“The Latest In A Series…”

19 May

She rose early this morning, scanned the
chapter on Roman History one more time
before the second period test, got dressed,
walked slowly to the front door, then
hesitated as if she didn’t want to open it.

Santa Fe, TX
Palmdale, CA

Ocala, FL
Raytown, MD
Gloversville, NY

The blue uniform is neatly pressed, badge in
place, shoes shined.  That’s the way he
was taught at the Police Academy.  As
he walks to his squad car he thinks
about the morning headline.

Lexington Park, MD
Seaside, CA
Mobile, AL
Birmingham, AL
Jackson, MS

Senior English has been her love and her
specialty for twenty years.  She teaches
with passion and deep commitment.  Today
she weeps at her desk before the class arrives.

Mount Pleasant, MI
Norfolk, VA
Itta Bena, MS
Savanah, GA
Parkland, FL

He went to bed angry and got up the same
way.  Being treated unfairly, he said.
Taken advantage of, he claimed.
He sticks the semi-automatic pistol
in his belt, under his shirt, as
he gets into his car.

Nashville, TN
Oxon Hill, MD
Los Angeles, CA
Philadelphia, PA
Benton, KY

The minister addresses the congregation with words
of hope and healing.  Then he prays for an end
to all the violence in the country, especially
violence directed toward innocent children.
“Lord, please do something to stop this.”

Italy, TX
Winston-Salem, NC

Twenty-two school shootings since January 1.
Twenty-two and counting.
“The latest in a series of school shootings…” is the
standard  beginning for the recurring
news cast that terrifies every
parent and family.
And shames us all.

Prayer is good.
Constructive, determined conversation, too.
Action is best.

 

Visual Meditation

17 May

         The two photographs on this page offer you an opportunity to become familiar with a form of personal spiritual meditation called “Visio Divina”.  Many of you know that “Lectio Divina”, an ancient spiritual practice, is translated “sacred reading”.  Lectio helps us encounter the Holy through words on a page.  “Visio”, though, is for many of us who are more visually oriented, who can put themselves into a photograph, drawing, or painting and find a deep spiritual significance or meaning.  So, I offer you two options on the page.  Here’s what I suggest:  Choose one of the photos, not both.  In a quiet, meditative setting focus on that photo and ask “What are you telling me about myself, my faith, my relationships, my????”  Also, “How, God, are you speaking to me through this photograph  What do you want me to hear?”    Sometimes I like to put myself into the picture…I smell the flower or walk alongside the person on the beach.  Don’t be rigid about all this…relax and let the Spirit guide your mind.   I would be very happy to know how this experience goes for you.  Maybe you can let me know in due time about your meditation.  May the Spirit lead you into the healing, loving presence of God.

 

How Fast Is Fast Enough?

14 May

There was a time when the slender pointer on my speedometer
lived on the high side of the dial.  I used a lot of gas, burned a
quart of oil now and then, but the ride was worth it.

Then, speedometers had hands that moved around a circular
dial in direct relationship to the decibel output of glass packed
mufflers.  My back fenders wore skirts, my rear end was
dropped two inches, and the wide white sidewalls gleamed
circling flashy chrome hubcaps.

That’s about the best you could do with a ’41 Chevy sedan.
Not a lot to work with.

Today time, ingenuity, and plastic have redefined the car I
drive.  A digital speedometer tops out at 150, but I don’t make
it much above 65, maybe 70, these days.  I don’t seem to be in such a
hurry anymore.  I actually enjoy seeing things, really seeing,
instead of insisting that the wind ripple my hair, which
would now be physically impossible according to my mirror.

I used to think about speed, horsepower, cubic inches, and
superchargers.  I slept with Hot Rod magazine under my
pillow.  But…it’s a different world, a different time, and I’m
a different man.  Now it’s energy savings, environment, hybrids
and GPS since the edges of my memory aren’t as sharp as
they used to be.  The trip is slower, the chassis has changed,
but the journey is equally exciting.

In last Sunday’s sermon, my pastor asked, rhetorically, “How
fast is fast enough?”  Well, I think it was that, and now it’s
this, and that’s the way life is.

And that works for me.

The Poem That Will Never End

12 May

A hummingbird nest
is a great place to rest
if you’re tiny enough to fit in.

A pool in the sun
is remarkably fun
but always protect your fair skin.

A home by the sea?
It’s apparent to me
that I should possess one or two.

And if I should win
the lottery, friend,
I’ll be happy to share it with you.

The temperature here
is getting too near
an astonishing 110.

But what can I do?
Just sweat and stay true
to this poem that will never end.

I wish I knew
what this rhyme’s going to do.
These words are making no sense.

If I could cease
or merely decrease
the onslaught of wordy nonsense.

But they fly to the page
as if in a rage
to fill all the spaces and lines.

I’m out of control!
Oh, Lord, save my soul!
Let me leave all this rhyming behind.

It all started well
but now I can tell
this poem’s become quite a chore.

There’s no end in sight.
I might as well write
until I fall dead on the floor.

Please, words take a rest!
I’m doing my best
to maintain a good attitude.

But night draws so near
and it’s perfectly clear
this poem will never conclude.

Someday when I stand
in front of The Man,
I’ll ask a favor, please Sir.

I respectfully say
I need a delay.
With this I pray you’ll concur.

This poem began
when I, a young man,
set pen to paper one day.

The volumes I wrote!
The lines and the notes
contained what a poem should say.

Now decades have gone
and I’ve carried on
with no end in foreseeable view.

I’m old and I’m tired,
and I’ve often desired
to announce with bold voice:  “I am through!”

But words will not cease,
nor will they decrease.
All day and all night they descend.

My life’s a footnote
to the fact that I wrote
The Poem That Will Never End.

I Have A Friend

10 May

I have a friend.

We talk little of war or work or worries about the weather.

We put together pieces of an ill-defined puzzle whose color
has faded over time, its edges frayed so that there is no
longer a snug fit.

We create a curious collage of recollections randomly pasted,
overlapping each other, perfectly askew, remarkably revealing.

Or, somedays a mural decorated with hopeful dreams
and regrettable nightmares, a mural that has no particular
beginning and no discernible end.

We write music, lyrics and melody, that no one will sing, songs
that have no meaning except in the composing, no billboard hits,
more like heart beats set in the same musical key.

We create scrapbooks of moments buried in deep memory, some
probably better left alone, some dripping in the juices of joy
and exhilaration.

We laugh at each other’s silliness, weep without provocation or
penalty, sit silently at times completely satisfied with presence
more than words.

We are neither ashamed nor embarrassed to embrace in the
meeting or in the leaving.

I say to myself each time we head our different directions:
“I am a very lucky person.”

I have a friend.

Early Light

8 May

Against the blackness of early
morning my reflection in the
glass patio door is multiplied,
an optical delusion.  Two of
me returns my gaze.  Which
is me?  I overlap myself.

My hope for this day is
an awareness of a sacred
singularity that celebrates
difference, yet joins all things,
all beings, in the reality of
The One.

I hope for faith grounded
in wisdom, trust and
kindness…harmony of thought
and will as the result of the
peaceful union of divergent
voices…and peace replacing
the taste of greed and violence
in our mouths.

Faint light peeks shyly around
the partially drawn curtain.  Morning
is not far behind.  Slowly she moves
across the garden, climbs deep green
vines clinging to the stone wall, then
casts her smile on two sparrows
as they toss fresh water into
the air from the shallow
birdbath.

Early morning’s somber light suddenly
bursts golden as the sun makes
clear the arrival of day, erasing
all reflected delusions.

I am one with One.

Wandering

7 May

 

I woke this morning determined
to experience the day in
a different way.  Today I will
wander.  No plan.  No compass.
Completely at the call of
imagination.

I will be a determined deviant
ignoring imposed expectations,
presumptions, and roadmaps
drawn by those with calculated
destinations.

I will taste, smell, and hear
without analysis or dissection.
I will appreciate at least
fourteen things, learn something
new, and pay attention to all
that appears improbable.

By sunset I will have been
grateful for something
insignificant, and aware of
an impossible possibility.
I will be free of all lists,
schedules, and calendars.

Perhaps I should print all this
as a guide to the freedom
offered by simple wandering.