It’s All About Imagining the Mechanics of the Thing

It took the better part of the afternoon
to figure out how to use the lift assisted
kayak holders. We knew we needed them
when it became too difficult to toss the
kayaks on the top of the SUV. Getting
the kayaks on and off proved a song,
but the way the directions were written
we couldn’t figure out the tie down
straps, until, after a couple of hours,
we mentally cut out the directions for
the straps and put them at the beginning
of the instructions. We looked at each
other and said, “Simple.” Let’s hope
the whole thing takes about twenty-
minutes next time or we may never get
those boats in the water again.

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The Franciscan Wrote

The Franciscan wrote, “If you do
not want to go there, you’d better
stay away from the
Holy One.”

It’s a very dangerous place because
you have to die, die to all
the things you have
been taught to

live for. It will shake the foundations
as another theologian wrote.
He has a Pentecostal
friend (Yes, there

are a few left over from the 60’s and
70’s and 80’s.) who keeps moan-
ing because our highly rational
culture won’t accept

the validity of his experiences in
speaking in tongues. Well,
he thought, if you back
up all that gibberish

to most ears with just a word or two
of understood love and an
action or two of
experienced

love what difference would it make
if anyone judged the ecstatic
practice of the in-
explicable,

even frightening, encounter with
The Holy One? Didn’t
St. Paul ask some-
thing along

the same lines? If an earth-shaking
encounter doesn’t lead to
death to all the first half
of life’s goals

attained and now disdained, don’t
even think about how
nice it is to speak
in tongues

or have just the right liturgy and
music in a very rational
mainline congregation’s
worship service.

Just Wait

The cenotaph stood tall but
no one knew where the real
body rested or even if it did
rest and isn’t that so true of
life? Who lies in Grant’s
Tomb? Well, Grant, of
course, unless somebody
lied, but many, maybe most
now wonder who Grant was
and if his remains really
reside in the tomb. Do we
need a rehabilitation or
exhumation or better yet
an excavation, not of Grant,
may he rest in more peace
than he had in this life
(He should have retired as
a general and not a scandal
plagued president.), but of
the rest of us? A bumper
sticker states, “Everybody
sucks, 2016.” Do we need to
exhume or excavate what we
wanted so badly, have lost
and has turned to (all that
stuff) dust or just wait
for the wonder of what was,
is and will be eternally?

We Haven’t Always Been Cowboys and We Haven’t Always Loved Guns But We Certainly Are and Do Now

The author and expert on the
history of guns in the U.S.
said that in the 18th Century
the gun was needed but not

loved and in the 19th Century
the gun was loved but not
needed and thus began the
mass sale of guns as totems

in order to keep the gun
manufacturers gainfully em-
ployed in modern manu-
facturing where little boys

sitting in the Saturday matinee
double feature would see how
wonderful it was to own a
Winchester rifle, and so the

modern-day myth of the gun
as savior was born in spite
of Jesus, nurtured, marketed
and progressed and prolifer-

ated in paperback novels and
Hollywood movies into the
mid-20th Century with the
explosion of lust for guns

so those little, mostly
white boys sitting at the
theater on Saturday after-
noon would know that they

eventually would be Lash
Laroo, Gene Autry, Roy
Rodgers, James Arness,
John Wayne, Hopalong

Cassidy, Clint Walker,
The Lone Ranger, Randolph
Scott, Paul Newman, Robert
Redford, Clint Eastwood

and a myriad of others to
save the nation for Ozzie
and Harriet and David and
in loving memory of Ricky.

Hawking Truth

Before reading her poetry, the
poet said something to the effect
that publishers want to sell books
(for obvious reasons thought the
capitalist) and that in order for
that to happen people need to buy
them and as that poet would like
to have the publishers keep publish-
ing her books she would encourage
those gathered for the poetry read-
ing to show their support for the
arts by buying the books (each one
signed by the poet) on the table
at the back of the room immediate-
ly following the reading, or per-
haps during the social hour after-
ward, maybe between glasses of
wine, but not so may glasses of
wine that they forget to purchase
the books. This, of course, was
followed by appropriately muted
laughter for an artistic occasion
just before the reading began
in earnest.

Not Everyone Warms

“Not everyone warms to the sight
of a priest at a party,” said Father

Brown, “but I never let it keep me
from a rum punch.” When he heard

the words, he understood them im-
mediately. Announcing oneself to

be a member of the clergy is invariab-
ly a conversation killer whether

answering the inevitable question of
one’s occupation while sitting in the

hot tub by the condo pool without
most of one’s clothes not to mention

one’s clerical collar or like Father
Brown in full clerical splendor stand-

ing among party goers where no quest-
ions are forthcoming concerning

vocations. Sometimes the silence
seems eternally deafening until the

good priest or pastor asks for a single
malt Highland Scotch neat and party

goers breathe a sigh of relief and
begin telling jokes of all sorts.

A Snake in the Brush: Respect to Whom Respect is Due

He jogged along the trail
scaring up a small snake.
He put his hiking stick in
the brush to catch a glimpse
and the little guy struck
at the stick and slithered
away. He acted bravely
because it was Michigan
and there are no poisonous
snakes where he lives and
there is no swamp for an
Eastern Massasauga swamp
rattler to swim, the area
having been cleared for
farming by the Dutch set-
tlers, but if this had been
the Phoenix Mountain Preserve
out his winter back door,
he would have just stood
perfectly still and watched
the snake slide by and he
wouldn’t even have dared
bow before the magnifi-
cent Tiger Rattler with
the very pretty rattle
and very large fangs
and a significant
supply of very potent
venom.

Young, Handsome, Athletic With Feet Of Clay

Young, handsome, athletic,
he cut quite the figure
in the pulpit,

a no-fool-around kind of
a guy (stern) who once
expelled me from

catechism class, but he
helped my father
make confession

of faith and if he was good
enough for my father,
he was good enough

for me, so I, too, made
confession of faith
and one time

preached on Youth
Sunday and he
told me I

had the gift for ministry.
A few years later,
after my father

had died tragically, the
pastor became a prof.
at the seminary

I attended as a student and
he barely acknowledged
my existence.

The only way I knew he knew
I was alive was when he
stopped me abruptly

in the hall to notify me
that I had misspelled
words in an essay

I wrote for the literary pub-
lication. I should have
been flattered that

he read it. Ah, pre-spellcheck.
It was as if we had no
history. My pastor,

one of the big reasons I went
into the ministry, my
childhood idol

had feet of clay. Looking back
in gratitude on forty-
five years of

ordained ministry, I see the
mysterious wonders that
God performs,

in spite of our feet of clay.

The Chaplain

I know this is not a new subject, but it still fascinates me as I work
through my call to ministry all those years ago and those who played a providential/synchronistic role. The chaplain was one of them.

Bob

He broke every rule of public speaking —
alternately staring down at his manuscript,
then looking up into the thick, dark, high
rafters of the inverted ship, never looking
at those assembled in from of him in the
dark, flailing his arms questioningly,
tapping the side of his head like he was
trying to coax out just the right word.
You would think he had never spoken
in public before, but it was all well
rehearsed, dramatic, effective, mes-
merizing. He would have flunked speech 101,
but he held us captive in the chapel of the
small, Midwest, liberal arts college and
many were inspired to study for the
ministry because of him and his preach-
ing; many aficionados copied his style
and mannerisms never reaching the pinnacle
of that quirky style and some of us have
even figured out a way to forgive him for
inspiring us to that life of preaching.

Lost and Found

She looked out at the strawberry moon
And all the surrounding stars,
And embraced the moonlight in her room,
The quiet reaching near and far.

She breathed deeply of the solitude
Safely hidden in stillness’s loving cup.
She heard the only sound to intrude.
It was the welcome breathing of her pup.

He had wandered streets alone and scared.
She found him three years ago.
He wasn’t abused; but apparently no one cared
And simply had let him go.

She sat in her own silent elation;
There was peace and no anxiety there;
The two breathed in syncopation.
He looked at her with a loving stare.