Thursday, May 31, 2018

a deep dark well

I long for Van Gogh’s eyes.
To see dusky shadows and
ever-changing light;
drifting, bleeding, bouncing,
bursting, breathing, dancing.

Until I remember his despair,
his unending pain. How it burdened
and, eventually, buried him.
How he wrote these words
to Theo, his brother,

“I am so angry with myself because I cannot do
what I should like to do…, (it feels) as if
one were lying bound hand and foot
at the bottom of a deep dark well,
utterly helpless."

Sunday, April 22, 2018

long enough

I’ve lived long enough
to remember long ago
finding myself left with
flashes and fragments,
whispers and scraps
that spar for dominance
while being shaped and shared
to become the story, my story
in the way I choose
at the time I choose
with those I choose
until I can choose, 
no more

Monday, April 2, 2018

How I plan to spend Spring Break

Read a couple of books that will alter my life arc
Write the great American novel
Make connections to restore long fractured relationships
Lose weight

Spend soul feeding time with family and friends
Take long walks
Wash and wax my car
Maintain my weight

Binge watch mindless TV
Get my hair cut
Not give up on the Mariners
Not gain any weight

Alternate ending:
Remember to take my daily meds
Sleep without an alarm
Finish the damn taxes
Not gain too much weight

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lenten Reflections for 2018

Following is my contribution to From Ashes to Glory, St. Paul's 2018 Lenten Devotional:

February 20, 2018
AM Psalm 45; PM Psalm 47, 48
Genesis 37:12-24; 1 Corinthians 1:20-31; Mark 1:14-28

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the Scribe?
Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God 
through wisdom. God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, 
to save those who believe.
- 1 Corinthians 1:20-21

Information is available, it’s easy, and can be overloading and stressful. The Technology Revolution has brought us to the Information Age; played out in Smart Phones. In a nanosecond we can Google the answer most questions or curiosities. We no longer wait for the evening news or morning paper.

No matter how much information we have we still need something more. That more is wisdom. Wisdom goes deeper. We can “learn” information but we must “earn” wisdom. Wisdom grows through struggles, listening, time, perseverance and well, life. Information can make us feel smart, but wisdom is more.

Living within a church community provides numerous opportunities to grow in wisdom. Some of those are:
  • ·Realizing that we are not God. Proper perspective and humility are a great place to start.
  • ·Space and opportunities for listening and learning where even questions and doubt are valued and encouraged.
  • ·Serving others. When we serve we clarify and live out our values.
  • ·Being with others. Relating, listening and laughing all encourage growth.
  • ·Traditions and rhythms. Helping find the balance of life that goes beyond urgencies and reaches to depths of soul and substance.
  • ·A breadth of ages. Mixing across generations provides opportunities to understand life from broader perspectives.
When crisis arise we want, and need wisdom. May this Lenten season be one where each of us and all of us are learning and growing in wisdom. 

The complete devotional can be found at:

Friday, November 3, 2017

The extended family

When my oldest niece was about five years old, she cried to her mom, “How come I couldn’t be adopted like the other kids?” At that time, there were six cousins on that side of our family; four of them had joined the family through adoption. We laughed at the story, but also found a sense of gratification in seeing our families grow in unusual ways.
It’s been nearly twenty-five years since my niece cried to her mom. Our two adopted sons are grown with families of their own. We now have a grandson who has come into our family through adoption. My wife and a sister-in-law both work for Bethany Christian Services Northwest, an adoption agency. Adoption and foster care has shaped our extended family history in a variety of ways.
The need is always before us. Every child deserves needs and longs for a stable home and family. It is also critical for the health of the greater community that we care for those who cannot care for themselves. Open adoptions and cultural shifts have changed the face of adoption and foster care greatly in the past twenty-five years, but the reality is that every child is an important child and many are in need of a home.
Adoption is not always easy, nor is the result always perfect. As with any family situation, it involves a messy mixture of people and lives. But there are many stories of life directions changed and families made new through this process.
Have you considered extending your family through adoption or foster care? There are numerous ways to get involved. If you have considered extending your family through one of these methods, here are some of the steps that can help prepare you for the commitment.
1. First, educate yourself. Learn about adoption and foster care processes in your state. In doing so, you will discover the reality of life for the children who spend their youth in systems that are caring, but overloaded. The Child Welfare Information Gateway of the Administration for Children and Families provides up to date statics related to the current needs related to adoption and foster care.
2.  Consider helping a specific child or children. Evaluate your situation and see how to best respond. Can you build a family in a way you had not previously considered? Are you able to help kids in transition through foster care? There are many agencies available to help you learn about foster care and, when ready, begin the process. Bethany Christian Services is one of the largest organizations providing services for both foster care and adoption with branch offices in numerous locations throughout the United States. You can also refer to Child Welfare Information Gateway and the Administration for Children and Families to learn more about national resources.
3.  Consider an alternative. If you are not in a position to bring children into your home, consider sponsoring a child through a reputable relief agency. Compassion International and World Vision are two international organizations with years of experience in caring for needy children around the world.
4.  Act locally. Join with a child service agency in your city as a volunteer or supporter.  Big Brothers Big Sisters has been providing positive role models for youth since 1904. Volunteering as a “Big” or donating to support programs can help make a difference in the lives of numerous children in need. Many communities have locally-based programs that provide friendship/mentoring opportunities for volunteers to work one-on-one with kids as well.
5.  Get involved. Become informed about what’s going on at the government level and communicate with officials on behalf of children. This might involve contacting your state representatives, your community government, or your area school board to see what is being done with local resources and funds to protect at-risk and needy children.  
It is not important how each of us responds. The crucial thing is that we work together to help needy kids and families in the best way we can. The need is great, the opportunity is before us, and the future depends on it. Each November is designated as National Adoption Month, but there is no need to wait. You can make connections now to get involved and make a difference. Kids will thank you for generations to come.

I wrote this in 2011 with Teresa Tanner (Carpine) and it was in originally Catapult Magazine:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Impossible and unending (revised)

I arrived
during the homily,
gladly found 
a place in the back.

Thought of you
and prayed for you.
For all this week
has brought your way.

But more,
for daily life, fear, pain
that must seem
impossible and unending.

Afterward I hopscotched
my way forward through
congregants making
their way home.

And lit a candle,
thinking of you.
And hoping for something better,
anything, better.

I lit a second,
and quickly a third.
Soon realizing I would run out of candles
before I ran out of people and prayers

So I quit.
Quit lighting candles,
that is, not prayers,

and left.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Winter 2017, Bellingham

Never thought
I'd get tired of snow.

I was wrong.
Very wrong.