Pathways

Cracks in the sidewalk grin
Surfaced like a shell
Beating the lifeblood of a city
Across your freckled soul

What is a sidewalk but a
Slantwise fable of crooked roads
A path so straight my boots slide
Down into the cracks and grimace
At the comfort and inertia

Sapling roots its way to freedom
A miracle amidst the loose gravel
And a warning to me: you are not
A sapling, my love. You are
The sun that hits me as I pass
Between brick wall redwoods
You are a downpour beating across
The windows and running through
The sidewalk cracks to find the sea

A city sheds its skin and calls
My weary feet to search this Georgia mountain
‘Til I find the glimmer of its Christmas lights
Its storefronts and streetlamps
A front porch with a spare key
And a peaceful endurance
As miles stretch behind us
And marathons ahead

(21 December 2016, edited 2 July 2017)

File Jul 02, 3 44 41 PM
Sunset along W. Main Street in my hometown.  Guess the time of year from the ghost decorations?

It’s a strange feeling to invent a title for a months-old poem just to avoid the shame of naming it something like “Another Poem I Wrote Months Ago”.  But let’s just pretend it was always a part of the whole.

After all, for better or for worse, we humans are quite skilled at pretending.  Which is why it is always the duty and the struggle of the mind to sift through the illusions of the workaday world in search of truth.  Countless ways of achieving this have been proposed up and down the centuries.  But I rather think it benefits particularly to heed Christ’s teaching when he says, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth” (John 8:31-32).  “And the truth will make you free,” He says next, lest anyone should wonder why truth is important.

One might still ask what it is we’re being freed from, and to them I would say… just read John chapter 8.  It’s worth it, I promise you.  (Okay, short answer, it’s sin, but there’s lots and lots to ponder in that chapter, and I encourage you to read it.  Good good stuff.)

Happy Sunday to you all.  God is good, and never ceases to bless His Creation, and I pray you may continue to live in His truth by the strength of His grace.  🙂

Pax vobiscum.

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Come Holy Spirit

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Acts 2:1-4

This past semester, I took a course in Catechetics which required me to read and summarize the entirety of the Catechism’s teaching on Christian prayer.  I won’t tell you how long I procrastinated on the assignment, but I will tell you that, though strenuous, there is a great richness of knowledge to be obtained by this manner of study.  One of the most spiritually beneficial things I gained from it, however, was being reminded of just how integral and foundational the working of the Holy Spirit is in our life of personal prayer, and indeed our life as Christians on the whole.

The Holy Spirit has always been, to me, the most beguiling figure of the Holy Trinity.  Often we hear or read the Father’s words to us in Scripture, and the innate human tendency is to imagine a face to go with this voice, even if it’s nothing more than the stereotypical majestic and humongous old guy in a cloud.  Christ Himself took on human form when He descended from heaven to proclaim the Kingdom to us.  But the Holy Spirit?  I rarely imagine Him as human.  The imagery the Church has inherited falls more along the lines of a dove, the wind, tongues of fire, an invisible, silent, but no less powerful or divine Spirit on whose behalf the Father speaks (Matthew 3:16-17).  Not the kind of being we easily imagine ourselves having a relationship with.

But the Holy Spirit is, nonetheless, clearly important to our life of prayer, as St. Paul reminds us, “for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).  And, as we hear in the readings for this Sunday, “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?” Paul asks us (1 Corinthians 6:19).  This Holy Spirit is not some cosmic force we have to go wrangle or summon by some elaborate means every time we want to pray.  The Spirit quite literally dwells within us, every moment of every day.  This means, for one, that we ought to act like temples of the Holy Spirit.  But it also means that we need never fear that God doesn’t hear our prayers.  If He is within us, His ear is inclined much closer to our supplications than the Tempter might want us to believe.

If ever we need a reminder of just how powerful the Holy Spirit is in the life of the Church, we need only look back to the day on which it first received this Spirit and came into existence.  This Spirit which dwells within us is the same Spirit which caused the believers in Jerusalem to speak in tongues.  And not just in a couple different languages, but a pretty substantial bunch.  This is the same Spirit that Christ promised would guide the Church “into all truth” (John 16:13).  And it is the same Spirit we receive in Baptism, the Spirit who brings each new believer into life in Christ.  It’s a lot to wrap one’s head around, but God does tend to be supremely generous in His goodness, so far beyond our wildest dreams, so far beyond our understanding, but still absolutely true.

Take a moment to thank God for the gift of His Holy Spirit which guides you in prayer this day.

Lectionary readings for Pentecost Sunday:
Acts 2:1-11 | 1 Cor. 3b-7, 12-13 | Jn. 20:19-33
You can find these all in one place here.  Pax vobiscum.  🙂

It’s Been Too Long

“It’s been what?”

“I said, it’s been too flippin’ long!” he shouted, shoving the front door shut with vigor.  He grimaced as he stepped over a pile of ideas, pausing halfway through to ensure the square of floor on the other side was devoid of rubbish.  “Look at this place.  Dust piled up on everything, lightbulbs burned out, mental images on the walls from when you were barely eighteen.  A high school student, mind you…”

“High school graduate,” I replied.  “Eighteen wasn’t really all that long ago.  Not in the grand scheme of things, anyway.”

“Oh, suuuuuuuuure.  I’m starting to wonder if I should abandon my sarcasm for the sake of showcasing some appropriate sorrow for this sad state of affairs, but good grief!  What a mess.  Look there’s your room, over there beyond that dusty chandelier.”

“So there is.  I used to complain about how messy it was,” I said.

He glanced back at me as though afraid to go on.  “It’s gotten messier,” he said.

“Shut up.”

The structure was not a bad one.  The worst that could be said of it was that it was somewhat small.  I also thought it had a lot of corners, which made it hard to clean.   This, I admit, was a hunch perhaps biased by my dislike of mopping, but one born of a somwhat pointed wit nonetheless.

On the whole, the building had had brighter days, louder days, days that suffused the inhuman patterns of the woodgrain with candlelight and the silhouettes of pleasant companions and their laughter.  For a moment, I regretted bringing along my pessimistic friend.  The memory of these days held to prized a place in my heart for me to bear the thought of demolishing this little habitation and building a new one.  But I needed an objective opinion.  Every romantic needs a realist willing to pull them back down to Earth’s swiftly tilting surface now and again.

“I confess,” I added, “that if my room is a mess, the fault is entirely my own.”

“Yeah, that’s for sure,” he said. “Nothing that can’t be fixed though.”  He turned to face me with more determination than he had exhibited since we stepped through the front door.  “Honestly, tell me though: do you really want to go back to all this?”

I was silent for a second.  “Why wouldn’t I?”

“Well, I just…”  He hesitated.  “Look at you.  You’re a different man, aren’t you?”

“Am I?”

“You’ve gone through a whole year of college, you’ve made new friends, you’ve lived through heartbreak, you’ve lived in another state…  You’ve started growing up.”  I shifted my gaze to the corner of the room opposite him, but he continued.  “Doesn’t all this, all these pictures, all these memories, don’t they just tie your mind and heart down in the past?”

“Liggy,” I said, facing him again, “we are our pasts.  What person could be who they are today without their past?  It shapes who we are, how we deal with the present, how we plan for the future, for better or for worse.”  He glanced around the room as I went on.  “And for the most part, I consider this to have been one of the betters.  Don’t you?”

“I do,” he replied, smiling gently.  “But what if you don’t want to blog like you used to, anymore?  What if what you need is a fresh start?”

“Then I shall have a fresh start on the foundation of the two years of blogging I’ve already had.  I don’t need a new blog to do that.  And when we flip on the lights again, no one from the past is obliged to stick around.  But I sincerely hope they will, if they’re still in town.”

“Yeah,” said Liggy.  “So do I.  I’ve missed that bunch…”

“We’d better start cleaning up, hadn’t we?” I said.

He chuckled.  “We better not put it off, that’s for sure.”

“Would you do the honors?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said.  And with that, he strolled over to the panel by the front door and pressed the big red button.  It had to be red.  I don’t think I could have had it any other way.  (Excepting the time it broke and I had to put a yellow button on it for a week because they were sold out of red at the button store, but that is a story for another time.)

It started with an almost inaudible click, and then slowly, almost suspensefully, the sign out front flickered to life, and the chandelier began to throw light across the dusty room.

“Might need to replace some of the fuses out front, but you can still read it, anyway,” he laughed.  Caught somwhere between a swift walk and a run, I ventured outside and turned to look, smiling as I did.

There it was, same as ever: “Welcome to The Window Philosopher | Open for visitors”.

To anyone out there reading this, hi, and it’s good to see you.  🙂

Post-Mortem

Autopsy report conducted December 31, 11:50 pm EST.

Subject: Anno Domini Two-Thousand and Fifteen.

Cause of death: it’s compicated.

Other notes:  It would appear from preliminary examination of the body that the subject died of natural causes.  However, death may have been hastened by a number of causes, including but not limited to severe depression, distraction from electronic devices, and meme overdose.

What am I saying?  You can never get enough memes!

Look at it long enough.  You’ll see it.

Every time the end of the year rolls around, the first thing I think to write about is the fact that New Years celebrations are really kind of arbitrary.  Important things never happen on New Years or birthdays, only on dates of entire randomness and seeming insignificance.

On the other hand, one of the things I’ve realized more this year is that even if celebrations like those are arbitrary, that doesn’t mean they’re not important.  Even if one has to deal with annoying people singing annoying songs on stages with flashing lights and such.

The eve of a new year stands as a sort of moment of collective mindfulness.  Mindfulness of the fact that time passes more quickly than we often think.  It’s a moment when for once we slow down, take stock of where we stand and who we are.  Am I on the path I truly believe I’m meant to be on?  The path that God wants me to be on?

Of course, New Year’s Eve and our own birthday, fine and dandy as they are, i’m gonna keep typing the same thing over and over and see if mom notices.  I’m gonna keep typing the same thing over and over and see if mom notices.  I’m gonna keep typing the same thing over and over and see if mom notices.  I’m gonna keep typing the same thing

There is no denying now that you can read what I’m typing mom, because you started laughing, so don’t tell me it looks like a blur because you’re not wearing your reading glasses.

Haha.

This is our family.

Anyways,

Of course, every day of the year should be dedicated to this kind of mindfulness.  New Year’s Eve and our own birthday are fine and dandy, of course.  I, at least, sometimes have a tendency to shove mindfulness to the back burner of my head so I can focus on more important things.

But really, can we focus on important things if we’re not mindful of what “important” means?

Maybe you’re in a place where you’ve got the hang of mindfulness a lot more than I do.  And if so, that’s absolutely wonderful.  I’m just thinking out loud here.  🙂

To be honest, I have no idea what 2016 will be like.  We’ll get a new president, which should be interesting.  And we’ll have an extra day of February, which should be fun.  Beyond that, only time and people who know more about the world than I do can tell.

It’s been the best of times.  It’s been the worst of times.  I feel like I’ve seen the flag flown at half-mast many times too often this year.  It’s a terrible world out there.  And yet there is such beauty in it.  One has to wonder how the two things can exist simultaneously; beauty and evil, goodness and pain.

I suppose we can only trust in God to reconcile the two in the end.  And ask Him for the strength and wisdom to further His kingdom in this world as we advance towards the next.

So here’s to another year of advancing.

And here’s to those moments when you’re bored, your iPod is out of batteries, and it’s late, but you stop and take the time to be thankful for being alive, for the fact that you’ve just come from church, that you’ve gotten to stroll briefly around downtown Manassas, VA, and that you’re listening to U2 with your dad.  (It’s been a long evening, but a good one.)  Moments of unusual, healthy, necessary silence in an otherwise cacophonous world.

That’s all I got.  To all of you my dear followers, I love you.

But it wouldn’t be a new year if I didn’t quote this song…

So everybody put your best suit or dress on
Let’s make believe that we are wealthy for just this once
Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn
As thirty dialogues bleed into one
I wish the world was flat like the old days
And I could travel just by folding the map
No more airplanes or speed trains or freeways
There’d be no distance that could hold us back

– “The New Year”, Death Cab for Cutie

To anyone and everyone reading this, I wish you a merry Christmastide, and a blessed new year.  Peace to you.

In Terra, Pax

“What ever happened to White Christmases?” is kind of a silly question where I live, because they never existed in the first place.  To be honest, I hold nothing against any of the people who enjoyed a nice 6-inch-think sheet of snow outside their houses as they sipped their hot cocoa and opened gifts this morning…  But even I think that a high of 70 is a bit ludicrous.  Evidently it’s just not in the town budget to afford snow on Christmas Day, which is understandable.  It’s definitely in high demand this time of year.  As long as we get a respectable amount in January and February, I’ll be happy.

So, it was fog and not snow through which the streetlamps shone in the streets of the town below as I stood in the church parking lot last night.  And it was strange.  But I was kind of okay with it.

Funny how the more you think about things, the more sense they seem to make.  Because as I drove slowly through the ethereally backlit clouds of mist on the way home, it occurred to me that what I found so enchanting about misty evenings is being limited in how far you can see.  When the edges of reality are hidden behind a sheet of monochrome, one imagines that anything could exist behind them.  You could be on a cloud, or somewhere in Europe.  Or in an uninhabited, vaguely magical carbon copy of your own hometown.

And it occurred to me that this visual handicap is an appropriate metaphor for Christmas.  When Christ the Lord was born in Bethlehem, two-thousand and sixteen years ago, give or take, how few people realized the implications of his coming.  For though He appeared but the average child of a poor / middle class young family, His coming was heralded by an army of heavenly splendor, and a fantastical star illumining the sky.  And at the edges of reality, shrouded by the mist, lay His future, His Passion, death, and Resurrection: the future of the whole human race.

That such awe-inspiring power and divinity came down to earth contained in human form is a mystery we will never entirely understand, though many have explicated its essence well.  It too hangs over our lives like a mist, and is equally as enchanting and mystifying…

Just some thoughts this Christmas Day.  Or night, that is.  I hope you, dear reader are enjoying your evening, and I wish you peace, and joy, and a very merry Christmas, and pray to God to bless you abundantly.

But what would Christmas be without the annual Window Philosopher Christmas Playlist?  (And there is still plenty of time to enjoy it, right?  Epiphany’s still a ways off.  🙂

God bless, and good night.  Christus est natus!  Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax, alleluia, alleluia!

On this lovely Autumn morning, a few things must be said:

  1. Hi.
  2. I hope this post finds all my fellow bloggers in good health and spirits.
  3. Just wanted to post something Ike because I kinda miss you all.

Of course, sometimes deciding what to post is the most difficult part.  Lately, the world has seemed a very serious and tragic place, judging by the news, and my propensity for silliness occasionally feels out of place.  Still, sometimes silliness has its place.

It’s about balance, really.  Nothing is 100% joy or sorrow, not one passing second of our lives.  Every emotion in existence is ringing through the atmosphere at light speed, guided by unseen paths to weave a tapestry of unimaginable complexity.

So, for anyone who needs a smile, these are for you.








And lastly, the one and only rap song in the world that I enjoy listening to.  Because if anyone were record such a glorious parody of rap as a genre, of course it would be the goofballs in Relient K.

Peace to you all.  Enjoy your weekend.

Like Wine Pairing, but Not Really (Also, Hi Again)

Heyyo, peoples of the internet!  So… how’ve you been?  *sigh*  I hate being so busy.  I rather feel as though I’m neglecting you all.  But I’ve got a moment now, so I thought I would post something to cap off the evening.

An idea came to me the other day, you see (well, really two ideas).  The first is, since I am an avid listener of independent music, and, by His grace and blessing, a follower of Christ, to combine these two aspects into something interesting.  (Maybe.  Hopefully.)

The other idea is to post small pieces of Laudato Si, reflect on them, and open a space for discussion.  So that will be coming soon.  In the mean time… well, it’s probably easiest to just show you.

I thought I would take a look at what’s at number one on the Christian charts…

… and pair it with something indie.

Why?  Because I think these two songs offer some interesting contrast to one another.

Let me start off by saying I was pleasantly surprised by “Brother”.  Family and supporting one another are both awesome themes, and the song makes deft use of its genre.  I don’t understand why the Christian station near my house doesn’t play this kind of stuff.  I might listen to it regularly if it did.

Then we have “My Body Is a Cage”, a number vastly more subdued in tone that finds its crescendo two minutes in. Arcade Fire’s songwriting and ability to inspire emotion are not in full force here, but it’s still a fine song with some fantastical instrumentation, an anthem that in fact bears a lot of similarity to our first one.

The most obvious connection between the two lies in a single word: cage. Both songs speak of being locked inside a cage; Bear Rinehart has dropped the keys face down in the desert, while Win Butler maintains that the key is in his mind. They’re tied to each other by a desire to transcend the limits of this prison.

Still, a few things set these two songs apart from each other. The setting for “Brother” is a wilderness, while “My Body Is a Cage” takes place on an empty stage. Despite the implied barrenness of such a landscape, salvation is only as far away as the chorus for our first suffering hero, whose brother is by his side to help lift him up. And we all have someone like that, don’t we? It doesn’t matter how much of an introvert you might be. We need people; we need community. That’s part of what church is all about. You could go and worship God on your own terms, under a tree or somewhere cliché like that. But how would you know if you’d fallen? With whom would you share your moments of joy? After all, “Where two or three are gathered in My name”…

(I had to. I really did.)

Does salvation come at all in the second song? It ends almost like a cliffhanger… but I like to think so.

Though the two bands bear absolutely no relation to each other in real life, one could almost view “Brother” as a sequel to “My Body Is a Cage”. Butler cries out at the end of the song, “Set my spirit free!” He exists in a surprisingly Christian world, “living in an age that calls darkness light”, and like a puzzle piece, his last realization is that sometimes the key in your mind is not enough.

And then Rinehart appears walking out of the desert, reaches out his hand, and sings: “Brother, let me be your shelter”.