Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Eye

There is no calm before the storm.

This tempest is neverending. These brief moments of peace are only that.

I am the pupil, swollen by too much light, staring up into the fickle sun.

I still reside within the storm. On the horizon, I see the dark spinning clouds as they draw near to envelop me again.

I have been a sower of the wind.

I have cast my dreams like seeds into the blistering sky.

Now I must succumb to what I have become.

I am the whirlwind reaper.

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 Longreads & Essays, Musings

Depression 1.6 – Tough Enough To Talk About It

(From November 9, 2011)

Recently my wife asked me what book I was reading.

“I Don’t Want To Talk About It,” I said.

“Oh,” she said, somewhat taken aback. “I was just curious . . .” Her voice trailed off.

“I Don’t . . .” I started to repeat, then I smiled. “That is actually the title, it’s a book about depression.”

We both had a good laugh.

We can laugh about it now although that wasn’t always the case. I am on medication, reading books like the one with the title above, and actually, I DO want to talk about it. Or actually, talk more openly and honestly about it. As I look back over my journals, I realize that I have been talking about it. But I was talking mostly to myself and resisting what was staring me in the face.

I was depressed.

And wonder of wonders I am not alone. According to psychotherapist Terrence Real, the author of I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, depression among men is a silent epidemic that we don’t want to talk about or deal with because it isn’t “manly.” He differentiates between overt depression and covert depression, the different symptoms of both, and how both can destroy lives and relationships if not acknowledged and healed.

While I have found the book generally very helpful, there are a couple of things in particular that have jumped out at me so far. Early on, the author describes his learned understanding of men as “wounded wounders.” I resonate with this idea. In a sense I have been very adept at recognizing and dealing with my pain. My plethora of writings reflect this. However, it is only recently that I have begun to move from the narcissism that such inner work can lead to and into the more transformative power of letting my vulnerability out, through the same power of writing.

Real also describes the relationship between depression and violence, namely the violence men perpetrate on other men, especially as boys. I understand this as well. I was a smart and sensitive boy, gifted with near sightedness and thick glasses. My peers teased me mercilessly about my lack of manhood whatever that means. I was called Gay and Queer as if those terms make one any less of a man. At that time it still hurt deeply. One guy even told me something like I might get good grades but he got the girls. Typical misguided macho stuff. But I believed it. It was only later when I looked back from the relatively safe vantage point of adulthood that I realized that girls and women were attracted to me mainly because I was a man that they felt safe with and could trust.

There were worse things done to me which for now will stay between me and my Maker. Suffice it to say that I have received more trauma than I have given. But I am not innocent. I have seen the monster within. I wrestle with him daily while at the same time comforting the boy who still cowers in pain nearby. It is a struggle but I must do so if I am to survive and be healed.

It seems that the only way left open for men and boys to prove their manhood is through violence. But we are not made to be this way. Depression arises out of the helplessness we felt when we were victimized by other men. It also arises out of the guilt we feel from when we victimize(d) someone else, man or woman.

But there was One who did not walk this way. He took the pain perpetrated upon him by other men; their abuse, their torture, their injustice, their hate, and He did not respond in kind. Even more astounding, He transformed it into new life, a way of love that encompasses everyone and everything.

That, my friend, is HOPE. I have never found a Man tougher or more tender. It takes a real man to face his pain, not throw it back in someone’s face, and come out on the other side striving to be a better son, brother, father, husband, and friend.

So Man Up. I mean, really. You, your loved ones, and the world deserve it. It’s time we made this crazy orb a safe place for everyone, especially other men.

Man Up Campaign

Man Up Ministry

The Meaning of Man Up

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.1: The Creature on my Shoulder

I have always liked ravens.
Not because of a certain Poe-m or its iconic phrase.
It is not that.
I have admired their black bodies’ flashing hues, sparkling eyes, cackling conversations in the spinning trees above me as I step out into the clinging fabric of another day.

The one that sits on my shoulder is silent.
Even on good days, it is there, a shadow just on the edge of my vision.
I sense its weight, shifting ever so slightly when I move my heavy arms to the task at hand.

We are reluctant companions at best.
It could fly away I think, remove its talons from my clavicle and seek after some shiny thing.
What I mean is that it is not hindered by broken wings.
Somehow it has chosen me.

When you see me, you would not know.
I am generally social, of good humor, articulate.
This creature sitting next to my molasses head is not visible to you.
But if you come closer, perhaps you will catch just a glimpse out of the corner of your eye.
And in the days ahead, I will try to introduce you to my familiar.

Its name is Elegiac.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Forecast

it is not that i have nothing to write
it is that i have too much

i have not known where to begin

the words have appeared within like leaves in a sudden spring
the trees are full

thunder breaks the silence
the sky fills with pregnant clouds

i await the wind

Posted in Longreads & Essays

Mothers of Peace

Today is a day set aside to honor mothers. As is the case in this country with most holidays that have been overtaken by rampant commercialization, it is easy to lose sight of the significant roots of Mother’s Day.

While we celebrate the mothers in our lives and the world over, we owe the prevalence of such a day to some amazing women who saw the day as a time for reconciliation and peace.

Women’s peace groups were the first to attempt to commemorate a “Mother’s Day,” primarily as a way for mothers from both sides of the Civil War who had lost children to gather together. Sporadic events were held throughout the next several decades. Ann Jarvis and her daughter Anna Jarvis are the two women credited the most with continuing the practice of a “Mother’s Friendship Day,” with the purpose of reuniting “families that had been divided during the Civil War.”

In 1872, Julia Ward Howe started a Mother’s Day of Peace as an anti-war observance in New York City which lasted a decade before it fizzled out.

Eventually in 1908, Anna Jarvis was able to officially observe a Mother’s Day at Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, the church where her mother taught Sunday School. Jarvis then campaigned for the day to become an official national holiday. West Virginia and other states passed legislation to do so. In 1914, Congress followed suit by passing a law whereby the second Sunday of May would be declared Mother’s Day. President Woodrow Wilson then issued a proclamation for citizens to wave the flag to honor mothers whose sons had been killed in war.

So Mother’s Day is rooted in the twin seeds of peace and reconciliation.

Let us never forget that.

Or our mothers.

May 13, 2012

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 Musings

Ads Nauseum

a mausoleum
ads nauseum
the consumer
being consumed
chewed up
spit out
like name brand
chewing gum

mathematical
continuum
ads nauseum
the buyer’s
been bought
things add up
to a negative
sum

crem de la crumbs
ads nauseum
soul sold
for fools gold
the golden rule
succumbs
to a heart gone
numb

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Ode to Morpheus

O Sleep, I give up on thee.
Hast thou forgotten me?
The sheep I numbered are running free
past all pretense of profundity.

I can trace the path that brought me here,
but the way of return is ne’er so clear.
I taste what hath sought to steer
me from what I yearn to draw near.

O Sleep, now it seems I must succumb as into my burning brain I have plumbed
to reap my dreams for words to come,
my yearning plain, O shouting eyes, be struck dumb!