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It Wasn’t My Fault

27 Jul

Cousin Tommy is recovering quite nicely, thanks.
I’ve warned him about his childish pranks,
but he listens to very few words of advice,
he sets his own course and never thinks twice.
So, my uncle Aubrey wasn’t surprised
when he discovered Tommy in a string of lies.
Tommy insisted he was not to blame,
he knew nothing about the suspicious flames
that burned a field of sweet, white corn.
“I swear,” he said, “on the day I was born
that somebody else did this terrible act,
and I’ll tell you what, as a matter of fact,
I have a witness to prove what I say,
then Tommy turned and looked my way.

I wasn’t about to lie for him,
but without my word, his chances were slim.
The field belonged to Chester Malone,
whose son is as mean as Al Capone.
When the young Malone heard about the fire,
he let it be known that his one desire
was to find the culprit who caused this blaze
and see how far his fist could raise
this you-know-what off the ground.
Two days later, Cousin Tommy was found.

I won’t describe the exact details,
but what Malone did sent him to jail
and Tommy to old Doctor Pendergrass
where he got ten stitches and a right arm cast.
But like I said, Cousin Tommy is strong
and he’ll never admit he was wrong.
“Just one of those things,” he’ll probably say
when a funny prank went astray.
But I heard a rumor just last night
that Tommy bought a ticket to a Martial Arts site
where he’ll learn the art of Jujitsu,
then when Malone’s jail time is through
they’ll meet up in the parking lot,
a very open, public spot
and settle their differences like loving brothers.
But neither will turn his back on the other.
Cousin Tommy will never learn.

Oh, No. I’m Inadequate!

24 Jul

Sometimes we all feel inadequate. Just not quite good enough. Missing the magical ingredient…like longer arms, in this case. That feeling is common to us all because we live in a culture that judges, and judges, and judges. A counselor at a major university remembers the day a young freshman knocked on his door, sat down in his office and began sobbing uncontrollably. Final grades had just been posted and the young man made four “A”s and one “B”.

“I made a B”, he moaned. “I’ve never made a B before.” He felt so inadequate because he did not reach perfection by his, or culture’s, standards. The reality of life’s challenges had dawned and it took several conversations before he accepted the truth that no human being is perfect, that making a “B” is not the end of the world, and that one can be one’s own harshest critic and judge.

Jesus never asked anyone to be perfect. Perfection was not the requirement for acceptance into his family of friends and followers. Trying, yes. Not giving up, yes. The willingness to learn and grow and mature in faith…absolutely. I seem to recall a book or maybe a Broadway production called “Your Arms Are Too Short To Box With God.” My friend in the photo knows about “arms too short” but he won’t give up. He’ll find a way. He’ll do the best he can with what he has, and he will cuddle up in his rabbit burrow tonight grateful for all that he was able to do. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but….he will have used his talent, and he will have tried. No one is truly inadequate. Each of us is just equipped differently. An occasional “A” wouldn’t mean much if it weren’t for all the “B”s…or, in my case, “C”s. Rejoice in the gifts you have, use them gratefully, benefit the common good, and rest well in the knowledge that you are not inadequate…not by a long shot.

6 Minute Meditation

14 Jul

2 minutes to put yourself into the photo

2 minutes to explore spiritual insights, look for the meaning or the metaphor

2 minutes to express your gratitude for this and all of life’s wonders.

6 Minute Meditation

12 Jul

For 2 minutes, look at the image

For 2 minutes, connect your observations to spiritual meaning or metaphor

For 2 minutes, tell God you are grateful…for this and lots of other things

Look…Imagine…Pray 2+2+2=6

I’m Off To A Very Good Start

1 Jul

This appears to be the year when things fall apart.
If true, I’m off to a very good start.
My muscles can no longer stand the strain
of distance biking with its inherent pain.
The first signs of arthritis annoy my joints
and I know where these signs unhappily point.
If this is the year when things fall apart,
I’m off to a petty good start.

I’m not quite as nimble as I used to be,
while driving at night I can hardly see,
my memory left town a long time ago,
my wife says: speed up, you’re driving to slow.
What’s wrong with 40 in a 50 mile zone?
And I’ve earned the right to talk on my phone.
If this the year when things fall apart…
I will be remembered as “state of the art..”

Birthdays come and birthdays go,
there’s no way to stop them or make them go slow.
Now 80, I’ve given up delicious streusel
for a nightly glass of Metamucil,
which caused my best friend to say with a sigh:
“That Bob is really a regular guy!”
Yes, if this is the year when things all apart
I’m definitely off to a very good start.

To Live In The Not Yet

28 Jun

Faith is a dare to live in the almost.

A challenge to live in the not yet.

The Midwife works, but the timing of birth
is not ours to set.

It takes courage, trust, and self-abandon to risk it.

Faith is highly counter-intuitive, but when the
Light breaks from behind the cloud, it is breathtaking.

Virtue Vendor

23 Jun

The Virtue Vendor came to town today,
his wagon filled with assorted goods.
It didn’t take long for a line to form,
I hesitated, but I knew I should
restock my supply of Patience and Peace,
and while I’m at it, I’ll ask if I could
have a small container of Joy.

The Vendor rolls in about once a month
with everything a man could need,
boxes of Kindness, sacks full of Hope,
Generosity, too, to fight off our greed.
One time he got sick and missed a month.
You should have heard us beg and plead.
You just can’t live without Virtues!

I rue the day the Vendor dies.
Some dependable person will take his place.
But the Vendor knows what this village needs.
We can’t get along without a case of Grace.
We all wonder who the replacement will be,
it will take a strong person to keep up the pace.
What’s that? Who, me?

Choose Life

22 Jun

Here’s a survivor.
Was it a lightening strike?
No matter, the scar is there
and will be there as long as the tree is standing.

At first glance, the scar is a
serious distraction from the overall charm
and beauty of the tree. “Too bad,” someone said,
“it could have been such a lovely tree.”

But it is, scar and all. The neighboring trees
are nice but they have no story to tell.
This one, though, remembers all the details:
the jolt of the strike, the searing pain,
the long process of healing.

Scars are sometimes invisible, but whether seen
or unseen, they present two options: relive all the
painful moments over and over again, or regard
the scar as the completion of healing.

One looks back in sorrow, the other looks
forward with courage. The decision point
between the two is the critical moment.
“Choose life that you might live…”*
Always choose Life.

*Deuteronomy 30:19


16 Jun

“So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die…as they led him away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on his shoulders and made him carry it…” (Luke 23) He didn’t know what was to happen that day. And neither do we. Simon was forced to carry the burden by power and threat. We are willing to carry our neighbor’s burden because of compassion, the sacrifice of self for the welfare of the other. Today may be my day…your day. May I be aware of others around me and available to the opportunity to share someone’s heavy load. May my eyes be open and my heart be softened by the Spirit. May I live what I say I believe.

8 Jun

I heard a phrase the other day that will stick with me for a long time. Only two words, I don’t remember the topic of conversation but I remember being caught off guard by what sounded to me like a genuine contradiction. The two words simply don’t go together.

Intense simplicity.

And hearing those words, I thought to myself: what a perfect description of the breathtaking beauty of our little corner of creation, here in the Sonoran Desert. The simple beauty is so intense at times that it is overwhelming, one step short of sacred. I complain about the summer heat, the scarcity of water in the future, the sameness of colors and landscape. But give me one good sunset or one beautiful sunrise and my spirit sings about the intense simplicity of this amazing place.

Perhaps The Way of Jesus could be called intense simplicity. I think I hear that in his voice and from his perspective on human life. The complexities we create finally cave in under the weight of excesses. Why don’t we decide, as the people of Jesus, to live intense simplicity. Creation needs it, and so do we.