Chasing Twilight

All of my life I’ve been chasing twilight.

Where all the hours in the day went, I don’t know. There was a time, I’m sure, when I worked and played in the warmth of the sun. Those days were spent on swing sets, chasing girls, playing cops and robbers, or in the summer building forts in the woods at the edge of my Grandpa’s farm. Immortality was so obvious that we didn’t think about time at all. We only knew that the world was spinning because our moms told us to come in for dinner. Oh ya, we’d think, food. We should eat.

That was long ago. What’s left of dinner is just dirty dishes piled in the sink. They’ve been there for years, while we chase twilight.

Yesterday, when we were kids, we didn’t enjoy bedtime. Life was fun, and dreaming about it was second rate. Night was an annoyance.

Now the end of the day scares me. When did that happen? The sunset has become a sign that tomorrow will come too fast.

Honestly, I’m chasing twilight because I don’t know if I have what it takes to spend another 24 hours clawing my broken fingernails into the clay while the world hurls itself through space, trying to spin me off. Maybe it would be better if I just let go…

I’m chasing twilight because if I can catch the sun, the day doesn’t end and I don’t have to face another one.

From where I am, the sun sets over the Rocky Mountains: imposing slabs of stone linked intimately together, silently brooding and communicating all too well that following is forbidden. Their shadows reach out toward me, engulfing everything. Because when you’re too slow to run after the sun, what you really need is a reminder that you’re also feeble and small.

If I had a little more time, I think to myself. A few more minutes in the day. Then they’d see:  I’m a good father. A loving husband. I’m worth my living wage. The company is better off because I work there. I’m not a disappointment to myself and others. I’m not broken. I’ll put myself back together. I’m definitely not insecure. I’m Blue Collar and fucking good at it.

Just give me a little more time.

So I chase twilight, but every day see the sun tuck those fantasies away just out of reach on the other side of monstrous granite teeth. I didn’t make it. Not even close, really. So tomorrow is on its way with another opportunity to not quite get there.

Being a Christian, this is simply unacceptable – not just the failure, or the profanity, although there’s that too – but being mentally and emotionally…finished…with a body that is well on its way. I know that I should be able to send a cutesy little scriptural meme down the black hole of social media, eat more fibre and eventually feel better. At this point, though, I may as well disappoint God too. There’s something to be said for consistency.

Thing is, I adhere to a strange brand of Christianity that is about more than me and how I feel. It is infused with ancient scriptures and prophets and such. One prophet named Malachi, who lived about 2500 years ago, wrote this:

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings…”

What does it means for the sun to rise with healing in its wings? It means that when all hope is gone, we’ll see the sun rising in the west, rays of light carving their way back through those mountain passes carrying everything we thought we’d lost, all the things that we assumed were forever out of reach.

There is one part of me left that believes it.

The shadows that almost swallowed me are in retreat. The atmosphere is infused with new colours as the sun slips over the Rockies to touch the foothills with light. Hope comes from the same direction that it disappeared so long ago. The scent of pine and cool water dance softly in the air.

All of a sudden I’m building forts at the edge of Grandpa’s farm. Looking between the trees I can see Grandma walking out to him in the field, because its teatime. My sister is in the playhouse. I still don’t know why she is old enough to light the wood stove and I’m not, but I don’t care any more. She’s cool. My brother is taking my toys apart. I think it’s cute, and I’m kinda amazed that he knows how to put them back together again. Mom and dad aren’t divorced, and all that bad stuff didn’t happen.

I glance down, a little curious about the ashes underfoot. A small part of me wonders if something bad was once here. Then the sun filters down to me and suddenly I can’t recall what “bad” is.

What “bad” was?

What “what” was?

I dunno.

I need a stick for my fort.

Someone says, “Hey Billy!”, so I turn around and there He is, with a smile on His face and just the branch I’ve been looking for.

Life and Boots

Cribs and Coffins

The Way Forward

If the eyes are truly the windows of the soul, we need not be afraid of the dark.

At the top of the stairs I hesitate in what we call morning, but it’s dark like the night and I do not wish to plummet into the day. So I wait. Soon – though still wrapped in a shroud of drowsiness and perhaps a hint of sadness – the way forward dimly reveals itself, for my eyes have adjusted.

But my soul, afraid of falling closes itself tight, and attempting to turn back from the first small step toward the unexpected and unwanted finds the way back a wall pressing tight, intruding upon my precarious foothold. I freeze, terrified.

It doesn’t need to be this way; we can learn to wait in the dark. Keeping our souls open in the scarcely lit places of life allows the deepest parts of our being to expand. With courage and a little patience we begin to perceive glimmers hope and fortitude where once there was only fear, pain and anger. The way forward is always there, but can only be seen by those who are brave enough to wait.

The open soul forgives, and in the way forward you’ll discover healing.

So wait, let your soul stare into the darkness, and be one of the few who can step into the unknown. It’s a glorious thing to be wide awake and at peace when the sun comes over the horizon.

Searching For Home

Change and Toilet Paper

Winter Night

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Smashing Snowglobes

As far as I know there is only one way to have a perfect Christmas. Every expectation has to be jammed together into a space so small that it cannot sustain human life, drowned, and encased in glass. We call these places snowglobes. They are pretty, quaint, and while sometimes expensive they hold no real value other than to demonstrate to guests your distain for dusting.

In a snowglobe you can have a church service on Christmas Eve, go carolling, live in a warm cottage, and drink apple cider beside a perfectly decorated tree that guards an unholy amount of colourfully wrapped presents. Sometimes there is enough room for a well behaved family sitting down for a lovely turkey dinner.

What there isn’t room for is imperfection.

Nobody in a snowglobe is too busy. I’ve never seen one that contains a mall stuffed with anxious, bewildered husbands or screaming toddlers. Its styrofoam snowflakes never settle gently upon the collars of the homeless and estranged.

How nice, for those who live in a tempered glass bubble.

Somebody give me a hammer.

You can also purchase snowglobes that contain little baby Jesus. They are sublime. They don’t smell like manure, contain despots who murder infants, or have poor blue-collar families becoming refugees. Sometimes you can wind them up and they’ll sing a lullaby to a porcelain child who doesn’t breathe or cry. Look inside and you’ll find that the Virgin Mary found childbirth to be an inspirational event and Joseph – tasked with providing for his family – wasn’t at all embarrassed to tuck the newborn into a feeding trough.

On the other hand, for me the actual Christmas Story is filled with wonder precisely because it stinks. It fills me with hope that God might look down from heaven trying to find some way to connect with his children, see nothing but a manger filled with poverty and desperation, and say,”Perfect. I’m on my way.”

One of Jesus’ nicknames was Emmanuel, which means “God With Us.” No fragile glass barrier separating the holy from the common, or the sacred from the profane. Just a God who will go to lengths we can’t begin to comprehend in order to save us from ourselves.

My prayer is that Jesus will show himself to you this Christmas even if (especially if?) you have very little room for him, and what isn’t cluttered has a peculiar, barn-like odour.

And should you prefer the snowglobe version, I’ll try to be there for you when life gets clumsy.

 

One Perfect Note

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Play the Music

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All Good Things – Easter 2017

Tears in the Rain

taliyah-leigh-marsmanA little girl’s body being found in a field east of the city? That is the last thing I want to write about. Instead, let me tell stories about redemption and hope. Hell, I’d settle for penning some cheesy script full of pat answers and hallmark blessings. For the love of Jesus, just let me focus on something that can be illustrated with fairy dust and unicorns and pink ribbons. Please God, rewind this sodding mess just a bit and give us a happy ending.

I don’t want to talk about law enforcement officers wading through long prairie grass in the pouring rain. Eyes shut tight, let me forget that I live in a city that held it’s breath for a week and then exhaled this morning in a desperate choking sob.

In our hearts and souls we negotiated with hell. Jesus pray for us, for we mourned the mother but offered her up as some kind of sick sacrifice. We thought maybe her passing would placate the dark powers, but it wasn’t enough and we don’t know why.

Anger rushes in like a flood. Someone is in custody. Someone will be held responsible. We see a picture on the news, and tension slips off of our shoulders because now we have a target for our hate. The rage will keep us warm, perhaps even with enough heat to dry one or two tears. We will curse God, to his face if we can, for not putting a fence around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil… Yes, that’s it… We will curse God and punish the murderer, whom He created with the sick ability to choose.

Denial seeps in. We are good people. This is still cowboy country, where men are supposed to tip their hats to the ladies. I know a pastor who still gives children candy, while fathers look on and smile. Except now we don’t smile. We’re in shock. Numb.

Like the cursed ground where she rested these past days, our souls are saturated with sadness. Exhausted, we lay down without answers and rise again to the sound of rain. God weeps, for we have abandoned him. “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these,” he whispers, “you did not do for me.” Who knows but that he sat there in the sopping ditch, cradling the child all week while we looked for her, and quietly left just as one broken-hearted hero drew near.

My children will not know why mommy and daddy are sad tonight. They will play with their puppy, and maybe have a Fudgsicle for dessert. Later, we will tuck them in a little tighter than normal. Our prayers with them will be the usual ones, but I will add a little something in the silence that children need not hear.

I will pray that my daughters grow old enough to have their hearts broken like this.