Saturday, November 21, 2009

Broken and Beaten or the New Normal

“I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time.”--John Coffey in THE GREEN MILE

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

I can’t put into words how I have been feeling the past several weeks and for a lover of words such as myself that is a difficult thing. My emotions have crossed the spectrum from moments of great joy and hope to moments of great sadness and sorrow where I have felt completely and utterly alone. In those dark times, I know that what I feel is only temporary and that it is caused not necessarily because of who I am, but because of the sin in the world in which we live. I know that I am not alone. I have a great support network of friends and family. Yet, those negative feelings are there. I give it up to Jesus and try not to let the darkness steal the joy and hope that surrounds us all if we will only see it. I know that I am not the only person to feel what I feel and that helps to a small degree. I remind myself of friends who have gone through and are going through more difficulties than I. I remind myself that I live in America and despite my poverty (by American standards) I am rich and live a blessed life. I remember that joy is all around and latch on to hope. But even with this knowledge and as strong as my faith is, I am human. I am not infallible. There are times that the darkness slips in and I am overwhelmed.

I’m not exactly where I would like to be in life. The temp job that I took after leaving teaching has turned into a permanent temporary position of sorts with no benefits and no security. I was once an itinerant substitute teacher. Now I’ve become the poster figure for the long-suffering temps of the world. No major works I’ve written have ever been published and I’ve yet to be involved in a motion picture where I get paid for my work. In matters of the heart, well, so far things haven’t turned around for me there either.

Due to my Dad’s rather recent death, I now have a whole series of obligations and duties that I wasn’t expecting. I’ve been doing my best to fulfill those, and though I am my father’s son, I am not my Dad. There are some who have a difficult time realizing and accepting that.

I have friends and acquaintances who because of a recent death or an illness or something are all hurting just as much if not more than I. Most of my closest friends live far away and though we keep in touch and see each other from time to time, I miss them. I want to see them, but can’t. Perhaps it’s because right now I’m so close to sorrow and sadness, but I’ve been noticing a lot more stories of great tragedy in the news, e.g. a young local girl who died from the Mexican swine flu or the little child who was killed after her mother sold her into prostitution and slavery.

As John Coffey said, “I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time.” I hear and feel much of that pain. Sometimes, I just try to block it. Then I realize that is probably the worst thing I can do because I don’t want to just exist. I want to live. So, I open myself up and though there are fantastic moments of joy and a few rare moments of happiness, there is also great pain, sorrow, and sadness and with those comes the threat of the darkness.

Yet, though the darkness threatens, it never conquers. There are times that it feels like it is overwhelming, yet it never completely overwhelms. There is always, always, always a glimmer; a flicker that shines out. In that flicker is hope, and in hope there is peace and joy and through them I find strength.

We live in a crazy, mixed-up, topsy-turvy world. Yet, there is the imprint of the divine still here. The Creation has been forever altered by sin, yet it doesn’t forget. It remembers. We remember. We know that though this is the way things are, it’s not the way things are supposed to be and that it doesn’t mean things have to always be this way.

Therefore, though I’m so very far from where I would like to be, I will not give up. I will trudge forth and continue fighting. The darkness will threaten to overwhelm and sometimes succeed, but I will not let it defeat me. I might be a beaten, broken, and wounded warrior, but I am a still a knight and there is always hope. It took almost half a century, but Charlie Brown eventually hit a homerun. Someday I will, too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Paul Edgecomb: On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That is was my job? My job?
John Coffey: You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done. I know you hurtin' and worryin', I can feel it on you, but you oughta quit on it now. Because I want it over and done. I do. I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?
Paul Edgecomb: Yes, John. I think I can.

I've never killed anyone, but I can relate to both John Coffey and Paul Edgecomb.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love." I Cor. 13:13a.

This evening I went to a visitation service for one of my former teachers, a man who had a huge influence upon me; he cast me in my first play ever. My Dad died just over a month ago and, as I expected, as I try to adjust to life without him around, the real trial begins. I have good friend who's father had a heart attack about a week ago and my friend has spent over week watching his father repeatedly being tortured unproductively as medical officials attempt to force his father to begin breathing on his own. There's a lot of pain and suffering in this world. We are all in a crucible.

Yet, despite the storms and fires of testing, hope remains. As a younger person, hope was something I knew in my heart of hearts was good, but I really had no understanding or idea what it was or why it was good. I remember watching THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION for the first time and hearing the line, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." When I heard that I agreed with it and knew it was true, but I didn't really know why because I really didn't know what hope is. I have a much better understanding now.

This world is a mean and messed-up place. There's pain, sorrow, and suffering all around. But that's not all there is. There is love. There is joy. There is peace. And there is hope. Even amidst the fires of testing in the crucible, hope remains.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Slow and Steady or the Actor Prepares

Three months ago I was having dinner with my Grandma. It was a few weeks after she had seen one of my performances in one of the musicals I was in this summer. We were talking about the show she had seen, what she enjoyed, and what she thought of my performance. During this conversation my Grandma made the comment, “You should look into that Christian theme park in Florida. I saw an ad on tv and they were looking for actors a couple months ago. You’re really good.”

This comment might not seem like much but coming from my Grandma to me, this comment was huge. I’ve known since I was in the first grade that I wanted to be an actor. That’s when I was cast in my first show. Since that time I’ve struggled with my desires and the gifts I have, and tempering those with other conflicting interests I have, as well with trying to remain a “productive” member of society. It’s not easy. It’s been a long journey for me and though I’ve taken a few detours, I have no regrets. I know who I am and though I can’t see the specifics and things rarely turn out as I expect, I have a general direction of where I’m headed. To the standards of the world, it might not seem like much, but for me it is enough.

Along this journey there have been a great many people who have stood in the way. Most of these people are loving family members and friends who just can’t understand me or the path I’m following. I don’t exactly fit any patterns or stereotypes very well and this confuses them. Over time, most of these people have come around to an understanding or at least an acceptance of the path I’m on. Until that night at dinner, my Grandma was not one of those people. She knew about my desires to entertain, knew I was talented, knew acting, or writing and now directing, were something that provided me great joy and fulfillment. However, to her it didn’t seem to make any sense that a person would want to do those things as opposed to “living a normal life”.

That night at dinner I realized that my Grandma had finally come around. It took years, but after the umpteenth show she saw, I guess she finally realized that I had what it takes given the opportunity I might one day succeed at it, even according to the standards of the world. That meant the world to me.

I’m not exactly where I’m headed, but that’s okay. The tortoise beat the hare by being slow and steady and it took almost fifty years but Charlie Brown eventually did hit a homerun. I’m just going to keep plugging away and taking advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves. Until then, the actor prepares and the writer writes.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Prayers of the Saints

There is a weariness that affects one’s heart and soul that is more draining to oneself than any illness, unhealthy diet, or lack of sleep can cause. ‘Tis a weariness that sucks the marrow of life right from one’s bones without a person even recognizing it. Today I have felt that weariness.

The challenges that faced me were many. Burdens too heavy for one to bear. Expectations unable to live up to and meet. Matters of the heart gone wrong. Longings that never seem to be filled. Confrontations against injustice. Missing my Dad. All of this and more is what my morning contained and it was too much. There was a pain in my heart and soul that just wouldn’t stop aching and with each passing moment the aching intensified. Darkness threatened to sweep over me and I wrestled with the darkness to gain control.

Too much, too much, except for the prayers of the saints. They were with me today. The prayers of the saints lifted me. They carried me to safety.

I see dark clouds coming. I know there are many storms, tests, and challenges yet to face, but I can stand with a bit more confidence now because of the prayers of the saints.