red tape

“The atmosphere of officialdom would kill anything that breathes the air of human endeavour, would extinguish hope and fear alike in the supremacy of paper and ink.”
― Joseph Conrad

Consider what you owe to His immutability.
Though you have changed a thousand times,
He has not changed once.

Charles Spurgeon

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(side door at St Ann’s Church, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2016)

Number 45 flashes in bold bright red across the suspended matrix box perched over the counter as a monotone voice calls out “Number 45 to counter number 6, number 45 to counter 6…”

After an hour and a half of waiting you have pretty much tuned out the monotonous din of chatter in the very aseptic, yet somewhat dingy, waiting room which has all but swallowed you whole.
A television protruding awkwardly out of the wall, way too close to the ceiling, runs a slew of continuous infomercials concerning the very agency in which you currently find yourself…
As those around you cough, sneeze, hack and shift in the uncomfortable metal chairs as others chat incessantly while still others scattered throughout the cramped waiting room are being entirely too loud on cell phones…while the signs posted strategically around the room glaringly display a cartoon cell phone with a giant red circle and slash with the words “no cell phone use in the waiting area…”

Suddenly, as if jerked back to the land of the living, it registers in your consciousness that you are holding ticket number 45.

Eagerly and a bit bleary eyed you hop up while looking overhead at the various signs hanging over the long line of counters, scanning the corridor for counter number 6 which is now serving ticket number 45…
Finally you feel as if it’s your lucky day…

Who among us hasn’t found ourselves, on any number of occasions, in this same sort of scenario…be it at the DMV, the Social Security Office, the IRS, a health clinic, the VA, a court house, a hospital, a records office, a government agency…as the list is almost endless.

We jump through hoop after hoop to deal with so many aspects of our lives or of the lives of those we’ve been entrusted to care for…our loved ones…
Only to become overwhelmed, discouraged and simply worn out by the system that we now deem has been put in place to simply break our will….

We have to gather up identifying document after document…photos, social security numbers, voter registration numbers, account numbers, passports, registration cards… chasing each and every last one down as we phone, e-mail, write, shuffle to and from as we seek and search…
While at the same time being required to make certain that each piece of paper, photo and number matches and is current, up to date as well as recognized as 100% legal…
and if not…if one letter, number or identifying marker varies from one to the next,
then it’s back to the end of the line and back to square one.

We call, we wait, we push buttons, we wait some more, we listen to music, we listen in silence, we plead for a representatives, we push zero, we yell at robot voices, we try to enunciate our english, we get call backs if we’re lucky…
We have countless pieces of important papers, we wait in long lines, we shuffle from one office and building to another as we wait to take care of whatever very urgent, gravely important and time sensitive issue happens to be currently dogging us or the loved ones we are charged with caring for.

We have created a bureaucratic nightmare…
and there is absolutely no end in sight.
No fix.
No solution.
No easy answer.
No politician, no matter how much they promise that they can eliminate or make it all go away…can help…
Like it or not we are simply entrenched in the red tape nightmare we have created for ourselves…

Created through all of our agencies, our offices, our lawyers, our layered system of life, our “move um in and move um out” livestock mentality….
All the while more and more agencies and offices are being imgained, formed and created in order to help streamline the maddening chaos…
Which has all been put in place, in the first place, to deal with the general populace…ie…you and me.

No wonder there are countless television shows allowing those haggard, bleary eyed souls, overloaded and system beaten victims, opportunities of watching those who “survive” off the proverbial grid or the shows that allow all the sad sacks to wonder and hope what to do when the grid is finally so totally overwhelmed that it self-destructs…leaving life as we know it a forgotten memory…

And then it hits us..
Smack dab between the eyes…
God has never issued numbers!
He has never once put us on hold.
Never have we had to jump through hoops in order to reach Him.
He has no mountains of entangling red tape snarling the path or journey to meet Him.
He simply and quietly is there…or here…or wherever we may find ourselves….
waiting..
waiting on us…
not the other way around with us endlessly waiting…
but rather it is He who waits…
waiting for that time when we finally decide we’ve had enough and we simply need to vent about this thing called life….

God waits for you to communicate with Him.
You have instant, direct access to God.
God loves mankind so much, and in a very special sense His children,
that He has made Himself available to you at all times.

Wesley L. Duewell

Memory

Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(an old home-place in the middle of nowhere western Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

The old metal spring frame screeches obnoxiously with the slightest turn and twist.
Eyes blink in the inky blackness haplessly trying to focus.
No street lights, no city glow, just the twinkling of a million stars filling an endless sky.

The mattress thin and lumpy, ancient army surplus, offers little in the way of comfort.
The unzipped sleeping bag certainly not refreshing in the stifling humid summer’s night air.
There’s no breeze, no movement, no relief. . .only the shrill symphony of sound produced by the profusion of an endless sea of tree frogs.

Lying in the darkness, with arms folded under head, staring upward at the nothingness in the tiny musty room, pleasant thoughts race across the expanse of time.
Old wooden planks pop and groan recalling the countless steps which once trod over the roughly hewn surface.
Fading laughter mixes with the steady hum of cicada.

The once binding tie of whispered secrets now mingle together with the rising smoke from the countless crackling fires.
Age old stones, stacked artfully together generations earlier, blackened by years of thick heavy soot, offer a warm, smokey, familiar welcome.

The intimate faces, which form a memorable past, collide in the middle of this darkened night, with the new faces of a current life.
The difference between now and then spans across an endless abyss of time and space.
The experiences of “then”, which make the current moments of “now”, merge mindlessly together resulting in the singleness of one

Lying in the darkness on a hot humid night, with all that was and with all that is, tenderly forming the basis of the dreams yet dreamt, heavy eyes now close as muscles give in to the weariness of time, while a magical dance of a thousand fireflies sparkles, beyond an old broken window, as the singleness of now is made whole by the union of then.