Sunday Psalm

Come unto Me,

Sit, be still, and breathe.

All the distractions

Will wait for you.

If you stay here

For a while I will

Show you how to be

Present.

*

Come and see,

I haven’t changed.

The swirling world

Doesn’t dishevel

Who I Am.

The world can wait

While I wait with you.

Love.

*

Come and go,

You’ll be alright.

For I will go with.

I Am always.

Keep mulling over

Psalm 131,

It’ll come to you.

Peace.

Foot Fall

I’m growing into old.

Settle into chairs with a plop.

Rise out of them two-handed,

thankful for forethought of

choosing one with armrests.

*

There are creaks in the

coming and going now.

Sometimes it’s the cracks

in the wood—loose bolts.

Mostly it’s me, groaning.

*

In the effort of defying gravity,

I am grateful for movement,

even the slow kind.

More deliberate liberation

is humbly declared.

*

There is a beauty in deceleration.

Less distraction, more traction.

Reminders to stay low, pay attention

to where the next step will fall,

and in the falling I can,

by grace, take one more.  

Sinking Words

Words fall flat like stones

Across the water.

A few skips, then sink

Into the silence.

*

It should be a good thing,

Words gaining depth

Of meaning beyond

The undertow.

*

At rest in the sand

Like oysters,

Words absorb, quell,

Gather the quiet.

*

All souls like a sea,

Hold thoughts

Below the surface,

Words settle in.

Dipping a TOE (Theory of Everything) in the Lake

It’s about wonder, humility, and awe all wrapped up.

Gerald the Writer

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…

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Sunday Psalm

Day broke me open,

Birds telegraph each other.

I hear.

The three day headache gone.

The prevention was a vile

Of virus.

A second poke became

a prod of vulnerability.

A fever.

My swelling arm an evidence

Of the world getting under

My skin.

I kneel with open face

And a thrumming heart

Of thanks.

“Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1

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Without Birthdays There’d Be No Mother’s Day

I found this one from last year. Happy Mother’s Day!

Gerald the Writer

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…

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Sunday Psalm

Lord of the dance,

roll out the sun

and its shine.

Light up the scape

with nervous pastels

furrowing spring breezes.

Let the arias raise

like winged praise

above the seams.

Take our hand,

glide us, lead us,

light on our feet.

Till our dormant hearts.

Water us down to the

tip of our roots.

Guide us to the

updrafts of Your glory,

to float on Your praise.

You are the Lord

of the dance.

Sweep us up.

Carry-ons and Stiff-arms. A Rambling.

Recently, a friend who was slogging through a deep grief, shared some sermons with me. It caught me off guard, because our conversations during walks or coffee doesn’t usually come to specific points. We usually wander around ideas of faith and philosophy with with subtle ambiguity, and a spritz of a wry humor following close behind.

The sermons were buoyed by poignancy, and filled with slicing truths. What I mean by that is the preacher didn’t play patty-cake with God, but held the tension of life close to his heart. He shared his ubiquitous tight-wire between his pain and peace, failure and flourishing, mourning and comfort. Yet those tensions didn’t excuse him or me from taking action.

They had the effect of a simmered stew of Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, with Psalms of seasoning sprinkled in.  

Quite honestly, when a sermon comes to a close with pragmatic faith choices, as I believe they should, hives appear on my soul. I stubbornly scratch and scratch wishing I hadn’t heard the application points. I suppose it might be the Romans seven syndrome. The Apostle Paul’s word toss. “I do what I don’t want to do, and that which I want to do, I don’t.” Romans 7:15 The old do-do dance I know all too well. But often it is more than that, the floating around conclusions, the avoidance in the void is the road I most travel.

“It’s how I do, Lord.”

“Really, Hmmm. Come out onto the floor. Let Me show you some different moves.”

“But God, look at me! Two left feet time and time again.”

“You do know the music is going to stop eventually, right?”

“Yes.”

“Well, standing, back against the wall, isn’t using the music to its fullest.”

 When there’s a possible “out” or a way of loosening a grip on “my baggage,” stubbornness rises up and I stiff-arm God. We get used to our carry-ons don’t we?

Back to my friend. Any other person sharing sermons with me wouldn’t have the same effect. But his current state of raw grief coaxed an expectation on my mind and heart.

He is ripped open, receive what has spoken to his wounds.

As I listened to one sermon, then another, a vulnerability rose to the surface, and like a steroid shot, began healing the hives. Honestly, I was a bit rattled. Scared of commitment. Afraid of relationship, especially with God. I know. I know. God is love. God so loved. John 3:16. But my experience has its influence on me to the contrary. I’ve pinballed my way through Christianity…hitting bumper after bumper with a reactive-attachment when it comes to God.

In one of the sermons the preacher talks about ‘getting over it.’ At first what seemed like an avoidant approach, an end-around of sorts, turned into ‘getting through it’ to ‘get over it.’ Get it all out on the table. Or—Get out on that dance floor while the music is still playing.

I guess the conclusion is I can’t dance holding the baggage or stiff arming the invitation.

My verse of this year (partial verse, I should say) is “Come unto Me.”

Did you know the first miracle of Jesus was at a wedding? Water to wine. Finer wine. I think there might have been some dancing. Isn’t it funny how the music lasts to the end? Even when the chairs and the gifts are put away there are a few hold outs on the floor begging for one more song.

He truly is the Lord of the dance.

Sometimes how I feel when dancing with God. Not God’s fault. Heh.

R and R

Relief or Restoration?

I rattled through two sleeves of upscale buttery, saltine crackers like a couple of clips from a machine gun. This was after I found an old war flick, A Bridge Too Far, recounting the failed mission of WWII code named Operation Market Garden. I just wanted to veg, find a bit of relief from a busy weekend. Eventually I fell asleep in the glow of sound and fury.

Relief…

Back in the day it was peanut butter banana toast and Gilligan’s Island. It was an after school relief from junior high, that prison of halls and doors and peer pressure positioning. I’d make it home to lounge in the sunporch, give my pimpled persona a rest, and watch the Skipper run into the tree for the umpteenth time.

Such a pattern still exists if I let it. The space is there to get spaced out, relieved of the duty of adult living. I mean don’t we all want to escape some of the realities of the “real?” But is escape and relief the optimal way through?

Right before the Covid lockdowns last year I went to a men’s gathering in the mountains of Colorado. Buena Vista to be precise. Buena Vista means beautiful view, which it definitely was. So beautiful that there were times I wept at the scenery. Throughout the weekend the idea of choosing between a way of relief and a way of restoration was posited. In hindsight, I came away with the realization that I was using.

I began noticing the carbs of comfort, the plopping in front of the T.V., being strung out on the news cycle like crack cocaine and using social media as affirmation of my existence. I had become a hollow man. I was using, and it manifested in–“squirrel!”– and punching new holes near the end of my belt. When my kids had to use my first name to get my attention something wasn’t right.

I needed restoration. Relief serves a purpose, sure, but often it leaves a hole. Escape drops everything for a bit and leaves me empty handed. But restoration, I found, replaces, refurbishes, and refills. It’s not a substance but sustenance.

In that most famous of Psalms it says “He restores my soul.” Don’t we all need that? Not just because of the last year, but because life is edgy, full of wonder and wander, a Tale of Two Cities as it were. Read it here. https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=first+line+of+tale+of+two+cities&id=F2C6F65F1727439F9B7DB0139DAEF5CE23143DAC&FORM=IQFRBA

Our interior life needs consistent restoration. It takes more effort than relieving ourselves. Sorry for that image. But seriously, find the things that restore. Some of you are way ahead of me on this journey. I’m getting there.

Here are some restorative acts in which I engage:

Cutting down on news intake.

            Reading and journaling.

            Praying.

Hugging my wife and maintaining eye contact.

Listening to music.

Hitting some trails with a friend.

Getting out in nature in general. (So thankful for my job in that department.)

I’ll end with this. Over the weekend I went to my mother-in-law’s to pick up a piece of furniture she no longer needed. Walking into her house is like swimming in sunshine. Excess of color, artwork everywhere I looked. I found that when I left I felt lighter, happier, and comforted. I told her so. She is versed in restoration. Her life hasn’t been all bright and cheery, but you wouldn’t know it upon entering her gallery.

I pray you will find the avenues of restoration to fill you. What are some of the restorative acts you pursue?

PSALM 23

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

3He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

ESV Version