Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rejoice for a Reason

I read somewhere that the Pope feels that the holidays this year will be a bit of a charade because the world is at war. He lamented the hypocrisy of celebrating the Prince of Peace at a time when all the world seems so far away from His message.

I was uncomfortable, out of sorts with that message. Should I be ashamed of my celebrations?

Then, the other day, my mother mused aloud that the decorations she was seeing, mostly in hospital lobbies and doctors' waiting rooms (as has been our lot of late) seemed garish, unseemly. She, too, was feeling that a world at war might pause before a bauble made sense. I had to think about that.

If the holidays are decorations, like lipstick on pigs, to distract from the pain of real suffering, they are indeed a charade, and for shame. If we take in our grand meals with no regard for the plights shared in places where there are no tables, no feasts, we are lost for sure.

If, however, these days of rejoice are about messages of hope and provocations for reform - in our thoughts, our words, our deeds - then there is no charade, no loss for vanity.

Just as you do this day with family and friend, every day when you have the opportunity to spend good, do so with abandon. Smile, be kind, return the chatter of the clerk. Catch yourself before you act on the impulse of anger. Remember the reaping comes from the seeds you sow. You cannot solve all the problems, so address those you can well and express yourself with sympathy for those that others tend. Choose wisely, don't dawdle in the muck and vile. See it and know it if you must, then cast that trash aside for what it is. Linger in the goodness you can find, be that goodness for someone else. Hum, hug, be fine.

And on your days of pain know that for all the hurt there is love, and love to spare. Wide and wild there is love, full and breathing love, in gardens and books, high in the sky and in all the miles between us, love. Reach for it, lend it yourself, rejoice for a reason, and know love. Have hope. There is no shame in that. It is, for all, worth celebrating.

Lost The Child (For Max)

The teacher who tries and tries and cries and cries and knows the child won’t round the walls in robes and golds.

The police officer who firmly, then roughly, then regrettably finds that child, tossed in grit and shame.

The policy maker who aspires and runs, ambitious and bright, sure, who is apalled and wronged, and wrong, and fails that child, dirty and torn.

The warmaker, not of his own choosing, who fights and burns and hurts and breaks, true to his word, and comes back, lost the chld.

The blind man, able to see, knowing he has a hand to extend, closes his eyes, keeps his hands in his pockets so he might not get the soot on him from the child, lost and stolen. 

See the mother mistrusting and fierce. 

He tells her she is angry from the comfort of his weakness, shuns the child for his fear.

When she turns, she is not defeated. She is resolved. 

That is the blind man’s legacy.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

On Paris, Tyshawn, and Being Angry

My daughter is singing about love, sweet and rich her voice, selling smoke that shouldn’t be there, wisdom she shouldn’t have. The sound lulls and growls and rounds the corners, surprising and seeping into the fabric here. The cool of night is settling in outside, candles burn at our table, all is good. For me, in this moment, all is good. If that were all that mattered then good would be the day and all the days after.
But there in the grey-blue-dark of dusk is a haunting, calm and quiet, calling to me. She is in Paris, in the streets and alleys of my hometown, in the fresh and salted waters that lap against the shores of every worthwhile nation. She slithers into the desert, stows among the stacks and stores of every city street, slick. She is on the radio and in my cottons, brushing against me, on the rails and books. The sand between the stones. 

Still and tall the call to love, to be in and full of all of it, is urgent and constant and I am drawn, so drawn. 
When Fire! Hot! Cold-hot fire burns and beckons, too. Why should you break my reverie? Damn you! I should let this fire burn you burn you and burn you again, to ashes, and then I should set fire upon your ashes for your sins.
And then how would your mother hear your voice? And how would the world know your sweetness? Can’t you speak softly to me and I to you in words our mother would smile about, not because one would be the true and the other not, but because she would feel joy over our brotherhood and the goodness with which we found one another?

I am lost in grief over your pain and the pain you cause. And still that voice resiliant and right calls to love and love again and again. Without it, surely all is lost. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Don't go, sweet bean. I don't think I can bear a day without you, or at least the promise of you. I know I should be strong but I'll just have to confess now and for all that my strength is tethered to you, and the further you go the weaker I become.

Please go, sweet pea. Adventure as far and as wide as your sight can take you. Look back only to smile and wave and keep going, breathing that air, high and wild as you should be because this is what you worked for and you so, so deserve it.

Don't go, my baby. I can't keep pretending I'm whole. I was in pieces until you arrived so full and complete and mine that you became my wishes and my wishes became real. Don't take my wishes.

Please go, my angel. For all that you have given your turn has come and now your wishes must be made true, so you can see I never lied, I never wanted anything for you but your own joy.

And go and go and go and seek always to be a happy soul. That is what I did, over rolls and tumbles and times of sleep away from my self until I came here. And here you are. And now you go.

Sad and sweet for me and good for you.

You go.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sure as God Made Green Apples

In all of my days there have been few greater thrills than a long ball soaring into the left field bleachers, my heart in my throat, my team on the verge, the announcer on the radio cracking with his own disbelief.

The maybe of it all is exactly what I need. That's the game.

And for all that I may have to wait, I continue to long with bright eyes and a ready grin.

Because sure as God made green apples, it's gonna happen.

Can you feel it? I can. 

A Brief Recap With The Lord

You better have one helluva case, if one is to be made, for your actions. I picture it this way,

"Well, Lord, you see, the gays, they were trying to marry one another and they were trying to hold hands and show one another affection and have cake at their celebrations and have babies and take on all the repsonsibilities of adults in society, so I figured you'd be against all that and I shunned them.

And the illegals, Lord, you see, they lived on a different part of the planet and their countries were not run as well as ours so they had a hard time finding jobs and taking care of their families so they came to our section of the planet and they wanted to live here and work and feed their families and be regular members of society. So I figured you'd be against all that, so I shunned them. I still ate the food they prepared and allowed them to care for my children and employed their lawn service and called them 'amigo'. Then I shunned them.

The environment was damaged by humans, Lord, yes, but I just couldn't do without my car or my gadgets. You see without all the comforts of my civilized life I might have to hunt and sacrifice and live more frugally and be cold or wet sometimes and I figured you'd frown on that so I shunned a more simple life. I was real responsible though and put my plastic bottles from water in recycling bins. I even unscrewed the caps. So, there's that.

And, yes, Lord, the guns did kill people, did kill children. Lots of them. Yes, Sir, your children. But you see, during our wars, Lord, one of us was right about something - I can't remember what now, but we were real sure we were right so we blew up a lot of people because you said, 'an eye for an eye' so we took some eyes. The theater and campus shootings were tragic, yes, Lord, but I figured it was better to keep the guns and you'd be against any rules that might keep us from our guns so I worked real hard to keep the guns. I figured you'd feel pretty proud of me for that.

Yes, Sir, I thought about pink. I didn't support public healthcare or preventative care, or environmental protection, or stricter food inspection laws because I figured you'd be against all that stuff, Lord. Instead, I sprayed chemicals all over our food and invented artificial ingredients and fake pumpkin powder because I figured you'd be happy about that, Lord, and you'd look upon me with favor and reward me.

And I figured you would take care of all those families I allowed to starve, fall by the wayside, uneducated, unemployed, and hopeless, what with you giving the earth to the meek and all, Lord. I figured I was doing kind of a good thing there, and you'd be real happy that I left all the meek stuff to the West Side.

Because I'm Christian, like that, Sir."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Civility in the Wildnerness

We have convinced ourselves that we are not alive in the wild.

We have cushioned and wired and insulated every manner of thing, so much that we have arrived at this false reality with great sure: we are tame.

But we are not. Ask the fallen. We are not.

We plant artificial civility in the midst of a wildnerness too great for our plastics and drink tea in shiny manufactured cups, telling ourselves our beiges and bikes are the cure.

Shouldn't you laugh at that?

In truth we are as muted as we are vulgar and violent and unashamed.

There is as much in the quick as in the dull wit.

Some cannot soar through the towers of books and fame, but still they rise.

There should be place and space to keep us all, though we know that in the wilderness some are injured, some die.

When we squeeze here, the pain seeps out there. We can salve but not erase, it is always there.

The questions I have are these: have we cushioned the right seat? wired the right connection? insulated from the right injury?

I wonder that we might do better to dwell on the rightness of the wildnerness in her natural form, casting the civility for its false promise, so we can know in sun the good just as we embrace the moon, her twin. I wonder if that is not the call of the faithful. To be wild.