31 August 2016

On Atheists

Greetings Dear Reader,

For those of you who claim to be this there is not forthcoming rant.  I am not going to attack you or condemn you.  That is not my place.  Rather, I wish to ask my fellow Christ followers to see your example and follow it.

My friend Russ shared a story that answers a question I have wanted to address for some time.  Why did God create Atheists?

Here is the story he shared:

There is a famous story told in Chassidic literature that addresses this very question. The Master teaches the student that God created everything in the world to be appreciated, since everything is here to teach us a lesson.

One clever student asks “What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?”

The Master responds “God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all – the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs and act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that god commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.”

“This means,” the Master continued “that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say 'I will help you.’”
ETA source: Tales of Hasidim Vol. 2 by Mar

Even Maslow makes it clear that the highest form of development is doing right for the sake of doing right.  It is in doing things for the sake of the needs of others that we become more like Christ.   I cannot have any motive other than love for my neighbor in helping my neighbor or I am selling something.

It is a beautiful dichotomy.  I am compelled to obey God in loving others because I believe in him.  I must love others as if he does not exist so that my motivation is love for others.  I cannot love others in my own strength because I am fallen but God gives us the grace to love others even if we do not believe in him.

As Christ followers we must return to the place where in Christ we find everything.  We need to see the lessons of following in every situation.  We need to remember that there are no secular issues.  I must see those who do not believe but yet love others as my example of how to love unconditionally; even if the condition I wish is to show Christ to others. 

If I do not love others in this way I risk creating a barrier out of my motivation.  I want everyone to see Christ for who he is.  They cannot if I feel I need to buy their view of him with anything.  So to those of you Dear Reader who do not believe in God, I thank you for your example of unconditional love in a world that sorely needs it.

The Basin and the Towel – Michael Card 

And the call is to community

In an upstairs room, a parable
Is just about to come alive
And while they bicker about who's best
With a painful glance, He'll silently rise

Their Savior Servant must show them how
Through the will of the water
And the tenderness of the towel

And the call is to community
The impoverished power that sets the soul free
In humility, to take the vow
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel

In any ordinary place
On any ordinary day
The parable can live again
When one will kneel and one will yield

Our Saviour Servant must show us how
Through the will of the water
And the tenderness of the towel

The space between ourselves sometimes
Is more than the distance between the stars
By the fragile bridge of the Servant's bow
We take up the basin and the towel

And the call is to community
The impoverished power that sets the soul free
In humility, to take the vow
That day after day we must take up the basin

And the call is to community
The impoverished power that sets the soul free
In humility, to take the vow
That day after day we must take up the basin
That day after day we must take up the basin
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel
Take up the basin and the towel, basin and towel

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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30 August 2016

The Pain of Others – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

There will be pain in the journey.  It will come in many forms.  Our pain is ours and cannot be judged or determined by others.  We need to be honest about our hurt and notice those who respond with compassion.  We need to not make the pain our banner as well.

More importantly I am to see the hurt and pain in others and do what I can to help.  In the pain of others I find the opportunity to help them see that they are loved.  I wish that no one were ever hurt.  A fallen world means that they will be hurt.

Pain is a direct result of the world moving from good to not good.  We get to aid in moving it back towards good when we care for others in pain.  It is my responsibility to always care for the pain of others.  I cannot mitigate it all.  I cannot heal everything.

I can walk with the wounded and be supportive.  I can comfort where possible.   I can without hold judgement and hold out faith, hope, and love.  The focus must always be love and compassion that makes a difference.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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29 August 2016

The Pain of Others – Broken Faith

Greetings Dear Reader,

I hear much conversation about the departure of many from faith.  The church for many reasons is losing its effectiveness.  That does not mean it has lost its place and responsibility.  It does mean that it may be failing in those areas.

That is not as important as addressing the waning of faith in general.   Faith is required if we have any hope of connecting with God.  When someone loses faith it is painful and isolating.  People I know who have walked away from faith are in pain.  No matter what their reason for doing so, I see their pain.

I am not trying to argue for or against faith.  I do need to see the pain of those who have had their faith broken and be compassionate for them.  I do not need to judge and condemn.  I do not need to place demands that they act in a certain way.  I cannot expect those who do not believe to act like believers.  Those who have stopped following Christ cannot be expected to act like Christ followers.

Whether they admit it or not those who have broken faith are in pain.  That they may not admit to the pain does not matter.  I must see it and be kind and loving.   I must treat them well and not demand that they change to get my very best.  The wounds oif broken faith are never cause for shooting the wounded.

I pose this question:  Why do those who are struggling with social or moral issues feel that they must abandon faith to get resolution?   It is the obligation of those who have faith to tend to the struggles of those who question or even break faith.  It is always the responsibility of those with faith to care for those without it. 

Instead we shoot our wounded.  We push away those who question our practices and beliefs.  If our beliefs are as strong as we claim they will stand up to the questioning.  We are required to love the wounded and the hurting.  We are required to care for them.  There is no choice. 

Broken faith requires that we have greater faith.  I must see the brokenness and do all that I can to heal the wounds.  Love can crush the barriers to faith if I let it.  What I must assure is that I do not love the broken for the purpose of “making them believe”.   I must love them to love them.   I must love them for the single purpose of showing them love.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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28 August 2016

The Pain of Others – Broken Presence

Greetings Dear Reader,

People move in and out of our lives.  Some of that is the natural flow of life.  Some is abandonment.  Much is somewhere in between.  No matter how it happens the presence of others gets broken in our lives.

That broken presence can be physical or emotional.  We are cut off from others at a time when we do not wish it.  This causes great pain.  Whether through death, abandonment, or emotional distance the pain of broken presence does damage.

When others are forced through this dark valley we cannot measure their pain.  We can comfort and console when possible.  We can sit and be with them when needed.  When there is a broken presence what we must not do impose our time table on their pain. 

No one needs to “get over” the broken presence of a loved one.   When someone dies it breaks his or her presence in our lives and that does great damage.  It is not my place so limit or impose my standards on the pain.   It is my place to constantly let that person feel how they feel.  When someone loses a loved one or friend we must be there for them as long as it takes even if that is a lifetime.

When someone walks out of our lives it can be worse than if they had died.  The person’s shared connectivity may impose their absent presence on us at any time.  I still miss Avalon every day and encounters with her are blessed pain.  People who choose to break presence with us have their own pain and reasons.  We cannot control it.  We can engage with those who are in this pain and be kind, patient, and loving.

In the pain of broken presence we can show love and availability.  I can assure that the person in pain feels no time limits or conditions on how he or she feels.  I can let them feel what is felt and guide them towards healing moments.  The pain of broken presence in others is the prime opportunity to show unconditional love.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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27 August 2016

The Pain of Others – Broken Bones (and other physical injuries)

Greetings Dear Reader,

People get hurt.  They trip, stumble, slam, cut, crack, and break.  I have a friend who has a very damaged foot.  She has been posting the activities of said foot over the last few days.  It has been entertaining.

People handle physical pain in many ways.  Some hide it.  Others make it their soul mate.  It is not my place to judge the pain of others.  It is my obligation to have compassion for that pain.  This does not mean that I have to pander to those who make pain their focus in life.  It does mean that I must care.  It does mean that I must help where I can.

It costs me nothing to listen and be kind when others wish to talk about their physical difficulties.  It costs me very little to help carry, open doors, and genuinely care.  It is easy to wish them well and follow up on how they are doing.  It is important that I engage with the pain of others.

This is such an easy place to show genuine compassion.  It merely involves listening and a willingness to help.  It requires that I step outside myself.  It requires that I see how much Christ cares about the smallest splinter or the shattered bone.  When someone trusts me with their physical pain I must not pass that over lightly.  Honesty about pain is risk 

When entrusted with the pain of others I must carry that trust with gentle kindness.  I must assure those that entrust me with it that I will not cause them further pain.  I must use the strength give me by Christ to carry that pain as he would.  He is in the pain.  He is in the need.

Distressing Disguise – Michael Card

He is in the pain, He is in the need
He is in the poor, we are told to feed
Though He was rich, for us He became poor
How could He give so much, what was it for?

In His distressing disguise
He waits for us to surmise
That we rob our brothers by all that we own
And that's not the way He has shown

Every time a faithful servant serves
A brother that's in need
What happens at that moment is a miracle indeed
As they look to one another in an instant it is clear
Only Jesus is visible for they've both disappeared

He is in the hand that reaches out to give
He is in the touch that causes men to live
So speak with your life now as well as your tongue
Shelter the homeless, take care of the young

In His distressing disguise
He hopes that we'll realize
That when we take care of the poorest of them
We've really done it to Him

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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26 August 2016

The Pain of Others – Broken Hearts

Greetings Dear Reader,

I see so many broken hearts.  I see so many people surprised by kindness and someone caring.  I think that this may be the most common malady in our culture.  I am not talking about romance although that is part of it.

People’s hearts are broken over so many things.  Lost dreams and aspirations can break our hearts.  We meet time milestones without becoming what we wish to become.  Our “bucket list” has more on it than we think it should.  Our lives have become the routine that we swore we would avoid.

When people talk to me about these things it moves me.  I resonate with their pain.  I see in them the hurt that I feel because I am not where I wish to be yet.  I work to really listen when I use the common American greeting, “How are you”?  

When someone expresses his or her real pain or concern I must take the time to listen and then put myself at risk.  I must ask the question, “How can I help”?   Often there is nothing I can do but listen.  Even listening, however, is unfortunately unusual.  It is sad that real listening with compassion and engagement is uncommon.  

I am supposed to be engaged with those around me.  I am supposed to see the pain and need and do what I can to make it better.  There is no good in have things if I do not share them.  There is no joy in meals eaten alone when I could be sharing them with others.  The common greetings we share could be transformed into opportunities to walk alongside a fellow traveler for a while and carry a little of his or her burden.

The pain of a broken heart is my chance to share love and kindness.  I must stay outside of my out pain and brokenness enough to pay attention and be kind.   The journey is much easier when I am good to others.My  heart must break for the broken hearted.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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25 August 2016

The Pain of Others – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

“And some have compassion, making a difference.”

No matter where the day takes me I encounter those who are in pain.  The pain reveals itself in many ways and has various sources.  It is still pain.  It may be physical, emotional, or social.  It may be stress or hard times, troubles or fear.  We cannot measure the pain of others. 

It is not our place to determine the validity of another’s pain.  It is my place to have compassion and help where I can.  It is my obligation to care.  I want to care even if I were not obligated.  The pain of others moves me.

What I need to examine is how I view and respond to the pain of others.  I mentioned to a friend yesterday that as parents we feel so helpless when our adult children are in pain and we cannot ease the pain.  Her son is in distress and wants to work it out on his own. 

Pain in all its forms is both beneficial and horrid.  I would remove the pain of others completely if I could.  I would only do so if I could without removing the learning available in the pain.  Join me Dear Reader as I examine the thorny shared maladies that we all endure.  As always I welcome your thoughts and questions.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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24 August 2016

Sam’s Coffee

Greetings Dear Reader,

I drink my coffee sweet and light.  I usually have cream that is flavored.  It is how I like it.  It is like having a hot milkshake in the morning.  On my Friday breakfasts at my favorite diner I have half and half.   When I returned from vacation my refrigerator was void of my usual coffee lightener.   I did have some condensed milk and chose to use it.

This was the lightener of choice that my Grandfather Sam used.  He used to drink his coffee out of a white ceramic cup.  He often drank it saucered and blowed.  My coffee for the last few mornings has deeply reminded me of him.  I miss him even though he has been gone since I was nine. 

I try in so many ways to be like him.  I often think that he would have much to say about my failures.  He could always make me see the right path through things in a gentle and loving way.  I wish my Children could have known him. 

As I sip my coffee and fill this page I wonder what he would think of the world.  It was drinking his coffee in the morning that often triggered his musings to me.  He would talk about things going on in the world and remind me that we needed to love everyone.  He would remind me that even the criminals in the news were worthy of love.

More than once we were driving in Atlanta and he pulled over and gave his coat to someone waiting for the bus because they were cold.  He would take me to visit members of his congregation who were home bound because he said I cheered them up.  His faith had hands and feet like I imagine Christ wants us all to be.

I have many things I would like to discuss with him.  As I approach the mark of living alone for a year (not by my choice) I have many things that weigh on my mind.  He would listen.  He always did.  He would hear me.  He did that even when I was silent.  He would know what to say.

I talk about Sam often in Sheetrock on the Road.   He shaped much of my thinking with his thundering velvet ways.  He was a gentle irresistible force for love and grace.  It is what we are all supposed to be as Christ followers.  When I catch up to him I hope that I can share a story or two that he enjoys.

For FFB – Michael Card

Just a simple preacher from the Carolina hills
Born in just the perfect place and time
A gentle loving mountain man
With warm and sparkling eyes
And a face that wrinkled from a constant smile

From you I learned the kind of faith that looked up to the mountain
From you I saw just what I’d like to be
Oh Grandad I wish you could be here to tell me what to do
For I first saw the light of Christ in you

It must have been a special love that filled your shepherd’s heart
That made you care so deeply for your flock
Cause I heard tell on winter days
You always gave your coat away
Simply because you thought they’d need it more

From you I learned the kind of faith that looked up to the mountain
From you I saw just what I’d like to be
Oh Grandad I wish you could be here to tell me what to do
For I first saw the light of Christ in you

Even though we never got to know each other well
I thank the Lord for that one special night
When somewhere between the earth and sky
We silently met eye to eye
And I got the hug I needed for so long

From you I learned the kind of faith that looked up to the mountain
From you I saw just what I’d like to be
Oh Grandad I wish you could be here to tell me what to do
For I first saw the light of Christ in you

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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23 August 2016

Parable of the Jogging Muslims

Greetings Dear Reader,

I rarely have dreams that I would share with others.  Most of the ones I remember are nightmares that I would not visit upon the unsuspecting.  My dream last night, however, requires remembering and repeating.

So I offer up this parable, a visit if you will into the landscapes of my night that may or may not have a lesson for others.  I know it solidified one for me.   I wish it were as creative as my nightmares are. 

I just returned from vacation and visiting my brother in Toccoa, Georgia.   As we drove from Florida to Georgia I chose to take back roads instead of going through Atlanta.  Less traffic and the Georgia countryside are always preferable.  The speeds are slower but the tradeoff is invaluable.

Christmas noted how many small churches she saw along the way.  I explained that even if every church was filled with people that there were not enough to hold the population of the area.   We passed one church where the name of a former student was on the obligatory church sign.  He was the pastor.

And now the dream begins with the proper backdrop.  In my dream I was visiting this student at his request.  I was there to teach a week-long seminar for his Christian Education team.  There is a parsonage on the church property and the church uses it as a guest house.  I was staying there.

The church had a youth center as well where twenty to thirty youth gathered each evening.   There was study help in the afternoon and basketball and volleyball in the evening.  I was enjoy an excellent meal prepared by one of the church families when I heard a loud chorus of boos being shouted with the energy and vigor of real hatred.

I stepped out to see that the teens were lining the highway and booing some joggers who were passing by.  The joggers were all Muslim women.  I was saddened by the active hatred that I saw in young people who should have been taught better by my former student.

That evening as the education team gathered for my instruction I asked the Pastor about what I had witnessed.  He explained that they were just “expressing themselves” and their anger at the things some Muslims do in the world.   He went on to tell me that these women worked at a shop in the nearby town and would jog to work in the morning and home to their small community in the evening.

I reminded him that no matter what his congregation feels that hatred of any kind is forbidden by Christ.  I reminded him that it is his job to guide his people, especially his youth, into acts of love and service.  He offered several lame excuses but fortunately he still viewed me as his professor.

After some internal struggle he admitted that he needed to change things.  He was always a creative student and came upon an idea.  He would not tell me what it was but asked me to observe what he did the next evening. 

I avoided mentioning the event during my training that night and spent much of the next day in prayer for my friend and his congregation.  I also prayed for the women that were jogging by and the poor impressing they were getting of Christians. 

Evening came and the Pastor pulled up in his pickup truck.  The bed was loaded with ice and bottled water.  He had some signs in the cab.  He called the teens over from the volleyball court and spoke to them briefly.  They took the signs and bottles of water.  They lined the highway as the joggers approached.

The bright signs all read “Jesus loves you”:  As the joggers passed the youth called out, “we apologize” and “I am sorry”.  Some of the women grabbed the ice cold water but others crossed the highway avoiding the youth.  To his credit the Pastor realized that he had to make an adjustment. 

He instructed the youth to be back at the church early the next morning.   They were there.  The Pastor again showed up with iced water but no signs.  He instructed the teens to be silent and simply offer the water.  More of the women took the water.  Some still moved to the other side of the highway. 

The next morning the teens were there again.  The Pastor handed over the responsibility for getting the ice and water to one of the teens with truck.  The teens continued to silently hand out cold water in the Georgia heat.  And I awakened for it was only a dream.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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22 August 2016

Farewell and Fair Winds

Greetings Dear Reader,

Whilst I was away on vacation a friend left the area, perhaps for good.   She travels to learn and grow.  She does not leave just to leave    She leaves to find out what the next chapter is.

It is in the leaving that I feel a loss.  She was a sometimes visitor at my Friday morning breakfasts.   Those interactions were uplifting and encouraging.  Her space at the table will be empty and that is a necessary loss.

So much of what we are as Christ followers is mutable.  People transition in and out of our lives.  For good or for Ill they leave their mark.   I wish nothing but good for this person as she moves on in her following.  

It reminds me just how many lives we touch along the way.  As I follow I try to impact all lives for good.  Sometimes I fail.   What matters is that I try to do well in all future transactions.  Whether it is lifelong encounters or single serving friendships I must assure that I do all that I can to make those encounters loving and kind.

As this friend moves on to other encounters I pray for her to have the same success.  I pray that she grows in her faith and following.   I wish her joy in the journey in every step.  I take from her parting the chance to remember all that I am supposed to be as a follower. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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21 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

As I use my last day of vacation to rest I think about what this trip has done for me.  I have driven and walked very far.  I have been witness to someone being celebrated for her life and freedom. 

The land of Mickey Mouse has much to teach us about hope and dreams.  It also has much to teach us about what we can do if we set our minds on being good to others.  If humans can work together for a paycheck to ensure that others are happy then what can we do as Christ followers?

It is possible for dreams to come true.  It is possible for us to change the lives of others.  It is possible to make a difference. As one who follows Christ I must assure that my actions produce joy in the lives of others.  It is my obligation to make the impossible possible.  It is my duty to see to it that the dreams of others get a foothold in Christ.

People go where they get their needs met.  They flock to the Magic Kingdom to be briefly happy.  We need to create a space where people can find lasting joy.   We need to be an example.  I need to carry the lessons of joy and whatever it takes to created it with me every day.  The journey is both too long and too short to avoid it.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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20 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – All Good Things

Greetings Dear Reader,

As I write this I am still recovering from the journey back and velocitation.  I still feel like I am hurtling down the highway when I am sitting still.  This too shall pass.  As with all good things vacations end.

I have a day to recover.  I think I have celebrated my Daughter well.  My brain and fingers are weary.  I cannot even type one sentence without an error.  I will rest and draw some conclusions tomorrow.  Good night Dear Reader.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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19 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – Land Down Under

Greetings Dear Reader,

I know that Christmas misses several aspects of Australia.   As the last stop on our trip we stopped at a small zoo called Kentucky Down Under.   It is a collection of Australian animals and some cultural knowledge created by Bill and Judy Austin in 1990.  

It is worth a day to pet the kangaroos, see the animal show, and learn about sheep and sheep dogs at the sheep barn.  It is also fun to watch the staff react to an authentic Australian visiting their park.

The place has not changed much since I last visited it in 2009.   Today I watch my Daughter pet the kangaroos and even coax a young joey out of the pouch so some other visitors could see it.  I was reminded that there are so many lovely facets to her personality that sparkle when she is given the light and time to do so.

I was also reminded of how much I enjoy the diversity of culture.  We are in a rural southern town.  We are in an ancient motel run by a zealously polite Indian couple.  We spent the day infused with Australian culture.  I am supposed to be a man who embraces infinite diversity in infinite combinations. 

It is in these moments that I value just how easy that diversity is if I set aside my expectations.  I need to see and revel in the differences.  I need to see the beauty and grace in every culture.   It is in these things that the Father reveals the depth of who he is.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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18 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – Beautiful

Greetings Dear Reader,

As we leave Disney today we head north to Toccoa, GA.  The word Toccoa means Beautiful.   The place is beautiful.  It puts me in mind of when I took my Sons to Disney many years ago.  We spent three days then at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom.

On the way back home we stopped at a place called Ichetucknee Springs.  It is a spring fed river where one can snorkel and see beautiful fresh water wild life.  My Sons commented on how much better it was than all of Disney.

Remembering that day puts me in mind as I travel away from the illusions of Disney that it is the real things in life that can give us wonder.  It is the natural world that reveals to us the magnificence of creation.  I do not want to take anything away from what has been done here.  I do with to assure that I see the wonder in all good things.

I will write more about yesterday later.  There is a final Disney moment that should be shared and I must say farewell to someone.   As I travel today, however, I will be thanking the Father for the many blessings he poured out on us at Disney World.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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17 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – Hollywood Smiles

Greetings Dear Reader,

The day spent and Disney Hollywood Studios was amazing.  My Daughter was chosen as one of the extras for the Indiana Jones production.  Because much of the park is under reimagining for the new Star Wars area we made it a shorter day.  We came back to the resort and truly rested.

Christmas was once again surprised by the Disney staff with a surprise that is yet pending.  I am constantly amazed at their creativity in meeting the needs of guests.  They work together, network across the parks, and act to go above and beyond for people.

In the vast illusion that makes up the Disney parks there is no illusion when it comes to being good to their visitors.  Once again I am astounded at what can be accomplished if people work together for a common goal.

Those of us who follow Christ could do the same to meet the real needs of the world if we chose to do so.  We could network, go above and beyond, and work to provide for the needs of others.  The people we meet along the way need this.  They need to feel that the real Kingdom of God has something to offer than illusion and promises.  They need to see it in reality.

I saw real people, with real tears of joy at the opportunity they were given to help my Daughter live the magic.   When was the last time we felt that emotional over the opportunity to feed the hungry or help those in need?  I need to get to that place.  That needs to be my desire.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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16 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – Advent Anniversaries

Greetings Dear Reader,

Yesterday truly was magical.  The Disney people lived up to their reputation for excellence.  At every turn my Daughter was treated like a princess including Disney providing all that was needed for a true makeover for our dinner at Cinderella’s castle. 

I saw real people with real lives outside of their jobs find great joy in drawing smiles and awe from a twenty-eight year old who for the day was just an eight year old.  The world spun a little slower and grew a little smaller.  This is expensive but worth every penny.

Always having an eye for managing the project I saw many things that impressed me.  The way in which the park moves people is so efficient.  The other aspect is how they manage feeding and hydrating everyone so well, with quality, at a fair price.  The entire movement of thousands of guests amazes the organizer in me.

I did not encounter one cast member who was not kind and friendly.  It once again put me in mind of just how much of a difference just being nice can make.  I was also put in mind of the impact having the power to do good and then doing it can help.  Two Disney staff members took my Daughter Christmas in hand and saw to it that she was made to feel like royalty.  They did not have to do this.  I did not pay for it.  They saw her, responded with compassion, and did great good.

What humans did in the name of a mouse I am supposed to do in the name of Christ.  What the church is supposed to be is echoed by the Disney people.  I am more determined to assure that am this whenever I can be.  If I do well then I will be able to create a kind of magic in the lives of others. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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15 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – Magic Kingdoms

Greetings Dear Reader,

Today we venture into the Magic Kingdom.  When we checked in last night Teresa made my Daughter feel as if she were the only person to arrive at this place where thousands arrive daily.  Today is Christmas’ birthday. 

This kingdom raised out of central Florida swamp land really is magical in a sense.  It is easy to forget that those who serve us here are real people with real lives outside of work.  In the moment when Teresa and my Daughter exchange conversation it was obvious that two real people were exchanging compassion for each other.   

As I move through this magic kingdom I will remember that the illusions here must not hinder my view of the real souls behind the smiles who deserve my kindness and grace.  They deserve to be appreciated, loved, and thanked. 

The Magic Kingdom is a place like any other that needs see the truth and love of the hidden Kingdom of Christ.  The Gospel is the herald of its imminent emergence.  I am to be its ambassador.  It is my obligation to represent the Gospel in every encounter but especially when others are working hard to serve me.

My focus will be on my Daughter today.  My heart will be to celebrate her freedom and healing from trauma and abuse.  I will mostly be celebrating her life.  I will also honor her by being good and kind to those we encounter.  I will do my best to honor Christ here as an example and as a gift.  The emerging Kingdom of God is much more vital than any Magic Kingdom derived for illusions.

The Kingdom – Michael Card

So near and yet still so far, far away
So close, and yet still to come
Concealed, the seed is mysteriously growing
In hearts that will listen and hear
A treasure that's hidden, a pearl of great price
A fortune for fools who believe

A kingdom of beauty, a kingdom of love
A kingdom of justice and peace
A kingdom that holds all the wiles of creation
A kingdom where children will lead

For now this kingdom's a land of the lowly
A place for the tired, plundered poor
image: http://static.urx.io/units/web/urx-unit-loader.gif


Now our gentle King comes in peace on a donkey
But then on a charger for war
A battle in heaven, a war on the earth
To shatter the long darkened siege

A kingdom of beauty, a kingdom of love
A kingdom of justice and peace
A kingdom that holds all the wiles of creation
A kingdom where children will lead

Not by our own strength
And not by the power of might
But by His Spirit it comes
Blinded eyes will see
And deafened ears will hear
The praise from the lips of the dumb

A kingdom of beauty, a kingdom of love
A kingdom of justice and peace
A kingdom that holds all the wiles of creation
A kingdom where children will lead

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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14 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – Varsity Blues

Greetings Dear Reader,

Yesterday we stopped at the original Varsity Restaurant for lunch, This world class drive in had be best chili dogs I have ever had.  Pairing then with amazing onion rings is a wise and glorious thing.   Washing it down a frosted orange is divine. 

Today we arrive at the resort.  The journey is reminding me why I no longer live in the South.  The heat and humidity are both assaulting me relentlessly.  My head is tired and words do not easily form today.     

It is the anticipation that keeps me moving.   Is occurs to me that the true nature of our motivation in life is the anticipation of things.  It is in the wanting that we find movement.  I think that this cuts both ways.  We can anticipate good things and this drives us.  We can anticipate things that are not so good and this hinders us.  Once again we are sculpted by that which we treasure. 
 
I must, therefore, align my desires with those of the Father.   If I do this he will help me desire the rights things.  I must focus on following even in the leisurely parts of the journey.    

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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13 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – The Road

Greetings Dear Reader,

At this point the road slips beneath us at speeds my Great-Grandfather thought dangerous to humans.  I love long drives especially when they take me to knew and unknown roads. 

This journey is mostly familiar and I have driven it dozens of times over the last twenty years.  There are moments and landmarks that mean much to me.  The hamlet of Paw-Paw with it windfarm and train museum is a byword in our family.  We have broken down twice there. 

The Effingham Cross is always a moment of prayer and reverence for me.  That such a great symbol of death inspires so deeply is a beautiful analogy of redemption to me.  It is also the gateway moment to Metropolis and the Superman Museum. 

My destination today is Macon.  I have not been to Macon in some time though it figures greatly in the first part of my dystopian novel currently under construction.  I first road in an old Thunderbird on my way to Macon as a boy.  The car had a slide over steering wheel and a thermometer speedometer. 

Driving always brings out so many memories.  Christmas is sleeping as is her passion when traveling.  The combination of the road and her snoring gives me so much time to muse and reflect.  I try to get the most out of the journeying part of the journey.  It is rarely the destination for me.

Both freedom and loneliness are constant companions for me when I drive long distances.  I pray and worship the God I love as I drive.  I ponder the lives of those I pass and who pass me.  I wonder where they are on the path back to God.  Everything about this journey is about the fellow travelers and our Guide. 

As I near each milestone I hope that I impart love and grace to the single serving friendships I encounter at gas stations and diners.  I hope that I am kind to those who seek hope and landmarks that guide them home.

I realize that there is no destination here that is more attractive to me than my final destination.  I long for that Undiscovered Country where the clearing at the end of the path yields welcome and true home.  For now, I must find what joy I can in the journey. 

Our real adventure begins tomorrow.  For today I will look at the sunrise, enjoy the road, and stop at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  As I meddle in the affairs of wizards and fairies I will take care not to get burned.  The road goes ever on and on Dear Reader.  Journey well today as I hope to do.  Spare a prayer for me if you are so inclined.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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12 August 2016

Of Mice and Men – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

Today begins an adventure that is much more a journey of love and grace than anything else.  My Daughter Christmas has journeyed so far to become the amazing young woman she is.   I have been privileged to be her “father” for barely a third of her life.  Before my part began things were not so  good for her.  That, however, is a tale best told in the safety of a book.

One of the things that sustained her during the dark times was the hope of one day going to Disney world.  We will set out on that journey today.  Amusement parks do not in general amuse me.  I have been to the Magic Kingdom a few times and found it interesting but not as magical as others find it.

What I anticipate on this voyage is the emergence of lost little girl in my Daughter.  I am doing all that I can to make it truly magical for her.  I will chronicle the observations and ponderings I encounter along the way.  Mostly I hope to be in the moment with someone who deserves some magical moments.

Travel with me Dear Reader.  I could use your companionship, questions, and prayers.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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11 August 2016

Second Thoughts – Mallards, Cubs, and Braves

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you Dear Reader.

Last evening I spent the night at my final Mallards game of the season. There is one more home game but I will be on the road.  It has been a good season and I wish them the best in the playoffs.

The professional baseball world is topsy-turvy for me.  The Cubs are still the best team in the game and my beloved Braves are at the bottom of the bottom.  I am happy for my long beleaguered Cubs friends.  They have waited so very long to feel this hope and potential.  Since my Braves will not be in contention I hope the Cubs take it all if only to make my friends happy.

My Braves did prosper in their former home town this week, sweeping a series with the Brewers.  My real baseball happiness this year has been enjoying the Mallards with my family.  It has been a warm muggy season.  My Grandsons have been more engaged in the game.  They both have sung at the game in front of thousands of fans.  I have seen my Son really relax and enjoy baseball.

The metaphors of baseball still run strong in my heart.  Every individual on the field matters even if they never touch the ball.  Every moment of the game is one of potential.  I am learning that it is so  both on and off the field.  The opportunities’ to be kind and loving to those around me abound.  The chances to be patient and  grateful to the staff occur nightly.. 

In the microcosm of each game is this temporary community of people in a united purpose.  They all want the same thing; a win.   I watch my Son set the example of cheering and not booing to his Sons and I am proud of him.  I see my Grandsons begin to understand the game and am delighted.

Mostly though I am constantly reminded that every season, game, inning, and pitch has potential.  Any at bat can turn death into a fighting chance to live.  Last night the only score was a two run home run by the opposition.  That single swing of the bat was enough to change everything.

Soon the air will turn crisp.  The Mallards players will return to their respective colleges.  The Braves will start their off season.  For the sake of my friends and my pastor I hope the Cubs are the last team standing as October heralds the end of the season. 

What I will carry into the winter where baseball and the green world sleeps is this:  I have a deeper love for my Children and Grandchildren through the common threads of the baseball seam.  I have a deeper love of Christ through the lessons of potential taught in the cathedral of the diamond. 

Eventually my heart will run out of summers.  For now I will embrace hope.  I will hope for better fortunes for my Braves.  I will hope that my family will embrace the journey of faith; even those who are in their winter of discontent.  I will journey through the deep midwinter in hope for a better outcome.  This is baseball and this is life. 

The Riddle – Five for Fighting

There was a man back in '95
Whose heart ran out of summers
But before he died, I asked him
Wait, what's the sense in life?
Come over me, come over me

He said
Son, why you got to sing that tune?
Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the moon
Let an angel swing and make you swoon
Then you will see, you will see

Then he said
Here's a riddle for you
Find the answer
There's a reason for the world
You and I

Picked up my kid from school today
Did you learn anything causin' the world today
You can't live in a castle far away
Now talk to me, come talk to me

He said
Dad, I'm big, but we're smaller than small
In the scheme of things, well, we're nothing at all
Still every mother's child sings a lonely song
So play with me, come play with me

And, hey, dad
Here's a riddle for you
Find the answer
There's a reason for the world
You and I

I said
Son, for all I've told you
When you get right down to the
Reason for the world
Who am I?

There are secrets that we still have left to find
There have been mysteries from the beginning of time
There are answers we're not wise enough to see

He said
You looking for a clue
I love you free

The batter swings and the summer flies
As I look into my angel's eyes
A song plays on while the moon is high over me
Something comes over me

I guess we're big, and I guess we're small
If you think about it, man, you know we got it all
'Cause we're all we got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free
I love you freely

Here's a riddle for you
Find the answer
There's a reason for the world
You and I

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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How Can You Know Me – Closing Thoughts – By my Love

Greetings Dear Reader,

Please forgive me if I get a bit preachy this morning.  I am so tired of those who claim to follow Christ failing to be recognizable by the mark their Maker demands they carry.  I fail at times, but I genuinely want to love everyone at all times.  I do not want to judge and condemn.  That is just not my job as a Christ follower.  Let me start with a true story. 

There was a time when my Sons, Avalon, I, and others engaged in an annual paintball war.  One summer my eldest kept trying to get the drop on me.  In fact he did several times but for one reason or another I always shot him first.  Perhaps it is because I have learned how to shoot at someone who outdrew you. 

In any event the last time it happened I said, “Hey Son…”
He said, “I know dad, you love me.”

I tell people I love them.  Sometimes it makes them uncomfortable.  I try to live it much better than I did in those days of paintball and family shuffling.  I am so weary of anything taking precedence over us loving each other.  I am weary of a world on its way to God tripping over those who claim to know him.  Our benchmark is LOVE, full stop.  If we do not show love to every friend, follower, neighbor, and enemy we are failures. 

Dear Reader, I call on you to hold those who claim to be Christians to this standard.  We need to stop shooting our wounded, hating our enemies, and crucifying the fallen.  That is not our place.  That is not my duty.  My first duty is to love God and every human.  My heart needs to be broken over the needs others (it is).

There is nothing inside the church building that can rescue you or guide you that you should not be able to find in the quiet praying guy in the next cube row.  There is not a sermon, song, or sacrament that is more important than you learning to have faith in the one who came to seek you out so that he could love you.

I am just a sinner saved by grace trying to get home.  I have no right to judge, condemn, or pick up a stone.  None of Christ’s followers have any ground to stand on when it comes to judging others.  We are to be known by our LOVE, full stop.  I was the lost cause.  I am an outcast.  If I have any hope to find the love, grace, and forgiveness I need then I must be honest that I am not better than anyone else.

I call on my fellow followers to stop being anything but loving to the world.  I call on those who do not follow Christ to hold us accountable to do just that.  I do not have to accept everything as acceptable or right to do this.  I can say that we all sin and that comes in many flavors and still love you.  I cannot condemn, divide, and hate and love you.  Saying something is wrong is not hate.  Failing to see that my sin is no better than yours is lying.  Denying that I need something beyond me to redeem me is a lie. 

We are all on our way back to the Father through the Son.  If you cannot obey the singular command to love then you need more love from me.  I get that.  Until you are willing to love unconditionally everyone made by God then please don’t tell anyone you are one of his.  Your political position, religious sect, or social issue does not matter if it does not align with the commands to love the Father with all your heart, soul, and mind the command to love your neighbors and enemies. 

I was the lost cause.  I am the outcast.  It bears repeating lest I forget that I was on the other side of faith headed toward a life of death and destruction.  I stand by the door.  I refuse to turn anyone away.  I refuse to see anyone as unworthy of love, grace, and mercy. 

So Dear Reader if you are one of his put down your signs, cross the lines, and love like Jesus does.  If you are not one of his don’t listen to anyone who does not do this.  I love you. I will fail.  I will not condemn you.  I will defend you from those my tribe who do.  Please take an honest look at us sort out the noise from the truth. 

“By this will all men know that you are my disciples, by your love for one another,” - Jesus

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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10 August 2016

How Can You Know Me – Not By My Denomination

Greetings Dear Reader,

In the early first century there was only one type of Christian.  They were people who had seen Jesus and chosen to follow him.  We can see the seeds of division that are forming when Paul warns the churches not to argue about who saw Jesus and who learned the Gospel through other means.

If we look at it honestly every departure from the original body of Christ is the result of a division.  We are supposed to be known for our unity.  It does not matter which denomination you claim it springs from some form of strife, argument, or persecution.  When I first chose to follow Christ I was taught almost immediately to judge and condemn certain denominations.  It was years before I encountered a church that did not participate in this infighting. 

There is supposed to be no division in Christ.  We are not Baptist, Episcopal, or Methodist.  We are followers of Christ who need to be one in him.  When we claim our sect over this we create disharmony.  We create confusion as to how to follow Christ.  We create noise that distracts from the Gospel.

You will rarely hear me talk about my church or denomination.  They are both good but do not focus on who they are as a denomination.  The Gospel is the idea that we are a community of people who know Jesus and seek to reach a community that does not.  It is not my place to put forward anything but Christ. 

If you know me and wish to join me at church you would be welcome.  If you are investigating who Jesus is it is a safe place to do it.  If a church tells you that they are better than other churches do not believe it.  Look at what they do and then decide. 

It is in Christ that I live, and move, and have my being.  Everything else either enhances or detracts from that.  Everything else is either subtext or noise.  Hold us to a standard that filters out the noise Dear Reader. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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