Genre: Realism; Word count: 100
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Rochelle asks that we use the photo prompt
and limit our words to 100 or less.
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The first murder set it into motion, the river of death running red with blood, black with vengeance and lust. This rivulet was one of many winding their way past graveyards. At this bend, she kissed him goodbye for the last time. Just twenty and off to war.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of death Thou art with me . . . .”¹
Once she had thought that death had the run of the land. Now sitting on the bank, praying with her daughter before beginning her home school lessons, she knew there was also a river of life.
1Psalm 23 [A Psalm of David.] (KJV)
The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Silvery strands, hair falls in brush-fulls one saint’s covering glory thread-bare every thread-count, hair-count numbered tears bottled, not nameless not in a warehouse, but in the house of the Lord, O En-hakkore, on Zion’s mount, where nations stream one day, El-Shaddai, that day don’t delay, Yahweh, that hour cry the faithful weeping from hospital beds prison cells, beside mass graves, the suffering martyrs, broken families soldiers and civilians mere fodder for power, numberless babes murdered in wombs: hear our prayers, O LORD our God, for the coming of Thy Son.
For today's dVerse Poetics, Ingrid asks us to "try to complete the poem as far as possible without writing it down. Think about the devices discussed above: regular rhythms, repeated phrases or ‘motifs’, alliteration and rhyme schemes – anything to aid the memory and help the words to flow....Make an audio/video recording of your poem and post it to your blog and/or transcribe your poem, so we can read the finished version." Click on Mr. Linky to join in and read more poems.
In his acclaimed novel, The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro immerses us in the first-person narrator’s severely circumscribed life and worldview. His is a life of self-imposed limitations, aided and abetted by a strict adherence to the British class system, indeed his overweening pride in his “Englishness.” You might think he’s a member of the upper-crust. You would be wrong. Mr. Stevens is a butler who has bought into the quasi-heroic and mythical dimensions of his role as a dignified appendage to the high and mighty.
He takes pride in his clockwork management, attaining renown among butlers and employers alike. He spends a good bit of time telling us his definition of dignity and its value. He’s most careful regarding the proprieties of conversation, the attire of distinction, the observance of the caste system, and he unwittingly reveals the fictions necessary to support such a system.
The casual negligence of these mores shocks him. He lives and dies by the clock and the way things are. The future escapes him.
Stevens is also very conscious that his dignity is a borrowed dignity, a dignity conferred by his relationship to a peer of the realm, his employer Lord Darlington.
In this novel of manners, Ishiguro gives us something more than mere voyeurism. His butler, Stevens, is on an unwitting voyage of self-discovery. He’s shocked into it by the revelation that his erstwhile employer, Lord Darlington, like many of the aristocrats of his day, had been a Nazi sympathizer.
Stevens predictably retreats into self-deception; as Salman Rushdie points out in a review:
At least Lord Darlington chose his own path. “I cannot even claim that,” Stevens mourns. “You see, I trusted … I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really, one has to ask oneself, what dignity is there in that?” His whole life has been a foolish mistake, and his only defense against the horror of this knowledge is the same capacity for self-deception which proved his undoing. It’s a cruel and beautiful conclusion to a story both beautiful and cruel.
— “Salman Rushdie: Rereading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro,” The Guardian, 2012
Ishiguro’s more recent novel, The Buried Giant (2015) has more of the same pathos, blindness, self-deception, in the face of life’s extremities. If there’s any consolation in life for Ishiguro or Rushdie, it must be that it has its cruelties, but it has beauty as well, inviting a sanguine resignation that is far from satisfying. Beauty. Cruelty. They are more than mere aesthetics. They are a part of life, occupying categorical spaces in our hearts and minds. It’s what one puts into those categories that makes all the difference. Especially with regard to suffering.
Mothers have always wandered and searched still as gravestones in blood-soaked cities and fields for their daughters, their sons.
It concerns them not when lies unravel, whether thugs come in uniforms or turbans by force of law and terror masking regime bureaucrats and zealots.
Ten people, including seven children, were killed by a U. S. drone strike on Sunday. “At first I thought it was the Taliban,” one survivor said. “But the Americans themselves did it.”1 Thirteen U. S. Marine Corps, Army & Navy service members were killed in Kabul’s suicide bombing last week.2Their average age was 22. That same day, August 26th, in Chicago, a security guard shot a man three times for not wearing a mask3.
Read more about the Michaux-Perreaux here, a French bicycle company that later invented the steam velocipede, one of three precursors to the modern motorcycle. I chose Michaux-Perraux for its rhyming allusion to Godot in this semi-allegory.
Genre: allegory; Word count: 100
Come along and join in with Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers.
Rochelle asks that we use the photo prompt
and limit our words to 100 or less.
Click on the frog to read more stories.
Waiting For Michaux-Perreaux
Every day, after work, the old cleaning woman sat on the bench staring at the Michaux-Perraux half in, half out of the building’s side. She was as much an oddity as the bicycle. Sometimes she was seen wiping tears away. Usually she sat poised expectantly. Nothing ever happened. Then, bowing her head, she would walk slowly away.
One day, an earthquake shook the town. The building was evacuated. As everyone watched, debris began falling, the wall with the bicycle cracked, and people screamed and ran.
All except the old woman.
The bicycle fell loose. Smiling, she rode it home.
Let’s face it. Most of us prefer to maintain the status quo. It’s painless, well-established, safe. Anything disruptive spells danger, so we go along with those who maintain the status quo. They prey on our sheep-like need for a communal feeling of security even if it leaves us shorn of our freedoms. We want to be included, not excluded from the social norm, so we compromise, even when “inclusion” means branding others in Orwellian terms (see Animal Farm).
One of the many unsettling characteristics of our time, though, is the unreliability of what is status quo: beliefs and assumptions that once took several decades to change, now can change in a matter of years, even weeks as we’re seeing when it comes to scientific opinion on biological gender, psychology, epidemiology. A lot of this change has to do with the political hurricanes blowing around us. They pressure us into jumping onto the currents of zeitgeist so we’re not left out of the “loop,” because who wants to be on the outside looking in on the popular fads or dictates of the moment.
But it has become increasingly difficult to ride the waves of popular sentiment and opinion. We could find ourselves being outsiders in the twinkling of an eye, the mob raging after us, “outed” for unpopular beliefs by our own families, friends, colleagues, and employers. Playing it safe has never been more dangerous than when sociopolitical tides shift rapidly.
“Choose the hill you want to die on carefully,” a wise man once told me. The problem? A terrain of equally worthy hills to make my stand.
No. That’s wrong. There’s only one hill to die on: Calvary’s rise where the greatest battle ever fought raged and one Man died the victor, defeating death once and for all to rise again in glory, and reign over heaven as one day he will over all the earth. In the meantime, he is sovereign over individual moments of history, personally and collectively.
As a Christian, that puts me on the wrong side of history according to the prevailing status quo. But as the Bible tells me, I’ve always been an outsider in this world, a stranger and a pilgrim. I should be ill at ease in a society that tells me that my security and comfort come first. And one day I may have to die on this hill, as an outsider, as Christ Jesus did outside the city walls.
Truth is, with my rebirth and new life in Christ, my status quo changed from the world’s to the kingdom of God’s.
And that makes me an outsider no more, but included in the most secure and eternal kingdom of all, peopled by sinners of every nation, ethnicity, and language, each washed in the blood of the Lamb, knowing a freedom from guilt and sin’s hold.
More than that, I am a child of God, known and loved, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, united with Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit. And on this hill may I die a worthy death to be raised on that day when Christ returns.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God . . . .
1 Peter 2:7-12, 21-25 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. … For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Writer Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) is one of Russia’s great absurdists, his black humor seemingly politically opaque, but troublesome enough to alert Soviet authorities who threw him in prison where he died forgotten by his jailers.
Join us a dVerse where we are writing a quadrille (44 words exactly) using the word "heart." Click Mr. Linky to read more.
“Poetry makes nothing happen: it survives”¹ unlike young Icarus² who would fly to freedom under the belly of a giant whale ascending but he plummeting, free-falling, down to his death while a world watched, still watches in horror through that silver screen of the mind’s eye as of an oracle that survives in the folds of memory forecasting doom, like the poetry his heart sang of a better life, a New World of winging hopes now a land in chaos helmed by venal fools where yet survive as in the Ark the few whose hope shies not away in whom Life supplants death to whom Bread is provided and thirst quenched whose city is built not with human hands whose cornerstone is the Lamb that was slain.
2On Monday, August 16, 2021, seventeen-year-old Zaki Anwari fell to his death after clinging to a US military plane taking off from Kabul as he tried to flee the Taliban takeover. He was one of several Afghans who rushed onto the tarmac of the capital’s airport and desperately held onto to the side of the C-17 aircraft before takeoff, captured in a widely-shared video that encapsulated the chaos of America’s exit from Afghanistan. A member of Afghanistan’s National Youth Football Team, Anwari was described by a spokesman for the sports federation as “kind and patient.He had no hope and wanted a better life.”3
Right now while I’m writing this, there are around 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan with no way out. Taliban insurgents have cut off access to the airport while our “woke” military leaders and diplomats are in effect begging “non-inclusive” terrorists to allow safe evacuation. Meanwhile, dictatorial domestic policies on the vaccine front don’t reflect either the data or the science, with the emergency vaccines themselves proving more and more ineffective (even harmfully ADE), except in satisfying greedy pharmaceutical companies that have never seen so much money in their lives (not to mention their political benefactors). The Biden administration has proved itself to be more of an incompetent, greedy, dangerous morass of idiocy than what they and their allies in the media and big tech daily branded the previous administration’s domestic and foreign policies.
I think we can spot a narrative failure when we see one. And we’re seeing more than one.
If only we could sit back in our armchairs and relax. But we can’t. Both on the domestic front, where liberties are daily being eroded, and the international front, where terrorists have been given a new lease on life thanks to Afghanistan, Americans are under attack. And though for the good of our children and our neighbors we must pray and strive to be vigilant at all cost, we cannot deny that we are under increasing threat, especially as Christians. We are living with moral erosion and Marxist hegemony in every major American institution. The political and socio-cultural agenda of the far-left has advanced far faster than they themselves could have foreseen, thanks to the money pouring in from big tech as well as its effective monopoly of social media platforms. Their unholy narrative advances.
There’s plenty of cause for fear. So why aren’t we afraid?
We aren’t afraid because all human narratives, the meta-text of civilizations and empires, fail. Any good history book tells you that. But more importantly, the Bible tells us that. Kingdoms come and go. But as chapter 2 of the Book of Daniel tells us so graphically through the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, only one kingdom overtakes them all and is eternal. God’s kingdom.
Don’t lose that plot in all the frenzy that surrounds us. God is sovereign. Jesus is King. His kingdom has come in the hearts of every believer and is coming as we proclaim it and will come when He returns.
Even as we long for Christ’s return, let’s not let any narrative of fear take control of us. In Christ we are already victorious. Hallelujah! All glory be to God our Savior!
I’m so pleased to have discovered a podcast that addresses issues of color, ethnicity, and diversity with a Christ-centered perspective. Prof. Janine Bolling and Rev. Dr. Gerard Bolling host The (Im)partial Churchpodcast for Lutheran Hour Ministries, a podcast exploring “how Christians embrace different cultures, celebrate diversity, and live out their faith.”
Entertaining as this brother-sister duo is, when addressing the issues of BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color), cancel culture, and cultural diversity, they follow the apostle Paul’s admonition to “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6). As they point out in “What Not to Say” (episode 3), salt preserves, and we must use our speech to preserve relationships between people, not destroy.
The Bollings are winsome and practical, providing with their podcast a place for Christians to look for ways in which to live out their faith midst cultural diversity. Bringing their personal and professional experiences into the conversation makes it that much more relatable, while grounding their discussion in frequent references to Scripture and what God calls us to be as His family bought and reconciled through the Cross of His Son provides the solid ground of love and hope and fresh motivation to build bridges between communities.
Repentance. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Love. For Christians these qualities are part of the very identity we have in Christ Jesus.
The (Im)partial Church engages and informs, inspires and connects, all in service to the God who calls us above the noise and fray of hostility to live to His glory in obedience and love and humility and sacrifice.
Listen to this podcast and be refreshed and energized to meet the challenges of a culture that would divide rather than unite us. As Christians we are called to this ministry of reconciliation by living missionally, reflecting the new life we have in Jesus.
If someone were to tell us that knowing God is Three Persons in One is an easy concept to understand, we would have to declare them either a simpleton or a liar. But if someone were to tell us that this concept of the Trinity makes all the difference to how we interact with him in adoration and joy, with his overflowing love as the driving engine of our evangelism, we may just stop and ask this rejoicing Christian to explain. And Michael Reeves, president and professor of theology at Union School of Theology in the UK, does just that in Overflow: How the Joy of the Trinity Inspires Our Mission.
There is a reason that Christ commanded, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19, bold italics mine), and Reeves does a great job spelling it out for us simply and convincingly in this short book that will leave a lasting impact.
Charles Spurgeon once said this: “The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.” (p. 11)
Reeves shows us that “the Trinity is not a weird puzzle for theological nerds but glorious good news for every Christian to enjoy”; that “the radiantly self-giving nature of God as the wellspring of all love, joy, goodness—and mission” is revealed from Genesis to Revelation; that when the Trinity is denied, love is denied; and “how, when Christians share God’s own outgoing fullness and radiance, we shine as lights in this current darkness.”
Reeves writes, “Mission is rooted in the Trinity, in the very being and nature and heart of God. And this is something deeply heart-winning and attractive in Him. If there is one thing I really want, above all, to communicate in this book, it is the great truth that God is mission. Wherever you’re at with God, particularly if you aren’t too thrilled with Him at the moment, I’d love for your eyes to be opened so you see just how stunningly beautiful and satisfying He is. I pray that your heart begins—maybe for the first time in a long time, maybe for the first time ever—to burn with a love for Him. Not just a duty that compels you and tells you what you ought to do, but rather, that you truly love Him! And then, out of this deep love, you will want to see the whole world come to know about Him too.” (p. 18)
“Mission is the outworking of God’s very nature. Before we ever did anything for Him, this God comes and gives His life away for us. So mission does not start with something we do, but with something done for us” (p. 48).
“Mission is the overflow of love from the enjoyment of divine fellowship. As we partake in the Father’s pleasure in His Son, and the Son’s pleasure in His Father, and the Spirit’s enlivening of their mutual love, it causes us to share their love for the world. Thus we become like what we worship. It is then, friend, you will want to sing of Him: when you are basking in the sunshine of God’s love. Because, as Jesus said, the ‘mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart’” (Luke 6:45 HCSB) (p. 56).
Reeves reminds us of the Father’s eternal love, what Christ has done for us on the Cross, and the Spirit’s regeneration, and encourages us to live in the light of this gospel truth: “You can live by the flesh, which means living under a spirit of slavery, always propelled by an insatiable lack, by guilt, by greed, by the desire to justify yourself. Or you can live as a child of God, by the Spirit of adoption.” (p. 82) “The children of God live from a fullness of life, a fullness of blessing. We can’t help but overflow with it. Other people need it too.” (p. 89)
This book is full of encouragement for those who feel themselves spiritually weary or empty. It is Christ-centered, Gospel-proclaiming, and Trinitarian-affirming and celebrating. I heartily recommend it.
You were four with a Daddy when you laid out dancing colors of pink, blue, green and purple
When you were four and a day the colors went orange viral of corona, corona everywhere
You sat half-hidden in shadow your diamond father stolen from you with black words like ICU
Now pink, blue, green and purple have fled a world of frightening red your mother widowed in white
And you are four and counting looking back at days of gray a rainbow shining over you: we pray
Reena at Xploration Challenge gives us an update on the four-year-old pictured above: “I came across a heart-wrenching picture of a drawing by a 4-year old, whose father [was] battling lung failure due to Covid in hospital. When asked what was it she had drawn, she said “Corona, Corona …. Everywhere Corona.” The entire family was infected, but all others have recovered…. She lost her father today. Her mother, whom I see as an exceptionally strong woman, fought till the end, staying afloat with her Buddhist beliefs and chanting “Nam myth renge Kyo.” It kept her going, if nothing else. She is totally deflated now, after the incident. She, who led a fatherless life (her father being a drug-addict), just uttered the words ‘My daughters will meet the same fate.'”
Whom the fire burned is under gauze. Was it once black or white or non-white? What the closed eyes? What myriad colors swirl beneath the bandages? Sins of color stain even a child. What absolution have we if we offer such sacrifices as the gods decree? And if it walks like blind Tiresias what will it prophesy but death which comes to all and judgment.
In keeping witht the theme of minimalism in art, Sanaa at dVerse writes: “I want you all to select one out of the twelve photographs shared … and write a poem. It can be an Ekphrastic poem, if you like. Go philosophical. Go dark or romantic or solemn. Share what you feel about Minimalist photography when you see it. The idea here is to provoke an emotion, and what better way to pour them out other than poetry?” Click on Mr. Linky and join in.
I’ve always stood out. Indian child. Small town. No friends really. A lonely thing with a big moon that followed her. I thought about you a lot. Didn’t know you thought about me too. You know the story. You loved me even when I didn’t. I wanted to DO something. Never did. I trained with pretty great chefs, one from Paris. They agreed all I did right was making tomato soup. What could I do? I opened a stand-out “All-Things-Tomato” take-out. Some can pay. Some can’t. I do it for You, Lord. May it be to Your glory.
For Rochelle Wisoff-Field's Friday Fictioneers where we write in any genre in 100 words or less. Click on the frog and join in!
writers are knife-walkers we walk to make the final cut where the blade ruptures the heart
surgical artists dissecting ourselves in the Circus Maximus for the amusement of the gods in their curtained prosceniums
they, eviscerating each other, we rip ourselves up to see the truth in fictional lives stitched up later as scarred tissues of lies
only to find we’re not hopelessly alone that our arteries flow into one another through artful bridges of aqueducts leading one to another’s aortas
in ancient tides and ocean swells, each as wombs incubating embryonic lives of who we are meant to be where the bone meets the marrow.
Today Tricia Sankey guest hosts at dVerse Poetics, and she challenge us with writing about risk. Inspired by Tricia's own poem, well, writing poetry is a risk for me, but as I tried to say, one well worth taking when it's done in community like the poets at dVerse. Thanks to one and all.
Sitting across the table from you Wonder what you’re thinking Is it just the food? Something more? You look up. The sweetness in your eyes Dispels all doubts in wedded bliss All conversations merge into one There’s no one for me but you.
Sitting down at Your table with You Dark the vagrant thoughts in my head Not on the bread, nor on the wine Your living Presence hid to my eyes Your tender, humbling gaze on me, I look up: Enthroned majesty cloaked in a naked Lamb Slain for the love of a sinner like me There’s no one for me but You.
For Laura’s dVerse Meeting the Bar prompt “of poetry craft and critique, ‘to turn again, about turn again‘ we are employing the device of ‘epiphora/epistrophe’ which makes use of consecutive end line repeats of words or phrases. The optional extra is ‘Symploce’ – a consecutive repeat of first and final words.”
Laura points out that ‘epiphora’ is also “a medical term for excess tear production,” which can result from both comedy and tragedy.And so I have incorporated quotes from the classic Frank Capra film, “Arsenic and Old Lace,”to write a farce and an omen, reflecting perhaps something of the state of the world today.
In Melbourne one night I dreamed of you Cold-eyed in June with summer roses hanging tough Knew I’d meet you when the four horsemen rode With plague and famine and war on their hooves With plague-driven carts bouncing off their hooves.
Ribbed, malnutritioned, unhallowed eyes knuckle mine And without turning I see in wintry desert climes A thing to be desired above all others A taste to consume and be consumed by A reign of terror sublime where worms meet flesh Of tree-fruit hung, mouth-watering pulp of initiation Plucked, bitten off, in excess of secret concupiscence
In ravishment of the verboten, for that which I hate, I had done, and thus doing, am undone, the unmaggoted Fruit in its rainbow pride turning to dust and ashes in my mouth. For I have traded a Love without price For emaciated fruited-husks littering the fields of deceit Yet again, an unslumbered hungering malice ever-stalking At my heels, until out it comes, the vinegared indigestible
Bulk of it spilled vomitously, wretched retchings of a fool Words and deeds like knives ungorged flying mercilessly And I with unclean hands, naked in the cool of the evening Hidden, yet sought, drawn to the hallowed treed shade where Gratuitously, there is room for me, manna for me, Bread of life, Water that quenches my thirst, Whose wine-dark blood Spent in mercy divine washes over and covers me so To walk at last in honeyed valleys and orchards free.
Song of Songs 2:3 [She]: As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.