For Aaron

22 Feb

In the course of thoughtful living,
life altering decisions are shaped
from a recipe of careful analysis,
examined alternatives, and
reasoned consideration.
It is the wise way to live.

But on that day,
when fear hardened into
cold terror,
pondering possibilities was
the last thing in panicked minds.

No reasoning.
No alternatives.
Impulse without calculation.
Reaction not rational response.

In that breathless moment he
stepped into the pathway of death,
goodness denying the demonic,
sacrifice rising to the sacred.

No one will ever know what
went through Aaron’s mind.
We will never understand
the instant impulse to
shield the child,
save her life
and lose his own.
One died so that one could live.

The question lingering in the aftermath
is not “why did he do it?”
but “why was it necessary for
such heroism in such horror?”

To be willing to step in front
of a bullet for a friend is the
epitome of courage and compassion.
To be willing to confront the
circumstances prompting
such a sacrifice is to look into
the mirror and see ourselves.

 

“Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life

for his friends.”
John 15:13

 

Aaron Feis
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Parkland, Florida
February 14, 2018

Madness In The Air

17 Feb

There are days when I watch
her sweep through the house,
swing the blue backpack over her
right shoulder and dash toward
the door.
I hear the soft trailing of her voice,
“Bye, Dad.  Love you.”
There is a joy that comes in that moment,
a sensation of sweetness that lingers
when I pick up the towel she used
or pull the covers up on her bed.

No one can fathom the raging pain
of knowing that she will never walk
through that door again,
never laugh at my silly jokes,
never again roll her eyes as she
ignores fatherly advice.
Never.

I sent her through that door this morning
to learn and to  laugh and to grow
into the young woman she was
destined to become.
Now the stained blue backpack
that I clutch to my chest confirms
the horrid truth:
There is madness in the air.

They tell me tears will come.
Perhaps.
Maybe tears will soften the rage
that electrifies my mind and
binds my body in this chair
facing the door, the door
that will never again
welcome her home
to my heart.

One Potato, Two Potato

15 Feb

And so it comes to this.
The measure of one’s dignity,
a cardboard box, two apples,
a potato and an exit sign
above the door?

Where is the mind that conceived
such indignity?  Where the soul,
the heart that considers
humiliation a virtue,
indecency a benevolent gift?

And where do they fit in on humanity’s
scale of values, these Left-Overs who
hold the cardboard box, who wait
their turn to say “Please, sir, may
I have some more”?  Oh, Oliver,
wake me from this black dream
of unspeakable insult.

Perhaps one day another
generation will wonder about
the monuments erected to the
Left-Overs, the platformed towers
that save us from “the tired,
the poor, the huddled masses
yearning to breathe free”.

The lamp flickers beside the
golden door.

 

 

River Path

8 Feb

DSC_0141

Along the river path
toward the close of day,
long shadows and a soft west wind
restore my senses.

In the distance, cars line up
dutifully at a crowded intersection
where impatient drivers, tired
from the day’s encounters,
remain motionless
counting the cycles of a traffic signal.
Hands grip steering wheels ever more
tightly as the third light sequence
moves toward four.

The pathway casually follows the
river’s intentions, welcoming young parents
maneuvering a bright blue stroller.
Walkers, hand in hand, laugh for all to hear
as they cross a narrow wooden foot bridge.
Gliding silently in the distance,
cyclists lean their sleek machines
into a sweeping turn.
A gray dove leaps from her perch leaving
in her trail that unique wing song
as she rises to the highest
branch of a mesquite tree.

But it’s the shadows that suggest
a peaceful ending to the day.
How do they do it?
How do simple shadows redefine the moment?
What magic do they possess that restructures
this day of tedious turmoil,
turning it into a palatable memory?

Were it not for long shadows
on the river path,
the day’s troubles would
turn back the night covers,
tuck me into bed and
whisper a melody of dissonant, sleepless
sounds in my ear.

Ah, but those lengthening shadows
reach out like an old friend
offering a long-awaited embrace.
Along the river path, walking
with the evening breeze at my back,
I discover once again a feeling of sacred wholeness.
I am restored,
renewed,
resurrected.

An Idea

1 Feb

It appears in the deepest moment of sleep,
when darkness offers fertile ground for
the birth of dreams.  Against the backdrop
of the black curtain, a ribbon of soft light
falls and rises on an undetectable breeze.

Like the tail of a kite, it soars, dives, and rises
again, leaving a faint trail of sparkling dust
in its traveled path.  Perfect sleep is to
rest under the blanket of the warm light,
beneath the luminous canopy.

With the eye of my heart, I watch the
light stream summersault and
fall gently toward my face.
Closer, until with the delicacy of a weightless
feather, it rests on my forehead.

As sleep releases my hand, I wake slowly to
ripples of dawn’s light dancing on the shadowy
ceiling.  I am vaguely conscious of the night’s
visitation.  For a very brief moment, perhaps
as long as a breath, I wonder at the meaning
of it all.

Then, from a far corner of my waking mind
a newly formed awareness emerges, a
faint revealing beginning to find its definition,
discovering its substance.
In that numinous moment, there is
birthed into consciousness an Idea,
the sacred accomplishment of the human
mind touched by the animated
Light of Creativity.  All living beings,
all inanimate residents of the universe,
raise a symphony of joy for the
precious creation.

The Man Who Went To Church

28 Jan

Some friends and I were talking recently about the documented disappearance of people from the pews of so many churches.  Maybe the following represents a reason for some segment of that exodus.

I went to church the other day,
I haven’t been in years,
and what I saw
and what I heard
proclaimed in ancient song and word
reduced my heart to tears.

A man stood up to sermonize,
his words had quite a sting.
He said all people everywhere
were rotten to the core
and then proclaimed that all of us
deserved the Devil’s door!

We sang old songs from 1910,
all made it very clear
that I’m a worm,
my fate is sealed,
my long-term future’s now confirmed.
No joy in what’s revealed.

I never knew how bad I was
until I went to church.
I thought my life was pretty good;
I helped the down and out,
made generous gifts to those in need;
my actions were devout.

But now I know I’m bound for hell,
one-way ticket waiting.
Departure day is marked in red,
my destination’s dead ahead
because, in truth, I don’t adhere
to dogmas that they hold so dear.
The danger I’m creating!

So now I guess my days are done
within those sacred walls.
I went to hear some hopeful news,
but now I find that I must choose
to sacrifice my common sense,
agree to all that they dispense,
a price I cannot pay.

Someday perhaps I’ll try again.
I don’t know where.  I can’t say when.
But surely there is hope somewhere,
a welcome hand, a place to share
the ups and downs of daily life,
a place in which my pain and strife
can finally be released.

It won’t be in the church, I guess;
there’s nothing there to feed my quest.
I’ll wander off, just like the rest,
and find my hope
elsewhere.

 

Eucalyptus

27 Jan

A 50-foot tall Eucalyptus tree was felled this morning in my neighborhood.  It was necessary but painful.

When morning comes
death will be close behind.
The brown metal gate will open
to allow killing machines
access to the one who waits,
clothed in soft green raiment,
looking down upon the
gathering company and
their death devices.

He has stood proudly
for many years,
sapling to soaring giant
who offers thoughtful rest
to all who sit at his feet
in the generous gift of shade.

Owl, a nightly visitor,
watches with the stars.
Songbirds, nestled in his arms,
prepare their morning concert
while dusky green leaves wave
at the moon.

Peaceful elegance fills
the world.

Yet morning’s inevitability brings
sounds of whirring blades and
muted voices approaching
to pronounce the last blessing
before the first cut.

Now he will return to the earth
like all living things,
perhaps to return another day
with gifts of shade and
shelter and sacred beauty.