Life and Death

life-and-death

I was raised in a secular home. There was no talk of heaven or an afterlife. This life was all there was. And yet at the age of five I dreamed I died. My parents and friends circled over me, weeping, their tears striking my face as I released my final breath. But there was no darkness. Instead, a little cloud pushed its way out of my chest and rose to a position above the circle of mourners. Suddenly I was there, looking down. I wanted to tell them, “It’s OK. I’m still here. I’m still me.” But they couldn’t hear. They didn’t understand.

Later, as a confirmed atheist, I tried to dismiss the dream. But I couldn’t. All my life I’ve sensed, both before and after coming to believe in the Author of life (Acts 3:15), that to ignore death is to miss the meaning of life.

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Castles in the Air

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Which type are you?

P.S. That’s a photo (not a painting) of a real hot air balloon created by a renowned European craftsmanHe dreamed it and built it!

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build…and live as only you can.” ~Neil Gaiman

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~Proverbs 29:18

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Journaling for Life

Part One: Why Keep a Life Journal?

“In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived… We may be wiser because we are able to look back upon our former condition.” ~Franz Kafka (from his personal diary)

Last week, my wife and I were trying to remember the chain of events in our turbulent premarital dating relationship. We knew we’d broken up twice (it turned out to be three times, actually), and that something had brought us back together each time. And we knew that the last time had been different, that some invisible barrier had been removed. But what had happened when?

So I dug through my old journal volumes in order to get some quick clarification. What I got was a rediscovery of who I was and, in the process, how I became who I am. I saw the chinks forming in the wall of Self, making possible an Us that could never have otherwise existed. In other words, in writer language, I saw the dramatic arc.

“What am I to do? I must have some drug, and reading isn’t a strong enough drug now.” ~C.S. Lewis (in A Grief Observed, regarding journaling after his wife’s death)

Most “Why You Should Journal” articles emphasize the therapeutic benefits of dumping your unpublishable secrets onto a nonjudgmental sheet of wood pulp (or a nonreflective laptop). And I heartily concur. But every time I re-read my old journals, I’m also struck by how beneficial they are to me now. Perhaps it’s because, as the saying goes, only hindsight is 20/20. Only now can I see the whole Homerian epic as it plays out. As I re-read those real-time accounts, I see vital truths I would eventually embrace first struggling to break through, and I cheer the protagonist on. I also see insidious lotus-eating notions threatening to block the way home, and I shout, “No! Put that down, you don’t know where it’s been!”

“Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory. ~Jack London

In short, I gain an understanding of who I was and am, both individually and in relation to others—an understanding that memory alone cannot provide (granted, it’s through the eyes of Former Me, an imperfect witness, but a first hand witness, nevertheless). And as a result, I stand a better chance at taking the right next steps toward that happy ending. The one in which the preacher says, “He was a good man,”

And actually means it.

To read Part Two: How to Write a Life Journal, click here.

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Real Fatherhood

thwkgviinaDuring self-introductions a college student of mine once boasted that he’d fathered 11 children by 11 different mothers.

I normally avoid judgmental statements. Not this time. “Do you support them?” I asked.

“Uh, no!” he said with a grin.

“Then you’re not a real father. You’re a child abuser,” I replied. A period of awkward silence followed. Which normally bothers me.

Not this time.

Fatherhood is being there. With your time. With your heart. With your paycheck. When it’s convenient, and when it’s not.

hank-baskettTo all of the real fathers out there: I celebrate you!

To all of those who are not:

Man up and get real.

Posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , | 39 Comments

The Wishing Map 135

“It is always best to face monsters in the company of others.” This is the final episode of The Wishing Map. Blessings till it hurts, Mitch

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

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

The Wishing Map

Epilogue: The Unknown (Continued)

Previously: Rested but wary of what was to come, Gina, Zack, and their friend B’frona turned to face the future. This is the final episode ofThe Wishing Map.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

“I will make it better! I swear by Uol!” Zack shouted out the window, across the River Rennou, over the tops of the mighty irontrees.

As if in response, rain began to fall, anointing him. His memory snapped back to a moment after their first return from Ismara. He’d climbed out his bedroom window to his thinking place… A late summer storm had begun to pummel his face. And then the impossible had happened: a two mile-long swath of subatomic particles ripped open the cerulean sky, traveling 60,000 miles per hour and blazing at 50,000 degrees like a slice of the…

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How to Draw Women

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I drew a lot of things when I was a young man. Mosquitos. Criticism. But women? Not so much. Dude, if I’d realized it was this easy, I’d have paid way more attention in art class!

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A Satisfied Cat

35192-hoodie-weatherIt’s hoodie weather. Finally! (I’m a t-shirt guy, but a t-shirt without a hoodie is like tights without a cape, right?)  Anyway, as I sat hoodied and warm in my armchair this morning, an afghan draped across my legs (knitted, not human),

cat-sleeping-on-table-cute-cats-sleeping-photos-600x450our little cat decided to curl up next to me. I offered rubs, and then continued to work on my Very Significant Project. Until she began to purr. At which point I got melty and had to stop to write this sentimental bit of fluff:

O, the sound

of a satisfied cat

Was there ever a music

more perfect than that?

I know: Cat poem? This probably means I’ll have to turn in my Serious Writer card, not to mention my Manly Man Club certificate. But, hey, I never attended the meetings, and they always spelled my name wrong, anyway. Now on with the day.

Wait, the cat’s in my lap now.

Posted in Humor, Memoir, Poetry, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 42 Comments