Monday, February 29, 2016


Haiku de Jour

The wall heater groans
Electric currents run hot
Comfort is at hand

Friday, February 26, 2016


Haiku de Jour

Deer graze in our yard
Grass goes in and poo comes out
Fertile now the lawn.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Haiku de Jour

The pendulum swings
Back and forth she goes "tick tock"
Mocking the present.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Haiku de Jour

Wind blows where it will
To the bone it chills the soul
Wind: It really blows.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Haiku de Jour

Laptop comes to life
The cursor finds its spot, I
Work, therefore I am.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Haiku de Jour

Coffee goes in cup
Micro-waves heat the brown sludge
First gulp is heaven.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Haiku de Jour

The clock blinks the time
or is it me that's blinking?
Rise and shine; it's time.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Time to Wise Up

Have you ever tried to eat a clock? It is very time consuming – Anonymous

I have been trying to figure out what the advantage is to getting older. I’ve heard a lot about the golden years – which I have been approaching my whole life, only to find I am better at gathering dust than gold. At least the dust I’ve collected never came at any great expense, so that’s a good thing.

Rumor has it that as we get older we become wiser, but I think I lost my capacity to become a wise guy when the dentist removed my wisdom teeth last century. In theory, it was to make more room for the rest of my pearly whites, but I have always suspected the holes left behind provided an escape route for the gray matter that used to live up there betwixt the ears.

Be that as it may, I have made every effort to stay ahead of the brain drain by exercising the three arghs. That’s pirate talk for Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic. I have been told that if one does that triad regularly, the squirrel upstairs may be able to get off the wheel and use the passing lane on occasion.

On the other hand, have you ever noticed that Rodin’s Thinker never seems to accomplish anything? He just sits there, but I don’t blame him. Thinking can be quite exhausting. I know; I tried it once.

Now, what were we talking about? Oh, yes, the advantages of growing older.

One benefit often touted is having an opportunity to save one’s doubloons. A national retirement organization has been trying to get me to sign up since I turned 50, promising discounts of one sort or another as a reward for continuing to draw breath past that magical half-century mark. I found I could save even more cash by NOT signing up!

They tried again to get me to enroll when I turned 55 – the double nickel – but like the speed limit of that name, no one ever paid any attention to either of us, so I returned the favor and ignored yet another invitation to save.

Besides, it seems like “saving” is sort of the business I am already in, so maybe I am a walking, talking, living, and breathing aarp (which sounds quite canine of me). Lord knows I should be on a leash at times – it’s not uncommon to find me gadding about town in a dog collar (and goodness knows I’m occasionally in the dog-house).

I do believe, interestingly enough, that we elders are entitled to discounts. The moral reasoning behind this pronouncement is that not only am I old, but I am cheap, too. That should gain me a reduction just on principal (pun intended).

I’m convinced that the best way to save pennies is by not spending them in the first place. I see those wonderful ads on television that offer the world for only three monthly payments of an arm and a leg, and if ordered now, they will throw in a set of steak knives to make the surgery easier. I appreciate their generosity of spirit, but while my flesh is weak, my mind is still tarp as a shack!

That is yet another advantage of growing older; there is more time and space between the mistakes I make. Wisdom lives between the tick and the tock of the clock.

I’ve occasionally been sold a bill of goods, only to discover the reality fell short of the promise. I once bought a set of non-stick cookware invented by someone who’d obviously never seen me cook; oy vey!

I do make unwise decisions, but over the decades I have become wiser. I’ve learned to bide my time while chewing on my options.

The purveyor of the proverbial snake-oil cries out, “He who hesitates is lost.”

My response? “Yea, verily thou shalt looketh before thou leapest!”

I know enough to call a time-out – to think before I act, to “sleep on it” before making a major decision – and I cannot remember ever regretting the delay (but my memory foam could be defective, I’ll grant you).

As for our golden years, I say this: Become the Clock. Find what makes you Tick and embrace it – for Tock is truly cheap in this, our valley.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Where there is peace ...

I belong to a writer's group that meets twice a month in Ennis. When we gather, one person reaches into a grab-bag and draws out a slip of paper with a "Thought-Starter". We then take a few minutes (about 5) to write whatever comes to mind. This week's Starter was: When there is peace, there is ___________ (blank). What I crafted follows:

Where there is peace,
     there is bound to be justice.
The child shall know no hunger
The spouse shall know true love
The elder shall be respected
Life will reflect God's will above.

Where there is peace,
     there is bound to be prosperity.
We'll seek to build a larger table
     and not a higher wall
We'll seek to shelter all in need
     open doors to a higher call.

Where there is peace,
     there is bound to be healing.
We'll seek to extend a hand to those
     too frail to stand alone
We'll seek to wipe each fevered brow
     and gently cry with those who groan.

Where there is peace,
     there is bound to be dignity.
We'll seek to honor each we find
     by seeing God within
We'll seek to ask forgiveness from
     the One who is without sin.

These are the prayers
     we pray each day
securing peace for all,
We seek the peace
     from up above,
We had before our fall.

- Keith

Friday, February 5, 2016

Up and Down in the Valley

The flower doesn’t dream of the bee; it blossoms and the bee comes – Janet Conner

I was on a hospital visit a while back, and as I got on the elevator, I couldn’t help notice how strange elevator culture is.

When people go to the store, they act normal; they talk on their cell phones; they check out the shelves and the products; they talk with one another; and they make eye contact with employees and fellow shoppers.

The same is true of those going to a ball game, or those walking down the street, or those working out in their yards.  But put those same people in an elevator, and there seems to be a corporate nervousness and paranoia that sets in.

Eye contact is rare, as is conversation.  People get on board, scan the wall for buttons to push, push the appropriate one (and the door-close button if they’re in a hurry), and then step back with eyes set on “full vacant”.

What is it about elevators that sends people into zombie-like trances?  Is it the fact that they’re fully enclosed, affecting passengers with a form of corporate claustrophobia?  Is it an innate fear of falling (despite knowing the superabundant and redundant safety systems in place to prevent that very problem)?  Or is it a heightened fear of the stranger standing next to us (xenophobia, for those keeping track) who could be a priest in civilian dress – or Freddy Krueger enlarging his resume?

Whatever the cause or reason, I know I find elevators to be weird places in which to spend time.  The one in which I was riding was stopping at every floor, regardless of whether anyone had punched a button from inside or outside.  It was as if the buttons were for show only – to give the passengers a sense of control, but no real control at all.

When I was done with my visit, the elevators were out of commission temporarily, so I had the pleasure of using the stairwell.  It was a healthier alternative.

Getting back to our elevator idiosyncrasies, I find myself rejoicing that our route to heaven is described more as a journey – a stroll – than as an elevator ride.  I like the idea of walking hand-in-hand with God, our friends, and our loved ones.  I appreciate the idea of meeting strangers along the way we can talk to, look in the eye, and smile honestly with.

I like the idea of an expedition where bodies and souls are stretched and strengthened, and where one can step off to the side of the path for rest or refreshment as needed. I like the idea of being in a place where power and control are not the issue – but a life lived in peace and harmony with both the cosmos and the divine.

Someone once said that being in church is like being in an elevator: everyone is gathered together and heading in the same direction.  I personally find that a scary thought – it sounds a bit like the Stepford Wives, where everything is a little “too perfect”, but the reality is very different. The churches of which I have been a part are anything but perfect, anything but uniform; instead, they are quite diverse.

For sure, most churches and people have their ups and downs – that’s the nature of life, but that’s as far as it goes with respect to its comparison with elevators.

The hidden jewel in a life of grace, though, is that we journey together. There are folks who’ll care for us, who’ll reach down and lift us up when we’re down, and who’ll dance and sing when the lost are found.

When I wander around the church, I tend to hum and whistle as I work.  I do it because I’m generally more up than down.  I also do it to let folks know that I’m around.  More than once I’ve unintentionally snuck up on someone who came in to pray, or light a candle, or set up the altar and frightened the heck out of them.  So I whistle as I work.

Perhaps I should start whistling whenever I get on board an elevator – not as one who whistles in the dark, but as one who whistles in the light – for joy, pleasure, and in the service of others here in this, our valley.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Reluctant Prophet

Now the Word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to all the nations.” Then I said, “Ah Lord, Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”

How many of you came to church today to get your assignments for the week?

When I was a police Officer, we had a bulletin board in the Squad Room where you would come in on your Monday, and you would check out your assignment for the week: What district, what car, which partner. You’d check out the hot sheet for stolen cars, run-away children, crime alerts. Then you would suit up and get ready for your shift with roll-call and your last-minute briefing before heading out onto the streets.

In police work, we call that our routine.
In church, we call it “Liturgy.”
                It’s what we do to get ready for the week ahead.

How many of you came to church today to get your assignments for the week?

The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: I’ve got an assignment for you.

And like many of God’s people throughout the ages, Jeremiah said, “I can’t; You’ve got the wrong guy; You’ve made a terrible mistake.”

We always have reasons why God can’t use us.
                Jeremiah: I don’t know what to say; I don’t know how to speak; I’m only a young child.
                God says, “Jerry, you’ve got a mouth. You know how to talk. I didn’t ask you to be eloquent. I just asked you to tell others about love: Love of God, love of truth, love of peace, love of kindness, love of gentleness, love of building up that which is good, love of tossing out that which is harmful, destructive, or toxic. Surely you can do that!”

Is there anyone here who can’t do that? Is it a matter of can’t – or “won’t”?
We always have excuses.
                Moses: I can’t do that. I stutter.
                Isaiah: I’ve got a potty mouth.
                Gideon: I am too weak and insignificant.
                Sampson: I'm an airhead (still knew how to bring down the house)
                Abe & Sarah: We're too Old.
                Amos: I’m just a shepherd and fig-nipper!

God says: Don’t make excuses. Just do your work.

So, what does that look like?

First: Know your own story.
                God says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Many of us operate out of a sense of false humility. 

                “I am nothing. I am broken. God can’t use me.”
False humility says: God, YOU made a mistake.
                God says, “I formed you; I set you apart; I appointed you.”

If that is true (and God does NOT lie), then we need to look at our lives and see how God has used us. Have you made someone feel good when they were down? Have you pushed a car out of a ditch, or wiped a fevered brow? Have you stood up to a bully, or taught your children to say Please and Thank you? Maybe you haven’t stopped a tsunami in its path, but you’ve helped mop up a flooded kitchen, or swept a carpet that needed it.

In short, you see something that needs doing, and you do it; that’s you taking care of your assignment. That’s you saying “Yes” to God.

Second Point: Know your God.
                God says, “Here, I’ve touched your mouth. My words are there.”

What words? Quote scripture? Maybe, but more likely:
                Wouldn’t it be neat if … (Share hopes and Dreams)
                May I help you? (Gifts of Service)
                When I was in the valley of the shadow, here’s where I found God,

And here is where I found hope when I was hopeless, and help when helpless. How many of you came to church today to get your assignments for the week?