Sunday, December 26, 2010

Die to live, die to death.

I think heroes prove that God exists.

There have been many times in my life where I was either not sure why I believed in God or just simply did not believe at all. But when the time came in my life where I was certain I wanted to find out why and mature enough to actually do it, I discovered a few things about my faith journey that made me realize I had been searching a lot longer than I thought.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...well actually, in our own galaxy, I was an eight-year-old being introduced to the wonderful land of Star Wars. Action, adventure, heroism...Jedi Knights and Rebels...I loved it. There was something about it that made me so excited. Made me want to BE Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo. I thought it was the action alone...just the cool fights and all that. But what do all my favorite characters in the series have in common? Obi-Wan lets himself be killed so that the young heroes can escape. Luke Skywalker refuses to turn to the dark side, and instead invites certain death at the hands of the evil Emperor, inadvertently causing his father's redemption as he saves his son's life. Han Solo forsakes a life of greed and risks his neck to give Luke the chance he needs to blow up the Death Star. All of this from a secular writer, and all of this appealing to a very wide audience. Why would we admire those who do these things if we are supposed to be eating, pooping, mating animals with no God?

Then there was Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was Catholic, however, he explicitly stated that Lord of the Rings was not an allegorical tale, but an applicable one. But yet, his belief in God leaked into his story anyway. The heroic Aragorn risks his life time after time for his friends, for his love Arwen, and for his fellow men - and towards the end of the book, he even assaults the gates of the middle-earth equivalent of Hell when he is quite certain he has no chance of surviving (though he does win, anyway). The wizard Gandalf actually DOES die to save the others, however, comes back to life to complete his task. The hobbit Frodo selflessly takes on the terrifying task of destroying the One Ring, an artifact of pure evil whose very existence threatens all good...and very nearly dies many times in this task. Does this all ring a bell?

And then there's Dragon Ball Z. Oh yes, I know many people consider it a childish kid's show with a bunch of men yelling and fighting each other. But beneath the surface of ignorance there is so much more there. The main character Goku dies and has his life restored not once, but TWICE, only to risk his life again and again afterwards, and once put his very existence on the line to save the world. He's directly responsible for the heroism or complete conversion to good of at least six other characters, who look to him as an example when they make the difficult decision to put their lives in jeopardy, sometimes for just a small chance that their friends might survive. There are so many examples of emulation of Christ slipping into this work I struggle to pick just one...Possibly the best one is when Vegeta, a character who is, for most of the series, an incredibly evil anti-hero, decides to fight for someone other than himself for the first time, at the expense of his own life - after being told by a reliable source that he would likely not receive any reward for it because of his previous selfishness. Sound familiar?

And if even in secular works we can admire those who are willing to die to save the lives of others, what sense would this make if we're supposedly just animals...what animal would die to save the life of anyone other than children or close kin? These animals - Obi-Wan, Gandalf, Vegeta - they die for their friends...and sometimes, for people they don't even know. If we have this desire for more meaning to our lives, than there must be something...someone to fulfill this desire.

All this time, I'd been searching for proof that God exists, and here it was right in front of me, all along. The characters from these shows that I admired so much, were mirroring traits of Christ's love...Christ's death on the cross...and not only that, proving that there is more to life than living.

There is a point in Dragon Ball Z where four evil android creations of a mad doctor threaten to destroy the world. One of these, Cell, is thought to be stronger than all of them, and wishes to absorb Androids 17 and 18 to make his power complete. If he succeeds, he will be unstoppable by the forces of good. However, Android 16, who is an earlier model of android, unable to be absorbed by Cell and thought to be weaker than the rest, steps in to stop Cell. The quiet Android 16, who had previously refused to do anything but follow Androids 17 and 18 around, reveals that he is just as strong as Cell and can save Android 17 from being absorbed, which is just what was about to happen. Android 16 says: "I will kill Cell. This world is a good place. Cell wishes to destroy it. I will not let that happen." Android 18 warns him: "Come back! You'll be killed!"

But the brave android replies: "That does not matter. Life is good, but living in fear is not my idea of living." And then he goes to fight...but I won't spoil what happens. :)

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that heroes lived forever.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas romance.

I have always thought Christmas was the most romantic season. Even when I was a kid and didn't know what that meant.

Long long ago, I would spend hours just watching the Christmas tree glow. We had lights that you could change the settings on, so they would do different was just a soft fade-in, fade-out glowing effect. It was wonderful to watch on the Christmas tree. It struck some kind of special feeling in my child heart that I could not recognize then. It was what I now call the feeling of romance.

Looking out into the night sky, watching a sunset, seeing the snow fall. It's that kind of thing that makes you feel something special is happening...a sense of awe and splendor. I think these moments come especially easy at Christmas time. You have all of those things and more...there's just something about Christmas-time that's romantic. I can't even write about it properly, and I know I don't fully comprehend something when I can't write about it.

So I won't try, and I'll get to my point. When I got older and understood my feelings about Christmas better, I knew I would always want a Christmas romance. Meet a girl at the turn of the season, fall in love walking through the snow, kiss under the soft glow of a Christmas tree. By the grace of God I've been given this. The past few weeks have been full of the best days of my life, and it just keeps getting better. I've found someone who makes me a better and happier person just by being with me and talking with me...and every day I don't think I can possibly love them more, and every day I'm proven wrong.

I wonder if I'm sharing too much...but this is all so good that I don't want to keep it to myself. Thus it is with all good things and a generous heart, I suppose?

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that Christmas never lost its romantic touch.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A whirlwind in my head.

"It's like a whirlwind in my head...but if I concentrate, I know what people are thinking all over the world. Presidents; diplomats; scientists. I can help them understand each other."

Thus says the immortal Connor Macleod at the end of Highlander. It's a good movie, and for whatever reason, I've always really liked that line from it. Maybe it's because sometimes I, too, feel like there is a whirlwind in my head.

I am not used to my life changing so quickly.  There have been long spaces in my life where my world was relatively the same. I think the longest period may have been elementary school...I can think of only a handful of moments where anything really changed much.

Yet in the past year or so my life has taken a series of rapid changes of direction. From month to month I have been a completely different person. I've really grown up in some ways. Many ways, if I can say so without sounding too arrogant or naive.

With these changes, the people I've spent my time with and how I've spent it has changed as well. Early on, I was only desperate to spend time with anyone doing anything...later, I was looking for people to help me and listen to me. After a few months of advice and self-searching, that was flipped on its head and I desired only to share what I had learned with others as much as I could. And now, something completely different.

It makes me nervous to say something so bold and assuming, but I truly believe I've finally found the sort of friendships that last for a lifetime. This is something I've been looking for all my life, and never really knew it until God brought it to my doorstep. Last night, I spent the evening with some wonderful people sharing a meal, praying, playing a game, and talking. Not to mention sharing thoughts, feelings, and experiences with a beautiful woman. :) This is the sort of thing I want to carry with me for the rest of my life. This is what I know will help bring me to God, this community, these friendships, this relationship.

When I was younger I was bullied a lot. I never had too many friends, and in high school there were a lot of people who liked me, but very few I was close with, and none whom I prayed with on any regular basis. Any connections I built with people were usually skin-deep, the kind of friendships that center around utility - who's fun, who's not. There were moments of real friendship, I'll admit, but they were rare. With a very select few, I believe I built true friendships with, but with many of these friends I find it difficult to stay in touch with and spend time with, and none of them are God-centered friendships. For a while this continued in college, and for some time I even neglected most of my real-world friendships for friendships with people around the world I met online. Sad. But now, everything is different. I'm with people who understand me, who build me up, and who I seek to understand and build up. We shine like Christ for one another, and we love it.

I've had this experience before where I live...the experience that happens when you have God-centered friends who love one another - TRULY love. But for whatever reason it's not always lasted or been quite so strong. I have a feeling that this is different somehow. I can't really explain it, but this is different. It feels favored. I don't know how else to describe it.

It must be a God thing.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that all friendships nurtured love like a whirlwind.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My life in two words.

A miracle.

How can two people so right for one another find each other in the midst of millions? Not only that, but how many times along the way was I looking for something or someone else, never knowing that another hand was in the mix, turning my "missed opportunities" into "steps in the right direction"?

My girlfriend (yes, girlfriend now!) and I were watching the Notebook tonight. It is of course a great romance flick, but the whole thing isn't great - just parts of it make the movie. There is one part near the end that struck me...Allie as an old woman asks Noah "Do you think our love can create miracles?" The thing with this movie is that it always comes so close to getting true love right, and even makes it sometimes, but fails in areas like chastity or just doesn't go deep enough. So I said aloud, "I would take it one step further and say love is the source of ALL miracles." And it's true. I can't name all of the times in my life where I've asked God for something that would have caused me to miss out on what I have now.

The God who loves me knew what he was doing all along...

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that we could all recognize the miracle of our lives.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Burnt bridges, bright beyond.

I am fresh as morning dew, you are pure as falling snow.

I had the most wonderful conversation two nights ago. I finally told someone who really understands me the last little secrets I have...and she did the same. Except in reverse order.

Looking back on life, I have found that a lot of the things I never understood why I had to go through have prepared me for now. I am so happy now because of those things - if they never happened, I would not be the person I am now. I would not be prepared to face the wonderful challenge of being a mirror of Christ's love to someone I truly care for. For instance, if I had never been bullied, I never would have escaped into books and writing...and in a small part, that passion has brought love into my life.

A good friend of mine told me yesterday that Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, wrote that the prayer of agony prepares you for the prayer of ecstasy. Long ago, I prayed for God to take away my pain...but instead, through the pain I was given a chance at something better. I would still be a little boy in a man's body right now, and much less happy of a person, had I not had some pretty blistering slaps to the face.

I have burnt a lot of bridges in my life. People say "Oh, don't burn any bridges, you might want to go back!" But I never want to go back. I've ended a lot of friendships, left a lot of places, and I have absolutely no regrets. Not anymore, not now that I understand. Now that I've met someone who really understands what it's like...someone who like me, wishes to leave the past behind and become reborn to new life in Christ...I am interested in her past, in my own past, but I don't want to reflect on it as a place that has anything to do with who we are now - the past is how we got to be who we are now, only. It is a prologue; a stepping stone; a way station. It is a past life somehow connected to this one. We're like children again - fresh as morning dew, pure as falling snow.

Perhaps I'm being far too naive, but I can only see a bright beyond now. There may be hard times too, but I think they'll be like a couple of thorns in a bush of roses...I'm much stronger now too, and I pray better as well. No matter what happens now, I always have hope. If 21 years of bad memories can lead to something so wonderful, even if this "something wonderful" is gone, I know God will lead me on.

There are only a few last loose ends to clear up, now, before I ask my question...

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was for hope beyond all burnt bridges.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"My sister, my bride..."

True love not only wants to sacrifice, but enjoys it.

So, I have a couple of adopted sisters who live down the road. I love these girls so much and I've only known them for a month. Fun fact: I rarely enjoy cooking...but for whatever reason, I felt really excited to make something for these girls, since they were hungry at 10 PM...what a bunch of weirdos. Well, I was hungry too, so perhaps I shouldn't talk.

Anyways, it took a while for me to figure out why I enjoyed it so much. I mean, I hate cooking for myself unless I haven't done it in a while, in which case it's only a moderately fun activity. I thought of a story a friend told me...when he was younger, his mother basically spent every waking moment of her day serving her family. My friend couldn't figure out how she could stand it...she never did anything for herself. When he got older, he realized that his mother actually ENJOYED it. She loved her family so much that all the busy work she did for them was her joy in life. How wonderful a thing to happen to me! For me to love my sisters so much that I'd enjoy doing something I hate just because I could help them in a small way!

Anyone not versed in the Song of Songs from the Bible may not recognize the title quote. It's part of a statement made by the bridegroom in of erotic love the middle of the Bible...yes I'm serious. Anyway, he says something about how beautiful his bride is and then calls her his sister...And if you don't think too deeply into it, you're likely to say something to the effect of..."WHAT?" Don't worry, she's not ACTUALLY his sister.

But think about it. If a man truly loves a woman chastely, he treats her like a sister FIRST. A brother is fiercely protective of his sister...he would do almost anything for her, and he certainly doesn't think of taking advantage of her womanhood. If only we men were all like the bridegroom! Thinking of potential lovers as sisters first, and only later as brides! Well...obviously tonight I have in some way shown my love as a brother...what a beautiful start! ;-)

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that the human family would all be united in true love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A splitting discovery.

Who ever thought a split-open chin could lead to anything wonderful?

I sure didn't. Last night I fell because of a big patch of black ice and faceplanted, getting my nose and cheek scraped, and my chin totally split open. It didn't hurt that bad, but I felt like my night was ruined. What would I say to the guest I brought to a party? "Sorry, you'll have to have someone take you back to your apartment...I need to go to the hospital. I hope I'll see you tomorrow" is what I thought I was going to have to say. I didn't need to say anything at all though...she went to the hospital with me. There wasn't any other place she wanted to be. She tried to be modest, perhaps she even genuinely didn't think it was a big deal, but I was touched. She chose to spend over an hour in the hospital talking to me than to go be with her other friends. It meant a lot...the cut didn't make me cry, but that sure did.

I find that even though things are going well I still get nervous a lot. It's hard for me to really believe that anyone could like me as more than a's something that I'm still trying to get rid of. Little things make me nervous, such as silence after I say something bold about how I feel, or if I find that instead of talking I'm just smiling and staring like a big creep. But...there is a special someone who always seems to take that away from me, at least for a little while. She's probably reading this right now, so I will just say, thank you. :)

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that love could set all hearts at peace.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dreams have come to life.

"...Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: 'Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What's happened to the world?'"

This, my friends, is how I feel, and I'm posting late at night so I can put it down before I forget exactly what I wanted to say.

Life nowadays is like a waking dream. I keep wondering when I'm going to wake up and the dream just keeps going on. It's as if I decided what I'd like my life to be like and it just came true. Why did God choose to bless me this way? I may never know. What I do know is that all the pain I've experienced in life has led me to this point...I've never appreciated pain so much in my life. It has brought me here to this land of dreams.

I've never been called perfect before in my life, nor has anyone ever said they were excited to do something as simple as getting coffee with me, but I've now heard both, and more yet, in one night. It was so cold out, but walking with the wonderful woman who said that to me...I felt warm. I think I'd still be out there walking with her now if it weren't for the fact that if I weren't going to bed soon, I probably wouldn't wake up for morning prayer.

I find it funny in a wonderful sort of way that she and I were thinking the same things about each other these past few weeks: Why would someone so wonderful like me? They probably don't...All without knowing the other thought the same thing. How close we were to missing something beautiful.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream is becoming real.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pure as Snow.

I keep wondering when I'm going to wake up from this wonderful dream, but it keeps going on...

Excuse me for not posting in a while. I do have MUCH to say but I've been without a computer for a while.

So, last Tuesday I was a wreck. I thought I had somehow blown my chances with a very interesting young lady, and I was also very mad at a former friend. I pretty much blew my head off at them and in the most wrathful way possible told them what problems I had with them. It was bad.

Wednesday things were better. I was still nervous and I couldn't get to confession that day. But suddenly, on Thursday, things changed. I prayed to God, asking what I should do. He told me that I should stop being afraid. "Raise me as your shield, and I will give you a life without fear" came to mind. I swear I've never heard that before, so I post it here as word from God Himself! And I took His advice...I had confession, and that night, even though I was still afraid of rejection, I asked a girl friend of mine if she would like to "friendship date" for a while and pray about a relationship. She said yes! Things are going so well, and we're closer than ever.

Snow has begun to fall where I live. It's beautiful to watch...I don't think there is anything physically more pure than falling snow. Icy cold, pure water, fluttering in the wind, untouched. It is water that is purified by evaporation, and once more has the chance to not be mixed with dirt or be drank...

...I was given a confession of sorts recently. It was something I needed to know, but this person was so nervous about what I thought. It makes me think of the snow. It has a chance again to be crystal clear water. Who you are now matters much more than who you once were. I like your past, but I don't want to live there. Run away, my friend. Take my hand, and along with me, be pure as snow...

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was that we would all become pure as snow...