Monday, June 25, 2007

You Must Have Been

"You must have been a beautiful baby
You must have been a wonderful child
When you were only starting to go to kindergarten
I bet you drove the little boys wild."
- Bing Crosby

Wife. Mother. Friend. Child of God.

Happy Birthday!

"You must've been a beautiful baby
'Cause baby look at you now."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Gateway To Glory

"I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones."
Isaiah 54:12

There are myriad sights in this world that would astound us unto uncontrollable praise if we would only let them. When I saw this odd, optical delight in Quito, Ecuador I was tickled, afraid, awed, and sad all at once. Had I been a prophet, I may have mistaken it for a vision.

"The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald..."
- Revelation 21:18,19

Having trouble making it out? You're not the first. Why not guess what it is in the comments section below? It is best viewed at full size so click on it to enlarge.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Pit

Welcome to the pit, The Pit Of Hell!

These were the words that echoed back to us the night we first entered the water drainage tunnels beneath Orange County.

When you're pushing 20, you don't have a girlfriend, school is out, and you aren't heading off to war, you come up with lots of ways to entertain yourself and your friends. In the summer of nineteen hundred ninety, I, along with my friends Jeff (Fox Fortress), Loren (The Hoss), and Derek (Dude), found many ways to keep our idle hands out of the devil's toolbox. We used my car for dirt clod target practice. We fashioned broadswords out of hardware shop leftovers and battled one another on windy nights. We found new, not quite rule-abiding, ways to enjoy amusement parks.

But the diversion we enjoyed the most was to find an accessible underground waterway and spelunk it to our hearts' content. Don't faint away quite yet, dear reader. Remember, we were in Southern California in the summer time. Never was there more than a 4 inch trickle of water at our feet so the danger of drowning in a torrential flood was quite remote. Still, there were abundant dangers at every turn.

We lit small candles or cracked glow sticks for a little light. Flashlights were never allowed. At times, we would even limit ourselves to 3 matches each just to make it interesting. We dodged homeless squatters and police helicopters. We raced through the dark on skateboards and a homemade go-cart called The Gutter Chariot.

One night we found ourselves in a wet and soggy tunnel. It was a bit breezy there so we knew we were near some sort of exit. Candles were flickering out quick and often. We decided to walk on in the dark until we really needed light. There was a crunchy, sticky feeling beneath our shoes like walking on hard-boiled Easter eggs. Flashes of imagined (or was it) movement at our feet made us quickly light one of our last matches to find that we were shoelace deep in hundreds of writhing crawdads.

Another night, Jeff, Loren and I found a construction site and ducked down into the brand new tunnels before the streets were even laid. As soon as we were deep enough to lose our sense of direction, we doused our lights. Just then, an unearthly BOOM shook the tube around us. A gunshot?! Our only instinct was to run back the way we came. The echoes there go on for minutes at a time so this horrid sound chased us through the tunnel. Then another bone cracking BOOM crashed above us, behind us, around us. Cave in?! Then another BOOM! Then another!

We found the exit, an open tube at the bottom of a freshly dug trench. Loren started climbing the dirt wall first, and fast. Then me, with Jeff behind, but not for long. At the sound of another BOOM, I felt a heavy hand crash down on my shoulder. I tried to grip the dirt wall but began to fall back. Another hand gripped my shoulder and then my face pressed into the mud. Jeff was climbing over my body to escape the tunnel and that horrendous BOOM! He got to the rim above and reached down to pull me up. Thanks buddy. We ran and hid in the brush and watched for a sign that the danger had come to an end.

That's when we saw him. A dark figure with something large in its hand was coming toward us in the moonlight. No more booms, but what was that sound? Was it laughter? Yes. This stranger coming toward us was laughing at us. We readied ourselves for a fight or a good, fast run. Then we recognized the Maui & Sons t-shirt. Derek had followed us down to the tunnels and waited for us to get inside. When he was sure we were good and deep, he had slammed a piece of plywood down on the open manholes with all his might. Terror gave way to more laughter, and the memory was cemented.

"You don't want to go in there! It's so scary, you'll poo your pants!", we'd say to those who asked to join us. "Shine that! I'm not going in there!", we'd say to one another at the entrance to a demonically grafittied tube. We never knew what we'd find and we never knew exactly how we would get back out.

Though I'd probably never do it again (my wife and kids need me too much I think), I still dream of returning to experience the adventure, the terror, and the brotherhood found in the Pit Of Hell!*

*The situations described here are real. However, any resemblance to the real "Hell" or any of its subsidiaries or agents are purely coincidental. Use of the phrase "Pit Of Hell" is solely for the descriptive purposes of the author and does not in any way imply that the author has been to Hell or wants any part of it.

"Hell" remains the eternal trademark of The Devil and his angels.