They Shout

They shout,
“Drill, baby, drill,”
day in and day out —
They seem to get
an orgiastic thrill
about “Drill, baby, drill.”
“It’s a Man’s World,”
was the name of the
series on TV
back in the day,
and it was a show about confused,
white, college boys being confused
day after day
and innocence has
turned to hate
and fear and greed
and here and there
a vile double entendre:
“Drill, baby, drill,”
in the salty sea,
in national lands
reserved for you and me.
Drill, rape, screw climate
but they only feign
They grovel before
the throne
and bow before the
donor class
and ask, “May I
kiss your ass?” —
scared, little, lying,
white boys in a
circle jerk
called the Congress.


Easy Shoveling

The snow was light, fluffy
picked up and blown about
by the wind whipping down
from the north. As the sun
shone, the flying flakes
sparkled — flashing blues,
reds, silvers like sun
catchers and disco balls
hanging from the ceiling
at a New Year’s Eve party.
For that snow show he
forgave the seventeen
degree weather with a
zero wind chill factor
as he continued to push
the snow down the drive-
way to the tune “Crystal
Blue Persuasion”:
Look over yonder
What do you see?
The sun is a-risin’
Most definitely
A new day is comin’,

People are changin’
Ain’t it beautiful,
Crystal blue persuasion.

And as he shoveled, he
looked for the sun
and hoped for a new
day a comin’

Nipping It In The Bud

Some say the (pee)-resident of the Golden Stream is evil.
Hold on there. That’s pretty strong and easy to say and
the consequences of such a glib accusation could be daunt-

ing kind of like the Salem witch trials. That is like the arm-
chair psychiatrists who attach labels to the guy when he
actually has never ever been analyzed by a professional or

two or three or however many it would take to get the job
done and done correctly. We all have to admit, he is many
things, sad things — infantile, childish in a bad sense,

not the biblical affirmation of being like a child, open
to wonder, selfish, self-absorbed, serial liar, absence
of compassion, vengeful, a bully, definitely a very

short attention span (certainly not long enough to read
this), mean, cruel even and, of course we could go on and
on, except if we are perfectly honest, we can see ourselves

from time to time in a lot of that, maybe just not so much
so much of the time and we certainly wouldn’t put a label
of evil on ourselves and if we were inclined to do so, it

might be a good time to make an appointment to see a
psychiatrist, but what is bothersome is what happens in
the wake of and in response to all his bad behavior, like

group obsequiousness as the dictionary puts it:

servile, ingratiating, sycophantic, fawning,
unctuous, oily, oleaginous, groveling, cringing,
subservient, submissive, slavish; informal: brown-
nosing, bootlicking, smarmy; vulgar, slang: ass-

by the present powers that be to what end you
may ask — in order to appease the (pee)-resident
of the Golden Stream to get more and more of what

they all want which is the retention and greater
accumulation of power which might not be very good
for the country and then we might see small erosions

of the things that “promote the general welfare” to
big erosions of big guarantees like the Bill of Rights
and then democracy fading into fascism and the finger-

pointing at scapegoats and eventually the beginning of
World War III at which point you could justifiably say
that something evil is definitely going on here but, of

course, by then, most of us would be in prison or dead.
Or maybe if we have ears to hear and eyes to see, we
might be able to nip it in the bud and do what Jesus,

Gandhi, MLK, Jr, et. al. did, which was to garner the
courage of non-violent protest with consequences
to themselves be damned.


The minister began, “In the beginning was the Word…” and the mike refused to work. We wait in silence in the beautiful old church with the lovely Chrismon tree…and the babies crying as a six-foot lady marched up the aisle with a new mike.

The choir sang like angels, the soloists rising into the night sky as the precious organ shook us into Christmas expectation…then something caused it to squeak and the congregation laughed!

Moods are difficult to sustain even on Christmas Eve when once-a-year members enter late en masse accompanied by body-pierced teens with heads shaved or half-shaved and toddlers run joyously up and down the aisles. Still, we recoup and bow our heads to welcome The King.

The minister fluffs a few lines, the readers stumble over Biblical names and miss their cues…still the Good News squeezes through to rejuvenate hope in the downtrodden, the immigrants, and half the members who are homosexuals…all welcomed and helping do the work of Christmas.

Now it is time for the holy moments of The Lord’s Supper and the congregation gets into a traffic jam moving toward the Bread and Wine…and people greet those they have not seen all year, those returning from hospitals, heartbroken widows and teary halves of couples that did not work out…and Holy Communion happens anyway as we mill around—just as promised.

We hold hands praying the Lord’s Prayer…hands sticky from the street, hands with
calluses, soft hands, trembling hands, reluctant hands, white-brown-black-yellow
hands, and the Spirit moves through us ready or not.

Then it is time for sharing the light…from the central candle to our candles
as we prepare to go out into the cold night to bring the Christ-light into the
retreating dark, singing carols for the downtown to hear…laughing and crying
and hugging as we hear: “Go into the world and BE Christmas…DO Christmas…God
LOVES you! Amen.”

INTO THIS MESSINESS, OUR MESSINESS — not unlike the messiness of the stall,
the animals, the very messiness of birth, the irony of shepherds and wise men
kneeling together in the straw and precious gifts next to animal excrement
while angels sing and stars shine and God is glorified — into the this very

*The Rev. James C. Berbiglia, retired Presbyterian minister and military
chaplain, wrote this piece during this past Christmas season. I’m glad to
post it even as we continue through the season of Epiphany. Keep its
beautiful year-round message of inclusivity and grace in your thoughts
now, through the year and then as we once again approach Christmas.

Last Stands

The (pee)-resident of the
Golden Stream had been on
good behavior for a few
days, it would seem, but
then he dropped the verbal
bomb about immigrants from
“shithole” countries, mean-
ing, of course, given his
racist attacks, countries
populated primarily by
browns and blacks. Is he
speaking for the United
States? He’s talking to
the angry, white, Republican
base — those afraid of any
other race — not knowing
there is just one race, the
human race and which is
scared “shitless” of blacks,
browns, reds and yellows
being in their face. The
base is in a “Custer’s Last
Stand in the Battle of the
Greasy Grass”* stand. Well,
now, we all know how well
that turned out for Custer.
The great white warrior
slipped on his ass in that
greasy grass.

*What the Lakotas call
the Battle of Little
Big Horn.

Trees, Forests and Particulars

He encountered the word “particular”
in its plural form twice within a
matter of minutes and both times

it was in reference to poetry… “seen
cleanly and with the concomitant
well-chosen particulars, is one

of the most powerful ways to do
this.” stated the poet, “this”
being poetry, and “…poets love

particulars…” stated the monk on
his way to a statement on contem-
plation. He contemplated that

for a while. He has always been
concerned about not seeing the
forest for the trees, not getting

the big picture, not taking it all
in and not getting stuck examining
the bark of a lone, big, old, oak

tree concluding that the forest is
made up solely of big, old oak trees
but then he thought about how import-

ant the trees are to seeing the
forest, (because, let’s face it,
without the trees there wouldn’t

be a forest in all of its wonder-
ful diversity through which to
wander.) perhaps just one tree at

a time and then cumulatively as
one steps back from particular
trees. Yes, those particulars

are very important, particulars
of the tree and particulars of
the poem, but there are many

types of trees in the forest,
and…there are many types of
poems in the poet’s bag of

poems each filled with all kinds
of particulars and maybe even a
few particular tricks…and treats.

Another Reason for Seeking God

The professor stated, “We seek God because
we are not…. God seeks us because God
is…and God is…love.”
The student asked, “Does that mean that we
are not…love?”
The professor stated, “A mostly lost realization
of a mutual relation.”
The student asked, “Is that why we seem
so existentially restless?”
The professor stated, “’Oh, Lord, we shall
not rest until we rest in Thee. Amen.’
Class dismissed.”

Later the student watched a TV talk show
featuring a celebrity physician. The question
of the day was, “Do you pee in the shower?”

The student stated, “I just thought of another
reason for seeking God.”

A Man Read — Blog Post # 2,500

A man read an article by a Doubting
Thomas scientist, the best kind
according to the man, who decided

that the data was beginning to
support the notion that meditation
works, so the man sat more upright

and breathed a few deep breaths like
when he read several years ago that
science was beginning to prove that

prayer worked and he bowed his head
for a few moments and then said to
himself that while science hasn’t

yet proven the adage “Moderation
in all things,” he would continue,
as one who believes in conserving

energy, to practice it along with
his favorite mantra “Less is more,”
except when it comes to naps,

because naps help conserve energy.

He Stares

He stares at the metallic, water-
Color mandala on rice paper framed
And hanging over the mantel. He
Begins at the center and works his
Way around the red, brown, beige
White and blue around and around
And around to the outer edges and
Back again to the center, like a
Walk through a prayer labyrinth.
There he sits, taken back through
The center to a backyard and a
Little, tow-headed girl sitting
Silently under a large oak tree
Concentrating on the watercolors
At her disposal as she meticulously
Brush strokes the paint on the
Artist’s paper resting on her lap.