“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Hello Old Friend,

It’s Holy Week again, a time of year that I’ve really learned to appreciate over the past several years or so.  Spring as a whole is a really powerful time of year in the Church, with Ash Wednesday and the Lenten abstention, then the progression of the Passion and Death of Jesus (Palm Sunday and Good Friday) and his ultimate Resurrection (Easter).  Add these traditions to the natural blessing of new birth among both flora and fauna, and it’s clear to see that this is the perfect time to revisit, restrengthen, resurrect one’s faith in God, however He might appear to you.

We went to Mass on Sunday and while I sat next to the three women in my life and turn palm fronds into crosses, I begin to feel something, an idea, an understanding, opening up inside of my mind.  While this blossom hasn’t fully bloomed, I felt like I needed to take it out of mind brain and put it on the page so that I can read and re-read and dissect it and hopefully reach more solid ground with it.

I’m not 100% sure how Palm Sunday goes in other churches.  I don’t remember it when we went to a Methodist, then Lutheran services growing up.  But I do know that when you go to Mass, there is a part where the story from the Last Supper through the Death and Burial of Jesus is read aloud and the congregation reads the part of the condemners of Christ.  We read the words that were used to condemn our Savior to death on the cross.  We play the part of the unruly mob.

It threw me off the first time, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me.  We are the descendants of the people who condemned Him.  They swore His blood upon their hands and upon ours as well.  It was humanity that wanted and needed the death of Jesus.  Not just because that unruly mob hated him and the things he was saying.  Not just because the wanted to silence a rabble-rousing do-gooder that spoke against the status quo.  That’s why they wanted him to die.  They, we, needed Jesus to die because it was laid out in Scriptures.  Our Salvation was dependent on the Resurrection and thereby the Death of Jesus on the Cross.  We, as Catholics honor a crucified Christ because it is in that moment that the Scriptures were partially fulfilled.  There is no resurrection without death.  There is no Christianity without the Crucifixion.

I feel it more and more each time Palm Sunday comes around.  I feel shame and guilt that people would betray and humiliate and degrade and falsely sentence Jesus and that they would try to feed him wine with animal bile and shove thorns on his head and make the whole of the affair that much harder to endure.  It’s hard to imagine being in that position.  Knowing the end result and enduring the punishment in the meantime.  Watching your closest friends deny and betray you.  Listening to the crowd yell for you to die because you tried to teach people to be good to one another and reject the evils of the world.  Enduring the suffering.  Enduring.  Suffering.  The Passion.

That’s what this whole post is about really:  the meaning of Passion.  That’s my Holy Week revelation for 2017.  You see, the word ‘passion’ derives from the Old Latin word ‘passio’ meaning suffering or enduring.  It’s a struggle.  Passion isn’t supposed to be easy or comfortable.  It should be a struggle.  Life isn’t easy or comfortable so the things that matter shouldn’t be, either.  I think that passion implies motion and force.  Passion is a river, not a lake.  It moves and flows and adapts and sweeps and crushes and propels and delivers and hinders.  Or perhaps it’s an ocean.  With depth and mystery.  I don’t know, I like the river because rivers have such a constant and powerful presence in the Good Book.

Passion is the journey more than the destination.  It gets you to where you need to be, where you’re called to be.  It’s the lead-up to the Cross, the Resurrection, the Salvation.  Take that from the Book and introduce it into your life.  Find what’s worth struggling for and embrace that struggle because it will lead you to your glory.  And don’t be afraid because God is with you, all the way.

 

Faithfully,

Glass

“So we’re gonna walk through the roads of creation.” Bob Marley, ‘Exodus’

[Four Windows by David Glass available in the Kindle Store HERE]

 

Before I get into the bulk of this post, I want to take a moment and say thank you, Dear Reader for all of the time that you’ve spent perusing my blog.  धन्यवाद to my Readers in India. благодарю to all of the Readers in Russia.  This month I celebrate the one-year anniversary of this blog, and while I have not found (made) much time to write posts, I have told myself that it’s time to get back into it and hit this writing thing hard.

Fun fact: The United, India, and Russia are my three largest readerships, however, in 2015 I had views from 50 different countries I believe I have some additional countries to ass to that list from the past two months.  I share this because it blows my mind.  I have a hard time visualizing other people reading this around the world, but it warms my heart to know that they do.  So thank you, thank you, thank you.  I hope you continue to read and enjoy this journey with me.

 

Speaking of writing, I was looking at my Kindle Direct Press report again, realizing that my marketing skills are, well, apparently non-existent.  I keep saying it’s not about the money, so I’m giving them away one at a time for free.  Starting now:

– – –

Exodus Mining Company

The Exodus Mining Company was founded in the southern region of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 1959 with plans to capitalize on the restructuring of the Egyptian government after the World War II and the subsequent British occupation.  With the creation of the Republic of Egypt looming, the EMC’s founders thought, not unwisely, that the demand for building materials would blossom alongside the burgeoning government.  Exodus’ owners dumped their life savings into the equipment necessary to mine the region’s younger and older granitoid deposits and persuaded the existing interim officials to look the other way as they began making preparations to dig.

It seemed like a foolproof plan.  The granite served a number of purposes appropriate to government building.  Sculptures to heroic new leaders, memorials to the fallen, veneers on buildings and the buildings themselves would all require a substantial yet aesthetically pleasing material with which to be constructed.  The market for abundant reservoirs of said material was set to boom, and Exodus was set to be at the forefront of that financial upswing.

Work began as planned at the end of their first year, but it wasn’t long before unforeseen obstacles slowed the EMC’s progress in the desert.  Despite the fairly consistent makeup of the rock, the machinery could not seem to penetrate more than a few meters.  Explosives malfunctioned or failed to detonate.  The rock itself seemed to resist all attempts to excavate it.  Workers, family members of the founders, began to disappear from the makeshift lodging that had been constructed as temporary housing.  Some of them were found dazed atop the mountains, muttering and clawing at the dirt and stone with raw and bloodied fingers.  As the vehicles had not been moved, the rest of the workers were presumed to have merely wandered into the desert, their trails erased by the blowing sand.

Even stranger were the visitors.  At first it was just people from the surrounding villages claiming to be drawn to site.  Then people from other parts of the region, then the world.  Men and women of all ages arrived unscathed from the direction of the deep desert sometimes with children in tow.  Some of them seemed normal enough, but others seemed to have been pulled like loose threads from the fabric of time, as if there being in the present were more uncomfortable than their barefoot journey through the sand.  Within a week, the only thing common among the visitors was the pull they said that dragged them there, not like a pleasant aroma but like a hook in their heart, as if the only relief was proximity to the exposed stone.  Like the stone itself held the cure to some deep and destructive disease.  And so the came, hundreds of them, drawn into the mountains to find a peace they only understood on the most profound levels.
Another month or so passed and the Exodus Mining Company quickly eroded into history, forgotten by most like the dust is was birthed from.  As for the visitors, their trip into the mountains Sinai was as fragile in their minds as the path they took, but the peace that remained was a lasting vestige of their departure into the desert.

– – –

Seeing as how the whole thing is up, I thought I’d also share some commentary about this piece.  I came up with the general idea years ago, that someone had mined Mount Sinai and turned the rock into concrete which was then used to build a structure that drew people from all over.  Originally it was a highway overpass and there was a sort of homeless modern Moses prophesying from under the bridge, so to speak.  People would be drawn but (a la Cassandra) people would balk at his words until the end of the story when the proverbial camera pans out and people are seen walking en masse to the site as the sun sets over the overpass aaaaaand scene.

A few aspects of this approach didn’t work for me, ultimately leading to a total restructuring of the story.  First, the focus was too much on the man.  The idea was supposed to be that the stone, not the man, was drawing the people and the overpass version veered away from the stone too much towards the end.  In that same vein, the whole idea of a structure at all became a problem.  I thought: overpass, no; street or highway, no; then settled on a government building.  The problem with a highway was that I had originally wanted the story set in the US, but couldn’t conceive of a concise and reasonable way to explain why the US would import Egyptian granite for the building of the any sort of American road when there is plenty of rock here in the States already.

Some research needed to be done around this time to make sure that I was being geologically accurate and establishing a concrete foundation (no pun intended) for the semi-religious premise that would float above it.  The actual site of the Biblical Sinai is not universally agreed upon, so it took so reading to decide which site or region I wanted to use.  Also, I needed to confirm the uses for the materials found in that area.  Finally, after deciding on a government structure as the focal point of the religious aura, I had to find a time in Egyptian history that would facilitate the need for extensive mining of raw granitoids.  I got it all sorted out and got ready to start writing.

One last thing was bothering me, however.  I didn’t want to religiously idolize any government entity and, again, take away from the fact that it was the stone that held the residual-ish power.  So it all came down to the mine.  I had the time and the place,  I created people with a general backstory (focus on the stone) and worked to keep the narrative on the effect of the stone versus anyone or anything in particular.  I chose Exodus as the name of the company because of the Book in the Bible of the same name and because I think it added some connectivity and clarity to the piece.

It was a real joy to research and write and I am very proud of it.  I hope you enjoyed and I encourage you to share it with someone you think might enjoy it as well.

Thank you as always, Dear Reader.

More to follow.

Deeply,

Glass