This blog is my record of my journey with my son who had a rare, and eventually fatal metabolic illness. It is the story of the last year and a half of his life, his death, and after. I have shared this journey this in the hopes that is will not only help me come to terms with the realities, but also that someone along the way may find it helpful, as they face a similar journey.

This is my place to comment on events, blow off steam, encourage myself (and maybe you), share frustrations, show my love, grieve my losses, express my hopes, and if I am lucky, maybe figure out some of this crazy place we call life on earth.

The content might sometimes get a little heavy. As an understatement..


People who are grieving may write sad or difficult things and bring you down. This blog may not be for the faint of stomach or of heart. Read with caution and at your own risk.

If you are new to this blog, I suggest reading it from oldest to newest. It isn't necessary, as what I write is complete in itself. But this blog is sort of the result of the "journey" I'm going on, and I think it sort of "flows" better from oldest to newest.

I do hope that in the end you will find, in spite of all the difficult and heartbreaking things, things that are worth contemplating.

Welcome along!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The truth of fiction

I have been writing a lot of sad blogs lately. Well, who am I trying to kid, much of what I write is pretty sad, my parents (who are among my loyalist fans ;) ) call them tearjerkers.

So today I just want to write something in a different vein. About something positive, or maybe even beautiful. I'd like to write a few blogs on the truth I have found in fiction, highlighting some of my favorite books.

Before I do that, though, I need to write a little introduction.

Your mind is a living organism. And words are what feeds it. You mind will grow and develop depending largely on what you give it to nourish it. It will be shaped by what you give it to learn or think about. This includes the spoken word as well, but what I am going to focus on, of course, is the written words we fed our minds.

(I in no way claim to have come up with this analogy. It's been around for a long time. I don't know the first someone used it historically, but the first historical reference I know of is found in the Bible.)

We fed our minds a lot of knowledge. We read informational types of writing. We learn how to cook, we learn from "fix it" books. We read about history (though you can debate on what percentage is actual "fact.") and we read about science or medicine.

This stuff might all be true, but this is not the sort of nourishment I'm going to talk about (obviously) since I have titled this blog the truth of fiction. Because this sort of knowledge is all just a tool. That is great and I'm all for it.

But what I'm going to talk about is the sort of truth you can learn from fiction. Which I'm going to differentiate as wisdom, as opposed to knowledge. You can learn a lot of facts. Knowledge. But wisdom is when you learn how to use the knowledge, skills and experiences you have to live a better life yourself and improve the lives of others.

I'm not included my beloved Bible in this blog series for a very good reason. Because I'm writing about fiction, and I put the Bible in a very different category. It is the standard of Truth for all truth. I realize that not everyone who reads this will agree with me on this, but in the interests of truth and honesty, I needed to put this note of explanation about the Bible in here.

While the Bible is not fiction, it might be important to note it does contain fiction. That might have gotten some of you to "perk up your ears" and wonder what I'm going to say. Relax, I'm not spouting heresy. Jesus himself told stories, which we put in a special category and term a "parable." What they teach is a Truth. But the form it comes in is fictional.

For stories are powerful things. They have an amazing ability to travel through our minds and into our very hearts. Which Jesus understood.

So when He could have told his listeners that God loved them and forgave them, instead He told them a story. A beautiful story about a father and a son. It is one of my favorite stories, so even though I said I wouldn't include the Bible in my blog series about truth in fiction, I find myself compelled to do exactly that, as a perfect introduction.

You may be very familiar with this story. You may have never heard it. You can find it in the book of Luke, chapter 15 and starting at verse 11. I'm just going to recount it in my own words, a very loose sort of paraphrase and feel free to check up on me by reading it yourself.

There was a father who had two sons. And the youngest basically said "Look, what matters to me is getting my inheritance and you are still a LONG way from dying, so it's just not moving fast enough for me here. How about we skip the part where you die, and just get to what is important, me getting my cash." (that is totally my paraphrase, but what he said really implies this.)

The father gave the son his money and the son quite promptly moved FAR away (Let's just say he's not even planning to make it to Christmas dinner) and spent the money living like Brittany Spears in her heyday. Which is why, like Brittany, he soon found himself in financial straights. But unlike her, he had no way to recoup his losses. He found that the friends that money can buy don't last long when the recession really hits you.

So he took a job looking after pigs. (Remember, he's a Jew, so a pig feeding him is a horror, never mind having to fed a pig. ) I can't even think of a modern equivalent. Closest I can get would be Paris Hilton, or Donald Trump working as a garbage collector.

Despite lowering himself to one of the most humiliating jobs, he still can't scrap together enough to satisfy his hunger pangs and he starts dreaming about skimming off some of the pig fed. (Now picture Paris or Donald picking through the garbage for food.)

The fact that he is at the bottom of the bottom is what finally gets him thinking of home.

But he knows he has seriously goofed up. He remembers that his father is a kind and generous man. He figures that if he owns up to how wrong he was, and how unworthy he is, his dad might allow him to work for him as a servant, and he knows that his father makes sure his workers are very well fed.

And here is my favorite part of the story. That father who has been injured and insulted appears to be watching the road for him. I can just imagine that man, day after day, through all his tasks, continually glancing up to check for any figure approaching with this hope in his eyes.

Because while his son is still approaching, he recognizes this IS his son coming, finally. And he races down the driveway, hugging and kissing the son in the midst of his apology. That father welcomes him back into the family with great joy, he even throws a party.

This story is an illustration of God's love. He is the father. We are the son. And that is all I need to say by way of explanation. The story does the rest.

It gets the information that I am in need of forgiveness and that God is waiting for me to admit it so that He can welcome me back into his family, it gets that information straight through my brain and into my heart. Sure, I understand the truth with my mind. But now I also feel it in my heart. And God wants both parts of me. Because that is the only way it will move from knowledge to wisdom. The only way it will change me.

And this is what GOOD fiction will do (of course there is bad fiction, I'm not talking about that stuff). Good fiction will say something true in a way that not only gets to our mind, but to our heart as well. And that is necessary for the truth to be able to change us. For us to have wisdom, not just knowledge, we have to learn things with not only our minds, but our hearts.

And my favorite works of fiction do just that.

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