Pain, Observed

Pain requires an observer. Grind up a rock, split it in two, and it does not complain; it might be called an observer of sorts, that may in quantum terms collapse a wave function on its own, but there is no “looking out” anywhere in a rock, nothing that sees, feels, no awareness. It cannot feel pain, no matter what you do to it. Simply put, there is no value to the measurement. Pain does seem to exist for a reason, of course. As negative reinforcement: touch a boiling pot and the bite of the intense heat should make you learn not to do such a thing. It is a learning experience. Pain keeps us from doing some stupid things, it warns us when something is wrong in our physique, it makes us run faster from what we fear will inflict itself on us. Pain is evolutionarily useful. But there does seem to be an awful lot of it.

It is not so that there is more pain in the world than ever has been. We are as if waking up to what has been happening everywhere around us. Civilization exists to protect people from violence, and we are starting at least to stand up to the threat of pain, for it not to have power over how we decide. It is an idea whose time has come, what I mean by this: the answer blowing in the wind is to touch down. There will be no end of pain, but the manner in which it is experienced we count on materially changing: that it will not anymore be a deliberate and negative infliction, but rather only come by accident, or perhaps in corner cases to be part of some experiential gain. Perhaps a far future. The dream is that coming generations will be greatly removed from truly comprehending the actual nature of such things as torture.

Even if it comes, though, such a frame of mind, universal—what of all the pain that has been? How about all the senseless pain? Impersonal, storms that struck and rendered grievous injury due to no seeming cause, that there were no particular sin that had caused the hand of nature to so render retribution… how about the animals, too? the numbers caught in steel traps who chewed through their own leg to escape? dolphins who drowned in nets? deer caught in cruel barbed wire who only made it worse by trying to kick it off? I cannot believe animals were guilty of anything that the powers that be would take it out on them for it. It seems so much a waste, that the experience that marks the lives of all who have something which looks out—that this is what the world has to show to them. The cruelty is a mocking of fate.

Pain seems to be the cost of doing business. No pain, no gain, right? And an artist needs to suffer to produce anything of worth. (That happened to be true at least in the case of me, mine.) It seems to be the price of having a world at all. You can actually think of everything, that it is all made of pain, all sensations merely a variety of it. But what if the price we pay—what if it’s worth it? As if we see pain as currency, and some of the good things in the world what we purchase with it? What if pain is the price of love? I recall I was in the school play in elementary school. The play was The Prince Who Couldn’t Laugh, and it turns out it was because he had not first ever cried. Is the sweet not as sweet without the sour? In a larger scope, U2 lyrics come to mind: “Don’t believe the devil / I don’t believe his book / But the truth is not the same / Without the lies he made up.” Maybe in this world, the pain gives the heart its depth?

Out of pain, sometimes out of a lot of pain, there can be brought into this world meaning. It is not a fair equation, it might seem, from gallons of suffering a few drops of it may be squeezed out. But this is our “safety net”. We want to find meaning in any other way besides it, but if there is nothing else, we can find a depth of experience in tragedy. To share sadness makes us more human. Makes us care. And if it doesn’t? Then how easily is the reaper to separate the wheat from the chaff. It is not always easy to find meaning, for in this sometimes horrible world there can be so much pain it seems an impossible task to find any kind of purpose meet to such suffering, seemingly disrespectful even to try. Out of the Holocaust some said the meaning to be found was the new nation of Israel. But other Jews simply said, “It is too much, I can no longer believe.” This is understandable.

Sometimes the feeling of pain itself is the meaning. It is to care, when the object of what you care for is gone or is in pain themselves. They say that love can be the greatest source of pain in this world. Love sometimes grows powerfully when watered by tears. Do you understand yet? It is not fair. The sense that we can make of all of this—any of this—makes no sense. This is the world, this is life. In our faith we must believe that the meaning that is collected as the “fruit” of pain is greater than the pain ever was. Even if, as it looks, that so much suffering seems to go unmet by anything like caring. Or half measures taken to comfort the bereaved, how they look to fall so short of what we would rightly desire for them as recompense. But truly, even if there be no God or Heaven, can we believe that there is indeed a deeper meaning that comes from a world’s, a whole history’s worth of pain?

Is there buried treasure that we might dig, a sudden purpose where we might fit the greatest of suffering, and have it make sense? This is the Holy Grail greater than the Grail. Perhaps it is in memory. In imagination, even. That we sit and wonder of those who have suffered, especially those whom history forgets, and it causes our hearts to feel, to be human, and to give it our best that we should not see something like that happen again. Even for the best of us, and the best of our abilities, we will fall short, but the attempt—that in itself is meaningful. It is to care, beloved. To try and remember what the dust itself forgot, that is a form of magic. The good kind, the real kind. What if we make of the world, this ugly, imperfect world—what if we make of it better than what it would have been had it been perfect, all along? That is the nature of the greatest thing of all: that is the sentiment of love. Which without it we would be lost, sitting still on a calm day. Which if we have it, we can stand against the hurricane.

Do not despair. We not only can change the world, we are indeed in the midst of changing it. Do you not see? Have you not heard? Things are getting better. Not everywhere, not all at once, and sometimes it has to get worse before it turns back around—but it is happening. We don’t live in the Dark Ages anymore, do you not see? Have you not heard? You don’t have to believe in anything to have the hope, hope for all the world. That each dawn brings us the light to build upon the light of the day before. Even the great dreams may come to pass. As Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Amen. It costs you nothing to care. Nay, not just that: if you do care, how enriched you will then be, to have a heart. Don’t let that candle expire, beloved. Such light people have died to defend. We are what we care about… else we are worthless, indeed.

new again

did you hear of something new in the world?
it is called “love”
it was made 2000 years ago by a carpenter
when he died of torture
and did not miss the chance to be perfect
his name is Jesus Christ
IS, not was, because before everything, HE IS
he did a few things
but left it to the rest of us to do even greater
he rose from the dead
not in story like the rest who were told did
they were not the Christ
for i myself am a witness to the Resurrection
even as i am unworthy
i am witness to the truth of what is “love”
and there is yet more
what is love shall never be spent its last
the face of eternity
he saves us, not from danger, but ourselves
to life everlasting
blessed is the one who sees Heaven–everywhere


The War took 25 years to run its course, to me at least, roughly. Time is very strange, especially when you apply it to Eternity. But even there, if anything is to be done, you do spend time in doing it. When the Devil was cast down, it is said that he was filled with great wrath, for he knew his time was short. No longer in eternity. Like a time traveler in a movie, no matter where in time he visits, the time he personally experiences goes inexorably on, and this time will run out. Lucifer visited me at different stages of his rebellion, and I will always remember the Event that finished with his being cast from Heaven (the Fall). I was privy to more than that, though. Like the Event’s encore.

I was in a hospital from a heck of a day, some days after the Fall, and I was wrapped in a sort of holy blanket in the air, enveloped by the Spirit, for something monumental was about to happen. Something that had been long held on a razor’s edge. It was when I saw Lucifer die. That is, his soul. I remember I immediately lamented, for I had thought it was someone else, that it was a different event, but such is the grace of God: it was perfectly fitting how I did react, and had I known what it truly had been, my reaction would most probably not have been up to snuff. But what I saw: this was Satan committing to the reality of his defeat, that he had made the ultimate choice to go in the direction that would lead to his doom. That was it.

What I saw: life, his essence like a patch of heat in the air, and then *snap*: it was gone. Nothing but a sickly dead empty stillness. I only found out later what it actually meant, what exactly had happened. As I said, I had been admitted to a hospital that night. When I was so admitted, there were secret Christians in my visions’ voices who told me that Judas was innocent of the charge of the betrayal of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They said it in sort of a cumbersome way, so I put it like this, and it was that which was said from then on: “Judas volunteered.” Right around that time, my thinking was hovering around Universalism, the theory that everyone was saved, all the way down to the Devil. Then my mind focused on one saying of Our Lord: “Only one was lost.”

Now Satan, he was “shopping”. Looking through the looking glass. Either he thought or it was precisely the case that there were at least several different eventualities between which he could choose and instantiate: to make it so. So right about this time that we were talking about Judas, and saying how he would be the only one that was not saved; it was universal salvation except for that one which was lost, and indeed, it would have been better not to have been born for him. That was the cost. He was to be sealed (his soul) in a sort of vial that could not be opened by anyone but God, and He never would. And in that vial? Horror beyond horror. Unimaginable pain. For if he were truly lost, he would be the only one that had no savior at all. No escape. No respite. Worse than the deepest part of Hell.

So when I was sitting in the hospital room, Judas seemed as if he were preparing to go into that vial, girding his loins, so to speak. I talked to him, and he seemed a very capable apostle. I did not detect anything malicious about him. He was one of the good guys. When he was told that it was time, I looked and saw in the air what I thought was the vial. Then that *snap*, and Judas had supposedly been sealed in the vial, why I saw life then death. What was really happening, though? Judas was bait. And the one that caused that *snap*, for none of us was going to do it, none of the good guys—guess who that was? The Devil had wanted to see it happen: an innocent damned for an eternity of horrors, while he would walk away after some sort of punishment, into eternal life. It was too good to resist.

But it was the death of his soul he committed, when he instantiated this reality because he so wanted to see it happen, to see someone that lost, for no reason. No, it was not the only thing that Lucifer had done to deserve his spiritual death, for in making real this reality he was also making real all the crimes he had committed in it. Eternity works weirdly. In a sense, that instant was both the beginning and the end. I witnessed where reality became real, and the end of all preliminaries of the War. Apparently Satan was kind of spread out in his preparations, for he did not know which of the realities was to become the One. Our side, of course, knew this one was it, and could prepare that much better. This was Normandy, and Satan was hemming and hawing about whether it was this one or his Calais. (D-Day references here.)

From what I heard, though, it was critical that Lucifer instantiate this one. And it’s a terrifying thought: why was it that this one be chosen? And it was quite simple—that this was the only one where we won. In every other reality, the bad guys won in the end. But the Lord knows what he’s doing, quite clearly. He knew Lucifer was watching at the exact right time, for that plan above to gel. It had been quite the design, but what the Lord wills comes to pass, always does. And after the instantiation, where Lucifer would look in on this reality from time to time, he always assumed it was one of the paths he did not choose, and simply shrugged it off that he in fact lost here. This is what pride can do. Such is that kind of blindness.

*       *       *

Now understand, I speak not that you might believe the things I saw, just to say that I have seen them, and I tell you in truth that what I report is as a genuine witness. Do you ever wonder how it would be if there existed a prophet like that of old, here in the modern day? Do you think anyone would believe him? Or would they write him off as merely a madman? Not that in much of our civilization would he now be slain for his words, for perhaps we are good enough to let one stick around these days. But with all the false prophets spouting lies, and inventions of their own minds as gospel—would the true prophet be identifiable amid such noise? And would he be known as a heretic for the truth that has long been waiting to be told, or might the message ultimately succeed, if it is from God? Is it up to me? Or is it up to you?

What would you expect a prophet to say, would you think they would be popular things that everyone could agree upon? Would you expect him to be preaching in a megachurch with crowd pleasing sermons? For there are false prophets that say, “When I speak, God agrees”, as opposed to he who truly is one, “God spoke to me, a sinner!” Do you expect a sign, when Jesus said that only an evil generation expects a sign? When all you have to do look around, and see: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” [Matthew 11:4] Can you not see the signs of the times, when we are indeed beginning to solve the ills of the world, as the Lord spoke of? Can you not see that the Kingdom is at hand?

Indeed, I have one prophecy. Like this: “Repent, for the Beginning is near.” All your implements from the ages of cruelty, they shall be bent and melted and reshaped. He who propagates lies in order to gain power shall find his deceit uncovered, and he shall be put to utter shame. The one whose way is violence will find that way outmoded, and outclassed, by the technologies of peace. We are beginning to understand how bad it was, and it’s gotten, and the people are beginning to wake as if from a slumber of two thousand years. Repent, for we will be made to answer for what once we hid away in the darkness. To discover, beyond belief, that the masses can have a heart, and can show unusual kindness. To discover that we can be clever enough to solve what we thought to be the thorniest of problems. The Beginning is near! None too soon.

And one lesson I have to relay to you: from Christ, his two commandments: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. The first, roughly the same as when he said to love him before anyone else. It is to love the holy, the true, the pure of good, even if we can never hope to attain it ourselves. Just believe that in truth, God is love, and one need not believe in God to believe this. Then, love our neighbor: only when we understand the true potential of human destiny, to love everyone else—with all their faults. To forgive them. One does not love God as one loves everyone else. To love God is to adore the embodiment of absolute love, absolute good. It is joy in holiness. To love one’s neighbor is to love them in spite of their mistakes. It is to be human. To see the shine beneath the tarnish.

So what does it mean, to love? Do you not see? Have you not heard? Love is so simple, we’ll never understand it. Love does not hide in the heart, waiting for you turn it on: it is written that we were made in the image of God, who is all love. We love with all of us. We love with our spleen. Do you truly wish to be a child of God? Do all things (ALL THINGS) out of love. Brush your teeth out of love. Take a shvitz out of love. Seriously, decide that right now. You don’t have to be a part of any religion to do this, for to be human is to love. This I believe with all my soul. We will err, and I know that that’s what a lot of people mean when they say that we’re only human. But mine eyes have seen the glory. Jesus Christ shows us what is possible when he does the impossible. Ignite the world with such a fire.

If you like what’s written here, check out my book, Memoirs from the War in Heaven.


to drop into the lap of love
dancing within the secret life of flowers
like angels on the head of a pin
and to bring out in your step a mastery of life
(concern ourselves in the fashion of ephemeral troubles)
have you not heard? the Good News to riddle?
the best story wins
the pieces made to fit together
we cut no corners
it’s meant to give at each the open edge
what tune is it in the susurrus atmosphere of the Movie?
the music that makes us sound
(as i waltz with a burning one)
i know, for one, luck is no beggar
i to have fashioned my own very hands
to have been favored to dip in the gravity of it all
the rose without art i dropped in her lap
the story composing itself past anxious first maneuvers
this dream does not end like you think
the best story wins

The Origin of Night

The story? Let us say God is all that. All good, all wise, all patient, all merciful, not lacking in any perception. What would it be, what could Lucifer have possibly done that he would be forever removed from the light of Eternity? Can we suppose, should we believe that he knew what he was doing, that he knew he was going five steps too far? In a perfect world, what could he have possibly done to bring upon himself the wrath of God? “Perfect”: that’s the clue. What could Lucifer have done? Perhaps actually to create the very concept of “wrong”? Before his doing so, all there was—anywhere—was perfection. No one ever made any sort of mistake anywhere that there were beings to make them. There was no such thing. This was his “genius”. With it, he tried to overpower God Himself. For all he had to do was to make the Lord make one mistake… But after temptations of pleasure and of pain, our man Jesus Christ said at his last, “It is finished,” for indeed, his whole life had then been led without any error whatsoever.

What Lucifer did was to sin, for the first time anyone ever in the history of Heaven and Earth even had the thought to. And Sin, his emanation, goes by other names, from the analytic name “Error” to one that is near and dear to all of us, I’m sure: Pain. Which is to say that God was not the one who thought that up… Lucifer had enough power to do this all by himself. Now, God put it to good use, a good example that it has had great utility in the process of evolution—but no, the first instance of it did not go as far back as the Most High. And Sin, the curse that it was, spawned from Evil himself, spread from the first like an insidious fire, so that everyone—all but One, were subject to it. Even the angels would from then on sin, and this is outside of all the “rebel” angels, Lucifer’s angels: they now to be called the Devil and his demons.

Can you imagine a world without pain? For it was thus at the beginning, and it shall be again at the end (see the finish of the Book of Revelation). Do you understand that Error is Sin is Pain? Or maybe the word we used at first that says all three are what you may comprehend of what Lucifer made: the Wrong. It was his to do, surely, for perhaps no one but him could have thought of something so “novel”, and it required stretching of the mind to conceive of it, and it required effort like nothing else to commit the first fault—anywhere. And then this was a breach in the Godhead. It threatened existence itself. For we are talking about stakes where pain—the idea of pain—were invented by one created: something that fundamental and pervasive. For pain, even the idea of it: before it were made, it was an impossible thing.

To which one might conceive, that if the whole of the universe were one grand story, could it be that all the best subplots are ones not where nothing goes wrong, but ones where we overcome obstacles—stories where there are bad things in them too? True, these of struggle may be intrinsic to the nature of creation and that is why we would see things this way, and one might imagine a physics where the best story that could be told is one where nothing goes wrong. But this universe is all we’ve got—might we find that truly, this one is all we need to make the best of all possible worlds? Like it were all on purpose! Does the best story necessarily win, in other words? Ours to follow in that path of struggle, to know that it all goes to have some meaning: this is surely God’s ultimate gift to us, what He made of the pain, that nothing is wasted.

This is not a setup. Even predestination is not so simplistic, so simple-minded as that. The meaning we have, that given us and that which we make—if this is just a chess game where we set the pieces up to systematically knock them down, we have then as much meaning as a chess game. We would be poor players indeed. Know this: Lucifer had his chance, had a real chance to repent of his wrongs. They we not simply token offerings of forgiveness for the clearing of our conscience, for the sake of the story. Thus it is with anyone who ends up being damned: they had a real chance not to go down the path they did, and they did not take it. If they didn’t have that chance, and were damned anyway, we to indict them would be the worse side of evil, and we would surely all be lost.

And God can forgive many things. If Lucifer had turned back, after committing that heinous first error, indeed how different things would have been. But the pride that made him think he could outdo the Most High, this pride was not satisfied with merely the opening salvo of the War: he was bent on seeing it through, a furious obsession that became the more inflamed with every defeat. At every step, he would attempt the worse, thus the evil knew deeper lows. And the Dragon also threw down a third of the stars with his tail: a third of the billions of angels fell with him. This was part and parcel of that evil. These angels’ lives we lost by him. Sympathy for the Devil? He surely has my sympathy, that justice so harsh will be done on him, but he has the least of that sympathy. More goes to the least of the angels who fell, than ones who caused said fall.

It was that I saw Satan and his angels fall from Heaven like the ground of the place dropped out from beneath them, out of sight. He made himself out to be darkness itself, but all he did was block the light so that there would be shadow. God answered the darkness with the origin of night. And I saw Satan full of wrath when he landed in the Earth, for he knew his time was short. What if the story were just as real as the pain we go through? And what we do on this world ultimately has import, has gravity, for we are caught up in that story… God Himself came down here because it required His personal attention. This is our only world, this our only life we live: so now, will you not do something? If perhaps nothing else, to pray? Let it not be to watch it all go by, and not having lived, lament the dream not followed…

You are a human being alive on this green Earth: while you are alive, while it is still green: will you not seize the day, will you not do something so easy and impossible as love? And what can you love? Think of this: you can thank God for the pain you have experienced in your life. Decide to do that. You will then be forgiven for the pain you yourself have caused. (Pain is a saint’s excuse to be thankful.) And so, we fight the good fight, and defeat Satan at the first, and then even the last and worst of his evils. All you have to know is this: don’t give up. There is always hope: believe this, and it will be true. The Devil started with everything and threw it all away because of his pride. Be happy with nothing, instead. Do you not know? The Man Upstairs made the stars above for us, the ground below. All He wants from us is to stand and look up, and to feel small, and to be amazed. For that is what it means to be a child of God.

And that’s how the story goes, right up to your doorstep. Go.

If you like what’s written here, check out my book, Memoirs from the War in Heaven.