Something Different From Empowered

As he sat on his front porch reading the
last few pages of a Wallander mystery,
he saw a car pull into his neighbor’s drive-
way. His neighbor got out and as she pull-
ed out a suitcase she told the driver that
she was feeling really “empowered.” Imm-
ediately, he knew what that was about.
It was code language used by evangelicals.
She probably had just returned from a
Christian women’s conference. If it were
about an athletic event, say a road running
race, an off-road bicycle race, a triathlon,
the language would be that of being “pumped.”
If it were the ACTs, SATs or Graduate Record
Exams it might be “psyched.” Evangelicals are
always “empowered.” He, on the other hand,
wasn’t feeling empowered to do anything other
than finish the book with which he is engross-
ed and for that he is glad, glad to have a
temporary purpose. Other than that, he wasn’t
feeling “empowered,” “pumped” or “psyched.” He
had a bum knee so he wasn’t “pumped” about jog-
ging; it had been years since taking a signifi-
cant academic test so he wasn’t “psyched” and
he never felt “empowered” in the Evangelical sense
even though he is a retired minister. Renewed
rang truer — mainline Protestant “speak” along
with words like “recruit,” instead of “convict,”
“convert” and “disciple.” Evangelical code
language always sounded so heavy-handed and
as he was never comfortable with it, he eagerly
returned to the last pages of Wallander and
just why the crazy, homicidal, psychopathic,
serial killer was “empowered” to do it.

Some Poet Said

Some poet said you can’t write
poetry when you are depressed.
What? Then how come there is
so much depressing poetry writ-
ten by depressed poets some of
whom go on to commit suicide?
He knew he could write poetry
when he was depressed, because
he is and this is an example, but
he won’t go into the details be-
cause that would be just too de-
pressing about which to think.
He’s even depressed about get-
ting that last phase grammatic-
ally correct because it would
have sounded better as “to think
about.” Some say you may end
a sentence with a preposition,
others say no and right now all
that is too much about which to
think or “too much to think about.”

He Came Across the Word

He came across the word “eidolon” in
a poem and it caught his eye because he
didn’t know what it meant even though
he had been visited by one. Here’s the
definition: “In ancient Greek literature,
an eidolon is a spirit-image of a living
or dead person; a shade or phantom look-
alike of the human form.” Yes Siree, Bob
and all this time he thought it was

Wonderful Surroundings

He thinks about their immediate sur-
Roundings — everything about their
Lovely cottage by the Big Lake,
Everything they have done to make it
Beautiful, warm and wonderful — a
Reflection of themselves, their hearts
— from the dune grass in front, The
Cedar entryway, the artwork all a-
Round, the comfortable furniture, the
Deck overlooking the pond, waterfall,
Pine grove, shrubs, flowers, sculptures,
Birdhouses, bird feeders, birds, some-
Times deer and fox and he asks himself,
In such a setting, why does he ever
Allow himself to get out of sorts, but
He does, that he does.

Longing for a Voice

While reading the words “stars weep” in a poem,
he was transported back in time
to a time his dad sang to him:
Stars are the windows of heaven where angels peep through.
Up in the sky they keep an eye
On kids like me and you.
They cry each time we are naughty;
Their teardrops are the rain.
But when we’re good they are smiling
And they shine again.

He looked out the window and saw the rain,
but to the best of his knowledge he hadn’t been
naughty. Perhaps the rain was a reminder of
the sadness he felt thinking of his dad going
away so soon, so very soon leaving the memory
of a children’s song and a longing
for his dad’s voice.

College Students Studied French

College students studied French in the
50’s and 60’s because all the great
writers sat on the South Bank of the
Seine, drank a lot of red wine and
appeared so Bohemian and besides
all that, French sounded so romantic
and really romantic movies around
that time always seemed to have French
sounding actors in them. The actors’
berets were so handsome and the act-
resses’ lips were so glossy and pouty
— like Leslie Caron’s and Brigitte Bar-
dot’s not to mention Brigitte Bardot’s
beautiful and bountiful breasts. French
words just hung in the air forever like
light, white cumulus clouds floating
across the blue sky on a warm summer
day over the Eifel Tower. Then years
later those students wondered why they
had studied French when Spanish would
have been so much more practical. Real-
ly, how many berets do you see these
days and how many glossy, pouty lips
do you see except those of aging Cougars
with Botox lips, bulging, sagging, silicon
breasts and little boy hips pushing carts
through high-end grocery stores in Phoe-
nix, Arizona as they listen to Spanish be-
ing spoken by just about everyone a-
round them frantically wondering if
guapo or “gropo” is the word for hand-
some as they eye the firm behind of the
young, Hispanic guy pushing the grocery
cart to the BMW?

If Only….

He felt that he found out something
significant about himself when his
frustration at feeling a need to be
continually coping very nicely and
the exhaustion, which inevitably
results, intersected. It occurred as
he tried awkwardly, clumsily to
step over the dog who sat at his feet
in an act of affection on the dog’s
part but which occasioned a preci-
pitating event — an act of misplac-
ed aggression, an outburst of anger,
which had nothing whatsoever to
do with the dog but which had every-
thing to do with that existential
intersection between frustration and
exhaustion. The dog didn’t understand,
his wife didn’t understand, and being
unable to articulate reality, he just
got angrier, which sent the dog scurry-
ing for cover and turned his wife mo-
mentarily to stone. And then, in anoth-
er existential intersection, which seem-
ed like a flash of a camera or the pro-
verbial light bulb of insight over a
cartoon character’s head, he clearly
saw his fear — that of a little boy,
and what he had caused — his wife’s
fear and his dog’s fear. But he wasn’t
a little boy. He was an old man, a vul-
nerable, scared, old man who couldn’t
articulate his need. If only he had
monitored himself, his legitimate cop-
ing but his growing anxiety that things
might not go as expected, the signifi-
cant stress of recent events and had
said in a calm voice or, for that matt-
er, a quaking voice with tears running
down his cheeks, “I’m scared.” If

We Have Heard It Said

We have heard it said that this life is all turmoil
and strife,
and there is abundant evidence to say
that is right,
but love and the longing it brings in loss never end
in this life;
turmoil and strife eventually end but longing is our
companion for life,
and there is something sacred in that longing
for it confirms that love certainly does
outlive strife.
Such longing is not an enemy to confront and
but a friend who accompanies us
through life
until such longing is satisfied in the heart
of God’s eternal life.