There is a sadness on Beacon Street.
Like suicide, it hangs around the corners.
I look up at it and wonder why it is there. 
It never answers.

“Holy God,” I say to it,
“Holy Mighty,
Holy Immortal, please have
mercy on me.”

This thing called “the Sloth” started following me yesterday.
It is shaped like sin or a blank hole.
It hates me but I can’t break away from it.
I run and I run but it’s always there behind me.

I run heavily. I run until I can’t breath.
I can’t say what is on my mind except this phrase;
this awful and good phrase:
“Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal,

please have mercy upon me.”
Breathing is such a fragile thing.
If the sloth follows you
you can’t breath because you will

never stop running.
I look up at the corners and shudder.
There it is, this thing shaped like sloth.
It’s covered in bandages and it has no mother.

“Sloth!” I scream. “Sloth, don’t haunt me
like this.” It doesn’t talk
or cry. I begin weeping and saying,
“Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal,

have mercy upon me.”
The sadness on Beacon becomes palpable
and rain-like. It drips on my sins
and my cloths. Everything becomes wet and cold.

“Holy God” I say, “Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal
drown my sorrows in liquor.
If that isn’t enough, then kill
me because existence is meaningless.”

In the sky fly three birds.
One is a bird, the other doesn’t exist
and the third is like a bird
except it is shaped like the Sloth.

When It opens it’s mouth
it screams in silence and I weep
because all I hear is “Holy God,
Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal,

have mercy upon me.”

There is a point to poetry about sorrow for the simple fact that in sorrow lies a large part of human existence. That is the context of this poem.


That You Will See The Nail Scars


    Read this article and then frame it this way: if your wife or daughter went to the gynecologist and the doctor would, without your or her consent, remove her uterus because she was poor, a “criminal”, an “illegal alien”, or had a mental health issue, you would not see that action as kindness in anyway, rather you would understand that that doctor violated your loved-one’s basic human rights. Please read this short story and recognize that currently the US government is force-sterilizing minority women in ICE detention centers. Do you know who else is currently sterilizing minority women for no reason other than hatred and racial supremacy? 

The Chinese government’s abuse –  https://www.news18.com/news/world/forced-into-sterilisation-sexual-violence-women-shine-light-on-campaign-of-abuse-control-by-beijing-2749215.html

But aren’t the communists our enemies? We expect them to do evil, right? Righteous America would never commit the same kind of violence in the same kind of ways that the evil, atheist communists would?
    The Chinese government hates the Uigher Muslims, a minority group living in north western China. The fact that any modern country would tolerate and/or build and then condone concentration camps comes as a visceral shock especially considering how Adolf Hitler gave them such a bad name. Us law-abiding Christian hate to think of any one force-sterilizing a woman for any reason. Us law-abiding Christian Americans hate to think of the violence that concentration camps bring to the world but ironically those same camps take place just in slightly different scales here in “God’s” country, America. What is even more sickening and ironic is to see the Kenosha sheriff talk the same disgusting unethical “concentration camp” language in a press conference just two years ago. His words are directed at black males who robbed a store. Here is the forty second clip from the press conference in which the sheriff details his idea while stating that this “is what many other decent folks have in mind.” If you call yourself a Christian and think the same way this sheriff does, maybe you should reconsider your religious beliefs. Also included is a link to John Oliver speaking context to the ironies surrounding the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, the vigilante murders of Rittenhouse, as well as the current narrative behind the RNC. 

Kenosha Sheriff rant against black criminals –  https://youtu.be/R1X03BIVevI

Further context for the above video –   https://news.avclub.com/john-oliver-connects-white-supremacist-murders-in-kenos-1844901915

    Now, if you have read all these articles, watched these videos, and are a politically conservative Christian, I know the first argument that is ringing in your head. “People who do bad things deserve to get shot if they don’t comply with authorities.” Or maybe you are thinking, ” yes that video of what the sheriff said was awful and shouldn’t happen, but seriously if people do bad things they should go to jail and sit in solitary confinement or rot in a cell for years.” or maybe a thought floating even further in the back of your head if you are trying to rationalize the words of the sheriff and even share his sentiments that some black men should be killed because their having babied propagates crime somehow, is “why do black men… why do black people do bad things? Why can’t black people just be successful like Obama or like me.” If you are thinking any of these things, then I want you to understand two things 

  1. You really don’t understand what it is like to be a person of color in America. You really don’t understand what it is like to grow up in a poor inner city. You really don’t understand the vicious law-enforcement that permeates the “hood” or how it creates an almost inescapable cycle for many youth of color who live in that context. You really don’t want to understand what people other people are going through. You really don’t understand the political and socio-economic struggles that tend to exist more clearly in highly populated cities in America. I will add that I also do NOT understand clearly what this means because I grew up in a very good family out in the country side. It has only been through much reading, study, paper writing, and self reflection that I hold these opinions or even find context to write this short story. 
  2. Similar to the first point: if some form of thought ran through your head like I mentioned above, you really can’t place yourself in another person’s skin or shoes. You choose to blatantly misunderstand the narrative of Mathew 25:31-46. 

The second point is what this story centers around. This story is a satirical parable about the hypocritical ways I understand most politically and religiously conservative persons think. 

I repeat: if you believe that a person who did some bad thing needs immediate and awful, violent retribution, you do NOT think the same way Jesus did. 

side note – I have written few short stories in my time as a writer and a large mass of words is difficult to manage. This story rambles like a gritty conversation between two men. Please have mercy upon me as writing and especially editing are difficult things for me to do. Note as well, that just because I placed this in public eye does not make me an expert on anything I mentioned. I am still learning just like you. I don’t know everything, and I understand little. Above all, if you misunderstand this story, instead of writing me off as some “libtard” know that I spent hours pondering then writing and editing this, and understand that it did not come from a void. Ask yourself: what sane rational person would spend hours stitching something together for nothing? I don’t understand this, is he coherent or sane? Well, quite obviously, I am very sane and coherent. It is your choice to understand. 

Thank you. 

A parable…

At the end of the age, Jesus, the God of us all, will gather every single one of his children from every corner of society and from every frame of time. Upon gathering them and us, Jesus will ask each what we did in life that was truly good. This will include not just arbitrary acts of niceness, but the things you or I did that flowed from the genuine, human affections of the soul.  

Jesus, being God, will judge us according to how He acted when he walked upon the earth. 
“You!” he will say in a welcoming tone, “You, how did you love? How did you show acts of kindness to your friends, to strangers, and even to your enemies? Remember what I showed you how loving your enemies is something that I did in my time frame. I taught you to love your enemies and all people not just because love is merely a good thing, but because love, even to your enemies is loving another person’s body, it means loving they way they look, or loving their color of skin, or loving their culture, and loving the way they laugh: it is loving them for who they are. Loving your enemies didn’t mean you didn’t weep when they did evil. No, you wept for the evil that they did and you tried to convince them to bring less pain and chaos into this world. Above all, by having loved your enemies, you gave them a second chance. You gave them the safe space in which they could pluck themselves up and praise me.” 

“You,” he will say, pointing towards you with undeniable affection, “have you done this. Did you love everyone, not just once or twice, but seventy times seven?”

Perhaps you will reply that you loved your neighbor, because your neighbor was your friend who you went to church with. You will reply, with such a graceful smile on your face, that you visited the jail several times a year because in the fragment of your society’s religious norms prison ministry was acceptable and good. When Jesus asks you what good you produced in the world, you reply that, for example, you taught your children to hate drugs and to view the drug user as a drug addict. You taught your children that people who were in jail needed to be there because they presumably did bad things and bad things needed to be punished. You will tell Jesus that you taught your children to not fornicate or wear jewelry.  You will tell Jesus that you helped homeless people just as he commanded, but only if the homeless person would use the money you gave them to buy milk or eggs to put in a refrigerator they don’t own because they are homeless. 

“Jesus,” you will say with a coy yet innocent smile, “I didn’t give to homeless beggars if they would use my money for drugs because drugs are bad and they kill the soul. Drugs send people to hell, right? I know you hate hell, and you said that all people who died loving bad things go to hell.”

And maybe Jesus will shake his head in wonder and give you a second chance to remember the tears on the homeless man’s face. Jesus will pause then to help you remember that the man had nowhere to lay his head just like himself, some two thousand years earlier. Jesus will look at you, and the pity in his eyes will ask you if you even found out this man’s name, or that this man had a wife and children at some point in time and that this man truly understood love. This man had made some terrible life choices that he regretted but he didn’t know how to get out of them because he was human and all he needed, at that point in time, was help, not just money. The homeless man needed help in such a way that someone would understand his human position and lift him towards God. But no one, not even you, would take the time to understand him.

 Jesus will wonder if you remembered this man with the same vividness that you remembered and re-did the sacraments on Sunday morning or if you remembered the man with the same fondness as you gave towards your church culture and your friends who fit into that culture. Jesus will look into your memories and see how you refused to give him money because you suspected he would use it for alcohol. You didn’t give him a ride because you were going the apposite way, and taking him to his destination would make you late. You did give him a Gospel tract and told him the some arbitrary facts about who Jesus was and how died on the cross. But this will trouble Jesus and cause him to wonder why you believed that you from your social, and religious perspective could only offer the man a lifeless piece of paper. You thought you were somehow helping “save” this man by giving him this tract when, in fact, what this man needed was one compassionate person to understand his pain and his need.  Jesus will wonder then if you saw that man as worth little simply because you could not superimpose your own personal narrative onto his. You couldn’t understand the homeless man’s mistakes or place in society.

You will both remember, then, the words of Jesus: “if you gave sacrificially to the least of these, you have done it to me.” Jesus and you will wonder if you had passed him by. 

Jesus won’t accept this thinking, and so he will purse his lips. And an awful silence will fill the moment. “I gave to the widows.” you will say trying to release the tension, “There was one who lived three acres away, just across the highway. Oh, and I raised an excellent family. All of them go to church now. They are all moral upstanding citizens.”

“Did you feed the naked?” Jesus asks.

“Well, I provided for my family.” you reply with quick tongue. “And I donated to different charities. And…” At this point you will tell Jesus a story from a long time ago about how you helped change a Hispanic guy’s tire. He had limited English and was confused as to reaching his destination. You suspected that he was illegal and you almost reported him but din’t feel like speaking to the police. The Hispanic man din’t actually need much help changing the tire because he already knew how to change a tire. You tell Jesus then how when you gave him a gospel tract, before you left, that you hoped he would later read because you knew the power of the message of the tract would change his life. You even prayed about him later for three weeks in a row. 

Jesus will nod at your story because he wants to understand you and your perspectives.  But then he will ask, “I am so glad you helped that man. I know him well. That was the goodness that I wanted you to do. That was who I wanted you to see. You took an opportunity at hand and used it for some good. But my question is, when you helped that man, did you see me in his eyes. Did you love me in that moment?”

 But you will squint in confusion because you only recall seeing Jesus painted as a white man with long, blond hair and blue eyes. The Hispanic man looked nothing like Jesus. 

“Well, I suppose you were there.”

 “I’m so sorry,” Jesus will say because he doesn’t want to overwhelm you “I don’t mean to confuse you. I wasn’t meaning that I was that man exactly, rather, I wanted to know if, when you looked into that man’s eyes, you understood him as utterly human just like I was ages ago and just like you were in your lifespan. Did you see him as a man just like yourself, with wonderful loves and joys, with pleasures and pains. Did you see this man as a man with children of his own? Did you see this man as a man who found life difficult sometimes, just like you or I. My question is, did you treat him like you would have treated me; like God? If you knew that I was that man, would you have gone out of your way to get to know me. And in that way did you see me in him?”

Yet still you squint your eyes, but a little less, because you are choosing somewhat to understand the meta-narrative of Jesus’ words.

But now, at the thought of love, what flows through your mind are the ways you loved when wanted to love. You remember that you wanted to love your wife, and so you did. You wanted to love your friends, even when they disagreed with you, and so you loved them. But Jesus can read your thoughts, because he is God, and so he asks you one final question.

 “Did you love your enemies?”

 “What do you mean?” you will ask “I never went to war. I never had to shoot someone.” 

“Well, by enemies “Jesus replies, “I mean this: did you love people who did evil things despite their evil? Did you love people who directed evil at you? Did you love people who had different ideologies that you did? Did you love people who lived outside of your cultural context. Let’s use this Hispanic man you just told me about, the one with a flat tire: he obviously lived far enough away from your cultural and religious context that you thought it a necessary good to give him a tract that described your specific christian or religious understanding and that described who you perceived me to be. What if I told you, now – being God – that he already knew who I was? What if he was already doing the goodness that I required of him? What if I told you that he loves me dearly and that I know him and love him as my brother?”

 Jesus continues, “It almost seems that because you didn’t know his story or couldn’t place him in your religious context or narrative, you immediately perceived him to be a lost soul yet you never found out if he was lost or not. People can worship in different ways, in different expressions, and in different cultural contexts. Condemning them immediately as a sinner refuses them their right to express who they are and what they understand and it denies them their humanity. Do you understand this? In a certain way, your giving him that tract was the easiest method of you warning him of some kind of impending doom that you believed to be incredibly pertinent. Incredible enough for you to give him a tiny, lifeless tract about, but not incredible enough for you to see him as an actual person. If you had actually believed in this terrible doom that you thought would burst upon this man some day,  you would have wept and pleaded with him continually. You would have befriended him. You would have learned his own language. You would have found every opportunity to remind him of this doom and that he could save himself from it. The fact is, your idea of this doom didn’t exist vividly enough in your mind then, at such a critical and human point in your time, for it to have created a real, visceral reaction in your sentiments toward that man, because all you wanted to do was help him as quickly as possible so you could go home to love the people who returned your love. You offered him a mere piece of paper in exchange for your time, thinking that he would do well enough on his own to understand your personal perspective. All this “doom” was in your life was your own personal opinion. This doom was an idea your culture constructed that helped you make sense of lifestyles and reinforce your own. This idea helped you sort and condemn people who you thought were evil and whose humanity you couldn’t understand. In reality, this doom-idea was an excuse to aid and understand humanity as little as possible because if they didn’t agree with your religious opinion then you turned them over to the “doom” and counted them as lost. Did you actually think you were helping him? ”

 After a short pause, Jesus will continue, “If you had actually loved this Hispanic man, beyond your idea of doom, don’t you think you would have, put very frankly, understood him for who he was and thus loved him for who he was in his place in time? Think of it this way: if you had actually loved this man, you would have seen my body in his.”

“Now don’t misunderstand me,” Jesus says, ” offering this man, whom I love, some help was good at some level and this is what I wanted you to do, but I also wanted more. You really thought you loved him for who he was, but it seems like that the only thing you did, in the end, was give him your ideologies on a lifeless piece of paper.”

 Jesus will pause again. “I find it curious that when I asked if you loved your enemies that your initial response began with the fact you never went to war. Do you believe that enemies are only created in the context of violence? Aren’t enemies those persons who disagree with us and our cultural perspective so deeply that we or they choose to completely disassociate with each other? Sometimes ideas are so powerful and broad that they lead to large misunderstanding and even to bloodshed and violence, but that is rarely the case. I am glad you never went to war. I never did either, and I commend you on that point. But enemies are not always found in war.”

But you will sit there and stare at the floor because you know that Jesus is right. You remember that your enemies were very real in your time and place. Jesus will continue to press you on this issue of enemies, however.

“ So, in your time and day,” Jesus says, “people disagreed over issues of race and religion.  You chose the narrative that stated essentially that anyone who lived outside of your cultural, religious and racial context was an enemy, not merely by physicality, but because they didn’t fit inside your specific religious or social ideologies of what you thought people should be. Of course, if such a different person would have changed their own personal ideologies and perspectives to more nearly match yours, they would become saved or good, somehow. Perhaps you believed that because some person changed their thinking or lifestyle that they would have potentially placed themselves in line with more love from me. That is to say, they would have become less of an enemy to your ideologies and to your context, to your very understanding of skin color or religion or perspective and thus less of a perceived threat to who you thought I was.”

“Think of it this way,” Jesus says kindly, “You rejoiced when your country dropped bombs on its enemies because if your countries enemies had had their way, they would have supposedly ended your culture and your personal lifestyle. You believed the fear mongers who said that such and such a person wanted to kill you and rape your wife and daughters because they believed a different religion then you or because they had a different context or lifestyle. You thought that America was destined to be God’s mighty nation, and any person – say a Muslim or a migrants from the Northern Triangle or black persons advocating social justice – who did not share your nationalistic ideologies, or fit into what your frame of “American”, must have been an enemy to some extent. You equated and confused certain American ideals of justice and religious freedom with the sacrificial freedom of love that I advocated for as if they were remotely similar. Ironically, then, if someone was to tread on your ideal for American religious freedom, they became an enemy in your eyes and were not worthy of love but fit for death and harsh judgement. You believed that if someone was an enemy of your nationalistic and religious ideals, then they did not deserve love.”

 Jesus pauses again, because he wants to complete the thought before you begin to retort.

“That’s precisely the point” Jesus will say with mercy in his voice, “I wanted you to love people for who they were despite their ideologies and despite their sin. I never advocated senseless retaliating violence on the criminal for the crimes they committed however small or great. What I wanted from you was to see past a person’s evil, even if that evil was such a small thing that they aimed at you. I wanted you to look past a person’s evil and love them the same way you would have loved me. What is more, most people that you perceived to do evil and whom you hated – racially, ideologically and physically – most of those people you thought committed evil didn’t actually commit evil, you just thought they did. You thought that they committed some evil by whatever definition evil meant to you then”

“You hated your enemies and so you just misunderstood them.” Jesus says. 

“What I desired most from you,” Jesus pleads with you, “was for you to give everyone a second chance, and I wanted you to convince everyone to stop doing evil things no matter how small or great those things were. I wanted you to love everyone regardless of who they were, of what they did, of their skin color, or of their lifestyle. I wanted you to love everyone despite what name they called me. I didn’t mean for you to become something other than what I created you to be. I didn’t want you to embrace something other than what I gave you. I didn’t mean for you to stoop to sin just because you loved the sinner. I wanted you to love all humans because love is good and because I am love and I want you to love me and everyone created in the image of me. And, ultimately, what I wanted you to do is to help all humans you interacted with, to further their love for all of humanity at all times, and to further their love in me.” 

But a hard shadow falls across your face and slides into the pit of your stomach because suddenly, you don’t recognize this man speaking to you. 

And at this point, this man named Jesus, out of pure joy and love, will stretch his arms so wide that you will see the nail scars in his hands. 

Night, Where Nothing Becomes

The world is fragile. It has always been this way, yet now I sense this more apparently. Where the wind blows through my window, onto my bed. By the sun beams, or the rain scattered on my window frame. I heard the first thunder of spring yesterday as it shattered the sky.

This blue evening that down on the city descends is fragile. The night air staggers slowly down the alley, and, I watch it from where I sit, clenching my fists. Tree branches texture against bricks and the turquoise patina of copper roofs, against the dusk and beyond into infinity. What delicate universe upholds us. I used to believe in God the way I was taught to believe but I can’t anymore. Matt called me last night, sobbing into the phone because the twenty dollars I gave him are all he has between him and the world. His mother doesn’t love him anymore. I told him that God is with him, not only in spiritual omnipotence but also in transient flesh. God sleeps on the streets too, because He has been evicted and misunderstood. She has been raped and broken. God is one of us: “genocided”, paralyzed, beaten, crucified and lynched, underestimated, gassed and burned. God weeps with us and wonders how to get home.

“God is with you in your darkness.” I told him. And then I prayed with Matt, saying

Even before we call on your name to ask you, Oh God.

When we seek for the words to understand You, You hear our prayer.

Please, God, please be with us. Please be with Matt in his darkness.

This world is a fragile place.

And everything was almost falling. I understood it then. The delicate moment balances each frame hoping the next won’t be the last. Piercing all of this, piercing the dusk, and the looming fruit of night comes a bird’s song.

The carpet in the hall is red and silent. I know this, because I stepped into the hall, leaned on the railing, looked up to the sky-light and down the stair. But all was silent. I heard an intermittent scream of a fire alarm – very faint, yet persistent. “Fragile,” I told myself.

At 3 A.M. this morning, I heard the bird song begin again. Dulcet and keen through the thick darkness of the alley. Repented, relentless, the bird kept singing oblivious of the universe, of this existential crisis, oblivious of its own fragility. Cocking my head to the sound, I found a strange comfort in the bird song. What fragile body hold this tune? Can form its lips and sing into the city? I knew not this. I only listened, and felt the world shift beneath me.

I then crept to my fragile bed, and curled myself under thin blankets thinking, “Sleep is fragile. I know this, because I remember nights when I couldn’t rest. Sleep is fragile, yet perhaps the most powerful thing I know. Sleep is like a river, black in the midnight, that will never end or grow. It is and remains. When we once die, sleep will become our being. Sleep is like silence. We understand silence because since birth our ears have been bludgeoned by unending noises. Noise is formed and shaped to create language by which we define our realities. Yet, when these are gone, then comes the silence that always was. Noise begins in silence and must end there. Sleep begins when our waking ends. Sleep must be the void from which our waking is mystically created. The undefined world of darkness onto which light is pronounced and creation begins. In waking we find sorrow and hunger, grief and panic, horror and joy. But then comes sleep: to slip again into silence and light, rediscovering innocence in the bosom of nothing.”

When I woke, I remembered my friend who I suspect has killed himself by now. I didn’t know, but I have no way calling him. A new person owns his phone. I can only surmise and pray for his soul. I can only bend my fragile thoughts into fragile beams, sharp at the tip, and hurl these into the sky. God hears every prayer, I know this. But most of his answers are silence, and I don’t blame Him. Silence is fitting in times of deep pain. Silence is meaningful and God must be as fragile as we are. Maybe God is sleeping right now as he hold my friend’s soul close to his bosom.

Again, I stand in my window and look to the dusk. In the buildings across the alley, people move in the windows. Fragile windows hold back the cold, and fragile light bulbs shine on them. My room remains dark and silent.

I would go home, but I am afraid that if I did, I would bring a lung-chewer back to my parents. I become angry at ignorant underestimation of this tiny virus. Those who think they are stronger then nature, believe that they have risen above nature itself by virtue of their humanity. In the end, a human is simply a highly functioning collection of atoms and cells. An articulated string of DNA. What fool would be so enchanted with their own body, that they discredit how fragile are the tiny bits that create us? Atoms and molecules, clusters of protein, ions and lipids, layers of cells snapped together, each cell a complex, organic society of living things that alone create a universe beyond our comprehension. In all of this, where is there room for the spirit? Where are the gaps through which the soul seeps. If God designed all of this, then why do we believe He cares more for the spirit of us – the intangible soul – than for the organic body and being?

I am afraid, not of my being, and not of my end. I am afraid of what I don’t know. That I will never know why I am. How can I understand the word “dimension” when not even God gives you answers for the meaning – oh, the utter universe – the lies beneath this simple word. Dimension. Space. Time. God. I. Why must these be, and why is God?

I am afraid, because I don’t know where I will go when I die. I don’t even know what death is. Where will I go in the afterlife?

I lie down in the afternoon. Through my window, I see the sunlight is cold in the wind that blows down the ally. I lie here understanding that sin and death and every terrible occurrence provided by human, animal or the grand force of nature, every thought or sentiment that is evil is so not because God is omnipotent enough to have ordained it or that he constantly micromanages every bit and particle. God is not omnipotent enough to create something that then turns on Him and destroys itself while He remains aloof. This is not the best of all possible worlds, and yet this world is good. God has chosen to let the world do as it will and simultaneously enters into the world, possessing every brilliant moment of pain or joy.

Imagine the shape of God. He is smaller then our conceptions. The Old Testament hyperbole of God using earth as a footstool, or that He stomps over mountains and through oceans are only useful in evoking passion or love towards the idea or concept of God. A myth is not literal or real necessarily, rather it serves a purpose of communicating a very basic and simple truth underneath the magnified embellishments. God is as afraid as we are, not understanding why sin is or why people would choose evil. God has made a world gone rouge, a universe greater than himself, and his omnipotence lies his ability to enter into every moment. He is not abstract to pain or suffering and certainly inhabits the goodness that is.

It is night now. So I sleep and I don’t know if I dream, but if I do, I hope I do not remember. Let it be night where innocence is an utter oblivion. Let it be night, where nothing becomes the only present thing.

Even before we call on Your name
   To ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
   You hear our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
   Surpassing all we know.

Glory to the Father,
   and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.

Even with darkness sealing us in,
   We breathe Your name,
And through all the days that follow so fast,
   We trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
   Beyond all mortal dream.

Both now and forever,
   And unto ages and ages,

From Pilgrim’s Hymn by Stephen Paulus

Despite This, I Hold Them Together

Begin with a poem.

Leaves fall in the puddle glass 
and rain down through cement’s cut 
The birds cling to the bark weeping
God hears every prayer 

The windows glow upon the dawn
these eyes have smiled in the sun
the winds blows on the river waves in silence
God hears every prayer

Last night when laughter echoed
from the street when somewhere someone loved 
felt no guilt reciprocated not towards me forgotten
God hears every prayer

And seagulls whispered to the day and night bickering
the clouds dispersed but gathered again
Here is my soul adrift spinning lost I once thought 
God hears every prayer. 

This poem is written to emphasize a dichotomy between the small moments that you and I experience vs. what we expect from God: which is answers and those things fundamental to life – happiness, goodness etc. Please don’t deny that you don’t expect anything from God: I expect to live long enough to finish this blog post, while you expect to live long enough to read it.

Perhaps expectation is an uncomfortable way to frame how we desire the gifts of God. What if I frame expectation in terms of how we understand God’s will? “If God wills we will both reach the end of this blog post”

But this assumes several things. The fact that we invoke God’s will implies that we appreciate and love what is extended from and poured into our lives through that will. Which implies that we have an expectation for that will, namely, that the will must be good by virtue of God’s own goodness. If God is good, then the will must be good, and thus we expect the will to direct and guide our lives in light of such goodness. If God contained a good will but did not extend it towards us hapless humans, he could not remain as good. If God used his good will in a wrong way, he could not remain good.

You expect God to preserve you, your family and everything you love. You expect God to lead you in life, and to shower you with meaning. If every goodness in your life were decimated, you once again turn to God expecting him to give you meaning or resolution in the pain, or at least an overwhelming, pain-numbing peace. You expect God to be good. We all do, because to gamble that God could be evil, or even slightly less then good, is too painful for our mortal minds to bear. It contradicts every wrinkle of logical and theological gray matter that the Christian brain contains. Attempt this, however: imagine if God were less then good by a micro-degree, and perhaps you will better understand not only your utter mortality but also your soul’s keen dependence on the goodness of God and the expectation that that goodness will remain at least another second if not for an eternity.

What does this have to do with the poem?

I love nature for how consistently it convinces me that I am human, alive and real. That none of this is a dream. Rain drops on cement, leaves in a puddle, or the way gulls fly and the abundance of light that illuminates the entire sphere reminds me that more goodness remains despite the abundance of evil. I find it difficult to reconcile the tangible, objective nature of organic life, with the idea of an invisible God and His will towards me. To reconcile loving the earth and the bodies that inhabit it, with the intangible, spiritual and eternal parts of humanity and of God. To try to comprehend that God is Spirit yet that He inhabits the physical world, sustaining everything down to its micro-bits, and yet that He understands the soul, speaking in a voice audible to our spirits. To understand that He created every drop of water good. That He energizes the light as shown upon my windows, and that He hears every prayer, understanding the heart of my grievances and joys.

I do not doubt God’s goodness as it extends to every part of creation or that he hears my prayers. But I try to reconcile the invisible, supernatural God and His good, supernatural will as it concerns my soul with the tangible, experiential goodness of my every waking moment in the same way I would hold two magnets and push them together. Some days the magnets click. Other days, they repel each other. On those days, I hold them together as far as they and I can take, not doubting the reality of both simply because they don’t harmonize; neither doubting because both are very real and tangible, yet not understanding the hidden force that won’t reconcile the two.

Despite this, I hold them together.

The poem is purposefully ambiguous in its lack of punctuation because sometimes when I read this poem I read it sarcastically and other times I believe.

Series 1.

My blog tag line says “Poetry & Photography”. I have posted blog posts of poems including photos but have never dedicated a blog post specifically to photographs.

Read with your eyes.

These are some of my favorite photographs from the past few months.

Man in 7-11 light
Conrad in Yellow Room
Amish Farm in Paradise

But of Its Portending

All things die and the world moves on.

How is that for an opening line?

But death itself is merely a catalyst of change in the world. Old things must pass away and new things arise. Traditions – those old ruts worn deep into the red earth of our psychi – grow over as we depart their arid consistencies and blaze new traditions of logic and meaning into the underbrush. How this change takes place, and more importantly, why, is not for me to discuss here. Accept this: time changes people and how they think.

Must we be surprised by the shifting modes from generation to generation? How our parents thought and thus lived WAS different from their parents. The environments of our antecedents changed because of certain technologies or art influencing them and their culture at that time. Our ancestors chose to either react against or consume their culture’s thinking. In this way, they created new environments, new ruts of logic to grant some meaning to their lives. They created and reinforced “tradition” by adding by-laws and more by-laws and thus changed the traditions entirely over the centuries. This fact remains: their thinking changed and they changed.

They had to, because no method of thought is ever timeless or static.

The cycle of creation, death and regeneration continues in us. Before we die, we must build new technologies, create new art, reform the traditions, etc. not only for the sake of expression, but also because creation is what creatures reflecting the Creator must do. We must react with or against the current tides of thought just as those before us. It follows, then, that the old traditions and ideas, have weakened and rusted since our parents recreated them. Through overuse the modes have grown starkly “out of context”. Once again, no method of thought remains timeless. Rather, we in this generation, must disassemble the modes, reanalyze them, and reconstruct them, using both old parts, and new fabrications that streamline, contextualize and maintain truth to us in our age before we also die. The modes – be it theology art, logic, traditions – must change.

Allow me to clarify: the underlying morals never change, but the rules dictating and illustrating how we interact with them, do change. Truth itself will never change. The means to truth change but not the end. Another illustration is to say that many waters, many springs of thought boil forth in their time and place, creating and bleeding into semi-permanent runnels and branches which then feed the greater unchanging rivers. Too soon, those primary sources and runnels dry up and die or change direction or new fountains break through the earths surface and trickle in a new pattern. Yet all of these in their time and place lead upwards to the eternal Being of the sea.

With that thought in mind, why is so much energy forced into forming and protecting the younger generations from their context? Why arm them from sin with rusty butter knives of thinking. Let them create change with tools fitting the problems of their time. Perhaps in the days of our grandfathers, giants loomed across the land. They killed those monsters with those butter knives but now we suffer a thick plague of flies so we pray for giant fly swatters and for women and men to lift them. If time is a flood; why try to repair the crumbling dam, using old styles (merely rags) of clothes, reformation era stones of theology and logic? Wings tied to horses and carts can not fly at the same pace as airplanes. Update. Adapt.

This poem spawned from the understanding that trying to save things is futile. To fear change is a profligate sin which paralyzes self from experiencing God through the newness of change. If we embrace the dynamic circle of life, we realize that our telos is not to save ourselves or our progeny from the changes brought by “this present age”. Through death we propagate new life by allowing our methods of thought to be taken, broken down and reconstructed for a new context. OK. Enough. Read this poem. Admittedly, it’s hard to follow. This poem is meant to sooth the pain of change.

The rabbit’s in my lawn again yesterday, today 

eating as it can between macadam 

yellow heads and leaves of grass. 

From kitchen window (pane half-cocked, still wet)

I see the rabbit stooping.

Mouth to the ground, ears aroused. 

Remembers it the distant rain?

For yesterday, the afternoon heavy, gray broke 

its fasting pouring hail and water

down upon this velvet strip of earth

over rabbit’s den, over thorns and weeds

Into the deep cracked, black macadam,

Oh, the seeping rivers fell. 

“She will die soon,” I say aloud to the kitchen sink. 

look how she hobbles

like a stranger, penitent. Like a burdened pilgrim,

or prophet whose heavy tongue, weighs down, weighs down 

by this mystery of death. 

Yet no soon does this thought pass between

my lips of mind, then I understand that

the end begins only when I 

acknowledge my desire

for something -be it anything,

any experience however transcendental,

any rabbit – to live forever.

Because nothing lives forever.  

Death is inevitable, and my desire

illuminated, intensified, this truth.

In death is beauty, not of its desolation or loss,

but of its portending. 

Beyond all of the poetic jargon, this poem is a simple narrative about a rabbit that I saw hobbling around the house for several weeks. It seemed weak and sick and I strongly desired to help the poor thing. My sympathy for the rabbit wished it would never die. Which is not a terrible sentiment. Not to digress, the sentiment itself looks forward to a day when no rabbit or human will hobble sickly through a few short months or years. Despite this, the sentiment in its context remains unrealistic.

Why? And how does this poem relate to the thoughts preceding the poem?

Very simple. People fear change because they are both afraid of the ending and afraid of the pain that ending brings. A tradition is created mainly as a method of preserving and upholding human happiness in specific context. Thus the tradition is acceptable in that it create a tiny sphere of happiness for the human as long as the human who prescribes to it lives according to its standards.

Here is the problem: People are selfish to believe that their specific tradition/mode and thus their specific method of happiness is applicable to everyone in every time and space. This idea is embodied in the rabbit. We all desire our own aesthetic and religious principles or traditions to last forever.

But I say unto you that the end begins when you desire your thinking to live forever because now you are aware of the end and the inevitable shift that will happen even if you choose to ignore death. Or, if the end is realized, the tendency may be to prepare for it by stockpiling specific traditions, modes, logic, etc. onto the minds of the progeny so that they can have the same happy life you did. But you can not prolong the end. You cannot escape change. Your thinking can not preserve your ideals. In fact, I would recommend not thinking about how to preserve your thinking, rather focus on living and teaching the truth in your context. Focus on showing your progeny how to adapt. The kingdom of heaven can shape-shift into any color of heart in any era or land.

The very obvious question is “what is my portending? How will an end or change to me and my thinking and the thinking of my generation be any good?” The use of portending in the poem might be confusing. I use the word in the sense that death portends a change, a newness, a certain beauty that could not have happened otherwise.

I cannot tell you what your ultimate portending is only that if change of thought occurs in your life or in those younger then you at least you can observe and experience something new. When you die, death will be exhilarating because it means that someone new will take your mind’s place and weight upon themselves and use it’s truth for good. The world, then, made lighter by one soul, can move more easily and quickly into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Lament: How to Look for Lost Things

One assurance of life, as factual as death, is the loss of innocence that arrives with the loss of childhood. I am not a child anymore, and never will be again. I am staggered, struck, thrown down beneath this blinding weight: that the bliss I once handled and tasted, ran through with arms spread wide, smelling of sun and glee, that romance, that utter independence on nothing except the day itself, long and brilliant, that total sheer delight blind of time, oblivious and unaware of death, all that 

all that

is gone.

My mother and I both experienced a certain heaviness in my transition from a child to a man. My mother lost a boy, and what did she gain? 

“I don’t know”, she said to me once ” I don’t know who you are anymore. It’s like I woke up and found a stranger living in the same house as me. Who are you? Who is this stranger you have become?”

At the time I couldn’t answer. I was 19, less inarticulate and less self aware. I processed her words for several months and wrote two or three poems all dealing in various ways with the loss of childhood and the turning of time. These poems were saw-toothed, forbidding, full of doom and chaos. Think of them as “articulately inarticulate”, if you will. All of them attempted expressing a thought too deep for tears, or tongues. Over the years, (I am four years older now) most of the poetry I have written deals with the loss of innocence and childhood stemming from that moment. 

This poem is another lament. It tells you how to look for lost things. Read it.

My mother used to tell me,
look for lost objects, things like pins
and hammers, love, or moments of childhood  
the way a woman looks for them. 

Women overturn things, moving where they saw it last
peering into dark corners with a lamp in their eyes. Hope
compels them, she said, to search the attic, behind 
book shelves and all the beds, or sifting the grass

then peering through the trees through which 
the lane comes. Men are like giants, she said,
when they lose something they stalk over 
the blue mountains scattering glances 

down between the valleys but never stooping, 
never bending their eyes to really look because 
men know they can always build a new thing, recover from 
their losses, turn away from pain, treating sorrow as weakness.

Women can’t help loving what they have
with a fierce mother’s mercy. And when they 
lose something, they fall on their knees peel back 
the carpet, overturn the asphalt in the lane, bend the trees, 

or sweep up the dog hairs and pins to see if what they love
hides there, behind. They dip their fingers into the river,
dredging and saying, “my son, my son, where are you?”  

The most accessible moral from this blog post is that transition for my mother and I has been difficult. The person I was as a child and later when 16 or 17 is nearly unrecognizable now. He has changed, becoming darker, more intense of humor. He is more independent and solitary. His arguments, now, are as sharp as a snake’s teeth. His head is as heavy as an anvil. He changes little for others and loves few people. Yet he laments with his mother because they both remember a young boy, easy going, naive, innocent, blithe. They both stagger beneath the thought that he is lost now. He won’t come home again. They dredge their fingers in the same river, wondering and searching, separated by a thousand miles of tears and loss. 

I Fear Dying Alone

Not in the scenario in which l never find love and affection or live a meager, meaningless life. Those types of fears are common to all men and women, but not to me. By “alone” I mean the type of aloneness in which I find no significance in a relationship beyond mere interaction and titillation. Ultimately, isolation unto myself becomes my only source of comfort (and thus my prison). 

Does that make sense? A community of the most engaging, spiritually enriching, giving, caring, human beings could surround me, yet I would prefer to be alone. And engage only when engaged with, on a perfunctory level where in I disclose only the cheapest, most accessible trinkets of my soul, because the objects of greatest value I would rather remain hidden in obscurity, that I, alone, may stare into what dim radiance they offer.

Read this poem.

In a corner of the midnight 

This old man sits, alone, staring into 

His eye lids. Above him, 

With gripping austerity, a nail 

Hangs a portrait: those etched in the frame 

Have all gone away now. And the old man 

Knows this even as he stares unflinching,

Breathing heavily. 

Now, the cuckoo rouses 

Saying, wake up! wake up! And the nail 

Digs deeper into the wall, and frame 

Sees nothing. 

Alone! alone! the cuckoo says accusing

To the silence thick and stubborn. 

Alone! Then turns to rest a pitiful

Rest while the nails knuckles turn white,

The portrait stares blindly at the scene 

Of the old man’s nodding head. 

He should’ve changed by now, the cuckoo mutters loudly

almost weeping. Midnight is the hardest hour.

Son of man, can those bones live again” the cuckoo says

one last time to the old man, the nail, the portrait 

But the silence tightens 

And the nail sweats at the jaw almost weeping

With excursion,

The people in the frame dance a silent unseen 

Dance backwards. 

Good poetry, like good comedy, follows the “rule of three’s”. Three things project in this poem.

  1. The cuckoo
  2. The photograph
  3. The nail

The old man is connected to all of these. They represent differing aspects of his solitude.The cuckoo is a conscience that repeats the obvious to the man while he sleeps. “You are alone. You should have changed by now. You shouldn’t have become alone. What can change you. oh you, what can make you different now that you are this old.”

The people in the frame have all moved on and he has moved away from them. Perhaps they died, or perhaps the old man never connected to them in a long lasting relationship. After many years, he secluded himself unto himself. They might still speak to him, but they never truly speak to him, rather, to only a figment of him: that cheap, easy phantom which he allows to be spoken to. They dance backwards because they are memories and he thinks of them in the past’s context, not as an ongoing relationship. 

The people hang by the nail and the nail represents stubbornness. The man refuses to admit that those in the frame mean nothing to him. They mean quite a lot in an abstract way. But he would rather be alone, and would rather interact with the memory, the intimations of relationship then to know and be known. 


Escaped the Weight of Darkness

Winter holds a certain mystic appeal for me. I enjoy winter not for winter itself but because the coldness foreshadows an inevitable change. Winter becomes spring and spring becomes summer. It is romantic to watch the snow melt into rain in March, and the rain brings out the greenness of the grass and buds in April – but this greening happens slowly. I anticipate this slow verdance with a patience that I do not have in any other areas of life.

Merely observing the change is pleasurable.

Which reminds me of a poem called “For They have Escaped the Weight of Darkness”. Read it, then I will explain it and introduce you to Olafur Arnalds. This poem was also placed on The Curator. By the way, the reason I publish poems on This Blinding Light that have already been published on the Curator is because I don’t have room there to write my thought on the poem, but here I do.

For They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness

They are sweeping it away now:
The tiny specks of stones
The skin broken from the asphalt
And all the dust that fell from
The sky for months now.

I saw a grandmother
This morning, sweeping,
and two boys,
That old man by the High School;
the one holding the stop sign and the traffic:
He too will likely lay those down 
Trading them for a broom and a dust pan.

The gristles scrape at the cement. 
Goodbye, the people say, Speaking and extending
through the gristles and their gritted teeth. 
they grunt in exertion drawing away the anamnesis:
the eternity of the small days,
the deja-vu of black branches,
the fingerprints of the icicles,
The claw marks left by the plows,
And all of the unutterable words.
To these, they say goodbye.

And thus, we too, must sweep away the remembrance:
the dispassionate agonies,
the emptiness,
leave dormancy behind,
And the inscape of inclement brittle spirits,
We too must cleave from our insufficient prayers,
That rose and returned
again and again
Finally melting
as the last snow melts in April.

For they have escaped the weight of darkness.

In Pennsylvania the winter is fickle when deciding to end. People look at their weather apps and predict that the snow that fell the week prior was the final snow, but then another storm brings another inch and the snow plows leave their sheds once again to scrape it away. There is no sound iconic like that of a snow plow screaming and rumbling down a street throwing thick streams of snow, dirt, and pebbles onto the sidewalks. And really, the sound of the snow plows is a terrifying and impatient sound especially in April. This coldness should have ended by now.

Winter is done only when the snow banks melt away completely. All that remains after the melting are small heaps of pebbles and dust that clutter the sidewalks and edges of the roads. The snow plows threw them here. These heaps must be cleaned away. They remind us of winter, and winter is dead now. They remind us of the dark months, but those are behind us.

Go into the small towns in Pennsylvania during early April and you will see people sweeping up the last remains of winter. Perhaps, another snow storm could fall because Winter is fickle. But maybe not. Not this late in April.

Part 1 of the poem speaks on the people sweeping away the dirt and pebbles as if to sweep away the memories of a winter that lasted too long. I remember that winter, the winter I wrote this poem. In my memories, the winter overstayed. I was relieved to finally see some people with some hope, some faith that winter was finally done.

Part 2 and 3 applies the idea of sweeping as a metaphor to my personal life. That winter was harder for me. There were transitions, and changes that were uncomfortable. Part of the darkness of that winter was failure on my part to be the best human I could be. In the same way that these people swept away the winter, I desired to sweep my winter away. And I could. I could sweep it away; I could escape that weight of darkness.

This applies to all of us, because we all go through difficult periods and at the end of those, what do we do? At the end of our darknesses there always remains sign or a consequence. Little heaps of pebble that remind us of what has just occurred in our life.

And I say, sweep them up.

Did those prayers not work for you this winter? Sweep them away and come back with a new request. Did boredom haunt you? Were the skies too grey? Were your desires mishandled and crushed? Was rest evasive? Did silence overwhelm you? Then find a delightful noise and rest in your sweeping. The Winter is done now, and you have escaped the weight of darkness.

PS. The title is not my own. It comes from an album of the venerable Olafur Arnalds. Do you not know who Olafur Arnalds is? Well let me introduce you to his music. All of his music is fantastic! My recent favorite of his would be his latest album “Re:member“, but I would recommend all of his music to you. Ease yourself into him start with the wonderful and simple sounds of “Living Room Songs” then work towards “The Chopin Project” or For “Now I am Winter”. The album I return to time and time again is “…And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness”. There is a similarity of tone that the album has to this poem.

The Gentle Art of Killing Sheep

No, really. That is the title of this blog post as well as the title of a poem. I would like to explain why this title is as is. Now remember that in the last blog post I said that not all of these blogs may make sense. I am a poet, not a logician and while logic can help every human understand simple things, logic still doesn’t make life fair or explain why the powers in heaven do what they do.

Take Job for example. He’s a good man. He does what is right, he offers sacrifices, he raises a thick quiver of arrows (family), has a wife he loves, but more importantly he is very rich as a result of his obedience to God. Satan, that spirit of dark thoughts, observes Job’s success then enters God’s presence to complain about what he believes is Job’s pretentious and hollow attitude towards God.

“Job only loves you because you bless him with material wealth.” the devil says with a quivering, accusing finger.

God, as any good, loving and logical God would do, listens to the Devils garbage arguments/rhetoric and allows the Devil to destroy every area of Jobs success: wealth, family, and health. Its awful really. Too awful to describe or imagine. Go read Job to refresh anew the nuances of this tragedy. Job’s faith is strong enough, however, and he endures suffering and pain like a champ with a just a speck of complaint. (chapter 3)

The complaint was for Job to ask God why. Why was he born? Why was he, a righteous man, down-trodden by God? Why live? This misery is too great. Apparently asking why is the wrong question because God never answers but in return asks Job many questions that had nothing to do with Jobs current situation. (chapters 38-41) Questions like ” where were you when I made the earth?” or “Do you understand movements of the stars and seas?” or ” Animals! Do you even get why they do what they do and how they survive?”.

God finally finishes wrenching on Job’s brain, stands back, dusts off his hips, and walks away with out explaining why Job had to endure losing everything to begin with. Job didn’t resent God, in fact his peace and faith were strengthened though the tragedy and after-words he regained all that he lost plus more. My point is that logic states that 1+1 is 2, but logic doesn’t explain why 1+1 is 2 and much less explain who God is. Logic never accounts for why 1+1 = 0 sometimes. Why do humans, who honor God, still endure terrible curcumstances in their life? Maybe human logic is not meant to grasp God and why terrible things happen.

I digress slightly and we haven’t even gotten to the gentle art of killing sheep. Read this poem. Oh and by they way, this poem was videoed and uploaded to The Curator which is a blog I help edit and for which I provide photographs.

The Gentle Art of Killing Sheep

To fall is to understand,
Because falling entails death
or worse, severe pain,
Dependent, of course, on how far you
Have plunged from the grace of clinging.

Imagine then, climbing a white painted steeple
towards the morning sun.
There, beneath the shadows of the church
lie the grey sheep, content,
troubled only by tiny silent storm
that break upon their souls as they graze the dew.

And thus you fall in a sudden manner, 
Your hair and limbs screaming in the fray,
Back, down to the ground
that bears death
In her bosom of stone.

But when you have climbed too far,
your hand does not grasp as it should have
Or your foot fumbles beneath you

A mere half breath before 
The supple earth
Should Crush your spine 
And spirit;

In some providential and oddly 
cruel interjection,
you light upon a ewe instead;
and no storms shall break upon
her soul no more.

Christ is like that sheep.
You grunt and roll off his crushed, broken body
Surprised that death was not present
to understand your falling with you. 

So you grunt, dust your hips
and wonder, and understand
the gentle art killing sheep.

Approach this poem like a story. The first stanza is very important to the whole of the poem because the first stanza is a thesis that introduces and sums up the whole of the poem. To put it into simple language the first stanza acknowledges that falling brings understanding. If you fall you will hurt yourself. It is best to stay on your feet. If you fall from too high of a location, you will die! It is therefor best to not fall from very high places but to cling tightly to whatever is at hand. Children would not be alive any more if they had never fallen off a chair or couch and felt the pain of falling and understood that if they climb they must hold on tightly or feel pain or even die. Falling is understanding. Its logical.

The rest of the poem explains the thesis by telling a story. Imagine you are climbing a steeple for any good reason. Below you is the stony ground and a flock of sheep grazing in the shadow of the steeple. When you reach a certain point, for some reason, you miss your foot hold and suddenly you are falling back down to the ground screaming and understanding that you have climbed too far, you have slipped and now you will die.

But you land on a sheep instead. The ewe dies, and you live.

And if that was not enough of a plot twist ….. Christ is like that sheep! Yes! Just as you were saved physically from death by falling on a sheep, in the same way the Lamb of God saved your soul by positioning himself on a cross for you, taking the full weight of your sin. You landed on God with a black, devastating heaviness and killed him. He dies, you live. Amen.

What does killing sheep have to do with Job and logic and why is it all a gentle art? Often it seems that people force the subject of the existence of pain as evidence that God is not good or that he does not exist. It seems illogical that a good God allows pain. I understand. It does seems that way.

But people also never stand back in wonder of how illogical love is. The greatest example of love is the advent of Christ. Yet, for God to die for us, he had to endure pain. God understood what it meant to fall. For Christ to be born assumed that an all-knowing God would understand that his birth would cause his eventual suffering and death at the hands of His humans. God understood what was involved in creating humans with free will. They could choose to hate him, blame him, spit on him, crucify him etc. But God loves us despite this.

This doesn’t make sense does it? If God is illogical for allowing evil, then he is just as illogical for loving despite that evil that he allows. I suppose you could attack this question from a different perspective: If God is evil ( because he allows evil things to happen) then how could a an evil God allow love to exist?

You could say that Job fell and that he felt keenly the pain of that falling. When he asked God why he fell, God didn’t answer because the falling nor the resulting pain mattered much. Life is not fair to any of us. Why should we assume that God must provide answers for why He allowed a terrible thing to happen? We don’t need the why. After tragedy, what mattered most is that God was still good and that God had always loved Job despite any evil. God’s unanswerable questions were meant to enlighten Job and proved just how wonderful He is. This isn’t logical, but I can sympathize with why Job felt at peace even though his question was never answered.

Is a terrible circumstance burning a hole in your life?

The gentle art, in all tragedies, is finding peace and gratefulness towards God.