Worlds Collide

From AFE.
Worlds collide all the time;
Not with cosmic clouds of dust
Or fire in the sky;
But silently
Within my mind.
Life has often been compared with a journey and it is an appropriate analogy. During its course we may physically move from one place to another, but emotionally it is often more like moving from one world to another. The familiar landscape dotted with the faces of friends is far removed and we are met with the challenge, which we only have half the heart for, to find new friends and support systems. Other times we may cry in joy at the sheer freedom of moving on.
What is surprising is our ability to adapt to change. In the beginning there may be that sense of losing something very precious or the intense relief of leaving something in the past, but quite quickly and almost imperceptibly the novelty is gone and life achieves normality once again.
We are never quite free of our experiences in all these worlds, however, for it is their influence that has shaped us. And the smallest triggering, an old friend met, an old song heard or even a long forgotten smell, may elicit a smothering rush of memories, immersing us into the past. This is the collision of worlds. And then in an instant we are back, blinking in the light of the present day, whispering praise for the Hand that has lead us all the way and will be our ever present help to come.

If within 2 minutes of arriving at work you bend down and rip your pants…

…as I so unceremoniously did this morning. And if you you not only have to slink off to take care of the problem but also feel obliged to explain to your boss and co-workers just why it is you are leaving so soon. Then I think you are entitled to come back with some snazzy threads. Actually, it was 8:10 so the thrift store wasn’t open, so I felt completely justified in taking my custom high-end and hitting the Target clearance rack, to which I am not entirely a stranger. At any rate, there in that netherworld between Walmart and department stores, there at the store that brings shi shi designers to the masses, I hit the clearance rack and sort of got chic. Not really, OK, just barely.
Instead of some work-suitable khakis I decided upon a pair of hip (at least they were two years ago) jeans in a style which I used to think were rather manky looking.* You know the type, the type with the slick-faded looking legs that seem like you have been temporarily homeless for several weeks and haven’t had a chance to shower or change your clothes. At any rate, in that bizarre alchemy that is fashion and vanity and sheer craziness, they do now seem kind of cool, and so I acquired my first pair. And, to boot, I also decided I might as well go all the way and buy one of the nice Mossimo shirts on clearance, which is truly nice, not being manky by any standards. Even Joseph Abboud would be proud of it.
Gasp. Did I buy an outfit? No, as I am wont to explain, somewhat unconvincingly to even to myself at times, it must be noted, its just a shirt and pair of pants that happen to go together which will be worn with other shirts and pants respectively. Guys don’t buy outfits. Or shouldn’t. Dave would be proud. And so it was off to Quik Trip to hit the the restroom/changing room (and get a cup of tea) and then head back to work, sheepish, yes, but in such sartorial splendor.
All of this talk of manky fashions brings to mind a poem I wrote few years ago on the topic of tattoos and body piercing. As noted in a previous post, it is more strident than I would be now, but I think it does have a point and raises some interesting discussion topics. Also, as a point of full disclosure and as an innoculation against charges of hypocrisy, it should be noted that I do have an earring (the why and what for of which I may explain in a subsequent post) and, on occassion, have considered a tattoo, which likely won’t happen though.

I am still very interested in the issue of why people adorn, decorate, desecrate? themselves, whether it be tattoos or mullets, BMW’s or piercings. I am particularly interested in the psychology and the spritual aspects of such questions. Finally, blanked out though it is, this poem does contain a swear word.
Slavery Chic
It’s odd that all these signs of freedom
Should smack so of slavery from the past,
Of less than willing bondage to another.
The awl-pierced ear made one a slave for life
In ancient Israel.
These rings that link each nostril to the other
Protrude a shiny loop that almost begs for a hook
To pull the wearer along,
Like an unwilling bull of old.
And thick, studded collars once only choked strong dogs
Into submission.
And tatoos and brandings also marked a slave.
How odd, today, that almost every sign to say,
“I’m free,”
Should echo slavery.
But, slavery? Today?
Who holds the chains?
That is where the horror comes.
Before when one was ruled,
However deep the chains might cut,
At least the heart could stay free,
And hope for full feedom at least be a whispered dream.
But now the chains bind unseen
And loop back only to the Omnipotent Self
That marks its prey in time-honored ways
With signs that now do double time
To say, like prickly visual curse words,
“F___ you and what you think;
I am the jailor and the jailed.”
*I picked up the word manky from reading a sequel to Adrian Plass’ funny and insightful book the Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4, which I would very highly recommend to you. Manky: Adj. Scruffy, dirty, distasteful, disgusting.

Stench of Life

Just now flatmate Dave and I are sitting in Kayaks, a coffee shop designed to appear as a Colorado ski chalet. We have have just finished our drinks (his a fru-fru latte for which he gets no end of ribbing for being such a manly man all the rest of the time) and we are now reading. Everything is perfect and pristine, including most of the people. There is nice folk music being soothingly piped down and the only aroma is the relatively pleasant aroma of coffee (although for some I imagine that would be not so pleasant). Earlier today the same Dave and I were eating Chinese in front of Bob’s Seafood and the aromas were decidedly different. I noted to Dave how the place reminded me of Pakistan, not so much because there are many fishy smelling places in the parts of Pakistan in which I lived, but because odors pleasant and foul were so much more a part of every day life. Dave, quite correctly, pointed out that there is no virtue in being unsanitary. And yet, I think that we can lose connection with life, or perhaps more accurately with nature, by our highly sanitized spaces, perhaps even our highly sanitized bodies. OK, that might be an unpleasant thought, but it is helpful to note that even these standards are simply cultural. In addition to controlling the olefactory evidence of decay and life processes, our culture also is adept at hermetically sealing off death, as is evidenced both in our mortuaries and our meat departments. Both of which are much too large topics to be addressed in this ever lengthening study break. Suffice it to say, sometimes there is nothing like the stench of death to be reminded of the glory of Life.

Christmas Acrostic

Here is a selection from AFE in honor of the madness of yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Textual note: Selections from Ache From Eternity: A Journey in Verse, which was written some ten years ago, sometimes speak with more directness and surety than I would likely write with now. Indeed, some might border on stridence. One day I will post a conclusion I wrote five years after writing AFE that details this shift. Even so, the effect these selections have on me is often quite interesting. Often times I am encouraged by my own words to have more faith and trust. This selection I like quite well and am eager to put into practice this holiday season. And, I really like this acrostic.
Christmas Acrostic
Advent of the god of greed.
Matter sought to sate the spirit
Assuages not the crying need.
Silent, still, crushed hearts are bleeding,
So wholeness can’t be bought by men…

Advent of the Prince of Peace
Matter sought by God the Spirit;
A robe of flesh to meet man’s need
Silent, still, His form would bleed
So wholeness could be had again.
Christmas is as much the principal holy day in the religion of materialism as it is in Christianity it seems. Like no other time during the year material goods are venerated as the source of happiness. It is true that this hollow philosophy is cloaked under the noble activity of gift giving, but the cloak is thin indeed as surely gift giving can be simpler and still equally meaningful. The reaction called for is not the whip in hand purging of the temple, however, because such buying and selling is centered in the separate temples of materialism. Our reaction as Christian should be one of pity: pity for the lives that wallow in the emptiness of post-Christmas depression; pity for those who have been fed the lie that things can bring happiness, only to find the promise empty.
To be sure, we as Christians can stoop to the syncretism of being caught up in the frenzy too, but when we do we are selling our birthright to far greater riches. True Christian celebration of Christmas is a partaking in the mass of Christ’s birth not in amassing material pleasures. Mass is a term borrowed from the Catholic church and one that Protestants may shy away from, but it simply means a celebration of the Eucharist or communion. At the heart of its meaning is the heart of all Christianity, the partaking in Christ, for it is only in partaking in Christ that we can be truly filled. What is called for then is not a humbug- like celebration of Christmas where Christians withdraw entirely from the more worldly celebrations of Christmas, for they too can be expressions of joy, but through it all we should focus on and bring others to the true cause of rejoicing, the gift of Christ to a needy world.

Thanks: 26 X 4

Adrian, Andrew, Apartment, Advent
Brothers, Books, Bicycles, Bruno
Car, Creation, Cider, Clothing
Dad, Dawn, David, Dases
Emilie, Employment, Eucharist, Easter
Forgiveness, Family, Friends, Future
Gracie, Goodness, God the Father, Grace
Hope, Holy Spirit, Hymns, Honesty
Incarnation, Insurance, Immanence, Ice rinks
Jesus, Jack, Jack, Jackson
Kelley, Kraus, Kids, Kindness
Love, Love, Love, Love
Mom, Madeleine, Matthew, Merriment
Norma, Nathan, New City, Narnia
Oatmeal, Oranges, Ocean, Obedience of Christ
Past, Present, Pakistan, Paul
Quietness, Questions, Quotes, Quests
Rest, Recipes, Roof, Restoration
Snow, Sweaters, Singing, Sight
Tea, Tolkien, Thrift Stores, Truth
Unconditional, Unity, Usefulness, Undoing
Vincent, Virgil, Vision, Voting
Woods, Winsomeness, Wisdom, Woodshed
X chromosome times 2, Xmas, Xperience, Xpectancy
Youth, “Yellow,” Yawns, Yesterday
Zzzzzzzzzzz’s, Zoos, Zaniness, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s


With apologies to Andres Cantor, but a snow so early just makes me want to shout:
And go to Langosta Roja for lunch for some yummy clam chowder…
Did I mention it was
“Ah, but Neil isn’t snow supposed to be appreciated for its serenity.”
Oh, right you are. Well, here you go…

Ah, the serenity.
But, did I mention that today we had
In all serious, though, in addition to the delight of it all, it did make our college campus rather lovely. Below is an image from our library and an imagining of how Cair Paravel might look after the snow.

Cair Paravel in Winter Posted by Hello