Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Proud purple myrtle, 
daffodil winks and curtsies, 
golden pollen trinkets at every turn. 
Houses with puffed door chests, 
sidewalks akimbo to the sun,
dogs jangling on lax leads.
Bike tires spinning, pairs strolling, 
every small child crouched 
to look closer at the beautiful dirt.  
How we long to let our animal selves
loose in the world: all nose and eyes 
and wagging, urge and yearning. 
If we could, we would roll around
on the grass and show our bellies.
Rub me, world, I’ll let you. 
I trust you completely now. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Making a decision

Hummingbird heart,
looking at the sun burnished arch.  
I am on one side now, 
and, in the soon time, 
I will walk through. 
Volunteering volitionally,
to say I believe in 
what is to happen next.
I cannot remember the last time
knew my next step so clearly.    
This is not a fork in the road, 
this is a gateway, and I 
walking toward yes.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

25 things I learned today

1. My day starts better when my car starts.
2. I will make many, many mistakes and the best thing to do it admit fault and ask for forgiveness.   I learned that I want to get things right the first time, and as a friend said to me, "that makes me suffer."  Humph. 
3. I am still not over something I thought I was over. 
4. Though I do not want to admit this, I think I am still a control freak (despite years of trying to be more open-minded and flexible).  
5. When I hug people, they are nice to me. 
6. One person at the hub of an institution can shift the whole organization's energy profoundly.  (That one is for you Lorene Rider). 
7. Amanda Powell's voice still makes me swoon even though I have heard it hundreds of times. 
8. Ergo, some things are just like that.  Like today's tree green.  April 25th green.  It gets me every time. 
9. Kids respond equally to gentleness and excitement.
10. Ten year olds can run faster than the first flight of the Wright Brothers' Flyer. 
11. And they really like proving they can. 
12. My classroom is not really suited for Book Pad. 
13. We are all doing the best we can. 
14. Mark Yasenchack seems really into what he is doing -- as if he is doing it for the first time even if it is not the first time -- which innately draws others into the experience.
15. People read my writing and, because I have a certain level of authenticity in it, they "like me" but what they may really be pulled towards is not me, but the rawness.  The vulnerability.  That is, actually, what we all ache for.  
16. I like making people smile. 
17. Kids love good writing.  Love to read it out loud, laugh about it, write about it, talk about.  The best way to make a kid smarter is to give a kid a great book.  Teachers are almost unnecessary.  
18. "Thank you" goes a long way. 
19. Nate Berkus is the featured designer at Target these days.  I like Nate, but, surprisingly I'm not so fond of his home decor. 
20. Pillows are still $4.04 at Target.  You know how disposable the world has become?  Well, I'm like that with pillows.  It kind of makes me ashamed.  It's a secret vice.  KInd of like the same way I use chemicals on my lawn.  I know I am not supposed to, but, damn it, I like it all green. 
21. I saw a kid find keys at the doorway to Target, pick them up and chase down a woman who was walking to her car.  He did a great things on his own with no encouragement.  It was so cool to see.  But, when he got back inside Target, his father yelled at him for not keeping up.  Really yelled at him.   I wonder how many things we miss in life because we just are not paying attention.  
22. Mad Men, season six, is not living up to my high expectations.  If the reviewers want to call Don Draper "a modern existentialist," they ought to meet some of my friends. 
23. I like that, right now, I am baking my neighbor's muffins. I like having that kind of relationship with my family next door. 
24. Mothers walk around with Lego swords and breast pads in their pockets. 
25. Breast pads make good pot holders. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dead battery

There's nothing like a twenty dollar tip to get a man's core story.

This morning I got in my car and tried to start it but, curses, the battery was dead.  I called my Ford roadside assistance, and was efficiently handled and within twelve minutes -- yes, twelve -- someone was in my driveway.

He had me fill out some paperwork, attached a battery, jumped my car and started to head off.  I said, "Hey there, here's a tip for helping me out." His eyes widened when he saw the amount, and then, for whatever reason, the story poured forth.  

"I was an Army man,  22 years.  My daddy too, and his daddy before him.  Germany and Korea.  Dusseldorf, Berlin Wall Guard...my son is thinking about joining up but I didn't know what to say, so I told him what my daddy told me. 'Son, if you want to go in the Army, it's going to have to be your choice. Ain't no father want to tell his child to go into service because, if anything happens, it'll hang on him forever. So this has got to be your decision, and I'll support you.'"

It was raining on me and my linen shirt.  I didn't give a hoot. I was getting more than my battery recharged.  He continued, "I was classified 1A in the draft in '74 and I knew that sooner or later, they was going to get me.  My daddy said, 'Son, you have two choices: you can wait for them to tell you what THEY want you to do, or you can tell them what YOU want to do. Wait if you want, moping around afraid all of the time.  Or just walk in to the recruiting office and take charge of your life.'  It was good advice; I keep using it my whole life.  I signed up and got to work transportation.  Sure, they were shooting at me, but I wasn't ever on the front lines anywhere.  You know what?" 


"Whatever you is afraid of, walk right in and sign up for it. It's the only way to go." 

I nodded, knowing this man was speaking truth.  I thanked him - this nameless guru of the day - and gave him a couple whacks on the shoulder.  (I thought it might be odd to hug a soaking wet 60 year old tow guy so a good whack is a close as I could come).   We parted, but he still is hanging in me right now 14 hours later.  That's the way with an unexpected blessing; it sticks. 

Whatever it is, people, walk right in and sign up for it.  Facing fear with openness.  It's the way to go. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

10 line Tuesday inspiration from Maya and Amy

Maya and Amy's inspiration for today's writing

What would it be like to be the sun,
obliviously sending light without caution?
Not knowing its benefactors: this family
of tulips blooming in today’s warm air,
the grape hyacinths purpling up the path,
the groundhog nuzzling the green ground for food.
How I wish we could pluck the sun from its perch
and bring it down to us on this Earth just to
show it what happens when something is given
and given with no need for thanks. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prayers of this person


Being asked to say the "Prayers of the People" at church is always a particularly challenging challenge.  How could I -- one person with my singular perspective and limitations -- write and say anything that would be adequate for our two hundred and fifty congregants?  This week made the job particularly difficult. 

I wrote and said this prayer with some fervor. And, by the time I got to the end, I had a catch in my throat.  That happens a lot these days, and it always happens when I'm telling something that has a heart burr.  Something sticky -- either because I cannot do what I desire to do, or I am saying something that I had not heretofore known it to be true. Often, the veracity of my own words shocks me; I don't know where they come from.   And, sometimes, honest to God, it is just spirit -- the wayward wind of spirit. 

In case you were wondering, this is the best I could do today...

Dear God,
This may not be an easy or polite prayer, but we have talked like this before and I know you hear our words even when they are filled with confusion, anger and frustration. 

Once again, who we think we are has been shaken by what has been done in this world. It can be hard to trust that good is abundant, and love always wins. 

God, you have named and claimed the prophets. You have equipped the saints for service. And you have – in that same generosity - blessed us each with undeniable skills. Irrevocable talents. We are lucky, each of us, to be a child of god even in what appears to be a godless world. 

But we know – we hang onto the belief – that this is not a godless world.
That is why we must tune our ears to your call, we must prepare our hearts for action.  We must be moved to follow your beckon with confidence and humility. 

Let us be the people you ask us to be, help us be the people you need us to be.

May we use the gifts you’ve given us
for healing, for helping,
for loving, for lifting,
for changing, for challenging,
for magnifying, for marveling,
for purpose, for praise,
for growth and, always, for the greater good.

For when we use our god given talents for anything less than godly action, we have failed you and have failed us.  Forgive us, God, for the many ways we waste your love and faith in us.  

And yet, so too, we thank you. We sing to your glory and to your might. We count on your ability to shape and transform us, your everlasting desire to tilt us toward the light, to help us be the light. 

This week acts of intentional harm were surpassed by thousands of acts of kindness. 

Runners who tore off their shirts to make tourniquets.
Blood banks filled to the brim.
Restaurants staying open to offer refuge.
Families posting places for the stranded to stay.

You see, we saw that love does win.  Love always wins.
God’s people show up.  God’s gifts appear.
A call is sounded and people run to serve. 
We pray for who lost their lives this week in Boston:
26 year MIT police officer Sean Collier,
29 year old Krystle Campbell
Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu
8 year old Martin Richard

And, we pray for those who are on our hearts and minds today in silence:

God, help us do what Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of:  “When people plot, we must plan. When people burn and bomb, we must build and bind. When people shout ugly words of hatred, we must commit ourselves to the glories of love.”

And, so, dear God, knowing that one of the glories of love is forgiveness, we pray for compassion. We pray that, in the face of this very difficult week, we are able to take the radical departure from the expected, and draw from your deep well of mercy by being merciful.  When others clamor for punishment, gather in the streets shouting of victory, must do what Jesus asks us to do. Forgiveness marks the kingdom road. Let loving-kindness be our center.

In the name of the one who turned over tables in frustration and anger, in the name of the one answered the enormity of his call and walked into the face of violence with faith,in the name of the one who loved beyond loving and creates a resurrection spirit in all of us, we pray, Our father…