30 March 2011

Flight Requires Balance

Greetings Dear Reader,

Climbing a mountain in darkness,
Standing alone on a ledge,
Every attempt that I make to hold on,
Pushes me nearer the edge,
Nearer the edge. – Dan Fogelberg

I feel I am on a precipice. Stretching out before me is a vast dark valley that is fraught with danger and turmoil. On the other side is a better understanding of Christ and following him. I know that over the past couple of years I have been slowly climbing toward the ledge that overstretches this moment.

The thing is that I know that I can sail over this valley if I choose to do so. I can choose to change and not fight the winds that carry me toward that change. I have written often about the some of the facets of this change. I have minimized possessions, worked toward seeing things more clearly through the eyes of grace, mercy, love, and selflessness. I have been attempting to be the voice of kindness and justice in the same breath.

Some people around me have been very involved in wrestling with the ideas of social justice and how it fits into the gospels. I take great pride that both my Sons work in jobs that support the vulnerable in our society instead of chasing the dollar and discontentment. Those young men do the work of Christ every day in the jobs they do.

The substance of this moment is in realizing that there is more of my “self” that I can abandon to the darkness and more that I can give to Christ. I wish I could have arrived at this moment thirty years ago but I was far too willful and in my own way. Perhaps many things would have been better.

In short, it does not matter who much good I do if I am not doing for the purpose of following Christ and his example. This means that no matter what I have thought in the past, that thinking must change and the subsequent actions must change too.

I cannot ignore that much of the church has left behind what God intended in terms of justice and righteousness centuries ago. I cannot ignore that the leadership at my church is calling for Christ followers to embrace these teachings without abandoning sound theology. We cannot do one without the other.

I think that some who are so disillusioned with the church do so rightly but they reject the foundations of faith instead of seeing where the balance is. I have been out of balance in not seeing the social justice aspect of righteousness and compassion. I am determined to follow Christ and so my movement toward a clearer view of righteousness and justice toward the vulnerable in our community must become focused.

In the same moment it is time for those who think they can work out social justice without Christ as the focus to realize that this leads to an empty socialism that is just as harmful as any heartless theology. The winds of change blow and tentatively I spread my wings.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

27 March 2011

The Shadow of a Smile

Greetings Dear Reader,

Today it is sunny, cold, and beautiful. As the cold sun floods my writing room it cannot match the warmth that floods my spirit. I carry a warmth within that is always with me and a cornerstone of my hope. Today is also my Daughter’s birthday. There will be no cake or candles; no surprise party or presents. She is so far beyond all of that and held by grace and love in a way that makes my love for her a fleeting shadow.

Because she passed away so young and without knowledge of the world, I find comfort in so many things that she never knew. She will never know pain or loss. She is never lied to or betrayed. No one can harm her. I still do not understand why God chose for her to not be with us, but I know that he has comforted me with the understanding that my sin and failures have never harmed her. They have harmed my sons and I work hard to redeem that harm.

I find comfort in the knowledge that as I draw closer to Christ I am also drawing closer to her. One of the things that drives me now is to be someone that she can be proud of when we meet one day. Do not think that I picture some magic kingdom of clouds and harps, but rather a redeemed world where all those who belong to Christ are together without sin and fault. When I am closest to Christ and doing my best to follow him with all my heart, I imagine that I catch a glimpse her smiling in approval. I know it is the imagination of my heart working overtime but it makes pleasing Christ that much sweeter.

Of all those who have preceded me to the end of the journey, she is the most dear to me. After her would be my Grandfather. I hope that they are together, laughing at my foolishness and savoring the times when I am faithful. I trust that she knows who her brothers are and pesters the Father to guide them closer to him. I know that she cannot come to me but someday I shall go to her.

I write about this today for two purposes. The first is to honor her and wish her a happy birthday in the best way that I can. The second is to share my hope that we see all death as a fighting chance to live. It is what redemption is all about; turning death into a fighting chance to live. Our philosophies and theologies do not matter. What matters is the path that leads to God. We are all on it whether we accept that or not. Christ showed us how to walk it.

We, through our sin have turned life into death in so many ways we cannot count it. Christ longs for us to join him in reversing that process. He asks us to give up everything that hinders us and simply follow him in showing the world grace, love, peace, and forgiveness. The rottenness and brokenness have an expiration date. Death will die. I want to be a part of that process today so that I am not caught by surprise when it is complete.

Happy birthday Rachel; I am on my way, it is just taking me longer than it did you.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

24 March 2011

Cough drop Encouragement

Greetings Dear Reader,

For the first time in years I have truly lost my voice. Every spring I have trouble with it and I have to be silent for a day or two, but we are on week three. Amidst this malady that some of my friends see as a blessing I have found solace from an expected source.

Imagine feeling ill and every time you went to address the coughing you received a pep talk. I wish to publically thank the Halls® people for spending the money to put little phrases of encouragement on the wrappers of their cough drops and vitamin C drops. To entertain and encourage you, here are a few of them:

Impress yourself today
Put your game face on
Be unstoppable
Inspire envy
Nothing you can’t handle
Make them remember your name
Let’s hear you battle cry
Bet on yourself
Push Through
High five yourself
Turn “can’t do” into “can did”
Go get it!
Put a little strut in it
Don’t wait to get started
Get back in the game
You’ve got it in you
Don’t try harder, do harder
It’s yours for the taking
Be resilient
You’ve survived tougher
It’s yours for the taking
Tough is your middle name
Flex your can do muscle
Fire up
Push on
Buckle Down and Push forward
March forward

If you feel up to it, I could use some prayer that I get better soon.

Wishing you joy in the journey,
Aramis Thorn,

Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

22 March 2011

Epitaph for a Fallen Hero

Greetings Dear Reader,

Today is Captain Kirk's birthday. One of my friends, highly moved by his death in one of the movies penned the following. I post it today in both of their honor and in memory of absent friends. You know who you are.

Epitaph for a Fallen Hero

To boldly go where no man has gone before,
Sarpidion, Regula I, Ceti Alpha 6.
We paid for the party with our dearest blood,
But then somehow that blood was reclaimed.

To boldly go where no man has gone before,
Shakaharee, Vulcans Forge, the Nexus.
I know that I will die alone, I have always known.
I have lost two loves out here.

To boldly go where no man has gone before,
Gary Mitchell, Edith Keeler, David.
We paid for the party with our dearest blood,
They are all guardians of forever.

To boldly go where no man has gone before,
Gary Seven, Robert April, George and Gracie.
Protect the past to insure the future,
Captain, There be whales here.

To boldly go where no man has gone before,
The five year mission, seek out new life.
We paid for the party with our dearest blood,
Of ten, only Enterprise returned

To boldly go where no man has gone before,
Veger, Rura Pente, Genesis.
We are the only ship in the quadrant,
Turning death into a fighting chance to live.

To boldly go where no man has gone before,
The Undiscovered country, The final Enterprise,
We paid for the party with our dearest blood,
Good night sweet prince.


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

17 March 2011

Sins of the Father

Greetings Dear Reader,

Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them. – Oscar Wilde

I think that I have been fairly clear and open about the sin and selfishness that I am attempting to purge from my life. I know that I have acknowledged and sought forgiveness for the obvious ones. I have had lengthy and painful discussions with my children about my failings and asked for them to forgive me. They have assured me that I was forgiven.

Last night, in a moment of anger, someone threw some of that sin back in my face. I have not slept since. My heart is rent and my mind is askew with thoughts of how I can ever get out from underneath the past. Please do not mistake this recounting as a plea for pity. Rather I hope to warn and perhaps protect both parents and children.

Parents: do all that you can to learn from my errors. Stay true to the genuine needs and love of your children. Sacrifice whatever is necessary to help them cling to Christ and see you as an example of that. Love them enough to not make excuses for your failures so that they will not do the same. Purge things from your life that will hinder your children’s faith. I mourn weekly at church because of their no longer being there with me.

Children: do not blame your parents for your own short comings. Rather, deal with them and become the people that Christ commands you to become by his grace. Do not use your parents past sins as an excuse for your current ones. You will visit constant pain upon faithful parents if you are unfaithful. Forgive your parents and honor them. Perhaps you will find it easier to live a life that is happy.

Spouses: do not easily give up on each other. It is only a hard heart that does not see a way to reconciliation and righteous holy living. You do damage far beyond what you can imagine if you let your marriage end for your own purposes. I so dearly wish I had realized this enough to act on it many years ago.

I do not see at the moment how I will recover from the pain I feel today. I know I have done better than my parents did but not as good as I could have. I know my children can do better than me. At the moment I feel like a woeful prophet begging the small world I live in to see the path they are on and make strides to find the footprints of Christ. Only in following him will they avoid the anguish I feel today.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

13 March 2011

Beaten With Roses

Greetings Dear Reader,

“Betwixt them Lawns, or level Downs, and Flocks
Grasing the tender herb, were interpos'd,
Or palmie hilloc, or the flourie lap
Of som irriguous Valley spread her store,
Flours of all hue, and without Thorn the Rose:” - John Milton

Once, long ago I had offended a girl I was dating. What I had done was wrong but unintentional. The hurt was no less to her and I realized that I was wrong. I brought her roses and offered a genuine apology. Her response was to smile and take the roses. Her reaction was to then hit me in the face with those roses. The thorns left three symmetrical cuts along my left cheek.

Immediately my mind rushed with hot anger. I walked away so that I would not react to that anger. I was very angry and violent back then and my choice to absorb rather than escalate was an unusually wise one for that time in my life. I will not go into the details of my wrong against the young lady but it did not warrant her response.

I was reminded of this incident without warning this week. Someone rewarded an attempt of mine at kindness with the verbal equivalence of being beaten with roses. The sting of their words filled me with pain and I felt my face flood with anger. I could literally feel the trace of those three lines of thorns from over thirty years past. Again, instead of reacting I chose to withdraw. I like to think I have more wisdom than I did back then.

I am so far from being like Christ than I wish to be. Still, though, for a moment I caught a glimpse of what it might have felt like to be damaged with the very thing you created. We put thorns on his head and drove them in whilst mocking him. I say we because the Roman hands that did were enacted because of our, and specifically my sin. I become increasingly aware of my connection to the sin that killed Christ and find that awareness both painful and restorative.

It is my sin that must be purged so that I may attempt to follow Christ more closely. This even means absorbing the pain when I am beaten with the roses I offer. There is no such thing as me being the better man in a situation. It is not me that is better, but rather that Christ can better use me if I am willing. No matter what happens to me, Christ has more grace and love to enable me to do what is right if I choose to do that right thing.

The joy in the thorn is still in the choosing. The joy in the thorn is that the pain passes and we are left with the learning. It is why I chose the thorny rose as a symbol so long ago. It is one of the reasons that Thorn is my pen name. When I choose to do right it is the grace and love of Christ, not my goodness that has allowed it. In that moment, I get the glimpse of who Christ truly is and what he is to me no matter how anyone else responds or reacts. Someday, however, there will be no more thorns but there will still be Christ. That is the joy in my journey.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

11 March 2011

And Some Have Compassion

Greetings Dear Reader,

I find myself very concerned about the political climate that is festering in my state. I know people who are devoted Christ followers on both sides of the issues. I wonder how often we forget who we are supposed to be in light of the issues that are before us. There is no issue or cause so important that we can abandon our pursuit of Christ to embrace it. I have done this in the past much to my detriment.

I have listened intently to all that is happening. I do not hear people addressing the Christ centered issues as they protest what the government does. I do not hear those who agree with our Governor speaking to those who oppose him with the voice of love and compassion they are due from Christ followers.

Politics and social awareness must be centered on who we are to be in Christ long before our pet issues or views. If I do not maintain my Christ centeredness in all that I do then what I do must be held suspect. I go to church with good people on both sides of these issues. I heard that two of my friends have dissolved their friendship over this mess.

I think that both sides have lost an aspect of compassion in this arena. I am obligated to consider the needs of others in all that I do and I am required to show respect for my government no matter how I feel about an issue. I am required to see the needs of the poor and address them. I am not allowed to shove that responsibility onto my government. I am not allowed to ignore anyone’s request to be heard.

My opinions run toward the middle. I think that government is the wrong place to seek redress for the needs of the poor. Christ clearly put that responsibility on his followers. Imagine the impact if we lived up to it. I think that fiscal responsibility should be something we demand of ourselves and our government. We cannot claim poverty if we waste the provision God gives us on vain pursuits.

What I do not hear in all of this is anyone lovingly telling everyone that the name calling, disrespect, and arguing is not the path to follow. This breaks my heart. We need to deal with every matter with the compassion that Christ does.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

07 March 2011

A Cup of Tea

Greetings Dear Reader,

It takes time to make a good cup of tea. A missionary friend of mine from Sydney once observed that America tea bags are an abomination. She went on to explain that our tea bags are filled with leaf partials and dust. I use mostly loose leaf tea and find that the extra time to prepare and brew it is always worth the effort.

I have over the last couple of years taken on the challenge of growing some tea of my own. It has turned out beautifully. I mixed the anise hyssop tea that I grew with some bulk oolong that I purchased from a Asian grocer. The blend is both gentle and warming. All told the time from leaf to tea is longer but the reward is worth it. The fresh leaves or properly dried ones yield rich oils and strong botanicals. When the hot water covers the leaves it is infused with the flavors and textures of the plants in all their richness. Patience is still required to allow the tea to properly steep.

My children have come to appreciate the value of hand crafted foods and a good cup of coffee or tea is worth the effort to them as well. I am trying to transfer this learning to my relationships. It takes time to cultivate real relationships that world. One cannot give someone particles and dust then expect to brew something enduring. When the hot water hits and the infusion begins them there are few oils and botanicals to yield the taste and aroma needed.

I know that at times all that I give to God are particles and dust. I want him to have all that is created in me and I want to give the time it takes for him to make me into something sweet and pleasing. I get in a hurry. I want everything to be right immediately. It takes time. It takes a long time; maybe a lifetime of yieldedness. I may not ever feel that I have done enough, but I can be sure that today I offer more than particles and dust.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

04 March 2011

Conscious Consumption

Greetings Dear Reader,

“Surrounding myself with possessions,
I surly have more than I need.
I don’t if it is justice hard earned,
Or simply a matter of greed,
A matter of greed.” – Dan Fogelberg

I know that I have more than I need and am attempting to ramp up my generosity to match that. One of the things I am trying to incorporate into that thinking is in measuring what I acquire. There are things that I want that I do not need. There are things I need but seem to be lavish to others.

I am well fed and there are times when I over eat. I am overweight though not as much as I used to be and using my determination not to over-consume to help lost weight. I still need to learn a balance between these things.

I have more home than I need and am willing to share it. In short, I am unsure of how to balance things always. At times I go for that extra slice of pizza without pondering it. Other times when I reach for I wonder why I should have it when there are people starving. I live in a country where there is plenty but we still tolerate poverty.

It seems sometimes that Christ followers take Jesus’ statement that we will have the poor with us always as a condition and not an opportunity. I guess this is a little rambling but my point is that I am trying to find a balance that is difficult. I know that well stocked pantry and a few extra things is not wrong, but I also feel the pain of those who do not have enough. Perhaps it is a place where I need to trust God to lead me to those I am to assist. If so then I must also trust that he is leading others to those I cannot.

I guess that being prepare to help, keeping my heart open to generosity, and freely enjoying God’s blessings in my life are all part of the journey.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."

01 March 2011

Holding that Which Harms Me

Greetings Dear Readers,

I have opinions, feelings, and thoughts on almost everything. I am learning that having them and sharing them are two very different things. I am also learning how much it is important not to let how I feel be the guide for what I do. I have done some very hurtful things because I let how I felt determine what is right for me.

I am free to hold opinions. I am free to feel however I wish. I am free think, reason, ruminate. I am not free to consume others and harm them because of these things. One of the things about denying self in following Christ is not allowing others to suffer because of my personal views. If I am willing to impose my opinions on others then I am not putting them first.

Consider all the things that Christ followers divide over: How to be at church, whether or not to go to church, how we pray, how we use spiritual gifts, interpretation of prophecy…the list is long enough to drive me mad. I have positions on most of these issues. I have often imposed those views on others. If I am truly to follow Christ then I must deny my personal comfort in everything and put others ahead of myself.

This means that I must let Christ develop in others as he wills not based on what I think they should do. It is Christ’s example I and they should follow. It is Christ who must guide them and not my opinion. Even when I feel that someone is not doing what is best for them, I must have enough faith to let them find Christ where they are. He is far better suited to guide them than I am. I must love them so that they are free to keep listening.

It is Christ that matters and if I follow him my example should be enough without me proffering my opinion or judgment.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a home owner. He brings new and old things out of his treasure store."