Getting Older

Growing up is a fateful journey,

Full of both joy and despair,

With yearning for a sense of completeness

And sometimes a wish for escape.

I wish I could spend more time

With my family and friends, but

Somehow life seems to get in the way.

Everything from irritable bowels to

A toilet overflowing and flooding several rooms—

From a new job as an administrative assistant

To my wife taking classes at the local community college—

It’s always something.

But as time passes,

I will grab that opportunity to touch base,

Even if just with a note or a phone call.

As I get older, and especially,

As my nieces and nephews get older,

Time seems to fly by and becomes

Much more precious.

Decisions become a challenge, sometimes,

And dates and times seem to crowd in

From every angle.

Oh, if I could only go back!

What I would do differently.

Mercy

Alone, but not alone.

God waits behind the curtain–

Or is it I that wait on God?

We wait on each other, then,

In a sort of waltz together,

Taking one step forward,

And one step back,

Rotating in circles,

Never completely meeting.

Oh, how my heart yearns

To connect to the holy one!

Like a child yearns

To be held by its mother,

So I crave the loving arms

Of my Creator.

My prayers of desperation

Fall down into the abyss.

My prostrate body

Aches with loneliness and pain

Of rejection and betrayal.

I must continue

To remain faithful,

But my soul is so weary.

How my enemies mock me,

Lord of All, please,

Be merciful.

A Boy and His Boat, Ch. 2

The little boy, whose name is Jack, went back to his house and went into the kitchen to see if his mother was there. She was, and Jack asked her, “Mommy, when will Daddy be home?” His mother smiled, answering, “Your father will be home in just a few minutes. He should be on his way home from work right now. Do you need something?” “I need help to build a boat,” Jack said. “Well, I’m sure your Daddy will help you, but you might have to wait until Saturday.” “Okay,” Jack said. “I can wait.” When his father drove his car into the driveway, Jack ran out to him. “Daddy,” he said. “Can you help me build a boat?” “Sure, Jack,” he said. “We’ll do that on Saturday. How big a boat do you want?” “Just big enough for me to sit down in,” said Jack. “Okay, son. We’ll do it, I promise.” Jack was excited! He couldn’t wait for Saturday to come. “What day is today, Daddy?” he asked. “Today is Tuesday,” his Daddy said. “You’ll have to wait four days.” “Okay, thanks, Daddy,” Jack said. “We’ll go to the hardware store together on Saturday morning to buy supplies,” said his Daddy. “Sounds great, Daddy!” Jack said. Jack would count the days until Saturday.

A Boy and His Boat, Ch. 1

There was once a little boy. He lived by a lake. He had learned how to swim, and he was quite good at it. One day, during summer vacation, he was out by the lake, watching the fish swim around in the water, and the frogs jumping and croaking, and the minnows scattering each time he touched the water with the end of a stick. He thought to himself that it would be great fun to have a boat. He considered for a while what he might need to make one. He thought of wood, and a hammer and nails. He knew that would make a nice box, but he wasn’t sure if it would float. He was afraid it might sink to the bottom. He decided he would ask his father if he would help him build a boat. He knew his father had worked on a boat when he was younger, and the boy hoped he would know some of the tricks to make it float.

In the Presence of Everything

Are you the hand

That I shake in the pew,

Or on my way out the door,

To the parking lot?

Are you the presence,

In the plate and cup,

Upon the altar,

That is given for me to consume?

Are you the dirty, scarred face,

Of an abused, homeless woman,

Begging on the street,

Around the corner from the grocery store?

Are you the gentle face and eager voice

Of the elderly man

Who comes to my front door,

Struggling to use an iPad to show a video?

Are you the pastor at the soup kitchen,

Who tells me the administrative position

I’m interviewing for requires someone

Who can shmooze with the volunteers?

Are you the book with all the stories

Spoken a long, long time ago,

Written a long time ago,

For people who lived a long time ago?

If so, I’m wondering:

What is your name? Who am I

In relation to you?

Why do you appear differently to all?

I’d like to pin you down,

Put your number and your address

In my contact list.

I’d like to feel you.

I know that’s not how you operate,

If you did, you wouldn’t be God,

Or would you?

Sometimes I wonder.

Happy

Happy knowledge spins a carriage.

Pumpkin cheeks smile upon you.

Loving words and soothing touches

Caress the soft skin and feed if hungry.

Watch him grow he’s getting so big!

Nothing but a joy to live.

Rocking chair gets lots of use.

Writing poems for your new muse.

Happy, yes, happy, yes, happy.

Circles of Insanity

Softly sleeping in the folds
Of silky swabs on the deck
Of a sailing ship,

Echoes of rhythmic pounding
Drive through my aching temples.
Who is the captain of this roguish craft?

Who gave the orders to
Run a rampage through the hearts
Of innocents, to cast a dark shadow
On the wretched faces of children?

Only somber tones can soothe
The memory of that castigation.
Only blood can satiate
The appetite of such hungry wolves.

Who would be so uncouth
As to disturb the peace and order
Of a simple man and his wife
Dining in the privacy of their home?

Who would be so rebellious
As to eat the flesh of a sacred cow,
Such as one that hovers nearby
A holy temple?

Only the whispers of a lovely pixie,
Dizzily dancing round and round
A bonfire in the depths of the
Ancient forest can come close

To enchanting this unworthy
Troll that casts a horrible stench
Across these pristine hills.
What is worth her ritual?

Who can begin to imagine
What demons lurk behind
Jagged rocks and at the bottom
Of such abysmal pits?

Who is willing to march across
Abandoned cities, pillaged
To the extreme, sacrificed to
The appetite of barbarous dogs?

How can one come to grips
With the secret blessings that hide
In the recesses of one’s mind,
Accessed solely by nymphs,

Loathed even by the heartiest of
Gargoyles, cursed with the shame
Of encountering the reflection
Of their offspring’s soul?

How I weep at the glimpse
Of my only morsel of redemption,
Hiding in this minuscule kernel
Of truth, buried underneath

Millions of centuries of lies, rumors,
Tales and sweeping romantic
Reunions between lonely
Peasants, clinging to hope,

Ready to die at the first symbol
Of heavenly, cascading rivers of light!
“To be young again!” they scream.
To be free of this overwhelming

Nightmare, to escape the tortuous
Gaze of the wild doe, caught in a trap
Of spikes and razor blades.
Lost is the promise of deliverance,

Once again.

A Religious Background

Well, let me say first off that I do have a long religious background. I was raised in the United Methodist Church in Miami, Florida. The interesting thing is, being raised in this church did not interfere whatsoever in me keeping an open mind and resisting stereotypes and prejudice, as is possibly the case in some places. After all, Miami is a metropolitan city and a virtual melting pot of ethnicities and an international gateway to people from all parts of the world.

Although I was a child, and like a child, I took part in teasing, cruel jokes, and other immaturity typical of children all the way through adolescence and even young adulthood (and some for the rest of their life), I have learned to think for myself on most subjects, simply by intellectualism, reading a wealth and variety of literature, and by meeting a variety of people from all walks of life, all of whom usually dispel any stereotypes I held onto, even if just a little bit in the back of my mind.

I think we all have prejudices and stereotypes. In some ways, it is a survival instinct. We try to separate the “good” from the “bad” and those who are in “our group” from those who are not in “our group”. It gives us a sense of safety and security, even if this sense is mostly a delusion. I think all minorities and groups who are persecuted by society benefit from “circling the wagons”, so to speak, in order to get support from those who are of like minds, hearts, and bodies, and gaining power from being in a group.

Now, I say all this right off because I really think that, although religious groups can do these things, and maybe some of them do, I don’t think they are really any different than any other group in as far as whether or not they are religious. Now that’s not to say that if they are made up of people who are already very prejudiced and stereotypical, that they won’t reflect those traits in their religious group, but the prejudice and stereotypes do not originate from the religion.

Coming from a religious background as I have, I must say I have learned a lot of very good lessons through the church. I’ve learned to care for the hungry, the homeless, disaster victims, those who suffer from the ravages of war, those who are persecuted because of their race, sex, religion, etc. And yes, discrimination does still exist in our world, and in the church, and this problem is mostly due to one thing: reverence for the canon of scripture.

Scripture contains some pretty harsh things said against homosexuals, and even worse, these things have been blown way out of proportion by our culture in America and across the world. Homophobia is rampant everywhere. That is a challenge for today’s society that still must be overcome.

I want to end with the greatest thing that religion, my religion, has taught me. The man, Jesus of Nazareth, was the greatest man that ever lived. Anyone that has any doubts should read the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four books will give four different, sometimes overlapping, perspectives on who Jesus was, who he claimed to be, and what he means to Christians. I can tell you in short that Christians believe Jesus to be the Prince of Peace, Holy Lamb of God, Son of God, sitting at the Father’s Right Hand in Power and in Truth. Christians believe that in dying on the Cross in complete innocence, Jesus paid the ultimate price for the sins of the world, thus enabling us all to attain everlasting grace and peace. Salvation is something that is hard to comprehend without faith, but basically it is the attainment of forgiveness for guilt and condemnation that we earn by falling short each and every day of what we could be, what we were born to be, what God created us to be. With salvation and God’s grace and forgiveness, we can come a little closer to becoming his vision for our lives.