It seems to me that committing sin is like walking up to a sleeping bear and promptly whacking it on the nose. As you might imagine, that's not a wise thing to do. The bear is larger than you, unless your a sumo wrestler. He's got more claws, more primal rage, a little tail. Whats even less wise is making a habit of striking that sleeping bear again and again. Because one day, you'll steal a computer from an off-kilter computer scientist. Momma bear just woke up and she doesn't like the idea of.. you. Out there compromising the security and privacy of others. Your brains and brawn's will need to match your boldness if you plan to get out clean. Yep, Mr. Mac-Burglar, you'd better destroy that computer quick because I'm setting my hellhounds on you. Instead of using my extra energies to move airwaves subtly influencing ears, there will be a flux of electrons as I light up the wires to vnc, ssh, mstsc, traceroute, or tulip until I've found your location. With the serials numbers of the computers I'll be sniffing every local web-based trade service you'd be slightly probable to use. Literally, I've got a script right now asking craigslist every hour for new entries on all the stuff you stole from my wife and child and I. Watching Ebay is next on my list.
"If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off"
Ok, I'm not all that upset, and I have no intention of taking the law into my own hands. I simply mean to to assist in the investigative work. As I thought about all this more, and feelings of loss and anger at being wronged set in I realized that this is what I do to my God all the time. I disregard his word, put other things before him, betray him, and distrust him. On all these accounts I am a repeat offender, even a habitual offender.This one time loss seems to be trivial in light of what I've done to him last week, and week before. And yet I still don't feel as moved as I should to figuratively "cut off" my weaknesses.
Yet from the pent up punishment of all those days and days he has made an escape route. Tonight and tomorrow, while I hunt this pitiful hagfish (and I do not fool myself, I know I'm still one) I will be praising you.
A man sat in a room with a eye for receiving spiritual answers to some questions. While an illumineer satisfied the mans appetite, the inquisitor's son wandered down a ill-lit street. The man with the questions didn't know his son had even left the room.
A man sat at a table with many others, sharing pitchers of sunset colored beer. A time ago, he would have called it a mistake. Now, his ex-wife and kids are the mistake.
A man phones an old friend after cashing a paycheck. That morning he thumbed through a brochure that romanticized a film career. Tonight, he'll be higher than the space needle, having philosophical conversations he won't remember.
The grumblings of a disquieted spirit turn into a roar as night matures. All day I've been bothered by my own inconsistencies. I know that we often give little pieces of ourselves away to things that mean to do us no good. We tend to fantasize about being something great. A great artist, lover, spiritual guide, or fighter. Except, little distractions and lustful's become addictions that, like drugs, impair some part of us needful to achieve that great goal we're after. Perhaps we're not hypocrites, perhaps we're not slime balls, perhaps most would pass us off as merely humans. (No doubt to quiet their own civil wars). But these little contradictions can be our greatest hindrances to be what we mean to be in life, and thus cannot be tolerated. Though I've fallen once, or a thousand times, that mountain still lies ahead of me, and by God I am somewhere on it. Frankly, I don't much care how far from the bottom I've gotten, only how far from the top I am. This idea turns my midnight roar into more of a hoarse battle cry. Whatever I've got to put foot over foot or hand over hand so that I do not become a nothing man.
Tonight I went to a benefit dinner and auction. It was for a group called the Genesis Project. Take a few moments to read about them.
I was invited to this dinner by my Dad, a coworker of the guy who started the organization. Most of the attendees were a few digits above my pay grade and the setting itself was suitable to them, not me. There was a three course dinner served, a silent auction, a live auction with a true auctioneer speaking at 90 wpm, and a live painter whose piece was auctioned for nearly $800 at the end of the event. In all, over $62,000 was raised for the organization on this 4 hour night. It was so much of an encouragement to see men raising their hand, soberly pledging $5000 to the cause to help those in true need just around the block on Pac Hwy.
Half-way through the program an unplanned detour was taken. One of the girls that was at the tail end of the GP program got up to speak. She brought nearly every living heart to tears with her gratitude and tale of "getting out". I cannot even attempt to reproduce what she said. Her mother got up just after her, and for a second time thanked the crowd and the staff of GP for "saving my daughter". Human-trafficking, porn, and sex-offenders all have found a new place of hatred in my heart. I mean the sin of course. Sometimes I forget stuff like this happens. I forget that man really is just that vile, perverted, twisted, and all the other maleficent adjectives a language can yield. It's saddening and yet makes me praise a God who has restrained me from that state of existence and from his wrath.
The event generated so many questions in my mind. How do we use our taxes? Can't we just use them all on organizations like this? Small and local beneficial ones? How does a society put up with stuff like this? How do we so easily turn that blind eye? Why did I spend all that money on needless things? How can I help? Can I quit my job and just help these people full time?
Sadly, most of those questions are not answered over dinner. But I did realize that there is a lot more I could do with my skills. Right now I work in a company the supplies most of the world with air-transportation. This is good and all, but in most cases this simply 1) makes peoples lives more comfortable and 2) gives my upper mgmt belt a hefty income. I will have utterly wasted my life if that's the full benefit of my work. Yes, I need to just make the doe. Yes, I have to support my family, church, and can be a testimony where I am and all that. But all our skills can go far beyond common jobs for common people to do temporal tasks. I can be a software engineer at a thousand companies. Why not choose one that is doing spiritual gain? Or why not use my skills for eternal benefit in nonprofit ways on the side? I don't think I know a single nonprofit org that would turn down a pair of willing hands. (Ah, but that's trick isn't it, being willing). Do you write? Do you build houses? Do you test thermometers? Do you bake, repair wires, or sell insurance? I believe that all of these jobs can be used in more ways that we give them credit at times, and if you've ever really helped a person you know just how rewarding and fulfilling it can be. I don't think I'll ever be fully satisfied in engineering until my job somehow relates to helping people in deeper than temporal ways. I plainly mean spiritual ways. Even if just build tech stuff for people like GP. There is just nothing more enriching. Besides, I think I can magnify him best that way.
A year ago I also dreaded working the "office job". Pushing paper, reading hours of emails until your eyes fall out of their sockets and your taken up with the more important task of not losing your mind as well. What I found and what was probably told me a hundred times was that when you're an "engineer" it means the guy that walks up to a mountain and says, "I challenge you!" I've become obsessed with finding harder and harder problems, and peering into an ever growing toolbox seeking solutions. While most of my problems are conflicts of 0's and 1's, or better put, a sandbox of 0's and 1's that need to be shaped into a castle, the most complicated is the problem of people. Of course, in the end of the day, the vastly more complicated people problems are the only one's worth solving.
I use to think Love ruled the world. I still do. But it looks a little different. I used to think "all you need is love", except somewhere along the way I misinterpreted that little simple triple. I thought Love was a solution to problems- in that, "We need to scale that hill" - "Ok, here's a rope." But now my definition has evolved a little. It's more like, "We need to scale that hill" - "Ok, but it's ok if we can't". Love is no longer a solution to external problems but internal ones. There will always be antagonists, and men of contradictory actions, and people who will hurt you, and people who will get hurt, and people with scar tissue that does what any good scar tissue would do and over compensate for the offending abrasion. Over those external circumstances, we are powerless and love is useless. But Love allows us to forgive others, forget ourselves, and live in this tumultuous life with peace. And truthfully we all need a whole lot of that Love. Too bad I didn't know that a few years ago.
Thanks be to God I'm learning some of these lessons. In a few years, I'll learn some more while I'm miles deep in a career, up to ears in little tawpies, and perhaps my memory tricks will help me retain those lessons for as long as I need them.
Children laughing and playing. Making the best of the life that can be had in a place like Acuña. The front door is always being swung open and closed because the only difference between playing inside and outside is the golden touch of the sun.
Concrete spans both sides of the door frame. The temperature also. The dust freely wanders in and out because the grass is always greener. And the feeling of home is the same.
Wild dogs run around outside without restraint. Some of them begin to fight viciously and the nearby kids just keep playing. Somehow they manage to still be kids when they're lacking food, education, and real safety from the local mafia. The Cartels control all the politics and trafficking here too. It's only safe because no one is challenging their lordship.
A Mexican radio- no, two of them now- are blasting homegrown Mariachi music. The only thing a radio seems to play around here. Within three miles of a town with a McDonald's lies half-built mud-brick buildings, shoulder to shoulder, scared with spray-paint, scattered across 4500 mi^2 of dessert. Seattle spans 84 mi^2.
I lay on a couch to sleep in a house I've only entered twice, in a home where they don't even speak my language or know my world. Yet they invite me to eat of their slim pickings.
Dust devils dance in unfinished streets where cars bought and sold ten times over studder by as beaten and as durable as the people who drive them.
Parents let the kids run rampant in the stores, as in the streets, they'll go find other kids, play cops and robbers and show up again when they need the parents. The bag-boys at checkout were a 50+ year old man and a 13 year old boy, side by side. Not working for wage- because it's illegal- but working for tips. It's every man- every child- for himself, again, as in the streets. The parents hardly ever keep a real eye on the kids, not because they do not care, but because the culture instills a sense of strength and survival. Strength because despite the poverty, gangs, and moral corruption, they still lift it, take it as it comes and find a way to enjoy life, find a way to survive. From the time they can walk out the front the door, they are required to learn to survive. As their parents did. And they do.
It's a new world down here. One that is in as needy as my own in material things, yet perhaps close to same in it's moral condition. The pressure on a Christian of who to help and how is immense. How could it not be? I want you all here now, with me, out of your pj's and quilt beds and warm homes and carpet rooms and full fridges and filtered water and wii consoles and fine restaurants and endless opportunities to live the American dream. Not so you'll give up all these things or so you'll feel bad and make a one time emotional donation. But so you'll be grateful for what you do have and that you'll have a new heart to help the poor, the widows, and the spiritually impoverished. In your community or in this one. My life was changed on day one of going to Mexico. And I have three more to go. How can I not use the assets God's given me, my mind, heart, money, mentors, the graces that are paired with salvation, the graces unique to me, to do what this world needs most?
Alas, I can not.
Also, I wrote at work today.
The Angels and the Demons both terried at my door,
Angels, exercising flaming blades; the Demons seemed to snore.
Or perhaps they were snarling at the sight Angels afford.
Yet, each party awaited me, eagerly at my door.
Inside I mulled it silently, watching while I wait.
Great questions clenched my spirit, of future and of fate.
Am I safe to take a new road? with past stains upon my stave?
What if creatures dead and gone to me, were all along awake?
Some roads I've taken carelessly and bare the scars to prove.
Perhaps the one most damaging, the one I can't remove,
Is the one that lies the deepest, secret e'en to the local news.
So what should be marked experience, with puzzlement is viewed.
This ignis fatuus haunts me, this Demon's riddled crime.
Yet criminals upon the cross, hung with greater ease of mind!
So why not I? What can't I? have peace 'neath trials eye?
Because it was of me that my innocence had to die.
Here I stand roads later, a slew of sufferings and signs,
Afraid to rouse evil's behind me, or provoke equals from on high.
Inside my room I tensely mull, biding or wasting all my time,
Hoping what the Writer wrote for me, soon illuminates my mind.
The Angels and the Demons, quiet, close, so they can hear,
Me passing o'er a single thought: That e'en though their near,
It's not the celestial beings' power that I've come to fear
But the order they'll be given once my free will is made clear.