THE BIG BLUE BARREL

we use to catch rain water
off our eaves is lying
on its side in our back yard,
courtesy of the gale,
the lion’s roar, that announced
the arrival of March.

I could go out and put it
back to its accustomed place.
But on this quiet Sunday morning,
I will let it rest where it lies.

I will remember that all
that I imagine I can control
is merely a tipped-over tub
of all that I cannot.

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MY MOTHER’S THEOLOGY

I was very young
and curious
I asked my mother
to explain God

She paused
then said
“God always was and always will be”
which opened for me the door to mystery

It’s still open

I don’t think I thanked her
I should have

FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS

We say it
and call it a prayer
that is, at the same time,
a confession and a plea.

Confession, as in we’ve
fallen short
missed the mark
wandered from the path
screwed up big time

Plea, as in we ask for
clemency
mercy
absolution
pardon

But mostly
when we say it
we merely utter the words
and give no thought at all
to the phrase that follows . . .
“as we forgive our debtors.”

ASSESSING BLAME

If you are a two-year-old girl
and the family puppy is named Zazu
and some shoes and toys have been chewed,
you will learn that puppies do things
that make your parents unhappy.

And if your parents express their unhappiness
about something you have done, such as
spilling your milk or damaging one of your
playthings, you may frequently say what
our two-year-old granddaughter says, namely:

Zazu did it.

TUNE MY HEART

It’s a prayer
penned in a hymn
(more than two centuries ago)
by one Robert Robinson
who may or may not
(probably not) have been
familiar with the work
of piano tuners.

But, for me at least,
it conjures up an image
of God as Holy Tuner,
who tinkers with my heart,
listening for the all-too-often
sour notes, sometimes sharp,
more often flat, unable
or unwilling to produce
the clear, pure pitch
of truth and love.

Hearts can sing.
So yes, Holy Tuner,
here’s my heart.
Soften it, strengthen it,
tune it. Make it fit
to sing Thy grace.

BOYS AT OUR DOOR

They’re new at this.
I can tell.
Two of them are standing there
when I answer the door bell ring.
One, tall and lanky,
the other, short and squat,
both of them wearing goofy grins.
We’re selling oranges, the tall one says.
His buddy quickly adds: for our soccer team.

And I remember when, six decades ago,
I’d strained to summon sufficient
courage to knock on that first door
and mumble a memorized sales pitch
with a desperate hope that the one
who greeted me would buy a magazine subscription.
See, I said, You could get Time or Life
or The Saturday Evening Post.

And there were some few who took
pity on my shaking knees to sign up
for a periodical that they knew,
and I suspected, they would never read.
Which is why, as the two at my door
stumble theourgh their list
of citrus possiblities, I smile,
nod, and say okay, I’ll take
that orange/grapefruit deal.

EGO ADJUSTMENT

There are places
you can go to
that will help.

Like Watkins Glen.

You start at the top.
You look down at the stream
that continues its
ongoing water-fall-project
of unending erosion.

Then you walk down
and down
and down.

As you walk you can
touch the strata, each of them
representing an immensity of time
your brain cannot grasp.

Which may help you put
your time on this planet
and your importance to it
into perspective.