Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category

As the vinca in bloom

So is the variety of familial

Love, so true, so bright

Multicolored, but sharing

The same veiny leaves, green

We don’t do so well in shade

Let the rays pour down!

A monsoon of light, living brightness

And, as the sun patiens in the pot

Out base, our roots go out into the soil

The rich, textured, moist granules

Of our tiny little home

Wake up, oh sun!

Infuse us with life!

We will comb the breadth of totality

Here comes the bridegroom

In radiance, from the nineteenth chapter

Until now, as the child digs a hole

It matters not where we are planted

So long as there’s light, and the crystalline liquid

Of love

The sun (the Son)

The soil (the home)

The light (the Light)

The seed (the bloom)

The death (the birth)

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A beginning

A genesis, inception…

The germination of nothing less than our own hearts

And here, amid the sweet, ambrosial scent of rain

And the Pitter patter of a tiny car mechanic

We realize ambitions

Our hearts, our minds, and even our pens work as one

And the art –

The special, idyllic innovations created by a hybridized heart –

Yes, that art will speak for ourselves

One of the best poems I’ve ever read. If you’ve ever lost somebody, you would love this. Check it out!

PlumbRose


Bright Beauty,

A woman from dust whose skin is pale.

She sat at the edge of a tree,

With her wings spread far.

She was placed in a white robe.

Her smile was enchanting.

It would send cascades of hope to you.

But if you gazed upon her eyes

They would capture you,

Pulling you fast into a new world

Where they say it is more real than here.

A place where she says our Father lives.

She reads words from His book and tells me

“It is beyond comprehension.

That no eye has seen,

That no ear has heard.”

His words pounded like thunder through my ears.

……….

As I looked at Her hair (it was long and blonde),

She left behind a shadow

That cast her legacy.

It swallowed me up

In a mixture of dark suffering.

I fell onto a path that had been laid out for…

View original post 461 more words

These are a few of my favorite passages from Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. Not only do they pull at my heart and personality like no other literature can do, but they also seem to be the most well-written verses found in the whole poem.

Book IV: 75-80

Which way I fly is Hell, myself am Hell

And in the lowest deep, a lower deep

Still threat’ning to devour me opens wide,

To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.

O then at last relent: is there no place

Left for Repentance, none for Pardon left?

Book II: 623-628

A universe of death, which God by curse
Created evil, for evil only good;
Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inutterable, and worse
Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.

Book I: 106-109

All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?

Book III; 298-302

So Heav’nly love shall outdo Hellish hate

Giving to death and dying to redeem

So dearly to redeem what Hellish hate,

So easily destroy’d, and still destroys

In those who, when they may, accept not grace

Book III: 335-343 (The LORD speaking)

“New Heav’n and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell,

And after all their tribulations long

See golden days, fruitful of golden deeds

With Joy and Love triumphing, and fair Truth.

Then thou thy regal Scepter shaft lay by,

For regal Scepter then no more shall need,

God shall be All in All. But all ye Gods,

Adore him, who to compass all this dies,

Adore the Son, and honour him as mee.”

Book III: 372-382

Thee Father first they sung Omnipotent,
Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,
Eternal King; thee Author of all being,
Fountain of Light, thy self invisible [ 375 ]
Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit’st
Thron’d inaccessible, but when thou shad’st
The full blaze of thy beams, and through a cloud
Drawn round about thee like a radiant Shrine,
Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear, [ 380 ]
Yet dazzle Heav’n, that brightest Seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes,

Book III: 702-721

For wonderful indeed are all his works,
Pleasant to know, and worthiest to be all
Had in remembrance always with delight;
But what created mind can comprehend [ 705 ]
Their number, or the wisdom infinite
That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep.
I saw when at his Word the formless Mass,
This worlds material mould, came to a heap:
Confusion heard his voice, and wild uproar [ 710 ]
Stood rul’d, stood vast infinitude confin’d;
Till at his second bidding darkness fled,
Light shone, and order from disorder sprung:
Swift to their several Quarters hasted then
The cumbrous Elements, Earth, Flood, Aire, Fire, [ 715 ]
And this Ethereal quintessence of Heav’n
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That rolled orbicular, and turned to Starrs
Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move;
Each had his place appointed, each his course, [ 720 ]
The rest in circuit walls this Universe.

Book IV: 201-204

Of immortality. So little knows

Any, but God alone, to value right

The good before him, but perverts the best things

To worst abuse, or their meanest use.

Book V: 574-576

As may express them best, though what if Earth,

Be but the shadow of Heaven, and all things therein

Each to other like, more than on Earth is thought?

Book V: 520-522

Attend: that thou art happy, owe to God,

That thou continu’st such, owe to thyself,

That is, to thy obedience, therein stand.

Book IV:725-735

And starry Pole: Thou also mad’st the Night,
Maker Omnipotent, and thou the Day, [ 725 ]
Which we in our appointed work employ’d
Have finisht happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the Crown of all our bliss
Ordaind by thee, and this delicious place
For us too large, where thy abundance wants [ 730 ]
Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground.
But thou hast promis’d from us two a Race
To fill the Earth, who shall with us extoll
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.

I stumbled upon a wood

A transparent Grove with silver lined trees

At the behest of my master, Mother Instinct

Mister Self

This bio-spiritual entity

That seeks its own comfort

and that of none other

The trees were shining,

With the voluptuous Fruit of Folly

Dangling from their jagged arms

And the grass sparkled

I was filled with longing

But upon touching these things

And seeking the fruit

My phalanges passed through them

As they would through mountain air

Mister Self…Mother of Feeling…

For what reason have you led me here?

I’m sick of writing

About the sorrows

Possessed by either myself

Or this dreary rainbow we call a world

That still manages to be colorful…

if a bit faded

My issues?

I’m disgusted at even thinking them

I am blessed beyond my station

Things I don’t deserve

Which are taken away from better,

More deserving souls

Why does the wicked (I) succeed in his way?

I play the victim

Like a secondhand fiddle with broken strings

And a tape recorder in my back pocket

Producing a melody as I strut and fret upon the roof

But it’s all a lie

I am not a victim.

I am a glutton, spoiled

Victims are heroes

They are beautiful souls

Loved and protected now, at last

Gods and goddesses they’ve become

Glistening in the heavenly realms

Put there by hate

It seems so cliche

But I think common cliche is crystal truth

That we should seek two things, and two only

The joy of those (Above and) around us

And the joy of ourselves

This is the whole of the law

And if we take these strides…

If I take these basic steps

We will heal the world

Honor the loves who were taken

And prevent more being snatched away

Make this rainbow bright again

Connections are made

Microscopic conscience

The mechanized soul

 

I see goodness

I witness the coming together

Of souls, minds, ideas

 

But are the thoughts our own?

 

Perhaps not for long

When, through hunks of metal

Consciousness is duplicated

 

Does the soul exist?

If we can, in fact, create it?

Your network–

Streaming doubt into my veins

There are ghosts, surrounding…

 

They are data. They are bytes

Bytes and bots–

As the Spirit of God is breathed over the waters

And as the wind moves reality

We know not, we see not

Where the invisible originates

 

These thoughts are cliche

Familiar, but it’s true

Not science fiction

The trees shall clap their hands

And the mountains, sprint as the antelope

For on this day

This minute fraction of death and decay

In the midst of the universe

Life will arrive

A breath of freshly crafted oxygen

Filling the lungs of all beasts

Whether cattle grazing, birds nesting

Lizards leaping, lions roaring

Or man himself, in this destruction he has helped to create

The life

The breath

The dry made moist

And the valleys filled in

And the crooked roads straight

And the crags bowed low

So it is with this day

As death becomes breath

And we receive

Image result for afterlife

Think of your deathbed. Visualize your fading form surrounded by your friends and family (or, God forbid, alone). It’s all about to pass away. Everything you have ever thought, seen, smelled, touched, and heard is going to disappear as if none of it ever existed. What is the purpose of this decimation? Better yet, what was the purpose of the life that preceded it?

Perhaps there was no point at all—no meaning for anything. If everything eventually ceases to exist, then this certainly seems to be the case. From humans and ants to stars and pine trees, everything in the Universe, organic or otherwise, seems to die at some point. We, however, are the only tenets occupying this space called reality who contemplate this fact. This, I believe, is one thing Nietzsche may have meant when he called Man “the sick animal”. Save for instinctively avoiding it, other animals don’t seem to ponder on their termination or on what may happen afterward.

All things will face this inevitable door, whether beastly or rational, alive or inanimate, religious or secular. So, other than trying to enjoy the short time we have as much as we possibly can, the business of life seems to me to be about understanding this eventual end. There are many different beliefs about what the future holds when our hearts stop, but I would first like to discuss what is perhaps the most popular assumption in our modern climate of nihilism—that, after the neurons stop firing, there is nothing.

First of all, we should realize that no human being can effectually visualize the concept of “nothing”. If you try to think of “nothing”, you will end up thinking of at least a color (white or black, whatever people think of when they try to conjure up nothingness. This, to me, is why nihilism falls on its own head, though the attitudes and the actions resulting from the state of mind may certainly remain). True emptiness, if it is even possible, is neither colored nor tangible. One may say, “There was nothingness from our perspective before we were born.” But we didn’t even have a perspective before birth. I will come back to this in a moment.

Secondly, can you really imagine that every single one of your hopes, dreams, and experiences will vanish instantaneously as though it all never existed? Some say that they can imagine this; that the state of non-being after death correlates to our state before birth or during sleep.

But our “souls”, if you will, are actually most certainly present during our slumbering—not a simple “non-existence”. Our brains are working constantly throughout the sleep cycle, whether through dreams or other unknowable processes, and we simply have no memory or awareness of the unconscious.

As far as death’s nothingness being likened to the state before we were born, we didn’t even have any experiences at all during that time, for we did not exist yet. So, how can our “non-existence” after death be compared to our non-existence before conception? Things must develop, evolve, or be created before existing, before being “things” at all.

Incidentally, this is why I believe the Big Bang (or whatever the birth of the Universe truly was) was caused by something. How can something come from nothing? If nothing existed, then how could there even have been an explosion? Unless existence and the causal ground for existence has actually always existed in some form as an absolute, an ultimate force of action that we can never comprehend.

So, to say nothing of the massing reports of near death experiences evidencing the fact that there is something there, the past few paragraphs have explained why I truly do believe that death is not the end. What happens then? I don’t pretend to know the full answer, as no human does, but I do have an incomplete, vague idea of it. Regardless of whether that belief of mine is correct, it will still remain vague and only partial until the day when I die and actually experience it. For I am of this realm…no human mind can contain the complexities contained in the next plane of existence. But many minds have certainly tried, though.

Buddhists and Hindus believe in an almost endless cycle of reincarnation, coming back after each death as a new living being until they reach atonement (At-One-ment) with oneself and the universe (Nirvana, Moksha)

The ancient Jews believed in Sheol, a place where the dead are merely ghostly afterimages which take no account of Jehovah and of which Jehovah took no account (this belief is the closest one to believing in “nothingness” after death that I have found within religion, though I am not very knowledgeable about the subject).

Ancient Egyptians believed that the state of the corpse was integral to the quality of the afterlife, unlike many religions which profess the human body to simply be an empty shell after death. They also based their entire lives on their belief in the afterlife, coming up with countless rituals and mythologies to prepare people for the inevitable. I love Egyptian mythology, but my mind has a real problem with the fact that a lot of what they believed about a “good” afterlife only related to those who “deserved” it due to their political or social status (this, unfortunately, is the attitude of many religious systems to this day, whether about the afterlife or the quality of the current life in regards to respect and fair treatment).

A more humorous example (at least to me) is the ancient Iranian belief known as Zoroastrianism. This religion purports that the path to the Afterlife is a lengthy bridge known as the Chinvat Bridge. All must cross this overpass after death. If one has lived a moral life, then the bridge widens the further you go, making crossing into the House of Song simple and straightforward. If one has lived a bad life, however, the bridge will turn over on its side and the soul will have to walk along the narrow edge, all the while being relentlessly attacked by a witch.

Belief systems are obviously important in regards to our speculations on eternity, and they are also important for other reasons. There are a slew of different ways to look at mythology. Some of it is exaggerated history based on dynamic personas. Some of it is made up of colorful imagery to express metaphor, the writers of such stories knowing full well that the miraculous events did not in fact happen in reality but are simply expressions for true events or attitudes. A few mythologies, such as bedtime fables, were invented to teach children how to behave (all true mythology actually develops the human race into something better, brings order and structure to chaos through things such as chants and rituals). Some of the stories probably came directly from the teller’s dreams, and whether any given mythology was presented to its maker by dream or not, I still believe that mythology is basically a “group dream” and a dream is a “private mythology”. To me, mythology is basically metaphor, but metaphor of a most vital and even holy kind. The stories show different facets of the human psyche – darkness, light, evil, good, Kings (power), servants (powerlessness), Knights, princesses, quests, visions, magic, Angels, demons, dragons, and much, much more than could ever be written down by any one person. Not only are the tales essentially initiation rites for the human to pass from one experience to the other, but they also touch something deeper—something BEYOND human. All mythologies are mankind’s way of expressing the inexpressible in an artistic way. They are gateways into the numinous, portals into a deeper understanding. They are the masks of God. As Saint Thomas Aquinas once said, the only way to know God is to realize with total conviction that he is actually not knowable. The Absolute Being is further beyond the understanding of mortal men than our minds are beyond the understanding of invertebrates. And yet, despite being so far off, so unlike God (or “Ultimate Reality”, whatever one chooses to call the Self Sustainable), we are still somehow inexplicably linked to the Beyond. We create. We bring works of art into the world. We beget children. We love. In my opinion, there are many reasons for us to believe that there is in fact something beyond the reality we can see and touch. The rich mythologies and works of art produced by our species over the centuries are just a few examples of many. Reason, rationality, and inherent morality that may differ between different peoples on the surface but actually rings true for all of humanity about the important things (though some do kill, I believe every human being has at least at one point in their life known that murder was wrong. Whether the act is committed or not, we still know that it is contrary to the grammar of being). There is SOMETHING out there, copiously but incompletely referenced by our belief systems…and I believe it is INSIDE us as well.

But no matter what, myth is not accurate history. It may be garbled history, but it is imprecise. There are rarely dates for the supposed events, and there are never reliable witnesses. I’m talking, of course, about myths like the Greek and the Egyptian gods. Some mythological figures were at least inspired by true events. I believe there was a historical person who could be considered the first Buddha, and creatures like dragons, which are found in every belief system imaginable, are quite obviously inspired by dinosaurs (or at least crocodiles…but I don’t buy it). However, hardly any mythology purports to exhibit a complete or at least believable history of the events in question.

Then something interesting happened shortly after the….a man claimed to be God. Not simply divine like pantheistic “all is one” mystics, but GOD—the self sustained, self existent ground for being; the playwright behind the curtain. And he came from a group of people, the Jews, who were of all ancient civilizations the least pantheistic—they believed that God was separate from man. Near man maybe, by means of love and covenants, but certainly not the same as man. Yet here was a human being uttering words of downright blasphemy to the ears of most who followed his own cultural religion (Judaism). He even talked of forgiving sins, cancelling out corruption as if he were the chief party injured by every offense we commit, which would be impossible unless the man really was God. And the most curious thing is that, based on his teachings and his conversations, he didn’t seem at all insane or even mentally unbalanced. How could a sane person say that he was God in the flesh? He couldn’t…unless what he was saying was true.

You may reply that Christ is just another legend, that we have no reason to believe that he truly said these things or that he even existed. I don’t subscribe to the “legend” theory at all, and I will explain why in a bit as well as include some things I consider as evidence in his favor. But first, let’s think about what the whole story actually means, whether it is valid or not.

The Absolute, the Unbroken comes down (Immaculate Conception) into the presence of the derivative, the broken. The Absolute is itself broken by becoming organic (the God-Man). It is then further broken by means of violent action (torture, Crucifixion). But, by super-physical paradox, the broken Absolute still retains the power to put Himself back together.

And that is precisely what happened. The Broken Absolute became whole again, and the event itself was so powerful that it affected everything and everyone in existence, whether we can see it yet or not (time has no bearing against the Absolute). Even acknowledging this iconoclastic occurrence (still more, immersing one’s self within it—living by it) gives one a great power—a power that changes lives and makes the world a better place. Even if it hasn’t happened yet within our limited perception (we are slaves of time), all existence has been made whole.

Jesus Christ is the archetype for death, and conversely, the archetype for life. Nothing else answers the question of death so beautifully, so HISTORICALLY as the One who defeated the Reaper himself. I personally cannot accept his story as merely mythical. Historians who lived close to the time of Christ such as Tacitus and Josephus mention Him and His miracles, and these people weren’t Christians. The most compelling non-Christian account is that of the Talmud, an ancient collection of Jewish writings. The writers of this document didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but they certainly believed that he was something supernatural. “Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and deceived and led Israel astray.” These ancient Jews knew he existed and that he performed miracles. If what was written about him in the Bible were untrue, then there should be all kinds of documents from people in that time period refuting it, saying things like “no, he did not exist,” or “no, he did not heal people.” Even the resurrection was reported to have been witnessed by at least five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15). And yet, where are the documents denouncing this? With how often the story is attacked today, it surely would have been disproven very quickly by whatever means possible two thousand years ago.

Also, if you compare all the copies of the New Testament that have been made over last two millennia, you will find through the science of textual criticism that it has changed or been edited even less than works such as the Iliad and the Odyssey. We have more evidence for Jesus existing and being the divine Son of God than we have for Alexander the Great and some other historical figures. There is much more evidence, (it even hints at this in the Bible—the last verse in the Gospel of John) and I encourage you to search out the evidence for yourselves.

If there was no validity to Christianity, then it would never have even gotten off the ground. What’s more, the early followers of Jesus persecuted for their beliefs would have been tortured and executed for nothing. Few would die for what they know to be a lie, and these were actual witnesses to his bodily presence on this planet. Also, some people seem to think that Christianity is all about power for the strong and subservience for the weak. While this may have been true in later years with evil events such as the Crusades, the very earliest Christians had horrible lives. Nakedness, famine, poverty, homelessness—usually only ending through death by torture. They don’t strike me as very powerful—and yet, in a different way, they were the most powerful people on the planet, though they didn’t use that power to keep other people down. Power over sin, power over death—and that power is offered to every one of us.

Think about your death again—the despair, the inevitability, the futility in escaping. It will come to you no matter what you do with your life. This fact has paralyzed me with fear on many occasions, especially when I try to sleep. I’m still scared. As I have said, no one has the complete picture, the total answer. No matter how firm my belief is, death is still frightening. But I do have hope—and that hope is found in Christ Jesus. Most mythologies seem obviously metaphorical—but not this. There are many stories of gods dying and rising again—but might those stories be prophecies of what was to come? The real, the solid resurrection story—the defeat of death. I don’t remember Odin “tasting death for all men”. As C.S. Lewis said in one of his essays, “Myth Became Fact”. True, historical—but still retaining all the metaphysical and psychical qualities of myth.

A lot of people have a problem with the concept of even needing salvation. We disbelieve in the inherent corruption of man. Aside from those who are obviously evil, are we normal citizens really corrupted by sin, regardless of how closely we adhere to morality?

For the moment, don’t think of Him as dying for your sins. Think of Him as dying for your death. Think of all death in the universe as a result of some corruption, some brokenness. Animals and even plants are as corrupted as humanity, evidenced by the fact that they die. This is probably not due to their moral failure, for they have no morals. They are corrupted in ways we can never know, for the beginning of time happened too long ago for us to remember it (for even Genesis, whether taken literally or figuratively, is only a fragment of God’s ways). And could collapsing stars, the Big Bang, and other cosmological happenings also have something to do with corruption? Corruption caused by spiritual beings far beyond our comprehension, beings that may themselves correspond to astronomic bodies such as planets? Or could they have been corrupted by us, corrupted long ago by creatures that didn’t even exist yet? For the universes and non-corporeal realms may not be governed by the laws of time as much as we presume.

Or maybe supernovas and the like have nothing to do with sin and brokenness, and they were simply made to be created and destroyed beautifully for the sake of splendor and for other reasons only the Lord knows about. We will never know—but it brings up an interesting point.

Could this sin, this corruption, these collapsing stars within us and without have been allowed to happen for the sole purpose of beauty—a beautiful disaster? For it can be argued that if something you cherish is beautiful before being broken, it may become even more pleasing in your sight after being put back together than it ever was before.

So it is with our Father.

garden

“Gardening shears? You’re sure about that?”

“Without a doubt. It’s the murder weapon. Hector Williams’ fingerprints are all over it. The blood is his wife’s.”

Ruben stood up in his bedroom, excited by the news. One of the church members had apparently developed a guilty conscience. In exchange for immunity, he gave the department a pair of bloody gardening shears he was hiding for his pastor. There was now ample evidence to try and convict Hector Williams for the murder of his wife.

Vasquez hung up the phone and dressed. His wife was away for the weekend, staying at her mother’s in another county. Ruben was glad for this. It was two in the morning, and he hated waking her up inadvertently when working on a case.

He approached the front door when, like a peal of thunder, a crash rang out from the back of his house. It sounded like a window breaking. Ruben pulled his weapon from his belt and stalked towards the back door, slowly and silently. On the floor lay a brick surrounded by sparkling shards of broken glass. Peering out the window and exposing himself to the humid night air, he saw nothing.

He was about to unlock the door when he heard another crash, this time from the front room. Running as fast as his tired legs would permit, Ruben reached the front door in a matter of seconds. Upon reaching his destination however, he immediately realized that this had been a hasty, careless mistake, and it was going to cost him dearly.

The sound of gunfire reverberated through the home as Ruben staggered forward. There was now a bullet in the outer left side of his back, but he felt no pain. The adrenaline coursing through his veins permitted no feeling but that of self preservation. But he had to act fast—otherwise, that feeling would be worthless. He spun around and fired his pistol before even glimpsing a target. Nonetheless, the weapon’s discharge had been quite effective, as the man who had presumably thrown the brick through the back window fell to the floor with an agonized cry. The intruder, shot in the chest and far worse off than Vasquez, managed to lift his gun for a moment, but the detective bit through his pain and rushed forward, kicking the weapon from the man’s hand.

The intruder himself died within seconds, but Ruben didn’t see it happen. All he could see were stars and then blackness. Something had forced its way down to the back of his head, and it very nearly cracked open his cranium. He fell to his face, fighting hard against the blackness, using every ounce of willpower he had to stay conscious. Rolling onto his back, he fired the weapon again, this time with his eyes closed. He strained to open them quickly, and was met with the sight of a large man in a suit holding a baseball bat and covered in blood. As this second intruder fell backwards, a third man was revealed to be standing behind him, already turning on his heel in an attempt to flee the scene. Ruben shot once and missed, but his second round reached its quarry in the calf muscles of the right leg. The man’s high pitched shriek was the only thing that kept Ruben from finally drifting into benightedness.

It took about five minutes, but Detective Ruben Vasquez used prayer and willpower to stand up on his feet and walk towards the third intruder, the only one still living. When he reached him and turned his crawling body onto its back with his foot, he wasn’t surprised at all to be staring down into the face of Hector Williams.

“You,” snarled the bleeding preacher, “you will answer for this. I am a warrior for the faith.”

Ruben’s face remained stoic, mostly because of the pain, but he almost came close to chuckling before he replied.

“You’re not a man of faith,” he said. “You’re a man of fear and hatred.”

Williams closed his eyes and bit his lip, the wrath and malice pulling taut all the muscles in his face.

“Sinner—”

“Shut up,” wheezed Vasquez. “Why did you come here? Why were you and your cronies after me? I wasn’t the only cop trying to put you away.”

“You judged me,” Williams replied, the pain in his voice becoming more and more evident. He was losing a lot of blood. “You insulted me.”

“Doesn’t God condemn personal vengeance? Doesn’t he condemn murder?”

“You…you don’t…have the right to judge me.” His breath was growing ragged. Ruben knew he had to call an ambulance for Williams as well as himself, but he was tempted to let the man bleed out and suffer. His wrestling match with his hatred was short-lived, however, and his integrity came out on top as he reached into his coat for the cell phone. As his ten second conversation with the dispatcher played out, Williams ceased all movement and closed his eyes. Ruben dropped the phone and stumbled towards him.

“Hang on,” he said. “They’re on their way.”

As Ruben grabbed Williams by the shoulder and shook him, the murderer opened his eyes. Somehow, they looked different. Hate was still there, pain was still there, and fear…but there was something else. Vasquez could only approximate the look to one of surprise.

“You ain’t gonna let me die?” whispered Hector.

“No,” said Vasquez, his voice tinged with disgust. “I’m not like you. You and your congregation give church a bad name, you know that? But no. You live. If only so Beth can rest in peace.”

“We follow God,” mumbled the pastor. “We follow God.”

Ruben wanted to say a lot of things. He wanted to tear Hector a new one with insults. He wanted to call him a small, pathetic little man who only pretended to follow the Lord. He wanted to say that his cult followed not God, but an evil man who himself followed nothing but anger. He wanted to tell him how heartbreaking it was that there were people like him in the world, leading people towards evil under the guise of truth. Thankfully, these people were in the minority of those who professed to believe. Ruben only wished that the world saw it that way. He wanted to say all these things, but he didn’t. He simply held on to Hector and waited for the ambulance.

“I’m a godly man,” sobbed the dying hypocrite. “I’m a godly man. I’m a—”

The sirens could now be heard. Detective Vasquez spoke once more before the responders bolted through the door. He said them not only to Williams, but to himself as well.

“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein though judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”

THE END