The Recluse (Part V)

See links to previous posts in this series at the bottom of the page.

Estelle is in rare form on this early July morning. In fact, any long-time neighbor who might happen to see her standing defiantly on her front porch with hands on her hips as she glares at the Hernandez home next door would be shocked. She is always mindful of who is out-and-about and did everything she could to not be seen for more than a second. Estelle is definitely beside herself as she prepares for an unwanted confrontation. Caravana fretfully, tries to distract and comfort her by rubbing her legs and meowing but Estelle is in vigilant mode; unaware of herself and his presence. She’s had enough! That unattended child next door, that little Alisha, had spied on her for the last time! When Mrs. Hernandez came home this afternoon she was going to get a piece of her mind! Estelle mumbles to herself, “How ridiculous for an eleven or twelve year old child to be home alone all day! It just proves that religious people have no common sense no matter how perfect they think they are!” It riles Estelle to see that little family pile into their car every Sunday morning, rain or shine, to go to church but during the week, leave that little girl home alone with nothing to do but bother her! She was definitely going to let them know about it!

With a set plan of action in mind, Estelle and Caravana go back inside the house and Estelle tries to focus on her work. However, instances of catching Alisha spying on her over the last couple of weeks keep bubbling up in her mind. Anger is meant to block all other thoughts and prepare the threatened one for battle with super-focus on the enemy. Estelle is very angry and simply can’t think about anything else but the events that have violated the safety of her privacy and her pending confrontation set for this afternoon. She gives up on work after several failed attempts to accomplish anything cohesive and begins pacing in her office. Her pacing turns to wandering from one room of her house to the other. This tear Alisha made into the fabric of Estelle’s cloistered world is fostering greater tearing and in each room she enters, unwanted, long denied memories assault her. Images of daily life with her mother overwhelm her and exhausted she enters her bedroom, closes the door, and collapses on her bed. Estelle’s room doesn’t look like a magazine. Everything here is a scattered eclectic mess. A room cluttered with objects from childhood mixed with her adult things and nothing ordered into any cohesive purpose. Undeveloped would probably be the best word to describe the décor of this room in this perfectly decorated house.

Estelle curls into a fetal position with Caravana spooning himself into her stomach. She mindlessly caresses him while in a transfixed trance, overwhelmed by images and feelings of the past. Those memories are so intense that if she tries to move she won’t be able to because her body is shut down, giving all its energy to her overloaded, flooded brain. Flash after flash of instances when Estelle so desperately needed her mom to be there for her. A mom who was always present, who she could see and touch, but was emotionally absent. Emma had been so overwhelmed with herself that she seldom even saw her little girl. Estelle wonders if her mother had ever really known what she looked like. In this moment of sensory overload and the emotional flash-backs accompanying it, Estelle feels the full weight of abandonment and suddenly, understands why. She’d spent her entire childhood in a state of emotional abandonment! She acknowledges herself as an invisible child whose emotional needs went unmet. In fact, all of her childish needs were secondary to the gaping need of her mother. This paralysis she experiences is the frozen terror of a child left all alone in the world.

With a vehement surge, the chocolate eyes of Alisha Hernandez fill Estelle’s visual field. A child left all alone; a child whose eyes hold the same cold hunger as the eyes of Emma. Those eyes that see others as interesting or uninteresting objects to be moved this way and that for pleasure or to fill needs. Objects that when failing to produce pleasure or serve a useful purpose are then discarded without a thought. “The eyes of a cold-hearted queen” Estelle thinks out loud and in an instant, understands that ‘Queen and her personal servant’ was the description that best fit the relationship she once had with her mother. Another flood of memories come; memories of a desperate little girl trying so hard to please her mother, make her happy, and make her notice her existence. She feels that deep sadness that often overwhelmed her as a little girl and that deep, insistent desire that someone, anyone, especially her mother would notice she was hurting and ask her why. No one ever asked that question and Estelle longs for it now with the same intensity of pain she carries with her every day, in silence.

“Caravana! You are the only living creature who has ever cared about me!” The old, white tom cat responds by stretching, gently patting Estelle’s face with his paws, and then lifts himself up to lick her tears. Estelle’s tears are rolling now. A deep fount of long-stored-salt-water bursts open and the normal mute-hush, of this ghostly house, shatters in the crying shrieks of an abandoned child.

Estelle falls into a debilitated sleep that lasts until ended by the sharp slam of a car door.


To be continued.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:


Under a Cold Sun

Virtual sun-shine, so brilliantly cold!

Ruling the land without sympathy.

Some lives don’t matter! I’m told,

Rid the burden! Despise empathy!

Toward the unborn, those too old…

State decides whose life is worthy.

Drones obliterate in sums untold.

A bloodless click! A war so stealthy…

Beware silent attack! Horrors behold!

Non-endangered, Power’s Wealthy.

By Mandate, bread turns to mold…

Individualism? Deemed unhealthy.

Comply or force into collective fold.

No God above the State Authority!

Truth? Twisted interpretation sold…

State owes none, no accountability!

Arbitrary law enforced on the bold,

Who speak, Truth to Power Wealthy.

Manipulation: souls bought re-sold…

Chaotic border keeps covert slavery.

Organs bought or stolen; living gold!

Old woes revisited, intensify misery,

Beneath a virtual sun burning so cold!



On Butterfly Wings

Four-year-old Ariel with hair the color of brown sugar and deep, sapphire-blue eyes peers intently at a yellow butterfly sitting at the center of a white Shasta daisy. It’s one of those early June days that memories are made of. A soft breeze stirs and lifts the little girl’s hair in a swirling poof, in harmony with the puffy, white clouds that are scattered across the vastness of sky. These clouds are the remnants of yesterday’s rain storm and the reason why so many Robins are about getting their early-worm. The trees and all of the plants that inhabit the garden, wear a shimmering coat of new-green. Gardens are hopeful places in late spring and early summer. This is the season when gardeners dream big, with super strength ambition to achieve their plans in the growing season ahead. Ariel is also, situated at the beginning of her growing to become season but at four, she is content to focus on a yellow butterfly and is unaware of the importance of early childhood.

Yellow butterflies driven by the brevity of their lives don’t light in one place long and Ariel’s butterfly vanishes long before she is finished with her examination. Tears flood and glitter in those sapphire eyes as she vainly looks for her golden treasure. It only took a moment for her to fall in love and now, her love has flown away! A cheerful burst of musical notes distracts her broken heart and draws her attention to the Robins. There being far too many of them for a four-year-old girl to count, Ariel cries, “Bazillion! A bazillion birdies! Mine!” and she throws herself into the midst of them. It is only, nine o’clock in the morning and already, Ariel has learned two hard, life lessons. The birds not recognizing her ownership of them, do as the butterfly, lift themselves upon strong wings, and fly away. “Birdies gone…” is the dejected response of Ariel. Her tiny shoulders slump and she plops herself on the bench beneath the Maple tree. What’s the use of butterflies and birds if she can’t keep them, hold them, and play with them? Little Ariel’s heart hurts with her first cognizant experience of frustration in an unmet desire. On this memorable morning in June, a yellow butterfly and the Robins became a template for disappointments that would characterize Ariel’s life.

As Ariel grows, her defining characteristic is the pursuit of the impossible to obtain. As if her ability to dream rode to the heavens, on the wings of that yellow butterfly and the Robins who evaded her ownership, on that early summer morning. Ariel’s dreams, always being much bigger than any perceptible means at her disposal to obtain them, makes them seem ridiculous to her family and friends; but owning those dreams is the driving ambition that keeps her breathing. Without those dreams, she is likely to plop herself down beneath the nearest tree and never get up again. Ariel’s person is wound around dreams of fame, fortune, and legacy. In her mind, if she can’t become something recognized by the world as important, then that will prove what she fears most, that she is nothing.

Ariel’s ambition takes her many places that most people never visit. Some of them wonderful and some terrible; they all culminate in frustration, a repeat of that now, long ago, day when she was only, four. At twenty-five, Ariel is a beauty, with a great job, and life most young women would be content to enjoy. However, Ariel can only see herself and her life as a failure. She won’t be happy until she’s running the company she now, works for. Her desire for material rewards isn’t so much materialism as it is proving her self-worth. Her looks, her home, her car, her status at work and in life, must meet a certain high standard before she’ll be satisfied. What she doesn’t know about herself now, at twenty-five is that she will never be satisfied through worldly, success. The empty core she fills with dreams and the frenetic pursuit of achieving them will never be satisfied by any level of success she manages to reach. If she became Queen of the World, she would still feel frustrated and empty inside.

Ariel grew older but not wiser. Her achievement of becoming CEO before the age of thirty-five thrilled her in the moment but like all her earthly goals, ended in vanishing achievement; as life is never about a happy ending but on a continuum, where goals are met and quickly fade. Ariel never married because she gave everything she had within her to work. Now at the top, all she feels is the bitterness of disappointment and the let-down of past success, with no new horizon in sight. The empty core is now, a black hole sucking in the shell of Ariel, the persona she built around her dreams of success. She feels as if she’s imploding, collapsing, as if she is in a process of self-cannibalization. Shaken, she decides to take some time off, picks up her phone and dials the number of the best luxury hotel in town. Assured of a reservation, she grabs her coat and purse, tells her secretary what to do in the event of an emergency, and makes her way out the door. In a fog of broken thoughts and emotions, she finds herself in a cab, sitting in front of her hotel. Relieved to have made it to the perceived safety of her sanctuary, Ariel stuffs some bills in the cabby’s hand and steps out onto the sidewalk. She stares at the entrance for a few moments and feels so surreal as to be on the verge of a fugue state.

Alone in her room and having ordered two bottles of fine wine, Ariel strips to her slip, trying to get comfortable and relax. Sipping the wine she hopes will numb the pain and somehow negate her feelings of being on the edge of insanity, she absent mindedly opens the drawer on the nightstand. Yes, there it is, one of those Bibles that are always in hotel rooms. She’d never bothered to read one, she never had time for religion, and really didn’t understand religious people. What the heck? She didn’t have anything else to do. Ariel opened the Bible at random and began reading. As she read Matthew Chapter Five, it seemed that Jesus was speaking directly, to her. What stuck her was the fact that what Jesus listed as blessings were so different from the things she’d spent her life chasing. She felt foolish in the sudden realization that she’s wound her identity around nothing of lasting value. Just like the yellow butterfly and the Robins she’s wanted so badly, to hold and own as a little girl; the blessings she chases after evade her, just as she is about to put her hands on them. Tears fill her eyes and she reads again: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The flood gates of sorrow open upon Ariel’s acceptance of these ancient words that speak directly to her heart and the vacuum there that seeks her destruction. Not knowing exactly what to say, she falls on her knees, sobbing, “God save me! Please give me this blessing! Oh, I need your comfort! I’m so sorry for spending the life you gave me chasing the wind! Please forgive me and give me another chance!” Immediately, the aching hole in Ariel’s heart fills with a warming presence and she knows she’s been heard. Ariel is no longer lonely and falls asleep resting in the greatest comfort she’s ever known.

Ariel lives a different kind of life now and strangely, on many days, she finds herself enjoying the garden, just as she did when she was little. Her life is centered on Christ and she is involved in a process not unlike the process a caterpillar undergoes to become a yellow butterfly. Ariel is embarked upon a journey of becoming by faith. She no longer pursues status or fortune and fully, understands that her identity was never in material achievement. Her true identity is in Christ and she uses her money to further His work and help others in need. Ariel found joy and self-acceptance by coming to understand God’s love for her and His purpose for her life in Jesus. By dying to her selfish ambitions and instead, living to serve God’s greater purpose, Ariel finds the kind of life that satisfies her deep, inner need. No longer living to achieve plans of her own contrivance, Ariel looked forward to each day as a surprise in her pilgrimage toward a better world. Ariel is no longer frustrated by the endless pursuit of empty ambitions that never deliver what they promise. Ariel doesn’t chase big, illusive dreams but quietly, waits as God brings beautiful birds and golden butterflies to rest at her feet. Ariel, the beautiful girl who sacrificed everything to obtain her goals of grandeur, finds herself fully obtained by God. She didn’t become Queen of the World but she is more than content as a daughter of the King.

I Was Blind, Now I See

I wandered into a conundrum…

A Rubix of the mind…

Turn, twist, twist, turn, hmmm…

Solution? In a bind…

Ideas in a knot; confusion drum…

Frustrations do grind!

No way out it seems, feel so glum…

An answer I must find!

Ah! I hear it! Faithful beating drum…

Surrender, trust is blind?

Safe in Hand knowing what’s to come…

Father’s divine design!

Relax as gloom fades; sides are plumb!

Be Lifted!

Father, lift me above the conflict of ideology:

Religion, philosophy, politics; the confusion

When cultures collide and beast-like biology

Brings out the worst in us; human delusion;

Organized in the ‘isms, schisms, psychology

Of division; the back-biting hate transfusion;

That limits You to our limited understanding.

Father, lift me upward! Where Your eternal

Values transcend human misunderstanding;

Dispel all stubbornness; all my pride infernal

By which I lift myself; foolish grandstanding!

Touting MY knowledge! A miniscule kernel

Of the Truth only You hold comprehending;

The unfathomable, You keep unreachable

To all refusing faith’s surrender; The Lifting;

By bowing down! Refute men un-teachable;

Builders of ‘isms and ‘ologies; Soul’s sifting

In circular judgments, reason un-reachable;

Pieces of comprehension; Wisdom-grifting!

These shards of divinity are hatred and war!

Father, lift me to You! I am unable to climb!

May I dwell in Your Wisdom that sits so far?

Above my reach? Held in Your Love sublime?

Refashion this beast; remove all of sin’s mar!

I submit to redemption’s process over time;

Jesus came down to rise! And lift the limited

From Death’s confines of time, to the eternal!

All Truth, Love, Peace, Hope, Joy is unlimited!

Bequeathed to children obeying Will Paternal;

In acceptance of reality of self with sin whited;

Guided by the Holy Spirit lighting the internal;

No longer strive to be God; By faith is His Rest.






Love’s Balance

Lord? I only want these simple things:

I want Peace. Not war. Love not hate.

A long life to be lived in a happy state;

Let me know the contentment joy brings!


But Lord? What I get are complications,

Needless drama, manufactured misery!

Stress! And I pay with anxiety, as usury;

Subtracts from joy, tangles simplifications!


Sweet relationships can and do turn sour;

Some lasting long die suddenly, fade away;

A Bend, a twist, a break, then goes astray!

Lord? Relate to me in lasting, eternal power?


Lord! In You, I find all the simplicity I crave!

Quiet peace here, is more than satisfactory!

Safe! Far from noise of the Misery Factory;

Lord? Build a strong hedge? All hate do stave!


Lord? Keep me? Wrap me, in simple things?

If not? Help me promote a human tolerance?

Not of evil, but of one another; Love’s balance

Quells drama’s misery, as joy in freedom rings!





Never-you-mind what I said the other day;

While I do this, you-all look the other way!

Better yet, you-all close your eyes to pray,

As I watch seeking an opportunity to prey,

On the little guy; all know I’m here to stay!

On this you can depend, I’ll not walk away!

Political games are what I just love to play!

You need ME to keep our enemies at bay!

Don’t you listen to what truth-sayers say!

Naiveté isn’t relevant to the world today;

Crafty gray lies; this is the diplomatic way,

To achieve peace, keeps all poverty away!

No right or wrong, black or white, all gray,

Depends on political winds blowing today!

So, never-mind what I said the other day,

Remember you need ME, I’m here to stay!







Joy in an Era of Deception

Sunshine is streaming through every window this morning. The sky is blue and clear on every horizon. It’s still autumn and the grass around my house is green due to the extra rain we’ve been blessed with this year. The sun’s return is exciting after so many days of clouds and I can’t wait to get outside. I put on my slippers and wrap myself in a throw, then open the door leading to my deck, and then stop. Things are not as they appear from my sunny window, a small cracking of the door makes me painfully, aware of how cold it is outside. I was deceived as much by my longing for warm weather, as by the appearance of a warm, sunny day, despite my knowing reality of cold temperatures, in the high desert during this time of year. Disappointed I quickly close the door, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in front of my sunny window with my Bible in hand. It’s cold outside but thanks to Jesus, I have all that I need and though deception may frustrate my desires, it can’t destroy my joy.

As I read and pray, applying those passages to my life, I consider how easily I can be deceived into believing what I want to believe. I think about the times and the deception that pours into my life through another kind of Windows. I’m connected to the world by the screens filled with words, voices, and images, through Windows that open but offer a sense of glass-like protection from the harsh reality containing the view of the outside world that they offer. Without experiencing the climate and conditions of the hard-copy that I experience as virtual reality, I can’t know the full truth of what I view, read, or hear. I’m very likely, to fill in the blanks with my imagination, fueled by my desire to experience what I am longing for. It is my unmet needs and wants that set me up for deception.

The internet is a virtual world of opinion, fantasy, and longing. It is also, a place that promises wealth and power to those willing to use the internet to manipulate others. We all present ourselves somewhat, differently online than what we are in reality, we can’t help it. It is natural to show our best selves publically but some take it to a whole other level. Social media is a narcissist’s dream come true, giving them the ability to re-create themselves as they wish to be and even, the ability to create many false-selves useful for manipulation. Those with good intentions, looking to fill some unmet desire through online experience, are prime targets for those who gain good feelings about themselves by abusing others. Even when there is no abuse intended, people can be deceived by their own imagination filling in the blanks of limited information with what they are looking for in another. When enough time passes for the reality to emerge, people find themselves feeling tricked and used. Sometimes, they are tricked but mostly, they tricked themselves. Online personas aren’t entirely, real but there are real people behind them. Virtual personas can’t feel pain but the people behind them are badly hurt every day.

As I sit in my sunny window, enjoying the warmth and the glow that is a very different reality on the other side of the glass, I consider how God wants me to walk through this new era. How do I maintain joy in a world where most people now, connect virtually more often than in real life. Just as I need warm, sunny days, I need human companionship. How do I participate in the new world, in the midst of so much deception and maintain my joy? The answer comes to me and it comes by the same source that believers have trusted in for answers for many centuries, from God’s Word. It is in allowing God to govern my desires and in my allowing Him to fill my need that protects me from deception. It is in pointing others to Jesus for answers, rather than to me that keeps others from seeing too much in me. Though, I can’t always control how others might imagine me, or always know when they have an ulterior motive, I can trust God’s protection. As in all the ages past, I am to be in the world but not of it, and fulfill my calling by taking the truth about Jesus into a dying world. It isn’t about me, it’s about Jesus and in that fact, I find security from deception. The world is changing rapidly but Jesus remains the same and the joy I have in Him is enough to satisfy every need and desire.

My Response to Terror and Persecution is Jesus

Invisible cords of deception are rising from the bottomless pit. Un-noticed ropes of deluded thought are winding, weaving, circling to bind opposing ideologies by an unholy knot of unity. Those who are down-trodden, oppressed, and tired of waiting for relief seek alignment with those who share their common enemies and for the sake of common hatred, set aside their differences. The unseen spiritual forces that move human beings like leaves in the wind are being utilized by the religiously crafty to form a new world religion, by introducing new age compromise to transform ideological foundations into a new world view. The disenfranchised of the world are locking arms (falling victim to the same cult practices of deception in many religious forms) in spiritual deception; and like many who have long been abused, are choosing to identify with the aggressor, adopting violence in hopes of destroying oppression and assuming power. (This is the heart and strength of terrorism, the exploitation of the uneducated and downtrodden.) Not realizing that if they should succeed, they will have become the oppressors, and freedom will elude them. Though the powerful who rule by force and the underprivileged who resort to violence, seek to destroy one another they too share a common enemy; that enemy is humanity’s pursuit of security though power and control over other human beings. Human hierarchy requires the existence of the powerful elite and the powerless. There is no escaping this dichotomy that is natural to human governance. No unity found through spiritual compromise in man-made religion can do anything to end oppression or bring lasting peace because oppressor and oppressed are two sides of the same coin.

Since Cain murdered Able, the justification for brother killing brother is often, religion. Today, Islam is the most recognized banner raised by those who seek to topple the powerful, who have long reigned under the flag of Judaism and Christianity; but people have fought wars in the name of every religion seeking God’s power as their own. What is common in men from every ideology is the desire to own God’s power and use His Name as a covering while committing violent acts in pursuit of security, by gaining power and control over others. It is easy to imagine God is “on our side” and never stop to consider if “we are on God’s side”. Able obeyed God and became a prey to Cain who chose his own method of sacrifice, in disobedience. Cain is the father of man-made religion and the first to murder his brother in an attempt to supplant his vision in the place of God’s simple command. Able sided with God and died, while Cain imagined gaining God’s power as his own and committed the first of many murderous acts that continue to fill the earth with blood. Choosing to do what is right can put us in harm’s way especially, in dangerous times; but choosing to do what is right is the only way to remain on God’s side. Though many will lift the banner of their preferred religion, philosophy, or political ideology, even to murder their brothers and sisters in its name while seeking power, it is what we are willing to die for that has any hope of ending the bloodshed and bring about peace, with true freedom. Oppression will never end until human beings surrender their need for control to God and submit to His personal governance. We are designed to obey God not be Him. The religious persecution that began when Cain murdered Able will never end until, people cease subverting God to their own purpose and stop seeking to force that purpose on others.

Though the political and religious leaders of our day are seeking global unity, we are living in fractured times. Pressure comes from all directions to align with one faction or another. I am responding by seeking to choose God’s side and alliance with Jesus. Though religion (even some religions bearing the name of Christian or claiming the Name of Jesus) may demand I prove my faithfulness by my willingness to kill those who oppose it, I know Jesus died for me and asks me to kill no one. Jesus lived the life of an underprivileged man, persecuted by powerful religious leaders, and was put to death for threatening their power, because He lived to please God and not the religious elite. Without any worldly alliance, the political system gave him no protection but surrendered Him to those who wished to usurp God’s power as their own. Jesus was willing to die in order to obey God and by doing so, He made the perfect sacrifice that freed human beings forever, from the need of religious ordinance to make them acceptable before God. Jesus didn’t live, die, and rise again to start a new religion. Jesus came to demonstrate how to live according to God’s Will, as the Son of God and the Son of Man. He came to die so those who believe in Him could receive eternal life, enjoy a personal relationship with the Father, and learn to live a different way; by surrendering the need for control to God and trusting Him for security. I trust Jesus, the keeper of my soul to be my source of courage in a world that seems to be surrendering to terror; and responding in fear, by choosing death for their perceived enemies, when the same enemy lives within them. I choose Jesus, the one who teaches me to love my enemies, and pray for them. He is the same one who gives me victory over the enemy within. I look to the example of Jesus, who ended my enmity with God and guides me in living an obedient, simple life. I trust Jesus, the one who promises that the meek, not the powerful, will inherit the earth. I wait for that day and look forward to living in His righteous Kingdom, in peace and true equality, when by God’s mighty work, the valleys are exalted and the mountains laid low. In response to terrorism and the increasing threat of persecution, I choose to mirror Jesus, the one who chose to die for me.