Saturday, August 10, 2019

Give Away the Guns

Life Support©
by Max Hale

Take away the guns
so simple
until it's not
Breath slowly
Mine to keep or
give away
Choice be the neighbor
welcome everyone
who welcomes everyone
Culturally multi-task
punish perpetrators and
sponsors take guns
succor survivors
This day's bloodletting worse
than the day before and
so it is every day
Shattered trembling we go
not gentle into
dark violence
Unmask offenders
Rip off the mask of political
Apply tourniquet
stop the victim's bleeding
spring the trap of
Growth allowed on common
ground respect fills
open spaces
Live together in peace
shrivel in despair
Give up the guns
safer without them

Thursday, July 4, 2019

I Pledge©

there was a war
     it's always the case
I decided to go
     wore khaki and saluted
          a reluctant warrior
               carried a gun
     people went crazy shooting an M-1
a past unredeemed
     present dishonored
          thoughtless patriotism
               unshackled prejudice
                   gorging greed
     defend against all such enemies
engage in search for an antidote
     dance with the stranger
         respect the unloved
              challenge the unloving
honor the veterans
     of war
honor the veterans 
     of peace
the pledge
       revised and extended 

     I joined the National Guard my senior year in high school and thus began a life-long oft-time
troublesome relationship with the military and, at one time, I considered becoming a conscientious objector. I served in the Infantry in Korea during the so-called "Forgotten War" and later surrendered my M-1 in return for a Chaplain's Cross and retired from the US Naval Reserve after twenty years of service. During the Vietnam War I was also a full-time Campus  Minister.
     I honor the decision of those who serve in the military to defend democracy and protect the values of this country. I also honor those who conscientiously resist serving in the military to follow a higher calling as they understand it.
     I am disturbed at the too narrowly defined patriotism and jingoist diatribe that is all too often on display in our Independence Day observances. 
     I wrote the above poem this afternoon but it reflects a life time of rethinking. I offer it not to agitate but to encourage reflection.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Life less on the Border©

While the coffee is still hot

     evidence incontrovertible
          unrelenting anguish
Little lives rubbished
     caring capability paralyzed
Blanket hot wet
     covers my head
          breathing restricting
I cry because I may get over it
Time to dismiss blue devils
Quicksand wisdom
     move sideways
          toward reliable compassion
Refabricate my life
     to fit God's dream

I must center myself before I open myself to the morning news. Otherwise I'm sick the whole day. Families ripped apart, children in cages, decent people turning savage: we're losing our grip on humanity. I know it doesn't have to be this way. I also know it is possible to lose my compassion. That frightens me. I have been told that if one is ever in quicksand the secret is not to panic and move deliberately slowly sideways to solid ground. I can, I will control my rage, dismiss the blue devils of depression, wipe the tears and look for an opening for compassionate action.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Canyon Reflection

Slot Canyon©

Earth surrenders
        Crevice slices deep
       Light shaft pierces
         Holy Space
     Slow down the mind
Relax into awe
Be still
Soul-ride the light
              Out of the hidden canyon

   Nearly twenty years ago I took these pictures in Antelope Canyon. Alluvial erosion and fast-flowing flash floods have, over millennia, sculpted natural corridors through the soft sandstone. Even on an overcast day, shards of light manage their way down to illuminate the dark. I found the scene fascinating then.
  Today, I've come to see the light in the canyon as a metaphor for life and most helpful in the darkest days. The first century mystic reminds us, "...The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness: the darkness couldn't put it out."
(John 1:5 The Message)  

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Gees Bend, Alabama 1968©
Purdue University students experience soul rich hospitality from economically poor hosts as they spend the night in an isolated African-American community. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Reflecting on moving from Mardi Gras to Ash Wednesday in New Orleans with Purdue students fifty years ago. What it meant then, what it means now.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Day I met Martin Luther King, Jr.©
Every year about this time, I remember the day I walked into the office of the Montgomery Improvement Association and shook hands with Dr. King. It was of no consequence to the Movement but it was a pivotal moment in my life. I share it with the hope that all of us can take the continuing struggle for universal civil rights personally, in our own way.
The first African-American enrolls in Auburn University ©
Nearly thirty years after I met Harold Franklin as  he registered as a student at Auburn, we met and recalled those tumultuous times.