Posted in Musings

Indiferencia Se Mata – The Quiet in the Land

My good friend, Verle, may he rest in peace, had a saying that he learned from his Latino friends that he would share often as we would strive to work outside in the West Virginia wilderness within the great buzzing clouds of gnats.

“Indiferencia se mata.”

“Indifference kills them.”

In other words, if you ignore the gnats, they won’t bother you.

Now there is no question in my mind that Verle’s mental capacity far outstripped my own so maybe it worked for him. Though he still would wear a bug net over his head when he was working outside. But in all honesty I really do think he reached a point where even in the midst of a buzzing cloud, the gnats had ceased to exist, at least for him.

I am wondering if perhaps the above adage might be worth applying to the seemingly endless negative rhetoric streaming from a certain White (Supremacist) House. (Or to any such useless drivel). In this age of the 24/7 news cycle and our ability to respond in an instant through social media to anything deemed disagreeable, it is far too easy to give attention to that which probably should be ignored.

Hear these words from Helen Keller:

“It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.”

So the question becomes, what or where or to whom are we expending our limited energy and resources?

Sometimes I wonder if our initial response is simply to alleviate our guilt at not being able to take the necessary steps towards lasting change within or without.

There, I wasn’t silent. I said something. I’ve done my part. Now on to the next tweet. Hey you, asshole, learn to drive!

Hmm, I wonder. Each day is an opportunity to become a better person, and to the best of our limited ability, to make the world around us a better place.

Am I becoming a better person? Am I treating the people around me with kindness and respect? Am I becoming less of a jerk? Am I gentler with my myself and others? Am I helping to make this world a better place?

If, at the end of the day, I can answer yes to these questions, then for that day at least I can say that I am on the right track.

I wonder what would happen to me and the world around me if I would spend more time in prayer and praise than I do in reacting to yet another ignorant comment or bit of negative rhetoric.

Christ have mercy.

Posted in Prayers

Depression 1.7 – I. Write. Pray. Heal.

(From February 24, 2016)

It was not too long ago when I stood on the precipice and caught a glimpse of the pit far below.

What I saw was me, yet it was a me distorted by a mind sick with depression. As that vision threatened to reach up and cast me down, I stepped back from the brink into the healing embrace of medication, a renewed sense of God’s love and the care of God’s people, and to a deeper commitment to prayerful writing.

The discipline of daily contemplative reflections from my interactions with the world around me has become a life line for me.

This place where we reside is not without its sadness. But such does not need to discount the inevitable joys. Depression skews the view towards the melancholy.

I am broken. So are you. That acknowledgement does not preclude our healing. We do ourselves and others a disservice when we are less than honest with our pain. But that is not the end of the story.

There is healing. Or at least a coming to terms with our existence. Joy indeed comes in the morning. And that morning comes with each new day we are privileged to see another sunrise.

So I continue in this daily discipline of prayer/writing. Each morning, I turn my face to the east and await the healing words that come with the sun.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Prayer Like Nightbird Flying

prayer
is a
mysterious
thing
a subtle
kind of
whispering
like the
nightbird
flying
bright word
crying
on
whirring
wing
stirring
to sing
what
heaven can
bring
called
forth
by mere
speaking
living
waters
that spring
from the
river of
healing

Posted in Prayers

The Nectar of Tears

When
the pain
of life
fills
your eyes
and
the bees
arrive
to taste
the salt
of your
tears,
know that
when
they
depart,
they fly
to flowers
and then
to that
dark
humming
place where
bitterness
is made
into
something
sweet.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Singing My Child

today
before the
gathering dawn
i saw
my heart
in the
sky
above

i heard
it flying
crying out
in joy
with the
morning
dove

singing
my child
embrace
today
for you are
precious
you are
loved

Posted in Longreads & Essays

Jacob’s Ladder

The man lying at the foot of the escalator was dead.

I would not have seen him if I had not been misdirected to my seat and even then I caught only a glimpse of his still form as the medical personnel worked feverishly over him as I walked past.

In the distance I could hear the game beginning, the echo of the announcer introducing the teams, the roar of the crowd calling me to join them for the opening tipoff.

A quieter voice called to me as well.

Stay, the Spirit said. Stay here and pray.

So I turned back towards the entrance and the group of university staff, police, and first responders trying desperately to save a man’s life. Medical personnel applied CPR to his chest. Another gave him oxygen. A third person attached electrodes to his chest. I bowed my head and began to pray.

I heard a woman nearby crying. Another woman comforted her. I know, I know, she said, Believe me, I know.

I lifted my head and glanced over. They triggered the AED. I saw him move. He began to breathe.

But it was only for a moment. Then he was still. And they began to work over him again. His wife became even more distraught.

I continued to pray. I kept glancing up to see how the man was doing. He was not responding. The situation looked bleak. They brought a chair for the man’s wife. The other woman continued to stand near her, her hand tracing gentle circles on her back. I noticed her lips moving. She was praying too.

I stood with my back against the side of the escalator, head bowed, praying. A staff member asked if I was a family member. No, I said, I’m just here . . . my voice trailed off as she moved away.

She did not ask me to leave. No one did. I was left alone to pray. I tried to remain inconspicuous, yet I am sure those in area noticed. I made eye contact with the other woman. We nodded in mutual recognition. We continued to pray.

My stomach began to knot. Would the man survive? Your will be done, Lord, I prayed. I thanked God for the efforts of the medical staff and asked God to bless them, regardless of the outcome. I asked God to minister to the man’s wife. I simply asked God to be present.

How far away is the ambulance? someone asked. There was worry in his voice.

A few minutes, came the reply.

Then they were there. The EMTs began working over the man. He seemed to respond. Was he breathing again? I could not tell. But a weight seemed to lift from those gathered around as they lifted the man onto the stretcher and began to wheel him away.

My prayer partner stepped over to me and held out her hands. I noticed she was wearing a small silver cross.

You were praying . . . It was not a question. I nodded.

Where two or more…she said. I agreed.

I saw the monitor on the stretcher as it passed by. Is he…? I began.

They have a pulse, she replied. But keep praying. I nodded. We squeezed each other’s hands in silent comradery and farewell.

I entered the arena and found my seat, the game well underway. The scene I’d witnessed continued to play in my mind as I strived to be present to the action occurring on the court. This was an important game. The winner would move on in the playoffs. Yet somehow the game’s significance had lessened somewhat for me.

And I could not help but be amazed at the subtle ordering of God upon my most recent steps.

My wife and I were to arrive together, but our plans changed at the last minute and I entered the coliseum alone. God’s schedule is different than our own sometimes.

The usher misread my ticket and I was given wrong directions to my seat. My seat was in the opposite direction of where I walked and as a result, I was able to see what was happening as I passed by. And be available when the Spirit prompted. It is a reminder to me again that on this journey with God, we are never lost.

I was not more talented or gifted than any other person in the vicinity. Probably less so, due to the overwhelming competence, experience, and capacity in the variety of people who worked together to save a stranger’s life. But God’s resources are available to anyone.

I had a role to play. God called, I was available, and suddenly I became part of something larger than me.

My team eventually wound up losing the basketball game, but the real victory happened earlier that night near the entrance of the arena when a group of strangers gathered around to help a man lying pale and still on the floor at the bottom of an escalator.

Posted in Prayers

Dead Leaf Hanging Lonely

dead
leaf
hanging
lonely

secrets
i dont want
you to see

there is a
balance in
letting you
continually

cut away
that which
is dead
in me

and the
understanding
that when
you look
at me

all you
see is
beauty

(Featured image with kaleidescope filter #GodsView)

Posted in Prayers

Bottles of Tears

perhaps it seems that
they are wasted
this sad rain
that has fallen
from the gray clouds
of your eyes

but know this
child of heaven
each precious drop
has been captured
held close to the heart
of the One who has
cried with you

and on that day
when every tear
is wiped away
and joy is a
forever thing
these vessels
will be emptied
into that glorious
golden stream
that is for the
healing of the
nations

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Poet In A Coma: For My Friend Alan

When they cut out the tumor,
they took some of you with it.
But we were grateful because most of you remained.
You were still among us and we got to be with you.
They did not take your gentle spirit and the words tumbling forth
like a soothing stream after the rain.
They could not cut out the poetry from your brain.

So each year we listened and we were blessed.
Tomorrow never guaranteed,
each day and each new word from you a precious gift,
so quickly lost in a fall in the darkness.

Did you know we would find you in the night lying across the
broken sidewalk that brought you down?
Did you hear our songs and poetry as we gathered around your bed?
Did you hear us praying in a circle in the wooded place where you wandered and
where so many poems came to your head?

It makes me sad that I cannot hear the
wonderful words running through your mind.
But I know that they are there,
you softly whispering them into the ears of the Divine.

October 29, 2007