Friday, June 16, 2006


As a literature major in college I thought cycle tales fascinating. Many stories have circles, or cycles, within them. The central character goes out on a journey, and the narrative follows the adventures. The character goes out, and eventually returns. The journey is about more than moving from place to place. It is always a story about how the character changes.

Little Frodo Baggins leaves home to take an awesome power, a frightful tool of deception and doom, away from his home. He travels further than he could have dreamed, over coming many obstacles, showing that a true heart, a good heart, can turn a tiny person into a giant. And when he returns, he finds he is forever changed.

Dorothy looks wistfully at the sky, and complains about her dreary life where all is plain, ordinary, and no one understands her. She dreams of going somewhere beautiful, magical. And when she is suddenly transported there she begins a journey that makes her realize the best things in her life are the things she was running from. She comes home grateful for family and friends.

The old man sets out from his home, to go fishing. And he catches a fish. A great fish. In this tale filled with religious metaphors the old man battles the fish, sharks, the elements, and returns with nothing to show for his ordeal but the bones of the animal. He goes out an ordinary man and returns larger than life, a living legend.

Cycles are a natural way for people to think. We fill our lives with cycles. There are the cycles of our days. Going out to earn our livelihood, and returning to rest each night. The weekly cycle is the same... going out to work, receiving our rest at each week’s end. The moon spins through her cycles, waxing and waning, giving pulses and rhythm to our lives (largely ignored by cultures that no longer pay attention to the natural lights of the sky). The year swings around and around, leaving changes on and in our bodies. We go through the cycle of birth and death making our mortal existence a single generational pulse of humanity’s heart.


The Romans used iron. They were good at it. They were iron-like people.

Iron is fairly easy to work, is rather plentiful, and can hold an edge better than the copper and bronze used by previous cultures.

On Jesus’ last mortal day on Earth iron took part in His sacrifice. The soldiers wore swords made of iron at their waists, an apt symbol of their power. The whips which tore across His back were tipped with iron. The nails driven through his wrists were hammered to sharp points on a Roman anvil. Finally, the spear thrust into His side was iron-tipped.

To make their weapons and tools stronger the Romans turned the iron into steel. They did that by forge welding. They heated the ore and pounded the impurities out of it. They beat the metal into long bars, heating them to an even yellow glow, sprinkling them with borax, folded them over, and with just the right amount of pounding, hammered them, welded them, together. They repeated the process, over and over, until the carbon was spread throughout the steel, making it harder, stronger, more resilient.

I imagine that when a sword was damaged, bent, the soldier took the weapon to the smith to be pounded straight. I also imagine that though it would look straight, the warrior would be keenly aware of that spot, perhaps still able to feel where it was bent and pounded on the anvil.

I have sometimes felt that I have been placed on an anvil and beaten straight again. There was the death of Willy. When I think back to that terrible day it is like running my fingers over a spot where I was severely bent. But the Lord pounded me smooth again. Still, I can touch that place and feel the place where my soul was tested... where I was placed in a fire and pounded by life and the sure hand of my maker.

One year ago today I was sitting in a meeting at my church and the fire alarm went off. One year ago from this exact moment, as I type these words. That alarm was the first sign that my life was being placed once again in a fire... a fire lit by my son as he played with a candle in a stairwell.
Earth has swung once more around the sun, another cycle has been completed. 30,000 people have looked over my shoulder to glance at these words that have crawled across my screen, dancing to the tapping of these keys beneath my fingers. 80,000 words have marched across virtual pages glowing from this flat screen, this window I have placed in my life for others to peek through, into my little online journal.

This cycle has carried me out from my home, and in the journey I have changed once again.

How have I changed? A certain tenseness flexes with my chest at the thought of that evening one year ago. But I look at my son, out in the yard picking cherries with my wife, so eager to please... I know the goodness in his heart. And I know the challenges he has faced and the darkness that chases after him.

And I think it is all worth it.

There have been and will continue to be sacrifices in this life. But I would not choose another.

Because the smith who created me, who beat me into this particular shape, and restores my ability to function when I am too bent to continue, is trustworthy. He restores me... restores me.

And I am willing to be put to any service He desires.


jel said...

Hi, CS

Becky said...

He is making you for the Master's Use.

How He drives the impurities and imperfections out for His use.


Kc said...

There are only a few on this earth that God uses to keep me humble and I thank Him for you all. My desire to see His blessings poured out on you and your family is great.

Fred said...

I went back and read the post you linked. Wow.

Raising children is an amazing journey. Your faith serves you well along the way.

Nancy said...

I cannot believe it's already been a year since that event.

You are a great dad.

Bill said...

Hello, Curious Servant...thanks for stopping by the spiritualoasis. I haven't had time to spend much time here, but you can count me among the 30K that have looked over your shoulder...and will be again, Lord willing.

Grace to you,

curious servant said...

I just reread this post... and I was thinking about my writing style.

You folks are awfully patient wih me!

I frequently atart writing about something that doesn't seem to have a lot of connections to my usual topics. Then I switch gears and talk about something completely unrelated. Finally I get to my point and use the previous parts to illustrate my real point.

How all of you manage to hang in there long enough to read through my wandering style amazes me.


MMM said...

And hello to you too, Curious. :) Glad to see you stopped by. MMMissed you.

Phyllis S said...

You know, I was thinking of you the other day. My apologies for not coming around much myself. I'm doing pretty well these days & it sounds as if you are as well.

Felisol said...

Dear Curious Servant,
my warmest reguards and thanks to you for sharing and caring so uniquely to each of your readers, myself included.
I felt a genuine comfort getting your message this week.
And I rest in the fact that prayers are always heard, if not answered momentarily.
I pray for you and your family that your wounds must heal, and I thank the Lord for using your growth in experience and wisdom to help so many of us out on the internet.
By being painfully honest about your sufferings and tourments, but never in your darkest moments let go of your faith, you are an exemple to be followed.
I pray that it will always remain so.
Guess that's because I'm kind of a doubting Thomasine myself. Mostly I doubt in my own ability to endure life's manny up popping hardships. The unforeseen ones. The ones that have kept coming and going in your life.
The couragous way you have delt with them have taught me a hole lot.
About being moulded, about blessings in disguise.
It has become a lot easier to pray "Thy will be done." Nothing evil comes from God. God is love. Therefore it's simply the best that His will is done.
His peace to all of us!

Man said...

Very cool facts but I believe the Romans made Wrought Iron. By the 8th century the Spanish made steel using the Catalan forge technique.

It's nice to see all the inspirational writings, it has been a long time since I last read the bible.

Ame said...

As time passes, our birthdays stretch in a looong line behind us, and we continue to invite God into the depths of our souls, willing Him to make us "complete," we come to a place where we relax more in the fires ... knowing that what comes out is a masterpiece in the Great Hands of the Ultimate Master :) We have experienced God in such deep and intimate ways in the depths of our joy and pain ... He has created within our lives a history with Himself ... a history full of love, consistancy, depth, strength, honor, joy, faithfulness ... intimacy with the Creator of the universe ... with Almighty God who was and is and always will be.

You are coming out of this fire beautiful ... having been molded by the Hands of The Master :)

Jim said...

Hi C.S. Just checking today, I thought I had commented Friday but I don't see it.
Quickly then, yes, cycles are good. Sometimes we learn from what was before, sometimes we do the same old stuff.

curious servant said...

Man: Thank you for the reproof! I knew the process of early steel forging, but I must admit I did not know which culture developed that technique. Thank you for setting me straight. I was nearly a millineum off!

AME: Thanks once again for your kind comments. You are sweet.

Jim: Spoken like a true man who has been around the block more than once!

David said...

Have little precious time to read but just wanted to say hello. I miss reading your thoughts but I will catch up one day. Sending you best wishes.

Ame said...

Happy Father's Day, CS!!!!!

Judas Hate said...

Hi Will,

Just got back from a family vacation.

Yup, same motor. And thanks:-)

Would love to read your version of our ant story!

Yay for one week to go on teaching!

I'll catch up on your blog (and mine) soon. Lots to read and lots to tell. May take a week or so as I walked back into a grinder. All good though.

Hope you are well.

Happy Fathers Day Brother!!


Vicki said...

I, for one, appreciate your writing style, CS. The voice is authentic; there's heart in it; you're you. Your truthfulness brings healing to those of us who need so much of it.

Jada's Gigi said...

God's very nature is cyclical..He restoreth...that's just who He is...thank you, Lord, that you restore...and that all roads lead us back to you.

see-through faith said...


But jada I think the Christian perspective is NOT cyclical and should not be - we are heading for eternity with HIM. Never lose sight of that :)

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