A Replanting

I just returned from a denominational conference in Chicago.

That in itself is nothing particularly unique or special. But it has provided ample opportunity for observing, listening, and to a lesser extent participating, in the strange soup that is contemporary evangelicalism. 

I love my newly adopted denomination of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Among Protestant, evangelical denominations it’s at the top of the list for what I expect and/or prefer in a faith family with whom I sojourn. A big front door, a big living room, a big heart, big ideas, and a small theology ledger. 

A non-creedal body by history and by choice, there is no dotted line awaiting my subservient signature to enter and serve. As such, the ECC provides a place in which to actually practice the work of theology on the ground – you know, where Jesus did before leaving to get his doctorate.

Typically, our post-Enlightenment milieu seeks to train up preachers like God scientists. Sideline the complexities of self and soul and stuff young heads like Christmas turkeys with doughy abstractions and crunchy data, then send them out as over-confident, naked children to fight lions with noodles.

I’ve written much about my twenty-year journey out of evangelicalism into a much broader ocean tinged in the light of a more mystical, pre-Reformation, eastern Christianity. For me to even consider climbing back aboard this ship required a pretty convincing package. 

So far, the ECC seems to be that package.

In brief, the ECC is comprised of a complicated mix of Swedish Lutheranism distilled through North American Pietism. It has found its way forward, stumbling together through all manner of daunting issues, learning itself by means of diverse community, water-cooler (pub, more likely) conversation, congregational government, word and sacrament, occasional passive-aggression, all over micro-brew and cigars.

It’s enough to make C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton downright giggly.

An old world Lutheranism offers the richness of liturgical worship and sacramentalism while its new world Pietism places it in the hinterland where the ‘other’ lives. On the backroads, the rank and file are too busy surviving to worry whether or not all the right words are in all the right places.

It prefers connectivity over credibility, presence over power, and communal acquiescence over conversant apologetics. It may be the last bastion of evangelicalism where any hint of spiritual orthopraxy is wed, albeit tangentially, to theological orthodoxy. It’s tea cozies for some, bad whiskey in dirty cups for others. My kinda place. 

This blog from the beginning has existed to give voice to the centrality of spiritual formation in all I do, think, say, believe, adore….How gratifying to know that this denomination has an entire wing dedicated to the promotion of the same. There is more than lip service paid to the idea of souls being satiated in the numinous realities of the ineffable God.

As one tasked with drawing a local congregation into the worship of God, this has given me a good place to explore. I can continue my journey into post-modern, eclectic liturgy rooted in a more robust sacramentalism.

Friends out on the town.jpg
A few of my music peeps out on the town in Chicago

But I can also do so with a view to reimagining the church’s ancient past for a very complex present. In this endeavor I am finding friends, co-laborers in the liturgical arts game with whom I can toss around the stuff of our trade. They are beautiful souls and have almost as many questions as I when it comes to how best to ply our trade in the murky complexities of local church ministry.

The ECC is not perfect. We still succumb to the temptation of hipster idolatry and the cult of relevance. We are still a bit too easily enamored of evangelicalism’s how-to mentality where every conceivable question has an airtight answer. The subtle presence of American pragmatism can be seen sniffing around the corners and we’re a bit too close to Christian industry-speak for my taste. Finally, we find ourselves mired in a safety-zone mentality on matters of human sexuality.

But in spite of this, it is a very healthy alternative to almost anything else I’ve seen within the vast dysfunction of the growing-by-division evangelical family. It’s been a good place to be found of God.

It is the garden in which I am presently planted.

And I am glad to be here.

ECC Worship collective.jpg
My new Covenant partners in ministry

Photos by Jessica Perez and someone else with a very daunting selfie stick


A Piper Toots His Own Horn

For forty plus years I have submitted myself to being assaulted by a screaming five-legged octopus wearing tartan underpants. To the lay person – I am a bagpiper. It is, under any circumstances, an instrument that, like a crying baby on an airline (or me), demands center stage. It is a sound that captured me even as a boy of seven years old.

Calgary, 1971
I grew up in a tiny bungalow in Calgary, Alberta the adopted son of a brewery worker and his wife, my mother. As I, along with my younger brother and sister, continued to grow, it became abundantly apparent that our consistent brushing of shoulders would only lead to heartbreak. My father set about building me a bedroom in our not-quite-finished basement. For some fifteen years to follow it would be my sanctuary – my monastery – the place where I found music, booze, girls (keep that bit a secret, they only know about the first one), and years later, Jesus.

The spring before my eighth birthday I moved in. Kismet. Changing channels one afternoon I happened upon a presentation of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, filmed live at Edinburgh Castle. It is an annual display of pomp, circumstance, bright lights, booming cannons and bagpipes – lots of bagpipes. I was hooked. I begged my parents to let me learn to do what I had just seen, but thought I had dreamed.

A love affair had begun.

Christmas, 1974
All other parcels had been destroyed and gutted of their contents by panting, over-wrought children. My Mom turned to my Dad and asked, “is that everything then?” (Oddly, in recent years, we’ve found ourselves performing such non-Shakespearean works with our own children…sigh). They went into a bedroom and reached under the bed, pulling out one final, unopened, present. As kids do, I skinned it in seconds only to discover contents that set me reeling (no extra charge for the bad pun) for an hour afterwards.
I owned my first set of bagpipes.

Okotoks, Alberta, 1992
Those bagpipes became a close friend. Extensive traveling, piping for dignitaries and royalty, numerous television and radio appearances, and two piping albums later, and our lives found us church planting in the urban-cowboy sleeper-community of Okotoks, Alberta, south of Calgary. It was idyllic. Rae worked for a local travel agency. I worked as an industrial painter for my father-in-law’s painting company.

As the call to ministry grew too loud to ignore we found ourselves scrambling to get our affairs in order for a move to Vancouver, B.C. where I was enrolled at Regent College. Bills were paid, scores settled, ‘t’s crossed and ‘i’s dotted as we made preparations. In a move I thought noble at the time but which now seems utterly foolhardy I sold those pipes to help pave the way toward ministry and the next chapter of our lives.

I have regretted it ever since…and I never did attend Regent College.

A Serendipity
I have taught for many years at Bagpiping Seminars, Celtic Performing Arts Schools and the like. A dear colleague and one of my best friends is a man named René Cusson. Not only is he one of the world’s great pipers but he is a collector of instruments. Knowing me to be bagpipeless, he selflessly loaned me a set he’d picked up from a garage sale for $75. A keen eye, some research, and a sacred serendipity revealed them to be a rather famous set of MacDougall of Aberfeldy bagpipes probably made in the late 1890s, ultimately finding themselves to a legendary bagpiper killed in WWII.

For 25 years, from 1992 until September of this year, I played those bagpipes.

A Request
René’s daughter, Ceitinn is a champion Highland Dancer. But, as is the case with many purveyors of Highland arts, one skill is never enough. She wanted to begin bagpipe lessons and follow in her father’s footsteps. This of course meant a message to me that, although not unexpected, stopped me in my tracks. He would need those pipes back for his daughter to have something upon which to learn.

The process began of disassembling and packaging them for transport to their home on Vancouver Island. In September 2015, at the Greyhound Bus Station in Nelson, B.C., I said farewell to a comfortable friend and began a life of bagpipelessness once again.

Thankfully, as a piping instructor, I’ve been blessed to borrow student’s bagpipes as required.

Christmas Eve, a Good Time for Miracles
Selling bagpipes my parents bought for me is only one of many regrets. But it’s a big one. In spite of having had a set to play all these years, that memory is not easily erased. And I may yet be a novice in this whole Christian enterprise but I know this much, God delights in reversing the irreversible; in repairing the seemingly irreparable damages of our past.
In Gospel terms, regret is a wasted emotion.

To my surprise, shock, and delight I was gifted with a brand new set of McCallum bagpipes at our Celtic Christmas Eve service this year. Completely unknown to me, pastor Duncan and ??? colluded in a series of conversations and scheming, phone calls and plotting, sideways glances and squishy secrets to research, obtain, prepare, and gift me – publicly no less – with this amazing thing.

Best of all, my Mom and her husband, Sam were visiting us from Alberta, and were present to see it. If anyone knew just how inconceivable it is to play a bagpipe “fresh out of the box” (bagpipes are frustratingly moody and don’t follow directions well), you would understand just how gratifying it was to pipe folks out of the sanctuary with this new instrument!

I’ve played them for hours since then in a mixture of awe, tears, and bewildering joy. To say I am grateful is a woeful understatement. To say thank you just feels so utterly lame.

But let me start there…




A gift from dear friends
A gift from dear friends

2015 in review

My year in review at innerwoven…

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Maybe this Christmas

From Christmas two years ago. The words are older. The sentiment? Not so much.


Christmas Day. My eyes are like twin harvest moons of bloodshot fatigue. There’s a roller derby taking place in my head. My church music ministry gig ramps up something fierce this time of year leaving me satisfied and happy, but a shivering hump of quasi-humanity. The solution? I sent my wife, Rae, out to find anything resembling coffee, if only for a most yummy and effective remedy for my pounding head. God bless her!

A rather poorly decorated poor excuse for a Christmas tree tries unsuccessfully to stand guard over the precious few gifts tucked under her skirt. A single strand of multicolor lights graces her awkward presence in our living room. Perhaps fewer than a dozen ornaments hang suspended, lifelessly, from these poor, little green arms – flimsy and weak.

I speak of symbols, those tried and true geiger counters of the meaning and truth they represent. Many…

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To our heart’s delight

In a recent post I began to meditate a bit on what the Psalmist may have been on about in 37:4 when he adjures us to “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

To press into the paradox of these words is to discover two interrelated things. In pursuing those things, ideas, persons we believe to be most satisfying to our egos, the shallow water before getting to the sea of soul, we suffer the law of diminishing returns. We attain, receive, pursue, and sometimes steal in order to buttress an icy happiness that laughs at us mere moments after the fact.

We held in our hands what is now farther away.

The result? Turn up the heat of our pursuit and call it “dedication” or “hard work” or “sacrifice.” The process begins again in earnest, to a fool’s detriment.

Conversely, it means something much odder still. To walk away from delight itself and toward the God of all delight is to forego the very need of desires for which we were previously straining. It is God’s cheeky bait ‘n switch.

To one drowning in desire, grasping hold of the first thing to bear us up is a natural action. But that desire blinds us to the life boat yards away in favor of a shark’s fin inches away. We are saved, but only until it becomes clear the price we pay.

In this season of competing allegiances and dueling narratives, all sparring for our attention, let us journey together on the longer road, bringing an end to all lesser desire, and follow after he whose self-denial gifts us with what we never thought was lost. 

Let us risk the farther star; the gift which requires us to keep our heads up lest we trip on our own pursuing feet.

journey-of-the-magi.jpg!BlogPainting by James Tissot, found here




That in which we delight

“Take delight in the Lord,” says the Psalmist, “and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

iggy-necklace-carThis is a deceptively easy passage. The fog of western, individualist consumerism however urges us to read this as God simply handing us whatever we want, regardless of its origin, intent, or wisdom in the attainment thereof.

Indeed, God does give us what our hearts desire. But, the beauty and deft insight of this verse is that the heart changes in accordance to what brings delight. As it becomes more centered in the Divine, it leans more readily toward the faces who line the hallways of our lives.

We soften toward their plight, and glow with pride in the accomplishments of others. It begins to shatter for the things that shatter the heart of God, in whom we delight.

And even suffering begins to make some small sense as it becomes contextualized against the larger picture of God’s redemptive enterprise, an enterprise into which we are invited, baptized, and transformed. It is out of that transformation which come the heart’s deepest desires, doubts, despair, dreams, and destiny.

The next time we quote this marvelous gem, especially during this holiday season, let us attend to its more ultimate direction. Let us lean into the God who, in Christ, becomes all our desire and through whom our deepest desires, plunged into the raging love of God’s heart, are fully satisfied.


Car photo found here

Communion photo taken at Yakima Covenant Church (where I am proud to serve as music director)

Life in the Ground

Precious little of our lives in Yakima reminds me of life in Calgary. Not that it should. I’m just a comparison kinda guy.

Calgary in winter
Calgary in winter

In Calgary, we’ve had snow every month of the calendar year. Even August. Here, we’re lucky to get snow at all. When we do however, life becomes unlivable. Not the kind of unlivable that has one kicking the dog or hoarding the Communion wine. It’s more a slush-ridden slide of faith down valley hills on tires never sufficient to the task. The dampness of Pacific Northwest snow makes it heavier than the objects upon which it falls. Plants cower under the weight, almost like Atlas bending under a muscle-twitching burden. Roofs have been known to collapse. More people own snow blowers than shovels in this valley, since even body-builder knees buckle shoveling this snow.

Photo by Mike Sauer

In spite of endless sunshine, most often appreciated by lizards and sun worshipers, I’m most miserable during the Yakima summer. My Canadian blood, trained by a temperate climate promises a hazy kind of heat-induced droopiness that drags on endlessly when parts of you are sweating that never did before. I suppose it’s the opposite of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder). While most Yakimites keep a loaded revolver in the glove box just in case winter’s grey leaves them overwrought, I whine like a banshee without enough rain and grey skies. I should probably have that checked out.

A Calgary heat wave usually meant a few days of low to mid 90s that promised bitchy parents. Drivers and pedestrians alike grew more aggressive than usual, and tempers got shorter than the summers themselves. As kids growing up in the not-so-balmy regions of Alberta’s grasslands, such unreasonable temperatures meant longer days for exploring and defining ourselves against the shenanigans of our troublesome friends.

Make it through the super-heated Yakima summer however and flaunted lavishly before us is a superlative fall, beautiful to the point of garish. Leaves change more slowly here. The sage green and spittle browns of summer are swapped out for yellow, auburn, orange, and other colors I can’t even begin to name. 

The historic Barge-Chestnut neighborhood in the Fall.
The historic Barge-Chestnut neighborhood in the Fall.

A Calgary Fall came quickly and with a vengeance. The colors were there one day, gone the next. Winter was the only decisive time of year. Calgary’s favorite color is the peaty-brown grass that climbs its gentle slopes and clings to her Rocky Mountain-shadowed foothills. Stands of poplars, deciduous minority brothers in the more ubiquitous pine forests further west into the mountains, groped for sunshine, teasing each other beside the Bow and Elbow Rivers.

Elbow River, Calgary
Elbow River, Calgary

From there, the Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, Sturgeon, and ample Pike taunted many a fly-fishing line and studied the undersides of canoe and kayak meandering their way down her rippling spine. Besides, if the fish weren’t biting, the mosquitoes most certainly were.

Bishop Grandin High School, 1 block from my street
Bishop Grandin Catholic High School, one block from my street

Life in the Calgary of the sixties and seventies was decidedly more pasty and wan than it is now in a sprawling cosmopolitan soup of oil-nouveau-rich yuppies. Before Bishop Grandin High School was built in the early seventies, we could look out our kitchen window and see the animals frittering about on Harry Hays’ farm a block away. In fact, our street was almost the southern most boundary of the city proper. For my parents to drive me for bagpipe lessons in Midnapore, then a separate town, now one of many annexed communities, required high beams and good suspension on dark, bumpy back roads.

A Calgary winter could be the most indecipherable mess of meteorological phenomena. Her geography has her cupped in the palm of a significant mountain range but with her head tucked in the nape of the foothills that ridge her neck. Some have compared it to Denver in this regard. It was not uncommon to scrape our windshields one day, after twenty minutes of pre-warming the car in -30 degree weather only to ditch our down jackets for windbreakers the next day as Chinook winds brought temperatures even into the 50s (10+ degrees Celsius of course). It was the meteorological equivalent of multiple personality disorder – about as complicated, but less fun.

A favorite part of Calgary life for me was the continuous rivalry between Calgary and Alberta’s capital city of Edmonton, a couple hundred miles north. CFL (Canadian Football League) teams, the Calgary Stampeders vied for supremacy against the Edmonton Eskimos (Canadians are allowed to use this word because I think we invented it) in clashes a lot less polite than is typically attributed to the Canadian demeanor. Betting was fierce. Petty, verbal jabs even more so. Broken ribs and missing teeth most common of all.

The Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames

What did I care? I loved hockey, a sport as definitive of Canadian citizenship as God Bless the Troops bumper stickers in the States. Even before the Atlanta Flames became the Calgary Flames in 1980, I knew every player on every team. I even knew first round draft picks and the names of a few general managers. Ask me the most obvious question about anything football and the blank stare will tell you what you suspected all along.

The far too many uprootings in my family wake has made me grateful for the stability we’ve known here in Yakima. It’s surprising how God’s vitals become more pronounced when one isn’t always out of breath and one’s heart isn’t pounding in the ears. It makes inner silence and listening so much easier.

God has found me here. I may not always feel the same sense of DNA-level familiarity with my environment, I may be living in the U.S. but Canadian as the day is long, I may not appreciate all the cultural inside jokes or regional quirks, but I’ve heard God’s heart beating. It’s quite soothing. There has certainly been life in the drifts, but there’s more life in the ground, buried and out of sight, that nourishes and stirs dead things to life.

I’ll still whine from time to time about ‘home’ (whatever that is). I’ll still cringe whenever I see the Trumpster or the Palin-doll in “the news.” I will never understand the correlation between guns and “freedom.” I may not feel as connected or authentic when stumbling through the American national anthem. My friendships may barely exceed a decade. But God has planted me in a distant soil to bring me and mine closer to the deepest harvest, that of the heart.

Until then, I’ll keep bitching all through Yakima summers in the knowledge that seasons change. Like all of us.

I know, it’s annoying, but I kinda like it that way.


Yakima Valley pic found here

Calgary in winter pic found here

Bishop Grandin pic found here

Calgary Flames pic found here

Yakima in Fall pic found here

“Do you want to be healed?”

“Do you want to be healed?”

For the longest time I had attributed it to the insistent paradigm of the poet’s logic, the lover’s unrequited dreams, the shifting clouds of the philosopher’s quest – all searching for something – a reality as numinous and perfect as it is deceptively secret and stubbornly resistant to conquest.

An ever-present sense of melancholy, a numbing ache, an unnameable yearning – desolation even – has draped my consciousness for many years. It seems I am a walking advertisement for mood enhancing substances and the pharmaceutical drug trade (or, maybe just self-pity?)

Sometimes, and inexplicably, my soul is shot through with little darts of light – suggestions of heaven, of how things truly are. They come unbidden mostly as ghostly sojourners, inhabitants of a more perfect realm come to slake my wheezing soul with wine, bread, and perhaps a song or two.

In recent days, this ubiquitous, verbose Demon of Grey Souls has gnawed at me for so long that it seems, by virtue of that fact, to have overplayed its hand. The hide ‘n seek after contentment, so long now the haunt of my days, has been smoldering behind its best hiding places under new rays of sun. I had willingly become a pawn in a cat and mouse game and my overseer has grown too fat to hide well.

New light, still diffuse and weak, but less coy or troublesome, is asking me a question; the ironic question Jesus once posed to some poor bugger by the Jerusalem Sheep Gate: do you want to be healed?

On the surface it’s a question as ridiculous as asking two young lovers, separated by time and circumstance, whether they’d like to make love. Upon reflection however, it reveals shear genius and a profound knowledge of the human psyche. In asking such a question, Jesus becomes more than just miracle-worker, more than a first-century doctor. He becomes psychologist and spiritual director.

He gazes beyond the obvious malady to which this fellow is chained and sees something else. His question is aimed at the man’s fear, not of remaining ill, but of the unknown world that might just open to him in the face of his healing. To be healed is to rejoin society. It is to refuse the Hogwart’s sorting hat from placing you once again into the House of Sufferin’. It is to relinquish the comfortable role of pitied and pitiful, dependent on the succoring cries of others, and take up one’s place responsibly as contributor and co-builder of a just and compassionate world.

The Spirit of God is revealing to me just how long I have sat beside my own Beth-zatha (see Jn. 5:2ff) with the expectation of healing but full of excuses for why it shouldn’t have or hasn’t yet happened. The brooding and mysterious artist persona, complete with philosopher-poet mystique and generous helping of eyes-down, hood-up melancholy is no longer a big enough hiding place for the overwhelming presence of this question, posed by Jehovah-Rapha (God, our healer).

Perhaps it’s about timing, we must wait until our own “fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4)? Perhaps God is content, as in the case of Job, to let us sit in our sackcloth and ashes long enough to remove all doubt that we’re so buried that only another can save us? Perhaps it’s just “our turn?”

Says Marilyn Gardiner, “We sit, often for years, with our paralysis. It may not be physical paralysis, but it is just as debilitating and defeating as physical paralysis. It prevents us from truly living, from being who we are called to be.”*

Whatever the case, I am ready to answer ‘yes’ to the question of Jesus. I am ready to shed one skin, now old and overused, and don a better one.  I am ready to see what has always existed just below the surface of my murky water. 

I think I’m ready to say ‘yes.’

I’m ready to say ‘yes.’

I say, ‘yes.’


Will you?


*Excerpted from Marilyn R. Gardiner’s wonderful blog, Communicating Across Boundaries

Going Home, and the Way There

It was 1989. My wife, Rae, and I had just completed a call of duty as mission workers to youth at Granton Baptist Church, Edinburgh. We enjoyed our first anniversary on Culloden Moor, near Inverness and were now enjoying a few weeks to just explore. I recall quite fondly the first time we stood together within the ruins of Tintern Abbey, not far from her birthplace in Wales. The mystery of belonging, and the sheer weight of home was overwhelming.

Tintern Abbey, Wales
Tintern Abbey, Wales

A Celt at heart, I think and write a great deal about the spirituality of ‘home‘ and the ache it engenders. The human heart is uniquely designed to yearn. It knows what it wants and diligently seeks it out – sometimes in unsavory, even desperate, ways. Our sacred procurements can quickly become what derails us from procurement of the sacred. But God knows our heart and the passions to which it is given, both good and bad.

What do you think of when you think of ‘home?’ A family room, lavishly bedecked with Christmas finery? A dining room table around which sit the people who grace your life? A certain place to which you return for solace when life goes south? For Rae, my wife of twenty-seven years, it is Britain. We both grew up in Calgary, Alberta on the uneven foothills that slowly crawl their way up the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. But the ancient Celtic hillsides, grey and mournful skies, and songful souls of Wales are for her, home.

Calgary, Alberta
Calgary, Alberta

We met while in mutual mourning. I had just lost my father to cancer a few months earlier. She was a girl in the throes of anguish, watching her mother waste away with the same plight. Rae is an only child, not because that was the desire of her parents, but because she was the only one to survive of numerous pregnancies. A survivor she remains to this day.

Only-children learn to be self-sustaining, imaginative, and scrappy in order to live their lives outside the interdependency of other kids in the family. With the lack of siblings, they often grow deeply independent, and extremely close to their parents, taking on signs of maturity well before others. All this is true of Rae. 

She lost her mom in August of 1986, almost a year after I lost my dad. She and her dad, now alone, forged a new life together on their own. In a sense, Rae took over many of the aspects of care and mutual friendship that previously existed between her parents. They often spent evenings simply crying together. Her father was lost without his partner, and the many tendernesses known only to lovers. His habitual journey from kitchen to bedroom every morning with tea and toast for his wife was now enjoyed by Rae. In honor of this tradition, I bring her coffee every morning. These little things help keep the big things in place.

The friendship born of the mutual bond of grief has lasted to this day. Since losing her parents, any family of origin are gone. In a sense, she is alone on this continent. To help her contextualize this and many other competing voices within her, she started writing a novel a little over three years ago. It is, of course, based in the UK.

Rae, my writer, wifey pal
Rae, my writer, wifey pal

Because I so keenly identify with her longing for home, and because, as a writer myself, I am her biggest fan, it has been my desire to help her return. I have developed a Giveforward crowd-based fundraising campaign to assist in getting her back to Britain where she may visit her remaining relatives, and finish research for her book.

If you feel as pulled toward home as we do, please consider making a donation, however small, to help her feet once again touch her own hallowed ground. You may do so here.

Diolch yn fawr iawn (thank you very much in Welsh)

Picture of Calgary found here

I’ll Carry You: Companions On the Dark Journey

Just recognizing how utterly dependent I am on the companionship and wisdom of others.


He no longer knew the day. There was no more separation between the sweet, calm of morning light and the creeping fingers of night. All had turned to the grey ooze of nothingness. For him there was only the long, unending dark of time’s unwieldy march onward, onward, ever onward – the relentlessness of burning necessity. All that once was had thrust its long, oily arm down his parched throat and wrenched from him all remaining strength. Hope was but a word, void of substance, reality’s parody of happier men in better days.

Or so it seemed.

There was another; a soul knit to him not by mere chance, but by sheer devotion. It was the kind of centripetal friendship known only among the angels and those about to face their doom. The lostness of his friend only served to drive deeper the tent peg of determination into the heart…

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