Basking Together in the Light*

It’s such a cliché,
But clichés get that way
Through veracity —
One accusing finger-pointing out,
Three coming back our way.
But does anyone follow that cliché?
The monk wrote about violent clout
That follows the finger-pointing way.
Here’s a scapegoat, there’s a scapegoat,
Everywhere there’s a scapegoat.
There is no hope following that way.
Crowds come together in the false
Community of fear faster
Than love, the monk wrote.
Thank goodness we have the one
Who became sacrificial love’s hope.
He’s the one whose yoke is easy
And whose burden is light,
Ironically, because it is the way
Away from fright and fight and flight.
Ah, to bask in eternal grace’s light
With brothers, sisters, friends of every stripe
That is our hope, the monk wrote.

*idea from a meditation by Richard Rohr
wherein he writes about the Scapegoat Mechanism,
a concept written about extensively by
Rene Girard.

A Conveyor Belt to Heaven

They passed by his window
this morning. They were out
for a walk with their dog.
He doesn’t like the couple.
Loving them isn’t much of
a chore. He would do anything
to help them if they were in
need and he doesn’t wish them
harm. He just doesn’t like them
and he feels bad about that
but overcoming not liking is
much more difficult than loving.
Liking the unlikable is really
hard. He would settle for no
feelings about them at all.
He thought to himself, “Now
there is a worthy endeavor.”
He remembered the image of
a conveyor belt which would
carry all of one’s resentments
to God. He got a chuckle out
of thinking about putting the
couple on a conveyor belt,
a conveyor belt big enough
to carry their dog, too.

Not In the Mood Today

He read that there are no safe spaces
But that there can be courageous spaces —

Where people gather in places
To take heart, and, with each other, find graces.

Then a photo of a lion’s pen
At the zoo came up on his screen.
The lion was in no mood to preen
meandering back to his den

As if to say,
“I just want to be alone;
I’m all out of courage today.”

Some days, you don’t even want to get started –
Not even those considered lion-hearted.

i sat on a rock by the sea

i sat on a rock
by the sea
when right there
before me
was he/she/thee
dog paddling
and treading
water of the sea,
and i asked,
is that all you
have to do,
and he/she/thee
said, i have till three.
what happens at three?
dark clouds gather
surrounding me and thee
and you don’t want
to be in or near
the sea
when lightning
you can see.
i said, you saved
my life when I
most needed thee.
in my suffering, i
looked up at you
hanging on the tree —
such misery.
now you are
swimming around
like a kid full
of glee.
well, there are
many facets
to being me,
and that’s as
it should be.
want to join
for a swim
over to that
beautiful lea?
we can sunbathe
and still be
back by three.
i said, but there
are sea creatures
to flee.
you do
puzzle me.
let’s race,
said he/she/thee,
on the count of
three –
one, two, three!

Fourteen Fish — Same as Five Months Before

The dune grass, cut while they were
traveling, is beginning to grow – short
green blades swaying slightly in the

wind off the Big Lake. As they pulled
the old, holey, sewn often netting
(destined for the recycling bin) across

the pond one last time leaves slipped
through and floated to the bottom.
The bubbler was removed and the

pump plugged in and when the water
started to flow they saw the fish
rise from the bottom. She counted

five, six…fourteen! Same as when they
left five months before. Light bulbs
were replaced in the decorative lighting

around the pond. Dead ornamental grass
stalks and last fall’s leaves were
dragged to the pine grove where they

will mingle with the needles and feed
the soil.  Tarps were removed from the
furniture and the furniture was wiped

clean. Wine glasses clinked, the choco-
late lab watched the fish, the couple
stood before the beauty of home.

With a Friend’s Permission

A friend sent an e-mail telling me that a relative had posted online a strongly worded internet article by an atheist decrying the hypocrisy of supposed “tolerant” Christians for their true intolerance of those who think and believe differently than they do and giving reasons why atheism is a fact based, empirically proven belief system unlike systems of superstition.

The relative was promoting the article and my friend wondered how to communicate with this relative, if necessary, and what effect the post might have on my friend’s daughter who will surely read the post. The daughter is a recent college graduate.

The following was my response with some editing:

Well, in a democratic society with first amendment guarantees, the author certainly is free to express her opinion and that she certainly has done. And that freedom goes for your relative, also.

I might quibble with some of the writer’s assumptions and have a nice discussion with her about the scientific unprovability of faith, either religious or atheistic faith (atheism is a faith); I might wonder about the intensity of and anger beneath her words and I might feel sorry that she was insulted by angry, hostile debaters.

Definitely, I would agree wholeheartedly that horrific harm has been done in the name of the world’s major religions the caveat to that being that horrific harm has been done in the world by atheists, also — millions upon millions killed by Lenin, Stalin and Mao  to mention only the 20th Century.

No one is innocent.

The purpose of Christianity, it seems to me, is not to convince anyone of anything (although apologetics certainly is a valid enterprise) but rather to live the life of selfless love guided by the teachings of Jesus and empowered to do so by the Spirit of Christ, the universally present Christ of the Jesus who lived the love shown to him by the God in whom he believed and with whom he believed he was one as that love.

I write the above on faith not on scientific fact (although science can trace and document the behavior of self-sacrificial love along with the other forms of love), because I believe that there are “truths” alongside and deeper even than “demonstrable, empirically verifiable data.”

For instance, there is the truth found in fiction and poetry, in visual art, in music, in theater, in dance, in opera, etc.

There is the truth revealed in nature.

And there is the truth in the conviction that love is the source of all life and that that love transforms death into life and that death is not the last word and that love is the first and last word, the Alpha and Omega.

And there is the truth found in the following four sentences:
The four sentences that matter most according to Dr. Ira Byock:
Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
Thank you.
I love you.

Your daughter has a really good head and heart and she will discern these things for herself. Perhaps, she will assume positions and try them out for a while to see how they fit. Good for her. I would expect that of someone raised in a liberated household such as yours.

She may even decide to become an atheist. And, in your heart, regardless of whatever belief system she might adopt, she will always be your beautiful girl and God’s precious child and all you need to do is love her and affirm her as God loves her.

All the best, always,


The Multiple Benefits of Naps

He and his wife have
Different responses
To disagreements.
She works herself
To the bone; he
Takes naps. His
Last nap lasted
Twelve hours.
When he awoke
Feeling fine
For some exercise
He did pine.
As he readied to
Go for a fun run,
He discovered
That in the house
And in the yard,
All the spring
Cleaning Had been

The Kindness of the Coroner

The coroner at the inquest
was kind for reasons not
given – perhaps the lack
of a note, perhaps he knew
that the widow would be im-
poverished with a different
verdict and so accidental
death was declared, even
after the shaken witnesses
testified that the man put
his car in park, got out
and ran around the railroad
crossing arm as the train came
around the curve. This wasn’t
Superman waiting stiff-armed
to stop the train nor Batman
ready to fly over the train
nor Spiderman ready to climb
the train. This was a seven-
teen-year-old’s god — a father
who couldn’t take anymore pain
or the Scandinavian shame so
he took the blame just to be
out and the boy, knowing the
truth, sat and shook with
sorrow and sadness, which he
would recall and relive for
years in a strange way, not
completely unlike the
anamnesis of his Lord
experienced in the Supper.


With Earth Day arriving
They saw a documentary
On our vanishing plant
Seed species and the
Nutrition depletion and
The poison infusion of
More and more of fewer
And fewer species of
Seeds. Then they saw
A documentary of the
Incredible Audubon
And his artistically
Beautiful, accurate
Representation of the
Species of birds of
America many of which
Have vanished into ex-
Tinction. And they saw
A documentary of the
Challenges to the Great
Lakes to save species
Of relatively new species
After so many former
Species of fish have dis-
Appeared and then they
Just sat and looked at
Each other and wondered….