My Butterfly Effect

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I’ve always found the butterfly effect intriguing: the idea that the mere flap of a butterfly’s wing in, say, Des Moines could start a chain reaction leading to a devastating tsunami in Sr Lanka; or, for that matter, to the miraculous circumvention of one.

But it also happens on a personal level. A few nights ago I was talking with a friend Colleen after our writers group meeting. I was in the midst of explaining my current project when Fran approached. Colleen greeted her. I gave Fran a cursory nod, then jerked Colleen’s attention back to mine so I could finish my narrative. I didn’t want to lose my train of thought (which is at the cosmic core of all that matters) by sailing off to the island of Smalltalk, or by pausing to give Fran an abridgment and, once again, risk watching my train of thought leave the station without me. Reasonable, right?

God didn’t think so. At bedtime, he reminded me of the incident.

“So I screwed up, huh?”

“Uh-huh.”

According to the personal butterfly effect, my small (if there is such a thing) inconsideracy could be the final blow to Fran’s faith in humanity, leading her to become a cold-blooded killer. Or (less facetiously) to her becoming more jaded, increasing the dearth of tolerance on our compassion-depleted planet. Fran’s graciousness will undoubtedly counter the worst effects of my thoughtlessness. But I’ve learned not to underestimate the nexus of wing flaps.

When I was a self-absorbed teenager (is there any other kind?) I accidentally swung a golf club back and broke my cousin Larry’s nose. Twenty years later, at (ironically) a Thanksgiving dinner, Larry stunned the family by announcing that he had never forgiven me. Not for injuring him, but for so quickly excusing my actions (“I didn’t know you were there!”) instead of showing real concern. This, he said, was why he found it hard to hear about the loving God I so frequently praised. If I was the product of that kind of God, he wanted nothing to do with Him.

Wing flap in Provence = Tsunami in Sri Lanka.

The family came to my rescue: “He didn’t mean it!” “It was twenty years ago!” “You were just kids!” “Let it go!”

But God didn’t. He whispered, “Fix this.”

So I begged my cousin’s forgiveness. One long overdue reverse wing flap. Did it help? I don’t know. I remember the way his eyes searched mine for telltale twitches of insincerity. And then the way his eyes softened.

8a227245e21fb1748980541df9aaa127Less than a year later, he passed away. I pray often that he is with the God I so poorly represented. The one who said, “Fix this.”

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (or justice).” For the longest time I thought this meant, “Work to restore God’s reign over this shattered world.” And it does. But it also means, “Seek first to let him reign over me.” The second part of the verse reads, “And all these things will be added to you.” The key word is added. The original Greek refers not to rewards for good behavior, but the results of actions we take.

Wing flaps.

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Fool’s Odyssey 27

Fool's Odyssey

This is the conclusion to Fool’s Odyssey.  To read it from the beginning, click here.

Epilogos: Easter Morning

Previously: The Fool’s search ended in the forest near a California grammar school.

Later, on my third morning home in L.A.,

I snuck into a church and,

after everyone had gone home or on to the relative’s houses,

stole a Bible from a pew.

 

I spent most of the afternoon reading it.

There were things I’d never seen before.

Oh, they’d been there, but had somehow been invisible.

Until now.

Mostly I remember this:

The invisible things of God,

since the creation of the world,

have been made visible through that which can be seen. 

And so are you without excuse,

because, when you might have known God,

you chose instead

to hold to your vain imaginings. 

Your heart was darkened. 

Professing to be wise, you chose instead

to become a fool

and worship creation,

instead of your Creator. 

 

My foolish heart was broken.

Flash–darkness–flash–darkness–

Oh God.

Oh Hell.

Flash–darkness–flash–darkness–

Red—black–red—black–red—black—

“…just like every other cursed thing.”

Flash–darkness–flash–darkness–

Water, water, water, water–clouds.

Oh, God!

O Hell!

Flash–darkness–flash–darkness–

“Jump!  Jump!  Jump!”

Oh, God!

O Hell!

Flash–darkness–flash–darkness–

 

Then, somehow, I found these words:

“Come unto Me.” 

And I understood.

I finally understood.

 

“Come unto  Me,” it said,

and I will give you rest.”

 

And so I did.

I finally did.

 

Wherefore, said the wise man,

remember now thy Creator

in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not,

nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say,

I have no pleasure in them;

while the sun, or the light, or the moon,

or the stars, be darkened,

nor the clouds return after the rain;

ere ever the silver cord be loosed,

or the golden bowl broken,

or the pitcher smashed at the fountain;

then shall the dust return to the earth,

and the spirit unto God who gave it. 

Vanity;

all is vanity and chasing after wind. 

Wherefore, said the wise man,

remember thy Creator. 

 

The words of the wise man,

the son of David,

the king in Jerusalem.

 

The words of the fool,

the sun had set,

the time had come.

Teleos ∞

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Best Advert Ever?

Seriously. This looks a bit grim, but hang in there till the end.

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The Wishing Map 27

“From the moment they’d met, all pretense of politeness had been nonexistent, which generally means you’re either going to be someone’s enemy or their best friend.”

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

Note: To read The Wishing Mapfrom the beginning, click here.

The Wishing Map

Chapter Seven: B’frona (Continued)

Previously:The millboy B’frona was asked by the pixie king to lead Gina to a place where her hungry dragon hatchling could eat. 

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Look Closer

No more laundry, please!Be kind to your washing machine.

Had one of these when I was a kidI had one of these when I was a kid.

Time TravelAh, I remember when I first visited am going to visit here.

Ravages of tobacco - couple in their 20sThe ravages of smoking. This couple is in their 20s.

Violin InteriorWho wouldn’t want to spend time inside this beautiful…violin?

Me and my tiny friendBe careful with your tiny friends. It’s so easy to misplace them.

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Jesus GO!

pokemon-go

In less than two months Pokemon GO has become the most popular app of all time!  But could it be that Jesus came up with the idea first?

Gracefully graying Mike is in his front yard shushing through fallen leaves when his bright red rake hits a bright blue sneaker.

“You’re standing in front of Charmander!” Janiece, a caustically clever teen, protests.

“Sorry, Charmander,” Mike says to the empty space behind him, “I didn’t see you there.” He turns to Janiece and smiles. “Still don’t.”

“We’re playing Pokemon GO!” Janiece’s 10 year old brother Noah shouts.

“So how do you play it?” Mike asks.

“You have to have a modern phone,” Janiece snides, gesturing toward his house. “Not one of those—“

“Telly phones? But then you probably mean the kind without tails.” Mike pulls a digital phone out of his back pocket.

“Great!” says Noah. “Now you just gotta download the app.”

“Got it. What are the rules?”

“Gotta catch ‘em all!” Noah enthuses. “Pokemon means ‘pocket monster’ and there’s like 150 of ‘em. Maybe more!”

Janiece rolls her eyes. “You don’t really want to hear this, do you?”

“I do,” says Mike.

“Well, first you have to go—“

“Go and look for ’em. Got it.”

“Right, go. But then you have to capture them, and train them.”

“Hah!” Mike laughs. “I’ve been doing that for years!”

“What? No, this is new.”

“No, it’s pretty old, actually.”

“How old?” Noah asks.

“About 2,000 years.”

“You’re not that old…are you?” asks Noah.

“Me? Oh, no, I’m only a few hundred. But the version I play is. It was invented by Jesus. You’ve probably heard of him.”

Janiece rolls her eyes again.

“Yeah. In church!” Noah shouts.

“Well, sure, but he’s not just there. That’s the whole point of my version, Jesus GO. You try and see him everywhere.”

“Hey, Miss Karen said that last week!”

“That’s our Kids Church lady,” Janiece explains.

“But I didn’t know it was a game!” Noah exudes, scanning his phone. “How do I get the app?”

“Don’t need a phone,” says Mike. “You download Him here.” He taps his heart.

“That’s totally different!” Janiece objects.

“Actually, Jesus’ rules are pretty much the same. First, he said to go into all the world…”*

jesusfishermen“Go!” Noah echoes.

“…and tell people about him, making Jesus followers out of them…”

“Capture!

“Yep. He captured me. Changed me forever!”

“You?” Noah asks, puzzled. “You’re a Pokemon?”

“Well, Pokemin, actually, Pocket Minister.”

“You’re a pastor? Like at a church?”

“Nah, but wherever I go I try and teach folks to be like him. Jesus told us to makes disciples out of people—that means train ‘em to be Pokemins! Only to do that you need to not just see Jesus everywhere, you need to be Jesus everywhere. That’s the advanced version.”

“Whoa! How do you do that?” Noah asks.

“Only Jesus can be Jesus!” Janiece objects.

“Exactly!” says Mike. “That’s why I downloaded his Spirit into me. So people can see him in me”

“Are there upgrades?” Noah asks.

“Oh, yeah, every day.”

“So, are you like him?”

“Working on it.”

Noah signals for Mike to bend down, then stares intently into his face. After a moment he steps back and announces, “Yep! I see him!”

“Well, all that’s cool, I guess,” Janiece says, “but there’s other stuff in Pokemon GO that your version doesn’t have.”

“Like?”

“Like Pokeballs.”

“Bible verses!” Mike points to his head. “I download ‘em all the time. Next to letting people see Jesus in me, there’s nothing better for capturing Pokeyhearts.”

“Potion? That’s the medicine that restores Pokemons.”

“Prayer! Wouldn’t be caught dead without it!”

“Incense? That lures wild Pokemons to you.

“God’s love. It’s what captured me!”

“Gyms? Those are the places where you do battle.”

“Work. School. Supermarket. Family reunions. Wherever people are is a spiritual gym. Big challenges—even for advanced Pokemins!”

Noah suddenly runs off toward the street corner. “I’m gonna see how many more Jesuses I can collect!”

But Janiece lingers. She turns. To her astonishment, no one is there. Only Mike’s rake. Standing. By itself.

“Holy…!”

But then the rake falls over and, as her eyes follow it down, she sees Mike on his knees searching among the parti-colored leaves.

“Dropped my no-tail phone.”Presentation1

Janiece gets down on her knees too. She spots Mike’s phone and hands it to him. She asks, “So…if I wanted to learn the advanced version, the, you know, be-like-Jesus version, what would I have to do?”

“Actually,” Mike says with a smile, “here on your knees is the perfect place to start.”

*Matthew 28:18-20

(Above copy and concepts may only be used with written permission)
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“Get Real.” Sincerely, God

Live Life

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