Archive - January, 2010

Choosing Love (by Billy Coffey)


I worked with Jenny for about two months twelve years ago, just another face that walked in and out of the revolving door of the town’s gas station. She was a nice lady, Jenny. Always smiling. The smile is what I remember most. Well, that and the bleached jeans she always wore that rode high on the waist and had tiny denim bows in the back near the ankles. Jenny was a joy to be around, but she was no fashion maven.

She was, however, considered quite the catch. At thirty-five, Jenny was still both unmarried and unattached. Rare for these parts. And it wasn’t for lack of options, either. It was no secret that the busiest nights at the Amoco were the ones when she worked the cash register. Every available guy in town would suddenly get the urge for a can of Copenhagen or decide his tank needed to be topped off.

They’d show up in their best boots and hats reeking of Drakkar Noir, tough guys with big trucks and mustaches. But then Jenny would smile and say “Hey there” and they would transform from Bo Duke seducing an unsuspecting girl to Opie Taylor crushing on his teacher. It was both hilarious and sad at the same time.

Jenny seemed genuinely ignorant of the whole thing. She dated here and there but was content with her life. She lived in a double wide on the edge of town with her Australian shepherd and her growing collection of Garth Brooks CDs, sang in the church choir, and had a weakness for the Saturday morning sales at J.C. Penney.

In other words, Jenny had a good life. And even though she had her share of lonely nights, they weren’t chilly enough to convince her she needed a man to keep her warm.

But then one Friday night in walked Chad, who was neither dressed for church nor smelling like a gigolo, but tired and dirty and heading home from his job as janitor at the elementary school. He said nothing beyond the usual niceties of “That’s it” and “Thanks” and made his way out the door, but Jenny did something I’d never seen her do. She watched him leave.

The two saw each other again the next Saturday, this time for dinner at Applebees. To this day I don’t know who did the asking. I suppose it doesn’t matter. They weren’t serious, but they spent their fair share of time together.

It was around their fourth date (which, as it turned out, was bowling) that the stars aligned one more time for Jenny. That was the night Aaron stopped by because his Mercedes was a quart low.

Jenny, I noticed, watched him leave too.

Aaron spent more on Jenny on their first date than Chad made in a week.

You couldn’t find two men more different from one another than Chad and Aaron. One pushed a broom all day, and the other traded stocks in the city. One lived in an apartment behind the 7-11 on Main Street, and the other lived on twenty acres in the country. Neither had quite captured Jenny’s heart yet. Both tried desperately.

The heart abhors competition, and the time came when both demanded Jenny make her choice. She was torn. Aaron was distant and sometimes cold, but with him Jenny could have the comfort she never enjoyed in life. There would be no more nights at the gas station, no more bleached jeans with denim bows in the back. There would instead be dinner parties and fine food and more security than she ever thought possible.

It was a life she knew Chad couldn’t provide her, but he could provide her with everything else. The things that both Jenny’s mom and her preacher knew were important. The things that mattered. Chad loved Jenny, pure and simple. And promised to do so always.

I saw Jenny the other day. She works the register at the grocery store now. Still wears those bleached jeans, too. Her smile and extra makeup couldn’t quite hide the sadness and bruises that were underneath. Chad’s a drinker. Jenny didn’t know that until it was too late.

She’s confessed to some that she often thinks of Aaron and the life she could’ve had. A better life. A better love. But I don’t think so. I think Jenny had it all wrong. I think Aaron would have left her just as miserable and hurt.

Because I don’t think you can choose who to love. I think love chooses you.

“It is wrong to think that love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship. Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and unless that affinity is created in a moment, it will not be created for years or even generations” ~ Kahlil Gibran

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

Faith


An excerpt from The Joyful Christian – Readings from C. S. Lewis

The question of Faith…arises after a man has tried his level best to practice the Christian virtues, and found that he fails, and seen that even if he could he would only be giving back to God what was already God’s own. In other words, he discovers his bankruptcy. Now, once again, what God cares about is not exactly our actions. What he cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind of quality–the kind of creatures He intended us to be–creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add “and related to one another in a certain way” because that is included: if you are right with Him, you will inevitably be right with all your fellow creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim, they are bound to be in the right positions to one another. And as long as a man is thinking of God as an Examiner who has set a sort of paper to do, or as the opposite party in a sort of bargain–as long as he is thinking of claims and counterclaims between himself and God–he is not yet in the right relation to Him. He is misunderstanding what he is and what God is. And he cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankruptcy.

When I say “discovered”, I mean really discovered: not simply said it parrot-fashion. Of course, any child, if given a certain kind of religious education, will soon learn to say that we have nothing to offer God that is not already His own and that we find ourselves failing to offer even that without keeping something back. But I am talking of really discovering this: really finding out by experience that it is true.

Now we cannot, in that sense discover our failure to keep God’s law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that, if we try harder next time, we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say “You must do this. I can’t.” Do not, I implore you, start asking yourselves, “Have I reached that moment?” Do not sit down and start watching your own mind to see if it is coming along. That puts a man quite on the wrong track. When the most important things in our life happen, we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on. A man does not always say to himself, “Hullo! I’m growing up.” You can see it even in simple matters. A man who starts anxiously watching to see whether he is going to sleep is very likely to remain wide awake. As well, the thing I am talking of now may not happen to everyone in a sudden flash–as it did to St. Paul or Bunyan: it may be so gradual that no one could ever point to a particular year. And what matters is the nature of the change in itself, not how we feel while it is happening. It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.

So perhaps we need to get to the point of Surrender.

Catch Phrase in the hands of an 8 year old


From Wikipedia:

The game is played in two teams. The goal for each player is to get their team to say the word or word phrase displayed in the disc. One member of a team starts the timer and tries to get his or her team to guess the displayed word or phrase. A clue-giver can make any physical gesture and give almost any verbal clue, but may not say a word that rhymes with any of the words, give the first letter of a word, say the number of syllables, or say part of any word in the clue (e.g., “worry” for “worry wart”). When the team guesses correctly, the other team takes its turn. Play continues until the timer runs out. The team not holding the disc when time runs out scores a point. They also have one chance to guess the word or phrase, with team members allowed to confer; a correct answer earns a bonus point. The first team to score seven points wins.

After Christmas Eve service, several of us went over the Jeff and Tamara’s house for some appetizers and hard liquor (just kidding about the hard liquor part). Anyway, the kids were playing with a new Catch Phrase game — not really playing by the rules, just guessing back and forth. My daughter, holding the game gives me the following clues:

Rachel: “Girls start wearing this when they get older”

Me: “A bra?”

Rachel: “Girls wear this bra when they’re playing sports.”

Me: “A sports bra?”

Rachel: “Yes!”

At this point, I felt that I needed to point out the less obvious rules of the game, such as the rule against saying any part of the clue, or basically saying the clue in its entirety. With this in mind, she continues:

Rachel: “If someone was jumping off a cliff, this is what you would say to them.”

Peanut Gallery: “Geronimo?” “Watch Out?” “Oh, no?”

Rachel: “No. You would say, ‘That’s ridiculous’. The word is ridiculous.”

Apparently, in this particular game, she has decided that she will be the giver of the clues. And since we were all being entertained immensely, we went with that.

Rachel: “What we are.”

Peanut Gallery: “Human?” “Sinful?” “People?” “Texans?” “Americans?”

Rachel: “Mammals.”

When we actually played a real game, “Mammals” was the go-to answer when we didn’t know what else to say.

She cracks me up…

Pocket Jesus, the nasty pimp hat & revenge of the granny panties


I love me some twitpics! It’s my way of sharing my day to day with people all over the world! (You’re welcome.) The first entry (which is the last entry; try to follow along), I tweeted after I had started my update, but I wanted to share. (Again, you’re welcome.)

Without further ado (or adieu?), the best of me (or not) on the twitter:

trying on low rise jeans + granny panties = devastating blow to my self esteem

@Helenatrandom Snort! (in reply to Helenatrandom @chrissulli Haven’t you heard? Global Warming is the reason why we are getting colder!! The whole theory was developed by oxy morons…)

Some fascinating discussions about dog poo. Today, on a very special Hey look a chicken http://bit.ly/5S9tsw

@bryanallain You just had dinner? What are you, 80?

@JeanneDamoff TWSS (in reply to JeanneDamoff @katdish Should be tons o’ fun. A 1940’s USO-type swing-dance show. Only problem is rehearsals start next week. I need to GET ON IT! )

@Helenatrandom @BridgetChumbley Do you ever have them face one another & then squish them together? In a purely platonic way, of course.

@BridgetChumbley I’ve eaten gummy bears past the point of a stomach ache. That’s how much I heart them. (in reply to BridgetChumbley I ‘heart’ Gummi Bears… but I leave the green ones… yuck!)

RT @BridgetChumbley: RT @katdish: @BridgetChumbley I AM THE GREAT CORNHOLIO! // Stop in the name of all which does not suck.

@Helenatrandom Um, ewh… (in reply to Helenatrandom @katdish That’s be cool. It would go great with my Life is Funny Mammogram post. (Better hope I don’t get a pap smear anytime soon…)

@CandySteele Yes. We do. (in reply to CandySteele @billycoffey Just ignore @katdish ‘s illusion of intimidation. We know who’s boss)

@Helenatrandom I could make you a ta-ta hat. (in reply to Helenatrandom @CandySteele Save the Ta Tas? I really need a new picture… Or maybe a ta ta hat….)

@HeatheroftheEO You’re welcome. That’s why we’re here. (in reply to HeatheroftheEO @billycoffey @katdish I will be saying “what to the ever” for the rest of my life. Thank you.)

@billycoffey Don’t make me come up there. (in reply to billycoffey @katdish Oh, I’m sorry. Did I ask you? No, I didn’t.)

@Helenatrandom Oh, don’t listen to @billycoffey! The cap is lovely.

@pagan43 I’m not grumpy anymore. I kicked my cold’s butt

RT @marni71: @katdish I threw down the clean room ultimatum on Pey Peyt yesterday. Powertrips+clean rooms=Nirvana.

@marni71 I heart ultimatums.

@marni71 Here I am. Mock away. My daughter has been invited to a skating party today. I told her she wasn’t going unless her room was clean. (in reply to marni71 I’m waiting for @katdish and @redclaydiaries to be on her so I can mock the fact my kids are in school and theirs aren’t. #anticipation.)

@Brian_Russell Oh, stop being such a cranky ho, Brian. (in reply to Brian_Russell Internet Explorer is the bane of the internet. If you’re using it, you’re part of the problem.)

RT @weightwhat: RT @MrBigFists Trust me pajamas, I’m just as upset about this as you are. But hey, we’ll always have Wal Mart.

@stretchmarkmama Whew! I can breath again… (in reply to stretchmarkmama @katdish Of course I’m still following you. Like a shadow. A big creepy one.)

@stretchmarkmama Please tell me you’re still following me. (in reply to stretchmarkmama Thanks to @TheTwitCleaner I just gave a few hundred tweeple the boot. #ahh)

Fresh mascara + sneeze = Dang it!

It’s Jan 2, & across the land Protestants too lazy to take down their lites pretend to celebrate the epiphany.

@poemsandprayers It’s quite an art form. (in reply to poemsandprayers @katdish i’ve never seen chicken pushers before…)

@Brian_Russell Yes, well I’m like me, so there you go. (in reply to Brian_Russell @katdish He’s like that…)

@Brian_Russell Then there’s @human3rror, but he didn’t courtesy refollow me, so he’s dead to me

@TchrEric Is there some sort of training for this? Because these guys are AGGRESSIVELY giving away chicken. (in reply to TchrEric @katdish Don’t recall ever seeing that happen in CA – but every mall food court here it happens….go figure….)

RT @bryanallain: Have barbecue chips ever over-delivered? They are the Fruit Stripes gum of the potato chip world.

@CandySteele he smells like eggrolls and teen spirit. (in reply to CandySteele @katdish Hey, that’s the guy that sprayed perfume on me at the mall last week. Get closer. Does he smell like Eau de Squirrel?)

Would someone please explain the overly aggressive bourbon chicken samplers at the food court?

@MistiPearl Do you really expect to get a pocket Jesus for free? I’m at the mall. Nothing is free. (in reply to MistiPearl @katdish They don’t charge money for that do they?)

@MistiPearl well it’s a pocket Jesus of course! Actually, it’s just the box. Because as you might expect, He wasn’t in there (in reply to MistiPearl @katdish What?! is that?)

Ummm….no.

@weightwhat I gave up quitting. (in reply to weightwhat @sarahmsalter Nope, because I only resolve not to make resolutions. Doing good so far!)

RT @badbanana: That one set of carbon footprints in the sand is when Jesus carried me and my 60-inch plasma TV

@CandySteele It’s not the cold, it’s the humidity. (in reply to CandySteele @katdish oh shut up. I’d be out sun bathing in that.)

@CandySteele @makeadiff21 43 degrees here. Brrrr!

RT @CandySteele: @katdish this screams katdish

RT @pattidigh: every day is a new year //and some days feel like a year.

@RachelleGardner I learned I am infinitely less patient than I realized. #whatIlearned

@Brian_Russell In the grand scheme of things, does it matter that I’m slightly less obscure than you? Me thinks not

@SuperBowlSunday Thanks for following me. You know I’m in Houston, right? Is this a sympathy follow?

RT @MaggieDammit: My mother sent the children home with kazoos. My mother hates me.

@buzzbyannies Oh, sorry. (Not really) (in reply to buzzbyannies @katdish @CandySteele
Candy’s quote about Boz in a Box. Quit trying to steal the glory Kat.)

@buzzbyannies Wait, which quote? The King quote or the crap quote. The crap quote was all me.

@buzzbyannies No. Sweet baby Boz. (in reply to buzzbyannies @katdish The one of sweet baby Jesus?)

“You must not come lightly to the blank page.” ~ Stephen King

Writers resolution: write every day. Even if it’s crap. Just write.

@jewda4 Oh, like I don’t do that already… (in reply to jewda4 @katdish that would be a good version, but a bad outcome. maybe you should eat skittles and leg drop your dog while reading a safer version)

@jewda4 And the possibility of being struck by lightning.

@jewda4 I’m waiting for the #SCL version. (in reply to jewda4 I like switching the version I use to read through the Bible each year. Last year, I read the HCSB. This year, I’m going to read the ESV.)

@CandySteele I need more coffee. I read that last tweet as “grapefruit or the porn” And now, bring on the spambots! (in reply to CandySteele @billycoffey I overslept by 2 hr today. Not sure if it was the grapefruit or the pom that put me over the edge last night.)

@billycoffey Oh, right. Nevermind @bryanallain. (in reply to billycoffey @katdish Forgive your southerness? Are you serious?)

RT @tim_____: It’s 2010. And again I ask, where the heck is my flying car? The future disappoints yet again.

@bryanallain Now you’re cooking with grease! (Forgive my southerness.) (in reply to bryanallain @katdish my 1st tweet reply of 2010 goes to katdish. now that’s starting strong with nowhere to go but down.)

@bryanallain You’re supposed to start on a high note and end a miserable failure. Get with the program, Bryan. (in reply to bryanallain This is my first Tweet of 2010, and boy is it a letdown. Nowhere to go but up. Happy New Year everyone.)

Tell me you wouldn’t want to visit my church.

@weightwhat. Nope he’s wearing pants.

@weightwhat not my kitchen, but let me check. (in reply to weightwhat @katdish That’s quite a lampshade you’re wearing there… Hey, is that a mini-PCB on your kitchen counter?)

@billycoffey what? You don’t like my nasty pimp hat? (in reply to billycoffey @katdish Oh that’s lovely…)

Happy new year!

I gotta get the one with toothpaste in the center.

Of all the great chocolates…

See you next year! (Don’t you hate it when people say that?)

Again, Sorry/you’re welcome!

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Petsmart Edition

Have you been of the opinion lately that the human race is in a downward spiral of moral decay and abject stupidity? If yes, let me give you a little piece of free advice – Do not go to your local Petsmart.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no real problem with the store. They are selling products the consumer is willing to pay for. I suppose it’s the sort of consumer Petsmart tends to attract I find a little frightening.

Exhibit A
Since I am blessed to live in a neighborhood with plenty of land where dogs poo pretty much wherever they want without anyone complaining, I suppose I should be more sympathetic to city dwellers who are required to pick up their dog’s poo and dispose of it themselves. (That seems like a lot of maintenance to me.) Anyway, apparently carrying around an unattractive plastic bag whilst walking your pooch is the height of bad fashion. Thank goodness there are people actually getting paid to come up with products like this:

The Poo-poo purse


Angry, rebellious angst-filled teenage daughter refuse to walk the dog? Not if she has her very own Poo-Poo Purse!

Exhibit B
One of the things I’ve always wondered about is, aside from the in-store dog obedience classes or the pet grooming services, why would anyone want to take their dog to a store? Do you need your dog to help pick out products that will best suit his or her needs? Answer: Yes.

Meet Trixie-Girl:


When this post was in its early stages (while I was looking at stupid products for pets), I was hoping to do yet another delightful shopping with katdish post. But ever alert for possible blog fodder, I overheard a conversation that two women were having with a dog. That’s right. With. A. Dog.

Trixie-Girl was shopping with her “mom” and her “Aunt Susan” for a new outfit. Doesn’t she look thrilled? I wonder if “Mom” picked out that outfit special for the trip to the Petsmart. Trixie-Girl’s owner seemed genuinely distressed at the dog’s lack of interest in selecting a new outfit. Sort of a Stephen King’s Misery meets The Dog Whisperer vibe going on there. When I asked if I could take a picture of her dog, the owner (I kid you not) told the dog to SMILE. Alrighty then!

I would like to speak directly to the owner of Trixie-Girl for just a moment:

Trixie-Girl is lovely. She is a well mannered dog and I’m sure no one could pull off that pink dress with as much flair. But here’s the thing, she’s a DOG.

She doesn’t care about which outfit will look better on her. She is secretly wishing she were a cat so she could plot your demise without overwhelming feelings of doggy guilt.

Editor’s Note:
While it may seem that I am being a bit of a hypocrite because I have been known on occasion to dress Buddy Love in a festive outfit or two, it should be noted that my motivation behind doing so is completely different.


Besides, he likes it. He’s told me as much…

Instead of Dying (by Maureen Doallas)

I used to think poets were high brow types. People who would look down their noses at me with disdain. I don’t think that anymore. Getting to know Maureen Doallas and other gifted poets and writers through blogs and twitter has been much fun for me. Because much to my surprise and delight, they’re very down to earth and just a little on the crazy side. Which, in my book, is a very redeeming quality.

Here’s Maureen:

This is the time of year when some seriously, and many not, set about making resolutions, stating their intentions to do something, accomplish something, during the coming new year: perhaps learn a new language, volunteer at a local shelter, be kinder, try harder, make amends to someone.

This is a story that doesn’t need that kind of resolution. It’s about a beginning following an ending that failed to happen.

The story begins where he starts: by making fun of himself in front of people who go to a comedy club for drinks and maybe a good laugh, if he’s having a good night. Giving them all he’s got is just his way of getting the obvious out of the way.

What’s obvious he acquired in 2007, some place in Iraq we won’t ever be.

What’s obvious is his face, a tracery, a pattern of lines pieced together like a collage, the only kind of art his doctors could make when the U.S. Army convoy truck he was driving lumbered too near an unseen roadside bomb.

His face is a map of hope. It reflects what’s worth having the intention to do, which is to live, to give back and not up.

His burn scar covers most of his face and head. His ears are missing a few pieces. His left eye doesn’t open well because of scar tissue. He could be described as bald but for the few hairs that still grow in place. He gave up his left hand and forearm below the elbow. His body took a lot of fire.

Because the bomb happened, his body gave up a lot. What he didn’t give up was his self, which found a way to turn what might have been an ending into an awareness of what can be learned when a person finds and uses the strength to drive on.

The ending that we know happens over there never did in his case. Staff Sgt. Robert Henline didn’t die of wounds received in Operation Iraqi Freedom. There is no marker in any military cemetery bearing his name and rank and the year of his birth and death.

Instead of dying, Bobby Henline lived and began telling jokes.

He started during his months of recovery in the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio, Texas. He kept going through dozens of surgeries and many months more of physical therapy — the kind none of us can imagine taking for 15 minutes, let alone days at a stretch.

As Henline is quoted as saying, “So, of course, the first thing I do is usually get the pink elephant out of the room and make fun of the way I look. I’ll start off with a zombie joke. . . .”

Of course; haven’t you ever made fun of the way you looked? And gotten a laugh, too?

As Henline’s quick to add, “I always try to get that out of the way first, to let them know it’s OK to laugh at me.”

They do laugh. They laugh during open-mike night at San Antonio’s Rivercenter Comedy Club, where Henline goes as soon as Friday comes around. The club is the place an aspiring comic best starts out when, as Henline tells it, the only other position open to you is “a modeling job at the Halloween Super Store.”

The club is where laughs help heal invisible wounds whose pain is let out in the words that reverberate through a microphone. It’s different from Army gigs, no doubt, but it’s a place to practice a new kind of occupation. It’s a place for focusing on a new routine that offers a way to get past the result of an ending that never happened. It’s a place where we learn, even while we’re laughing, that a negative can be positive, too.

Henline, like the men I wrote about who create art from their uniforms, shows us that stuff happens and life goes on, that hope and strength and something ineffable can be brought from the inside out and make a difference.

The difference Henline is making doesn’t take a New Year’s resolution. Or need one.
_____________________________________

Purple Heart recipient Robert Henline, age 38, is married and has three children.

This post is inspired by visits to Henline’s MySpace Page and his blog, which is accessible there. You will find many pictures of Henline on that MySpace page.

Henline is the subject of numerous profiles, including a series of interviews with NPR, as well as OperationHomeFrontOnline, Texas Public Radio, and MySA Military.

A moving YouTube presentation, also available on Henline’s MySpace page, is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YugOhSOz4b4

***

To read more from Maureen, please visit her at Writing Without Paper and follow her on twitter at @Doallas.

An Open Letter


I just finished the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s about overcoming and avoiding the roadblocks we face in any creative endeavor.

Inspired by what I read in this book, I posted an open letter over at Brian C. Russell’s place today. You should check it out. It just might have been written to you.

The World of Possibility (by Billy Coffey)


The book is called 101 Greatest Magic Secrets Exposed, authored by a Mr. Herbert L. Becker. A Christmas gift by a distant relative that was given with the best of intentions yet still missed the mark by quite a wide margin.

It sits here on the table beside me, shiny and new, several of its pages still sticking together from lack of handling. If I turn the book over I can still see a section of wrapping paper, evidence that I got only as far as taking at look at the cover before thanking the giver for the thoughtful gift and setting it aside. To him (or her), it was the perfect present. I like books, and I like magic.

But I’m not reading it. No way.

I say I like magic, but that’s not quite the correct word. I love magic. Can’t do it of course, unless you count marveling a bunch of preschoolers with the old Hide Something Behind Your Back trick. But I love to see it done. Professionally or otherwise.

It doesn’t have to be anything so extravagant as to involve tigers or disappearing airplanes. In fact, the smaller the magic the more it appeals to me. I love the agility, the misdirection. I love the showmanship. Yes, it’s all just a trick. All an elaborate sham of skillful legerdemain. I know this going in. And it matters not.

All that matters to me is that I remain ignorant of the means by which that magic is done. I don’t want to know those secrets of where the rabbit is before it’s pulled out of the hat or how the buxom brunette is put together after being sawn into. Knowing would rob me of my wonder. And that’s exactly what magic is all about.

Wonder.

I’ve spent much of my life searching for answers to the questions that preyed on my mind. Big questions. Important ones. Like how can I find love and why does everyone have to hurt and why God sometimes just doesn’t seem to care and what does it all mean anyway. I talked to giants of both faith and the mind, read countless books, prayed and meditated. And do you know what I got out of that?

Not much.

I did acquire a head full of knowledge and theories, many of which contradicted either one another or reality. But that was okay at the time, because I believed I had much more than when I began. I had facts. And when it came to understanding this world and the life we live in it, facts seemed to be the most important things I could possess.

Unfortunately, those facts didn’t carry me far. They were a weighty spade to plunge into the hardpan of my life, cracking the surface of my doubts and questions to water that arid ground with the elixir of truth.

But those questions did not yield. The head of the spade held true, but the handle, that part where flesh met iron, could not hold.

I had learned that tears were drops of salty fluid secreted by the lacrimal gland to lubricate the eyeball, but that did little to explain why I shed so many of them. That death was to stop living. I learned, too, that a rainbow was formed by the refraction, reflection, and dispersion of light in rain or fog. Those were the facts. But those facts did little to explain why I shed so many tears and why people had to die. And somehow knowing the facts behind a rainbow made it less beautiful to me, as if it were more of a process and less of a miracle.

Sometimes ignorance really is bliss, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We don’t have to know everything. Our task is the search for truth, yes. But the truth is that there are some things we are simply not supposed to understand. We’re not supposed to know everything. And because of that there is beauty to our unanswered questions and a sweet mystery to our doubts.

There is magic in this world. I’m convinced of it. It flows not from the hands of a skillful conjurer, but from us. From our very being. We are surrounded by every day by enchantment so thick we almost must brush it from our faces.

I won’t return this book. It will remain unopened but in a predominant place here on my table. It will be a reminder that knowing with the head is much different than knowing with the heart.

And that given the choice, I will take possibility over fact any day.

***

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

The Obligatory New Year’s Resolutions Post

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. Probably because most of my lofty goals in January serve as sad reminders of abject failure come February or March. I do have a few goals for 2010, but I won’t bore you with them. (I’ve got all year to bore you with them.)

I will, however share a quote that I found several years ago. It’s more of an attitude adjustment than a goal. I liked this little quote (Author unknown) so much I decided to write it on my laundry room wall — a place I find myself often in need of an attitude adjustment:

“Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more, hate less, love more…And all good things will be yours.”

And as an added bonus, I’ll share a poem I first read in a therapist’s office many years ago. It’s helped me through some tough times, and I think it’s appropriate as we say goodbye to 2009:

Comes the Dawn by Veronica Shorffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to understand that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head held high and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.

After a while you learn to build your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,

and futures have a way of falling down in midflight.

After a while you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you can really endure,
That you really are strong

And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn … and you learn

With every goodbye you learn.

Happy New Year, y’all! I’m looking forward to it and I hope you’ll come along for the adventure. Have a blessed Sunday.

Marking the White (repost)

(Originally posted 6/11/09)
Excerpt from Duma Key by Stephen King:

How to Draw a Picture (I)

Start with a blank surface. It doesn’t have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can’t remember.

How do we remember to remember? That’s a question I’ve asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have the mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that remakes the world is heroic, or so I’ve come to believe.

I have on occasion referred to myself as an artist. Reluctantly so if I’m being honest – and I usually am. (Honest, that is.) I am not an artist in the classic sense. I seldom create something from nothing. Rather I find myself reproducing something I’ve seen before and taking it one or two steps further, or subtracting something. The term I’m most comfortable with is painter. Simple, descriptive, accurate.

I have always been interested in pursuits I would later learn are in the field of Creative Arts. Music, literature, painting, creating things with my hands. Some might refer to the latter as Arts and Crafts. But I would not necessarily fit some of the things I have made into that category. (Perhaps I’ll share more of that on another post.)

What has caught me completely off guard is my desire to write.

I have always loved to sing, but it was not until I was inspired by the company of talented vocalists and musicians that I considered creating music – specifically creating music for the express purpose of praising God – as an art form. What was once a very special friendship with music has now become a passion.

So, it seems, it is with writing. The first blog I ever read was my friend and pastor Jeff Hogan’s blog, Convergence. He has a gift for both the spoken and written word. He set the bar fairly high.

Next, there was Stuff Christians Like . After reading two posts, I was absolutely hooked. You had me at Rob Bell, Jon. You had me at Rob Bell. I think that’s when the writer in me began to stir.

I am in unfamiliar territory here, but because many of my readers and fellow bloggers are such incredibly talented writers and storytellers, they have given me the courage to get out of my comfort zone. Funny, irreverent, sarcastic, downright ridiculous – that’s my A-game. And while I have always tried to write from the heart, I want you to know that there will be times here when I will write from parts of my heart that you are not accustomed to seeing.

Hope that’s okay with you.

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