Friday, November 30, 2007


Prince of My Pieces

Well, sometimes my life
Just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

1. On Becoming a Christian
When I received that cassette-letter from Craig, on the edge of begging me to turn to Jesus, I didn't know what to do. I'd been to church but no one around me turned to God for anything but judgment and a sort of distant comfort. Craig was different, one for whom Jesus was a real person. How could I get across that divide? Was God really real?

I thought about it for two or three weeks and got nowhere. I wasn't much good at work during that period, being heavily distracted.

I'd never made a real decision before. Oh, I designed and made things, but all the big stuff was like rolling downhill. My parents did all that and I didn't care very much. No one seemed to be very happy so what's the use of making decisions? Life dictates, I respond. How was I to respond to this invitation from God through Craig?

I imagined that this had to be decided once for all, and complete. God would expect that; the books told me so and I always read instruction manuals. It's amazing what you can learn from the manual; one counterintuitive line from the car manual enabled me to start cars at 8000 feet after they'd been flooded. (By the way... this comes from a misunderstanding of what the "gas pedal" does: it actually opens the air control in the carburetor, and the vacuum then draws in more fuel. In this fuel-injected age this information is of no further use.) There is no real manual for God, however, and most of what I'd been taught seemed to come from the standpoint that God is a nice comforting idea but no more real than Ahuramazda or any one of thousands of abstract ideas.

What was I to do? I didn't have enough information to make a real decision. Well, OK, when the rules don't work, break them. You'll never understand wetness by standing on the pool's edge. Jump in and let God figure out the details. On October 18, 1971, I stepped in.

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

2. Becoming Intellect
36 years later... well, I've learned, piece by piece. Change has to start somewhere even if it's not the best place to start. God takes his opportunities when they're offered and doesn't worry about perfection. Life's slope is slippery and it's a lot easier to fall away than to be drawn upward, so He offers any bit of traction that He can. It's a good thing God isn't as sensitive about heresy as people are, as this incomplete and misunderstood partial decision started me on the path that would save my life.

What becomes of the intuitive man in an intellectual world? In my case... I kept reading the manual and edged more and more into the intellectual realm, leaving emotion behind. The balance was always shaky but so long as there was little pressure it wasn't a problem. I could take the time to work out a balance that did no violence to myself and still allowed me to get along in this world. Now, however, I was taking a more direct role in managing my walk. Isn't this what God expected?

It's no wonder things blew up with regularity. Jesus says "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I knew no better way.

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

3. Becoming Desperate
When all roads lead to defeat there's little use in continuing. I never asked for much, just a bridge over the day at hand. String enough daily bridges together and you get a year, more years, a life. After a while the bridges seemed shorter and shakier, and I wondered why I should build them at all. If life was just a forever race against the oblivion gaining on me, why not quit now and save some time?

The sun shone on southern California beaches and their unlimited supply of borrowed sand and water. An interesting metaphor: life built on a foundation of sand sculpture. Building was fun and planning a way to keep going until the next one.

Still... there just didn't seem much point. Intellect still dogging my path, looking for a permanent solution and not finding it. So, what was the point?

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something
I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

4. Becoming Grace
Jack Fox asked "Can you at least consider the idea that God is real?"
I'd pretty well grown beyond that; God had long since resumed his mythical distant possibility. I was alone, and would always be alone. Jack's honest question--when was the last time you saw an evangelical be so open?--was as much of a shock as the social worker saying I should consider psychoanalysis. I went that route for a number of years and all that happened was that I got tougher. As with any other disease, if you don't kill it it comes back stronger.

So, how does real change happen? How does someone living on the edge of self-immolation turn away from that edge and make more life-oriented decisions? It doesn't happen by force; at various times, I've thought I'd solved the problems by becoming intellectual but then emotions would come back and crack the concrete. Even I knew that intellect wasn't the whole answer but I had ways no better than the child's well-learned drifting so as to avoid conflict. As long as my mind and feelings stayed in their prescribed areas things were OK, which is why sand sculpture worked so well. Intellect got its jollies from the engineering but there was no point to that if there weren't something to design and that was emotion. They didn't have to talk to each other. Kind of like two armies looking at each other across no-man's land.

I know this probably doesn't seem very real. Perhaps it does. Perhaps you know this kind of conflict but have never mentioned it because it sounds so absurd. How can a person be so badly divided? Our culture encourages half-people.

So, God laid a new path, away from the abyss, and asked "Remember Me?" Well, yes, I did. Rather freeing, this was: if God is still here after all those mistakes, then there must be something to this forgiveness stuff. I didn't put it in those terms in 2003 but the idea was close. I scrapped everything I "knew" about God and started over. It started with an invitation to help me understand something. Only desperation could have moved me to ask God to intervene in the sanctuary of my own mind and once knowledge caught up with events the arguments started. Who am I? Cheap copy of God or a real person?

What is a real person? The answer depends on who you ask. Everyone has an answer all polished up for you. Their common element is that the answer is never designed with your qualities in mind, but is designed for the comfort of the other. Perhaps they even mean well, as did Jack Fox.

I'm naive. Others have much more experience in life than I have; what I'm good at is being invisible. I don't have the resilience to deal with external conflict when the internal conflict is just waiting for a trigger to break out again.

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

5. Becoming One
So, God had himself a task. How to reunite the parts of a shattered soul when those parts not only wanted nothing to do with each other but had learned through bitter experience that reunion was impossible?

First, he had to convince me that he was serious. Lots of people offer help but don't stick around longer than it takes to get the credit. I'm rightfully very suspicious. God probably was just going to trick me: as soon as I turned things over to him he'd turn me into a drone, some kind of mechanism to express his will. Although I had nothing to lose that path was unattractive. Naturally, I fought.

Fighting God, no matter what we're taught now, has a long history. Just ask Jacob. If you want to know truth you're going to end up fighting with God somewhere along the line, but fighting is just the first step. If you want to know the water you're going to have to get into the pool and float.

God made the universe and holds every atom together. At the same time, He is humble. The mix is fascinating: he's the One who serves and his only purpose is to make people whole. He knows how to do it, too. Fighting, and then not fighting. He camps in the castle courtyard, sitting there quietly. Every once in a while he extends a hand to prevent an internal explosion, with the clear knowledge that He's intervening. There's nothing sneaky. Well, there is, but the sneakiness has to be. I'm hard to trick so sneakiness is sometimes the only way to the larger goal: the saving of a life. This is God's goal: saving every life.

"Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: 'Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.'" This appears in three of the four gospels. Julius Caesar knew the concept: "Divide and conquer." World, nation, house, soul. I could never win the war, one side over the other. Jesus says "That's good."

There are attendant concepts. We need comfort. It's a hard walk. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter for good reason. We need guidance. The Holy Spirit is called one who walks alongside.

Nothing good is easy. Seeking truth goes against the spirit of our age and there's a lot more fog out there than sunshine. The corollary is that we've not learned how to live with or even identify truth so God has to teach the whole thing from scratch. His patience knows no limits.

So, I'm held long enough that intellect and feelings can look at each other and not instantly start shooting. The final corollary is: where do we go from here? What can a unified man do that a divided one can't? I'm scared.

"Hold Me Jesus" by Rich Mullins

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Retaking the Land

The best defense is invisible: turn the enemy aside before they know they got close to the citadel. Do it gently. All they know is that... somehow they missed.

It takes a lot of space to set up that defensive perimeter, and a lot of energy to maintain and monitor it. The alternatives seemed enough worse to me that I've been willing to adopt the lifestyle necessary to live within the invisible boundaries for, of course, defenses can be breached from the inside as well as outside.

I've continued thinking about the topic of my last post: why are so many people dissatisfied with their contact with God? Why does God seem to be so interested in me? This morning I was following the Holy Spirit along some thought-trails. A good guide leads to discovery without telling people what they are seeing. God is very good at this.

I set up the invisible defenses years ago, arriving at various compromises by experimentation. I'm good at that: try something, compare the results to the desired outcome, change something, try again. I kept my soul but lost much else. Was it a good trade? I can't know "what if;" all I can know is what is. Deal with things as they are. The defenses worked but had a nasty side effect: The attempt to build bridges to the outside world was seen as an attack, and the same automatic defenses that worked outside were turned on me. No choice, no control.

The land was still out there, still the buffer zone. People got caught in there and became confused. What's good for a 10-year-old isn't so good for an adult, but I build good defenses that resist everything that looks like an attack.

I've often perceived God's attention as an attack. This comes from the inside, so it has involved some truly nasty warfare turned upon myself. Attacking God is... futile, in some ways. In other ways it's highly effective because God is easily hurt. He feels the resistance. He knows what I need and knows how to bring it about and I prefer to live in the pain of fighting him. An intelligent man ought to see that if you have two painful choices it's best to take the one that leads somewhere better, but I generally choose stasis.

How does a soul grow? Is that what we're about here? All that land outside the citadel is... mine?

This does explain why God has been direct with me: once some of that territory has been cleaned out it must be protected or else bad things will move in again. So God reminds me when I'm being inattentive, or trying to drive him away.

I wish I had words to describe this relationship. It's not like anything else I've participated in. God's presence in my life should be that of the conqueror and ruler but that's not the way it's working. He invites me to walk forward into myself, land that's mine, and he promises to walk with me, teach me, comfort me.

Teaching has always been a loaded concept to me. It's usually a more or less veiled mind control project. Learn this or else. This is the right way and everything else is wrong. It may be innocent, choices made to fit material within limited time, or it may be deliberately one-sided. Any time someone sets himself up as a teacher I'm wondering what has been left out. Such one-legged learning is unstable, which means it has to be defended so it won't be pushed over. God is supposed to be the ultimate in one-legged ideas but I find this isn't so. He answers my questions. We walk the trail of question and answer until we get someplace, and that place leads to more questions. I have much to learn.

See here the human being. He is made of many cunning parts, fitted precisely, each working together through time to produce continuity. See here the human being fighting himself, putting divisions between the parts so that the machinery runs as if sand were in the gears. The human being learns to accept this as normal life. Now, see here God, cleaning, dissolving the divisions... and see the human being fight back. Putting sand into the gears again because it's familiar. Pain is familiar. God knows it too, but goes on cleaning as he's allowed. And eventually... see here a human being who finally learns to accept God's humble ministry.

How does a soft and sensitive man live in today's world? I don't know. I do know that the answers I've worked out in the past are self-destructive. The last year has been bad but it finally looks as if I won't need to repeat those mistakes. I understand that the frontal assault, either from inside or outside, just doesn't work. The battle for the citadel is won by a humble man who started by giving himself up on a cross and will stop at nothing else, not to win the war, but to win the person, whole. Neither he nor I cares what anyone else thinks. He has promised to save my soul and he will do anything necessary to that end.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Incomprehensible Gift

Folks are talking about broken faith, broken dreams, wondering where God is. The topic engenders many comments, leading to more discussion.



Gary, again

The common note is "Where is God in my life?" As I read these all I could do was look around at the signs of God's presence in my life. An embarrassment of riches, a rain I didn't ask for but needed, a problem that I've tried to solve and am finally reaching some accommodation with.

It's hard to write about this. Some will think I'm showing off, taking pride in God's fingerprints on me. Others won't understand any of it. "Where's the fruit," they'll ask. And some might think that I'm special.

Well, we're all special. I'm convinced that God gives every one of us as much as He's allowed to. I make no claim to anything special other than need: without God's fingers on me I wouldn't still be here. And that is my only claim as to the quality of my witness: I'm still here.

So, why are so many dissatisfied with the quality of their walk with Jesus? Many of them, following what they've been taught, have good reason to be dissatisfied. I've never been in a church that taught people to reach out, as that bleeding woman did, to Jesus for healing from the depth of desperation. No one is encouraged to wrestle with God as Jacob did. God is treated as the ultimate houseguest around whom you don't want to make any mistakes. Self-judgment runs deep in us and we certainly wouldn't want to upset the Judge of the Universe.

Well, His judgment is reserved to those who haven't trusted Jesus to cover them with his white raiment. Those of us who've acknowledged need and turned to Jesus have nothing to fear. I believe that God is far more interested in an honest cry from the heart, either curses or praise, than He is in any number of fancy worded prayers-as-preachment.

It is an awesome thing. The One who will judge this world lives in each of us, like the elephant in the living room that everyone tries to ignore. He's not going away. How do you live with Him? Some put curtains around Him. Some distract themselves with all kinds of work. Some take the route of self-pity or self-abnegation, trying to stoop lower than God will reach. I have tried to simply ignore Him, map out His presence so I can just walk around Him. I'm quite adept at reducing paths to habit, which is why God has to be so creative in finding ways to get my attention again. It's a good thing Jesus took my judgment.

Rules don't make followers of Jesus. You can't walk this path alone. If you're terrified and just can't face God, fine. Just don't close the door. If you're angry, go ahead and yell at him. Just don't close the door. If your heart is torn in half, cry. Don't close the door. How to get close to God? Keep the door open. You don't have to go out there where He is, and you can tell him to stay out of your room, but don't close off His light.

He's calling us to do something impossible: Live with Him. Each of us is special in His sight and He knows our names, every one. He has counted the number of hairs on our heads.

How did I get here? As usual, by looking for something else. I wanted relationships with other people. That didn't happen.

God starts at the beginning. We all tend to want to skip the foundation and build the fancy stuff. Castles in the air. God starts with the roots, and naturally I resist. That stuff is confusing and different. Naturally I resist, which makes the process more painful than it might be. I doubt there's any way to make the walk easy but it is possible. Most of my problem is fear. I am, in some ways, extremely conservative. I don't like things that rattle the principles I live by, which is why the last few months have been very difficult.

When I got saved I had no idea what I was getting into. Soon after that I ran into the idea that God thinks human relationships are important. This idea connected to something deep in me and I took off after it. God was, at the time, trying to introduce me to Himself. That seemed crazy to me, irrational, so I didn't pay attention but retained the idea that relationships are important. Well, this was a sort of self-rape so it's no wonder I couldn't force my solitary self in that direction. The result has been years of conflict: force met by stronger force. It turns out that I'm very strong in self-defense. I'll dig in and not be moved. Attacks by people, by psychologists, by any perceived enemy: I know how to keep from being crushed. The response was automatic. People would get close, I'd perceive the attack, and defend myself in the way that seemed best.

This year several people got caught in this process; I've set a new record for screwing up relationships. No surprise, as I know very little about reality here. Hopeless.

Not exactly. I do have an example. I'm trying to give it all up, but God still lives in the courtyard of the castle I've defended so staunchly all these years. He doesn't attack, although He has stepped in when I've been about to do something really stupid and has gotten downright snarky when I've worked at not believing Him.

Right now... I still attempt to force myself to feel in organized ways. I attempt to fit life into a rational process so that I can comprehend it all, so that I can know what's coming and be safe. God is preached as the one who will tear down everything and bring about change. This is true, but the process by which He does it is, at least in my experience, as gentle as such a radical act can be. It is not God's intent to cause pain. We do that quite well all by ourselves.

So, what can anyone else get from this ramble? That we all start from forgiveness. And, when everything turns to shit go ahead and quit. Just keep the door open.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Permanent Houseguest

I wonder how families stand each other over the long haul. If I didn't have my solitary apartment to go home to, frazzled from an unending series of crises at work and dealing with the people who are supposed to help solve them, I'd just become even more likely to spit nails. Yet such living is a luxury in most of the world, where economic reality dictates that people have to live with each other. I need a place to just get away from them all.

It's commonly said that fish and houseguests both start to smell after three days. There are many tales of people wearing out their welcome. I'm a lousy host and it's very easy for me to imagine people getting tired of me being around, so I keep to myself.

Part of this is due to life experience of no one wanting to hear my side of any story. I've never had anyone to tell about deeper issues. or to ask for help. I either figure it out for myself or abandon the idea. It's just very hard to be around people, putting on the smiling face, when they have no idea and less interest in who I am. But then, how would I know? You get good at what you do, and I do a lot of things alone.

Four years ago when God brought me back to himself I thought it was really neat that he wanted a relationship with me. He put a lot more effort into finding and redeeming me than I ever did in looking for and understanding Him. Then when I started to learn about the Holy Spirit I thought it was even neater: God Himself, living in me, to comfort, help, teach. From the first night I had the idea: help in sorting out things too complicated and messy for me.

If I'd have been more perceptive I might have predicted the coming trouble. Houseguests eventually leave. No matter how painful the failure of hosting the sun makes its rounds, time winds on and things end. Jesus said "I will never leave you nor forsake you." In the early days of this renaissance I didn't think I'd want him to leave, but after a while I was at the point of trying to drive him away. What happens when the solitary man, described by one psychologist as the closest to Spock he'd ever known in the flesh, meets the One who will never leave? Jacob got his wrestling done in a night. It has taken me longer.

The truce is somewhat delicate, but it's interesting to look at because of how my experience contradicts everything we're taught about God. God is supposed to win by breaking the soul, as the Army is said to do. For every force the wailing soul brings against the Visitor, He meets with enough to force his will. Maybe this idea isn't so broadly applied as I think it is, as it's also a familial trait: you don't want to do this? Fine. We'll force you. I learned helplessness a long time ago and learned to hide in order to keep from being overwhelmed. I lost the encounters but the flip side of no one caring is that so long as I was out of sight they didn't mind, so I just didn't have very many encounters. I'd managed to preserve most of my soul into adulthood.

I think that's largely God's work. The story could have gone differently at any one of many points in the long timeline. He'd nudge almost imperceptibly and I'd follow along the track.

Still, it's quite a way from that invisible working to knowing what's going on and still accepting it. When hiding has been a way of life, having God's bright light around the house shows lots of things that I'd never shown anyone.

It seems that God's major goal for me right now is awareness. Awareness of Him, for one, and then of the world. I've pretty much turned all that off in trying to remain invisible to Him. Not caring solves many problems but leaves one with a life that's just a long wait for the end. What do I look forward to? Good question. I don't know. I'm still trying to deal with this appalling invader, whose gaze looks upon me with great fondness but is translated by me into THREAT!

If He really wanted to disassemble my soul it would be no problem. I'm less than a candle flame. If He wanted to play the conqueror, how could I resist? I'm less that clay in a potter's hands, less will than a blade of grass in the wind. Yet I tried to hide, putting effort into that until I was perpetually exhausted.

There were always cracks in the citadel wall, and a few windows, and one door. Truth draws me irresistibly. It's the last place I expected to find God, but there he was at the door for truth. My own requirements demanded that I look into this question again. Is God real? Hard to say "No" when He's right there and asking "Do you remember me?" Once in, or returned, God is hard to eject, especially for one as tired as I. Besides, what did I have to lose?

Well, I found out. God wasn't content to camp in the courtyard. Well, really, He is, but His light works its way into every other place. Trying to keep the doors and windows closed takes a lot of effort, and is kind of like sitting there eating sawdust in the dark when there's ice cream and light outside. Yet I had that invader image in my mind, a Riever just waiting for the chance to cut me down as so many others have done.

One way to subvert a soul is emotional manipulation. Brainwashers do it, cults do it. I wondered if God did this; were His expressions of happiness with something I did just some sort of Pavlovian operant conditioning? I became sensitive to this and put up a kind of umbrella to keep that rain from falling onto me.

Why didn't I ask the obvious question? "God, are you trying to manipulate me?" He has answered all of my other questions graciously. This one never occurred to me.

He never quit, never left his post in the courtyard. Waiting. Not a sword in sight. Just patience. Questions of honor finally came up, fairly recently. God does what He says he will do and won't break the locks on the doors. He has nothing against working Himself into the finest cracks--if it's open, I can come in, right?--but won't force anything. It took three years or so, and I doubt it's over yet, but I'm finally seeing that there will be no force.

Force never conquered anything. Oh, force can destroy. Read history and you'll find plenty of that. I wonder what our world would look like if all the energy and resources that have been devoted to conquering and destroying had been turned to cooperation and building. There's no physical reason why no moon landing was made until 1969. Why not 1,000 years earlier? There were lots of starts on science but they disappeared into conflagrations like the library of Alexandria.

Force can't make people cooperate. They'll appear to cooperate but as soon as the pressure is off the situation explodes again, and again. God's way is something completely other. He waits.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Sui Generis

One day a co-worker called me "sui generis." I'd heard the term before but saw only the "generis" part and assumed it meant generic. Feeling insulted I looked it up. Turns out it actually means unique, prototype, one-0ff. Good. The last thing I want is to be one of a herd, any herd. If I can't be unique then what's the point of living?

Of course, society has other ideas. It's easier to deal with people in herds. I wonder what a whole culture of mavericks would be like. Perhaps we'd come up with systems more accepting of individual differences. We do have common causes, but how much do they cost? Why should everyone be alike? We're not even made that way. Each person, each living creature, has its own set of DNA and experiences.

Four years ago I had a little lunch meeting with Eric Bryant. I'd recently been reintroduced to God and we sort of picked up where we'd left off in the late 1970s. Practicing God's presence, hearing His voice, not necessarily obeying. It seemed a radical concept at the time. Eric just smiled his little smile.

Maybe he really did know more than I did. To me, hearing God was about as far as thing went. How do you top that? It's like believing that sunlight on a leaf has no effect because we can't see what's going on. Give it some time, and assuming that the little nut holds its ground, eventually you get a tree. It will be like other trees, but unique.

So, I'm still here. The last months have been continuous arguments and dodges and digging in of heels. Turns out that in protecting my right to be myself I will throw everything into the fire. As I thought about my psychoanalyst near the end of that story "I'd rather die than tell you anything." I don't get even. I just leave.

I never could leave God, though. I did that years ago, blocked out awareness of him, and fooled myself. He stayed right there, though, parked in my blind spot until the time was right.

Now I'm aware enough of the effect of light on the leaf. Without light the story is short. God's voice...

You go along for years holding onto hope. There isn't much out there, but at the same time if you want to find it you have to be there. Survive. Surviving on one's own resources is a balancing game, profit and loss, expense and income, and knowing how much to abandon. So, God's voice whispers of hope and I dare not believe. He'll leave and I'll be the cartoon character suddenly realizing that there's nothing but air under his feet.

He didn't leave Jacob after their overnight battle. He didn't leave me during the years when I denied him. Once I realized just where we were headed I started trying to force God to abandon me. I discovered that it is possible but it's difficult and very frightening. I backed off from that but was still holding the fort against Him.

What's beyond the voice? Touch.

You know how sensitive a tiny sliver is in your hand: one quick touch is pain and flinch. In me it's worse as touch has always been the precursor to a lie. Its purpose was always to manipulate me so I'd acquiesce to things I didn't want to do. Touch overrides sense, logic, hardwired to something else. Needing comfort one night I was talking with God and the subject of touch came up and before I knew what had happened I was running, doors closed, head down, bolt. Looking back I saw God standing in the courtyard, inside the castle walls, but just standing there. I hid behind the stone. He didn't move.

How does one learn to trust? To me it's a logical process: if what I might gain outweighs what I will lose, then trust can happen. Or if the trust leads to having a grip on something I can fairly easily abandon, then trust of a sort is possible. Anything deep is a problem. What can be deeper than God's touch? He's always there, and knows everything. The game is under his complete control; I'm a candle flame centered in a tornado.

Solve the problem, we say. Force the issue. Force trust? It can't happen, as thousands of years of human history teaches anyone with eyes to see. How can it happen? Well, how patient are you? Most of us... not very. Solve it now. Life is short. Do things before you burn out.

What God wants, needs, is a real decision. Not a default, not a desperation move, but me choosing from real options to allow him to do what he needs to. A friend asked a while back, "Larry, what do you want?" I couldn't answer her question. It's a question I've never asked, never been allowed to ask, and to have God ask it of me is a problem and a surprise. What? I'm just supposed to latch on and follow, like a sheep.

Sui generis. Maverick. Berean. Questions. Live with the answers.

God waited. Where does trust come from? Certainly not from forcing the doors. I knew he was there, that indefinable glow or something, standing quietly in the courtyard. Waiting. I know he can smash the doors any time he wants. People pray "Jesus, break me." Maybe that's what some need but it's not the answer for everyone and I'd bet that the real answer looks much different from the people's assumptions.

I grew up surrounded with ritual and thought there had to be a better way. Ritual was a way to paint everyone the same color but I could see below the paint, inside that artificial and maintenance-intensive skin, and saw people trying to find the way out. The better way never had a chance as I'd acquired my own rituals that biased my answers. Kind of surprising, then, that God is the anti-ritual voice in my life and I so tightly hold onto the rituals that I trust more than I trust Him.

How do you out-maverick a maverick? Be the one who invented categories and is himself sui generis, the model for the concept. And you wait. The Soul Whisperer stands in the courtyard. We start talking about trust through the closed door.

Touch. It's the first step of a betrayal.
How can I comfort you without touch?
Comfort? That's a laugh.

I see where that path leads: crowds of people. Love the unlovely. I can't even stand myself. I just want to be alone.

Would God create a loner? I've always assumed that I'm a loner for various external reasons, but I've never been easy with other people. I've overlaid that with some social competence but it's always work. Might it be that if God had wanted someone to deal with crowds he'd have made me that way?

What happens when one loves God? How much of a person's nature is left after dying to self and following Jesus? Sheep, or human heart? I don't know, and as with anything else there's only one way to find out.

How do we allay the fear?
How about leaving the door open?
Are you honorable?
Tie a string across the door. That's enough to keep me out.
In the end I don't bother with the string. The door stands open, and God stands still in the courtyard.

In a world of big things and big pushes this isn't much. It seems that one step toward trust is learning that God isn't a raider from the northern steppes come through to level every city in the new land. What starts with an open door? Well, good enough to have it open, and leave it open even as I tremble ten feet down the hallway, wondering.

It has been a really bad year. I've set a record for ruining relationships and have no idea what will come of that. I am, however, still here.

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