The Art of Goofing Off: Episode 6

Before I get into this, an explanation for the radio silence on the poetry front:

Between projects, everything goes florp for me for a while until stuff settles down and I go to the next thing. It always happens. I always pretend to myself that it’s not going to happen, and thus forget to make contingencies.

So, after my huge editing push for Like Mist Over the Eyes, I wrote a bunch for an entirely unrelated story, got to the end of what I’d planned so far for that and then FLORP. Until this week, where things unflorped.

On the plus side, I now have three poems waiting for their turn to go up here – the next is from that unrelated story I worked on as everything was sliding florpways.

My next project is the Kickstarter for Like Mist Over the Eyes, which I’ve done the major structural work for and will now make it pretty and presentable. In other words: poetry will start up again either next week or the week after, with a fun poem that actually rhymes and stuff. Kickstarter will start up… soon. Keep an eye out.

Until then, here’s some of what I’ve been enjoying this month.

Stories on the Big Screen (Movies)

The Martian

The whole point of this movie, imo, was “how is he going to figure out how to survive this?” Plus potatoes and disco music.

And that’s really it. It’s fun, you try to figure out how they’ll solve the next problem before they do, and the humour keeps things light. This isn’t a cerebral or angst-filled exploration into the hardships of being left alone for months on an inhospitable planet. It’s an amusing look into what kind of dangers to survival might be faced, and how cleverly someone might work to face them.

Also Jason Bourne grows potatoes on Mars. Like. How much better can it get?

Interactive Stories (Video Games)

Cities: Skylines

Have you ever played games like Age of Empires, Empire Earth, or Stronghold? You’d build a civilization or a castle and then conquer everyone else. I loved those games as a kid. Except the conquering part. I just wanted to build my buildings and figure out a successful economy, but these games weren’t designed for that. (Well, Stronghold 2 for sure has a peaceful route you can go which is hard as heck – I still have not managed to get past getting all the food for the king’s upcoming feast.)

Apparently, what I was missing in my life was a city simulator. Which Cities: Skylines is. You build a city. That’s it.

Ok, so there’s the whole part of figuring out your budget, planning roads so you don’t get pileups on the highway, building enough fire stations so your industrial areas don’t constantly burn down, making sure everyone’s supplied with electricity and water…

All the things.

Without going to war.

I can play five hours of this in one sitting and it only feels like minutes. So. Much. Fun :D

A Godlike Good Kid

This is either a video game in comic book form or a comic book in video game form. It’s hard to tell. Either way, it’s fun, short, and free. And I liked it so much I left a review on iTunes. I’ve never reviewed anything before on iTunes. Me and reviewing (anywhere) only happens when whatever I’m reviewing grabbed me somehow, in either a good or bad way. With this game, it was definitely a good way. Go play the thing.

Written Stories (Books)

The Rook

A friend of mine lent this book to me, describing it a “saving the world through really good paperwork.”

She then informed me that it’s a fantasy novel and, when asked what kind of fantasy stuff is in it, she replied “everything.”

This then led to her telling me that the main character lost her memory and has to figure out how without letting anyone figure out she lost her memory all while working with a secret British organization that deals with and covers up supernatural phenomena – among the most memorable of these is a purple fungus. Moss. Thing. (I spent a lot of the book delightedly going “what?!?” at all the weird things in it.)

Also, the main character’s name is Myfanwy, which she pronounces “Miffany.”

But, really, my friend had me at “saving the world through really good paperwork.”

Which is a perfect description of a book I ended up enjoying greatly.

Digital Visual Stories (Webcomics)

Llamas in Pajamas

This is the most serious comic by my most serious friend Piper Bates. Very serious. Much important. Such llama. Wow

The llamas are adorable and ridiculous. The humour is lighthearted and in excellent dosages for your laughter needs. So go read about llamas doing the most serious of serious things.

Auditory Art (Music)

Fire of Your Spirit by Sarah Liberman

More than the music (a Messianic worship song – aka, a song by a Jew who follows Jesus as the promised Messiah – and an utterly beautiful at that), I love this music video. And oh boy are you not ready for how much I love this music video. Gird thy loins. Also watch it, because I’m about to tell you about the symbolism going on in here.

(For those who want a description of the song before they watch the video/read the following bonus extra blog post:

This song is both prayer and praise, a meditation and a cry of joy. The music video sets it firmly into the history which led to Jesus, and the lyrics sound like they could have come straight from the Bible. It doesn’t pull its symbolism from thin air – all of it comes from Jewish tradition and history. All of it points directly to Jesus. It can’t help but tell of him.

I’ve never seen anything bring all these elements together so beautifully, and I didn’t know how much I wanted to until I watched this and my heart couldn’t contain my joy.)

The Symbolism in the “Fire of Your Spirit” Music Video

We open up with the Tent of Meeting. When the Israelites travelled through the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land (aka, the land promised by God to them, aka what would become Israel), they set this tent up in the middle of their camp. This was where God’s presence was. As we see this tent, we hear (a? the?) Aaronic Benediction – Aaronic referring to Aaron, Moses’ brother. Moses being the guy who led the Israelites out of Egypt.

Already, we can see the longing: a promise yet to be fulfilled, the earthly dwelling place of God, and a blessing given as the people journey towards the promise God has given them.

A man who I suppose is a Levite (I’m a little fuzzy on this detail. He might be a priest? He serves God in an official capacity, at any rate), goes to the Tent of Meeting to perform his duties, which starts with dipping a bowl into a basin of water. While he does, a woman sneaks into the Tent of Meeting.

I don’t remember how it went down with the Tent of Meeting, but I do know that later, in the Temple, there were inner courts and outer courts. Men were allowed all the way into the inner courts, but women could only go as far as the outer courts. As I saw this part, it struck me as a risky move by this woman. She knew she could be kicked out, but she desired to be in God’s presence so much that she was willing to risk that.

Inside the tent, we see a number of things. There’s a cloth divider decorated with golden winged beings, a gold box in front of it with burning incense inside. To the right is a gold menorah. To the left, cups and bread. As the woman steps in, the lyrics begin and we discover why this woman is inside.

“Fill me with your Spirit, Lord.”

She runs her hand along the box with the flame inside.

“Place the power of Your Word within me.
Fill me, fill me.”

She is calling on God’s power, strength, and character to live inside her. She longs not just to step into God’s presence, but to be filled with it.

Outside, the man brings up water. Water, which is used to cleanse – only the clean can go before God. He lifts his arms to God.

Inside the Tent of Meeting, the woman isn’t in God’s presence yet. That’s on the other side of the cloth divider. But she considers the flame – the sweet smell of praises to God – and the camera pans over the bread and the cups. I don’t know the Jewish significance of these, but I see in them the bread and wine of the Last Supper, the bread and wine I eat and drink during Communion, to remember Jesus: his body broken, his blood shed for the sins of the world.

“I will bow down before the throne of God.”

As we hear this line, the woman bows in front of the cloth divider – the veil between her and the Holy of Holies, the place where God resides. She kneels down as close to that place as she can get and praises him.

The only time anyone ever entered the Holy of Holies (even later, in the Temple) was on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On that day, the high priest would cleanse himself before entering God’s presence and go inside with a rope tied around his waist (the rope was in case he had missed something and he died in God’s presence. If that happened, the people outside would be able to drag his body out).

As this woman places her hands close to the veil, almost close enough to touch, she comes as physically close to God’s presence as is possible for her to do while remaining respectful. All the while, she is calling on her Lord (Adonai) who is above all to fill her with His Spirit.

By this point of the video, I’m crying. The longing of this woman runs so deep. The moments when she falls to her knees, when she runs her hands along the veil, are particularly poignant for me. Restrained desire. She wants more than anything to be in God’s presence, and yet she dare not enter the place where he resides. She kneels outside God’s throne room and cries out to Him to fill the deepest places in her heart. All I can think of is how, when Jesus was crucified, the veil in the Temple tore in two, opening the Holy of Holies to any who wanted to enter. My heart aches for this woman. I want to tell her of what is to come.

Because it’s not just the Promised Land the Israelites here are waiting to receive. It’s the Messiah, the redeemer as well.

Outside, the man goes to blow the shofar. I don’t know the particular symbolism of this moment, but I know it ties in with Christ as much as it does with history.

Now we come to a more familiar sight in a music video: the band from whom the music comes. The lead singer is also the woman who goes into the Tent of Meeting, and it is as if she is saying by her presence that she, too, knows what the woman in the tent does not. Here, I focused on the words:

“Fill me with your Love
Place your healing power within me
Fill me, fill me”

How many times have I called out this, even now where I can go boldly before God’s throne? How many times have I gone to him, crying out for what I wanted to experience most of all?

As we cut to the woman in the Tent of Meeting, we see her run her hands down the veil again. For a moment, we see what’s behind it: the Ark of the Covenant. Made of gold and decorated with angels, this box holds in it the tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments and gave to Moses to give to the Israelites. It holds the pure presence of God – touching it meant death because no one could go right into God’s presence and live – and is the symbol of the Old Covenant, the agreement God made with Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites.

I wish that woman could go inside. I wish she knew about the New Covenant, the agreement between God and his Son, which we can enter into and experience the benefits of through Jesus. In the Old Covenant, God had his end of the agreement, and the Israelites had theirs. They had to obey the Law to receive its promises, or else they would receive its curses. In the New Covenant, God has his end of the agreement and Jesus has the other. He upholds it perfectly, and so anyone in him has the promises and only the promises.

“Your blood purifies.
Your blood frees.”

Here, we see the man lifts a bunch of hyssop that was dipped in blood. He has killed an animal as a sacrifice to God. I think of Yom Kippur again, in the days of the Temple, when a spotless calf would be brought to the Temple. The high priest would press into its head, pressing the sins of Israel into the animal, and then he would kill it. This happened every year, because the calf could only take on the sins of the past year.

But the lyrics aren’t about the animal’s blood. This whole song is in praise and prayer to God. These lyrics are about Jesus’s blood. He took on the sins of the world, past, present, and future, and died for them. Because his blood flowed, I am purified. I am free.

And here we come to the part that gives me chills and more tears every time.

The woman still kneels before the veil and, as we hear the line “You are great and greatly to be praised,” there is a man’s hand on her shoulder. She turns to look, but there is no one there.

I know whose hand that is.

She looks around, outside the tent to find out who touched her, and there is a man (not the one who sacrificed the animal) who beckons her to follow him.

It can only be Jesus.

It can only be the answer not only to her prayer, but to the prayer of all her people.

And she follows him.

And she praises him up there in the hills, where the sun is so, so bright.

This song is both prayer and praise, a meditation and a cry of joy. The music video sets it firmly into the history which led to Jesus, and the lyrics sound like they could have come straight from the Bible. It doesn’t pull its symbolism from thin air – all of it comes from Jewish tradition and history. All of it points directly to Jesus. It can’t help but tell of him.

I wish I knew more about the all the images shown in here. There’s so much I see happening and I don’t know what it means. But what I saw and understood filled me to overflowing.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to this song, and it never, never ceases to move me. I felt like I was the woman who went into the Tent of Meeting to cry out to God, except where she wondered if she would ever see the answer to her prayer, I knew I already had it and who had given it to me. Even still, on the days when my hope fades, like hers must have, and I don’t know if I will experience what I long to, I know who to go to, as she did.

I have no idea how many times I listened to this song on repeat, crying as I sat with God and covered my face before I could finally form words. “You are” I said to him, over and over. What else could I say? And then: “You are who you say you are” over and over. There was nothing else that could possibly stand in his presence. Except one thing:

“I am who you say I am.”

It’s probably safe to say I wasn’t expecting to write an essay along with my usual for this post. Thank you for reading all of this, and I sincerely hope you’ve found stuff here that brings you joy. May you have a most excellent weekend!

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Grow Your Library

The Tree Remembers
Dreaming of Her and Other Stories
The Illuminated Heart
Hidden in Sealskin
The Kitten Psychologist Tries to Be Patient Through Email
Like Mist Over the Eyes
The Kitten Psychologist Broaches the Topic of Economics
The Kitten Psychologist