A Short Poem for a Really Good Friend Upon His Retirement from Ordained Ministry

Here is a poem I shot off  to a very good friend, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Eggebeen, who just retired after forty-four years of ordained ministry.

He’s a great writer and I expect to see many posts on his several blogs.

He has been such a great minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that I give him the highest compliment of which I can think:  I would be proud to have him as my pastor.

Tom,

Good, good, good for you
and Ms. Donna, too.

Can’t come your L.A. way
this winter ’cause Buddy Baloo

has come our Holland way
and between there and Phoenix                                                                                           is here to stay,

But you two are more than a New Orleans’                                                               greeting of that jazz guy Harry Connick,
as long as you bring the gin and tonic

or a fifth of Ten High
for your best, old, buddy,                                                                                                    one bad Kentucky Bourbon sippin’ guy.

Congratulations!!!

Brother Bob and His Travelin’ Salvation Show

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At a Meeting of the Godhead

At a meeting of the Godhead and a few other bigwigs, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit or to be a bit more politically correct, the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer were having some thoughts among themselves.  The lesser Celestials broke the silence and wondered out loud if anyone was going to offer a suggestion for a solution to the seemingly intractable problem of the perennially shrinking church.

The Trinity said in unison, “Sorry, after so much time together, we just all know each other’s thoughts, so there is no need to speak; besides, silence is kind of nice once in a while. All we get around here these days is tech-speak and stats., stats., stats. and endless one line, mono-melodic  praise music, yadda, yadda, yadda,” at which point the three looked at each other and said simultaneously, “You two owe me a coke.” 

The others just shook their heads and looked at each other quizzically and one said, “This happens all the time.  These meetings are so boring and nothing gets accomplished.  We’ve done feasibility studies, market research, studied business plans from Harvard Business School from which George W. Bush graduated and still no answers, surprise, surprise,” at which point they all stared at the spread sheets in front of them cluttering the Ark of the Covenant.

Suddenly, the gates flew open while St. Peter was on break and Lucifer rushed in on an updraft of hot air.  Apparently, the once bright and shining Morning Star, now tarnished angel, had a rather bright idea.

“You guys and you, too, Ms. Spirit, need to get a little heat under your seat and spice up your life. I specialize in that stuff. The problem is that you all are so boringly prosaic. Cold, cold, cold. You need to think poetically.  Hot, hot, hot. You are all invited to our next poetry slam.  The winner gets a ‘Get Out of Hell’ free card good for one trip to El Dia de los Muertos or Cinco de Mayo, during which more beer is consumed than at any other festival in America.  My hunch is the choice will be  Cinco, and that’s a no brainer, because having been down here, they have worked up a big thirst and besides, who wants to hang around a lot of dead people?”

At which point the Godhead and all the other Celestials  thought, Qui pasa? and shouted,

“What, in heaven’s name are you doing here

but now that we too have worked up a big thirst,

please go get us some micro-brewed beer.

Why do you think we are all here?

Just to scare out hell and fear?

We just want to bring more love near

to those who live in mortal fear

and have sold their souls far and near

to the gods of money, power and fear.

Do we make ourselves clear?”

 

Lucifer thought for a moment and a light

bulb went off really bright

and said, “Well, before I take flight,

I must say your poetry is really, really light,

not too deep and not of much might

for such a weighty bunch,

but, it’s a start and you’re on the path just right,

so I leave you to your poetry and I am on

a down draft flight

to a place with not much light

but burning coals and red-hot

chili with lots of bite.”

 

And the Godhead spoke with strength and might

saying together, “I think we are out of our plight.

I guess we can learn something from this Once Star

So Bright. It’s poetry, good or bad, that we must write.”

 

Then they looked at each other and said in one voice very clear,

“You two owe me a really cold beer. We think we have some up here.”

 

 

A Bit of Writing

The following is a bit of writing out of the ordinary for my blog site and is usually the kind of thing that appears only in e-mails I send to friends and family, but in light of Richard Rohr’s Spiritual Capitalism (See below.), I sent out an e-mail and then decided to post it.

So here goes:

The more I realize the counter cultural nature of Jesus in relation to every culture, the more I see God’s Realm as Jesus described it as the true system of all of life, the light of life — physical/material, emotional, spiritual — emptying of all, embracing all in love and living justly without fear.

Has our capitalistic culture transformed American Christian religion into one more “consumer culture” as Richard Rohr contends?  If so, no wonder I haven’t been going to church lately.

In light of this Congress and the growing gap between the very, very few super rich and all the rest of humanity and the ever more rapid descent into ecological destruction,  these words of St. Paul do not seem like just hyperbolic, anachronistic, mythic war language.

They have taken on a diabolical incarnation in its present manifestation, which points beyond itself: “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the host of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6: 12).

It does seem like all the illogical, rhetorical drivel coming out of Washington has a source beyond itself.  Just the usual babble from the Tower of Babel or is the sum greater than the individual parts?  What is driving all this lunacy?  When things get out of control, fear steps in and bad things happen. Why can’t we just give up our illusion of controlling anything outside of ourselves and “Let go and let God”?

Whatever happened to that time-honored notion of “compromise”?  Compromise is possible when people are wise enough to know that they don’t have all the answers and never will.  Give a little, gain a little and get on with it.

Don’t envy the billionaires. They, too, are being driven by something that has great power over them, and it makes them far more dangerous than most of the rest of us. A study was done by Boston University a few years ago on the psyche of billionaires.  By and large, they live their lives in fear — fear of losing what they have acquired and so they hang on tighter with the grasping pinchers of William Golding’s Pincher Martin.

The terrorists are onto all this. It isn’t rocket science, but it sure works in its diabolical simplicity. We spend trillions of tax dollars that we don’t have and terminate or incapacitate the lives of so many of our young when all the terrorists do is hijack a few planes for a pittance of flight training and slam into America’s Holy of Holies — the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  You don’t think our fight or flight fear reaction is overkill, do you?

I keep looking for a few streams of light piercing the clouds of our own darkness revealing a bit of hope here and there and ever and always looking for the perfect love that perfectly casts out fear. Then I practiced a bit of personal awareness, saw some light deep down there and then saw the day in a whole new way.

It was good to get in a few days camping without ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN and MSNBC and all the blah, blah, blah from the rarely sublime to the mostly ridiculous.

Thank God for PBS and NPR and poetry.

Bob
bobdahl.wordpress.com

From: Center for Action and Contemplation <no-reply@cac.org>
Date: September 30, 2013 2:16:08 AM EDT
To: bobe@macatawa.org
Subject: Richard Rohr’s Meditation: Spiritual Capitalism

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation:

The phrase “spirituality of subtraction” was inspired by Meister Eckhart (c. 1260-1327), the medieval Dominican mystic. He said that the spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. Yet I think most Christians today are involved in great part in a spirituality of addition, and in that, they are not really very traditional or conservative at all.

The capitalist worldview is the only one most of us have ever known. We see reality, experiences, events, other people, and things—in fact, everything—as objects for our personal consumption. Even religion, Scripture, sacraments, worship services, and meritorious deeds become ways to advance ourselves—not necessarily ways to love God or neighbor.

The nature of the capitalist mind is that things (and often people!) are there for me. Finally, even God becomes an object for my consumption. Religion looks good on my resume, and anything deemed “spiritual” is a check on my private worthiness list. Some call it spiritual consumerism. It is not the Gospel.

Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 114, day 123
(Available through Franciscan Media)

At the Dentist’s Office

At the dentist’s office, he asked where the bathroom was

when he saw the dental hygienist begin to make a fuss,

 

and dismissively point him toward the way

and without missing a beat officiously did say,

she was ready for him now so don’t delay,

 

so he hurried into the bath and out again, lickety-split

and jumped in the chair before Frau Blucher had a fit.

 

She whipped the bib around his neck and throat

and yanked so hard he wanted to scream, “You old goat!”

 

But she had her hands buried in his mouth

faster than he could plead, “Please let me out.”

 

She rubbed and scrubbed never taking a moment to chat.

Small talk was not her forte; she wanted none of that.

 

She pushed and pulled the floss like a saw between his teeth

and announced that soon he could take his six month leave,

 

but first she demanded that before he came back,

he must do better at attacking the plaque.

 

With his sweat dripping from his brow and over his teeth

he shook his head affirmatively and jumped out of the seat.

 

As he fled the office and made a quick run for his auto,

Frau Blucher shouted “Whose next?” “Get in here pronto!”

 

Six months would fly by way too fast to give another thrill

to the sadistic, Nazi hygienist with on her face a smile and

in her hand a big drill.

 

 

Standing Along the Channel

Standing along the channel

watching pro bass fishers

ply their trade in search of

fifty thousand dollars and

 

a new bass boat, he heard

the man ask his two sons

if they had seen the red

breasted nuthatch. He

 

looked but saw nothing

in the fall foliage. He

thought of the grey

catbird, which had flown

 

into a downstairs window,

had snapped its neck

and had remained unseen

for what the man guessed

 

were weeks because of

where it landed and because

its color was dingy like

the gray of the cement.

 

He flipped it over with

a shovel and it boiled

with ravenous maggots

planted by parental flies

 

to eat and grow.

He flipped it onto the

shovel and tossed the

carcass and the maggots

 

into the weeds and dune

grass in the depression behind

the pine grove. He wondered

if the catbird had had a

 

partner and maybe a nest

and perhaps a brood of

baby catbirds who, by

then, had stopped waiting.

The Tipping Point

A friend, someone

who

lost it all

to an unscrupulous

counselor,

believes that the growing

gap between the

400 richest Americans

and everybody else

especially the

gargantuan number

of poor and

growing,

will result in

revolution.

The tipping point

is very close,

he says.  Because

he’s now poor, too,

and angry?  Actually,

he’s adapting well

because of faith.

He’s getting to

know Jesus

a lot better

than ever and has

taken to the simple

life. The social

contract kicked in,

and he has government

help except for

the 95% of his

food stamps now

gone like the wind. Millions

don’t

and by now are

beginning to understand

that they aren’t a

simple, temporary

misfortune away

from being

millionaires as

Steinbeck described

the great American

myth.

 

 

It Was His Linda

He watched the little,

pudgy, double chinned,

unassuming,

self-effacing,

really funny

woman

interviewed on late

night T.V.

She talked frankly

and humorously

about the reality

of ever-present

white-hot

horrible

music

from which no

one can

escape. It’s

omnipresent – on

the street, blaring

down the halls

in buildings, beside

you in the

commode.

She seemed so

down-to-earth-

real-unaffected-

doing-laundry-

not-getting-the

right-kind-of

pickles-at-the

grocery-kind-of-

a-person, not to mention

celebrity. She had been

his girlfriend from

afar and many albums

gone by. Asked about

Jerry, she smiled and

said she thought he

was doing

a fine job.

Mr. Parkinson had

robbed her of her

singing voice

but you wouldn’t

know it bothered

her to look

at her and hear

her talk.

Her sense of humor

transcended the

sadness and she

had the host in

tears of

laughter.

This star who sat

cross-legged in

the guest’s chair

talked about

her journey without

pity or self-

indulgence. Did he

detect a profound

sense of

gratitude?

She had survived

when many friends

had not due to

drugs and Aids and

other stuff. He sat in

a St. Thomas bar on

a Saturday night

years and years ago

and watched and

yearned for the

the sexy singer

on the huge

screen who

howled to the

great down beat,

“You’re no good,

You’re no good,

You’re nooo gooood.”

and years later

with Nelson Riddle,

thrilled him as

he sat in the big

green leather

chair and listened

to the high notes

ascending to

heaven with

“Skylark.”

It was his Linda

and he couldn’t

help calling out at

that late hour,

“You go, girl.”

 

 

Turning on the Radio

Turning on the Camry Hybrid’s

radio, he heard music he didn’t

recognize

 

but immediately he was transported

to the backseat of his parents’ car for

the comfort

 

and security of a Sunday ride after

church out along U.S. 30 toward

Valparaiso

 

for a $1.39 fried chicken dinner at

a genuine mom and pop roadhouse.

His suit

 

jacket rested on the seat beside him

along with his snap-on tie while he

thought of

 

the little league game later that day.

He was sure he would get home on

time because they

 

had made this trip before. Was it

music that had played on the Dodge’s

AM radio?

For Years in the Pulpit

For years in the pulpit

his hope was that he

would give those who

sat in the pews some-

thing sufficiently,

spiritually tasty and

nutritious to last

them longer than the

coffee hour following

worship. Sometimes

he prepared and deliver-

ed a four-course meal

for chewing upon and

digesting at

least through Thursday.

But sometimes the

really spicy Spirit

crept into the ingred-

ients in spite of the

cook and gave the

folks indigestion

before the twenty-

minute delivery was

done. He knew he

would get no dessert

that day at the door

when he shook their

hands. He saw the

stares from those who

dished out the

lemon meringue pie

at coffee hour. When

he got home he told

his wife that they were

on the menu for Sunday

dinner.  His parishioners

would be chewing on

Pastor Tartare and his

lovely wife Pasta Al

Dente and their delightful

teenaged, if a bit ram-

bunctious, twin daughters

Sautéed Shrimp.

The pastor’s stomach

started to churn and he

made a beeline for the

bathroom while his wife

reached for the Tums.

 

 

 

Talking With a Friend

Talking with a friend recently

about the vivid images in her

poetry, he remarked that

images, metaphors and similes

brighten the page so the

readers can look through and

beneath and pealing back the

page perhaps seeing beyond

the words into the depth of

their own experiences and

then maybe down to

middle earth where they

could play with all

kinds of strange metaphors

not even mentioned in the

poem. And it might not even

stop there. Perhaps, a

reader could see all

the way to China where all

the clothes he was wearing

at the time of reading the

poem were made. He thinks

he can see the basement

floor of the factory where

his running shoes were

sewn and glued. And it

was there he realized that

perhaps not only had he

not plumbed the depths,

he hadn’t even

scratched the

surface.