Monday, July 21, 2008

"Bed Time" -- Over there

I haven't been sure how to handle these two blogs. Do I post the same on both? Do I give a "heads up" on Job's Tale for posts that are over there and I feel don't belong here? How do I make it easy to see that the "new" post is one that someone hasn't already seen before, so they don't waste their time going there?

So... here is the solution.

When I post there and not here, I will put a little something here, just a note saying something is there, and include a pic or two so people can see that something has changed.

So here goes.

I have been writing like crazy... a real burst of creativity, born of exhaustion and confusion. Mostly by hand, in my Moleskine journal (pronounced: mol-a-skeen'-a).

I did type up and post something new Sunday, and again today at The Journey of the Curious Servant.

Here are some pics of something that usually does not happen in the middle of the day:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Other Me

I have been maintaining, somewhat, two blogs, for some time.

This blog, Job's Tale, was about my journey of faith. I started it two weeks before my mentally handicapped son played with fire and burned down our church.

Since then the topics have been focused on my spiritual journey, my family.

About a year ago I began another blog... one I wanted a little more private. My wife had been having an affair. I wanted to make it easier for her to come back, hold her head up, face people in our church and community. So I tried to find a place where I could work through my feelings and thoughts and be a little more discreet than this blog which so many visit.

She left me for a short period, but came back.

I believe this past year I have been doing what God wanted me to do, though it was hard, and it hurt, and it was... a real mess.

Now... she has left. And I feel it is time to move on. I have no inner voice telling me I should work to help her heal, keep her in our home and family, work on our marriage.

I don't know why God had me do this past year.

I think I was supposed to do what I did this past year. I don't know why. I know God wanted me to, but now it is over. Perhaps this past year will be something she needs when she looks back at it from some future date.

It's been tough, but I think I needed to do all that. Being obedient isn't always easy or fun or what seems like the right thing or logical.

But, there it is. I went out and walked and prayed for quite a while this morning. No directions, no sense of what is next, except just doing what needs to be done. It's a time of waiting and healing and working to finish raising these boys.

I will need to explain all this to my son, Jeremiah, when he comes home from his friend's this afternoon.

Now... to the point of this post.

This blog has been with me for a long time, and I don't want to give it up. I think the title is pretentious, comparing myself to Job of the Bible. I'm just an ordinary guy. But perhaps the slight embarrassment I feel over the title of this blog will keep me humble.

I ramble. The point is... I do not feel I have to hide this other part of me. I don't know if I will post different things on each blog, or the same on both, or eventually shut one down... but, I am opening up that part of my life to those who visit here... sort of an impulse in being open and honest and transparent.

So... if you care to... you may visit my other blog.

It is called "The Journey of the Curious Servant" and the address is: ("C.S. Explores")

After I had posted a few things there I noticed the unfortunate word "sex" in that address and so it has attracted a few unwelcome visitors, and it embarrasses me a little, but embarrassment keeps us honest, right?

At any rate... if you want to know me better, you are free to read through the posts over there chronicling the past year.

I could use a little prayer for my family. My children are a little handicapped and this single parent thing is going to be tough.

Love you all.

Curious Servant

(But you can call me "Will".)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Voice of God

The moon was nearly full, but for most of the evening it skated behind thin clouds, a smeared bright spot in the sky. I stepped away from the fire under the cedars and the broad old oak several times marking its progress.

Down the gravel drive, through a field of drying hay, the clearing beside a creek had belonged to a blackberry patch that morning. We stuck chunks of meat and brats over the coals, opened beers and sodas.

“When have you sensed the unmistakable presence of God in your life?”

I have some buddies. We gather every once in a while around a fire and talk. I call it our Moon Howlin'.

It took us a while to get to the real conversation. We warmed up through discussions of books and such. But, we get there.

One of us, a straight-forward, blunt, frank fellow, threw out the question. It hovered over the orange tongues of flame licking the evening air.

“The unmistakable presence of God.”

For me the presence of God is a spectrum of interactions ranging from an impulse to do something, say something, to moments intersecting eternity.

“How about you, Will?” the frank one asked.

I cleared my throat, signaling I would share, but needing a moment to martial my thoughts, though I had been thinking and writing about this topic all week.

“Two come to mind.”

“Two is good. I can handle two.”

The others murmured agreement.


“I was pretty sick. I was staying with my uncle in Ojai, California, and I was very sick. Dying.

“I went down to that river bed often. I was very sick. I wasn’t expected to live long.”

I told them this story:

I had joined an ashram and in the previous years spent too much time doing things I am still uncomfortable talking about. Spiritual things. Yogic things. Explorations of meditation and diet and... searching and exploring what I know are not right, not for this life anyway.

Once, in Ojai, while walking slowly along the Ventura River bed, I saw 17 California condors in a single dead tree. It was estimated there were fewer than two dozen of them left in the world. I was looking at the majority of an entire species.

Those enormous vultures, creatures who’s diet consists of dead things, sat in that dead tree, looking at me uncomfortably. I stared up at them. They grew restless, dropped off their perches, their enormous wings flapping slowly.

A few weeks later I knew it was time.

I walked down to the river bed.

I lay down on the sand. I felt my body slowly giving up. I began to pray.

I didn’t pray I might be saved. I didn’t make excuses for what I had done, for the extremes of fasting and meditation and explorations of astral planes. I didn’t beg for another chance.

Father, I’m sorry. I have been stupid. You gave me a body, You gave me a mind and a spirit and a heart, and I have thrown it away. I deserve to lose all this. I’m not asking for anything right now. All I want to say is... I am sorry.

God spoke.

It wasn’t a complicated thing. It wasn’t a divine revelation. It wasn’t anything that would leave a mark on the world, but it left a mark on me.

As I lay there, as I prayed my repentance and acceptance, a wave of light poured down the valley from the mountains. I guess I would describe it as sort of pinkish, if I could say it was really a color that could be photographed or painted.

It wasn’t a crushing wave or anything disturbing the quiet of that evening, but as it swept down and over me a couple of things happened.

I wasn’t tired anymore.

I didn’t feel weak. My mind wasn’t fuzzy anymore.

I felt strong. I felt healthy and clean and whole.

The second thing was the voice.

Hmmmm... Not really a voice.

The words did not pass through the air, did not pass through my ears. The words weren’t even words. They were a complete thought, a complete statement. It was a message compacted into a single idea, a whole, and it came from everywhere and from nowhere, and from deep inside my heart:

It’s okay. Don’t do it again. Do other things. Get up. I have things for you to do yet.

I didn’t look up at the faces of my friends as I told this story. I didn’t trust my voice would remain steady if I did. Instead, I launched into the next story.

“March 15, 1993. It was just before dawn and I was alone at Molalla River State Park.

“The moon was enormous. It was yellow, and had shifted toward orange as it descended into the naked branches of trees to the west of the field I stood alone in.

“There was that Oregon ‘Marchiness’ in the air, a promise of the coming Spring.

“And there was a color. Sort of.

“The sky was still speckled with stars, still black overhead, but it also... that color...

“It really wasn’t purple. It was too deep. Maybe a hint of violet. I don’t know... But there was this color to the sky that seemed to stretch from that field where I stood clear through to the stars.”

I paused and looked at my friends. I took one of my usual perpendicular digressions.

“A few minutes ago a small plane passed over us,” I said. “I loved the color that was bouncing off that plane’s white frame as it banked in the sunset. I see these colors around me all the time, and I think, ‘I wish I could mix that color with paint.’ I look at the clouds and I see this range of hues and values and colors I can’t describe. It is all so beautiful. I look across this field and I see that huge oak over there and I marvel that capillary action can raise all that water from those roots all the way to the leaves at the top... it is so beautiful.

“I look at my life and there is so much beauty and wonder and shit and aching and glory and pain and I see how wonderful and how awful life is...

“The color I saw above me that early morning sixteen years ago is with me still, and it is echoed in the colors I see still.

“That color was deep and rich and more real than I can describe.

“The sun was coming up. The sky in the east hadn’t started to lighten yet, but there was a sort of sense that it was about to. There was a sort of anticipation to the sky.

“And I was hurting. It was three months to the day of Willy’s death and I was out alone and I was hurting.

“And it happened...

“Folks think about eternity like it is some sort of continuance of things going on around us. That it is sort of like we just keep getting dragged along this timeline we know, forever and ever. I don’t think that is how eternity is.

“As I looked at that moon, and that sky, and felt the coming sun, and my heart ached for the son I had lost, I shook, I trembled, and I dropped to my knees.

“And I felt connected.

“I felt connected to everything.

“I was with the moon and the sky and the sense of dawn. I was with the stiff cut grass, and the river flowing nearby, and those leafless branches grasping at the sky.

“And God spoke.”

My voice thickened for a moment. My friends remained silent.

“It wasn’t a voice in the air, or anything like that. It came from everywhere, and nowhere, and from deep inside me.

“God said:

I know.

“It was more than a moment. I mean, I know it was only a few seconds, maybe not even that. But it was more than that. That instant shot through me. Not just the me kneeling in that field. It shot through the me that is sitting here with you guys. It shot through everything, everywhere, everywhen.

“I think that is what eternity is. It’s not a continuation of the sort of time we know. It is sideways to the time we know.

“That moment happened sixteen years ago, and it is still happening. It will always be happening.

“That experience was so real. It was more real than the heat coming off those flames. It was more real than you guys are, sitting around, listening to me talk.”

My friends listened. They heard. They talked. We talked.


Perhaps I mentioned the colors in those experiences because they help to describe what I experienced. Yet I failed to truly describe those colors.

Humans are among a small number of species on this world seeing so much of the spectrum, what we call visible light.

But even that amount of vision is tiny. If the electromagnetic spectrum was a line stretching from San Francisco to Anchorage, Alaska, visible light would comprise about an inch and a half of it. The percentage of the spectrum we see is 3.5 X 10^-28. That is a lot of zeros between the decimal and the 3.5.

I’m a very small creature. I have an extremely brief life span, less than a hundred years. I am a single organism on a small world on the edge of a rather ordinary galaxy, among perhaps hundreds of billions of galaxies.

I’m a very important creature. I have a soul which permits me to feel the reality of The Creator. And, amazingly, astonishly, impossibly, The Creator knows who I am!

He knows who I am, and He loves me.

He cares.

How can that be?!

It is a terrifying, and humbling, and exhilarating thing to know that He who holds atoms together, who hears the 10,000 year beats of super galactic clusters, who spoke creation into existence and stands outside of time and space, loves me.

Those two experiences were eternal moments, places where my spirit leapt out of this entropy-driven linear plowing through time, are just a part of the spectrum of the times He has spoken to me.

There was the beautiful message He gave me in a dream, telling me to adopt my first son.

There was the moment when I was six and the stain glass image of Jesus glowed, and flooded that little church, and He turned and looked at me!

There was that whisper of His when He told me to follow Jim home and permit me to share that troubled man’s burdens.

There was that time in 1974 when I felt enormous hands grip me from behind, lift me out of the path of a car, and set me twenty feet in the opposite direction I was running.

There are moments when I am gripping a fine point Sharpie marker, writing prayers in letters so small I can hardly see them... and I feel... outside.

Or after Willy died, we had gone to get sleeping medicine from Kaiser Permanente, and Brenda and I saw someone running ahead of us in the rain at 40 miles per hour. The wipers couldn’t keep the windshield clear, and we were exhausted from two sleepless nights after Willy’s death, and we both shouted when we saw someone keepng pace ahead of us along the Willamette River.

I cannot prove God exists.

But I know it is true.

I know He is more real than I am because the life I am living seems a pale experience to those moments when He paused the world, stopped the universe, and touched my heart.

Those two experiences especially. Those moments shot through time, I experience them still. I will experience them long after this body I am wearing ceases to breathe.

I don’t know why I have been blessed with faith. Some folks struggle with it. They wonder if it is real, or a delusion of folks like me, or a scam of some televangelist.

I know it is real.

I don’t know why I have been so fortunate as to have this faith.

Hey... I’m not saying everything is lovely. It isn’t. The earth shifts and tidal waves rush across the world washing entire villages away. Diseases creep through water and air and food and children suffer and die. The entire world, our entire history, is one long groan of pain and suffering.

My own life has some ugly things in it.


It is all so beautiful. It is so lovely it makes me ache.

The world spins around the sun, and its wobble moves the stars about. If we could experience the night sky of thousands of years in a few moments we would see stars swimming around us in elegant movements just as we see the flocks of sparrows react as a whole, shifting and rising and settling as they ready for dusk.

Life sucks.

Life is indescribably wonderful.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Catching Up With You

It's Monday morn, and I have been a neglectful blogger.

It isn't that I haven't written anything. It's just that I have finished anything.

I have many posts I have started, but haven't finished or polished enough to post:

* "Music"
* "The Voice of God"
* "Is Religion a Crutch, or a Staff?"
* "Choices"
* "Following the Speed Limit"
* "Maggie"

But... I have an awful lot of stuff to do, an awful lot of stuff that is distracting me.

First... my home, my marriage. It is, as usual, a mess. We avoid talking about the uncomfortable
stuff. But I think about it all the time. Last week I drove out to the AA meeting she was attending... her car wasn't there. I asked how the meeting went. She said it was good. I kept quiet, brooded.

We've had ancient railroad ties lining the planters around our home. I've always hated them. One can't get those last tufts of grass with a mower, and they are havens for insects, slugs, moles, a veritable ecosystem from microbes to medium predators.

So I ranked them out, bought 150 concrete tiles, and have been reshaping my landscape areas. One heck of a lot of work. I finished the majority of it, one more smaller planter to go, but my hands have blisters, the psoriasis has broken out, and I have a couple of more pressing chores to do to do. But I'd like to do the last flower bed today if I can.

I'm very proud of how hard Isaac worked alongside me, hour after hour.

We picked about six gallons of Bing Cherries and gave most of them away to friends. The boys worked hard with me. I took a few pounds over to "Jim" the fellow who flipped me off in traffic a few weeks ago, and then shared his life with me. I wanted him to know I was still thinking and praying for him.

A week or so later the pie cherries were ready, so I made some pies.

We have had a small population boom of mice at our home. We have caught 16 of them so far.

I've been working in my garden. If you have never had an Oregon strawberry you really don't know what you are missing. They may not be as large as California berries, but they have flavor!

While gardening the other day I decided I couldn't stand the long hair after all (I was kind of hoping to grow a pony tail for "Locks of Love," but the hair kept getting in my face. So I took a break from the garden, got it cut, and Isaac documented the before and after.

I've been in the Prayer Room at church, praying and drawing.

Last week Jeremiah had his state competition at Special Olympics. He earned the gold medal in shotput.

Jeremiah went to Martha's Place, a bed and breakfast sort of thing. This weekend was a Hawaiian theme there and he had a good time.

Saturday night our local hispanic gang tagged our fence again. I'm painting over their marks this morning. Yesterday I wrote a letter to the Editor to the local paper about it. I don't know if he'll run it as it is a little longer than their restrictions. But I need to get that fence painted today.

Brenda and Rocky in front of the police car

Sunday at church we had our annual church BBQ. William "Paul" Young, author of The Shack was there, sharing about his book. Isaac insisted I get my picture taken with him. I have been facilitating a discussion class with my pastor on the novel.

It was pretty warm here Sunday, so we took Rocky for a swim in the Willamette River.

I also need to do something about the plumbing under the kitchen sink. Always been a bit of a problem. It's cheap, easily put together, easily comes undone.

I haven't been sleeping well, and I have been anxious during the day.

I haven't been using my
prescriptions as I should. I was taking a prescription sleeping pill and one Xanax at bedtime. The doc said it would be better not to mix meds so much. So he doubled up the Xanax and told me to stop the others. But when things get tense around here, I take a Xanax to slow my racing heart. To compensate for the missing doses I skip the Xanax at night and take two of the ones I was supposed to throw away.

I am very upset over my marriage. I worry. I see little progress. I keep thinking about what she has done, what she might do. I wrote her a letter. I keep telling myself I want to be a good servant. That all I have is today. I pray a lot.

Tomorrow night is our
occasional Moon Howlin'. I'm looking forward to time with my buddies, being honest, real.

So... I gotta go. I have a lot to do. But I'll finish one of those posts soon and toss it onto this blog pile.


One chore done. It's a thing of beauty and joy everlasting, isn't it? I don't think I'll ever have to mess with that drain again!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Independence Day

I avoid politics in this blog. I don't talk politics much with friends and acquaintances. But I am involved. I have not missed voting a single time since I turned 18. I write my local, state, and national representatives when I feel strongly about an issue or concern. I follow how my elected officials vote, how they run their campaigns and their offices, and I remember their actions when I cast my vote.

I'm not going to spout off now about what mistakes we have made, or delve into thorny issues, but as it is Independence Day, I want to share a few things about this place that I happened to be born in... a place that has wealth and freedoms and beauty that gives me blessings unmatched elsewhere in the world.


The United States of America.

Powerful nation.

Powerful ideas behind the nation.

Freedom. Individual rights. Tolerance for other faiths, other views, simply others.

I am unhappy over some of the changes our nations has seen over the last decade or so. Lawsuits which warn us not to use hair dryers in showers, that our coffee is hot, that our children shouldn't wrap their heads in plastic, we shouldn't stand in front of moving heavy equipment.

I'm also concerned about the erosion of civil liberties and due process.

But, all that aside, I love my country.

Though we may seem like we are butting into the business of everyone else in the world, that we are arrogant or self-centered, there is something to remember.

We are a people who believe in justice. We believe, on the whole, in responsibility, and protecting the weak, and doing the right thing.

When I was 19 I spent an afternoon laughing so hard that my sides ached, my cheeks hurt from grinning. I and a dozen others spent the afternoon dangling our feet in a hot spring and listened to a very funny man, Red Skelton, tell jokes.

Red once had something to say about America, something I echo each year to my students. And I want to share that with you:

One more thing... another larger than life American was John Wayne. I also saw him in person, though I didn't say a word to him. He was the second person ahead of me in a line at a pharmacy in Newport Beach. It didn't seem right to approach the man in such a situation. But he also had something to say about us I would like to share:

Happy Independence Day. Thank you for those who sacrifice their comfort, their time with families, their lives, to protect me and my family.

And while we are a nation that is far from perfect, I pray that the best parts of who we are spread throughout the world. They are precious and I would love everyone to feel safe worshipping where they like, voting how they like, and be free to say what they believe.

God bless all of you.

P.S. Here is another example of the kind of men that make me feel the way I do about my country: