As I write this there are 40 thousand fresh dug graves in Haiti, at least a hundred thousand more people unaccounted for, thought to be buried in the rubble of what was once Haiti’s capitol Port-au-Prince. The pictures of devastation and destruction streaming into my safe little world are apocalyptic for sure. And I know the worst is to come; that the children and women and the feeble will be exploited for months, even years to come.
Last night, my friend Sam and I went to IHOP. They are running their annual all you can eat pancake special. For a meager sum hot, fresh, butter oozing pancakes can be had until the most ravenous of appetites is sated. All the while your cup does not empty as an attentive wait staff keeps your glass full of free ice water, clean as it is cold. People are dying for lack of water in
Then Sam and I went to see the new Denzel Washington post nuclear apocalypse film The Book of Eli. It was unnerving at how the images could have been of
Then we went to a rock and roll show at The Thirsty Hippo, our friend Ben Shea was debuting his new album Red Sunshine. Instead of a backing band he had a “robot”. The flashing red-eyed robot gave a running editorial on the end of the world in between songs and handled the rhythm tracks while Ben sang his angst ridden neo-grunge anthems and conjured the rock demons on his SG. When I closed my eyes, images of the gray post nuclear world and
My prayers are with the quake survivors in
Einstein, trying to put into laymen’s terms the concept of relativity, explained it like this. “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity.”
Time, being relative, insists the closer an object is to the speed of light the slower time acts upon that object. Theoretically then if an object could travel at the speed of light then that object, or person, would cease to age. But, according to Mr. Einstein, that is a scientific impossibility. He explained that as an object approaches the speed of light its mass increases and therefore needs more energy to push it faster. Hmmmmm….
So this was the little rat running around in the maze of my mind last night. It was well past midnight, the espresso buzz was just an aftertaste in my mouth, and I was ready for bed. These are the moments, the dawn and the dusk of memory, the hazy in betweens, when the mind is tired and susceptible to all sorts of strange perceptions. In this purgatory, the fragments of dreams and lost memories mingle with wayward thoughts and many other things I suppose. So it was that I found my self thinking of Einstein and of first grade and Misty, my first childhood crush.
First grade. I remember that there were four white-washed cinder block walls in our over-crowded class room. They all met at their respective corners each with its own unique smell. I remember that cutting in the lunch line was a cardinal crime but much less about hunger or impatience, than it was a way to find one’s place, the daily litmus test of loyalty. I remember that, in our text books, scientists always looked disheveled, their shoes perpetually untied. And though each morning our mothers made sure we’d never be scientists, by day’s end the halls were full of wild haired Einsteins tripping over our laces. Then as the schooldays would slip out of spring’s pink cardigan and into the clinging green cotton dress of summer, as kickball games on cul-de-sacs and warm water ponds pulled at us with the promise of new friends and caught fish, the clock on the wall slowed proving Mr. Einstein right once and for all.
But what I remember most about the first grade is my own special theory of relativity; that there is nothing heavier, no greater weight than a folded piece of paper with the words “Will you be my girlfriend?” written on it. And that there are no wider wings, none more light or made for flight than those one gets when upon opening that same blue-lined loose leaf one sees that emerald-eyed Misty, the strawberry blonde, has checked the little box marked yes.
Einstein theory also posited the interchangeability of mass and energy. E=mc2 was his brilliant equation for that. I believe that as we approach the end of all things. As we approach the light of God’s infinite love we are going to be changed. That matter and energy will be one. That our glorified bodies will be of that perfect, densest, most indestructible of stuffs called spirit. I believe we will cease to age having come to exist finally in the light of Abba’s presence. But even if I’m wrong, even if time doesn’t stop, just being in the presence of The Father’s most wonderful love, it will seem to.
Several years back I was in
I don’t know what made me think of that girl this morning as I was driving to work. I can’t remember her face, or even the city she was from, but I can still feel the slight burn of embarrassment resting on my cheeks. It’s funny the souvenirs we keep, and then the ones that keep us.
But what I remember most about this two story massive sculpture as I was standing on the 2nd floor balcony staring directly across about shoulder level with the mythological blacksmith, is how when I walked across the balcony with only the weight of normal footfall, the giant metal machine-man would sway. At first I thought it was an illusion, but after walking a little heavier back in forth across the suspended balcony I saw the sculpture was indeed moving, directly in response to my steps, and somewhat more than just slightly.
So years later, thanks to a wayward thought of a somewhat snobbish coed, I am thinking of how frail that massive man/machine seemed and how it made me feel somewhat insignificant and uneasy myself. And if there has ever been a better testament to the state of the modern age, a better visual representation of it, well I haven’t seen it.
We have built for ourselves such machines as to move earth by the ton. We have built sky scrapers that seem to do just that. We have technology, and exponentially so, that allows us at anytime access the whole world from anywhere. And yet all these works of our hands cannot stop our world from swaying; cannot save us from the great clock of the earth winding down and the great cloak of the sky wearing thin.
Over and over again in scripture, God warns His creation against trusting the works of their hands. “I alone”, He entreats them, and us, “am worthy of your confidence, your hope.” Continually He reminds them, and us, that what we see, what we feel, and what we treasure here on earth is all food for moths, made for blight and rust and ruin, but the things of the Spirit, are made of such sterner stuffs from the perfect world to come. And yet still we trust in our humanity, our human “spirit”, the works of our hands, and our ability to define our destinies. And all around us, suffering, and bloodshed, and exploitation continue unabated, unaffected by our idols, mute and dumb, the most impressive works of our hands.
One last thing about Vulcan, he was lame, having been cast off
One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is “If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don't feel at home there?” He asks in similar passage, do you find in yourselves desires that this world cannot fulfill? In essence he asking, do you feel like a stranger here? Are you like Vulcan, a man-machine, forging out your existence through self-reliance on such shaky ground or are you man-spirit, trusting in the One who made you, to deliver you, un-lame, without spot or blemish, into the firm bright bosom of Heaven, and the tender arms of Abba.
I am a stranger here myself, and I am still longing for home.