It’s A Balancing Act

It’s a balancing act —
reading the uplifting,

inspiring meditations
and then reading the

depressing news of
the day — the

violence, cruelty
criminality, buf-

foonery. He won’t
read any news of

the day before some-
thing that says

everything is okay.
It’s foundational,

the rock of love upon
which the incoherent

silliness rests and
rests, too, upon his

breast. But then he
realizes that he is

standing on the found-
ational, creational

rock that lives and
breathes and dances

under his feet playing
footsy with him, stir-

ring the Gene Kelly
and Fred Astaire as

he does the silly and
gives it a leap in

the air in the trust
that he would land

on his feet. And
by grace, he does,

most of the time.
It’s a balancing act.

The Triune Creation

“…the beauty of diversity, the holiness of essence, 
and the evolutionary pull of communion.”
    — Sr. Joan Brown, Franciscan

1.

He looks around and sees so much green, so much red, 
     the vast spectrum of light;
he holds still and hears bird song, laughter, cries, 
     barking, waves crashing, lightning cracking, 
     thunder roaring, symphonies playing;
he sees diverse forms, animals, architecture, plants, 
     fish, the human race in all its glorious ethnicities….

2.

He feels the blood beat of life in all;
     he hears the breath of life in all;
he inhales the glorious scent of life in all;
     he touches the earth and reaches to the sky;
     his arms swirl in it all….

3.

He embraces the Whirling Dervish love that 
     dances in, through, under, over, around all — the 
glorious creation imbued with eternity —
     Infinite, Immanent and Intimate.

The # You Dialed

I got a call.
I looked at the number: 1-616-blah, blah, blah.
I didn’t recognize it.
I let it ring out. No message.
I called the number just for the heck of it.
I got a “The # you dialed is no longer in service.”
Say what! I got the call and called back right away.
If I had answered, I’m sure it would have been a recorded message
from some person, group, organization, business trying to sell something,
get rich and join the one percent of one percent
in lording it over the other 99.99 percent
and the beat goes on
and on
and on.
It’s nothing new, this coveting, this desiring to lord it over everybody else.
It’s been going on forever, since
Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel
and so on and so forth.
You would think people would learn.
I mean it didn’t turn out so well for those four —
cast out of the garden, violence, murder.
But we keep shouting about it
and protesting it
and saying that the system is unjust
and there have to be laws against the gross
acquisition of mammon, the hoarding, etc.
And, of course, hardly anything gets done
because of the system where the ones who
could do something about it have been
bought off and if you try to get them on the
phone to tell them to knock it off, you get
“The # you dialed is no longer in service.”

We Are Protected

We are protected in joy
that such joy does not
take us into hellish hall-

ucinations for when we
fall into hellish hall-
ucinations we are pro-

tected and in sorrow
that such sorrow does
not take us down unto

death, for when we are
taken down unto death
we are protected for

Love Incarnate has been
to all the places that be
and protects us from

that which would des-
troy that which we ex-
perience and that which

we be. Our highs are
high and our lows are
low and we give thanks

for the one hundred
eighty degrees between
them to feel and feel

safe within all universal
experiences experienced
by Love Incarnate that

we feel but stay safe
within the comforting,
affirming arms of the

Infinite, Immanent
and Intimate that reach
over, under, around and

through the 360 degree
whirling dervish dance
of creation.

Why Bother?

If there is no evidence of it in the now
why bother to affirm it at all?
If it is only something in the past,
why bother to look for it now?
Why bother with
the wisdom of the Buddha,
the wisdom of Confucius,
the wisdom of the Tao,
the wisdom of the holy writings of Judaism,
the wisdom of the holy writings of Christianity,
the wisdom of the holy writings of Islam,
the wisdom of the Upanishads,
the wisdom of the Ancient Myths,
the wisdom of the Greek philosophers?
Can you hear the Buddha, Laotzu,
Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, the voices
of Hinduism, Aristotle, Plato? They are
calling us to join them in the mystery
of life, death and eternity.
Can you hear them call for integrity,
morality, ethics, courage, sacrifice,
participatory suffering, mercy, forgive-
ness, grace, peace for individuals in
community?
Look.
They are all here.
It is all here.
The eternal, loving mystery
is here —
now.

The Pain I Covet*

I feel pain at the pain
that you live through.

If I were to wish away
the pain I have watching you,

both of us I would betray,
for my experience of pain

is prompted by my love for you
which then would fly away

and I would be bereft of love’s
descending dove

known in the pain I ache
and share with you,

so I covet and embrace the pain
that confirms my undying love for you.

*idea from a meditation by Frederick Buechner

The Loneliness of the Life-Long Hater

They are united by their hatred of the other.
If they didn’t have the other,
they would hate each other,
and down deep they are at least suspicious
that their own are really pernicious,
malicious
and capricious.
Every two claim that they really are
the only two true believers
but each isn’t sure about the other
and certainly no other believers,
and so their lives are treadmill repetitious
and projections of themselves as deceivers;
they are all alone in their loneliness
and the only thing they have in common
is that they are distortion spinners,
lie weavers
and viiolence breeders.

Thanks, Mom and Dad

Campgrounds sometimes make great confessionals.

Oh, not deep, dark, scary stuff that the priest hears and which must sometimes send shivers up and down his spine — just stuff that people, who probably won’t see each other again, want to get off their chest or spit out like an angry bull stuck with the matador’s sword if it has built up over a considerable time.

He rode his bike past, liked our little rig and stopped. We sat at the picnic
table splitting a sparkling water.

He was a senior citizen from the great Commonwealth of Kentucky as he called it. He was venturing into Yankee land, which few Kentuckians do, unless very reluctantly for work. He and his wife pulled a fifth-wheel and he said she wanted to see Lake Michigan because those Kentuckians who had ventured north told them that it was an amazing sight because you couldn’t see across, just like an ocean. They wanted to see for themselves.

Well, we sat there on the first day of June wearing down jackets. “Is it always this cold in June?” he asked.

“It has been an unusual winter and spring if you can call this spring,” I complained.

“I got that but could I ask you to speak up. The hearing is on the way out.”

“Oh, sure,” I spoke a little too loudly.

I knew he was kind of antsy and wanted to talk about something so I just
asked him how it was going and out poured the complaints like bourbon
at a Derby party.

“I’m 75 and I’m making a list of all the damn bad stuff I got from my
mom and dad and I’m angrier than a retired racehorse facing a bolt through
the skull and a boat ride to France to become a sautéed filet of whatever
the hell French is for horse meat.”

He dove right in. He must have been holding this in and ruminating about
what he called fate for quite a while. I was a little shocked at his
candidness, but, hey, he probably wouldn’t be seeing me again. I would
be like a bartender listening to a guy who would never visit the bar again.

“So, I was born with an undescended testicle and a hernia on the same side.”

Goodness, I thought.

“Sorry if I’m being too blunt, but being 75 I haven’t time for niceties.
I hope that’s all right.”

“Fine,” I stated loudly.

“The dumb doc after he fixed the hernia, told my dad that the testicle would
descend on it’s own like a mallard duck diving for food. It didn’t and I
had to have special surgery when I was a teenager to bring the damn thing
down into my scrotum. That was no picnic I can tell you. Well, the word
got around the school that I was having some kind of surgery that was very
private. Well, of course. It was my privates. There was speculation
galore but I never said a word.

“Then when I was seventeen I noticed a bulge in the back of my leg. A varicose
vein. What the hell! Well, from there they spread pretty fast. In college, I was encouraged to try out for the lead in Spartacus but I was afraid of wearing short pants. That would have been embarrassing. I had them operated on when I was thirty and it was surgery to make a butcher laugh — scars everywhere.

“Well, over time they started to fade but the veins kept popping out and I have had countless injections over the years. Thank the Lord, I’ve been free of them
for three, four years now. Did you know that you can lose tons of veins and
still get along? I’m living proof. My uncles on my mother’s side all had bad
legs. Thanks, Mom.

“Then when I was about twenty-five I started going bald. Again, thanks, Mom.

“When I was forty, I started to wheeze while jogging. Yup, adult onset asthma
from growing up around my dad who smoked three packs of cigarettes a day —
in the house. I’ll have it the rest of my life. At least it’s under control. Thanks a lot, Dad.

“Back to the testicle.”

Must we, I wondered.

“It was up in that hot house for years instead of the cooler climes below, so it became the smaller, weaker sibling.

“Two years ago, it hurt down there every time I rode my bike so I had surgery and out it came — dead as a doornail and resembling a dried up, dwarf, morel mushroom the surgeon said.”

Seriously, I thought to myself. TMI. But he kept going.

“Good thing it came out when it did or I would have been looking like an
old Lance Armstrong. I called my two kids and asked them if they were happy
to be alive. They said yes and I told them they could thank my left testicle.

“Thank the Lord, I can still function without the aid of stuff like Viagra.”

I hoped he wouldn’t volunteer his wife for confirmation.

“Well, around the time the testicle died, I started growing man tits. The
two are related. I googled it. Yeah, the big joke on the old Jerry Seinfeld
show. Remember the line about the guy having to wear a bro? So, now I have
to have that surgery.”

I averted staring at his chest.

“Oh, and I’ve had three more hernia surgeries. Thanks again and again, Mom,
and last year the eye doctor told me I have glaucoma in my left eye
and have to take drops everyday for the rest of my life.”

And then he started to sing sarcastically a paraphrase of an old Beach Boys song.

“And we’ll have fun, fun, fun till I go blind in my left eye.

“I’m getting tired of thanking my mom. Oh, and osteoarthritis of the knees and bursitis of the elbows and crowns galore in my mouth because of super, soft teeth ALL FROM MY MOTHER’S PEOPLE!”

I wondered if he were shouting because of his hearing loss or simply for emphasis.”

“So, here I sit sipping sparkling water because I have a fatty liver and had
to give up booze and sugar and fatty meat.

“Well, I guess I should be happy. The old ticker is still ticking away and I
can still ride my bike and best of all, pain free, if you get what I mean.

“Oh, did I mention the bunions from my mother’s side and the gout from my
grandfather on my mother’s side and those, God awful, leg cramps that come
on like a Sumo wrestler has my legs in a choke hold?

“Oh well, never mind. I gotta go. Thanks for the chat and the sparkling water.
I do thank the Lord that we have been given two of a lot of things.
Say, this is all just between you and me, right?”

“Right.” And then I remembered to speak up. “Right!”

“Gee, I feel a whole lot better. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.”

As he peddled off into the sunset, I thought he didn’t look so bad for
inheriting all that stuff. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about
all the stuff I had inherited from my folks. The longer I sat there the
angrier I got and the more often I said in a sarcastic tone, “Gee, thanks, Mom.
Thanks, Dad.”

Maybe tomorrow before we pack up and head home I can find someone here
I can talk to like that old fart with the bad limp who walks his old
dog with a bad limp. I’m sure he’s been through enough to understand.