Letters to my Son: Letter I

Dear Son,

Son, I’m writing this to you because I love you. I don’t know you yet, but I hope that when we meet, I will be a man you can happily call Dad.

But until we meet, there’s a lot that I have to do. I’m not your father yet. I’m a rotten man, a hypocrite, a rebel and a stubborn goat who will hear the truth preached to him all the day long and still not heed the words of wisdom. I’m unworthy in every way to be your father, and it frightens me that I might never become that man.

Or it would, if I did not have a better Father of my own. He’s not the man whose funny crooked teeth or thick hair I inherited, but He has been as much of and far more of a father than the one who conceived me.

To point, I want to be a good father to you. My father provided for me, but there’s quite a few lessons and points of guidance which he never gave to me, but which God graciously provided to me by His providence when I needed it, and even now He continues to lead me for His namesake – and I fully expect that when I see you, He will still be guiding us, me and you both. He is your Father too, and He knows you better than I ever will, for He made you with His hands, and breathed life into you in your mother’s womb.

I’m a writer, my son. That means that when God gives me good thoughts and words, I write them down. Right now, in my youth, it doesn’t seem like there’s much else that I’m good for, so it’s what I do whenever I’m not earning my wages. And that is one of the tough truths that we have to wrestle with under God. There are things we want to do, things we would want to spend all our days doing nothing but, and yet we cannot. Writing is not profitable. It is risky even to try to make a subsistence living as a writer, because unlike a standard 9 to 5 job, there’s no benefits package and no overtime pay. You live off of royalties, advances, and ad-revenue, depending on what you write. You have to practice for years just to get into the craft, and then once you’re in, you can never stop practicing.

And right now son, I’m afraid. I’m ashamed. I’m not brave enough to risk it all to get my dream career. I’m afraid of shaming myself in the eyes of those who love me by forsaking conventional labors for my writing. I’m afraid that I am just indulging laziness by wishing for this. I’m afraid that I would be acting in pride to gratify the desires of my flesh, and forsaking the God who has delivered me from my sins many and myriad. I’m ashamed already at the ungodly desires of my heart, the unrighteous intentions of my flesh, of my weakness in entertaining these traitorous thoughts.

Son, there will be a great many people in your life who will tell you to ‘pursue your dreams.’ They will tell you life is an open book, that the possibilities are limitless, that the world is your oyster.

They are lying to you. The world is not an oyster, it is a barren field. There is much possibility in it, but to extract from the bitter soil your dreams will require of you undying toil, remarkable luck, and toil again until your very bones wear out. To fulfill all your earthly desires by your own hands will consume you like a flame until you come to the end of your road and wonder what you gave up your life for.

Do not desire the things of this world. Even good and glorious things like fame, like doing something you love for a living, these things should not be your heart’s desire. Your desire must be in the Lord, or you will die unsatisfied. I know, because I chased these things and even baser desires for too long in my life, ignoring the appeals God made so gently upon my heart.

Please, my Son – do not be like me. I am not proud of my writing. I am good at it, and I know I was unarguably better at it than many of my peers in school. And there is some joy when I write well, a finely put together sentence, a good day which brought forth more words than usual. And if you become a writer like me, my son, by no means do I discourage you.

But if you are a writer, I want you to do one of two things. If you want to write because you want your name on book covers, because you enjoy it, because you’re good at it – don’t quit your day job. Secure your living first, and indulge your passion when the sun sets. Please, think hard before you give your life to art.

Did I say two things?

My son, no matter how much I want to give you that dream, of being able to do nothing but write for a living – I can’t offer it to you now. I don’t have that dream. I wonder if I even have the self-discipline to manage it if I wasn’t so hemmed in by shame.

God loves you. And if God wills it, it will happen. But when you pray to our Father, you cannot have doubt. You must know what you want, want it truly, want it for the right reasons (read: the glory of God’s Kingdom, the salvation of the unredeemed, and the deliverance of His people), and be faithful that God can do all things.

The Lord knows no doubt. He knows no fear, none of the vacillation that you see in this letter. He is not afraid of being shamed, He is not afraid for His reputation or his 401K or His marriage prospects. He is our bold and fearless King, who humbles all the wicked and proud of this world and heals the sick, feeds the hungry, and shelters the weary. It is our good and gracious God who liberated me from the lusts which consumed my whole being, our kind and merciful God who spared my grandparents from rapacious invaders and conveyed them safely to America, our holy and generous God who gave to me the woman who will be your mother, blessing me a million times in excess of that which I deserve – including by giving me you to rear and teach.

All the gifts you will enjoy, from your food, to your shelter, to your parents (hi there) to the nature present as it may be, to every single talent and ability of your body and mind – all these come from God, and they are purposed for His glory – that all should hear His Word, call upon His name, and be rescued from their evil. As our God smites the wicked so He also redeems them, saving awful sinners like me, who did only evil in His sight with no regard for good.

Our God – and I hope your God – is a delightful savior, who makes my heart sing with joy as I write this very line. For I know that a day will come when these worries will trouble me no more, when I will finally find rest when all I have known is toil. I love my God because He is good, because He first loved me when I was unlovable, and never expected a single thing in return but that I would believe in Him and look to Him as Father. And even these things are gifts from Him, to be given back to Him with loving shouts of praise.

I love you, son. I will write to you again soon. Please take to heart all that I have said, and treasure the wisdom I struggle to pass on to you.

May the peace of God be with you, offspring of mine.

Sincerely,

Dad.

Le Tome of Bread – Le Origine

Pierre, Le Tome of Bread – the First Bake

Foreword: this story is best read aloud in an exaggerated French accent. It just is.

Pierre wasn’t, and then he was. In the musty darkness of the bakery, Pierre knew nothing, though he held many words within his pages. And then, suddenly, he knew – not quite everything – but he knew a lot more then he did before.
Mostly about bread.
But the precise origins of how Pierre came to be are not a subject for a storyteller such as I – that is a topic for a wizard, or perhaps a bookbinder to tackle. I can only speak of Pierre’s deeds, not his birth.
But I know that when Pierre came to be, he was in a bit of a shock for a while.
He was rather passive with his fate. First the baker who owned him was baffled, then terrified, and quickly accused his wife of being a witch, which was not quite true, but suffice it to say, having exposed her identity on accident, he was not bound long for this world. So Pierre changed hands after being left on the shelf of a friend’s house the day before his bakeshop home exploded in a ball of green fire, and demons rampaged through the city for several weeks as the now-moderately-infamous lich Naghali of Borkindor summoned moving demons to help relocate her lair from the sewers of the sleepy small town to a more scenic location in a cliff city perched over the Bottomless Pit of Pitiness. There was some confusion in the whole affair, and while no one was seriously hurt (except for Naghali’s unwitting husband, who was incidentally evaporated in her transformation except for his head which is even now kept in a jar), there was considerable confusion and mistaken property destruction due to unclear instructions to the demons on where exactly she wanted the black dragon yearlings kenneled.

In that time Pierre thought much about the contents of his pages, wondering what meaning these numbers and proportions had and these descriptions of sights, smells and tastes which before he never had known (not having a nose, or eyes, or tongue was something of an impediment to the newborn book.)
Until one day he was left on the counter while his new owner baked a loaf of bread to celebrate the defeat of the demonic invasion – and as he read out the recipe in Pierre’s pages, that old, leather bound book finally understood his purpose, and cried out in revelation, “No monsieur! That recipe is TERRIBLE! Use the one with the almonds! I promise you, you shall live forever!”
Unfortunately, his owner thought the demons were returning in book form, clutched his chest in agony, and died on the spot of a massive heart attack.
After a brief investigation by the city watch, during which Pierre continually cried out for someone to open his pages and finish the bread, the house was declared haunted, condemned, and scheduled for demolition. Just as the priest was blessing the demolition crews to enter the house and smash it down with hammers, an alchemist by the name of Gormiron, who had lost his house in the Great Moving Siege, ran in the door, sat in the hall, and declared he had squatting rights.
Frankly glad to be rid of the accident-prone alchemist (more on his reputation later), the city did not object, and Gormiron was given possession of the ‘haunted’ house. However, even now having a house with literally zero rent, Gormiron still struggled with a truly astronomical debt from his numerous failed experiments, and it seemed like they would throw him in the can, when he discovered he was not the only tenant of this dilapidated, moldy city cottage….

 

The Flock

They look up to you,

Eyes brightly blinking,

Feathers ruffled and wings flapping,

Their little minds flitting-

A moment there, and a moment gone.

 

Small, darting, a blink of thought,

A twitch of sight, attention brought,

They’re not bright,

Incapable of flight –

Yet adoring all the same.

 

How eagerly from your hand they’ll eat,

Content to have the crumb of crust,

Overjoyed at a spatter of meal,

They hop over your toes,

About your legs circling and squawking.

 

What love and affection,

How simple and untroubled –

No creased forehead,

No mistrusting glares,

But the soft, tone-deaf cluck

Of contentment,

Harmony amateur.

 


 

A not particularly good poem I feel as though I practically vomited up. I couldn’t help it really.

I was just out feeding my chickens, and I suppose it’s a commonplace enough sight – but there’s something charmingly simple in the way they swarm over you, squawking and clucking and milling around your feet, staring up at your hand as they wait for grain to fall from your fingers with an eagerness comparable even to a Labrador. Sure, a cynic will be quick to point out, “They only love you for the food you give – you’re just a walking meal.”

True enough, but are we any better? How well can we trust the affection of those around us? Any cynic can, with sufficiently logical-sounding arguments, disassemble the whole of human relations into a series of trust-based transactions built on the necessity of cooperation for survival. In many ways your garden-variety corporation differs little from a flock of animals – to the cynic, both are merely a band of individuals who shelter together for their own individual well-being. If things get tough for other members, the only justification to helping them out is that it must benefit the self in some way. This is the extent of flesh relations, what the flesh and cerebellum alone can rationalize.

We are not good to one another because we are all human. If humanity were all we had to rely on – I can only point to the decadence of Rome, the savagery of Gaul, the depravity of the Levant, the myopic slave-mongering of the West African kingdoms, the bureaucratic tyranny of Imperial China, the callous culling present throughout every epoch of the Russian civilization, our own American history with slavery – and while some might cry that Man has often justified his actions with God’s own Book, allow me to highlight the operative clause:

Man has justified his actions.

It is when Man desires to justify himself that he leads himself into error, and abandons himself to his evil as thoroughly as the ignorant pagan.

This essay must be continued another time, sadly. But allow me to end on a message of hope, not despair.

Though Man is adrift in a sea of our own wretchedness, evil from head to toe, whether it be our hands or our muttering hearts which drip with blood, we have a savior. We have One who is better than us, One who, though receiving only hatred and contempt from His people, chose to love us past the point of death. He asks little of us, compared to what He has already given us in our lives here on Earth, even before we believe on His name. He loves us with a courage and a compassion palely reflected in the broken body of the mother who shields her child from bullets with her body; in the beating heart of the volunteer who for his small republic goes to battle against the pitiless foe, though he knows he will not return home; in the eyes of the king who wields the power to take life and liberty – and seeing a guilty man before him, broken and pleading for his life even as he admits his wretchedness – spares his life.

From God comes a love that neither you nor I will experience whilst trapped in our flesh. Only when freed by the Spirit will we taste of it, and only in the final sanctification within the halls of the New Jerusalem will we truly feast.

So, do not treat your fellows cynically. Do not mistrust their love or suspect them of manipulation. That is not for you to know. But merely imitate Your Lord, and love them ever more, and love Your Lord even moreso, with all your heart, body and soul. Upon these commands is founded the whole of His Law.

I Should Mention This….

I hate writing essays.

I’m good at them (or so I believe). And to an extent, sometimes they’re even fun.

That is, until I realize that writing like the way I’d like to talk is a very good way to devolve into a confusing mess of bizarrely punctuated run-on sentences.

Then it comes to the part I hate – writing in a way that’s meant to be readable.

Call me an elitist, but I don’t like the writing style which pervades most blogs – simple to the point of being a bullet-point checklist minus the dots, as conversational as a PowerPoint, and by my pompous wordiness do I hate 5 Steps to literally anything. What is with the internet and making everything a 5 Step process?

So, I guess I don’t really hate writing essays. I’m not fond of hearing the sound of my own voice, even on a screen, wary of conceit as the past few days have led me to be (more on that in another post, coming soon), but at heart I do like composing speeches.

I just don’t like making them readable.

Truth be told, I just hate lists.