Heart Breaking

Behold the beauty

Of the quiet places,

Stilled and distilled

Down to the pauses

Between heartbeats.


Take courage

When silence

Nearly breaks you,

And tempts you

To break it.


Fold your hands,

Bend your soul,

And free your

Spirit into His



Listen how the

Winds strokes

And threads

The evergreens.

I heard the whispers

Of God.


Such a beautiful broken silence.


This I pray: That we would hear the still small voice as we quiet our hearts in Jesus Name, Amen




Comb-Over. Father’s Day 2016

Our church had a prayer meeting last Sunday night. The morning service included writing brief prayer concerns on rocks and placing them in baskets. That night, as people came to pray, at some point we were encouraged to pick of a stone and pray for the persons concern on the stone. I picked up one that simply said “Dad”. It moved me to tears. I’ve been thinking about the “Father” concept ever since then. My heavenly Father, my earthly father, and myself as a father. Then I thought of the first line of this blog entry.

Gerald the Writer

My dad was like a father to me.

He took me with him to fix my Godmother Ginny’s air conditioner at the Ceramic Shop. He showed me his humble quarters at the Burdick Hotel. I followed him around while he repaired fridges and jammed locks. I recall watching Dad play horse shoes by the tracks at the fire station. He wore blue pants most of the time.

I remember the sound of the tires on a gravel road as we delivered his Free Press route before sun up. That’s when I asked him what his biggest regret was. “I wish I hadn’t got so angry at your mother.” Me too Dad.

When the benign tumor stole one eye, half of his smile, fifty percent of his hearing, and added an unsteady swagger when he walked I was nine. I had no clue how scared he was when he went to…

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I restarted the wood-stove in our basement early. I thought I jammed it full enough to last ‘til morning, but alas, it fizzled out. I rifled through our waste cans. I crumpled up obituaries, Superbowl ramblings, and Michigan State fallout stories to lay a new bed on which skinny logs could lie. With the flue and the metal doors wide open, a struck match touched the edges of news print in hopes of warmth and less furnace action.

The Muse draped her arm around my shoulder as the edges of wood started crackling.

“So, how you been?” she said.


“You’ve been waiting for me, and here I am.”

“What took you….”

“It hasn’t been that long Jerbear.”

“Hey! Only my sisters can call me that!”

“How long have we known each other? I should be one of your sisters by now, for crying out loud.”

“Oh, now you’re invoking Mom phrases. Great.”

“Listen, I’m here now, in front of this fire with you because this is where your hearth is.”

“Ah, playing with words eh?”

“What’s the matter? Don’t you want to play?”

“No. I mean yes. Oh, I don’t know. It seems I get the keys under my fingers, and…. Nothing.”

“Well, look at you go now.”

Dear Mrs. Muse, (or is it Miss, or Ms.?)

This letter is a curtsy, I mean, a courtesy to inform you that sneaking up on me in a quiet moment of reflection is an unacceptable duty of your employ. Please do not show up unless I am at my desk with Microsoft Word open to an empty page, Times New Roman, 12 point, doubled-spaced.

May I remind you that your duties are to total memory recall with appropriate inspiration when I am at the aforementioned location. You must evoke my full frontal lobe capabilities, especially early, when distractions are limited to the hum of appliances, computer fans, and distant snoring.

This warning letter will be kept on file.





“Well now, I see what you’ve done here GTW. I’d say I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. I certainly hope a second letter is unnecessary.”

The Muse then snatched the letter from the queue and laid it on the glowing embers. The smoke rose up the flue like a winter moonrise.


Puzzled into Coherence.

Pieces Of The Puzzle, Puzzle, Play

Where were we going to eat the Christmas quiche? I’m was toned down enough to think about such dilemmas of practical magnitude. You see, the 2000 piece sea-turtle puzzle occupied a half-acre of our dinner table. It was sixty percent done and wouldn’t be finished by Christmas.

I’m not sure who invested the most time, but each night after helping Santa deliver the goods, I sat, stood, hovered, and puzzled over the sea-turtle shell game. The therapy provided was thoroughly unexpected. As our common area kept on with dishes clanking, conversation humming, and dogs yipping, I puzzled. Sometimes others joined in the puzzling and connection ensued between souls like the coupling of pieces. I found out I can puzzle and engage with the family at the same time, unlike chewing gum while jump roping.

My mom was a professional puzzler and I told the kids about how she had puzzle trays. The trays wrapped around the project and each held similarly colored pieces. It seemed like cheating to me, but hey, when you’ve done your time trying to fit the pieces of real life together for decades, well, there you go. Mom rarely looked at the box top either, so it kind of offset the tray trickery. It took extra time for her to figure out the difference between a giraffe nose and a giraffe hoof. I mean, a slice of nose and a portion of hoof in the same tray would delay things a bit, don’t you think?

Anyway, as I puzzled, my mind wandered, like when my dad listened to Ravel’s Bolero. Funny, a classic picture of my dad napping is in plain view of the puzzle. I don’t want to nod off on my family, so the sea-turtles are keeping me in the room at least. Yet this activity is a balm which doesn’t make logical sense. It’s a puzzle, for crying out loud. Why does the search for pieces meld peace into the harried pace of the holiday season?

I feel a sermon a comin’, as Supertramp’s Logical song comes to mind. Lord, have mercy…really. Puzzle pieces preach. When you’re trying to put together all the sky so blue and infinite. When the ocean waves crash together, but fail to fit together. When turtle shells and sea shells meet, or not, you start searching for the edges. Begin with the frame, the context in which all the finite presuppositions seem mysterious and aloof. Look for the straight lines of containment, they’ve got to be there.

This year I’ve been repeating a phrase in an attempt to diffuse the tension I feel constantly. “I believe there is absolute truth, but I can’t know it absolutely.” So many floating thoughts in our post-modern, pluralistic, touchy-feely, sound bitten culture. Is there an overarching frame of truth? Is the truth out there as The X-Files so ardently claims? Is there a piece to the puzzle, without which the whole scene loses its coherence? Is this even the best question to ask?

Then I read this. Bear with me, it’s kind of long, but these words laser in on the concept.

“One of the most soul-damaging effects of modern life is the obfuscation of story: the fragmentation of story into disconnected anecdotes, the reduction of story to gossip, the dismemberment of story into lists of formulae or rules. In most of the words that come before us each day – delivered via television, internet, newspaper, billboard, and gossip – there is rarely any story beyond the immediate event. There is very little that connects to the past, reaches into the future, or soars to the heights. Instead of connecting us with a deeper reality, such words disconnect us, leaving us in a boneyard of incident and comment.

On the other hand, every time someone tells a story and tells it well and truly, the gospel is served. Out of the chaos of incident and accident, story-making words bring light, coherence, meaning, and value. If there is a story, then maybe, just maybe, there is (must be!) a Storyteller.” Eugene Peterson on Homage to a Broken Man by Peter Mommsen

The effort to bring all the pieces together is story-telling on a miniature scale. Getting back to the puzzle, a turtle’s eye, and a portion of sea coral won’t necessarily bring context and coherence. The effort matters. If we are content with 2000 unconnected pieces, well, each piece will represent a sound bite, a turn of phrase, a juicy morsel of gossip, and the story will not be birthed in total. This idea probably breaks down at some point, like deconstructing the puzzle and sweeping the pieces back into the box, but it got me thinking.

Life lived piece-meal is seems more appetizing; easier to swallow, but lacks coherence and context. The real work of my relational coherence depends on me staying in the room. Gaining a wholeness means coming to the table and embracing the mystery through prayer, insight, and perseverance.

The puzzle was finished in the evening of New Year’s Day, an apt metaphor for a good 2018. God is good.


Our Father in Heaven,

Grant us the grace to live our stories within the context of Your Story this year. May we find the edges of Your reality to give coherence to our existence under the sun. Help us to be okay with the mystery, yet faithful, trustful, and hopeful in You.

                                                                        In the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord




When God Speaks Love. Listen to this.

Just because of all the rain lately.

Gerald the Writer

The memory of a cold, windy, raining day resurfaced today.

She said in her blog God doesn’t always speak to us in a booming voice. It seems in these times God would only be heard in such a tone. It’s loud down here with all the news networks, overloaded stadiums, earthquakes, wars, scandals, overzealous weather, and the body politic. Can God get in a word edgewise?

Then there is the religious banter. A mixture of clanging cymbals and pundits with orchestral wands trying to direct every butt splintered pew sitter. There are thousands of good willed religious folk though, speaking truth through the cracks of the cacophony of mass market manipulation. Mustard seeds are handed out on an individual basis.

Am I talking too loud? Booming?

Ahem, back to the cold rainy day… It was about a decade ago when I had breakfast with a mentor. I questioned him about…

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Wasn’t it Monday just last week?

Didn’t I wake with no words to speak?

No thoughts of the morrow to say,

Just breathing in today.


Some prayers were said as I sat,

For children and wife and all that.

An amen was uttered as I walked away

Saying this is the day, this is the day.



Under mind,

bump stocked

and fire branded.

A cool glass of water,

clear as a monk’s

prayer before sunrise

is sipped and spilt.

Be anxious for nothing

is an easy task…

It’s when we’re anxious

about something,


that our equanimity

is bent by a category

five, and we kneel

when we should stand,

and stand when we

should kneel.


The Porch

The house stood at the dead end of Grand Avenue. “For Sale,” It said. I didn’t want the house necessarily. I wanted the memories of the childhood more than the malformed nuances of adulthood. Ignorance was bliss and that bliss faded into the backdrop of life away from home. My driveling reminiscence stood hoping for a sensory flashback. Scuffed Red Ball Jets shoes and ham-burg gravy I suppose.

My daughters climbed the stairs with me and we became momentary voyeurs of the place where I learned to walk, ride, and drive. We cased it like burglars. We peered over the window sills. We walked its perimeter. I started pouring out stories like a coffee pot.

I told them how I used to ride and ride my stingray around the house until the roots of the maple trees rose like varicose veins. The path allowed only the hardiest dandelions to survive. Now there was actually green grass circling this “used to be” home. How my mother would have liked to have something to mow back then.

I got on a knee to peer under the wooden overlay of the cement stoop in front. It was under there, crumbling still. Instead of five smooth stones there were five rough steps with bookend brick walls. Those walls held, for a while, the stories of our lives.

In the spring ten children fell out of our winter barracks and sat at ease on those steps. The porch was the place to hang out and watch the world go by…even on a dead end street. It was never dead; more like a holding yard for the neighborhood kids.

My sister Mary sat on the wall and wander around guitar chords. I remember her playing the intro to the Beatle’s Blackbird. Now I hear my son playing it and his fingers pick and point me back to front porch days…

Back when it was a safe zone for tag or home base for hide and seek. Back when my mom blew the police whistle from that porch to call us home for dinner or baths or a head count. Back, when in early August, it was an excellent place to watch lightning bugs and listen to the cicadas sing. Back when neighborhood kids showed up for senseless banter and storytelling from its podium. Back when cigarette butts were flicked into the sidewalk cracks. Back when the porch served as a barricade from water balloons and squirt gun fire and pitches of the little pearly berries from the shrubs out back. Back when it was the backdrop for graduation pictures. Back when tears of sadness, frustration, anger, and happiness had freckled its grainy mortar. Back where hellos and goodbyes were handed out.

It reminded me of my mom. Actually, it was for her I wrote these words down. That porch was like the house’s lap. We crawled up on it to relax and be ourselves. There was a comfort of simply sitting there. Sit and be. Let the wind blow our hair back like she did when she checked for fevers. First the back of her hand against our cheek, then a cool palm on our forehead, then the brushing back of our hair and her pursed lips just above our eyebrows.

Then to climb up on her lap…the best easy chair ever there was. It supported our weighty little bodies. We sat and waited for her strength to be transferred to us. A short visit there lent us security. I know now that her strength and security was often waning. Only God and she knew how many times her cup was empty and yet a little drop of love managed to fall on us… and that was all we needed.

Now that porch is laminated in painted wood, make-up that covers its inner beauty and foundational strength. I feel like I need to go back in cover of darkness to pry up the cover up. Then I could sit on the pitted remembrance of who I was becoming. I imagined all my siblings stuffed on that porch sharing the steps and the one lap we all had in common.


Low Grade Depression

He knows and gets it.

Gerald the Writer

Jesus’ hand pressed on my chest.

I woke and made eye contact.

Sweat saturated my neck and shoulders.

He performed CPR.

The breath of life at all angles.

“Listen, are you listening?”

I nodded.

“You aren’t dying.

Your heart is strong.

This deep press on your heart

is waiting for a response.

I am acquainted with grief.

I am a man of sorrows.”

I could feel heat in my eyes.

“I wept

over Jerusalem

over Lazarus.”

I blinked tears that burned down.

“Things do get complicated

and the sorting out and attempts

of nailing those things down wearies you.”

I looked away.

“They tried to nail me down too.

I was too complicated.

I still Am to many.

Even you try to secure Me with nails.”

Eye contact.

“Yes, even now you try to manage Me.

You aren’t the only one.

But you are the one I am talking to…

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Prayer of Absolution

Source: Prayer of Absolution