Tag Archives: Don Quixote

A Broken Hallelujah or…an Apt Title for What Can Simply be Referred to as My ‘Spiritual Journey’

When I hear the words ‘spiritual journey,’ it’s difficult to keep my mind from thinking that what is desired is a whole bunch of Christian jargon strung together to formulate so cohesive a whole that it ends up looking like a religious résumé, where words and phrases like ‘hard-working,’ and ‘honest,’ are replaced with ‘repented(ance),’ and ‘it was me who murdered Jesus.’

Truth is, I believe at my core that the ‘journey’—the ‘Pilgrim’s progress from this world to that which is to come’ IS Jesus.
And Jesus is (and, through His revelation, has become) so much bigger and grander than I have ever imagined or can imagine.

I honestly don’t know if I’ve been fully ‘converted.’ Like the woman at the well, I’ve tasted living water, yet unlike what the Scriptures say, I’ve gone away thirsty again…and again…and again, as if I forget the presence of Jesus—His love and His grace. So I wander off; forgetting what is good, and even at times forgetting to remember. It’s like I’ve been awoken from a dream to reality: seeing the proverbial windmills for what they truly are (giants), and yet fall back asleep again, forgetting that it’s a dream, thinking giants to be ‘just windmills,’ and this world to be what is, not what isn’t.

Why?

If I’ve truly had a ‘conversion’ why do I not feel fully ‘converted?’

In my history, I’ve had the private time as a child alone in my room, ‘asking’ Jesus to come into my heart (as if the drawing to him—the romance was entirely up to me), battled sickness and disease meant to take my life (or at the very least, my spirit), I’ve been brought to utter ruin at the hands of others (and still bear the scars on my body to prove it), brought myself to utter ruin (time and time again), lived a year or so in utter anger towards my maker (never once forsaking or denying truth, but despising it all the same), made a covenant with God that I would follow Him and do what He brought to me to do (in a state of loneliness of drink and smoke, where I felt as if I made my ‘bed in Sheol’ and yet, He was still there with me), fallen in and ‘out’ of love, struggled with grace, wrestled with unrelenting love, and come to see that at the center of it all, in it all, through it all, IS JESUS.

So I keep coming back. Back when my ‘brains dry up,’ back when my spirit runs dry. Because to me, I have not had a ‘conversion experience;’ that is to say rather, I believe Jesus is AT ALL TIMES SINCE BEFORE MY BIRTH CONVERTING ME.
And it’s a process that both hurts and frees.
It’s a process that requires me to be ‘unmade’ in order that one day I will be fully ‘made;’ made in the image of God.
I believe the converting fire is a refiner’s fire, and that fire is good. For fire is what burns away that which is not real, to bare that which is.
And lately, that fire has been burning hot.

I have seen myself as God sees me. Not through an absence of my sin, my failures, my mistakes, my ruin, but all encompassing. That I am created for no other reason but love, and loved for no other reason but I’m created.
And that for me to see that, I NEED a nature that keeps me from God, for it is because of that nature that keeps me from Him, that He sent His son. While I was/am still a sinner, CHRIST DIED FOR ME. I cannot see His unrelenting love and His irresistible grace that is Christ Jesus without seeing and knowing that because of my sin nature, God demonstrated His love, that there is nothing in me and of me that makes God love me. He just loves because He IS LOVE.

Thus, it’s not that I ‘chose’ to be converted—that I ‘chose’ the Way, but the Way CHOSE ME. Not only that, but the Way is constantly choosing me, constantly in the process of converting me, until such a time as “It is finished.”

What do I wish to do then? I wish to be a voice.
I wish to vocalize the unrelenting Love and irresistible Grace of God.
Not to bring, but to reveal.
Not to convert, but to be an ambassador.
To show just where Jesus IS in other’s lives, and reveal how HE HAS LOVED THEM.
To bring others to see that Jesus isn’t the Way OUT OF THE FIRE, but THROUGH IT. That as C.S. Lewis says of Aslan, Jesus isn’t at all safe, but He is good.
And that is something to trust in.
That Jesus will bring about the death of you.
But that part of experiencing the love that is all around us, in us, through us, working, like Paul says in the beginning of Colossians.
And I have come to believe that part of that calling requires further education and credentials (a Masters in Theology) on my part, in order to have clout and backing to wherever He is calling me to, and placing me in specifically.

Beyond that—that is, what that is exactly, is still veiled to me, and that’s okay. For just as the story has been told whether I know its details or not, it will continue to do so. All I can do is what is and has always been in me to do: to seek where God is, what He is doing, and my part in it all.
This pursuit has led me in and out of service in the Church, be it leading Bible studies, being a group leader, leading a college group on Metro Campus, leading worship, being part of various worship teams, volunteering in various capacities in my present church, to working in retail, and teaching Early Childhood for 4 years, getting married, writing and maintaining a blog, writing and composing music, the possibility of writing for the Religion section of an online News Source, the possibility of being an adjunct at Metro State and teaching a course on Hell, gaining jobs, losing them, and going in and out of the ‘Wilderness.’

And no, it hasn’t always BEEN SAFE, but it’s been good.

Of late, that safety has been less and less a reality. We’ve come to see just what a young married couple can survive on whilst still maintaining bill pay, insurance, rent, when one is working full time and one is on meager unemployment. Yet deeper than mere fiscal safety, a spiritual safety and trust has been tested—tempered.

Song # 1 to listen to whilst reading this:

It’s strange to think that it grew to be easy to say that I would and do trust not merely God himself, but that He IS Good—that I am not afraid, that He WILL provide what is good, He will show just what path I’m meant to take, but compared to the difficulty faced presently, of course it would seem easy to say previously.
And yet even with the difficulty and challenges staring me—us, square between the eyes, and the ease at which I could just give up, stop fighting, stop seeking, stop longing, to question God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness, God’s love, I still can’t seem to bring myself to do it.
No matter how much I may want to.
No matter how much I think I do give up in the darkest of moments; alone, longing for the sanctuary of sleep, but cannot bring my heart to stop pounding, my head to stop swimming.

But that’s just the thing about hope, I guess.

Hope is what has spurred me ever forward, never satisfied, constantly seeking, and yet also presented me with some of my greatest challenges, obstacles, and disappointments. You see, when there is hope—true hope, I’ve learned that one pours all they have and all they are into their endeavors; and that can be a very dangerous thing to do when one is not prepared to be scorned and covered with scars. For hope leads to reality beyond what is seen, heard, felt, but it can also lead to heartache, heart break, and being battered and war torn.

Is this ideal? I don’t truly know. For I cannot rest assure and put forth that my relentless hope has led solely to accolades, accomplishments, honors, and prestige. Whether I’m an old fool of a soul yet or not, one thing’s for sure, the parallels between Don Quixote and I seem to grow more deep and rich.

Hope.

My hope, in its unrelenting way has many times left me realizing I’m merely fighting windmills, or that royalty are merely mule drivers. Yet Quixote could not give up hope. Hope that he was something beyond what people saw, and therefore called to fight for what is not seen. To the world and everyone in it, his brains dried up. To him, he had awoken from a dream into what was truly reality, and he lived fighting to bring about what ‘should be’—or at the very least, make it what ‘could be’ to those and for those still sleeping.

The world considered him mad; a madman in world prone to see the extraordinary as ordinary, yet void of the ability to see the ordinary as extraordinary. I hold that Quixote’s madness lay not in having the ability to do both, but verily, in the hope of bringing his reality to the world’s doorstep and into its house.

My Wife, Ricci, has been reading a book in which at one point the main character comes to a fork in the road with a sign post labeling each direction which reads:
“Lose your way”
“Lose your mind”
“Lose your life”
“Lose your heart”

It struck me as an interesting question to be presented with: if faced with the choice of losing one of these, which would you actually choose?

I wish it were that easy.

For I’ve been in a constant seeking my entire life of just what is my ‘way,’ so to lose what it seems I have not yet found is to fall into a groove of assuming I have found a way, yet it being the wrong one.
I’ve lost my life (or so it feels) time and time again, so the loss of that does not seem to be so difficult a path for me to walk down, yet with the unceasing hope God has created me with, I cannot seem to shake that there is a reason I’m still here, still traversing, still purposed.

Thus, the challenge would be choosing between losing my heart or losing my mind.
Having lost my heart plenty, and trying (in vain) to guard against that, I would not under any circumstances choose that path again. And truly, having seemingly traversed the roads and ways I have thus far, I can’t shake the feeling that to lose your heart and to lose your life may be one and the same road, if not, then at the very least being parallel.

If it were up to me, I’d take the path to lose my mind.
The problem is not knowing before I head down that path whether or not I still will feel when my heart gets broken, or lost, or hurt. Would I know? Would I be concerned?
What if I have already lost my mind? Again, can unrelenting hope when surrounded by hopelessness be considered madness?
Then I’m mad. I’ve already lost it.
And I still feel every hurt, every ache, every heart break.

And I still feel mad, I look at myself and think “you must be crazy.” After all this, to still continue on, to still Dream the Impossible Dream.
So perhaps I’ve taken the way of losing my mind long ago, and–it being my first path, have traversed all the rest without realizing it. Loss of way, loss of heart, loss of life.

I just can’t for the life of me give up and give in. I feel urged to press forward, onward, upward, into or out of darkness.

And I’ve got to keep believing that the world will truly be, ‘better for this.’

Song # 2 to listen to:

Song # 3 to listen to:

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Capital…

Stardate 41153.7. While acquainting himself with the command of his new vessel—the USS Enterprise and its crew, Captain Jean Luke Picard and three members of his crew are abducted and put on trial, representing all of Humanity for charges of “being a grievously savage race.”

In order to prove that our past should not condemn our present and future, the good Captain sets out to show the goodness—and more importantly, the progression, of Mankind to his accuser.

In the end, he proves that Humanity has indeed progressed, and will progress, but to what—as the last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation will tell, remains to be seen.

A universe where all powerful beings who can shape and reshape the fabric of time and space, who spend all their time toying and testing with the intelligent lifeforms of the universe; a universe with beings such as these, but lacking a God, an all powerful being, and the progress of Mankind appears simply to be progression itself.

1963, a hot August day in our country’s capital, a prominent Doctor and Reverend’s speech explodes into a passionate rant about a dream; of talks of freedom, of justice.

And what was that dream?

An impossible one?

Dr. King stood, a man many believed opposed to racial discrimination. I would disagree. He stood opposed to it only for the fact that he stood for something he believed to be right—an equality of men among our nation.

He believed in an absolute right and wrong, in a manner of being that all men can reach, and he believed in a definitive, absolute, ending point of “progression.”

A right and a wrong.

It seems that the United States themselves could be considered a nation which began with the statement, “This isn’t right.”

In England, in taxation, in slavery, and what should be seen in God’s sight.

Dr. King did not say anything new, but conveyed the original, in a new way. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”

Equal in what?

Contemporarily, it seems as if what once was a fight for something right, and a nation which began by saying “This isn’t right,” has had a paradigm shift to which we modernly say, “I’m right.”

Our fight has turned from what is right, to fighting for my rights.

The government and all those disconnected from us can do as they please as long as it doesn’t impede on our rights to pursue our own individual wishes and happiness. As per my own personal feeling about it, I think, is that a nation in which all one’s wishes were fulfilled would—quite apart from disappointments, be an unpleasant nation to live in. The world would be too like a dream, and the dream too like a nightmare.

The dilemma with this has been, and will always be the absent representation of what is right.

Even in the far distant future, if man was put on trial, the only defense of wrong doing would be progression from that wrong doing.

Yet while progression from is quite clear, it the progression towards that gets murky. For if you begin with a void, to fill it with more void will leave you finding yourself fighting straw horses—of windmills, of an infinite array of human evolution, of progress, of onward and upward. And to what? Who defines human perfection when it’s based on the thing evolving itself? Did the Neanderthal expect to evolve into something superior to itself? Or no, of course not, those proponents of this would say that it hadn’t evolved to the point of recognizing progression and evolution.

For those that believe this, I would posit that what’s to keep us from evolving to a place where we recognize a mystery outside of ourselves that judges just when we’ve reached the end of the road? What’s to say we won’t progress right out of progressive thought?

At least under the frame of a Creator God, there is a clear vision that there is something which “ought” to be. Even if by Creator God you mean to say, “Some great mysterious force which can only be known by making itself known.”

But to say there is nothing at all is to say there is nothing to fight for—save for the right to fight, to progress, which—time may prove to be no right at all. To have a hint at something outside, though it may remain a mystery—nay, the mystery, is to say there not only is a purpose, but a right way of things—and by consequence, a wrong way of things, and thus, something to strive for, and to fight against.

Dr. King seemed to understand this fact. His famous speech is riddled with Spiritual references to a Creator God not because he was a Reverend, nor because he thought it would help drive home the point of the movement, but because they were so intertwined that the lines separating them could not be easily discriminated.

I’d love to be in the hope that the reason there has been none like him since is that all the great causes to fight for have been, and been won. But with Gay Rights, Occupations, Ron Pauls, Tea Parties, and the like, I don’t know how verily that can be claimed. So where has this disconnect come? Why are there no more great Civil Rights movements when it still feels as if Civil liberties still have something to be desired?

What’s lacking before we march on the Capital once more?

What vanished on our way to the Capital?

Could the divine we’ve “fought” to progress past, beyond, be the very thing which progression herein depends?

Here again it seems obvious that all the doubts which legitimately attach to the idea of a progressive humanity are absolutely fatal to the idea of progressive divinity. If the goal, the divine (Kantian humanity) to progress towards is the infinite road of progression itself, you have nothing to judge what is the right road or not.

A man may be progressing from a wrongness to God, provided there’s some faith in the divine, but what is a progressive God progressing towards?

What defined the Civil Rights movement of Dr. Kings contemporary was not just that all men are equal Constitutionally, but all men are equal in a way which far transcends any government document—in that all men are equally created by God, and in the faith of God as Father, none of his children—nor his creation for that matter, has earned the right to be stripped of liberty, of freedom, and of justice.

This is not to say that persecution was something to fight against, but King would say to fight through.

“And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.”

Dr. King saw persecution—tribulation, as a worthy battle to fight through, all the while resting in the hope of something greater.

It was better for him to admit a limit of freedom in existence, if only to be free to progress towards something true, than it was to have the “freedom” to flounder in whatever way “the progression of mankind” deemed appropriate.

Sometime during the Spanish Inquisition, Miguel De Cervantes stood trial amongst his fellow inmates, merely because—well, because no one enters or leaves this or any prison—without being tried by his fellow prisoners.

His charge: being an idealist, a bad poet, and an honest man.

His plea: guilty of all charges.

Of being an idealist, yes; for he never had the courage to believe in nothing.

His defense, to spin a tale of a knight so daft that he fought what others could not see, for a cause which others did not believe in.

Progression?

Yes.

For the sake of itself?

No.

The knight strove to reach the unreachable star.

There was a goal, there was an end; no matter how daft it seemed to reach for it. No matter how hopeless, no matter how far, to fight for the right without question or pause;

to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause!

Time may be the only thing to prove man right or wrong. We may progress to a time of starships, and of contact with sentient extra terrestrial beings; of aliens who have progressed themselves to a life of logic and suppression of emotion, to explore new worlds and strange civilizations; yet time will still be the Geiger of measurement if there is no God, if the divine is ever progressing as we are, if the cause is to move past the past, and on toward the future, time will prove man right or wrong. For who knows what mysteries one may discover, come the future of knowledge, of progression?

Will men like Hitler actually be proved right in his actions? Will Gahndi be proved wrong? Will the future’s heroes of the past sift and waver between the moral boundaries we at present hold them in?

Time may be the only thing to prove man right or wrong. But perhaps man—man may become the only thing to prove God right or wrong—or rather, to prove there even is a right and a wrong.

Materialism says that the universe is mindless; and faith says it is ruled by the highest mind. Neither will be satisfied with the new “progressive” creed, which declares hopefully that the universe is half witted.

In the end though, I would rather fight for the right (without question or pause), than for my rights.

For when this happens—when all fight for what is right, external to themselves, I believe,

“…when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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