30 July 2009

As Avalon Leaves Me – Another Milestone

Greetings Dear Readers

The milestone is in the rearview mirror now. The judge was kind. The pain was intense. The entire thing was unnecessary. The thing is, that it is in the past now. I have children I love who need my attention and they will get it. My students deserve my best and they will get it. You, my readers deserve my openness and you will not lose it.

When King David’s first son with Bathsheba was dying, he begged and pleaded with God to spare the child. God did not. When the child died David ceased his mourning, washed his face, and got up to eat. His comment is one of the most faith filled there is. “While the child lived there was hope. He shall not come to me but I will go to him.”

Avalon has driven me past a milestone by force. Like so many other things I have no control over this. What I do have control over is what I do and say. So here is what I have to say. It is simple and will not reveal any great truth that is not already evident.

God is Good – Everything he allows is allowed for a reason whether I get it or not.
God is in control – nothing happens by accident. We have choices but God has already planned how he will respond to our choices
God desires for us to see his love and love him – Anything that happens to me is designed or allowed by God so that I will see his love for me.
God wishes only two things from me – That I love him with all my heart, soul, and mind and that I love my neighbors as my self

What will I do?

I will keep seeking to follow Christ alone.
I will avoid bitterness and anger for forgiveness and love.
I will continue to purge that which is not Christ’s alone.
I will keep journeying for to stop is to cease following and I am called to follow.
I will continue to “Stand by the Door”.

Thank you for your prayers and support during this time. I love you all collectively and individually.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

29 July 2009

As Avalon Leaves Me – In the Heart of Darkness

Greetings Dear Readers,

Today I will stand in a room where a man in a black robe will give Avalon her way. He will use the law and pen strokes to tell my wife that what she vowed for life is not her responsibility. What God has joined together men will put asunder.

As I stand in that place I wish only to think, speak, and do things that Christ would have me do. I am not sure what they are but my thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount continue to reveal more and more to me. Here is what I have:

Mat 5:3 “Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” - If anything has finally gotten into my head it is the level to which I am truly helpless spiritually. Even that is not true for I do not think that as much as I have seen my need I do not realize its true depth.

Mat 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn. They will be comforted.” – Christ is comforting me in my pain and loss. I do not only mourn the loss of my wife but that she is so far from the truth in her choices. This is not judgment it is compassion. I do not wish anyone to judge her. I want her avoid the sins I have committed and the consequences that follow. I mourn that she walks a path that will harm her.

Mat 5:21-24 “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'Never murder. Whoever murders will answer for it in court. But I can guarantee that whoever is angry with another believer will answer for it in court. Whoever calls another believer an insulting name will answer for it in the highest court. Whoever calls another believer a fool will answer for it in hellfire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember there that another believer has something against you, leave your gift at the altar. First go away and make peace with that person. Then come back and offer your gift.” – My anger is not mine to keep. And those I have angered deserve my attention to be heard and for me to make peace with them. Christ values my good relationships with others over my gifts to him.

Mat 5:31- 32 “It has also been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice. But I can guarantee that any man who divorces his wife for any reason other than unfaithfulness makes her look as though she has committed adultery. Whoever marries a woman divorced in this way makes himself look as though he has committed adultery.” – I know that my marriage should not end. I will keep my vows for they are a covenant with God not just with Avalon. I failed in this miserably in the past and I am sure that it has added to this current distress. What will be done today is wrong, but I am powerless to stop it.

Mat 5:37 “Simply say yes or no. Anything more than that comes from the evil one.” – We both told each other that that we would not part until death. It really is that simple.

So in a few hours I will be divorced. Someone I do not know will tell the woman I love with all my heart that she is free to do as she pleases. We really are not free no matter what the honorable judge says. I mean no disrespect to the court but it is God who owns our vows not the state. It is odd to me that we meet in church for the wedding and in court for the divorce. If one believes they are doing what is right perhaps they should have to gather all those who witnessed their vows and justify it to them.

No one will ever convince me that what Avalon is doing is right or even for right motives. Too many things have been said that prove the opposite. Nevertheless, I will ask you dear readers to pray that I live out my spiritual helplessness today. Specifically here is my prayer, posted yesterday by a long lost friend, written even longer ago by a man after God’s own heart. “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds.” Psalm 141:3-4

I will have more to say tomorrow but no matter what happens, things will be different.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

28 July 2009

As Avalon Leaves Me – How do you feel?

Greetings Dear Readers,

I am getting asked quite often this week about how I feel. As a cautionary note to all who are considering ending a marriage I will try to answer honestly. Please note that how one feels is not nearly as important as the lessons one learns from those feelings and how one follows Christ because of or in spite of those feelings.

I feel angry – but in that anger I refuse to give place to the evil one or fail to forgive Avalon.

I feel robbed – I was promised a life with someone I love and it was taken without my leave – but it is taught me to depend on nothing but Christ

My heart is broken – You cannot accidentally break someone’s heart but it has made it easier for Christ to get into the places he wishes.

I feel betrayed – With a kiss, with offers of friendship – but I will not hold the sin again her.

I feel abandoned - I was and am willing to face and deal with any of my own sin to make our marriage whole.

I feel renewed – I know that in the midst of my pain I am more focused on Christ than ever.

I feel hope – I know that God knows what he is doing and will do my best to center on the fact that he is good and wants what is best for me.

I feel grief – No so much for my loss any longer but for Avalon because she is so far from the truth in this and still believes the lies that allow her to violate our marriage.

It costs so much to end a marriage. I know that Christ has used my situation to his own purposes. I know that others follow Christ more closely because of what has happened to me. I know that others tend the garden that is their marriage better because of this. I know that I will find the path Christ wishes me to walk if I just keep my focus on him. There is peace in my pain and my children have been there for me every moment. My church has supported me in amazing ways. Christ has made himself so evident in my life. Tomorrow I will stand before a judge who will tear asunder what God joined together. It will hurt.

Please pray for me.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

27 July 2009

As Avalon Leaves Me – The Sin in my Service

Greetings Dear Readers,

Throughout the last year and a bit I have attempted to be open about the changes God is working in me. If you have followed my writing in this venue you know that Avalon has left me and on Wednesday morning I will go into a courtroom where a judge will say that we are no longer married. She will have what she wants and I will face my future without the woman I love.

Over the next three days I hope to say some things here that will help me face Wednesday morning with as much Christ-centeredness as possible. The first thing I wish to say is that most of the learning I have done over the last year has been just how far areas of my life were from what Christ wished me to be as one of his followers. This summer my church has taken us on a journey through the Sermon on the Mount.

In this Jesus addresses the culture and practices of his nation in light of what they should be, in light of what we should be in a fallen world. I love the pastoral staff at our church very much and in them I see no pretense or hypocrisy. I value every moment that I get to spend with them.

Early in the year our senior pastor challenged us to memorize the Sermon on the Mount. I decided to take up this challenge. I already knew two large portions of it and I can memorize things easily. I have a memorization system that works well and I thought to easily commit the three chapters to memory and impress my pastor. In this I missed two large and important details.

As I began the schedule of committing the passages to memory, for the first time in my life I found it hard to memorize. I relegated the difficulty to age, the current stresses in my life, and anything else that would keep me from seeing the sin in my service.

First, I must recognize that it would dishonor my pastor to do anything with the intent of impressing him. He is not a man who wishes anyone to impress him. He rather wishes us all to live honestly and purely walking in the footsteps of Christ. My motive was wrong and I am sure hindered my memory. I ask my pastor’s forgiveness.

Second, I must acknowledge that was memorizing this passage for my own purposes, not to follow it more closely. The very heart of these verses is to learn how to do things for the right motives. I think there could be no more prideful way to go about violating the Sermon on the Mount than to memorize it for earthly recognition. I ask Christ’s forgiveness.

I not only ask forgiveness but I recognize that this points out a pattern in my life that I have been unearthing for the last year. I know my son Maxim has tried to help me see it but his approach often clashes with my sensibilities and I do not hear him. Again that would be my pride. As Avalon leaves me I begin to realize how difficult it must be to live with a man who knows the Word of God but sometimes uses it to his own purposes.

It is not that I would ever lie about what it says, but that I would require others to apply and use that which I neglect. My heart is to be Christ’s and his alone right up until I get too uncomfortable. Indulging in a million little comforts has cost me that which comforted my heart as a husband. Avalon is wrong to abandon her vows, but I must own my failure in being the spiritual leader I should be in a family. I do not know what I can regain. I feel deposed by my children but I know that I can face the coming time of trouble with a heart determined to live out what I believe.

I miss my Grandfather today. He was the first person to show me that there was more than this world to consider. He loved Christ and followed him to his dying moment. He used to say that “you do what you believe. Everything else is religious talk.” Forty years after his death I think I am just getting the core of what he said.

Wishing you joy in the journey

Aramis Thorn

20 July 2009

A Broken Carafe

Greetings Dear Readers,

Some time ago I wrote to you about the joys of properly cleaning and caring for a coffee pot. I do not drink a lot of coffee but when I do, I truly enjoy it. Properly grinding the beans, filling the carafe with cool clean water, and watching the rich brown liquid flow from a well cared-for coffee maker are an exercise in luxury and leisure for me. Adding the sweetener and cream to my favorite cup and watching the coffee turn the color of brown sugar further heightens my anticipation. Lifting that cup taking in the aroma, and indulging in that first sips is truly a morning pleasure that I relish.

A few weeks ago someone offered to make coffee for me. I was in the midst of writing and agreed to forgo the preparation ritual in favor of keeping the muse happy whilst she feigned to visit my mind and fingers. The muse was soon chased away anyway. My kind coffee preparer returned to me moments later quite distraught. Apparently there had been an accidental collision of the glass carafe with the faucet head and the faucet head won. The carafe was in the sink in pieces.

Understand that I have a coffee maker that is very good to me. It has a timer so coffee can be ready as soon as I get up if I wish it. It brews very quickly because it is clean and free of mineral deposits. I can snatch the carafe from under the luscious black flow during brewing and it stop the brewing until I return the carafe. It is a great coffee maker that is completely useless without its carafe.

On that particular morning the solution was an easy one as I had a second coffee maker in reserve. It is not as nice as my older one, but I was able to have coffee. I packed up my favorite coffee maker determined to acquire a new carafe and bring the machine back to usefulness. That was almost a month ago. I searched the internet for a replacement pot and saw that for $20 I could get a glass carafe and for $35 I could get a stainless steel one that would never break. I decided that I would do this.

This past Saturday I was at a local thrift store and found the carafe that fits my coffee maker for only $2. Sunday morning I enjoyed my coffee ritual for far less and far sooner than I had expected. What struck me as I watched the coffee flow into the carafe was the number of discarded coffee makers I had seen at the thrift store?

Why do we discard that which still serves us? Why do I leave behind things that still can work with a little effort on my part? I think it is a part of our culture that we give up on things once they fail us. We replace rather than repair. We get the newer and faster and set aside the older and slower. Having gone through that very treatment from my beloved Avalon, I am trying to be more cognizant of the things I leave behind that I should not. People and relationships matter. Things that are still of use matter. In our disposable society, I must not fall into the trap that the family and friendships I have are not a part of that culture.

I cannot control what others do, but it is not my right to discard those that Christ has placed into my life.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

13 July 2009

Loopholes, Hitherto, and Caveats

Greeting Dear Readers,

How often do we find ourselves looking for a reason not to do what we have said we will do. It is one thing if for health reasons or an emergent crisis we have to change our plans but often we just do not want to follow through and we make up a reason or just back out of what we have promised. So often I say aloud what I wish to do as if I am going to do it. It is not that I do not intend to, it is rather that I think I am in control. I am not.

I find myself wondering where the line is. At what point have I committed myself to something? At what point am I using a backdoor that I cleverly left because I knew all along I was not going to do what I said I would do? Some things are conditional. It is one thing to say, “I will go to the game unless it rains.” It is another altogether to say, “I would like to go to the game,” leaving the impression that you are when you do not intend to.

We have become a society of caveats and loopholes. We do not say what we mean and often do not mean what we say. I know that I need to work much harder at clarity and directness. I have heard someone say that once they have broken a commitment that they are no longer bound by it. I do not believe this. Christ’s intent when he said, “let your yes be yes and your no be no,” was simple. Our yes is a contract that we cannot break. We can go to another and ask for release from our word, but once we have said yes, we have given the power over to them.

From the request for help with a chore to our marriage vows, we as a nation have found ways around doing what we say we will do when things get hard. I have to be clearer , say what I mean, and follow through. How about you?

Wishing you joy in the journey,
Aramis Thorn

07 July 2009

Plumb Both Ways

Greetings Dear Readers,

Once, when much younger, I worked on a construction crew for a summer. Summer construction in south is no fun. You are always hot, dirty, thirsty, and gritty. I was a hose we were just beginning to fit with doors, windows, and the like. I was doing the important job of getting the little stickers off of the windows with a razor blade. Around the corner from me two men were hanging a door.

Immersed in the thoughts of the intricacies of label scraping, I was startled from my heat and boredom induced reverie. One of the carpenters, the old one was swearing a blue streak. He was saying something about the plumb bob marring the door frame when he dropped it. I peaked around the corner to watch. He carefully buffed out the small scratch.

The younger man watched too. “I don’t know why you bother with that. The people will never be able to tell the difference.” He offered.

The older man stood up strait and tall. “I would know and every time a door did not swing true, they would curse me. I would not hear it, but I would know that they had a door that did not swing true. I have spent most of the last forty years hanging doors. When I lay down at night, one of the sins I do not have to count is that I did not hang a door plumb both ways. I hang it true up and down for God and I hang it true side to side for the people who will use it.

I wonder how often I forget to make things plumb both ways. I very often focus on being plumb with God but fail miserably to be plumb with others. It is not by intent or malice. It is just that I do not always take the time to be right with those around me. How often do I fail to see that giving my very best to those around me keeps me plumb with God? I cannot swing randomly side to side and keep a true vertical line.

This may be why so many times in the epistles we are admonished to kindness and gentleness in a spirit of love. Anything less causes a sway that is not plumb with God.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn