I know I’m a day late, but Happy Hanukkah!
scribbles and sketches of dreams
There is a theorem in mathematics. It is not very high mathematics, but there is something very interesting about it. It is a problem in plane geometry. It is a problem that seems very obvious, but it is possible to prove that you cannot solve it in plane geometry. The only way you can solve it is by creating a point in the third dimension. From there on, the problem is solved almost immediately. I would say that with my socialist upbringing and my awareness of the war, I came to a point where I knew that without having a point beyond the dimensions of our world, there is no solution to anything on earth.
We regard the
sinking scow —
her lucky stars.
Now and ever,
diving they divine,
the dice urge casting
scry the skies.
Depths to the east and
debts to the West.
The greater lights fall…
as blackened orbs,
adorned with stripes,
Systole then diastole.
From the inward breath, Aleph, inspiration… to the first utterance, Bereshith, creation.
We take in so we may give.
We receive not for ourselves alone.
The greatest giver is always the most gifted.
For three hours, on a night a few weeks ago, I experienced a kind of hell. After a fit of panic and a barrage of thoughts on how to save myself from what was coming, I sank down on my bathroom floor to die.
I felt the life flow out of my body. The effects came in waves every few seconds. I knew that my wife would find my body in the morning. I laid my head down on my arm and cried out to Jesus for help. But no help would come. It was the worst case scenario. Not to simply die, but for everyone around me know that I had died as a fraud, as someone whose moral compass spun like a top. I died knowing just how much pain I was about to cause. Knowing that I would cause doubt and pain in the lives of everyone who loved me, from the oldest to the youngest. Knowing that it was too late. I had exhausted forgiveness and any chance I might have had for something better.
Torment began to pour over me. I suspected that I was in hell even though I could still see a distorted world around me. I was tormented spiritually, physically and mentally. There were beings that filled my mind and swarmed in front of my eyes. I think that calling them devils or demons conjure images in our minds that are insufficient. These creatures were utterly alien. The closest description I can imagine is of the seraphim in the Bible. Immensely powerful creatures flying about, intelligent beyond what we understand, covered in eyes and wings. Sometimes I don’t think we understand just how terrified we would be if we saw something like that with our physical eyes. But the seraphim are good. So there must be a loveliness to their appearance. In contrast, these creatures were like something beautiful but twisted. They were full of colors and intricate patterns, but every single angle was wrong. Every aspect of their beauty had been twisted. But I would have gladly looked at them for days if it had meant that I wouldn’t have to interact with them. The evil feelings, the utterly incomprehensible thoughts… every bit of them was repulsive to me being but I knew been sent here to be with them for an eternity. The torment increased. My body was so dehydrated that my tongue had begun sticking to the roof of my mouth and the back of my teeth. I would pull it away over and over again. A single drop of water was a picture of paradise, something I could not reach. My mouth would shudder and I’d bite down on my lower lip. My left hand lurched in a compulsive pattern. My thumb circled the tips of my fingers over and over.
If you had asked me, I would have had said that things couldn’t possibly get worse. The torment might have somehow been manageable if I had thought that there could have been moments of oblivion. I wanted to sleep so badly. I wanted just a moment of nothingness and then I believed my soul would ready to face it all again. I had alway depended on sleep to let go of things I couldn’t face every day. I realized that rest is often more for our minds than our bodies.
But things did get worse. I wasn’t dead and I wasn’t in hell. The creatures had a plan. They would drive me mad by morning. That was their purpose. I fought and fought and wasn’t sure how long I would be able to continue. When I went mad, what would happen? I was sure, from their delight, I would kill. I’d kill those around me, those I loved the most. Suicide came to mind. First, a gun, but I had none. Then, the balcony. In the midst of those thoughts, I sensed that these creatures would be as happy with suicide as they would be with madness. Running out of my apartment and getting far away was the next idea, but I stayed put.
I thought it likely, no matter what I did, that my life would end with a police officer putting a bullet in my head. That was no reassurance. There was no peace, no respite in this experience. I was experiencing something like hell in life and I wanted no part of it in death. The black nothingness of the atheist idea of death would have sounded good to some, but I wanted to live… but even when I hoped for it, I knew I wanted to live. I wanted to live as myself, in this life or the next. Not as a madman or a demon. My mouth was so dry. With my head tipped onto my shoulder, leaning against the side of the bathtub, convulsing and struggling I have no doubt that I was the image of a lunatic.
The assault continued, becoming more insidious. I was shown what was coming. Killing wasn’t enough. I would infect. These monsters would travel through my madness into our world and those hideous creatures would turn everyone into a mass of cannibalistic, lustful, angry flesh that would swell up and expand until it would pour over the edges of the universe. Malevolent symbols swept over me. Alien faces laughed and smirk with the implication that I had no idea how complex their trickery could be. Every time my teeth clacked I felt like I’d bite hard into my lower lip and that the simple act of self-injury would send me over the edge. But the absolute worst moments were the fractions of a second where the room seemed normal again. In those moments I envisioned that, once they won their battle with my sanity, they would send my normal self out talking and speaking as I would normally do, but utterly alien and treacherous with otherworldly intelligence. Nothing would be able to stop me.
You might ask, in these moments, was there repentance from the failures of my life? I had pleaded to God from the very beginning for his help. Past a certain point, however, I knew that I was in hell and that there was no chance for deliverance. I had made my choice, no matter how much I wanted to choose differently later. This was my destination.
But God is merciful.
It ended. The assault stopped. Everything came into focus. Suddenly I felt peace. I looked at myself in the mirror and realized for the first time in my life that there was real strength in me. Watching my family fall apart, I had always hated my weakness. And when I saw it in my father, it just reminded me that I was on the same part. But I had fought through that endless thing somehow by holding onto the love that was in me. I fought so hard to save Megan. I fought so hard to save her family that lived just down the street and would be the first affected by the madness. I fought for my family, my friends and the world with nothing but my spirit. There was no mind, no cleverness, no strategy to fight with. There was nothing except the spirit that God gave me. I thanked God with all my heart for the experience. I walked out into my living room, so thankful for what God had done. After a few more seconds I realized that I needed to tell my wife how much I loved her. As I slid into the bed beside her I saw (and felt) a vision of the bed covered in furs and loving, wise animals. A holy place like the bed of Adam and Eve. The simplest touch was velvet. I whispered that I loved her. I told her over and over how sorry I was. I told her how much I had fought to protect her. And then the teachings began. I was shown many things, but all of it pointed to the God of Abraham and to Jesus Christ who was crucified.
God showed me Grace.
Grace is the child of Love that was birthed at the cross, and Grace solves every problem known to man. In that moment, women became sisters to me. They became real people. I had learned so much about feminism on tumblr, and had really believed and accepted it. However, it didn’t help with the programming that had insidiously corrupted my way of thinking. In that moment, the ideas and experience that had lead to my continual battle with lust were swept away. Men and women, young and old, even those that we call deformed were so utterly beautiful and interesting.
I saw that Law (as a prohibition) becomes useless when Grace is fully realized. In that moment, the Spirit told me everything is permissible. And I looked across the possibilities of history and there was nothing even slightly evil or selfish that I could conceive of doing. None of it seemed even slightly interesting.
Nature was displayed before me. Leaves faceted, shining like a clear dark emeralds. The orange fruits and vegetables, the gorgeous reds… with iridescent purple as halo around it all. Displays popped up all over my vision. Data streamed by about every living thing. DNA spiraled in front of me and I understood that our glorified bodies will be more than spirit. I understood that, when Christ reigns, the earth will give forth its bounty with ease. That all our economic and political theories, and even large swaths of Christian traditional teaching, are products of corruption. Legislation is pointless in the face of truth fully realized. The strongest witness we can have is utterly loving relationships. That this is what everyone is seeking. We will have need of nothing. I understood that the tools are already here, just waiting for our redemption, for our minds to fill with true knowledge.
I pondered just what would be our concerns in that state of Grace. Understand that, in that moment, my very existence was worship. I laughed like I never have in my life, so hard and so fully that Megan had to shush me. I understood that our life’s purpose would be to create wonders that we cannot fully comprehend in this life.
At that moment the joy and the revelation was so immense. I felt more fortunate than anyone alive. It felt like I could see the Word of God that upholds creation itself. I understood that the worst aspect of sin was not the death at the end of our lives, but the death in life itself. To be in such a paradise of possibility, but unable to use it because of our corruption. And as a result, we hardly think about the wonder of God’s creation anymore. The worry is overwhelming in our lives. Worry that we deal with because of the natural world we are destroying and because of the money fixation driving its destruction.
I am not perfected. I still struggle with my old nature. But, in me, there is now a desire to fight like never before. I believe that there’s real evil. True Sin is madness. True sin is nothing more than the destruction of relationships because of selfishness. It’s the will to receive for yourself alone. It is something we do over and over in spite of the sanity of God’s Word. It lurks beneath the surface. It springs up to ruin us and the people we love. The madness that we face is the human condition. Even if it’s just getting angry at other drivers, even if it’s that our relationship with our family is a little awkward, we’ve got to fight it.
But most of all, I believe Christians need to seek a revelation of Grace. The Love that we can show to others when we fully understand Grace is inescapable. With your children especially, it will show you what does and doesn’t matter. It will give you patience when you are at your end. Because there is nothing worse than to show a child than that forgiveness is limited. You simply cannot blink when they come to you to tell you something you don’t want to hear. Love has to fill every moment. I had no problem confessing everything to Megan, because I knew that I loved her more than anything and that such love would bring forth forgiveness in her in the fullness of time. As a parent, if your child understands that… the dialogue will never close. Every relationship should have such acceptance.
Around and up,
in branches twining,
vine and leaf and
winding tendrils creep
to bowers where
her resting lashes lie.
slumbr’ing lovers sigh.
pink-tinged morning skies.
never wake these eyes.
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This work by William B Miller II is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.