Two Lane Road

Heading down a two lane road
Hemmed in by a painted yellow line.
On the way to where I’m going,
If I ever get there at all.

Headlights stare at me
From the other side,
Going where I’ve already been.
What will they find there
That I never did?

And a bend in the concrete
Makes us both alone again,
Winding our ways home
To a place we’ve never been
Or nowhere we’ll ever find.

It’s the last leg of a road trip
I didn’t even know I was taking.
It just started, like an idea
Rolling around in the back of my head.

Where signposts offer sympathy
I take no notice of,
Not even the rusted warnings
Of what lies in wait

Around a bend in the concrete
Where I’m alone,
Winding my way home
To somewhere I’ve only thought about
Or to the place I’ve been searching for all along.

© 2017 Wasted Space Publishing

Book Excerpt: The Beggar

The ecstasy of love fades and the frenzy of sex is too ephemeral to have any effect. What can we do when we find no food to satisfy our hunger? You’ll be swept into the tornado and annihilated. There is no way to bring back stability after it has died.

A brunette dancer at the New Paris attracted him with her gaiety and lithe body, so he went after her. He saw Margaret on the stage, returned her smile, then invited the brunette to his table. To Margaret it must have seemed a clumsy play in the game of love, but in the storm he’d lost all sense of humor. The brunette left with him, enticed by money. It didn’t really make things better, but he thought his heart stirred slightly as she laughed. If his heart didn’t stir, it would die. Poetry, wine, love – none of them could call forth the elusive ecstasy.

Every night he picked up a woman, from one club or another, sometimes from the streets. At the Capri he sat with a dancer called Muna. Yazbeck rushed over to greet him, exhibiting obvious pleasure. It angered Omar, for he saw it as a kind of death notice of his frustrated hopes.

“My good man. Did….?”

Omar looked at him sternly and left with Muna. As he pressed her to him, he trembled with an unaccountable urge to kill her. He imagined himself ripping open her chest with a knife, and suddenly finding what he’d been looking for all along. Killing is the complement of creation, the completion of the silent, mysterious cycle.

“What’s wrong?” Muna whispered.

He awoke, startled. “Nothing, just the dark.”

“But there’s no one around.”

He raced the car at such a speed that she grasped his arm and threatened to scream. Later, as he was undressing, he felt that the end was coming – the answer to his search – insanity or death. Warda sat on the bed. “I’m going away,” she said.

He answered gently, “I feel responsible for you.”

“I don’t want anything.” After a moment’s silence, she spoke again. “What’s sad is that I’ve really loved you.”

He said wearily, “But you’re not patient with me.”

“My patience is at an end.”

He felt such revulsion toward her in his soul that he didn’t comment.

Finding no trace of her when he returned the next night, he smiled in relief and lay down in his suit on the divan to enjoy the silent, empty flat. Every night he brought a new woman to it.

Mustapha laughed and said, “Hail to the greatest Don Juan on the African continent.”

Omar smiled lamely as Mustapha continued. “It’s no secret anymore. Several of my colleagues have spoken about you. The news has also reached your cronies at the club. They wonder what’s the story behind your rejuvenation.”

He said with distaste, “Honestly, I hate women.”

“That’s obvious!” Then he continued more seriously. “Empty your heart of what’s troubling you so you can settle down, once and for all.”

In the spring it was a relief to sit outdoors in the nightclub gardens, rather than in the closed halls. But the agitation remained, and he was exhausted by his dreams. Occasionally he found solace in reading, especially the poems of India and Persia.

His nighttime adventures took him once more to the Capri. As he sat under the trellis, sipping his drink and receiving the spring breeze, Warda appeared again on the stage. He felt no emotion, surprise, agitation, or pleasure. In autumn it had started. Ecstasy, love, then aversion; when will the grieved heart smash these vicious cycles? When will it break through the barrier of no return? She sees him, then continues dancing, while Yazbeck steals worried glances. He felt no determination. But after the show, noticing Warda not far from him, he invited her to his table. She approached with a smile, as though nothing had happened. He ordered the usual – the drink which had earned him renown in the clubs – and said with sincerity, “I”m really sorry, Warda.”

Smiling enigmatically, she said, “You shouldn’t regret what has passed.” Then gaily: “And the experience of love is precious even if it brings suffering.”

He said, biting his lip, “I’m not well.”

She whispered, “Then let’s pray to God for your recovery.”

He felt the glances of the other women who’d gone with him, night after night. As Warda smiled, he muttered, “I didn’t desire them.”

She raised her eyebrows.

“I know them all, without exception, but there was never any desire.”

“Then why?”

“Hoping the divine moment would unlock the answer.”

She said resentfully, “How cruel you were. You men don’t believe in love unless we disbelieve in it.”

“Perhaps, but that’s not my problem.”

The scent of orange blossoms drifting from the dark fields suggested secret worlds of delight. Feeling suddenly light and unfettered, he asked her fervently, “Tell me, Warda, why do you live?”

She shrugged her shoulders and finished her drink, but when he repeated the question, he was so clearly in earnest that she replied, “Does that question have any meaning?”

“It doesn’t hurt to ask it once in a while.”

“I live, that’s all.”

“I’m waiting for a better answer.”

She thought a moment, then said, “I love to dance, and to be admired, and I hope to find true love.”

“To you, then, life means love.”

“Why not?”

“After loving once, weren’t you disillusioned?”

She said with annoyance, “That may be true of others.”

“And as for you?”

“No.”

“How many times have you loved?”

“I told you once…”

He interrupted her. “What you told me once doesn’t matter; let’s discuss things openly now.”

“Your violent nature is getting the better of you.”

“Don’t you want to talk?”

“I’ve said all that I…”

He sighed, then continued feverishly. “And God, what do you think of Him?”

She looked at him distrustfully, but he entreated, “Please answer me, Warda.”

“I believe in Him.”

“With certainty?”

“Of course.”

“How does such certainty arise?”

“It exists, that’s all.”

“Do you think about HIm often?”

Her laugh was a bit forced. “When in need or adversity.”

“And other than that?”

She said sharply, “You love to torture others, don’t you?”

He stayed in the club till 3 a.m. and then raced out in the car to the Pyramids Road. Going out alone that night, he reflected, was an interesting development. He parked the car along the side of the deserted road and got out. The darkness, unrelieved by ground lights, was peculiarly dense, unlike any night he could remember. The earth and space itself seemed to have disappeared and he was lost in blackness. Raising his head to the gigantic dome overhead, he was assaulted by thousands of stars, alone, in clusters, and in constellations. A gentle breeze blew, dry and refreshing, harmonizing the parts of the universe. The desert sands, clothed in darkness, hid the whispers, as numberless as the grains, of past generations – their hopes, their suffering, and all their lost questions. There’s no pain without cause, something told him, and somewhere this enchanted, ephemeral moment will endure. Here I am, beseeching the silence to utter, for if that happened, all would change. If only the sands would loosen their hidden powers, and liberate me from this oppressive impotence. What prevents me from shouting, knowing that no echo will reverberate? He leaned against the car and gazed for a long time at the horizon. Slowly it changed as the darkness relented and a line appeared, diffusing a strange luminosity like a fragrance or a secret. Then it grew more pronounced, sending forth waves of light and splendor. His heart danced with an intoxicated joy, and his fears and miseries were swept away. His eyes seemed drawn out of their very sockets by the marvelous light, but he kept is head raised with unyielding determination. A delirious, entrancing happiness overwhelmed him, a dance of joy which embraced all earth’s creatures. All his limbs were alive, all his senses intoxicated. Doubts, fears, and hardships were buried. He was shadowed by a strange, heavy certitude, one of peace and contentment, and a sense of confidence, never felt before, that he would achieve what he wanted. But he was raised above all desire, the earth fell beneath him like a handful of dust, and he wanted nothing. I don’t ask for health, peace, security, glory, or old age. Let the end come now, for this is my best moment.

The delirium had left him panting, his body twisted crazily toward the horizon. He took a deep breath, as if trying to regain his strength after a stiff race, and felt a creeping sensation from afar, from the depths of his being, pulling him earthward. He tried to fight it, or delay it, but in vain. It was as deep-rooted as fate, as sly as a fox, as ironic as death. He revived with a sigh to the waves of sadness and the laughing lights.

He returned to the car and drove off. Looking at the road dispiritedly, he said, as if addressing someone else, “This is ecstasy.” He paused before continuing. “Certainly, without argumentation or logic.” Then in a more forceful voice: “Breaths of the unknown, whispers of the secret.” Accelerating the car, he asked, “Isn’t it worth giving up everything for its sake?”

– The Beggar by Naguib Mafouz

TheBeggar_21HRBHB51XL._AA160_

The Beggar
is available from Amazon.com

Hey Joe, what ya gonna do with that gun in your hand?

Just replace OCC in Oregon for Sandy Hook in Connecticut. Rinse. Repeat. 

On a Friday less than two weeks before Christmas an American tragedy occurred in Connecticut. Adam Lanza shot and killed twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Then Adam fled the scene to his home where he killed his mother and himself. These cold facts in no way capture the tragedy. The children were six and seven year old first graders who went to school that morning like it was any other Friday. Lanza was just a boy himself, twenty-two years old, intelligent but mentally challenged with a form of autism characterized by difficulties in social interaction called Asperger syndrome. He still lived at home with his mother and often slept in her bed. Obviously something not quite right about that, but also nothing to shine a light on the violence he harbored in his heart.

And then, before that town in Connecticut had even grasped what happened or the parents’ shock had turned to grief, before twenty tiny coffins found solace in cemeteries across the county, there began a political drumbeat that sounded into every corner of America. Gun control. Gun control. Every act of gun violence not involving known criminals moved from the city page to the front page, the lead story, the drumbeat. Gun control. Gun control. From Montana to the nation’s capital children were kicked out of school for pointing their fingers like a pistol at each other, playing cops and robbers at recess like they have since Smith met Wesson. Gun control. Gun control. Presidential inquiries are made of the National Rifle Association about the need for certain types of weapons, but there are no inquiries about an entertainment industry that makes more and more violent movies and games that imitate the very thing Adam Lanza executed. And the President of the United States executes 23 executive orders pertaining to gun laws in a single day because Congress would not heed the siren song. Gun control. Gun control.

So, is gun control the solution to Sandy Hook? No, it is an obfuscation of a social and political failure. It is the new American way. If we despair of winning the fight, we search of something else to focus on, something related to the real fight so it may appear that we are winning.

When we despair of war, hollywood celebrates our heroes in uniform. They are honored at every sporting event. Celebrities put on their patriot hats and make public service announcements about them. These are the same folks who said, during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the War on Terror, the only reason young people join the military is because they don’t have an education and haven’t anywhere else to go. This causes some consternation among the preponderance of military officers with a college degree, many with advanced degrees. Yet now the airwaves clamor that these uneducated, desperate military men and women are heroes, and it takes the focus off the missions we are running from or the wars we are flat out losing. Wars and missions, by the way, the soldiers desperately want to complete.

Now we despair of the violence in our society, and gun control is the canard of choice. It misses the point, but someone up there in Washington or over in L.A. can feel good about “doing something.” The tragedy at Sandy Hook is a symptom of our sickness. The disease is the unchecked criminal violence in our country, glorified in our entertainment and media. And the Godfather is good cinema, I agree. It is one of the best films ever made. Only, mafia bosses and drug lords and terrorists are not heroes, even if they play one on TV. The fact remains that we have not been able to check the criminal violence in our cities, and gangs continue to kill each other and their innocent victims no matter how hard we try to make it to own a gun. In Chicago, our President’s home town (or is that somewhere in Malaysia), they have the strictest gun laws in the country and the criminal murders there have never been worse.

But, gun control gun control the drumbeat repeats. If we don’t let people have guns there will never be another tragedy like Sandy Hook. If we disregard our duty to defend ourselves and our families and our neighborhoods and “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” we will live in a gun free paradise where everyone is safe. Just guessing here, but I still think criminals will get the guns they need to perpetrate their nefarious deeds whether it’s against the law or not. They are criminals after all, and that implies a disregard of the law. And innocent people will still be killed by guns, and not just by criminals but by people like Adam Lanza, too. It is no coincidence that most mass shootings, like the ones in Sandy Hook and Columbine, are carried out in “gun free” zones. That phrase, gun free zones, sounds kind of like an invitation to anyone like Lanza.

Now, I do own a gun. It’s a double barreled 20-gauge shotgun that was my grandfathers. I haven’t shot it for twenty years. I don’t even know if it works, and I don’t have any shells for it anyway. I’m not a gun guy. I don’t go hunting. I don’t want a handgun in the house, although the gun control drumbeat of the past weeks has made me consider going to get one and shells for the 20-gauge, too, before it’s too late. It just seems that America has lost it’s knack for fixing the problem. Instead, when we fail, we find someone or something else to blame. Blaming guns won’t help. Franklin Graham says, “it’s not what is in our hands, but what’s in our hearts” that needs to change. And when a six year old boy points his finger at his friend and says, “Stick ’em up,” Sandy Hook is not in his heart.

Before we make laws to control guns, we should remember what we are fighting. I was walking my dogs the other day and Coulton, one of my son’s friends in the neighborhood, was outside and saw me walking by.

“Can Troy play?” he asked me.

“Sure, you should go over there and see,” I answered, trying to maintain my control of the dogs.

He held up the toy Davie Crocket, Kentucky flintlock rifle he had in his hands. “I want to show him the new gun my daddy got me,” he said.

Coulton is not the enemy, neither is his father, and taking the toy gun out of his hand will not solve Sandy Hook.

Bones of My Heart

You know, Momma, don’t you?
You know I love you deep down to the bones of my heart.

You know
The summer mornings with the back door open,
The bedtime nights folded in words,
And rainy days when I ran away,
Don’t you?

You know
The sharp looks in the rearview,
The last stand defenses,
Lasting long after I left,
Don’t you?

You know, Momma, don’t you?
You know I love you with the heart you made in me.

© 2015 Wasted Space Publishing

The Sun’s Path

[ This is the second of three stories (In The Mirror, The Sun’s Path and Pieces) that have pretty adult themes – perhaps too graphic for this site. But I want to make their message clear. Hidden beneath the desires and distractions of this life, there is an a priori knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. We do not often follow the narrow path of the right, but it is there, winding its way through our lives, close by to the road we have chosen. We should all look for that path and follow it for a while. It does not lead to success or riches or fame. It is not a shield from danger or despair or failure. It leads inexorably, though, to happiness, and its destination is the salvation each of us seeks. ]

The soft white clouds that hung like cotton tufts on a blue background seemed drawn toward the sun’s path and then devoured by the sun’s hunger to strike the earth. The tanned faces of the sunbathers noticed this lemmings’ trek only as brief shadows across their closed eyes. A gentle breeze blew each time a cloud moved into the sun’s way, and there was a momentary respite from the intense heat before the sun’s onslaught broke through the cloud. Will was annoyed every time a cloud cast its shadow over the beach. He relished the intensity of the heat reflected off the white shingle of coast. It was almost a challenge to remain in the sun’s natural fury. The clouds cheapened the challenge, but one by one they hurried towards the sun and angered Will with their insistence.

“I’m getting in the water,” he told his wife as yet another cloud darkened his brow.

Julianne sat placidly, without answering, in the shade of a large umbrella stuck firmly into the sand. She watched her husband recede into the salty blue water, marking the anger in his stride with a small smile.

Will stopped with the water lapping around his feet and glared up at the sun as the cloud dissipated, then ran out, knees high, and dove into the ocean, disappearing. He burst out of the water after several yards and lazily treaded water. Then he swam out in the direction of the small reef a hundred yards offshore. At the reef, he knifed his body into the ocean again and saw the girl swimming among the flowing coral with her goggles and snorkel.

Even in the water’s liquid light, a light that made a swimmer’s skin a pallid white, the girl was still brown. Her strong legs sliced expertly through the water and her dark hair, pulled back in a ponytail, floated like a train in the tidal currents. Will swam towards the girl, holding his breath, until he was close enough to touch her. She was reaching down into the sand of the reef to retrieve a good-sized starfish. She turned suddenly, the undulating starfish slipping from her hand, and gave Will a startled look, his shadow passing across her face as he floated above her. Will, out of breath, rose back to the surface, and the girl returned to the reef to find the starfish again before she, too, headed for the surface.

“You scared me, Señor,” she gasped as she pulled her goggles off. “I thought you were a shark, your shadow.”

Will found her young face full of mystery – large brown eyes, a straight Indian nose and the full lips of a mulatto. It was the mixture of cultures in her face that drew his gaze, and her eyes full of innocence.

“I didn’t mean to startle you,” Will apologized. “Do you often see sharks here in the reef?”

“Not often, Señor,” she replied simply, putting the writhing starfish in a small, black mesh bag strapped over her back.

“Do you collect the starfish?” Will asked, pointed at the bag as they treaded water above the reef.

“Yes, for the tourists,” she said.

“Are you going in to the shore now?” Will asked, as that was his own plan.

“I must stay a while longer,” the girl answered, Will thought with a touch of regret. “I come every day to the reef,” she added.

“Perhaps I will see you again,” Will smiled before he started with his strong stroke to the shore.

When he was close enough to shore to stand, Will walked the rest of the way to the beach. He sat down next to his wife once again, and said, “The water is the only place you can get out of this heat.”

“But you love the heat,” Julianne answered him. “Who was that girl you popped out of the water with, out by the reef?” she asked without, really, much curiosity.

“A local girl I suppose,” Will answered as his eyes went involuntarily out to the reef. “She was collecting starfish,” he explained without having to.

“Well hurry and dry yourself,” Julianne instructed, “so we can get back to our rooms before lunch.”

“I think I’ll stay a few minutes more while the clouds are staying away,” he said, his eyes scanning the sky.

He watched attentively as his wife slipped on her sandals and stuffed her colorfully striped towels into her canvas beach bag. “Bring the umbrella with you when you come. I’ll wait lunch for you until you come up.”

Will sat on his own striped towel in the sand and looked out into the ocean. After only a short time the girl came in from the reef. She walked up on the beach many yards from where Will sat, but he watched her closely. She was quite young, he decided, maybe sixteen or seventeen years old. Her breasts were still small buds and her hips were slim, but she walked regally, with a confidence that decried her age.

After she had gone Will gathered up his towel and Julianne’s umbrella, and went up to their hotel overlooking the beach. He deposited the umbrella at the desk and went to the rooms. His wife was still finishing her toilet, and the chambermaid was in the room changing the linens. Her crisp black uniform with the small white linen apron and white collar revived for an instant the memory of his affair with her when he and his wife first came to this resort many years before. She smiled openly at him, and he smiled back perfunctorily.

“Give the girl your things so she can have them washed,” Julianne called out from the bathroom. The maid’s grin broadened, but Will handed her the towel without encouragement and his swimming trunks. “You didn’t stay out long,” Julianne continued her conversation through the bathroom door.

“Just long enough to let the sun dry me properly,” Will answered, going to the bureau and putting on another pair of shorts.

“I’m almost through in here, you can come in and start your bath if you like,” Julianne continued.

“Very good,” Will said and opened the bathroom door without even looking at the maid again. The smile disappeared from her Latina face, and she left the room without a word.

“I thought we would walk into the town and eat at one of the local places,” Julianne said as Will looked down at her smiling reflection in the mirror. She knew of his affair with the chambermaid, just as she knew of most of his liaisons, but they had become as meaningless to her as they were to Will. She watched her husband in the glass as he slipped off his shorts and stepped into the shower, and she loved him. More importantly she knew Will loved her just as steadfastly.

Will turned on the shower and began rinsing the sand and sweat from his body. He remembered when he received his first post at the embassy in Madrid. It was where he met Julianne. He met many women there. Many women he slept with, and each affair was a denigration of his character that he loathed and that stayed forever with him. He consoled his conscience with the idea that his affairs were mere machinations of the body and that his self remained with Julianne. He married her when he got the news of his transfer to Lima, and they had remained together.

After Lima they had been sent to Mexico City. It was during the Mexican tenure that they found their resort. Even after they were permanently posted to the State Department in Washington, they took their month’s vacation at the comfortable hotel on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Throughout the years Will’s infidelities continued; known by Julianne, Will felt sure. They became annoyances as well as brief pleasures, and Will dreaded each new interlude even as he pursued it. Julianne never reproached him, but often smiled at him with the knowing look Will had come to recognize. He was like a potted plant in a darkened closet. He grew inexorably toward the light under the door, but he also grew to fear the fullness of the light if the door was ever opened.

Once out of the shower, he shaved and dressed quickly and left the hotel with Julianne shortly after noon. They walked up to the Mexican village that sat about a mile from the beach. There were mostly Americans walking about the main street of the town, window shopping and sitting on the patios of the several restaurants. Will saw the girl sitting in the shade of one of the restaurants with her collection of starfish and shells arrayed around her. She saw him also, and looked at him with what would have been a coy smile were it not for the innocence of her eyes.

“Let’s try this place,” Will suggested, indicating the cantina where the girl sat. “See the girl there,” he said as they approached, “she’s the girl I saw collecting starfish out at the reef this morning.” She looked older now than the sixteen or seventeen years Will had surmised from her silhouette as she walked on the beach. Perhaps even the age of consent. Her figure appeared fuller in the white peasant dress she wore, and her hair fell loosely about her shoulders instead of pulled back in a ponytail.

“We must buy something from her then,” Julianne suggested.

“Do you have the starfish you found this morning while I was with you?” Will asked.

“It is not dry yet,” the girl answered. “Maybe tomorrow it will be ready.”

“Then tomorrow we will surely come back to buy it from you,” Julianne told the girl and led her husband past the girl into the cantina. They ate at one of the tables inside, out of the heat, under a slow moving fan. Julianne decided the place had all the trappings of a tourist Mexican food restaurant, despite the spicy rice and wonderful cheese enchiladas. There were new restaurants and shops in the town almost every year, and Will and Julianne had not eaten at this particular place before. It was not one of their regular haunts, but it was quite passable.

When the meal was over, they had the waiter bring them a margarita out on the patio. They watched the tourists walk up and down the avenue, and Will looked over at the girl selling shells. Their eyes met and the girl smiled at him again, but Will marked the lack of innocence as she demurred her eyes from his stare.

The next morning Will and Julianne went out to the beach again. Will stopped at the hotel desk to get Julianne’s umbrella and caught up with her at their usual spot along the shore. They both spread out their towels, Will planted Julianne’s umbrella in the sand at just the right angle, and each resigned themselves to their separate comforts; Julianne pulled a novel from her canvas bag and Will aligned himself with the path of the sun.

After an hour or more of a cloudless morning sky, Will got up and rummaged through Julianne’s bag for his mask and snorkel. He walked out into the surf with the apparatus around his neck. When he got deeper in the water he submerged and adjusted the mask and snorkel and headed out to the reef.

The girl was there among the swirling coral. She saw him coming, and wasn’t startled by him. She received his caress like an old lover and they floated to the surface in a communal embrace. Their lips met in a first kiss after they removed their masks. Her mouth was full, and he was moved by her ardor. They let the tide carry them along the line of the reef as they made languid love floating in the gentle waters.

In the aftermath of love, Will mused carelessly about the girl. It was the only few minutes he would have to enjoy the encounter before he chastised himself for his folly. But for those few minutes he loved the girl. He found Latin women exciting in particular. Their passions were so near the surface. It was amazing, really, the variety of women, and above them all was Julianne.

He knew it was time to return to shore. He swam with the girl back to the sandy beach. They had floated far down the coastline and Will walked with the girl to where she kept her collection of shells. He asked her if he might have the starfish she had found when he first saw her.

“It would be a great memento of our love,” he told her. She smiled and he kissed her once more before he left her with her collection.

Will hurried back to his wife. He walked up the beach to her and showed her the starfish. “I went into town and got this from the girl we saw yesterday,” he said.

Julianne took it from him without a word, and Will lay down on his towel, searching the sky first for clouds that might cross the sun. Then he closed his eyes and enjoyed the warmth.

© 2011 Wasted Space Publishing

Bastille Eleven

Explosions of light dying in falling embers.
Swirls of manufactured ashes flickering.
Faces uplifted to the prescience in the sky.

In a mass for the dead delivered by the dying.
In an eulogy for the lost prepared by the perishing.
A macabre dance in sifting cinders.

Binding future facts to everlasting evidence.

© 2015 Wasted Space Publishing

Not Forgotten

Upon the path are many wonders.
Some I feared.
Some I treasure still.
But most I have forgotten.

Only half way through the journey
did I find what mattered most.
It joined me early in my walk.
Stayed with me patiently
until I understood its meaning.
Never leaving when I wandered off
upon a broader path.

It is still there, forever there.
And I have not forgotten.

© 2010 Wasted Space Publishing

10 Albums You Should Have That Maybe You Don’t

Here’s a list of albums that you may not have heard, but that will keep you interested on that desert island:

Album Artist
Sea Change Beck
Soup Blind Melon
Miles From Our Home Cowboy Junkies
Smile The Jayhawks
Streetcore Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
Glimmer Kim Richey
Lola Versus Powerman The Kinks
Breathe Midnight Oil
Bryter Layter Nick Drake
Trace Son Volt

 

The Things I Have Not Done

“…the shadows of deeds that were never done…” Theodore Roosevelt, 1916

When the world spins down to its end – a possibility that seems more likely with every day this version of humanity careens along its broken path – each of us, from Adam and Eve to everyone living in that final day, will face judgement. That seems a scary prospect. I certainly don’t want to stand before the throne of our Creator and have Him unfold to the entirety of humankind all I have done wrong. I mean, how many of the Top Ten (that’s the Ten Commandments – you know, Moses, stone tablets, the Book of Exodus – for the uninitiated) have you broken? Murder? Maybe not, but abortion is murder and how many accomplices to that are there in the world today? But what about honoring your father and mother? or lying? or stealing? or choosing a way other than God’s way? You know what your list includes – all the things you tried to keep secret because you know they were wrong. And that means this judgement thing is going to take forever, not that that is a real concern of God’s. I’m not a really bad guy or anything, but even my list would take a good, long time. Imagine the list for the Hitler’s of the world. Any way you look at it, it’s not a pretty picture for any of us.

But, it turns out it’s even worse than we thought. It seems God is not interested in what we did wrong. He knows we’re all screw-ups and that’s what forgiveness is for anyway. No, God is more interested in what we didn’t do right. If we had chosen what God wanted us to do instead of what we wanted to do, what would our lives look like? Would we still have broken our share of the Top Ten? Probably, but what about the lives we would have touched, the hearts we would have changed, the people we would have become? Perhaps he’ll show us what the lives of all those babies we aborted would have been. The Einsteins, the Mozarts, the mothers and fathers.

It makes me weep to wonder upon what I have not done. For fifteen years during the most productive time of my youth I turned from what God wanted. Even now, as I struggle and still fail to follow His path for me, the immense possibilities of those years can not be recovered. That loss is what our judgment will reveal to us. It recalls to mind the quote from Theodore Roosevelt that opens this commentary. Our judgment is not a list of the things we did wrong, it is “the shadows of deeds that were never done.”

The Crooked Path

God sees out,
our future predestined.
But it is a crooked path,
changed by freewill.

For in heaven the view
is more than mere mortals see.
Destiny, interwoven
with the choices of men.

© 2011 Wasted Space Publishing