Becoming Friends

There is no color

only love

Since we are born colors

into love

Blue skies and grey skies

they are all the same

The only way to end hatred

is by love

We were born a nation

one of many

Free to choose

and be happy

Free not to choose

and be strong

One to protect

and be at peace

It starts with one

and walks alone

We are always talking

but always forget

From dust we rise

to dust we lay

With only patience

for an end’s delay.

In Search of Religion

I know many people may be searching for truth or God, or something to believe in.  I think we all have this innate search for the big answers in life.  We love others or feel love from others.  In this love, we feel God–for God is love.  As a Christian, I believe in that.  I think we often put too much stock in people in order to judge whether or not a religion is true.

The Bible does talk about Christians showing the light and being the salt of the Earth.  I believe it’s true that we can be vessels and live out our testimonies.  If we have acquired the Holy Spirit, that light shines into the world.  This shows people that God is working in their lives.  Most of all, love shows people who God is.

This all works.  Then again, I’ve been on both sides.  The key thing I have learned is this:

You should not choose a religion based solely on people’s actions and behavior, but you should only choose a religion because you believe it is true.

At different points in my life, I used to discern whether or not Christianity was the true religion.  I assessed Christians in my life.  I judged the way they treated me.  When I attended churches, I looked around and studied them.  Wasn’t that the driver that cut me off in the parking lot?  Now that he’s in church, he is all the sudden loving me and shaking my hand?  I’ll admit: it’s confusing, because Christians are not always kind and loving as they should be.  That includes myself.

At some point in my life, every group of religious or non-religious person has done something unkind and unloving towards me.  I have done unkind and unloving things towards people.  This is confusing, isn’t it?  I thought that being Christian would make me a better person.  That’s not necessarily the case.  I realized my flaws are that I believe in the way of Christ, but I do not always walk in the way of Christ.  Religion, or in this case, Christianity, should transform me from within.  It should transform me because I am willing to be transformed.  I discipline myself to be more aware, more obedient and loving in all the things that I do.  Eventually, there’s success.

It is great while it lasts.  However…  Give me less than six hours of sleep and put me behind the wheel of a car, then I’ll be inwardly cursing up a storm towards the reckless drivers on the road.  I think we have all been there.  When we break the transformation process, we become discouraged.  Discouragement leads to self-deprecation, because we realize we’re not perfect.  As a result, we keep on making mistakes.  We start judging people and saying awful things, because we feel we are entitled to do that.  Pride sets in.  Selfishness takes over.  At that point, it doesn’t seem like religion is doing much at all for us.  We expect it to do all the work, because we feel it shouldn’t be up to us.  That’s foolishness, because religion expects that we walk with it.  Allowance and idleness are not the same things.  By allowing transformation, we need a change of mind, a willing heart, and actions that proceed.

We look at ourselves for answers.  We look to the world for reassurance.  What is truth?  Who is God?  What will happen when I die?  Where can I find peace?  Where can I find joy?  How can my life feel like it is going in the right direction?  …Am I on the right path?  We question and judge ourselves and all those around us.  Nothing feels certain. That’s why we need to look straight towards religion, towards the very thing that transforms our lives.

Fr. Seraphim Rose is a man who has inspired me.  In his early academic life, he was into Chinese Taoism and Asian philosophies.  He eventually converted to Orthodoxy and became a hieromonk of ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia).  Fr. Rose wrote a book called God’s Revelation to the Human Heart addressing the human condition of suffering in relation to the “core of all Christian life: the conversion of the heart of man, which begins to burn with love for Christ and transforms him into a new man.”

There are two big things I took away from this book:

(1) Coming to religion isn’t about analyzing something or making a decision, but it’s about revelation: God reveals Himself to us. Even though we want to spend our lives lost and try to search out religion on our own, it doesn’t matter. God is always present and He is ready to reveal Himself to us at any moment.

(2) God reveals himself to us by the heart.  I’m sure many of us expect a cloud to open up and see God talking to us from Heaven.  Most often, that doesn’t happen to us.  Instead, in Christianity, God talks to the human heart.  He speaks to us in a real and loving way.  We just need to listen with our hearts.

If we rely primarily on people, we will be disappointed, because people will eventually fail us. As for God, God will never disappoint us.  God never fails.  He is always good, loving, and true.  If we want to search for truth, we need to open our hearts to God and let Him speak into our lives.

 

Keeping Life Simple

Something I’ve been learning about is keeping life simple.  It sounds easy, right?  But it’s not.  It doesn’t feel easy when you’re a complicated person like myself.  I realize the mess of a complicated life comes from all the silly rules we apply to ourselves.  We tell ourselves what we must do and the things we have to do, when in fact, we don’t really need to.  There are clear rules in life.  Don’t get me wrong.  In fact, there’s necessary things we need to do for survival, love, and beyond…  Often, our minds get cluttered.  We find ourselves feeling either too ambitious or too chaotic.  Either too desperate or too busy.  We’re all over the place. We’re complicated.

There’s no balance.

In the end, we need to gather our thoughts, concentrate, and focus.  We need to quickly prioritize the things that truly matter.  I think often we spend too much time in our own heads.  We run from one place to another.  We set impractical goals before we even try to carve out time to accomplish them.  I mean- nothing should stop us.  We should never give up being hopeful.  Hope is what keeps us going.  However, we shouldn’t allow our lives to struggle for too long.  We need a break from a complicated life.

I know, as a writer, I struggle.  I have all these big dreams of finishing and publishing novels.  The reality may be this: only a few people may actually read any of the books I write.  That’s not to discourage me or stop me from my dreams.  I can still work on them.  But, I don’t need to be obsessed.  When I finish my novels, I’ll finish them.  I’ll get to that.  I can even set a time every week to work towards that.  My problem is I spend too much time thinking about it than actually having the time to work on it.  I also have other dreams many people have: like traveling the world and accomplishing something great.  I think there’s a deep need in all of us to accomplish something great.  We want to be special, be unique, and have a great purpose in life.  There’s nothing wrong in using our gifts for the greater good and striving for success in life.  However, we can’t be blind from the most important things in life.  That’s what simplicity is all about.

I like to read up on Quakers.  There’s some Quaker beliefs I agree and disagree with.  That’s besides the point.  I just find their history and beliefs interesting.  At one time in life, I was inspired by their testimony on simplicity.  They believed that we should strive for a simple life.  Therefore, we should focus on the things that are most important and focus less on the things that are unimportant.  It’s true.  I really need to consider the things that are more important in life.  And the other things, not so much.  There’s no way I can accomplish everything I set out to do.  We live for only a short time on this planet.

There are some things that are more important than others.  Like, for example: my wife.  Spending time with her, intentional time, and making memories is more important than finishing a book.  Then again, finishing a book is more important to me than saving up money to visit Norway.  If I go to Norway with my wife, which I would, then that is obviously more important than finishing a novel.  That’s just how life works.  We only have so much time.  So, why spend it all in our heads?  Why waste time on things that are unimportant?  Let us focus.  Let us prioritize.

Keep life simple.

Below Zero

Into a myriad pool

I dive without splashing

spreading arms and wings

into the striking gaps

of neon blue

eyes that capture

like a lens of camera

the lights of white streaks

under the depths of freedom

where water is air

and the moon hangs

like palm trees

in a black dessert

where the stillness

of the world

still exists

my heart is pounding

and the nerves

fully alive

I am not sad

but awake

I am not happy

but finally complete.

 

Dust

I am without shoes–

it is not what I wanted

but it happened anyway

a collection of things

to attain

rusted walls may scar

a copper of airy possibilities–

we all make sacrifices

in life,

some more than others–

I walk these hallways

and on shelves are books

they are staring at me

asking me if my name

will ever appear–

the fog thickens

and I can barely see

the stain glass windows,

and sometimes

I wonder the same.

Patio

In a box

a glass box

is an object

one that you see

flying above us all

and forever

it is free, and wild

with green and blue

passion

it never dies

but it wilts in time

and the sun scorches

hands, no, our eyes

from seeing it,

but it’s always there

whenever we need it

the most.

The Door, I Implore

This hollow door

one

that creaks

and tumbles into richness

of fermented air,

it is living–

The stairs leads me into

its other world

one I pick up and listen

but I am not there

I am somewhere else

looking inward–

The depths of this world knows

time

for all the mechanical foes

drop their jaws

at the sight of my existence–

Mobility, excellence and novelty,

“are they just words?”

we ask, walking

right back up the stairs

to find the old world

new

for it is without murk,

and now, knowledge chases

the refinery of wild

into a brilliant, one accord–

Our bellies are full

conversation now calm

and our minds speak without

fault

for in the trusted question

the gold key, hidden,

swirling

within the apple’s diamond

dancing

against our ceiling’s candle,

the only answer in time

has locked

stored away, behind

the oldest maker’s

vault.