12 Young –

Mrs. Smith clapped her hands twice and her group of 12 putus scrambled to find their places on the carpet before her. “Who can tell me where to find a Buzgable?” Mrs. Smith asked the group. The sound of whispers erupted from the floor of youngsters. “Shhhhh” Mrs. Smith commanded. Timothy timidly raised his hand.
“Yes, Timothy?”
“In the cave in the Pollex.” Timothy spoke.
“You mean to say I could find a Buzgable ‘in the cave in the Pollex’?” Mrs. Smith asked with a sound of patronization in her voice.
“Yeah.”
“What makes you say that, Timothy?”
“It’s like that song” Timothy said, ‘The Buzgable flies. And the Buzgable lies. And the Buzgable dies in the cave in the Pollex.'”
Mrs. Smith smiled at Timothy’s reasoning. “No, Timothy. That’s not correct.”
Amber raised her hand.
“Yes, Amber.”
With a knowing tone, Amber spoke, “It’s ‘And THEY CAVE in the Pollex.'”
Dismissing Amber’s correction of Timothy, Mrs. Smith asked, “Can anyone else tell me where to find a Buzgable?”
“At a rations station.” Amber said.
“No, Amber. That’s not correct. Buzgable parts are often found at rations stations. But no live Buzgables are ever found there.”
Administrator Bernard walked into the room, “Actually Mrs. Smith, you did not ask where one could find live Buzgables. Amber would be correct in saying one could find Buzgables at a rations station, even if only in parts. Further, the main thorax of a Buzgable is the most recognizable part of the Buzgable and is, in some kitchens, referred to as a ‘Buzgable’.”
“Oh Administrator Bernard, you’re going to confuse them.” Turning back to face the children on the floor of her room, “Children, it is very important you understand where to find food in the wild. Buzgables are almost exclusively found in dark, damp areas like caves. They live in large family units called clusters. If you do not know how to properly attain a live Buzgable, you may starve to death on your first Mother quest outside the city. This is why it is so important to receive your DCPO chip. But agreeing to have the chip implanted too late might do more harm than good. You see children…” Administrator Bernard left the room.
Mrs. Smith continued, “attempting to implant a DCPO chip when one’s brain is not malleable enough to fuse properly with it, may result in violent hemorrhaging. Have you ever had a headache?”
Charles said, “I did once.”
“Good Charles. Did you cry?”
Charles confirmed he did, “uh huh”.
“But I’ll bet you started to feel better after a while.”
“My Mommy gave me Drez eggs.” Charles said with joy in his voice as he remembered.
Mrs. Smith smiled with Charles. “That’s nice, Charles. But do you think Drez eggs could make you feel better if your brain attempted to violently reject the DCPO chip?”
“No.” Charles said quietly.
“This is why it is so important to accept your chip before you are too old for your brain to properly fuse with it. Everyone has to have a DCPO chip.”
“Why?!” Rene asked.
“So you can survive in the wild.”
“That’s stupid!” Rene exclaimed hesitantly.
“Would you rather starve to death when you are unable to hunt a live Buzgable or die as a result of severe hemorrhaging when you try to have the chip installed when you are older?”
The room was silent.
“Has anyone here ever been so hungry it hurt? Raise your hand.”
A few hands flew up around the sitting area of Mrs. Smith’s room.
“Now imagine what it would be like to be so hungry you died. You’d be hungry for a long time, slowly becoming more and more hungry until you died.”
Rene began to cry quietly to herself.
“If you don’t accept your DCPO chip now, that is what is going to happen.”
“But my cousin doesn’t have one and she’s 8.” Emily said.
“It sounds like your cousin is not going to live past her first Mother quest, Emily.”
Emily began to wale in anguish.
Administrator Bernard came back into the room. “Is everything alright in here?”
Emily’s crying was quickly overtaken by her fear of punishment.
“We are fine, Administrator Bernard. We are just talking about the importance of accepting our DCPO chips while we are still young enough to do so.”
“Oh that is important.” Administrator Bernard said, “We all must accept our DCPO chips so we don’t die of starvation on our first Mother quests.”
“But why do we have to go on Mother quests?” Amber asked.
“Every Aliusteran goes on a Mother quest when he or she is old enough.” Administrator Bernard replied.
“But why do we have to go?”
“One’s first Mother quest makes him or her a true Aliusteran.”
“But why do we have to eat Buzgables?” Emily asked.
“Buzgables are very nutritious and vital to survival in the wild.”
“But can’t we catch them without a DCPO chip?”
“If you try to take a single Buzgable without the assistance of your DCPO chip, the entire cluster might attack.”
“But why?!” Emily shouted with anger.
“There’s no need to be upset, Emily.” Administrator Bernard said softly, “We are special, because we have the technology to hunt Buzgables. This technology enables us to survive outside the city. All others will die if they attempt leaving the city. But our ancestors sacrificed much to ensure we could survive on our Mother quests.”
“Why?!”
“Because putus like you are not full Aliusterans.” Administrator Bernard said with a tone of slight frustration.
“But I don’t want to be a putus.” Emily whined.
“The only way to not be a putus is to go on your first Mother quest.”
The room was again silent.
Administrator Bernard retired to his office, knowing he had just saved the lives of 12 young putts.

Mrs. Smith clapped her hands twice and her Sunday school class of 12 kindergarten aged children scrambled to find their places on the carpet before her. “Who can tell me God’s first name?” Mrs. Smith asked the group. The sound of whispers erupted from the floor of youngsters. “Shhhhh” Mrs. Smith commanded. Timothy timidly raised his hand.
“Yes, Timothy?”
“It’s Andy.” Timothy spoke.
“You mean God’s name is ‘Andy’?” Mrs. Smith asked with a sound of puzzlement in her voice.
“Yeah.”
“What makes you say that, Timothy?”
“It’s like that song” Timothy said, ‘Andy walks with me. Andy talks with me. Andy tells me I am his own.'”
Mrs. Smith smiled at Timothy’s reasoning; “No, Timothy. That’s not correct.”
Amber raised her hand.
“Yes, Amber.”
With a knowing tone, Amber spoke, “It’s ‘AND HE walks with me. AND HE talks with me.”
Dismissing Amber’s correction of Timothy, Mrs. Smith asked, “Can anyone else tell me God’s first name?”
“It’s Jesus,” Amber said.
“No, Amber. That’s not correct. Jesus is the name of God’s son.”
Pastor Bernard walked into the room, “Actually Mrs. Smith, Jesus was God in human form. Amber would be correct in saying this is one name of God. Further, Jesus is a part of the Holy Trinity which is all three parts of God.”
“Oh Pastor Bernard, you’re going to confuse them.” Turning back to face the children on the floor of her Sunday school room, “Children, it is very important you call God by the right name. Jehovah is the name of the one true God. All other gods are not real. They are made up by people who do not know the truth of God’s love. If you do not know Jehovah and that he sent his son to die for you, you will not go to Heaven with everyone else. Instead, you will go to Hell where you will be punished forever. Those who call God ‘Allah’ will go to Hell when they die. But even calling him ‘Jehovah’ is not enough. You see, children…” Pastor Bernard left the room.
Mrs. Smith continued, “Jesus went through incredible pain because we are all sinners. He was whipped and nailed to a cross. A roman soldier stabbed him with a spear. Have you ever accidentally cut yourself so you bled?”
Charles said, “I stapled my finger.”
“Good Charles. Did you cry?”
Charles confirmed he did, “uh huh”.
“Well Jesus cried too. But I’ll bet you started to feel better after a while.”
“My Mommy gave me ice cream.” Charles said with joy in his voice as he remembered.
Mrs. Smith smiled with Charles. “That’s nice, Charles. But do you think ice cream could make Jesus feel better?”
“No.” Charles said quietly.
“And Jesus suffered so much all so you wouldn’t have to.”
“Why?!” Rene asked.
“So you wouldn’t have to go to Hell.”
“That’s stupid!” Rene exclaimed brazenly.
“Would you rather he didn’t and you burn forever in Hell?”
The room was silent.
“Has anyone here ever been burned? Raise your hand.”
A few hands flew up around the sitting area of Mrs. Smith’s Sunday school room.
“Now imagine what it would be like to be burned all over your body. but not just once – real fast, for a long time, forever, and it never stops.”
Rene began to cry quietly to herself.
“If you don’t accept Jesus into your hearts and come to church every Sunday, that is what is going to happen.”
“But my cousin goes to ‘Tem-pul’ on Friday.” Emily said.
“It sounds like your cousin is Jewish, Emily. Jews don’t believe in Jesus like we do. If your cousin doesn’t accept Jesus, they will go to Hell.”
Emily began to wale in anguish.
Pastor Bernard came back into the room. “Is everything alright in here?”
Emily’s crying was quickly overtaken by her fear of punishment.
“We are fine, Pastor Bernard. We are just talking about the importance of accepting Jesus into our hearts.”
“Oh that is important.” Pastor Bernard said, “We are sinners and God sent Jesus to die for us so we don’t go to Hell.”
“But why did God make Hell?” Amber asked.
“God made Hell to punish Satan.” Pastor Bernard replied.
“Then why do we have to go?”
“You don’t if you ask for forgiveness.”
“But why does my cousin have to go to Hell?” Emily asked.
“Your cousin doesn’t have to go to Hell if they ask for forgiveness.”
“But her mommy won’t let her come to church.”
“If her mommy doesn’t accept Jesus and ask for forgiveness, she will go to Hell too.”
“But why?!” Emily shouted with anger.
“There’s no need to be upset, Emily.” Pastor Bernard said softly, “We are special, because we are right. We will be rewarded for our faith. Everyone else will be punished for not believing the truth. But God sent his son to experience horrible agony on Earth so that we wouldn’t have to.”
“Why?!”
“Because we are sinners.” Pastor Bernard said with a tone of slight frustration.
“But I don’t want to be a sinner.” Emily whined.
“The only way to not be a sinner is to accept Jesus into your heart.”
The room was again silent.
Pastor Bernard retired to his office, knowing he had just saved 12 souls from eternal damnation.

Advertisements

Dad and the Old Lady

It is night. The yard is semi-illuminated by artificial light coming from the house. I have angered my father. Running into the front yard, I scan the driveway and street for my car. There are more cars here than I expected to find. I weigh the potential threat of catching my father’s attention with the potential for finding my car and decide to hit the lock button on my keychain in the hopes that I will spot my car when the parking lights flash. They do not. I do not. I am still running – down the street, expecting my father’s bullet to find me at any second. Still moving away from the house, I cross the street in a diagonal path. It is my hope that this path will make me a more difficult target.

I make it around the end of the block and come to an elderly friend’s house. This house and this woman are recurring in my dreams. Her house is historically unnecessarily difficult to navigate – stairs that seem to lead to nowhere and uncomfortable crawl spaces. I often find my way into her house in a frantic effort to use a toilet. An ambulance’s lights illuminate the front yard. EMS is there and I know she is no longer there. Entering the front door, I find a police officer, my mother’s sister and her husband, and my current supervisor at my place of employment. They are happy to see me. This is, apparently, a social gathering. I explain to the officer that I am fleeing my father’s attempt to shoot me. The officer explains there is really nothing he can do.

I ask my supervisor if there is a toilet I can use. He directs me to the bedroom in which he is staying. There is no wall separating the room from the main entry, but rather a mauve curtain. The toilet rests just on the other side of this curtain. I sit for a seemingly long time with no success as the party proceeds in the other room.

Analysis: First off, if you have read Letters From Limbo or just have a fairly good insight into my relationship with my father, the first scene in this dream may come as no surprise. Perhaps this incarnation of him represents the anger I’ve seen in him, the anger which he would seem to keep in submission when not under the influence of alcohol. I don’t know that he is angry with me today, but the dead air between him and his three kids and his responses when forced to engage with his kids would seem to point to a desire for no future interaction with any of us.

According to Carl Jung, the house represents oneself. I’ve often felt as though I don’t fit into my place in this world. This could explain why this house is so often difficult to navigate. I am often obligated to use this house as a result of my desire to avoid embarrassment and conform to the social norm of using the toilet. I have, on more than one occasion, crawled in through a window, apparently trespassing in order to conform to this social protocol. The house, my “self”, is often then so incredibly difficult to navigate, the conforming to this social protocol becomes a nearly impossible feat.

I’ve often battled with my inability to fit into my place in society, to conform to these social expectations seemingly everyone but me would seem to understand. This could explain why this house is often so difficult to navigate. I am hesitant to jump to the conclusion that the absence of the old lady and the apparent ease in which I navigated the house are related. After all, we know correlation does not necessarily point to causation. Still, if these two facts are related, the woman represents my desire to fit into my place in society, my desire to conform to these social norms. The fact that I did not need to use the toilet represented the fact that I am beyond this now. The presence of my loved ones and the joy in the house represented the fact that I will be loved in spite of my rejection of conformity. Lastly, the officer’s claim that nothing could be done about my father’s attempt to shoot me represents a disconnect, a lack of obligation between myself and my father’s anger.

God is Love is God

I awoke this evening after about 16 hours of sleep. This, of course, was not continuous sleep, but rather one longer span of sleep followed by several short stints of sleep. I awoke several times today and, in that state between sleeping and wakefulness, decided to turn over and go back to sleep. It wasn’t that I was tired, or even depressed. I felt this lingering connection to the world I had recently inhabited, a world of competitive watermelon burying and used condoms. The world may sound less than appealing now, but it was so real and completely mine. More than that, what was mine was ours. It was every bit mine because it was ours. I awoke several times with this resonating connection to everyone, to a higher power, understanding this power is within all of us. This connection was the force that continued to lull me back to sleep. so I slept most of the day. And what do I have to show for it? A strengthened determination to help others recognize this connection.

The understanding that we are all cut from the same cloth, the understanding that we are all connected, can be used as a force to bring peace to our world. Love can save us. But first we have to accept it. It has been said God is love. The question that would often seem to follow this claim is “Which god?”. Let’s try it a different way: Love is God. It is the same mathematical equation: God = Love (God is equal to love.), but it would seem to hold very different connotations. The first, God is love, would seem to commonly be used to express the idea that to know God is to know love. The second puts love first. To me, this makes more sense. Many have used ideas of God as means of justifying hate. But love is rarely used as means of justifying any kind of antithesis to God. If we put our often narrow ideas of God before love for each other, we have missed the point. If we put love before our often narrow ideas of God, we can create a world in which love is abundant, a world of which our very different ideas of God would be proud.

Evi

Evi is a bright fairy who delivers me to this reality.
On the plain of Limbo she makes her descents.
Riding carefree on the breeze, she weaves around old dark trees.
Bumping my body on branches, she whispers, “No Evi dents”.
She lays me softly in my bed and bandages my bleeding head.
And to ensure I live in this world hence,
Injects me with memories as evidence of her world flees.
As she departs, she whispers, “No Evi dents”.

$74

One afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I had just finished my shift at the shelter and was walking to my car when I spotted what I am hesitant to call a “wad of cash”. It was a few bills folded into a neat pile. I picked up the stack of bills and looked around. With no apparent owner in sight, I proceeded to the nearest place of business, a print shop. I walked in and placed the money on the counter, explaining someone had dropped it outside and requesting they return it to the rightful owner if he or she were to come looking for it.

I left the store in route to my car. A few moments later I heard the voice of a male employee of the print shop. He asked me to provide my name and phone number so that the owner of the money could reward me if he or she wished. I expected no reward, but returned to the shop to provide my name and phone number. The woman behind the counter explained that the money would be mine if no one claimed it within three days.

About a week later I stopped in to see if anyone had claimed the money. To my surprise, no one had. What’s more, or so I’m told, is no employee decided he or she would like to take the money for him or herself. According to Immanuel Kant, in order to act in a morally correct way, you should “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” I did not take the money for myself and neither did the employees of the print shop.

Friends and family tell me it was naive to hand this money over. But maybe a bit of naivety is what we need. I acted out of love, as did the employees of the print shop. The money wasn’t mine to spend. But it bought me peace of mind. As insignificant as 74 dollars may seem to some of us, it would seem like a lot for others. It gives me hope and works against a commonly lingering feeling of isolation to know my brothers and sisters at that print shop chose love over fear, at least in this case.