The Sacred Flame

This came to me the other morning. I haven’t spent long on it, so it could probably use some polish… but I have a synopsis to do.

I guess it’s a poem… of sorts? (My apologies to the real poets).

 

As Initiates we watched in wonder the Sacred Flame

Intrigued by its subtle dance, its warmth and its glow

We longed and hoped one day to receive

Our own flame springing forth

 

My wife and I are Keepers of the Sacred Flame

Priest and Priestess, dedicated to its care

Sanctified to keep it burning at all times

It’s a job for two; one cannot do it alone

 

Studying it, we learn to read its mood

To sense its movement, anticipate its need

Oak to burn long, spruce to burn fast, hickory for heat and aroma

There is a time for each, to keep it burning bright

 

We must learn to love the flame

To tend it always, through the long watches of the night

Protecting it from breeze and strong gale

Guarding always its purity and beauty

 

We have become accustomed to its presence

It is for us, a cherished Friend

That warms the body, and makes glad the heart

A flame reaching upwards, toward its Creator.

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The Stories I want to Read

“Marriage is a lifestyle” were the first words spoken at a recent wedding we attended.

It is so true. Marriage is not an event, a single point in time, but an ongoing choice. As I’ve written on numerous occasions I’m a huge fan of marriage. I have a fantastic marriage and so I know how beneficial a great marriage can be. Having a great marriage can take a lot of work, but the dividends it pays are the greatest profit in life you’ll ever make.

Divorce rates are too high. Daily we see in our media stories of celebrity couples breaking up, divorcing or caught being unfaithful to the one they promised to love to the exclusion of all others.

But where are the good stories? The stories of couples who have stayed together through the ups and downs of life? Where are the stories of people who know the true worth of what binds them together? They are the stories I want to read, the testimonies I want to hear.

Let’s have a book full of stories of people who have successfully chosen to ‘put their spouse first’ and who together have endured the storms of life, and come through much better for them.

Marriage Is Forever

I am a huge fan of marriage and believe that marriage is intended to be forever or as used to be popular, ‘until death do us part’. Marriage can be really hard work but if you invest in your marriage then it pays dividends a thousand times over.

Both spouses needs to learn how to forgive, be patient and support each other. Both must learn that it is no longer about I but about we. As a friend of mine puts it, “You take your car in for regular maintenance, why would you not treat the most important relationship you have in the same way… doing regular checkups on it?” Or as Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life.Church says, “Why would anyone be happy with a 50% chance of marriage success? For anything in your life wouldn’t you do something to try and give it a higher chance of success?”

As a man blessed with a great marriage and one who wants others to also enjoy the fruit of such blessing I cannot highly recommend enough the lecture series Christ-Centred Marriage by Dr Bryan Chapell. The lecture series is available from Covenant Theological Seminary website and you will need to sign-up to download it. (Obviously this is presenting the Christian biblical instructions for marriage).

It is a profound, challenging and inspiring listen. Carrying on with the car analogy, I call this a major service. It is time well-invested.

Skit: Mates Stick Together

About a month ago I blogged about a bit of fun that I’d had experimenting with skit (short-play) writing. I thought I’d share it and then provide some brief explanations as to the choices I made while writing it.

The skit was designed for church, as a bit of a promo of Men’s Ministry. The purpose of the men’s ministry is to support the men of the church, and to build a culture of doing life together. Life can be hard and it is important that we have some close mates or other men we trust who we can rely on. They can help or give a slap on the back of the head (Gibbs-style) as required.

I’m also passionate about healthy marriages. If the relationship between spouses is good, it is a blessing to the entire family unit. And marriage can be hard. Really hard. My early years of marriage would have been a lot easier if I’d had someone who could give experience-earned wisdom.

And so it is with these two foci that I wrote this skit.

skit1-1skit1-2skit1-3skit1-4

As you probably noticed I hit on several themes: mateship, marriage difficulties, work stresses, pornography/lust.

The way it plays out in my head also contains some humour: the prancing of the devil, the devil eating the husband’s snacks, the man in the towel with a frying pan. I was hoping that the humour lightens the subject matter and provides something that will be remembered.

There is also a good helping of truth in the skit:

  • How the man and woman are biblically supposed to act toward one another.
  • How a wise person’s response to challenge is to ask for help.
  • How we should be there for one another in times of need, even if it means abandoning all considerations of fashion sense or pride.
  • Even with others willing to help, they can’t help unless we agree to be helped.

And that, dear readers, is my first attempt at writing a skit.

Marriage, a Beautiful Thing

Normally I get most of my writing done on Saturday’s. This weekend however I was invited to a wedding, which involved a considerable drive and the absorption of most of the day. I’ll admit, getting dressed up in the ‘monkey clothes’ isn’t my favourite thing to do on a Saturday…

But I actually really enjoyed the wedding. At a wedding are two people who are full of hope for the future, full of love for one another and are celebrating what will be one of the best days of their life. There is something precious too, about a grown man tearing up as his bride walks down the aisle.

Marriage is really hard work, but if you invest into it, it can be an immense blessing for a lifetime.

 

World-Building: Society

I’ve added a new sub-page to the World-Building section called Society.

The purpose of the World-Building section is to give tidbits of information which will get the writerly juices flowing in the future. Do you have anything you can contribute?


From Ancient Rome: The Republic:

In or out. Patricians were the son of somebody important, and they, and their peers, were the true sons of Rome. The plebian was an outsider, with few rights or privileges. Before the time of Servius, the whole weight of public duty – military service and war tax – fell to the Patricians, under the principle “that the duty of defending the State ought to fall heaviest on those who had the most to defend.” (page 43)

“In the vigorous youth of their nation the Romans knew how to combine the advantages of city and country life. The mere farmer, who spends all his days in tilling the soil, is generally a dull and half-savage creature, cut off from the higher wants and the higher instincts of a civilized man. The mere citizen, whose life is a perpetual violation of all natural laws, inevitably stunted and deformed alike in body and in mind. The primitive Romans avoided both of these extremes … He looked to the land for his support, and spent most of his time in the free air and wholesome activities of the fields. But he was also a citizen, who from the earliest times had some voice at least in the national affairs; and after the establishment of the Republic he might rise to the command of armies and the highest offices of State.” (page 53)

Government. Two rulers known as Consuls took turns governing the nation, one day each, for a period of a year.

Help! A Dictator could be appointed in times of national crisis by decree of the Senate, who would rule with absolute power for six months. The right of appeal was suspended while he was in office. Originally used to confront an invader, the Dictatorship later became a tool of the Patricians to clamp down on commoner dissension.

Land rights. Technically most land was owned by the State, and rented to tenants. But tradition, passed the land from father to son, or could be sold.

Home Life

“But with the Romans home was a sacred name … Nor was the tie broken by death, for the spirits of the beloved dead still hovered round the familiar hearth, watching with affectionate care over those who remained, shielding them from every evil influence … And thus the name of home received a spiritual significance…” (page 54)

It’s good to be King. The father was the head of the home, the bread-winner. All members of the family looked to the father. The king is the father of his people, and the father is a kind in his own household. The father was almost a despot, being able to punish or kill his son. The son was effectively worse off than a slave. A slave, once given freedom, was a free man conversely the son had to be “freed” three times before he was a free man.

Power Restrained. The unlimited power of the Father over his household was restrained by social tradition.

“The feeling that every man owes a duty to society and that no important step ought to be taken without consulting the opinion of others was a deeply rooted conviction in the Roman mind, which no one could defy with impunity. Before inflicting any severe punishment on an erring member of his household the Roman was under the obligation of summoning a family council, and though the ultimate decision lay with him the opinion of the assembled relatives could not lightly be disregarded.” (page 58)

“The man who beats his wife or children, is guilty of sacrilege against the holiest of things.” Cato (page 59).

Wed ’til dead. Marriage was a sacrament and indissoluble. The husband had full control over the wife, for the rest of her life. The breach of the marriage vow was heinous and unpardonable – punished by death.

“So stern were the laws by which these old Romans sought to guard the sanctity of marriage, regarding this as the source of all public and private good, which must at any cost be secured against contamination. And so effectual were the safeguards thus provided that for more than five centuries divorce was unknown among them. … As the mode of life became softer and more luxurious the standard of domestic purity sank lower and lower, and a general licence ensued, which defied all efforts of legislators and all the declamations of moralists.” (page 57).

Alone

In the short story The Captive (recommended to be read first) I wrote from Mary’s perspective, except for the final three paragraphs where Frank gets a point of view. In order to challenge myself, I thought I would write a parallel short story from Frank’s perspective.

The challenge is that all of the dialog and actions that Frank did in Mary’s perspective, and the final paragraphs must remain exactly the same. (I have only just decided to do this; I haven’t purposely crafted in any plot-hooks into the original story).

Can I lock myself into these restrictions, and still make the story interesting?


Another creaking-noise from the main bedroom interrupted Frank’s shallow sleep, but this time it was a more distinctive sound. Frank had slept alone in the guest bedroom for years avoiding the difficulty of Mary waking on a ‘bad’ day beside a stranger. He heard the wardrobe door open. No more time for rest he told himself even though he was bone-tired. He dressed in haste: Mary might need me.

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