Learning to Cat

In February, I wrote here about the loss of our dear family member Gato: about how he was a cautious animal whose whole story we did not know, who became a successful kitty with a home and a family who loved him, and thus did as well as a cat may.

All the love we poured into our relationship with himand before him, T.R. and his brother Gordonis an emotion whose existence demands outlet. As my character Jon Anthony said, we have love, hate, and indifference to choose. Only love’s work is life.

So it was inevitable that when the Editress, seeing signs of lonely nervousness in our remaining furbuddy Leo, we would adopt again. Through a worthwhile agency and no-kill shelter nearby, we asked for one of the cats who needed someone most. And we met Freddy.

He had been found downtown, begging for food, and sat unclaimed in the city shelter until his stay there was up. He then transferred to another place where he would be given more time.

He spent fifteen months there, shut in a small room with one other companion, as noisy families tromped through looking for someone to adopt. He huddled. He hid. He was grasped in ways he didn’t like to be transported and put on display for adoption, and doubtless hated every bit of it because he was terrified. Freddy wasn’t good at selling himself to prospective families, and when we saw what had happened to him it broke our hearts.

I managed to sit with him while the Editress looked over some other candidates. Freddy’s nose buried itself in the crook of my arm to make the overwhelming world go away. I heard and felt him purr for the first time under the strokes of a loving hand.

That was Leap Day. This is springtime. It’s said transition to normalcy in an adopted pet will take place in stages: three days, three weeks, three months. We’re not there yet. Freddy loves Leo, but remains terrified of being seized by humans, because his memories there are bad. He’s missing out on laps and cuddles and kisses, and we’re trying to teach him. We’ll keep trying.

He’s missing out because he doesn’t understand how to cat here. Fear is dominating his perspective, and it’s frustrating to those who love him. Love keeps trying. Like water, it seeps into every opening it can find, driven by its patron spirit. Hate employs harsher methods of implanting itself, for that patron is impatient to advance works of death, and trips over itself in its lust for destruction. Sometimes, it backs off to let the dry rot of indifference work from within instead, but in the long game, the effect of either strategy is the same.

Hate tries to hide. Not like Freddy did out of fear, but with the same strategy any predator employs: to overcome with a minimum of effort once opportunity manifests. It hurts the vulnerable and oppresses the hopeless until, it schemes, God’s work of life will be crushed to dust under the weight of engineered temporal adversity.

To the enemy’s misfortune, we are surrounded by the testimony of Creation as to the work of its Craftsman, and His light is everywhere, cutting through the darkness cast by His adversary; they contest for souls through the messaging of two patron spirits. One tells us, “Stop trying to understand. This was meaningless at the start.” The less brash offers, “Your perspective is not yet broad enough to discern My purpose.”

The latter’s seed of hope can find good ground through a crack in concrete, root, grow and spread its prison into space for a life. So it goes in a work driven by love, and love keeps trying while the hate fueling works of death consumes it bearer, sputters, and dies. It’s as true in microcosm as it has been in history, and shall be through the millennium to come.

The Editress is slowly working her way with Freddy, grasping and partially lifting him during the time he consents to be petted, soothing his fears, accustoming him to closer human contact and preparing him for wonderful things just ahead. She is patient that way. Her work is also life, as I’ve seen for the best part of forty years to my benefit and that of everyone she touches.

We are learning to cat, and learning to human. We are being educated to accommodate The Way Things Are and how to hear advice whispered by the voice of the Spirit. We are learning ourselves and delving deeper into the sufficiency of Christ. Because love elsewhere didn’t stop trying, we now understand more than we did, and give God the glory.

Choose to love. -DA

*****

In production news, the Editress is finishing preparatory reading prior to this month’s launch of her editing cycle for Sean Ritter’s next release, Twenty-Four Hours to Midnight. Please check the tabs above for more information on existing titles, works in progress, and the timelines that will help you decide how you wish to read Jon, Sean, and Boone.

Easter 2020 – Lockdown Fail

It is Easter, and in a lockdown fail of cosmic proportions, Jesus is Risen. Perhaps no one in the catalog has better enunciated why this matters than Pastor Lin Shun Lun in Boone’s second novel, The Bonus Pool. Here, with extraneous content redacted to keep the novel new for those who’ve not yet read the thing, is his speech:

Madame, I thank you for the very kind introduction. I gladly accept your kind award of this great honor, although I do so on behalf of the many who labor as I do, with only the comfort of recognition unapparent in the present realm.

“We are creatures who live, you see,” he continued, “guided by perceptions. Those, in turn, are influenced by our personal perspective.”

He paused in looking out over the audience. “The perspective of a Chinese, you see, is by necessity of one surrounded by many. The long history of the peoples and cultures of my land has brought forth many philosophies from this point of view. The philosophies of men, we know, in order to find true validity must fit within the framework of the Almighty.

“Long ago, the tradition relays, a master approached the boundaries of his land mounted upon a beast of burden, seeking only solitude for his final days and weary in his heart of the ways of men. A guard there, sensing his passing greatness, entreated him to set down in a few written words a treasure for future generations.”

Lin smiled. “A work of eighty-one brief chapters, by the man who we know as Lao Tse, became the iconic Tao Te Ching. At its core, the work is a simple observation of the essence of nature, which, over the course of a long lifetime, had become apparent to one of the most observant of minds. As a result, it is one of the three preeminent philosophies in my native land to this day, two and one-half millennia later.

“You might wonder why a Christian, such as I, would emphasize what some would consider a secular philosophy.” Lin paused as if to consider the question himself. “The reason is the long success of the Church in China in relating to the reverence of balance and harmony Lao instilled in those who appreciate truth.

“Truth, you see—the collection of conventions we utilize to formulate our perspective—is determined through observation, and in turn is tempered and moderated by a wisdom telling us Truths are best understood from premise to extension, or put more simply, ascending from the foundational to the elaborate.

“Master Lao, as appropriate, began at the beginning. He wrote of the greatest truth, and the foundation of all things, whom he decreed unknowable and simply called the Tao, or ‘the Way.’ His, I assert, was a pre-revelation vision of the Divine, in the manner leading the Psalmist to observe ‘the heavens declare the Glory of God.’ As with any foundation, it is a solid base on which to build, as we in China have begun.

“Truth resides in the balance and harmony of observed realities, and the traditions of my culture have long held to those unfailing inter-relational standards. Actualities must meet examination, and coexist with the remainder of what we hold, if our philosophy is to stand.”

Lin’s hands left the podium so only his feet supported his weight. “To stand is to rest one’s center within means of support. It is the possession of balance, and we find such through harmony with our environment.”

Returning his hands to the lectern, he maintained a comfortable stance at center stage. “It is so with the successful negotiation of the human condition. To encounter success, just as Lao knew, and just as the simplest of people in China know to this day, we need foundational clarity. One needs, I assert, valid perspective. And this, we have determined, lies in understanding the tripartite nature of Creation.”

Lin’s hands made the shape of a circle then remained at the periphery. “We live in the bounds of our material existence, yet we sense, as Lao did, something more. Those, as so many things do upon reflection, often divide themselves into threes: Father, Son, and Spirit … beginning, middle and ending … Heaven, Earth and Man.”

His hands grasped the podium once more, and the man leaned forward slightly, seemingly alight from his speaking. “You have seen the circles within circles attempting to portray the everlasting balanced relationship of the yin and the yang. The icon represents also the primal journey, from darkness to the Light, again in three parts—the Light, the Dark, and the Whole. We know through the long experience of its endurance the ancient philosophy stands. As we occupy the very middle of our own three realms—Heaven, Earth, and Man between—it is, therefore, our vital challenge to find the balance point of existence.”

Illustrating his point, Lin touched his abdomen. “The center of our body is easily located. How so do we perceive the center of our spiritual existence? Where is the middle component of the tripartite? One may find it, as we in China have had great success in proclaiming, in the person of Christ Jesus. He embodied on Earth the very essence of Heaven and of Man, bringing all three into inseparable balance in his sacrifice on the Cross.”

Lin paused, smiling again. “There we see the balance point of Creation, still today as it was always, even in the time of Lao and prior. This vital component, should it be found lacking, leaves us without balance, and in danger of a fall, as with any body or soul outside the bounds of its support. In all of our journeys, from birth through life to death, we will find there is no substitute for the lack of balance. Not in any pleasure of the world, nor in our strivings, nor in our most violent contentions or in any imagined state of self-determination,” Lin concluded.

“Only through accepting this vital balance point in the existence of mankind can any entity—man, woman, family, government or league of nations—exist in harmony with that which is, and truly discover what it is to be human.”

Lin raised his hands in acceptance of the undeniable. “It has been engineered into the Great Construct, you see, from the beginning. We travel from the Darkness toward the Light, regardless of any other intent. We, who adhere to the natural flow in this, meet less resistance, encounter less misery, and carry less weight than we would otherwise. It is for the sake of the human condition we endeavor to convince others.

“What greater privilege exists, than to speak to our fellow man of that which is? What else would we do with our time, now after we have seen the Truth?” Lin smiled and bowed his head to the audience. “Thank you for this evening, and for this honor, and this opportunity. May the Light ahead and the Darkness behind show you the true nature of our journey together, as one world, under the hand of one God. In His name we pray.”

Have a blessed Easter. Choose to love. – DA

*****

In production news, the Single Candle Press Editress is reading through my remaining three titles of the catalog preparatory to beginning Content Edit for Title14/Sean5 Twenty-Four Hours to Midnight. Ritter’s face-off with ISIS will appear, God willing, later this year.

GOTR Big List of Links

Boone6/Novel12 is in full release! As promised, below are the places online where you can find Boone and Ritter’s latest adventure. Just like always, links to my catalog on major retail venues locate on the sidebar to the right.

Kindle (and trade paperback) – AppleNookKoboScribd

Thanks for reading, and Choose to Love. -DA

Ghosts of the Republic

What if both sides stopped caring about rules?

I wrote the initial draft of Novel12/Boone6 Ghosts of the Republic five years ago. This was during the end of the Obama administration, when a biased media was putting forth every effort in convincing the country that Hillary Clinton would be our next president.

Things change, don’t they? The ever-comforting fact is that more important things stay just as they are. Human nature is one of them, and that’s how my novels, addressing essential and universal questions as they do, seem to stay relevant over a wonderfully lengthy period of time.

Here we are at the end of another February. We first saw Boone on Leap Day, in what was set as 2012. She was in Terry Bradley’s office, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). She was dressed to the nines, catty, and drinking on duty. Despite everything in her poor first impressions, there was an underlying element of unlimited potential. Over the course of her character arc, she more than any other figure has fulfilled my catalogue.

In a sense, all my novels to date comprise parts of Sean’s File. He is in his backstory, throughout Jon’s Trilogy, and appears in every episode of Boone’s File as well. The man, in fact, appears in every novel I’ve written save one. Boone will return for her backstory retrospective, God willing, in my final release perhaps next year. Two titles in Sean’s File are queued for production before we get there.

For now, Ghosts of the Republic closes a number of character arcs for antagonists and protagonists admirable and despicable as their life choices warrant. I won’t expound on the mission of the novel here — better you discover that for yourself — more than I have in the afterword. Suffice it to say the title explores relevant themes in a way that makes me glad I could publish the thing before real life paralleled the story line.

Here’s the blurb:

“Homicides of prominent figures spike inside the Beltway, and D.C. is on edge.

Presented with an ultimatum from the Director of National Intelligence to find their killers or shoulder the blame, Peter McAllen’s people devote themselves to a singularly vital mission. Interested parties range from Congressional inquisitors to agents of a spiteful liberal news media determined to ferret out InterLynk’s every past move and present ally. None of them are helping.

Boone, Daniel Sean Ritter, and their allies navigate an alarming scenario. If prime movers are using threats to political stability in the world’s last superpower to institute a constitutional crisis, who can they trust?

Approx. 85,000 words / 325 pp print length”

GOTR is going live everywhere as I write this. I will post its Big List of Links once they are available.

Thank you. Choose to love. -DA

Four Thousand Days

There was no Vae Obscurum in January. Here, it seems to be the cruelest month, one prone to take our cats when their time is finished. On January 6, Epiphany, it was our dear orange buddy Gato’s turn to go ahead of us, as did T.R. on New Year’s Day 2009 and his brother Gordon three years later, on January 30.

In 2006 a homeless cat, two or three years old, tried to take up residence in a big house that surely, he must have thought, had room for him. Unfortunately, the big house was actually a hotel turned historical museum in Fredericksburg, Texas … and they no longer take boarders, feline or otherwise. There was an equipment yard in back of the place with shelter and enough human attention for a cat obviously missing his original people, ones no amount of advertising could locate. He stayed on long enough for the maintenance crew to name him Gato … Spanish for cat.

So it was Gato had only two of T.S Eliot’s prescribed three names. Denied a fancy name, he went forward with his family name and the one known only to himself, and it wasn’t long before the Editress-to-be noticed.

Gato became the official campus kitty of the National Museum of the Pacific War: fed, housed in basic but comfortable accommodations in a tool shed, and cared for by the best vets in town on the organization’s dime. He was able to enjoy the Japanese Garden of Peace once the humans were gone, and could jump from the sidewalk level to the top of its eight-foot surrounding wall using his massive back legs. His food bowl was raided by opossums, and three battles with unknown creatures each left him wounded and under care of the Editress for chunks of missing skin.

For a year and a half this was his life, exploring and hunting the grounds at night, and regularly losing his breakaway collars, which were later found across campus in various places. The Editress worried constantly all that time, hating to leave him at night but not selfish enough to deny her organization its mascot … the Tiger in the Garden. Eventually, a rodent infestation needed to be addressed in a way incompatible with a resident cat, and no one but his constant caretaker and beneficiary stepped up to the job of being his human mother.

That Gato wanted nothing more than a home and family was evident. He shared the contents of his food dish and in no way bullied his way into place in our household. When we found Gato and T.R. sharing napping space on the Big Red Chair. we knew his acceptance was complete. He would know T.R. only a couple more months before it was time for us all to mourn Gordon’s brother.

Gato was the best-behaved cat we have ever known. He never lost his streetwise caution. He despised anyone in uniform: Boy Scouts, delivery drivers, it didn’t matter; those were the only times we heard him growl. He didn’t know what to think of being held and kissed, even after a decade. He adored laps and blankets, though, and the snuggling under the latter was a talent he taught himself. We loved him so.

Some think a cat doesn’t have a soul. I saw Gordon’s one day when he was looking into my eyes doing the same thing to me. If his soul wasn’t there, neither is mine. All of our cats recognized love as well. Gato would come mousing around for it, and retire to a nap after he got his share. He was someone, and that’s why he got a name.

Gato’s life mattered in the way Elizabeth Goudge recognized when she wrote, “Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree, or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short. Civilization is another word for respect for life.”

We knew and treasured Gato for somewhere in the vicinity of four thousand days. He never had to go to the vet for sickness, despising his regular visits on principle regardless. We noticed him off his food on his last weekend, and he had to endure only one truly bad day with the acute onset of pain from a massive but undetected tumor on his liver. No one had time to help him along until his suffering passed into the evening dinner hour, and he left us with the help of a vet willing to make a house call. It was a day one of us was available to comfort him all the way through, and that someone turned out to be me.

Gato traveled on with our every recommendation. His precious life made a difference in our own. Because we loved him, we know God loved him more, and that’s why we hope to see him one bright day at the New House, the one providence has made for us all who loved to find each other again. To this day, we recommend ‘I Will See You in Heaven” by Franciscan friar Jack Wintz for people mourning their departed pets.

It takes a special kind of courage to love, once one understands the price to be paid by one or the other of the participants. More so, perhaps, for those who have pets, who seem to be purposed with the task of teaching us how to lose someone we love and move on while enduring the pain of grief.

God’s loving promises were demonstrated by his Son’s mastery of death. This life we struggle through is a testing ground, a training camp, a foundry where His work in us continues through our days to the end set in the Mind and accomplished by the Hand of our Craftsman. Be careful, attentive, and reverent with them. Pay attention to what the Spirit is doing with you in each one. Take care in who you allow to use your days, for they won’t last forever. Forever comes once they finish, for good or bad.

As I said, we passed through four thousand of ours with Gato. Only one was truly bad, which is an amazingly blessed ratio. Each of them was a gift, and knowing this through faith brings us through the pain of missing him to joyous gratitude. That’s what it is to believe.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, Boone and Sean’s Ghosts of the Republic is out of editing and passing through two rounds of proofreading as I write this. Hopefully, we will see the title to move into pre-publication and then full release this month. As always, those of you who are here will find out first.

Decades

It’s a season of transition. As always, only this year the changes are more stark.

Fall gives way to winter. Life focuses on the joy of the season, and a new year beckons afterward. Quibbling over Anno Domini reckoning aside, in this turn another decade ends as well.

If everything has gone as it should, because we have that many fingers the years group into tens as well, and order into the chapters of one’s life. Childhood. School. The Social Order. The Path. The Mission. The Changes. Eventually, The End Game.

I’ve been writing in ten of these most recently passed years, as I was purposed to do when they started. I was a child when they sat me in the pews of my local parish to stare at a sanitized image of Jesus on the Cross, and I thought how unfair it was that he had done nothing, but hung there for the sake of us, who should serve Him.

I was only a young man when times were bad, so bad yet so inescapable that I offered times such as those to Him, if He had a use for me. He did, as He does for all who believe in the magic of Christmas and the blessing of Easter. Afterward, the decades turn, His will is done, and we see more clearly all of it in hindsight than we are able in looking forward at the road ahead.

My lead characters Jon and Sean and Boone were given and changed that life. What was now is not, and it seems that the year in which I wanted to write was turned instead into seven of some sort of indenture, in which I was utilized to finish what was started.

This, due to the nature of transition that took us from where we were to where we are, unfortunately will be The Year Without a Novel. 2020, God willing, will bring Boone and Sean together in short order followed by another title of his. Afterward, a sixth for Sean and Boone’s first and last adventure will round out the catalog, should that be His plan as well.

Will I write another novel? I don’t know, just as I didn’t imagine more than a single effort in the first place. I am open to being used to a greater extent, and I am satisfied that I have been the conduit of what has come across already. Life should be lived in just such a manner of faith and contentment.

I know that in the pews of my childhood parish I wanted to be on His side, because even then, though I couldn’t yet articulate the intuition, I knew His work to be life, founded in love. Those greater premises took more than half my allotted years to formulate into relatable precepts. Now they are out in the world, in the nearly fifty-four thousand extant copies of the works people call mine.

I know it not to be so. The Editress is there, and the refinement of helpers and friends who want to be a part of what we were and are yet doing. Behind us all is the voice of the Spirit and the greater plan of Creation, being followed to perfection through those who believe and the others who do not.

Christmas celebrates only the first installment of His validation of belief. Jesus had to appear to assure us that we are not struggling through the chapters of this life in vain. He had to do so in a historical era to be documented not only by His followers but in the writings of the very Romans who hung him on the same sort of Cross as I contemplated in my youth.

Without the assurance that He experienced what it was to be alone and blind and dying, we might otherwise be tempted to make the excuse that He does not. Another device allowing bitterness a root in our souls rather than the assurance of His shepherding is thwarted. That excuse is gone.

Decades turn, and the world changes while we move through it. The hope He provided remains, as it has now for nearly two millennia and shall until He returns. Hope brings joy in its understanding. Mine is that you’re here with me this Christmas season.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, Boone and Ritter’s upcoming title, Ghosts of the Republic, stands at roughly eighty percent completion in production editing. Several weeks remain in editing, proofing and production, but it’s finally getting close. Prepare now for snug winter reading!

Your Name Here Ministries

You have a ministry, know it or not. At least I hope you do. Ministry is something for faithful people, accomplished in service to the Spirit. That third person of the Trinity moves where He will, arranging things just so the will of God is fulfilled through those who love Him.

The faithless, rather than serving, are used. We are every one subjected to the sovereignty of the Craftsman, and that precept is the main sticking point for faithless personalities. Somehow, they imagine the idea that God does not exist to be liberating rather than irrational, and do so despite all literary and historical evidence to the contrary augmented by testimony from His witnesses.

Imagination is a useful thing … when applied in a faithful mind. Otherwise, lies whispered by the enemy convince us we can alter the natural order of things by positing a situation to be so when it is not. It’s a spiritually fatal dynamic, and seeking out consensus in error and rebellion only makes matters worse.

Faithful minds see how their situation is established. The faithless decide how they wish things to be and go from there. Bedrock. Sand. Choose your building site carefully.

Wandering souls minister to themselves first, because their focus is narrow. They’ve not been called out to any higher purpose, because their imagining does not conceive such things. In the New Testament Timothy calls them “lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”

What tragedy that is, to live without listening but braying one’s self-indulgent talking points day and night in the hope volume will suffice for validity. What pain it is to know the lessons of those lives will be absorbed largely by impressionable observers.

Did you think becoming a Christian would make life easier? It does not. It grants clarity instead, and some aspects of life afterward are difficult to watch. Life and death pass before your eyes. Good people suffer inexplicably, because being saved does not equate to omniscience, and the limited perspective of our current plane widens only to the extent we embrace our newly acquired faith.

What Christ needed to do most for you was accomplished before any of us ever were. What He does for us after we come to realize this is sometimes as unapparent as what He does with us.

He knows this, of course, and it is why we’re told to embrace the gift of faith that followed love in bringing us once and forever into His fold. Sure knowledge of divine love and saving grace and the sufficiency of Christ are there, worthy enough to keep us afloat through any storm, should it be our last.

You can give your life to Christ in a mere moment of conviction. The world can then eat at your soul for a lifetime afterward; it’s your choice moment by moment whether to stay in the fight. You’ll minister by overcoming. You’ll play your part in the temporary victories of lesser souls. Every bit of your life lived serving will matter in ways only Jesus will be able to explain once you’re able to ask Him face to face.

Being there might not build you a megachurch, but it might course-correct a single soul, one not so far along, who needed to hear your testimony. Feeding a hungry cat found on your hood one cold morning might not seem significant … until the animal makes you a better human being by showing you a lifetime of love in return. So sing. Work. Love. Live what you believe and you’ll have the same satisfaction Paul found, though he was in prison with the finish line of his race in sight.

Unfathomable numbers of small events over the course of a day work together in what He is doing, here and everywhere, all the time, all at once. Such is the extent of effort in scalable consciousness arising out of nontemporal superdimensionalism: fractal in scope, perfect in minuteness, and unassailable by any element of His Creation.

It was enough for Him in essence to tell Abraham, and answer Moses, “I am.” It is also enough from Him to tell us we are as well. Worry less. What He offers is free for the asking and was done just for you. Pick it up and put it in your pocket, child of God, and walk on.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, the Editress is approaching sixty percent in production editing Novel12/Boone6, Ghosts of the Republic. Post-relocation life makes forecasting her normally consistent progress more difficult, but hopes persist for more time on target during upcoming holiday breaks. As in everything, we’re closer than yesterday and farther on than the day before. Stay tuned, and thank you. Readers rock my world.