He Was Just Glad*

So, weeks ago he sent an e-mail
to an aficionado of Islay Scotch,
the stuff distilled in heavy, heavy

peat bog country almost in the
middle of some nowhere island
off the coast of Scotland and he

heard nothing in return. Look
the guy is of Dutch descent and,
therefore, he is looking for a

bargain and this stuff was judged
best in the world and only costs
$24 a fifth. Still nothing. So he

sent another e-mail asking if the
Dutch-American got the first and
attaching the link to the inform-

ation. Again nothing. And so his
mind went to the worst places,
paranoia set in and he worried

that for some God forsaken reason
he had been ostracized from this
guy and the rest of the guy’s Dutch-

American social circle, perhaps be-
cause of his non-Dutch last name and
his left-leaning religious and pol-

itical views. He knew he should have
kept his mouth shut but after two
or three shots of the guy’s expensive

peat-boggy Scotch…Well. Then he thought
about that breed of Dutch-Americans
and how their ancestors came over

from the Netherlands in 1847 much
to the pleasure and relief of the
rest of the Dutch who stayed behind,

came to the docks to wave goodbye
and threw a party. It’s a quirky
bunch — stiff, religious literalists

and political hyper-conservatives
who hung around the same geography
and intermarried to the point of

raising eyebrows within the local
medical community and then, in his
time of resignation leading to despair

at the possibility of group rejection,
he got an e-mail from the guy thanking
him for the information and he realized

he got the whole thing about the Dutch
wrong, er…mostly, some? He was just
glad to get the e-mail.

*I read the following the day after writing
the poem. I am indebted to Henri Nouwen
for offering, in a meditation, an explanation
of what I was trying to get at in a narrative

When someone hurts us, offends us, ignores us, or rejects us,
a deep inner protest emerges. It can be rage or depression,
desire to take revenge or an impulse to harm ourselves. We
can feel a deep urge to wound those who have wounded us or
to withdraw in a suicidal mood of self-rejection. Although
these extreme reactions might seem exceptional, they are
never far away from our hearts. During the long nights we
often find ourselves brooding about words and actions we
might have used in response to what others have said or
done to us.

It is precisely here that we have to dig deep into our
spiritual resources and find the center within us, the
center that lies beyond our need to hurt others or
ourselves, where we are free to forgive and love.

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