We are fighting with ourselves.
I’m where you are.
Maybe. Maybe not.
I’m just one small person on the face of this very large Earth.
In an even bigger Milky Way.
In a still bigger Universe, expanding to the power of…
You’re okay, though, right Black Hole? Is it okay that I call you that?
Remember when we met? I was a little kid. I had that mattress on the floor, do you remember? For the longest time, and it was the top twin mattress of the set; I can’t remember what happened to the boxspring, or if I even had one. Memory that far back gets a little fuzzy.
I was alone a lot then, remember Black Hole?
When I was alone, we would speak.
Funny thing is, I don’t remember how you came to me, but I know it was similar to how imaginary friends come into being.
There is a formal word for this “knowing” that the Protestants use. You already know it, but for the sake of saying it aloud:
They don’t do it how I remember it, though. Neither are bad; simply different.
The Protestants are real formal about these things, but you know this already, Black Hole. Who Am I to tell you anything? You can be in one infinite places and with
certain people anybody. As if by magic, you transcend the depths of space and time; but when we first met, it was just you and me. Remember?
No one else’s rules—signed off on and tweeted play-by-play—can take that away from me.
It’s so funny how that works, Black Hole, isn’t it?
People come up with their own set ways of doing things, and they get stuck in their minds about how things ought to be.
But those ought-to-be’s aren’t yours, Black Hole. Because they bring this world not much more than suffering.
And the suffering is so heavy right now. I can’t hold it all in, and I’m falling apart at the seams. You’re still here though, Black Hole, right? RIGHT?
Please let me be right this time.
I wan’t to consume the weight of the Earth, Black Hole. I want to erase all the pain. I can’t do it alone—I’m lost without you—but I’m still listening to you. Just tell me what very next thing I need to do to ease my own suffering. Your mercy is all that sustains me.
I’m still that same little girl, Black Hole. Remember when I used to worry so much that I was born with too much empathy? Remember when I repressed it and numbed myself, so as to cure myself of my own intense feelings?
Remember when just a few days ago, the parts I had hidden away for so long, came back with the Earth shattering. You held onto me, though. Because you knew it was the only way I could possibly keep breathing.
Broken. Shattered. Remember how I used to be?
Oh, Black Hole. Here we now find ourselves. In a place where,
Humanity has become arguably worth less than our worldly laws.
But we know better. Right, Black Hole? You and me. Me and you.
And my heart breaks, Black Hole. So, here we meet again.
When the world can seem overwhelming.
You look exactly the same, by the way.
But me? Wow! I know, right?
I feel like the old man returning to the Giving Tree, except in my story, you’re still standing so tall and full of thick branches; your canopy is vibrant with every possible shade of green.
How can you be so…unbroken?
The world can seem overwhelming to me, Black Hole. But you know that already.
And I get really lost as to what to do about things.
Saving the world seems like more than I can handle.
Please, keep sustaining me.
From my office here in Space Force.
Where I promise to craft words like wizardry, or perhaps via divine intervention, which is pretty much my very lost shot at saving anybody. After all, perfectly selected words are powerful; they have been and will be for all of eternity.
Certainly we can crack this code; we can configure these algorithms together.
The beast is threatening to consume us. And that’s why I’m up with you well into the night, Black Hole. We are both restless; I’m really counting on you, and you on me.
Our media is right in front of our faces. Unarguably, it has become America’s favorite pastime. Our favorite reality TV show, “The White House,” and it serves to only mirror what America has become.
Maybe there is something to that, Black Hole. You think?
Who really needs to know what every person they have ever met has got to say about nearly everything? Tweeting it all out through the infinite universe for all to see.
From the outside in and the Upside Down,
We are in the Robotic Age.
I’ve got to try to save them all, Black Hole. I don’t want the world to end. Women can save this world, and Mommy can do just about anything.
I can tell them how you saved me all day, Black Hole. But through this old gift of mine you have given me—through the Art of Storytelling and with a soul that feels too deeply—I have to craft perfectly, all the ways you continue to save me.
Or to put it into a larger context within a much larger world and to the power of infinity:
All of the ways you continue to sustain all beings.
And I have gotten too darn used to the world telling me what I need to say, Black Hole. How I need to feel. How insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things.
I wish the world wasn’t this overwhelming. But I can’t close my eyes and hide inside of my walls within the reality of my own blessings.
That used to be much easer, didn’t it, Black Hole? I was so good at hiding.
But you needed me to wake up:
I used to pass Victor, a man who sells the local homeless newspaper for a $3 profit, while out riding my bike with my kids. He’s usually on our route through one of the main stretches that runs through my town just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. I’ll refer to it as…
Circumstances recall Victor and I as passing friends. He was always so polite, the way he scrambled to clear the way on the sidewalk for me and my children to pass—his body trembling, nervously.
“No,” I would call to him. “Don’t move. We can pass around.”
Victor, with his scruffy, white beard and in his trembling nature, would settle himself back into his spot—selling his newspapers outside of a Walmart, framed by a Mexican restaurant and a Cheddars.
As old friends do, we would offer a friendly hello in passing.
After my husband and I returned from Denver, I had much writing to take care of as opposed to biking, and so I went to Starbucks on Main, which doubles as my office for the time being. Victor was at the corner of the parking lot selling his newspapers.
Considering that I didn’t have my children, and I wasn’t on a bike, I decided to risk my own comfort to go walk up to and introduce myself to Victor. I have this natural tendency to do things I probably shouldn’t. Some would call it naiveté. It’s probably why I ended up marrying my husband, Jackson, who is a delightfully humble and fierce protector of me…and our family.
na·ive·té (noun): lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment.
Victor told me it was coming: the rapture. What’s funny is—considering the darkness we’re in as we continue to dig ourselves an even deeper moral grave—I think Victor may be onto something.
But it’s not going to change minds in places like Pollyanna. They want their technology, but they don’t want to budge in their personal timeline of progression.
And it’s not that they want to murder people. They aren’t Nazis. In fact, they are repressed within their own stiff religions and social groups, so that even the evangelicals are breaking off like dead twigs from the Tree of Life that nourishes them.
The darkness is consuming them, fooling them; but its clothed in the garments of the Trinity, streamed right into the comfort of our living rooms from a theatre that has taken up residence—the revival of a ghost town—here in Pollyanna.
Nutrients latch on underneath Mother Earth, you know.
It’s the Science of Roots, or rather, the grand, delicious, and breathtaking design of all things. I believe some call it Creation; yet, others call it different things. But is it really anything other than what it truly is? Something that can’t be redefined by any human being? What I don’t understand is that, if we know the Truth, preach the Truth, and pray to the Truth, what are we so scared of anyway?
Our fear has us paralyzed to the point that we are now leveraging the lives of children and the sanctity of families. Things of God and made by God. Things of this Earth and made of this Earth. It’s gravely dangerous to play God. It’s gravely dangerous to disrupt His things.
Do we not realize that we are all made of the same stardust that brought us into being?
Have we cut ourselves off from Mother Earth, God’s delightful manifestation of all that he Himself told us was good already?
Just as it is.
In this exact moment in time.
And on this very day.
When the world is so deeply fearful, and thus, hurting.
Even right here in Pollyanna, where community and faith run like blood thicker than holy water. Yet, we are allowing ourselves to become infiltrated with hate and distain for our neighbors. And because of it—as a nation that is impacting the entire world and the universe—we are suffering.
They are just scared here in Pollyanna. They are just as scared as the rest of us, even though they say their scripture will save them. But I know that’s not how it works.
We don’t receive absolution until we are truly forgiven.
We have become repressed by our own doctrine here in Pollyanna, where we sleep subservient upon bare concrete that is covered in political bumperstickers and monogrammed letters, so that we don’t forget whose name we praise allegiance to: Us and Those Like Us (Proper nouns—capitalized).
I introduced myself to Victor, holding out my hand to shake his. He was jittery, a nervous wreck. It’s just what I would expect someone awaiting the rapture to look like.
I handed Victor a $5 bill, and told him to keep his paper to sell to another person. He thanked me, and we struck up a conversation. We walked into Starbucks to order our coffees, but when I went to pay for mine, my card was declined.
Victor reached into his pocket. “I’m so sorry,” he said. “Well, now I feel bad.” His hand emerged with a few wadded up dollar bills and some spare change.
“Oh, no! Don’t worry about me. I promise. I forgot that I canceled this card when I thought I lost it at the airport last week,” I assured him. But he stilled tried to hand me his money.
After I paid, I got to talking to Victor a little more. He told me that he doesn’t know how to read, and that what little he has learned, he learned by reading the Bible.
“Really?” I asked him. “You can’t read?” I was flabbergasted. Victor is older than me. “I want to ask you a question,” I pressed further.
“Okay,” he agreed.
“What do you think about Pollyanna? Do the people here help you out much? Do they smile? Do they seem happy?”
“Well, you know. People here’s real nice. But the people who help me out the most are the Blacks and the Mexicans.”
“Really? Why do you think that’s so?” I asked.
“I think it’s cuz they know what its like to be poor, you know. I think they know what its like to struggle.”
I pressed Victor a little more to talk about his literacy. I asked him if he knew of area libraries that may offer courses for adults on how to read. “They have computers there,” I suggested. But he wasn’t interested in computers much, even though he seemed fond of the relics of old libraries, of it’s antiquities.
“Them computers,” said Victor. “I ain’t gonna use em.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Them computers, nah. They’re the mark of the Beast.” And he was so sure of himself, that nothing could convince him that wasn’t sensible thinking; it’s more of an irrational fear, it seems. But not even the lure of learning to read on a computer could persuade him otherwise.
‘But don’t they make us smarter?’ I thought.
I see it now, though; I see exactly what Victor is thinking: Our computers are growing into our own ferocious beasts.
But it’s not the dirty work of the Evil Overlords at CNN that’s doing it. It’s not the talking heads delivering the same sensationalized news over on Fox. It’s our own tailored news feeds, configured exactly to our liking. A giant, unsupervised social experiment we sign up for, choosing our own personal passwords to another dimension.
And no one is paying attention because they are distracted in their alternate universes. In a place where not even God can find them.
The world is full of hard things we disagree on, but the world has never had a situation where information comes so rapidly, and so tailored to our personal beliefs, that we forget we are a part of a much larger kingdom, children of a much larger story,
To the power of infinity.
My big girls pointed out to me last night, roaring in unison with their hysterical teenage laughter. “He’s not even human. Old people love Facebook,” said Jane, the 14-year-old. “Mark Zuckerburg is a data mining robot.”
It’s not literal or anything; it’s not fake news, or real news; it’s not much more than conspiracy theory—the humorous observation of tech-savvy kids. But they may be onto something:
I left the algorithms of Facebook today; I’m in a really weird place.
But you’re here, Black Hole, right? You’re still here with me.
You’re going to help me right, Black Hole?
No matter what terms we use to describe it—depending on where birth landed us by our own dumb luck, or by God’s own great and sacred design; we all spin and depend upon the same Mother Earth to sustain us, wholly.
Just like you did when I was alone before,
do you promise to sustain me?
This is a pretty big task you have given me, you know?
Saving the whole entire world through the Art of Storytelling.
Maybe we need to remember that you had a Mother, and she was for all of us.
And that Our Mother has simply been missing.
You’re listening, right Mother Earth? Mother Mary? You’ll continue to, with your Son, nourish us all as a good mother should? Right? You’re a woman designed specifically for all of us, so that we can then take care of all His children.
I’m just a Christian stay-at-home mom and pseudo part-time writer, who shadows as a friend to everyone. Just like you designed me to be.
From my little spot here in Pollyanna, on this great big blue ball called Earth we spin upon—within a gigantic galaxy of infinite possibility—I will write about my life here in Pollyanna, and what it looks like to live, to look for the helpers, and then to become one.
I really do care, Black Hole.
I really do care!
No man can decide and then take that away from me; it is only you who sustains me.
You have known me longer than I have existed on planet Earth, where I now sit in my living room in this town I’ll call Pollyanna.
Born by dumb luck, really…
A white, American-born Christian who came into this word showered with a multitude of pre-existing advantages I chalk up to an immeasurable amount of blessings.
You have helped me so many times before, Black Hole…
Are you still listening?
You have given me a place to sit down for a while. Trustworthy, like always. Firm. Upright. My Tree of Life. My Giving Tree.
You are full of good news.
Your love sustains me.
I guess maybe we need a playbook, Black Hole; another chapter written for a modern tech society that doesn’t dry up our compassion, cutting us off from the experiencing empathy.
I’ll call this playbook:
The Book of Empathy
And the first rule will be:
Humanity is infinitely more powerful than the argument that laws are more worthy.