Teufelskreis

“Teufelskreis” is a German word that literally means “devil’s circle.” In English we call it a vicious circle or cycle. Merriam-Webster defines it as a repeating situation or condition in which one problem causes another problem that makes the first problem worse.

Describing our world’s cycle of violence as the “devil’s” circle perfectly captures the true essence of what we see and hear in the news day in and day out.

I’ve been thinking of this word more and more.

ISIS. Torture report. Ferguson. Brooklyn. The Interview. Hacks and threats. Peshawar…death penalty…

Teufelskreis.

There has to be a better way…

The devil circles and waits

for us to slide along the arc

of our basest nature.

The Teufelskreis traps

the best and the worst

among us

in the worst of who

we can be.

We trade hate and hurt,

craving retaliation more than reconciliation.

Who started it?

Whose evil reaction is

most evil?

Depends on who’s asking.

The Teufelskreis

takes over

and traps us,

ensares us,

makes us feel justified

in our own evil responses.

We appear powerless to break free

of the Teufelskreis.

Eye for an eye.

Kill or be killed.

That’s the devil’s way.

The Teufelskreis.

So God made a better way.

The Way.

Jesus is The Way.

He came to earth as a baby.

Vulnerable.

Dependent.

Human.

Sacrificed.

Unjustly murdered for reasons

justified by many.

Physically weak on the cross

but morally strong enough to escape

the centrifugal force of

the Teufelskreis.

He rejected a violent response

and prayed for those

who persecuted him.

He showed the way

to break free.

With nonviolence and forgiveness.

He did not allow the

violence of others

to alter the nature of

who he was.

And at the foot of the cross

lay scattered the shattered shards of

the Teufelskreis.

Broken.

For me.

For you.

For the world.

And what appeared to be

weakness and defeat

turned out to be

the greatest triumph

of all time.

That

is

The Way.

The way out

of the Teufelskreis.

Image of the Joker looking frustrated. Text says "The devil and I had the world working just the way we liked it...and along comes this guy Jesus forgiving his enemies."

 

Five Minute Friday: Adore

(So, I’ve been participating in a “writers’ flash mob” of sorts called Five Minute Friday. In response to a one-word prompt, hundreds of writers sit down and write for five minutes flat. No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font or punctuation; unscripted and unedited. Here’s today’s edition…setting the timer….)

Five Minute Friday: Adore

Go.

The world moves fast,

stealing our time,

wrapping us in the mundane.

When do we pause and adore?

When do we stop the world

and reclaim the awesome

or embrace the miraculous?

Dizzy with busy,

we “adore” everything

and yet nothing.

We “adore” that cute outfit

that new toy

that new restaurant.

Like Lisa Douglas we “adore a penthouse view.”

Is there time

to adore the sunset?

A child’s giggle?

A puppy’s pounce?

Do we take time

and reserve some of that adoration

for the Creator?

Come, let us adore him.

There’s time.

There’s time.

Stop. 

Collage of four pictures - clockwise from upper left, Lisa Douglas character from Green Acres in her penthouse; sunset; puppy with a toy; wood carving of manger scene.

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Prepare

(So, I’ve been participating in a “writers’ flash mob” of sorts called Five Minute Friday. In response to a one-word prompt, hundreds of writers sit down and write for five minutes flat. No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font or punctuation; unscripted and unedited. Here’s today’s edition…setting the timer….)

Five Minute Friday: Prepare

Go.

In two days it will have been two years.

Two years since Sandy Hook.

Since 20 first graders and several educators were suddenly and viciously gunned down in their school.

Nothing prepared us for the news.

But there has been hauntingly similar news like it – over and over – since then.

In two days it will have been two years.

Have we used these two years wisely?

Have we taken meaningful steps to prevent similar tragedies?

I’m not prepared to say “yes.”

Stop.

"We are Newtown." Drawing of town with stars (representing those lost in the Sandy Hook massacre) shining down on the town.

 

Sunny Side Up

I was in a funk yesterday.

In response to a writing prompt word of “dear” I wrote a letter to the future, apologizing for the failures of our generation. (You can read it here.)

It was a rainy, yucky day and I felt very “bleh.”

We had planned to spend the evening at a show – “Coal Camp Memories” – in which the author/actress portrays a coal camp resident as she ages from ten-year old girl, to teenager, to young mother to old widow. I had been looking forward to this. The actress is someone I know and admire. I hadn’t seen her (except on Facebook) for years.

I’ll admit, I wavered.

I wanted to go, yet I didn’t want to go.

After all, I felt “bleh”; it was raining; it was Friday night of a rough news week.

Did I mention I felt “bleh?”

But my wish to see my friend outweighed the “bleh.”

We went.

I’m glad.

The performance reminded me that past generations faced bleak times and conditions, too.

Life in coal camps was hard and unjust.

It was day to day and hand to mouth.

Subsistence living.

Yet, there was community. Neighbors helping neighbors. Family members supporting one another. Love. Laughter. Music. Storytelling.

And conditions have improved over the years. (Still not ideal, mind you, but improved.)

During the show, we heard the song “Keep on the Sunny Side” and were reminded that even in very dark times, there is a “sunny side.”

I sat in the church pew, listening to “Keep on the Sunny Side” and looked around at the Advent decorations in the sanctuary.

My “bleh” began to dissolve in the presence of the show’s message of resilience, the music’s optimism, and the hope of the season. Figure of a coal miner (carved from coal). With ornament of "Hope."

Yes.

My generation is messing up.

Past generations did, too.

And guess what, future generations?

So will you!

We – and you – need to take note and continue our efforts to improve things.

We can’t let “bleh” take over our general outlook.

Keep on the sunny side, my friends.

Always on the sunny side.

There’s a dark and a troubled side of life

But there’s a bright and a sunny side too

Though you meet with the darkness and strife

The sunny side you also may view

 

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side

Keep on the sunny side of life

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way

If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

 

Though the storm and its furies rage today

Crushing hopes that we cherish so dear

The clouds and storms will, in time, pass away

And the sun again will shine bright and clear

 

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side

Keep on the sunny side of life

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way

If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

 

Let us greet with the song of hope each day

Though the moment be cloudy or fair

And let us trust in our Savior always

He’ll keep us everyone in his care

 

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side

Keep on the sunny side of life

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way

If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

Five Minute Friday: Dear

(So, I’ve been participating in a “writers’ flash mob” of sorts called Five Minute Friday. In response to a one-word prompt, hundreds of writers sit down and write for five minutes flat. No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font or punctuation; unscripted and unedited. Here’s today’s edition…setting the timer….)

Five Minute Friday: Dear

Go.

December 5, 2014

Dear future generations:

I hope this finds you well, but I have my doubts.

I am not so sure that my generation is doing such a great job…and that makes me worry about the world we are leaving for you.

This generation is divided and angry and selfish and lazy. We belittle and make fun of those with whom we disagree; we are argumentative; we are easily distracted by meaningless things; and we want everything immediately and cheaply.

We expect (and believe we deserve) “something for nothing.”

We place nearly zero value on human life. It’s “kill or be killed” these days.

We are impatient.

On the one hand we fear there is not enough for everyone – so we are constantly out to stockpile more for ourselves; on the other hand we use up the world’s resources as if they were limitless.

The long view is not our strong suit.

So…I hope this finds you well, but I have my doubts.

Apologetically yours,

Me

Stop.

(p.s. I am generally a positive person, but today I am in a funk. Sorry for the blues. I will start again in the morning to do what I can to improve things. – SVLH)

Pensive