Can you hear the voice that whispers out of the Great Beyond?
And are you one who, when they hear, believes and follows?
And are you willing to sacrifice your worldly things
For the sake of an unseen, felt, reality?
If so, then you will be taught of God and angels as you listen and obey.
I no longer look for consensus.
I look to God. I do what I feel is right.
I obey the voice that rings out from heaven.
And there is peace in it
Because I have left off trying to bend myself in half
For the sake of aligning with those who cannot see what I see.
I seek to align myself with One.
And though I be alone in it,
I am alone with Him, and that is enough.
If you are writing something for the world,
Something that you intend to last forever
And to sound in every ear,
It's probably wise not to expect
That it will happen in your lifetime.
On the other hand, if you want notoriety,
It's probably best to accept that it will not last.
Rarely does the person who comes to change the world find acceptance of the world.
And rarely do the popular have a universal message.
And yet, if you can accept this truth,
The tables might just turn,
So that, the one who accepts the obscurity
That comes with speaking important truths before their time
Might just, to his surprise, discover that some are ready to hear.
And the one accepts that his words won't last forever
Might just discover that he is more careful with his words
And thus come to have something meaningful to say.
I love that my life is tenuous.
There is a comfort, a peace, in not knowing.
But it is different than the world's peace.
The world finds peace in things remaining the same.
I find peace in the winds that blow from the unseen place,
And carry me this way and that.
The world finds peace in the false belief that it can preserve its life.
I find peace in the fact that I've already died,
And that I no longer care to preserve my life,
But trust that it is preserved to spite
And perhaps because of my sacred wanderings.
My peace is like a river, always moving, always winding,
Never knowing when it may drop like Niagra Falls,
Or empty out into the ocean and cease to be a river at all,
But be absorbed into the Great Unfathomable Beyond.
And I wonder if I make the world feel nervous.
They do not like the thing that I've become.
For that reason, I do not stay in one place too long.
I am a squatter in the world.
And the world permits me to be
So long as I keep moving on, moving on.
And so far, I have not made enough of a ruckus
For world to cast me out into that eternal place.
And I am glad for that, because I love the world.
And I have a thing to say before I go.
And so, until then, my life is tenuous.
Thank God! I wouldn't have it any other way.
Matthew 8: 19-20
And one of the scribes came to Him and said, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
I have hallucinated twice.
Both times, I saw a black spider.
The first time, I was with my wife,
Sitting outside a house that we dreamed of owning.
But it was only a dream,
A passing hopeful fantasy.
We were visiting our favorite town
A special place for us, a dreamy place,
A place made sacred by the love of one man: Juhannes Huber.
And we stopped at an old adobe house that appeared to be vacant.
And as we sat in the car and talked, a spider ran across my leg,
A big black spider. It was probably the size of a large black widow, maybe larger.
But it was not a black widow, just very large and black.
I cried out and jumped and went to brush it away,
But before I could do so, it was gone.
The second time I hallucinated,
I drove up the canyon to be alone and pray.
I sat in the middle of a bridge that went over the creek.
And as I sat there praying,
A huge black spider crawled out from under my hand onto the top of my hand.
This one was much larger than the one I’d seen years earlier.
Its body was probably two and a half inches long from front to back
And its abdomen an inch and a half in diameter.
And it appeared as real as anything I’ve ever seen with my natural eyes.
Immediately, I tried to shake it off, but before I could, it disappeared.
Isn’t that strange?
And I don’t have an explanation for it.
I prayed about it, but no answer came.
I was left to wonder what it was.
Perhaps it was a warning,
Though it isn’t always good to think that way.
And like I said, I didn’t get an answer one way or another.
Perhaps I am just a little crazy.
That is completely possible if not probable.
But it didn’t feel that way.
What do you do when a great black invisible spider
Appears out of nowhere unannounced and without explanation,
And then disappears just as quickly as it came? Nothing really. There is nothing that you can do.
You just have to keep on living.
That’s what I did.
I let go of the thing to which I cannot cling and properly cherish in the finite moment.
And in so doing I trust that it is sealed to me by the forsaking.
This is the key by which love binds all things to itself.
And so the meek inherit the earth,
Not by means, nor by conquest,
But by letting go.
Now and then I scheme, I plan, I project.
My mind goes off in this direction or that.
It's a natural impulse. But action is better.
Action is the faith part of it.
When I plan, I show that I don't fully trust the unseen benevolent hand
To go before my face and prepare the way.
I am leery of any strategy that requires no repentance.
If you think that you are getting providence on your side by scheming better,
By being more shrewd,
By working harder,
By learning skills,
Then it is possible, perhaps likely, that you are deceived.
Remember that God rains upon the just and the unjust.
And so, receiving a blessing from God
Does not show that you serve him.
And who knows but what you serve a lower power.
Especially if the God you serve requires no repentance.
This is the beggar's bowl
The weekly edition of my blog
Wherein I highlight one economic principle of the new life
And beg for spare change.
I've thought about this for years
But it may be an idea whose time has come.
Here it is:
What if the goal was not to get ahead
Instead, what if we tried for zero?
Here's what I mean.
Transportation: the second largest expense for modern families.
And I am not a fix-it-man. Perhaps you are not either.
And so a vehicle is a hole to put our money in.
So what if, instead of buying a car and nursing it along, I buy a car each quarter?
The State I'm in will allow me to sell four cars per year without a dealership license,
So, I buy a car, and then next quarter, I buy another car.
Now I have a spare.
But I put the first car up for sale before it needs repairs.
When it sells, I don't try to make a profit, though that would be ok.
I simply try to make at least as much as I paid for it.
And then I do it all again, four sales per year.
And if I am careful to find good deals,
I could even eliminate my fuel costs
By charging a few hundred dollars more than what I paid.
Remember, I am not in the car business.
I have more important things to do.
But selling a car each quarter wouldn't be too bad,
And it could completely eliminate my transportation costs.
More likely than not, I would grow wise in choosing cars
And eventually, come out ahead.
And if my family needed it, I could spend the profit on them.
Or God may have a different plan for the increase.
If so, then it would still work out for my benefit,
Since to serve him is to lay up future rewards.
And whether they come in this life or the next,
I come out ahead.
If you find the things I write here useful
Please consider contributing 50 cents
The links to do so are below.
If you desire a house that they cannot take away, try this:
Get rid of all you do not use and cherish.
And get a good feeling for your base.
For me, it is a mat on the floor
And a backpack,
Not the hiking kind,
Just big enough to fit my life inside.
Then live as if you might just leave tomorrow.
That kind of living is just like normal living
But with less attachment.
And then wait upon the voice that says to leave
Trusting that wherever it may lead
There is a place for you.
There is another way of looking at the problem of the poor, or any problem really.
Most of us believe that we must do something.
And there is a place for that.
But often, the appropriate response is to do nothing,
To get out of the way as people grapple with their problems.
I will use the poor to illustrate, and housing.
We get in the way of simple housing.
But we don't have to.
A poor person will erect a shack if you let him.
And a shack is the perfect solution for most,
A person can erect a shack without relying upon the state,
Without depending upon anyone but him or herself.
And there is a huge sense of accomplishment that comes with that, and security.
It is a win of monumental proportions for the man or woman that's in need.
But there's a problem.
Nobody wants the shack to be on their property,
Even if they are not using the property.
And there is another problem.
There is no property that is not claimed by somebody.
But what if we got out of people's way?
Instead of throwing money at the problem of the homeless,
What if we let them erect their shacks?
It's rare that they would try to do it on your lawn.
They would probably find a little place on an abandoned lot.
And if you own that lot, do you have to chase them away?
Perhaps you could even welcome them as a neighbor.
Perhaps you could be their friend
In the same way that you might befriend the bird
That builds its nest in your barn.
And what if the neighbors
Instead of passing laws against shacks
Were to say that it's ok?
What if we were to just get out of each other's way?
I know that this idea turns the world upside down.
We have all been striving toward the accumulation and protection of our property
For as long as history has been recorded.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
It's a new idea for a new age.
And when we embrace it, the world will change.
When we embrace it...the world will change.
Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left... Isa 5:8 NIV
An idea for the Real-Estate investor:
Why not, now and then shed it all
To the benefit of the simple
And start again.
Several times, I have seen an ad.
The investor in the ad
Boasts of how The Discovery Channel
Challenged him to remake his fortune
In a new city with no credit, no contacts, no money, no lifelines.
They gave him 90 days. Or was it 30? I don't remember.
And he did it. Isn't that amazing?!
At the end of the challenge,
He had a five-million-dollar business, or was it 15?
I can't remember.
Now, what if he had then liquidated that business,
Stripped himself down to nothing,
Lived a few days or weeks with the poor,
And then did it all again?
But instead of storing the money he earned in the bank,
What if he had then used that five or fifteen million
To purchase super simple, mortgage-free, homes
For people who either don't have a place to live,
Or who desire to exit the housing racket
And live within their means.
Of course, to do such a thing, he would have to accept
That he is putting himself out of a job.
For, sooner or later, such an idea
Would bring down the market.
It would change the culture.
It would rock the world.
The furniture belongs to the house.
It does not belong to you.
Isn't that a load off your mind?
So much less to carry when it's time to go.
Or you can lug it along I suppose.
But I love to leave with little more than myself
And trust that the things I need will come.
How is it that the first will be last and the last shall be first?
Is it a universal principle?
And to what does it apply?
I think I see an application in the stories that we tell.
If you'd like to hear me think outloud about it for five minutes go here:
Or listen to The Trackless Path Podcast
Words matter. They effect the way we think and feel about things. So how might it change the way we think and feel, were we to call the placebo effect a miracle?
Today's post is a recording. To listen, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwAhesEbTjU
or to The Trackless Path Podcast (where podcasts are found)
This is the Beggar's Bowl,
The weekly edition of my blog
Wherein I highlight one financial principle of the new life
And beg for spare change.
This week I do not ask for 50 cents.
I ask that if you've been blessed by the things I share,
That you consider sharing a post, a video, a podcast,
With someone close to you.
The ideas that I am sharing are important
But I cannot do this work alone.
I need your help,
Which brings me to this week's principle:
You only get paid once,
So don't expect a future reward
When you have already been paid.
On the other hand, to do a good deed
Without thought of reward
Is to store up future blessings
Thank you all for reading,
And God Bless.
I did not write today's post. It was written by a friend of mine who lives in Arizona. It seems like a fitting ending to the last little series. I hope that the last few posts have not been too somber for you. I cannot say that I have any big solutions to the problems that I see. I don't think that way. But I have found that God leads me to broken people, or leads them to me, as the case may be. And when I find them, there is something he wants me to do. Sometimes, it is a conversation. Sometimes, it is a meal, or a ride, or a few dollars, or a prayer. Once he asked me to drive a man to the grocery store. That assignment lasted for two years. And I don't think I would have had time for two such assignments. And God knew that. And all the while, I watched other broken people pass me by. But I was not called to care for them. I often wondered why I was called to help that particular man. God only knows. But it's important. And I pray that you will find your own way. God only knows what the world might be like if we all listened.
Joel and Rottie
His girlfriend dumped him in the desert, looking for greener pastures I suppose. We found him camped with his little dog beneath a tree. He was from Pennsylvania. He didn't understand the desert, and the temperatures were rising above 110. He had a catheter, kidney stones, and a touch of dementia. Bad combination. He trekked three miles to McDonald's every day with his dog for food and soda, another mistake. Three miles out. Three miles back. Every day.
Eventually, he had to go to the emergency room. They took him by ambulance. I cared for his little dog while he was in. The dog was his lifeline to the world. Each time they were reunited the tears flowed. He was so grateful. The dog meant the world to him. But the world did its best to ignore him. He made the world uncomfortable. It was a world that wished he'd go away.
We couldn't get him a driver's license to get him a plane ticket. No birth certificate. No Social Security Card. No picture I.D. Our Church missionaries became his dearest friends. Out of desperation we found an abandoned motorhome in the desert and began to clean it out. For someone who had dodged Covid for three years, I was pretty sure I'd get the Hunta virus from all the rat droppings. We abandoned the cleaning and tried to get him into an R.V. park. Once they found out he was homeless, no one would rent to him. Another dead-end. They all had excuses. Joel was faceless, nameless. He had no voice. No advocate to plead his case. And the dementia didn't help. He got confused easily. He forgot appointments. He lost his phone a couple of times. Finally, a miracle. His sister back East sent money for a bus ticket.
The missionaries managed to get the bus company to consider Rottie a service dog. It was a light (of sorts) at the end of a long tunnel. Suitcase and guitar stowed safely on the bus he began his long journey East. But who would take him in at the end of his journey? We didn't know. But at least he was out from under that tree and away from the Arizona heat. But now he was entering an even more brutal desert: bureaucracy. And he would be alone in an unforgiving world.
There's another reason we don't consider reasonable housing options.
We don't want to see it.
But we will.
We have pushed back the ugly,
But the ugly is coming for us.
Why is it not ok
For someone to live in a storage unit?
Why do municipalities fight tiny homes?
I've seen 4 tiny apartments made out of a storage container.
Each unit was roughly eight feet by ten feet,
With a shared porta potty
And a spigot for water -
The perfect solution for someone
Desiring to rise from the street
Or simply live within their means.
I have visited historic sites:
Cabins raised from the prairie -
One room and a loft for the kids.
No money needed. No loan.
But that's illegal today.
We won't have it. And why?
Because it will lower our property values.
And we don't want that.
We are reveling in the spoils
Of a system that was devised to enslave.
And we don't want anyone to get out of the grind.
If I must do it, then so should my neighbor.
"And what is it to me if he can't keep up?
Am I my brother's keeper?"
Gen 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
We have grown lofty.
We have lost the sense of what we need,
We don't even know how to define it
Accept in terms of debt: the monthly payment
So that a man amounts to the quantity of debt that he can shoulder.
And most groan under the weight of it.
But instead of erecting something new,
We reach out toward the American Dream.
And what is the American Dream?
To free ourselves from debt
By heaping debt upon another.
We want to own the block,
To buy up this street and that.
We are a pack of aspiring landlords.
We practice in our youth with monopoly money.
And as the years roll on,
We exchange it for real money.
And some win. Most lose.
Until the poor have no place left
Except between the jaws of the rich,
Or on the street.
And even then, it's not enough.
We chase them from this place to that
And insist that it is their fault.
And it is.
They fell behind.
They lost at the game of life.
But I wonder if perhaps it doesn't need to be this way.
Perhaps we have been sold a bill of goods.
Perhaps we don't need to play the game.
For myself, I have ducked out.
My place is on the street.
My place is on the street.
Or in this house or that
But nothing very long,
And to speak these words while I still live,
To wander, wander, wander 'round
Raving like a madman,
And one day return home
To the world where a man is measured
Not by what he can amass,
But by the love of his Maker.
There, He says, in that heavenly place
is the inheritance of all the poor.
And I think that I can wait.
Perhaps we are all trying to be BIG.
And that keeps us from doing anything SUBSTANTIAL,
Because SUBSTANCIAL work is long and tedious.
It is LABORIOUS. It is a GRIND.
It is not a FLASH in the pan.
It is not TWO SCOOPS of Kellogg’s Raisin Brand.
It is not BIG. It’s not the SUPER BOWL.
It is CEASELESS, TIRELESS, and sometimes PROFITLESS work.
All for the sake of what?
The BOTTOM LINE?
But for the IDEA that the world might be BETTER for the work we do.
For this, we constrain ourselves to the SMALL
And TEDIOUS work that is our lives,
And TRUST that an unseen hand
Will REWARD us for our efforts.
This is what is meant by HONEST WORK.
And it will grow according to its NATURE,
Some GREAT, some SMALL.
All else is born of LIES.
I bring myself back to work.
I want to stop. But I keep going.
I want to lessen the load, but I persevere.
Steadiness and consistency are what I am after.
And all of that sounds so trite,
Like a motivational speech.
But finally, I belive I am ready to hear.
I could not find a reason to try
When it was all for money.
But now it fits.
This is the Beggar’s Bowl,
The weekly edition of my blog / podcast Wherein I highlight one financial principle of the new life
And beg for spare change.
Follow your best impulse.
Let it lead you into your most authentic interests.
Sacrifice for the sake of finding the truth that you were meant to promote.
And then use your means to spread the message.
Let yourself lose in the short run.
Learn. Then try again. And again.
Let it take what time it takes.
Look to the 200-year plan.
This is the way of tomorrow’s marketers.
They will think in mission terms.
All else will bow out.
Because it will become too complex to live selfishly.
If you find these podcasts useful,
Please consider a donation of 50 cents.
Here are the links to do so:
Your life is not what you think. Thank God!
And you have less power to change your fate
Than you might suppose.
But that doesn’t mean that it is nothing.
Kindness is never wasted.
And love, though it be measured out by imperfect hands
Into undeserving vessels
Is still love.
And after all of that,
Who knows what faith can do.
Because faith in God is more than you.
And that is the thing that interests me.
We are players on the stage.
Our lines are written down.
But to believe that an unseen hand can change it all
Is the twist ending.
Sometimes it is the abundance of choices that gets in the way
Because we believe that there is a right choice,
A perfect way.
But there's not.
The heart thing is the way.
The intent is the thing that matters.
And if the heart is right and the choice is wrong
That will sort itself out. It will self-correct with time and experience.
And the idea that we must get it right before we start
Only keeps us from starting.