Your Catfish Friend

 If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, “It’s beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,”
I’d love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.”

~Richard Brautigan

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Dealing With Unwelcome Unrequited Love

Don’t.

I’m not just Époninetalking about any unrequited love here. I’m talking about that guy you have a crush on, and it’s a really stupid crush, for any number of reasons. He’s an idiot. He’s immature. He’s mean. He’s stuck-up. He’s lazy. He’s not a strong Christian, or maybe he’s not a Christian at all. There’s no future there, and you know this. We’re not even talking Jacob and Bella. This is more like Romeo and Juliet, except Juliet isn’t a total idiot and Romeo doesn’t love her back. There isn’t a happily ever after, and you knew it as soon as those butterflies started fluttering.

Sometimes, there’s no reason why it happens. Blame it on the hormones, the atmosphere, whatever. Most often, it’s just plain proximity. He’s a boy, you’re a girl, and that’s it. No point in mulling over causes. The feelings are just there. They’re painful, and they’re pointless. So what do you do about them?

Absolutely nothing.

Trust me, attempting to repress the butterflies makes the butterflies flutter faster. It’s simple psychology. The more you try not to think about something the more you think about it. The feelings have to run their course, but the course will end. Just know that it may take a while (mine lasted two years). If possible, limit contact with him as much as possible, so you don’t end up saying or doing something you might regret. Feelings may be there, but you don’t have to act on them. Really, don’t act on them. The modern culture, along with many past cultures, is very, very fond of feelings. It doesn’t matter whether you are from different countries, have different goals, or worship different gods, as long as you love each other. Let me break it to you. We’re to love everyone, even our enemies, but we’re not supposed to marry all of them. This isn’t Utah. Unless you’re reading this and you happen to live in Utah.

The ultimate goal of romantic love as we know it is marriage. Wives are to submit to their husbands. Can you see yourself marrying this guy? Do you respect him? Can you see yourself submitting to him as the church submits to Christ? Of course you don’t. That’s why your love is pointless in the first place. So bite the bullet and deal with it.

Come Away With Me

(A poetic piece of prose for the deeply romantic soul)

 

Nobody talked to me today. If they had, they wouldn’t have understood exactly what I was going through, like He did. So why didn’t I talk to Him?

It’s not like it’s everybody else’s fault—if I wanted to talk to someone else, I could have opened my mouth and spit out the words that burn in my throat, but if I had, they still wouldn’t have understood exactly what I was saying, like He does. So why don’t I talk to Him?

At sunset I climb up the hill to my house alone.

This night, as I was falling into the dark, gentle arms of sleep, hearing her whisper in my ear and feeling her fingers in my hair, I had this thought: if He not only knows me but loves me more than anyone else, why are we not talking? If He is the Bridegroom and I am His bride, why am I alone?

And then I hear His voice quiet and tender mingled with the voice of Night:

Come away with me.

My eyes open wide in the darkness, and I sit up in my bed. Breathe!

Meet me at sunrise at the top of your hill. I miss talking with you.

“Me too,” I breathe out, breath in again. I slowly lower my head to my pillow, close my eyes, but all I can think about is His silvery voice, streaming into my mind like cool, radiant moonlight.

Sunrise is slow to come.

When my heart almost faints for waiting for Him to return, the circle of fire, the sun, begins his slow ascent to the top of the black sky. And so does my Beloved. I jump out of my bed and rush like rain from the heavens to meet the One who knows me. My bare feet fly through my house, out the door and into the morning to meet the One who loves me.

He catches me in His arms and holds me close. I breathe in the scent of His majesty, His love, and when I breathe out, my eyes and smile betray the wide wonder and joy that fills my soul. Our laughter mingles as He holds my face in His hands and we gaze into each other’s eyes.

Grinning, He whispers You made it!
Disabled by happiness, all I can do is nod.

Mouth somber but eyes bright, He says I love you.

He takes my hands in His and lifts them to His mouth to kiss them. I see holes in His wrists and suddenly want to cry.

His wrists and eyes bear witness to the truth of His words.

“I believe You!” I cry out with my heart.

He smiles again, and repeats Come away with me!

Again, all I can do is nod

Yes, yes, yes!

He spins me around and I am confronted by a wall of billowing fog. The fog clears enough for me to make out the front of a train and tracks leading away from the hill. There was never a train here before, let alone tracks! My bridegroom watches in amusement as I fish a compass out of my pocket and hold it before me in the direction that the tracks go. The compass spins wildly, incapable of deciding the direction the train is headed.

He turns to me, leans close, and whispers I want to take you in a whole new direction.

Again, I am in awe. He grins, takes my hand, and leads me along the side of the train to an empty compartment. The inside of the train is lined with velvet. Elaborate woodwork coated in gold frames the walls of our car with warm light, lending the red velvet an otherworldly glow. He helps me into the compartment and lowers me into one of two chairs that face each other. When we are both seated, the only thing left between us is a small window.

I peer out the window, but am confronted by a sheet of white. This is the only time I have chosen to break my gaze from Him since we met this morning.

Beloved,

His clear voice breaks through the fog beginning to settle in my mind and returns my gaze to His eyes.

Do you trust me?

I want to look back at the window, but instead I stare at His face. He is beautiful.

“Yes!” I hear myself say. “My love is so weak,” I hear myself think.

But My love is strong! my Beloved asserts, lowering his face closer to mine and narrowing His eyes. A thrill runs down my spine and through my fingertips.

The train whistles, lurches forward. I lose my balance and fall into His arms. He catches me before I hurt myself, and once I have caught my breath, we both laugh as He returns me to my seat.

After a time, He nods for me to look out the window. Although I take my eyes off of Him, I sense that His eyes never leave mine.

Outside the window, beneath a crimson sky, I see a land plagued by deep darkness—cities stalked by dark forms, people killing other people, people crying and plugging their ears, people with closed eyes shooting other people. And there are so many people dying alone. Shaking, I turn to face my Beloved, but can hardly meet his eyes. I cover my face with my hands, and when I finally pull them away, they are wet with my sorrow. I hear a choking sound and look to my Beloved. He is crying too.

I love them so much, but they don’t even know me. I want to help them more, but they won’t accept my help. Instead, they choose to rely on dark, shifting shadows. I love them, but I can have no fellowship with darkness!

“What will you do?” I ask.

We will love them anyways.

“We?”

I will walk with you, and I will teach you to love them the way I do. And when it’s too difficult, I will help you.

His eyes are full of love. I remember His pierced wrists and tentatively touch my own.

“Yes,” I say, “I will love as you love.”

I expect the train to stop in the place of darkness, but instead it surges forth into new lands. When I glance out the window again, I see the silhouettes of mountains rising and falling over the land as if the world was breathing.

“Where are we now?” I ask.

The Mystery Mountains, He responds with a hint of playfulness.

Holding hands, we both look out the window again. This time all I see is light so bright that I feel that I must close my eyes. Instead I look back at Him—but I do not escape the light. His eyes are stars luminous. Mesmerized, I stare into the shining pools and am confronted by a startling vision—my eyes scintillating light.

The closer we become, the more light you shine! We are One, beloved; should it surprise you if you start to look a bit like me?

My bewilderment melts into ecstasy. Oh how He loves me!

Again, I look out the window and see light, but this time it does not overwhelm me. Shapes begin to form in the whiteness, and I realize that I am now in His kingdom. I see a shining city with rivers of living water. I see a people untroubled by darkness. The train slows to a halt. I look to Him.

This is a place of hope justified, He reveals.

We exit the train together and follow a path that cuts into a forest. The sky is bright and clear, like my Beloved’s eyes, and in the center of the firmament the sun sits on his azure throne.

While we walk, we converse with each other; I share my heart with Him, and He whispers truth to me. He tells me that He has plans for me, plans to restore my family, and plans to love His people. When I start crying, He tells me it’s not all up to me, and that He will help me carry out His plans.

We pause when we come to a small pool of living water. He asks me to look onto the shining surface and report what I see. When I peer into the pool, I see through me—through my skin, beneath my ribs, to the very center of my heart—and I spy great darkness—and I feel unworthy of His love.

When we start walking again, He takes my hand in His and tells me

I delight in you.

Tremulous, I whisper, “But I am so inferior to You!”

Why do you doubt the magnitude of my love for you? I paid for your soul with my blood, my love! Don’t you know that I love you despite your imperfections? I am yours, and you are mine!

I believe Him,
I believe Him.

When the sun dismounts his throne to begin His ascent to the earth, my Beloved leads me back to the train, and we take our seats in our car. As the colors scarlet, orange, and purple begin to bleed into the blue, I recall the moment I first laid eyes on my Beloved, and my love for Him is rekindled.

We arrive at the base of the hill too soon. As we walk up the hill to my house, the sky bruising dark purple, my Bridegroom promises to return for me tomorrow at sunrise.

“Where will you go now?” I ask Him.

He is quiet a moment before a smile appears on His face. In a confiding tone, He divulges I will never leave your side, my love; my spirit shall watch over you in the night.

And as the glitter of stars and distant galaxies begins to materialize in the dark sky, all I can think is that I will never climb the hill to my house at sunset alone ever again.

Book Suggestion: Stepping Heavenward

Stepping_Heavenward_WIP_by_olde_fashioned

I first read Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss in the car on my way up a mountain. It was not one of my better decisions. Despite the nausea in my stomach, the book was nothing but enjoyable. Stepping Heavenward, first published in 1869, is the diary of fictional Kate, a young girl straying in her walk with Christ and in her love for those around her. Well-written, romantic and insightful, it chronicles her journey to adulthood in a way that is both lyrical and realistic.

The events chronicled in Kate’s diary are not grand, but her rather domestic struggles and her spiritual fights are still relevant to Christian women today. I found this book challenging in a practical sense. It’s the kind of story you feel good after reading but aren’t particularly entranced. It’s like eating whole wheat bread. Trust me, you’ll be better for reading it.