Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Gift of Harlander Q

 

Author’s Note: This was originally an untitled short story. I chose to add a title for the sake of convenience. Based on the paper and type font, I did this on a typewriter, which means I wasn’t even legally an adult when it was written. I have seen some glaring errors in logic that I will fix as I go.

I think I loved science fiction and didn’t see much of a cross-over genre of Christian science fiction. I experimented, and I must not have liked the piece because I never tried anything like it that survived. Hmm…

Anyway, please enjoy this collaboration between me as an adult and my teenage self. There is one dialogue I might change as an adult with a stronger faith, but I think I’m going to let what I’ve written stand as a reminder of where I’ve been.

Once, on an early fall day, I came home after a six o’clock executive dinner to relax. As I walked in at eight, I heard a whirring sound. I looked around but saw nothing. I showered, laid out my outfit for the following day, and curled up with Victory, my Siamese cat; Bianca, my Saint Bernard; and Homer’s Iliad. The book must have been boring because I dozed.

I never awoke until nearly ten. At that time, Bianca and Victory made a noise that could have awoken the dead in the graveyard across the street. I walked to the kitchen window to see what had caused my pets to make such a racket. I saw nothing.

Suddenly, the landscape was as bright as day. I heard a loud crash. Seeing nothing through my kitchen window into the backyard, I ran to the front door. I threw my front door open and beheld an astonishing sight. In my front yard was a tremendous banana-shaped ship. Lying by it was a little, green, wrinkled man who was shaking convulsively as though he were cold.

I ran outside, threw my housecoat over him, and carried him inside the house. I gently place his body on my living room couch, and then I began to pace the floor. After many minutes, he coughed and began to speak, “Forgive me for reading your mind, but you have so many questions that I feel need to be answered. Please feel free to question me now.”

After a moment of stunned silence due to feeling awestruck, I began to ask the simplest questions. “Who are you and where are you from?”

“I am Harlander Q from the planet Oraphus K. You won’t find it on any of your star maps and constellation charts. Seeing it requires technology too advanced for your civilization. This is off the subject, but when you carried me in, you felt fear. Not of me, but of what your people would do to me. Why?”

I didn’t like the question. I felt that the answer might be just a little too dangerous coming from a less advanced civilization. Yet, I knew somehow I could not lie. “This world is so out of whack and getting worse. Everyone is against everyone else. If our government had you, 150 others would want you. Our government wouldn’t give you up, the others would declare war on us, and we would have World War Three. Not that we don’t have oil or religion to cause that… In addition, we don’t have anything like you on our planet. The scientists would run so many tests on you and they would probably treat you worse than a chimp. That’s not your problem though. Hey, where did you learn English?”

“Genetically, our minds have an ability to pick up vibrations and turn them into thoughts we can understand. It would not matter what language you spoke; somehow our advanced neural networks would take those vibrations to give us the true meaning of what you speak. Sometimes we can even pick up thoughts regardless of the language. Our scientists are still studying this.”

“So, why are you interested in our world?”

“We have always had an interest in the development of less technologically advanced races. Since I haven’t seen too many starships in your skies, your world still qualifies. But we also like to study how the race develops and what it believes to try to understand its decisions better. And I hate to admit it, but there are some resources on our world that are limited but oh so important; your world has them to spare in the quantities we need.”

More questions filled my mind. I was excited and scared and intrigued.

“Is this your first visit?”

“As a Technical Resource Acquisition Specialist, yes. But I was here as a young Oraphusion. It was about 2,000 years ago. I was assigned to be a Cultural Research Associate on one of our first expeditions to this planet. My team leader was so ecstatic. We followed this man. He walked everywhere and healed people. He tried to teach others to live a good life by loving, sharing, and caring. But for some reason because some people–particularly the leaders of his own belief system–didn’t agree with him, he was publicly murdered in a way that looked like he had stolen something or killed someone or done something really wrong. We were so sad that we left shortly after that because this world proved too babyish to understand us.”

“I’m not sure you’re going to be any happier. They still kill the followers of this man, and the followers who live are often harassed and persecuted. You will have to give a bad report to your people. We’ve only changed to get worse, not better.”

“You’re right. At this time, we are only going to continue resource expeditions. But there is hope. You may not feel like you’ve done anything, but you’ve covered me because I was cold and took me in because I had no place to hide. I bet you will even get me some water.”

Despite Harlander Q’s insistence that there was hope, I felt dejected as I walked to the kitchen, pulled a glass from the shelf, and got some water from the water purifying carafe. I walked back into the living room. Harlander Q had sat up and there was a look of confusion on his face. “Hmmmm. I think you misunderstand. On Oraphus K, we don’t drink water. We use it to fuel our vehicles. I need a gallon to get home. If you could give me any more than that, it would help my neighbors in my community living space fuel their transport vehicles for several months.”

I had several gallon containers in my basement from various drinks and cat litter concoctions. I gathered all I could, rinsed the containers, and filled them from the faucet in the bathtub. In the end, I had about 14 gallons of water. As I started to line them up in the hallway, I noticed that Harlander Q had left my living room and the front door was open.

I moved the very full and very heavy containers to the front porch. Harlander Q stepped out of his space vessel and pushed a button on the doorway. As he walked toward me, container after container floated like magic from my porch to the inside of his ship.

When Harlander Q reached my porch, he sighed and began to speak. “I know you feel sad and maybe even like your hope is lost. This feeling will pass. I have a small gift I’d like to give you to thank you for what you’ve done. It is the symbol of my planet on a chain for your neck. You can use it to remember me.”

I bent my head to my chest to hide my eyes, knowing he could feel my heart. He fastened the chain around my neck. As I lifted my head, I saw him disappear into his spaceship. The door whirred shut. The ship took off majestically and disappeared into the blackness of the night.

As I watched the empty sky, I felt the extra weight tugging at my neck. I immediately remembered Harlander Q’s gift. As I reached to my neck to see what the gift was like, I felt the symbol’s weight in my hand. I wondered about what the symbol was. A bittersweet smile came over my face as I traced the symbol in my fingers.

The next morning, I awoke to a warm, clear autumn day. The birds were singing. The first of the leaves were falling. A little, green snake slithered slowly across my doorstep, sluggish from the early chills of autumn. He reminded me of Harlander Q, my visitor from the previous evening. It was all so dreamy. Was it real? Or did too many food combinations combine to cause a frightfully pleasant dream?

I reached slowly to my neck. The cross, Harlander Q’s gift of love and friendship, was still there.

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One Solitary Life

Merry Christmas!

After weeks of preparations and three solid days of cooking and errands, I find I have little original to say. Instead, I’d like to share the words of another. They were purportedly written in the 1920s. Some give the authorship as anonymous; others claim it was part of a series of sermons written by Dr. James Allan Francis.

These words below are the true meaning of this day (or what Christians have selected this date to celebrate).

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying—and that was his coat. When he was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

 

Balancing on the Proverbs Teeter Totter

It’s that time of year. Three or more of the world’s major religions have some kind of holiday. The “faithful” are bustling around, getting gifts and tying up loose ends and making dinner arrangements. Bereft of the spiritual component, it’s enough to send the most stalwart into a chaotic, anxious tailspin.

Me included.

My to-do list is longer with fewer checks each day. I constantly find just one more chore that must be done before the entire family descends like a Selachipmorpha school in a feeding frenzy (I really do love you guys). I struggle to balance my normal load of parenting, productive adult in the workforce, and householder with the little added extras of baking desserts and attending festive gatherings and decorating and cooking.

I feel my strength and resolve fading even more quickly as I read that last paragraph I wrote. It gets further zapped when I actually read the qualifications for the perfect woman as described by King Lemuel, who insists this is just what he learned from his momma (Proverbs 31 is the background):

  • Brings her husband good not harm every day of her life
  • Selects materials to make clothing for her family and servants
  • Imports food from a distance
  • Gets up before the crack of dawn to cook breakfast for her family and puts the leftovers away for the servants
  • Buys a field with her own money and turns it into an agricultural opportunity
  • Works at full speed and has all the physical strength she needs
  • Actually uses the materials she selected to make clothes for those in her home
  • Gives generously to the poor and needy
  • Keeps her family warm with her tailoring and ensures her home looks like Martha Stewart came to visit
  • In addition to making her family’s clothes, makes items she can sell for a profit
  • Manages her household and is not idle
  • Has wisdom and patience to teach all who will learn
  • Has strength and dignity with a rocking sense of humor
  • Gets street cred for her husband in their hometown because of all she does

I don’t know about you, but I’m wondering if King Lemuel’s momma thought he was too good to be married and that no woman would be good enough for her little boy. Yes, in some way, I feel dejected and set up for failure in looking at this check list.

Maybe though I’m putting the cart before the horse. I’m looking at all the things she does and is, but I’m not really seeing why she does it or how she got there.

Maybe the answer (or the beginning of the answer) is in one of the last lines at the bottom of the chapter. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

There’s that phrase: fear of the LORD. It’s so hard these days. We’re not to be afraid; fear is a negative emotion to be avoided or denied at all costs. As a result we get independent. We need no one and nothing.

The reality is fear of the LORD, like all moral law, can be summed in two points:

  • Love your still, small Voice with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.

Yeah, I’m back to feeling what I felt at the end of the check list that summarized the ultimate woman. The dejection and sense of smallness in the face of an insurmountable task has just skyrocketed out of control. I can’t begin to start to have a right perspective until I get outside myself.

True fear of the LORD starts with incredible, amazing grace. It’s a free gift that we cannot earn and we will never deserve, no matter how much money we give or how many lives we save or how many penitential sacrifices we make.

The gratitude for this grace begins to permeate everything. Buoyed by love and grace, we start to make conscious choices.

We choose to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

We choose the beautiful attitudes:

  • Gratitude and recognition that we truly own nothing and everything comes from our still, small Voice
  • Sharing in the sorrows of the grieving
  • Meekness and humility
  • Following hard after true righteousness with a passionate and sincere devotion that respects others without giving up one’s own convictions
  • Mercy and forgiveness
  • Purity and lack of ulterior motive
  • Being at peace with all men
  • Accepting criticism and rabid humiliation and trolling as part of the commitment to the path offered by the still, small Voice

We choose to replace the acts of the flesh (for example, sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like) with actions that reflect the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

With thoughts and attitudes and actions in line, living the agape love of the still, small Voice grows easier and easier. It is easier to be patient and kind. It is easier to not be jealous and to not boast. Anger can be left behind, and the huge historical tome of all the wrongs can be shredded and burned. It is easy to rejoice in the truth and be discouraged with evil. It is joy to protect and hope and trust and persevere.

Maybe that’s the point. The woman in Proverbs 31 had a dim, faint glimpse of what true service to her still, small Voice meant to her still, small Voice; others around her; and herself. The check list became the be all and end all because it was not yet the fullness of time for the highest measure of agape to be revealed and extreme grace to be released.

In effect, the Proverbs 31 woman was the beta version of the final release of a woman truly trying to live in grace and righteousness, fully connected to her still, small Voice and her community. She is continually perfected in love from mountain peak to mountain peak until you catch her fully formed and whole on the eternal flip side.

And I think I want to focus on that final release…

Bright and Dazzling…

Author’s Note: Another poem I wrote. This one has a date of 08/05/91. The theme for the entire summer seems to be light and dark and dazzling. I can also see I set up a rhyme scheme just for this poem like I was trying to discipline myself as a writer; wow, did I make it complicated. I really wish I’d been journaling, or maybe not. Anyway, here’s another to enjoy!

A bright and dazzling darkness has arrived.
It smothers me with arms unseen and strong,
Squeezing the light that shines within my soul.
I know that I cannot survive for long.

A ray of hope cuts through my dazzling night,
But psychedelic shapes refuse to bend.
My enemy’s shout is a clanging gong,
And I look for a place to heal and mend.

When I am there I can look at the sky
And see the stars wink slyly at the moon.
I feel I am surrounded by a Friend,
And He assures me that the end is soon.

Wearing the night of hell my foe contrived,
Yet I felt nothing from my heart’s cocoon.

Three Acrostics

Author’s Note: At some point in some summer (July) in the early 90s, I was exposed to the notion of an acrostic. The premise is semi-simple. You take a word and write a poem. Each line begins with the letters in the word (in order) and describes in theory the word.

**********

Denying the existence of my uniqueness
Ultimately dancing with the devil and the deep blue sea
Always fighting
Love unimaginable and unsurpassed
I fought the inevitable
Tensing at the slightest question of reality (my reality)
Yet accepting that that which is, is valid and requires no defense

**********

Burning love
And stubborn pride
Prayerfully collided
This day
Insecurities removed
Sensing the ultimate
My Master

**********

Sensing our every need
Helping as befits His plan
Everlasting Love
Promoting free will and obedience
Hearing and seeing all
Empowering as the Spirit moves
Restoring guiltlessness
Denying enemies access

On the final scenes of the second Star Trek movie…

 

Author’s Note: I wrote this in May 1990. Unfortunately, I didn’t give it a real title. I had just seen the second Star Trek movie. I will warn you: if you’ve not seen the movie, this just will not make sense. Enjoy!

“Spock…”

“Don’t grieve for me…”

Silence, and Kobayashi Maru begins.

“The needs of the many outweigh…”

“The needs of the few or the one.”

Amazing, saving grace.

“I have been and always shall be your friend.
Live long and prosper, Jim.”

A salute —
To life, to death.

Genesis —
Yet not,
For death snatches victory
From glorious re-creation.

Genesis —
Something from nothing,
Noble life,
There are always possibilities…

God Winked

Author’s Note: This poem is from July 1991, during the time I jokingly, lovingly, and despairingly call “my wild child years.” Not sure exactly what I was doing, but it must have been interesting. Enjoy!

Many look at the sky —
The cloud watchers —
And dream
Of dragons, unicorns, and starships.

I was blind,
Until today.

Today, I looked into the Eye of God.
Made of clouds,
It was the Eye of God nonetheless.

Dazzling white
To a shiny gold
Surrounded by periwinkle.

I was blinded,
Dazzled.

I could feel His Eye —
Staring, sizing me up.

I felt bad.
I was a soldier of His,
But not very good.
No matter what I tried it was wrong.

I deserted the good fight,
And not just once.

I thought I heard from the bench,
“And how pleads the defendant?”

Ready to shout my plea,
“Guilty! Eternity in prison,
Please discard the key.”

I’d almost lost the battle again.
Then something happened.

Christ had died for me.
I was innocent
And had no right to plead.

The prosecutor had lost 2,000 years ago
When Christ broke the chains of death,
And once again he lost —
When God winked.