Wayland’s War – a novel by STGrimes – 02 Blank Canvases part 1

Continued from 01 – Beginnings

Blank Canvases part 1 

Pounding anvils assaulted my eyes. I palmed them hard for some relief. It didn’t help. I ripped off another piece of cardboard pizza, chewed it a couple of times, and spit it back out. My stomach raged on. I welcomed the discomfort that I couldn’t assuage. I deserved it.

Her words thundered in my ears. “Anna, you really aren’t coming back.”

My eyes were drawn to the hunting eyes of the five foot long painting of a white bengal tiger in the midst of a kill in a tropical forest. “Talk to me Samson. What should I do? What would it be like if I was free to hunt like you? To have claws for hands and razors for teeth. What would it be like? What do I do now?”

I pounded my palms back into my eyes and created a new surge of pain.

A foreign sound reached my ears. I pulled my palms away from my eyes and forced a shallow breath through clenched teeth. The sound didn’t make sense to me. I jerked to my feet and sent my chair flying across the room. Anger surged once again and I punched one of the fake trees that I surrounded myself with. The tree left a streak of green across the blue tinged white walls. “My whole world’s as fake as these stupid trees.”

The sound reached me again. ” Damn it! I’m an idiot! A stupid, stupid idiot! That’s the front door bell.”

I struggled mightily to put holes in the wood floor as I stomped to the front door. I flung the door open. No one was there. I looked down and saw a large white cardboard box. I picked it up. “Pretty heavy. For me? Let’s see. Wayland ‘Jack’ Jackson, 10 Falling Acorn Circle, Skeueland. Addressed to me. No return address. No postage.”

I looked around outside and saw no one. “Weird.”

I put the box on the kitchen table. “Man, someone’s in love with packing tape.” I picked up a knife. It felt good in my hands as I sliced the packing tape to ribbons. I opened the package and thoroughly inspected the fancy blue-ray disk player player before putting it on the kitchen counter. The package also had a letter. I picked it up and scanned the first paragraph. I couldn’t put it down.

I read a myriad of things about me that no one was supposed to know about.
“There’s no way anyone could know these things.”

The letter ended with “Plug the player into your computer and it will change your life. All you have to do is install the software.”

I searched my house for hidden cameras and microphones. I didn’t find any.

I spent the next week trying to decide what to do. I did enough to get by at work, doubled my running routine, played loud music to an empty room, spent a lot of time at the sports bar, and totally ignored my computer. I threw the player out five times. I retrieved it 6 times. I hit the enter key.

The software installed quickly, the lights dimmed, and my speakers crackled to life.
A melodic computer voice, filled with passion, identified herself as Eve. “The canvases of history glisten with the brush strokes of lines and curves expertly crafted into words that jump out of the pages at us. Their insatiable desire is to kindle the fires of our imagination. There are stories of swash buckling adventures … and crafty pirates … and of true love found … and lost.”

“Our heroes, each and every one of them, have made their indelible marks. We hang those cherished masterpieces, with care, on the walls of our lives. We can look at them, at any time we want, and experience them all over again. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Romeo and Juliet. Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr. to name but a few. Those stories are magical.”

To my amazement, the player was a holographic projection unit. The room went completely black and a painter’s canvas was slowly circling in front of me.

Eve continued. “Within each one of us, lies a master craftsman who takes history’s masterpieces and expertly recreates those works of art with the express purpose of hanging them in the walls of our memories for our own pleasure. Welcome to Blank Canvases, Wayland Jackson. What story will you be creating?”

For a moment I thought about turning off the computer. I had no idea where Eve was going with this, but I was totally impressed with the program and I wanted to see more. So, I played along. “How about the Shot Heard Round the World?”

“Which side of the canvas will you choose for your work of art, Wayland?”

“Does it matter?” I arbitrarily poked at one side of the canvas floating in front of me.

“Wayland, it is important to note that I will be pausing the program at designated intervals for you to relieve yourself and take sustenance. Module begin.”

Suddenly the room filled with light. I gazed upward and gasped at the river of twinkling lights that flowed across the nighttime sky. I tried and failed to remember the last time I witnessed the beauty of the sky without the influence of city lights.

“Where are we Eve”

I’m Free. I’m free. Freedom to choose what I will do or freedom to let them choose for me.

I’m Free I’m Free

I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.
For failure and strength and self reliance.

Free to stop. I do not want to fail.
Or free to know that failure guides my path.
Free to fear and listen to its lies.
Or free to see my fears beset by strength.
Free to let my freedoms drift away.
Or free to build my self reliance to share.

I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.
For trials and dreams and one more step.

Free to see that I am just a failure.
Or free to know my trials are teaching me to win.
Free to just survive and nothing more.
Or free to dream and live my heart’s desire.
Free to drift and sink like all dead fish.
Or free to fight for one more glorious step.

I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.
For creation and encouragement and character

Free to make destruction a daily habit.
Or free to create for all of us to share.
Free to tear them all apart so I look good.
Or free to encourage so all of us can grow.
Free to judge and miss the real person.
Or free to see the content of their character.

I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.
For listening and cherishing and grace

Free to ignore some wise advice and be the fool.
Or free to listen to small nudges inside of me.
Free to covet what others have that I don’t.
Or free to cherish the wonders I already have.
Free to exact revenge and perpetuate hate.
Or free to give good will and peace to all.

Freedom to choose what I will do.
Or freedom to let them choose for me.
I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.

Ephesians 1:4a What comfort is there? Any hope of joy?

Ephesians 1:4a “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”

So, was God sitting at the lunch table when He decided, “Hey, I’m going to create a world!”

For me, I’ve always been told that it’s bad to work on an empty stomach. At least now I know why I’m always hungry. And Noah, I wouldn’t have been worried about collecting two of all the animals. No, I say, forget the animals, save the pizza and the pasta. And the plagues in Egypt, not hail, I would’ve sent meatballs. forget the boils, I would’ve sent berries. No, its a bad idea to work on an empty stomach.

So, I say let’s create the world AFTER lunch, a spaghetti and meatballs lunch! Okay, roll up my sleeves, I’ll be done by dinner. Oh wait, I forgot. I need to select the people first. How in the world am I going to do that? I have trouble planning my dinner, let alone the next ten thousand years.

What a comfort to know that it wasn’t me who created the world.

What a comfort to know that God chose us before the creation of the world.

What a comfort to know that God created a perfect plan for each and every one of us. A plan that included adopting us.

Knowing that God has always wanted me always fills me with joy and I want you to know that joy too.

Ephesians 1:4a “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”

Ephesians 1:3-6. How would you feel if you were in this painful situation? What would YOU do?

At 10 years old, I stood in front of the large metallic gate. The gates opened and they herded me into the strange city. For the millionth time, I looked around for my parents. For the millionth time, my heart screamed in pain. My parents weren’t there. They’d never be there. They died on the voyage over. I’m all alone – very, very alone.

I begged from the first person I saw. “Hey mister, can you help me?” Nothing. I asked a second person. Still nothing. I asked a third, nothing. No one understood me. What do I do now?

I searched desperately for something to eat. I searched for a place to sleep. I guess I have to find a job. What can I do? All alone, no friends, no relatives, I don’t speak the language, hopeless.

“How did I survive? I slept in alleys. Found warmth in cardboard boxes or metal drums. I stole what I could. Caught rats to eat when I couldn’t find anything in the garbage cans. Not much of a life.”

Think this was an isolated case? Nope. This 10 year old boy represents one of 30,000 children who found themselves orphaned in 1850 in New York City. That’s 30,000 orphans in a city with a population of about 515,547 people. That’s one orphan for every six people. Amazing.

No one had any time, or resources to look after so many children. Hopeless? Charles Loring Brace came up with an ingenious idea – The Orphan Train.

From 1850 to 1929 the Orphan train steamed west from town to town finding new homes for the orphans. Children with no hope and who were barely surviving were adopted into new homes filled with great hope. Some of these children grew up to be governors, United States Congressman, and even Supreme Court Justices.

The orphan train ended with the beginning of organized foster care in America. And as of September 30, 2013 in New York City, 4,487 children were awaiting adoption out of a population of about 8,405,837 people.

I can definitely identify with that 10 year old – from utter despair to incredible hope and a brilliant future. Remember that as you read Ephesians 1:3-6. We are all in the same position as that ten year old. Now, God has adopted us as His children.

Ephesians 1:3-6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

With our adoption by the Creator, we all can have 100% confident exceptions of a great future with a father who wants us to “bear much fruit.”

See also Romans 8:15-17 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “ Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

The eyes of our heart ask, “Are we cast out to despair? Or, are we blessed with every spiritual blessing?” Ephesians has the answer!

No one is immune to the trials that drag the very core of who we are through the dredges of the lives that we attempt to lead. Making a presentation and watching your audience fall asleep. Sitting in a cold office as your boss hands you a pink slip that tells you that you don’t work here anymore. Standing besides a crib and watching your baby take it’s last breaths. The list goes on. Yet, this isn’t a story of the list of painful moments that all of us maintain. It’s not a recounting of the moments that have left our lives in shreds. This isn’t a story of getting knocked down. Oh no. This is a story about finding the understanding that leads us to get back up off the floor. This is a story of true success. This is a story of the eyes of our hearts. When the eyes of our hearts scream from the pain of abandonment and despair, the book of Ephesians fills the eyes of our hearts with bright light and amazement.

Ephesians talks about the amazing love that God has for us. It’s full of sensational news. We are given every spiritual blessing. We’ve been selected before the beginning of time to be adopted by God. Our debt has been paid for every wrong that we’ve ever done. We’ve been given wisdom and understanding. We’ve been given the armor of God. And so much more. Most of all, the book of Ephesians, through doctrine and practical advice, shows us that the Christian life is definitely worth the effort.

Read Ephesians. Read every single paragraph. Study it and believe it. God doesn’t lie.

Once you’ve read it, answer this question. What do you find most joyful about Paul’s message?

Ephesians 1:1-2. A closer look at the power of greetings

Grace and peace to the saints, the followers of Christ.

John walked slowly down the quiet hall when Chris, his boss, greeted him. “Hello John, you need to listen to me. You have great $5 ideas. But, we have $10 ideas. You need to learn to start listening and do what your told. I hope that makes sense to you John.”

Have you ever been ambushed by a boss or a friend? I have. It’s sad really, because the greeting can a powerful tool. Or, it can be the bane of your existence. In the true scenario above, Chris (names changed) never realized that he totally shut John down. After that conversation, John did exactly as he was told, never pointed out any problems, and never offered any new ideas. John also didn’t work there for much longer either. What a waste.

Greetings have changed a lot over the years. In the bible, “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” is a common greeting. Ephesians 1:1-2, Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, and Titus 1:4, to name a few.

If we update that greeting to today, here is a far better way to look at greetings.

Chris looked up at the monitor and felt the stress of every employee. A sluggish economy meant work wouldn’t be any better this year. The fear in his employee’s eyes was palpable. He vowed to do whatever he could to ease the strain: any excuse to have a small celebration, to reward good work, and to encourage strong relationships. Most of all, he made it a point to look into the eyes of every employee and give them a friendly greeting and comment about some detail of their life.

Showing that we care for each other is a key ingredient for building trust and adds enormous benefit to the effectiveness of everyone’s work.

Charis and eirene to you, grace and peace to you.

Wayland’s War – a novel by STGrimes – 01 Beginnings

01 Beginnings

The surrounding trees spread their multi-colored tapestries to soak up the warmth. Then they wove themselves together to create a living picture frame. The matt that highlighted the spectacular picture turned out to be a thick, black ring of pavement, without blemish, that ran underneath the proud trees. Living waters studded with sparkling diamonds formed the masterpiece. My mind’s eye felt every step, smelled every scent of jasmine and honeysuckle and clean-cut grass, saw every perfect leaf in every tree. I expected perfection every time I set foot in this masterpiece. Today, I was wrong. Today, adversity visited me and set me in boiling water to see what flavor tea bag my life’s made of. Today, I found my real answers.

Listen to the invitation of the soft, grassy bank. Listen to her request to come and recline in the sweet afternoon breeze, to toss all strife and stress into the friendly, water and watch them simply disappear. I visited her nearly every day. I strode boldly up to her door, yet pride forbade that I open it. The large oak conspired with the grassy knoll and pleaded that I release my burden. Still, I choose the stifling sun.

Today, a visitor chose to join me. A well-trimmed man with sandy hair, topsiders, khakis, and a blue button down shirt didn’t wait for an invitation to sit down.
I felt his brown eyes boring into my very soul. Still, I ignored him.

He sucked in a deep breath through clenched teeth and pushed it slowly out. “Don’t shut me out, brother.”

Birds called through the warm breeze of silence that followed.

“Wayland, I can’t cover for you any more.”

Sparkling gemstones dancing across the top of the pond called to me. I couldn’t refuse them. Their dancing and swaying punctuated the short bursts of breath of the man sitting besides me.

“Wayland! Hello? Did you hear me? You’re in real trouble and I can’t cover for you!”

The gemstone’s leaps were timed perfectly with the stomping of his feet as he desperately tried to get my attention.

“Wayland! The least you can do is to let me out so I don’t get into any more trouble. I can do more to help you that way.”

He did everything he could think of, short of slapping me in the face, to get me to pay attention to him. I wonder what the gemstones would do if he did slap me in the face?
Finally, he spoke. “You make sewage waste look organic.”

Words left my mouth before I could call them back. “Jeff, don’t you ever swear?”

“Really? That’s all that your silver tongue could come up with? Jerk! I got fired because of you. What did I ever do to deserve this? Well, I’m not going to let you walk out on me in the middle of the night. I’m not like all those business partners that you’ve left high and dry.”

I’d never heard complete silence here before. The gemstones stopped their dancing. Jeff’s booming voice even scared the wind. I wonder if he knows how much raw talent he has?

“Don’t bother calling me, Wayland. My new number is unlisted. And, you’re blocked everywhere else. Have the wonderfully long, depressing and lonely life that you so desperately want.”

I didn’t hear him leave.

He left behind the silence.

I filled the silence with the rhythmic pounding of words. “God hates me. God is mad at me. God hates me. God is mad at me. He hates me. He’s mad at me.” Endless words.

I stayed as long as I could muster. Finally, I left my favorite haven. Back across the finely manicured lawns, past a kaleidoscope of colors in the gardens, past the boxed hedges. I stopped at the french doors embedded in the rock walls that made up southwest corner of the west wing of my house. “I shall miss you most of all scarecrow.”

I threw off my shoes and scrunched my toes in the think beige carpet. I looked up and expected a sudden release of tension. Nothing Happened. “Unbelievable. I can’t be this stressed. Divert my attention. Try some work That’ll help.”

I ran my fingers along the built-in bookshelves until I found the paperwork that I needed. “Perkins Investments, surely that one’s still viable.”

I flipped the switch to the dual monitors. I heard the soft humming of the computer in the cabinet come to life. I keyed in the access codes and navigated to the monitoring program that kept the latest stats on Perkins. Debt to equity ratio, free cash flow, earnings per share, and pages of other numbers appeared before me. I looked at the numbers and compared them to the paperwork in front of me.

Beads of sweat dripped onto the pages on the desk.

I snatched up the thick folders of paperwork and flung them violently at the couch. Pieces of paperwork exploded into the air like a blizzard and flittered merrily onto and around the couch. “Damn it!”

A happy voice contentedly answered. “You called?”

I turned towards the door to the living room and looked at the shapely brunette. “Since when does damn it sound like Anna?”

“Oh, I don’t know. You’ve been calling me all sorts of things lately. “ Anna replied sweetly.

I stared blankly back.

“Is there something that I can help you with? Perhaps I can refresh your drink? Sun tan lotion? Perhaps a light snack?”

“I’m fine, Anna.”

“Oh, I know. I see that your work is keeping you quite busy. It looks like you’ve developed a new way to organize your client’s papers. Very new age design for the couch too. Let me know how that works for you. I’ll make sure to keep the children quiet so that they won’t disturb you.”

I rolled my eyes. “Anna, we don’t have any children.”

Anna cocked her head and replied with smooth silk. “Then it should be easy to keep them quiet, shouldn’t it?”

“You are such a wonderful wife. What would I do without you?”

Anna clasped her hands under her chin. “I’m sure that you could come up with a few things if you try. Do try my love.”

“You’re certainly…”

“Oooooo. I just love sharing quality time with you, but I do need to clean the house before dinner.”

“Happy cleaning my love, perhaps the maid missed something.”

Anna turned to leave, then stopped and turned back. “Oh, I almost forgot. I’m having drinks with your brother. Would you like me to bring something back for you?”

“With my brother?”

Anna’s smiled deepened, which only increased her natural beauty. “He stopped by the house before he left. He shared with me what a wonderful conversation that he had with you out in your haven. I’ll make sure to give him your love.”

“Don’t drink too much my love. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.”

“You’re so sweet. Tata my love. Don’t wait up for me, I won’t be coming back.”

I watched her walk to the front door and down the path to her car. The BMW started with ease and off she went. I stared down the driveway for a long time.

Wayland’s War – 02 Blank Canvases

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