Legion

Earlier this morning, I met a woman at my bus stop. In all the ages I’ve ridden the Metro to work, I’ve never seen her waiting there before. I sat down beside her on the bench and introduced myself. She made no reply, nor did she turn to even look at me. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that she was terribly upset over something—intermittent tears trickled down her flushed red cheeks, and her thin hands were clenched to her thighs like bone-white vices.

Slightly embarrassed for her, I turned my head away and waited in silence until my bus arrived. There were others waiting at the stop—all standing at attention as the monstrous mobile monolith squealed to a halt directly in front of us. As I strapped my bag onto my shoulder and got up to leave, she quickly grabbed my arm and whispered, “Please… wait.”

“I’m going to miss my bus,” I said in mock urgency. (I was actually quite intrigued with the thought of deviating from my monotonous morning routine to assist this young lady.)

“Please… they’re almost gone,” she said—again, without looking at me. The last of our fellow commuters entered the bus, and after a slight pause and an unreturned glance from the bus driver, the bus doors closed with conjoining thuds, and the Metro bus rolled on, leaving the two of us alone.

“What’s your name?” I asked, as I sat back down next to her. I turned my body completely towards her and propped my elbow on the bench for support. She remained still, furiously debating the merits of my trustworthiness in her mind. Her eyes raced back and forth, and her lips moved rapidly, though no words were spoken. I repeated, “What’s—”

“My name’s Tara,” she wisped. Her body sighing, and the tension slowly seeping from her limbs, joints and muscles.

“What’s wrong, Tara?” I pushed—not knowing how long this line of inquiry was going to last.

“What’s wrong?” she snorted, as if she couldn’t believe the question. She turned and looked directly at me now. I could finally see her face, and found her to be rather attractive. Aside from the matted short brown hair and the tear-streaked face, she looked like any other young, female professional—maybe one or two years out of college. On any other day, she might be surrounded by male suitors at an office water cooler or chatting it up with her girlfriends at a local coffee shop. But not today—today her life had fallen violently apart and the enjoyment of suitors and lattés were far from her mind. As she peered at me, I noticed that her round brown eyes were anxious and scared—her lips, thin and trembling. I could tell she almost laughed at my previous question, but she held it in with an accustomed discipline.

“Please, Tara. Tell me how I can help you. Did somebody hurt you? Do you need to see a doctor? Please… Tell me what’s wrong!”

To this, she snapped to attention—her cynical smile replaced by an earnest frown. Whatever barrier of mistrust she had erected between us had now collapsed, and her brow fell in surrender. “Help me, please,” she whispered with all the heart-wrenching appeal of an ensnared lamb. “Th… there’s a demon inside me.”

Going home

I touch the ground,
Pure creation,
Undiluted, genuine and real,
I touch the ground,
And gather it together,
To bring inside,
I touch the tree branch,
The porch step,
The old wooden chair,
I turn the corner,
And there He sits,
Welcoming me home.

The Diaries of Demons and Angels

Anthony’s Journal
Thursday, April 25

I woke up late today, as usual. For some reason or the other, I am physically unable to wake up on time. My alarm goes off, and I just hit the snooze button. No matter how important it is for me to get up, my mind refuses to even acknowledge that fact. Yes, I can remember opening my eyes at the sound of the buzzer, and I remember smacking down on the Snooze, but mine was more like the reaction of a zombie. A blank action, absent of conscience.

I ran into Shelia this afternoon. I don’t know why, but I am so saddened by her lostness. She’s your average, prep-frat drinking gal, obsessed with being in the “In” crowd. I hate those kinds of people. I realize I’m no better than they, but sometimes I tend to think individuality marks a true character. But then again, some strive to be individuals, and they come off looking like idiotic fakes, grasping for attention. The alternative age in which we live. A society of ageless adolescence.

Shelia is a captive soul. Her friends drag her down. If she only had friends of the Light. Friends who would pick her up when she falls. Instead of laugh and mock. I tend to believe I am a child of Light. So, why can’t I be that friend to her? I am repulsed by her actions. Every word that comes from her mouth is registered as annoyance within me. Why can’t I feel compassion when I am with her? Instead of always swelling with guilt at the end of the day, alone and in my room. It’s easy to sit here and write that I care for her well-being. It all changes when she’s there, talking to me. I care not for her then. I care only to be away.

Finals are upon us. Shelia is in my Revelation class, Religion 342. Our final is Wednesday, May 1st. It won’t be difficult at all. I must make a note to read the chapters, though. After that final, I will begin packing for my ever-anticipated trip to Paris in France. J’ai attendu longtemps, n’est pas?

I was almost unable to go on that trip, had it not been for the early start of this Spring semester. We get out so early now at college. I’ve become so accustomed to these long summers in college, that even last week, I found it utterly absurd that my cousin in high school will be studying ‘till June 20th. High school is so disgustingly harder than college. So much so, that ‘since graduating in ‘94, I’ve put on quite a few pounds and have become a seriously lazy bum. It was really bad on my grades early in college, but those mournful grades have ‘since risen above average.

Yesterday, I purchased a couple of school notebooks to use as journals on my trans-continental journey next week. Tired of marathon readings of Skinner’s tiny box, congegations of irregular verbs, and the Quadratic Formula, I have decided to break in the new journals now and lose myself in trivial thought. A supreme work of procrastination, wouldn’t you say? And your name, sir?

I’ve found this beginning quite refreshing, and must now return to my studies. Farewell, and adieu.

– Anthony


Julie’s Diary
Thursday, April 25th

Another day. Another night. But praise the Lord, I got an “A” on my Biology test! I studied a bunch for that test. It must have been over six hours. I guess that kinda tells you how my social life is… Ha ha. But I am happy.

We had our Bible studies organizational meeting today at the Canteen. Josh, Megan, Chris and I were the only ones to show up. Oh, Anthony stopped by, but didn’t really say much. Actually, he never really says much! Ever! He’s a weird one. Chris mentioned how Anthony’s involved with the “bad people.” But you know Chris. Sometimes he can be annoying.

Daddy bought mom this great, big chandelier for their anniversary. It’s really beautiful. They’re going to have it put up in the dining room. Personally, I think they should switch it with the front hall one, and put that one in the dining room. But what do I know about interior design?

Oh, last night was great. The service was terrific. Mr. Hamilton spoke on spiritual warfare, and it was just completely eye-opening. It’s always good to be reminded of our spiritual battles. I sometimes get preoccupied with school, work at the paper, and things like bills, relationships, and even traffic. But we don’t fight flesh. It is spiritual beings that we battle. The devil and his demons. It’s scary to think of what Satan can do and does. No doubt, demons are a scary bunch. But I guess having God on your side kinda eliminates the fright, huh. I’m so glad God is on my side. If God’s on my side, who can be against me?

Of course, my dad wasn’t at the Wednesday night meeting again. I guess God hasn’t laid it on his heart to go yet. I pray God will save him. He’s such a good man, and I love him dearly. Please God, save my father. I don’t think I can handle being in Heaven and looking down at dad in such torment in Hell. I know there’s no sorrow in Heaven, but I just don’t see how I can bare to see my father suffering in Hell and not sob uncontrollably! God’s gotta save him. Please, God. You know that’s my prayer. It’s always my prayer. It’s my prayer tonight, and it’ll be my prayer tomorrow night.

There was no fellowship group tonight. There’s no more for the semester. It’s odd being at home Thursday night. Hopefully, we can set up the summer studies. We didn’t really get anywhere today, but there’s still a couple weeks. Actually, I’d better just concentrate on finals. I still need a good grade on the Biology final to raise my grade to at least a B. Plus, there’s French, History, and New Testament.

So anyway, lots to do and lots to think about. I thank God for his blessings and another day of life. I’ll praise Him forever.

– Julie

Carnival

Have I been hypnotized by what my eyes have found? This moment in my life blooms within my mind a glorious picture. And I pinch myself to feel if it’s true. Two feet step forward, and I am at the carnival.

So many sights. The lights and the smells. The giant wheels roll, the crowds frolic in seas of laughter and smiles. Men on stilts, animals in cages, and swords in men.

Step by step, men entice me to try this-or-that, to test my luck, or to take a chance. With joy, I lose a few dollars and gain a few lifeless, but smiling, toys. Toys that are given up to the next child with empty hands.

There are many shows, hidden beneath thick canvas tents and curtains. The malformed individuals of the world are showcased and enjoyed. Some are mocked and spat upon, but all in the name of humor and good fun. It’s the joy of the carnival.

Animals do tricks. Humans do tricks. The crowds enjoy them, but most anticipate entering this year’s brand new attraction–the Haunted House. None wanting to leave the carnival without entering it.

It’s the grand opening. There is a crowd. All those at the carnival line up and push their way towards the new attraction. Two feet step forward, and I am in line for the Haunted House. And I pinch myself to feel if it’s true.

But have I been blind? My father draws me, and I must go home. I cannot enter the Haunted House. I was told to come home. And I know it.

Stepping out of line, I now dodge vendors, carts, and ground cables through the now-deserted walkways of the carnival. An occasional individual hastily makes his way past me to the Haunted House. Everyone has left the small rides, simple games, and silly gags. The walkways are empty, most lights further from the Haunted House have even been turned off. It is difficult to find my way towards the carnival’s main exit.

Individuals on the same journey greet me, and we make our way together. There are only a few, however. A handful have decided to leave. And I am one.

Finally, after a few wrong turns, bumps and bruises from tripping on unlit obstacles, and other irritations, my comrades and I stand at the exit. I turn to see the Haunted House in the distance. The crowd is huge. It’s hard to believe, but there is more than enough room for them all in the new Haunted House. It’s state-of-the-art. It’s modern. And it caters to all people.

It would be so much easier to shut my eyes and play along. But I turn around and begin my journey home. Though I yet feel a small desire to visit the grand Haunted House, a greater desire fills me still. A desire I act on. And I leave the carnival.

Generation X-Tract: The Tolerance Patrol

tolerance-patrolThis article originally appeared in my Generation X-Tract column for Broadside, the George Mason University student newspaper.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Captain Anthony. Captain Anthony was a born-again Christian and he took his beliefs very seriously. One day, when the Captain was walking around his college campus, he began sharing his faith with two students who happened by.

“Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven,” he said as he handed the students two small pamphlets. The students, at first puzzled by the man’s statement and small gifts, quickly backed away, reached into their pockets, and pulled out two shiny whistles.

“We are members of the Tolerance Patrol,” the students said. “And you have broken the Tolerance Law.”

As the two students blew their loud whistles several times so that half of the campus turned to look their way, the stunned Captain Anthony weakly repeated, “Tolerance Law?”

“Yes. It so states in the Tolerance Law that every person shall respect the religious views of all others, for all religious views are equally true. You have made an attempt at forcing your bigoted, hateful, homophobic, intolerant, and narrow-minded religious view upon the two of us, thereby breaking the Tolerance Law. The punishment for such action is a public flogging by the Tolerance Beast.”

“Tolerance BEAST?!” exclaimed Captain Anthony as he quickly glanced over his shoulder for any sign of an on-coming large animal. Relieved at finding no sign of anything beast-like in appearance (although it was quite difficult to see through the large circle of students who had gradually gathered around him), the Captain calmed himself and responded, “I have heard of no such Tolerance Law. In fact, the very idea is absurd. All religions cannot be equally true. It is illogical to think that Christ is the only Way to Heaven, yet not the only Way at the same time. Someone has to be wrong…” Then, suddenly and without warning, a giant stone beast leaped from somewhere in the crowd and landed right on top of the Captain, pinning him to the campus sidewalk.

“It is the great Tolerance Beast!” the crowd shouted in ecstasy as the two members of the Tolerance Patrol stepped away from the beast and joined the other students in their cheering and clapping. “Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!” they shouted in joyous unity, for they were all firm believers in the Tolerance Law.

The giant stone beast held Captain Anthony down with one of his enormous hands and lifted the other in a clinched fist high above the Captain’s head. Among the riotous cheering of the students, Captain Anthony managed to lift his voice and scream, “Someone has to be wrong!” And as the crowd shouted back, “Yeah, YOU are!” the great fist of the Tolerance Beast landed hard upon the Captain’s skull.

Following the abrupt end of Captain Anthony’s life, the great Tolerance Beast bounded away and the crowd of students quickly dispersed (for they were all late for their afternoon classes). The two members of the Tolerance Patrol placed Captain Anthony’s Bible and pamphlets into a campus recycle bin and headed straight to the Student Government office to tell of their recent victory.

Several weeks went by, and the Tolerance Patrol received many new recruits and pledges. The group flourished on the campus as a mighty force, and Tolerance Law was eventually spread throughout the entire nation. The Tolerance Patrol (as well as many college students around the world) eventually purged the land of intolerance, and thus, they tolerated one another and lived happily ever after.

I have seen the darkness

Inside all that the world creates dwells the darkness of the demon. The hoards surround earthly pleasures and feed on the spirits of man. There is no end to their evil. The black pits in their eyes see not the righteousness of Heaven, but the twisted image of reality. Away they flock, dementing all of God’s creations. Evil is their supper, righteousness their pain. The touch of the dark sweep throughout our land, our homes, our bodies. Despair is unleashed with a frightful vengeance. The end cannot be found in these events, the war is being lost on this earth, and the evil of man has reached a new level. The beckoning begins. The persuasion proceeds. Their cold, crooked fingers crackle as they motion to all men… to come… to serve themselves as the devil’s gourmet. Souls are dying, and the cloud of darkness rolls overhead, with the great eminence of the greatest evil. The hungry demons, awaiting the feast, focus their anticipation to the ecstacy scratches of their eyes. Their leader, laughing at their impatience, gives the command to begin, and the hordes are unleashed, across the skies, with a heart wrenching speed and an inhuman scream. The slow flapping of decayed wings tear into the ears of the frightened people. The cursed beings inflict the sky with a scourging malevolence, penetrating death deep into the commonwealth of man. They feed on the flesh and souls of the insecure man, bringing him down to their pit of darkness to imprison him for all of eternity. The slaughter has begun. You and I and all of God’s children can only wait. Wait for the end… wait for our Savior. But, can we wait? Do we have the strength?