OF SILVER BULLETS & GLASSES DARKLY…

Perhaps, there are no guarantees and no predictable outcomes in this life, even if you “do it by the book.” Good people with good hearts too often “leave the party too early.” I’ve ceased to try and understand it. To do so would simply mark you, in a matter of speaking, as “one of Job’s friends.”

Too many of my friends & acquaintances have died. I’ve refused to ask myself “where they were with the Lord when the died” anymore. Such questions strike me as arrogant, insulting to the courage that the deceased person exhibited…and irrelevant. Sure, I believe that a person can have a greater or lesser apprehension of God’s “nearness.” But if God is Love, then the point is simply that the Lord, whether the dying knew it or not, was tenderly near each of them.

On most days, I do believe that “it all means something.” That it’s all going somewhere. God seems to have built that dynamic of hope & expectation into the tapestry of things. There’s gracious plenty in the world that’ll rub that affirmation raw in 5 minutes, of course. But, I still believe that God “gets the last word.” And, I suspect (call me a fool or a heretic) that word He gets will be a good one.
No. Most often, what staggers our credulity is His utter lack of good timing. Timing by our watches, anyway. It’s the “when” will He speak such a word?; The “why is it taking Him so long?”; That “when will He show up?” that stymies, frustrates, unnerves all of us.

How does one wait without throwing in the towel? How does one hold on and not be undone by futility or overcome by bitterness? Perhaps, the “trick,” in the here and now, is to affirm whatever little shred of grace you see in your life & in the lives of others. Began to sense it, look for it, and (when it’s finally seen) be quiet before such revelations…Indeed, be amazed. Amazed because you may begin to find such graces everywhere. And in Everyone. The world my start to explode with meaning. You’re developing an instinct beyond the intuitive.

That, to me, is where a life of “faith” is affirmed and in fact “con-firmed.”

Sure, it takes courage to live by such faith. There’s a lot that’ll always seem “up for grabs.” Maybe it takes a dogged stupidity as well. 
It’ll be a courage of strange origins. You, more than likely, won’t know where it comes from till much later. It surfaces through many conduits. It takes falling down and despairing of ones-self. There are no schools to learn such lessons in. It likely wouldn’t be faith you “bought” if it was avialiable via a Univ. of Phoenix course.
And now, the scary part: It’ll take entrusting ones-self to a Love that knows no bounds in it’s Mercy & Concern for you. It takes getting up (after stumbling and falling) and seeing that your life really is, in so many intangible, wordless ways, a wonderful Gift, a wonderful Life. But of course, that Love may ask you to begin to give your heart more & more to it’s vision and it’s way of seeing things; It’s way of loving.

I’ll go out on a limb here:
If you happen to be an “Ex-Church-Person-in-Recovery,” a someone who had “religion” rammed down his/her throat, it might mean taking a different tact when it comes to declaring “for or agin” Life’s understandability.

Call it a quest, a holy inquiry. Call it an interrogation.
It might mean demanding proof, or convincing, or insight or grace from God that all of this hallowed/crazy/broken thing we call “LIfe” actually means anything at all. It might sound more like: “Lord, give me one good reason why I shouldn’t quit on this today,” and less like some worn credal recitation, or some other spiritual brownie-point-earning endeavor to “re-assure ourselves” that we’re “OK.”
Call it “skipping the formalities.”

“Ante-up. What’s this all about?”

But here’s the catch:
If He does respond, if He does reveal Himself then (to quote the old Robert Johnson song) “you gotta move.”

We so often act as if the Holy Spirit doesn’t exist. We try (often vainly) to arrive at some apprehension of God, of His will, of His goodness by the “mind,” while leaving the elements of “dialogue” out of the equation. And by dialogue, I mean simply that you talk to Him & He talks to you, listens to you, answers you, weeps with you and rejoices with you. Approaching Him only with the mind starts to feel…well, a little over-rated. He’s been known to whisper some amazing poetry into some folks’ ears. Sometimes ears need wildernesses to retreat to hear such Love’s deeper & healing declarations…
And let’s face it: Tidy doctrines & formulas are so much easier (and “safer,” too.)

I suspect God is both “big enough” to handle our deepest questions and equally passionate enough to give us (His beloved) an adequate reply.

“Faith” will never be struck from the inquiry, from the interrogation. To do so would be like covering your ears and expecting to still hear Him answer. Faith is like your relay tower to apprehend His side of the dialogue. Yes, the dialogue will be honored and that, out of love. You’ll see, hear, apprehend His “Is-ness” in the  world, including your world. 

But take note, beloved seeker: His replies may not be the answer that “wins” the whole shooting match. No. It may look more look like one silver bullet, held by the faith He gives you…to get you through one more day. You’ll “know” where it came from and who gave it to you.

But maybe that’ll just be enough.

It’ll be enough, because you took Him to task once, to be able to take Him at His word a million times over…

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Letter to an Artist/Friend

LETTER TO AN ARTIST/FRIEND

Dear______,
   You have ALWAYS had an artist’s temperament. You are not some freak-show and you are not alone. In my experience such a temperament is both a blessing & a curse. You, in the process of all that goes into being an artist, a have been engaged in a sort of “spiritual travelogue” of your own heart. It requires an honesty, with “teeth,” that most of us shy away from.
   As selfish as such pursuits sound, I can assure that you are giving skin and heart to what all of us struggle with. You have struggled with the vestiges of depression all of your life. You are no stranger to the seeming absence of God or to a deep awareness of your own propensity to failure, lukewarm-ness & betrayal. The “Judas kiss” is something we are all experts at. 

   Many people, when first aware of the “voice” of their inner lives showing up in their spirits, “file it away,” “categorize it” or “anesthetize” themselves to it. You have chosen (for years now) to stare it gamely in the face. I know the territory. 

Is it God or devil? 

Who knows on some days…and does it even matter?

I don’t know much. But a good friend, engaged in a good chat over a good beer can often be a Grace not to be dismissed. A restored perspective that says there are others carrying similar “crosses,” can impress upon your spirit that you are not alone. That, sometimes, makes a huge difference.

But (in my better moments) I can tell you one thing whether it be gleaned from the years of trying to dance with my own depression, explain my failures or attempts to try and make sense out of all the incongruities I find within myself. And here is that one thing:

I strongly suspect there is not a nuance of our wounded hearts or tired, confused, weeping spirits that escapes God’s notice. Perhaps, we’d like Him to “notice it bit more quickly” and do something about it. Who knows how our tears (cried and un-cried) reach Him, but I am convinced that they do. An innocent Jesus on a Cross certainly came face-to-face & heart-to-heart with what we call “abandonment.” God all-too-frequently, for whatever reason, seems to not get the cue when it’s time for the cavalry to arrive. He is not a super-hero who answers to our whims.

I have no answers as to why He lingers or even seems to “forget” us. I do know that your sensitivity to such absences and your unique ability to give such experiences “nomenclature” is a gift to us all. Stay with that. And enjoy the journey.

Maybe, as we all continue to bare the saddest parts of our sad lives to God, the “still, small voice” that continues to whisper, will become more & more apparent to us. If He lives in & around us, it would be a matter of learning to flee the static in our spirits and listen to a voice of tenderness, even on our darkest days. Perhaps it becomes spiritually “audible” in ways both previously unheard and unexpected. When one is forced, by the sheer force of crushing reality, to throw out all the formulas of “How Prayer Works,” perhaps then we are finally “down in the dirt” with a God who clothed Himself with such dirt on our behalf.


Your art,____, is a participation in such “dirty” Incarnation. It may also be the first-steps in your own integration & wholeness. As an artist, you get to “pass your findings on” to others. We need you gift of nomenclature. 

The darkness that seems to drown your vision, and often engulf you in doubt and sadness is part of the territory and part of the “job description.” It seems, whether we like it or nay, that the “saints,” sages and seers of the ages have all struggled to “stare it down,” to make sense of it. Covered in dirt we do well to ask: “What, in God’s good Name, are You calling forth in us?”
I suspect God, being “big enough,” has no problems with such inquiries. 

Maybe all you get is the power of a faith spoken, a hope made flesh…and a love received & embraced.

And precisely because He is all that is Love & Lovely in the universe, He has given to each of us the “permission” to speak such final & wondrous grace and goodwill…first to our very selves.

Love to you, sir,

Bill