Friday, July 14, 2006

The Room

[Edit: Brian Moore was not the author.

I found this in a friend's blog on myspace recently, and thought it was worth saving. The person whose blog it was on does not know the original author and I have not yet had time to research it properly, so I cannot vouch for it's validity.

It is touching, nonetheless.

17-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting. It was his turn to lead the discussion so he sat down and wrote. He showed the essay, titled "The Room" to his mother, Beth, before he headed out the door. "I wowed 'em." he later told his father, Bruce. "It's a killer, It's the bomb. It's the best thing I ever wrote." It also was the last.

Brian's parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager's locker at Teary Valley High School. Brian had been dead only hours, but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them the crepe paper that had adorned his locker during his senior football season, notes from classmates and teachers, his homework.

Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of the teen's life. But it was only after Brian's death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven. "It makes such an impact that people want to share it. You feel like you are there." Mr. Moore said.

Brian Moore died May 27, 1997, the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend's house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted.

Brian seemed to excel at everything he did. He was an honor student. He told his parents he loved them "a hundred times a day," Mrs. Moore said. He was a star wide receiver for the Teary's Valley Football team and had earned a four-year scholarship to Capital University in Columbus because of his athletic and academic abilities. He took it upon himself to learn how to help a fellow student who used a wheelchair at school. During one homecoming ceremony, Brian walked on his tiptoes so that the girl he was escorting wouldn't be embarrassed about being taller than him.

He adored his kid brother, Bruce, now 14. He often escorted his grandmother, Evelyn Moore, who lives in Columbus, to church. "I always called him the "deep thinker", Evelyn said of her eldest grandson.

Two years after his death, his family still struggles to understand why Brian was taken from them. They find comfort at the cemetery where Brian is buried, just a few blocks from their home. They visit daily. A candle and dozens of silk and real flowers keep vigil over the gravesite.

The Moore's framed a copy of Brian's essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. "I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it," Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son's vision of life after death. "I'm happy for Brian. I know he's in heaven. I know I'll see him again someday." Mrs. Moore said. "It just hurts so bad now."

The Room...
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings.

As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Brian Moore." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've yelled at my brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents."

I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I have listened to," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!"

In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.

And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep.

Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again.
He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no, " as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards.
I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

Monday, May 08, 2006

George Whitefield

I came across an interesting article in the bulletin at church yesterday: "George Whitefield: The Controversial Evangelist". If you have the time, I strongly suggest that you follow the link and read the full article- I'm only going to cite a couple highlights from the opening section.

"Because George Whitefield refused to soft-pedal his preaching, he received a variety of responses. His bluntness sometimes offended people, and many established ministers of his time refused to allow him to speak in their pulpits. While angry listeners occasionally pelted him with everything from rotten fruit to dead cats, many people loved to hear him preach. "

" "Father Abraham, whom have you in heaven?" he shouted. "Any Episcopalians?"
"No!" the people roared.
"Any Presbyterians?" Whitefield danced around the stage as he spoke, jabbing at the air with his hands.
"Any Independents or Seceders? New Sides or Old Sides, any Methodists?"
"No! No! No!" the crowd shouted in reply.
He called out, "Whom have you there, then, Father Abraham? We don't know those names here! All who are here are Christians-- believers in Christ, men who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of his testimony . . . God help me, God help us all, to forget having names and to become Christians in deed and in truth."

Indeed. I like this guy.

The Great Awakening helped unify the colonies, which directly aided their revolution from the British. Presently, the Christians in America seem to be asleep again, and unity within the nation is an all but forgotten dream.

Where are the George Whitefields of today? Who's rocking the boats now?

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Final Hour

I almost hadn’t even considered the possibility of a “goodbye party” when I arrived at work today. It wasn’t as much of a party as it was just a status-quo day, only slightly altered by the presence of pastries.

I can’t say I’ve ever been a very big fan of office parties in general. I understand that people like to have fun, bring food, and have a “party” every once in a while- and that’s just fine- but I dislike the pretense of having a party for a coworker, when it’s clear that everyone’s only real concern is how many of the donuts they’re going to get. The taboo question always seems to come up: “So who are we having a party for?”

People have been circling our cubicles like vultures. Occasionally someone strikes up a conversation long enough to casually help themselves to the foodstuff. The moments immediately afterwards are consumed with remarks expressing how inconsiderate it is to gorge on “party food” if you haven’t furnished anything yourself.

So far, only two people have really said anything that would come close to be considered a well-wishing or a goodbye. To be honest, though, I can’t say that I expected anything different. That would be part of why I’m quite fond of the fact that I don’t have to come back.

I’m actually looking forward to waking up an hour earlier on Monday morning.

Do I sound cynical? I’m not trying to be. It’s mostly a, “Ho-hum, Oh well,” attitude than anything. I think it’s the whole everything-I’ve-been-working-on-for-the-last-two-months-is-being-completely-nerfed thing that’s got me down. After 5:30 PM ticks by I’ll be perfectly fine. And after next Friday when I swing by to pick up my last paycheck I’ll probably never interact with GreanLeaf again.

It’s a good day.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Beginning of the End

Tomorrow is the last day I will be employed by GreenLeaf Auto Recyclers. I must admit that I've given some serious thought to the idea of not showing up. You shouldn't worry, though, I've only been entertaining the whimsy and I'll not be degrading to that level of irresponsibility.

I wouldn't be missed if I did skip, though. The summation of everything I have "accomplished" in the last two weeks could have easily been completed within a fifteen minute time span. Since last Monday, roughly seven hours and fifty-six minutes out of each eight hour day have been spent passing the time in whatever way I can find that doesn't draw attention to myself. This alone, though, is not all that bad. Who's going to protest getting paid to surf all day?

My dissatisfaction probably needs a little explanation. Over the last several months I have been working on streamlining a certain process that is essential to the company's success. Prior to my being designated as the (only) data entry person in this process, the filing system in place went no further than a handful of folders and several boxes on the floor. I should probably mention that this is taking place in the corporate office in order for the full extent of the absurdity to sink in.

Being the only person involved in this particular "system" with the inclination to do so, I took it upon myself to reorganize the entire procedure. Instead of authorizations being unchecked, directly resulting in unquestioned costs to the company, without any way of tracking individual claims or recording the totals for these issues, we now have (at least for the moment), a structured system which combines all aspects -submission, approval, accountability, and tracking- into one conjoined form. Sweet, sweet efficiency and productivity- at long last.

It turns out that the transactions I've been 'data entry'-ing have created a total cost of nearly a half million dollars in the last six months. -And this isn't even hypothetical or projected costs; this is a total of actual dollar amounts being given away via checks written and mailed to customers. Granted, the majority of these are unquestionably valid, but it seems like a company of any size, with any claim of being responsible would like to track the particulars of transactions whose combined totals reach nearly a million dollars a year, right?

This new system has been in place for a month, and things have been going smoothly. No more digging in a box to find out why so-and-so got a check for such-and-such. Within just a few seconds, two mouse clicks, and a half-dozen keystrokes, all relevant information jumps onto the screen (and it even tells you which box/file to look in if you should happen to need a hard copy for some reason). Given the available resources (i.e.; limitations), there really couldn't be a better system in place.

Yet, as I mentioned, tomorrow is my last day. Given that this has been my personal "pet project" (and given the general computer illiteracy of the others involved), the entire process has been watered down to accommodate those who will be using it after I leave. I can already tell that the way it's going to be (and already is) misused will actually become a hindrance in the process. In the end, my name will be cursed for creating the thing- I'm sure of it.

I suppose I really shouldn't care what they do with it since I'm leaving, but I can't. I can't just not care that something I spent time on creating for the specific purpose of improving efficiency and productivity is now going to be dissected and neglected to the point of losing all functionality.

I need to become a consultant. At least then I would get paid large amounts of money to come up with these productivity increasing ideas that will be ignored and never implemented correctly...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Change of Space

I've been a xanganite for nearly a year now, so even though I feel somewhat loyal to my friends on that site, I can't help but feel drawn in by the elegant simplicity of Google's services.

We'll see how this turns out...