Monday, June 01, 2009


Without my betrayal the prophecy fails
No crown of thorns; no cross and no nails
So I ask for deliverance from my destiny
My name is Judas; someone had to be me
~Judas by Griffin House

Few characters provoke such complete hatred throughout history as Judas Iscariot. In his Inferno, Dante names the very center of hell after Jesus' betrayer. There Judas receives the most severe punishment of all damned souls, an eternity head-first in the central mouth of Satan, the ultimate traitor, with his back continuously grated by the fallen angel's claws.

And yet, God shows us time and again that He is a God of foreshadowing and significance. Were He not, He would not laid out hundreds of prophecies, such as the one alluded to in the song verse above, for His Son to fulfill. Were He not a God of foreshadowing, He would not have had the prophet Hosea mate with a whore and then call his children Not Loved and Not My People only to have them redeemed in the end. He is a God who uses names, uses things people already know to announce the things they could never understand.

When I look at the life of Judas, I concede that I will never understand. Here was a man who followed Jesus, the Messiah; followed Him and knew all He did and, what's more, knew He did it in the name of The Lord. And yet, he sold Him for a sack of coins. Then, in the end, he took his own life out of shame and despondency.

If one believes in free will, one can easily claim "Judas did as he saw fit and then felt bad. He did as a man would do." But, if one adheres to a faith of predestination, then someone had to be Judas, right? Someone had to betray Jesus or else God's plan doesn't unfold like it ought to. And then, does that person deserve to suffer an eternity parted from the God he more than likely believed and never had a chance of fully serving?

It's easier for me to believe that, in his humanity, man will choose to walk away from God than it is for be to believe that a loving God will choose to send man to eternity in hell. And yet, it's also easier for me to believe more that a loving God will allow people into heaven after all we've done to not deserve it than it is for me to agree that we could ever earn our way in.

The answer, then, my friends, is that I don't know. And I don't understand.

What a freeing answer it is.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

do you dare to dream?

He remembered the day well: the day he heard that he who holds the dreams holds the keys. That was the day he forbade himself to ever dream again.

Now, this might seem like some silly notion of your average schoolboy, but, schoolboy or otherwise, this one was neither silly nor average. He was the kind of boy others sat up and took notice of. Books stood at his command, begging to be pulled from the shelves and understood in some new, enlightened way. Little girls gave him a wide berth out of respect and awe they couldn't quite place.

They knew it wasn't the valor of the star athlete. Neither was it the authority of the class president or the teacher's pet. Closer still, but not quite there, was the reverent fear of the trouble maker. Devoid completely of the over-slicked salesman.

In essence, he contained all of the bravery, ingenuity and intrique and none of the qualms. And no one knew why.

He knew why. He was the boy who refused to dream and, therefore, having no dreams to lock him in, could always live free.

Little did he know that dreams, wont as he was to dismiss them, are things that can't help but exist. And exist they the deep recesses and insulated caverns within. Wall to wall to wall the dreams meet and share. They bend and shape. They intertwine and recreate each other. In the end, they can not help but converge into an exploding kaleidoscope of what could have beens and never should have beens and what ifs and what was thats and that just can't bes.

But for now, they simmer. He is not as yet aware of all that he has banished from his awarness and how that will forever change his life.

and soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

As far as the East is from the West

Despite her best efforts, my mother fell short at teaching me any sort of navigational directions as a child. She would test my senses on routine trips and ventures, only to to be met, time and time again, with my complete oblivion. In fact, my sense of direction was so horrible that it became a family joke (though more "funny/sad"--because it was true---than "funny/haha") that prudence would advise taking the opposite direction of whichever way I suggested. All I knew was that when my mom drove me to day care in the morning, the sun was on my side of the car and when she picked me up at night, it was still there, on my side.

As I got older I earned the privilege of riding my bike to friends' houses. One time I actually rode my bicycle a good twenty minutes in the wrong direction because I couldn't remember whether I should turn left or right at the bike trail entrance. That was my first, and needless to say last for quite some time, endeavor to venture on my own on the trail.

It wasn't until driver's ed that my dubious sense of direction was overcome by something much, much stronger: my stubbornness. Meaning well, our instructor told us that men tend to use concrete methods of navigation, such as compass directions and mileage, whereas women use landmarks and other temporal objects (turn left at that deli we had lunch at the week before Easter last year...). Then he continued to explain why the "manly way" was better: restaurants close, buildings change ownership or are torn down, there may be more than one of them, etc. etc.

This was the point where I decided I wanted to learn the lay of the land and finally took notice of my surroundings.

After that I learned my hometown is laid out like a grid, streets running east and west starting at Lake Michigan, avenues running north and south starting at the northern county border. Finding an address in that city is one of the easiest things a person could ever do, with one or two exceptions thrown in here and there.

This system became my directional point of reference; so much so that it took me a moment to readjust at college when the nearest lake was to the north of campus, not the east. And then I moved to Nashville--a place where East Nashville is technically north of the city and West End practically runs down the middle of it. Here I've had to once again realign and recenter my internal compass in order to make heads or tails of the city layout.

Sometimes, however, navigating a city proves far simpler than navigating one's self. Oftentimes I still feel like the little girl sitting in the passenger's seat on the way to the Reddlin's house, telling my mom to turn right on 85th when she knew we were suppose to turn left into the cul du sac-filled neighborhood just up the road. I feel like I haven't yet met that well-meaning driver's ed instructor of life who will off-handedly tell me the way to break out of my nonchalance.

Yet this nonchalance, this system navigation, has less to do with moving vehicles than it has to do with something so much more industrial, more dangerous, more demanding. This navigational system I now find myself in is not a grid with easy rules. You can not graph this on your TI-85. And yet, like my self from yester years, I sit at a junction with the question hanging overhead: "Which way do I go?"

And I am still afraid that I will choose the wrong path. What's more, I'm afraid of not learning anything by turning right when the answer was left. There are answers everywhere. Maybe the question shouldn't be which way do I go but "what will I learn and who will be willing to let me learn and learn along side me?" I think those are the more important questions. '

As far as east is from the west. That's how far my thoughts are from yours. I know. It seems that leaves a massive gulch in which we all might revel and careen and err and be tangled or loosed, to be broken and redeemed.

East is the car ride in to my day care and west is the car ride home. Between is the gully in which we live and play and breathe and sob and eat and rest and revive. And Hope.

I am no longer a child. I know how to get to the Reddlin's. Now I just need to stop second guessing myself. I know where I am: between the east and the west. Helping me have confidence in that. For that is what I need. here. in the in between.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Unsure of how long she would have to wait and unable to contain her nervous energy, she stood up and began to walk aimlessly around the room. Though her feet moved slowly, her eyes passed quickly over the room and then out of the large windows lining the side of the room across from the door.

Outside, half a dozen blackbirds congregated on the power lines watching a lone bird of tan and gold hop nimbly from branch to near-naked branch of a great oak nearby. She continued to watch, entranced, as two squirrels swept up the trunk of the massive tree in frantic, dizzying circles looking, presumably, for the last few acorns they could forage before fall finally gave way to winter. As the feuding squirrels neared the solitary bird, it sprung from its perch and drifted softly to the ground like so many leaves had before it.

Once there, it continued its quirky little hop off toward the front of the house where she knew it must be going to rummage under the bushes that trailed from each side of the stoop. For some reason she felt more connected to that lone, little bird hunting and pecking through everyone else's leftovers for something, anything of substance. She watched it hopping as long as she could see it, but it was gone before too long and her attention turned back toward the empty room.

As she turned back into the room, she caught a bit of motion out of the corner of her eye. She was instinctively drawn toward it. Heading along the windows back toward the front of the house, she rounded the edge of the couch and came to a corner hutch. The dim light from the dreary day only glinted slightly across the windows in the door. The movement came from inside the cabinet.

Looking around first to be sure she was still alone, she opened the cabinet door, reached in and pulled out an intricate porcelain carousel. Horses and dragons moved up and down on poles of gold filigree. The inner column boasted miniature scenes of people laughing and dancing as if there had never been anything bad in the world. She turned it over and over in her hands looking for the key she knew would play the song her heart so desperately longed for.

"It hasn't played in over a year," came a cold, crisp voice behind her. She turned abruptly to face the matron of the house, still clutching the carousel, willing her eyes to stay dry. "But it won't stop turning, either. My own little personal reminder that the show must go on even if the music's died…not that I need one, Lillian, do I?"

"My grandmother went by Lillian. Please, call me Lilly."

"Your grandmother was a commendable woman. You would do well to remember that and use her name with honor," huffed the old woman. "I swear, your generation has no sense of propriety."

"Forgive me, ma'am," retorted the younger, "but it was my father who first began calling me Lilly and it is his memory I would prefer to honor." Lilly's fingers tightened a bit on the trinket in her grasp and then loosed once more when she saw a slight shadow pass across her hostess's face.

The most sought after woman in her youth, Victoria Mackenzie had, like a fine wine, merely improved with age. Indeed, she was a woman of great grace, proficient at inspiring jealously, awe, admiration and fear. But something had changed since the last time Lilly had seen her.

Her silver-gray locks, once a rich mahogany brown, were now streaked here and there with wisps of pearly white. The highlighting effect it gave simultaneously softened her angular features and magnified the aura of careworn years draped like a shawl over her proudly drawn shoulders. After years of ruling her family and community with an iron fist, Mrs. Mackenzie was finally showing signs of growing weary.

Lilly took a moment to set the carousel gently on the nearest coffee table, not daring to turn her back on Victoria Mackenzie. Signs of wear, or no, she had no intentions of letting her hostess leave her sight again. The young maid appeared at the door to ask if the madam would like some refreshments brought in. After a short directive, she scurried away out of sight, leaving the two of them alone once more.

"Shall we have a seat, then? No need standing about for hours on end." Mrs. Mackenzie positioned herself in a high-backed chair nearest the entrance or, as Lilly saw it, the only exit. Leary, but eager to get the meeting over with as soon as possible, Lilly walked round to the front of the couch and lowered herself cautiously to the edge, careful not to make herself too comfortable, lest the encounter truly persist for "hours on end."

As if on cue, the maid padded back into the parlor, pushing a cart of tea and cakes. The haughty calico followed, stopping in the doorway to watch the nervous servant prepare the guest's and then her mistress' tea. It flicked its tail and waited as she dropped one and then another lump of sugar into each dainty porcelain cup resting in their matching saucers. After offering cream to each lady, the maid then proffered a third saucer from the cart, filled it with cream and placed it on the woven rug just beside the cart and waited as the cat loped up to it, sniffed it and tucked in happily for an afternoon treat.

When the maid left the room and closed the door behind her, Lilly knew she would not see her again today. She wondered if she would see her again, at all and hoped the answer was no. These thoughts ran involuntarily through her head as she absentmindedly stirred her tea, waiting for it to cool to sipping temperatures. Once again the crisp voice called her to.

"Now then, I suppose you are wondering why I asked you here today. Oddly enough, we're here to talk about that," she sighed, with a nod to the little coffee table on which Lilly has just placed the carousel, still turning in its own eerily silent reverie, "and this." Lilly's eyes followed as Mrs. Mackenzie lowered a jeweled hand and pointed her lithe fingers toward the foot of the cart. There her eyes met the golden-hazel stare of the calico cat.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Short Story

I've been working on a short story. I could put everything I've written so far here at once, but I'm going to give them to you section by section over the next couple of weeks... you know, just for fun. Enjoy! (or don't... but then you kind of stink.) ;^)


She crossed the threshold with a mixture of relief and trepidation. Outside the wind brushed stiffened leaves across blades of withering grass crisp with frozen dew. A shiver ran up her spine causing her to quiver involuntarily. It was colder than she remembered. Drawing her coat even closer to her body, she hugged herself tightly, arms wrapped around her body, hands moving up and down her arms. And yet, she couldn't seem to get warm. Perhaps the chill wasn't an effect of the weather.

She shook her bangs out of her eyes so they could slowly roam around the entryway. The fan overhead took turns obstructing and permitting streams of light from the lantern above it. The effect was something of strobe, causing objects to flicker here and there along the walls.

"How odd," she thought, "to have a fan running in such dreadful weather." Yet, the thought fled from her as quickly as it had entered, as quickly as the rotating slats sliced through each luminous ray. Somewhere in the distance she heard the distinct rattle and click of a doorknob turning, the almost inaudible creak of an old door sliding on a well-oiled hinge. Soon, she knew, the professorial click and clack of heel and toe against meticulous hardwoods would follow.

She jumped as something brushed against her ankles. Looking down her eyes met the golden-hazel of a lean, but well-fed calico. It wended its way in a few, determined figure eights between and around her legs, frozen in place by fear of the impending meeting. Then, quite unexpectedly, it looked her straight in the face and gave one quick lash of the tail, as if to say 'shame on you for coming'.

A bit unnerved at feeling chastised by a mere house cat, she watched it slink across the foyer only to be met with another surprise. There, just feet away, the feline met a new set of feet around which to entangle itself. They were not, however, clad in angular, well-polished loafers, as she had expected, but slim, overly-worn ballet slippers. This, she quickly realized was why she hadn't heard anyone approach.

"The mistress is not yet ready for you," explained the young maid whom she noticed, though seemly draped in the wearing rags of servitude both physically and emotionally, was not without charm. "She's asked for you to sit in the parlor while you wait."

Without another word her guide turned on her heels and padded swiftly and quietly down the corridor, opening a door just beyond the stairwell, but on the opposite side of the hall. There the maid waited until her charge passed beneath the ornate frame and found a seat in the interior of the museum-like parlor. Once she sat down, however, the maid, suddenly remembering her training, asked to take the guest's coat, offering refreshments of some sort while she waited.

"No thank you," she replied gratefully, "I'm still a bit chilled from the walk over. I think I'll keep my coat for the time being." Slightly abashed, the maid took the dismissal with a small curtsy and an even smaller sigh of relief. Truth be told, she would have liked a hot cup of tea, the chill was lingering in her bones longer than she had expected. But she could tell the young maid was uncomfortable and eager to part her company.

Now that she was once again alone, the chill seemed to set in even more. She hadn't expected to have to wait to see the mistress of the house. In fact, she had hoped the meeting, as much as she dreaded it, would be quick and concise, sending her back into the blustery day whose presence felt more welcoming than these foreboding walls. But, here she was, waiting once again in uncomfortable silence with nothing left to distract her but her over-active, over-curious imagination.