Day by Day #49: Stories A Party Wrote

What happens when you get a group of adults together and ask them to write stories together? You get these.

A piece of paper is past around the party. The first person writes for one minute about anything. When he’s done, he hands it to the next person, concealing all but the last line of writing. They then hand the paper to the next person and they do the same thing. There you go, you get stories a party wrote.

“The breeze gently blew the empty swing and the birds overhead. Birdie Sue opened her pouch to feed her feathered friends who kept her daily company. She wept over the loss of bird food, hoping to feed her birds more. The one bird chirped. Her song rang clear over the forest glens and, warbling, went down to ever vale. “Ay! The bird chirps for freedom! Oui lads! Oui!” So Angus McDirk climbed atop Milky and rode off to chop some English heads. They would roll one after the other like melons. Or cabbages. Or oranges. Anyways, they would roll. The problem was achieving this without their bodies being dis-attached or souls being severed from corporeal matter to a bumbling intellectual man of hedonism and overzealous ramblings in quandaries of ducks. “How do they float? What velocity dictates that a duck at full sail can travel no less quickly, but recited the Merry Christmas Wish List. Santa, he said, was on Holiday, so he was taking his place this year around. The children gathered around him, reluctant, but mother-forced, and heard rapidshot. No! No! I hate this videogame. But Dwayne, you must practice if you’ll ever advance to the rank of your grandfather – the great poobah-wan-kenobie. He grasped the controls even tighter and wrenched the thermostat to high. It was now up to him. If he cannot get the heat on, the tomato plants will die and no more sauce will be made this year.”

“A young girl lived in the woods of Ardenue. Twelve years prior, her mama met a man smoking a cigarette and he gave her Antoinette on a dark night. He looked at her through the bars and wondered how it had come to this. How could she have lost all her hair, she who had once dyed sheep a pickled green with bright raving stripes down her head. I knew which I wanted to win. The one front and center was too fat. The one to the left had eyes filled with conceit. I wanted the one in the back to take me to get a snack. The snacks in Paradise were heavenly. Full of charm and spice. He reluctantly stepped forward, with his eyes on the ground, and put out his hand for me to take it or leave it, said the judge. There was no more time to consider the offer – the executioner was seen through the open window. Quickly, he grabbed for his magic cloak nd dashed out into the gloomy night. If only he could reach them before daylight, perhaps, he might be able to set this horrid misunderstanding straight. He had pooped his wet, already grotesque, pants. He sat in filth waiting for his unicorn. Thomas Albacore could never get his shoes on right. So he asked the unicorn to show him how. But Butterfly just stared at our poor orphan hers and chewed his hair. Little James then decided that the peanut could only be from that last peanut tree. He lifted it reverently and set off towards the distant mountains, where far away a land of promise and Cheese beckoned where he would plant his peanut, the last one, and renew the world.”

“Everything sucked. For a world with no atmosphere, what would you expect? We didn’t necessarily need many things like oxygen and beauty, we learned to do without. Without…what? A hat? Michael the archangel of the Gabrels will change the hats of every dreamy follower. Good thing, too, that cows have multiple stomachs. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be possible to safely remove the ticking – the incessant ticking. Her head filled with dreadful thoughts of what the end of the ticking off of time might mean – but she could not understand Billy, for he was a retarded farmer. Billy used a flock of his pure-bred midgets for plowing his fields of roast rutabagas. The king of Idaho was such an overbearing fart. All-wool clothing and rainbow socks. “I’m eatin’ up the land, Stan!” he’d say with a twitch in his orange-red beard. But Thomas Anklemore couldn’t ride a two headed mongoose. He didn’t have the right bridle. Also, his boots pinched at the heel. The truth was, he could only walk up and down the courtyard or mince like a girl in the picture gallery. Thomas Anklemore was lay and well-natured and very very well fed. He a pig, but this is no real surprise. He was unique in his resolute commonality. More common than any pig. Like a great fat Isha made from Ish. So much more than Mary-Slurpin’-Urchins, who sat all day on the edge of the sailboat, dreaming of faraway places she’d never be allowed to go. The end.”

“‘Laura! Laura! Come over and get more-a! La-da-da-da-dora! If I had to sleep, I would kill-a!’ He screamed from the top of the mediocre hat. Far away in distant lands, where passing ruffians pondered pointless paradigms the screeching wombats. All time seemed to screech to a halt as suddenly silence punctuated the air. Wind howled in the distance filling in the empty silence. The only sound that had cracked the empty silence was a moan, deep from the heart of a man whose heart had turned to flesh. He loved the fanciful dances of three-headed buffalo warriors. But they could never decide on a rhythm, so they choose Alamis Morisette – her dulcet croon sending shivers down the shanks of every proud chief at small Big-Huge. They would argue for hours about the merit of beaver spirit versus wold spirit. Should a man take more than two wives? Yehs. Providing he had more patience thn the lake, enough money, and more than two nuts. O were I sure that thin jacket hadn’t been worn I’d wear it. Frayed at the edges and marked at the center and just altogether muddled and spangrawled! But no room. The shop was closing and the rain beginning. At five-til, he sighed and walked to the store door to flip the sign. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, there stood a little girl in black-and-white. His blood ran bold and he made a dash for the back of the bus. But too late; the wave had begun enveloping the people at the front who melted and then disappeared from sight. But did they?”

“The bomb alarm sounded, and in one hand, the frightened girl grasped her mom’s hand and, in the other, her little teddy bear. “Bearskin rug! That’d look great under my new porcelain bidet!” Alfred White Northhead stroke his whitehead and could think of no reason that he should not buy the ugly hound dog with the scar. It seemed like a good deal. He took another deep draught of beer. “Yo hell,” he yelled, “Yo hell! A bottle of man and a keg of black powder.” The table shook and the floor rumbled and did a hey-nanny-nanny-and hit her nose – which was a popular rhythm at the time. It went like this: thumpa-thumpa-thum-thum-stand on my tumm. He did so with a cheerful grin, a porcelain garden gnome as happy as a clam. Without a pause, he mis-stepped. Dang it! she said. You practice this for weeks and you can’t even remember what comes next? I had to admit, though I did remember, I was distracted. The flashy blonde in the red-sequined dress had blown his cover. There was no way for him to remain indifferently disinterested now – not with her in the room. ‘Why Lisa, why, why?!” He exclaimed with his arms thrusted into the thick air. He wished he could. But she just couldn’t get grandmas into the freezer. No matter how she pushed and shoved, she didn’t fit. And so we have the origin of pettifores. An homage to the lingering-sweet taste that Grandma Rose left on all Annie’s food.”

“Sunlight glistened on the cold waters of the lake. The cry of loons mourned through the mist, making her heart ache within. The man dreamed all day of his beloved pet seal who had gone to the ocean. She found sweeter fish in the arms of another. Another that smelled of old wine and ruminated on the finer point of Trinitarian theology. That’s why she beat the hedgehog with her fists. It made her repent of all her wickedness. It was also hard on the hedgehog. She laughed. That didn’t matter, as long as she continued on her pilgrimage of the mind. “I will destroy the orphanage if it’s the last thing I do. Jam four nulla mourest! When the skies darken, I will be free!” He had long awaited the consummation of a pretty unlucky well fastened fastener that spoke of a coming fate to change the fate of the fates. They’d get screwed this time out, oh-hoy-hoy! He took the knife from the dining table nd lunged at the three sandy-blonde-haired girls. They said nothing, but put their hands out and wagged their tongues. Praise Allah! (ul-la-late profusely). Just then, an arrow pierced his neck with a message written in Sanskrit. Why did he ever buy bubblegum? This always happened, and he should know better by now. His tongue throbbed and swelled inside his mouth and he spit the gum out in disgust. He cried out in dismay at the horror displayed in front of him…Santa hadn’t eaten His Christmas cookies. The End!”

“Hear my own ones, a tale of woe. It began on a warm day, not too hot and not too cold, with that weird sort of winking and signaling with hands and feet. He was persnickety. The old crotchety mom with tufts of hair that smelled of an onion. He peeled it like he would his pet cat, Obfuscate, who tilted and turned whenever he brought the knife near. But, one day, Obfuscate the Cat saw the outline of a small bird in the shadows, the shiny black eye reflecting the moonlight off the top of the bald man’s head. She leaned over and kissed it tenderly, grateful for the kindness she alone knew resided in the sweet thoughts of this man. The only thought he had was, “I want pancakes. I love pancakes.” This is why he was found sitting duct-taped in his chair covered in syrup. She unwrapped the chair, strew him up and tossed him in the microwave. Two minutes 15 seconds. Her arch-rival withered under the pulsing glow of Kenmore Brand “Power-wave” micro’ oven. And so the night passed uneventfully. But the day began with breakfast. Stewed and crunched marmoset. Nigel Finklebottom groaned and took a bite after pinching his nose Finklebottom arose to greet the rest of the day. But Nigel knew that it was not to be. Such hope for the day was crushed like that old lady in the news who fell upon a sack of carrots.”

“‘Who’s calling?’ asked the old woman of the hall. ‘If you’re here for food, I got none for myself as it is.’ There was a pause. She made her way forward, down the long dark apartment hall. She couldn’t see anything. As she got further, her anticipation in days of old when magic filled the air and minstrels leaping and trolloping through the refuse-strewn streets. One minstrel caught a glint in the dark. A small red gem glided out of the gloom. “How come no one’s noticed?” Maybe it was just her. Her heart did long for beauty above all things. Dangerous beauty. Untold beauty of the farthest shores of whitest rock. But I knew as none could yet tell of a secret monster hidden in the cleft of that rock. Her many eyes enfold passing travelers in their stern gaze. The gazes pierced every soul like a stiff-staff-you-know, one of those lazer anti-microbial guns. Hans liked to pretend he was a she, but it never worked out in the end. (So much for scatological eschatology.) Never did it think that Superman would be able to find out its secret. It shrieked in a mannish effeminate way, you know thyself – to thine own self be true. Such foolish ideas are passed on to future generations by the sheer beauty with which they are uttered – yet no one has ever quite challenged the danger – or if they have – we remember them not. Nor has any grandfather or mother not recalled the deeds of Butterbrick the One-leg. A fine viking in his own right. And thus we have determined the true meaning of butter – a fine and sweet blonde midget.”

“There was a boy who hunted stale apples. In late Summer, they fell from the twisted brown trees in the forest near his ramshackle home. Mother told him not to go there too often; ghosts and boogeys lived in it, she said. But he couldn’t not. It called him to itself. It called with the power of a thousand midgets. The world of Blue shook. Francis walked forward, his face all unafraid, his heart as steady as Hagni’s sputtering dragonfly. He kept it in a cage away from the insectivorous old woman down the hall. He hated that wretch. So, he devised a plot to ris his life of her. But how? He remembered the shovel in the closet and ow it could be used to this endless thumping and drumming without going mad she simply could not understand. She ran for the door, anxious to be free from the chaotic frenzy of the war dance. Food was spare, shoes full of water. It was a time of wet socks and long sighs that re-echoed in the hollow bellies becoming cold. A solemn, single eye turned a curtain and looked down into the court. The belfry shook just a little as the eye blinked and down in the court, the red-haired woman continued to wash her clothes and sing. The song told of a quiet sorrow and the eye at the curtain seemed to replace where the tv set used to be. It was a strange haze, like how people described ghosts, but darker and more inviting. It presented itself like a gate to another world. But, he didn’t want to go in. His Momma told him to wear out the pen. Borrowing from another greater writer, he set out to conclude that which was begun just minutes before. ‘Don’t start something you don’t intend to finish.'”

“Oh, I saw a strange and wondrous thing – upon the hard, dark hill a mountain giant swung his mighty axe against a tree of unknown origin. The tree fell and made a dreadful noise. The old woman in the cottage on the edge of Shady Grove De-lite woke up and shook in bed. “What was that noise?” she muttered. And lo, above her was a magical goose who had swallowed Joe, the half fawn with no pants. Suddenly, she awoke to the looming shadow cutting off the rays of sunlight she’d been enjoying peacefully. “Who are you?” she asked the foreman. “No one that doesn’t see.” The ceiling fan eeked and twisted slowly, sounding like it’d come out of the roof soon. The man in the long tie leaned forward and stroked on of three whiskers that bestowed wisdom. It broke. The cat yawned wide and a set of stairs formed at the back of his throat. Patrick stepped in his mouth and down he went seeking wisdom from the wise old Lady Tooth, whose bones were brittle, her skin was tough, and her heart was stone. Burn down the high places! Make room for the Tooth! But, she wasn’t that wise. Any day now, the scandal would unfold for the world to see her debauchery. Blink twice and put your finger in your ear who knows – it could elevate you in some chimney after delivering presents – unless little Suzy who awakes in the night. Back to debauchery- a word I could never spell in kidney garden. Oh, but to learn it firsthand! Twas a story I’ll never forget. So, each time I see a light of frozen metal, I think to myself, ‘I hope no little children stick their tongues to that!'”

Day by Day #48: Hello

But like a heart, we move and we move and we move the exact amount of times to stop. The next act is more scuffling across the stage, switching clothes and sets, until everything we do before the final scene demands that it happen. We beg for it to end our motion, hoping that we went through enough acts, that we had used up our rationed heartbeats.

Why do we close up so soon? From the womb, we want something solid to bite down on. We anticipate the coming change, like a rainstorm for a dusty farmer, but never expect how much work plenty requires. We rush into union, as if it is shelter from ourselves, and stay cuddled there, forgetting that we came into this world by ourselves.

I have never had the opportunity to stare death in the face. Strangely, I feel like my entire life has been dedicated to thoughts about death. It’s not that I am obsessed or frightened, or too platonic for my own good. I am convinced that my preoccupation with death is common. Who doesn’t think about it?

It’s not about who does or does not think of death, it’s about who’s willing to engage their thoughts. How often do we take our feelings down the Valley of the Shadow of Death? Our minds aren’t enough. We can rationally think about it as a natural occurrence. “Death? Yeah, it’s just a part of life. Now go to bed.” But when we take our reason down the path, we find that we don’t get very far. We can’t take our reason beyond ourselves. The proposition of our own death is entirely unreasonable.

We think of death like we think of gifts our grandparents give us. Isn’t that what death is? Before even knowing what it is, we put our hands out, receive it, and give them a kiss on the cheek. Once we start opening up the wrapping paper, we try to think of ways that we can appreciate it. Once they leave for the winter – travelling when it’s cold out is bad for the joints – we put it in storage.

And we think about it every now and then. We never go and open up the package or do anything with it. We can’t get rid of it, because they are who they are, but we don’t want to use it. Whenever they ask, we say it’s great. Each day grows more anxious, the fixation tighter, until that fateful day when you get the phone call, lament a few days, then joyfully throw away the George Foreman Grill.

Of course, all of this could be avoided if we simply enjoyed it for what it is; a gift. The only reason we don’t appreciate it, is because we refuse to let it change us. We refuse to die. I refuse to die. If he had just known me a little bit better, then maybe he would have given an acceptable gift. The last time I saw him, though, was when he gave it to me. I haven’t seen him since then and, as long as I mention it in my emails, I’m covered.

Nature and the Word demand that we let it change us. What is the entire book of Ecclesiastes for if not that? What is the entire point of Revelation? Death is coming and not only must we know that, we must feel it in our entire being.

“Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;
when people are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags itself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.”

-The Preacher

We rationally accept that we have been given death, but we reserve a place in our minds where it can rest comfortably, untouched. We never get into it, we never allow our feelings to become entangled. We think of it like machines.

Fizzle. Error. Eject brain chip. Place into children.

We think of death every now and then to suspend the guilt. We remind ourselves that it will happen. But our reminders are about as effectual as our parents telling us that we shouldn’t date before college.

What is the benefit of rationally reminding ourselves, when death will not rationally come upon us? If we are lucky, there will be very little thinking involved once it happens (unless you’re the kind that likes to pray before a big decision). Death is pure experience, pure feeling. Before, it is pure understanding (not of what it is, but that it is). After, it is intense understanding and experience until no end.

Most of you are alive right now. I have to make some concessions to those no longer with us. I know, my credibility is soiled by my warmth (I needed to wash the pants, anyways), but I assure you, I’m doing the best I can. Yes, you’re thinking that I am completely missing the mark. Some of you might say, “Idiot! Embrace life as much as you can! Use it up! Burn at both ends!” To them, I say, “I would rather not continue that lifestyle for an eternity.” For those who say, “Well, yes, it ought to change you, but recognize that there is no conceivable way to really experience it before it happens.” To them, I say, “I agree in part. Wait a moment and I’ll explain.” Finally, there are those who are either saying nothing, or are speaking in a language I can’t quite decipher. That’s all right, we all drink some blood in the end.

At the age of nine, I had an existential crisis. I had entirely forgotten about it, actually, until I mentioned it to a good friend.

For an entire year, I lived in fear. At any sign of mortality, I would shrivel up and become useless. The days went better, because of the sunshine and people. But the nights? Thank God I shared a room with my brother, or the feeling might have been unbearable. I would physically shake in bed and cry. I vividly remember going into my parent’s room late at night to be with them. In that moment, they were the only thing that stood between me and eternity. They were the essence of life and they felt strong.

The thought of death never got out of my head. It stayed rattling around in there, until the intensity gradually faded and I either forgot or used up my feeling. I don’t know what caused the entire thing, but I am grateful for it. In that year, I held the gift in my hands every day, setting a schedule around it. And every night, I would try to expel it, but it wouldn’t let me go. It had me by the throat.

I haven’t experienced death quite like that since. I felt a bit of death last week, when I went to the nursing home and sang with some friends. As we sang a hymn, an old woman rolled up to me in a wheelchair and kicked her feet, oblivious to the fact that we were performing. Her pants were up to her chest and her head was below them. She kept pushing her no-hair behind her ear and had this smile on her like she knew something I didn’t.

I melted and I’m not quite sure why. It was almost frustrating. There were all these old faces looking up at me and saw me crying because of them.

She rolled down the hall.

Once we finished singing, we got to meet them and talk to them. There is Calvin, the old farmer who is a master at the accordion and nervous about dying (my brother shared the Gospel with him). There is Laura (I think), who speaks quietly, but coherently, and loves every song we sang.

Then, there was Claire, the woman in the wheelchair. To my delight, she wheeled back down the hallway. I put the stops on her crazy wheelchair (she didn’t stop kicking her legs), pulled up a chair, and introduced myself.

She was entirely deaf. I resorted to hand gestures, then finally a pen and napkin. She spent about a minute trying to decipher the words, “What is your son’s name?” After a wonderful concert by Calvin, we said our goodbyes.

And I found out her name was Ruth.

It was such a fruitful experience. I got to stare at my future. And my future is cold, blind, deaf, scared, weak, smelly, irritable, disfigured, quiet, painful, and slow. My future is falling apart and losing its hair. And it’s coming quickly. Calvin had a full life, full of dancing and farming. No matter how much we fill our lives up, they still get completely poured out. Lord, protect Calvin and may we still be a blessing to him while we can.

And although I don’t have the audacity to ask God for it, I expect that death will creep up on me around more street corners, peeking its head, and seeing if I’m ripe. There is plenty of death before death. It is upsetting, because it is not what we were made for. We were made to live, not to die. I refuse to die!

But it doesn’t even have to object. It stays silent. It doesn’t give us reasons. It just does. It feels us out, experiences us, grows around us, then strangles us…

and it wants us to scream and bellow. It wants us to explain it away, to think about it rationally, to never feel it. Calculated. Thoughts.

Every day, I am becoming an idol. I feel my skin turning into stone. When I cross my arms, I put my fingers into my elbow and they get stuck in the solidifying flesh. In Christ, we are built up, like stone walls, towers, cities. We are being made out of stone. Death has threatened to burn us up, but it cannot prevail against those who are made out of stone. We build, create. But the city of God isn’t made out of straw. It’s made out of precious stones. Fire cannot harm it, because it is already burning with light. It is burning with deification. The city of man is burning with destruction. The Lord is preparing us for the future, building us on top of a stumbling block.

We cannot think rightly about life, if we do not begin at the end. The end of times is destruction of flesh. If that’s the case, why would anyone want to give into it? Give into something melty? If we do not know that this life is preparation, why would ethics matter at all? If we don’t know the end, we cannot begin.

One of the most liberating things that Creation teaches us is that every end is a beginning. There is nothing in reality that exists which does not become something else. Leaves die, but they turn into ground. Animals die, but they turn into ground. Humans die, but they turn into more real flesh.

When God created everything, He created everything without end. What is there that will stop? Will God let the story end? Even if time ends, I would argue that we carry it into eternity. If we were not vessels of time for eternity, we would cease to be creatures and our perfect bodies would be no miracle. God is outside of time, but we are not and we never will be.

And we will never end. Death really is the beginning. The proof of this one end is in the parts.

In this life, when we say goodbye, we are always saying hello to something else. When I left for college, I said goodbye to a state of mind, to a place, to people.

But what did I get? I got a different state of mind, I got more place, I got more people. Everything that happened before has not stopped existing. It has just turned into something else. The people, the place, the state of mind…

And this is exactly why we cannot afford to be scared of change. And we cannot afford to look at ourselves in the mirror. And allow ourselves to be empty. And wish about things we wish we could have. And stare at our feet.

We are running through a thousand different passages. And we are running fast. This is a race and the person most likely to win is the one that doesn’t see himself. He sees the light at the end of the tunnel, he sees his certain death. And he runs to it. He runs to it, knowing that it is just the beginning of a longer race. He runs to it, because he loves how the wind feels. He runs to it, not paying attention to his own image, but paying attention to the person he reflects. Life is glory, because death is humility.

There is nothing that prepares us more for this life than knowing that we will die. And who is going to stop us from having a fascination with death? We were born with it in our souls.

Children share a very important trait with old people. They can’t stop thinking of death. It’s curious to them. They don’t entirely understand it. Most of all, it terrifies them. They think that it is antithesis to their being.

Children and old people are the closest to where we actually came from. They bookend each other. We are born into this world, with a head full of curious and indescribable knowledge, and leave it with a thirst for the same knowledge. Why do you think children are so curious about this world? It is new to them. They are used to something else. All they know is death, but we might call it birth.

And old people, they have the reflection of this exploration. When they leave this world, all they are used to is life. They must relearn what they forgot. They must remember that life is a dream.

The reason people in the middle part of life are so stressed and worried about earthly dealings, is because they have eaten up the lie; that this is all that’s true. We catechize ourselves into believing that this is it. We forget where we came from and where we are going. And because of that, petty things become the most important. We fall deeper into sin. We are more prone to end our lives, because, well, if this is it and this failed, why should we keep going?

I am not saying that children and old people are holier and wiser. But, I am saying that they are the most likely to understand what this is all about. They are here to remind us of eternity. And when we ignore them and only spend time with our peers, we will certainly be led to more earthly pursuits.

I am also not saying that this life is only a dream. It is a dream, certainly, but it is not a false one. None of this is illusion. Life is real, just as much as death. But, compared to the eternity of perfection that we come from and where we go, this little game we are playing right now is a mess. It is confusion, foggy, difficult to remember, dangerous, beautiful, uncontrollable (unless you’re one of those elect who can control dreams), and brief. A dream.

But dreams are real. Dreams actually happen and dreams actually happen for a purpose. They are provoked by what we do and where we come from. Dreams don’t just come from nowhere and then go to nowhere. They affect what we do and how we think. They can disturb and delight.

But, the longer we spend in a dream, the more we become attached to it. If a dream is going especially well, we begin to thirst for it. We long for the thing that threatens us. Dreams are real, but they are not as real as the thing that makes them.

The great lie is that death is the dream, that once our life is over, we are sleeping and we’ll never wake up. People want to paint the afterlife as a mystical journey into cosmic LSD-induced colors. It’s not. The afterlife is actual reality. It is only mystical to us now, because we are brain damaged and sin bruised.

This life is wonderful, but like many ancient Christians suggested, dangerous. It can lead us astray. Creation is here to delight us and for us to use but, if we don’t come at it knowing that it is a creation, we will die. And that will be a frightening beginning.

There are so many reasons to run. I am always wary of advising someone to take more risks, but sometimes I don’t know what else to say.

When and where are we ever commanded to pitch a tent? To take a rest? Why should we ever stop running? To be “cautious”? Where in Christ’s – or any of the Apostles’, in fact – mission was caution ever a goal? Christ demands of His followers to stop settling here. He wants us to be eternally-minded, to forgo all concerns about food, clothing, housing, and money. He wants us to run, God bless it! The temptation is to build a city here, as if that’s okay.

Stop sitting down. Get up, stretch, run. As far as you’re concerned, you have no image. You are made in the image of God. Work on His image. Start thinking of your death. And run to it.

You may be a parent. You may be a pastor, or child, or elder, or engineer, or teacher, or student. Whoever you are, everything you do ought to be preparation. Prepare yourself and prepare others.

Sometimes, this means enjoying a cup of tea and building a house for your family. Creation was built for us to use up, because it has an end. 

I have so much death ahead of me. I need to die to self, I get to stop being so conceited, I can care more about others, I can run faster and farther towards my end. And I get to move on from the past, allowing it to propel me through the present and into the finished future.

Funny thing too, I’m pretty sentimental. I was cleaning my room the night before I left home and I came across a picture of my mom. One of the many things I struggle with is laying down and looking at pictures of the past, or drawing them. I take a seat too often. I get to keep going.

And so do you.

No matter who you are, we will meet each other again. Our relationship will begin again, although I don’t know when.

What I’m saying here is not perfect and I’m not saying it perfectly. Please, though, hear me out and rejoice.

Go to the grave of Christ and weep and contemplate it. Christ wept at death, the Son of God. Weep with Him. Leave the church with darkness and silence around you. Let death howl down the aisles. Then on Sunday, bring a pan and spoon. Open up the doors of the church. Sing and dance and laugh. And we shall march out of the longest night together and withstand the death of death and become perfect stone idols of God.