Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Than Are Dreamt of

Horatio:
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

Hamlet:
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 163–167

I love science, what Hamlet refers to as philosophy. Since philosophy means “love of knowledge,” that suits me. I make no distinction between wanting to know of the things we call science and the things we call theology. It’s all good.

And he is right. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in any man’s philosophy. Science pushes the boundaries of knowledge continually, and with each step forward, truer mysteries of the universe deepen.

This is a difficult post for me to write on many levels. Some of you, dear readers, are going to think one thing of me, others something quite different. But what, in that play Polonius ironically advises his son (to better keep lies straight) I say earnestly: “to thine own self be true.”

Brenda called me in my class room just as the last of my students filed out for their lunch.

She was crying.

She wanted to meet me.

If I skipped my preparation period, skipped my lunch, I would have one hour, 24 minutes.

I went.

I’ve never seen her like that.

She was broken. Desperate.

When I got home, she was standing in the driveway. Her car was packed with all of her things. She had left John.

She wanted to come back.

She said all of the things I had wanted to hear from her. That she loved me. That she wanted to be my wife. That she wanted to grow old with me... and more.

That made me cautious. It was all the things I wanted. Was she saying the things I was most likely to respond to? Or was there something else, something more?

I told her I wanted to think about it. I wanted to pray about it.

She said she had been to the church. She had shared everything with the pastor (a good friend) and two women I trust.

I sent them emails, asked them if she seemed as sincere, as broken, to them as she seemed to me.

They said they were impressed. They believed her sincerity.

I told my friend, the monkish pastor, the guy who feels comfortable enough to tell me what he thinks, even when it is something I don’t want to hear, or is about what I am doing wrong, I’d like to talk with him, within a couple of days, face to face, not via email.

He replied there was an elders meeting at our church that night, ending at 8:00. I could come then.

I got there at 7:00. Spent an hour in the Prayer Room.

And we shared.

I reviewed the past year, my ambiguous feelings, my need for wisdom, for God’s direction.

My friend told of Brenda’s honesty that day.

We prayed.

I began to feel an urge to go talk to her. She is staying at her mom’s.

As we shuffled in our seats, preparing to take our leaves, I was reminded of something.

“Oh... One more thing.”

They sat back down.

“I want you to know that when I asked all of you to come and pray over Jeremiah, over the sense that there was something wrong, something evil, clinging to him, some darkness from Haiti prompting dark thoughts, dark actions, that from that moment on there was a much lighter feeling about Jeremiah. He stopped having those thoughts. He stopped having those nightmares.”

They were pleased to hear it. One of them said there was something he had been wanting to share for some time... something about the night of the fire, the fire started by Jeremiah.

“Brenda and I were in the basement, and she was ahead of me a few steps. She had gone around the corner and up the stairs, and was just standing there staring. She was staring at the fire. She wasn’t moving. Just standing there.

“I pushed her out the door. And then I turned around to look at the fire, to see if I could put it out or something. And of course I couldn’t it was too big. But I saw something.

“In the middle of the flames was a figure. All black. And I had this sense of evil. Of something malevolent.

“I went back later, after the fire was out, to see if there was something there, some feature of the building, or some object, that could have made that shape in the fire. There wasn’t anything. It had felt like I was looking at Satan.”

We were silent for a moment. This thing he saw... the flashes of evil I had seen in the shadows in Jeremiah’s room, the strange knocking on the walls there, the recording of Jeremiah’s voice on a neighbor’s answering machine that wasn’t him, rapid, evil, ugly words, articulated in a way he does not...

I cleared my throat.

“Brenda told me something about that night also. She said that when she was going down that hallway, just ahead of you, and got to that corner, she had an oppressive sense of evil. Something frightened her. She didn’t want to go on. But she went up the stairs, and there was the fire, and the sense of evil grew, seemed to just hold her.”

We thought about how many times Brenda has spoken about the fire, how it had affected her so deeply, changed the way she felt about Jeremiah. Changed everything.

My friend, the bookish keeper of our small flock, said he had always felt there was some unfinished business about the fire. That the church had not dealt with. That they had prayed with Jeremiah about it, seeking freedom for him... but they had never addressed the obvious toll the fire had taken on Brenda and I, especially Brenda.

And we thought about evil... We thought about the subject that none of us are comfortable with... we thought about the words in scripture:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. --Ephesians 6:12

“We need to pray over Brenda,” my friend said.

“When?” said another.

“How about now?” I asked.

I called her. She came.

We talked. We covered the previous conversations.

We prayed. Fervent prayers for deliverance, freedom. We prayed for protection. We prayed for blessings. We prayed for the breath of God to fill her.

And a lightness seemed to fill the room. A weight seemed to float away.

And there was something else. Three people have told me, people who have been praying for us, praying for wisdom, and strength, and healing for each of u as we go our separate ways, three people said that they each, that day, had sudden;ly felt they should pray for the miraculous healing of our marriage.

Earlier I had told Brenda that we were going to go ahead with the things we planned. The review of the divorce papers the next day at the courthouse. That we would just see how we had done with filling them out, that we would not have to do anything with them, but we had that appointment, we should keep it.

It was awful.

We sat in that clerk’s office. Sheet by sheet we went through the stack of divorce papers, signing in places, making small changes. It took a little over an hour.

“Well, that’s it,” the clerk said. “All you have to do is have your sons sign the forms that they do not contest you won’t be getting child support, and then file them upstairs. Just turn in the packet and pay $381.”

Those papers lay on the floor between the captain’s chairs in the van on the drive back to Canby. Those papers lay between us.

She wants to move back in.

But... I feel very clearly that I should not let that happen.

But...

I also feel very clearly that I should not file those papers.

What the heck is going on?

I am certain that this past year I was supposed to forgive Brenda. Keep taking her back. This wasn’t some wishful fantasy on my part to try to hold the shredded remains of my marriage together (though there was some of that). It had been clear direction, the deep sense that it was right, what my Lord wanted of me.

I didn’t understand it. It seemed that I had been asked to be hurt, over and over and over.

I told Brenda once, when she was complaining about how good deeds we had done had not paid off for us, that she obviously didn’t get it.

“Look at this past year. This year has been hell for me. It has not paid off for me. So why do I feel I was supposed to do it? I think it was not for my benefit. It was for yours. I think that someday you will look back on what I did this year, at my forgiveness, my steady love, and understand a little better about forgiveness, about love, about undeserved grace. Someday this past year may be what helps you to find God, to understand the great love He has for us.”

At that time it was also clear the time had come to let her go. It was time to begin the divorce. It seemed clear to me God did not want me to take her back, though she asked a couple of times. She was to live with her choices for a while.

But now... today... that feeling is gone. Instead, I feel something else.

I feel the echo of the words I said over a quarter of a century ago...

“I vow to love and to cherish, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to forsake all others, until death do us part.”

What?

WHAT?!?

Yeah.

My vows.

Those are the words I hear.

And yet... it seems clear that I am not to let her move back in right away. It seems clear we need time apart. We need to break the pattern of the actions and reactions we have always done... the seeking to prove ourselves right, to get our way in even small, insignificant things.

It seems clear I need to grow up. I need to bear the burden of running this household. Of working during the day, and then cooking and cleaning, and doing laundry and paying bills.

It seems clear we need space to grow a little... both of us... that we are like plants that have become root bound in our pots. We need a little space to grow deeper roots, to send out new branches, to be who God wants us to be, and learn who we are... ourselves and each other.

And it occurs to me... what a strange thing. To be told to continue to forgive, to continue to take her back, while she continued to deceive me, betray me. To be told to stop... to let her go... to let her live with her choices... And now, frankly, as strange as it sounds, to forgive her again, and stand in the door of our home, and, lovingly, tell her to dive into the river, to wash away the pain and guilt, To let herself flow with our Lord, and that I would be alongside her. I would join her. I will walk into that river, and wash away the crud that clings to me. To take on responsibilities I should, to say “No” to the projects that distract me from my family.

And that when we are both ready, when we have been washed, and we have dried, and are ready to relearn our love... to walk through the door of our home together... even as the boys move on.

And... there is the toxic catalyst lying in a cupboard at work. In the large stationary store envelope, with its proper seals, carefully filled out forms and check marks and explanations and notarized signatures. The divorce papers.

I possess a tool of destruction. I can, with a 15 minute drive and less than $400, have this marriage end within a week.

It is more authority I should have.

It is true I would not do it as long as I thought there is a chance for things to work out, that she was in agreement. It is true I would not do it without clear instructions from my Lord.

But the ability to do it whenever I wish is a loaded gun lying within the room of our marriage, the room that has begun to unexpectedly have a light shine in it.

She is wearing her wedding rings again. I have not put mine on. I think that I am being told something about that.

I pause because it would mean I capitulate. I pause because it seems insane to open myself up to the hurt she can cause me, and my sons, again.

But... I am the Lord’s servant.

I wrote recently that I was his, and that all He need do is tell me, and I will obey.

This is almost harder than anything else I have done.

But this is not a thing of emotions. I have written of how a part of me is a watcher. It observes how I feel, why I feel, trots out the psychology and experience I have and explains myself to myself. And in the last couple of days the watcher within me has taken control. I have not let my feeling dictate my actions. I have cautiously, methodically, listened and prayed, and pushed the part of me that tends to fall easily into emotional responses, deep down into a quiet corner, and I have looked at my heart.

I know God is real.

He is more real than I.

I know there are forces of evil in the world. It is a topic I shy from. I especially avoid thinking about the chapter of my life that included living in an ashram, being associated with Kali worshippers... Yes... Kali... For those who know what I refer to, that is more than enough said. For those who don’t... please don’t look it up. Just let it lie. It is a part of my life that came and nearly killed me, and I was delivered from through a miracle, and I don’t want to talk about it.

Ever.

But...

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. --Ephesians 6:12

I love science. I have a deep faith, one that makes me feel that my beliefs are stronger, deeper, more real, crossing more dimensions of time and space than my physical body inhabits.

And there is more.

There are things that cannot be explained. And there are wonderful things in the process of being explained. I am so excited about the Hadron supercollider! I am thrilled at the mapping of dark matter and dark energy in distant galactic superclusters. I am so excited to learn more of these new theories of quantum gravity!

But... those are the things of men. Those are the mental gymnastics of men. And there is more to all of this than being a man, of being mortal.

There is also obedience.

I’m wary of the path that seems to be opening before me. But the light of my shepherd, the Shepherd, is shining down that path.

I will obey.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


(FYI: The above picture is created by writing out prayers with Sharpies. Different colors of the letters, words, forms the image. Click to enlarge.)

21 comments:

Elizabeth said...

That was a powerful post! Thank you for sharing.

Good for you for keeping your heart open to possibilities, but not rushing in either direction.

Owen said...

May the God brings something out of nothing, who restores the years of the locust, who is love and casts out all fear, who simly Is, be with you and strengthen you and bring His healing in His way in His time. And may the peace that passes understanding be yours and Brenda's and for your sons also.

Anonymous said...

will continue to pray

Ame said...

i read this ... and i feel i should take off my shoes ... i am standing on holy ground.

the evil is real ... the presence, the vision ... it is all very real. our struggle is here, in the spiritual world. i have experienced the same.

i was reminded of the one asked to dip in the river seven times. so simple; yet so complex.

Will ... i think you should ask them to pray over you and Isaac, too, individually. then i believe you should ask them to pray over all four of you, together. then i believe they should come to your home, pray over your property, inside and out, every room.

Amrita said...

Will I told you that this was a supernatural warfare.

But take time. Think and pray and watch and wait.Get others to be involved in it specially in B 's life.

Let the first emotions roll away and step forward.

I know what Kali worship is.

The davil tries to thwart our relationship with God. I 've been under severe attack.

Unexplainable things which only the devil can cause.I once heard a strange voice (I believe the devil 's) saying I am your master. And I immediately rebuked it.

Anonymous said...

your pastor must be one amazing Rev'd! aggf

ukok said...

It isn't my place to tell you what you should do. I have never been married to anyone for as long as you have.

But i will say this, if you take Brenda back, you take her back as she has been, not as you hope her to be.

That means you have to accept, and prepare your children for more years of what has gone before.

Prayer works, of course it works, but the person has to rise up to the challenge of change on a daily basis for prayer to work. God won't change Brenda. Brenad has to change.

I hope for your childrens sake that they are strong enough to endure what lies ahead if you choose to take Brenda back, if she is still as unstable in committing solely to you and the children, as she ha been in the past.

When the children leave home, they would not be so badly affected by your choices, or by Brenda's behaviour, perhaps you feel you can not wait that long to be with Brenda, but perhaps that is wrth thinking about.

I would further ask, is it worth the risk?

Not just the risk of further hurt to yourself, but primarily, for your children.

Your reach a stage in all this mess (well i did) when you realise it isn't even about you anymore, it is about your children. Kids have to put up with terrible things at the hands of parents who should know better.

How have you and the kids been getting on since Brenda went? You've given care of your finances to God and he's made sure you've had enough to live on hasn't he?

In your gloomist moments he has given your friends to help you out emotionally, to tend to the care of your house even, and to offer you support and encouragement.

Have things been more settled and less confusing for the children since Brenda left?

Has the household been calmer?

Have you done more things with the kids and let them take precedence over your relationship with Brenda and all the angst that surrounded your relationship when she lived with you?

If i may be so bold may i also ask....is it losing Brenda that you fear the most, or is it being alone, bearing the responsibility of caring for your children alone, feeling unloved, unwanted?

Then i would ask you, did Brenda never make you feel unloved or unwanted or lonely?

You have written so many times of being in a 'loveless' marriage (you loved one another, but were unable to give/recieve love...at least this is my understanding)....of feleling intensely lonely despite lying in bed next to your wife...of feeling unwanted when her body wandered into another mans arms.

I don't say these things to hurt you brother, i say them to remind you of what you have to be prepared to invite back into your life if you invite Brenda back into your life.

I hope and pray that things work out for you all. I hope that Brenda will daily choose the change, but i have only your wirtings to go on, that seemed so honest and frank about her patterns of behaviour etc.

And for this reason i am concerned for you. But even more so for your children.

Praying for you all.

Marvin the Martian said...

You have two choices- sign the papers now, or wait for her to hurt you again, and sign them later. But sadly, I think you will sign them regardless. :(

curious servant said...

Thank you, all of you for your kind words.

I have become quite ready to end this marriage. I felt no hesitation in going and doing the final review, preparing for the end.

No... this isn't about me... and I have been very concerned for the boys in this...

This is about obedience.

I believe this is what God wants me to do. I belive miracles are possible.

And... here is the tough part of our faith... there isn't any room for me to complain.

When the Creator of the Universe steps down into mortality to share the human experience, to share Himself... and kneels to wash the feet of those He created... when the Living Word permits His Creation to spit on Him, torture Him, murder Him, and love throughout it all... how can I onject to anything He asks me to do?

IT would be easier to divorce. Much easier. And to my advantage.... financially...

But... this faith thing isn't a game, isn't a passing feeling... it is my deepest truth, my depest reality.

I believe God is working on something special here.

My faith requires I believe in miracles, and I obey.

Owen said...

Will, (words are failing me here) you will be rewarded for your obedience. It's too easy to say but out my own pain and hard hard places I understand in my own failing ways that it is true.

msmarymagdalene said...

in the desert of the real i sit with indrawn breath......

waiting

Becky said...

To live so 'small' takes balls Will.....

It’s about redefining love using God’s example - boundless, with no quid-pro-quos. Expecting–and sometimes getting–nothing back in return. It takes courage, strength, and total commitment to love like this.



What if right now, everything we knew, felt, believed about love was suddenly turned “upside down.” Challenged. Tested. No limits. What if we came to realize that everything we thought and believed about love, grace, forgiveness, each other and ourselves was wrong. We discover that radical grace is real and we can experience it in our own lives and freely give it to others.

http://www.deadlyviper.org/blog/?p=625

should I start railing myself against living 'small' I will return to read your story and see the realness of Him.

Anonymous said...

i think ukok has some good insight and points to be made.
Continue praying!

Anonymous said...

Will,

I pray for wisdom and mostly discernemnt. The powers of hell and their strongholds are not easily broken. In my own struggles with evil, I have learned valuable lessons one is the devil works with decoys one to distract while a mastermind continues its plan behind the scenes. God is powerful yet we are fragile. Remember we are fragile. The key is Will--Stay VERY CLOSE TO THE FATHER NOTHING ELSE especially if you are dealing with Satan himself.

Anonymous said...

Good comments anonymous....good for all of us.
I've reread it myself several times. Satan is the ultimate deceiver when we are so totally wrapped in the daily concerns of life he is working unknowingly.
Lord give direction and discernment!

curious servant said...

I so appreciate all your comments! And, even more so, your prayers.

I know it must seem to some that my actions do not make sense.

I suppose, in a strictly logical way, they do not.

To sum up the year...

I spent months forgiving Brenda, taking her back, and having her betray, deceive, and leave me. I think the Lord wanted me to do that because it was a tangible demonstration for Brenda, something she would will be able to hang on to and help her understand God's love, forgiveness, grace.

Then it became clear I was to stop. And I did. I no longer felt the pressing of the spirit to continue to forgive, no longer felt/remembered the stories of repeated forgiveness told in scripture. I was to let her go.

And in doing so she had to face her new life.

Her shame, guilt, regret, sense of responsibility, and yes, her love for me, had brought her back, and perhaps brought her to a place where she is broken enough to accept healing grace, freedom from her hurts, and the hurts she has done.

This does not mean my door is open to her. She has much to do to become healthy enough for me to consider sharing my home with her again.

But, the clear words I get now are about my commitment to God to love her, protect her. I cannot do this yet in the full role of a husband, I suppose one would call me an estranged husband...

I take too seriously the thoughts and opinions of others. I have always been sensitive to the whispers of The Spirit, and those words are the only ones I need heed.

But I am grateful that others love me enough to share their opinions, tell me what is on their hearts.

But, as it should be clear to anyone who has tagged along on this strange journey of mine, I may have a passion for the knowledge of men, but I stand firmly on the conviction that a spiritual life is real, true, clear.

I know the opportunity I am giving Brenda to find a way back, to rebuild our marriage, is a commandment from my Lord.

And, as unAmerican as it is, I believe in obedience. Regardless of consequences, regardless of its logic (or apparent lack of), regardless of my anxieties of opening myself to further hurt, I obey.

In our society we often obey the rules of society because we are forced to do so by social pressure, or the fines of a speeding ticket, or worse, the threat of time behind bars.

The obedience I am referring to is the simple obedience of someone who has promised to follow... promised to obey, simply because I was given the freedom to choose, and this is my choice.

To my point... (long winded aren't I?!)

Aside from the many experiences which I have shared demonstrating the reality of my God, here is another...

Why am I not sick?

Over the past year my children have become ill several times (Jeremiah is sick now). I have been around students who have been sick (the other day at work six kids got sick and were sent home... absences are way up). I have even sensed a change in my body, as if there was something not quite right, a certain smell to me that hinted at biological battles within my blood, and yet I have not become sick.

I should not only be sick, but I should at least look and feel unhealthy!

I have slept eight hours perhaps three times in over a year. I have gone for weeks on less than five hours sleep each night.

And though I have felt very tired, Yet I look fit. I feel tired, but fit.

Why is this?

Because I know many have been praying I would have strength, that God would sustain me.

Think about this. Months and months of less than six hours sleep every night. months and months!

And though I am tired... I still stride through my days, care for my children, do the tasks I need do.

This isn't saying I haven't gotten a little freaked out a few times by the stress and load of tasks and the worries...

But I am not sick, and with all the exposure I've had to illness (and I used to catch every flu that came along), with all the poor eating habits (mainly not eating), with all the lack of real rest, I am not sick.

How can I not obey what the Creator of all things asks of me?

And really, how can I refuse to do anything in the face of the reality of God incarnate on His knees washing feet just before His creations lay hands upon Him, chain him, beat Him, torture Him, and murder Him.

Our species committed deicide and were forgiven that enormous sin.

I'm tired. I should go to sleep... but I have to wash the dishes, get Jeremiah his medicine and into bed (poor guy is really sick), pray over both sons, and I know I will be too restless to sleep even then.

But I am not sick.

Judas Hate said...

"It is more authority I should have."


First - I love you Will.

Second - Am I the only one who caught the missing word?
Pretty powerful.

Ukok said what I was getting ready to spend an hour trying to say.

I continue to pray for all of you. I am just so sad for you and the boys, but I am happy for Brenda.

Sorry brother, that's the only way I know how to say it.

I love you.

Justin

Anonymous said...

Will,

this is my concern for you and the boys. even though a person has been delivered or is being delivered from dark forces, the problem that many believers fail to acknowledge is the power of life-long learned patterns and hurts that are not easily changed. Brenda has deep issues and so do you. Christ said it himself once a person cleans the house, the enemy comes back with forces more worse then the first. Life long patterns and habits do not change once a person is delivered. Satan works with the power of lies and deception. The art of warfare is based on deception. Substance abuse and those that abuse drugs the foundation is based on deception, manipulation and control--these are all antics of the devil. Be mindful will and seek the Lord with all your heart. And when He tells you to do things that do not make sense or go against your natural instincts--Listen to Him no matter the cost.

curious servant said...

Wow, Justin... I've proofed this a couple of times and never noticed that missing word. Wonder if that is freudian.

(Of all the times this sort of ting has happened, the most interesting is Armstrong's words when he stepped on the moon.)

The boys do not know that I am considering letting her back, or that she has moved out from his house.

There was a question earlier from one of you if I wasn't doing ths out of loneliness... It isn't. When I speak with her I am wary, the watcher in control. And... I find it a little irritating having her trying to make suggestions about the house or things I feel are no longer her responsibility.

I am in no hurry for this to happen.

As for those papers... they still sit there in the cupboard at work...

Later... I'm taking the dog for a walk.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that God is using this to bring Brenda back to Himself but not to you?

Anonymous said...

Great dialogue. Will, these friends really love you and love God. I agree with all of the above.
What feels from God isn't always. Life and love can easily be manipulated by Believers as well as unbelievers and also in our own selves.
I see a great deal of caution here in every which way.
You are a very wealthy man with friends like these.