Be

I want to be with you. Just to be.

I get so heady when I’m in one of those moods that appears as a beautiful child of tired and alert. It’s the mood where I simply do not care what people think of me (and I mean in the wholesome, honest way, not the belligerent, contrarian way). I get heady because I am honestly delighted to be free of the defensiveness, the covering of my bases, the explanation. I can say a thing and do a thing with honesty, and I am free of even the slightest torment of concern as to what others may or may not perceive. I am free to allow my yes to be yes and my no to be no.

It’s like carrying the silence of companions who sit together unaffected and content into everything of life. Those lovers who spend all their time unconstrained by any vestige of pretence. Who spend all their time together, being. Being.

It’s the punctuation of joy. It’s the vanguard of secure identity. It’s the freedom of self-forgetfulness. Being. Honestly, being.

I want to be with you. Just to be.

–   Josiah Hallett

Every Seed Dies Before it Grows

I drop home a young man with many and more a trouble like mine, discontent yet strangely content, fine but nowhere near fine. All of me is absorbed with me – the longing of his heart is distant because my own hearts longing is stark and here and awash, gripped.

I drive off and the melancholic bent of my muse stirs me to scream. Scream and scream again. It’s the dark of a monday night drive home punctuated by screams of ridicule and screams of hilarity and screams of discontent accompanied by tears of longing. I am surrounded by city suburbs full of housing, by the blurry lights of a thousand cars indicative of life teeming yet absent and cold and irrelevant to my profound longing. I am not alone, I don’t really feel alone, but I am me and I am longing, and somehow there is a sense of loneliness about that.
Enough to make me scream.

And the soundtrack to my evening commute sings with tenderness of the inevitable sacrifice of genuine love.
Love that knows: “every seed dies before it grows.”

   –   Josiah Hallett

Always Something

He sits and contemplates and absorbs and vacillates and all of this culminates in what he will offhandedly remark was a nothing day. Ode to nothing. Always something.

“You know,” he would say, with blithe, “I didn’t really do anything.” And every time someone tried to tell him he had done well or had contributed something wonderful or that he was of worth it was water off a ducks back. There was a comfortable confidence to him, but no comfortable focus within him. He wants clear goals and clear milestones and clear progress and ‘thoroughly sanctioned well-use of my time.’  But he doesn’t know where to start, and yet he finds he’s started down many varying roads already.

Then he’d stand up and scream “I don’t need your encouragement! I don’t want you to love what I am capable of!” And as he heavily breathed the last of his frantic yell, with a hunch of the shoulders and a pause for dramatic effect, he’d whisper in his heart: I want you to love me. But how will you ever come to love what you cannot understand?

“Let not the culmination of my days be but an ode to nothing.” But then the whisper: always something. There it was again. Always something.

And he knew the answer. He’d whispered it in his heart many times. Each time as he made demands for love, posed questions concerning love, dreamt of love, peered at love with confusion.

“Trust in love? Is that it?” Seems too vague, doesn’t it? Oh but perhaps if I pause in my deifying of love every which direction and way and begin to direct my gaze upon the Deity Who is Love.

Oh but what rebellion this whisper appears to be! No, against the grid of my own judgment (capable of producing hypotheses only so certain as the shifting sands within me [I am so confused it’s ridiculous]) it appears detestable. 

But then, he doesn’t really know much. And he knows he doesn’t really know much. So yeah – trust in love. But not vaguely; deliberately.

I guess that means I’ve got to learn Who Love is… Perhaps He will understand me.

–   Josiah Hallett

Sleet

There in the mud he fell, his grey three piece suit, his shoes of black leather. The man from the city had rushed too greedily through the muck, seeking to escape the sleet characteristic of the slave village. The sleet: apparently the staple climate of those mountains into which we slaves delved to mine the mineral. Not rain, nor snow: a dull compromise. A compromise not unlike the one between hope and fear that kept us motivated as we extracted that commodity from the bowels of the earth – a commodity that I still do not comprehend the value of. Not in terms other than the men of the city’s desire.

This man of the city’s rush was plunged into the mire with a horrific twist of the leg and a dull crack. The pained tenor of his cry was not unfamiliar to me. Unaccompanied by his peers and not nearly at his destination, this man of the city was stranded and at our mercy – and this he knew. In fact he knew it more than he knew the pain in his leg. He did not writhe, and after his initial shriek he did not cry out. He looked around nervously. I was content to leave him be. His peers (whom I perceived were not really his friends) would notice his absence and find him eventually. Or not.

As he continued with the anxious scan of his surroundings, he clutched vaguely at the broken leg. His instinct was that some attempt at repair was necessary but what feeble effort his fumbling hands could muster was a mockery. All the while, an onslaught of sleet.

Soon, four shirtless men came with a freshly designed makeshift stretcher. Here I sat up from my slouch to watch in disbelief. Gently and without expression four slaves eased this man of the city onto their stretcher of tattered shirts, favouring his broken leg with great tenderness. He was in disbelief, and so was I. But the four men – they were without fuss.

The wistful freedom I dreamt of without ceasing, the vague desire for vengeance that was numbed by the hope of better days. The asceticism imposed upon me, and my descent into resignation. My lowly spirit within me, stubbornly holding on despite its barren coffers – holding onto what? I watched them trudge through the muck into the distance, the sleet obscuring them further with every step. I perceived here that these men had reconciled all of it.

There stirred within me some transcendental joy, some reaching up to One who reaches down – His genial countenance beaming despite the humiliation of descent. The patience of the intellectual giant as he affords the layman every courtesy of his superiority without any trace of condescension. The generosity of the charitable celebrity whose money is no object but a providential means to things that are truly good. The infinite pride a doting Father takes in his child’s fighting to grow upwards – a pride no onlooker can ever perceive the depth of. The child himself cannot even begin to comprehend it.

This moment of joy went almost as quickly as it had come, but I perceived that within that moment there was a Something worth having. I even perceived that it was not the moment itself that was worth believing in, though I imagined a revolution centred on that emotion. No, the moment was a glimpse, and what I had glimpsed was what I’d been missing.

And now, a choice: hold onto that Something, or, allow the vestiges of that moment and its Something to be engulfed by sleet.

   –   Josiah Hallett

Won’t Fade Away

Waiting for a train that doesn’t come

Looking to the skies but they don’t clear
Trying to hide my fears by the light of the sun
Wishing for a life that is not here

But this hope that I hold – it won’t fade away

I know what it’s like to feel alone
My souls been downcast within me
I know what it’s like to yearn and groan
Don’t you know my hearts been heavy

But this hope that I hold – it won’t fade away

Sunshine, moonlight
Raise your eyes you’ll see things differently

I’m stuck on this sphere but I don’t belong
I am mired in filth and it smells bad
I am well aware that all is wrong
And I don’t have the strength to fight back

But this hope that I hold – it won’t fade away

Sunshine, moonlight
Raise your eyes you’ll see things differently
Breathe in, breathe out
Raise your voice you’ll see things differently

Hope is invading
Hope is pervasive
Hope is my blanket
Hope is my anchor

All of me is subject to decay
All I am is growing weaker
My life’s a mist that soon will fade away
And I am so confused it’s ridiculous

But this hope that I hold – it won’t fade away

–   Josiah Hallett

Regarding My Pesky Penchant for Temporal Paradise

“Got a good thing goin’, a good good thing goin’.” Isn’t that just the lie I love to hear. Far be it for me to actually believe it, not in the genuine sense, and yet I allow it to dictate my demeanour, my actions, and worst of all, my headspace. And this, far too often.

Look at what this progress has done. Things keep getting better. An upgrade here – reigniting my hope in the scheming faux paradise of right now. An esoteric epiphany there to fill those in the know with giddy exultation and those out of the know with reassurance that they’re getting there, and so of course, we’re getting there. We’re getting where?

The course of history is branded with the pockmarks of man’s insistence that utopia can be here and it can be now (with a clause that says, “that is, soon, once we’ve sorted out this and that, of course.”) And yet I am hard-pressed to combat the voice that says “go there, for therein lies paradise.” Get in with that crew, and you’ll be in, and you’ll be fulfilled. Get in that relationship, and he or she will fulfil you. Get them to see you as this, and then you’ll be established, and then you’ll be fulfilled. Get into the right career, because the right job means the right pay grade, and then: you’ll be fulfilled.

Meanwhile the next step to “paradise” becomes your perceived salvation – your religion. Somehow it is not important that this “paradise” has been been proven impossible to obtain not only by the evidence of our own lives, but also by the stumbling annals of human history. It is so foolish that it is ridiculous.

Oh, what then regarding this pesky penchant of mine? Disregard it entirely. Ensure the New Man being made is the echo of my every footfall, that Paradise indeed is my destination, and understand that here where I journey knows little of it and less. And yet somehow Paradise is all that I truly longed for all the while. And lo and behold and marvel and wonderment! Suddenly I am fulfilled, despite not yet having arrived at fulfilment!

I will no longer live for the here and now, but I will begin to truly live in it. Or, as our Lord said it: “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

–   Josiah Hallett

A Grandfather’s Legacy

As you grow older you learn that no one has it all together. Those who were once giants in a league of their own – far above yours – turn out to be humans in the same beleaguered state as you. Merely human. But mere decay and mere confusion, this mere humanity of ours – it has many layers. I find I am being disillusioned constantly, realising the incompleteness of those who I look up to goes deeper still, and their flaws compound upon flaws. Thankfully I am introspective to a terrible fault so I’ve compounded my own flaws with bonus interest; this disillusionment doesn’t lead to despair nor cynicism nor any brash independence founded upon some realisation of “oh what…? I think I’m actually better than them!” Rather (but only in light of the love of God) it leads to compassion and grace.

And it’s never a shock. I’m never shocked that someone is less amazing than I thought they were. I guess this is because I am humbled everyday (in light of the love of God) – and why would I pause aghast at another’s eyeball speck when the lumberjack’s motherlode in my own eye is so abhorrently apparent to me?

The one exception to this was when I visited my ailing grandfather at Westmead Hospital earlier this year. Strangely, as events would have it, I was aware of his bleak prognosis and he was not. He had not yet had the specific details of the terminal cancer that had crept into most all of his body relayed to him. I knew that there was not much time left for him, and he did not – or so I thought. But when I walked into his room I saw that he very well knew. I also saw – immediately – that he was somewhat at a loss. Sitting at his bedside poking at a sudoku puzzle, garbed in his famous maroon cardigan, he was not a rock. I had expected a rock, but he was not a rock. He was dying, and he knew it, and it had shaken him. And I was shocked.

I was faced with my grandfather’s humanity (mere decay and mere confusion). I almost curled into a flustered ball – which would’ve made for the least comforting and most awkward hospital visit of all time. Somehow there was some well navigated chit-chat about the cricket world cup entered into. How on earth do we chit-chat in the face of our mortality? But I guess that’s what we do with every platitudinous step we take – we are no less mortal yesterday, today nor tomorrow. There’s scarcely a task to be about that is urgent enough to make our limited time here seem useful in light of all the need out there (well actually, there is – and it comes up at the end of this piece).

Regardless, soon the chit-chat had worn out and I found myself encouraging this giant of the faith. Reminding him of all the Truth he was a child of – reminding him of all the principles that redefine the significance of life and death (only in light of the love of God). I prayed for him. I had one of my best friends at my side, and he too prayed for him. A twenty-four year old and a seventeen year old praying for a shaken eighty-four year old giant of the faith. There were too many questions for him to answer – what will the doctors say? What treatment options should I consider? Can I fight this? Is this really the beginning of the end? But, beautifully, the question that burned in him – who will look after my wife and will she be okay?

All of this left him shaken, and as it was the opportunity to play the role of rock opened up. I stepped in as best I knew how, and all I can hope is that Grandpa was blessed by that visit.

Weeks later, I visited him again on what was his deathbed. Now, all of those questions had been answered, and the rock was back. I don’t believe Grandpa was ever afraid of death – rather inconvenienced and stressed by it’s abrupt intrusion. That was the shaken Grandpa I had seen, but now the dust had settled. The man that lay before me was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a human doing what he was made for. Worship. Everything of this world had failed my Grandfather, and being the rock he was, he saw that not as a cause for despair but as an opportunity to get on with it. To get on with what he was made for. He saw it as an opportunity to enter into non-stop worship. He was worshipping God (in Whose love he’d lived his entire life in the light of) with almost completely undivided attention, no longer distracted by the desires of the flesh.

The Name of Jesus was constantly on his lips, and though many would argue he was not quite coherent I will forever maintain that he was the most lucid that I’ve ever seen anyone before. The most deliberate and the most inspired. He said to me over and over “Living Water flows out of Josiah! Living Water flows out of Jesus!” He said to me that the world desperately needs this Living Water and that we’ve been too timid. Why have we been so timid? He was beyond timidity. He was beyond any inhibition of the flesh. He was no longer held back from his worshipful purpose – except perhaps by the occasional cough and splutter, the occasional cry of pain. Dire circumstance and unbearable pain pitted against a hope that will never fade away. It has never been so clear to me that victory lies on the side of hope. Hope that is found in the Light of the love of God.

Grandpa has blessedly moved on to truly fulfil his purpose. He can worship absolutely unfettered for all eternity now. But for we who are still here – the world needs Living Water, and we have been far too timid. And though to die is gain, we must continue to live.

Because the world needs Living Water, and we have been far too timid.

– Josiah Hallett