Sunday, June 6, 2021

 

Memorial Days

During the war I

    carried an M-1

        a reluctant warrior

Honor today those whose

    love of country led

        into unwanted war

Antonio on his

    way to the front

        never came home

Respect for those whose

    patriotism precluded

        the call to arms

Conscientious Steve

    refused a gun to

        keep the peace

I replay gut wrenching

    choice 72* years

        and counting

The present valued

    by past heroism

        of the brave

Dishonored by unshackled

    jingoism and

        pernicious hate

Gratitude for those who

    protect and defend

        runs deep

Sorrow for all lives

    lost in conflict

        forever throbs

I cover my heart

    to honor all

        veterans of war

I cover my heart

    to honor all

        veterans of peace

Striving for an alchemy

    that turns the glamour

        or war into pervasive peace


*I joined the Alabama National Guard when I was 17. By the time we were activated for service in Korea I had begun my ongoing struggle to define a patriotism that leaves room for conscientious objection.

Taegu, Korea 1952


Sunday, April 11, 2021

 

Inosculate 


In the search

     for a

          higher ground

One never

     travels

          alone

The past

     a constant

          companion

"New occasions

     teach new

         duties"

Love provides

     a working

          guide

Justice

     validates the

         trek

Labor

     employs the

         tools

Faith-eating

     platitudes

         censured

Moral nausea

     eased with

          compassion

Probity refusing

     to appease

          moral decay

Unrelenting care

     for the weak and

         vulnerable

Recycle anger's

     energy to

          resist evil

Visions

     tempered by

          flexible hope

*from the hymn, Once to Every Man and Nation


Covered wagons on the way up to Cripple Creek.

We pulled our '64 Volkswagen truck over and asked if we could pose a picture. I can only imagine the life and work of those whose lives were served by the covered wagon. I do know that before I owned the truck, my Dad used it to haul storm damaged walnut trees into his high school workshop to teach woodworking. The scene is a reminder of the vision and energy of those who have gone on before. The challenge is to draw on that memory as we continue our search for higher ground.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

 

Together

Two old men each

     more humble

           than the other

Old friends

     meeting for

         the first time

Lived separate

     lives

          together

Making new memories

     by sharing

          old ones

Recycling old

     jokes to

          refill the now

Quietly hopeful

     to find

          redemption

Tagging the past

     to reimagine

          meaning

Quiet settles as

     humor cuts

          through regret

A current of

     love breaks all

          time barriers

Forever

     open for

          surprises

Two old men

     together when

          separated

Each with

     his own 

          chalk*

*They agreed that at some point each would take a trip to  an undisclosed location. The one who reached the location would make an "x" with his chalk and if the other one reached the location first, he would rub it out. Makes absolutely no sense, until it does.




Monday, March 15, 2021

 

To Prepare the Soul


Weary travelers

     felt the

          force of Zazen

Surrendered to

     the moment

          uneasily

Received time

     to calm the

          mind

Freshen the

     spirit ease

          the soul

Silenced to

     open a

          new way

Today's truth

     pulled through

          memory

Footnotes

     the

         negatives

Allows the Yes

     to open the

          possible

Empties the trash

     of misused

          dreams

Restarts the

     balance

          wheel


In 1969, Sixteen university students and other adults took a self-guided three week independent tour in Japan. We booked our own travel and made our own arrangements with friends we mostly met along the way. Our overnight stay in Eigengi Zen Buddhist Monastery on Lake Biwa where we were introduced to Zazen meditation, gave me a touchstone for my life today.

While I do not practice Zazen, I do find a refreshing power in those moments when I am able to be alone, still and quiet and to empty my mind. I almost always emerge more open to everyday signs of grace around me and to the presence of a loving God. It helps a lot, especially in these troubled times.



Call to meditation 

Eigenji Monastery (translated)

Cannot avoid death

Moments passing

Value this moment

Things change quickly



Saturday, March 6, 2021

 

To Redeem the Moment

In the world

     I choose to

          live in

In the suffering

     of the

         moment

Humor holds

    the door

          open

Lights the path through

     fearful forces

          darkening times

Sits in the waiting

     room with

         the distressed

Loosens the

     cold grip of

          deepest grief

Laughter cracks the

     confining shell of

          anguish

Goes the distance

     with those

          who suffer

Protects against

     paralyzing

          anxiety

Will not give

     grief the

          last word

Interprets

     immutable

         love

Rediscovers

     beauty

          beyond



Saturday, February 27, 2021

 gratia

In the valued

     stillness of

          the moment

I raise prayerlike

     thoughts of

          gratefulness

For those who

     grapple with Covid's

          death dealingness

Who practice caring

     beyond

          self security

And those who

     occasion healing

          antidotes

For those who

     bury the dead

          with dignity

Who draw on the

     heart to comfort

          the bereaved

And hold the door

     open for an

          infusion of hope

That all who suffer may

     remember joy         

          and reclaim peace



Saturday, February 6, 2021

 

How to Fix a Broken Compass

Moral compass

     to steady

          the course

Corroded by

     values held

          too loosely

Rusted by

     lack of

          employing

Disabled by

     frozen fear

          combustible hate

Corrupted by

     misleading

          fables

Remagnetize to

     find spiritual

          core

Recalibrate with

     reforming

          work

Ready to

     step on

          winding paths