Come Any Other Way.

Gerald the Writer

Oh God,

come any other way,

but not as a child.

Come in a space ship

so we can call you alien,

and just a figment.

Wash up on shore

as a castaway, an unknown,

scraggly and salt soaked.

Walk into town as a vagabond

so we can look and call authorities

to distance us.

Stand by the side of the road

with a cardboard sign

so we can hand you a twenty and drive on.

But please don’t come as a baby.

Don’t come and coo and cry

and take our breath away.

Don’t come as we did,

dependant and humble

and wrapped up tight.

Just don’t, don’t be so vulnerable

as a wonder from a womb

bathed in the liquid of humanity.

Don’t come as a child, please.

For then we would need to

hold you in our arms.

Don’t come as an infant

so innocent and small

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Exchanging Letters 3

God,

I know the difference between talking about you and engaging with you. I also know which activity is easier. A similar concept is reading about writing and actually getting butt in chair and fingers dancing on the keys.

I’ve been thinking about third person. Do you observe the world from a third person angle? Sometimes I feel as though I’ve lived my life in third person. I live a shave away from wholeness, and see myself pouring the coffee, but hear no sound thereof. I report the life around me as a proof I might just exist. I joke with my family as I scan the obituaries for my picture, then shake my head…”I’m still here!”

So there’s the parallel on how I feel you operate and my own function under the sun.

Hmmm.

There are so many ways to try to reset the dislocation of my heart, spirit, soul, spirit, with the world spinning around me. But there is a simpler way. There has to be. I hear Jesus’ words “come unto me and I will give you rest.” Peter stepped out of the boat, and Thomas was encouraged to poke around the resurrected body of the Lord. I wonder which of the disciples I take after. I lean toward doubting Thomas with a dash of the denying Peter, but long to be like the disciple Jesus loved. John.

Love, Jerry

 

Jerry,

I see you. There is a simpler way. I am the way. Your dislocated feeling is understood. I too want engagement, not a third person detached rhetoric. I want your heart. Remember that dreary rainy day way back when? The day you walked up a driveway with a package and engaged me with a question? You asked me if I loved you. I sent a breeze through a row of pine trees and whispered “yes.” I knew you and one of your favorite things…the sound of wind through thousands of needles.

I see your fear. I feel your resistance to releasing control. I know you struggle with being labeled as one of ‘those’ kind of Christians. I got you. I get you. Bring those thoughts to me like you are doing right now. I can handle them. I Am, you know. Take a deep breath.

By the way, living in third person isn’t always a bad thing. That’s how creatives are wired. They help those whose don’t know their need to stop and smell the roses to consider doing so. I sent someone Saturday night to tell you those very words to encourage you.

Love, I Am

Stasis

A chanting mourning dove

drives the knees.

A prayer of no words.

Groans prostrate like

shadows at sunrise.

The stasis of loss.

Fathers: By the grace of God go we.

Gerald the Writer

Photo by Jessica Szopinski

Often a father’s calling is to stay put and be strong.

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Exchanging Letters 2

Dear God,

As I sit here in this moment listening through the cracked window, how I wish to sing every morning like the sparrows, and fly like the barn swallows. How I hope to enter into exactly what you created me to be. Not to draw attention, but to give attention to the space within my proximity. I want to thank you for the senses you have given me to receive the wonder of nature, and the nurture of human connection. Although there are seasons where solitude sits on a bench, and invites me to feed the birds, the thick threaded reality of relationships gives voice to this life. I don’t understand why I can be so aloof, self-absorbed, and judgmental toward others, especially when You said it is not good for us humans to be alone. I want to leave this solitary place and enter the world, pay attention, and be a giver.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, sinner.

Jerry

 

Dear Jerry,

I will have mercy. And love. And justice. And prudence. And, and, and.  Thanks for noticing my creative acts around you. You keep using the word ‘mystery’ when you share your thoughts lately. I like that. You keep growing low among the grasses like my servant Wendell Berry. Humility will better connect you with humanity. You were made for connection, but solitude has its seasons too. How about I sit on the bench and wait for you to come and tell me about your connections with this world. I’d like that.

God

Why Two Days Changed My Fussbudgetness.

Lucy, from the comic strip Peanuts, was often referred to as a fussbudget. Over the past few years I have become a fussbudget, my heart traipsing around the landscape of complaint, unbelief, and fear. Recently I described it to someone as brooding. I can’t seem to nail down a solid description of my state of mind. Needless to say, my silent grump grump aint helpful to those in my proximity.

Then two days, one right after the other, a couple of weeks ago, shook me out of my inward sourpuss self. May 17th two of my children decided to take a giant leap…out of an airplane. Be honest, what do you think of first when skydiving come to mind? Exactly. What if the chute doesn’t open? I don’t see this thought as pessimistic, but realistic. Planes have wings to keep humans up there in the wild blue yonder, unless some zealot or deranged person uses one as a missile of mass human destruction. My son and daughter fell to earth with hardly a thud, safe, exhilarated, and the determination to do it all over again. (They’re adults, what can I do? I know what I can do… Give them an Applebee’s gift card for their birthday next year. Yes, they jumped on our dime right into their bucket list.)

The next day my longboarding (i.e. big skateboard for riding hills, not do stunts) daughter took two of her brothers to surf a local neighborhood. She was merely 3 to 4 inches off the ground and fell to earth with a thud. She dropped and rolled, but in the dropping she sustained quite a blow to the basil part of her skull. 911 was dialed, and an hour or so later she was in a medically induced coma for a closed head injury. She had a basil fracture, broken cheek bone, but no other broken bones. There was hardly a scratch on her otherwise. Barbara and I were beside ourselves with concern as the first twenty four to thirty six hours were a roller coaster of emotions and worry as the doctors came and left with assessments.

I said short prayers to God.

Not today. No funeral today God. Help!

            Other people said the longer prayers. Lots of people said the longer prayers. Our entire family is grateful for the longer prayers, and all sorts of other support through this reality. Today our daughter is in a state of the art rehab facility called Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids Michigan. Today she is. Today she is the same captivating daughter after her chute didn’t open on that hill. Today she is a self-proclaimed “safety nerd” as she deeply regrets not wearing a helmet. She is not finished healing, but is coming along much faster than predicted.

Thank God.

That is the reason I am writing about these two days. This is why I confess to the world and God my own fractures. Just because we are human, we flake out sometimes. Come on, admit it. God went looking for Adam and Eve in their nakedness. Why would God not look for us? I know this opens up the Pandora’s Box of why many things don’t make sense, all the way from 9/11 to a weak baby chick not surviving. I, for one, need to hop off my little private, arrogant self, and admit I have a lot less control than I thought.

Today, I thank God for those who continue to hold us through prayer, presence, and embraces. Life is mysterious. God is mysterious. So, if you find yourself in a fussbudget frame of mind, that’s okay, no judgement here, but consider the possibility of coming out from hiding. God is looking for you, along with some human humans.

Prayer:

God, thank you for all the loving people in my life. You show up when they show up, whether I admit it or not. Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Amen.

 

Mother’s Day Dreamer

I woke up about four a.m.

and looked down the hall

at the fridge, hoping to see

Little Miss Midnight Mouse

eating the cottage cheese

in her blue nightie.

 

There she was, her hunched frame aglow.

She turned around and smiled

her dark chocolate eyes at me

and raised the small curds

like a wine glass.

“Oh honestly!”

 

“Oh honestly what Mom?”

“It’s not time for you yet.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about this place Jerry.”

“Yeah, what about it?”

“You are dreaming again.”

 

“If I am, I don’t want to wake up.”

As Mom began walking toward me,

the fridge light brightened,

and her body was surrounded

with golden shards that dripped

to the creaking floor.

 

“Jerry, remember how you always

prayed Jesus would visit me in my dreams.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Well, he said it would be okay if

I showed up in one of yours.

That Frosty from Wendy’s right

 

before you fell asleep was my ticket.”

“Comfort food enhanced dream, eh?”

“God has a sense of humor too, Gerald.”

“Mom.” I reached to pat her head.

She stepped back out of reach.

I put my arm down.

 

“You caught me with the leftovers,

and I wanted to be waiting for you

at the dining room table so we could

talk and drink Maxwell House.”

She straightened up

and opened her freckled arms.

 

I fell into her embrace and wept.

She clasped my hand and pulled

me toward the table that had two

mugs steaming, one with lipstick

pasted on the rim.

We were together until my alarm bleeped.

Sunday Psalm

Slip off your shoes,

before the dew

distills the

spirit of this day.

 

Stroll the field

for evidence

between your toes,

wet blades sewing.

 

Cup your ears,

to hear the sun

paint the top

of the sycamore.

 

Praise with the white

of your teeth,

head bowed

to the forest floor.

 

Find breath in your bones,

marrow reaching,

flowing to the sea,

to the sea.

Exchanging Letters 1

Dear God,

Sorry I left you behind. Sorry for the fear of you. The hesitant kind of fear that brushes you off and finds ways to hide behind pride. Maybe you are a big black lady in a sundress making breakfast in a secluded Shack. Big enough to hide behind. In any case I am attempting to hide. It’s fairly easy, but totally delusional.

I realize life has gotten the best of me. Literally. I bounce off circumstances and restrain my emotions. I think it started when I sinned against myself and would not repent or forgive. Wedged in a great tightness as Pooh stated.

Then my ability to receive began to wane. My dependence on emotional highs didn’t cut the crap. Beauty was fleeting and fleeing fast, because I turned my back on it and ran. I became a member of the Liars Club. I lie around way too often, and reach for the Kool-Aid as it were.

The great trifecta pressed in and I acquiesced. The world swirled around and I bought into its advances. My flesh broke out in hives, and the devil laughed and laughed.

Best, Jerry

 

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for your candor. I like the idea of being a big black lady. But I Am so much more. You are right though, there is no hiding. I Am light, and I bend around corners, under shrubs, and flow down the steps to the cellar.

I am intrigued with your idea of hiding behind Me. That is worth some exploration, as the therapists would say. What better way to stay close to Me, yet not have to look me in the eyes. Your arrogance precedes you. Don’t worry though, you have lots of company.

I Am Love, and I love you too. There are two sides to every story, and similarly, two sides to every relationship. I never left My side of ours.

Here’s something to consider. Is there a possibility I can handle you? Think it over.

Sincerely Yours, God