Happy New Year!

I don’t want to abuse the metaphor of 2020 as a vision of the year to come. Honestly, metaphorically, most days I can’t see beyond the tip of my nose, with or without glasses. I glance back occasionally, but there is really “no use of looking up a dead horses arse” like coach Walker said after a Jr. High football loss. So, in effect, 2020, is like waking up to another good old new day by the grace of God.

Twenty some minutes into 2020, on our way back from festivities in Allegan, our Ford Flexed as a deer got all up in our grill. We hit it dead on. The deer timed it perfectly to square off with 55mph bullet. I didn’t swerve. No time to. The brakes were applied like a knee-jerk afterthought. Was the animal suicidal or just trying to beat a train of sorts? The doe, fortunately, didn’t come through the windshield. Instead, what happened, at least to those of us who were watching, couldn’t be described without the onset of nausea. All of the humans were startled, but safe; the deer…oh, deer.

Makes me wonder what startling things lay in the year ahead. I mean, last year many things got up in our grill. Think about it. If we have a heartbeat, life has its double edges, does it not? Last year was so 2019 with “Oh, the humanity” splayed throughout. I admit, this is from me, Forrest Grump (My self- imposed term of endearment from this holiday season), and I tend to see through a glass darkerly. The blessings arrive as surprises too, if I am paying attention. The daily reading from Frederick Buechner, January 1st, encourages listening to your life.

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Frederick Buechner

Not only that, but mercies are new each morning. Forrest Grump is double covered by the God of the universe. Grace and mercy. Mercy and grace. Speak Lord. Teach me to listen. Whether the deer is up in our grill, or a calming vision in a cornfield at dusk, help us God, to wend our way through 2020 with our hearts wide open.

Happy New Year!

Come Any Other Way (2012 Christmas revisited)

Oh God, come any other way,

but not as a child.

 

Come in a space ship

so we can claim you as an alien,

as a figment of our imagination.

 

Wash up on earth’s shore

so we can claim you as a castaway

an unknown, scraggly and salt soaked.

 

Walk into town as a vagabond

so we can look and call authorities

to distance us.

 

Stand by the side of the road

so we can decide if your thumb up

is necessary for us to stop.

 

But please don’t come as a baby.

Don’t come and coo and cry

and take our breath away.

 

Don’t come as we did,

dependant and humble

and wrapped up tight.

 

Just don’t, don’t be so vulnerable

as a wonder from a womb

bathed in the liquid of humanity.

 

Don’t come as a child, please.

For then we would need to

hold you in our arms.

 

Don’t come as an infant

so innocent and small

for we might get emotional.

 

Don’t come as we once were

to become as we

should be.

 

Don’t come in this mysterious way

for then we might come

and adore You.

God Is

I’m a bit lost.

Nothing new.

Walker Percy gets it. (Lost in the Cosmos)

It’s not that I don’t know where I’m going.

I see where I’ve been too.

Forth and back.

It’s the momentary.

The present places shift around.

Shift happens I suppose.

Here is there a lot of the time.

Neil Diamond sung about

Being neither here nor there…

“I am, I said, and no one heard,

Not even a chair.”

God’s Name isn’t ‘I Was’.

God’s Name isn’t ‘I’m going to be’.

God’s name is ‘I Am’.

Actually ‘I Am that I Am’.

This echo reached all the way to me.

Here. Now. Thank God.

Needful Things

I’ve adopted a new aphorism. The phrase was cultivated during our latest move. A move which included a plethora of boxes, many notated with vague adjectives. Miscellaneous, i.e. misc, was the numero uno choice of description. Then came the likes of various, random, important, very important, extremely important, fragile, really fragile, special, Dad’s books, Mom’s books, and books.

Near the end, up to the day of closing and bugging out like a M.A.S.H. unit, the writing on the cardboard drew intellectual confusion.

“Socks and picture frames.”

“Pop tarts and junk drawer.”

“Cat nip and scarves.”

The labeling of boxes didn’t give birth to my new aphorism; our barn did. As the great OZ said to the Tin Man: “You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk!” I said this loud and clear to our pseudo-barn. The emptying of the great catch-all was daunting. It was a scene from American Pickers except there was nothing to pick. Okay, maybe my nose, but nothing deserving a handshake.

Two months ago Barbara and I decided to bug out and pare down our material footprint on the planet. We sold the farm. All 7.5 acres, the barn, the chickens, the garden, and the Slop shire She-shed left behind. Now we are trying to stuff a chinook salmon into a sardine can. Our little bungalow on a postage stamp is a quaint booth in a neighborhood where walkers walk and mail boxes are safe from snow plows plowing them over. It is smaller though…by a lot.

The sorting and deciding what to pitch may take months, but we will park a car in the garage come what may. I imagine an old pickup truck full of barn stuff (an envy of Fred Sanford) driving along a dirt road with the tailgate down, and each bump dumping this-n-that like casting lots. I keep telling myself to not overthink, just open boxes and put the old catnip in the trash. But we have to pay some mind to what we want to keep. “What are the needful things?” Geez. Just pedal down the pickup and pray for washboard roads!

Anyway, I ramble. The aphorism…

“Don’t acquire a barn unless you are a farmer.”

Pedal Still

We can only keep coasting downhill.

What about the other side?

What about the vistas,

ridges, mountains, big and small?

 

Where do the shadows yawn?

What becomes of perspective?

Why settle in the valley

no matter how it cradles us?

 

Back on our bikes,

those pedestals of freedom.

There are times to coast,

and times to climb.

 

For Jasper Hoogendam and Glynn Young

find Jasper at https://livingingodspocket.wordpress.com/

and Glynn at http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com/

Backspace

You can’t use the space bar when backspacing.

I’ve begun writing for an hour now.

Nothing to show but white space

after deleting thoughts.

Talk about white supremacy.

What if every thought

was sentenced to paper?

Every tree beaten to a pulp?

Fiction and non, single spaced,

no margins of error,

looking like an inkblot

for our subjective peruse?

Ah, words.

Libraries full of them,

bound like prisoners,

serving their sentences,

and hoping for parole.

May I have a word?

Backspace.

 

The Apostle John’s first sentence in his gospel…

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

Dance Floored

I remember the back wall

at junior high dances.

The cafeteria cleared of tables

and a disco ball suspended,

catching and pitching light

like baseballs.

 

Velcro didn’t exist then,

yet something held the boys to

one side of the room,

while the girls talked to

each other across the way.

The floor waited, triple waxed.

 

We didn’t have enough puberty

to make a collective advance.

But a handful of boys,

some with shadows under

their noses, trickled over

one by one, laying down

 

rail for the rest of us

and our pseudo hormones

to cross the great divide.

Some of us took a chance,

while others stood staring

afraid the currents would

 

pull them under along

with their blushing,

freckled, pimpled faces,

accentuated by the

myriad of little spotlights

spinning around the room.

 

To even touch in public,

although in the somewhat

dark, was like the sun

coming out from under a rock.

And then there was light

shining on our pubescent selves.