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The Heretic By Jocelyne Storm

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The Heretic. By Jocelyne Storm – Part 8

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Discovering that I was in my feelings was more than a wake-up call, it meant I needed some insight as to what I was truly feeling and why? Everything that had been spoken on the prayer call had come from places of genuine love – I knew that, but maybe it was not so much as what was said, rather than the way it was said.

I am far from being a child, but that does not mean that my feelings are immune to scorching words of beratement, or to being hurt. Nor does it indicate that I am some stoic creature, able to brush venomous words off without any thought of what prompted the ill words in the first place. Not to say that I map my life according to the judgments and criticisms of others, but as an empath, I feel quite deeply – especially the pangs of my fellow man. Therefore were there is angst, I seek to instill harmony and peace. Where there is melancholy, I strive to share joy. And where frowns abide, my charge is to bring on a smile. Needless to state, but when someone that I care about is angry with me, I would like to know why and do my best to remedy the situation.

Now, having found myself in a somber mood, I trudged over to my absolute favorite spot – the sturdy picnic table that weighed more than I do, situated in a semi-shady spot. I hopped my butt up and scooted back until all but my feet were atop the flat surface. I stretched-out and gazed upon the heavens – a sea of baby-blue, dotted with cottony puffs of immature clouds. Staring at the sky is always peaceful, reminding me how small we are compared to the vast universe – yet we are created in the image of the one who formed all things, heavens and earth.

The open expansion seemed to move before my eyes, but science had proven that all things are in constant motion and the latent knowledge that the earth beneath the very table on which I lay was spinning gave way to a sense of floating. The lightheaded sensation that resulted – almost vertigo, reminded me of roller-coasters, with their slow ascension, followed by the weightless plunge. I could (and have, on occasion) lay right there on that table, watching the sky for hours, soaking in the wondrous beauty of the void and feeling as if I could fall into it at any moment – fall in and drown inside the big nothing.
In truth, it only looks like nothing but blue. I know that just beyond the stratosphere lies an infinite expanse of other worlds.
#beauty #introspection

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The Heretic. By Jocelyne Storm – Part 7

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My dream had been to create a safe-haven for people who’s souls burst-forth things of beauty. A place where they could feel free to express the colors, images and sounds that haunted their inner-being and give voice to the words that lay upon their hearts like stones weighing them down in murky pools of stagnant waters. I know the pangs of artist who’s labors of love are never loved. Paintings stacked along closet walls, songs on flash-drives and cassette tapes – never to grace the ears of music lovers. Hand-made crafts collecting dust instead of curating compliments. Poems, written in notebooks, never having a moment to stir hearts and dance-moves, practiced and perfected, yet seen only by mirrors on the walls of studios and bedrooms.

I know these hidden loves all too well. For my own closet teams with volumes of unpublished works, unfinished pieces and abandoned projects. A multitude of gigabytes house songs, stories and poems that will die with me when I go to the grave, tossed out by someone who will never stop to read them before feeding them to the bonfire. My computer will be wiped clean, my external hard-drives sold at yard-sales: all my private thoughts and ambitions gone in a whisper, as though they never were.

My dream had been to establish a place where beauty could be appreciated before being lost in time. A place where one might learn that they truly are endowed with a gift worthy of pursuing. A place where filmmakers might discover the next lead or supporting cast-member for their production. A place where the lonely could find their tribe. A place for the common-good of mankind, even if it was only on a local level.

Now, after sharing the source of my jubilation – I was a villain. With no one around for miles, I talked aloud to myself, asking pertinent questions as to determine the true cause of concern expressed by the prayer leaders and to re-evaluate my commitment to the cause, for which I had dedicated so much of my life’s work.

• Am I on the right track?
• Was this dream really put on my heart by The Lord?
• Have I been acting of my own volition?
• Have I been lying to myself all these years?
• Are my hopes, dreams and aspirations really evil?

So many doubts and questions flooded my mind and only when I put my shirt-tail to my face to wipe the stinging sweat, did I realize that I was crying.
#beauty #art #grace

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The Heretic. By Jocelyne Storm – Part 6

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Snakes on the ground, under patio furniture and coiled upon tree-limbs. Hornets, bees and poisonous spiders. Lizards that bite and all manner of creepy-crawly things were among the threats inhabiting the oasis that I lovingly deemed “The Home-Place.” There were also holes created overnight by moles and other burrowing creatures. Tree roots that jutted up from the ground like hands of the undead trying to claw out of the grave. There are plants that emit toxins, causing rashes and rocks that become unearthed during rain-falls and lay-wait to trip the hapless stroller-by. Broken hips and sprained ankles are common injuries for middle-aged women who dwell on farmlands.

Having suffered my fair-share of farm related injuries, a part of my brain takes watch whenever I step outside. This silent sentry stands guard within my mind – ever on high-alert for impending dangers. The guard’s eyes are never static, always scanning the perimeter for movement, flashes of light or color. This diligent subconscious servant has one motto; See the threat, before the threat gets us!

With my inner body guard on the job, the rest of my mental faculties are free to function like a high quality operating system - running smoothly in the background to sort things out and make sense of the world. It is this highly skilled OS that goes to work, dissecting issues, tackling problems, efficiently and effectively establishing solutions and methodologies to meet challenges head-on and come out victorious.

As I worked, pausing now and then to used the tail of my shirt to wipe sweat from my face and neck, I began to ruminate on the upsetting conversation that had taken place on the prayer-line earlier. There was so much to consider, for I had no intentions of leading people down a path of destruction, nor did I want to be one who taught others the way of evil. But I was innocent because my plans entailed non of these aspects.

I had only a dream of providing people a place of recreation – a respite from the disheartening headlines and plagues of personal conflicts that permeated the lives of those who live in my community. I wanted to create a place where poets could recite there works, musicians can play their tunes, painters could display their pieces and artists of all ilks could congratulate, share and celebrate the endeavors and creations of their fellow artisans.
#homeplace

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The Heretic. By Jocelyne Storm – Part 5

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Although my praise was genuine, there lingered a sense of unease and tension began creeping into my neck, originating from between my shoulder-blades. In cases such as this, I had long-ago found gardening to be the perfect stress reliever. Donning long-sleeves, a neckerchief, wrist-bands, gloves and work-boots, I headed out into my personal paradise – my playground, so to speak. This place where I had labored, transforming a baron hill of clay into a lush food-forest, was an Eden of my own making. Trees, bushes and shrubs of various kinds, lined and dotted the landscape, rich with color, fruit and foliage of every imaginable type. Pots, plots and planters spilled over with flowers and edible vegetation.

The land, which had been part of my lineage for more than a hundred years, has always been my place of solace. The therapeutic benefits of working in nature are wonders in themselves – calming my mind and allowing creativity to flow. It is here, in the open air, enveloped in a sea of green, that I can come to my senses, think matters through and meditate on the absolute divine beauty of God’s handy-work.

Within an hour of stooping, stretching and lifting to pick up fallen tree-limbs, sticks and pine-cones, my clothing was saturated with perspiration and my pain was alleviated. Now I was working on auto-pilot and the rote tasks of pruning and primping my plants were functions performed by muscle-memory. My thoughts were not focused on these mundane tasks, which, after doing them thousands of times, were now habitual, with a portion of my brain devoted to caution – high alert for the ever-present dangers that lurk in and near foliage.
#beauty #grace

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The Heretic. By Jocelyne Storm – Part 4

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Suddenly I heard nothing. I gave pause, assuming that the auditory glitch would be corrected. I quickly cleaned myself, washed my hands and returned to my study-desk, where my bible lay open on the pages I had been studying in accordance with the lesson of the day. It did not take long to realize that the call had been disconnected so I began the process of dialing back into the conference-call. Then I heard a voice say “Don’t even dial back in. Can’t you see that God disconnected that call for you?” But I instantly recognized the voice as belonging to the enemy of mankind and quickly redialed the call-in number to rejoin the prayer-call.

Upon pressing pound and being connected, I heard the familiar refrains of praise and worship and knowing that the group was now praying, I joined in as well. My spirit was lifted as I rejoiced in the victory of having recognized the enemy’s attempt to block my blessing and knowing that his efforts were thwarted, yet again. I did not speak outside of offering thanks and supplications to my Heavenly Father. I had no intention of stirring that hornet’s nest that God, Himself had seen fit to quell.

With the closing prayer uttered in a group-chant, members said their goodbyes and the steady beeps of people hanging-up began to permeate the line. I hung up – satisfied that Jehovah had intervened on my behalf to subside the issue of my testimony and the uproar which had ensued as a result of my sharing it. I was honored, knowing that God had seen into my heart – that I was truly sorrowful of having shared the information without praying on it for a day or two, at the very least – praying until I received a word from The Lord that sharing was what He wanted me to do.
#voices #obedience #victory

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The Heretic. By Jocelyne Storm – Part 3

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Either way, I felt like an idiot in that moment when one of the leaders begin to speak further, as if she had taken it upon herself to divulge a confession of guilt or promise to renege on this frivolous pursuit; but if that is what she was aiming to achieve, her very breath was wasted. How could I decide not to do a thing into which I had poured everything I could muster into, for more than forty years. How was I to be expected to turn the tide on my life’s work without some introspection and quiet reflection?

As she continued speaking at ever-higher decibels – as though shouting would somehow drive her points home and give them greater credence, I decided to go pee, as it was clear that this call was not due to end anytime soon. Of course she pause to ask me a question just as the flow of urine splashed against the toilet bowl at full force. My phone was muted and I fumbled to press the right buttons and squelch my release. But then I didn’t press the unmute button. In a split second I decided to finish pissing so that my attention could be fully present as I conveyed my thoughts in answer to her questions. The lapse in time as my response was delayed seemed to enrage her.

“Oh,” she said; “I guess I struck a nerve. Sister Joe won’t answer me now – I guess she must have hung up!” Now my inner spirit halted as I could see into the spirit-realm that I was being invited to sew discord among the brothers and sisters who patiently awaited closure on the matter so they could get on with their day. With the last trickle done, I pressed the button and unmuted my line.

“Brothers and sisters,” I began; “I am truly at a loss right now and can only turn to The Lord as these plans are a dream that I have held since I was a mere youngster and...”
“That doesn’t matter!” I was interrupted. “Your soul is at stake and I’m not going to stand by and watch you burn in hell over this foolishness...”
#understanding

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The Heretic. By Jocelyne Storm – Part 2

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As the prayer-leaders spoke, I gripped my tongue behind my teeth and squeezed my labia to clench my bladder as the sudden shock of the berating words sent waves of emotions throughout my body and crashed upon my heart like waters on the shore of a beach.

A myriad of thoughts rushed my brain and tumbled over one-another, leaving me helpless to collect and sort them. Finally my mind shut down and inadvertently tune out the rant. People continued speaking but my thoughts had carried me elsewhere – lost I was to the chidings of those who knew more of the subject of the will of God.

I was there to learn and I wanted to listen – but I was unable to tune in and return my thoughts to the conversation at hand until my name was called. Like a flash, total-recall (a skill I had acquired in the third grade during a particularly traumatic period of my childhood) kicked into gear and the main points of the orations returned to my recollection in a fraction of a second.

“Sister Joe, do you understand what the Bible has to say about this matter?”
I prefer to be called Joe, as it alludes to an air of masculinity – I like that. But even that (being called Joe, instead of Jocelyn, had been the cause of some reprimand during my tenure as a member of the prayer-group, but I held my ground, having a personal belief that it is my right to be addressed according to my choosing – after all, no one knows or cares why I have chosen a nickname and it is really no one’s business, anyway. Someone spoke and I was cast into reality at once.

I cleared my throat and stated simply; “I suppose that I shall have to pray on this matter.” How stupid of me to think for a moment that this would arrest the heated topic – that a statement so limpid, yet inconclusive would give any pause to the verbal assault which assailed my heart – my very person; because to put down my dream (a goal to which I had aspired or nearly half a century) was akin to insulting my intellect. Did they think that I had not undertaken this endeavor prayerfully? Perhaps they mistakenly thought the idea was suggested and acted upon on a whim – some fanciful dare, or did they think me an idiot.
#biblestudy #worship #livinggod #faithwalk #understanding #intercession

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The Heretic. By Jocelyne Storm – Part 1

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I heard the coffee maker gurgling, confirming that my savory brew was nearly done. Quickly I race to put away the last of the dry dishes, having washed them hours earlier and started the next load of laundry. Force of habit caused me to glance at the microwave clock which announce that I had only a few minutes more before the prayer-line would commence.

Having tidied my humble abode, I made a quick trip to the privy and relieved myself, lest the conference should run long and I become uncomfortable – unable to focus on praising The Lord, while squirming in my seat and feigning to hold my bladder.

With clean hands I drew ice from the freezer and filled a tumbler, sat it on my desk, along with the coffee decanter and a bowl of snacks. I was ready to fuel my day and my faith-walk with powerful intercessory prayer and teachings of the Gospel.

Per the customs of our group, the session began with greetings, pleasantries, testimonies to the Glory of God and Prayer Requests. The day had found me bubbling with joviality as there was much on my heart for which I wanted to give thanks and honor unto God. All during the day I had enjoyed moments of shear elation – indeed, every time my thoughts floated to the answered prayers which I had received only the night before and though I wanted to keep quiet (should have kept quiet) I simply felt the news too good not to share with the very people whom had been a part of my spiritual growth over the course of nearly four years.

Not that they deserved to know the source of my joy or that I felt any compensatory need to convey my blessings – but I simply thought that sharing my good news might encourage someone who was waiting patiently to receive answers, blessings or a word from God that the delights of their hearts might lay just around the corner.

How was I to fathom the disgust, loathing and indignation that sharing my testimony would elicit? How could I, in my darkest nightmares have foreseen the uproar it would cause. I must admit that I had not sat quietly and meditated on the subject of sharing the progress of my long-held dream, but I was happy and I wanted – expected – others, who say they love me, to be happy for me too.

After all, mine was a joy that had not been manifested via an idea which had sprang-up over night – it had been categorized among those imaginings slated as “Wildest Dreams,” since I was fifteen years old. The thing that I had wanted to do since my youth, planned and plotted as a young adult, now had come to fruition – at least the beginning steps were about to be taken; and for this I was demonized.

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