The gardener

The old man cried,

No, there is a God, a caring, patient God!

But why is he taking my Rebekah?

.

The process has been going on for years.

Slowly, painfully, drawing out the agony.

Giving him seeds of hope.

That never blossom in this arid time of decline.

.

Or maybe the seed has blossomed.

And now is losing its bloom,

Leaf by leaf

As the old man does all he can

Watering, fertilizing,

Whispering words of encouragement

Which fall on deaf ears.

As another leaf falls and then another

Until there is a mound of withered leaves

Which will soon blow away,

By a gentle breeze which gives comfort to others.

But not to him

His suffering is not nearly over.

There is more,

So much, so much more.

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Then the branches turn from green to brown to grey.

They are snapped easily but feel no pain

All feelings have departed long ago

But the gardener remains

Staring at the dead sapling

Hoping that it will come back in the spring.

The roots are still strong!

The stem is only sleeping!

It will come back!

Miracles happen!

Miracles happen every day!

He needs only one miracle to save his wife,

Only one.

So many years spent in prayer and meditation,

Weren’t they worth one miracle?

.

But a gardener cannot expect the rain to come

When it is convenient.

The gardener works the land he has,

In the time he has been given,

And must let the rest go.

And accept the judgement of heaven.


I knew

I knew there was something important,
Important, important
I knew there was something important,
I had to do today.

I had to say I love you
I love you, I love you
I should have told you I love you
A hundred times today.

I knew it was important,
But life makes one forget.
A moment later, love has gone,
And in its place, regret


Make America great.

On an early day in February, in a quiet moment, I sat at my desk, in my study. I was warm.  I was not in want.  I was lucky as deaths from the virus passed 450,000. 

And I thought about making America great again. Maybe he was right, that America is no longer great, but was the reason because we lost manufacturing jobs to China? Does that make a country, great?

I believe we are no longer great because we have lost our way.

America once stood for something.

Not just one thing many things.

Freedom, Justice, Equality.

It was a place of hope where people would come to, from all over the world, for the chance at a better life.

Our founding fathers, imperfect individuals, many of whom own slaves, created the Constitution and Bill of Rights because they envisioned a more perfect union. They knew that they were not capable of getting there, but they gave their children and children’s children the ability to go beyond what they could even imagine.

Lady Liberty calls to the world, Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.

She does not say give us your white Christians and the rest can go to hell.

My parents’ generation, the greatest generation, fought in World War II to end fascism not to import it to our country.

Dr King did not want perfection.  He just wanted to place where his children could sit at the same table. Was that too much to ask for?  To sit at the same table with people who disagree with you and talk as equals.

Being great is a process not a destination. We were never great, but we were always on the way to greatness. I fear we have lost our way.

Can we believe in God and not believe;

That all men are created equal? 

That we should help the widow and the orphan? 

That we should welcome the stranger in our midst?

That we are stewards of the Earth but we do not own it?

Even the small plot of land where we will be buried is not ours.  With our very last molecule of energy, we feed the bugs and worms and nourish the Earth around our disintegrating coffin.  If our last act on Earth is one of charity, why is being charitable so hard to do when we are living?


Heaven

Heaven is a place

That is far away

And nearly impossible to get to.

Heaven is a promise

For a life lived in the service of others.

.

But Heaven is also a metaphor,

As in Heaven on earth,

And Heaven is a journey,

Where each step could be joyous.

.

And Heaven is a woman,

Who is a promise, a metaphor, and a journey.

Where Joy exists in her smile,

And peace in her loving arms.


Frank Smith

Frank woke up and thought he was dead. 

Nothing had changed from the day before. The sun was shining through his window. The compressor in his refrigerator was rattling as it had been for the last month and a half. There was even a slight smell of Lily, his cocker spaniel, who died years before but somehow still stayed with him through a faint smell of wet dog that would always gladden and sadden Frank when he woke up. Lily was there to remind him of the unconditional love he once had.

But he still thought he was dead.

His day-to-day existence had all the elements of Hell, an eternity of isolation, left alone with his own thoughts that were turning increasingly more negative with each passing day, hoping for a salvation that would never come, praying for peace.

Hope had left him as he walked endlessly in his walk around his home, feeling his feet against the cold wooden floor.  He knew all the changes in textures of the floor so well it seemed like his toes had memorized them.  Little cracks by the door. Bits of food that were not picked up by the vacuum.  Crumbs too small to recognize made his heel feel as if there were splinters in it.  This part of the rug always seemed wet even though there was no reason for it to be so.

Hell seemed unnecessary. Why would you need a constructed place to torture souls when if you just isolated people, they would torture themselves much more efficiently. No burning, no brimstone, no creatures with a taste for human flesh. Sartre said that Hell was other people.  Frank thought other people were unnecessary.  Each person is thoroughly capable of torturing himself.

Frank stared up from his bed.  The popcorn on the ceiling changed into that Hieronymus Bosch painting about Hell.  All those little images of how people would be tortured after they were gone. 

It was a stupid painting. Did human flesh even exist after death?  Of course not. 

Does the soul feel pain?

Emotional pain maybe but once you have left this earthly plane, your attachments to the nouns of the world evaporates.  And things that you once held so dear no longer have any power over you.

But if the soul still believed it was amongst the living, then all the attachments would still exist.  Frank looked at the ceiling fan above his bed.  The fan was turning slowly, and dust hung from the blades.  He could not remember the last time he cleaned the fan.  It must have been years. If he cleaned it now, dust would fall on his bed.  He could not remember when he washed his comforter.  Probably the last time he cleaned the fan.  Why would he need to wash the comforter? He had bed sheets which generally covered his body at night.  He hardly touched the comforter, maybe his arms or his hands but he usually took a shower before bed, so they were clean.

He continued to stare at the fan.  A piece of fluff seemed to be hanging on to the blade as it continued its journey around and around. He should be here when it fell, he thought.  Only then would he know the precise time of it’s descent.  Why that seemed important, he could not tell.  But in hell everything is important.


Words, words, words

11/28/2020

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Filling a page with scratches,

With symbols of despair.

Desperate to find meaning

Through markings in space.

Combining words

Over and over again

Different varieties

Unique variations

Until they sound important.

.

But they aren’t.

.

There is more meaning

In an empty page

Then in all the countless pages

I have filled.


Desperation

desperation fills you up

drop by drop

grain by grain

until there is nothing left

of what you were.

.

you now call

the desperation

by your name.


god

god cries for the unborn child but does not think of the million people who have no hope.

god believes that life is precious but that black lives do not matter.

god raises one group of people above another and turns his back on those living in helplessness, poverty, war, and despair.

It seems to me that god is just a concept in which we hide our prejudices.


Beliefs

God exists whether we believe

In him or not.

Science doesn’t care what we believe.

I don’t believe in anything.

Nobody cares.


I Can’t Breathe

I can’t breathe became the rallying cry, once again,

(Damn us for allowing this to happen again)

For those seeking to end systemic racism

After George Floyd’s life was choked away from him.

.

People used it in the West

As wildfires choked their cities, burnt their homes,

Destroyed communities and lives,

And turned day into night.

.

It might as well be used for those dying of covid-19

As their lungs fill with fluid,

Separated from loved ones,

Who cannot hug or kiss them good-bye.

.

It should be the motto of our nation over the last year.  

Our lives slowly being choked out of us through

Political turmoil, financial crisis, and moral questions,

Which cannot be lessened by people

Who will not listen to each other.