Alternity

When I was twelve, thirteen maybe, I saw alternity.

Perhaps it is a dream,

a vision,

a peek into the future.

Whatever it is, it is vivid.

Reality vivid.

I am strong.

I am agile.

I am fearless.

I run fast through the city.

I leap fences, jump walls, climb buildings: bounding from rooftop to rooftop, almost flying.

No one is chasing me.

I run alone.

It is imperative that I run.

Ahead, a large concrete wall.

I jump, my hands reach the top, legs swing up and around, half a spin and I am over the wall; then Splash!

I land solid in a puddle. Water spraying everywhere.

I sprint.

Forward.

Movement everywhere.

Fellow runners surround me. I don’t know where they come from, but they are here, jumping the wall, splashing the puddle, sprinting away.

We move.

Cheetahs, ghosts of motion, we move.

A Wolf-pack, a blur speeding through the streets, we move.

The Joy of running, jumping, practically flying

over walls and fences, leaping up steps, jumping rooftops.

Immaculate movement for the joy of movement.

Simple action for the love of action.

Pure speed for the thrill of speed.

Joy unbounded.

Joy surrounded.

Joy uncounted.

He is there.

Leading the way.

I am not sure who he is. Just the leader.

We follow him.

Sometimes he leads the way. Sometimes I lead the way. Sometimes others lead the way. Sometimes I am alone. Yet even when I am alone, he is near.

We run day and night, never stopping, never resting, never pausing.

Constantly running.

Then it ends.

He disappears.

Everyone walks.

Wanders.

Seeks direction.

There is no direction.

Halt.

Wait.

Rest.

Others wander close by.

Someone knows where he is.

I hear a shout, “Follow me!” Many go.

I hear it again, “Follow me!” Some go.

Again, “Follow me!” A few more go.

Others make a different choice. I am one of them. I chose my own direction.

No direction.

I just run.

Alone.

I run.

over fences I jump,

over walls I leap,

up steps I bound,

across rooftops I fly,

movement for the desire of movement,

action for the avarice of action,

speed for the lust of speed,

pushing hard against the wind, feeling—almost—complete.

I am awake, in the ‘real world’ of my bed, looking at the alarm clock. I have five minutes before it rings.

Occasionally, randomly, unpredictably, I had this dream, this vision, this glance into another reality, this peek into alternity. Eventually, I began to run. It was good exercise. I found a parkour squad. Self-fulfilling prophecy? Inner desire becoming reality? I did not think much about it, I just ran. The squad taught me; I learned quickly. Soon I ran, jumped, leaped, flew, over fences, up walls, across steps, rooftop to rooftop, like a wild animal. I grew. My youthful body grew strong, muscles matured into rope, bones tempered into steel, senses sharpened, reflexes quickened. Years of training. Years of running. Years of pushing, pushing hard.

I could do it! I did do it! I would not be stopped!

I was Batman, I was Spiderman, I was Superman.

I run: Therefore I Am!

A friend of mine. A ‘couch-potato’ nerd. He knew computers. He knew computer games. He knew technology. He could run, jump, leap, fly, over the barriers of technology.

He was invincible playing his game.

I was invincible playing mine.

One day I told him about my dream. He told me about his. It was the same, except he dreamed technology while I dreamed parkour. We had turned our dreams into our reality. We were alone in our dreams, alone in our reality.

And just as someone in my dream seemed to lead the way, there was a person in his dream that led the way. And just as my leader disappeared, so did his. And just as I did not bother to follow when called, neither did my friend. And just as I had chosen to go it alone, he had chosen to go it alone. We would do it our way. We would follow no one.

Love entered my life. Well, maybe it was lust. Eventually we married. Eventually there were children. Eventually we divorced. Nothing is permanent. Nothing is solid. Nothing remains the same. Entropy.

And then I had another dream,

or vision,

or peek into alternity.

I paddle my canoe in the creek near my house.

The canoe moves

quietly and swiftly through the water.

Overcome with Angst

I want to see more.

To do more.

To be more.

I paddle.

Then,

I see the world through another’s eyes.

I see the world as a beautiful creation.

I see the world as it is meant to be.

All is beautiful.

All is peaceful.

All works together toward the desired end.

But it is not my desired end.

It is another’s.

Someone I do not know.

I wake up five minutes before the alarm rings.

I pondered this dream, or vision, or peek into another reality. It was not another reality. It was the only reality. The world was beautiful. I decided to enjoy it. I started running again. I bought a canoe and began to paddle around the creek. I celebrated the beauty of the world with anyone who would enjoy it with me. Everything, if seen in the proper perspective, was beautiful.

Rich was beautiful.

Poor was beautiful.

Luxury was beautiful.

Squalor was beautiful.

Health was beautiful.

Sickness was beautiful.

The whole world was beautiful.

Everyone could be happy.

Everyone could be beautiful.

Everyone could have joy.

Everyone could decide to see the beauty and enjoy it.

Alternity returned.

This time I start in the creek, paddle downstream, enter the river.

This time the river is a flood.

This time

city streets fill with water rushing,

water urgently, horrendously speeding through the streets.

Everything not secured is washed away.

Moving water,

incredible power,

beautiful power.

I see beauty as water rips through buildings.

I see beauty as water cleans the streets.

I see beauty as water washes away the city.

Beauty is a Joy to behold!

This time from my canoe I watch the incredible.

This time I see the amazing.

This time I see people caught in the flood.

Trapped on rooftops.

Trapped in cars.

Trapped in fear.

The flood swallowing people and washing them away.

From my canoe I see the beauty of the flood.

I see beauty in the faces of people.

Their fear is beautiful.

Their screams

a sort of catastrophic music accompanying the roar of the water.

It is the beauty of death.

Suddenly there are others

in canoes and rowboats rushing downstream

carried by the raging flood. In our boats we talk

about the beauty of the flood.

We share the joy of the moment with each other.

We watch people in the city

cascading down streets

drowning

as we share how beautiful the world is.

Again I wake up five minutes before the alarm sounds.

I got dressed and went to work. Later, I told my friend, the technology couch-potato, about my dream. He, too, had dreamed a dream like that. And, like me, he did not know what to make of it.

Haunted by the dream, the vision, the peek into alternity, I worked harder. I ran more. I paddled more. I jumped, leaped, hopped, ran, climbed, sprinted for my self. I could do nothing for others. I did not know how. I knew how to save myself. Was that not the way of the world? You can only save yourself, you can’t save another, can you?

The peek into alternity came again.

In a vision.

In a dream.

In a canoe.

No paddle.

The current swift and strong.

The beauty of the water splashing on the rocks.

The beauty of the rainbows in the spray.

The beauty of the canoe as it splinters on the rocks.

The beauty of the red blood flowing from my head

turning the water a delicate pink.

The alarm is ringing. I shut it off.

I know that no matter what I do I cannot save myself.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

A Stone Circle Story

October 5th. Our son, Andrew, was born on this day. Unfortunately, he lived only 11 days. Perhaps I will tell that story sometime. Today I tell him a story.

Link to Stone Circle Picture

Aidan took a deep breath and stepped into the stone circle. His grandparents had told him about stone circles. It was his Aunt Bridget who had told him about this one. She had said some other things, too. At any rate, this would be an adventure.  He looked around and saw that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He walked around, touching the standing stones. They were, as most stones are, cool to the touch. And a bit rough, like heavy sandpaper. He made a final circle, touching each of the stones. Disappointed, he took off his backpack and sat down next to one of the stones. It cast enough of a shadow so that he did not have the hot sun beating down on him. He took a drink from his water bladder and then pulled out his lunch: a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, some cheese flavored tortilla chips and some apple slices.

He was rather disapointed. It would have been wonderful to experience the power of a stone circle. But not everyone got to do that. The peanut butter sandwich was quite tasty. And the apples were better than he had remembered. The crunch of the chips was louder and crispier than he had noticed before. Even his water tasted sharper, clearer than water usually tasted. He noticed that it seemed to get a bit darker. Clouds were forming. Low clouds that looked like rain. He could see that they were some distance away, but rolling in from all sides. And he could see them so very clearly. The air felt heavy and damp. This might be a very strong storm. Quickly finishing his lunch, he started to stand up. But he could not. His legs seemed to be asleep. They were not tingling. They did not feel funny. He just could not move them.

Rain splashed his face. He was quickly soaked. Except it wasn’t rain. He was floating in a lake. Looking around, he was quite close to shore. A short swim and he was standing on a mound of tiny shells. Some of the snail-like creatures that had made the shells began to climb onto his sneakers. He tried to flick them off without hurting them, but they seemed to adhere to the leather. A big wave splashed his sneakers and some of the snails washed off. So he stepped back into the water and the remainder of the snails quickly floated away. He stepped out into deeper water. He had enjoyed his swim and thought another good swim might be fun.

A large splash attracted his attention. Then he had a weird shock: the creature that made the splash was like nothing he had ever seen before. It looked like a pony with the head of a duck and the flippers of a dolphin. It was splashing and jumping and frolicking—if one can frolic in a lake. It seemed to be laughing. Aidan stared at it for an extra long minute.

The creature moved toward him. It seemed to be smiling; offering friendship. Then it began to splash the lake surface with its flippers, splashing him with water. Aidan suddenly realized that this creature was not a happy, friendly animal. It was terrified of him. That was not a smile, but a grimace. It was not frolicking, it was frightened.

He started to turn away from the creature, then thought better of that. So, he backed up, slowly. A quick glance and he saw that he could safely back up; no mounds of snails were behind him. As he backed onto the shore, the creature seemed to calm down. It began moving back toward the center of the lake.

As the creature was no longer facing him, he took a long look around. The lake was maybe a couple of miles wide. However it stretched from horizon to horizon. Across the lake he could see cliffs rising up above the lake and something green that extended beyond his sight. Behind him, rising up over a hundred feet, was a wall of rock. He could see something on top of the cliff, but he did not recognize it. The shore beneath the cliff was an expanse of sand, dried brownish seaweed, an occasional piece of driftwood and billions of tiny shells.

He noticed something odd in one place on the rock wall. Moving closer, he realized that it was a stair: someone had carved steps into the wall of rock. About halfway up the side of the cliff he noticed a rather large platform. Climbing the stairs took much less effort than he thought it would. At the top of the stairs was a large platform built of inlaid stone of various colors. The inlaid stone formed a rather beautiful pattern. Standing on the edge of the platform, he looked out at the lake.

While he could see the objects in front of him very clearly and in sharp focus, he had difficulty recognizing exactly what he was observing. His impression that there was a cliff on the other side was apparently correct. He could see no sign of any buildings, only what now appeared to be a vast forest. There was a disturbance on the surface of the lake, maybe two or three hundred yards out. When he finally understood what he was observing, he was astounded. It was a whole herd or flock of the creatures. Some were babies. Others were much bigger than the one that chased him out of the lake. These creatures really were frolicking. He could see that their movements were now much different.

Link to the original Picture

Turning his attention to the pattern of stones in the platform floor, he was surprised that he recognized the pattern. It was a very ancient design, familiar to him because his grandparents had a rug with the design hanging on the wall in their hallway. While he had always wanted to take the rug down, lay it on the floor and walk around the pattern, he never had. Today, with the pattern on the platform before him, he would walk the design.

As he took the last step he felt the floor give way. He was dropping through space and time, it would seem. He quickly lost consciousness.

He woke up in the stone circle, sitting up against the standing stone. The sun had moved and was now beating down on him. He could move his legs and so he stood up. That’s when he realized that he had been wet. The sun had dried the front of his shirt and jeans, but his back was still damp. And his sneakers were still wet. He must have slept through the rain.

A couple of steps and he felt something in his shoes. Sitting down, he took them off. In his shoes, stuck to his socks, were a few of the tiny shells from the lake shore!