About robertedahl

Husband, Father, Brother, Friend, Jogger (40,000 miles and I've stopped counting), Cyclist, Kayaker, Hiker, Camper

Every Spring

Every spring, termites rise,
wings aflutter, swarming
out of dune sand, above
and around the house.
The house is protected…
still, the annual swarm sends
shivers up and down the
man’s spine as the termites
bounce off the window
screens. Would that the
virus had wings and he
could see exactly where
it was as it blew by the
protected house bouncing
off screens of closed
windows.

Cellophane

He tore the cellophane
from around the box
of Windmill cookies.
Pieces of cellophane
clung to his fingers.
He shook and shook his
hand and then when he
used his other hand to
remove the cellophane,
it clung to that hand,
too. He stood shaking
both hands but the
cellophane wouldn’t
budge. He used a paper
towel to remove the
cellophane from his
hands and toss it all
in the wastebasket.
Thoughts of the Temp-
orary Occupant came
to mind. Then he shook
his head and reached
for a cookie.

Man As Dog

True, he was not good to
the dog for the fifteen years
the dog was part of their

family. How ironic, the man
loved the dog and cried like
a baby when he had to put

the old boy down, but, well,
his wife told him bluntly, he
brought things home from

work and let the dog know
it was all the dog’s fault.
Someone said that the dog

would be there at the pearly
gates to accuse the man be-
fore St. Peter. Since then he

has had many dogs and was
good and loving toward each
of them. He has begged for

forgiveness for his sins against
that dog and he hopes the
five will appear as character

witnesses — when, in reality,
his therapist asked, “Well,
why are you standing at the

pearly gates accusing your-
self? Interestingly, I can’t see
the dog.”

Every Action

Every action has an equal and
greater reaction. So, what did
we expect, something other
than physics, which is only

the scientific evidence of truth?
Did we think that physics has
nothing to do with the violent
death of a black man at the

knee of a white man wearing
a blue suit? So, physics aside,
how about psychology? Are
we ready to deny that the straw

that breaks the camel’s back
is the latest violation of human
rights; are we ready to say
that violence to meet violence

is something completely un-
understandable? So, there
is Watts, there is Detroit, there
is Chicago and now there is

Minneapolis/St. Paul. So,
psychology aside, how about
the spirituality of it all? Maybe
a lot of whites would wax

profound about how we need
to protest non-violently, silently,
and maybe there might be
blacks in the spirit of Martin

Luther King, Jr. who call for
non-violence and that is all
so true, but on the scientific,
psychological and spiritual

levels not to mention just
the human level — cries,
screams of violent injustice
erupt into violent acts of

reaction; who can say that
we just don’t get it? Of
course we get it, all the
four hundred years of vio-

lence against a particular
segment of our citizenship.
Of course, we get it and now
it is time to say enough,

enough, enough, more than
enough, more, much, much
more and while we call for
non-violence at least know

and understand that for
every action there is an
equal and greater reaction
and we have to under-

stand, not judge, not
jump to conclusions but
pray, pray, pray that justice
will be here one day —

long-overdue justice this
day. “What’s more, Whitey,
you ain’t got nothin’ to
say,” because you shout,

“Peace, peace when there
is no peace,” as every
black, brown, red and
yellow human knows.

What Could I Say?

I gave a friend a copy of
my latest book of poems.
Two weeks later, he asked
me why I only used one
column to write things.
He thought it was a
terrible use of space
and that I should have
written from one edge of
the page to the other.
I said, “Well, it’s poetry.”
“Still,” he said, “it is
a terrible waste of paper.”
What could I say? I never
thought of poetry as being
environmentally unfriendly.

The Necessary Saving of Capitalism and Christianity

Those who have lived their entire lives in functioning democracies may find it hard to grasp how easily minds can be won over to the totalitarian dark side. — Uki Goñi is a Buenos Aires-based journalist

Those seeking power
chant that the greater
people are being attacked

by the lesser people,
those sucking the blood
from the very structures

of advanced civilization.
Their voices grow louder
and more shrill, “We must

separate the brown and
black babies from their
parents before the babes

can be indoctrinated in-
to militant masses who
want to destroy evan-

gelical Christianity, pro-
mote sexual promiscuity
and endorse abortions.

This sleazy, scum of the
earth has to be eliminated
before they can take up

arms, before they out-
number us and destroy
our God granted capitalism

and all of the wonderful
cultural inheritance from
our Northern European

ancestors and desecrate
our churches dedicated
to the glory of our Lord

and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
And as they took up arms,
the listeners, formerly

just ordinary Americans,
shouted, “Amen!” and
headed for their Jeeps

and Hummers. The wan-
nabe leaders looked at
each other, shrugged,

winked and said, “That
was easy.” Hitler would
have smiled.

The Last Several Years

If the last several years
have shone us anything,
it is that there is a small
but vocal percentage of
citizens who fear and
therefore hate but we
now also see that there
is a significant percent-
age who see and reflect
the wonderful diversity
and inclusivity of our
immigrant nation and
embrace it with wonder,
gratitude, hope and
grace.

The Man Was Poor As In “Poor Man”

[The] “poor” — those who are powerless, dismissed, or considered lesser in society. This is far larger than mere economic poverty. In the United States, we are pretty much trained to blame people who are poor, immigrants or refugees, victims, or gay, lesbian, or transgendered people. Far too many seem to think, even if to themselves, that if “those people” would simply work a little more, do things the right way, change their minds, stay hidden, or just “pray a little harder,” we’d all be better off. — Richard Rohr

The man was an immigrant —
whose mother died when the man
was eight and whose father died
when the man was thirteen.

The man was an orphan —
abandoned in a strange land,
tossed from foster home
to foster home.

The man was a foreigner —
who spoke a foreign language
and had to learn the new
language all on his own.

The man was “second fiddle” —
to the only son of the foster family
and when the only son left, never
to return, the man became the
caregiver to Grampa Carl and
Auntie Ann.

The man dropped out of school —
and went to work and
decided to become a businessman
in the new land.

The man went on the “bum” —
during the depression, hopping
railroad cars, being attacked,
having to fend for himself.

The man came home —
married and had two children,
and for awhile, drank away his pay.
The couple fought almost every day.

The man started his own business —
gained respectability, dressed
nicely.

The man, missing something —
became a Christian and an
elder in his church.

The man, compassionate by nature —
identified that compassion with Jesus.
The man was loved by many including
his two children and, in her own way,
his wife.

The man had a heart attack —
and couldn’t keep up his
sole proprietor business.

The man asked the pastor —
to stop by for support. The
pastor told the man that
the man had to “pray harder.”
The man told the pastor —
“I’m all prayed out.”

The man took his own life —
poor man. At the funeral,
so many mumbled, “Poor Man.”

How many “poor” men and women
are there — out there — who believed
Lady Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door”?

All the man wanted —
was to see that lamp
beside the golden door
and so do so, so very many more.

This Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, For Instance…*

…corporate evil is often culturally agreed-upon, admired, and deemed necessary, as is normally the case when a country goes to war, spends most of its budget on armaments, admires luxuries over necessities, entertains itself to death, or pollutes its common water and air. — Richard Rohr

Today, for instance,

how can you be German
and not cringe at the Holocaust,

how can you be Scandinavian
and not cringe at the Vikings?

Today, for instance,

pick an ethnicity and cringe.

Today, for instance,

how can you be a white American
and not cringe at slavery, ethnic
cleansing, systemic and endemic
racism, war after war after war,
a budget bulging with armaments,

how can you be a human
and not cringe at what we are
doing to God’s billions of years
in the making Bible — creation,

how can you be a Christian
and not cringe at what Christianity
has done in siding with the
power structures instead of
finding solidarity with the oppressed,

how can you be a Christ-bearer
and not cringe at how we just
keep slapping Jesus upside
the head,

how can you be Judas
and not cringe at how you
sold your soul for thirty
pieces of silver,

how can you be Cain
and not cringe at killing
Abel,

how can you be Adam
and not cringe at how
you blamed Eve and
keep blaming Eve?

Today, for instance…

now that places of worship
erroneously, callously and
cynically have been declared
“essential” in this age of the
virus, how can we not cringe
at the thought of blithely
gathering, praying, singing
while possibly sentencing
each other to illness and
death?

Today, for instance,

how can we not cringe
as we continue to
kill Jesus all the while
Jesus continues to love
us into eternity?

Today, for instance,

how can we simultaneously
cringe and rejoice at love?

Today, for instance,

perhaps it is only in
light of that eternal love
that we can cringe courageously
without losing hope.

*thoughts based on readings
and meditations, 05/24/2020