At first glance, Foggy’s afraid that a morbid little forest of cereal-box tombstones is growing in the arts and crafts room. (Bible Crafts with Mr. Murdock!, the poster outside the door proclaims, created by someone with a pack of fluorescent markers and a “go big or go home” attitude towards curlicues and flourishes.) But he’s relieved, upon further inspection, to realize they’re meant to be Moses’ stone tablets. Some already have “thou shalt nots” inscribed in black magic marker; others are still shiny-wet with gray tempera paint.
Mr. Murdock sits on the edge of his desk, shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows, while a whirlwind of small Catholics whips around pushing in chairs, throwing away scraps of wet newspaper, and rinsing paintbrushes, chattering excitedly all the while.
Either the summer sunlight streaming in through the windows is contributing to some kind of halo effect, or there’s glitter in his hair. Foggy edges closer to Matt, out of the path of a dark-haired girl who’s frowning with concentration as she walks a dangerously full glass of muddy paintbrush water towards the sink.
“So I see you have a table full of commandments over there,” Foggy says. “What’s really happening here, Mr. Murdock? Bible arts and crafts, or Foundations of Law 101?”
Your body sloped
into mine is a timeworn questionmark . Marriage makes libraries out of
bedrooms. Your chest is the heavy atlas of a nomad. The water doesn’t promise
Narcissus his blindness, I say. You promise you can still teach me things. Like
what? Like stealing car batteries and the hollywood kiss; tiptoeing, flower-footed
on the spine of a staircase. The lynx of light fishtails through the lily-stenciled lace of
the curtains. Moss has enveloped the lip of the windowsill in a petite topiary
of velour. If I look up, the blackbirds orchestrate the cirrus into an omnibus
of blinking fermatas. Music is how I measure distances. You are two and half
nocturnes away. I sway – a mandarin lantern; a marblepaper dragonfly. You are turning
darker than the debate between my hair and your hands. I read you the first
stanza of a ghazal penned in Persian. A language that makes boats out of our
bones. A language that silhouetted a thousand and one storms for our twin ships. A
language that lassoes the rope of my tongue through the picket fence of your
perfect teeth. The language that nests my wrists in the sierra of your
shoulderblades. I claw a verse on the green amaranth of these cliffs of moher.
The scalp of ice cracks and the city under its starved skin is ash & fur.
This is how I hide in you; a small dog sleeping under the snow; a boy burying
his head in a helmet of bleached turtle shells. Love humbles me with its
paranoia. My mother recites Ghalib in my dreams, reminds me that Ka'ba is a compass, nothing more. Your arms knit into each other to form
me my Moses basket. Stone doesn’t sing. So we make a God from whatever
hands that choose to cradle our grief in a dulcet lullaby.
The margins in my bible are filled to the brim with notes, from Genesis to Revelation, I scribble in the margins, the blank spaces between two columns, in the place between sentences.
I circle words that jump out to me, at first in pen, then in pencil when I realized I had better give myself a way out to correct things.
When God created Adam and the first Woman who may be Eve and may be Lilith, she wrote a secret in the scriptures.
She said “breathe life into the dirt I mold between my hands, press in the fingernails and eye sockets, curve out the grooves, look into their soul”.
I take dirt from the garden behind my apartment, I pour water into the little hole I dig in the ground, I massage the wet soil between my hands until they become sticky and moist, the oils on my finger tips working into the dry cracks of the little person between my palms.
I press in the fingernails with my pinky, curve out the grooves between his thighs, I look into his soul.
Mama talks with me from across the white table as I scribble in my little black bible.
She points out the little mysteries hidden in the stories.
How Moses struck stones to bring forth water and how if I wet stone, I make rain and sustenance.
How the priests in the temple lit candles and prayed for seven days and what they said happened.
How Jesus would take bread and wine and put his whole life worth of stories into it, give it to his people, and when they ate they saw things and felt things and spoke in tongues and talked to the dead and got knowledge from God.
God came from Africa you know? She would say.
God was a woman with skin black as the rich earth she walked on. She would go on little trips throughout the land, walking along the grooves and paths dreaming of ways into creation.
God was a Black Madonna.
God was a Queen in humble clothing, sometimes she had serpent tails, she sat by the river and made little people out of mud and then breathed soul into them.
For zilleniose because we’ve been yelling at each other about it forever and a day. Dipper trippin on the dipnip
Henry should have known something was up when Dipper popped back into the living room after a summon.
The fact that Henry could see Dipper meant he must have gotten a substantial sacrifice. He was….swaying on his feet.
Henry put down his newspaper. “Dip, are you okay?”
Dipper ground his hand in his forehead. “No…yes….ugh, I don’t know, that guy sacrificed a pig to me, and then he blew a lot of smoke in my face, and all he wanted was a Red Hot Chili Peppers LP.”
“You had…a classic rock junkie kill a pig for you just to get an old vinyl record.”
“And he blew a bunch of smoke in my face; said I should live a little.”
Henry looked at Dipper up and down.
“You look like you’re about to throw up.”
Dipper swayed. “I…think I’m going to lie down a bit.” He reached over to Stan’s recliner and snitched the blanket Stan kept there, before going to the one empty corner of the room, making a blanket nest, and promptly falling asleep.
Henry shrugged, and went back to reading the paper. Mabel came in a minute later with some knitting for her shop, and snuggled up next to Henry.
The three of them sat and/or laid in a corner with one’s face smooshed up against the wall for a few minutes until over the baby monitor they could hear one of the kids-probably Acacia-start to cry.
Before Henry could even start to get off the couch to take care of the kids, Dipper shot up from his position on the floor. His pupils were completely blown, so that his eyes looked almost entirely gold, and his movements were…off. Dipper looked straight up, as if he could see through the floorboards up to the attic and the nursery upstairs.
He blipped out of existence.
He blipped back a second later and….and….
There was no other way to put it.
Dipper was scruffing Acacia, his teeth clenched around the material of the back of her onesie. Acacia herself was snuffling, but otherwise fine, seemingly content to swing ever so slightly from her uncle’s mouth.
Gently, ever so gently, Dipper laid Acacia down on the blanket he had been laying on (a distant part of Henry noticed that even being completely fucking weird and out of it and stoned, oh god was Dipper stoned?-he still laid his three month old niece down in a way that she could support herself and be fine).
Dipper blipped again and came back a second later and laid Willow next to Acacia. At this point, Mabel was frozen stiff, unable to process the (in her eyes) absolute adorableness of what was happening in front of her. Henry was worried that his wife was about to, quite literally, explode.
One final blip, and Dipper came back in the room, with a sleeping Hank held in his mouth. Mabel by this time had snatched her camera out of what seemed like thin air and was already snapping pictures.
Henry, who thought he was used to weird shit by now, was speechless on the couch.
Dipper laid down on his side in the blanket nest, quickly settled the kids so they were lying against his stomach, and draped a wing over them.
Mabel had an actual tear in her eye from the feels.
Acacia hiccupped once or twice, but then settled down back into sleep along with Willow and Hank, who were still asleep. Dipper’s eyes drifted shut as well.
Then he started…started…
“Mabel,” Henry said, finally breaking his silence. “Is Dipper purring?”
“Like a chainsaw!” his wife gleefully confirmed.
Mabel caught the look on Henry’s face as he stared at his brother-in-law, curled around his children and purring like an outboard motor.
“Don’t worry, this happens occasionally. Someone probably had some Yggdrasil herb at his summons. He’ll be like this for a few hours.”
What Dipper mentioned earlier clicked in Henry’s head.
“He mentioned someone blew smoke in his face at his last summons.”
Mabel nodded. “And he gets so embarrassed when he snaps out of it and it is great.”
Weakly, Henry asked, “This has happened before?”
“Enough for me to call it dipnip rather than Yggdrasil herb. He gets so huffy when I call it that though.”
Henry looked back over at his brother-in-law, still purring loud enough for him to hear it across the room and feel it in the floorboards.
He had to admit, it was kind of cute, in a really weird way.
Dipper blinked back awake, looked at Hank very intently, studying his features, and then began to lick at his hair.
Hank woke up under the attention, and chortled a bit (the triplets had begun in the last week to laugh and coo), as his uncle, for lack of a better term, groomed him.
If Dipper ever, Henry decided, ever said anything about cats again, he was going to bring up this episode because Dipper was pretty much a cat right now.
Willow, while her eyes were still closed, began to make the snuffly sounds that all four of them had learned meant she was hungry.
“I got it Mabes,” Henry said. He went over to where Dipper was in the corner and went to pick up Willow.
Dipper froze, visibly stiffened, and looked at Henry. He exuded palpable waves of malice and anger, so much so that Henry felt sick to his stomach.
(The last time he had felt Dipper this angry and upset, it was at a forest right before he proposed to Mabel and a demon had been about to eat his foot)
Henry kept his cool. “Dipper, I need to take Willow for a second and then I promise to put her back.”
Dipper actually hissed, the hair on his head standing on end, and the black entirely gone from his eyes. Henry started to reach for Mabel anyway and came within two seconds of having two sets of shark teeth clamp on his hand. Henry jumped back a bit, and Dipper curled up even tighter around the kids, glaring at Henry and rumbling angrily.
Henry heard the snap of the camera and he wheeled around to see Mabel there with the camera.
“Mabel, is now the time?”
“Henry, Dipper thinks the kids are his and that is so cute.”
“I’m pretty sure I would have lost a finger if he had gotten me.”
Mabel put the camera in to Henry’s hands. “Let me try.”
She went up, and ignored Dipper’s warning rumbles. She reached for Willow (now fully awake and promising to erupt any second into wailing) and once again Dipper hissed at her.
Mabel stood back for a second, and looked at Dipper. “Dippingsauce, you are being ridiculous. I just need to feed your niece, and then I will put her back okay?”
Dipper looked at his sister for a long second, and then nodded, reluctantly letting her take Willow.
But, Henry noticed as he settled back down into the couch, Mabel made sure to feed Willow in the living room rather than their bedroom like usual, making sure to stay in eyeshot of Dipper. Indeed, he did spend the entire time watching Mabel worriedly.
(Henry supposed he should be worried about the kids, but honestly, he wasn’t. Worried about himself and his hands? Yes. The kids? No. Even stoned off his gourd Dipper would never hurt the babies, as proven by recent events.)
Mabel finished feeding Willow, burped her, and then placed her gently back against Dipper. Dipper sniffed Willow’s hair, and began grooming her furiously, purring once again.
“You know, deep down, he thinks the babies are his,” Mabel confided to Henry in a quiet voice.
Henry thought about it for a minute, as he saw Dipper wrap his wing even closer to Acacia, who had briefly shivered from the chill in the living room.
“I’m okay with that. As long as he doesn’t try and bite my fingers off again.”
Mabel grinned. “Why do you think I took pictures? Not just for the cute.”
She thrust the camera in the air.
“FOR THE BLACKMAIL!” she cried, somehow miraculously not waking up the babies.
(the next day, when Dipper wondered aloud why his head hurt so much and he had red hair in his teeth, Mabel grinned.
LOVE IT MOSES! Even though he got eliminated, he should be proud at how far he got. He’s got talent an is better than 99.9% of these rappers dominated the charts now in days. I hope he goes far and wish him much success.
If you have been around Christianity for any length of time, you have heard this phrase. We are told to “speak truth in love” in Ephesians 4:15, but when you read the verse within the context of the whole chapter, it is preceded by Paul explaining that, in Christ, we become mature in our actions and speech. We aren’t supposed to be led by “human schemes” or “craftiness” as Paul suggests, but to grow into Christ.
Yet I find that people “speak truth in love” often for their own personal agenda. Whether it is to make someone else feel bad about his or her own personal sin, or to build themselves up by stating the negative (yet obvious) truth. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak the truth, but rather we are lacking on the “in love” part.
I recently spoke with a Christian therapist. He was explaining how a client of his admitted to having an abortion. Knowing he was a Christian, the next set of words that came out of her mouth were, “I know, I know, it’s a sin, don’t judge me.” This therapist was taken aback. Those weren’t going to be his next set of words. He was planning on saying something more like, “I am so sorry you went through that” followed by, “There is forgiveness and grace in Jesus.” True and loving words indeed.
But doesn’t Christ tell us to judge righteously? Sure, but there is a time, place, and method to doing it. Most of the time, like in the situation with that therapist above, the sinner already knows the truth. The way we shape our words and the things we bring to the forefront of their mind, truly tell a person what our intentions are. Are they to incriminate with negativity and judgment, or to help lift that person up, in love, to repentance and the grace that we too have so freely received? Is the truth spoken because we love ourselves or because we love Christ? I often think how Jesus handled this in John 8.
John 8:3-11 - The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Jesus spoke truth in love. He recognized what the woman did was a sin. He recognized that she deserved condemnation. But, ultimately, Jesus is the truth. And in His love, He recognized that what she needed at that moment was not a declaration of guilt (she knew that part already), but a decree of forgiveness.
The truth about morals and what God commands needs to be told to the world. If we don’t preach it, who will? But the truth does not supersede love, for Christ is the truth and Christ is love. The perfect blend. We are called to be “mature” like Him. So the next time you see sin in the world, whether it be in your worst enemy or your best friend, speak truth in love. When you truly do that, you will find that Jesus’ name comes up a lot.