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A gift of rejection January 15, 2014

Posted by candress in Rock Guild Posts.
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A gift of rejection.

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A widow’s journey. Year 2. December 8, 2013

Posted by candress in Rock Guild Posts.
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A widow’s journey. Year 2..

Working in the film industry… November 13, 2012

Posted by candress in Rock Guild Posts.
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Working in the film industry….

Dark side Shadowland people by Ed Andress June 24, 2007

Posted by eandress in Rock Guild Posts.
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Bill Snyder became aware of his surroundings as the rays of the morning sun filtered through the leaves of the ancient elm tree that blanketed the northeast corner of the Boston Common casting an abstract silhouette upon the statue of Crispus Attucks. There was’nt any width or depth nor height to Bill’s exsistence anymore, as to gage what was reality and what was’nt. He just drifted from one shadow into another. Just different shades of gray blending together into a collage of events that he did not seem to have any control over anymore. As the cobwebs melted, the throbing pain of an absessed tooth jolted him back into reality.

He sat upright on the marble bench he had been lying on and became aware of the pedestrians as they diligently passed him, all oblivious to his situation. The distance that separated them was of a different dimension and could not be mesured by inches or feet, but rather by a spiritual wall built high on fear and shame, viewed with disdain and mistrust from the outside world, obscuring Bill and giving him anonymity and safety.

All the goals and aspirations he had once held in his youth had been smashed and bloodied and torn from his hands by the circumstances of life. His dreams lay just out of reach taunting him and egging him on. Like a prize fighter who had run out of time. Battles lost and scars deepened but the will goes on out of sheer stamina.

He stood up and surveyed the bushes that were planted alongside him looking for the demon that had left him behind in this condition. Finding an empty bottle with just enough wine in the corner’s to help deaden the pain and give him enough life until he could panhandle the price of another bottle. It seemed to Bill that he had been walking on the fringes of insanity for a long time now and only the drugs and alcohol had kept him from falling head first into the pit.

“Heres to the edge”. Bill said out loud to Crispus who stared back at him in stony silence as Bill drained the dregs of the bottle directly onto his throbbing tooth. It no longer seemed strange to Bill that the only friend he had left was this granite statue of a black patriot killed in the Boston Massacre of 1770.

Bill tossed the empty wine bottle under the elm tree and stumbled towards Tremont Street. The citizens of Boston were aware of him now as they glided towards the curb to avoid him, annoyed by the distraction he was causing as he slipped into their uniformed exsistence.

“Got a quarter,” Bill muttered, the words dry and unfamilar, as he approached two men walking towards him. They shook their heads no in unison as they sidestepped around him without slowing their pace.

“Hey man got a quarter? Its been days since I had a meal ,” Bill lied as he zeroed in on a baldheaded man who slipped Bill a dollar without making eye contact.

“Hey thanks alot,”Bill called after him as he stuck the bill into his pocket. His tooth starting to throb again as if in anticipation of the relief that was coming.

romantic side Shadowland people by Ed Andress June 24, 2007

Posted by eandress in Rock Guild Posts.
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Joe Rossi was greeting at the door which was typical for a friday or saturday night. He was an astute business man with political clout, a mover and shaker in Northend politics. He instantly recognized Liz and Bill and rolled out the red carpet.

Bill Snyder loved the attention accorded him. The recognition of being assoiated with powerful people like Jim Kelly and the influence and stature of being known around political circles as affilated with the Sullivans served to bring an aura of respectability and success. Better then being known as a denizen of the counter culture, Bill pondered, thinking of John Kelly’s backsliding reputation. Hippie Beads, long hair and sit ins were not on the golden boy’s agenda. Expensive automobiles, fine clothing and political appointments, that’s what Bill Snyder’s fortunes were made of.

Liz Kelly wore a black chiffon dress, low cut and revealing, a double strand of pearls graced her delicate neck. Bill was mesmerized by her genteel beauty. She was enchanting amidst the soft glow of candle light that encircled her. Her eyes, shielded behind designer glasses sparkled and danced like emerald fire flies. A mural of a Venice canal unfolded behind her, transporting them onto another continent and into another time.

“I love this restaurant, its so charming and romantic!” Liz Kelly exclaimed, her delicate complexion flushed with excitement.”I just adore the murals and statuary, they are so authentic. Liz was bubbling over with enthusiasm, eager to share some exciting news, and Bill had sensed the electricity the moment she had gotten into the car.

 “After I graduate from Wellesley in June,” Liz grined,”I’m going to Rome for advanced studies at the prestigious Vatican Art Institute. I will be studying the Italian Renaissance period, frescos, mosaics and painting restoration.”

“Rome? for how long?”

“Six months, its quite an honor, Monsignor Rizzo called my mother this afternoon with the news.”

“Six months! I could’nt live six months without you!” Bill exclaimed. “The Vatican! Wow! How did your mother manage that one?”

“Oh I don’t know,” Liz smiled. “I imagine it has something to do with that brand new dedication plague with my grandfathers name on it. You know the one that graces the new wing of the Cardinal Cushing hospital.”

“Your grandfathers name is plastered on public buildings, parks, bridges and street signs all over Boston.” Bill said, with undertones of sarcastic envy.

“Yes I know, he was a very important man.” Liz replied, missing Bill’s jibe completely.

“I am so excited.” Liz gushed “imagine working in the Vatican museum, being surounded by Raphael’s and Michelangelo’s”. 

Need more? another excerpt from Shadowland People By Ed Andress June 21, 2007

Posted by eandress in Rock Guild Posts.
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Bill Snyder visited a lot of graves that weekend and stood at his final destination. The Sullivan family crypt at Forrest Lawn in Brookline. Is this what becomes of us? Bill thought as he circled the white limestone building. Dust, a pile of bones and a memorial plaque to serve as a reminder to future generations that we once existed. Our name on all the signposts, bridges, parks and buildings does not make us anymore important than anyone else. It just serves to point out our vanity and need to be remembered. What has been left behind determines what has grown there. Does man have the moral authority to decide which is more valulable . A garden of weeds or a stand of oak, both are equally important for Gods final purpose and should be measured by his yardstick and not mans.

A seed can be planted in the darkness, but a mans soul cannot prosper in the shadows. Only Gods sunlight and rain can nourish it and make it blossom. Its Gods decision what a mans ultimate purpose should be, But its mans choice whether he stays in the shadows or moves into the sunlight and fulfills it. In the final annalysis, Bill pondered, all things have purpose. When the tide comes in and washes the beach clean, does that mean a footprint has never been there?

An excerpt from the novel Shadow people by Ed Andress June 20, 2007

Posted by eandress in Rock Guild Posts.
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Obsession, it starts as an idle thought, not overwhelming but subtle like a gentle scent of hibiscus carried on a soft summers breeze. It surounds me completly, stiring longings that had been buried and forgoten. Remembering the good times and forgeting the past. The obsession returns coming silently like a ghost out of the mist. Birthing my imagination into fantasys of the finest linens, I ache once more. Although I know its forbiden fruit causing me to die a thousand times over, no longer the sirens call I resist. I tumble into my lovers arms to die once more.

Brooklyn Heights June 6, 2007

Posted by mporter in Fiction.
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Midday. The sidewalks of Montague Street teemed with people streaming from office buildings, escaping mailrooms, cubicle farms and corner suites in search of a satisfying lunch. Business still buzzed in frenzied conversations over BlackBerry’s and between clusters of suits. Others left commerce at their desks, laughing with friends and hoping to get a good seat at their favorite eating place.

Maria heard none of this. She was heedless of the traffic noise, the jostling of the crowd. Only the faint sea breeze from the East River several blocks away kept her focused. Passersby couldn’t see the sullen eyes hidden behind sunglasses. It’s easy to hide in a crowd, thought Maria, No one should know who I am.

Maria had secluded herself in her office the entire morning. Hours past unnoticed as Maria’s sole fixation was the view the floor to ceiling windows afforded her. An unobstructed vista of the Promenade, the river and lower Manhattan beyond spread out before her. The executive suite was a symbol of her success, but it brought more. Like her father, a hard bitten garment district worker, Maria was cold, ruthless and unfeeling. “Maria, you do what you have to do to make it,” Papa had said, “Don’t let them hurt you. Don’t let them use you.” Maria listened. The lying and the deceit became part of the game to protect what was hers, procure what she wanted. A little partying, a few lines, a little dalliance here and there added thrill to convention. More risk, more life, she reasoned.

             As Maria’s hazel eyes pondered the river, dark thoughts plagued her mind, as they had for the last three of her thirty-four years. The parties, the con games, the indiscretions, all left her numb, lifeless, dead. Her husband and children didn’t know her any longer. Was it all worth feeling so diminished, so empty? Was it really possible for someone to sell their soul? What have I done? Madre de Dios, what have I done?

She shook her head as if to clear it. But the path before her was plain. The decision was made. Maria rose from her leather chair and left the office tower. She never looked back.

              Maria headed toward the Promenade. The cold, watery embrace of the East River waited at the pier’s edge, far below street level, away from the inquisitive eye. Nameless wanderers may see, but would not mark her passing. Good, thought Maria, No grave, no headstone, no one will mourn…

               Mama…Within one block of descending to cheerless bliss, Maria stopped as if shot, looked about as if she heard something. Nothing. Still, a vague memory, resurrected by one more primal, found life in Maria’s mind.

“Mama… I can’t…do this…to you,” Maria said aloud. Turning, she doubled back, retracing her own footsteps, toward the business center. Maria pushed her dark brown hair back and hastened her steps as if to outpace an unseen pursuer. Was this another miscalculation, a case of injudicious intuition that would only add to the misery? She thrust the thought aside.

 

Maria slipped down Henry Street and followed the narrow sidewalk. Boutiques and bistros gave way to residences. She was grateful for the cool shade cast by row houses and trees along either side of the street. Near the end of the block, amidst lush copse of hickory and oak in a tiny courtyard was a church. Built of dark, ruddy, stone bricks of varying size, it stood taller than any structure nearby, a guardian of all that was held sacred by her patrons. Maria faced the church’s weathered, iron gate. This is a place for only good and decent people, she thought, I don’t belong here. Maria had seen this place before and noticed the signs: “First Presbyterian Church” and “Open for Prayer and Meditation.” Neither the signs nor the building so much as piqued her interest in the past. Now, something inexorable had brought her to an end and drew her to ponder the posted invitation.

          Maria looked at the formidable structure. Ivy clung to the outer edges and corners and extended nearly a third of its height. Although it was a warm day, Maria trembled. She wanted to turn and run but felt rooted to the concrete pavers. She pushed open the gate. It swung easily against her touch. Gazing at the aged oak doors at the top of the steps, it reminded her of the times that her mother had taken her to mass as a small child. Mama was fervent and prayed the rosary daily. Maria had watched Mama closely. Although they had nothing, Mama always found reason to smile, even through the tears. “Always trust in God, chica,” Mama had said, “Remember to pray always.” Maria loved her mother but never found a place for her mother’s faith. Then, God had seemed distant, irrelevant, even unreal. Now, as she stood in her own private hell, Maria wondered if Mama could have been right. “Oh, Mama, why didn’t I listen?”

            Yet here she stood in the sun dappled courtyard. The wind sighed through the leaves. Sparrows Maria didn’t hear before now sang in sweet accompaniment to an unfamiliar but gentle prompting. “Maria, do what you have to do to.” “Always trust in God, chica.” The words rushed unbidden from the past with the force of the convictions and love with which they were spoken. Two disparate voices from polar fields conspired to speak to her as one. One voice. A voice greater that the sum of its ethereal parts whispered wordless volumes and touched her. “Is there a way out of the mess I’ve made?” There it was. Maria finally admitted it. She found the one who had brought her so low –herself. Strength welled up from the edges of her life. Even this place spoke to her. Its very age, marked by hardy ivy, the wind and rain swept doors, the beaten iron, and the imposing stone façade spoke of – something, Maria had no name for it – that transcended time and bared her pitiable attempts to mitigate it for a moment’s pleasure, a broken crock of useless things. No longer did Maria see utter despair. She felt the stirrings of something here that had become totally foreign to her: hope.

              This was not a Catholic church. Maria didn’t care. There was something here. Maybe a priest would help. Was there a priest here? Was anyone here? She didn’t know. I have to do this, she determined, I know this is right. Maria stowed her sunglasses and pursed her lips. She took a deep breath, mounted the steps and went inside.

Confidence May 4, 2007

Posted by awilhite in Essays.
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Being a Christian convert in an otherwise non-believing family, I have often struggled with what to say to them. How can I explain this sudden insanity that came over me in my twenty-eighth year? This total reversal from what I had formerly believed?
          Sometimes they like to remind me a little pointedly of the odd things I preached before. Or the ugly things I did. Sometimes they like to challenge me by logic. More often I think they just sadly shake their heads and try to love me despite my oddity. As if my faith were a newly deformed limb that no one wanted to draw too much attention to for politeness’ sake.
          Maybe they’re hoping that I’ll eventually grow out of it.

          What can I say to help them understand that I have not gone insane or fallen prey to a cult? Especially since there are so many Christians who are Christians in name only, and whose devotion to Christ stops rather abruptly at the church door. Also, they have many times been wounded by hell-fire preachers or rough-handed evangelists. As have I. So when I use the same words they have heard so many times before, it is hard for them to realize that it could actually be true. That I truly was changed. That my life is no longer the same.
          They see that I am still occasionally selfish and short-tempered. They see that I continue to be rather too fond of my own opinions and make mistakes that a wiser person would have dodged. In other words, I am still far from sainthood… so what’s different?
          A line I read in a book today put it in sharp focus. It was describing a rough man, an angry and a wild man whose bitterness and desire for total independence had led him to a point of agonizing loneliness. For the first time he realized what the end results of his current way of living would be, and, the book said, “He lost faith in himself.”
          I guess that’s what happened to me. I lost faith in myself.

          I think, like a lot of people, I started out confident that life was going to go my way. I had all these ideas about the kind of adult I was going to be. I was going to marry once and forever, be a wonderful understanding mother who always had time to play, be artistically fullfilled, financially secure, and admired by all who knew me. I was always going to keep my temper, keep my house clean, and accomplish great things before I died.
          Slowly, time eats away at our ideals. We discover that we are not beautiful, not intelligent or not strong. We were not born to rich parents and are not going to be a Harvard lawyer and drive a BMW coupe. Not in the in-set. Not particularly gifted. Not going to be first string. Not going to be asked to the prom, earn a scholarship, or land a good job.
          The “nots” start to pile up. Not going to make it in marriage. Not going to have enough to live on. Not going to be able to handle alcohol. Not going to stay faithful. Not even going to be a good parent…
          Oh, I suppose there are some people who seem to be born under a rising star, for whom everything works out they way they expected. But I think a lot more of us are surprised (and even shocked) to look up one day and realized where we’ve gotten to. Where we ended up. And how many miles away it was from where we wanted to go in the first place!
          Homeless.    Addicted.    Divorced.    Estranged.    Imprisoned.    Depressed.    Broke.    Lost.    Ill.    Alone.    Abused.    Ashamed.
          Does that sound familiar? Even the people who seem to have got what they wanted on the surface are often sick and empty on the inside. They won only to find out that victory was hollow, and they are haunted by their own lives.
          It happened to me. I was intelligent, born to a relatively good family, went to good schools. People said I was gifted, told me my whole future was before me, said I could be anything I wanted to be! I earned a scholarship to an honors program at college, and set off in pursuit of my dream.
          A few years later, my marriage had crashed, I was suicidally depressed, broke, couldn’t get a decent job, pregnant by another man before my divorce was anywhere near final….and as a last straw, when the precious wonderful little baby came, I discovered that I was floundering on the edges of child abuse. I was a child abusing, mentally unstable divorcee with no dreams, no plans, no self-esteem, and no prospects.
          I lost faith in myself. I lost faith in my ability to change. I lost faith in my ability to control myself, to control my anger. I lost faith in my ability to even be a good person. Years of counselling didn’t help. I stayed in a slough of depression and misery. I would have done anything to escape, but how can I escape who I am? Wherever I went, the mess would have followed me. I longed to commit suicide. I fantasized about it constantly.
          I was the problem! And I couldn’t do anything to fix it. The parliament of my life had voted a vote of no confidence. I truly had no confidence in myself anymore. Like Paul said, I looked upon my righteousness, and behold, it was filthy rags!
          The bible says, “It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Ps 118:8. I have found that to be true. In the years since I put my faith in God, my self-esteem has slowly crept back. Self-esteem really means how you “esteem” yourself, or how you measure your own worth. As I began to obey God, to obey the commands of Jesus, I felt better about the things I was doing. No wonder- I was doing better things!
          I was eventually even delivered from the suicidal thoughts. It happened one day as I was sitting at my kitchen table praying about two years ago. Though I have struggled with depression since, I have never wanted to kill myself again. My marriage has mended. I love my husband more now, after ten years of marriage, than I did in the first blush of our affair back then. And I am a MUCH better wife to him! I am a better mother, too.
          I still wrestle with anger, but as my heart has healed, there isn’t as much bitterness and rage to spew out when I’m put under pressure. And as my mind and emotions have become healthier, I have new opportunities to use my gifts, to help others, to be a blessing to people and not a shrill, bad-natured curse.
          It has helped me to understand that I am not, and never will be really good. But I don’t have to be. I just have to love and serve the God who is all good, all the time. And to know that he loves me and he’s washing me clean one bit at a time. Some day (probably long after I am dead and buried and translated to his throne room where he can get a better grip on me) he will have finished the job. I will be spit-shined brand-spanking-new. Glory!
          I only wish I could be perfect now! I guess I’m impatient for all the work to be done. But it helps to think back and be grateful for everything He’s already done. Like David said,

“How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!…
…I was facing death, and then he saved me.
Now I can rest again,
for the Lord has been so good to me.
He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling…
The Lord’s loved ones are precious to Him…”
                                     -Ps 16: 5,7,8 & 15

         Just think- I am precious to him! Back then, I don’t thing I was precious to anybody- least of all myself. I probably would have said I hated myself.
          How many times have you heard someone say, “Believe in yourself! Have faith in yourself!” What rot! All I could do for myself was get into a big mess and nearly ruin my life. But what God has done for me! Oh, people, look and see: he has done everything for me!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!
Let the Lord’s people show him reverence,
For those who honor him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
But those who trust in the Lord will never lack
Any good thing.”          -Ps 34:9&10

          One of the things unbelievers often say when the subject of God come up is, “Well, you may need that, Angela, but I just don’t.” What they say is true. I do need it. I can’t live without it. I need God about like I need breath. Without his intervention, I firmly believe that I would have eventually destroyed myself and my family. It’s not far-fetched. Look at any newspaper. People do it all the time. Drink, drugs, a gun to the forehead, a quick accident in the car…
          I need God. I need Jesus. I don’t see it as a weakness anymore, like Marx’s “Opiate of the Masses.” To admit what you need and go where you need to go to get it seems like good sense to me. I needed love, help, healing, and hope. I found it in abundant, unfailing amounts. And He didn’t ask for my medical insurance or my credit card number! He gave it to me because I needed it, He had it, and I was his loved one, precious to him.
          So many people still have faith in themselves, faith in their ability to handle things, confidence that they have it all figured out. Or if they don’t, that they will have tomorrow, next week, or next year. They’re flying it solo, and they don’t need any hocus pocus religious blankity blank help!
          If you’re one of those people, all I can say to you is OK. Do it yourself. But if, possibly, today or tomorrow or next year, things don’t quite work out… if things fall apart….if you get hurt and lose faith in yourself, cry out!   Cry out to the Lord in your suffering and he will hear you.   He will set you free from what you’re afraid of!   For Christ stands guard over all who fear him, and he rescues them.   The bible says so.    Psalms 34, verses 6 & 7.
          Look it up for yourself.

Destined for purpose April 9, 2007

Posted by candress in Rock Guild Posts.
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Mom and Dad divorced when I was two years old. I was the youngest of four. Dad was a womanizer, Mom an alcoholic, siblings all messed up. All my siblings were out on their own by the time I was 8 years old. A neighbor called my sister,(the oldest sibling) to tell her that I was stopping by in the mornings on my way to school. I was hungry and I knew Mrs. Shanks would offer me a muffin or some cookies. It was October in Massachuesettes and I was still wearing sandals and summer dresses with no coat. I got myself ready for school and out the door in the mornings while my Mom slept. It was easier and less stressful than trying to wake her.

My sister and her husband decided to take me to live with them. They were doing a great thing for me but my 8 year old mind could only feel rejection from my Mother and my Father.

I slept on a pull out couch in the living room of their small apartment. One night I was feeling particularly abandonned and lonesome for my Mother. I would often cry quietly into my pillow so no one would hear me, as I did on this night. I felt something. I am not sure if the bed moved or the floor creaked or the heat just came on, but I felt it. As I lifted my head from being stuffed into the pillow I saw that the whole room was lit up. It was very bright and as I adjusted my eyes to the starkness of the light, I saw someone standing at the foot of my couch/bed. It was Jesus. I recognized Him immediately. His arms were open wide and I felt like the air in the room was embracing me with love. He simply looked at me and said, “Everything is going to be alright.” That was the end of it. I lay there.

In the morning, the sun shone through the slats of the venetian blind and woke me up. I looked for Jesus in the living room but He was not there.

To this day, I can’t honestly say if it was a dream or a Christophany.

Twenty one years later, a kind couple told me that Jesus loved me right where I was at in my life. Bonnie and Lee explained to me that if I was the only human being on the face of this earth, Jesus still would have given His life to redeem me from sin. I always thought that I was a mistake, born at the wrong time to the wrong family, but these folks said that God does not make mistakes, He has a plan for my life. I told them that I knew I was living in sin and had no plans to change my ways. In their simple, plain language way, they told me that was between me and God but I shouldn’t let my sin keep me from reaching out to God through Jesus. After all, He knows me best and Jesus STILL gave His life for me. That fact was a done deal and I could not change it. Then, Bonnie told me that God would never leave me or forsake me. No matter what I had done or will do in the future.

They backed up every statement by showing me scriptures to confirm what they were telling me. John 3:17;  John 10:27,28,29; Romans 2:11; Romans 5:8; Romans 10:9,10,11.

I challenge you to read those scriptures and see if you are not compelled to reach out and trust this Jesus to be your Savior. I gave my heart and my life to Him and I have never looked back.

two in one April 7, 2007

Posted by candress in Assignments.
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   Myrtle the turtle has a best friend. Actually, she has two best friends but they both live in the same shell. Her best friend Terr is a little bit bigger than Myrtle. Right where her tail should be peeking out of the back of Terr’s shell is the head of Myrtle’s other best friend. Her name is Tell. Terr and Tell look exactly alike because they are twins.

   All the other turtles in the pond make fun of Terr and Tell because they share one shell. They make mean jokes about them because Terr and Tell are different indeed.

   Myrtle met the twins at turtle school in the first grade. She thought the girls were very nice and they were very smart for first graders. They could walk forwards and backwards with grace. As Myrtle got to know them better she learned how to tell them apart by the way they spoke. Terr sounded a lot like Myrtle’s mother when she spoke. She was very sweet and pronounced her words quite clearly. Tell was also very sweet but she rolled her R’s as if there were four R’s in a row in each word.

   “How are you today, my friends?” Myrtle would call out when she saw Terr and Tell.

   “Great thank you.”

   “Grrrreat, thank you.”

   The twins would be sad when the other turtles said ugly things to them but Terr and Tell learned that even the meanest of turtles need to be cared about. When they were alone, they would often pray for the very ones that had been mean to them that day.

   “Heavenly Father, please bless Big Snap. Help him to see the good things in life.”

   “Yes Lorrrd. Please let him feel Yourrrr love today.”

   One day, the third grade class went on a field trip into the forest. Mrs. Shelly, their teacher, wanted to teach them how to find the best berries to eat. The girls were very excited and the boys thought this was a fine time to show off how much they knew about far away places. Turtles don’t usually travel very far away from the pond they live in but the parents gave Mrs. Shelly permission to take the youngsters.

   Off they went, in a direction that none of the students had ever been before. Mrs. Shelly told them that her Granny had taken her along this very path when she was a young turtle. Her Granny knew where all the good berry patches in the forest were and now, Mrs. Shelly knew too. She led the class on a lovely journey through the shady underbrush where  everything was lush, cool and green.

   Terr and Tell and Myrtle walked together enjoying the fresh air and the feeling of being on a grown up adventure. They chattered about how pretty the forest was. They could hardly believe their eyes when they reached the berry patch. The berries were darkest blue and they were so big that they hung off the green branches until they almost touched the ground. Mrs. Shelly said that they could each eat some of the berries. She taught them to be considerate enough to leave some for other hungry turtles who might come along.

   As the class began to eat the tasty berries, one of the classmates named Boxer saw a strange glow through the green bushes.

   “Hey”, shouted Boxer. “What is that orange light flickering through the bushes?”

   At once, Mrs. Shelly called all the youngsters to come and make a circle. She began to count the children to make sure they were all with her and then, she spoke in a strong and steady voice.

   “You must all stay together with me. That is a forest fire and it can spread very quickly through the underbrush so we must move as fast as we can. I will lead you back to the pond. We will all be safe in the water there.”

   The classmates remained orderly as they all followed Mrs. Shelly along the path that led back to the pond. Terr and Tell were the last ones in the single file row. Myrtle was just in front of them. There was no excited chatter about the lovely scenery now. They were all feeling a bit frightened. In a moment, a tree fell across their path. It was on fire and it blocked the way so they could not get around it. The underbrush all around Mrs. Shelly’s class was catching on fire and it seemed that there was no way out of the ring of fire. Terr was about to panic. “Oh Tell, there is no way out of this fire.”

   “I see the way out, Terrrr! It is in my plain view.”

   As Myrtle turned around to face Terr, she could see behind them. The fire had not spread to their backs yet. Tell shouted to her classmates and teacher, “Follow me!!”

Without turning around, Tell began to run toward a clearing where the fire had not reached. Now it was Terr’s turn to run backwards. Thank goodnes they were so good at it because in her clear, sweet voice Terr called out. “Come this way at once. Terr can see a way out. Come this way!”

   All the class turned and followed Tell and Terr. As they reached the clearing, Mrs. Shelly counted her students. She was delighted that everyone made it to the clearing unharmed. From there, she recognized another path that would lead them to their pond. She rallied her precious youngsters and led them all safely home. 

   Myrtle stood in front of her class and shared her thoughts. about the day. “Terr and Tell are heroes today. If they had not been formed in a way that they could see where they were going and where they had been at the same time, the whole class may have been trapped in the forest fire. If they had not developed the grace to walk forward and backward with ease, they may not have been able to lead us all to the clearing.”

   Mrs. Shelly agreed.

   Big Snap stood in front of Terr and said, ” You guys are so cool. I think being twins in one shell is a good thing. I know it is a good thing for our whole class today.”

   Then he walked around to stand in front of Tell. “God did not make a mistake when He made you. I believe He knew exactly what He was doing. He loves us all very much.”

   The whole class began to celebrate their hero friends by shouting , “Hooray. Hooray. Terr and Tell have saved the day!”

   “Hooray!!” shouted Terr. She was celebrating the answer to their prayers for Big Snap.

   “Prrrraise the Lorrrrd!!” Shouted Tell.

  

Salvation Story April 6, 2007

Posted by jfuller in Rock Guild Posts.
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From Death to Life

 

 

I didn’t want to go.  It would mean that I would miss my first varsity football game.  I, even tried to negotiate and leave after the game, but my dad wasn’t buying it.  My uncle, his youngest brother had died in a one car accident and the funeral was this weekend.  Being a selfish 16 year old was nothing new and this time would be no different.  My thoughts only consisted of what a huge inconvenience this was for me and how unfair it was that my uncle would up and die on us like this.  Didn’t he realize what a big moment this was for me?

 

God realized it in more ways than one.  He understood that this would be the most significant weekend of my life.  The event that would lay the ground work for all He would do in me and through me up to this point in my life.  It would be this September weekend that Jesus choose to bring me out of darkness and into His light and life ever lasting.

 

The circumstances that surrounded my uncle’s death were no mystery.  He had a habitual drug problem that nearly took his life 3 years prior to his death.  Even that experience could not help him overcome this habit that plagued him. 

 

During the service another one of my dad’s brothers took an opportunity to share a testimony about his God and what He had done.  My Uncle Larry preached like I had never heard him before.  His impromptu sermon included telling the entire congregation about his brother’s drug addiction.  Uncle Larry’s sermon ending with him giving an alter call to all who were willing to come down front and confess that they needed Jesus. 

 

My heart was racing and it felt like it was ready to leap out of my chest.  I could not understand why this was happening to me.  I had been a good Catholic boy.  I did not get into that much trouble.  I had done all the things required of faithful practicing Catholics to be considered “saved”, right?

 

The invitation was given and I can remember rising to my feet to walk down the outside aisle and falling into my Uncle’s arms with tears rolling down my face.  It did not even occur to me what I had done or who I had done it in front of.  I had just confessed my need for Jesus in front my entire family.  Desperation will cause you to do things that you may not ordinarily do if given a chance to think about it.  The beauty of it is, is that I had a need and Jesus was the only one who could satisfy. 

 

He saved me, and over the course of the last 20 years He has continued to clean and refine this vessel.  Some of the images of that day have faded from memory but the significance will never leave me, because it started the journey from death to life.

Comparing Childhoods April 3, 2007

Posted by awilhite in Essays, Rock Guild Posts.
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    I gather that “Bobby” (see the next post) is Ed in a former life… It’s hard for me to imagine someone growing up in NYC, though intellecutually I know that lots of people do.
     I grew up about as far from New York as you can get without living in a mud hut in Patagonia.  My parents weren’t part of a church, a lodge, a club, a team, a country club, or even a gym.  For a few years they bowled on a league with people they never met otherwise.  We lived out in the country in upstate South Carolina in a little place called Roebuck that was, I think, forgotten by God and man.
     Outside of school, we rarely went anywhere.  Play dates hadn’t, apparently, been invented yet.  Our home was in a tiny isolated subdivision of houses people slept in.  They were gone all day, gone most of the evening, and if they were home, they didn’t have kids.  All around us, on every side, were acres and acres of forest.
     I had two brothers and a sister.  We picked cicada shells off the trees and decorated our shirts with them.  We braided longleaf pine needles and tried to weave them into baskets.  We collected moss, caught quart jars full of frogs,  and dared each other to handle snakes.   We made kites and picked blackberries.  We swatted the heads off of thistles, dug pits, and fell out of trees.  We prospected for fool’s gold in a shallow muddy cave, pretended we were the Swiss Family Robinson, rolled down hills, built rafts,  caught minnows and got lost.
     We knew where everything was.  We knew where there was a secret lake.  We knew where trails led, where the swamp mud would suck off your shoes, where copperheads dropped from the trees into green, sunless waterholes.  There were places of great beauty where the water bent around ancient holly trees and magnolias leaned over the pebbled streams in living bridges.  There were places of destruction and death, too, like the broken house covered by kudzoo, and the secret graveyard where the graves were marked with chalk in secret symbols and decorated with chicken parts.
     There were sacred places, where the pines stood like cathedral columns, or where the last, nearly extinct wild Lady’s Slipper bloomed in peach seclusion.  And there were forbidden places where we went anyway. 
     We sewed doll’s clothing out of tulip poplar leaves and pine needles.  We ate Carolina Beauty Berries and bitter wild blackberries and the nectar of red clover and honeysuckle.  We waded in icy streams, skipped pebbles, built bowers of dogwood blossoms, and made crude pottery out of red clay.
     We told ourselves legends and stories, acted out jousts with Pampass grass tufts, made bows and arrows and became Robin Hood, spied on our parents and neighbors, burnt tent catapillars and conducted strange experiments with dyes and minerals we found.
     Sometimes I would sit up in the notch of a sweetgum tree and listen to the wind sing.  It was a strange, secret way to grow up.  I don’t know if a childhood like that is even possible now.
     It certainly isn’t in New York City.

The adventures of little Bobby Dooley April 1, 2007

Posted by eandress in Assignments.
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The sunlight filtered in through the curtins in the back bedroom awaking nine year old Bobby Dooley. It was Saturday and Bobby did not need an alarm clock this morning. He through water on his face brushed his teeth ate a bowl of corn flakes and crept past his parents bedroom and scampered down the three flights of stairs. He stoped at the Apartment of Mrs Lubrenski and knocked quietly on the door. Mrs lubrenski owned the three apartment buildings on 48th street in Astoria Queens NY. She was an old lady with sad brown eyes and the gossip on the block was she lost her whole family in a prison in Poland. Bobby liked her and did odd jobs around the buildings for the money to go on his Saturday Adventures. Today he decided to go to the city and visit Central Park. Bobby walked the 12 blocks to the subway station. He passed the Black rock bar and grill where his Father spent a lot of time and money in the basement shooting craps with the older guys. Every one knew Bobby and said hello as they passed him in their big Cadilacs and fancy clothes. Someday that will all be his, after all everything is posible when you’re only nine years old.

 Bobby Dooley rode the train past the factorys and tenements down into the tunnel that ran under the East River and into Manhaten. A whole other world awaited for Bobby on this side of the river. A land of castles and skyscrapers and daydreams as real and gigantic as a land filled with a childs imagination could be. He passed the horse drawn carriges of the livery men that waited for the tourists to pay them for a tour around Central Park. Bobby Dooley knew the park well. He spent a lot of time there By himself playing in the park. He paused in the zoo and watched the lions and pretended to be a great hunter on safari in Africa killing elephants and rhinos and saving the greatful natives from destruction. Afterall any thing is possible when you’re only nine years old.

He passed the lake with the swan boats filled with family having fun on a saturday in April. He dreamed of the day when he would sail the seven seas and resque all the women from the hands of pirates and keep all the loot and buy sodas for the whole world. He walked thru the park and climbed trees and stoped at his favorite statues, crossed the little bridge that led to a path towards the Planeterium where in saturdays past he would become Flash Gordon and visit strange worlds and rocket to the farthest star in the universe Battling Clingons and Martians and saving the world from evil. Afterall you are the bravest and strongest when you are only nine years old.

But today he would visit his most favorite place. The museum of Natural History. Where there were displays of lions and tigers in their natural habitate. Cavemen discovering fire and hunting Masterdons and saber toothed tigers in the jungles of the past. Skeletons of dinesaurs displayed in the halls and even a rattle snake in a case where if you would push the button it would rattle its tail to warn you that it would bite. Little Bobby would become Tarzan of the jungle and swing from trees and play with the monkeys. Bobby Dooley left the building after hours of pretending and crossed the park to the Museum of Modern Art. He had’nt been there for awhile and the last time had seen paintings of flowers and boats by an artist whose name Bobby could’nt remember, But who battled demons and cut off his ear so the world could share his sadness and genus and the beauty only he could see. Someday Little Bobby Dooley would become a great writer and bring tears to the eyes of those who ventured into the mind and fantasys of a lonly nine year old child. Afterall All daydreams were posible when you are only nine years old.

Little Bobby Dooley returned home to Astoria and rode the bus down Ditmars Ave past the factorys and tenements, past the Black Rock bar and grill, past the tough men who smiled and waved to Bobby as he returned from his great saturday adventure. Past his fathers thirty nine Lasalle auto, painted black with gangster running boards, not as new and shiny as the caddys and Lincolns parked on the street outside of the bar but just as big. It must have been Al Capones car little Bobby thought as he got off the bus and made his way down 48th street. He sat on the steps of his tenement until he shivered with cold. He climbed the stairs and knew his family were waiting to hear his story of the great saturday adventures of little Bobby Dooley. They would have turkey for dinner and apple pie for desert and everyone would sing of the adventures of the slayer of dragons and savior of maidens from the ships of pirates.He stepped into the darkened house hoping there were leftovers on the stove. Someday he would sail far away to places with strange names and friendly faces where little Bobby Dooley would be king and wear fancy clothes and big diamonds and ride in big shiney cars and everyone would love him. Afterall everything is posible when you are only nine years old.

Sunday morning coming down April 1, 2007

Posted by candress in Rock Guild Posts.
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 “Alright goofy. Are ya ready to go in the house and look one up in the phone book now?”

   “Yes Lord. I am.”

   The large, colorful sign caught my eye as I was driving along in this area yesterday. The words, EASTER POWER, were accompanied by a pleasant picture of Jesus. I made a mental note of the area so I could come to their Sunday morning service.

  Today, I found my way back to the sign, which is right next to a strip of stores. I thought the church should be easy enough to find as I drove through the parking lot, taking notice of the stores. Dollar Store, Dry Cleaners, Car parts store. There was nothing marked as a church and so I asked a gentleman in the parking lot if he knew where the church on that sign meets. He pointed to a storefront that had covered the glass front window with contact paper and suggested that might be what I was looking for. I got out of my car, straightened my skirt, grabbed my Bible and headed for the door. 

   The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was that the service was well under way. The ten people there were worshiping while the Pastor walked the front of the room, praying and naming some of the attributes of God. I had obviously missed a good deal. I noticed the sign above the front door that said the service had begun a full 40 minutes before I had arrived. I descretely got up and left, going back to my car. I still had 20 minutes to find the church I was looking for.

   I drove back to the sign on the road to look for a phone number or address. There was only a website on the sign. As I drove around the neighborhood, I got all spiritual and decided to pray.

   “Abba! What is going on?  Didn’t You show me that sign because You want me to be at that service? Please shine a sunray or something on the building so I can find it…. Yada, yada, yada.” 

   Thirty minutes later, I drove back to my apartment, a bit defeated. As I pulled into a parking space, I recognized the lovely lady who had wished me a blessed day yesterday. She and her three daughters were all dressed up, piling into their SUV.

   “Oh, that’s it Lord. You want me to go to her church! Cool!”

  I asked her if she was heading out to church. She answered me, “yeess”, with a sliding lilt on the end of the word.

   “Hmmm. ” I thought. “Why would she… oh.”

   “Is your church inter-racial?”

   With great hesitation and eyes searching the sky for her answer, she managed, “Slightly.”

   I could not think of a single thing to say. I guess I looked like a deer in the headlights while my brain tried to process what slightly interacial could possibly mean. My cartoon thoughts kicked in and I had to  force myself not to smile as I pictured skinny, little, waif-like, caucasion people (slight indeed) holding onto trees to prevent themselves from being blown away by a mighty, rushing wind.

   Thank Yahweh, she interupted my silliness. “I go to an AME church. We have one in my choir but…”

   I decided against asking her one what. Clearly, an uncomfortable moment, I smiled and thanked her.

   “Make it a GREAT day.” I said as I walked back toward the building.

   I am going straight from this computer to get my phone book and look for churches.

   By the way, I love the way my Father calls me goofy. He knows me well and He loves me just the same.

John Kelly Bio of a vietnam war protester March 31, 2007

Posted by eandress in Rock Guild Posts.
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My name is John francis Kelly and I am a decendant of Irish imigrant ditch diggers escaping the great potato famine of 1840. My grand father John came to Boston where he worked on the Calahan tunnel, but always said his hands were too soft for ditch digging. Being a great talker he entered politics and became the youngest state representitive from South Boston then later Mayor of Boston. He made a fortune in Boston real estate and a taxi company. He contributed a large trust fund and political science building at Boston College. His name is plastered all over Boston on bridges, streets, and city munincpal buildings. They even named a square after him.

So it was expected of me to enroll there as a Political Science major. My family always gave me all the money I wanted and I changed cars like socks, but the only thing they could’nt give me was my talent as a hockey player.It was during the Vietnam era that I became active in the anti war movement and joined the radical SDS political group. Within two years of protesting and serious drug taking I finely crashed and burned. I got kicked out of BC and when my draft deferal was changed the goverment found a reason to get revenge for my anti goverment protests and drafted me.I went underground and found myself in Oakland CAlifornia operating a bomb factory for the radical weatherman movement. There was an explosion that left me seriously burned and the loss of three fingers on my right hand. With the help of great lawyers and my family’s polital conections I only got three years in the federal corrections prison at Danbury Conn.                                                               

                                                                           

Monday Morning March 30, 2007

Posted by awilhite in Poetry.
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Lord, I am on my knees so often these days,
but not to pray; instead doing my daily
rounds of this temple to you, my house.
Scrubbing floors, wiping a small wet nose,
weeding, tying and re-tying three pairs of shoes.
Each day’s work is nearly lost in the next day!
Morning’s looming over me like an oppressive hand
waiting to bring me down to do it all again.
Sometimes I lift my head, briefly, to see
the progress of the great work all around me,
the kingdom forcefully advancing on the land
wrought out of stone by violent men.
They lay charges in the ground and rend
more work in an hour than I could chisel free
in a multitude of days!  Their ways made straight,
their monuments of accomplishment casting shade
to rest and refresh the pilgrims of centuries.
But, Lord, you’ve given me such small tools
to make my way with!  Sometimes I long
to fling them petulantly down and moan,
“I can’t go on without doing something grand!
Without more than the chipping, repetitive work
you’ve laid to hand!”  I struggle to understand
the necessities of my post and the Plan
you have laid sternly, lovingly, before me-
size not always being indication of importance
I know.  But I wonder if young Michaelangelo
felt this when rendering a knuckle’s intricate lines,
painstakingly obeying a glimpse of inner vision,
endlessly tapping out the details of creation
like a man blind but drawn to a distant land
whose shores most people will never  see,
whose significance none but You could understand?
 

Doubt March 30, 2007

Posted by awilhite in Poetry.
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I once thought love was going to save me;
I am no longer convinced anything is.
I live in fear that my last breath will find me
hanging by my fingertips to a God that can’t exsist.
Don’t desert me!  Lord, if you desert me I’ll be back
to not having any answers, to groping in the rain,
to standing in the emergency room with no bandange,
no morphine, no gloves- nothing for their pain
but an entirely inadequate love.  I am furious
with the church, with myself, with the pastors;
every book on the shelf copyrights The Answer,
but they are all, none of them, the same!
My only confidence is that I must never be
confident.  Pride sets the toe on the bread on the mud,
and we sink swiftly.  I have no ready response
to scoffers.  I can only offer this: if any man
in history can save this stinking place, He can.

Blind March 30, 2007

Posted by awilhite in Poetry, Rock Guild Posts.
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I found my way to him unknowingly,
groping like a blind beggar at the door
of a palace, blinded to my own infirmity,
unaware I was poor.
The healing of birthright came swiftly,
like the sword of dawn slicing the veil
of loveless poverty and my damnation
to an ordinary hell.
Since then, ceaselessly, the swelling flare
of his glory has inundated my brain,
reducing me to an offertory lifted upon
his name.
Now, consumed, all places once sought I see
through a splendor of light, his lovesick pain
illumining the idle desperate world that knew me,
living blinded again. 

How was it? March 30, 2007

Posted by awilhite in Poetry.
2 comments

It was ominous, luminous
onerous, humourous,
habitable, eatable,
rancid, forgetable,
fetid, effulgent,
acclaimed, plain, or portable,
ineffable, precious,
odd, risque, hoary,
savoury, mauve,
declasse, ordinary,
despicable, animal,
vegetable, miserable,
absolutely enchanting
from the first to the last…
and say, by the way
Darling, why do you ask?
You wrote it?  How lovely!
(Well, what else could I say?)

A little help for those searching for the perfect comment…   – AW

The Deep March 11, 2007

Posted by dtreolo in Rock Guild Posts.
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The Deep

              Entering into the deep is my hearts desire and I pursue waiting on the Lord with a passion. Moments of stolen time walking between my car and work, or while doing a household chore are cherished seconds I can worship and Praise my Redeemer. When life consumes me with a thousand tasks and pain or sorrow ensnares me sometimes I forget to worship.  

           When enough of these days pile up I began to sense a great distance between my Beloved and I. Yet in His gracious mercy He calls me back to His side. One touch, or the slightest reminder of His great love, and I am on my face before Him, crying out with a repentant heart. Forgive me Father, oh how my soul longs for You. My soul is dry and weary; I need You every hour, every second, every heartbeat.

            When we come together in corporate worship there is an opportunity to pour out an abundance of love to our King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. In this freedom we can dance and sing and praise Him with full hearts undivided by life’s cares. In our recent worship at the Rock into the Deep I experienced an open heaven vision that I would like to share to encourage you to go deeper and deeper still into His presence. 
         
             After entering our Heavenly Fathers courts with thanksgiving and praise we moved into a quiet moment of waiting before the Lord. Pastor Bryan began to speak to us about waiting and being still before the Lord. How His gentle presence could be felt by us as we waited on the Lord. I saw golden rain drops pouring through the darkness. As they fell they caused the darkness to become light. In each droplet was a golden light radiating into the darkness. Steady pouring golden rain drops clearing the way for deeper worship. I moved to the floor worshiping and praising the Lord, when all of the sudden a blue liquid started pouring out over the sanctuary. It was a deep royal blue and it felt bizarre to see everything saturated in blue even the fibers of the carpet were drenched. I breathed in the blue as I was asking the Lord “What is all this Blue?”  My body began to shake and I felt like I was being electrocuted, without the pain, just a vibration coursing through me. After a few minutes (or hours), I got up feeling light hearted and sat in my chair. The blue was gone. 

            Pastor Norma gave a word in tongues with interpretation. She told us the Lord was in our midst, but that we were being called to a deeper experience. She asked the musicians to play a deeper note. Pastor Abbey and the band began to pour out their hearts searching for this deep note which called up in my spirit the words “blue note,” although I don’t know what a blue note would sound like.  As the band played more passionately, I saw angels descending out of the heavens. They were massive in their coming, none more distinctive than the next angel, yet all were mighty to behold.  Then in the center was a light so bright I could not look at it, but I believed it to be Jesus. He told me to go to the altar and intercede and worship. He was too beautiful for me to worship and pray in His presence. I sat transfixed unable to move. I prayed “Lord help me,” and staggered to the altar. Holy Spirit surged through me and I began to intercede in tongues but I couldn’t stop worshiping Jesus, He is too beautiful for words.
 
             So I went back and forth between intercession and worship.  I saw a white light go out before Him, and minister to each and every person in the room. Some could receive some could not, but everyone was touched. Even those who resisted Him were touched by His compassionate Love.Then I saw Him turn and began walking back up into heaven. As He turned the end of his cape or His train swirled over us and His glory descended on us, some of us began to worship anew. The light became brighter, and waters flowed from the heavens. It was such clear water that I drank and drank as it poured out over us and although it flowed through me I became full and could take in no more. I sensed it was flowing over and through everyone. The heavens closed up but His Glory was so strong we continued to praise and worship for awhile, until it seemed as if the waters had completely receded and He had left us drenched by His presence.3/11/2007 revision

Saved March 11, 2007

Posted by dtreolo in Rock Guild Posts.
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            I don’t remember the first time I got saved. All I remember is going down to the altar at every altar call. Those altar calls were always so compelling. Soul searching preaching followed by hymns that brought you to your knees. If you hadn’t sinned yet you knew you were bound to as soon as you stepped out the doors, so you just as well go on down and rededicate your life just to be on the safe side. My daddy was an evangelist so we did a lot of church going. I also attended Salem Baptist Day School till tenth grade, and we had daily chapel services. No fire and brimstone or altar calls there, although we did plenty of bible drills.

If all the tent revivals and small rural churches didn’t do it, then certainly watching a Billy Graham Crusade on TV was bound to bring me to repentance. I never have been much of a TV watcher, but Billy Graham has always touched me deeply. Just the sound of his voice can start me soul searching for hidden sin. In my experience of the Southern Baptist churches, obvious sin was too easy to spot, so we had to dig for the really deep things of God. It was not until I reached adulthood that I understood the deep things of God didn’t necessarily mean whether or not I said gosh or wore pants instead of culottes. You might think I’m stretching it, but I remember bond fires where we burned records, blue jeans and offensive tee shirts. I don’t know that it actually made me any holier, but it certainly set me up for a life time of sin consciousness.

By the time I was six, I knew how to lead someone to Christ using the Roman road to salvation, and used to walk up and down our side street asking people if they knew Jesus. Everyone I met was met with the question, do you know Jesus? Jesus is coming soon, do you know Him?

When I was older and did run into sin and fell head first into its fiery grips. I didn’t think to confess it and find peace. Each time I walked in sin knowingly I just let it overtake me. I gave in thinking there was no longer any hope for me. I was so lost even Jesus couldn’t find me.

 But He did, and when He brought me back this last time it was all about Him. There was no altar call, or TV show. He just said come, and I did.

 I had been out of church for four years, and then sporadically started back for another three.  When I moved to Hampstead, I started looking for a church for my son to attend. I couldn’t stand most of them for the same reasons I had left the church. No one believed in the Holy Spirit moving in power in this day and age. Most of the places where racially divided, and there was very little ministry for the downtrodden. I wanted a place that would allow Holy Spirit to move, and if that meant all day worship then so be it. I wanted a place where races sat beside one another and worshiped together in spirit and truth. I wanted a place where they offered a hand up to those who had lost their way.

When a friend told me about the Rock of Wilmington, I had pretty much given up. What did I have to loose? What was one more church?

The Rock was not just a place of true worship, racial equality or diversity. While I hadn’t found that anywhere in that combination, I had been able to sense the hunger of the people in many of the other churches. The Rock was different. It was a place where once again I could hear the Lord speaking to me. “Come.” He said.

 I looked down at the chains that were binding me, and the weight of sin was so heavy I couldn’t move. “Come.” He called to me again and I could not resist. I scooped up those chains and told the demons that were tormenting me that we were going in to the Presence of God. They were welcome to go with me, but I was going in. Every evil deed I had ever done or considered doing flashed before my eyes. I stopped dead still. The chains clanged at my feet. Suddenly all of the mighty things the Lord had done in my life passed before me as well. The enemy jeered at me. See that, you walked with Him before but then you failed Him, what use would He have of you now. Look at yourself you are filthy. I did look, and I was filthy.

Again the Lord said, “come to Me and I will make you clean.”  This time I picked up those chains and rushed head first toward my Savior. “Lord I cried, I am a sinner, saved by Your grace, but I have fallen away from you. Father forgive me. If you will allow me to sit outside the gate and worship You, it will be more than I deserve.”

I noticed instantly that the chains had dropped off me, and that the imps who had tortured me had ran away. They could not stand in the light of His Presence. Jesus did not grant my request that day. He did not allow me to stand outside the gate. Instead He placed on me a white linen robe and clothed me in forgiveness. When that light shown on me I could not comprehend a Love so grand. I still cannot fathom the depths of His loving kindness.

Now I seek to go to the deep places; to love and worship my Beloved Savior with every cell of my being. I see the trials I walk through now as pathways to His riches. The pain of my daily circumstances and broken relationships are nothing compared to drawing near to Him. I am yielded unto death, yet walking in the power of His resurrection.  

Mystery Basketball Player March 3, 2007

Posted by ericflore in Assignments, Rock Guild Posts.
3 comments

I was eighteen years old when I heard my first real Gospel message.  It came strangely.

It was summer, 1983.  We had just graduated high school.  College loomed.  My friends and I were at a local basketball court.  Some other kids and some guy no one knew were there playing.  We all did a pickup game.  We hardly noticed the mystery guy.  He was much older, in his mid-thirties, with straight, sandy hair and glasses;  a burly guy, but he could shoot hoops.  My friends and I all played wildly.  He quietly, but effectively, played too.

It’s funny how the devil uses the lost.  I remember cussing wildly during that game.  I mean, even at the time I knew I was cussing way overboard, using every word in the book, even when it wasn’t necessary, but not knowing way I was doing so.  I can only imagine now what that guy was thinking:  “This kid’s too lost, Lord!  He’s going straight to hell!  I might as well give up doing what I’m thinking about doing ’cause these guys are way over the top!”

 The mystery basketball player did have other motives than a great game of hoops.  We ended.  Some of us complimented him for bringing it on so hard in the game.  We turned to leave, he had the basketball in his hand.  About twenty steps later we heard from behind us something that changed my life forever:  “Hey, guys, can we talk for a minute?”  It was mystery guy.  We all looked at him and back at each other.  We were eighteen year old tough guys.  Who actually wanted to ever just “talk” to us?  This wasn’t “Phil Donahue,” for Pete’s sake. We relented and went back over to him, anyway. 

I remember, he was a little hesitant as we approached him.  But he gathered his confidence, got down on one knee, steadied himself with one hand on the basketball, and asked us:  “Has anyone ever talked to you about the salvation of Jesus Christ?”

 Negatory on that one, Mister.  But he DID, and preach to us he did!  He was from Georgia, had been a bluegrass player for years (already a turn-off to a pagan Led Zeppelin fan), ran the wild life, and was left hurt and empty.  But Jesus saved him, set him free, and he was a new man.  He went on to tell us about the Bible and then the “Rapture.”  I had never in my life heard of the Rapture.  First time.  He said Jesus would return and take all Christians with Him in the air.  They would all disappear.  POOF!  Then he asked us if any of us wanted to pray and invite Jesus into our hearts to save us.

It was at that time that all the demons inside me exploded.  Using my extensive Roman Catholic background (hey, I actually DID pay attention to those priests and nuns at St. Mary’s and all the Catechism teachers in high school CCD!), I argued this guy down into the ground.  Salvation?  Are you nuts?  Rapture?  WHAT?!  And my friends all looked at me like I was crazy, but I argued this guy up one side and down another.  I was quite effective in the devil’s hands, ’cause if one of my friends had been about to accept this guy’s offer of praying for salvation, I was the one standing in their way.  I remember telling this guy to meet us in a bar at ten that night, and that I’d have my brother, who’d been to seminary for six years, to meet us and HE’D tell him like it was too.  He graciously declined.  He was totally floored by my vehement fight against the Gospel.  I think he did manage to get a quick prayer off over us, and then we parted.  He walked away with a little less swagger than he’d had on the court.  And that was MY fault.  We never saw him again.

So that was my first ever exposure to the Gospel.  The thing was, I never, ever forgot it!  Even though I was Damian the 666 Anti-Christ out there on that basketball court in Beaver Falls with that guy, his every word, his Southern cadence, every Jesus Christ seed he put out there, fell deeply into my heart.

Mystery Basketball Player was the digger of hard, fallow ground:  that rock hard, dusty dirt full of stones and weeds and rooty-tendrils that’s never seen a human shovel or pick-axe ever.  That guy, that night, was Holy Spirit’s first attempt to turn over the crusty dirt of my heart and plant the precious seeds of Jesus Christ.  And I proved myself SOOOOO unworthy.  But Jesus graciously planted them anyway… 

The Lie or the Promise March 2, 2007

Posted by awilhite in Assignments.
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     I’ve heard it said that it takes seven contacts with the Gospel message before the average person converts.  I think it took more than that with me, since so many of my first contacts were negative.
    Oddly enough, it was my own words that were the most persuasive witness in my walk towards Christ.
     It came about like this: my grandmother was dying.  She had pancreatic cancer, and by the time they found it she had weeks to live.  I had mixed feelings about my grandmother.  On one hand, she adored me, wrote me, sent me presents, and took my side against my parents.  On the other hand, the woman just plain could not shut up.  She could talk the leg off a table, and I would occasionally sit at her supper table and fantasize about punching her on the mouth so she would finally stop talking.
     But I made arrangements to go up with my boyfriend and see her for a week before the new term at USC began.  I needed John as a buffer between myself and my father.  Our relationship was highly charged and strained.  I was physically afraid of him, and I wanted to have someone there on my side if worst came to worst.  Unfortunately, John’s personality provoked my parents almost past bearing.  It wasn’t an ideal situation.  And it was complicated by the fact that my grandfather was, at that point, nearly dying from long-term alcohol abuse and my grandmother hated his guts. 
     What a cast of characters!  My angry, sarcastic father,  worry-addicted mother, drunk grandfather, dying grandmother, arrogant boyfriend, three young siblings, oh- and a mystery cousin named Pat, who felt that we were all interlopers who didn’t want the best for my grandmother and who told me frequently that I had no idea how my grandmother had suffered in life.
    Pat’s problem was that we were trying to pursuade Grandma to forgive Papa before she croaked and it was too late.  Even though my parents were basically atheists, I think they had some kind of residual moral twinges over dying in a state of bitter hatred and disgust.  I think Pat felt that bitter hatred and disgust were just about what was called for under the circumstances.
    So here we all were, packed in the house on top of each other, trying to smile and be civil and share the bathroom.  And in the downstairs bedroom my grandmother sorted pictures and struggled to eat and fought for breath.  She kept trying to give me and my siblings things.  Her $500 leather coat.  Her diamonds.  Her furniture.  Her car.  Pat kept trying to get us to take them.  My sister and boyfriend wanted everything they could get.  My mother wanted everything saved for Papa.  I didn’t want to think about her dying.  I was scared- scared to death, scared of death.
     I had been terrified of death and the idea of hell for years.  I had recurring nightmares.  And being confronted by it face to face with weeping and forgiveness and last requests was almost too much.  I withdrew from the family and wandered around the house pretending it wasn’t really happening.
     This is all a long prelude to a fairly simple story.  One morning I couldn’t sleep.  I awoke long before the family in the dim blue dawn and crept downstairs.  When I slipped into the bathroom, I found my grandmother crying on the toilet seat.
     “I don’t want to go,” she cried, clutching me, “Everyone I love is here.  I don’t want to die!”
      I was speechless, befuddled, 19 years old with no real religion to fall back on, and terrified of death myself.   How could I comfort her?She held my hands tight.  Her hands were so soft and thin, wrinkled like crepe paper and softer than velvet, softer even than my baby’s hand.
     Finally it occured to me that she was a Christian.  I was a little blurry on the details, but I knew the christians believed in heaven.  So I told her so.  I told her about all her friends and relatives who had died before her, who would be waiting to throw a welcome party when she arrived.  I think I imagined them holding a banner like they were meeting someone at the airport.
     “Really?” she asked me.  “Do you really think so?”
     And I lied.  I lied the biggest, fattest, most brazen and convincing lie I could come up with.  “Yes, I really do,”  I told her.  “And more than that, I need you to go on so that you can be there to welcome me when I come.”
     No sermon ever preached to me about sin or hell or anything could ever have been as convicting to me as those words out of my own mouth.  For years they haunted me.  Had what I said been a lie?  What if it were true?  What if she waited on me and I didn’t come?  Was heaven real?  What comfort could a pagan or an atheist possibly have offered her?  What hope was there for anybody if it weren’t true?
     Maybe you could live a good life, a fun life.  But at the end of it, every single person on the earth would be like my grandmother: frightened and asking what was next and not wanting to go.  If there were no heaven, if there were no afterlife, if there were no God…. then all of life was a cheat and a falsehood.
     It tormented me.  And my promise to her tormented me.  I had promised her that she would go to heaven.  And I had promised to meet her there.
     And now, someday I will.  And I hope to fill her arms with children and grandchildren who have submitted to the cross and taken passage on faith to reach her.  I don’t know if any of my other relatives will ever believe and be saved, but I hope that I and my children will help satisfy her for the ones she lost.   I hope it will be a great family reunion.  I pray that it will.

Grace and Freedom by Michael Porter March 2, 2007

Posted by mporter in Assignments.
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We were so hopeful as we unpacked the boxes in our new townhouse apartment. Our possessions were few but that didn’t matter. We had escaped the streets of Newark, New Jersey and stood on the doorstep of new possibilities for our little family. The ghetto was merciless and no place to raise children. The mountain communities of South Orange and the distant suburbs Short Hills or Livingston showed us a more desirable reality. One thing was clear: the good life costs a pretty penny.

 

So we moved six hundred miles south to Wilmington, North Carolina. I thought, “Surely, here I can afford the house and a nice car and make a more comfortable life for all of us.” I believed that God led us to this city and that He would bless us. Hope buoyed us along.

 

Surprisingly, the niceties of life were not summarily handed to me. Economic reality blew in like a summer thunderstorm. Call it ignorance, naiveté or simple laziness to expect gifts to fall from the sky. Whatever colored my vision did not keep me from seeing that the dreams were become more elusive. The townhouse had now deteriorated with age. Our car grew old far less gracefully. Where was the hope of His promise? Why was His blessing being withheld? I was faithful to serve and give to the church. What was I doing wrong?

 

Months turned into years and little changed. I watched as others built homes, bought cars, took vacations and sent children off to university. For others, life’s options spread out like a harvest cornucopia. For us, the fruit of our labor was still slim. I tried to keep perspective and trust God for the best. But my trust was crumbling under a mounting weight. Resentment had set in against anyone who seemed to be flourishing. “I’m a Christian,” I told myself, “and I love everyone.” But anger fueled my resentment. I suppressed it, pushed it down into a dark corner of my heart and denied it expression. But because it did not speak did not cause it to leave…or to stop growing. I was a prisoner of full blown bitterness. It had taken root, like some malevolent vegetation gone wild, and threatened to turn and consume me. I was unaware of how truly tragic I had become.

 

While at my desk at work, I was listening to the radio. A voice came on: “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” I knew he was reading from the Bible, the book of Hebrews. He was talking about bitterness, about me. I was captivated as for the next twenty minutes as he unveiled bitterness for the evil that it was.  I literally trembled in my seat. Then, in an instant, a weight was lifted from me. I saw His grace and mercy and realized how great His love for me was. I rejoiced in the truth and reveled in my new found freedom. “Let all bitterness…be put away from you…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

 

Michael Porter © 2007

Home at Last February 25, 2007

Posted by joycesykes in Assignments.
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With no idea which way to turn or what to do, I struggled with fear and apprehension.  I had come to the end of myself.  Self-hatred loomed on my horizon daily, surrounding my every thought and movement. 

It seemed as if the people at this new church we were attending had some answers, but rumors in this small farming community were flying throughout the gospel mill.  They were witches, a cult or just plain crazy.  Others called them, Holy Rollers, or fanatics; warning everyone to stay away.  Yet, when we attended their meetings, I was fascinated by the pastor’s actions during the singing.  He would close his eyes and lift his arms toward the ceiling.  He seemed to have a personal thing going on with GOD! 

We would stay for a few weeks, and then Fred’s preaching cut to the bone and I would run for a season.  How could he know what was hidden deep within my heart?  Yet without fail, he nailed me more than one time. This last time we had stayed away nine months and I was the most miserable person on the face of the earth. 

I needed answers and quick.  Was the place okay or were they all crazy? Was this where Jesus wanted me to come, or did I need to run far and fast?   I had to find out; the limbo was killing me.  I remember that night as clearly as yesterday.  Alone and hidden on the side of my bed, I began crying out for answers, not just casual tears, but deep gut wrenching sobs.

Softly “Isaiah 43” floated into my ears.  At first, I brushed it away.  “Isaiah 43,” came again.  I felt like I was losing my mind on top of it all.  What in the world was Isaiah 43, I didn’t know?  “Isaiah 43” 

Maybe, just maybe, it was a Scripture.  Grabbing my Bible, I flipped to the index and started scanning names.  Isaiah jumped off the page at me.  Maybe, just maybe there would be a 43. If there were, what would it say?  Was this church where God wanted me to be or was I losing my mind?  I flipped to the page listed and began looking for an Isaiah 43. 

Amazingly, it was there. But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel,” The words said Jacob but I heard my name spoken as I read it.  The Lord created me; I was not just an accident that happened.  He formed me, as incredulous as it sounded. 

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.  When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour:” 

Answers, I found answers for my weary heart.  He called me by name.  He wanted me.  No matter what happened, He was with me.  He was my Savior.  I had found the place I belong at last.  Everything was going to be all right.  I was home. 

Standing in Gap October 29, 2006

Posted by joycesykes in Essays, Rock Guild Posts.
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There is no question that the forces of hell have been unleashed against our children.  The daily bombardment is revealed on newscasts, internet and newspapers.  Never in my lifetime have I seen stories of murder, suicide, and attacks on and even by our children, and it breaks my heart.

As I watched the stories unfolding in the past few weeks, I sat and cried at the sights portrayed on the news of innocence shattered.  My heart wept for the families and friends as they deal with the loss of loved ones.  Anger stirred within as well, anger for the accused and for our failure to stop these horrific events from taking place.  But most of all, I feel a holy anger against the wiles of the enemy that convinced individuals of their right to inflict evil upon the innocent.

Our teens are enticed into dangerous encounters, which sometimes turn deadly, as both men and women stalk our kids through the internet chat rooms and sometimes in their own school and church.  Their one desire is physical and sexually assaults toward their victims.  TV programs designed to catch these menaces to our society reveal some individuals who are both professionals and upstanding members of society.  Yet these events catch a very small portion of individuals engaged in this activity.

Recently I have seen two news stories in North Carolina that sickened me even further.  Infants less than a year old were sadistically injured.  One died and one child will forever bear the scars of fractured limbs, and burn scars.   My heart weeps of the horror and fear these children suffered at the hands of the ones who should have been their first line of defense.  My heart wonders how many are left undiscovered, but will bear the scars in years to come.

Scripture reveals in:  I Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

Our society as a whole has developed the attitude that we cannot and must not get involved.  Individuals have become fearful, and sometimes with good reason to stay uninvolved when injustices take place.  Yet, how long can we sit and watch horrors like these become the norm in the world we live in.   

The one sure way is through our prayers.  A friend recently shared how the Lord woke her up the night before the recent attack took place in
Colorado to pray and intercede.  She prayed and cried out for well over an hour.  I wonder how many lives were spared by her obedience.  She pleaded for mercy, and exposure.  She asked for divine protection.  Did the Lord fail her?  Absolutely not!  We will never know on this side of heaven how many more were spared as a result of her prayer.    
 

However, God has given men ‘free will’.  We make choices everyday, good, bad or indifferent.  We choose to spend time in fellowship with the Lord, or each other.  We choose to be wise or foolish with our time.  Each one of these perpetrators made the conscious choice to commit these horrible acts on the innocent.  Their time of choices is over but the result of their choices will continue to affect countless others for years to come. 

As His children, we have the choice to stand in the gap.  We can pray and intercede for the safety of not only these in our own country, but ask for intervention in other lands.  We can ask for divine coverings, and protection.  Intercession can be made for exposure of the plans of the enemy.  We can war in the spirit for the life, soul and mind of the innocent in this world.   

As His children, we must be willing to lay aside our own selfish desires and plans.  As we lay aside our desires, we can seek His face crying out for those who are not able to cry out for themselves.  With every news story we hear, I pray our hearts will become so moved for compassion to plead for the safety and welfare for the very ones that satan desires to destroy.   

Joyce Sykes

© 2006

Poor Rich Words October 15, 2006

Posted by dtreolo in Rock Guild Posts.
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“Instead of four bedrooms and three baths, we had four rooms and a path…to the three-hole, quarter-moon outhouse about fifty yards from the back porch. Mosquito-bitten legs dangling over the splintery, roughhewn ledge, my young girl cousins-Peggy, Kathy, Barbara and Sandy- and I would “do our business” and pore through the ever dwindling Sears and Roebuck catalogue to distract us from the foul, fly-infested mound steaming below. We memorized our favorite pages, salivating over romantic fashions, new-fangled gadgets, top-0f-the-line appliances and most importantly, indoor plumbing. Ma always ripped out the “brassieres and girdles” section to help keep curious young boys from sinning.

   There were 13 children in Daddy’s family, 11 in Mother’s…and I was an only child.

    Go figure. ”

   This beginning passage in “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” by Reba Rambo-McGuire keeps playing before my eyes over the past few days. Perhaps in part because I am amazed that Pastor Abbey traveled with these gifted artist for two years (?) and then came back to the Rock. I keep seeing the gifts and talents, and treasures she was presented with, and she came back to the Rock. I know in part it was probably homesickness that drove her back, but I see the Providence of God at work here.

    How can the imagery of a little girl sitting in an outhouse possibly cause me to see providence? I’m not real sure, but somehow I see the gifting that was poured into Pastor Abbey from the heavens, and from the life of this simple woman of great faith. I’m sure living in such close contact there were lots of opportunities to see clay feet walking on  water. Yet Pastor Abbey came home. She came to lead this amazing group of talented people the Lord was and is sending to her. She could have moved on without us, sharing that talent with multitudes of strangers. Yet she chose to come home, and move in close enough to sheep who would often pierce her with the thorns caught in there un-sheered coats.

       Poor enough to grow rich in the Lord, is what I found in reading Reba’s book. Strong enough to walk confidently in her weakness humbly before the Father.

       How wonderful it is to be ministered to by the fruit of this mighty woman of God’s ministry.

   Thank you Pastor Abbey, for moving forward into your calling. I continue to pray for you, that the arrows will fall to the ground bouncing off the breastplate of righteousness you wear with great humility and faith.

Abandonment October 9, 2006

Posted by dtreolo in Rock Guild Posts.
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Abandonment

“All Christians have spiritual needs, but the believer who has abandoned himself to the Lord no longer indulges in the luxury of being aware of spiritual needs. Rather, he gives himself over completely to the disposal of God.

How do you practice abandonment? You practice it daily, hourly, and by the moment. Abandonment is practiced by continually losing your own will in the will of God; by plunging your will into the depths of HIS will, there to be lost forever!”

Jeanne Guyon: Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ

Perhaps it is because I have read this book five times now in one year, or maybe because I have given away three cases of this book and am delighted when one person out of twenty has the light turned on like I have. I don’t know exactly why Madam Guyon’s words so profoundly affect me except a year ago in October I heard the call to “Be still and Know”. She challenges me to abandon myself completely to the Lord Jesus Christ in a way I have not seen anywhere but the bible. She teaches me how to BE STILL and Know God. She doesn’t mince words, and what she states is hard to imagine much less move in.

But I find the hunger that is inside me burning so strong, that her challenge to press in deeper, and trust that even in the silence I am with Him is exactly what feeds me. She points out again and again my desire for peace and comfort at any price are not God’s ways. While He does bring these things, He also brings death to self, and self centered thinking. He demands my whole being, because He knows anything less will taint what He is doing in me. He calls me to a place of entering into the fire and allowing Him to purify my life. Dying daily, hoping against hope. When everything seems the absolute darkest, it is then I must trust the most. He calls me to a deeper experience with Him. Guyon shows the way into this chamber is through sacrifice, and obedience. As I press in her words seem less difficult.

“In all your experience of Christ, it is wisest for you to stay away from any set form, or pattern, or way. Instead, be wholly given up to the leading of the Holy Spirit. By following your spirit, every encounter you have with the Lord is one that is perfect..no matter what the encounter is like.

Do not be too surprised if you are no longer able to offer up prayers of petition….In this new relationship with your Lord, it is the Spirit who prays! And as the Spirit prays, He helps your weakness. He is making intercession for you, and He is praying according to the will of God.”

Guyon lived in dungeons for her belief in experiencing the depths of Jesus in the 1600-1700’s. What sacrifices am I willing to make to press in deeper?

2 passages & commentary October 7, 2006

Posted by awilhite in Assignments.
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“Raederle said very little, either to Danan or Bri; she was grateful that the mountain-king refrained from questioning her.  He only said gently, with a perception that startled her, “Isig is my home; the home of my mind, and still, after so many years, it is capable of surprising me.  Whatever you are gripping to yourself in secret, remember this: Isig holds great beauty and great sorrow, and I could not desire anything less for it, than that it yields always, unsparingly, the truth of itself.””     – Patricia McKillip “Riddle of Stars”

   This is probably my favorite all-time book, by one of my very favorite authors.  Although many of her books involve fairy, magic, and non-Christian mythology, I can’t help loving them for her beautiful descriptions, precise language, and moving characters.  Her people are very real to me.  Some of them I love.  All of them are bound in beauty or fear or evil or pain, according to their natures.  I like her earliest books best- they’re cleaner.  There is, in many of them, an innocence and beauty I find irresistable.
    This passage is one of my favorites in this book, and one I have long thought on.  It’s something I attempt to do in my writing.  I contain great beauty and great sorrow, and I want to yield them unsparingly, truthfully, and beautifully.  I hope that I succeed, and I am only ashamed that so often the truth of what is within me is still petty, irritating, prideful, arrogant, and selfish.  I want to give healing, not hurt, and when I realize I have slipped up again, I am ashamed.  But then I think of this passage again, and I try again, coming out of sorrow, shame, and lack, to write once again the truth that I have.

     “As he spoke he tore a strip from beneath his coat, and , turning sharply about, walked before them to the brink of the cliff, winding the strip firmly about the hand rest of the lance.
     “On the very edge he stood erect and waited.
     “The sun rose out of the plain, and flashed with blinding force upon the Bedouin boy clad in his sheepskin coat and desert turban, precisely as it had found him in the porch of Aaron’s tomb upon the summit of Mount Hor.
     “His hand no longer held a shepherd’s staff, but firmly grasped a Grecian lance that gleamed and flashed as fiercely as the sun.”
                              -Harry W. French “The Lance of Kanana”

    This, the story of the “coward of the Beni Sads” who would not become a fighter and slaughter men for no good reason but insisted he could not “lift a lance to take a life, unless it be for Allah and Arabia,” has long been one of my favorites.  It’s a story of a boy who must prove his courage without going to war.  It’s a story about holding a moral principle so high that you will accept the consequences unto death not to break trust with truth.  And it’s a story of how God rewards committed faith even while allowing its sacrifice.
     It’s also brilliantly written, which is always a plus.  Listen to this, “There is but one name more bitter than ‘coward’ to the Arab.  That name is ‘traitor,’ and after being called a coward almost all his life, the very last words which Kanana heard from the lips of his countrymen came in frantic yells, calling him a traitor.”  Now, who could resist reading the rest of the story?
    The storytelling is hypnotic.  The scenes are so vivid, romantically painted in heroic brushstrokes. There is nothing lurid or mean or small or disgusting.  Even the villians have a dignity of purpose.  They’re evil, but they’re not degraded.  Why does so much of modern literature degrade mankind?  I’m a sucker for any story about a hero, a man with confidence, with strength, with conscience.  They are few and far between.  Now we have “dark heroes,” men who can’t decided to be rescuers or abusers, heroes who are drunks, or dangerous, or wandering on the wrong side of the law.  Our kids want to “be bad” and “look tough.”  But they have no knowledge of what true strength is- to bear, without compromise, the consequences of right and necessary action.  Or, as Reepicheep so nobly put it, to swim East until we can no longer paddle, then to die with our noses pointed towards the rising sun.