27 May 2013

Elwha Valley


It's good to be home. More coming soon.
-The Minstrel Boy

21 May 2013

Dead flies and the gap between time

I was trimming the trees by the driveway when suddenly I could hear the creation of the earth. Wind is like rain, it doesn't actually make a sound until it hits something.  And then there it was, sounding away like the footfalls of angels.  I had to stop what I was doing and listen.

Those moments hit me every once in a while--and I call it eternity. The thing about moments of eternity is that, when it's over, it only lasted for a very short time. But when it's happening, it's always happening, always has been. Nothing else ever happened. It's a gap in between time in which absolutely nothing happens, thus leaving room for all of history to pour in like a billion billion pieces of sound.

Some people think flies are ugly and they carry germs. But you have to really look at one. They are the most unpredictable creatures that crawl on the earth. You never see them breath, and as far as you're concerned they're dead. There's no sign of life in them. Then all the sudden they make a quantum twitch, and you realize that they actually moved. Then without any wind up or warning or reason, they fly. Nobody knows when they'll go or land or get tired. And then they're dead as a door-nail all over again.

But what good is it to describe it? You have to see it. But most people would just get the swatter. You have to use words and words grate me. I hate using words. I wish I could stay for all eternity in the gap between time where everything is as unpretentious and unpredictable as flies.

Reality is weird. And at some point you have to stop trying to write about it and walk outside.

17 May 2013

The Warrior and the Poet Part III


So. Which inspires us more, the warrior, or the poet?

 The answer is neither.
You see, people aren’t inspired by poets who have been through nothing. Neither are people inspired by warriors who have not conquered the battles they are given. The two stories I told you were neither the story of a poet or a warrior--they were only two different types of a third kind of man: the warrior-poet.

And he is the heart of inspiration.

But let me clear something up. Being a warrior doesn’t necessarily mean someone who literally fights with swords or spears. It’s someone who conquers their personal struggles. Spartacus was just as much a warrior as Helen Keller was, they were just two different wars at two different times.
Likewise, being a poet isn’t necessarily someone who writes lines and verses. It’s about awakening the spirit of exploration inside all of us. It’s a picture of you and me, coming home and gathering our friends together, urging them and exhorting them “You guys, you will not believe the things we’ve seen! You have got to come and see it for yourself!”

The warrior poet doesn’t have to be one person, but the ideas are inseparable. It is the relationship of these two worlds coming together: experiencing and thinking, story and telling, warrior and poet. If you haven’t been a true warrior, you’ll never become poetry, and if you don’t have the spirit of a warrior in you, you can’t be a true poet. Joan of Arc was a warrior who became poetry. When David defeated Goliath, he used his experience to become the poet who wrote the Psalms.

The character Samwise Gamgee said it best in Tolkien’s “The Two Towers”:
“I used to think that [adventures] were things the folk of stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them. But I expect they had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have even forgotten. We hear about those that just went on – and not all to a good end, at least not what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same.”

You know, the whole reason why the warrior-poet inspires us is because our Savior was a warrior-poet.

 No one has ever lived a perfect life… except for Him.

No one was supposed to save us… but He did.

Jesus Christ died for us.

And He came back again.

God’s going to give each one of us a battle to fight. You’re not supposed to win it, but you can. This is what inspires the human soul: the Warrior-Poet who went there and back again.

Poet: someone who writes.
Warrior: someone who fights.

 Friends, you have to understand this. The world is beautiful. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth writing about.   Would you lose your life just because life is so worth living? I would. I would do it again and again and again.  Because you can never begin to live until you dare to die.

-The Minstrel Boy

15 May 2013

That heart-stopping moment when you turn around and suddenly ask, “Where are my children?"

Oh my gosh this is really, really good.

I guess I missed Mother's Day by nearly a week but moms are just as awesome on Wednesdays as they are on Sundays.

-The Minstrel Boy

13 May 2013

The Bright and Hopeful Unknown

Some of you may know about Joshua Eddy. He died last year at 18, by slipping into a river. I never knew him, but Josh had a vicarious way of affecting people he didn't know. And the title of his blog, "The Bright and Hopeful Unknown" kinda stuck in my mind.

I can’t break the
Habit of thinking
Only of the wonderful
Only of the beautiful
I can’t help
Answering the distant call
Louder everywhere I go
Softer than the falling snow

I can’t explain why
Half-notes feel like half-smiles
Welcome to the
Bright and Hopeful Unknown
Can’t explain why
Brothers still die for each other
Can’t explain why
Grass still bothers to
Bothers to

Ever wondered the point
At which circles begin
Welcome to the
Bright and Hopeful Unseen
Ever wondered what
Sets the heart a-leapin’
Ever wondered how
Pine trees stay ever so
Ever so

Do you know the words
To that bird’s song?
Welcome to the
Bright and Hopeful Untold
Do you know why
Children can laugh in the darkness
Do you know the
Thrill of having a
Small hand to

I can’t explain why goodness still lives
Welcome to the
Bright and Hopeful unknown
Can’t explain why people forgive
Lift your eyes and enter this
Almost impossible


12 May 2013

The Poet and the Warrior Part II


One of the oldest stories in English history is the poem Beowulf. Grendel, a monster who brooded in the swamplands, was attacking villages and devouring hundreds of innocents. May brave knights had tried to defeat him, but Grendel outdid them all. That is, until a young Geatish warrior came along.
Isn’t that what all fairy-tales sound like? No one could defeat the monster until HE came along. Just imagine Beowulf walking to the mouth of Grendel’s cave, passing the skeletons of hundreds of people who have tried and failed. He knows his fate could be the same. Why does he keep walking?

Because it might not.

That’s what every adventure hinges on: Because it might not. No one has ever defeated Grendel – but  Beowulf did. No one could pull the sword out of the stone – except for King Arthur. In a more popular example, no one ever volunteered as tribute for the Hunger games – except for Katniss. No one has ever “blank” except for “blank.”

This is kind of an unspoken theme in literature. Do you recognize it? I call it the “accidental miracle.” Some unexpected spark of goodness just falls out of the sky into your lap, and you go "Wow! I guess the world isn’t so bad after all!" And it’s not just in literature – it’s etched into the very code of nature. Little bits show up everywhere – a plant pushing up through the cracks of the sidewalk in New York City, or the survivor of a failed abortion. It wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did! Why? It doesn’t make sense, but we love it. It’s like when Bilbo Baggins titled the story of his life “There and Back Again” – he wasn’t just talking, he had actually been there and back again.

Remember Clive Hamilton? He was the poet who would rather write about Grendel that fight him. But I haven’t told you his whole story. When Hamilton was 54, he met a widowed American English teacher named Joy. Her spunky no-nonsense attitude took Hamilton by surprise as she blundered into his life with her ten year old son. In perhaps the strangest love story of all time, Hamilton took an uneasy step into a world he had been running from. Joy and Clive were married.

Four years later, she had died of cancer.

It was then Hamilton finally learned that it was better to feel pain than nothing at all, writing in his famous quote: “to love is to be vulnerable.” That’s what made Hamilton’s work so influential in the world: the experiences he had overcome. Clive Hamilton was only his pen-name – many of you know his real one: C.S. Lewis.

And the space mission? You may recognize it as Apollo 13. On April 17, 1970, the crew splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Their mission was dubbed “the successful failure.” Despite never landing on the moon, the captain James Lovell and Mission Control had defied all mathematical and physical odds to return a crippled spacecraft safely home. Apollo 13 has gone down in aeronautical history because it wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. The astronauts went “there and back again.”

So. Which inspires us more, the warrior or the poet?

Concluded in part three :)

10 May 2013

The Poet and the Warrior Part I

I want to post a few things I wrote during this year for Important Educational Purposes, among which was my original oratory for speech and debate.  If you read my friend Argentum's blog you may have read his thoughts on it. I tried to clarify some of the things he talked about in the later version of my speech. And since I'm not going to NITOC (waaaaah) I thought, why not, here it is.


Poet: someone who writes.
Warrior: someone who fights.

Which one inspires us more, the poet or the warrior?

Today I hope to answer this question. I’m going to tell the stories of two men, one of the pen and the other of the sword, and we will decide which one of them has greater influence on people and the world.

The poet was a professor at Oxford University named Clive Hamilton. As a child he was fascinated by tales of gallantry, and when he grew up he became a renowned speaker, writing 58 books in his lifetime on everything from logic to philosophy to children’s stories.
Hamilton wasn’t interested in a wife or a family though. His childhood experiences had scarred him in a way that made him the most callused professor in Oxford. He intimidated both his students and peers with his unparalleled debating skills and held every relationship at arm’s length. The press praised him as an “intellectual giant” and a “master of fantasy.” Everyone knew his “poetry,” but nobody knew Clive Hamilton. He died at 64.

Some of you can identify with Hamilton’s story. Humans inherently fear the sting of real life. We watch movies and listen to upbeat music about freedom-fighters, lovers, and adventurers because we enjoy the feelings that come with those experiences. The catch is we want the FEELING, not the experience that comes with it. If you take away the pain, you’ve taken away the pleasure –there’s no middle ground. Perhaps there’s one thing sadder than a broken heart. And that’s an unbreakable heart.
So what do we do? We become talkers. A talker is someone who thinks he’s a poet, but really isn’t. Talkers are like hobbits, you love making up stories but have no use for adventures, thank you. And in the end, you haven’t gained anything. Well, you’ve gained weight, but not much else.

Henry Van Dyke writes, “You can never begin to live until you dare to die.”

So what’s it feel like to live? What does daring to die mean? That’s my next story.

Almost everyone is familiar with the words “Houston, we have a problem.” Those words were radioed by a command module pilot 200,000 miles from Earth, and there has been no manned mission to the Moon since.

55 hours after launch, the crew heard a bang. The captain reported to Houston that they were venting something out into space. The gas he saw outside his window was oxygen escaping from their tank, so fast it was nearly empty. When the crew finally managed to stop it, they had lost almost all their electricity, light, and water.

In order for the men to return to earth, the lunar module had to be re-programmed to last twice as long as it was designed to. Not only that, it was meant to support two men for two days and needed to take care of three men for four days. Also, the cold of space had damaged the heat shield and Mission Control feared it would not last through the burning of our atmosphere.

The harder Mission Control fought, the more they knew they weren’t going to make it.
Truth be told, that’s why we don’t want real experiences. We might end up like that guy. You may never begin to live until you dare to die, but you can’t exactly live if you never get past the dying part. But then again, what if you do?