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The Written Word

The Creative Meanderings of S. Brown

Don’t Look Now, but There’s a Rebel in Here

I’ll give you a smile
If it’s what you really want
But don’t expect much laughter
From these messed up crazy thoughts
Like a zoo in one cage
Like the animals are crazed
These emotions run deep
These feelings are wild

I don’t want to interrupt
Your rays of golden sunshine
Don’t want to upset
Those phantom beams
I just want to expose you to the rain
It’s the rebel in me

I’ll say I believe you
If it’s what you really want
But your polite laughter
Isn’t reason enough to stave my thoughts
Like shades on your eyes
Like an overcast sky
Those deceptions run deep
Those pretendings are wild

I don’t want to interrupt
Your oscar winning drama
Don’t want to upset
Those phantom dreams
I just want to pause for the commercial break
It’s the rebel in me

I could say I don’t enjoy this
If it’s what you really want
But the smile on my face
Won’t disappear in second thoughts
Like a child having a scene
Like running to nowhere in a dream
These temptations run deep
These cravings are wild

I don’t want to interrupt
Your hallmark card apology
Don’t want to upset
That phantom poesy
I just want to make corrections in red ink
It’s the rebel in me

It’s my pent up, stubborn inner child
It’s my irony on madness gone wild
It’s the fine line between courage and stupidity with style
It’s the rebel in me

Real Life Parables: The Jump

IMG_20160922_105219Real Life Parables: The Jump

    He felt a drop of rain hit his head. It was just a drop, but it made the burden he carried feel heavier. He didn’t have a backpack, he wasn’t carrying any box or bag, but his burden was heavy and his feet dragged more with every step. The sky was as overcast as his life was bleak. Was he going crazy? He wasn’t sure. He didn’t care. What did it matter? No one would miss him anyway. He was nothing and nobody saw him. He could’ve been the literal walking dead and no one would have stopped to see him. He was an invisible failure at life.
    Will I even miss myself? It was a ridiculous thought, but he pondered the question anyway.
    His eyes stung from the thousands of tears that had filled them, but he had nothing left to cry. Tears wouldn’t put things right. He searched for another answer than the one he’d decided on and only desperation answered back. He wasn’t sure which direction he was taking. He just walked. His hands shook, but whether from the cold, or from fear, or just old age, he wasn’t sure. Someone bumped into him and his hat fell from his head. In any other circumstances, his instinct would be to get angry, but the anger didn’t come. He couldn’t feel anger, he couldn’t feel anything. He just watched as the hat rolled away, caught up in the wind, while he continued dragging his feet up the stairs in front of him.
    Just keep walking to nowhere, he thought. Just keep walking until there’s nowhere else to go.
    He made his way up the stairs, and through the crowd. He pulled himself onto the escalator and went up. He pulled himself on the next one and climbed higher. He went as far as he could go. He gripped the railing. He was afraid of letting go, but he was more afraid of living. He looked down and all he could see was emptiness. A shallow world of hopeless dreams and he was the most hopeless of them all. He had gone as far as he could go.
    No more emptiness, he thought. No more tomorrow.
    He had reached the end of his journey. It would be better this way.

………

    “Girl, weren’t you the one who dragged me into H and M?” she laughed as she asked the question, and got laughter in response.
    “Yeeeesss”
    “Then how come I’m the one who spent 30 quid?” Barbara threw her hands up in the air in mock exasperation and the two young women walked out into the busy streets of the city center. It was a chilly and dreary day, but neither Barbara nor Elizabeth seemed to mind the cool breeze or the threat of rain that lurked above them. The city was full of life and so were they.
    “So… where to next?” Elizabeth looked inside her bag as she spoke; she wanted to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything inside the store dressing room again. “It’s your turn to drag me somewhere, isn’t it?” she said with a smile.
    “Let’s go inside the shopping center. I wanna check out the makeup store”
    “Sure.”
    The two made their way up the street, which sloped upward and opened up to a large staircase leading to the main entrance. But something greeted them at the top they hadn’t expected: bright yellow police tape. They stopped for a moment to take in the full picture. The tape ran all around the entrance as did five police officers, all wearing bright yellow vests and grave expressions. A police car sat at the bottom of the stairs and next to it a man with a news camera.
    The two friends looked to each other with the same unspoken question on their mind: what happened?
    They kept walking, stealing glances through the glass doors to see inside as they walked past. More uniforms and more cameras, but no sign to tell them what had happened.
    “What do you think?” Elizabeth asked the question while still trying desperately to see inside.
    “I dont know, maybe somebody famous is here, you know like Beyonce?”
Elizabeth laughed and shook her head. “What?”
    “Ya, you’re right, it couldn’t be that,” she paused for a brief moment with a smile behind her eyes, “cause Beyonce is right here!” Barbara gestured to herself with a grin and a little dance and the two were laughing and thinking of shopping once again.
    The other entrance was open, so they would take the long way round to get to the makeup store. As they walked past the shops and wound their way around the other customers and the cleaning crew, they hopped from one random thought to another. It was a pleasant day despite police tape and the impending rain, and they were determined to enjoy it.
    They turned the next corner toward the front of the shopping center, and had hoped to go up the escalator to get to their intended store, but got another surprise greeting.
    More police. More yellow tape. The entire front of the shopping center had been closed off, from top to bottom. There would be no getting up those escalators any time soon. This was something truly serious. Elizabeth went through the possibilities in her head. Some political event, perhaps? Nope, there aren’t any people. A robbery, more likely… maybe?
    She couldn’t stand the suspense. They walked slowly past the escalator towards the one open store directly beside them.
Barbara was about to stop, but Elizabeth kept going and stopped next to the police officer.
    “The escalators are closed ma’am,” his voice was low and serious, “I’m sorry, but you can only go to this store if you wanna go this way.” He gestured to the small drugstore next to the escalators.
    “May I ask, what happened here sir?” Elizabeth couldn’t hold back the question.
    The officer’s expression changed from a serious one, to serious one with a hint of annoyance. “There’s no use asking anything like that just move along.”
    The two young women obeyed and walked into the small drugstore.
    “Gosh, it must be something really bad.”
    “Ya, maybe it’s a robbery,” Barbara browsed a bit as they spoke, but glanced back at the escalators.
    A short woman with curly red hair came from around the corner and greeted the two with a half smile. “Can I help you with anything today ladies?”
    They shook their heads and turned to leave, but Elizabeth paused for a moment, still filled with curiosity.
    “Actually,” she said, turning back to the employee, “Can you tell us what happened here?”
    “Oh…. Ya…” the woman paused for a moment as she looked toward the escalators.
    Elizabeth was surprised to see that there were tears in her eyes. These were not the tears of someone who cries easily at everything. These were the kind that sit in one’s eyes like the water that waits inside a dark storm cloud, waiting to be released because they can’t be held back any more. These were the tears of tragedy.
    “They think it was a jumper,” she finally said. Her voice was small, and she exhaled after she spoke.
    Barbara and Elizabeth gasped in genuine surprise.
    “A man just leapt over the railing and his body fell through the air. You could hear it hit the bottom. It was terrible.” She stopped and winced a bit with pain. It was clear she didn’t want to say more.
    “Oh my goodness, that’s so sad,” Barbara shook her head and looked down in thought.
    “Yes, that’s terrible.” Elizabeth’s mood was not as lively as it had been before and she looked with a new perspective at the railing by the escalators.
    What makes a person want to jump to their Death? She thought.
    She looked into the woman’s eyes once more and could see that whatever had happened would never be erased from this woman’s memory. She would unwillingly remember this day in years to come. Barbara and Elizabeth awkwardly thanked the woman and walked out of the store with slow, dragging steps. Elizabeth looked out to the railing one last time. She looked past it, right out the front windows of the mall.
    It had finally started to rain.

The Voices Sent Out into the Void

During some digging around for my dissertation, I stumbled across a speech made by a man named Bishop B. W. Arnett, and was struck by how familiar some of his words were.

Here are a few lines of his speech: “We do fervently pray and earnestly hope that the meeting held this day will start a wave of influences that will change some of the Christians of this land and the brotherhood of man, and from this time forward they will accord to us that which we receive in every land except this ‘land of the free and home of the brave.’  All we ask is the right of an American citizen; the right to life, liberty, and happiness, and there be given us the right and privileges that belong to every citizen of a Christian commonwealth.  It is not pity we ask for, but justice, it is not help, but a fair chance; we ask not to be carried, but to be given an opportunity to walk, run or stand alone in our own strength or to fall in our own weakness; we are not begging for bread, but for an opportunity to earn bread for our wives and children; treat us not as wards of a nation nor as objects of pity, but treat us as American citizens, as Christian men and women; do not chain your doors and bar your windows and deny us a place in society, but give us the place that our intelligence, our virtue, our industry, and our courage entitle us to…Judge us not by the color of our skin, nor the texture of our hair, but judge us by our intelligence and character.

I was shocked to discover that he spoke these words at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893.  The last words I quoted particularly struck me; it was as if I had heard them before, but how could I have, when I’d never heard of this man before?  Then it came to me as perhaps it has for some of you reading this.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. echoed this same hope for justice in 1963, 70 years later, when he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  Most of us know the words of his famous speech, but how many of us have ever heard of Bishop B. W. Arnett?  

    This got me thinking about all the people in this world who are currently fighting for a better world but whose faces we may never see and whose names we may never know; and then I realised, I am one of them.  Although I am certainly not comparable to those who fought so bravely for civil rights, in my own way I fight for truth and justice.  I seek peace and I strive for a better world through the words that I write and the students I have taught.  Perhaps some will read my words and be affected, perhaps my life has made a difference for a few, perhaps one person will realise their ungodliness and wish to change, but it is unlikely that my name will ever go down in history books, nor am I likely to see the changes I so “fervently pray and earnestly hope” will occur.  I have come to realise that this is perhaps the hardest lesson God teaches us: God calls us to speak words of truth aloud and gives us the courage to do so, even if we never see any significant change.  

In our movie-magic, fast-paced, instant gratification world, I think we often expect corrupt systems and ungodly people to change just because we voiced the truth about them, but this is seldom what happens in reality.  In matters of truth and justice, change is often slow, painful and only a few voices mark moments of significant transformation.  The other voices, the ones that spoke so often and so loudly before a glimmer of that transformation was in sight, rarely get remembered and even more rarely do they get praised for the words that they spoke and the trials they endured.  However, I have also come to believe, that every time someone speaks in the name of God’s truth and justice, the voices of all those who spoke before them get echoed in their words and any praise that is received for the one person is praise received on behalf of them all.  For the voice that is heard and remembered, the voice that marks a day of change could never have been there without all the ones before it, sending out their messages into the great void of time in the hope that someday, somewhere, someone would hear them and bring about change, and in the knowledge that they would receive their reward from God in heaven for speaking His truth in diligence, no matter what.  What greater faith is there than this?  The very faith needed to transform our world.  And so I praise God and I refuse to be dismayed even when my eyes can’t see a difference because I can have true faith.  Praise God, we are all a part of something much bigger than just ourselves.   “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart…” (2 Corinthians 4:1).

Real Life Parables: In Memory of the Girl With No Name

I can still see her face. It haunts me at night sometimes when my mind wanders and I can’t quite go to sleep. I remember how I wiped the blood from her face and she groaned in pain. She was so small. She was so young. She still had so much life left to live, but whether she did or not, perhaps I’ll never really know. If she did survive all that she had to undergo, her life would never be the same.

“You never know when your time will come”

That phrase has never meant more to me than after the day I saw her.

I only saw her, sat with her, for a few minutes, minutes which mean little to nothing when compared to the vastness of time, but mean everything when compared to endless hours of joy and happiness that she will probably never know again.

Her grandmother walked beside her as she hopped and skipped down the street. That playfulness of spirit can only exist in little children. So full of hope. So full of dreams and possibilities. I often wonder exactly what game she was playing, and what pictures filled her endless imagination. I could see them both from across the street amidst the laughing and talking with my friends. We couldn’t have known–neither could they–that the second I glanced down and the second her grandmother didn’t see, there was something speeding around the corner of the street.

A noise.

A crash.

A scream.

And that was it.

She would never be the same.

We went over to help, but what do you do, and what can you say?

I remember perfectly the pain etched upon her grandmother’s face. The horror. The scar inside her that might never heal. She clutched the little girl to her chest and wailed, and frantically tried to comfort the shattered frame in her arms.

We tried to help. We placed her down upon someone’s backpack to keep her neck and head upright. Her eyes rolled back into her broken head and all I could do was wipe the blood off her face. Oh, God, I remember it all so perfectly.

How do you look all the terrible things on this earth and still have tears to cry? How do you live each day knowing that any moment could change your world forever? Any day could be your last, or the last of someone you love. Oh, God, help me to live a life prepared for whatever will happen in each day. May I live a life broken for the things that break your heart and a fire that burns with a love for all the souls you’ve made.

My friends and I were across the street from where it happened and yet I can still feel the shock of grief and the cries of help lifted to heaven for a little girl who changed my perspective of life forever.

Does she still live? I’m not sure.

If she is, does she still have dreams, can she still imagine? I don’t know.

My heart weeps for her, though I never even knew her name.

Fallen

I closed my eyes to what was broken
And covered all my doubts in dreams
I didn’t know how far I’d fallen

And every time I thought that life would hurt me
I let my fear of love push you away
And all this time you knew that I was searching
You made the paths wind round to You again.

You won’t let me fall far from your love
You know my heart’s not strong enough
You won’t let me fall far from your love
You won’t let me

I thought your promises were broken
My dreams got lost inside mistakes
But doubt is just an open door to faith.

I thought a life between would give me freedom
But I could feel my hope slipping away
All this time you knew that I was hurting
So you made the paths wind round to you again.

The time we have on earth is our great tragedy
When regrets don’t hurt bad enough
All the broken pieces are inside of me
But you look on me and say “This one, I love”

You won’t let me fall far from your love
You know my heart’s not strong enough
You won’t let me fall far from your love
You won’t let me

Oh Humanity!

Oh little child
How small, how beautiful
Your tiny heartbeat,
To speed up mine with joy

Oh little boy
Your breaths take mine away
Your frailty,
Is how all life begins and ends

Oh little girl
A life begins with love some say
And I have loved you
Since well before you came

Oh little ones
You came to hardships
Fight to overcome,
And know that you are not alone.

Oh little souls
How selfishly you died
The blinded eyes saw your existence
And said it’s my own body.

Oh Humanity! Humanity!
All that is bright and beautiful in you dies
When just one of these precious ones
Loses all hope to find life.

 

Real Life Parables: Chosen Sight

It was a small glimpse into someone else’s life, but it came back later to keep me from sleep.

I passed by them in the middle of a crowded street, in the middle of the city center. Surrounded by hundreds of people and dozens of shops and delights their little drama played out. He caught my eye first. He was a tall man in a nice suit and wearing sun glasses. It was a cold, dreary day, in a country that rained every day; I wondered at his choice of eyewear until I noticed the thin cane held up in front of him.
“Look at what you did! ” he cried. I thought the suggestion ironic.

The young girl still had her cell phone to her ear and stared with a mix of horror and shock at the cane in his hand. One half of it dangled down. It hung in the air between them as evidence of her folly.
“I… I didn’t see it… ” she winced as she said the words. It was her only defense, but to say such a thing to a blind man sounded to all ears, even to her own, an unworthy excuse. But it was all she had.
His brows furrowed as he shook the destroyed cane in his hand.
“You people see what you choose to see!”

She stood still, her phone still on her ear and her brain completely stuck for what to say.
It was all I heard of their drama. I walked right by them, and felt sorry for them both. What can the girl do? I thought. Perhaps it was a genuine mistake on her part. Perhaps if he weren’t blind, it would have been a passing accident that no one would’ve thought much of.  But he was blind, and she had destroyed something he desperately needed.  I pondered it over as I walked the next few paces, but the dramatic meeting soon melted away in the midst of my own worries and responsibilities.

It was three days later before I thought of them again. I was just about to fall asleep, when it happened. There was nothing I could do about it. Just as vivid as when I had walked past them, the scene fled to the forefront of my thoughts and hit me across the face. His words stung and it caught me by surprise: “You people see what you choose to see”

A simple phrase that rung truer than perhaps even he had realized.

Why? I thought to myself, do people pray for God to give them eyes to see?
We already see what’s happening in the world, it’s not as though it’s hidden. It’s right there. If it were any closer we’d trip over it, and sometimes we do, and more than walking sticks get broken. And it’s not as though we don’t understand how to help anyone. What do we think the example of Christ was there to be an example of?

“You people see what you chose to see.”

We’re no different than the girl on her phone.
There’s nothing wrong with our vision, the problem is what our heart is focused on. We’ve chosen not to see. We’ve chosen to look away when something comes that makes us uncomfortable or seems too complicated or is just too much of a hassle to dirty our hands with. We’d much rather prattle away about all the things we don’t like than chose to see what’s right before our eyes. We’ve chosen not to see the awkward guy who never says the right thing but tries so hard because he’s desperate to have a friend. We’ve chosen not to see the young girl with head hung low and hair in her face to cover the bruises she received. We’ve chosen not to see the homeless woman sitting by the street, cup held out in hand to ask for a bit of change. We’ve chosen not to see face on the news of a little boy with blood on his face and tears in his eyes for the home that he just lost. We’ve chosen not to see the bodies wash upon the shore reaching a different peace than the one they’d prayed for. We’ve chosen not to see the children forced to fight wars their parents died trying to cease.
We’ve chosen.
We have chosen our own blindness because the truth is we don’t care enough to look at it. We knowingly walk our own way, talking and talking and saying nothing at all as we trip over the blind and the hurting and the dying. And one day, when we step too harshly and accountability is demanded, and the blind man cries out against us, our excuses will be the very words that incriminate us.

We people choose what we want to see. We don’t need to keep asking God for eyes to see the world the way He does, we need to chose to care.

Thoughts on Friendship 

Our bonds and ties to each other are quite fragile things. One mistake in a friendship can cause a person to lose heart, feel rejected, or desire the relationship to end, but why?  

Is it because we aren’t getting what we want out of the friendship?  Is it because we truly believe that person couldn’t possibly understand what we feel?  Is it because we think we deserve to have people who care about us?  Is it because we want a friend who puts us first?  Is it because we’re really this completely and utterly selfish?


A true friendship only works when two people dare to love and care for each other at the risk of their own personal comfort and pleasure.  


If you back out of a friendship just because the other person changes in a way you don’t like, you’re not a friend; you’re a sponge.  

If you decide one day that you don’t need a person any more, they were never your friend; they were your tool to use.  

If you never let anyone close enough to hurt you, it’s impossible to be a friend; you’ll just have nice acquaintances.

If you expect a friendship to stay exactly the same for all time, you’re friendship will die and you’ll be left alone.


It’s this last one I see most often misunderstood in our society.  “You’re not the person I remember” gets thrown around as an excuse to end all kinds of relationships, but let me put it to you this way: In order for a friendship to stay exactly the same as when it first started, both people must stay exactly the same.  And anyone who remains exactly the same their entire life is a person who has stopped learning.  And a person who has stopped learning is to be pitied above all else because they can no longer understand a grand part of what it means to be alive.  For to live is to learn, to learn is to grow, to grow is to change.  


To expect a person to be the same as you remembered them when you first met is the greatest form of selfishness there is.   If a person is not the same as when you first met them, great!  That means they are struggling through life and learning how to make sense of it all.  Instead of expecting them to stay the same for you, become the friend you desire to have: someone who never leaves them no matter what, someone who desires to know what they think and what they’re going through, someone who has chosen to love them, someone who is patient, and someone who endures it when they push you away and try to hurt you because, in the end, it’s not the friendship that is most important, it’s the person on the other side of the friendship who is most important. 

When the Soul is Downtrodden 

The heart feels things that cannot be spoken.

The mind perceives what makes me heartbroken.

The body feels pain when the Soul is Downtrodden.

Yet the weight of the world was laid upon one person.

My heart,  my soul,  my mind,  my strength,

Are cradled in Mercy and made whole under Grace.

 

Note:  Sometimes life is hard and we have deep hurt inside.   Those are times we need to remember the Lord and look to Him for help.  🙂

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