beginnings…

August 4, 2012

He held in his hands a book ancient as the dark. It had the smell of must and decay, and yet miraculously it held together in one piece. Though this book had been neglected for untold number of years, it was once well worn; the brown hard leather cover dented on the corners, darkened and dipped from the grip of fingers, and broken in the spine; the yellow pages frayed and bent over. There was a bookmark there, as fragile as the pages which he feared to open, turn, and look…

When he was younger one of the places he would hide out when he was neglecting his studies was the library. He wasn’t there to learn; he was hiding: from teachers, from parents, from teenage drama, from life. Once he was in, it was easy to dip from row to row, and if someone looked suspicious, it was simply a matter of opening up a random book and thumbing through, acting like he was looking for something.

But the truth is, he was looking for something: for truth, for purpose, for need; he was looking for someone to rescue him; rather, for someone he might be called upon to rescue. He was looking for the fulfillment of his soul; the meaning of life. Yet as pain and emotion began to bubble up from his gut and take the form of words in his mind, sometimes those words would escape and hit the books he hid among. Most of the time they would bounce back in a silent cry of desperation, but sometimes they connected and caught words and titles and names and brought back ideas and the start of understanding was with them…

-Peter L Richardson

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Gratitude: A New Perspective

November 20, 2011

(a personal narrative)

grace=thanksgiving=joy

grace=thanksgiving=joy

“There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.”  -Ann Voskamp

I gave the wood a good strong knock to show the rot on my shed is only at the very bottom. Bent over, I couldn’t see the baseball sized hornets’ nest that had been built sometime in the spring. The angry mob dropped out of their cocoon like heat seeking missiles and swarmed about my head. I swiftly and calmly backed away allowing them to disperse around me, but one found his way between my glasses and the bridge of my nose. Stung: Right between the eyes!

“What a perfect end to a shitty day!” I half-joked to my dad.

He laughed, but immediately, I felt the Holy Spirit respond in my heart, “Was it, Pete? Was this day so bad? You should consider changing your perspective.”

It was Sunday, the Lord’s Day, a day of rest and fellowship. I spent the morning in worship at a church I was visiting, and I planned to spend the afternoon in food and fellowship with friends, but after a quick stop at home, I turned the key in my Jeep and she groaned deeply and died. I tried again. Same thing. I had a pretty good idea it was the starter, but I’m no mechanic, so I did what I always do in these matters and called my dad for help.

“Yeah, sounds like the starter to me,” he says, “but I can’t be sure unless I check it out, and I’m at least two hours away antique shopping with your mom. Try your brother.”

I give him my thanks and call my brother, who somehow managed to inherit all my dad’s skill and knowledge of home and car repair. “Sounds like the starter to me also, but I’m at work until 3pm. I can stop by after that.”

Nothing bothers me like waiting when I’ve got a task ahead of me. I want to reach into the engine and start tearing things apart, but I know it is wiser to wait for someone more knowledgeable than me to look at the Jeep. Still, I spend the next few hours looking up Jeep manuals on the internet and “how to fix ur starter” videos on Youtube. By the time my brother shows up, I am certain it really is the starter.

He brings his son who is excited about the prospect of playing his older cousin’s PS3 games. While his dad picks out a game he is okay with, I begin removing the starter. Of course, it is in an impossible place that only a contortionist with tiny hands and super-strength can get to, but eventually it’s off, and we are off to the auto parts store. I take the old starter with me because I’ll get a discount with it, and the manager insists on checking it on his bran spanking new “check all parts electrical” machine. It turns out the starter is good. Great. Something else must be wrong with the Jeep. Defeated, dirty and tired, we head back to my place brainstorming what else could be wrong, all of which would be beyond our ability to fix and would dig deep into my wallet, and probably beyond my ability to afford.

While the starter’s still off, we check the flywheel, which looks good, so I set about reinstalling the starter while he calls his wife to tell her he’s going to be much later than expected and to hold off on dinner for now. Just as I’m tightening the last bolt, she shows up with my niece and my parents. They have bags of food with them and they tell me to take a break for dinner. Before I do so, I decide to turn the key over so my dad can hear the dying groan the Jeep makes and get his take on the problem. However, instead of a pitiful moan, she roars like a lion as the engine fires up!! Surprised, I turn her off, and try again in unbelief, but she fires right up again!

“Let me try,” my dad says as he takes the key and pushes me out of the way. He turns the key over three times, and three times the Jeep starts with no problems. I have not had a problem since. I shower as my family prepares dinner, and we eat and fellowship in joy like it was a holiday. After dinner, I show my dad and brother areas in the house that need attention and work and get their opinion and advice on repairs when I get the hornet sting between the eyes.

God is teaching me this: Thanksgiving is all about perspective. It is a choice, an attitude, and a way of life. Unfortunately, I am only at the beginning of my journey on that way, but I am determined to walk it out and I am walking forward day by day. The day before my Jeep died, I went on a beach-trip with my good friend. The Jeep could have cut out when I was two hours away from home; it could have died at the church I was visiting; it could have died at my ex-wife’s house when I was dropping off my kids; it could have died at the gas station I stopped at just before going home, but it conveniently died in my own driveway. I spent my afternoon on my back and elbow high in grease, but I have more knowledge and skill than I did before. The repair could have cost me hundreds of dollars, but somehow it ended up only costing me time. I missed spending time with friends, but the time my family gave to me was more precious than any good time with buddies. Once again, they have confirmed they really do have my back.

The hornet sting put it all in focus. Without it, I might have missed the lesson; I don’t think I would have reflected on the day otherwise.  Life is full of circumstances we cannot control, but we have a faithful Father in heaven who is in control of the big picture. Our task is to learn to trust him in the small tragedies of life, so when the big ones hit hard we are prepared to run to him for comfort, wisdom and guidance. I can choose to look at that day and count up everything that I lost and continue to complain, or I can choose to focus on all that was preserved for me and all that was gained through the experience. It is all a matter of perspective. Is my Jeep fixed? Did God hear my prayers and make a little miracle happen in the insignificant details of my life? Was it just some connection that was loose or dirty and just need to be tightened or cleaned? Or is there a bigger problem lurking that will pop up some place down the road? I don’t know. I’m choosing to be hopeful; after all there is no check engine light, and she runs well at the moment, but if the Jeep breaks down again, one thing I know is that God is good. I can trust him to take care of me the next time anything unexpected happens.

Peter L Richardson
7/5/2011

What happens after Man takes the rule over Middle Earth…

(Note: This is a project I had to do for a linguistics class years ago. I’ve been too busy to write any new work, so I’ve been digging into past works. This is just for fun!)

It is twenty years later. The kingdom of Mordor has fallen and peace has settled upon the dwellers of Middle Earth. The Elves have moved on and man has become the protectors and peacekeepers for all who make their home in Middle Earth. The Hobbits live their simple lives in the Shire and the Dwarves continue to mine the earth for gems of all kinds. There is a freedom for persons of every kind  to move about Middle Earth without prejudice or conflict. Each year delegates from every major dwelling of every kind travel to Gondor and make council with Lord Aragon. On this twentieth anniversary of the crowning of the king, the Fellowship of the Ring have returned to Gondor for a reunion. They are meeting at an establishment that Aragon feels will revolutionize the lives of all the inhabitants of Middle Earth. Frodo and his companions are the first to arrive…

     “Welcome to McDoundles of Gondor, can I tayk yah ohder?”
     “We do not wish to order anyone around, we have come for some food. My companions and I have traveled a great distance and we are famished. Lord Aragon sent word that we would find nourishment here.”
     “That’s the ideya. Whadiyawon?”
     “I’m not sure…it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten man’s bread. This food looks strange to me. Sam, what do you suggest?”
     “I dunno, Mr. Frodo, it all looks good t’me!”
     “Than we shall have it all. We shall order you to give us each one of your…what do you call them?”
     “Valya Meals?”
     “Yes. We shall try each one. We are famished, we were unable to eat second breakfast.”
     “Whateva. I need a couple of evry valya meal here, please.”
     “No! No! Smeagle no wants mansbread! Smeagle wants ‘is precious, Smeagle wants it raw Master!”
     “Oh my Gawd! Ya caynt bring ya pet in heah! Youse gotta leave it outsiyd!”
     “I am bound to this creature and he to me! Without Smeagle’s help you would be taking orders from the Lord Sarun, and they wouldn’t involve food!”
     “Now, now, Mr. Frodo. There’s no need to be causin’ a ruckus! Perhaps we should do what she wants-”
     “No Sam. I owe Smeagle my life, the least I could do is to make sure he is fed.” Frodo suddenly drawing his sword on the counterperson exclaims, “Do you know who this is? This is Sting and I will cut your throat if you do not obey-”
     “Mr. Frodo! No!”
     “I don’t think that will be necessary, Frodo Baggins.”
     “Gandalf! You’re here!”
     “Yes. I am here. Just at the right time it seems. I see that you Hobbits still cannot leave the Shire without being the cause of some kind of trouble.”
     “Its not that, Gandalf, it’s the Ring, ever since our journey, I’ve been restless and irritable.”
     “I can vouch for that Mr. Gandalf!”
     “I’m sure you can Samwise. Frodo, the ring is now destroyed, you must work to put yourself to rest, you of all creatures know its power, but you are now free from its grasp, now is a time for celebration-”
     “And so we shall celebrate, in all the splendor of Gondor!”
     “Aragon!”
     “How are you, my friends? It is an honor to dine with those who brought peace to Middle Earth once again. I am sorry I am late, there were some diplomatic matters to attend to. I trust you have been well received?”
     “As a matter of fact, no. This young lady here-”
     “Man, whoya callin’ young, punk? I’m almost sixteen, Ile be drivin’ soon!”
     “Sister of Gondor, do you know who I am?”
     “I done care if youse da King! I ain’t servin’ no rawl meat ta no dawg.”
     “My lady, you are now speaking with Aragon; Lord of Gondor, protector of Middle Earth and founder of this establishment.”
     “Uh-oh.”
     “Yes, I think it shall be necessary for you to call upon your manager.”
     “Yessir.”
     “Founder?” Gandalf remarks in wonder, “Aragon, are you sure of the wisdom of this endeavor?”
     “Of course, Gandalf, I have helped to establish these food stops in honor of our fellowship. Last year a man had come to my council, very strangely dressed, he was dressed in yellow and red and wore his face white as the moon with very large red lips, as red as his hair. He presented this idea of ‘fast food‘ and it seemed right to me so I have a great plan to establish many more across all of Middle Earth.”
     “Aragon, I would expect you should be more wary than this. Just because the Ring is destroyed does not mean that there are no forces left in Middle Earth, who would rather see your kingdom destroyed.”
     “Such is the point, Gandalf, I have often traveled many suns and moons tracking Orc with no time allowed for nourishment, with these fast food stops, creatures of all kinds will have quick and easy access to nourishment with very little cost to them. And there is the food of every kind of group we have in Middle Earth; hobbit, dwarf, elvish and man-”
     “McElfbread? The picture has a likeness, but if that is elvish food, I am no elf.”
     “Legolis and Gimli, my friends! You are late.”
     “Hurgh! Late? Then what we all doin’ standin’ around yappin’ for? I did not travel half way ackrost Middle Earth only to talk! Master Elf, could you do me the pleasure of repeatin’ the menu fer me? I couldn’t care if it were Orc meat right now, it’s time for us to eat!”
     “Mr. Frodo?”
     “(sigh) Yes, Sam.”
     “I don’t know why they be callin’ this food fast, we been nearly twenty minutes here and ain’t had a bite yet. Mr. Frodo, when it comes to savin’ the world and all that, I think that men and wizards and elves may know better, but when it comes to eatin’ I’d say we hobbits are the bestest.”
     “Oh Sam, I agree. Do you think Mary and Pippin are coming?”
     “I dunno, Mr. Frodo, I dunno.”
     “Master! We’s hungry! Smeagle donts needs ‘is precious! Smeagle jus wonts ‘is dinner!” 

HOW I MADE THIS UP:

I confess, I tried to follow the natural speech patterns from the characters in the movie that I heard in my head and adjusted the dialogue from there. I wanted to include as many characters as possible and I wanted this to be something outside of the book. I couldn’t think of anything interesting to have them say so I decided to go with the comedic aspect using the McDonalds reference. I changed the spelling because I noticed that Tolkien had taken many things from our world and included them in Middle Earth by simply changing the spelling a bit. I also tried to show word pronunciation by changing the spelling, so if you sound out the misspelled words, you should be able to know what they are saying and the type of person who is saying them.

I tried to mark these characters as different “races” by using different dialects among them. I’m not sure if I succeeded so well on this, but you should be able to see the difference between Gimli and Sam’s dialects. I tried to give them both a “backwoods” sounding speech, but Gimli’s is more American, while Sam’s is more English (at least in my head). I used the idea of registers to identify who is speaking and where they come from. The “McDoundles” worker is supposed to be a lower class female from New York. I just dropped a lot of [r] sounds, for the most part. The idea was to identify Gondor with New York City to make it seem to have become more commercialized since mankind has been peacefully in charge of Middle Earth. I tried to show Sam’s background as laborer/gardener with his speech and I tried to make Frodo sound like he was an educated middle class hobbit. He spoke nearly as well as Gandalf and Aragon, but I used sentence structure and more unusual or sophisticated word choice for a wizard and a king. Among those two I tried to use words that I associate with wisdom for Gandalf and words that I associate with diplomacy for Aragon. I am most ashamed of who I turned Aragon into for this little project, he is a very awesome character in Tolkien’s books. I gave Legolis one well spoken line, since elves are supposed to be the on the high end of social class in Middle Earth, and Gimli was supposed to sound as like a mountain man, since the dwarves dwell in the mountains. Smeagle, or Gollum, I thought sounded like someone who was mentally challenged or as a very young child, so I tried to convey this in his speech. I know he died in the book, but I decided to bring him into this for fun and to present him with a lighter side. 

This was a fun and challenging project for me; someday I hope to write fiction of my own. This class and this project has given me some techniques to consider that will help me distinguish my characters and make them more real. I hope I have achieved that with this dialogue, but I’m sure there is much room for improvement.

Peter L Richardson
12/15/2003

Receiving Victory

May 18, 2010

Ephesians 6:13     PLR, 1998

“Receiving Victory”
But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:10

I always excused myself with the Sin.
“If I could just stop the sin!”
          I told myself,
“I could flow with my talents.”
          I told myself that
          I would reach out
          like a tree
          planted by living waters
          basking in the sun and
          dancing in the clean, clear air!
“Ohhh, but the Sin,”
          I cried in the night,
“He pollutes my water,
 He blackens my air,
 He blots out the sun,
 So I struggle cold and fruitless.”
But I am not a plant.
I am a man.
          Free with thought,
          and with feet.

Born into Death,
The Sin pumps through my veins.
In the beginning I gave myself up to him.
Though I now despise him,
          I still find myself fascinated
          by the stories he creates
          to bind my limbs,
          to bruise and rape me
          cold and dead.

Once, the King pardoned me:
          He gave Himself up for me.
I was trapped, a slave to the Sin.
I was abused, drunk in my sorrow.
He came to me humble, with no glory:
“Follow me,” was all he spoke.
          The love in His eyes,
          the authority behind His word,
          how could I not follow?
My limbs still bound by chains,
          I stumbled after.

I had expected greater things
          from One with such power,
          but He just died.
Afraid of my old master, I hid and I wept…
But then He appeared!
          Not a vision!
          Not a ghost!
But He that was dead appeared in the flesh!
        —Only this time in His glory—
          Oh, His face is my warmth!
          His breath a sweet fragrance!

Tears controlled my senses!
His embrace broke my chains!
His love, His power entered me!
His Spirit saturated me!
He wore the King’s crown!

I said “Lead me! Forever am I free!”
          Head’s free; hands’ free;
          feet are free to follow
          without hindrance.
To follow Him into battle:
Fighting in the trenches to save others
          caught and captivated by the Sin and by Death;
          to declare their pardons from the King!

Still, my will is free to look back…
          to wander from camp,
          to visit with Sin.
Evil children come and they take my hand:
Lead me off my path to the Promised Land.
          In darkness they lie and they wait…
          I am overtaken.
          The Sin.

 The outcry.
 The weep.

In mercy my King comes for me:
          the gallop of hoofs,
I look up to see muscles ripple
          beneath short white fur.
There He sits crowned with majesty,
          riding his warrior horse.
Steam shoots from the beast’s nostrils
          as my King pulls the reigns.
The beast groans,
          my King draws a flaming sword;
Eyes of fire look at my soul and speak:
          A flash of white light.

I am rescued again.
I am rescued again.
I am rescued
          again.
          again.
          again.

That which needs to be mastered
          pumps through my veins.
Therefore, I make my body my slave.
I will no longer give myself to the Sin and to Death,
But by my King’s Spirit I will put the Sin to death!
I set my sight upon the Throne.
I bow before my Master.
          I receive Your grace.
Make me Your slave.
A slave to righteousness.
          I receive Your grace.
You have made me a son and a brother.
Let me serve in Your kingdom.
          I receive Your grace.
I eat at Your banquet table.
I receive the rich and filling fruit of Your Spirit.
          I receive Your grace.
Train me for war.
Dress me for battle.
          I receive the full armor of God.
          I receive Your grace!

How can we be cleansed, refreshed,
          if we walk too many days from the River?
How can we find warmth,
          if we hide in the shadows?
How can we breath clean air,
          if we make love to a rotting corpse?

Walk with Jesus:
          Receive Grace.

Peter L Richardson
1/26/97 (first draft)

Rights.

September 30, 2009

Introduction:

Let me say right off the bat, I am a male. I have never experienced PMS, nor do I have any desire to. I will never really understand what women have gone through in their fight for equal rights, but I do understand, and respect, all individual human’s rights, triumphs, and beliefs –no matter who, or what, that person may be. Let me also say right off the bat that I am alive. The Lord has given me the breath of life, and that enables me to have any understanding and opinion at all. Living has given me the experience to be able to have the chance to triumph over my own boundaries in the world, and the freedom to develop my own beliefs. Quite frankly, what I respect and value more than anyone’s personal desires and, unfortunately, their personal tragedies, is the right to life. The gift of life.

I.     In a comfortable little apartment, in a comfortable little neighborhood, there lived a woman in her mid-thirties. Though she never had experienced true love, she was very content with her life. She had the convenience of her career and a group of shops right close to home, and she was very friendly with her neighbors; they took care of each other. She did not like to go out much at this stage in her life, but there was no real reason to. In the evenings she would read a book or watch television with a cup of tea; sometimes she would just lay about and dream. The woman truly loved life.

Down the street from the woman, a baby girl about three months in growth lived comfortably inside the womb of her mother. Though she never had experienced real life, and though she did not really understand it, she was very content with the protection she felt being surrounded by her mother. She had the convenience of sharing breath and nourishment with her mother, and she felt genuine love for her provider. The baby would spend her time kicking and playing, or sometimes she would just listen to the nervous chatter of her mother, memorizing the tone and rhythms of her voice. The baby truly loved life.

II.     One night, around midnight, the woman in her thirties was awakened from peaceful dreams by a man at the foot of her bed. As she sat up to scream, the man raised his left arm over his right shoulder and swiftly let it slice through the air to make contact with her temple. A sharp pain bled all the colors together –and she went black.

When she came to, the woman felt another’s flesh against her own. She tried to move but found her limbs were tied to the four bedposts. Upon opening her eyes, she quickly realized her situation and screamed. She screamed for her mother; she screamed for God, but with the thick strong tape across her mouth, all she could manage were low, quiet, muffled screeches. She was trapped. He was already inside her, and there was nothing she could do. Her mind turned from fear to rage; she tried to wiggle her way out, but she was pulled tight. She was helpless. When the man climaxed, she felt her soul connect with one that was cold and deathlike. Life became reduced to its most primitive stage: kill or be killed. Her mind became ultimate terror, and she again slipped into unconsciousness.

The next day, about the same time Sarah Johnson was filing a report of rape at the police station, the baby’s mother rushed to her appointment at the abortion clinic. She went straight to the receptionist.

          “I have an appointment at noon.”

          “Jaclyn Baker?”

          “Yes.”

          “Have a seat. The doctor will be with you shortly.”

The baby was awakened from a quiet slumber as her world moved a little off balance. Her mother tried to get as comfortable as possible with her legs up in the stirrups.

“This isn’t so bad,” she thought just before the anesthetic gained control of her mind. The doctor placed cone shaped rods in her cervix and stretched the muscle until the opening was large enough to work in. The doctor then put the tube of what is really just a powerful vacuum cleaner inside the mother and flipped the switch “on.”

For the first time, the baby experienced fear. Her whole world was being ripped apart. With the instinct to survive the baby fought back; she kicked, and she screamed. She screamed for her mother; she screamed for God, but the life was being sucked out of her. She was trapped. The vacuum already had a hold of her, and there was nothing she could do. She desperately tried to hold on, but she had no strength. She was helpless. When the vacuum finally ripped her from the wall of her mother’s womb, her mind became ultimate terror. Her soul was ripped apart from her mother’s. She traveled down the vacuum tube, quietly dead.

III.     Three years later Jaclyn Baker got a call in her office from Sarah Johnson. Sarah wanted to know if Jaclyn could pick up her son from daycare. She needed to work late that night, and she said she would appreciate the favor, because Jaclyn was the only one that Sarah trusted with her son.

They had met three months after Jaclyn’s abortion in the waiting room of a female psychiatrist who specialized in women’s issues. Sarah leaned over and told her how wonderful this doctor was; she said that her healing progress was coming along quite good. As she began to show, Sarah eventually told Jaclyn about the rape and when she found out she was pregnant. She said she wasn’t sure if she’d be keeping the baby or not –she had at least six months to decide on that –but she couldn’t imagine strangers raising a child that was hers, even if he wouldn’t have a father. The man was never caught. That first meeting, Jaclyn only said that she was there for personal problems. As they talked more about their careers and the weather and what not, they discovered how close to each other they lived. Eventually, they became best friends.

Sarah knocked on Jaclyn’s door a little after eight.

          “How was he?”

          “Just fine, as always. Just fine.”

They chatted a little more about his growing personality, and then Sarah Johnson whisked her son home to bed.

Jaclyn Baker cried herself to sleep that night, like she did many nights. She wondered who her baby might be. She wondered what her baby might have become. She missed her child very much.

 

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16 (NKJ)

 

 

Peter L Richardson
May, 1992