Hope

My mother-in-law, a beautiful human being, passed on from this life today. It’s been a difficult day for the family, and as my wife boards a flight to head home to be with loved ones during this time, I was reminded of one simple word: Hope. It’s a word I strongly believe in. And as I processed the day with that word in mind, here’s what I wrote:

 

Hope is not a homeless cast-off, living in squalid conditions on the edge of the sunset’s shadows.

Though you will find it there.

Hope is not a forgotten word, buried under scientific jargon, dying an abandoned existence in a dusty appendix.

Though surely you can scan the final pages with your index finger and find it there too.

Hope is not an empty, opiate-filled wish, meant to pacify the cravings of a desolate heart.

Though hope is comfortable in emptiness, tucking neatly in an upside-down crevice of a turned-out pocket.

Hope is the undefinable assurance, proved to the heart by a million micro-steps of life, that joy can never be fully extinguished.

Hope is as high as a thousand-mile mountain peak, yet as thin as an inch-thick stream spreading out indefinitely in all directions.

Hope casts off doubt and lingers until despair yields to its indomitable message.

When the world doesn’t choose hope, hope merely grows stronger, encouraged in the throes of life’s storms, emboldened on the faces of the faithful, ensured that the weary will find their way, that the righteous will find their reward, that a simple seed planted long ago will find its way home.

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A Vigil for a Starry (Christmas Eve) Night

On a night when the clouds cover the stars like an impenetrable mountain cliff, I wait for a sign. A small tinge up my spine. A desperate plea for the ancient ways to speak once again. I wait for the light, hoping it will come, hoping it will be enough. .

The stars, spread brightly out like colored snowflakes flickering across the onyx sky, reflect a distant constellation, and begin to re-enter the atmosphere, piercing through the fractured clouds, giving faint and distant light to the voidless black, the empty sea, the sandless desert, the vacant abyss that is deep within me. The light, hushed and dimmed by a millennium of travel, is all I have. Is all I ever had.

I wait for the reflection to reach me, hoping one refracted beam from a star long ago still exists, the same ancient light that awakened the shepherd’s eyes one cool and lonely night. Can the light that ushered in a new millennium, awaken a new epoch within me. If so, it might be enough for my heart to go on.

In the midst of tears, in the solitude of our inner being, we yearn to be on that impoverished hill, to understand the magnitude of that sight, a heavenly light illuminating a darkened heart, a heavenly chorus rising to a crescendo of glory.

Will I choose to believe its truth, not blindly though because I know what the light can do for one’s soul.  And though the unbearable pain releases not its grip, I have a question to answer. Does the light still exist for me?

Does the same sky, which God ripped open that night with his right hand, planting angelic heralds of peace on the clouds to rustle awake the shepherds, still exist for me? Can he reach into my clouded heart and announce the truth like a heavenly chorus? If it is so, all suffering and cause of angst still present throughout the world will be no match for the blessed announcement: “A Child is born.”

PERSON: This child is born.

Snowflakes in August: an Excerpt

These are the kinds of things I write in the summer. I may be sweating or catching a cooling breeze off the ocean in the Strait of Malacca, but my mind is bundled up, thinking of snowdrifts and the delights of a child’s first romp in the untouched winter wilderness. The following excerpt is from a short piece simply entitled “Snowflakes.” It will be a dramatic, poetic narrative to kick off our Christmas show in December. Enjoy!

SNOWFLAKES (Excerpt)

A hushed winterland, a joyous hinterland – uncharted, crisp and clean, untouched by man or beast,

quiet and undisturbed, slowly awakened by the audible delights of a child,

“Snowflakes,”

with cumbersome boots sinking inches into the virgin land, unspoiled and serene, until perfectly molded footprints follow him in the snow as he sloshes every waking breath into the wonderland.

Vibrant eyes, large and bold like the static black coal of a snowman’s eye,

Pupils dilated with wide-eyed delight, writing tales of wonder on the lens of the eye.

Ruddy-red cheeks, puffy flesh, numb to the touch, indifferent to the coldness,

Warmed by the laughter and sighs and taut screams of glee directed at only one object:

“Snowflakes.”

My Alexander Popish Poem & a Yearning to Create

The more and more I think about my past, the more and more I realize that I have always yearned to create. I remember when I was a sophomore in college, one of my lit courses was 18th Century English Literature.  On one of our assignments, we had to write some sort of comparative analysis concerning some of the works we read – not anything out of the ordinary. Except there was an alternative assignment which was also allowed. We could write a creative work which mimicked the style and influence of an 18th century author or poet, but put in the context of the 20th century.

I jumped on it! Actually, I was the only one in the class to attempt such an assignment. Perhaps I was crazy. Some thought so, but I felt liberated to create for a grade. What could be better than that? (Other than getting a good grade.)

So I chose Alexander Pope as my muse, and I wrote an epic satirical poem in Pope’s style about the United States. I don’t know how many lines it ended up being (I need to count them someday) but I created this rhyming and satirical monstrous poem and turned it in as my assignment.

When I got it back, I received a B+. The problem, it seems, was that the imagery and wording was a little “dense” at times, thus being too vague for even my PHD professor to be able to understand. Fair enough. I admit it. I wasn’t even sure what I meant at times, using these extremely vague ideas which just floated endlessly from stanza to stanza. But I didn’t care, I had a blast writing it.

I know now what I didn’t know then. I needed to create, and when I had the chance, I jumped at it. I actually wasn’t thrilled to be a lit major. I really wanted to be a creative writing major, though my school didn’t have that option, so I settled on the second best. Being a lit major forced me to read all the classics, which I enjoyed, except for wordy individuals like Henry James. Sorry. Not going to go there. But actually, I didn’t like reading all that much. I trudged through it, but never thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to write. I wanted to create. I wanted to be free to explore and express myself with words.

Unfortunately, after I graduated, I thought I would never be a writer and so I embarked on a twenty year, writing-less journey that brought me back to being an indie author – something I never expected, but now embrace wholeheartedly embrace.

For me, Alexander Pope is just another reminder of what I was made to do – create. Thanks, 18th century lit!