Monday, June 26, 2006

Life, Death, and Everything

So today I'm in Mesquite, Texas. Over the past nine days, I've traveled through as many states to witness/share/be a part of major events in the lives of my friends. I kicked it all off with the wedding of two of my best friends, and wrapped it up with the funeral of another friend's father. Considering I left for Texas immediately upon returning from the wedding of Liz's older sister, the contrast was somewhat stark, and gave rise to a considerable number of reflections. It's late; I'll keep this short. Yes, it certainly seems like the world is going crazy. Bush may in fact reinstitute the draft, and senselessly feed me and my loved ones to the munitions of the Middle East. The USDA already wants us to put GPS chips in our cows, dogs, cats, and hamsters by 2008. I could get in an accident on my way back to Virginia, and die in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. That's still only the beginning.

This time here, now, is all just a prelude to something huge, something literally inconceivable, be it sublime happiness or interminable horrific anguish. No matter what happens in the world around us, what happens next is entirely up to us, always has been, and always will be. Please God, I can live a peaceful life, start a family, raise my kids to know Him, love Him, and serve Him, and watch them do the same with their own kids. I'd really like that. But no matter what happens, there's something even better on the other side of all this so long as we're faithful. So it's good to get married. Don't not marry because the world might go to hell. If that were a good reason, the human race would've ended with Adam and Eve. Yeah, your spouse will die someday. So will you. But honestly, would you really want it any other way?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

They say that all that's needed for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to do nothing; it seems that all that's needed for good men to do nothing is for the good to worry what their peers will think about them if they do something. Since peers can have a way of dedicating their wondrously active imaginations to making conjectures about what a good man is really doing, or why he is doing it, or whether or not they particularly like it (and/or him), such worry often rears its head, and as often is crippling.

So it is that evil triumphs because good men don't want to be misunderstood by those around them. Perhaps worse, evil just sort of abides because good men don't want to risk filling that void with something good and real. Look at your own lives: how often have you felt the tug at your soul to be kind to someone who, in all honesty, is pretty obnoxious, clueless, and has that disturbing power of making you feel like you've just been incarcerated with them in a very small room and it apperently slipped the judge's mind to give you a definite term of confinement? How often have you been so full of joy that you just need run like a madman, or sing at the top of your lungs, of laugh like an idiot, or actually say one of those prayers of gratitude that it seems like no one ever really says in real life? Yeah, complete with kissing the ground and everything. How many times have you thought, "Man, it'd be really cool to . . ." in some public place, be it a shopping mall, a parking lot, the grocery store, heck, even a Wal-Mart?

Now, out of all those times when you've felt that tug at your soul to be real, to do something you truly want to do, how many times have you followed that, as opposed to the number of times you've just felt slightly foolish/ashamed of yourself, and continued to do something safe and acceptable, if somewhat a complete waste of your time. How many times have sat around while your peers watched the television, you not really interested in what they're watching, but hey, they seem to like it, right? The same deal with video games, or gossip, or just sitting around complaining that there's nothing to do. How many friendships have you let pass by because you were afraid of what peers would think of you hanging out with people they deem not suitable, be they too young, too unpopular, too odd, too religious, or any other reason that, deep down inside, you know is complete rubbish.

Life is way too short, people. God put us here for a very short time. He put us in a world which is VERY GOOD, at least according to Him. It makes no sense to fail to live life in the world He made for us. Why should good men do nothing when there are sunsets to watch, parking lots to dance in, people to talk to, chapels to pray in, grass to sit on, and trees to climb? C. S. Lewis' character, the demon Screwtape, writes in The Screwtape Letters that the real victory for the powers of hell is the current situation: men sliding into hell, having done in their lives neither as they should nor as they wish. Christ wants us to be hot or cold; tepidity is literally revolting to Him. So get out there and actually live for Christ. Don't worry about what your peers will think or say. If you're friends are real friends, they know who you are, and love you for that. The kind of peers who'll think and say crap about you for being real, well, they're not really the kind of people you want to be associating with anyways. Those who know you love you no matter what. Those who backbite will do so no matter what. Is it worth spending your whole life trying to stay in the good graces of the latter? You do the math.

A final quote from A Man for All Seasons: "[Since we] have to choose to be human at all . . . why then perhaps we must stand fast a little--even at the risk of being heroes." Do what you should be doing AND what you want to be doing. As long as you stay close to Christ, you'll find that the two really aren't all that different. People may misunderstand you and talk about you, but hey, they did it to Him first.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

It's tragic to think that one could die without ever waking up to the miracle that is his life. So often we find ourselves depressed or stressed about things that, ultimately, don't matter all that much. When that happens, we've subconsciously taken for granted the very premise of our troubles: our very existence. Maybe you scrubbed out on a test; at least you've still got the hands you took the test with, hands that can strike, caress, feed, fold origami, play video games, perform open-heart surgery, hold a friend, steer a car, communicate with the deaf, and sense the world around you. And those are just your hands. Don't get me started on toes.

Even people who don't have annoyances get a certain abhorrent ennui. They themselves remain blind to the wonder of creation, and the magical role they've been gratuitously offered. Themselves bored with life, they cynically berate those who enjoy it, and all of their pointless pleasures. Hence the battlecry, "Life Sucks, Die." However, point a gun at them, and offer to help them out of their futility, and suddenly everything changes. "His cornflakes the next morning will be the best breakfast he's ever tasted;" the world will never have been so beautiful.

Back in August, Eric Wolpert and I were on the road trying to finalize a housing deal. It was my first day at a job I loved. I had approximately 15 minutes to get the money order to the leasing agent, when my car was totaled in what should have been a head-on collision. Shards from the driver's side mirror peppered my eyelid, and shattered glass filled my hair. I spent two hours immobilized upon a gurney, waiting for x-rays to be taken to see what the damage was. The results came back; Eric and I were fine. Some whiplash, obviously, a bruise on my left arm and an airbag burn on Eric's right hand, but nothing major.


Since everything was fine, I didn't wake up. Rather, I spent my time mourning the loss of everything I thought was so important. It took some interaction with persons from my past and some prayer to realize how incredibly blessed I've been recently, and how, all things considered, I've been given an awesome opportunity for a relatively short period of time. 'Cause, when you think about it, pretty soon we'll all be dead (which will hopefully be amazing) so all we have is now in this world that even God says is very good.

So that's why I'm finally writing, after vehemently refusing to blog. It's no gun, to be sure, but hopefully this blog can get some shots off that'll wake up those who might be dozing through life. In the words of St. John the Baptist, "Wake up! The Kingdom of God is at hand."