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10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abad´don, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apol´ly-on.
12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphra´tes. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood; which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
11 For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,
23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
There are a lot of ways the world can end.
Robert Hass--a poet I love so much that I once fell in love with someone largely because they studied with him in college--once wrote:
all the new thinking is about loss
in this way, it resembles all the old thinkingI lost my father 8 months ago, almost to the day.
Decades ago I lost my mother--and by extension, my younger sister, who was my mother's favorite--to mental illness, and to this date I have yet to marry or have a family of my own. So in the years between my childhood and today my father had slowly become my whole universe: the man who taught me to walk, to drive a car, change a set of guitar strings, who showed me how to value myself enough to walk away from heartbreak; who resolutely held me up when I thought the misogyny I encountered in music school and in my early days as a career guitarist was going to break me; who brought me back into the arms of Christ when I was ready; who became first my mentor and then--at long last--came to regard me as a trusted and capable peer.
There are a lot of ways the world can end.
My world ended on October 1, 2016. There was no reason for his passing. I had spoken to him earlier that day and he was happy, healthy, fine. Looking forward to a gig that weekend. Had a busy day, had to get off the phone, he would talk to me early next week if not before. The next time his face popped up on my caller ID, there was a police officer on the other end, asking if I knew some guy named Steve. He had gone to bed that night, and that was that. He never made the gig.
There are a lot of ways the world can end.
I buried my father and packed up his guitars and drove them back to Brooklyn, and when I got there I returned to an old job as a DJ, to defray the cost of his funeral (my father was rich in many things but money was not one of them). This is how I found myself face-to-face with a man nearly 15 years my junior, who was out of his head on god knows what, who had decided for some reason that I belonged to him. This was the weekend before the election, and at the time it seemed there was an end in sight. But by the end of the evening, our current president's name had been invoked, my hand had been smashed in a doorway about a dozen times, and--to make a long story short--the following Tuesday I cast my vote in a neck brace, drove myself home from the polls somehow, and went to bed for what turned out to be quite some time.
When my father died all the strength left my body, and after I was attacked I discovered I didn't have any resources left over for myself. The road to recovery was--and still is--longer and harder than I expected. I started spending more time at home and I'll be damned if I didn't discover that my man (of Robert Hass fame) had been keeping a second girlfriend in another state. So the world had already ended, and then it turned out it ended two more times before all was said and done, and then we all lived through the election together and the world as we know it really DID end. We live in a new world now. The reality is, we have probably been living in this new world for quite some time. If all the old thinking was about loss, this new thinking is about losing harder, faster, and with less grace.
I wrote at the outset of this project about the idea of circles, and about the keeping of lists. That the literal experience of something happening in the world around us is often mirrored by the struggles we have within. So, what happens, when the world ends and you are somehow still just...here? There was a moment, having lost so many things both personally and on a global level, where I certainly prayed for the easefulness of death. The old thinking is gone. But the new thinking is maybe just the old thinking all over again, only accelerated to a breakneck pace.
In a lot of ways, I think those of us who are perplexed by the current state of affairs in this country and in the world at large seem to be struggling with this one a bit. Are we being challenged, or destroyed? Are we truly concerned for others, or only for the others that most resemble us? Are we growing as a society, or are we suffocating our civilization because we have already grown too much?
When I think about the two pillars God appointed to bear witness to the end of the world, I marvel at how incredibly tired they must have been. I wonder if they asked their Father, at some point, if somebody else might be better suited to bear their load. So I wrote this for my father mostly, but also for the olive trees, the glowing lanterns I have always imagined as being daughters of the Lord. For who else but two women could be strong yet supple enough to bear full witness to the final days of life on earth?
Read: Release Me
The message that I take from this is twofold: that God never gives us more than we can handle, and that neither witness was asked to bear this weight fully on their own. It's taken the better part of a year to begin to get my fighting spirit back, and in another year or so I'll hopefully have my strength. I am a new person now. In truth I liked the old person quite a bit, so I'm still not sure how I feel about all this. It is hard, sometimes, to be tough enough to navigate this new terrain.
There are a lot of ways the world can end. But where one thing ends, another begins, whether we want it to or not. This is why we have faith.
Lily Maase is a rock, country, jazz and classical guitarist raised in New Mexico, educated at the University of North Texas, and living in Brooklyn, New York. She is contributing writer for Premier Guitar Magazine and has contributed to Guitar World and Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation, who recently lauded her as a “master guitar teacher.” She is the founder and owner of Brooklyn GuitarWorks, a workshop-oriented center for guitar and bass guitar education located in Williamsburg.
Lily is the lead guitarist, musical director and bandleader with the Rocket Queens all-female tribute to Guns N Roses and the Suite Unraveling (Tzadik). She is the lead guitarist with Gato Loco, and is endorsed by Godin Guitars.
Her playing has been featured by Vans.com, Maxim.com, Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation, Teen Vogue, and Elle Magazine.