Look Up Psalm 19

How often I forget.

Eyes, razor-like, look on,

Gaze along the horizon,

While stars spindle down

Into my soul like a midnight

Dream, scraping the chill

Off my bones, off my bones.


A local poet named the dark-

Wide-skyscape beautiful; love.

I’m still looking around at

The fading shadows of

Deep evening and shallow morning.

The moon glow lifts my eyes

Off the ground, off the ground.


My cricked neck wearies,

So I settle in the low,

Lay in the dimple of the

Long grasses; their back and

Forth in the breeze frame

The heavens declarations

Off the heights, off the heights.

The Hippie of the Long Gray Hair

On my way into the store for dog food and sour cream I stopped and took in the last call of the sun. You know, when the magnifying glass of the horizon burnishes the great circle before it drops below the surface. A man was trying to capture the image with his phone a few spaces over. Futile. I thought of Elton John.

“Don’t let the sun go down on me.”

Isn’t it funny how the greatest metaphors are so easily dismissed, or just missed? Lately, when the sun is a bit weary and heads under the covers, I think of my sister Ellen (The oldest hippie I know.). She sundowns every evening. Jack, her husband, texts me updates a few times a day. More like downdates after supper. Sundowning is a term attached to people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sundowning turns my sister from forgetful half sentences (Of which no two fragmental sentences cohere.) to an obstinate curmudgeon. Curmudgeoness?

When dementia began defacing Ellen’s brain at a more rapid pace earlier this year, it was time to get more help.

“Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody!”

Her kids, my siblings, gave Jack some respite. Needless to say it’s a lotta work to manage a person who can no longer manage. Applause and thanks go out to all!

So, I found myself in the same living room that held my mother sitting in a lazy boy wondering who I was. It’s been almost ten years ago. The other day I stopped by to visit Ellen and sat across from her on the same couch. She says I’m still her boy. I’ll put that in my pocket!

Don’t cry Mare, this was your idea!

The crazy thing about this dementia is the teeter-totter aspect of it. Like my other sister (Mare) said it’s like Ellen doesn’t just become like a little child. In fact, as I’ve observed, a stutter step of doing life took over. Stubborn and snarky. Frustrated and fun. Up, then down. Jack texts me often…”She’s back!” As we come and go, she doesn’t know if she’s coming or going.

“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.”

Ellen, the hippie of the long gray hair. Those who love her pluck the petals of she loves me, she loves me not. Mostly, Jack wonders what petal is it today, this hour, this moment?

“Love, love me do. You know I love you.”

For now, we who know Ellen hold on to her memory for her. I’ll remember for her the time I jumped on her like a flying squirrel after a long absence. I was just a kid, but the memory is as fresh as dew. Like I said somewhere else, round and round her memory goes, but this time it spins out of control. The centrifugal force peels her fingers off the stories which once were milestones of her identity. We do what we can but still feel…

“helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still calling her Ellen, we all are, for good reason. Her spirit, soul, and body are still spouting her humanity. It’s her mind that has wandered off because her brain keeps misfiring. C.S. Lewis once stated “We don’t have a soul. We are a soul. We happen to have a body.” I wonder if God sent most of her mind on ahead to scope out heaven and left little half thoughts with us to try to decipher. Easy there Jer.

“It’s a long and winding road to your heart.”

The other day I walked in, grabbed the reaching tool thingy, you know, the one with the trigger you pull, and on the other end it clasps things you can’t get at. Anyway, Ellen was wearing her winter hat with the ball on top. She kinda looked like a cone-head. I grabbed the ball with the tool and lifted up the hat to check under the hood as it were. She smiled. I smiled back. Such a simple thing. Showing teeth. Curling the mouth. Revealing dimples. I’m sure Jack would tell you it’s the little things that hot-wire hope in the midst of hopelessness. Small gifts.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, Bra.”

I don’t know what a bra has to do with it, but life is going on, even in the small significant world of Ellen and Jack and attendants. I believe a Big God sees what’s going on there. Ever present, maybe a bit more present when worship music fills their little living room. God isn’t watching from a distance.

Back to the sundown metaphor and how it reminds me of Ellen. How about this? The sun can’t set without getting up there first. Up. Down. Just like the hippie of the long gray hair. Life.


“Yesterday, all my troubles seem so far away.”


“Here comes the sun, do and do do.”

This has become a song that reminds me of Jack and Ellen


When summer yawns,

a day break wedges

my thoughts between

the sun’s direct light

and its slanting

toward winter’s solstice.

As time wraps and warps

around my puny

gut feelings, a

prayer wends its

way through the

waning season

toward the bending Light,

an amen rolls

on toward equinox.

Day to Day Utters Speach

Into the stillness I spoke,

pushing words through the deck rails

and out into the field

to comb the tall grass.

Psalms twined with poems

were cast like seed

for the wrens and swallows.


I wonder what God thought

when His words were sent

like a dove to the formless void.

How did the Voice travel

this far, through the deck rails

to me?


Psalm 19

Lunar Liturgy

I'm the Moon..;)

There hung languid thoughts

toward borrowed light.

My shawl dipped in the Red Sea

draped on the tranquility.


Above all breathable air,

a distant prayer wrapped

around your cold shoulder.

I stood under the moon of tides.


You buoy on the ocean of thin air

and wash out the twinkled little stars.

I threw you thankfulness

and the tassels ricocheted to the sun.


Come now moon with your sideways smile

and reflect my prayers like flares.

Send them to the burning and shining

and I will kneel here until morning.


“I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,

your handmade sky-jewelry,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,

Why do you bother with us?

Why take a second look our way?

Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods,

bright with Eden’s dawn light.”

Psalms 8:3-5 The Message

It was either C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton who got me thinking about orbital metaphors such as the sun and the moon. For years now I have labeled the two spheres as representative of God and mankind. The sun the source of light and energy and the moon a receiver and reflector of light and energy. Now that the days shorten I find myself delivering in the early night with the moon glow drawing me to look up. How does it just hang there with no apparent strings attached? This morning I woke up to a moonset. Beautiful and poignant in its muted descent, I felt nicely small. All these issues and dramas in my micro existence are thrown up to orbit as prayers with the moon like a shawl. The goings on down here in this fractal earth try to find some peace in the sea of tranquility. That’s not enough. Even the moon knows its orbit around our sphere is subject to orbit around the sun.


The last verse of Psalm 8 confirms ultimate source.


“God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.”


The Lord’s mercies are new every morning says the writer of Lamentations. Could his lament have ricocheted off the moonlight to the coming Bright and Morning Star?


Aurora Borealis: For Nathan

We stood in awe

of the celestial



We Pointed

guiding words

of wonder.


The glowing curtain

danced and skipped

in the northern sky.


It hung nervous

in its translucent

evening gown.


The ghost furled

in the folds of

the wind.


Together we strained

to see the mystery

of us.


“The aurora borealis is a wonder, truly, and, as captured here, in landscape photographer Ole C. Salomonsen‘s 2012 stop-motion film, Celestial Lights Viewed From Earth, it will leave you in awe.” Maureen Dollas




Thanks to Maureen Dollas for reminding me of this celestial wonder. http://writingwithoutpaper.blogspot.com/

Oh Hymnal, Where Art Thou? Isaac Watts, I love your hair, but your words lay me out.

The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord


The heavens declare Thy glory, Lord;

In every star Thy wisdom shines;

But when our eyes behold Thy Word,

We read Thy name in fairer lines.


The rolling sun, the changing light,

And nights and days, Thy power confess;

But the blest Volume Thou hast writ

Reveals Thy justice and Thy grace.


Sun, moon, and stars convey Thy praise

Round the whole earth, and never stand;

So when Thy truth began its race,

It touched and glanced on every land.


Nor shall Thy spreading gospel rest

Till through the world Thy truth has run;

Till Christ has all the nations blest

That see the light, or feel the sun.  Amen.


From Psalm 19

Isaac Watts, 1719

Taken from The Hymnbook


1719? Really? That is almost 300 years ago. If one would search for the old hymnbooks, Isaac Watts lyrics would be found in every one.

Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748) was an English hymnwriter, theologian and logician. A prolific and popular hymnwriter, he was recognized as the “Father of English Hymnody“, credited with some 650 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in use today, and have been translated into many languages.  Wikipedia.

The hymnbooks seem to be a thing of the past. You will still find them in some churches tucked underneath the pews. You will find a copy on my desk leaning against a few Bibles. The hymnal is where there is to be found modern poetic psalms. Honestly, what else could Christians be up to back then but to think, read, pray, meditate, and work the land?

Like David of old out in the field, the hymn writers were those who studied the biblical text and chewed on it and likely were under compulsion to reiterate God’s intent in creative ways. We are the better for it.

It gives me pause. I wonder if my meditative capabilities atrophy in direct proportion to the distractions I allow. I need not wonder about that rhetorical statement!

Psalm 1:2 says: But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

Go and read all of Psalm 1 and see what meditation on the law produces. I wouldn’t think that meditating on “the Law” would be that appealing in my limited understanding of the word “law”. Law equals boring. Nay, not so, says the psalmist.

Look at all of Psalm 19. You know, the Psalm that Isaac Watts reiterated so richly. (By the way, Psalm 19 is in the top five favorite psalms of mine.) Look at 19:7 to the end. Now the hymn makes so much more sense!

I confess it was my A.D.D. which aided me in reaching for the hymnbook. I reminisce way back to the little Baptist Church when I was a teen. “Stand with me please and turn in your hymnal to 259, The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord. We will sing all four stanzas.”


Ticket to Ride 2 (In Poetic Form)

Yesterday, on the way to work,

I heard that around 10:30a.m. a bus-sized

asteroid would pass by the earth.

36,750 miles out and heavy on the gas pedal.


I phoned work immediately and told them I was sick.

The flu, I told them…more like One Flew Over…

I ended up at the center of town under a bus shelter.

It was the mainline transfer station.


I pulled out two quarters stuck together with gum

which escaped from its wrapper in my pocket.

There were others cramped in the queue

probably looking like an overstuffed “Pope-mobile”.


A few conversations bounced off the Plexiglas

as a smoker on the outside of it rocked back and forth,

arms crossed, trying to warm himself.


It was 10:15 and the cold aluminum

didn’t erase a warm Spock smile off my face.

I was thrilled that I didn’t have to hitch-hike

through the galaxy and wondered if the fare was 42cents.


Maybe Ms. Frizzle would be at the wheel

with a magical grin and dimple.


Would the bus look like that huge brown cone-looking

thing from a Star-Trek episode I saw years ago?

That space dirt clod with a mouth on one end would

pull in planets and swallow them like malted milk balls.

The Starship Enterprise was no match, even if Scotty

“Jerry-rigged” the crap out of the force field.


Would there be aliens from outer-space heading for outer-space

irritated that yet another stop, “Earth”, would slow down

an already, quite less than light speed journey?

I can just hear the alien’s squeaky complaints translated:

“Are we there yet!?  I don’t have to use the space waste bowl!

I went in the debris of the Saturn ring just twenty years ago!  Sheesh!”


A lot of politicians are yelling “To the moon, Alice!”

Such small vision they have I thought as I sat

flat-bottomed, clicking my toes together to see if they were numb.


Which galatical line was passing through anyhow?

The Milky Way?

The Andromeda?

The North Star Lines?


Was it heading for the Eye of God

like C. S. Lewis’ Great Divorce bus trip?

I looked up as if looking through the satellite skies

of Mark Heard and saw some hope.

The great expanses freckled with dots of light

always intrigued me and I was excited

take a greater leap beyond mankind.


Oh, it will be great.

I will sit and watch the universe pass by

while Ms. Frizzle drives on and on.

I will take in the heavens and think of poor old David

having to simply write about it in Psalm 19.




This is reformatted in poetic form for dVerse poets pub open link.

“Isn’t That Spatial?”

The Church Lady, Dana Carvey’s mistress of religious ambiguity, is not what I was thinking specifically when that phrase popped into my mind.  It happened early the other morning, about 5:15a.m. to be exact.  I was on my way to church and while winding my way through Van Buren County I spotted a bright orangey light fixed in the southern sky.  As I drove the light stood there, staring.  I would make a turn and look over my shoulder and sort mental files…Saturn?  Mars?  Hmmm, I couldn’t figure it out as it followed me along CR653.  Then a curve adjusted my course to “due south” and the mystery revealed.  A red blinking light appeared.  A plane with its turn signal on was heading north slowly.

This has happened before, many times actually.  I often look up in the night sky.  Before I moved to this house every night after work I would crick my neck as I shut my car door before walking into the house.  Now I hit the garage door opener and seal myself into my cocoon and enter into my pod without checking out even the ceiling.  But, that apparent stationary light tricked me.  Optical allusion, as they say, led me to believe a planet hung in the pre dawn canopy.  The solution would have been easy.  Just stop the car for a minute and stare back.  The truth would reveal without the trees moving past and rolling hills rolling by.   Simple.

In all actuality, if I happen to catch Saturn in the night sky, it too would be on the move but the immense space between Earth and it would make it appear loitering like a macula in the heavens.  A while back in the night I kept waking up.  Just my eyes would open and see through the window a bright star just above the pines.  Each time my lids parted the star would be a little closer to the frame until eventually it disappeared behind the wall.  Everything was moving…even as I slept.  I know. I know. Einstein had this figured out years ago, not to mention other neck-crickers centuries ago.

A while ago I heard a preacher describe the universe with large mathematical terms.  A star’s light, aided by the speed of light, hundreds of thousands of miles per second has been traveling since before the birth of Christ just to shine in the night over our town.  I watched a video once that started with a camera shot over someone’s back yard and panned out and out and out until my mind was spaced-out with unfathomable spatial gaps between one orb, our cute little earth, and a sun similar to our own beyond, up, and over the rainbow of the galaxies.

I once stated that I am not a theologian.  For the record now I will say that I am NOT a scientist.  I am just a fifty year old kid trying to keep my imagination and wonder from sitting in a rocking chair to watch Wheel of Fortune.  Did you know that the word universe means “One Song.”  Yeah.  Those in the new age movement give the universe its own personhood by using that definition.  Just a thought…when I listen to the night skies with my eyes…I think, “Who wrote this?  Who is singing this wonderful tune?”  Who?