legal stuffs Editors Matthew Schuler Janay Garrick Timothy Schuler
Art Director Matthew Schuler
Selection Board Grace Faraq Michael Wright Camille Tucker Matthew Schuler Janay Garrick
ÂŠ 2011. Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form. Contributors maintain individual copyright for their own material.
Cover Design by Matthew Schuler
Offerings: A Creative Anthology is published annually as a service to the Fuller Theological Seminary community. The views and the opinions expressed in Offerings do not necessarily reflect those of university trustees, administration, faculty, faculty, or staff. Bookstores wishing to stock Offerings should contact: Offerings@fuller.edu
This book is made possible through the generous contributions of the Fuller Arts Collective, a Fuller student group, and The Brehm Center (brehmcenter.com) at Fuller Theological Seminary. Proceeds from the sales of this book will first recover costs; any profits will be donated to 826 National (826national.org).
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OPEN CALL FOR THE NEW AMATEUR Lauralee Farrer
POETRY SECTION 018 ARTIST OF THE YEAR Matt Lumpkin 110 ESSAY SECTION 140 PROSE SECTION 168 LYRICS SECTION 190
ARTWORK ON THE PREVIOUS PAGE AND IN THE FOLLOWING SELECTION BY JOY JUSTUS PHOTO BY JANNA GOULD
OPEN CALL FOR THE NEW AMATEUR BY LAURALEE FARRER We should love the work God has given us. Both the art we cannot live without and the jobs God has given us to support it. In fact, we must love—in order to do great work and in order to survive—because no other fuel is strong enough. If we do not know love in our art, to paraphrase 1 John, then we do not know God in it nor do we represent God with it. I’m talking to you now—the artist who is a Christian: If you are doing your art or your job in God’s name without love, you ought to stop. I am an artist in Residence at the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at
Fuller. I want to champion the idea of a new amateur. We, as a believing community of artists, have lost the habit of being driven by love in our work—we, whose God is Love, and whose two commandments are to love and to love. Instead, we have succumbed to the standards of the Empire, preferring to judge success by financial gain and indiscriminate fame. By disdaining the life of the amateur, we rob ourselves of the courage, the insight, and the inspiration necessary for truly transcendent, revolutionary, God-infused work.
What does it mean to do something from and for love? Amateur comes from the old French, meaning “lover of.” Schooled or unschooled, paid or unpaid, the “lover-of” is not driven by money or credential. You will hear true artists say that they cannot turn away from their work because they would die or cease to be themselves without it. There is only one thing that explains the potency behind such an urge to create—it’s because the amateur is fueled by love. Amateurs do by loving—a work ethic that produces profound art and lives; however, the word “amateur” has come to be associated with low quality, which we, as artists of faith, appropriately disdain. In this nefarious twist of meaning, we turn away from the power capable of reflecting God. We shouldn’t even have to talk about whether it’s acceptable to do mediocre work in the service of the Most High God. Anyone with that sort of thinking would have been struck dead back in the day. God may stretch the canopy of grace to cover your weaknesses and your failures, but you don’t want to start out with that expectation as an artist any more than you would want to be pregnant and thinking that you can abort or abandon your child if you get tired. We must strive for the best we can offer as amateurs, so that the idea of “amateur” actually has less to do with measuring an artist’s craft and more to do with measuring an artist’s love. Professionals make money at their art, preferably a lot. Sometimes, well-paid professionals come to feel trapped by that money, under the impression that they have to do work they have lost love for because they need it to make a living for them. Sometimes, putting the burden of making a living on your art can be too much for it, akin to treating your art like a pack mule rather than a beloved child. Imagine the disastrous results on the art and on the soul of the artist! Cat Stevens
famously left a professional career as a musician claiming, “I’ve returned to being an amateur without any ties or strings attached, which gives me a freedom I never had before.” It was freedom he sought, in life and work, and love was the way there. In ancient Greece, the amateur was the purest form of sportsman — which is why the Olympics are still, today, strictly non-professional. In the not-so-ancient 1960s America, musicians were judged not by how much money they made but by whether or not they had something to say. Martin Scorsese’s documentary on Bob Dylan called No Direction Home observes that the revolutionary artists were consummate amateurs; in fact, that’s what gave their music power. However, the idea that success might be measured in terms other than monetary is so foreign to our view as to appear at least naïve and at worst irresponsible. Many respectable artists earn money for their work. It’s not more noble to work without pay than to work with it. Even the
Artwork on previous and next page by Joy Justus.
scriptures say that a workman is worthy of his hire. Still, money is an inadequate determiner of whether an artistic work should be done or not. And I say that from within possibly the most expensive art form ever invented: filmmaking. Yes, money is a tool that can make doing the work much easier — like having a hammer to drive a nail rather than a stiletto. But the point is to drive the nail — to do the work! I cannot count the conversations I have had with artists who find it impossible to conceive of working for anything other than pay, as if the pay were the point: musicians, painters, filmmakers, and singers who agonize over the financial worth of their art or of their time. Artists who are actually offended by the idea of working for free, as if their self-worth has been insulted. Curiously, it’s often Christians who have the most disdain for the idea of amateur projects — a natural result of being undervalued and taken advantage of by the church, perhaps. But we suffer again, by our own hand, when we react by not doing our work.
I have worked with financial resources and without, and the work is hard either way. I find it more difficult to tolerate artists who continually remind everyone of how much they are worth or of how they have to make money. We all have to pay the rent. We all make choices. Where do we get the idea we’re entitled to make money on our art, and that we’re failing if we don’t? Often, I find that those whose work seems to be least affected by the tyranny of this thinking are young artists who still feel the fire in the belly or older artists who yearn to feel — once again — the love that propelled them when they were young. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt said, “Once the amateur’s naïve approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.” Instinctively we believe it’s important to do what we love, but it eludes most of us how that is supposed to happen. We have precious little historical examples. Many of the artists we admire ended their own lives in despair, tyrannized by the inability to make life and art work together. Since most of us will live somewhere in that struggle, let’s start talking about how we can successfully live out the twin dicta of faith: to be honorable about our lives and faithful to our callings. Or, as Flaubert put it, “Be calm and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.” There are many voices claiming that the energy we put into the world is toxic when we are not prompted by love. However, those voices too often conclude that we need to find what makes us happy and make a living from it. But what if you need to make a living at a job that is unlovable so that you can do what you are called to do? Was tentmaking (or
as John Drane interprets it “scene building”) Paul’s great passion? What if the thing you love is not something you are likely to make money at? Do you live in denial and ignore the responsibilities of your keep? Do you pollute your art into something that can make money but no longer resembles what you were called to do? Turns out, love is the answer: calm and orderly love (your job) and violent and original love (your art). There’s a difference between those two categories, and naturally there’s a difference in the character of the love. But whether it’s loving the work you do or doing the work you love, love is the theme. Love the job God has given you for provision — your scene-building — with intent, with dogged determination if that’s what it takes. Love it because it is calm and orderly. (And if it is not,
if it steals your creativity and demands your “off” hours, then you need to rethink whether the job is doing what it’s supposed to.) You also have to do the thing that you love — your art. Do it. Don’t let anything stop you. If it is a calling, and God has given the inspiration and the love, how do you dare to not do it because you’re not being “funded”? How will you answer your creator when God asks: What did you do with the talents I gave you? Will you say, “I hid them because no one gave me permission? Because no one paid me what I was worth?” Can you imagine saying that to the all-powerful and empowering God? Really? There are a lot of ways to make sure your work gets done, and sometimes those ways require painful restructuring (make a movie on a borrowed flip camera rather than with
someone’s million dollars), but the point is that you must do it. As with generosity, you cannot wait until the circumstances are perfect. You must do it especially when the circumstances are wrong. To repeat: love your job, do your art. Most people I know hate their jobs and make excuses for not doing their work. What kind of work comes out of a person filled up with love on all sides like that? With fear cast out and an endless supply of patience and energy? I am reminded of a story of the desert fathers Lot and Joseph: “Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, ‘Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and
as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?’ Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.’” This is what I am talking about. Casting out all fear, becoming all love. I can’t guarantee that your work will be profitable. But your life will. Lauralee Farrer is president and principal filmmaker of Burning Heart Productions; an artist in residence of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts; and the senior editor of Fuller’s Theology, News & Notes.
s Artwork by Joy Justus.
Poetr y sec tio
Photo by Janna Gould.
untitled by Lauren Meares i last saw you before i had eyes heard your voice with ears stopped in fluids the nearness of your hand closer than skin perhaps you showed me the world the future
Photo by Janna Gould.
you sang in unknown tongues as i, tongueless, hummed along and still hum now
we clapped our hands as one both a form beyond imagination unknown to scientists and now unknown to me oh to be close growing, i wait almost at times but wait until i have eyes
Photo by Brittany MacMillan.
by L a ure n Mea res
could you lay your hand on mine need to feel it one more time find the beating of your heart in the dark, in the dark
can i rest my head on yours take a moment to explore you know we tend to lose our minds but we can find, find, find
oh, we’re not made of heavy stone oh, we were made to float i’d like to look you in the eye only see what is inside past your skin, your brain, your lungs straight into your home of homes
oh, we’re not made of heavy stone oh, we were made to float we’re not made of heavy stone we’re not stuck in a bag of bones we’re not bricks not tangled wires we were made to float
where broken t wigs and brush are gathered the look of winter the heart of spring each one picked each one carried each one placed
until the debris is returned to a tree and made into a space fit for a most fragile creature time to grow and then fly away
th e n est
by L a u re n M e a res
Photo by Janna Gould.
M i d n i g ht Co cktail by M at thew Bla nton Life i s s o great— It i s S O grand! L e t us d ri nk a toast ! An d s o we d i d … b ut As we l i fted ou r g lasses, We found th em f illed with blood An d s oon our tears… Alth ough horrif ied— We d rank i t anyway An d i t coated ou r throat s W i th res i gnation an d u n derstan din g
Photo by Christen Bordenkircher.
Artwork by Joy Justus.
“Poets must have a di rect line to God,” she said, “because they know what
words to leave out .”
who is this?
The world is pregnant with pain and alas, it has delivered a still-born! and the sky rains down– With the bodies of babies and the acid tears of the masses– a people drunk with their own sorrow and blood The darkness is blinding as we all stagger to our deaths But who is this? This dead man that now walks My streets? He who has defiled the sacred order? Only through dying defeated death– The first to do so! And the whispers began... as we gathered in a frenzy just to catch a glimpse of Hope! –my lips must learn this word again! Now the flowers are growing– growing between the gravestones
sometimes i am a wall . bricks. mortar built up to . e d i h . t n e v e r p . k bloc fety a s f o e m a n e in th e b o t e k i l d l u o but i w you o t w o d n i w a s g n i h t more a a e r b d e s xpo open lit e robbery at the risk ofe of sharing but in the hopherwise be wasted what might ot
by s e r a e M n e r u La Photo by Jeana Master.
“for it only trembles here/ when some soul feels it’s cleansed, so that it rises/ or stirs to climb on high; and that shout follows./ The will alone is proof of purity/ and, fully free, surprises the soul into a change of dwelling place—effectively.” Dante, Purgatorio
Gloria in excelsis deo! What else could the souls cry out
when the mountain quakes—
Not from shifting subterranean plates
But a violent fissure in violet heavens Vice’s grip crumbles into ashes
after centuries of straining
The soul’s wings are tattered from the struggle
Her bands, at last, snapped loose
Finally snatched up by longing’s wind
Shaking her feathered fist in triumph
At the snare, the home, she escaped.
by Joy Moyal
by matt arnett Bethlehem, you h ouse o f b read They flee f rom you or en d u p dead To fo rei g n l a n d of Mo ab co m e But pa i n of de a th I can n o t n u m b M y husb a n d l ost , now lo st am I But fai th f ul n ess re main s my c r y Press not to l ea ve o h m o ther dear We are n ow ki n so draw m e n ear “W here you go, I will go ; Where you l odge , I will lo dge Your pe opl e sh a l l be my p eo p le, And yo u r God, my Go d” So Na om i I fol l ow, tho u gh in b it tern ess stain G od , restore d be th e so u n d o f this wo m an ’s re fra i n Let me go to th e f i eld, an d in my wo rk reap Provi si on be fou nd that o u r lives m ay we ke e p Bo a z th e r i ch ma n who n o t iced my skin I n further se a rch i n g fo u n d o u t I was kin So i t came a bou t that he sp o ke to m e clear, “May yo u g l e a n i n n o o ther field b u t m in e he re .” “W here you go, I will go ; Where you l odge , I will lo dge Your pe opl e sh a l l be my p eo p le, And yo u r God, my Go d”
I fo und bl essi n g wi th B o az an d with lit tle p a i n My sto ma ch wa s f u ll an d my arm s fu ll o f grai n So I retu r n e d to my m o ther an d to my deligh t Her bi tter ness ga ve way to p raises that n igh t A pla n ca me a bou t fro m Nao m i o n e day Off to th e th resh i ng flo o r where the m en lay I was tol d to go down an d search B o az o u t th e re I n the d a rkness of n ight his rest in g p lace sh a re “Where you go, I will go ; W here you l odge , I will lo dge Your pe opl e sh a l l be my p eo p le, And you r God, my Go d” I d i d as sh e sa i d a n d all wen t as p lan n ed Boaz wou l d se ek re dem p t io n fo r o u r fam ily ’ s l a nd Detai ls worke d ou t an d b lessin gs o b tain ed I was ma r r i ed to B oaz when o thers ab stain e d
I n uni o n togeth er we co n ceived in great joy Redeem ed wa s N a omi thro u gh the b irth o f a boy “Blesse d by th e LORD,” the wo m en all claim e d Obed , th e fa th e r of Jesse an d Dav id, was n ame d “Where you go, I will go ; W here you l odge , I will lo dge Your pe opl e sh a l l be my p eo p le, And you r God, my Go d” Photo by Janna Gould.
AFTER VAN GOGH Jennifer Shaw Standing at a distance I wonder, did he feel the genius flowing from his brush ever y stroke a living thing ever y shade and slight inflection inventing a world transferred from an intangible region to a perfectly placed bit of paint . Did he know that a streak of white oil could make such light could move so many on a cold spring night a hundred years after he stood in some lonely corner, that a delicate ribbon of amber could trace the outline of a chair that was not there before he made it so. Did he know that a pin prick of red could bleed a flower bed making a forest grow, a vague black shape catch the instant of something just beyond reach.
Photo by Janna Gould.
The narrator says his Self Portrait eyes are lo oking for something heâ€™ll never find but I see it there eyes alive and aware of what can not be written or drawn, but passed along. Drawn in I move unaware of the stares of those who believe I am too close. Stretching out my hand brushes the olive green coat of a young man who steps bet ween A Park In Spring and me guarding these framed portals that seem out of place hanging on a wall not meant to be here at all I wonder will they speak this way of me or will I always be t wo feet from the wall.
People Mover Camille Tucker
Photo by Jordan Henricks.
Itâ€™s not the work of working. Or the breath of breathing. But the thing that moves even past death when we were scared we could never be moved in such a way. A canvas full of autumn leaves, or even mounted sunlight could never rid us of itâ€™s whole so big so big in height and weight when it rolls it really picks up more than leaves behind. Arms and legs and feet and toes sticking out, hapless casualties casually dying along the way. The thing that moves us more than we would choose is love.
GRASP AND REACH Jennifer Shaw
S h e ke e ps ge tti n g u p. Som eth i n g wh i ch s h e ca n n o t s tr i ke kn ock s h e r dow n a n d th e n pe rh a ps gi ves h e r a fe w h a rd k i ck s . S h e re f u s es to y i eld; li ke a b lo o dy f i gh te r i n a n e m pt y a m ph i th e a te r s h a dow -b oxi n g she rises a n d b r i n gs u p h e r ti re d a r m s a wa i ti n g th e n ext b low.
S o m e ti m es , a n e m b ra ce ; as h e r k n e es b u ckle s h e i s ca u gh t an d held u n de r th e a r m s wi th s tro n g i n s c r u ta b le h a n ds . It is fo r th i s m o m e n t o f ce r ta i n t y, fo r th i s h o pe th a t li ke a b a by s h e w i ll co n ti n u e to b e h eld th a t s h e f i gh ts th i s b a ttle m a de ce r ta i n by b i r th .
Photo by David Frere.
Our emblems identify us, the costumes Designed to move us through this world (Heels, armor, scrubs, weeds) Safely sorted by collars all of a piece. Tethers uniformly obscured (We see only ourselves, cut adrift) Relay the tremor of rolling justice The black hole gravity of a dry well.
From birth we ingest germs of songs and stars Echoes of ancient fevers and their countercharms (Your castle, my ruin) Amulets crafted by ancestral spirits. Common cause of death deludes us into dying alone (My errant word, your stray bullet) To wake surprised, bodily slants and shades Aligned, crossing the river together.
Photo by Laura Rold.
I co n o g ra p hy Jenn Cavanaugh
Conversations by Christina Miller 1. Conversations I am comfortable here In the structure of your skin Loose pockets with room to move around in It is easy and I am not afraid Your words enfold me, holding me in place I I I I
splinter my fingers on the rough edges of your ribs let your blood move over me in its warm, circular passage of life arch my foot against the strong solid mass of your shin try to pace my breath with the steady pulsing in your chest
And I am at rest I am known Living inside your body Like a transitory home. 2. Did you know your hands are softer than mine? Covered in the flesh of gentler days Caressed by the slumber of skin not awake to the harsh lines of day I peel back the stories embedded in your palms And read the prose of innocence Creating a stark dissonance with the world Did you know your feet are my favorite poets? The rhythm of their shoes carrying my listening ears on their journeys Depositing words in the land like a farmer sowing thoughts and reaping stories Did you know the rooms of your mind are my kindest companions? They sit with me for hours Inviting me in as their confidants I set aside my striving and take up rest.
an existence descended by matt varnell
Everything was blanketed and softened by the threat of falling ash, A flagrant existence now descended. Gas fueled justification for fire as Angels idly “contemplate… an infinite glory.” A fiery grey morning bleeds to a starved day. A creative young mind, sits shocked by starvation His imagination stewing on her lasting image ‘Oh how sweet’ he pines ‘…her breath. What I would give for an eternity by her side. What I would give for her constant relief, no more grey, No more ashen mornings No more literal inhalation of my relatives. Oh death, free me with your sweet release. Constant ma’am be my bride.” His plea met with promise as the bored and sadistic image of God Scratches his ‘itch’ ending the life of an idle worker.
Just as methodically as the death, the soldier finds the young manâ€™s worth, His ink stained arm, a reason worth counting. And what of meaning? Is a good God required to offer penance for those of His image? Only that which transcends time Only that which is the very fabric of our lives Only that which promises to be better than life itself could atone for such an existence. And so it does. In the passing earthly image, in the ash, through the gas and flames Eternity lives. If being expresses existence than the existence of the Being expressed through the fleeting is great life. For I too have held a Faberche egg of life and watched it crack under my tremble. Iâ€™ve been responsible for the vitality and beauty of a love And watched it fade from glory to gray to gone; A paragon of love melding to a poorly written sitcom. The existence of a beloved another ignited in the flame of torture descending upon the hand of a former lover. Photo by Janna Gould.
psalm 126 by Dawna Cunha I remember my deliverance Your light revealed my heart for what is was... Broken, bleeding, leaking joy, drained of life Ever y beat a bloody gush of misplaced love, going nowhere... You searched for me as I wandered the filthy alleys of deception You found me alone, my life ebbing away in a puddle of pain, stabbing myself over and over with regret for the choices that had brought death to my true selfâ€Ś
The Bench at Saint-Remy
Based on the painting by Vincent Van Gogh by Kevin Book-Satterlee
the gnarled, t wisted arm of the longovergrown tree; the rigid, knotted muscles of the one providing shade and rest . the Christ hung on the smooth-scarred planks of a tree that once shaded the Roman soldier or perhaps a pair of Jewish lovers acting out Solomonâ€™s song. unde r the wear y tree, ancient , its bark wrinkles under the pressure of time and earthly formation. countless hours providing shade has made it an expert in blocking the scorching heat .
some days nobody would come for a silent respite. three times Jesus asked his disciples to pray. some days no lovers would grow their marriage under its bows. only the mother and a prostitute came to visit the grave. under the wear y tree, rested a stone be nch, the rock older than the tree formed at the foundation of the world. it was fashioned, man-made for contemplation, prayer, and sitting. I stare into Van Goghâ€™s painting, the Bench at Saint-Remy, and in the trees waiting the rock sprin gs to life as its gnarled umbrella dies. there I come to understand life-long prayer.
My toes melt into the soft, rich Oregonian soaked dirt, like meat Falls off the bone after being boiled. I was created And melt into the Father of creation As the drops drip from the leaves of a budding Pine. The smell of cheese, like incense, wafts And soot runs with an oily stream into the Rain gutter. I am as much the piece of cheese as God is. I am as much His as He divines me to be, Placing His mark on my forehead an invisible Mark of new birth. Pine needles pierce my ears, and split the bones Between my wrist, But they donâ€™t hurt. How can it hurt when We are all one in the created, and created with the heart, The very essence, Of the one who creates. Or so says Meister Ekhart, of whom I never knew Yet know as intimately as I know my infant daughter. Or as she understands the call Of the screeching barn owl. I am melting, Yet I was always melted, And was designed that way â€“ to meld Into creation and unification as breath flows As equal to that of A flower.
Meister Eckhart by Kevin Book-Satterlee
Photo by David Frere.
Photo by Christen Bordenkircher.
The Woman Job, After William Everson’s “I Am Long Weaned” Jenn Cavanaugh
â€œI went away full, but the Lord has brought me back emptyâ€? Naomi in The Book of Ruth Through famines I fed others, but now My heart, blooded by milk, Beats dust to dust. My dugs, those well-dug wells, Teaching the wastes. My womb is another organ, In it, expended, expendable, Nothing moves.
My throat hollows Straight down to my gut. My door rusts hinged, My inlet, an outbound valve.
And yet, in my flesh, With no one to need it; With no one to show for it, With no one to survive it, Will I see God. Immanuel, deeply held Child of all: Take this breast.
Photo by Brittany MacMillan.
Photo by Laura Rold.
Photo by Janna Gould.
Quite ruined, she thinks, as am I.
She considers his stained face suffused To ruddiness as in life, covered as always With the dirt of Jerusalem, mortalized As she cannot remember him â€“ Brow pocked, two perfect Tears for eyes, mouth gory, Other menâ€™s spit Weighing down the corners.
How like a man to sweat death Masks onto heirlooms, to leave Indelible prints on such a frail thing, Like God reflecting in clay.
She traces the voids and hollows that form His image, vowing never again to scour blood From cloth, to equate blood with death, Perceiving power go out from her.
nica at the wash Jenn Cavanaugh
Photo by Janna Gould.
by Maggie Sullivan I’m thirty-five and do data entry from home. I don’t have a child, or a lover, or a ritual for it. The tourist thing’s wearing off. Getting down to the metallic taste that comes through after a year or two no matter where I go. I want to think in the olden days a life like this would’ve had a name. A regimen, anyway, clear-cut responsibilities, an articulated direction, a dedication. I am ugly and serious. Please help me be more like Jesus. Jesus would see the bright source. Jesus would be strong and cheerful, with a football player’s pat on the behind – Other people have always been able to say, “that was a waste of time.” And they sound so great. I’ve tried, but never could without a twinge. Until last night. Like inhaling from a cigarette
Photo by Jordan Henricks.
for the first time without coughing. I waited in Westwood for the Wilshire bus home, downtown, after another day of data entry. For about twenty minutes, the possibility that with a Jason Robards squint over a shot of Jack, I too might someday say, “I’ve wasted my life.” Wilshire and Santa Monica. Dark at 6:30 in February. Chilly. A lot of people don’t believe L.A.’s cold, but it is! The 306 driver said he had no idea whether the 316 was still running and poled his floppy doors shut hard as if this time they’d make noise. A few minutes later a woman sitting beside me opened a Tupperware box and insisted I take a Danish butter cookie. She took one, so I did too. She spoke with a smile that barely broke in a thick Philippine accent about having been laid off from the marketing department at Sony last year and working temp now. About having taken the bus ever since her divorce. I said I liked her look: army pants, ski jacket, handknit scarf. Clashing shades of green. She said it was all her twelve-year-old son’s. That he dresses her. He wanted to get her into Sketchers but at this she drew the line. I said it worked. I was trying. She said take another. I laughed because she did. When the 316 came we pressed hands goodbye and I’d forgotten about wasting your life.
Mercy Tree By Nick Barrett
This is why I fled upon the open sea, with dread and glee, your storm hastened my heart, from the start, lowly I ran, dreaming free.
An exile, roaming this loveless rampart, a wretched heap on shores of self I keep, yet, by ships aground, Nineveh falls apart. Awaken blackheart as cities burn and weep, for as you sleep, the seas cry justice—fury, and sailors pray to gods—parlay: Calm this deep! Cry out! Cry out! That captain screamed in scurry, for judge—me—jury, on seas of self we keep; and so, amazed, I gazed at ole death’s hurry. Methinks, I am to blame for this storm we reap, and despite my plea, overboard—they threw me; now free; baptized in water’s deep, I sleep. O self I keep, ever rest apart from me, for thrown I lay, on shores of brother’s keep. Alas! Love’s song so sweet—new wine revelry! Mercy tree, withered shade-no-more, burn deep— love’s trill—ancient Liberty—song of wealth, by worm’s hungry carve and stealth; self now sleeps. Who am I, O Great I AM, wrecked on self, lost of health, I can’t believe, under this tree, I see, by loving enemies, blooms true self. Prince of Peace, mercy tree, drown—me—misery. Restrain the senseless self—dark beckoning; Great Reckoning, beautify—we—history.
Photo by Janna Gould.
at a time like this
by Jeremy Kays
at a time like this there are no words just the feeling of the feeling alive in all its beauty and terror in all the awe and wonder we find ourselves once again perplexed by the science of love cowering the concept of death at a time like this we are the words the speech of a speechwriterâ€™s pen written in all its truth and error in all the breath and power we find ourselves once again moving mountain masses by faith yet cutting our own brothers down
Photo by Janna Gould.
at a time like this the words are here in flesh, in blood, filled with spirit breathing in all its passion and fire in all its life and freedom we find ourselves new in form loving the ones who feel no love and gracing the world through Your eyes
oto by Janna Gould.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden during the day, but a city not letting its light shine in the midst of the darkness gets lost in the night. You try to fight for what is right and debate in order to win, but all the while the world looks in and realizes that the city is also full of sin.
What is love if there is no commitment? What is grace if you think you have to work for it? What is freedom if you are a slave to self-indulgence? What is hope if you are already comfortable? What is faith if you trust only yourself ? What is courage if there is no risk? What is sacrifice if there is no mercy? What is belief if there is no conviction?
sardis by pisey sok The fire goes out when the wind stops blowing, and all that will remain are skeletons trying to stay warm.
Matthew 5:14-16; Revelation 3:1-3
Revolutionary Christ by Kevin Sweeney So we stand and resist, revolutionary Christ Challenging the status quo and illusionary might The heart of an artivist move into the night Where we shine so bright and illuminate with light Lyrically Nat Turner’s gat, lyrics that I’m sparkin Harriet Tubman and the spirit of Martin This is Fannie Lou Hamer, this is Cornel West This is Daniel Berrigan, fightin American terrorists This is peace while they bring in the dogs American empire and Kingdom of God This that real revolutionary Christ music That lay your body down, lose your life music Somebody call the cops this is not talkin This is stoppin, this is Doc Watkins This for every single person who don’t got options The Kingdom of God is now, we need to stop watchin
“Everyone, left to his own devices, forms an idea about what goes on in language which is very far from the t r u t h .” ( F e r d i n a n d d e S a u s s u r e )
You pick the word ‘apple’ without really grasping it (though you may think you feel a sense of its gravity), lower it into your mouth like the tip of a flaming sword and bite into an empty sign With no original signified you don’t have a damned reason to fall for someone else’s idea of guilt (why take their word for it?) instead, you blink and whisper slowly recreating all things in your own imagination
The Word on the Tree
by Gregory Stump
to freely play in a garden of uncut hedges and broken sundials circles without circumference or center geometry of sand continuum without ends shades of nameless colors and the freedom to forbid the establishment of any rules whatsoever then the taste of white apple flesh and torn scarlet skin evaporates like carnival candy with only a sticky residue You reform the word in your mouth to reattach it to a limb and when you make the â€˜Lâ€™ sound you find the backs of your teeth are smooth as seeds
Photo by Christen Bordenkircher.
OPHELIA by Camille Tucker
Photo by Christen Bordenkircher.
Black as tar Ophelia legs vigorous licorice twists carry you through rugged valleys and climb you up the steep hillsides; God’s river flows through you birthing from you a thousand sons and daughters. Your nimble limbs covered softly in white eyelet which breathes constantly as you tumble through the bristling blowing wheat. You, a dreamy ancestor we once saw growing out of the branches of the family tree If you would drop a needle in a haystack maybe then you would leave something we could find. Be our mother, Ophelia, black as tar. You say, “I have dark skin and big as oak thighs and big lips and deep sighs… of inaudible pain.” Be our mother, Ophelia. Speak and make us whole.
there is a garden where all our sins are pardoned we wait underground in damp ready soil while the ground above accepts the gardenerâ€™s toil, accepts the tilling of its surface, patiently waiting for a time coming perfect roots down down down widely traveling towards one another until found taking grip into deep earth we wrap ourselves within the folds of each others humanness in search of an ancient way an ancient God an ancient people with each stretch, each reach further out we become more exposed now you can see my flesh, now you can see my bones will our roots grab hold even when the darkest parts are known? will our imperfections be accepted our humanity being viewed as good and pleasing though marred by an enemies words, or will we be unrepairable, irredeemable, not whole enough to be of one accord?
damp ready soil by jeana master
struggling struggling, yearning, underground if we prevail there is a day coming of loud sound of music of glory of a most beautiful story
Photo by Jeana Master.
Strangers to hope by Nathan Warn We did not always have these words: ways to be like him and unlike the world ways to find him and ourselves ways to become ourselves in the world
God was not always here with us. Long stretches of centuries, filled by the strivings of ignorant, contented living changeless, endless centuries projected like corridors without beginning and end all through which we traveled and travailed, until disrupted by a host of great acts uprooting the worldâ€™s foundations and our foundations in the world. We were now faced with such an offer: Godâ€™s claim to be with us and over us created out of the sterile ruins of wilderness, the possibility of abundant life: life-after-desert.
We were strangers to this hope. Strangers to: covenant dealings divine showings but we were never strangers to human longings facing uncounted weary days and nights that is, before nowâ€”until now.
Teach us to count the days, to number in our memories in the stories we tell our children to re-mark with our telling be re-made in our hearing the dusk of your nearing the nights of our waiting the dawn of our hoping Photo by Jeana Master. the days of your appearing
Remind us to recount your words, to memorialize in our minds and mark with our bodies
the deep through which you’ve brought us —pain and joy a thousand years overwhelming— the height to which you’ll bring us and the promise to be filled out that all strangers to hope will find home with you.
Mother Nature by Dawna Cunha
Mother nature you are a bitch, a horrible malevolent omnipotent witch. Bestowing death by disease, floods, or fire; hurricane, bombs, or wicked desire, Mother nature to you I will not bow, death is not natural, I know somehow. The way it is now, was not meant to be, we were made for eternit y...
Photo by David Augustus.
Sunrise Sunbeams by Kevin Book-Satterlee Sunrise sunbeams blind off the sanded smooth morning waters of the Sacramento Delta. Don’t look directly into the sun, My mother tells me. I look at its reflection on the glassy surface and see no difference in the blinding whiteness of the sun or its mirror. Blinded, shocked, paralyzed. Like Paul I’m dumbfounded by a silent voice. I’m in a presence like a voice muddled by talking underwater. I make martyrs with my impassionate zealousness for my religion. I’m stone cold in the delta summer morn. I wear shorts and pennies weigh down my pockets. A penny saved is a penny earned, my teacher instructs me. A penny or two jingle as I rock on the deck chair like an orphan loved but not touched. I’m stoned and salty like Annanias. Saphira my wifely muse knows nothing of me while sleeping the river mist away. Will she too be punished?
I see not John’s Armageddon vision in the smooth waters untouched by a breeze from the sea. The growl of boat motors, revved for the morning ride, tingles over the air like lions or dragons at a distance, close enough to listen, far enough to be safe. Don’t get too close, the zoo keeper warns me. I sit alone as the sun rises over palms and my reflection stares at theirs on the delta banks. I, alone, am a part of the very crowd that watched the Christ – from the fringes, with a comfortable seat in the back. My morning prayer lacks. Intensity, severity and brevity prove my spiritual deficit. My cup sips to me milky coffee like bitter morning wine. I like the taste of shit in my mouth, my father informs me while smoking his cigarettes. I’m knee deep in shit and ashes as Job pores me over his boils. I breathe golden air reflected off the delta’s visual echo. Isaiah stood before God cleansed, charred, touched by coal. I need cleansing and scorning. Seared. Presented now before the Lord who sends me. The pillar of fire like the sun’s reflection, rises from the water to the sky. Well done good and faithful servant, He blesses me.
Photo by Jordan Henricks.
chewing shot by bradley
Daddy had a canvas coat many-pocketed like a magician’s; mornings he’d heft his shotgun step out toward the hedgerow; I’d seen deer there ears shooting up fast as flight that followed but he aimed higher picked squirrels off tree limbs in obscene sprays of sound.
Any meat was welcome then yet how I hated pulling those limp gray bodies out by their bloody tails. Still peppered with shot Mama fried them up in the old iron spider and we ate them slow for fear of cracking our teeth while the coat stiffened on its peg by the door and dusk descended.
Photo by Rosalba Rios.
sacred beauty by Evie Knottnerus
Would you have me believe that I was created to fit within the confines of a billboard ad a magazine a TV screen Would you have me believe that my body my breasts my lips my face belong to this world? I choose to believe that I was not created for
lust vanity a fulfillment of desires I choose to believe I was created for His promises His pleasure His purpose Yes, I choose to believe I am His girl childâ€Ś Set apart and Beautifully sacred
Photo by Jordan Henricks.
Fall. 2010. “We are created for awe” President Mouw wrote. Don’t forget that. Do something every, single, day that drops your jaw. Have we lost our passion? Have we lost our way? What follows seminary’s last day? Am i still willing to go to Sudan? Sudan sans husband? Am i still willing to give the best years of my life these so-called child bearing years to bear fruit that i may never see? We don’t talk about that in class. i’m just left feeling bad for my colonial
Ode to Seminary by Janay Garrick
colored skin and for doing, in my ignorance, more harm than good. We’re rendered, practically, useless for the gospel. Deconstruction. All my friends are pastors or pastors-in-training and we cuss too much while parlancing about the Greek we can’t speak and the health benefits of wine, but that’s not why we pick up the glass – We wonder – Is it worth it? Where is He taking us? Do we really believe? Existential dread. Is it all for nothing? Sallie Mae knocking down our doors for the next ten to twenty years. Is
but sing anyway, redeem us. Are we asking the right questions? Have we found any answers or only more questions? Are we better prepared better people than we were before we came? Ambiguity. The increase of gray. “Think gray” a mentor told me when i left for Africa. Post it on your hut and don’t forget that the world is not Black&White or colorful categories but gray – one blending into the next schema disappearing strategies failing. Redemption. “Don’t mess with Texas” T’s on erudites who can’t sing
Profs who find theology in the puff of a sweet cigar and the lyrics of country song, redeem us. Writings which include the language of lament and the honest scream as canon, redeem us as we move Out the exit doors and “i don’t know” becomes our mantra. We now know enough to know that we don’t know anything. Humility. At the very least, a take-away. Nothing new under the sun what’s been said today has already been sung. Spring. 2011.
Photo by Janna Gould.
Photo by Laura Rold.
artist of the year M at t Lumpkin
es say sec tion
Artwork on previous page by Laura Rold. Artwork by Aaron Moore.
THEOLOGY ON TAP (No. 15). YARDSTICK.
BY MATTHEW SCHULER
Ten years ago I found out that I had high-grade spit-gland cancer and was given three months to live. So I started saying goodbyes and thank you’s, telling people things I would never have told them otherwise. And then, I didn’t die. Which was awkward. It was sort of like that scene in Almost Famous when the plane is going down and in their final moments the band members of Stillwater turn the aircraft cabin into an instant confessional. Jimmy Fallon admits to a heartless hit-and-run, followed by revelation after revelation of screaming infidelity between the musicians, the scene finally culminating in a resounding shout of “I’m gay” from John Fedevich. Suddenly the cabin stabilizes, the lights pop back on, and the pilot enthusiastically shouts that they’re all going to make it. It was like that. Everything was on the table, which didn’t matter because there was no hope that I would be around to see what would happen next. The whole ordeal started one evening at dinner when my mother glanced up at me and said, “Son, your head looks weird.” Exactly what you want to hear from the woman who gave you life. I went to our family physician ( you know, the guy you have to see first and who knows next to nothing besides how to prescribe bubble gum flavored antibiotics) who thought it was an inflamed oil gland, and promptly prescribed antibiotics. Five months later, after my little tumor friend had grown to the size of a golf ball and was now wrapped into my neck like a toxic baby squid, I finally went to a specialist. He told me that I had Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma. Spit-gland cancer. So we packed up and took a family fun trip to Mayo Clinic, a land flowing with jawless, noseless, plastic tube-riddled patients lumbering slowly through the halls like zombies.
After the surgery, the doctors mentioned that I had a “positive margin,” which means that there were cancer cells right up to the edge of their incision. Which means that they hadn’t gotten it all.
Which means that it would come back and kill me in a fairly speedy and efficient manner.
Luckily, the eager doctors told me that I could receive radiation therapy that would forever rid me of this pesky cancer. They told me in loud and excited tones about their new radiation machine that could warp the beams and target a specific area in my head, giving me only a minimal bit of brain damage. They promised that the process would greatly reduce the chance of recurrence, and that the procedure was absolutely necessary for survival. I was still stuck at the brain damage part. My family and I sat around for three days thinking it over. Ultimately, they said, it was up to me. I didn’t do radiation. I decided that I would rather kick it than live life with a nuclear noggin. We went home.
Due to the location of the tumor, the surgeons had damaged a major nerve, completely paralyzing the left side of my face. Mashed potatoes would fall out of my mouth at dinner. I had to hold my mouth closed to brush my teeth. And I cemented a plastic bubble over my unblinking left eye when I slept so that it wouldn’t dry out and turn into a raisin. And I looked really really weird.
In public people would speak to me slowly, assuming that I was handicapped. Smiling was out of the question.
Our family was in shambles. Every day someone else would lose it. I never did. I made jokes and became steel, severing the connection between my head and my heart. Eventually my face came back, I went to college, and for years I went through the motions of doing things that our world told me I should be doing. Technically I didn’t die. But I actually did. Not dating. Not caring. Not living up to potential. Staying in the past. Running from the past, not allowing it into the present. Afraid to hope.
For ten years I’ve just been waiting. Not waiting to get better, but waiting to get worse. This is actually where the word “hope” in the
scriptures comes from. The shoresh of the word, the original consonantal root, means “to wait.” That’s exactly what I was doing. I had completely checked out, living life on a lower track of reality, not fully engaging with the people or world around me. But that’s not really hope, is it? Waiting for something is far different than hoping for something. The word “hope” alters its shoresh ever so slightly, building on it, pushing the meaning of its root further. The word “hope” changes “wait” into “measuring rod.” Like a yardstick.
Job, the pity-case poster-boy of the scriptures who had it way rougher than I ever did, says this, “At least there is hope for a tree: If it is
cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.” Exactly. At least there is yardstick for a tree. A yardstick is a measuring rod that gives you an accurate reading from the beginning of something to the end of something. It gives you a sense of the object as a whole. A yardstick is worthless if you don’t start at the beginning or include the end, its job is to consider the total sum.
That’s hope. Hope is a collapsing of time. It doesn’t run from the past, it integrates it. And it doesn’t wait
for the future, it pulls it into the present. Hope is about now, realizing that just because things have been a certain way does not mean that they always will be that way. “Hope is hearing the music of the future,” and “dancing to that music in the present.” Like Job’s tree. It had a full life. It had been cut down. It even died in the soil. Yet at the slightest scent of water, the faintest hint that water might come again, it begins to sprout. Hope is the scene at the end of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind when Kate Winslet says, “I’m not a concept, Joel. I’m just an f ’d-up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind. I’m not perfect.” Jim Carrey replies, “I can’t see anything that I don’t like
about you. Right now, I can’t.” She turns. “But you will. But you will, you know? You will think of things. And I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped, because that’s what happens with me.” A pause. “Okay,” he says. She stops. “Okay,” she answers,”Okay.”
Throughout the film, both characters try to get rid of the yardstick. They want to erase where they’ve been because they think it will help their present, and their future. Until they realize that only when what has happened, and what will happen, are examined, can they can fully be with each other. She knows that she will get bored and trapped because it’s happened before. And she knows that he
will see things he doesn’t like because that’s how it’s been for him. Hope is measuring those things for what they are, and allowing them to be part of the whole.
Over Christmas I was sitting on a couch in the middle of the night with my girlfriend Laura. I had just told her family the whole cancer experience story, beginning to end, and they had gone to bed. She said, “I’ve heard you tell this story several times now, and it’s pretty much the same every time. You throw in jokes, you make it exciting. But I’m wondering how you would tell it if you could say whatever you wanted with no judgments, not what happened, but how you felt about what happened.”
I sat silent for a few moments. “I would say that I hate that there’s a part of me that got charred or even burned away, the part of me that dares to hope. And I hate that I hesitate at the thought of getting married because I fear that the cancer will someday return, and I don’t want to put a family through that. I hate that I dream of the future but do nothing about it, I don’t even try. Why would I, if there’s no hope that it could actually become real?” “That makes sense,” she said. “But I wonder, how would you be different if you hadn’t gotten cancer?” Yardstick. I thought for a moment about my life, beginning to end.
“I probably would have taken the scholarship to Wheaton. And gotten trapped in a life that I would have resented, doing things that I thought were important but were actually just worthless fluff.” “Well,” she said quietly, “Maybe getting cancer saved your life.”
My head and heart reconnected. My eyes glistened. For the first time, that part of me that had been burned away, or had been cut down and died in the soil, began to sprout. I saw my past, and my future, not as what I wished it would be, but for what it was. And for the first time in ten years, I dared to hope that she was right.
PENMANSHIP. BY PETER DUNN
Photo by Matt Varnell.
Real writing lives in secret. It lurks in shadows. It is by nature reclusive, because it’s too raw, too scattered. It rambles like a thousand homeless voices on Skid Row.
Certainly not all of my journal entries read like this, but I cannot help but wonder if the frantic pages, that come off more like rambling questions from the frustrated zombies of Joban theology, are more honest than the entries in perfect cursive, as they tell seamless stories of embarking onto the glassy seas of a lucky life, or like the Ralph Lauren cologne that sails around crowded restaurant patios, birthed from polo t shirt’s with popped collars, that so frequently seduces the atmosphere into a spuriousness, during champagne brunch after Church.
Scribbled prayers speak volumes. Pit prayers, gargled
and unintelligible to the outside world, emotions boiling over into notebook pages, buried in mahogany desks.
These are the writings that have always been “best” for me, because they mark tipping points, compulsive thoughts that take homage in the prairies of the page, roaming as armed outlaws of impartiality, knowing somewhere there’s a bounty promised to the hunter of such heresies.
But who could stop the one hundred stallions’ hoofs, dipped in black ink, that stamp my white journal, with their unbridled gallop? Or the distant meteors that collide into rubble all over the space of my blank page? They are the notes, from my excavation of the solid sentiment of insanity, that lives underneath piles of pretentious loose dirt; the heated debate between
anger and shame that paralyzes my soul after the last plank of my comforting pride has fractured beneath me. The divine point, I always arrive at tardily, when I can indulge my own blueprints no further.
When enough of Kierkegaard’s angst has pooled in my kidneys, that I impulsively elevate my head to decry the heavens; only to have the phosphorescence of a sovereign neon sign draw in my exalting eyes, finally acknowledging its long existence in the world above my thoughts, luminous in the hushed air, flickering, again and again, “I Am”
Such light, from such words, soothes the air like vapor rub. Converting the clouds, as I begin again to scribble down all the ways I hate, everything I love.
Artwork by Laura Rold.
NONCOMMITTAL. BY LAURA ROLD
Turns out, I’m in a noncommittal relationship... with Drawing.
Like the pencil and paper, forms and figures Drawing. That’s who I’m talking about. We’ve had some good times in the past and still do from time to time, but even after those good times I often tell Drawing, “Eh, I’m not looking for anything serious.” I primarily take advantage of him/her/I go both ways. I wouldn’t even call it a relationship, really. I would go so far as to say I use Drawing; for instance, say I’m in class and I can’t concentrate—I had too much coffee, and my hand and head are simultaneously crying out, “Do something! Do something!” (besides active listening of course). I pick up my G-2 and draw a tree. I always draw the same damn tree with slight variations. We are like that couple who watches TV every night—different shows, still TV. I leave class with a sigh of comfortable release. I used Drawing.
Sometimes late at night I’ll have random bursts of energy and writing just won’t do. I pick up the G-2 again (definitely meant for writing) and see what happens. Every so often Drawing will surprise me. Drawing will give me a gift. He-she will show me something about myself. Drawing is a giver, and the creative Creator gives through Drawing; I, however, am a user and abuser.
But last night when I was trying to spend time with Drawing, I realized: I am the one who has been taken advantage of the whole time…by myself. Imagine that! Drawing doesn’t need me. I never wanted to get serious with Drawing because I was scared of the commitment, but why? Drawing and I would go on a good date, have an intimate conversation together, and I would be in the
clouds—birds would be singing, sun shining, Icelandic volcanoes inactive. But the next date we went on wouldn’t be so great. It would be boring, embarrassing, chaotic, our interactions constantly missing a beat, so I would say, “Um...obviously this ‘thing’ between us isn’t working out.”
I question to myself, “Well gosh, were our times together ever really that good?” I would indeed have fun, but then I start to couple-watch. The danger of couplewatching: “Hmm, well look how that person gets along with their drawfriend. Why aren’t I getting along with my drawfriend that well? That person’s drawfriend is cuter than mine.” I’d downplay my attraction to Drawing so that I wouldn’t be hurt by shim. I took advantage of Drawing, I used Drawing, but really, it was because I was worried I wasn’t good enough for wonderful, handsome, vivacious Drawing. I realized I can’t have a relationship with Drawing if I don’t put anything into it. I can’t expect Drawing to unconditionally give every time. In elementary school I had self-help books, romance novels for 10 year-olds, in order to ignite my relationship with Drawing: Disney Animation, Draw 100 Animals, and others. I was much more initiative back then, and some of my teachers said we might be good together. It’s a good thing words stick because I was preoccupied with other stuff at the time. So last night I silently shouted to myself, “I should get another one of those books! One for adults!” Because I’m so mature now. Then I went to bed as the announcement of my endeavor was lost in the sea of hopeful quests and already established missions, such as, pass my classes. It is always amazing to be reminded of
how God supports my endeavors (when they’re not idiotic). Even the simplest ones. Example: a couple of weeks ago I was sitting in Starbucks when glorious tunes begin to swarm my open ears. I thought, “I must know who this is.” I was confused: the vocals sounded like the guy from the Shins but the music was not Shin-y. It was something else, something much, much more magical. The song ended and then a female vocalist began singing. It was a darn mix! I said to God, “Hey, can you tell me who that last song was?” I’m pretty sure, 99.9% sure (the 0.01% is for the sake of humility) that God has an appreciation for music and I’m going to take advantage of that. I could have asked one of the employees but I already asked God. To ask an employee would have been like asking one of your historian friends for an assignment, “Who won the Battle of Champagne?” and she responds, “the French gained only minimally, and the Germans—“ you interrupt: “You know, that might be right but I’m going to go ahead and ask Jim.” Jim says, “Mimosa.” You fail your assignment. Or maybe I just wanted to see what would happen. I admit, I did search for any new Shins albums but to no avail. I didn’t think this mysterious music would ever make it into my mp3 musical device; however, a few days later I think God told me the artist in the form of Dan Long saying stuff. We passed each other quickly one morning and this is how our conversation went: “Hey Laura!” “Hey Dan!” “Have you heard of Broken Bells?” “No. Good?” “Yeah, Danger Mouse and the guy from the Shins collaborated.” Me: Stream of excited banter. That was it. Endeavor accomplished. Coincidence? Perhaps. Why would God give a crap about me having yet another CD to listen to when he has 6 billion other people to care about? I don’t know, maybe he likes to give gifts? Maybe he likes to see joy?
Anyway, back to my negligence of my poor drawfriend. I thought about getting a how-to-draw book last night and then forgot about it by time I woke up. I stopped by a couple garage sales this morning with Kelli and Andrew. One of the houses had boxes upon boxes of books and the owner said, “Fill up a bag for a dollar.” Woo! Goodies! We stumbled over several books; all and all, it was a successful romp: Kelli found Tolstoy and Fitzgerald, Andrew found Etiquette for Young People from 1936 (a successful find because he needs it), and I found Salinger and Hemingway, and… The Joy of Drawing.
Endeavor accomplished. It is a cool, retro little hardback from the 60’s, for adults of course. And best of all, this is the beginning step of how to start the first drawing exercise: “Now, hovering over the paper like a bird of prey, draw a few squares with rounded corners in the air until you land with your pencil (or brush) on the paper.” This is going to be a good date; although, the first step might have to be done in private.
IN DEFENSE OF HAPPINESS. BY BEN SWISHER
Last year I went on a Christian spiritual retreat, and at our first meeting we went around the room and shared the reason we had come. When it came my turn I simply said, “I’m here because I want to be happy.” To my surprise, several people laughed. One well intentioned elderly woman approached me after and smiled as she said, “You can’t be happy all the time, you know.” I brushed it off because no one seemed to understand where I was coming from, but it raised important questions for me regarding the relationship between faith and happiness. Studying at a theological seminary, one finds him or herself in a number of discussions regarding questions of meaning and ethics. What does God demand of us? What kind of people should we be? How should we act in order to arrive at this goal? These questions are important, but I’m not sure they are the only questions we should ask, or that they are an adequate starting place in the search to satisfy the soul.
The Sufi mystic Rumi has a poem titled “The Field” in which he writes, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” What does it mean for the soul to lie down in that grass? To experience a fullness and depth about the world that has been hidden by our relentless thinking, planning, worrying and striving? What does it mean to be happy? For me, true happiness is lying down in that grass and feeling love beyond measure, the love of God that dwells within each human heart without reason or remuneration. How I long to lie down in that field! That is what we all yearn for. We strive to make things right, and we chase after certain things and avoid others all so we can be at peace. So that we can feel whole. So that we can be happy. Some may be inclined to think this is just a
problem of semantics. After all, happiness technically can be defined as either pleasure or joy, however great the qualitative difference between the two is. I assume my fellow retreatants would have been more receptive to my remarks had I spoken of joy instead of happiness. But I want to resist the temptation to remove this term from any meaningful dialogue on what it means to be human or to be fulfilled. Happiness not just pleasure seeking! Our language shapes our perception of reality, and if we disparage happiness and treat it with contempt then we are unintentionally giving credence to the disastrous belief that life is a series of tasks and challenges to be completed, rather than a gift to be enjoyed. Enjoying our life as a gift does not deny suffering in the world or in ourselves. To do so would turn happiness into repression. Happiness actually requires courage because it celebrates goodness and beauty even in the face of suffering and death. As the poet Jack Gilbert writes, “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.”
None of this has anything to do with pleasure. Pleasure is ultimately unfulfiling because it is a sensory experience that is dependent on external (and therefore impermanent) conditions. Happiness comes from recognizing the inherent beauty that is within everything. It is beyond categories of “good” and “bad.” It is the joy of simply being. It would be incorrect to simply refer to this happiness as an emotion, but it is closer to a language of emotions than cognition. Theologically-minded readers may be noticing by now that my language points more towards static metaphysical categories than the seemingly more dynamic and existential consciousness of the early, eschatologically-minded Church. They may argue for the latter approach because early
Christianity was a movement that grew by witness and conversion, eagerly anticipating the second coming of Christ. In response to this I can only say: “I refuse to prioritize becoming over being.” Christians must first remember that God is the one in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If they cannot touch that ground of being, then upon what ground will they stand to act in the world?
Sadly many of us live our lives cut off from the ground of our being, and this robs us of our happiness. In its place lies an enormous anxiety, as the ego is forced to navigate its way through the a hostile world seemingly separate from itself. True happiness comes from recognizing that the ground of our being is benevolent, and our participation in this being binds us together in such a way that replaces our sense of alienation with the reality of communion. Here questions of teleology are overshadowed by present beauty, anxieties about life give way to gratitude for being alive and bitterness is swallowed up in compassion. I love to walk through campus about an hour before dusk because the sun shines through the trees in such a way that you can actually see white rays of light coming through the canopy of leaves. More times than not, this sight serves to snap me out my habitual thought patterns and brings me home to a deeper reality. In those moments my soul is at rest and for a few precious seconds I’m reminded that there is no reason to be anxious or afraid.
All shall be well because it is already well in some mysterious way. This is the consistent witness of the mystics. To believe otherwise would seriously call into question the presence of God in the world. Therefore, may we be happy. May we recognize the importance, the depth and the necessity of this happiness, and may we have the eyes to see it in spite of everything.
Artwork by Joy Justus.
Artwork by Jeana Master.
The perplexity, the problem & the pain of artistic striving is to own what does not belong to you. by Jaclyn Williams Photo by Matt Varnell.
I am an artist. Inherently selfish? This role, this pas de deux, this high C – this is all mine, mine, mine. You can look and listen for a moment but you cannot have it. If I give it up to you then what will I have left? Besides, you don’t understand it. You don’t treasure it. You simply want to have it tantalize you for a moment and then you will throw it away. You will move on to the next tasty, aesthetically pleasing movement that suits your fancy. This is life. This art is who I am.
Three years old. The stage was my siren. She called. I came. I crashed against the rocks and was shipwrecked. She teased me with a bit of what I wanted and yet withheld what I needed. But I could not leave her. She loved me, she hated me. She lifted me up and she tore me down. This is insanity. This art is who I am.
Ever obedient to the call. I gathered my strength. I stood on the brink. And I fell. The call, the call, the call.
I had answered the wrong call.
Not wrong in manifestation. Wrong in perception.
I was holding on too tightly to what could not be held. Trying to make finite what was infinite. Not mine. Yours. Ours.
I am an artist. Instinctually surrendered. This role, this pas de deux, this high C – this is all ours. You can look, listen, love it or leave it. But you cannot stop the creation. You cannot stop the Creator. You gathered my weakness and gave me your strength. I stood on the precipice. And we lept. This is freedom, breath, and joy. This art is what I do. This leap is who I am. The wind blows, wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
The process, the providence & the pleasing of artistic striving is to let what does not belong to you pass through you for a moment, ever searching for …. what does not belong to you.
Artwork by Jeana Master.
By Grace Farag
You say it’s not much farther. I say nothing, just follow you beneath the dripping leaves. The whoosh of cars driving by on Highway 29 fades as we continue along the History Trail near the Bale Grist Mill in Napa. Eventually we hear nothing but quiet. This trip was not my idea. A weekend getaway in Napa Valley in the middle of November, just one week shy of Thanksgiving — I wanted sun, but here it is all dark clouds and a persistently half-hearted drizzle that can’t decide between being rain or mist. You had assured me that this is the time of year when the vineyards in the valley are most beautiful, black and gold twined together against a backdrop of blue mountains and ragged wisps of cloud. So far, though, I’ve only seen barren trees and forlorn hills. The air is cold. I walk behind you through the woods. Occasionally a large raindrop splats on a fallen leaf, but otherwise the world is silent, as though it is about to take its last living breath. All around us trees rise out of the dark earth in twisted red gashes that make me think of crucifixion, their trunks the colors of flayed flesh and blood, shining and slick with the damp. You put your hand against one of the contorted trunks. “These are madrones,” you
say, adding, “Natives of Texas.” I don’t bother to ask why you know what kind of tree it is or where it’s from. When we first met, a year ago at the Edinburgh Castle on Geary in the city, you looked at the pearl pendant I was wearing and surprised me not only by knowing what month it was the birthstone for (June) but then which astrological sign went along with that month (Gemini) and then what that sign revealed about the type of person I was (“my type,” you said, leaning closer and smiling). We went out two nights later, and slept together on our fifth date. And now here we are, a ring on my finger and one on yours, hiking in the rain. You bend your long back under a set of low-hanging branches, holding them aside with one hand as, with the other, you hold your camera bag close to your chest to protect your prized Nikon, “from the elements,” as you like to say—even though I know perfectly well the bag is waterproof, having bought it for your birthday two months ago. Tree roots writhe over the earth like strangled snakes. Rocks break the ground like jagged bones, threatening to trip me at every step. A breath of wind ices my cheek. I bring the hood of my new white sweatshirt up over my head and draw the strings tight. When you look back again and see me, you laugh
and wait for me to catch up. “You look like a white crayon,” you say, tugging upward on the pointed seam of my hood and tucking a stray strand of hair behind my ear. I only wish I was. I’d draw myself over the image of you at a table with someone else in the back corner of the crowded café I’d ducked into because of the red velvet cupcakes displayed in the window. If only they’d been banana muffins or pre-made Rice Krispie bars instead. If only it had been another day. If only you hadn’t been there with her. Yes, if I was a white crayon, I’d make her disappear, blot her right out of existence. I’d cover up the sight of you reaching to touch her hair, then pulling her face toward yours for a not at all impersonal kiss. (“The Germans,” you told me one night as we drifted into sleep together, “have words for 30 different kinds of kisses.”) On the trail, I take a deep breath. My body fills with the musty scent of fall. You come close, cup my face in your hands and I know you want to kiss me, but I pretend to hear an animal somewhere in the
brush and turn my head, pretending to look for it. “I don’t hear anything,” you say. “I hope it wasn’t a bear,” I say, and you laugh. A squirrel scrabbles around a nearby oak tree at just that moment. “Some bear,” you say, smiling. The squirrel stops as if it senses us staring at it. I never thought before how strange a squirrel’s eyes are, so utterly black, like dark planets. For the space of several breaths the three of us stand, not moving, contemplating each other and our respective distances. Then, a twitch of the squirrel’s tail and suddenly the creature whips around to the other side of the tree and disappears. You start walking again, and after a few more seconds, so do I. “Watch out,” you call over your shoulder. “It’s downhill and slippery from here.” You scoot down the trail sideways, and I do the same, testing the ground at each step before trusting my weight to the forward foot. The trail steepens, angling sharply downward. You reach back to take my hand. “I’m fine,” I say, just before a rock under my foot
loosens and rolls away, and I fall. A butterfly of light flashes across my vision, and the accompanying stab of pain constricts my throat. The madrones whirl above me in an angry red dance, spinning and fading in and out of the gray mist. You hurry back to me, your face full of sorry. You help me stand, and part my hair gently, running your fingers over my head. I flinch. You say there is no blood. “We’re really almost there,” you say. “You alright to keep going?” I nod, biting my lip against the pain. “We won’t stay long,” you promise. I follow you down the last few steps of the trail, my steps deliberate and slow, your hand firmly holding mine. My head aches as we emerge from the dark tangle of trees, into a small field of overgrown grass and bracken. You let go of my hand after one more concerned look, then stride across the clearing to where four or five white gravestones lean up from the ground, some of them behind black iron fences tangled in dead twining vines. This is what we’ve come to see, the old pioneer
cemetery. What’s left of it. The air is still and heavy, and the clouds seem to be hanging lower than before, though for the moment the rain has stopped. A shiver shakes my shoulders, and I wince. The cemetery feels far from everything, one of those places that will forever be alone in the world. There is no sound but the occasional whisper of a breeze through the bushes that scraggle around the uneven clearing. You crouch near one of the stone markers, sidling around it as you search for the right angle. I see a picnic bench near the edge of the trees, where the trail goes back up the long hill. The wood of the bench is cracked and ridged along the grain, rotted from many rains and dripping days like this one. I sit down and lean forward to rest my elbows on my knees, dropping my head down between my shoulders. I try not to think about what the walk back to the car will be like, as I rub the back of my head. “Smile,” you say, and I glance up just as you click the shutter in my direction. “Don’t,” I say. You take another picture, this time of my frown. “You’re beautiful,” you say, like you used to. I wonder if you told the other woman she was beautiful, too. I wonder if you’ve taken pictures of her, and suddenly I can’t breathe. I want to run home and leave you here, alone with the pioneer dead. “What’s wrong,” you ask, lowering the camera. “My head,” I say. It isn’t true. The gravestones gleam against the grayness of the day like whitewashed teeth. As the afternoon wanes, color leaches out of the world. The sun must be going down behind the veil of clouds. A sudden cold breeze rises and I shiver again, huddling deeper into my sweatshirt.
I look down and see the large piece of broken marble, fist-sized, nearly hidden in the grass by my feet. A heavy, rain-drenched silence fills the air. I feel as though someone is waiting, watching. But there is no one here. There is only this man, so familiar to me and yet so strange, capturing the scene in pieces, still images that will last long after we have both become no more than names engraved on forgotten stones. I stare at the jagged chip of marble, its whiteness marred by mud and grey-blue veins. Suddenly I lean down to pick it up, and that’s when I notice the sparrow in the grass, shivering under the bench. I pause. Aside from an occasional quirk of its the head, the bird does not move. There is something wrong with it, but I can’t quite tell what. I get off the bench, squat on my heels, bend close. The sparrow does not fly away, but gives an alarmed sort of hop away from me. But a moment later, it hops back again and collides with the bench leg. Are its wings broken, I wonder. My hand reaches out toward the quivering little body. I actually manage to brush my fingers along the bird’s back before it starts hopping again, flailing around madly. Both wings beat at the air, clearly not damaged, but then why doesn’t it fly away? Then I see its eyes. Or rather, the inflamed sockets where its eyes should have been. Oh God, I think. Now what do I do? I glance back at you, but you are absorbed
in problems of composition. The chip of marble, now right in front of me, seems to glow against the grass. I pick it up. It’s heavier than I expected, and cold. The bird pauses, giving quick turns of its head and trembling. How long can a blind bird survive in the wild? If anyone knows the answer, it’s probably you. Now I’m the one trembling, my hand shaking under the weight of this old stone. I don’t know any other way to do what has to be done. Oh God, I whisper aloud this time, but the bird is still there, still blind, and there is nothing to do but let the stone fall. And because the bird does not die the first time, I do it again and again. Gradually I become aware of a light pattering and realize it’s drizzling again. I stand and look around at the weeds covering the graves, at the uneven iron fence and the leaning crosses. Pain throbs through my head. My face is wet, but not from the rain, and I am shaking. You have moved to the far edge of the clearing, no longer taking pictures, just wandering among a clump of trees. I want to run to you and cry, to tell you what I’ve done, but I can’t. My heart strains under the weight of the distance between us. We are so far from everything and both so alone in the world. I glance back the way we came, the trail winding like a gash up the hill, into the fallen clouds where the madrones writhe in their cobra dance, the dead bright leaves sink into the sooty earth, and the silver rain washes clean everything I see.
by Joy Moyal
Legend has it that in the year 1263, a Bohemian priest traveled to Rome to resolve his doubts over the doctrine of transubstantiation— whether or not the bread and wine of communion actually become the flesh and blood of Christ—and stopped to celebrate mass in the lakeside down of Bolsena, Italy. When he lifted the host, it turned to literal flesh at the consecration and drops of human blood spilled onto the altar cloth. The majestic cathedral in Orvieto was built to house the sacred stained cloth, and today pilgrims still flock to see it in the Chapel of the Corporal. This is the story of one such pilgrim. Anna shifted uncomfortably in her pew in the Orvieto Cathedral. Anna had been shifting uncomfortably since she was ten years old, when she first realized that she was fat. She was always spilling over the boundaries placed on her—waistbands, bra straps, movie
theater seats, a standard desk chair—similar to yeasty dough gone out of control and creeping out of its bowl like the Blob.
Now she adjusted herself so that her thighs didn’t completely overtake the thin Asian man sitting next to her, who, she noticed, had skinny thighs like two denim-clad noodles. Anna clutched the fleshy sides of her legs with the anger of a road-raging driver clenching the wheel, and tried to focus on the Italian tour guide’s lecture as he whispered under the vaulted ceiling about the miracle of Bolsena. His voice was pleasing—Marco had just enough of an accent to give his speech that rich quality so conspicuously absent in the nasal squawking of Americans. Marco spoke of the traveling priest who doubted the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. That is, he doubted until the host
started bleeding all over the place like a scene in a horror film. To Anna the miracle sounded creepy and gross rather than holy, and she wasn’t sure why it mattered anyway. Didn’t Christ do his time on Earth, then get fed up and leave so he could hang out in heaven with God until everyone joined up for a big party, Oingo Boingo style, leaving bodies at the door?
Sometimes that was all that kept her believing—the fantasy of finally climbing out of this hateful, blubbery suit of flesh and becoming light as a vapor, and free. She’d come to view her body—all bodies—as evil, thinking of them with contempt and punishing her own with vicious words and fits of deprivation. “Many spiritual paths ignore our physical nature, or fear it, or treat it with disdain,” whispered Marco, flipping his tongue around every r. “But Christianity is materialistic at its very core…notice the central saying from the Gospel of John, ‘The Word was made flesh.’ Every tiny particle of matter, every body, is destined to be an instrument of spirit.” His words echoed later in Anna’s mind when she plopped down on a pew in the
Chapel of the Corporal to stare at the linen cloth stained by a few faded drops of blood. “Matter and spirit are not opposites,” he’d said. “The body and soul are not mismatched, but actually express each other—the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory…” Stretching out one of her hands, Anna studied it—the smooth creamy white skin, the dimples punctuating her knuckles—and wonder poured over her like honey.
Later, at dinner, Anna watched her fellow travelers dance to the music of a live band in the corner of the restaurant. For once, she didn’t compare their figures to her own; she didn’t judge the large and clumsy or envy the slender and lovely. Instead, she rejoiced in their movement, in the way their swaying steps infused the dimly lit room with earthy exultation. A few drops of red wine had dribbled on the white tablecloth, and she remembered the cloth of Bolsena, divinity spilling out of flesh. Anna rose from her chair and drifted toward the dancers until she was in their midst, shifting her weight gracefully from one foot to the other, moved by a spirit like water within her.
Curtis was up that night listening to the sounds of thunder in the distance. The meteorologist on the news had said the storm was headed right towards him, and because Curtis always feared the worst when it came to storms, he knew he would not be able to sleep until it had passed. And so he sat at his table, cautiously watching for lightning out the window, doing the only thing he could think of to keep the storm off his mind, though in hindsight, doing the Sudoku puzzle in the paper was probably not a good idea. And this was so for two reasons. First of all, he wasn’t very good at Sudoku and so gave up after ten minutes, and secondly, the frustration that had built up from his inability to succeed at something so elementary had resulted in an embarrassing overreaction to a loud banging at his door. He was just thankful nobody actually saw him jump out of his chair and throw the paper across the room. But as it hit the wall and fell behind the television he took a deep breath and reoriented himself. And then came the second bang—followed by a voice. “Curtis, it’s me.” Michael? Curtis unlocked the door to find his brother, who was ten years older and half a foot taller, standing in the hallway of his building in his bathrobe. “Are you ok?” asked Curtis,
distressed at the sight of his brother who he had never seen in the sort of condition he now saw before him. Michael’s thick graying hair, which was normally parted and combed properly, lay flat on one side and in a tangled mess on the other, with individual strands shooting up like grass at the colic in the back. Not to mention his glasses which lay on the tip of his nose where they were no use to his eyes as they strained over the rim in a tired gaze. He
brother a short story
was wearing no pants, and the shoes on his feet were the same black oxfords he had worn to the funeral that night. “I need to talk to you. Do you have any tea?” Michael entered the apartment and sat down at the table. It was a studio loft with roughly five-hundred square feet, which he had learned was just small enough for a thirtysix year old bachelor to remain a thirty-two year old bachelor. Curtis walked over to the kitchenette to boil some water and make Michael a cup of Earl Grey. “Does Haley know you’re out?” he asked, filling the kettle with water from his Brita. He would never trust tap water from the pipes of an apartment building. Michael wasn’t listening, rather he
sat in a daze and said matter-of-factly, “I’m gonna resign,” and then slipped down in the chair and closed his eyes. The thunder was becoming less and less a rumble in the distance and more and more a troubling presence overhead. ***
The seriousness of these words was not lost on Curtis. He knew the cost of such an
but smile and cheer with the rest of those gathered, while the parish priest gawked at the notion of having to pour water on the head of every newborn in the city, though he was later reminded by the church secretary not to take everything so literally. But Curtis saw his brother in a light that was much brighter than what anyone else could witness. Growing up behind someone who’s ten years older was like borrowing a book from the library. You never see the person who read the book before you, but there are clues of their existence and their capabilities left behind in the pages. Things like underlined sentences and notes in the margins and corners folded in on important sections to return to later. You would know how much smarter the person was than you and how much better of a reader they were because they underlined passages that you would have skimmed over, ultimately ruining your further interest in the book. Curtis, after all, wasn’t very close to Michael, who had left the house before he could even cross the street by himself, but he found traces of his greatness everywhere. Trophies and plaques and yearbooks, where he was voted most likely to succeed, weren’t stored away in a closet but kept in the living room book case for him to dwell on, every day of his life.
by Matthew Lautz act. Michael was the founder and pastor of City Church which began as a meeting of his friends at a Starbucks a decade past and had since grown to be the biggest church in the metro area while also garnering the label “The Church that Saved the City” from an article published two years ago by the paper, in which the dramatic drop in crime was found to correlate with the rise in the church’s weekly attendance. He had become one of the most influential leaders in the city, even being invited to speak at the mayor’s son’s baptism, where he had said something like I will not rest until every newborn in this city is treated with the same love and support as experienced here today. The mayor could do nothing
“I liked your eulogy tonight,” he said, bringing Michael a glass with the name of the bar he slipped it from and a tea bag steeping in the steaming water. Michael sat up in the chair and took hold of the hot glass. “Do you have cream?” “No. Sorry, no milk either. If I’d have known you were…” He stopped himself. He didn’t want to go there yet. Curtis sat down across from him with his own glass and dipped the bag of leaves in and out of the water, watching the burnt orange pigment flow and swirl, first around the top and then sink slowly, darkening everything beneath. Through the window he watched the lightning illuminate the darkness for something like a hundredth of a second, which was just long enough the see the wind yanking like a persistent friend at the trees on the street below. “Do you remember,” Curtis began, “there was that tree house you built when I was still in the crib. Between the tree with three trunks. I used to play in that thing every day after school. It was like my fortress. I’d climb up onto the roof and look around at every yard on the block. I loved that. Such perspective.” He took a sip of the tea and then took the bag out and put it on a napkin. He did the same for Michael’s, which had not yet moved. “I remember asking mom once what kinds of things you did in the tree house. But she said you never played in it. That you just built it one summer and let it be. I guess you had other things to do.” Michael just stared into his glass, his hands still wrapped around it, allowing the heat to stimulate his blood and turn his
hands pink. The lightning flashed, startling Curtis. He almost didn’t have enough time to brace himself for what was to follow, which came just seconds behind with a vengeful wrath, leaving a knot in his stomach. To calm himself, he turned his attention back on his brother. “Is this about mom?!” He had to yell it over the thunder and pouring rain. “I told you you didn’t have to do the eulogy. It all happened so fast. You should have just let someone else… You know?!” Michael stood and took off his robe, draping it over the back of the chair. Then, left in his shorts and a t-shirt, he said, “It’s hot in here.” The t-shirt was from an old softball league he used to play in a few years back. His team was called ‘The Heirs of the Earth’ and was made up of people he recruited off the streets to play games on the weekends. Afterwards he would provide pizza and allow them to share their stories and then pray with them. Curtis only caught one game. They lost without scoring, which had come to be expected, but he knew that wasn’t the point. People had started coming from all over town to watch Michael’s team play, cheering for them, cheering for him. Curtis left after the fifth inning with a stomach ache, figuring the cold hotdog to be the culprit. “You want some ice water instead?” Curtis asked, getting up and going over to the fridge. “No it’s fine. I need to talk to you about this.” Curtis returned to his seat, staring into his brother’s dark eyes, waiting for the answer to this mystery that sat before him. But before there could be any big reveal,
before the sound of a drum roll could even begin in Curtis’s mind, they were interrupted by an incoming call on his phone. It was Haley. ***
Michael met Haley in Mozambique the summer after he graduated college, where he took a group of Freshmen from his school. She was there with a church group teaching Bible classes to the children, while he was there to build houses for the families of orchard workers. His school group wasn’t supposed to mix with the church kids— Americans take their values with them around the world. The story Curtis heard was that Michael would sneak out at night to meet Haley in the tangerine fields behind her host family’s house. The crisp smell of citrus must have stimulated something in his imagination, because one of those nights Michael got a glimpse of his possible future and decided to make it so. It was in the twilight of the coastal haze that he asked Haley to spend the rest of her life with him. And it was there under the eyes of God that she said yes, though with one stipulation— he must first commit to a year of mission work with her teaching the Bible. They were married the following summer, after a year together again in the orchards, both under the God’s watch. Her bridesmaids wore the bright color of that citrus fruit that witnessed their first commitment. Curtis stood second in the wedding behind the Best Man whose name was Lloyd from Idaho and had been Michael’s roommate and best friend throughout college, though his new path would set them apart from this day on. At the stingy age of thirteen, Curtis despised
weddings, or at least the ones he had to be at. Uncomfortable in his ill-fit tux, he spent most of the ceremony shifting his position to establish some level of comfort between his legs. Every so often he would catch a dissonant stare from his mother who sat in front wearing the olive green dress she had spent an undisclosed amount on, and a crème colored shawl to keep the summer evening’s breeze off her neck. “I think I’ll wear this again for your wedding,” she had said as they drove to the lake-side summer home of Haley’s parents, where the chairs and altar had already been set up on the terrace. “Don’t get your hopes up,” Curtis replied from the back seat, though he would regret those words many years later when they lowered her casket into the ground. ***
The phone continued to vibrate, bouncing across the table, with The Cure’s Just Like Heaven playing thinly through the phone’s speaker and Haley’s kind and benign face captured in the four-inch screen. “Don’t answer it,” said Michael. Curtis was beginning to feel like his brother was trying to trap him, like he was being coddled into doing or saying something that he wouldn’t otherwise give into. And now the thought entered his mind—was he afraid of his brother? Isn’t it true that you fear what you do not know? They had never played video games together or gone camping or to concerts in the city. They had never talked the way brothers should talk. It was always, hey how are you, good how are you. Good. Just context. Only ever context. Never substance. And so it goes and so it came. There with his brother Michael staring down at him, the truth
struck Curtis like a match in the dark. He was afraid. The only thing he could think to say was what anyone might say in the face of the unknown, which was, “Michael, do you need a doctor?” Michael sat up straight and wiped the sweat off his brow, and then leveled the glasses on his nose. He took his tea and sipped at it slowly, putting his stare at the ceiling. When he came back down he looked at Curtis with eyes of great stillness—empty, as if everything had just washed down his throat with the river of tea. And then he spoke. “You’re right, I shouldn’t have given that eulogy.” He took another sip. Curtis sat completely still, as if he were before a beast in the wild. “I couldn’t help but just stare at the casket. And as I stared, it seemed to open up in front of me, and I could see her laying there, like one of those porcelain dolls she had.” “I miss her too,” Curtis broke in, trying to be comforting. “No it’s not that,” he said sternly. “I had this vision. It was a memory that came back as I walked off the stage.” “What memory?” asked Curtis. “I don’t know, I was maybe twelve or so and it was late and I had gotten out of bed to get some water. I walked down the hallway, hugging the wall to avoid the creaky floorboards. I remember hearing a voice speaking softly from your room. I didn’t know who or what, but as I got closer to your door and then looked inside I saw mom kneeling next to your crib. I listened, wondering what she was doing, and what she was saying. And then I heard. She said,
Lord, make my son a holy man.” Michael took a sip of tea and then stood from the table and started pacing. “I had forgotten all about that night, that little prayer meeting she had. The memory just came to me suddenly as I looked down at her casket. And you know what if felt like? Like she was slipping a note under my door to remind me that it wasn’t supposed to be me.” “How do you know she didn’t pray the same for you?” “That was the only time I had ever seen her pray.” “So?” said Curtis. “So?” Michael’s arms rose into the air, his hands spread, like he was the one making an offering to God. “This woman did not have a reverent bone in her body. We never went to church, we never read the Bible, we never did anything religious or spiritual. That was noticeably absent from our life. And from hers. Yet there she was, praying for you.” As Michael paused for a breath, the storm, which had rescinded, had returned in a second wave with a swift flash followed immediately by its roar. Curtis stood to look out the window and witness its power. “She may have prayed it over me,” he said, “but look what good that did.” “This isn’t about you.” “Yeah you’ve made that clear.” Michael’s shoulders fell, and his head sank to the side. He reached out for Curtis’s arm. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean it that way.” “But you did.” Curtis looked down and noticed his knees shaking. He had never had to be strong in front of Michael before, and his body was beginning to give under the strain.
“Is that what you think?” Michael said, backing off. “I don’t know.” He took hold of the back of the chair to stabilize himself, but he could no longer feel his legs. Every part of his body felt separate from his mind, like he was an engineer controlling a large robotic body with buttons and levers. Even his words sounded distant now, as they seeped from his lips. “I’ve been your brother my whole life. And I know that hasn’t been as long for you. I know you had a life before me. But what do you want me to say, that you don’t matter to me? I’ve always considered you everything.” Curtis opened the window and the air in the room seemed to flee, and then he began to laugh quietly to himself. “What’s funny?” “Nothing,” he said as the last roar of thunder echoed through the city. Michael took his glasses off and held them out in front of his face, examining the lenses for smudges which he wiped off with his shirt. Then he said in a soft voice, “I’m not perfect. I would tell you how often I’ve screwed up, but you know, I like you looking up to me. I like everybody looking up to me. I like making people proud. I liked making mom proud.” Michael’s voice stumbled and his chest swelled. “If she knew…” Curtis went to get him a glass of water, but Michael told him to stop. “I should get home. Haley’s probably called the police.” He took his robe from the back of the chair and put it on, tying the sash tightly around his waist. Then a smile came to his face. “All those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” Curtis went to Michael and grabbed him. It was the first time he had ever hugged his brother. He felt Michael’s breath on his
neck and the beat of his heart through the softness of his robe. When Curtis let go, Michael stepped back and turned towards the door. “I’ll see you soon,” he said, opening the door to make his exit. “What about the church?” Curtis asked, suddenly remembering the thing that had started it all. “It’s not going anywhere,” he said. And then he was gone.
*** The day Curtis was born, Michael was picked up early from school by his father and taken to the hospital. When his father reached the large glass entry doors, he realized Michael was no longer by his side. He turned and saw his son standing back in the drop-off zone, staring up at the large building of new red brick. “What’s wrong?” he asked. Michael kept his gaze up at the stone and the clouds that passed behind. His father went to him and knelt down at his side. “Hey, listen, we don’t have to go in there if you’re not ready. It’s ok,” his father said in a near whisper. His son remained still. “I know this has got to be strange for you, having a brother, but trust me, it’s the greatest thing in the world. I loved growing up with my brothers. We did everything together. But, listen, you’re gonna be much older than him, so it’s up to you to set the example because he’s going to look up to you. You have to be strong for him, ok?” Michael turned and met his eyes, which were gentle underneath the large brow. Then he grabbed his father’s face between his hands and said, “Ok.”
The Brot The Windm “If you tell Mom I brought you here, I’ll kill you!” “If I tell Mom, she’ll kill both of us!”
“Promise still!” Galoro pressed down on the section of chain-link fence that Pico was stuck under.
“FINE!” conceded Pico. “I promise I won’t tell Mom about your hideout. And if I do you can kill me!”
Skeptical but contented, Galoro lifted the bottom of the fence again, and Pico crawled through. Any other younger brother may have punched Galoro in the face. Pico, however, was no one other than himself. Bravery skin deep, fragile as thin glass. He knew his brother wouldn’t kill him, but he knew it could get ugly. He feared how Galoro would treat him around others. Or worse, how Galoro would ignore him. Then who would Pico talk to? Who was he kidding, Galoro didn’t talk to Mom or him, ever, which is why Pico was so quick to jump at his brother’s offer to tag
along. Pico thought Galoro could have asked anybody. And he thought in choosing him that that meant something. But what Pico was beginning to piece together was that maybe Galoro didn’t have anyone else to share his discovery with. So, Pico was the default. “Hurry up, Pico. You’re slower than dirt.”
Kids from other towns wouldn’t think twice about that. But again, Pico was no one but himself and not from any other town than his own. And there, any insult relating a boy to dirt was about the lowest one could go. It meant being one of them, and no one wanted that.
“Stop, will you?” begged Pico. He was beginning to think he made a mistake in coming. Scared, now annoyed, he couldn’t even enjoy the wonderful sight that met them as they pushed through the woods and came over the ridge to an open field that stretched far into the mountainous horizon.
They were in a graveyard for windmills. Dozens of them scattered the land. Many had
thers and by Daniel W. Long mill decayed, fallen over, and were now overrun by the wild grass. The few left standing now balanced precariously in the wind that blew over the forest behind the brothers and on toward the mountains. “This way,” said Galoro, setting off for the last standing windmill in the distance. A few hundred feet shy of the windmill, he suddenly stopped and turned to Pico. “Are you sure you want to do this? Because I’ll admit I was scared my first time here, too.” “Shut up,” Pico told Galoro. “I know what you’re doing. You’d never let me live it down if I turned back.”
“True, but it’s better than being spooked like Uncle J. You don’t want to stare out the window of a crazy home with the rest of the miners that worked with them, do you?” “Shut UP!” shouted Pico. The wind covered his wavering tone and soothed the fire in his tear ducts.
“I’m just saying, everyone else has chosen to think they blew themselves up with the mine.
It’s okay if you do the same and never know whether I’m telling the truth or not.”
Galoro had a sick talent for making Pico both want and not want to follow him. It was cruel, actually, because even though Pico shoved his way past his older brother just then, he did it without a hint of confidence in his walk. Galoro quickly gained the lead, announcing without words who was king in this court. “Use this rope here to help you climb,” Galoro said, beginning to ascend the windmill before Pico ever reached the base. “But don’t put all your weight on it. I’m not sure it could take it.” He climbed a little further before stopping to add, “And that’s not a fat joke…though it could be, you fat sack of dirt.” Pico blew off this insult easily because he was transfixed by what looked like a mouth opening up in the field next to the windmill. A massive cavity descended far into the earth. From where he stood, Pico could see that a few feet below the soil under the field, the wall of the pit was smooth, hard rock for a distance greater than the height of the windmill. He tried to get closer to see deeper, but his giant
feet tripped in the extra length of rope and he hit the ground face first.
Galoro’s laugh made the windmill shake as Pico picked himself up and started to climb. Uncertain which he should give more weight to, he weakly shifted his hold on old wood beams and the even older rope crumbling in his fingers. Its coarseness felt familiar. He couldn’t place it until he finally struggled onto the platform at the top, where he saw a number of tools he instantly recognized. “Are these Dad’s…old tools?” he managed between heavy breaths. “And…his rope… too?”
“Yep, don’t tell Mom,” said Galoro, who was already lying on his stomach, casually spitting into the pit, and taking delight in his accuracy. “You greedy, dirt clod!” said Pico, attempting insults he knew he was no good at.
“Come on, Pico. Were you actually playing with this stuff when it was at home?” Galoro took his time rising to his feet, as if he couldn’t move fast enough to show how little he cared that Pico was bothered by any of this. If anything, Galoro looked annoyed that Pico was distracting him from the fun they could be having. “Yes,” said Pico. “And Mom’s been looking for it. I should have known you’d taken it…” “So what!” snapped Galoro. “It was all just sitting there, except for the rope you so loved to chew on when you first crawled out of the dirt.” “Shut up!”
“This is stupid,” said Galoro, who started hocking up phlegm from his deepest bowels. He continued with a gurgle, “I don’t know why I brought you.” Galoro turned back to the edge and dropped another saliva grenade. He watched for a moment before suddenly raising his arms in victory, stepping with toes just over the edge, and howling into the wind. “STOP SPITTING ON THEM!” yelled Pico, driven by anger more than courage or goodwill. Still, it didn’t matter if he meant to stand in their defense or not. Galoro now had the makings to destroy Pico.
“THEM…down there?” Galoro faced his little brother, his heels still a hair away from the edge. His lack of fear in spite of the height made him all the more frightening to Pico. “Who cares about them? Except…” he acted like he was discovering a big clue to a long unsolved mystery, “except if you are one of them.” “NO I’M NOT!”
“Yes, that’s it. Dad never had time to claim you as his own, but maybe that’s fine because you weren’t his.” “STOP IT!”
“When did you climb out of the pit, Pico? Which one’s your daddy down there?!” “AHHH!” Pico bellowed against the wind, and both boys forgot where they were in that instance.
Pico rushed at Galoro, who jumped out of the way. The younger boy couldn’t even try to stop himself. Giant’s feet and all, over the edge he went, before Galoro could think of grabbing him. Down.
The first thing Pico noticed was the lack of wind against his skin. Then—the darkness. He closed his eyes as it swallowed him alive.
Pico felt something slippery down his side. Then another. Each time, his descent slowed until he hit a hard object, softer than a rock, but not by much. It gave way and Pico heard a grunt of pain. The boy continued to fall. He tumbled in the air as if caught up in a heavy current. But suddenly, something caught his ankle. Pico stopped falling.
The pressure of blood in his head told the boy that he was upside down. He slowly opened his eyes. Cast in a faint light, the bottom of the pit looked like a large monster with scales crawling no further away from him than the height of the windmill. He could hear the sucking sound of feet loosing from mud and the smack of them stomping down. A large object went flying past him, making Pico consider all that he hit on the way down. It crashed through the crawling mass below, and the entire thing stopped moving. The mass gave way, and Pico saw what looked like limbs sticking out of the ground, struggling
to get free of the thick mud they were buried in. Then all the scales on the monster turned upward, and Pico saw that they were actually heads connected to hundreds of lanky bodies, their flesh so mixed with dirt and mud he couldn’t tell what was skin and what was earth. When their attention focused on him, each set of eyes glowed as they captured every hint of light that dared venture that deep into the earth. Silence.
Pico felt his body move against his will. He looked at a muddy torso protruding from the wall who had caught him by the ankle. The creature was hairless. Its body, weak and frail. The face turned with curiosity as Pico was swung about for inspection. It grunted with each thought. It then brought Pico faceto-face with itself. The pressure in Pico’s head made every thought slowly trudge through his brain. When the creature opened its mouth—a dripping cave on a muddy bank—Pico thought of being eaten alive. He kicked and punched. The creature held him out like a stinking animal. “Let me go!” Pico yelled. There was a loud, bassy thud, and the creature groaned with pain and aggravation.
Pico heard his older brother shouting far away. He saw the rock that Galoro had thrown fall a little further until another creature hanging off the wall caught it. It investigated the rock before dropping it out of the way of those at the bottom.
Galoro threw another rock, and another, each hitting with dead accuracy until Pico felt the grip around his ankle loosen. The creature dropped Pico, and the boy crashed against more bodies on the way down. With a loud SMACK, he sunk into the mud. “PICO…”
The voice of Galoro echoed down the chasm. It sounded like a whisper by time it reached Pico’s ears. He felt as if the call were waking him from a dream. But his eyes opened to a sideways world. His left cheek was planted deep in slimy earth. Feet moved all around him as if walking on a muddy wall. They were right by him but not stopping. Each one kept walking past him. Had he become so buried in the mud that they couldn’t even see him?
He began to slither himself backward toward a wall, glancing over his shoulder to see how close he was. Nothing was in his way, except a set of eyes fixed on his location. The creature they belonged to hesitated a moment. It looked around at the others, but didn’t say a word. Then it began walking toward Pico, picking up speed until Pico thought it intended to crush him. The creature lifted a foot and slammed it down so close to Pico’s face that mud from the leg oozed down into his ear.
A push hit Pico in the chest, then another in his gut, until Pico realized the creature was shoving him back toward the wall with its feet. He panicked and fought to break free, but the mud encased him. It was going to suffocate him at this rate. When his back hit against the wall, all the creatures stopped
moving, and if he didn’t stop resisting they’d hear him for sure.
In short glimpses through the mud sliding over his eyes, Pico saw that all of them were looking at the one standing over him. From the group, one of them fiercely approached. All of them began making noises when the world suddenly went completely dark. A final shove in his chest from the creature’s foot sank Pico deep into mud and dirt so thick that it filled every pore in his body. It constricted around him. He couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t even fight to breathe. He was done for, and certain of it, when he felt the earth all around him shake over and over again. The vibrations sent him deeper into the earth until he felt an arm wrap around his body. It pulled him in one direction then let go. The pressure of the earth around him opened wider, and Pico found he actually had space to move. The sound of rocks being struck together filled the pitch dark. Two sparks flew and burst into a larger flame that settled in the palm of a muddy hand. Molding like a potter, the creature rapidly expanded the small bubble it had made around Pico and itself with one hand, while cradling a blue fireball in the other. The air smelled of something foul that sank its way into Pico’s lungs and pulled them inward. The constriction diminished the scream the boy finally had a chance to let loose. The creature immediately stopped its work and shoved its hand hard against Pico’s face, filling his mouth with mud that seemed to
crawl freely on its skin. It brought the hand with the flame close to its face and waved it around its mouth as if to say, Shut up!
It was too late. A head popped in through the wall. It gave one look at the creature and one at Pico before opening its mouth wide. Its flesh quivered and there was no mistaking the anger deep in its eyes. The other creature punched the head back into the earth with its fire hand. All went dark again when Pico felt himself being dragged into the earth and pulled up through the bottom of the pit. The creature carried him, ascending with incredible speed, jumping off torsos half-protruding from the walls and grabbing onto whatever bits of earth it could sink its fingers into.
When the creature swung Pico on its back, he lost any sense of orientation and fought with every molecule of muscle in his body to hold on to the slippery body. Dozens of hands grabbed at him. Creatures came from everywhere, there eyes burned brighter the higher they got. When one nearly caught up to them, a huge rock smashed it in the face. The creature groaned loudly as it fell through the horde behind it, only taking out a few
on its way down. Pico looked up to see Galoro hurling rocks from the top.
His brother threw one last rock, then disappeared over the edge. A moment later, an end of rope came flying into the pit. It still didn’t reach much further than halfway down the smooth surface. As much as he hated it, Pico braced for what had to come next. He held on so tightly he could feel the creature’s body tighten. For a brief second, all its flesh turned hard as stone as it hurled Pico and itself up the smooth wall. Wind hit Pico’s face, breaking the fear of the moment briefly. At the peak of the leap, they were a few feet up the rope, and the creature grabbed hold of it.
It all happened so fast Pico never thought once what he was experiencing. He gave one last look down at the pit crawling with life. The creature pulled him off its back and put him on the rope ahead of itself. His arms were completely dead, though. It was all he could do just to hold on until the creature came up under his feet to let them rest on its shoulders. “Thanks…” Pico gasped. Slowly, they made their way to the top.
“Hey, you’re almost there, Pico,” said a waiting Galoro, stretching his hand far for that moment he could help his brother.
Pico finally caught hold of Galoro, who pulled him out with surprising ease. The younger boy stayed sitting up long enough to feel his face cupped in his brother’s hands. Galoro showed a smile then gave his brother something between a head-butt and a kiss on top of the head. Pico fell backward. He lay there breathing heavy, as the dirt flew up on his breath before being carried away by the wind.
A struggle suddenly broke out at the edge of the pit. Pico rolled his head to barely catch site of Galoro kicking forcefully, then standing up, grabbing a rock, and hurling it down with all his might. Before he could say anything, he heard the impact of a well-aimed rock. The groan of the creature it hit faded fast as it fell quickly. Pico struggled to get up but couldn’t, in part due to exhaustion, but mostly out of his inability to discern the millions of emotional explosions going on inside.
“Let’s go, Pico,” Galoro was now by his side putting Pico’s arm over his shoulder. “I got to get you home to Mo…” “Stop,” Pico gasped. He tried to push Galoro away. His inability to do so only made the tears finally come. “We have to go, now.” Galoro finally managed to get Pico to his feet.
“How could you do…THAT!” Pico gave Galoro a hit to be remembered, if not by memory, then by the black eye it was bound to make. He didn’t give Galoro time to prepare for another. He let it rip. Then again. Until finally Galoro took a few steps back to reveal that he too had tears forming in his eyes. “Stop it, Pico,” he said. “What were we going to do? We couldn’t let him get out?” “Why not?” asked Pico, not caring for an answer.
“I don’t know. Because they’ve got to be down there for a reason. They’re dangerous. We don’t have a father because of them. Mom
cries every night because of them.” He stopped to wipe away some tears. “So, I’m sorry, but we’re not letting one of them out. And I’m getting you home before we do anything else stupid that hurts you.”
Galoro wouldn’t accept resistance this time, and Pico didn’t have anything left to try. He passed out as soon as Galoro got one arm over his shoulder. He caught sight of shoes scraping on dirt, windmills overrun by wild grass, and a section of chain fence that needed to be repaired. The familiar creaking of boards in an old house was the last thing he remembered.
Pico fell asleep for three days, never having the chance to tell their Mom where Galoro took him. Instead, Galoro got the chance to do that all by himself, in the presence of the town sheriff two days later. The officer had come to the door with a bunch of beaten up old tools that their mother instantly recognized. Up the stairs, the officer’s voice carried to where Galoro sat eavesdropping. That morning, two officers were patrolling the fence around the windmill field. They came across a large section of the fence that looked like it had been marched over by a stampede. The officers followed trails far into the field toward the pit where they kept the
creatures those people discovered in the mines. At this point, Galoro remembered something that made him bolt to his feet.
The Sheriff continued to say that the pit was found completely empty. Not a creature roaming the bottom. Not a body hanging out of the walls or climbing about. Nothing. Except, the shattered remains of one of the windmills. They had people exploring the pit now but all they managed to find so far were these tools, which their mother now had in her hands, and the tattered remains of rope so old that the sheriff’s office held onto it only because it was evidence. The Sheriff needed to take the tools back, but he came by to put a rest to the case of the missing tools for their worried mother. He had no suspicion on suspects yet, but soon as he did, he’d let her know. Before he could dip his hat to leave, though, their mother said she had a list of suspects she thought the sheriff should talk with. She then gave a shout for Galoro that could summon Death to her side. “Here, Mom,” he said. He was already behind her. With the sheriff present, Galoro figured he had the safest chance at avoiding his mother’s death sentence.
Photo by Christen Bordenkircher.
I came to the shore with a crown on my head but my uncle wants it for himself
I walked into a stain from a line of Peterâ€™s hands but hoped to see it pointing else
Photo by Laura Rold.
Wrinkled Hands Lyrics by Elliott Chung, the band Towne & Country
I came across a boy from a time distant past he told me he was not the mirror don’t drive me out don’t drive me out
I came across a man a giant of a light holding grandma’s wrinkled hand
don’t dry me out don’t dry me out
I will hold her and be held by her
sparrows by todd hoover
Jesus said, “Don’t expect me to please everybody When your flock is so stubbornly lost I’ll return to ensure that my most worthy body Finds its true life collapsed under cross” Sister dear, are we trading our thorns in for 30 pence of laughter and lust?
Photo by Jordan Henricks.
Jesus said, “By my grace, you may heal any body Drive out demons with heavenly news Only shiver for He who can burn soul and body Not for cold water spilled on your shoes” Brother dear, are we flaunting our “honor” with 30 pence of bulge in our belts?
Jesus said, “Bleat out loud as purple wolves flog your body In my Spirit, both serpent and dove When your household disowns every cell in your body Know my sword shines with radical love” Sister dear, are we killing for kindness and 30 pence from high priests and kings? Jesus said, “You will always be my student body But you disown me in desperate hope to graduate Stay in homes undeserving of my blood and body Sandals heavy with dust and hearts even heavier with hate Brother dear, are we raping guest angels for 30 pence of laughter and lust? Willingly led by the hairs on our head We’re just sparrows falling down to the ground
I watch the ocean swallow up the rays of sun And watch the waves open the ir mouths and eat the day tha t’s almost done I say good-bye to another mo ment of my feeble life I feel the sand inside the hol es between my toes And feel it penetrate the deepest regions of my soul I feel alive, if only for a mo ment ‘fore I die This life is just a breath Of wind inside your chest There’s more than what you see to you and me We’re more than momentary I gaze at needles poking hol es into the sky And think about the thousan d years between the light tha t shines and I I realize I’m so much younge r than I feel inside
More Than Momentary
across the air I follow clouds as they crawl there ter finds a way to stay up And wonder how it is that wa e has been missing from my lif I feel so dry, like something This life is just a breath Of wind inside your chest see to you and me There’s more than what you We’re more than momentary r? I don’t know What of me will last foreve growing old? Will it be my last endeavor ng centuries from now? Will my thoughts mean a thi es inside the ground? Will I leave anything but bon This life is just a breath Of wind inside your chest see to you and me There’s more than what you We’re more than momentary
This life is just a breath Of wind inside your chest There’s more than what you see to you and me We’re more than momentary Oh, we’re more than momentary Oh, we’re more than momentary
By Kyle Shevlin
Guide Me, Lord by todd hoover
Guide me, won’t you guide me Lord; guide me in all a Your ways Guide me, won’t you guide me Lord; guide me in all a Your ways Guide me all the way down your path, sweet Lord an’ Guide me for all my days.
I been walking like a blind man, can’t see two feet front o me I been walking like a blind man, can’t see two feet front o me Gots a back bent down so low, feel the weight o my sin a killin’ me Wine and women been my bread for oh so long Wine and women been my bread for oh so long Wine done laid me out So, so many women I’d done wrong Lead me to the river, wash all my sins away Lead me to the river, wash all my sins away Lead me down to the river, Lord, these Sins be gettin bigger every day
GLORY & FIRE
by mikey master
Photo by Laura Rold.
The garden’s grow th su ounded m As the breez e moved thrr rough me e
ce s in itseaprla was thick h t All waa n o by them d e iv e c e d The pe ce s nd wa left empty to lies aa d e n e t s d was li n But I owed my fill I swall name r
ut mfy in fea o e c d a e l l t You ca id my h y guh I m t n i And g elt itom my si und sea f e I h t , r o e f r r i d a e f s plac ar of y alle Lord an r o l g A pilelver left it your gel of th It n n n by
n a d i mme cloud, a e h I’m llar of A pi
en brought Out of Egypt, I’ve be set me free I remember the love that
ar in the land You can rid us of fe again You can give us peace once again th glory sets down m The cloud filled wiupo e peace to set out es giv n me and Its covering rests Your fire is in my bones When I see it I feel right
With everything I have I will love I will become what is placed upon my heart My heart is laid bare before the mou ntain Where can consolation come but from you?
Photo by Jordan Henricks.
“Romans 2:4” by Aaron Randolph
From ashes to ashes Dust to dust To sin against the Lord, You think it takes a lot of guts? It’s not so much boldness As it is blindness Oh! I do what I don’t want to... And worse, I don’t do what I want to! Do I hold in contempt The patience of the Lord; my salvation?
The sun’s come out, snow is melting Water fills the drain Gutters filled with what has passed Skies have cleared, but still alas You’re shoveling the driveway Moving things that don’t remain Keep it up, keep it up You might go insane It’s lingering, that feeling That first brought me to repentance I can’t shake this guilt Though You’ve already served the sentence I can’t tell the difference Condemnation or conviction What do I do when I can’t tell Is this real or is this fiction? END
d p would you plea lease kill m you c se kill rucif me e y me?
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fe ed th e hu ngr y I’v e he ard th at yo u ca n d fo r th e em pty Wa te r an d win e an d br ea I’m fil led wi th my se lf Go d I’m fu ll of fil th an dyo u ple as e sta rv e me So wo uld yo u Go d wo uld yo u ple as e sta rv e me So wo uld yo u Go d wo uld
Resurrec by Michael
ct Me Wright
How Far Lord? by Justin Guittard
’d confess. If I could, I ice and slow. n , d u lo d an d Goo ff my chest. o ad lo is th Get don’t know. I rd o L w o Yes, but h el. n’t fe w. o d I o I say, n’t sh o d I What , I feel isn’t real. w. start. What ’t kno o w n t o o e h d r s I he I Lord - know. don’t know w could show. What l a e r is t I I heart. What no - I don’ scars y e m r a d e e n , pe d? Ther No, no If I o ar, Lor f w o go? But h can I r a f w w. But ho I don’t kno
to be er e yo ur wi ng s us ed wh ck ba ur yo on s ar if yo u go t sc sa fe wi th me do n’ t wo rr y yo u’ ll be o mo re th an on e pie ce if yo ur ha lo br ea ks int sa fe wi th me do n’ t wo rr y yo u’ ll be ow s in a crowde d ro om ad sh by ed low al sw u ar e yo lon el y to o do n’ t wo rr y I’v e be en wi ll ev er kn ow yo u e on no at th ow kn u do yo s to yo u do n’ t wo rr y I’l l sa y ye ea k br ea d wi th me on ly th e brok en wi ll br so do n’ t yo u wo rr y ad th e bo ok s th at yo u re of s ge pa e th in t los ar e yo u ne ed wo rds to sp ea k do n’ t wo rr y lov e do n’ t key he ar t an d bu rie d th e ur yo up d ke loc u yo ha ve yo u fr ee do n’ t wo rr y I wi ll se t ep av y ru le s th at yo u ke he e th l al my wn do ar e yo u we igh ed u to yo ur fe et ac h do n’ t wo rr y I’l l br ing yo r wh at yo u’ ll ne ve r re fo g hin tc re st om fr ar e yo u tir ed u to yo ur kn ee s do n’ t wo rr y I’l l br ing yo
Communion Hymn by Michael Wright
o n ly t h e b ro k e n w il l b r e a k s o do n ’t b r e a d w it you worr h me y are you h o ld in g t h o r ns and th do n ’t w o r r e li li e s w o y I ’v e fe l n ’t b lo o m t those sa do y o u fe me damn el as emp w o u n ds ty as a w do n ’t w o r r h it e w a s h e y I ’v e b e e d tomb n in o n e o f those too
Photo by Jeana Master.
Photo by Stephanie Struck.