Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pavlik over Taylor

Leave it to boxing to get me writing again. Kelly Pavlik was almost out on his feet in the second round. He took fifteen flush punches as Taylor brutally knocked the challenger down; if I were the refereee, I would have stopped the fight. However, this referee let the action go into the deepest, darkest dungeons of danger that only boxing will sanction; it's been a long time since I've seen a fighter battered that badly, only to rise again for a TKO win five rounds later. Pavlik fought a truly great fight, and deserves every ounce of every belt he won tonight from Jermain Taylor. On display were the best human qualities in boxing: determination, strength, endurance, and especially courage. Boxing ignores some of humanity's worst vices to display those virtues. Cruelty, pride, and even a bit of anger exchange between the gloves and skin. Both fighters struck hard and often; both were down, but only one got up. Congratulations to Kelly Pavlik on a great performance.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I can’t say for sure how I feel about the motives of my tormenters. Their thoughts don’t exist for me, and their memories are always shorter about pain than mine. Many would consider me weak for exposing my uncertainty and doubt about which path is the straight and narrow through Void, and which path leads me through the meandering experiences the rest of you enjoy on your way through this Land of Nod, East of Eden. I know that I am not alone in suffering. Many have it worse than I could ever piece together with my nightmares. The rest of you have each other, and the society that honestly leaves you with more than an empty hand, a stack of verses, and a set of claws that always come out at night.

I don’t know if I’m a child of God, or just a colony of thoughts hiding in a hole desperate to be known, desperate for my punishment to bear meaning aside from my pain, desperate to be peaceful, to be pure of heart, to be merciful, to be hungry for righteousness, to be meek, to mourn, and to be poor in spirit. In pursuit of these ideas, I bear witness to everyone who will listen. Am I a spaz with a penchant for fisticuffs, or a child of God? I'm alone in this hole, that's how I know it's not the right place to be: Heaven has more residents than me alone. No matter how hard I try, what I do, what I say, or how I feel, I will always know solitude means living not only away from the rest of you; solitude means I live away from God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

In high school, I was voted biggest spaz and most likely to start a fight. I didn’t go to the senior banquet which distributed these awards. When I was in the mental institution, the ward elected me president of the patients: a patient who coordinates the snack pantry with the orderlies and other small tasks. It’s a tiny little honor, but it moved me. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I belonged. I wasn’t out there for someone’s amusement as I got angry. I became comfortable with living as a joke in high school. In there, like most social situations, I was awkward. I rose above it by making myself into a big, flamboyant character who stood out: black leather gloves I never removed in public, a black leather jacket, a colored shirt, and asymmetrical paisley neckties. I liked my look. I became the role, I liked it so much. Then, unlike now, infamy comforted me. I knew as long as someone was laughing at my expense, or everyone who thought me suitable to insult in absentia at the senior banquet, I had a life away from the caged lion I quickly adopted to the exclusion of the rest of me. I still live with a hole in me. In private, I call it “The Old Wound,” a term I use in public to mean my damaged right ankle. The Old Wound never healed.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

I’ve seen God, if only his hands. I’ve also seen Prester Bane, who is without a face. I try to be consistent in the path of conditions that seek to sour my heart. I’m pure in my eyes. They are intended to see, but recently seem unable to love. When I observe love in the trials of my life, I see people who share more in a glance than I share in fifteen blog entries. Nothing gets past me, but I can’t offer an answer for my favorite questions. I don’t know why I’m here; I know only what everyone else will show me. I can see God in his word and in hands whose example I seek to follow, but my affections remain aloof from me. Unfortunately, the more I temper my anger with scripture, common love falls away from me. I’m left with my thoughts and a quest for mercy in the face of uncommon love: the kind of love that follows around the thirsty with a bucket of water while doubting salvation out of sheer loneliness. Adam gave a rib long before nakedness meant sex.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Mercy is a complicated subject to me. I see it largely as the other side of hope. Sometimes, all I want is for everyone else to see how much my life hurts. Other times, I just want peace. If hope carries those who believe in it, they will continue. Mercy-carriers who believe in a fashion similar to me look to help those in need around them; effort is welcome, determination is required, but continuance lays in the familiar hands of a good friend, family, and the Lord. We’re not all made to continue. Some of us hurt for a reason, and deserve mercy.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Hunger and thirst work on a very corporeal level to teach us either pain or other essential parts of life. My thoughts don’t work well, so in the end, I usually must use my body to praise the Lord. I rarely do this through fasting; my way is exhaustion. If I pace long enough into the night, I fill with first breath, then thoughts, then speech, then the kind of fatigue I usually need for sleep. I also bless myself with pain. Only rarely do I use corporal mortification. My favorite pain is the sweet hurt of resting an exhausted set of knees: That feeling when I don’t want to stand up after a good pace blinds me of my problems for the entrance of slumber usually with a prayer to return home. I find myself back with Prester Bane in the morning, and my patient quest for exhaustion.