When all the leaves have fallen To crunch beneath indifferent feet Afore winter's capturing talon Executes life's final, sad retreat In cold silence loud and sullen When kettle drums begin to beat Humbling each arrogant felon The august end in brutal defeat Wail! No immunity to dwell in Ominous! All graves loom to greet The poor, the rich, the driven All the same pointless end do meet Kiss the Son,now! Determine Sure escape by a fall at Jesus'feet!
Father, fill this weary heart,
With your Spirit, your presence!
Infuse my mind with reverence,
Beyond ideas of human art!
May an aroma, a Holy essence,
Melt my anxious heart!
This day is a new start;
Live for you in Holy reverence!
Break sin’s pride apart,
By awareness of your presence!
Heaven is more than severance,
The gift of a new heart!
Bear Jesus’ Name in reverence,
By Holy Spirit, not apart!
No Jesus in carnal heart!
In Jesus, I enter God’s presence!
Praise from faith’s heart,
Grateful raise in pleasing essence!
Worship offer in awed reverence,
Giving day a joyful start!
China-doll paint sultrifies the little-girl-face beneath layers of makeup no child should wear. Neither mask is a right representation of the shattered child that lives within. With one last look in the mirror to make sure her night work costume is right, Mary reaches for the most important part of her pre-work routine; knowing that without it she couldn’t do the kind of work required of her. This small bag of white dope, her one treasure, is the only thing in life that she looks forward to. The ritual of powder in spoon, adding just the right amount of water, and cooking up the witch’s brew, comforts her in daily repetition; with its promised relief from pain, the one true thing she can count on. Anticipation rises as the dark-brown fluid fills the syringe and Mary trembles as she lightly thumps bubbles upward and squeezes the plunger to let the air out. Expertly, she wraps red-silk-sash tightly around her upper arm and inserts the needle in her favorite vein. She pulls back the plunger, watches it fill with blood, and assured of hitting the mark, she pushes the plunger in. Releasing the sash, she melts in ecstasy and total relief.
These few moments of escape from grim reality are the only Heaven Mary believes she will ever taste or deserve. Mixed with drug-induced dreaming, shards of reality sift in and Mary drifts back to remember the day when her child’s world was smashed and the dark settled in. Mary is only seventeen and though her initial shattering took place three years ago, those three years stretch long with the trauma of a lifetime. The child Mary was at fourteen died suddenly, in a distant time and lays buried deep in memories, covered by filth. Mary doesn’t mourn for her. She hates her and chides her! Mary believed what her mother said and knew she’d gotten what she deserved. She shouldn’t have done whatever she did that invited her mother’s boyfriend into her bedroom. She shouldn’t have frozen in fear. She should have screamed! She should have fought! There must have been something she could have done! How could she be so dumb? So bad? Mary’s mother told her she was born to be a whore and no whore was going to live in her house! Mary found herself on the street, with no where to go. She had no money, no food, and nowhere to sleep. Mary was small back then, alone, and afraid. Mary was still alone and afraid, everyday.
Cold night settled in on that distant day, as Mary huddled on a park bench shivering in fear. Like an angel from Heaven, he appeared with kind words and easily, gained desperate Mary’s trust. With flattery and promises of care and protection the man lured her into a world no childlike mind can conceive or mentally handle. On that frigid ink-black night, Mary stopped being a child and became a commodity. The life her mother predestined for her by her words and actions came to pass. Mary became a whore, even though she was still just a child. No longer part of the world of decent human beings, Mary found herself being sold daily as an object of sexual abuse. Mary was no longer regarded as human. Mary became a sex-toy. In the confusion of her new life, the one thing she knew for certain was that it was her fault. After all, if the police came, she would be the one sent to jail. While the influential men who bought and used her, were kept safe and sent home to their wives. Mary could see how bad she was in the condemning stares of people on the street; especially the women. They looked at her with the same disdainful eyes belonging to her mother. She was lucky the man gave her food and a place to sleep. He was right, he was good and she was undeserving and inherently, bad. The things he taught her that pleased he and the other men twisted her princess-meets-prince fantasies and hopes of true love into personal degradation. Mary quickly learned to despise men. Her heart filled with inexpressible hatred. She wanted to hurt men in the same way that she hurt and it wasn’t long before she became adept at taking them for all they were worth. Bitten at fourteen, Mary at seventeen dreamed of becoming Queen of the Vampires. There was no other dream possible for her.
On a night that seemed like any other night, Mary’s life took a different turn. She sat down on the same park bench where her fate was sealed three years ago and on that bench, Mary found a pocket-sized Bible. She looked around asking for the owner but no one came forward to claim it. Mary didn’t know anything about religion but she knew for certain that she was a sinner too sinful for a holy God! That little book wouldn’t likely do her any good. However, the small book was bound in leather, with pages tipped in gold, and it might be worth something. Mary tucked the Bible in her purse.
Several days later, Mary rediscovered the Bible she’d forgotten about, when she was cleaning out her purse. Curiosity drew her in and she began reading. Mary was shocked and caught her breath, as she read of another Mary who was also, a prostitute. “In this Holy book?” she asked herself. Mary Magdalene was a woman of sin, just like Mary and Jesus loved her! Jesus loved her when the rest of the world despised her and Jesus changed Mary Magdalene’s life. She became one of his most devout and closest followers. Mary began to cry as suddenly, a rush like warm wind enveloped her in love. Mary fell to her knees in response, as words not of herself came pouring from her lips. “Jesus, save me as you saved this other Mary! Please, save me Jesus! Please take away my sin!” Mary fell into a heap of happy tears and then into a peaceful sleep. In her dreams, Jesus came and wrapped her in a new white robe. In His kind voice He said, “Mary, I’ve called you from a life of great tribulation to walk with me in a new way of life unlike, the only life you’ve known. This white robe is your dignity, stolen when you were only a child, and I’m returning that dignity to you. Follow me and leave your old world behind.”
When Mary woke up, nothing had changed but everything was different. Mary wasn’t the same. Mary was loved and she knew it. Mary was no longer alone and her old life changed because her new life was directed by God; and He opened the doors that allowed Mary to escape her life of degradation. Through faith, Mary received strength to change old habits and build a different life. Just like Mary Magdalene, she loved Jesus with unquenchable devotion and never looked back with longing on her old life of sin. Protected by her Heavenly Father, Mary became the lady she was intended to be. With her old life of sorrowful degradation behind her, Mary lives a new life characterized by joy! With Jesus living within her, the dark things of her past brought into the light became a light and it shines as a beacon to all other Mary Magdalene’s
Play for me! Strum on silvery strings!
Old golden hymns of ancient Truth…
Soul calming song, fly on Dove wings!
Remind me of all eternity’s worth!
Tell me of the miracle only Love brings!
Spirit’s joy, lifted by Heaven’s mirth!
Saintly song across the ages still rings…
Encircling all of history’s wide girth!
Jesus the Name a saint eternally sings…
Calling the lost home to a new birth!
Soft and low Jesus is calling; faith swings,
Life Door opens! Church of one Faith…
Ancient cloud of witness with us sings!
Healing words approving His Truth;
Faith transcends, Jesus in all age’s rings!
So strum and sing of Messiah’s birth!
Rock of Ages to you believer still clings…
Glory come down! A Pearl of worth!
Revive us again! Hope in praise springs!
Light the dark! Simple songs of Truth!
When the cotton flies on a summer day worries melt in the magic of rose bouquets presented by the Walking Stick Cactus. In the heat of sun and full life, time, age, and winter don’t matter. Swirling white cotton floating on the warm wind lifts my fanciful thoughts to go dancing in a summer-time blizzard. Feathery white stuff tickles my nose bringing me home to reality with a sneeze! This is June in the Bosque’ where the Cotton Wood is a benevolent King offering life with protection to every heat-stressed, desert creature beneath the cooling power of its shimmering leaves. Shelter for the deer and other four-footed animals is also, found among the Russian Olives, Salt Cedar, and other river-loving shrubs. The ancestral homes of many birds adorn the branches of the Cotton Wood and the lesser tree kinds of this deciduous, desert forest. During this yearly, ‘Summer Ballet of the Cotton’ all is well and at peace.
Suddenly, the cotton’s spell is broken by the sharp screech of a Magpie swooping low! He brings many of his beautiful black and white brethren with him but their dazzle is quickly forgotten in the cacophony of obnoxious sound made by these thugs bent on obtaining dominion of the Bosque’. Nothing in the trees or on the ground is spared as they swoop high and low in tacky pursuit of any creature that moves. The soothing tones of the song birds stop. A few brave parents stay in a valiant effort to protect their nests along with their young but every other bird flees. The land creatures hide beneath bushes and dive into their boroughs. An empty silence replaces the happy sounds of contentment but still the cotton drifting-twirls and the Cotton Woods are undaunted. They stand in silence offering their comforting green branches even to the likes of the Magpie who soon grow bored without the contention that defines them. In the empty, dead silence they’ve created, they begin to eye one another and soon the forest is filled with the sounds of civil war. Swooping, diving, and curling into a moving ball the great battle ensues breaking all from their assigned ranks as camaraderie is forgotten in the pursuit of personal power. Soon, the weakest among these invaders dart away and others follow until the warring mob shrinks to only two. This pair builds a nest and settles in as the other bird’s now wary, return to reclaim their home. Having revealed their true selves to all and being outnumbered, the new-comer Magpies fall silent, craftily subdue their contentious nature, and busy themselves with raising their young.
The Cotton Wood leaves quiver and quake offering their moisture to cool the hot, dry air; by wisdom blessing the righteous and the wicked alike thereby, maintaining balance in the Bosque’.
“I really don’t know why you invited that Williams woman to our dinner party. Obviously, she prefers being alone to socializing.” Tony scolded Maria while getting plates from the cupboard. “Ey Tony! You are too hard on that poor woman. You should be ashamed. She has been so good for our Alisha.” Maria responds as she always does to Tony’s criticism of others, by pointing out their goodness. Tony comes back as is his habit with self-justification, “Well, I for one am thankful that school is about to start and Alisha will have less time to spend over there. I’ve heard things about that woman’s family and background. No matter how harmless she seems, I’m just not comfortable. You are too quick to dismiss the darker side of people, Maria. She isn’t even a Christian. How can she be the right kind of influence for our daughter?” Maria wiping her hands on a dish-towel looks up into her husband’s face, “Anthony, our Lord requires more than that of us. There is no one beyond His power to mend. Do you remember where He found us? Look what He’s done for us, Tony! He can do the same for poor Estelle!”
Tony silenced by the reprimand chooses not to reply but instead, keep his judgments to himself. Maria’s correction however, triggers memories of his childhood. Shadowy remembrances of a life colored by alcohol, drugs, and abuse; a childhood characterized by spiritual and material poverty. That sad existence that required him to grow up too fast and fashioned him into a protector, the man of the house long before he became a man. The hefty responsibility nearly crushed those small shoulders but somehow, he grew accustomed to it and bore the weight. Now as an adult, Tony doesn’t sense anything wrong in taking on more than belongs to him. He isn’t conscious of being controlling because he sees his actions as necessary to prevent horrors from his past repeating themselves in the present. He is determined not to let any of those things hurt his precious wife and daughter. “Maria is so naïve and trusting. No matter what she says, I am watching that woman. I won’t let my guard down. I could never live with myself if I let…that happen to Alisha.” Tony pushed the flash-back of his childhood trauma to the side, where it constantly resides, influencing every thought and decision he makes.
The tinkling chime of the doorbell brings Tony more fully into the present and with confident strides, he moves into the entryway to greet his first guest. As the door swings open, his eyes catch an emerald flash just as Estelle lowers her eyes to avoid direct contact. Tony misinterprets her shyness and feels his suspicions rise. He thinks to himself, “How can I trust someone who won’t even look at me?”
Estelle finds herself frozen in the doorway, trying to hide behind the bouquet of flowers she cut from her garden, as an offering to Maria. She didn’t imagine Tony answering the door and can’t help but feel his hostility. She tries to speak but croaks instead, “Hello…Mr. Hernandez.” Tony takes a moment to observe this eccentric woman but is unable to clear his mind of past experiences and the town gossip he’s heard. He fails to actually see Estelle but instead, sees a living symbol of perceived threats. Wanting to tell her to leave and never return he forces himself to say, “Good evening, Ms. Williams. Welcome to our home.” Tony opens the door wide and stands back to allow Estelle to enter. “These flowers are for Maria.” Estelle holds the fresh-cut arrangement of red and yellow roses interspersed with baby’s breath out to Tony but then Maria enters from the kitchen and takes them from Estelle’s hand. “Oh, Estelle! How beautiful and how thoughtful of you! I’m so glad you are joining us this evening!” Maria wraps Estelle in a welcoming embrace that soothes her jitters and acts as a shield against Tony’s disapproval. “They’re from my garden. I’m glad you like them, Maria. Thank you for inviting me to your party.” Estelle couldn’t remember the last time she’d been invited to a dinner party. Maria couldn’t know how much her kindness meant to her. Estelle wanted to make her home in those warm grey eyes and the friendship they offered. Maria’s nurturing heart, responding to a deep need in Estelle, causes her to take Estelle’s chin in hand and reply, “You are always welcome here. In the Southwest, where I am from, we have a saying, ‘Mi casa es su casa.’ That translates as, ‘My house is your house.’ Please, think of my home as your own and know that in this place you are loved.” Estelle has never heard such beautiful, kind words. Her eyes fill with tears and neither she nor Maria notice Tony in the background, clenching and unclenching his fists.
Maria finds just the right vase for Estelle’s flowers and after taking a deep breath of Rose perfume, places them at the center of the dining room table. The women chatter as they return to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner. Two couples arrive and the final guest to appear is a handsome gentleman in his early fifties, rounding out the dinner party at an even eight. Maria introduces him as Oscar Lovell and Estelle can’t help but be taken aback by his mature good looks. “I’m so silly.” She thinks to herself after the introduction is past and he moves on to converse with the others. Estelle stands firmly in one place, trying not to be noticed, as she is unable to think of any small talk beyond, “Hello. Nice to meet you.” She wishes she could disappear and wonders what possessed her to think she could belong here. Finally, some relief comes when Maria announces that dinner is served and asks everyone to take their seat at the table. Any sense of calm Estelle gains by following directions is shattered when she finds herself seated next to Oscar. He politely helps her get seated and as he takes his place beside her, she feels her legs quaking beneath the table. Then she catches Maria watching them from the corner of her eye and understands, “Maria, I will let you down. This man won’t be interested in me.” she thinks to herself as she tries to stop shaking.
Over the course of dinner, it is easy for Estelle to discern that everyone but she is a Christian. The talk centers on church, family, and the state of the world. Though all come from varying backgrounds, it is obvious that their mutual faith is a powerful bond. “Relationships built on individual relationships with God.” She thoughtfully considers this new insight while never feeling more isolated and alone. “God, I want that. I want what they have but I don’t know how to get there.” Suddenly, Estelle’s inner dialog is interrupted by Oscar, “Ms. Williams have you lived in Greenwood long?” All eyes turn toward her and finding herself at the unwanted center of attention Estelle stammers, “Umm, ugh, yes. I’ve lived here all of my life, actually. Even in the same house…” Then she blushes and looks down at her half-empty plate hoping these words are enough. Oscar senses her extreme shyness and immediately, feels regret at having caused this beautiful woman discomfort. He also, finds himself wishing he could get a closer look at those beautiful green eyes that only appear in flashes before hiding behind lowered lids and thick lash
“Father? Could she be the one you made for me?” Oscar prays to himself. “I’ve been alone for a long time…but whatever you decide. I’m waiting on You.” He sneaks another peak at Estelle and thinks how perfectly beautiful her hair is against her smooth skin. He wonders if he will ever see her again after this evening. Estelle isn’t unaware of his gaze but interprets it as disapproval of her inability to converse in social situations. “He must think I’m a dolt.” This overly critical inner voice gains volume and expounds upon all the reasons why no man could ever find her worthy of love. Estelle listens to the inner deprecations repeated so often before, is comforted by their familiarity, and nestles in the security of not being forced to move beyond her comfort zone. Suddenly an alien idea invades Estelle’s inner world, “I am my own jailer.” This shocking thought pierces the safety of Estelle’s secret ruminations. Estelle has no idea from where this truth emerged but she can’t deny that it is truth.
Dinner draws to a close with satiated guests stretching and yawning. Estelle sees her chance to exit and says her goodbyes to Maria. They set plans for Alisha in the week to come and as she starts to walk toward the front door, she feels a large hand land gently between her shoulder blades, “May I walk you home?” Oscar asks. “Wha…oh, well I just live next door…but I guess that would be okay.” Estelle is too shocked to answer differently but immediately, wishes she’d spoken otherwise. Then she remembers the jailer and decides to be brave. Oscar opens the door for Estelle and offers her his arm as they negotiate the short journey to her house. Estelle feels very awkward but also, exhilarated. They pause together on Estelle’s front porch under the soft porch light and Oscar gets his wish as she looks up and her green eyes fill his field of vision. Estelle is startled by the strength shining from his eyes. She is transfixed by eyes the unexpected color of clear blue crystal and must take a deep breath before she can speak with composure. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Lovell. Thank you for your kindness.” She reaches for keys in her purse and when she finds them, Oscar takes them from her hand and opens the door for her, then returns the keys and stands back. “Please, call me Oscar. May I call you, Estelle? I hope to see you again. May I call you sometime?” Estelle feels herself blush as she resists the urge to dart inside and slam the door shut. “Ummm…yes, you can call me Estelle. I guess it would be okay to call me, sometime. I mean yes, I’d like that. I think. Here let me give you my number.” Oscar logs Estelle’s number into his phone and then puts it back into his pocket. “Thank you, Estelle. I look forward to getting to know you.” He turns to walk away as Estelle slips inside and quietly shuts the door.
Once safely sealed within, Estelle drops to the floor and wonders if she’s been dreaming. “Did that really happen? After all these years? What is going on here? God? Are You the one changing everything?” Estelle sits in the dark pondering recent events and marveling at how much her life has changed since she first caught little Alisha spying on her. How could one small girl alter her entire world in this way? “Yes, God I do believe this is Your work. Show me what to do! Show me what you want from me next.” Elated, exhilarated, exhausted but also oddly at peace, Estelle picks herself up off the floor and heads for bed. For the first time in many years, Estelle is excited about her future, and falls asleep dreaming of the possibility of tomorrow.
To be continued.
For previous posts in this series go to https://joyindestructible.com/the-recluse-series/ to find posts listed in ascending order.
If I am still alive when the bitter cloud passes, may I not I not be found stubbornly clinging to the storm because I’ve adapted myself to misery. Instead, may I celebrate in sunlight as I embrace the sparkling new day the sun reveals. Let me move forward to clean up the damage left by the storm and not be stuck hanging on for survival long after the storm has passed. A powerful storm forever transforms the landscape and the lives of those who survive but help me, Lord to accept and embrace the transformation. May the storm not live on in me in thoughts that exist in loops and refuse to move forward. Make me mindful of the present and keep me from reliving terrifying moments and even repeating them by my actions. I do not want to be a storm bearer, a manufacturer of the misery I survived. Instead, help me share the hope that enabled me to endure. May I be an image bearer of you, Jesus the one who made my survival possible. It is to you that I cling in the midst of every storm. I cling to you now, even though the sun is breaking through the clouds because I need you in good times as well as in bad. I remain tethered to face new storms that soon will appear on the horizon. Even if one of those storms should take my life, I know my soul is secure in you, Jesus. Though I die, I will live. I should never fear the storm but when I do, Jesus, you are always there to comfort and strengthen me. You are there to lead me forward when danger has passed. In you I have hope even, on those dark days when I can feel no hope, joy, or peace. Even when I let go of you, Jesus, I know you are holding on to me. Thank you, Jesus for this gift of faith by which I endure all things to also, overcome. Amen.
“Thank you for taking me to church with you, Maria. I enjoyed it very much.” Estelle opens the car door to step out onto the sidewalk in front of her house and Maria gets out of the car too. “You are very welcome, Estelle. We love your company and I so appreciate what you are doing for Alisha.” As if on cue, Alisha jumps out of the car behind Estelle and gives her an unexpected hug. “Thank you for coming to hear me sing Ms. Williams!” Estelle gasps at the surprising embrace but then accepts it and returns the favor. Maria hugs her in turn and Estelle feels an old ache momentarily fade. It’s been a very long time since she’s felt a human embrace. “I will see both of you soon.” Estelle bends to peer into the car where Tony sits behind the wheel, “Thank you, Mr. Hernandez. Have a wonderful afternoon.” Tony nods in ascent and then looks straight ahead, “Come along Maria…Alisha. We need to get going.” Mother and daughter get back into the car as Estelle walks toward her front door.
Estelle opens the door and is enveloped in the isolation she’s sheltered in for such a long time. The emptiness feels safe and familiar but also, frightening and all consuming. She looks around at the immaculate, perfectly decorated house and has a sudden urge to dirty it up and make it look like someone actually, lives here. Determined but not really understanding the force impelling her to action, Estelle defiantly strides into the living room, looks at the portrait of her mother, and begins tossing expensive, artfully placed cushions from the sofa and chairs willy-nilly and even on the floor. Then she kicks off her shoes, lets down her hair and carelessly, flops down on the beautiful blue sofa. She stretches out as for a nap then reaches for a perfect rose pillow to support her head as she stares into the painted eyes of her deceased mother.
Those eyes leave Estelle feeling frozen. “How many times did I reach for you, Emma? How many times did I need a mother and even though I could see you and touch you, my mother was never there?” In a flash, Estelle understood herself as having always been an orphan on the emotional level. In fact, she’d been forced to be a mother to Emma from the time she was a small child. “Was I a good mom, Emma?” Estelle yells at the portrait as tears begin to spill. Then she remembered what the preacher said in church that morning about somehow, being able to have a parent-child relationship with God because of Jesus’ death on the cross. The idea of having such a relationship is very appealing to Estelle but it doesn’t make sense to her. She also, remembers the words of Jesus and the validation she felt upon reading them. “Emma! Do you know or care how much pain your drinking and constant neediness caused me? Do you know how hard Dad and I worked to keep your drinking secret and how much life we lost trying to protect you? Were you ever aware of what people said to me or what our neighbors thought?” With tears streaming, Estelle counted all she’d lost to Emma’s drinking and the black hole that drinking was used to anesthetize. Much of her childhood was consumed in that hole and even more of her adult years after her father passed. “Even now Emma, you steal my life from me because you never had a life! You never became a whole person! You used me to live for you and I’ve never lived for me either…” Estelle fiercely wipes the tears from her eyes, “I’m going to find a way to be more than the arms and legs of Emma Williams! I want to be a whole woman and live my life!” Estelle moves a few more objects out of place, gives Emma’s portrait a hard stare, and leaves the room.
It’s anger that gives Estelle the energy to move despite these new inner revelations. It is also, anger that numbs and gives her the fortitude to fight her excruciating, emotional pain. In the sanctuary of the only bedroom she’s ever known, she removes her church clothes and puts on her favorite pair of yoga pants and a big t-shirt. Then she goes to the bathroom to wash her face and pull herself together. When she catches her eye in the mirror, she gives herself a hard stare much like the one she unleashed on the portrait of Emma. “I-want-more!” she states firmly just below the tone of a shout.
In the kitchen, Estelle makes a sandwich as she recalls the words she heard in church that morning and remembers the warmth of friendship she’d enjoyed with Maria and Alisha. “Relationship. That’s exactly what’s missing in my life.” Estelle counts the relationships she was never able to enjoy, the school-chums that couldn’t come over to play or for sleep-overs; then later, the young men who could never find room in her life because her life belonged to her mother. “Now, I’m left alone and I don’t know how to connect to others because I never learned.” This truth comes down cold and hard but also, clarifies the solution. “I need to learn how to relate to people.”
Estelle takes her sandwich and a glass of milk with her as she goes into her office for her lap-top. Thinking she will lay down on her bed and catch up on some reading, she starts to enter her bedroom but then suddenly turns and decides to use Emma’s room instead. Pushing decorations aside, she puts her things down and rips open the bed. The frilly comforter lands on the floor where it stays and Estelle builds a comfy seat for herself from the pillows. She opens the curtains to let the sunlight in and then settles in bed to finish eating, not caring about the crumbs spilling all over the expensive satin sheets.
“If I want to know who Jesus is, I guess I need to read the Bible.” Estelle doesn’t own a Bible but quickly finds one online. Not knowing where to start, she decides to begin in Matthew, the book from which they’d read that morning. Estelle reads all of the Gospels and is transfixed by the person of Jesus described in those pages. “Such an ancient story that touches my heart in a way I don’t understand.” Estelle whispers to herself but also, to God. “He suffered so much but He stayed true to You and You were always there for Him. What a wonderful relationship. God, I don’t know what I have to do exactly. I don’t really understand but I want that relationship. I want You to be my Father too. I am all alone and I need You!”
Estelle closes her lap-top, pushes it to the other side of the bed, then sinks down off the pillows, and drifts off to sleep. Before long, she is wandering from room to room in her house-dream. She is a little girl to whom the house of her childhood though small, appears very large. The house is cold, empty, and Estelle lost, meanders circling from one silent room to the other, calling for first her mother and then her dad. There is no answer. The house is filled by an arctic wind and then goes black. Little Estelle shivers in the dark fearing she’ll also, disappear in the void; when suddenly, a bright light appears!
To be continued.
For previous posts in this series go to https://joyindestructible.com/the-recluse-series/ where posts are listed in ascending order.
What can be done about THEM? You know who I mean, those people over there who are so different from us and are messing up everything. If we can just control them somehow, or get rid of them, then things will be so much better. They don’t think right, dress right, or act right. Something has to be done about THEM!
It’s true the world is in great turmoil. Corruption abounds in a culture where evil is embraced as good and people are afraid to say anything contrary to the practice. Money rules and the recent bombshell called the Panama Papers bring home how corrupt that rule is at this present time. The world is very tolerant of evil morality and practice but highly intolerant toward human beings. The cruelty of the Narco culture seems to be permeating everything along with their mass amounts of money that fuel the world economy and line the pockets of powerful leaders. People are afraid and their fear causes them to identify with the aggressor in hopes of achieving personal safety and gaining control over others they perceive as a threat. Tribes are forming and battle lines being drawn in preparation to find a solution to THEM by many diverse groups of people. Increasingly, those solutions are violent.
The fear of OTHER and the tolerance of evil is tearing us apart and we seem to be utterly, confused as to how to stop evil without destroying each other. The stand we have to make is within. Giving into the pressure of political correctness can’t completely silence our conscience. Basic right and wrong doesn’t change and each of us must listen to that inner voice and change our personal actions. THEM is US and none of us is free from sin. None of us can control the evil in another but all of us can do something about our own evil. Ending any confusion about what is good and evil is as easy as reading the Ten Commandments. Let me assure you, they have stood the test of time and their validity isn’t likely to vanish in a generation. The generation that ignores them is certain to vanish but their truth will remain.
Old habits are hard to change but bad habits are changeable. To find remedy from sin requires that one see themselves as a sinner. God’s Law is the mirror that reveals every human being as a sinner. None of us measure up. We all break at least, one of those Laws on a regular basis; most of us break more than one. Only, Jesus lived by those Laws perfectly because God’s Law is spiritual and fallen human beings aren’t spiritual. Without Jesus we have no hope and the purpose of the Law is to show us our need for Jesus. Without Him, we stand condemned as dead to God and doomed to die a second time after final judgment. Jesus is the only one who can save us from the penalty of our sin and faith in Him is the only way to receive the Holy Spirit’s help in learning to uphold God’s Law from a heart that’s been changed.
The one thing I know for sure about THEM is that Jesus loves THEM, just as He loves me. Because He loves me so much that He was willing to die for me and save me from the second death, I am also required to love THEM. That doesn’t mean that I must go out and develop a deep, emotional bond with all people but I am to strive to treat others as I want to be treated. Everyone is part of the human family, a sinner in need of God’s grace, just like me. My love may not change anyone I encounter, or be the impetus that leads them to faith in Christ, but learning to love THEM is sure to change me. This is my only true avenue of exacting positive change in the world.
I know many people are burdened with worry and fear as to the condition of society today. Those concerns are well founded. The problems are complex but the answer is simple and power lies in the hands of the people. We can turn things around by choosing to do what we know inside is right. It won’t be easy but we have a powerful ally in Jesus. “If God is for us who can stand against us?” We have to begin by ceasing to stand against God out of fear of peer pressure. We have to cease from standing against ourselves by refusing to hear our conscience. We have to cease to deny our need for Jesus as the remedy for our personal sins.
Please, consider Jesus. Don’t deny true love and the power to become the man or woman God intends for you to be. Let’s not waste our time trying to straighten out THEM when the enemy we can do something about is within.
I’ve been going through a tough time in my life and one of the reasons I started this blog was to remind myself of joy because at that time, I felt very unhappy. It worked. I did retrieve my joy in Jesus but not in the way I expected. I didn’t expect to be ministered to by angels here on Word Press but dear, loving angels are exactly what God has given me. All my angels have common sounding names: Jim, Maria, Wally, BJS, Patrick, Jacqueline, G.W., D. Wallace Peach, Miguel, amoafowaa of Mum C Writes, Lonely Arthur, Pauline, JacobEmet, Kathy, Robert and many others who pray for me and encourage me through this painful time in my life. I have angels from all over the world who have shown me they care. I know Jesus lives because I see Him living in you.
I’ve spent most of my Christian life as a Baptist but God doesn’t care about that and often speaks to me in my dreams, anyway. As some of you know, I’m going to visit Mayo Clinic soon and there in those expert hands I hope to find the right treatment to put my weird disease back into remission. Last night God sent me a very special, very vivid dream. I opened my eyes and all of my Word Press angels were there to see how I was doing and to give me a hug before I go to Mayo. I know I dreamed this because of all the prayers being said for me by all of you. It was a very sweet, very encouraging dream and I’m sharing it because even though, I will probably never get to give any of you a real hug, I love you all. Thank you. Your kindness has helped me survive some very cold, painful days. I am blessed to have such dear angels. You mean the world to me.