouds rolling by, and the vibrant, clear blue. The sky is untroubled by our worries; let it untrouble you. The sun shines brightly upon us—lightly—and the rain falls, giving us life. If someone you love is nearby, give them a hug. If they are far off, pray for them, and draw them near with your heart; and by the movement of your kind thoughts, they may find light where they are. Charity, the love that gives, is never lost, when given away. Pray for your enemies too, and draw them with hope, into your circle of peace. They may not come willingly—but they are free—let them go as they wish, but always pray for them, calling them silently, with charity and hope. In this way, plant a garden within yourself, which will yield a bountiful harvest of simplicity and sweetness; and clear the weeds of hatred or self-righteousness which choke and constrict all that is good within you.

Give free reign to your goodness, but not that goodness which arises from your indignation; and be kind, but not the kindness that foments self-congratulation. Rather, let your goodness and kindness arise from below, nourished from above. Let your goodness grow up out of the soft soil of humility; hand out the fruit of your labors—to your neighbors, and your foes—from your knees, as it were. Looking up, and never down at them, as you share whatever gift it is that you possess to give them. If you are able, allow the soil of your humility to be fed by Divine Wisdom. Trust not in yourself, if you can resist that temptation; and trust not in the claims of this world, if you can resist that temptation. Rather, look only to the Truth that comes from above; seek it with sincerity and innocence. Cultivate faith and hope, for these things allow one to recognize that Truth.

Our world is at war with itself; with every faction fighting every other faction, tearing each other apart. For those with faith in the God of creation, He is our lodestone to guide us through the miasma of this world. We look for something to lean upon in the confusion that is growing and swirling around us, and it is the cross; the stake that is driven into this earth, and upon which all our hope and salvation hangs. Our world offers us many compelling truths, leading in many directions, to many different ends; but only one Truth leads out of this confusion, and into the light of peace, and into The Life that is eternal joy.

Try not to become addicted to bad news, which only manifests outrage and fear. Take deep breaths and long walks in nature. Fellowship with the plants and the animals, and closeness to the rhythms of creation, will help mollify anger and extinguish fear. For this reason, distance yourself from the allure of digital technology—what we are gaining in convenience we are losing in humanity. This technology is a chimera and it is deceitful, it promises us unification, but is delivering division; it is dividing our human family, and it is conquering us. Use it wisely and sparingly—as a tool—but not as a god, or as a nursemaid.

How can we, who can only understand ourselves in the smallest way, hope to understand the complexities of this world? Who of us understands our own emotions and motivations—how then can we understand what is in the heart of other people? For this reason, try to refrain from judgment or accusation; and keep praying for those you disagree with, or who actively hurt you. Pray for everyone who is suffering; which includes everyone on this planet. Try to do no harm; think before speaking, and wait before acting, and try to refrain from adding further injury to the problems that already are bringing such suffering and pain to our human family. Even so, we cannot avoid offenses, since competing truths are vying for supremacy here, and each truth is incompatible with the other.

For those of faith, hold fast to the Truth that is God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, and defend it with charity, humility and firmness; never desiring offence towards anyone—even though offences will be interpreted and imputed to you by others. For those with a truth other than that found in God—if you are interested and able—begin to pray to God, read the Bible, attend services, befriend other believers, and learn the Truth that leads to ultimate human liberty, peace and eternal life. May God be with all people, and may His peace prevail. Above all, be below all. Make yourself as a little child; we are all little children before the face of God. We think, but we do not know; we act, but we fail. Therefore, forgive all people at all times. Forgiveness is the gateway to the kingdom of peace. Ask forgiveness, and give forgiveness, and may the God of peace gain entry into your heart forevermore.

~FS

Are There Dogs in Heaven?

Will there be dogs with us in God’s heavenly kingdom?

I sure hope so; though the reality is mere speculation.

All the animals we love, from this world, will God bring them?

If He does so—that would certainly be—our great jubilation!

To gaze again into their deep, soulful eyes,

To feel the warm glow of their faithful tranquility;

And for all to be free! From our drear earthly sighs,

Raised into the rapt joy of our new spiritual bodies.

What might God have in mind, for our glorious reunion?

Of everything made through His Limitless Wisdom;

All the cute critters and man, as celestial creations,

A beautiful, bountiful world—gathered to Him.

I pray that along with man’s deification;

Would be our beloved animal’s spiritual transformation.

~FS

Love Conquers Death

Love allows death no victory,

Though dead, we still see them everywhere;

Vividly alive in our memory,

Ever present in our heart, and always dear.

For instance, as I drift between wake and sleep,

I converse there, with my dear departed mother;

I smell her, and she holds me close, whilst I weep,

As we await a visit from my father, and my brother.

In fact, I just shared the secrets of my heart, with my old man,

To see him laugh and see him smile, is such a pleasure;

To share a beer, and feel the warmth of his old hand,

Would you believe it? All these years after his death, is quite a treasure.

Death would take the ones we love, away from here;

Love overturns death’s plan, and draws them near.

~FS