Beauty is a word with impact. I mean…you say ‘beauty’ and I bet something different pops into the heads of those around you. A g¡rlfriend, a celebrity, a work of art, a flower. Or maybe they think of dat¡ng a celebrity and giving her (him) a flower in an art museum. I don’t know. Because it’s not just something universal in the sense that we see it the same way. Then again, maybe there isn’t really anything that produces the same train of thought in everyone’s mind, but a lot of things bring up similar concepts in our heads. Not beauty, though. It’s vastly different for everyone. Except… (I think) except for creation. I’ve been seeing the beauty in things a lot lately, but where are the most beautiful? The works of God’s hands. And it’s so far out of our league too. We paint a picture of a sunset over a lake with mountains and a guy in a boat fishing. God’s on the other side of that sunset (which he created) and he formed each crevice of those mountains. He built and constructed them, something which, if even attempted, would take us like a bajillion years…I jest…maybe not a bajillion. But a heck of a lot longer than a day. And he was the one who poured out that water, right there, because he knew that lake would fit perfectly. He created hundreds of species that live and breathe and are sustained in water and put some of them in the lake, maybe even just for that one guy. Because God created him too, and he cares like mad for him. Cares enough to give the guy the right amount of mind power to think of a boat and to think of getting a stick and a line together and to think of baiting the hook so the fish won’t know and to think to go out on that lake…and…to be able to recognize the vast beauty laid before him.

We call ourselves ‘creators’ a lot, especially in the art world. Culinary arts? Look what this guy ‘created’ from scratch. Yeah, nice arangement of already created things, but it wasn’t really scratch. Scratch is what God formed everything from. And I think it’s funny, too, cause people always talk about how God spoke everything into existence. Where does it say that? I mean…he spoke some things sure, but he made others. Created, rather. He created the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, and every living thing. I don’t know the logistics of it all, but a lot of places say that God spoke it, “And it was so.” And then they go on either to say God created it or they leave it at that. Of course, I’m not a creation expert, so I don’t really know what that means…but think about the act of creating. It’s not anything we can do, only God can make things from scratch. But think…you gotta have an idea for something right? But it’s not really an idea because how did the idea get there? We see things now, here on Earth, and get ideas of what to do with them. But if those things weren’t there, we wouldn’t have the idea…follow? So even before creating anything, we get stuck cause we can’t create something unless it already exists. And then we wouldn’t really be creating it. But then there’s the whole act of creating, and I don’t think this is it, but all I can imagine is like purple lightning coming out of God’s hands and ‘poof’, there’s an antelope, or ‘poof’ there’s an island, or ‘poof’ there’s Bill Cosby. Of course, I think it’s way awesome that it all comes back to God being so much cooler than us (Is. 55:8-9). Ooh and I just read below that (vs. 10,11) about God’s words accomplishing things for him. “11…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Wow. How cool is that? So maybe he did speak everything into existence and his words did the creating. I’m not too sure I want to think about all that right now. Let’s chew on that and come back together someday with our thoughts, sound good? Anyways, Deut. 29:29, we’ll never know everything. But isn’t that what inspires awe in us? Where’s awe without mystery? The two go hand in hand. Look at any magic trick. Why don’t the magicians give away the secret? Cause then you know how it’s done. Then it’s just a matter of watching to see if the magician messes up or reveals his secret by acc¡dent. No more, “Holy schneikes! How’d you do that?!” or no more gasps from little children while they wonder if magic is real. But that’s just the thing: I think magic is real. It’s magic how God made everything (forgive me if I sound sacreligious 🙂 ), and that’s why we can’t know. Anything is magic   until we break it down and cease to wonder. Imagine if we never looked under the hood of a car…just leave it to the mechanics. If we didn’t know, at least slightly, how it works, the mechanics would become our magicians, working their magic in the back rooms where we can’t go because of ‘insurance purposes’.

So to bring it all together, the magic of beauty, created by God’s hand, gives life and wonder and awe and a sacred delight that can only be known by those in a glorious dance with their Creator. I asked someone what one of the deepest desires or longings of their heart was, and thought about my answer to the question. It took a while, but I found out that I desire mysterious wonder. That’s the way I’d put it. I want to laugh and cry and gaze at a sunset and not wonder “How?”, but simply wonder. Wonder at the mystery of a sunset, the magic of creation, and the guiding, sustaining, redeeming, renewing, abolutely glorious Being behind it all.

Be Loved,
The Jack of Hearts
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It was about a week before the show when I found out my mother decided to surprise me and my best friend with tickets to a symphony. It was the Florida Orchestra, accompanied by 3 or 4 choirs and 2 soloists, playing selections from Lord of the Rings; I couldn’t have been happier. It was simply a random act of kindness.

            Wednesday (Feb 21st) rolled around quicker than normal, but the day itself seemed to drag on forever. Everything I did that day seemed neverending and mundane. But finally the moment came. My friend Dan and I escaped the world and all of its obligations in a Blue Toyota Matrix; destined that night only for St. Pete and the Mahaffey Theater. With windows down, the blaring of some of our favorite songs, and that highway speed that only serves to thrill, we were on our way.

            We arrived and changed clothes, transforming from rebellious teenagers to sophisticated s with style. But with a ling ering teenage strut, we sauntered into the theater without so much as a single glance backwards. For no reason at all, this was our territory. We walked upstairs, found our seats, and waited for the show to begin.

            Growing restless, we decided to take a look around the theater. Somebody said there was free cheese-tasting somewhere, so we were all for it. We made our way to the patio, passing the cheese table and grabbing some samples on the way. But right then, we heard the voice above warning us the show would start in 5 minutes. We took our seats.

            They played some of the best that night, with songs that brought back memories of the Rivendell, Rohan and Mordor. And, as the songs of the Shire surrounded us, even the young man inside me was moved to tears. There were two soloists: a young lady and an even younger boy – both with voices of gold. And the choirs behind the symphony only served to make the whole experience truer and more real. As if all this preparation and setup wasn’t enough, they had a giant projection screen with a slideshow of Lord of the Rings artwork which corresponded with the pieces they were playing. To finish it off, they had just the right lighting and timing – Frodo’s in the Shire, reading a book under a tree and the green of life surrounds the orchestra. Now Gandalf is fighting the Balrog and the entire orchestra is awash with reds and oranges.

And then…over. What? Is this the end? When the music stopped and the crowd stood up after only an hour, without warning of an intermission, we mistook the symphony to have finished. Surprised, we asked our neighbors of late who replied that it was only an intermission. Upon this relieving news, we went out of the theater and headed for the patio and some fresh air.

It was a beautiful night outside; the hesitant twilight only just crawling away into darkness. We walked to a bench, and with a gorgeous breeze blowing in from the bay, we allowed our hair to be swept back while we felt like kings of the world. It was a moment untouched with words while we sat in a quiet silence. Looking up, the city lights pushed away the stars, but there just enough holes in the night sky to add a touch of beauty to it all.

            And again, the voice from above came with warning and we went back for the second half. It wasn’t possible, but the second part was just as good, if not better. The entire symphony burst forth with the beautiful woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings which, alone, reach beneath the surface, but together, create a moving work of art that reaches to the depths of your soul.

We’re all pretty selfish. No we’re not. I say that to prove a point. Just by using the word “we” there, I’m proving my own selfishness in that I’m unwilling to admit I’d do anything selfish. We’re terrible really (of course, by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’). I was thinking about it in the parking lot of HCC today. I had a pretty boring day class-wise, but it picked up when I found out there was free food (courtesy of our wonderful student gov.). But that to say: as I was walking towards the car, pretzel and fanta in hand, it struck me: Each car out there represents at least, at least, one person. Maybe sometimes 4 or 5. And each and every one of those people has different thoughts and desires. Different wants. Wants that would probably get in the way of their having an awesome selfless relationship with someone else in that parking lot. Or even in their home, at their job, wherever it is they go through life. Cause that’s really what selfishness does. It robs us of cool relationships, relationships that mean something. It’s not everyday you find those, and it’s certainly not any day you find those, as long as you have the burden of selfishness on your heart. Then again, lemme get things straight here: I preach, but I don’t practice. I’m selfish. I’m not gonna lie about it or say that everyone’s selfish too, cause they’re not. But it’s something I’ve been trying to work on lately, I guess. I think God’s been talking to me about sacrifice a lot lately. Sacrificing everything. It’s instinct to grab the fuller glass of whatever, but when you love someone as much as you love yourself, it makes no difference. You could give or be given more, but it won’t change things. We love ourselves: if we get the glass, rock on. It’s not about conceit or selfishness, it’s more of an indifference. We’re glad to give, but when given to, who’s complaining? And when we love others as ourselves and they get the glass, rock on too. It’s awesome that things turned out like this. Of course, all this reminds me of the person who won’t accept an offer.
“Here…you sit here, you’ll be able to see better.”
“Oh, no no, I couldn’t…”
“No, please”
“No, seriously, I don’t want to.”
To be honest, part of me just wants to slap that person and tell him to sit down. It’s just that messed up idea that by refusing, this person has trumped the one who made the offer in the first place. It’s actually, in some form, a way of robbing that person of their sacrifice. Anyways…I won’t rant. But here’s another thing: it’s not just with portions, but with our own comfort. Sit in the back of the car, squished between the two biggest friends you know, and be glad you have those friends. Of course, I use these trivial examples of sacrifice, but only to point out this: sacrifice isn’t so hard. And when it is, it’s more rewarding. But not in a worldly sense, like you’ll be more popular or you’ll “feel better about yourself”. But I think part of sacrifice is that it allows joy to flow. If I could just use a really basic analogy here, think of joy as the water in a hose. Maybe that was even your view of joy as a little kid, I don’t know. But everyday, we have choices. And through those, we can turn the spigot one way or the other because joy is a choice. Now, in view of sacrifice, think of the hose as being constricted. It’s constricted through all those things we do, especially through our selfishness. Our selfishness has wrapped itself around the hose and our joy is being choked off. So even if we do choose joy, we’re not getting much water. But where sacrifice comes into play is that it has the power to release the constriction, so now the water can flow freely and pour into the lives of others.  

Be Loved,
The Jack of Hearts 

“I don’t talk things, sir,” said Faber. “I talk the meaning of things. I sit here and know I’m alive.”

okay that title has nothing to do with this post.

and, actually, this post has nothing to do with anything.
This was just a little random thing I wrote during English…inspiration comes at weird times (or so say the wise)…

 “I walked through the valley in search of fame and great riches, but what I found was pain. The valley was dark and foreboding, but I’d been willing to compromise to try and reach the imaginary mountain on the other side. Along my journey, the valley went deeper and darker than I could have imagined, and as I went through the depths of my soul I pushed aside every new resolution to change. After each renewed effort, I would reject my new behavior and trudge along through the jungle that was my soul, only to be battered down once again by the branches that came alive through my failures. Yet through it all, I’ve kept the faith that, one sweet day, a hand will reach through the treetop canopy and pluck me from my pain. It’ll be work; to be sure, I’ll need all my strength to hold on. Of course, the work will be worth it for the glorification that will come (His glorification).”

Be Loved,
The Jack of Hearts

At 11 o’clock, the night was young. It was cold, dark and wet, but the exhiliration was almost too much. We ran on, faster, ever increasing our speed, until we were all but blinded by the stinging rain. Thunder crashed in the heavens and lightning illuminated the landscape all around. As the last member of our group was helped over the fence a true sense of freedom came over us. It was a feeling that couldn’t be described in words – a feeling that made you feel…high? lofty? elevated? As I sat in the mud, safe on the Southern side of the prison walls, I knew that there wewasn’t a word for this. There would never be a word.

One by one we all ended up on the ground. Dave, Mac, Toaster, and Jinx (and myself of course) – all free, all kings of the fantasy worlds in our minds. The world was our for the taking. Legal taking, now that we were free. We’d learned our lesson in the hellhole we were running from. Horrible things went on there. Terrible, awful things not fit for even the most hideous ghost story. Brief thoughts came into my head of the night before, but I pushed them away and allowed myself to soak in the glorious rain. That wasn’t too much to ask, was it? Just the chance to sit in the rain, if only for 5 minutes… But it wasn’t like that in prison. On the days it rained, they would never allow us to go outside. It was during those dark times, grasping through bars every rainy day to reach the unreachable, that I began to work on my plans.

It was only during the rainy rec hours that we had peace. If not for those bits of solitude, I would have gone insane with the sounds of pacing gaurds. Step, step, steps taken, steps returned on the about face. It was the moments of rest and the books that kept me sane. And oh the books in that prison library. Torn, beaten, pages missing. I loved them then – they were my salvation – but, now that I’m free, I have a certain hatred for them, a loathing that comes and goes. They were all I had and so I read them time and time again, until no memory of them was forgotten. And even when I had them all memorized, I read them still, to pass the hours away, drifting through the words and pages to a land unseen, except in my mind. And that was my consolation: that of all the things taken from me – a house, common everyday foods, my family, my life – I had my mind. I had an imagination, thoughts, feelings, ideas, but most of all, I still had music. And there isn’t anything more important to keep inside you than music. I could listen to whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, however loud I wanted: I could listen freely. And out of all the guys in that prison, we were the ones who preserved the music in our souls. And the guards tried to break into our souls, to steal our music but, like the rain, they were just trying to reach the unreachable.

not finished

Be Loved,
The Jack of Hearts

Wilco – When You Wake Up Feeling Old

When you wake up Feelin' old At this piano filled with souls Some strange purse Stuffed nervous with gold Can you be where you want to be? Walk down any street You can find Look at any clock telling time Sing some strange verse From some strange song of vines And you'll be where you want to be I know I can't sing Until she brings the song to life And I blend with kings I'd never change a thing Who knows anything I don't know There are so many things I must leave alone Some strange person is calling you their home Can you be where you want to be? Can you be Where you want to be? Can you be Where you want to be? Can you be Where you want to be?
June 2017
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