Lifted

The clouds aren’t usually this quiet.

They’re trying to sneak by unnoticed.

No definition. Looking a little pale,

they scrape the tree-line like a hangover.

The cool night chained them to the low places

and now they slip away into the light of day.

With their dissipation I am thinned,

the heaviness of dark lifted,

shadows spilling as a remembrance.

Forgiveness as the dew,

mercy as the burning thereof,

and grace its antecedent.

Advertisements

The Most Interesting Man in the World

Yeah, you might have seen the commercials. I think they’re advertising a beer, anyway, I got to thinking… Would I really like to be the “most” in anything?

Even the most interesting man has to accomplish the most uninteresting of duties. Take a leak. Brush his teeth. Eat some eggs.

I caught myself thinking “I want to be the most humble man in the world.” I don’t know if that is a paradox or an oxymoron. Maybe it’s simply moronic.

Maybe I want to be the most “telling-it-slant-poet” in the world. I would lay down lines which echo for a hundred or so years.

Being the most… Most. Most. Most. What a funny word. The more I ponder it, the sillier it sounds. Say ‘most’ out loud enough times and well, what do you think?

Honestly, have you ever met anyone aspiring to be the most UNinteresting person in the world? Maybe you have, and just didn’t notice. Did you see what I did there?

I think God-math comes into play as far as being the ‘most’ in any endeavor. You know, it is in dying we live. It is in denying we receive. Like walking backwards to settle into the starting blocks… I think.

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp started all this mental wondering. She got all up in my stuff by reminding me of Jesus’ words…”Unless a grain of wheat dies, it abides alone.”

That is all.

For The Birds

It is for the birds I climb the fully extended ladder hoping my son can break my fall should I lose my balance. The wing-ed ones which God said are under His care. The sparrows which worry not, but flit around, plucking and chattering, waking me before the set alarm.

“Bring in the birds, Lord, so I remember Your grace. So I can ease off the hustle of life and know Your love and forgiveness is worth more than tuppence, yet a tuppence of faith is all that You ask.

When Your grace flies into view today, I will thank You.

Reiteration of Fathertude

Saturday June 3rd 2000

Last weekend I realized I hadn’t been to see Dad’s marker since the graveside service.  So I called my three brothers and asked them to meet me there at sunrise on Memorial Day to remember Dad.  I got there early to have some time to reflect and lay some flowers down.  The funny thing was that it took me ten minutes to find his spot…to find him.  Then when I did tears came like a dike had just burst.  I hadn’t expected that.  “It was just like when he was alive…I had to go looking for him,” I whispered.  Then the translation to my spiritual life was more understandable.   Issues of my doubting God came to surface.  Lies were uttered, “You have to go looking for God all the time too. He even tells you to do it like some cosmic game of hide and seek.  When does He ever come looking for you?  (Believe me, I’ve found some pretty good spots to hide.) It seems God’s still at the tree, arms crossed, counting to infinity as only He can.”  Then truth chimed in with Psalm 139 and other scant passages I stored for the Spirit to recall.  Not to mention the sun that was starting its daily journey.  The smell was fresh of the flowers and the colors that brushed my senses. Then my brothers showed up.  We talked, cried, and I read some journal entries from around the time of Dad’s death and then read “his” poem.  We prayed the Lord’s Prayer and then I thanked the boys for joining me in my therapy session.  

     There are some arms of Christendom today that are promoting a gender neutral Bible.  Technically God is gender neutral.  Maybe a better way of putting it is bi-gender.  God encompasses femininity and masculinity, He created us male and female after all and we are God’s image.   But for me personally, I need God to be my father.   I need to know that God can pursue and protect and be strong in a “man” way sometimes.  Forgive me please, ladies.  I need my Dad.  I need my Abba.   I figure I need a father maybe because of the absence of my own.  

P.S. “Dad, I know you’re story, and I am thankful for you and know the struggles you had. Can’t wait to see you again.”

Driving Through History

Each Memorial Day I visit my father’s grave marker at sunrise. It started in the year 2000, the first anniversary of my father’s passing. My three brother’s and I met to reminisce, pray, and pay some respect to a life, without which we wouldn’t have our band of brotherhood.

This morning the drive through town resurrected a collage of memories. Places that held memorable slides of personal cohesion.

I had a Free Press route on the west side when I was in pubescent transition. There was a house on Grand Pre Avenue that tested my throwing arm each pre-dawn day. Its porch was unlit, and I got freaked out every time the shadowed enclave came into my field of vision. I could pinkie swear there was a person nestled in its corner, ice-sculpture still, waiting to snatch my body and what was left of my courageous façade. I never heaved a rubber-banded paper so hard while trotting off balance. I was like Joe Namath outside the pocket, under pressure, throwing off one foot. Those deliveries fused my definition of fear tighter to my understanding. Not to mention one morning while picking up my bundle at the convenience store a 45 pistol was waved at me and the attendant before a masked man ran out with the contents of the cash drawer.

I drove past what used to be H&G Market, my first W-2 employment. I still recall the sound of snapping open paper grocery bags. The May-day in 1980 where I stood in the parking lot after loading a lady’s checked off grocery list of things in her trunk was recalled with no effort. I stood looking up at debris circling above the rooftops like the disciples watching Jesus float through the clouds. Then my conscience asked me why I was standing there. I ran back into the store in time to feel the pressure pop my ear drums while the front windows and back wall of the store simultaneously broke free. My sister, who cashiered, and other employee’s ran for safety, but the tornado went by so fast, most of us didn’t make it to the basement before the twister continued disheveling its way to downtown Kalamazoo. A handful of lives were lost, including a lady at the laundromat next to H&G, who tried to save her dog when a wall fell on her. The silver lining of it all was eating ice cream, lots of it, until my gills were swollen shut.

Then I passed the house in which I met my wife. A brick bungalow all of our children know about. Right near the top of West Main hill it stands as a talking point each time we drive by. “That’s where we met!”

The hill itself surfaced a memory of the shenanigans of my friend Dennis (The World’s Tallest Leprechaun) and me self. Well, it was one shenanigan anyway. We decided to see what would happen if a tire were rolled down the center line. It was early morning, pre-sunrise, so there was no traffic. It had to have been doing 40mph by the time it jumped the curve near the bottom. We could’ve done worser things…worser?

Funny, when I visited my mother’s resting place on Mother’s Day this year, I drove past the last house in which my father lived. This morning as I stood over my dad’s marker I was a short distance from the last place my mother lived. Lived. They lived. Because they did, I can say I live now. My mother was in assisted living her last month or so, after she spent so many years assisting me and my nine siblings. I cannot wrap my head around such mystery. All our stories melding at points, separating at other points. Now, some stories are only held together by memory. Memorial stories. Man, I could go on…I suppose I will, just like my parents do in my memory.

Runaway Psalm

Oh God, how my heart beats me up.

Its own rod and staff comfort me not.

My face runs flat with self-control.

My figuring has no end.

My passions, frail, off balance

Lead me beside myself

Where no water is.

 

Then a mockingbird flew silently by,

And I heard a hummingbird remember the lyrics.

A cardinal blushed.

A raven was its own shadow.

The fog lifted my countenance

Enough to see the mystery of You.

The Thou of this I.

 

You suggested I lighten up

As the sun crested a weary scape.

Ah, the light by which I see

You.

 

Then we laughed.