Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"I don't like being teased."

Tonight I sat on my porch on the window seat just staring at the twilight. I remember almost exactly ten years ago when I was thirteen, lying out in the leaves watching the moon float across the sky. What is it about twilight that is so beautiful and yet so painful at the same time? If C.S. Lewis' profound statements are correct--that everything is merely a shadow of eternity--then in the past when we looked up at the sky, we longed for heaven. Now we are simply longing for the past when what we long for isn't in the past any more than it is in the leaves or in the moon but in eternity itself. If we went back to the past it would be a living memory but nothing more. It wouldn't satisfy our craving for heaven. It is merely a tease, and maybe that is why we feel in awe and in agony.  But what could be more beautiful than the sky or the stars? What could be more glorious than the greenish-blue of the tropical seas? It simply can't be even imagined.

As it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." --1 Corinthians 2:9 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One piece at a time


Okay so I thought I had this heaven thing figured out. It'd be all gold and glass and lovely things and...yeah. But this C.S. Lewis book I'm reading made those ideas seem really cliched and dumb. All my ideas are merely symbolism--earthly imitations of heavenly glories that I will never grasp while still bound by human limitations. This is a good and bad thing. I can only depict heaven in human terms; even the Bible does this. That doesn't mean people should stop trying to dig deeper and to create imagery that is uplifting and motivating. C.S. Lewis says, "I am not for a moment condemning such imagery. I heartily wish I could enter it more deeply than I do, and I pray that I yet shall. But my point is that this is only a symbol."

This is all so spiritually-stretching. I'm struggling to stick to this first part of the story as I am so ready to move on to the wonderful things for which I originally set out to depict. I must not be ready for that leg of the journey; that is all I can gather. Like the characters themselves, writers have their own journey in telling the story. I think perhaps I was wrong. In the end I believe I will be the one who gains the most from this achievement. I suppose that was all I really wanted: to give myself a visual place where I could imagine those I've lost and in some way, capture their new home like I'm always trying to capture the world around me. It's difficult for someone like me, with these hidden images inside of me that no one else can see, the presence of which I feel daily. I try and try to bring them out in their entirety, but I never could, in the same way that I will never successfully depict heaven as it really is. It simply can't be done. So while this book is incredibly enlightening, if only to get us thinking, I probably should lighten up a bit and stop expecting the impossible from myself. I have a lot to offer if I can just let go of the perfectionism.  

By the way, C.S. Lewis is great at teaching grammar. I've improved my sentence-forming abilities by leaps and bounds. I think that's how that saying goes. 

The specific book I'm reading is called Made for Heaven and in it are three chapters, one from each of his books that talk extensively about heaven. It's a good Lewis primer at best, but I will have to get my hands on the originals. I was getting frustrated with the local libraries having them split up into so many different locations until I found The Problem of Pain on Google Books. This part of Google may become my favorite! I read A Christmas Carol there instead of getting it at the library so I don't know how it is that I forgot about it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Random musings on an autumn night

Last night's thoughts at around 5 or 6pm. 

Autumn has a unique smell, different from summer in that the scent of green leaves has faded to colorful, dying ones. The cicadas have all gone, their absence filled by early evening crickets. The wind seems to pick up, almost in an eerie sense, howling around doorways and windows. The trees thin out and their emptiness becomes more and more evident with each passing day. Suddenly the sky seems huge! The setting sun accentuates the auburn colors and turns even the strongest heart melancholy, as the days shorten and the bleak winter comes, where golden lights seem the cheeriest thing ever seen. All these seasons, always changing...but what would spring be without winter? Would the fresh, green grass be as delightful if it had never once been hidden beneath the snow? Would your heart long for the sounds of summertime evenings if it'd never tasted the bittersweet silence of January? Would heaven be as wonderful without earth to precede it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Here at last is the thing I was made for."

From the early stages of this story I knew that my characters must have something in common; something so strong that it can cross cultural and lingual barriers. Faith in Christ is obviously one of the things that pulls them together. I thought I was satisfied with that, but now I realize that I had never quite put my finger on it. There has to be something else that makes them best friends. There are millions of Christians in the world, but something has to make these two such kindred spirits that separation is absolutely devastating.
      Before I get to what that is, let me mention that I've been reading C.S. Lewis. I found exactly what I had been looking for all along. It explains what I knew, but couldn't put into words. Leave it to C.S. Lewis to put it so beautifully.

       "What I am now going to say is merely an opinion of my own without the slightest authority, which I submit to the judgment of better Christians and better scholars than myself. There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw--but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported. Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of--something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you are born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it--tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest--if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself--you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say 'Here at last is the thing I was made for.'"

I honestly don't know what they will have in common outside of their faith, but I hope it will make a bond that can be as beautifully felt as this passage I've just recited.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Letting Your Light Shine

I think I'm finally seeing why this story means so much to me. Bear with me, because I may be repeating myself. It's hard to know with so many blog entries already posted, and this being something that's been on my mind for a long time.
      When I was a little girl I dreamed of the day Jesus would return. I got so excited thinking about Him coming down in the clouds and taking us all home with him. My parents told me not long after that times would get very bad before then, and I think in some small way, my dream was crushed. I had wanted so much to be alive for that day, and I started thinking I'd really rather not be there after all. In those days I was still reading picture books, even though I was nine. My dad thought this was a sign of under-development, like I wasn't intelligent enough to read stories without pictures. I now know this was the most positive thing imaginable: it meant that I loved pictures that much. Clearly I had an early fascination with art, I was just unaware of it at the time. I used to borrow my parents magazines just to stare at the glossy pictures, even if it was just a clothing catalog. Once someone gave me a few photography magazines, and I would go over and over them, like they were the best pictures ever taken.
      For some reason, the Bible became just words in an old book. God didn't seem real to me anymore. I knew the right things to say and I would still tell people about God if I got the opportunity, but I was far from knowing Jesus personally. I was a 'Christian', one of those people that has something to believe, but doesn't walk in it. My faith, and that fantastic imagination, had died from lack of nourishment. I think when I started getting into art again--(simultaneously getting into God)--I unlocked a lot of what had been buried. Those feelings of hope and wonder were revived and unleashed. All that has led to where I am now: this story. I'm finally getting back to what I should be doing. Maybe I was made for this very purpose: bringing that same hope and wonder outside of myself and giving it to those who really need to see it. Isn't that what the Kingdom is about? Eternal life? Not just "God can help you in this life" but that God is promising us a much better existence in the long run, restoring what has always been meant for us. God is a God of restoration; He is continually proving that to me.  
      My concept art has been a crucial part of the development of ideas and storyline, and yet it has been so much more: an ever-changing portfolio of my soul. I used to have dreams that were that big, only now I've come to realize that maybe they aren't impossible! Maybe one day we'll really be doing all these wonderful things, living in a place a thousand times more beautiful than Earth! It fills me with a ton of hope and excitement. I feel as though I'm carrying a secret, some kind of light that's been kept in darkness for too long. Maybe it's the same light, the Truth, that we're supposed to let shine. In my case, I should be shining the truth about our destiny. 

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven". - Matthew 5:16

I do extremely well with this kind of out-of-the-box thinking. Flying. Space. Huge castles over cliffs with waterfalls. That sort of thing. I just keep wondering if this is what I was made for. Like the song More Beautiful You that says "you were made to fill a purpose that only you could do." Maybe this is something only I can do. This is super exciting, and I hope this is indeed what I've been called to because I'm more than happy to do it.

The Big Picture

Craig Ferguson had astronomer Derrick Pitts on his show one night. As I listened to him talk, I tried to imagine what it must be like to see the world without consideration for God or destiny or anything beyond living your life and then ceasing to exist. The mere thought depressed me. It must depress a lot of people because even those who aren't religious believe in heaven. We're created to crave immortality! And heaven isn't just something to believe in, as though it may or may not be there. Like the earth being round or the grass being green, I consider heaven the same as anything else. You don't say "I believe in the grass." You don't need to believe in it. Clearly, it's just there, plain as day. But because heaven is not visible to the human eye--a decaying, material thing--its existence is up for debate. The wind, magnetic fields, atoms, particles, gravity, etc.--these are all invisible forces, but because we've managed to study them, they're considered undeniably real. My point in all this is: just because you can't see it or feel it or study it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

"So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
   'I will open my mouth in parables,
      I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.'" - Matthew 13:35

Maybe God doesn't want heaven to be found. Maybe He deliberately hid it from us, like He has hidden other things. 

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." -- Hebrews 11:1

Maybe it could be seen with our eyes, but He doesn't want us to see it.

"But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." - Acts 7:55

We have always assumed that humans are incapable of seeing heaven, but clearly it was shown to Stephen. Jesus was resurrected and showed himself to us, and that means invisible things can be seen, but only when God wills.

I was going somewhere with this. I guess it's just that I don't see eternal or spiritual things as separate from material things. If I see a show about space, my mind naturally thinks about heaven. The same can be said about nature shows. It seems lately my whole world is consumed with thoughts of what lies ahead, after this world is done.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

First Conversation

Finally I bring you an excerpt from my story that doesn't have any spoilers! It's actually quite sweet, and close to what I pictured in my head. It's just a rough draft that can be filled in more later. The name Nikki will definitely change, too.

      His movements were slow and awkward, but finally he took a seat beside her. Immediately Nikki felt tense and uncomfortable, sitting in uncertain silence, waiting for something--whatever he had come to do.
      Truthfully, he didn't know what to do. There was a strange pull he was experiencing that made him want to help somehow. It was very hard opening that door and coming out to sit with a strange girl, who spoke a strange language, who was visiting at a very bad time. The first thing he had seen was her tiny figure bent low, head bowed, obviously in some form of prayer.
      He reached inside his shirt and pulled out a wooden cross on a black piece of cording, beads uniformly held by knots along the string. He stopped, at a loss for how to communicate his thoughts, then traced the outline of a necklace around her collarbone, first pointing to the cross in his hands.
      She shook her head; no, she didn't have one. For a second she saw a flash of disappointment and pain cross his face. It was difficult to know exactly what this meant, so her cold hands gently took the cross from him and placed the pendant nearest her heart. This is what she did have. His eyes followed it, and when he understood, it was like a light glowed inside their dark brown center, as though the moon had crept up behind her. To further illustrate her point, she held it between her hands and bowed her head.
      A simple, slight smile was quickly evident as he asked, "K'ristian?" It was pronounced a bit differently, but unmistakable.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Death #1

Well, I did it. I killed one of my characters. *Sniff*. It's by far the best piece of writing I've ever done so I'm super excited! Everything just came together nicely and I never struggled to express things. I even changed it a bit from how I originally intended it to come out, and I liked it better! So awesomeness all around. Once again I wish I could share this with you, but it's under lock and key until the story's finished.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Alexander is used in Georgia?

I think I'm going to name my boy character Alex instead of David. It's still a popular Georgian name, but I think it's more fitting to the character. Who knew with all the Levans and Iraklis and Dodos there would be an Alex. I'm still unsure about the girl's name. I'm not happy at all with Nikki. Charlotte is a name that is staying with me, but yet it doesn't feel quite right.

Here's something funny, though: I kept thinking I wanted to go with Alex...then I went to one of my text documents (that I hadn't looked at in weeks) and Alex is the first name on the list that I wrote down months ago. Hmm...I wonder if that means anything. How do writers always have such fitting names anyway?!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Beginning of the End

Today I started writing. I don't have nearly enough research done to write anything but those specific scenes that have become ingrained in my head over the past several months. As much as I would love to post the page and a half that I wrote this morning, it does contain a spoiler. I have a feeling the majority of the book is going to be like that. But I can't have my readers knowing every twist and turn, now can I? I was struggling with knowing what kind of voice to use, so I just went with third person because it came more naturally than the others. Also since my main girl character is so much like me--(shh!)--I decided not to do a first person perspective. So my hard work is finally showing itself in my writing! The research has really helped me to visualize things and be able to clearly see what's happening in my head. I just wish my grammar and punctuation were better.