How To Dream (In Color Again)

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream – C. S. Lewis

*scribble scribble* “ALLLMOOOST…” The sound of a little girl coloring snapped me out of my daze. I had been staring out the window of my airplane seat and dozed off into thought and prayer. Long plane rides tend to have this effect on me. Repositioning myself, I looked down to my right to see a 4-year-old girl sticking out her tongue in determination as she wiggled a tiny, purple crayon back and forth on paper.

“THEEERE!” With a definite, final swipe of color, she lifted her crayon and paused to examine her colorful Disney princess masterpiece. Much to my surprise, she actually did an amazing job of coloring inside of the lines. “Wow, that’s pretty good for someone your age,” I said looking over her shoulder. She shyly looked up at me, then smiled wide with a toothy smile, minus one tooth in the very middle. “You like it?!” “I love it! Where did you learn to color like that?” With excitement, she turned and flung her tiny right hand into her mother’s left hand. “Mommy taught me! Isn’t she the best?!”

Her mom looked at me and smiled. She, however, did not seem to be the type to make small talk, so she looked straight ahead and leaned back to take a nap. Her daughter was quite the opposite. The little girl reached forward to grab her stash of crayons, and then she slowly looked up at me with puppy dog eyes. “Would you color with me?” I laughed. “Pshh! Yes! It’s been forever!” Her eyes lit up as she had found a new friend to join in her creativity. She handed me a pink crayon and sloppily flipped to the next page. I couldn’t tell which princess was on this new page. Growing up with only brothers has apparently robbed me of the joys of princess movies. Nonetheless! I have attained enough life wisdom to not tell this to little girls. “OH! I love this princess!” I said as she replied, “ME TOO! She’s my favorite!”

And so we got to work. With a coloring book between us, we alternated between ferociously scribbling away at the blotches of white within the lines and carefully tracing the bold edges. Coloring was actually very fun, but it could only go so far. I decided to carry on some more small talk. “So, tell me, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Her head shot up! “A princess! But not when I grow up, silly! I am a princess!” “Ah! Of course, your Highness, kind of like this one, right here?” She looked down at our artwork. “No, no, no… Much better! Daddy said I was the best princess there ever was! He gave me this for my birthday! He said,

Sweetie, you are a princess! You’re the best and most beautiful princess this world has ever seen. And every princess needs to color like a princess and learn from princesses before her, so be very careful to choose the right colors and color inside the lines! Don’t be afraid to go slow. Take your time. I can’t wait to see what you’ve done when I see you again!

“And where’s your dad?” “Oh, you know, fighting bad guys!” She nonchalantly looked back down to keep on coloring. Her quick scribbles, however, grew slower and slower as she added, “Yeah, bad guys… they sure take a long time to beat…” My attention was stolen by her mother taking a deep breath, sitting straight up again. Her closed eyes twitched, and I could tell that tension was building. Yet somehow this little girl had a way about turning this around. “It’s okay, though! Daddy promised he’d come back! And I have this to show him how I’ve been learning to be a better princess!” She glanced up at me with a reassuring childish smile and looked back down to keep on coloring. The best deduction I could make was that her father is in the military.

I proceeded to aid her in her coloring venture for a good while longer. Every now and then, she would give me direction on how I ought to be coloring. “NO, no, NO! Like this!” “Oh, forgive me, your Highness!” “YEAHHH – just like that!” It was quite the humorous plane ride to be sure. In fact, it was one of the best plane rides I’ve ever been on. There’s something refreshing about delving into children’s imaginations and taking part in their take on life.

Eventually, the plane dropped altitude and arrived at its terminal. The air pressure released from the cabin and the relief of all the passengers could be heard as everyone began to stand and grab their belongings from the above compartments. We were going to be standing up soon, so I handed the pink crayon back to the little girl. She put it into her crayon case. She then looked at me with a dignified look (as dignified as a 4-year-old can look), looked down at our finished product, then proudly said, “This is yours!” She attempted to rip the princess coloring out but failed at first try, so she put more leverage into the action, and managed to tear it out. I took it from her and said, “Ah thank you very much, your Highness!” as I received her prized possession, folding it and sliding it into my pocket.

As we stood up to leave the airplane, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. The little girl followed her mom down the aisle with a subtle limp. How could I have missed it? The little girl had a prosthetic leg! I grabbed my luggage from the compartment above me and then quickly followed after this little girl and her mom. I caught up to them before we walked into the main terminal, but I would have never expected the following scene. The mother and little girl came to a sudden halt at the entrance of the waiting lobby, and the other impatient travelers streamed around them. Confused, I looked over the mother’s shoulder and saw something in the distance: something strong, something brave, something… camouflage!

A tall soldier stepped forward in the oddest way. A small step, a big step, a small step, a big step. The little girl began slowly stumbling forward in likewise fashion. A small step, a big step, a small step, a big step. “Daddy!” “Princess!” The distance between them diminished in the most irregular, picturesque way as he swept her off her feet and swung her in a circle. In the excitement of swinging her around, he almost fell. He wasn’t quite used to his new prosthetic leg.

Tears of joy. Tears of relief. The little girl, being held in her father’s arms, kept on saying, “You’re here! You’re really here!” The mother joined them and the three linked arms and held each other for a good while. “Darling, what happened?” asked the wife, as she looked at his mechanical leg. He paused and then choked out the words. “There was a good friend… who – well, a grenade that got thrown into our bunker, and he pushed me out of the way before he threw himself on top of it.” “Daddy…” said the little girl with her arms still wrapped around her dad’s neck. “Yes, Princess?” “Is that why you’re back with mommy and me? Because of him?” The father held his daughter in front of him, taking in the blessing of seeing her again.  Then pulling her back in close he said, “Yes, because of him...”

It was getting more difficult to maintain my own composure. I could barely pull myself away from the scene. So gripping the straps on my backpack, I tried to walk by as if nothing was happening. Then I heard a little voice from behind me shout, “Wait!” I kept on walking. “WAIIIT!” This time my feet couldn’t go any farther, and I turned around to see this little girl stumbling towards me. Before I could react, she flung her arms around me and hugged me tightly! I let my arms wrap around her in return as I looked up to see her father smiling with his wife clinging to his side. He didn’t know who I was, but he knew that I somehow carried a significance in his daughter’s heart.

The little girl whispered into the hem of my coat, “Thank you.” I looked down in confusion. “For what?” Her little head raised as she smiled that same childish smile from before.

For helping color in my dreams, silly…

My vision began to blur together as the little girl became distant. The back of my head suddenly took on a weight which I couldn’t explain. “Huh? What’s going on?” It got heavier and heavier until I felt myself tipping backward in the strangest way. I let go of the little girl, reaching for something to keep my upright, but instead, I actually fell straight back into my bed!

“NO!…” I said under my breath staring up at my bedroom ceiling with wide eyes. “Was that really?!…” My eyes scrunched and my hands smeared my face up and down in frustration. “It just had to be…” So with a deep breath and a moan, I rolled over, then picked up my phone from my bedstand to check the time: 2:45 a.m. Ugh. The dream was detailed enough that I couldn’t fall back asleep. My mind kept on chewing over the nuances of everything about it. The more I did this, the more something began to unfold.


Over time, God gives each of us a “coloring book” detailing our hopes, goals, visions, and dreams in life. To begin, it is a step of faith to believe and trust in God’s love, sovereignty, and omniscience that He knows what is best for us. As we believe what He has revealed to us, we slowly but surely color in our future destinies.

However, we all have very different coloring books! To some God reveals the end goal of one’s life in the first picture, whereas some color in hundreds of pictures before anything seems to culminate. In either case, it is the duty of both to color with childlike faith in God’s Holy Word.

Everyone experiences difficulties or setbacks to their dreams. The ultimate foe is sin. This is of no problem to the Master’s plan. As we draw nearer and nearer to our Lord Jesus Christ, we continuously reckon more and more that He became sin and died with its very essence intertwined with His being. Through this process, via His resurrection and indwelling spirit, He endows us with the blessing of not only giving us dreams, but He lives inside of us to aid in their fulfillment to extents which would have never been dreamed possible.


So bathe in God’s presence and let Him draw the story which will provide the most impossible canvas you could ever imagine. And as you color, remember to have fun and enjoy every detail.

After all, you never know who will sit beside you and also learn to color again!

When The Sky Comes Falling Down

At college, my group of friends and I got an idea to write our own story. We’ve been building a world from scratch, writing plot-line details, and creating our own characters. This is the sketch for my personal character.

A crowd of rowdy men was gathered around various, rickety tables within a dark, inn tavern. The counter towards the back was lined with disoriented, hulking drunkards discussing subjects of all sorts, ranging from dirty politics to the latest street gossip. There were no windows to reveal the faint rays of sunlight receding from the twilight sky; and thus being the night was afoot, little good waited within the shadows of Trevethan.

As business carried on, three men discreetly entered the tavern and found a table at the far corner, across from the entrance. The moment they sat down, an enormous man from across the room looked over his shoulder and paused. With an aura of disbelief, he stood up with widening eyes and let out a heavy laugh. With a confused smile on his face, the man weaved his way through the packed tables, walked up to the three men, and slammed his fist on the rotting wood.

“Three weeks! Three weeks and you all have the audacity to come back alive! We couldn’t find any of you! We assumed you were dead!” Of the three men, one had a long cloak, and the other two wore dark, military uniforms. The cloaked man reclined back with a grin and replied, “Stake-outs are quite something, they never turn out how you expect them to.” The man in front of the table straightened his back and squinted his eyes. Crossing his arms, he lowered his head and snuffed out, “What happened?” It was obvious from apparel that the cloaked man was the leader of the other two sitting to his left and right. The soldier on the left muffled a laugh, while the other took a deep, nervous breath. “After a week,” explained the cloaked man, “we concluded that the premises was vacant. We then proceeded to scout the area to search for any clues of our targets’ whereabouts.”

The large man grabbed a chair from a nearby table, pulled it up, and sat down with a serious demeanor. The cloaked man leaned up from his reclined position and placed his elbows on the wooden surface, reflecting the aura of the man across from him. “We were ambushed. There were others after our targets as well. As for us, we were at the right place at the wrong time. Outmanned and outgunned, they took us hostage to interrogate us about what we knew.” He hesitated after finishing his sentence, as a smirk grew on his face. “Why are you smiling?!” the man retorted. “Hah! What could we tell them?!” “So, then-“ “How did we escape?” interrupted the cloaked man. The large man nodded with interest. “Let’s just say –  they left the back door unlocked.”

As the cloaked man finished speaking, he spotted something across the room. He could see, just above the large man’s right shoulder, an arm lifting with a handgun, and out of reflex, the cloaked man quickly and intensely spoke, “Down!” With a unified downward motion, all four of the men instantly veered downward as a CRACK resounded across the whole tavern, and a bolt of electricity whizzed right over their heads. In an instant, the cloaked man hurled himself over the table and burst across the tavern. He knew the shot was meant for them, and he knew it was an experienced marksman because the bullet passed through an entire tavern full of drunkards.

Lunging through the back door, he was able to see the backside of the shooter dash out of the dark alley. “Sky!” shouted one of the soldiers running across the tavern, but it was too late; he was already at the end of the alley, turning into the street. The chase had begun.

He could see the shooter dashing through the filthy streets. Although it was night, there were still civilians walking about, and a shot from ground level would be risky at best. Risking loss of ground, Sky rushed to the nearest side wall and climbed with all haste to the rooftops. He instantly spotted the man sprinting through the dispersed crowd. Quick on his feet, running and leaping from roof to roof, he was slowly but surely gaining on him. They were nearing the outskirts of Trevethan, which meant that he had to act soon.

Unbeknownst to the man, his pursuer was almost parallel with him as both of them neared a clearing outside of the town. Bounding onto the final rooftop, Sky, with one last burst of speed, leaped off of the roof, throwing his knife full speed at the man’s leg while in mid-air, and pounced on him. The man, thrown forward by the downward force, rolled away from Sky and let out a shout of pain as he stood up and pulled the knife out of his leg. Chucking it to the ground, the man drew a blade from his side and bolted towards Sky to stab him. Sky, reaching behind his back, drew a bow-blade and quickly spun around, dodging his foe’s lunge. With the momentum of his spin, Sky swung towards the man’s shoulder, but he deflected it – just barely, and with a shove forward, the man stumbled backward gasping for air.

Sky observed the man’s face in the moonlight and tilted his head in confusion. “I don’t know who you are.” The man stumbled to the side and clenched his leg in an attempt to stop the bleeding. “It was because of you that my friends are dead!” grunted the wounded man. “Which friends?” “The Wrythom brothers!” Sky’s knuckles grew white as he clenched his bow blade even tighter. “They were serial killers.” “They loved me!” “They were insane.” “They were family!” “They were dealt justice.” The man glared at Sky who took a step back to soak in the absurdity of this man’s mind.

As this dialogue was taking place, Sky heard the sound of electricity building up, followed by a ZAP, but before he could react, he felt a surge of pain come from his lower right back from the impact of a bolt. Falling forward, he was able to recover one-eighty degrees just in time to see another man twenty yards away in the moonlight. Without hesitating, he drew his handgun and, before the man could shoot again, shot his shooter hand. The man, though in intense pain from his badly wounded hand, reached to pull out a second gun. Sky, seeing this motive, and knowing his gun’s cool-down would be a few seconds too long, dived for his knife two yards away, picked it up while rolling forward, and exploding upwards, flung it eighteen yards, burying it in the man’s heart. Sky’s core undergarment was impenetrable, yet he could tell at least a few ribs were broken.

After taking mental note of his wounds, he turned around to see his original foe had gained a good amount of distance up a nearby hill and had just reached an abandoned four-story storage house by the edge of a river. With a scowl, Sky mumbled to himself, “Two can play this game,” and he began his ascent.

Reaching the abandoned storage house, he crept up to the side of the front entrance. He moved alongside the storage house until he reached the corner, and looking over to the other side, he spotted an inconspicuous, secondary entrance. Backing against the wall, he side-stepped until he reached the door; he then slowly twitched the handle to see if it was unlocked, which it was. As carefully as ever, he opened the door just enough so he had room to slip in. The main floor was concrete, and boxes were stacked up against the walls. “He must be on the upper floors,” he thought to himself, “Simple rules of a solid ambush: stay in the dark, stay in the quiet, stay where they’ll come, then kill.”

Noiselessly gliding to the far wall, he crept up the stairs, and when halfway up, he examined the second floor. Though dark, he could tell it was clear. Calmly stepping onto the second floor, he leaned back against a large door. The locking mechanism that had once kept it shut was completely broken, so when his back tapped it ever so slightly, it swung open to the river behind him. He turned around to look down at the rushing waters from two stories up. It appeared that at one point, a bridge connected the storage house to the opposite side of the river, but it was no longer there. Turning back around, he paused to take in the situation and strategize as to how he would overcome his new foe.

It was then that he felt a drop of something on his right shoulder. Looking down to what dropped, he rubbed his finger against the liquid, smelled it, and then tapped it against his tongue. Blood. He looked up to the floorboards above him, and hearing a few creaks above the sound of rushing water, he realized that his foe was directly over him. Nonetheless, he still did not have a clear shot from below; the man was in subtle motion, and a shot missed would give away his position and make the situation worse. That’s when he recalled the architectural layout of the storage house. There would be a window behind the man as well. Looking back down to the dusty concrete in front of him, he noticed something across the room: a steam generator with electrically wired pipes running up to the roof.

His strategy was set. Sky, drawing his two bow-blades from under his cloak, connected them with a mechanical maneuver, attaching the string with an effortless motion. He then took his handgun and held it in the same hand that held his bow. With his back to the open doorway above the river, he aimed his bow and handgun towards the generator. Pulling the trigger, a bolt of electricity quickly caused an explosion, sending flames shooting up to the roof. He drew an arrow, pulled the bowstring back as far as he could, and then leaned all of his weight backward. Solid as stone, smooth as air, falling in reverse to a ninety-degree angle, gravity pulled him towards the river in slow motion. As the fire illuminated the man about to jump out of the window to safety, he looked down to the river, and his last sight was that of an oncoming arrow. As for Sky, before he could reposition his body-weight to sleekly dive into the river, the water slammed against his upper torso, unwrapping its slithery arms around his rag-doll state, carrying him down the river.

Darkness. Silence. Silence? No, there was a sound: a familiar sound. The sound of an angry crowd was hollering about something. A haze came into vision; a blur etched itself into sight. Six men stood lined up on a scaffold. The scaffold stood in the middle of a town square, and from the looks of the crowd surrounding them, they were thieves, criminals, and murderers. These men had something very horrific to do with this town. The atmosphere of the people held tears of lost family, fumes of revenge, and shouts for justice. It appeared that these men had stolen, killed, and escaped this town, yet were later captured, and now they faced their judgment.

Towards the back of the crowd stood a young boy with an escort. He was maybe thirteen years old, and his clothing was that of military order. The man escorting him must have been one of his commanders from boarding school. These were the men that killed his family, and streaming down the boy’s eyes were the tears of regret. If only he had been home, he could have helped his father protect his mother and two sisters. None the less, it was all done and past, and as the nooses surrounded the six men’s necks, with one final shout from the angry town, the lower boards dropped.

The boy jolted his head downwards, shutting his eyes in grief, horror, and pain. After a few, long, agonizing moments, he opened his eyes, and a fresh burst of sunlight flashed against his contracted pupils. He was soaking wet, lying on rocks beside a river. Cloak completely saturated with water, knife and handgun missing, bow thirty yards down the river, he understood where he was and began to recollect what happened the night before. The shiver up his spine wasn’t necessarily from the cold, but more-so from the reoccurring memory that never ceases to haunt his dreams. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; men who commit a crime should never escape the consequences of their decisions. And apart from the law, he will never cease to regret not being there for his family. Notwithstanding, he stumbled to his feet and winced at the pain in his lower back.

Regardless of his present state, he walked down the riverside and grabbed his bow, then began to sluggishly walk back to town. Slowly detaching his bow and placing the two bow-blades in position behind his cloak, a nagging sense of nostalgia preyed upon his trek back to Trevethan. Reaffirmed that his duty to protect others will never be fulfilled, it must still be pursued at all cost.

If not for the sake of others,
For the sake of his family.

What It Means to Fall in Love

A nineteen-year-old young man shifted a little in his chair as he held his notebook and pen, writing down a few minor details before beginning. As he wrote, a man slightly older than him (maybe mid-lower twenties) twiddled his thumbs with a childlike contentment. Once the young man was finished with his preparatory writing, he set his pen down on his notebook and looked up. The man smiled kindly in acknowledgment to the young man, and they both took a deep breath.

“So tell me, what does it mean to fall in love?” asked the young man. The man across from him let out a minor laugh and sat up straighter with a grand smile, meanwhile crossing his arms with interest. “Well, that’s quite the question,” he said as his eyes fixed on the young man, studying his intent gaze. “Why would you like to know?” The young man paused in surprise. That was a question someone like his mom would ask. “Because I’ve yet to find a solid answer.”

The man nodded, understanding the young man’s dilemma. “And why do you think you’ve yet to find a solid answer?” he asked. The young man hesitated, looking upwards to think. After a few moments of hindsight, he replied, “Because no one’s answer seems to last.” At this response, the man accumulated a peculiar twinkle in his eye. “How’s that?” he asked. The young man scooted forward in his seat, meanwhile beginning to flip through his notebook, glancing at all of his writing.

After finishing flipping through his notebook, he looked up and said, “The young couples that I ask give the same answer that the middle-aged couples give. And the middle-aged couples that I ask give the same answer that the older couples give. All the while, the young couples appear happy. The middle-aged couples appear slightly happy, yet somewhat monotonous. And the older couples, sometimes retaining a fragment of happiness, seem somewhat distant. Therefore, because their uniform answers ween over time, I consider their answers invalid. i.e. not solid.”

“And what are their answers?” asked the man across from him. The young man sat up, sorting through his previous thoughts. “If I were to boil all their answers down, to fall in love is to ‘realize that the other person is “the one” and pursue accordingly’. The younger couples lean more towards the response of emotion. The older couples lean more towards the response of choice. But they all sort of mix together.” Once again, the man nodded. A moment of silence ensued as the young man waited for a response, but none came, so he asked, “But what do you think? What does it mean to fall in love?”

The man chuckled. “What makes you come to me if I’m not married yet?” This thought had occurred to the young man before he came. “I was told you’d have the right answer.” This response caused the man’s eyebrows to lift in curiosity. With a sly voice, he asked, “Who told you that?” The young man’s eyes grew slightly large with embarrassment. “Well-uh, I-I’m not quite sure exactly.” The man laughed and nodded, uncrossing his arms, and folding his hands on his lap, releasing some of the momentary tension. “You’re a Christian, correct?” asked the man. This brought a certain light to the young man’s face as he joyfully responded, “Yes! I am!” The man nodded, being well pleased. “Okay, okay. Let me ask you some questions:

Does God love mankind?” “Yes!” “Does He ever stop loving mankind?” “No, never.” “Will mankind ever do anything that will change that fact?” “No.” “Can you define love?” “1st Corinthians 13:3-8 says, ‘Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.‘”

The man nodded in agreement. “Good. When do you suppose God fell in love with mankind?” This question took the young man off guard. He had not expected a question like that. “1st John 4:8 says that ‘God is love.’ It’s not that He ever fell in love with mankind, but that He is love. It’s an eternal fact that forever has been and forever will be.” “Does mankind know true love without God?” “No.” “So then, is it possible for man to truly fall in love with another without God being in the picture?” The young man paused to think hard, but couldn’t respond. “How did God show His love to us?” “Romans 5:8 says,But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.'” “So then, when God comes into man, how does He ultimately reveal His love through us?” “We are to lay down our lives for each other.”

“Now, is that an emotion or a choice?” “A choice.” “Did Christ want to be crucified on the cross, or did He chose to be crucified on the cross?” “Mathew 26:42 says that He chose.” “Was his choice dependent on man’s decision to accept His choice and repent?” “Well..” “What if no one repented and no one accepted His love?” “Uh..” “Is God still love?” “Yes.” “So would He have still chosen to be crucified?” “Yes.” “And when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, Galatians 2:20 says that you are ‘crucified with Christ: nevertheless you live; yet not you, but Christ lives in you: and the life which you now live in the flesh you live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved you, and gave himself for you.’ (‘You’ switched for Paul’s ‘I’) So were you crucified for your sins, or was Christ crucified for your sins?” “Christ was.” “And that was His choice?” “Yes.” “That was His act of love?” “Yes.” “Will that act of love ever be changed or ever fail mankind for the rest of eternity?” “No.”

The man let loose to a heavenly smile, mixed with a content squint of his eyes, revealing that his point had been made. He repositioned his posture to its original straightness and crossed his arms with contentment. The young man sat still with his jaw dropped open. It was as though he had heard a book’s worth of theology, and he was supposed to summarize it to a single notebook page (somehow done in a fifth of a single post). The young man cleared his throat and nervously asked, “Uh, I don’t mean to be rude, but could you elucidate your point?”

“From the world’s perspective, to ‘fall in love’ is ‘fall into man for man’s sake.’ Henceforth, the so-called ‘love’ is only functional as long as emotional and physical needs are being provided. However, once the emotions fade, physical traits die, and all other reasons for believing that the other person was ‘the one’ are gone, there is no fuel left to continue on as all once was. Man can never satisfy man.

However..

“From the Bible’s perspective, to ‘fall in love’ is to ‘consciously walk into Christ and His sacrifice, with a God-given desire for another, for Christ’s sake.’ A relationship is anything but the focus. Christ is first and foremost the focus. And when one is crucified with Christ, there is a capability to love as Christ loved, which is the fuel and overflow for the ensuing relationship.”

The young man nodded, but then with a hint of doubt, replied, “Well, as a Christian, is it possible to ‘fall in love’ with the wrong person?” The man smiled. “You won’t be looking for the person. You’ll be looking to God alone, and when God places in you a desire for another, you’ll continue to look to God alone. And when that desire for another stays, you’ll look to God all the more. And even when you try to shake the desire as hard as you possibly can by a vigorous pursuit of God, and the desire stays, you’ll find the verse to be true which says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.”

At this point in the conversation, the young man was scribbling down notes in his notebook with a satisfied facial composure. After a minute or so, he looked up and asked, “So, hypothetically, if I have a God-given desire for a young woman, and the more I pursue God, the more weight it gets, how am I supposed to continue from there?” The man smiled wide, knowing that the young man obviously was not talking in hypothetical terms. “With or without you, Christ alone is meant to be her satisfaction. Therefore, the only thing that you should focus on is pointing her to Christ at all cost, even if that means never being there to point her to Christ, but simply pleading before God in prayer to draw her closer to Himself. Do whatever it takes to make sure that Christ has her heart and not you. Then, in due time, He will see to it that your hearts are eventually knit together as one.”

The young man blushed as he closed his notebook and put his pen in his pocket. “You know, you sure know a lot about love.” The man across from him bowed his head in humility. There wasn’t really anything to acknowledge. “And I guess that leads me to a second question, which I hadn’t anticipated on asking, but I’ll ask it anyway. Have you ever fallen in love with someone?”

The man’s bowed head quickly shot up, draining the blood from his face, yet revealing dangerously blushing cheeks. “Why do you ask?” The young man laughed. “Some people speak best from experience.” The man slowly stood up and walked over to a window near his chair. He solemnly stood there for awhile, distraught as to how he should respond. “I ought not to tell you. I ought not to tell anyone.” “Why not?” asked the curious nineteen-year-old. The man looked over his shoulder, and then looked back outside.

“Suppose you walk into a jewelry store, and you stumble upon an extremely rare diamond, one of the rarest in the world, if not, the rarest. So you pick it up with one of the store’s cloths, and you take it to the jewelry dealer, saying, ‘I found this, and I ought not to even touch it. Please take it back before I even cause even a single smudge!’ However, much to your surprise, the jewelry dealer looks at you and exclaims, ‘Please, please. No. It’s yours, but only on one condition: that you leave it with me, and see to it that I clean it to its utmost beauty. Then, when my appointed time comes, I will give it to you. But remember, this is our secret.'” There was a hesitant pause as the man finished, asking, “Do you understand?”

The young man, realizing the connection of situations, stood up. “I do. Thank you.” And so he began to walk out, when the man by the window said, “Wait..” He turned around to face the young man. “Although.. it might seem as though time is moving like molasses, the following years will be worth it. She’ll be worth it, and Christ will be worth it!” The nineteen-year-old squinted his eyes, re-observing the man who was slightly older than him. Suddenly, his eyes widened, realizing something that he should have realized the moment that he had sat down. “H-how?!” The man smiled. “I wanted to say hello, and I wanted you to know that… you’ll speak best from experience.”

The young man, stiffening his neck with a respectful composure, firmly nodded and walked out of the room. After he walked out, the man by the window turned back around to view the swaying trees outside. He stood there for quite some time, gazing at the green scenery, deep in the thought. But as he listened to the delicate clattering of leaves, he heard someone walk through the door.

“I told him you’d have the right answer,” said a woman with a soothing, gentle voice. A chill ran up the man’s spine as he vaguely recognized the tone of who was speaking. His palms began to sweat in nervousness as he turned around. His entire being seemed to freeze as he could barely fathom her presence, but he somehow managed to choke out the words, “H-how did you know?” Her beautiful smile brightened the room as she came closer.

“Darling, some diamonds can only wait for so long.”

The Day You Composed a Masterpiece

“Compose a masterpiece.”

You look to your left and then to your right, questioning who such a command could actually be directed to.

“No, you. Yes, you! Compose a masterpiece!”

Your thoughts melt as an internal laugh implodes your creative speculation.

You scowl at the complex articulation of wordage.

You question your vocabulary skills from school.

You rebel and question me.

*pause*

(cue The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly soundtrack music, followed by a gunshot)

*resume*

Consider this: most musicians begin the best of their songs based off of a simple idea, a thought. They probably weren’t necessarily focusing on anything, but maybe they were simply going about their day when they heard something in their head. It may have been born out of musing, or maybe thinking of daily events. Maybe they were in literature class, unintentionally zoning out. Or, what if they were reading a post when they heard…

Reverberating footsteps. You hear footsteps, one pair’s worth, echoing off of distant walls. From hearing such a sound, it would seem as though that they are coming from a very large auditorium: a professional one. As your mind tries to grasp the depth of such sound, you momentarily realize that the footsteps have come to a halt, followed by a long pause,

When suddenly…

You hear a quiet breath proceeded by a woman’s beautiful voice humming a simple, lofty note. She continues sustaining it while maintaining a gentle carefulness, like a mother swaying a newborn in her delicate arms. As she continues, you think you’ve heard her voice before, so you try to take the tone and connect it with previous memories, but you can’t quite place it. She runs out of breath of course, and she takes another quiet breath to resume her lovely tone.

A concert grand piano plays a low, minor chord beneath her renewed note, contrasting the highs and the lows perfectly. The humming continues as you hear the piano begin to fade away; the keys can only sustain their volume for so long. It’s sad. One hum and one minor piano chord, though simple, can conjure up such melancholy emotions. The beauty of such simplicity crawls beneath your skin as you hear her run out of breath once again.

The concert grand piano, once more, plays the same low, minor chord beneath her hum, except this time, the chord repeats itself every two beats, creating a certain momentum that had not been there before. This drive incites your heart to beat just slightly faster. After the chord repeats beneath the hum for an even amount of times, it suddenly changes to a lower major chord for four repetitions, and then it resolves onto an even lower major chord. The sound stays as the woman’s hum comes to a close.

As the sound of the hum exits the foundation of the piano, your breath escapes you as if you want it to come back.

The fading away of the piano lifts, leaving an evanescent reverberation.

The pause agitates you. You’ve never heard such a thing. You want more.

That’s when you hear two taps, as if a conductor had been waiting at his stand the whole time, waiting for the introduction to come to a close.

You hear some shifting in chairs, as if a full orchestra had just lifted their violins, violas, and cellos.

After hearing a quiet breath, the same woman sings an ascending note pattern up to her signature sustained note. However, the beat after she hits her note, a full string section eases into the low, minor chord that the piano had once played. And so, in the same manner, as the piano had changed chords, you hear the strings smoothly transition to that lower major chord, slowly followed by the even lower major chord. You know that the woman had discreetly taken a breath within such transitions because when the strings ease out in their due time, her voice remains consistent, humming her lofty note.

After humming for a few seconds, the violin section eases back into their three, low chords with ease: the first chord being minor: the longest, the second being major: transitional, and then the third, bringing the idea to a resolution. As your held captive by the beautiful simplicity, you suddenly hear a second voice preceding the next musical repetition.

A man’s lower hum mirrors the woman’s hum as both ascend to that signature note, followed by the concert grand piano with that lower chord, quickly reflected by the string section the beat after. The man’s hum, however, every beat or so, descends, returning to the top note to descend once again. The notes fit perfectly with the woman’s upper hum, the piano, and the string section.

A chill runs up your spine as the man’s hum harmonizes with the string section, all the while being complimented by the concert grand piano, repeating its solid chords.

As these musical ideas continue to your ears content, you suddenly hear all sound slow to a pause by the end of the last repetition.

Your breath, once again, escapes you.

Suddenly a faint snare roll is softly heard. The softness does not remain, however, for it grows louder, and louder, and louder, until a bass drum is violently hit along with a massive cymbal crash, beginning all music ideas once more, driven by an epic snare rhythm, carrying all sound along.

Such music makes you want to pick up a sword and fight for something worth dying for. It evokes emotion that threatens a tear to fall, meanwhile strengthening your knees to stand on Solid Ground. The three chords, supported by the humming, concert grand piano, string section, and snare rhythm enwrap your consciousness as they take hold of who you are, pointing you to who you can be, who you’ve been made to be, and Who has bought you to make you who you are to be.

As these ideas repeat, a climax suddenly comes into view as a valiant brass section booms, ascending to the most epic melody that you’ve ever heard. It trumps all other aspects of the song, conjuring up a picture in your mind:

You see clouds parting, revealing the King of kings, the Lord of lords riding upon His white steed. You instantly know His name: Faithful and True, crowned by many crowns. His long vesture is dipped in the blood of the martyrs, and He has come for His own. He has come for the faithful, the ones who have been watching, waiting. Your adrenaline begins to pump as your mind’s eye is preparing to faint at such a thought. Nonetheless, His eyes quickly to turn you, and you’re not sure whether to panic or shout for joy, but none the less, He holds out His hand to you and says,

The music climaxes to an unresolved chord, intensifying, intensifying, and intensifying, until suddenly coming to a complete, silent stop.

“Follow Me.”

A gigantic resolution chord is hit by all th-

Your mind’s eye shuts down. You can’t take it anymore. The visualization is gone. The music is gone. All is dark.

But then the silence is broken, and you hear a faint clap, followed by a second, followed by multiple, when suddenly you realize that it is as if thousands upon thousands are clapping, filling a reverberating auditorium. On top of such sound, you suddenly hear shifting in chairs, revealing that people have begun to stand up, showing an entire standing ovation.

Your mouth seems to be paralyzed. Your jaw wishes to drop, but confusion holds you in dismay. After a fair amount of time, the clapping comes to a stop. You hear one or two reverberated footsteps, followed by a clicking sound, as if a director has laid down his baton. Then you hear a reverberating voice, topped off by a James Bond type accent,

“A masterpiece, truly a masterpiece!
It has been an honor to play what was yours of thought,
And today will forever be remembered as
The day you composed a masterpiece.”

A Work of Art

A young man slowly strolled down a worn sidewalk of an urban neighborhood. With hands in pockets and steps in rhythm, his eyes nostalgically gazed at the old homes passing by. “Too many years,” he thought.

As he passed by a house with an old man watering his plants, he stopped to observe the old man’s yard, well kept and clean. The old man, noticing the young man gawking, turned off his hose and indecently remarked, “What?” The young man smiled. “Nothing, I just.. haven’t been here for awhile.” “So?” “I grew up here. By the time I was in pre-school, I had moved away, so it’s nice to visit for the first time.” The old man shrugged and wagged his head as he turned his hose back on to continue watering his plants. The young man, finding this humorous, continued on with a reminiscent aura surrounding his composure.

Then, as he turned right into the next block, the corner of his eye caught a house halfway down the road. His steps grew shorter and shorter in length as he drew nearer. “Hasn’t changed much,” he thought.

*HONK HONK* What?! He looked to his left to see an oncoming car, then looked down, only to realize that he was on street pavement. Before he could reac-

*Silence*

*Darkness*

Fingers, he twitched his fingers. Were they there? He sure hoped so. A tunnel seemed to form within his vision. Meanwhile, a flickering light seemed to grow brighter and brighter at the end of the tunnel. Noises began to grow louder and louder. Did he hear cars? Murmurs? Children? Yard workers? A whizzing-

*WABAAM* His upper body jerked up as his hand flung to press against the side of his head. A baseball slowly rolled away from him as a teenager stood across the road, not knowing whether to laugh or apologize. The young man stood up in confusion, quickly looking all around him as if preparing for either a brawl or death. The teenager tilted his head in confusion, waiting for the young man to burst out in anger because he got hit in the head with a baseball.

“Did… did you see that car?” The teenager scratched his head. “Uh… what?” “Tha-that car, I… I thou-… well it wa-… and I-” The young man felt the side of his head; it was beginning to swell up. After taking his hand off his head, he felt his arm and then patted himself on the chest. He then proceeded to do a thorough examination of his limb functions. He looked up at the teenager. “I-… I think I’m alive.” There was an awkward pause. “Can I have my baseball back?” The young man laughed as he picked up the baseball. “Yeah, sure.” After tossing it across the street, he did a 360-degree spin to take in the urban panorama.

He stopped and winced as if thinking that he was thinking something absurd. He retraced some steps that he thought he had taken before and then stopped beside a well-kept house. A middle aged man was watering his plants where an old man had once stood. “How… similar they look,” he thought. Shaking his head as if trying to get rid of a thought, he went back to the previous street. The houses seemed to be the same, but.. they look younger. It seems as though they have lost years upon years of aging. Even the sidewalk which he was standing on had once again recovered its smoothness and color. In fact, trying to recollect old memories, everything seems to be the exact same way that he had remembered.

Even.. that house. His house. His home. It matched his memories to perfection. “No,” he thought while shutting his eyes extremely hard. “Just, no. Never. Never ever.” The sound of a bicycle zoomed by. The young man opened his eyes to see a paperboy tossing newspapers to the door steps of all the houses. “Hey! Hey, you!” The Paperboy stopped to see the young man waving his arms. “What.. what’s the date today?” “Why, it’s the 2nd.” “No, no. I mean, the year!” The Paperboy let out a hearty laugh as he shook his head and began peddling once again. Hesitantly, the young man walked over to a nearby house and nervously picked up a newspaper.

After staring for more than a few seconds, his eyes widened in horror as the newspaper came crashing to the ground. He began walking away from the house, but his muscles seemed to be locking up. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to faint, stop breathing, or laugh in disbelief. His subconscious seemed to be debating which one of these options to embrace first. Maybe the latter mixed with the second.

The young man, beginning to shake uncontrollably, sat down, putting his head between his legs and folding his arms above his head. Thoughts seemed to be escaping him, not that he wanted to keep them in the first place because it’s best to not hold those kinds of thoughts captive. Why? Well, why hold something captive if the captive is stronger than the captor?

But then something caught his attention: a sound. He looked up to see his home, the exact place where he had spent his early childhood years. The sound was that of a two-year-old, stifling an innocent giggle while making his face into a masterpiece using chalk. Various colors composed this young canvas, and to the young man, this seemed delightful. So removing his arms from above his head, he stood up. The toddler’s clear, adorable eyes caught sight of this motion and locked on to the young man.

His breath vanished. Those eyes.. they were so familiar. The toddler, in response, tried to stand, but realizing that his momentum was not to his advantage, plopped back down to his imaginary palace. His eyes illuminated with humor as his tiny fingers clenched his colorful array of chalk pieces.

The young man, looking both ways, crossed the street. The toddler’s smile compromised his chubby composure as a friendly high pitched laugh welcomed the young man to his side of the block. The young man stood on the sidewalk, afraid to take another step forward. But nonetheless, the sight of this familiar toddler penetrated his already weakened defenses, and he walked up to the side of the house where the toddler was located.

The two-year-old gazed up at the tall young man. He wasn’t really all that tall, but from a sitting perspective and being two years old, he was a tower. “Uh.. mind if I sit?” the young man asked quietly. The toddler, still piecing the question together, gently smiled as if to agree to the tower’s terms of surrender. The young man sat down criss-cross in front of the toddler who was continuing with his artwork, revealing his mastery to the new intruder of his territory.

“Are you.. real?” whispered the young man. The toddler glanced up from his work, paused, and shrugged in innocent confusion. “Are you.. a dream?” This time, the toddler let out a giggle as if to mock the absurdity of what he didn’t truly understand. The young man leaned in a little closer and whispered even quieter, “Are you… wel-… ar-… are you m-..” He paused to rephrase such an improbable question. “Wh-… what’s your name?” The toddler looked upwards to the sky as if to think, and then let out a few familiar consonants and syllables; they were jumbled and spread out. It was clear that the toddler was in the processing of forming an uncontrollable stutter: something that would haunt him for years to come.

Despite all impossibilities: the consonants, the syllables, the stutter, and everything surrounding them… his worst fears had been confirmed.

The young man laughed. “You know, it’s funny. Everyone says, ‘well if I could talk to..’ well, yeah.. ‘I would say so and so, and really make sure that I made so and so clear so that so and so would never happen.’ Haha, well.. my mind’s blank. I got nothing.” The toddler squinted his eyes in a cute fashion and let out a high pitched chuckle. “Having fun, there?” asked the young man. The toddler slightly opened his mouth, thinking of how to respond. “B-b-b-bbbbb… bluh… n’ n’… r-red.. mmmm.. n’ n’… ye-yelow… n’ mmm.. n’ gggggg… gggggg… g-g-greeen!” The toddler let out a triumphant laugh of victory as he had thoroughly described his arsenal of weaponry in which no other child could possibly take away from him.

The young man smiled for a second or so, but then he turned his gaze to the ground. “If only you knew how rough things are going to get. All those years of kids clarifying to you how you already knew you talked. Don’t worry though, you’ll grow out of most of it… You’ll lose your best friend in the 6th grade, you know. Brain cancer.” He shook his head in reminiscence. “You won’t cry for at least one year after that because it won’t be until then that you’ll dare to remember the friend that you never were to him.” The toddler’s gaze was fixed on his quivering eyes. “People will think you’re the greatest at music for a long time.” An evanescent laugh escaped his breath. “But it’s funny because few of those people will ever know the tears of a boy who never quite felt that he was good enough. And what’s even funnier is that you’ll never stop crying about the fact until you come to the realization that you’ll never have to be good enough; you’ll just have music as a friend, sort of.” He sighed. “Once God gets a hold of your life, He’ll destroy you.” The toddler’s eyes widened at the two words, “destroy” and, “you” being in the same sentence. Nonetheless, the young man smiled. “But He’ll only destroy you for the task of rebuilding you. And all the while, you’ll cry a hundred times more tears than anyone around you would think you actually cried. Everything about you will be dragged through the mud, and in return, God will replace you, bit by bit, with Himself.” A smile spread across his face. “You’ll get a new smile! Your school photos will look horrible for years, but once God gets you, He’ll give you back the smile He always wanted you to have.” The young man’s light spirit in the moment dropped to a sorrowful tone. “And your personality will always be a work in the process. Humor will continue to be your facade.. your mask that you won’t let down for years.” The toddler tilted his head as if to inquire what was to happen with such a thing. The young man smiled. “You’ll become a man, and humor won’t be your identity anymore. You’ll be more. Eventually, your humor will be nothing more than the cherry on top of the icing. The icing? It’ll be your joy, your humility, your servant-hood… but the cake, oh… the cake. Jesus Christ will bake such a fine cake out of you; Him being the only ingredient, really.”

The toddler’s eyes fell into a dreadful confusion as to how he would be baked into a cake.

The young man, realizing that toddlers aren’t meant to think so deep, solemnly stood up and took a deep breath. The toddler took a high pitched deep breath as well. Dry of any more words to add, the young man nodded to his little friend and then turned around to walk away. But as he took his first few steps, he heard a quiet sound from behind him:

“B..b-b-bbbbb… bu-…”

The young man stopped and slowly turned back around.

“Bu..-bbbbbbu… buh wat abot yu…?”

“Me?” The little toddler, in response, vigorously nodded up and down. “What about me?”

“Iiih it wort it?”

The young man kneeled down in front of the toddler. “Well, you see. With every stroke of color, Jesus Christ will get more and more glory.. so in that case-” The toddler, realizing that Someone needed help with coloring, held out one of his pieces of chalk, with an innocent sparkle in his eyes. This sparkle reflected a hidden tear that contrasted beautifully with his tiny, chubby smile.

“Theh ‘dis ihs foh youw C-C-CccColorer… Heh c-c-cccccc-c-can useh ‘dis.”

The young man grinned at such an offer. “Oh, buddy, no need. He’ll use you.”

ToddlerMilwaukee, Wisconsin. May 2, 1998.

Love at First Sight, or Lack Thereof

It was a dark, cold, and stormy night, and faint whimpers could be heard from a little girl’s bedroom. As she clung to her sheets, she could hear the creaking of her father’s footsteps coming to her aid. As the door slowly opened, hallway light illuminated the dark room, and two watery eyes turned to peer into the light. “Everything okay?” asked her father. “Daddy, my night light went out, and I couldn’t see anything. It was so dark, and something could have gotten me!” Her father smiled as he walked to the corner of her room and turned on the side light. “You know, that reminds me of a story. Want to hear it?” The little girl shifted a little under her blankets, repositioning herself upwards, and slowly replied, “Yes please.” A smile sprawled across her father’s face. “Okay then! It goes like this..”

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl who couldn’t see a thing! Ever since she was born, she was blind. Her parents were very poor and struggled to get by, but nonetheless, they managed. However, because they were very poor, they couldn’t afford to move closer to a school for the blind, so she was left with no choice but to attend the local school. At home, her parents could help her, but when she was at school, she was on her own. Teachers would be very frustrated with her, because the only way that she could learn was by listening, and she was only able to do homework and tests orally. Consequently, she had very few friends, and no one really enjoyed playing with her, because how do you play with a girl who can’t see? ‘Well, you can trip her,’ so the kids thought.

“Truly, no one stood up for her, until a young man transferred. It was only the third grade, but none the less, he was a man. On his first day of being at that school, when someone tried to shove her over, he nudged her to the side and was knocked to the ground in her place. Even though she was unable fully express her thanks or repay him, this act of chivalry would set a pattern for many years to come. All throughout their schooling years, he would guide her from class to class. He was not violent, but he was very protective. If anyone ever did anything to her, he would always be at her side to receive the laughs as well. Once they graduated high school, they both attended the same college. While at college, she was no longer made fun of, but she did need much help with studying and homework.

“He helped her the whole way! All the way until the end. They both graduated side by side. It was then that he made a big decision. Due to technology advances, he sold all that he had so that she could have eye transplants. The thought of being able to see was foreign to her because she could never afford such a thing. So she went to the doctor and a successful surgery was performed. In order for a full recovery, she was not able to see for a full week due to a blind fold over her eyes. But before she could take her blindfold off, this young man led her out to an open field with a picturesque panorama.

“Little did she know, when her blindfold was taken off, her first sight was that of a young man on one knee holding out a beautiful ring. Tears filled her new-born eyes as she gazed upon the only person who had been with her the whole way. Through his tears, he choked out the words, ‘Vienna Daw, my darling, will you marry me?'” A long pause took place as the little girl’s father began to tear up. The little girl, on the edge of her, bed blurted out, “What did she say?! What did she say?!” Her father smiled as he slowly said, “She said… yes.” His daughter, filled with excitement, leaped up in joy. Then she paused to think, “Vienna…”

It was then that her mother peered her head through the door and asked, “Is everything all right?” “Yes, my darling, everything is just fine.” he replied with a smile, “Okay. What are you two up to?” Their daughter instantly shot out, “Daddy was telling me a story!” Her mother laughed and said, “Oh! A story. I love those.” As she walked out, she said this with a twinkle in her eyes, revealing the faint scars beneath her eye brows.

The Ghost Ship of Zion

Three pirates sat idle in their quarters below deck sipping the little amount of liquor that was left. To their dismay, getting drunk was currently not an option. “Arrr, Tobias! Be ye’ inclined to sharpen me dirk? ‘Tis been a’while since it’s cut ripe, ye’ see.” The pirate across from him crossed his arms and rolled his eyes. “Ye’ dirk couldn’t cut wind, let alone flesh. Mad, ye’ arr.” The first pirate stood up enraged, removing his tiny knife from his holster. “Say once more, and ye’ be dead! Ye’ hear?!” The second sat back in his wooden chair and laughed hysterically. The third pirate, with one real eye, joined into the humor and laughed as well.

The pirate standing sighed in frustration and clumsily sat back down, lazily dropping his tiny knife to the table in the midst of them. A calmness mixed with awkward silence swept over the three as the laughter died down. After a few seconds of this, the third pirate piped up and said, “Eh, mine be bigger.” The second pirate raised an eye brow as if to say, “Oh, so ye’ say?” Standing up, the third pirate drew his giant cutlass and dropped it to the table. He leaned into the other two and said with a deep growl, “Ninety-two, be the number of souls added to Davy Jones’ locker, thanks here to this beauty.” The second ominously stood up and said in a slow, prideful tone, “Anstis, ye be fit for not but the Lazaretto. Mine!” he shouted as he drew his even bigger rapier and dropped it to the table, “owns two-hundred and twenty-nine!” The first rose quickly and said in a loud gravelly voice, “Arrr! Mine be.. b-.. mine’s ki-..” he awkwardly sat back down as he stared at his tiny knife. The others leaned in closer to hear his proud claim. “Mi-mine.. Grrr, forget the dirk!” he quickly rose up once more. “strangled, these hands have, hundreds more than ye’ ever seen! Dare ye’ not challenge these logs of appendages, ye’ see.” After a momentary pause, the third pointed to the second and shouted, “Ye’ can’t even count that high! I don’t believe ye!” A tumult of anger arose among the three, and before long, an all out brawl had broken out; they leaped and pounced on each other, wrangling on the floorboards in fury.

SLAM!

The captain walked through the broken door and shouted, “What be the matter, ye’ scurvy sea dogs?!” The first pirate, in anger, whispered to the third, “I thought ye’ locked the door.” The captain responded, “Stupid! Stupid ye’ be. I have a key.” The second muffled a laugh and mumbled to himself, “I thought rhyming t’was extinct.” A scowl blazed across the captain’s face. “Grrr, I require something of ye’ three.” The three pirates stood up, only to see the captain pull out a little boy from behind his back. “A stow-a-away, he be, and time runs short for me to keep an eye on our new prisoner.” The three pirates let out a hearty laugh, “Harrr! A prisoner!” The captain picked the little boy up and threw him to the feet of the three. The little boy slowly gazed up to his new captors with his deep blue eyes, slightly covered by his worn, thin brown hair. “Keep him out of trouble; do whatever ye’ deem fit. I couldn’t care less.” And with that being said, the captain walked out and slammed the door behind him. The door creaked open for a second or so, and then fell inwards to the wooden floor.

As the three pirates stood in shock at the door falling to the ground, the little boy tried to crawl around them and out the back door. “Where be ye’ going?!” Laughed the second pirate, grabbing the little boy by the rags on his back. “What’s yur name?!” The little boy opened his mouth halfway as his tongue twitched fervently as if he was trying to speak. His face hardened and his eye brows squinted as his mouth desperately tried to get words out. The first pirate nudged the second in laughter as he said, “Mute, he be!” A morose, guilty look spread across the boy’s face. His mouth closed as if to surrender. “Useless! Utterly useless!” said the three pirates among themselves. “To the brig!” they all agreed.

The second pirate, still having a firm grip on the little boy’s back, dragged him across the ship and threw him into one of the ship’s many jail cells. “Ye’ be worse than me children back home.” The third pirate, standing nearby, nudged the second saying, “What home?” In response, the second said, “Harrr! What children?!” Laughter broke out among the two. The second pirate, infuriated, after closing the little boy’s jail cell, chased them all the way up to the main deck. It was then that a loud splash was heard, followed by a gunshot. Laughter ensued among the whole crew.

The little boy crawled to the nearby wooden wall, and huddled his knees up against his chest, burying his sobbing eyes between them. Growing up, his parents had quickly learned that he could not speak, so they simply left him in a back ally for him to fend for himself. His dream was to be a sailor or explorer, so as the years went by, he was eventually recruited to be the cabin boy for one of his country’s battle ships (no need to speak; only to obey captain’s orders). However, their ship was soon attacked by the pirates to whom he is now captive, and as his ship was sinking, his only option was to sneak on to the pirate ship and hide. This has all led to where he is now.

“Pssst,” whispered a voice from the other side of the hall. “pssst, boy!” The little boy, ever so slightly, raised his eyes to look around but saw nothing, so once again, he buried them between his knees. “Over here!” This time, the little boy was sure that he heard something, so he lifted his head and looked to his side. “What are you doing in a place like this?” a dark figure asked from behind bars on the other side of the hall. Little did he know, the little boy couldn’t speak. He crawled up to the bars and asked once more, “Why are you here?” At this point, the little boy could see him, so the little boy pointed to his mouth, slightly opened it, and shook his head. The man gave a large, slow nod as he said, “Oooh, I see.” The little boy nodded and looked away. “Well, I can understand,” said the man in dismay. The little boy looked at him and scowled.The man laid his hands on the jail cell bars and then used all of his forearm muscles to push down on the bars to lift himself up. However, his strength was not enough, and he crashed to the wooden floor in defeat. He then turned his eyes to the little boy and glumly said, “Believe me, I understand.” The little boy’s face showed of sympathy, which soon turned into a nod which meant, “I believe you.” In a similar fashion to the little boy, the man sat against his jail cell wall, staring at the other side.

“I have been down here for years, and every day, I wonder why I am still alive. They are pirates so you would think that they would just kill me, but they do not. I think they find it funny to keep just one man alive, barely hanging on to life, at least what is left of it.” He slowly continued, “and you can only be the prisoner of a pirate ship for so long before you overhear a few things, strange things, and even unspoken things.” The man smiled through his grief and then laughed, “They have taken over so many ships and ‘ruled’ the sea for so many years, you would think they were fearless and unstoppable,” his face suddenly returned to seriousness, “but believe me, they are not.” The little boy looked over at him as if to say, “Please, sir, explain.” The man continued on, “They have looted so many ships, they have every kind of weapon, firearm, and cannon imaginable, and they have added on to their ship, time and time again, reinforcing its strength and durability. They could care less about the ships which sail the sea, but that is not what worries them.” The little boy lowered his head and squinted his eyes as a form of saying, “So then, what does?”

The man lowered his voice to a deep, ominous tone to whisper, “The Ghost Ship of Zion.” The little boy’s eyes widen in wonder and horror, visually asking, “And what, sir, is that?” The man shook his head and softly said, “It is only seen in the worst of storms. It sails where no one thinks it will sail and appears when least expected. But there is a catch to it,” he stopped to take a deep breath, “it is only ever seen when one is in the water.” The little boy tilted his head and slightly glanced away as if to ponder what was said, putting the pieces together. The man looked even more intensely at the little boy and then said, “Not: in the boat, which is in the water. But: overboard, in the water. The only pirates (or sailors and passengers) to ever see The Ghost Ship of Zion are those who fall overboard in the darkest and strongest of storms, which is when either one of two things happens.” The little boy raised his eyes brows in wonder. “They either swim back to their ship and are hoisted up onto the main deck, or they swim towards what they think they see,” the man paused to squint, “and vanish.”

CRACK!

A loud boom of thunder exploded from the sky, and suddenly the ship began to sway back and forth more and more intensely. Rain began to hammer against the side of the ship. The man clung to his jail cell bars, as well as the little boy, to keep from rolling back and forth with the boat. Voices could be heard from above deck, commanding each other to man the sails and take positions to battle the waves. Suddenly, a strange clinking sound could be heard. The little boy looked up to his jail cell lock, which was barely keeping the barred-door closed. It was loosely swaying in opposite rhythms as the ship. The pirate had closed the jail cell, but in the heat of the moment, he had neglected to lock it. Soon after, the swaying of the ship became so intense, the lock rose in an upward motion, which left the little boy’s jail cell door swaying back and forth. He shot a worried look at the man. “Go!” said the man. The little boy quickly stood up and ran across the hall to grab the keys, and then he came back to unlock the man’s jail cell. The man clung on to the little boy and tried to stand up, but then fell down and rolled over to the opposite side of his jail cell. He looked up at the little boy and said, “I was a dead man anyway.” The little boy ran to him and tried lifting him up, but the man said once more, “I can’t walk, or even stand. Please, just go!” The little boy, realizing the circumstances, gave a respectful and understanding nod and then ran out of his jail cell and up the stairs at the end of the hall.

When he had reached the top of the stairs, he opened the brig hatch and climbed out onto the main deck. Rain was pouring at an unbelievable rate, which made the floorboards extremely slippery. Men were running back and forth, trying to maintain their duties. This made it very easy for the little boy to move about unnoticed. He knew very well that he needed to find a safe place to hide, for when the storm was over, they would think that he had escaped and maybe fallen overboard. As the tumult of rain doused him, he moved as fast as he could through the chaos of men to find a hiding spot. The more in the open his hiding place was, the least likely they would look there. As he fervently searched the main deck, he pondered whether he should have stayed or not, however, if he had stayed in his cell, they would have returned and found it unlocked, which would have caused them to lock it, consequently making any chance of escape impossible.

But then it happened, as he was searching the other end of the main, he found himself face to face with the captain. “Ye’ made a big mistake, scurvy lad. I’ve had enough!” He reached for the little boy, but the little boy began sprinting in the opposite direction. The captain ran after him. As this chase pursued, the pirates began to catch on to what was happening, and soon every pirate watched in awe of what was to happen next. The little boy ran to the head of the ship, where a pole extended outwards in front of the ship. As the captain walked closer and closer, the little boy began to back onto the pole. The ship’s sway made it almost impossible to keep balance, when the captain shouted, “Tell Davy Jones I said, ‘Hello!'” And with that, the little boy stepped backward, but his foot felt nothing…

From a view of the entire ship in the midst of the storm, the little boy could be seen falling backward off the head of the ship. Time eased to molasses as he watched the ship grow farther and farther away. The tragedy of the moment was that nothing could flash before his eyes. He had no home, and he had no family. He had nothing. What felt like concrete hit his back, or vice-versa, and his shocked, frail, body disappeared beneath the dark waters. As he began to sink, his arms and legs kicked into reflex, and soon he began to swim upwards, against the flowing monstrous waves.

But then he saw a shadow in the distance: something extremely large and bulky. A giant lightning flash illuminated a large ship with a pearl white flag cutting bravely through the storm. Acknowledging this as his last hope, the little boy began to swim towards the ship. His strength was almost completely diminished, but with his final moments, he knew that if he could shout loud enough, that ship would come to save him, so he summed up every last bit of energy that he had left and shouted,

“H——-h-h——————–H–eh—-“

His tongue could form no words. Neither could his arms paddle any longer and soon his legs gave way to the undertow of the current. Water surrounded him completely, and soon he stared up at the surface at the water. Every few seconds, lightning would illuminate the giant waves which grew smaller and smaller. And so, with the little boy’s final seconds, he reached upwards one last, final time and mouthed what he could never say,

“Help (oh Zion).”

His eyes closed shut to welcome death into vision when he felt a firm grip on his wrist. Suddenly, a strong pull began to drag him upwards, towards the surface of the water. Time began to blur as the little boy’s lungs felt the threat of collapse. Next thing he knew, he felt a rope being strapped around his waist which lifted him out of the water. Wood gave full impact to his head as he could feel the sensation of solid foundation beneath his limp body. Words hung in the air around him, as he could faintly hear sailors shouting,

“Captain overboard! Captain overboard! He’s drowning! Can anyone see him above water?!” “Halt! Captains orders: hold the life boats! It’ll be a three day’s journey back!” “Follow commands! He said what He said!” “Aye, aye!”

A sailor picked up the little boy and carried him into closed quarters. The last words the little boy could hear while being conscious, were that of a man looking at him in the eyes, saying,

“He jumped overboard for you..”

This shocked the little boy as darkness encased his vision.

The little boy’s eyes opened to see a bright room, illuminated by sunlight. The bed was still, so still that he knew that he was on land. The swaying of lush trees could be heard in the distance from an open window on another side of the room. He struggled to sit up due to soreness, but after rubbing his eyes, he saw a broad man sitting on the end of his bed, dressed in fine Captain’s apparel. A confused look crossed the little boy’s countenance as a grand smile glazed the Captain’s face. Soon, the Captain began to laugh a joyful laugh, and not too long after, the little boy joined into the laughing as well. The Captain stood up, and walked to the little boy, gently picking up his wrist with a firm grip. A tear rolled down his cheek as he softly said,

“You were worth it.”

Recognizing the firm grip on his wrist, the little boy smiled and with moist eyes, said the words,

“Thank you.”

The Ending Without an End

An old, worn book closes abruptly, and dust whirls about the surrounding air. You stare at the crusty, brown pages that are bound together and rub your forehead frantically. Before you can bring yourself to open up the book once more, you stand up and begin pacing the room. Back and forth, back and forth, time and time again; all reality fades as you venture deep in thought and muse over the ending of such a book. “Why?” You think to yourself, “why did it have to end like that? The.. The her-.. it was a-.. but everyone was s-.. it just wasn’t righ-” You stop pacing, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.

Your thoughts begin to sort themselves out and interconnect with all the underlying meanings and poetic interpretations. The story was simple, and yet so complex. It was beautiful, and yet so horrific. It was epic, and yet so innocent. It was proud, and yet so humble. It was romantic, and yet so heartbreaking. It was terrifying, and yet so relieving. It was truly a masterpiece, but why would a master painter end his final masterpiece with his smallest of brushes, his slightest of strokes, and his faintest of shades? Your eyes begin to feel a hint of moisture as tears threaten to break free. “But why?” You softly whisper.

You open your eyes and look back at the book on the desk. Its worn cover reminds you of all the adventures that took place within its cleverly crafted reality. You walk back to the desk and sit down, leaning your head against the sweaty palms of your hands. Your eyes close once more to visualize every brush, stroke, and shade which composed that beautiful canvas of words. You see all those near death escapes, all those tears shed over lost ones, and those grand, epic battles in which the hero was victorious. You see a romance which blossomed, and yet never was. You see friendships, refined through the hottest of flames and crafted through the depths of trust, mystery, and danger.

However, the ending was the final touch. Meanwhile, your vision seems to blur as tears swell up in your eyes.

The hero had accomplished his task: defended the defenseless, helped the helpless, lifted up the lame, spoken for the mute, and vanquished all evil forces which for so long had tormented all whom he had sworn to protect. To celebrate such a mighty victory, all the people had gathered together and sat all the war heroes and soldiers on pedestals to commemorate their bravery and courage. Meanwhile, the one who had been the first into the fray, the one who had saved the most, protected the most, given up the most, fought the most, and was the key to every last victory, stood idly by in silence. He couldn’t help but smile, for it was a smile of contentment, yet solemnly mixed with heartbreak and sadness. No one knew that it was his time to leave.

Tears fall to the book below as your mind’s eye is captivated by the ensuing moments.

Their farewell to him was that of silence, and though not one head was turned at his departure, he walked off with his head held high. No one thought to thank him or honor him for that which he had done throughout the years of danger, adventure, and heroism, and no one was there to see him off. However, as he was nearing the outskirts of the present city, he paused to see a homeless little boy and girl, side by side, starving with nothing but rags on their backs. He took a few steps towards them, but their eyes gleamed of distrust and irritation. Nonetheless, he took off his heavy coat and encompassed the little girl with it (leaving all the money he had within its large pockets). Then he took off his gloves, boots, and socks, and dressed the little boy in them. Finally, he gave all of his remaining food to feed them, which was more than they had scavenged for weeks. Their confusion and distrust melted into indebted gratefulness, and their gratitude sprung from a well that was once dry and now filled to the brim, for they had never known the loving care of a father.

And so, this was his farewell: two little homeless children embracing him with tears overflowing their eyes. Before he left, these were his final words,

“I fought for you. Nothing less. Remember me.”

Your head rises from your palms as you helplessly gaze at the old, worn book. The ending now makes sense. Well assured, you open to those final, fateful pages once more.

As you ponder his final words, you realize that no more follows. “The End,” is absent. “Why?” Because it was never the ending that truly mattered,

It was the beginning that followed.

The Ending Without an End

The “Christian” Life

*Crackle Crackle.. C – c.. CracklEEee.. Cra-*

I roll over in my cot.

*Cra-Cra.. lelele-Crackle-Crackle.. cr..rack.. akle*

“Soldier! Do you read?! I am on my way!”

*BOOOM* – *BANG BANG BANG* (background noises ensue)

The ends of my eyelids tip open as my lungs fill up with smoke. I cough multiple times and stand up from my cot to glare outside a steel-barred window. I yawn and spread my arms as if I was waking on a Saturday morning. All I see is a blend of smoke and chaos.

*BANG! BANG!* – *SLAM* – *BODIES FALL TO GROUND* – *Clinking of keys against steel* – *CREAK*

I turn to my left and see the steel door of my prison cell fly open. “Soldier! We have have to go! Quickly!” A dirt-covered, bloodied, beaten, and heavily armed General looks at me with recognition. I remain still. “Don’t you want to leave?!” He pleads aloud. I lean against the prison cell wall and sigh out the words, “I would love to.” The General sprints to me, clenches me by the arm, and cries out with a quavering voice, “Do you have any idea?!.. the lengths I went to.. to find you and free you?! I came save you!” I nudge Him away from my ear and crawl back into my prison cot.

*Distant reverberating foot steps get louder and louder*

The General falls to His knees beside my cot as a tear falls from His eye. His facial expression says everything. “The door.. It’s been unlocked and opened.. Please! Follow Me out! I beg of you!” I smile at Him and say, “Thank you very much! I appreciate what You have done to find me and free me. I love You very much for doing so.” I then snuggle my head against my pillow and close my eyes in awe of the fact that Someone would actually fight His way to me and free me.

Just then, an enemy soldier dashes into my prison cell and points his gun at me with a confident trigger finger.

My eyes open once again as I smile and say, “Oh! Hello to you too! And you are..?”

He shoots.

The Christian Life

*Crackle Crackle.. C – c.. CracklEEee.. Cra-*

My eyelids fly open with anticipation as I hear my receiver begin to pick up a message from my General.

*Cra-Cra.. lelele-Crackle-Crackle.. cr..rack.. akle*

“Soldier! Do you read?! I am on My way”

*BOOOM* – *BANG BANG BANG* (background noises ensue)

I move the microphone close to my mouth and shout, “Sir, yes Sir!” I quickly move to the steel door of my prison cell with readiness for my escape.

*BANG! BANG!* – *SLAM* – *BODIES FALL TO GROUND* – *Clinking of keys against steel* – *CREAK*

The steel door of my prison cell flies open. “Soldier! We have have to go! Quickly!” A dirt-covered, bloodied, beaten, and heavily armed General looks at me with recognition. I respond by saying, “Sir, yes Sir! Take my weapon and uniform!” A smile glazes His face as He hands me His heavily loaded gun and equips me with His heavily protected uniform, meanwhile throwing my old rags away.

We then quickly leave my prison cell and dash through the maze of steel walls which seems impossible to escape, but my General knows the way out. He maneuvers His way through the maze with perfection as I follow Him in full trust. A door with an exit sign finally shows itself, and my General looks at me to say, “Keep behind Me. Trust Me.” I nod as He opens the door. An army of enemy soldiers points their guns at us. Nonetheless, my General runs straight into the mass as I run behind Him. Thousands of bullets pierce His hands, feet, and side. Yet, He keeps running.

I escape the enemy encampment. He does not. (For three days)

I arrive at home base.

He welcomes me with delight at my obedience.