Ginseng Root


What is freedom without discipline? A sloppy mess, like a Warhol painting. Piss with a little bit o’ oils. “Ooh, the quintessent frame of culture. Your urine streak there across the titanium white looks like a vice lord sitting legs crossed in a pew, twirling his thumbs while the priest breaks the communion bread. Then the drunk walks into the confessional and calls to the guy next to him if there’s any paper in that one.” Art at its most flamboyant. Ribald. A big bang of a moment which then fades into one of a billion free radicals across the expanding expanse of space. One need only to chew on the word ‘free’ like a ginseng root for a while to know it and ‘discipline’ are inextricably bound as, in this case, ‘ginseng’ and ‘root’.

At the acupuncture clinic I lead BC down the hall as she tells me about the newest book she is reading, ‘Seeing Through Heaven’s Eyes.’ “It’s about how God loves us and when we learn to love Him we can love everyone else as He does.” Her eyes radiant as she shares this with me, and the wrinkles around them form smiles. As a little girl I never trusted anyone who didn’t wear any wrinkles, and having grown up a bit, my mind stays firm with a few folds of its own: I can also entrust loving animals with the tonic for the human condition, and not just Chinese Shar-peis.


© 2012, Amaya Engleking



  1. Mario A. Pita · May 10, 2016

    I can relate to this because though many wonderful things have been written in “free verse,” I love restricted forms like those of sonnets. It reminded me of a classic cartoon, “The Dot and the Line” about a straight line who was in love with a dot, but she was in love with a squiggle because the squiggle was supposedly more free…

    • Gospel Isosceles · May 10, 2016

      Haha, cute story. “The line decided not to squander his talents in cheap exhibitionism…” Thanks for the link, and I appreciate your parallel (no pun intented) as well. I wrote this four years ago when I was engaged in spiritual battle daily: it seemed everyone I encountered in that heightened sensitivity time all wanted the love of God without wanting God! So I was surrounded by all of these beautiful people creating works of art and preaching love, but they didn’t want to acknowledge the source of it. Yet every once in awhile I’d encounter someone with a pure heart, like BC, and could have a moment’s peace.

  2. Saturated In Seattle · May 11, 2016

    I see this too often. It pierces my heart and makes me question organized religion, not God. I’m a nature girl and find worshipping in nature’s sanctuary incredibly freeing—without a doubt, it’s where I feel most secure, most at peace, most in-tune with God. I attend church. I need church. I need community. I just wish it didn’t resemble an art gallery. In thinking of what I wish it resembled, my mind conjures up a hospital—where the wounded are welcomed and cared for, loved, and given the tools to work toward a restored soul in Christ because they are seen, really seen—with the eyes of Christ. No masks are necessary because we realize we’re all flawed, all a work in progress.

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