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Tuesday, October 22, 2019



Our lives are full of beds, some folks more than others.
We moved a lot when I was a kid. The bed changed location but one thing was always the same; the strangeness of the new surroundings, the loss of the familiar.
I was at times distressed yet lying there smelling a house that wasn’t our smell yet, I would always wonder what could happen next.
There was the trampoline place on the corner. The thought of it made my heart jump.
The gaggle of kids my age down the way ogling while we moved.
The wall when I lay on my side, blank as my heart because we’d left the gaggle of kids.
The scrawny golfer with hairy Adams apple my mother had framed as a stab at humor for a boys room though moving up in neighborhood when you're 13 is bad if your clothes are different and your Dad is loud.
Bunks in frozen Michigan during boot camp with snoring strangers and the thought that, “Boy have I made a mistake.”
Rats scrabbling under the bed because I got lost. Had to pee but just stayed rather than creep across the nasty floor in my already soiled socks or try to find my shoes in the dark down near the rats.
The strange roommate, white skivvies, kneeling in prayer while I was trying to put myself back together.
Toddlers tumbling until the covers are so tangled it’s annoying but their giggles make it ok.
Next to my son as the chemo pump drones.
Fan blowing as I let myself fall through a star lit sky and speak to God until the light envelopes me.
Predawn darkness casts silhouettes as I tip toe to prayer and all those beds lay to rest in my mended heart that sits in wonder waiting for Him …
And all the years,
All the fears,
All the sweat soaked beds are nothing more than stepping stones to light and God and the love of all mankind.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

On Forgiveness

There’s a small child in our lives of late. We try to keep him once a week to help the single Mom and Grandmother who both work. For some reason he and I have a bond. He comes to me and grins and we just know we’re glad to be with one another.

I love him. If I try to call it anything else I do not articulate. He doesn’t speak yet. A part of me doesn’t want him to. There is a beauty in his silence and fear not … he communicates well.  He’s a happy child, always smiling and curious. He doesn’t like when you lay him on his back yet has come to accept when we do.

My wife sends me videos and photos at work. Every time I look at one I find that I feel transported somehow … affected. He’s exhausting. You’re concerned he’ll fall or get hurt on your watch. I spoil him because I can.

The thing is, I kept being moved by it all, tearful. So I texted my wife when she sent a photo as he was “operating” a small blower with our cousin explaining that my feelings confused me until suddenly … it was there.

This child, his beauty and innocence, the difficult yet loving family dynamic, his very presence in the universe breaks my heart. He begins his life and all the things that make us hard start to happen. All he knows is curiosity and want. He doesn’t understand when he doesn’t get it but he’s only sad for a few short moments then something else pops up and he’s forgotten.

If only we could forget. If only we could forgive. Then we could move on with the curiosity of a small child and our lives would be so much better for it.

Yet we will remember. Our resentments will, drip by drip, rob us of the beauty, power and grace we have been so freely given. Or will we ... can we ... each day, "let go and let God?"

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

If Only I Can Sing

 “Why do I write?” All my life I have needed to say something, many things I'm sure most folks would say. When I struggle to say these things it often sounds … somehow stilted.

Yet there are frequent times when my heart makes it to my brain and I “see” something. The words flow, my heart usually races and I am left with a thing that speaks from my inner self.

I have taken classes where we will read our stuff to a small group. My voice waivers and cracks. My heart will pulse in my ears until I am finished and sit rather stunned, lacking words to speak. That’s when I know God has “spoken” to me.

You see that’s the whole point. Some might say I am a simple, deeply flawed searcher. I began to write in young adulthood because I needed to. I stopped for a long time. Now I know I stopped writing because I stopped listening.

I stopped listening to God. Sometimes I stop listening now. Then the words will dry up and I will become angry. I have learned that I am angry with me but it wants to look like I am angry at the world around me.

Long ago I took a path that was wrought with violence and desolation. It laid me low until I asked for help. That help was given freely and I began a little at a time to listen again. Now that is where I begin.

Each day I seek from the core of my being to listen. I am not an educated man but what I am is a believer that came to it by trial and failure and yes … humiliation. I know the sound of rats scratching under the bed. I have seen through the picture window from outside on a cold winter night as a family broke bread, fire in the hearth, while I trod dejected … to nowhere.

I have seen war and known hunger. I have stared at my mortality and welcomed the end of it all. I know abuse and psychological torment, hate, prejudice, rage ... and disgust.

Yet I also know the unconditional love of other souls who are listeners. They saved me and inspire me to tell the story however I can. So I tell it with wavering voice and vivid memories. I sing a song of brokenness that I pray can help heal others … if only I can reach the notes He has given me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mother of God

She weaves by the window skin glowing in sun’s light.

Her eyes, pools of knowledge, loving the fabric of humankind that grows from her nurturing hands.

So we wait while the mother of God weaves … swaddling the womb.

Weaving … until we become her love and the loom is no more. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Can You Remember?

Can you remember being a child on a hot summer day, cut-off blue jean shorts, clean t-shirt that smells like Tide, running, climbing, playing? Your friends are called to dinner but your mother is working late so you amble home … disappointed they’ve had to go but pleased as the sweat begins to dry and you realize it smells sweet like fresh hay at Grandma’s, or the beach.

 Inside the white picket fence you recall the shade by the bay window at the side of the small white house and it's patch of clover so green it leans towards blue so you go and lie down to rest. The excited breath of your play slows, eyes closed for a moment or two until they open to a sky deep and blue like some fantasy painting of scudding clouds on an infinite pallet of possibility.

Can you remember the sense of well-being, limitless hope and the joy of friendship, this secret place where you know some other child has been? "John and Suzie" … handprints in the concrete under the old, used to be a carport, yet they are as much of you as this clover and this sky. They are as much of you as your dreams and the questions of youth and images of dappled shadows in the woods. Walk like an Indian, strong yet flowing as a cat on soft ground.

Can you remember when your breath was like honey dripping from a spoon, rich and golden, part of the light that danced in the corner or on the hardwood floor … reaching for you … asking you to reach back into it's dust dancing spell?

Can you remember them calling as you crouched under the house breathing the damp red clay? Calling, calling for you to come join them yet you could not. Like something was holding you back yet knowing all that caused you to remain is the witness that speaks from within.

“Stay … stay … here ... with me. They will always call and you will go until I am forgotten. Then you will ride the storm until your bones are broken and your flesh is dry and you begin once more to try and play in the whispers of light that still remember my name."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Make a Wish, Fiji

The Make-a-Wish Foundation had sent us to Fiji because that had been my son’s wish. He had survived bone cancer, limb salvage and a year of chemo. The whole trip had been surreal. I have memories of him playing in the light surf of the cove, afraid that his manufactured left leg might break, his mother and I para-sailing over azure water, bone colored reef, our fears and doubts cast upon the wind for at least these few moments.

 We were on a flat-bottomed speedboat trip inland, skippered by a young East Indian man called, “Captain Jack”, with a small group. Clear sky, the smell of sugar cane pervading the wind blasted senses as the metal boat surfed shallow water with it’s sand and pebble laden bottom. We’d watched a young male sprint his dun colored stallion along the bank in deep sand, his shirt billowing behind and then glided bootleg up to a rickety wooden pier.

 They told us the village lay on the other side of the cliff. A small group huddled in wait. As we exited the boat, a rail thin waif of adolescent female in a wrinkled cotton dress reached out her hand. Captain Jack told us her name was Katina. She was African in appearance but covered in pink mottles like a pink and coal colored map. When I grasped her hand, it was rough as tree bark and then I noticed her eyes. They were the milky white of the blind as she smiled a wide and big-toothed greeting. My fear of communicable disease rose then settled.

We were told she had been blind since birth and was “touched” somehow. They said if she bothered us to let them know. She insisted on walking between my wife and I, eager to hold our hands as she led us up the precarious, hand crafted walkway that climbed the precipitous sandstone face. When we came to the community hall and church she held back then disappeared. Had someone called to her?

I can’t remember what she said. I was transfixed by the environment and profound feelings. I only know that in that innocent child I saw the face of God. Poverty, sugar cane, pebble-bottomed river of wild wind and an afflicted child, vessel of grace and love that seemed to reach in and hold my beating heart in her disease scarred hands.

  We met the village chief, received the wooden bowl of muddy water kava in consecration of spirit and community. We sat cross-legged in one of the cinderblock buildings where they had laid a feast upon cloths on the floor. They played a battered guitar and sang to us then encouraged us to join in. The native women in their colorful costumes sat apart from the men, their furtive glances questioning yet receiving the pale foreigners. Late afternoon we returned down the path to the speedboat waiting at the rickety dock.

 I wondered, “ Where is Katina? Surely she’ll come.” She did not and I found myself saddened by the lack. As we pulled away, engines rumbling that guttural growl, I gazed back and she stood there in the bright day, hand raised in farewell, her shabby dress catching in the balmy breeze at her spindly legs and my heart flew into the sky like a bird released.

  Thank you Father for the dignity of life. Thank you for the profound grief that allows me to see the heart of a blind and wanting child on the other side of your earth and know we will meet again. The truth is … I meet her now, my young friend, in each moment, each tear, and each hint of light that illumines the rough yet loving hand of God.

Moment in the Mirror

Have you known that moment in the mirror when you realize your life has forever changed? Have you seen your anguish gushing forth unable to stem the tide … lost in the rushing away of all security? The dam you built so long, so steady, bursts and your village of hopes and dreams begins to succumb to the rushing flood and you know it will never be the same, will not sustain you or give you comfort.

Have you known that moment in the mirror when all you have suffered before becomes small and fear takes control of your mind?

Then you scream, STOP and begin to gather and gird yourself for battle. You dry your tears and breathe because you know all of life, all that came before, was to bring you here to this tormented place that will not destroy you … for there is work to be done.

 Fear becomes like an article of clothing that you wear and that face in the mirror morphs, chameleon like, to a being that cannot falter, refuses to fall and can only go forth to your dying day, remembering this moment as a turning, wanting to cry out ... yet knowing your sole purpose is to persevere.

If you have known this moment and still stand. If you have known this moment and a part of you is haunted when you are tired or melancholy then know this. You are not alone. If in the dark you can lie down and rest then we will all be there with you ... oh this universe of souls, like an army of hope til the Master shall call us home.