Off the Top of My Head

Stephen M. Lindo

© Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved Stephen M. Lindo

Ears 2 Hear The Garden of Eden Inspiration Sonny and the Big Boss A Rose Arose The Brave Knight The Price The Axeman Lady in Waiting The Buddha and the Christ Trelawny Triptych A Bat Without a Cave The Parable of the Box The Great Fish Love Can Pray-cation Lady of Lanzhou Thai-dye Fortune Cookie Wisdom Holding On The LORD’s Day On the Bottle Sky High Greta und die Gestapo Style Matters Imagine I’m an Enigma When I died... The Desert Native Tree Spirit El Oro de San Clemente 1 2 3 4 6 6 9 10 12 16 16 18 18 19 23 23 25 26 27 30 31 34 34 35 36 37 37 41 42 42

Ears 2 Hear
Everywhere you hear me Hoping you'll come near me Hoping you won't fear me Hoping you‟ll revere me Why did you forsake me Worshipping the fake me Punishment to break me Sacrifice you make me Maybe you don't know me Thought you were below me Why can‟t you just show me Just how much you owe me? Though you never knew me Now you know the true me Living new life through me Giving praises to me Everyone around you Tries so hard to drown you But my love will ground you It always was bound to He is real, I swear it Trust that you are near it Take your cross and bear it Now you've got the spirit

The Garden of Eden
Nothing inspires me to create more than spending time in the Garden of Eden. There used to be a tree in the midst of the garden – an almond tree that we once called the Tree of Knowledge. But now that tree has been cut down due to its obstruction of the view of the sea. The garden is on the Caribbean Sea and although the sun beats mercilessly down on the tender plants, a cool, salty sea breeze is its saving grace. Among the plants of the garden are ferns, orchids, frangipanis, hibiscuses, and crotons. Exorias and bougainvilleas form a colorful wreath around the almond tree stump. Walls designed to stay out grazing cows are camouflaged by rows of willow trees. Eggshells found at the bases of these trees are telltale signs of hidden nests that rest atop their branches. Later, the willows will sing out in a natural evensong, composed and conducted by the night wind whisping through their firs. Closer to the seawall grow silver button trees (so-called because of their small silver-colored leaves). Silver buttons are one of the few plants that can grow along the seawall due to their uncanny ability to withstand the wind and salt. They also make brilliant hedges. Just as it was in Biblical Eden, my father‟s garden possesses many herbs and trees yielding fruit for meat. Although not exactly a fruit, the coconut trees bear coconuts several times a year whose meat and milk may be served chilled. Our mango tree is a miniature and bears only one or two dozen mangos per season. So small is it that we call it our bonsai mango tree. We grow callaloo (a native spinach) which may be boiled and scotch bonnet pepper which will certainly liven up any dish. We also have a mint plant, the leaves of which may be boiled to make a great-tasting mint tea and our gardener grows a stalk of sugarcane that may be chewed to extract its sweetness. In addition to plants and trees, there are several animal species that may be found foraging about the garden. Among the most common are the hummingbird (which Jamaicans call Dr. Bird because it visits every flower like a doctor making his rounds) and the ubiquitous land crabs that stand guard at the mouths of their freshly-dug holes. You can eat 2|Page

them if you know how to catch them (and our gardener says that the best way is to step on them while reaching down and grabbing them from behind, avoiding their dangerously sharp pincers). Egrets follow cows hoping to feed off the insects and worms that are attracted by their dung and long-legged herons have also been seen. Pelicans hover over the shallow reef that lies beyond the seawall and occasionally crash into the water for a fish with a loud splash. They can stay underwater for a long time, surfacing far from the place where they dove in.

Freedom goes where freedom wills; Bondage binds where bondage kills. Endless pathways may we take; All but one we must forsake. Inspiration lights our path; Saving man from certain wrath. With these lights are guided we; But the choice to choose is free. Freedom then we must embrace, If we are to live in grace. But if choice we should deny, On the cross we doth rely. Nor must we put love on trial; No one lives in life‟s denial. Choose this day our God the LORD; And you‟ll have a sure reward.


Sonny and the Big Boss
“Sonny! Where ya‟ been hiding?” said the Big Boss with a forced grin on his face. Behind him was the doorway to his palatial estate on the upper east side. The brisk autumn air and newly fallen leaves belied the armed bodyguards and ever-present surveillance cameras, all of which afforded the mafia kingpin the best peace of mind dirty money could buy. Sonny got out of his car and greeted his boss with the obligatory kiss on the cheek. “I ain‟t hiding no more,” he said. “I‟m born again.” The Big Boss chuckled, “What‟re ya‟ tellin‟ me? Am I not paying you enough?” “I can‟t take it anymore!” Sonny charged. “I can‟t eat! I can‟t sleep! I can‟t face myself in the mirror anymore knowing the horrible things I‟ve done to undeserving people! I want out!” “Okay, relax,” said the Big Boss in a soothing voice. “C‟mon inside. I‟ll have the missus fix you drink.” “I‟ll pass,” said Sonny coolly. He followed the Big Boss inside the house, through the dining room, into the den, and then out to the poolside patio. The two sat down on wicker chairs facing the heated swimming pool. “Listen to me. You‟ve done nothing wrong,” protested the Big Boss. “You say you hurt undeserving people, but that‟s just not true. Everybody I put a hit on – all of them – were no-good scum. You did the world and everybody a huge favor by making examples out of them!” Sonny answered, “I used to think like that too, but now I know that nobody deserves to get hurt in any way – no matter what they‟ve done! And even if they truly did deserve to get hurt, God doesn‟t need me or anyone to enforce his justice. Vengeance belongs to him and him alone.” “And that‟s where we come in!” fumed the Big Boss, “We are God‟s angels of vengeance in the world! We are doing his will when we punish 4|Page

lowlifes and traitors and finks! And it sends a message to anybody else who might try to act up!” “But that‟s just it!” declared Sonny, “We‟re all finks! If it were up to us to enforce vengeance, we would execute the world and then ourselves! But since God has forgiven us, we should be angels of mercy, not vengeance.” Suddenly the door opened. It was the missus holding a drink in her hand. “Not now!” snapped the Big Boss, a vein popping out of his forehead. She slinked back into the house. “You‟ve changed,” said the Big Boss with a snarl, “You forgot where you came from. You forgot how this world mistreated you… told you you were nothing. You were branded because of your looks and your last name. They wanted to throw you away and now you‟re making excuses for them, tellin‟ me that we‟re all like that! Well, we‟re not all like that! And just because there‟s no perfect person, or because I‟m not a perfect person, that doesn‟t equate me with them! I‟m not them!” “I agree with you that the world we live in is cruel,” started Sonny, “But if we repay evil for evil, then we‟re just like them! Don‟t you see? We have a chance to end this war! They hit us so we hit them – we hit them so they hit us – it doesn‟t end „til somebody decides to take the last hit!” The Big Boss laughed, “You want peace? You‟re a peacemaker? Blessed be the peacemakers? I keep the peace! There ain‟t no peace without me! Let me ask you something... What do you think would happen on the streets tomorrow if word got out that the Big Boss had gone soft? There‟d be mayhem! An iron fist is keeping this organization together and preventing violence! These streets would explode were it not for me!” “You can‟t preempt violence with violence,” countered Sonny, “If the streets erupt because you loosen your grip, that ain‟t your business. Besides, maybe if you choose peace, others will follow your lead.” The Big Boss became indignant, “No, Sonny. Unlike you, I do have a responsibility to the people who stood by me through thick and thin. I won‟t desert them! Not the way you‟re deserting me! And after I took you in and made you my apprentice and gave you your life! And protected you from things you‟ll never know about! But you know nothing of loyalty!” 5|Page

“I‟m still loyal to you!” “No you‟re not.” replied the Big Boss smugly. “Yes I am!” Sonny shot back, “and I‟m more loyal to you now than I ever was! Look at me! Before, I was loyal to you out of fear! But now, I‟m loyal to you out of love! As I look at you, I see a man who has become something he never wanted to be! You don‟t have to be this way! You don‟t have to sleep with one eye open!” The Big Boss couldn‟t believe what he was hearing. “Alright, Sonny, tell me what you want.” “I want you to let me go,” answered Sonny. “And what‟re you gonna‟ do if I let you go?” asked the Big Boss. “Are you gonna‟ get a 9 to 5? Are you gonna‟ pay your taxes and become a law-abiding citizen? You‟ll just be exchanging one criminal gang for another.”

A Rose Arose
A rose, I suppose, grows and grows and grows and grows, but no one knows why

The Brave Knight
In his hour of grief, the king summoned his knight. How shall I serve thee, my lord? spaketh he. The matter for which I have called you is dire; My daughter, a dastardly wizard absconded Wherefore I hath sent thee to win her release; And if thou shalt save her, I offer ye this: Her hand and mine kingdom to thee shalt be given And thou shalt be called by my name, spake the king. 6|Page

So off went the knight on a quest for his maiden O‟er hill and valley upon a white steed. And there did he survey the wizard‟s dark castle Which rose from the spines of a perilous cliff. Found he the lass in a high tower sealed. Render the damsel! he cried to the wizard. Never I shall, the gaunt figure replied, Lest thou mayest prove thyself worthy of honour; To a man without fear shall I render the lass. But the knight protested, I hath not a fear! Prove it to me and the lady is thine! Give me a test that my courage may prove! Thus sprach the wizard, This shall ye do: Conquer the dragon which lives in the dungeon. Whose face is as wracked as the stench of his drool; Who raises his neck on the strength of his haunches Then may I know that thy fear hath ye conquered. Therefore the knight with his sword and a torch Walked into the darkness so dismal and bleak. With each halting step, he had mustered his courage, Ginning his temper to meet the fierce beast. Twas there sighted he the most wretched of visions, From billowing nostrils went plumes of white smoke, A terrible beast with its wings outstretched, Revealing sharp shards of glistening scales Whilst twisting its head of putrid green.


Now will I slay thee! howled the knight in his rage. But the dragon entreated, Why doest so thus? For to slay me in no wise shalt prove thyself fearless As next to me stands yet another more fearsome. Then him shall I slay! spaketh he with conviction. But pleaded the dragon, Wherefore doest thou? As there is not an end to the terrors of hell, For hell is its terror: the dragon supplanting That which ye hath conquered is ever more gruesome „Til hell be confounded with dragons so fierce, That nary a soul could ever requite it! What then shall I do? spake the knight to the dragon. To prove myself fearless and rescue my lass? Then spake the wise dragon, A heart without fear Beats not in the man who hast conquered all dragons, But rather it beats in the sinner who dares To serve every man as he would his own God For a love that is perfect shall cast out all fear. From thence, emerged the brave knight from his dungeon And the wizard beseeched him, Hast thou foundest courage? At last hath I learned, spake the knight with great joy, That to conquer one‟s fears is an errand of folly. But find ye the courage that walketh away, Confessing thine fears to the Blessed Redeemer Who findeth the grace that restoreth thy soul! Thus was the lady restored to her land And with the king‟s blessing she gavest her hand. And thus was he granted his kingdom and throne And every good blessing to calleth his own In the name of the king who forever shall stand.


The Price
Press Reporters Investigating Corporate Excesses Peter Righteously Insisting Christ Existed People‟s Republic Imprisoning Chinese Evangelists Pastors Reaching Insightful Conclusions Eventually Prosperity Ruined In Christian Endtimes Pauline Revision Is Circumcision‟s Extinction Play Rewind Insert Copy Eject Please Remember It Cannot End


The Axeman
“Why did you send out that memo!” shrieked the secretary. “What memo?” her boss coolly inquired. “The memo about the axeman who‟s coming to take away our jobs!” “Oh, that memo!” the boss disingenuously recalled. “Well, as I explained in the memo, our board of directors has decided that in order to increase productivity and maximize profits, downsizing measures need to be implemented.” “Maximize profits for who?” the secretary shot back. “The purpose of Management should be to help employees reap the rewards of their labor, not to maximize profits for shareholders at the expense of workers.” The boss could only laugh, “It‟s out of my hands. Like I said, this decision was made at the top. There‟s nothing I can do.” “Of course there‟s something you can do!” the secretary chided. “You can call the chairman and explain why they should reverse their decision!” “Now why would I do that?” scoffed the boss. “It‟s their show, honey – I‟m just the executive.” The secretary winced, “No, you have obligation to fight for your employees just as we sacrifice for you.” “And I appreciate the sacrifice!” grinned the boss in feigned offence. “But sometimes, we‟ve got to bite the bullet for the sake of investors in order to raise the capital necessary to hire even more workers! That‟s how wealth is created!” “No,” glinted the secretary. “It‟s not about making tough decisions, it‟s about making wise decisions. Let‟s say you decimate the ranks and the investors swoon. A couple of cycles later, you hire us all back, but we don‟t feel as secure as we once did – we‟re not as loyal as we once were. But what these board members don‟t understand is that it‟s loyalty, not strategy, that‟s driving our economy. And there‟s no computer model for „good will‟ in a world as interdependent as ours is.” The boss tilted his head forward so as to look at her above the rim of his eyeglasses, “You know, it‟s hardly likely that you‟ll be one of the ones laid off.” “You don‟t get it!” the secretary reluctantly pleaded. “It‟s not about me. 10 | P a g e

No worker works for themselves. They work for their families, friends and neighbors. The invisible hand that guides the free market system is not mutual self-interest, but individual self-sacrifice.” “Perhaps,” shrugged the boss. “But my hands are tied. If I challenge the chairman‟s decisions too much, I might find myself in the unemployment line.” “It‟s your job to be assertive!” snapped the secretary. “But if shareholders wanted a CEO with no spine, then they may as well of hired SpongeBob SquarePants!” “Okay,” grumbled the boss. “And SpongeBob would still hire the downsizing consultant...” “You mean the axeman.” “Alright,” the boss groaned. “But just so you know, my spine is not sponge. I‟ve the backbone of a soldier, and a true soldier does what he‟s told without question. That‟s why I am where I am.” “There‟s nothing wrong with soldiering,” answered the secretary. “As long as you‟re on the winning side.” “And what side would that be?” Ding! The elevator door opened. The axeman cometh. The boss lighted off his leatherette swivel chair and firmly gripped the consultant‟s hand, “Is this the cost-benefit analysis?” The axeman handed him the file. “After careful review of the balance sheets, I believe I‟ve found the best restructuring model which, given current market trends, should maximize revenue and profitability for our shareholders.” “Great!” the boss smiled. “So how deep are the cuts going to be?” “Cuts?” “Yeah, job cuts!” “Okay. Let‟s sit down and discuss this,” invited the axeman, but the boss could barely stay in his chair (he was so filled with anticipation). “We‟re shutting down the entire plant and moving it to Guadalajara.” “What?!” “I said, we‟re shutting down...” “Yes... yes... I heard! But what‟s going to happen to me? I‟m under contract!” 11 | P a g e

“Not anymore,” the axeman uttered. “According to subparagraph 51.3c, the corporation reserves the right to terminate its CEO in the event of a facility relocation.” “That‟s it?! After all the years I worked for this firm, this is how you reward loyalty?!” “On the corporate battlefield, it‟s the loyal soldiers who perish first.”

Lady in Waiting
There once was a lord who lived in great castle and had dominion over many towns. He was a steward of the king‟s wealth and had charge over all the affairs of his reign. He opened doors and shut them, prosecuted wars and sued for peace. Nonetheless, he was not able to attain to the throne since in order to do so, he was required to marry a woman of royal lineage. Therefore, he issued a decree in all the land that should any willing princess from any kingdom become his bride, he would make her his queen. There came two women from afar, one a goodly princess and the other a wretched handmaiden. While the princess wore a purple gown bedecked with jewels and crowned with rubies, the handmaiden instead wore rude apparel and tattered garments, barely concealing her uncouth wooden shoes. “Whom shall I marry?” the lord inquired. “If you marry me,” said the princess, “you will become king.” Then answered the handmaiden, “I am but an orphan, my lord. I have no pedigree to speak of, but if you marry me, I will love you like none other.” But the lord laughed at the handmaiden, “And how can a poor handmaiden love me without giving me the kingdom?” “In me is a kingdom greater than that which ye seek,” she replied, “It is a kingdom built on love and undying hope.” “What is love?” “To love is to obey the son of man.” 12 | P a g e

Now when everyone in the land had heard of the handmaiden‟s great faith and courage, they preferred her over the goodly princess and petitioned the lord to marry her instead, thus forsaking the crown. (But the lord preferred the throne to the people, and thus devised a plot to invalidate the handmaiden‟s faith, allowing him to ascend to power with the support of the people.) Thus said the lord, “Am I the son of man?” “We are all sons of men,” she answered. “Very well,” he reasoned, “Then I will marry you if you are able to prove your love to me by obeying my every edict. But if you are not able to obey my every edict, I will not marry you and will instead marry the goodly princess, becoming king in all the land.” “Yes, my lord,” answered the handmaiden. “Anything you ask of me, I will do.” The lord thought for a moment, then said, “Tell me a story I‟ve never heard before.” The handmaiden applauded his request, then began: There was once a woman who married a farmer. She loved him very much and gave him a son, but when he saw how much she loved the child, he became exceedingly jealous and sent the child away. Then the woman asked her husband, „Why did you send the child away?‟ to which the farmer responded, „I sent him away in order so that you would love me.‟ But the woman said to her husband, „I have always loved you and always will I ever!‟ When the farmer knew that his wife had forgiven him for sending the child away, his heart sank. Thus did he repent of his jealousy and not long after, she gave him yet another son, and they named him after the first. “What name would that be?” mocked the lord. “A name you‟ve never heard before,” she quipped. Then the lord became furious. “Fine! You‟ve told me a story I‟ve never heard before. But if you are truly able to do all that I ask of you, sing for me a song.” “Which song?” 13 | P a g e

“A song that neither I nor anyone has ever heard.” “Very well,” answered the handmaiden. So the lord called for his musicians, the lutist and the piper, and as they began to play, she began to sing: Anyone who hears me will see Anyone who sees me will be Anyone who gives shall receive Anyone who lives shall believe Anyone who eats will be filled Anyone who cheats will be killed Everything I have is in you There is nothing more I can do As the musicians marveled at the handmaiden‟s cunning, the lord rued the day he met her. It seemed as if no matter what his request, she was always able to comply, and because he had vowed to marry her upon that compliance, it was as if the kingdom was being wrenched from his hand. What‟s more, the longer his court entertained her, the more his cortège fell in love with her. So he thought to put her love to such a test that no man on earth could pass it save the son of God. “Tell me,” spake the lord, “can you turn straw into gold?” “Yes, I can.” So the lord sent for his alchemists, with their flasks and utensils, and ceiled her in an apothecary for one hour. And there she stood, the strands of straw protruding from her delicate grip. “Turn this straw into gold,” he ordered as the door closed. . . . . . . . When finally the time had elapsed, the door to the apothecary was opened. The entire court stared into the chamber, not knowing what to expect. Some thought her a witch, others a saint. But when the damsel emerged, she still had in her hand, the very same straw she had been given at the first. 14 | P a g e

The lord was elated with the outcome he had designed, having been released from his earthly obligation, he rebuked her quickly, “Now you have not obeyed me. Neither have you rendered me gold for the straw that I gave you!” “No, I have not,” the handmaiden responded. “But that is because you are not able to receive it.” “And how am I not able to receive it?” he scoffed. “Because only a king can receive my gold. And you are no king.” Now was the lord outraged at the handmaiden, “Make me king then! Make me king and give me my gold, you stupid wench!” But the handmaiden stared askance, “No man‟s blood is more pure than mine. But if you want to become a king, you must either be born a king, or marry into it.” “Then that is what I‟ll do!” chided the lord as he summoned for his guards to escort the young lady from his sight, never to be heard from again. . . . . . . . So the lord married the goodly princess instead and was crowned king in every province. But all was not well in the land, for the princess whom he had married (and who had now become queen), was unable to give him a royal heir, provoking his enemies to plot against him. The astrologers and soothsayers also warned that they would not wait for his demise before exploiting this weakness. So the king called for his queen, saying, “Give me a son, lest I die,” “I cannot obey you,” she said. “Why not?” “Because I do not love you.” “Why do you not love me?” “Because you married me for power and not love,” she answered, “Therefore, you shall have neither.” Then did the king understand that without the queen‟s love, he would not only lose his kingdom, but quite possibly his life. “How then can I love you?” he pleaded. “To love is to obey the son of man.” 15 | P a g e

Then did the king remember the saying of the handmaiden whom he had banished, and repented of his error. He learned that true love is worth more than all the world‟s wealth. “Ask of me what you will,” he said to his wife, “and whatsoever you ask, I will give it no matter what it is – even my entire kingdom; even my own life.” The queen answered without hesitation, “Give me a son. For once your heart was straw, but now is it pure gold!” And the two lived happily ever after in a kingdom built on love and undying hope.

The Buddha and the Christ
The Buddha told Christ, "Suffer to be enlightened." Jesus told him, No. Christ told the Buddha, "Suffer to redeem my flock." The Buddha said, Ommm...

Trelawny Triptych
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica. But that didn‟t stop the faithful of that community from assembling in the sanctuary of the Church of St. Peter the Apostle. There were no empty pews as the Pastor delivered his rousing sermon, and as he expounded on the mystical transformation of the Eucharistic Elements into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, flashes of lightning lit up the stainedglass windows closely followed by loud bursts of thunder as if God Himself were lending commentary. The rain beat furiously against the 16 | P a g e

windows, conjuring images of the great flood that purged the old world of all but eight souls. Flowers, which had sprung up around the gravestones of the churchyard, were nourished by the incessant downpour. As the rain brought the flowers, so too would the flowers bring goats once the storm had subsided. The women of the congregation fanned themselves with church bulletins, their ornate hats and bandanas providing the necessary “covering” without which it would be a shame for them to prophesy. The men wore suits and ties, their jackets flaunting the hot autumn air. Everywhere, people‟s souls were stirred by the passionate preaching, leaving no doubt that the Spirit of their God was present among them. The church was built out of solid rock and stood for centuries in the bustling community of Falmouth. Her walls had withstood pirate attacks, slave uprisings, fires, and hurricanes. She had witnessed the abolition of slavery and the transition to Independence. She had remained Anglican from her founding. She possessed one of the few working pipe organs in the Caribbean. Hymns were played by ear and sung from memory. The church had a clock tower that had long ceased to work. A narrow wooden staircase inside the tower led to the place where the bell ringer would pull the frayed ropes which sounded the church bells, announcing the start of Sunday Worship. On the opposite end of the graveyard stood the church hall. It was a newer building and was primarily used as a meeting and recreational facility. The Anglican Youth Fellowship would meet there, its teenaged officers recording the minutes and collecting dues. The church hall also hosted dance parties and carnivals, all of which attracted non-Anglicans to the church and gave members of different denominations an opportunity to socialize. The annual Easter Prayer Breakfast was held there to raise money for the church. Pre-purchased tickets could be exchanged for a real traditional Jamaican breakfast including ackee and salt-fish, callaloo, yam and dumplings, and for dessert, slices of pau-pau and watermelon. Money raised from the ticket sales would go toward the “Kitchen of Love” ministry that fed indigents in the community.

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A Bat Without a Cave
How doth the little cave bat fly? With either ear, but not one eye. Within the cave, we hear its cry. Upon the cave wall, it doth rely. A bat shall sound its screeching call. It echoes off the dim cave wall. Without its ears, the bat would fall. It would not fly – no, not at all. God sends his Word in every place. It echoes off the human race; And in our hearts, he sees his face And in his Word, we see his Grace. Without our hearts, God could not see. He could not speak, he could not be. Without a Witness (two or three), A bat without a cave is he.

The Parable of the Box
I was trapped in a box that could only be opened from the outside. Within that box, I found a replica of the self-same box from which I was hopelessly trapped, and imagined that someone else might be trapped inside that box. “There‟s no hope for me” I thought, “but at least I can free someone else from their box”; whereupon I opened the replica of the box and discovered the miraculous hand of God releasing me from my own.

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The Great Fish
Deep in the Montana woods lies Lake Serenity. It is a haven for fishermen due to its crisp, clean air and clear waters. There, a fisherman sits in a rowboat with his son. He baits his hook and casts in his line. The line sinks beneath the cool, still waters and finds its depth among the many fishes that inhabit the lake. Some of the fish nibble at the bait. Others do not. One fish, whose name was Barney Bass, watched as the other fish took turns nibbling at the bait. He was tempted to nibble himself, but was unsure as he noticed that there were many fish who chose not to nibble. “Why was this?” he asked. Then came a fish choosing not to nibble whose name was Salmon Peter. He explained that the reason why certain of the fish abstained from nibbling the bait was because of the Great Fish who told them not to. Salmon Peter recited the Epic of the Great Fish: Long ago, there was a lake And it was teeming with fish; And all of them lived together And got along with each other. It was a perfect day. Then one day, A strange new fish appeared; One that no one had ever seen before. It was shiny and had a chord attached to it which reached up to the sky. The new fish carried bait in its teeth And when the first fish saw it And perceived the bait to be good, He began to nibble at it. 19 | P a g e

Other fishes followed the first fish And soon, all of the fishes were nibbling the bait. Then one day, As a fish was nibbling the bait, He found himself ensnared by it; And the more he tugged at the line, the more he found himself unable break free. Suddenly, he was yanked up by his mouth to the top of the water. And he was yanked above the top of the water to a place where he could not breath (above the water.) There he was pulled into a boat And saw men; And the men cut him loose from the baited hook. There were the bones and blood of fish scattered And fishes with their heads cut off; And fishes with their skins peeled off; And live fishes trapped in buckets. He saw other boats with men fishing; Men baiting their hooks and casting them into the water; And he understood that it was wrong to nibble at the bait. Then, the man who had caught him reached for his knife. He was going to cut him open as he did to the other fish, But then, the man loosened his grip and he slipped out of the man‟s hands and fell back into the water. As soon as the fish returned to the lake, He swam everywhere and told every fish That they should not nibble at the bait anymore. 20 | P a g e

Many fishes believed him at his word and abstained from eating the bait. Other fishes believed only after seeing his wounds. Still others choose not to believe him although they had both heard his word and seen his wounds. They had been previously lied to by other fishes and so accused him of lying also. Then he saw that it was wrong for a fish to lie because it would discourage others from believing the truth; And that all the fishes who had ever died because of the mischievous lies told by fishes were as one Great Fish. Therefore, he admonished fishes everywhere never to tell a lie; For the sake of the Great Fish who died for their lie. Barney Bass heard the Epic that Salmon Peter had recited and believed him. He swore that as long as he lived, he would never nibble the bait or tell a lie. Then along came a slippery fish whose name was the Doubting Trout. He did not believe the Epic of the Great Fish and was offended at Barney Bass‟s faith. “Why do you believe the Epic of the Great Fish while other epics differ from it?” asked the Doubting Trout. Barney Bass answered, “I believe the Epic because the Author of the Epic says that lying causes others to die. Therefore, if the Author lies, he will be responsible for the deaths of others according to his own confession. Many other fishes have testified to the Truth of the Epic of the Great Fish. Some have even claimed to have been taken up into boats and escaped or were thrown back. Also, it is right to obey the 21 | P a g e

word of Salmon Peter because he is the only fish who says that lying causes other fish to die.” The Doubting Trout answered, “But there have been many fishes who claimed to have been taken up above the water and came back with a different account of what is up there. They say there is no danger or death.” Barney Bass answered and said, “There is always the danger of death whenever someone else has you on their hook.” The Doubting Trout replied, “There is no way to verify the truth of the Epic. It was written so long ago and now times have changed.” Barney Bass responded, “It is true that we live in different times, but the principles and values that are preached by the Great Fish are timeless.” Then the Doubting Trout took great offence, “Some fish say they are naturally drawn to the bait. It is unkind to tell these fish to disobey their own natural inclinations.” Barney Bass countered, “We are not controlled by our natural inclinations, but rather, it is we ourselves who govern our own thoughts and deeds. If some fish are offended by what I‟m saying, then let their own offence convict them. Does not the desire to be loved and accepted transcend nature?” “I feel sorry for you,” said the Doubting Trout finally. “You will not nibble the bait with us and will therefore be deprived of the experience.” Barney Bass answered, “There is an experience greater than that of nibbling the bait. It is the experience of knowing that you did not lead others to their death and that you did not contribute to the misery and suffering of others.” With that, the Doubting Trout left Barney Bass and began to nibble the bait. He saw other fishes being dragged up above the top of the water but gave it no thought. 22 | P a g e

Then one day, as he carelessly nibbled, the Doubting Trout felt a stinging in his jaws. He was hooked and could not break free. He tugged and tugged but the more he pulled at the line, the quicker he was reeled up to the surface. As soon as he was angled above the water‟s surface, he found himself unable to breath. He was in dry air – just as the Epic had said. He then felt the hand of a child grab him. It was the fisherman‟s son. “Can we keep him?” he said to his father.

Love Can
Love can cause the blind to see; Love can cause the rose to bloom; Love can cause the world to be; Love can leave an empty tomb. Love can make the desert spring; Love can make the world go 'round; Love can make a child‟s heart sing; Love can walk on holy ground. Love can hope for brighter days; Love can hope for liberty; Love can hope for joy always; Love can pray for you and me.

Jamaica is internationally recognized for its golf courses, white-sand beaches, musical heritage and exceptional hospitality. But while many visitors to our island prefer to bask in the sun, sand and surf, others see their vacations as opportunities to minister to the gospel. Many tourists living abroad belong to congregations that have sister churches here. 23 | P a g e

Others come to establish new churches or engage in charitable activities. Today, Christianity has a prominent role in Jamaican cultural and political life. If you are seeking a different tourist experience, one that ventures beyond the conspicuous meccas of the all-inclusive enclave, then I would certainly recommend a visit to any one of our great and historic local parish churches. In the town of Falmouth, the Trelawny Parish Church of St. Peter the Apostle stands as a living monument to the supremacy of Anglicanism in Jamaican culture. Its stone masonry portrays the understated grandeur of Georgian architecture while rendering a striking allusion to the rock on which our LORD‟s Church was built. Its arched wooden doorway first welcomed celebrants decades before the abolition of slavery and was a part of the original town charter officially authorized, recognized and patronized by the government of Jamaica and its Monarch. Today, St. Peter‟s is known for its majestic clock tower, which also serves as a belfry and while the clock only gives the correct time twice daily, the soft pealing of its old iron bell can often be heard on Sunday mornings, beckoning the entire community to worship. The gravestones of St. Peter‟s record both the names and lifespans of more than a few dignitaries and luminaries dating back to the colonial era. A substantial number of child graves testify to the untimeliness of death in a world without vaccination. Once, these memorials were decorated with flowers and lamented by devotees, but nowadays, they serve as ever-present sentinels, warning all trespassers of the fate that awaits them should they stray from the narrow path. St. Peter‟s boasts one of the oldest working pipe organs in the Caribbean. Early in the 20th century, an electrical motor was added to its bellows eliminating the need for a human blower. Beyond this, however, there is no electrical alteration or amplification of the organ sound. It‟s large brass pipes, which tower above the congregation, resonate with the vibrant harmonies and embellished descants commensurate with the mostly self-taught musicians who grace its console. The choir too does not read music, but instead memorizes every melody while following along in the words-only edition of the Anglican hymnal. 24 | P a g e

It is a cultural tradition in Jamaica for men to wear suits and ties and for the women to wear long dresses, hats and even gloves on a Sunday morning service despite the searing heat and lack of air-conditioning. Some poorer Jamaicans use this tacit dress code as impetus to shirk their spiritual duty, though many others are welcomed into the congregation in t-shirts and tennis shoes. It is not a rare occurrence to see foreigners in attendance at the Sunday morning service. Many are family members of congregants and other Jamaican ex-patriots (like myself) but a few are Anglican and Episcopalian tourists who don‟t want to miss church while on their vacations. These tourists are blessed with interesting and memorable vignettes into traditional Jamaican life and culture as well as by the ministry of the Sacrament and fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Sandals, Half Moon, and the Ritz Carlton are three prestigious resorts that can arrange bus tours to the historic town of Falmouth and transport guests to and from St. Peter‟s. Doubtless your concierge would be more than happy to assist you in learning more about Jamaica‟s great churches and island culture. Until then, I wish you all the best and, as we say here in Jamaica, Likkle more!

Lady of Lanzhou
There‟s a village in the east (like a box within a box) Where the people keep the feast of the New Year of the ox. There‟s a yellow river there (where the rabbit likes to play). Maybe in another year, he becomes the tiger‟s prey?

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There‟s a lady in Lanzhou (whiter as a porcelain doll). Maybe she can show me how I might hear the tiger's call. Maybe I will never know (maybe it was for the best That I was not meant to go from this village in the west). He who claims to know it all often knows it all the least; Wisdom is a China doll from a village in the east.

Little Tukta from Siam (Not as lucky as I am). Will she go to London town In a graduation gown? Does the British consulate Even have her passport yet? Little Tukta, can‟t you see? It‟s an opportunity To forgive your enemy (Impudent bureaucracy). When we learn to look within, All we find is death and sin; When we learn to look without, Jesus takes away our doubt. Now that you are on your way, I have only this to say: Never leave the God you know When you touch down in Heathrow!^^ 26 | P a g e

Fortune Cookie Wisdom
(Wise man say, „You are one tough cookie!‟)
A fool says, Every dog has his day; A wise man says, Everyday is God‟s day. A fool is perverted; A wise man is converted. A fool seeks a way to understand; A wise man seeks to understand the way. A fool chases his dreams; A wise man follows his heart. A fool says, I‟ll believe it when I see it; A wise man says, I‟ll see it when I believe it. A fool begs for more; A wise man begs for mercy. A fool is a wolf in sheep‟s clothing; A wise man is a sheep in wolf‟s clothing. A fool‟s fate is sealed; A wise man‟s faith is sealed. A fool is a victim of society; A wise man is a menace to society. A fool says my words don‟t exist; A double fool takes them literally; A wise man takes it for what it‟s worth. A fool has a fear of failure; A double fool has a fear of success; A wise man fears fear itself. A fool is needy; A double fool is greedy; A wise man is ready.

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A fool goes into debt; A double fool pays it off; A wise man declares bankruptcy. A fool is loyal to his country; A double fool is loyal to his church; A wise man is loyal to his God. A fool leaches off his parents; A double fool robs his children of their future; A wise man accepts help from family. A fool dismisses these words; A double fool regurgitates them; A wise man seeks to interpret. A fool has a fear of commitment; A double fool has separation anxiety; A wise man lets love go in order to find it. A fool says, My sin is forgotten; A wise man says, My sin is forgiven. A fool donates out of guilt; A wise man donates out of gratitude. A fool fears that he cannot know; A wise man knows that he cannot fear. A fool says his prayers; A wise man prays them. A fool has a premise; A wise man has a promise. A fool cannot find the doorway; A double fool clings to the doorway; A wise man shuts the door behind him. A foolish general fights yesterday‟s battle; A wise general declares victory in the midst of battle. A fool sees the crucifix as an accusation; A wise man sees the crucifix as an exoneration.

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A fool claims a right to privacy; A double fool seeks attention; A wise man is known only to God. A foolish priest tries to increase the population of heaven; A wise priest tries to decrease the temperature of hell. A foolish president wags his finger; A double foolish president wags the dog; A wise president gets us into peace. A fool discovers the “historical” Jesus; A wise man repents to the God he knows. A fool says, I am insane; An wise man says, I am an ensign. A fool performs an autopsy on the devil he just slew; A double fool resurrects him to kill him again; A wise man casts out other people‟s devils. A fool sees an aberration; A wise man sees an Apparition. A foolish artist has references; A wise artist has preferences.

I once had lunch at this really great restaurant in San Francisco‟s Chinatown. Afterward, the waitress handed me the check with a fortune cookie (an obvious defect since there wasn‟t anything printed on it). I guess that means I‟m going to die!, I scoffed. Of course not! smiled the waitress. That means you make your own fortune! xie xie!^^

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Holding On
One hand extended Reaching out To the one I befriended Before it all ended But on the other hand I‟m holding on To the edge of the ledge Of a solemn pledge To have and to hold „Til death do us part And when my blood runs cold I still will Hold on And when I die They‟ll have to pry My bride‟s sweet melancholy sigh From my cold dead hand Just the way we‟d always planned So please take a stand and Don‟t concede a blood-stained Inch of Holy Ground Holding on to the love we‟ve found Who found us still holding on To what we‟ve done Holding one

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The LORD‟s Day
In the country, Anglican Priests were scarce. Because of this, Father John pastored three churches. First, he pastored the Holy Trinity Church at Bloomfield. Then, he rode on horseback to Christ Church in Rockford. He completed his circuit at St. Michael‟s Church in Davey. The Right Reverend was a faithful administrator of the Holy Sacraments in the Anglican Tradition. He was also a devoted husband to his wife of many years and a father of two small children (my sister and myself). “Whinny,” he said to his wife. “What joy it is unspeakable to be in your presence. However, I am called to a sacred ministry and must therefore suffer a temporary separation. Be of good cheer in my absence knowing that this ignominious lapse will reap for us an ever more glorious reunion.” “I await your return,” answered Whinny. “And my spirit prays that your ministry will prosper and your labours yield an harvest much abounding and beyond your knowing.” With that, Father John mounted his horse and rode toward Bloomfield. The trail wound its way through the woods and paralleled a nearby brook. Sunbeams peered through the maple leaves as they undulated in the cool autumn zephyr. . . . . . . . Upon his arrival at Bloomfield, Father John encountered a group of young boys playing in the street. They painted their faces to look like Indians and one of them was even smoking a pipe. Father John addressed them, “Today is Sunday and you ought to be in church.” The boy with the pipe answered, “Our fathers don‟t care whether or not we went to Church.” Father John approached the boy with the pipe and asked him for it. The boy refused whereupon Father John snatched the pipe out of the boy‟s mouth and cast in into the brook. The boy cried, “That‟s my father‟s pipe!” 31 | P a g e

“And if you had been in church today, you would have known not to take what doesn‟t belong to you!” “Alright! We will go!” the boys exclaimed. Father John left them and proceeded to the chapel. Holy Trinity was situated on a steep hill speckled with wildflowers. Bees often wafted in through its open windows, along with the intermittent baas of safely grazing sheep. The church bells pealed as the choir donned their robes and arrayed themselves for the morning procession. Afterward, the service convened with „Old 100th‟ as the rising sun lit up the stained glass above the altar. Bloomfield‟s faithful gave witness to that morning‟s miracle (and all the way in the very last pew sat a young Geronimo and handful of his pintsized braves.) . . . . . . . Upon arrival at Christ Church in Rockford, Father John was greeted by members of the vestry and choir. At the conclusion of the service, a woman by the name of Lady P. approached him and ventured to have her confession heard. Father John could see the look of anguish on her face and instantly became sympathetic. “Please tell me what is troubling you,” asked the Priest. “And let me know if there‟s anything I can do to help.” “I want you to pray for me,” she started. “I have a disease to which there appears to be no cure. I am baptized in Christ for seven years now and have sought the LORD in all areas of my life. However, it seems that the more pure I become, the greater my sin is revealed to me.” Father John understood what she was experiencing and beseeched the Spirit for the right words of comfort. “Jesus gives us a parable in Matthew chapter twelve in which a clean house attracts devils because of its emptiness,” he began in a stern but loving voice. “Obedience to the Law is like having a clean house; but without love, the house is empty. All who love God will obey him; but not all who obey God love him.” “I want to love Jesus!” declared Lady P. “Then do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 32 | P a g e

. . . . . . . The town of Davey was even more sparsely populated than the other towns, but this only added to the spirit of community. St. Michael‟s Chapel stood on the edge of a glistening field of wheat for as long as anyone could remember, its liturgy frequently punctuated by the cows mooing and cocks crowing, which no one seemed to mind. Afterward, Father John paid his usual visit to the Bartley Manor with the intent to administer the Sacrament to its bedridden proprietor. “Good day, Mr. Bartley,” grinned the pastor. But as his communicant strained to look at him, his stare became ever more distant. “As always, I appreciate this weekly visit, but today will the last.” “Why is that?” “Because I am old and my heartbeat is increasingly uneven. I feel as though I were slipping away and it is well with me.” “No you‟re not,” the pastor contended. “I‟ve known elders whose hearts were convicted with the promise of the resurrection. Theirs is the look of victory; but in you, I see only defeat and false resignation.” “Go away, pastor. Can‟t you see I‟m ill?” “I can‟t do that,” Father John persisted. “You‟re not ill, but if you were, your only illness would be that you are too well. You‟ve become comfortable in your fear and sickness; and now you fear dying so much that you would wish for it if only to dispel it.” Mr. Bartley twisted in his bed. “If you won‟t leave me be, then at least tell me what heaven will be like so that I might have some hope in it.” “Okay,” smiled the pastor. “How about I tell you next week?” . . . . . . .

As the sun set over the mountains, the clip-clop of horseshoes on gravel was heard outside of the rectory. My sister and I ran outside to meet him as Whinny stood waiting on the old hickory landing.

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Whinny never asked how his day went – the fact that he arrived seemed to settle that question. But there was a certain homecoming ritual that both engaged in before anything else was spoken. First, Father John would dust off his shoes, remove his hat and say, “How wonderful it is to find you here waiting for me after so long a sojourn.” “I don‟t know which is greater,” she added. “The faith of the woman who waits or the man who returns.” Thus went the dispassionate responsorial that marked the end of yet another LORD‟s day.

On the Bottle
I found a message in a bottle; It said, Bottle. I opened my Bible in the Spirit; It said, Spirit. Does that mean I found a message in a bottle? or a bottle in a message? If you say, The bottle is in the message only, then you blaspheme the bottle. If you say, The Spirit is in the Bible only, then you blaspheme the Spirit. Later, I picked up the bottle and on it was written: 100-proof spirit.

Sky High
The sky's the limit But without the earth beneath There would be no sky

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Greta und die Gestapo
Knock knock knock... (Die doore opendt.) “Gütentag!” greeted Greta. “Wat Kann I du für yeu?” “I haffe orders teu sürche dies rezidence unter suspicione das yeu ar hidingsie Jüden,” sagt die Nazi. “Jüden?” criedt Greta. “Nein! Er ist nöe Jüden hier.” “Maye I sürche, den?” “Of cours nicht!” Greta answert. “Est ist die middel auf der nächt! Kömme bach ohn Sönntag, bye-bye!” “Nein!” der Nazi insistet. “I müss conducten die sürche at wonce!” “Or else wat?!” “Or else..” (der Nazi pausen... Er dits nicht wänten zu fillen out zie paperwürke für deiser one!...) “Okay – okay! Den jusst tellen me, ist der eine Jüden heire?” “Yess!” “Güt!” answert die Nazi. “Bringen ihm oute, bitte.” “Fein, I will!” Greta relentidt, “Bütte fürst, tellen me wei yeu wänte ihm.” “Becauss he ist ein Jüde!” “Und wat ist wröngen wiht das?” shie answeren. “Die Jewische blüt ist korrupt und müssen be pürgt frem auf die Sudetanland!” sagt der Nazi. “Wei du yeu thinken dat?” askt Greta perplext. “Wei? Wei?? Jusst looke as die advancments auf Aryan ärs und cultur! Das genius auf dein Östrianische müsiker und technologie, der stamina auf ouhr würkers! Grüβ Gött! Weir die mosst evölvedt auf älle der races und häffen un näturel reicht zu destroyen sie impür races! “Aber wass abouet der Bibel?” pleadedt Greta. “Weir älle frem Adem, ain‟t we? Und häffen weir älle bin mäde ouf die saem blüd?” Aber die Nazi groβlich sprächen, “Perhapts! Aber weil ins das Neü Testamenten, die Jüden wert replacent bei den Romänische Christerens! Dierfore, das gentilles aer die neue superiuer race!”

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(Greta lookt ahn der Nazi wiht despaire. Shie hadt geställedt ihm as müche ahs shie couldt!) “Alreit! Alreit! I wille göe und bringen auf die Jüden. Waite hier...” Der doore clöest und die Nazi waitet outeside. Den, sie doore suddennly opent... “Well? Wehr ist hie?” askt der Nazi. “Kömming,” shie answërt sweetlich. “Bütte fürst, tellen mie... Ar nott yeu ein grandsönne auf einen Jüdenin?” “Ja, I am,” sprächen der Nazi. “Bütte I wass raisedt ahs einen Christeren.” “I see...” Greta wondert. “Und ihre parenst neiber toldt yeu das Jesu Christe war ein Jüden?” Der Nazi pausedt. “Well... I neiber unterstüdt thiere faithe... I wantet zu believen en Christe, bütte... I neiber couldt! I neiber saw waht thaey saw! Die mësage war losst on me! I kouldt nicht finden Götte nowehre!” “Den wei känt yeu see Hem nowe?!” Greta pleadedt. Bütte der Nazi becämme outragedt, “Est wast meinen blüd! Meinen korrupt Jewische blüdt das wouldt nicht permitt mie!! Nowe bringensie auf die Juden!! Schnell, bitte!!” Greta walkdt outeside und shütten sie doore behindt ehr. “Hier am I!” shie gesagt. “Yeu?!” shoutted der Nazi. “Yeu art nicht einen Jüden?!” “Ja, Ich bin nicht,” Greta whisperin. “Bütte meine Saviuer ist, und ihs blüd eis withinen mie.”

Style Matters
Style over substance? But in the world we live in, it's both that matter.

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Imagine I'm an Enigma
Imagine I'm an enigma ...... A misunderstood mister who dissed his sister (but now, how much I‟ve missed her) ...... A man who once prayed to someday repay the one whom he depraved (but now, it‟s too late) ...... The one who bravely paved the way for him to say, “My soul is saved” ...... The one and only Son who came to make a way for everyone (and now it‟s done) ...... The one who gave his all to call a saint whose name was Saul (but now it‟s Paul, y‟all) ...... The one who (by his stripes) restored the blind man‟s sight forevermore (Praise ye the LORD) ...... But as for me and my house? ...... I am the charismaticaddict praisin‟ Jesus all diseases have been cured (Word is born) ......

When I died...
When I awoke, I found myself on a plain. Rising to my feet, I turned and saw the contemplative Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree. Why do you suffer? – asked the Buddha – You suffer because you live and you live because you die. Life is Death and Death is Life. It is an endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. The way to end suffering is through breaking the cycle of life, death and rebirth. And once this cycle is broken, Enlightenment is achieved. The place of Enlightenment is Nirvana. Your soul cannot enter Nirvana without first achieving Enlightenment which is best accomplished through the technique and discipline of meditation.

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I answered the Buddha and said – People don‟t suffer because they live, they suffer because they sin. Death is not necessary for life, only the Word of God is. Life cannot be an endless cycle of life, death and rebirth because death is final or else it is not death. The way to end suffering is to suffer for it completely which the Son of God already did for us. Enlightenment is not the blissful realization that Life is Death and Death is Life (as you falsely assert), but rather, it is the faith of a loving God who suffers and dies as a propitiation for mankind‟s sin. This is the true „Nirvana‟ and the true Incarnation of the Buddha‟s aspiration. With that, the Buddha disappeared in a puff of smoke whereupon I turned to find myself on a mountaintop standing in front of a blue man with four arms. It was Vishnu. Why do you suffer? – asked Vishnu – You suffer because you violate the Dharma which are holy rules for living. As a result, you have established negative Karma. Karma is a divine system of justice wherein all actions (whether positive or negative) are recompensed to the individual. Therefore, I (Vishnu) am the divine arbiter and dispenser of justice. Follow me if you want to receive a positive Karma. I answered Vishnu and said – You are right to say that I have violated a holy standard of living. As a result of my transgression, I am deserving of divine recompense and am under the literal curse of the Old Testament. However, God‟s judgment and wrath was assuaged by the righteous judgment of his Son on the cross we deserved. Vishnu objected – If Christ suffered in place of the Christians, then no Christians would suffer in the world. However, we have witnessed the suffering and death of many Christians since the founding of Christianity. If Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of St. Peter, then why was St. Peter also crucified?

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Then said I to Vishnu – Many Christians have indeed suffered and died since the time of Christ. However, this is not due to the judgment of God. To ask why Christians suffer is like asking why God permits us to remain in this world after converting. Our ministry is to lead others to Christ, and during the course of this blessed ministry, we may at times avail ourselves to martyrdom and persecution (though the miraculous gift of the Spirit has equipped us for it). Nevertheless, in Paradise, we will be healed of every hardship endured for the service of the gospel. With that, Vishnu disappeared in a puff of smoke and I turned to find myself in an arid desert. A man in a turban approached me holding a book in his hand. The book was the Qur‟an and the man was Muhammad. Peace be unto you – said Muhammad – God is One. The first of the Ten Commandments says not to worship any god besides the one true God. Why do the People of the Book believe that God is a Trinity when the prophet Jesus (peace be unto him) never mentioned a trinity in any of the gospels? Also, the prophet Jesus (peace be unto him) said „My Father is greater than I‟. I answered Muhammad and said – The doctrine of the Trinity is not a doctrine of three gods. It is a description of the nature of God as he is revealed in Scripture. Also, Mosaic Law mandates at least two or three witnesses in which case a unitarian deity would be incapable of establishing itself. When Christ said that he was lesser than his Father, he spoke from the standpoint of his humanity whereas our Savior is both fully human and fully divine without contradiction. Muhammad continued – The People of the Book are the enemies of Allah. They say that people can go to heaven no matter what they do. But Jesus (peace be unto him) taught that people cannot enter heaven unless they obey the Law. So would you rather obey Jesus or Paul who says that the Law is dead (and he was not even one of the original disciples?)

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There is no variance between Christ and his apostles – I answered – But when Christ was crucified, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, restoring the relationship between man and God premised upon a desire to obey rather than actual obedience. But the right to be forgiven is by no means a right to transgress. Otherwise, we blaspheme the Holy Ghost. Muhammad persisted – The People of the Book say that Jesus (peace be unto him) died for their sins, but this is not true. Allah made Judas to look like Jesus (peace be unto him) so that he would be crucified instead of Jesus. That‟s why Judas cried out to Allah saying, „Why have you forsaken me‟. I answered Muhammad and said – Judas could not have crucified because he was a sinner. If the Messiah sinned, then he would need someone to die for his sins which would disqualify him as the Messiah. Thus, Jesus must have endured his Passion without sinning in order to save the world which was created by God the Father for just that purpose (and wouldn‟t have been otherwise.) With that, Muhammad disappeared in a puff of smoke and I turned to find myself in a brimstone cavern lit up by pools of flaming sulfur. Standing in front of me was a red man with goat horns protruding from his forehead and hooves for feet. It was Lucifer and I was in hell. Thus saith Lucifer – I believe in God the Father and in his Son Jesus Christ who died for the sins of the world. However, I reject this god because he is evil. He formed me and made me sin in order to fulfill his purpose of saving man. He predestined me to sin in order so that I would glorify him to his followers. I answered Lucifer and said – God does not make anybody sin. Neither does evil glorify God. However, once sin had entered into his creation, God entered into his creation in order to preserve it from the sin of Adam, subjecting his flesh to the scourge of Original Sin for the sake of the elect.

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Lucifer persisted – Jesus said his words would judge you. The Word of God says that God hardened Pharaoh‟s heart in the story of the Exodus, causing him not to let the people go before killing all of Egypt‟s firstborn. God also says „Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.‟ In Isaiah, God says „I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.‟ The Israelites exterminated the Canaanites (women, children and cattle included) and they did so by the commandment of God and the Ark as their battle standard. Clearly, the Christian God is evil and the author of it. I answered Lucifer and said – God does say that he created evil, hated Esau, and hardened Pharaoh‟s heart. Many times in Scripture, God speaks corporately on behalf of an Ultimate Reality which is inclusive of both good and evil. The Pharisees also accused Christ of casting out devils by the power of Beelzebub, but Christ avers that a house divided cannot stand. Reality has become corrupt by mankind‟s sin, but the one who gave birth to it is Immaculate. With that, Lucifer disappeared in a puff of smoke and I turned to find myself standing before a city of jewels. The gates of the city were made of pearl and when they opened, St. Peter came out to greet me. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord – St. Peter said. And that was when I realized that the more I knew, the less I had to say.

The Desert
I drilled for oil. But in order to get to the oil, I first had to cross a desert. Once I had crossed the desert, I had to penetrate it. I had to bring what was underneath the desert up to the surface. There are winds in the desert, and mirages. It is easy to become lost. I came across a man in the desert – a camel trader. He told me where I could find oil. He said that oil could be found in the desert. That is why I came to the desert – to drill for oil. 41 | P a g e

Native Tree Spirit
I had a vision of you as a big tree: one who bears her fruit in the spring; one who renders shade in the summer; beautiful colors in the cool of autumn; and in the dead of winter, you prepare for the renewal of the following spring. Once, my heart was moved with a sudden pathos as I wondered how glorious this endless cycle appeared. Throughout all seasons, the memory of this glorious vision of you shall hide me under its immutable branches.

El Oro de San Clemente
¡Capitán, estamos hundiendo! – cried the first mate as the torrent raged. But the captain was possessed. He visto peor que esto... – he brooded. ¿Qué? – the crewman pleaded, unable to comprehend. Meanwhile, the San Clemente continued to toss violently, the shouts of her crewmates answered only by the snapping of her disintegrating wooden hull. It was then that the cabin door flung open revealing a drenched friar, clutching a coral Rosary against his chest. But the captain remained obstinate – ¿What do you want? The friar grunted – The waves are getting very high now and the crewmen believe that in order for us to remain afloat, we must jettison some of the cargo. ¡Por qué! – the captain winced. ¡I‟m too old to make another voyage to Cartagena! ¡I won‟t return without my investment! 42 | P a g e

Well then you won‟t return. – surmised the friar. ¿What do you mean by that? But the friar persisted – What I mean is that your obsession with wealth is corrupting your judgment and endangering your crew. ¿My judgment? – howled the captain – ¿Are you questioning my judgment? The first mate started for the door. ¡No, stay! – the captain ordered as he then turned to the friar – Tell me about my judgment... But the friar held his peace, and his peace remembered: It remembered the sights and sounds of a scattered crew on a battered deck; The decision to sail in August against the advice of the navigator; The Inca slaves on the coffee plantation; Above them flies the fortification; Turrets with their soldiers stationed; Smelted fetishes, murdered shaman; Temple cities left abandoned; Catholics serving God and mammon. As it is with this Capitán, so shall it be with the entire Conquista; ¡Your greed will be your undoing! But the captain snarled – ¡Mutinous monk, you know nothing! Snap! The mast ripped apart as the San Clemente keeled over onto its side, water rushing into every cabin with a deafening fury! Blood in the water! – the friar still holding onto his coral Rosary as his lungs asphyxiated! . . . . . . . The storm subsided. Seagulls screeching on a painted pink sunset hanging on the wall of the Jolly Roger Social Club, Jamaica‟s hottest tourist destination (if only for the lack of air conditioning!)

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Above the chatter of the bustling barroom, rose an American accent, loud and obnoxious as the Hawaiian shirt and neon-green swimming trunks worn by its owner. Of course, Hawaiian culture is quite similar to that of Jamaica (if only for the Bob Marley T-shirts which I‟m sure are being sold in every Waikiki gift shop!) And this one, I got from a dive off the coast o‟Antigua, – he bragged, flashing his trusty (albeit rusty) Spanish doubloon before the supposedly-disinterested bar attendant (who, unbeknownst to him, never passed her bar exam!) „Dat is reel good! – she smiled in her patent patios – But I cyan‟t figgah out why yuh gaan into treasuh hunting – „dat is serious bizness! Well, – the American gushed – I guess I‟ve been inter‟sted in treasure huntin‟ ever since I‟s a child growin‟ up in Little Rock... (don‟t worry, you probbly never heard of it)... yep, always listenin‟ to them tales o‟pirates and buried treasure – so‟s I figured, all that treasure down there just waitin‟ for someone t'just come‟n‟gettit!... Yah‟mon... Whatteva mek yuh feel nice... – the hostess grinned as she opened her patron‟s Red Stripe with a machete. But the American shrugged – Maybe so, maybe no... y‟see, there‟s this one treasure that always seems to elude me – a Spanish bark that went down in a hurricane way back in the late 1500s... went by th‟name o‟the San Clementy – yep, and according to its manifest, it‟d be one o‟the most expensive finds hands down!... that is, of course, if anyone could find it... So why nat you? – the hostess teased. You kiddin‟ me? – the American scoffed – O boy!, you Jamaicans!... been eatin‟ too much o‟that there jerk sauce!... but I tell you what, If I do find the San Clementy, I‟ll give you this restaurant as a tip „cuz that ship‟s probbly worth half a‟billion easy – and that‟s „billion‟ with a „B‟! Buenas, – pierced a tinny Hispanic accent – I cud not help overhearing jou speek uf de San Clemente. Pearhaps I can be uf searvice...

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The American turned to find what looked like an elderly man – (Cuban perhaps?) – redfaced and steely-eyed, cigar tips protruding from the pockets of his unbuttoned khaki bush-jacket. Welcome to di Jolly Rojuh! – greeted the hostess. . . . . . . . So what‟re you talkin‟ about? – asked the American. The Cuban answered – Many yeers ago, I was deeee... navigatór por de recovery vessel... comin-outta Key Vést, jou know?... Anywéh! – we go down derr, diwing off de cost uf Cartagéna... wi luk for di shipwreck (jou know de one you talk-about... deeee... San Clemente, jou-know?... Anywéh! – we hear de radar ping so we send down de diwer and (o-mygad!) – we cud not belíve wha‟we find!... Wooah!! – the American guffawed – You don‟t mean to tell me you found that San Clementy, do ya? „Cuz you sho‟ don‟t look like no millionaire!... Nó, we find it... – the Cuban insisted as the skeptical American grimaced, but the Cuban remained adamant – de diwer return, come back and he find de ship‟s markings – so wi know es no lie, mang... Look, I‟m tellin‟ you... de guy even brough‟me back a subenír... The Cuban reached into one of his pockets and produced a coral Rosary. Whatta ting dat! – ridiculed the Jamaican – Mi tink mi saw „dat saame ting in di giff shop „crass di street! Pearhaps... – enticed the Cuban. But the American tried to put his story to the test – Okay, Señor... then how come you ain‟t livin‟ out on Star Island?... That‟s where I‟d be if I found th‟San Clementy! Nuh pay‟im nuh‟mind, mista! – the Jamaican smarted – Him juss wann fi someone to invest!... But the Cuban disarmed her – I am not eeehh... a scammer, nó?... I hab de coordinates to where jou can find de San Clemente, if you want I show you... In exchange for what? – the American pressed. Nó, no exyange, my fren... I yus wanna-help somebady, jou know?... 45 | P a g e

But the American remained skeptically amused – Alright then, what‟re the coordinates? Hol‟on... – the Cuban back-peddled – Férst, tell me why jou wanna know... Why I wanna know? Why wouldn‟t I wanna know? That‟s a heap o‟money just sittin‟ down there at the bottom o‟the ocean! Oyea, my fren, bot tell me... Whatta jou gonna do wid‟all dat money?... An‟ be careful how jou answer, my fren... „cus jour answer will detérmine whether or nó I give jou de coordinates... Why yuh bodda listen to‟dis man? – the Jamaican smarted – him definettly afta sumting fi true... But the American thought for a moment. If he was indeed a scammer as the hostess had suggested, then what was his scam? And what about his promise to reveal the coordinates in exchange for a satisfactory answer to his question? What was his game? . . . . . . . Alright, I‟m gonna answer yer question, – the American compromised – but first, how „bout you tellin‟ me how come you don‟t go and excavate that wreck yerself! Well, issa long story, my fren... I‟m listening. The Cuban shrugged – Alright... when de captan an‟ I saw dat we had find de San Clemente, wi dicide nó to tell nobady, eeeeh... de captan say he wa‟for me to keppit a secret, jou know? – so I no tell no one... Laad Jesus, what kine-a cockamamie story uno dat, mon? – scoffed the Jamaican. No, es for real! – insisted the Cuban – „Dat es wha‟happen! And later, when de captan try ask mi for de coordinates... Wooahh!! – the American interrupted – You mean to‟tell me that... you just didn‟t... Yessir! – the Cuban averred – I yust remind de captan wha‟he said „dat nó to tell nobady an‟ so when he ask me later I no se nothing, jou know wha‟I mean, mang?... Yuh too lie! – squealed the Jamaican – eidda dat or yuh muss be mad! The American also chastised him – Boy, that‟s a good one!... 46 | P a g e

. . . .

. . .

The Cuban put the coral Rosary back into his shirt pocket and turned to leave. Wait! – cajoled the American – Let‟s say you‟re right and that you do know how t‟git to th‟San Clementy... If you‟re sworn not t‟reveal its location, then why would you tell me? But the Jamaican rolled her eyes in disdain. Well I war prepared to keppit a secret „til my dying déy, but jou know what? – the Cuban answered – De captan, eeeeh... (how-do-jou-say?)... bitt me to it!... Wot yuh tellin me? – the Jamaican wheezed – Yuh meen to seh dat juss cause de captin fi dead, yuh nuh longa hafta obey him? ¡Claro! – the Cuban smiled, forgetting (as he often did) that he was not in a Spanish-speaking country. Okay, – the American reluctantly conceded – I‟m not sure I‟m buyin‟ all this, but... let‟s just say that if I had that money, I‟d buy me a house on Star Island and live it up! An‟ don‟ feget to invite me! – added the Jamaican half-jokingly. But the Cuban was unconvinced – Alright... bot why jou wha‟to live en Star Island? „Cuz that‟s where th‟rich people live! – the American answered. Wha‟you minn by „rich‟? Well, uhhh... He‟mean dem hav money, mon! – surmised the Jamaican – Dem cyan do watteva dem wann fi do! an‟ nuh haffi worry „bout when dem nex paycheck goine com‟in, yu‟undastann? Ahhh... – the Cuban understood – I see... bot rich pipple, de hab worries too, nó? Some of‟em! – the American reckoned. Right, so jou see my fren, money es nó de answer to ev‟rythíng... A‟true dat! – the Jamaican relented as the American appeared to nod in agreement. . . . . . . . 47 | P a g e

Well I tell you what, you show me how‟ta get to th‟San Clementy, and I‟ll split it with you fifty-fifty! – the American haggled. For wha‟? – asked the Cuban – Jou know if I wan‟ de money, I go gettit myself, no prollem... So then why don‟t you? Issimple, mang, I don‟need de money... Wot! – gasped the Jamaican – Yuh muss be indipendantly wealty!... The Cuban laughed as she continued to marvel... How yuh neva tell me dat yuh rich so! But the American was all the more determined to figure him out – Well then if you don‟t need th‟money, how „bout I just give yer fifty to charity! But the Cuban reached once again into his pocket and brandished the coral Rosary. Ahhh... give to de poor! – he ruminated as the tiny gold crucifix dangled from the glistening beads – and for why would you do this, Papíto? The American said nothing as the hostess disappeared into the kitchen. What a conundrum? If he said he would give to the poor in order to attain something for himself, he would be unworthy of that which he had hoped to attain (and thus would not receive it); but if he confessed his unworthiness in order to give to the poor altruistically, then that which he had hoped to attain from the wreck of the San Clemente would no longer be his, but instead would belong to the poor whom he himself would undoubtedly join. But as for the Cuban (assuming he even was a Cuban), he left the Jolly Roger Social Club with his secret as yet untold, praising the LORD and still clutching his treasured coral Rosary against his chest. But before he exited, he turned once again to the frustrated man at the bar. Bléssed es de poor en espirit, – he said – Por der‟s es de kíngdom de Habana...

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