Monday

This Too Shall Pass

When some great sorrow, like a mighty river,
Flows through your life with peace-destroying power
And dearest things are swept from sight forever,
Say to your heart each trying hour:
"This, too, shall pass away."

When ceaseless toil has hushed your song of gladness,
And you have grown almost too tired to pray,
Let this truth banish from your heart its sadness,
And ease the burdens of each day:
"This, too, shall pass away."

When fortune smiles, and, full of mirth and pleasure,
The days are flitting by without a care,
Lest you should rest with only earthly treasure,
Let these few words their fullest import bear:
"This, too, shall pass away."

When earnest labor brings you fame and glory,
And all earth's noblest ones upon you smile,
Remember that life's longest, grandest story
Fills but a moment in earth's little while:
"This, too, shall pass away."

-Lanta Wilson Smith

Tuesday

Chapter 4 - rising

The smell of grass filled the soldier's nose. For a few moments, that was the only thing his mind knew, the sweet smell of grass. Inhaling and exhaling, he absorbed that smell. He was not aware, there was no conscious thought, but there was the beginnings of a want, a desire.

Something in him wanted, really wanted, to remain in the grass, to be there. He wanted to sink deep into that grass, to its roots, to the soil below. His mind began to sink down, darkness was forming around the edges. It was almost as if his very mind was becoming the dirt. With a simple unawareness, he stretched toward the depths. Eventually the longing and the desires faded as well, and he simply was.

All was dark now.

Beautiful, yet unrecognizable scenery filled his mind. Most of it green and lush, with splashes of blue from sky or water. He raced through these blended countrysides. Was he flying or running? He could not tell, nor did he even ponder the question. For a moment he pondered the aromas. The smell of dirt and grass was all around him. He dismissed the thought. His arms were outstretched, his fingers skimming the tops of long blades of grass, the grass that consumed his sense of smell and kept coming back to his mind. The scenery became a little more clear now, and he saw in the distance a small cottage. He was heading right for it, and he felt an intense desire to be there, to walk through its door, to sit at the small table inside. He didn't know how he knew that there would be a small table inside, he just knew that there should be a table in there, a small wooden one with two chairs.

He was standing in the garden now, just outside the cottage. He brushed his hands over the tops of the flowers, and along the edges of the tomato plants. He saw the small green buds of tomatoes sprouting from where there had once been the small tomato blossoms. It brought a smile to his face as he continued through the garden. He looked now through the window. He wanted to go in because it felt like his own house, a house that he hadn't been in for such a long time.

He heard voices behind him now and turned, only to have everything shift slightly. The garden was overgrown with grass now, grass that was all bending in towards him. It was touching his face and suddenly the scenery began to lose its focus. It seemed to be pulling away from him as he sunk into the long blades of grass. The world was giving way to something else. The beauty was fading, and it was being replaced by darkness and pain.

There were hands on him now, not blades of grass at all. They were pulling him to his feet. They were helping him walk across a field of flowers, red flowers and blue flowers and... such a horrible stench. He looked down at these flowers as he stumbled along with these hands. As he focused, he realized that they weren't flowers. His senses were returning now, and he realized that there were bodies all over these fields.

The voice of the hands on his right side said, "Come along sir, we've got you. Now watch that, OK. That's good sir, keep coming. Almost there now..." and so on. He watched his feet as they stumbled along.

His mind still considered the small cottage as he plodded along. He hadn't died, he knew that, at least not yet. The monks that were walking him along had better do their work well, or he could still die from the arrow that was still sticking out of his back.

rain

The rain fell softly and slowly,
its pitter-patter lulling the man
into thoughts of comfort,
but never warning him
of the oncoming storm.

Monday

Chapter 3 - A Drip and a Christmas Box

Norman had been in his new house for a week, and things were just beginning to get comfortable.

The minor flaws were starting to endear themselves into his heart. The little scratches and dinks in the wood floors and on the trim. Some imperfections in the walls. The way you needed to give the back door an extra little nudge to get it to latch. All of these things, though originally items that seemed to need immediate attention, began to become part of Norman's overall definition of the word "Home".

It is almost like they were even becoming a part of Norman. He identified with them, even feeling a bit safer at night knowing that he had given that back door a little kick just before he went off to bed.

Some of the major flaws were being worked on though. Things that worked against that "homey" feeling. For example, on the third day after he moved in there was a bit of a rain. It wasn't much, and it didn't last long, but it produced a slight drip above the stove in the kitchen. He had seen the spots on the stove when he had moved in, but had thought nothing of it. Well, now he was thinking something of it, and it wasn't good. Since he wasn't due back at work for another week, he had decided to investigate this unwanted drip in his new paradise.

The first stop on his trek to the drip source was the attic. He had only been up there once, when he was stowing away his Christmas box. There were a few other boxes up there along with some odds and ends that he knew he would never need again, but just couldn't throw out. Even though he had put all of the boxes and all of the other junk up there himself, the only thing that he could specifically remember was the Christmas box. As he lifted up the attic door, he took a moment to glance over at the box again. He remembered that as he had put it up there, it felt like he was dropping anchor.

His Christmas box was covered with a small child's handwriting, his own. The main title of the box, which was the oldest writing, said, "Christmiss box!!!" He couldn't remember why he had added the three exclamation points at the end. He wasn't for sure if he even had the memory of writing that part at all, but he had very vivid memories of the writing of the "Christmiss" part. He had been very careful about that part, his father had been observing that. His father had also made sure that this box didn't say "X-mas" like so many boxes do.

"That would leave out the best part." His father had said in a voice that was a little hushed, as if he was sharing with Norman one of the greatest secrets in the world. "Don't leave 'Christ' out, He is the very reason we celebrate." His father had given his ear a little tug and then handed him the marker. He spelled out the word up to the "m" and then stated, "Well done. The important part is there, you can do the rest yourself."

When he had finished sounding out and writing the rest, his father had looked so happy. Norman never forgot that moment. His father always knew how to make you feel special. Most people just thought of Norman's father as a simple minded little man, but Norman, especially in retrospect, considered his father one of the most intelligent men he knew.

He stood at the top of the attic stairs for a little longer than he could recollect, and then laughed out loud at himself. It had suddenly dawned on him that the last time he was climbing these stairs he had done the exact same thing. He had been contemplating about how people everywhere must think of their Christmas boxes as anchors.

"Well, on to that drip." He said, quite matter-of-factly to nobody. And nobody answered, as nobody always did.

When he reached the place in the attic where he thought he would find the leaky spot, he began to examine the area. He looked at it quite thoroughly, almost convincing himself that he knew what he was doing. He finally decided that a leak like this could only be fixed from the roof. He started heading down the attic stairs, muttering to himself about the supplies that would need to be purchased.

As he closed the attic up, he heard a knock on the door. He was slightly startled at the noise. He knew that he didn't know anyone, and not knowing anyone meant that he wasn't expecting anyone. He went to the door and cautiously opened it.

At the door was one of the biggest men that he had ever seen. The man wore a broad rimmed hat, that Norman imagined would touch the top of the door, if the man decided that coming in would be the thing to do. The man also had on a flannel shirt, coveralls, and large, slightly muddy boots. Actually, as Norman looked back over the man, he noticed that everything about this guy was slightly muddy.

The man looked at him, and gave him a big grin from out his huge beard. They looked at each other for a slightly uncomfortable amount of time, before Norman realized that the man had extended one of his huge, thick-fingered hands in greeting. Norman watched as his hand went out, on its own, in the direction of the man's enormous paw.

As they shook hands, the man kept his gaze focused on Norman's eyes, and said, "Got yourself a leak, don't ya?"

Thursday

unbreakable

"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

-- C.S. Lewis