God in the Dock, Again.

Thinking on these things again. Heart abnormalities. Human condition shtuff. Then the argument ensues. Just read an awesome book suggested by a friend that addresses the thoughts in this rambling.
“A Grace Disguised”
“How the soul grows through loss”
By Jerry Sittser

Gerald the Writer

“Just who do you think you are?” I demanded.

“Who do you think I am?”

“You are the God in the dock, often under investigation, especially when things go awry.”

“For example?”

“When plates under the ocean slide, causing a wave to morph into a wall of destruction on innocent people. When tornados twist through towns and suck the life out of them. When land dries up and fails to give sustaining crops to families. Anytime Mother Nature gives humanity a swift kick.”

“Natural disasters.”

“Yes. I struggle with them. Why don’t you give Mother Nature a stiff lecture ending with ‘God so loved the world?’ Sometimes it would be easier to be a deist, believing you set the world spinning and then walked out the door.”

“There are many easier ways.”

“Do tell.”

“You may not like them.”

“Well, right now I don’t really care for what you’re not

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Taking Thoughts

The bookmarks sprung up

in odd arrangements on the shelf,

like so many weeds in a garden.

I pulled them a couple of months ago,

All of them.

In part to put out of mind

the sight of unfinished business.

But also to put to rights

the little irritations some books

might endure of a distracted thinker.

Sure, I purposely lost my place,

but is place a deterrent of getting

lost in thought?

Is turning the last page a

guarantee of closing the book

forever?

Apparently not, for the volumes

in the case are still there,

like a well-tended garden,

waiting for thoughts to be taken.

Look closely at the image…how easily the weeds pop up like my own bookcase!

 

A Sunday Psalm

Take me to the river,

the currents that carry away.

Be the banks of faith

as my feet feel the passing by.

For now, the ocean isn’t needed

with waves that overwhelm.

No, it’s the redemption of here.

The forgiveness of now

channeled and contained,

yet flowing on and down.

The present and eternity

as indistinguishable as the I Am.

 

Take me to the river,

the conversations which float by.

Be the impeded stream

and sing a long ago song.

For now, a waterfall isn’t needed

with its deafening overtones.

No, it’s a smaller voice I lean into.

The whispers of hope

riding on the vein of a meadow.

The past and its echoes

fading into grace and mercy.

You Are.

 

Take me to the river,

the baptismal space.

Be the undercurrent where

the world is muffled.

For now, a heavy rain isn’t needed.

Should I scream or cry,

the undertones are received

and washed away.

The covering of love,

before, behind, above, beneath,

wrap You around me.

Take me to Your River.

A Novel Story (Flash Fiction)

Sitting on the seat of my pants rather than flying by them, I settled in. Tucked in a corner of Casey’s, slurping off the Wi-Fi and staggering sips on a cup of Joe, my fingers danced on the keys. I tuned out the pitter-pat of the keyboard that so annoyed me when someone else was doing the pounding. The character driven novel I started had morphed into a plot twist like a pretzel. The protagonist was on the verge of becoming too becoming, and if I didn’t reign her back in, this could end up a screen play for a Hallmark movie.

The lockdown had siphoned off my Muse. Writing at home in the utility room sucked, plain and simple. Half-hearted attempts at moving the novel along became a droning, on the nose, word count. To feel productive I let my characters wander off the preverbal page as cobwebs and half empty paint cans looked on. The fact was, jealousy took over. With the world on fire and truth stranger than fiction once again, my novel couldn’t hold a candle to a media driven culture with all its flash-mob images. I envied journalists and all the morsels they stabbed at in 24 hour cycles.

A novel requires a long attention span, as opposed to sound bites, podcasts, and twit tweets. Without the coffee shop I relied on, putting on airs of fresh ground beans, and patrons shuffling in to order drinks with fraps and frills, well, my mojo atrophied. Casey’s was my bunker, my base-camp to revive and move a novel along. All of those coffee shop types of distractions became a wall around my imagination. It didn’t make sense, but it worked for me, and I was back with my butt in the chair. ‘The’ chair.

Something was off though. Maybe it was the hand sanitizer. Could be the masks we all wore. The extra effort it took to read people’s eyes rather than facial recognition. Tricky. Chairs were missing as well as half the tables. I was glad to be back, and yet after a while I felt like my imagination, like the invisible virus, was ready to find another host. The shop turned into a surgery theatre with all the Muses observing from the other side of the glass. The world had changed, or had been chained. For a moment I wondered if I had time to finish my novel. I could have written War and Peace 2.0 during the lockdown if my Muse hadn’t skipped town.

Fear crept in like I had left the door of my creativity cracked. The usual writer’s doubts marched past. “What’s the point?” “You don’t have what it takes.” “There are a thousand billion books at thrift stores everywhere, what makes you think…” I pulled my mask down for the umpteenth time to slug more coffee. I was tempted to find a tape measure and see if all the X’s really were six feet apart. I wondered if picking my nose was part of the cease and desist order. The public was much pickier now. It seems we all became Big Brother. George Orwell, smiling from his grave, a self-assured corpse of Christi, pointing his boney finger at all the points he made decades ago.

Damn. I guess I have to find a new normal. What a contradiction of terms…new—normal. The war of the words threatened by writer’s block once again.

I asked my protagonist her opinion. She offered me a cup of tea, shrugged atlas eyes at me, and demurred a smile underneath her N-95 mask.

Storm Front

Clouds roiled by,

doubling their chins.

clearing their throats

over and again,

sending echoes down the line.

Veins popped on their foreheads,

razor lights split the tension–

flash points of interruption.

Then the weeping,

sobbing, lubrication of

pent up anger mixed

with distraught.

A million-billion tears

distilled in sheets,

form rivulets

on the overlooked

guttural indentations

of the world’s skin.

“What’s Going On?”

I’ve got nothing to say. So I’ll let my fingers do the talking. Now, isn’t that a bit passive-aggressive?

So many swirling dervishes, spinning hearts out of control. Soaked emotional ballasts thrown over the edge of reason. To try to right a ship that is surely sinking seems futile. News cycles peddling faster and faster and still unable to keep up. Pundits and prognosticators sweeping up the glass in the street looking for some coherence underneath.

Facts:

-George Floyd was murdered by a police officer, watched by other police officers, video rolling from body cams and bystanders’ phones.

-A bottom up/top down investigation ensued. All levels and departments of government on it.

-Protests justly formed.

-Riots are not protests.

-Violence is not peaceful.

Many more facts to add, but these slipped through my filter first.

I loathe going political. Honestly, fear gets the better of me and I would rather run silent to avoid push back.

I’d rather our sight be color-blind than color-coded. Since when is skin tone equal to tone of voice? When did we forget Dr. King’s dreams of mountain top perspectives and the long contemplative walk to Selma? I thought we were all just trying to get along. Rodney King and Dr. King sought to bring peace and reason to the fore, and yet we forget.

Trying times are not the time to stop trying.

If it weren’t for the masks at the protests and rioting, we might have totally misplaced a pandemic. Justifiable identity suppression while looting. A masquerade party involving drinks of a Molotov drunkenness. The piece of peaceful protests, (Our constitutional right, by the way.) thrown by the side of the road, and into crowds.

“What’s going on?” Marvin Gaye

What brought a cop to the point of kneeling on the neck of George Flyod with his hand in his pocket like la de dah, Whistling Dixie as it were? Why were bystanders just standing there? What would I have done in that moment? What happened to “Everyone stand back, let’s give him some air?” The arrest was over counterfeit money. No matter why the cuffs were put on him, an officer isn’t prosecutor, judge, or jury. On the side of every police cruiser are the words “To Serve and Protect”.  These officers redefined those terms and now all officers are lumped into a police state of mind. I don’t buy it.

I still believe law enforcement is part of our judicial system. You know, Law and Order and all that. The buck doesn’t stop with Officer Krupke or Jerry Orbach. Laws run uphill until justice is served. Equal justice under the law dispensed by a blind folded lady holding scales. The system isn’t perfect because people of influence aren’t perfect. Sometimes justice is underserved, mis-served, or deliberately maligned. We have to give it a chance, before we take the law into our own hands, don’t you think? Or would it be better to slice the system and dole out slivers into each and every ‘We the People’ and see how justice is served?

If that happened I’d be on the Barney Fife end of the spectrum. Empty pistol. One bullet in my pocket nestled near my heart. Or maybe Andy Griffith, handing out the benefit-of-the- doubt more than reaching for the handcuffs. In short, I drive a brown truck for a living, not a black and white.

Black and white…isn’t that the issue here? The thing is the issue isn’t black and white, clear-cookie-cutter solutions. The problem is some people can’t see beyond the colors to the content of the character. I’m not saying that character is all about grey matter. Grey matter is only the beginning. The eighteen inch trip from mind to heart is the path toward healing.

There were and are peaceful protests. There were and are candles and prayers. There were and are civil ways to air sadness, frustration, and anger. But those avenues take heart and aren’t easy roads on which to walk forward. On the contrary, it seems The Road Less Traveled is blocked by difficulty. The first line of the book is meant to be crossed, not a detour.

“Life is difficult.” M. Scott Peck

Let’s say our prayers and incite peace. These are matters of the heart. God help us all.

Up There

Maneuvered by metaphor,

sashayed with clichés,

I looked up and it was still there,

that sun pasted between

a cobalt wall

with translucent clouds

brushing in the fore.

A golden pill hung

before I ever was

and hanging still

when my blip bleeps its last.

I relish every age spot

given by its graces,

and return its due

respect after

tender shoulders

absorb aloe vera.

A light by which

I see.

A warmth by which

I feel.

A presence by which

I love.

Dipping a TOE (Theory of Everything) in the Lake

Did Evolution Give Us Surfing? - READY... SET... QUESTION!

Big trees fell into Lake Michigan over and upon each other like pickup sticks. The beach became a trimmed path to wend down more than to lay on. What happened when I was so busy inland mowing my lawn? So much for long walks on the beach. It was more like an obstacle course, hiking around large upended stumps or limbo lumbering underneath thick trunks.

A bit overwhelmed, I found a perch part way up on a dune. The kids had invited me along to do some hammocking. Yes, that’s a thing now. Hammocking isn’t really a word yet. Auto- correct suggested ‘ham mocking.’ Next Easter I will try mocking the honey ham. Anyway, my kids dug their toes in and continued to the top, while I sat and pondered the plight of our most favored lake of the greats.

Is this simply another sign of the times? Is this God’s way of reminding us of how little control we have over the skin of the earth? Some suggest humanity has contributed to climate change. I don’t doubt that, but the degree of our influence on the changes are still under review to my mind.

I sat for a bit, then pulled out of my back pocket a small book. If Einstein Had Been a Surfer by Peter Kreeft is a slim hardcover about the search for the Theory of Everything. Although it is a short walk on a really long pier of thought, I found it fascinating considering the view of dunes cut off at the knees and horizontal trees still bearing green leaves.

Now, I don’t know why, but for a few months now I’ve been queuing up surfing videos. Before that, I had a fetish for tsunamis. Before that, I thought of how unfathomable the oceans are and why God proportioned them thus. Consider this…maybe God’s thought was to overwhelm us with motifs of eternity like the universe having no back wall on which to hang our pretensions. How about the ocean blanketing 71 percent of our little blue planet? Maybe God thought 29 percent was all that humanity could manage.

[Side note: Did you know the saline of the ocean is within .5 percent of the saline percentage of human amniotic fluid?]

Anyway, as Kreeft surfs (He is a surfer, by the way, along with being a professor of philosophy at Boston College.) the waves of thought in search of an ‘everything’ that curls in on itself, he employs a philosopher, a scientist, and a surfer in conversation. After a few pages in I realized how over my head I was, trying to grasp what they were after…but the undertow. I caught a small wave and I wasn’t sitting on top of the world like one of the Beach Boys.

I set the book down several times to look off in the middle distance, the distance being a huge lake of which I could not see the other side. A metaphor of eternity, infinity, or simply a bigness beyond what my eyes beheld in total. I knew Wisconsin was over there somewhere, but right then all I could do was exercise faith. I couldn’t see everything. Hmm.

A thought spilled on my conscience. “Jerry, you’re not Einstein, Kreeft, or a surfer. Why are you splaying intellect? What is it you’re after? Does thinking about these things bring about a peace of mind, or mitigate a piece of your mind?” If anyone does capture The Theory of Everything, then what?

Hang on, I’m about to hit the brakes and take a sharp turn.

Recently someone reminded me that the first temptation of humanity was knowledge of everything. “Just take a little bite of the fruit and you will be as God, full of knowledge.” Well, hey, becoming a know-it-all seems harmless enough. How about realizing you’re in the nude and reach immediately for underwear. How about playing hide and seek for the rest of your life? The ole be careful what you wish for scenario.

Surfing. Channel surfing. Surfing the internet. Have our eyes gotten Googly all of a sudden? Do we ride the Youtube all the way to shore? Since when do we need a 24 hour news cycle, real, fake, or everything in between? Knowledge is power as they say, but is absolute knowledge absolute power? There is a forest. There are trees. Do we understand the difference? Is it okay for elms to lay down on the beach? Does all sand eventually fall through the hourglass? Will the theory of everything distill our intelligence into artificiality? Will we be as gods, or will we be okay with bearing God’s image? Will we acquiesce to God holding onto the final coherence, keeping intact the mystery and majesty of human existence and God’s?

I set the book down and turned to look to the top of the dune. My son was up there, taking in the broadest perspective. My daughter was next to me as we took in a narrowed view of the lake. Down below my other daughter was waist deep in the chilled early summer waters. I may not know the theory of everything, and at this point, I’m not sure I want to. What moves my desire is theories of somethings, like sharing an afternoon at the beach with people I love, taking in the creativeness of God, and thanking God for both. Surf’s up.

Without Birthdays There’d Be No Mother’s Day

I don’t remember the day I was born, do you? But ask any mother about the day her child was born and she will be glad to fill you in.

(Imagine a New York accent.) “Little Johnny came on a rainy Wednesday. Oh yah, he gave me the fits for eleven hours. Johnny just didn’t have a clue as to how to get outta there, so I pushed him! I’ve been pushing him ever since. But anyway, his arm was up over his noggin, the doctor said, so a puny thumb flipped out first like a hitch hika. The Doc fumbled around so only his head was crowning and all. That hurt like a bugga! The good thing was it helped me forget my husband was layin on the floor out cold. He lost it when a nurse handed him a soiled towel to throw in the linen basket. Geez Louise, I had to do the Lamaze all by myself. All that breathing! The nurse took ova holding my hand and started breathing with me. The doc said to start pushing. Golly. Finally, after all the ‘don’t pushes’ and ‘not yets’ I felt like I had the constipations. So I pushed like a motha and screamed like a psycho lady. Lamaze schlamaze! That kid took my breaths away. I swear little Johnny and I were the same color of blue. I bet a dolla he was. Actually, I did swear. More than once, but who’s countin’ at that point. The doc said I was doin’ good, and that I was fully effaced. Ida like to slap him in his efface! Everyone, including my husband, who pulled up beside me again, kept sayin’ to push. With my eye balls bouncin’ at each one of ‘em I yelled with spit comin’ out, ‘I am! I am! Holy Schmoly! Get this kid outta me!’ The doc told me to give it one last big push, which was good, because that’s alls I had left. So I pushed like a weightlifta and out came my boy like a bowling ball. The nurse put him on my chest like a slab of meat and I was so full of the emotions. Johnny cried, for crying out loud, and my husband came in close and all our tears mixed together. I’d go through it all over again! A miracle it was, a miracle for sure.”

Due date determined by the baby, not the mother | SciTech ...