Darren L. Slider

The Man

Darren’s Writings


The Man

© 1987


A plethora of insistent voices
beckoned for my attention
even as it had done
since I was old enough
to ask the question,
“What lack I yet?”

The voices that promised
an answer to my question
failed to deliver.
Those that ignored
the question itself
failed to eliminate
my desperate need for an answer.
Those that denied
the existence of an answer
I refused to follow,
for my whole being
rebelled against them.

“O God!” my spirit cried out,
“What should I do?
These voices I have followed
have led me down blind alleys
through an endless maze
of dead-end streets
and circular paths
and minefields.
I hear so many voices
that contradict one another
yet mock my longing.
Have You not spoken?”


As I slept, I had a vision,
in which I saw a workbench
with a large anvil sitting upon it.
The anvil was surrounded
by hammers and knives and saws
and wrenches and chisels
and tools of all kinds.

Without warning
and for no apparent reason
the tools rose up as one
and attacked the anvil,
banging and cutting
and chipping away at it
with all the force they could muster.
Sparks flew in all directions,
and a great cloud of smoke
obscured my view.

When the assault had ended
and the smoke had cleared,
I saw that the anvil
was hardly scratched.
Several of the tools
lay broken on the floor,
and others showed severe wear.

The surviving tools regrouped
and mounted assault after assault
after assault after assault.
The shop was inundated
with the wreckage
of broken and worn-out tools,
but the anvil stood firm.

As the hordes of determined tools
continued their senseless attacks
for what seemed like millennia,
I recognized in them the voices
that had tormented me.
And suddenly it struck me
that all those prating voices
were devoting their energies
to fighting against God –
a battle they could not possibly win.

The greatest of the crazed instruments,
a monstrous sledgehammer
with a head nearly as large
as the anvil itself,
struck a horrific blow
at the base of the anvil.
The earthshaking force of the collision
created an enormous dent
in the side of the anvil,
but the sledgehammer exploded
into billions of tiny fragments
as the vision of the anvil
faded from my view.


This section is based on measures 199-212 of the first movement, Adagio, of Symphony No. 10 in F Sharp Major, by Gustav Mahler.

Next there appeared before me
a large symphony orchestra,
one hundred strong,
whose distinguished Conductor,
a dignified, white-haired old Man,
I thought I had seen
somewhere before.

I realized that the music
that the orchestra was playing
had, over the course of time,
built up considerable tension
and complexity.
As I listened, the instruments,
one mixed group at a time,
played different chords
that clashed violently
with one another,
until they all sounded together.

A lone trumpet
capped off the agonizing crunch
by giving a certain sound:
a piercing, high A
that I could hear clearly
above the rest of the orchestra.

The other instruments
withdrew their notes,
but the trumpet continued to deliver
its ominous tone up high.
Then, to my astonished ears,
the others belted out
the same disagreeable chords
with the utmost force,
simultaneously discharging
a savagely dissonant polychord
that wrenched my heart asunder
and succeeded in drowning out
the voice of the trumpet.

The old Conductor,
His left arm extended upward,
cut the instruments off
with His right hand.
The harmonic tumult
abruptly ceased –
but still could be heard
as strongly, as insistently,
as lonely as before
the sound of the trumpet.

As the sound and the sight
faded into the distance,
I knew that God
still stood for something.


This section is based on the first movement, Tempo giusto – Adagio non troppo, of Symphony No. 5, Opus 50, by Carl Nielsen.

The vision of the orchestra
and its somehow familiar Director
appeared to me again,
and they began to play
a new symphony.

As the music began,
I seemed to be transported
into a barren region
where chaos and inertia prevailed.
Melodies, attempting to form and thrive,
collapsed under the strain
of contrary, indifferent winds
and the deliberate efforts
of the region’s king,
the snare drum,
with its militaristic rhythm.

A solitary beacon of light,
seen by violins and celesta,
survived the expiring chaos
and led the music
into a new region,
a sunny, promising plateau,
and a melody was born.

The violas sang the melody,
one I shall never forget.
The depth of the undying love
and the breadth of nobility
of which it spoke,
I could not conceive.
I received the unaccountable
yet unmistakable impression
that the Conductor Himself
had written it.
It bloomed and flourished,
a spectacularly beautiful flower,
in the bright sunshine,
then relaxed again.

The melody was taken up
as a canon in the brass
as contrary winds began to blow.
With indignation and horror,
I beheld as the snare drum,
for no good reason at all,
out of ferocious, malicious hatred,
attacked the sublime, innocent melody.

The melody, despite the assault,
continued to sound gloriously
above the din of the storm.
In its defense could be heard
the sound of the trumpet,
mocking the snare drum’s rhythm,
maintaining a solid foothold
on the melody’s home region.

For a short while
the melody could not be heard
as the winds blew more strongly
and the snare drum,
wildly hammering away,
lost all restraint.
But the trumpet, mocking it
even more vehemently,
insisted that the music return
to the melody’s home region.
With the unqualified support
of the rest of the brass,
the trumpet achieved its end.

The triumphant, exultant melody,
borne aloft by the entire orchestra,
rang out brilliantly, and expanded,
its strains encompassing the earth,
swallowing up even the snare drum
in its glorious victory.

As the melody contentedly faded
away into the distance,
my enthralled heart wondered
if there could yet be
an even more powerful revelation
of what God had to say.


The orchestra and its Conductor
did not reappear.
Instead, I saw a Man
who changed the world
with the power of love.

Before my wondering eyes,
the Man wrought a series
of stunning transformations.
The eyes of the blind caught sight
of the beauty of the earth
and the beauty of holiness.
The deaf heard strains of melody
taken up by those
who had been without a voice.
Loathsome and crippling diseases
that confined the bodies
and stifled the spirits
of men and women,
the Man summarily dismissed.

Out of a little boy’s lunch
He made a grand feast
and fed thousands
of hungry souls.
The violent winds and unruly waves
of storm-tossed seas and hearts
ceased their tumult at His word;
refreshing breezes and placid waters
appeared in their stead.

As I beheld in amazement,
the Man proceeded to work
an enthralling wonder
of profound implications:
a lumbering funeral train
became a grand triumphal procession!
The Man spoke
with the voice of God
to one who had died –
and the spirit of life
invaded death’s dominion
and ripped away
its mask of invincibility!

The mourners, in stunned disbelief,
stopped dead in their tracks.
Ultimately realizing what had happened,
they began to rejoice greatly.
They headed back to the city, in procession,
bearing on their shoulders
their resurrected comrade
and cheering wildly all the way,
as the Man disappeared
into the afternoon shadows.


As the night fell (or, perhaps,
many nights had passed),
the world turned upside down.

I watched almost uncomprehendingly
as the leaders of the people
apprehended the Man
as they would a common criminal
and interrogated Him
for hours on end
under the pretense of a trial.
They twisted His words
and utterly ignored
His incredible acts of love,
calling Him an arrogant liar
and mocking Him
and spitting in His face
and beating Him senseless
all night long.

They took Him to the governor
and demanded His execution
as a rebel against the government
and an enemy of the people.
The governor knew,
as any fool
could plainly have seen,
that their charges against Him
were baseless and ridiculous,
and appealed to the people
to ask for the release
of the unresisting, uncomplaining Man.

How taken aback I was
when that crowd of people
to whom the Man had revealed
so much of the love of God,
clamored for His death
like insanity personified!

How could they do this?
I could hardly bear
to watch any longer!
I wanted somehow
to put a stop to all this
and lifted up my voice
in the Man’s defense,
but nobody paid any attention.

After repeated but vain attempts
to convince the people
that the innocent Man
should be released,
the thoroughly exasperated governor
yielded to their demands.
He delivered the Man
into the jaws of the grave
and the façade of human justice
disintegrated completely.

Soldiers took charge of the Man.
Brandishing whips,
they sliced His back to ribbons,
leaving Him barely alive.
They dumped on His back
a heavy piece of wood,
and the still unprovoked Man
stumbled all the way
to the hill of death.

The soldiers proceeded
to drive spikes
through the Man’s hands and feet,
nailing Him
to the piece of wood
that they had made Him carry.
Surveying the watching crowd,
I could find no compassion
in most faces,
only hardened malevolence
and stolid indifference.

Acting on an impulse
I could no longer control,
I charged through the crowd,
tore past an unsuspecting guard,
and arrested the uplifted arm
of the soldier
who was driving the spike
through the right hand
of the Man.

The soldier spun around
and gave me a surprised look.
My arms went limp
and my heart stopped in mid-beat –
for the face that stared back at me
was my own!

The soldier recovered
his presence of mind
as I lost mine completely.
He stared back at me
with icy contempt
and laughed at me viciously,
sending chills of abject horror
up and down my spine.
In his violently wicked laugh
I thought I could hear
the rasp of a snare drum.

My gaze turned inexplicably
to the momentarily forgotten Man
and our eyes met.
Mingled with His pained expression
I saw a profound compassion
that could only be divine.
He spoke to me just three words
in a solemn half-whisper
with a weak smile:
“I forgive you.”

The guard caught up to me
as I fainted dead away.


I came to in a garden
in the twilight of pre-dawn.
There stood before me
a massive stone
with blocked the entrance
of a tomb, around which stood
a company of soldiers.

I had barely enough time
to remember what had happened
when suddenly a bright presence
tore out of the sky like lightning.
The earth shook violently
and the stone was flung aside
as the soldiers collapsed to the ground.

I heard the sound
of a chorus of trumpets
in brilliant harmony
as the Man emerged from the tomb
in transfigured splendor!

Meeting my wondrous gaze once more,
He smiled broadly.
With a heart bursting from love,
I ran up to Him
and we embraced,
holding fast to one another.

Gently, in supreme bliss,
the vision dissolved.


The spectacular colors of sunrise
blazed through my window
as I awoke, and looked up.

I wanted desperately
to throw open the window
and shout to the world
that I had met a Man
who had gloriously answered
my greatest question.
Restraining myself
for the time being,
I pulled out a pen
and wrote down the vision
that God had given me,
not really knowing
how to describe it.

The confusing array of voices
that has brought me so much frustration
no longer merits
any serious consideration
on my part,
except that I might expose
the claims of those voices
to give meaning to life
and to bring lasting happiness
as being utterly without foundation.

I ardently desire
that in my communion
with the Man,
He will empower me
to make a profound difference
in the lives of men and women
by teaching me to love them
in His own inimitable way
with all the capacity
that He has given me.

In so doing,
I am free to grow,
to rise above my own limitations
and to surpass all of them
in the strength of the Man
in whose friendship
my happiness and life
are bound up
both now and forever!

Author’s Note: I wrote this eight-part narrative poem between June and August of 1987. It is both an extended vision and a conversion story with a prologue and an epilogue framing a synthesis of scenes from a toolshop, two symphonic fragments, and the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.