Lazarus Expanse

The humbled whisper of sorrow,

lives not in the hot flame.

Just as,

a tear shed in compassion

for another

is perhaps

 a vast lake, able

to quench

the dry throat

of the repentant.

. . .

A lavender scent filled the air as the rich man slid the new purple fabric over his shoulders.  The horizon was slowly swallowing the last beams of light.  Dinner would be laid out soon and tonight like every other night was going to be a feast.  A servant showed him the guest list.  Scanning the names with his eyes he saw that no one on the list was wealthier than him, “Very good,” he whispered under a smirk, “very good.”

The cool night air sent breezes over the dinner party.  They all sat in a circle around a large fire controlled by ornate stones.  Laughing they gorged themselves past the emptiness of hunger, past the dulled pressure of a full stomach, and into the realm of vomiting onto disheveled plates. “Get me more!” the rich man shouted, “Get me more at once!”

Below the balcony in the darkness was Lazarus.  He pressed his rotten body against the cold stone of the palace.  He was engulfed in pain.  Sores littered his body like wet leaves stuck to his gray flesh.  Weakness prevented him from being able to walk or sleep.  His last night on Earth would be spent groaning in a pile of trash.  All the while he whispered, “Dear God, I am so sorry.  I am so sorry…”

The servants emptied the trash from the dinner party onto the trash heap.  Warm vomit and chewed bread splattered all over the dying beggar.  Far above, the rich man laughed watching his servant take no notice of the beggar in his trash heap.  Dogs heard the clanking commotion of the plates and hurried over to eat the scraps.  They licked Lazarus’s body as he died.

Lazarus felt his soul slip his out of his body, like a weary traveler shedding a tattered and soiled coat.  He pain was instantly forgotten and he fell asleep in his new home of light and peace.  He stood upon a balcony of light overlooking a great void.  He noticed a ball of purple light falling into a distant lake that glowed red with flame.

Death tore the rich man from of his young body like a scab being removed from a wound.  The shock of the moment was over in a flash.  He felt his soul become engulfed in flames as if it were his very own skin.  Pain overwhelmed his senses.  His throat soon became dry from screaming. Seeing Lazarus across the  expanse he began to call out.  “Please! Get me water! Lazarus dip your finger in water and bring it to me!”

“No one can traverse the expanse that separates us,” an old man answered as he walked up and stood next to Lazarus.

“Then, at least send Lazarus to my family!  My brothers, I need to warn them about this awful place!”

“If they haven’t listened to those who were already sent with the message, then they would not listen to someone who has returned from the dead.”

The rich man became angry at the old man and began shouting and cursing.  Soon he began puking purple filth, as searing flames licked all over his burning body.

. . .

Copyright © 2019 Zachary W. Gilbert

Ferrari full of groceries

In 2003 Professor Dunsmore pulled me aside in the 4 fourth floor stairwell, “Zach, it breaks my heart watching you pursue useless things.”

I was a few hours late to class because I was busy finishing some extra work at the print shop.  I paused in confusion on my way up the stairs.  “What do you mean?  I am a hard worker, I always…”

He broke my words with a caring smile, “You are wasting energy on the wrong things.  You are a Ferrari stuck in gridlock traffic hauling groceries.”

Now 16 years later, I realize that Professor Dunsmore may have been onto something.  I have been playing it safe my entire adult life.  I pour energy into things that I know I can win.  Simple things.  Grocery things.  I apologize to the weak when I attempt to excel.  When I don’t get the same fair treatment others get, when I am confused as to why I scare people, when I get that ache in my chest that feels like my heart is trying to fold itself into my spine, I realize… I don’t belong here.  I belong on the open road.  Writing books.  People can not define my reality or choose where or when I will be successful.  God gave me a gift, and gave me that job.  I have been foolishly handing the reins of my life to someone else.  “Here take this.  Define me.  Guide me. Promote me.  Love me.  Compliment me.”  I only hope God forgives my stupidity.  The reins of my life have been tossed to the ground yet again.  This time when I pick them up, I am going to hold onto them.  I am going to get to work, and I mean really get to work.

Professor Dunsmore was an ex-FBI agent / attorney that knew a thing or two about people in the world.  He saw me sticking out like a sore thumb from the abundance of mediocrity.  Yes, my drawing skills were sub-par and I was average with my 3D animation skills, but he saw something in the way I could tell a story.  He could sense the potential lying dormant in a safe locked up storage room deep in my heart.  I though I was keeping it protected,  by avoiding difficulty and potential rejection.  In reality, I was killing myself slowly inside every day because I wouldn’t let my talents live.  My purpose is not to play it safe, and that will always leave me skewed and disproportionate in safe places.  God made me tall.  God made me bold.  God made me an encouraging story teller.  Every second I avoid doing those things 100%, I am a thief.  A despicable coward.  My gifts were not given to me to be locked away in storage.  They belong to other people;  to inspire, encourage, and protect them.

Talent is only a tiny seed, genetically formatted to grow into something massive.  A seed needs nutrients, sunlight, water, and time.  A seed encased in concrete will never do anything.  One day someone is going to come looking for fruit from a tree that is not there.  People will be starved and without my contributions to the world because I was scared.

I ask God for things that would violate my purpose, and I get crushed when I don’t get them.  All this time I have wasted chasing easy things has to stop.  Writing is hard.  Telling the tale of ‘what was it like to be human’ is a daunting task.

What if the 17th book I write will be the one that gives my readers a good representation of the question?  Aren’t those 16 failures bigger victories than any mediocre prize I might scrounge up playing it safe.  The thrill is in the journey of letting talent rise up and live.  Fear and ache will dissolve with disciplined repetition, muscle memory will take over and endurance will rise.

The groceries only make me fat and slow, wasting my time.  It’s time to feed this hungry Ferrari the open road it was built for.

. . .

Zachary W. Gilbert

Copyright © 2019

Fabric of Humanity

If you are selling something, wouldn’t it be wise to sell the benefits?  If I were to tell the tale of a black sports car flying up a winding mountain road in the summer air, I might refer to the feeling of floating, gliding through the hot dry air, a cool breeze making my hair dance.  I certainly would not even consider telling someone, that if they don’t drive, they will be walking, and they will get run over, and their blood with cover the pavement.  Would I even go so far as to cackle about their demise?  Sounds ridiculous right?

Apply that concept to the notion of heaven and hell.  Wouldn’t someone who claims to love God and his most precious creation (people!) want to show them the benefits of the christian life.  Why then, so often are my ears attacked by angry people yelling angry threats about the worst possible demise of a human being?  “Your going to Hell” they shout.  Spiting angry fire swirling around words and threats. Do people have a say in God’s punishments?  They joke and jab, laugh and condemn to people who perhaps have never cracked open a bible.  This makes me consider that they really aren’t familiar with the idea and character of God.

I value people, to me, I think they have something of value way beyond their physical bodies.  A soul.  In my mind, souls drive the cars we call bodies.  The best way to sell God, and Christianity is show that you value the person beyond their format.  Talk is cheap, so very cheap.  I have many atheist friends that have a very good point about scientific research.  Things must be observed and proved.  What better way to prove God, than to show his values and principles to everyone, everyday.  I show and prove God with the way I treat people.

The fabric of humanity is the clothing of the soul, and everyone deserves a shot at heaven.  I never want to stand in between them and God.   If perhaps, I understood the vile and terrible place called Hell, why would I wish it upon anyone?  It simple, I wouldn’t.

. . .

Copyright © 2018 Zachary  W. Gilbert




Seduction of the Sacrifice

To conjure evil, to hurt another, to kick God in the face, is to be human.  Yet, sin is expensive.  It costs something.  The bull brought for sacrifice can no longer breed quality livestock.  Remember, that God demands the best of the best, to forgive the sin, that is the worst of the worst.  So why do we ask for the Bull back.  Sin, does damage.  Wounded hands, thorned brow, whipped back, loss of so much blood, and death.  We trade a sacrifice with God for forgiveness.  The magnitude of sin is measured by the magnitude of the loss of the sacrifice.  We beg God for forgiveness, yet sometimes we ask to get back the sacrifice.  The vile vomit that God pulled us up from by answering another prayer, we ask to go back into that viscous chunky rot to regain something we think we have lost.  To acknowledge the sacrifice is to move away from the sin.  Perhaps a job, a really good job is left by choice because of an intolerance for stealing, anger evoked, or a time commitment that causes a disconnect from family or church, or affair with a co-worker.  Whatever the case, if God delivers and calls for a sacrifice, it is over.  Done.  I don’t believe that God would ever call for a marriage, a church, or a child.  But Christians must realize that he may demand a building, money, pride, jobs, cars, perhaps even health.  Sin is expensive, and the bill was so high that only the son of the judge could offer a sacrifice to exceed the magnitude of evil.  Accept it and honor it.  To beg for the bull in prayer is to insult the ultimate sacrifice.  Jesus doesn’t belong to us.  We didn’t earn his sacrifice, or even deserve it.  He offered up himself, all we can do is accept, and allow sin to be murdered on an alter and burned, never to be tasted of again.

Copyright © 2018 Zachary W. Gilbert


The Difficult Drink

I was in a coffee shop and I saw an old man quietly reading a book in the corner.   A pair of women argued at a nearby table.   One was aged and haggard, her face showed lines from years of frowning.  The other was young, her eyes were puffy, and her tears wet the wood of the table.

“God wants you to give him another change,” the old woman’s shrill voice stung the air.

The young woman stared at the floor, “I can’t, I can’t he has hurt me for the last time.”

I grow tired of this sludge poisoning the mood,”  his eyes never left the pages as he spoke to the two women.  “God wants?  An arrogant notion indeed…”  he turned the page and  laughed to himself.

“This is none of your business, please don’t interrupt me!  I am doing God’s work!”

Ahh yes, I see…” his atheistic mind churned behind his steady eyes, as he placed his book on arm of the chair he was sitting in.

Everyone in the coffee shop grew quiet, and listened to the booming roll of the old man’s voice. “I find it interesting, the concept of God.   How is it that those who claim to know and love an all powerful creator, take matters into their own hands?  If there exists an immeasurable amount of power what could humanity possibly add?  I assume you are trying to save a doomed marriage.  I have seen the angry people yelling, killing, and hurting those who would deny their God.  Yet, if in fact the peopled world is the belongings of a Creator, who has the right to disturb or disrupt on behalf of said Creator.  If you believed that which you squawk, your anger would subside, and the only action you would have left to take is the only action you are supposed to take, talk to your Creator.  Yet, you impose your will.  You mettle and wound the weak on God’s behalf.  Show me  your mandates, do you have any documentation of your divine orders?  Who has given you authority over creation?  If you trust and believe as you have said, then perhaps you should wait and watch to see the proof of God in his response to your praying.  Yet you pray, and then you meddle and talk and meddle.  Do you wait for this God of yours to have a chance?   If you are always moving, then perhaps the stage behind the curtain is truly an empty void, but if there is something beyond life, behind the curtain, maybe you should get off of the stage of humanity, and be quiet while the rest of us have a look. Isn’t your job to get people off the streets and into the theater?  You ask me to believe, yet how can I, when you do not believe yourself?

The old man rose to leave, and the angry old woman blocked his path, “The bible is my authority!  You are going to hell!”

He smiled as he slung his coat over his arm, “No my dear, it is 1 in the afternoon, I am going home to take a nap.”

Copyright © 2017 Zachary W. Gilbert