Tuesday, 23 August 2016 16:33

Some cool poetry to beat the heat

This is one very hot summer. Here in this part of North Carolina it’s already hot enough in the morning by the time the sun rises that you could fry your breakfast liver mush on the hood of your pickup truck. Now, if you’re not from around here and don’t know what liver mush is, I’ll explain it some other time. What I’m talking about right now is heat.

It is not only the weather that’s hot. This is turning out to be a season that feels like one of those times when you’ve got the flu and you ache all over. You’ve got a fever, your head hurts, your back hurts, your eyeballs hurt, your hair hurts, your friends are cranky and you are even worse. It is that kind of time. Everything seems to be sizzling! Well, that’s how it looks to me. Whoops! A lens fell out of my sunglasses and it looks worse than I thought.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016 05:37

A Little Bit lonelier with loss of Liberty

I’ve written about the joy of pets before. Sometimes I have written about the poignancy of loss. This is one of those combinations of the two. Our beloved cat, Liberty, is gone now. She came to live with us more than 22 years ago. From the first day, we recognized that she would march to her own drummer. That’s why we named her Liberty. She had a mind of her own, even as a tiny kitten. Through the years we have noticed this tendency toward independence in our other cats, but it was even more true of her.

As she grew, we realized that she was not happy indoors. She also seemed not to be a people cat. She resisted cuddling. She was happiest when frolicking on the lawn, chasing chipmunks, squirrels and birds. She never left the safety of our enclosed yard. As she grew to maturity we respected her personality and gave her the space she loved. Over time she became so solitary as to seem almost feral. But, she was healthy and apparently content.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016 05:26

Turn to the psalms to fight the gloom

There is a gloomy cloud hanging like spiritual smog over many folks these days. It stings the eyes, makes breathing difficult and obscures our view of the mountain peaks around us. It is true that much of our life is lived in the foothills, but usually we awaken to beautiful, spacious skies. If we are lucky, we look out upon amber waves of grain. It’s the purple mountain majesty that establishes the far horizon and causes our vision and imaginations to soar.

On the other hand, there are moments and some seasons when it seems like we are in the intensive care unit watching the line on the EKG machine go flat. Anger, fear, depression, hatred — you make your own list — are things that can flatline your spirit. Sometimes people with unclear motives can stir up these gloomy, scary, angry feelings in us. They function like artificial fog or smoke machines to frighten, thrill or just creep us out. Visit a “house of horrors” on Halloween if you don’t believe me.

Tuesday, 02 August 2016 14:25

This week’s offering is just pure poetry

I have decided to lift the literary quality of these divine dawdlings and I have unleashed a fountain of poetic production that has surprised even me! This week, I want to share with you some of the poems that have been arriving daily from my high-class friends. First is this from my favorite Pentecostal preacher, John Abbey, out in Killeen, Texas:

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 21:36

Pondering ABCs of nothing in particular

We sometimes refer to the fundamentals of something. The ABCs of religion, for example. Or the ABCs of parenting. Or physics. Or whatever. Well, today I’m idling away a summer afternoon thinking of the ABCs of nothing in particular.

Take the letter A, now. What idea begins with an A? Atomic begins with an A, but a mini-essay on that would probably bomb. I certainly don’t want to think about bombing. Alaska starts with an A. That might be refreshing on a hot day down here in the lower 48. An Alaskan glacier would be a cool thing to contemplate. But my mind is already drifting to global warming and glaciers are melting. The melting ice of Alaska is drifting down the West Coast. Nope, I’ll scratch that. Alaska may all be gone by the time I get there.

It’s cobbler time in Dixie! The fruits are ripening and dragonflies are whizzing. Ovens across the Southland are heating and cobblers are on the way. Now, it hardly seems possible that there is some innocent child out there who is not sure what a cobbler is. But on the outside chance that one exists, here’s the dictionary definition of a cobbler: a pie filled with fruit baked with a thick crust on top.

I do believe that the very best cobbler is to pie what virgin is to olive oil — to speak theologically. What is your favorite cobbler? My vote is for peach. Especially if is made with peaches grown in South Carolina or Georgia. My runner-up favorite is blackberry. It is best when the berries are picked by the whole family from the briars along a rural, Southern road. Adding to the richness of such a pie is the knowledge that the berry pickers risked poison ivy, snake bite, bee stings, thorns, sunburn and heat stroke to gather the fruit. This is to say nothing about the wild yahoos speeding by in a cloud of dust in souped-up pickup trucks.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016 05:50

Brides in June make wives in July

I’m looking at the month of June in my rearview mirror today. Lots of folk get married during June each year. It’s a pleasant tradition. There’s something special about being a June bride. Now those happy couples, wedded in June, are learning how to be married couples in July. It’s a wonderful thing, a wedding. But wonderful things are not without stress sometimes.

The marriage ceremony contains some features that have been included a very long time. They were included for very specific reasons. For example, the traditional wedding includes an announcement by the clergy: “If anyone can show just cause why this couple should not be joined in holy wedlock, speak now or forever hold your peace.” That was an important moment, especially in a time when many persons had common-law marriages. They never participated in a ceremony performed by a pastor and did not have a marriage recognized by the state. But they loved each other, had children together, and led long lives. But sometimes things did not go well. A common-law wife might show up with a bunch of children to protest their father’s official marriage to another woman. That could be a stressful moment.

You know me ... sometimes I can’t resist my inner imp. He just jumps up and takes over for a little mischievousness. Recently, for example, my computer did something that it does regularly. It disagreed with something I was saying and changed it. I typed in the phrase “wonderful sign,” and it changed the words to “wonderful sin.” I tried again and it repeated its effort to put words in my mouth. So, the imp in me swung into action and I wrote that usually I am against sin. I could hardly wait to hear from readers wanting to know exactly what sins I am not against.

It didn’t take long! It brought back to mind an old, old joke about the fellow who was hired by a church to repaint its exterior walls. While doing the job, he began to realize he was not going have enough paint to finish the job, so he added enough water to the can to get it done. Next day came a thunderstorm and washed off the weak paint. The moral of the story was an allusion to a comment in the Bible, Numbers 23:32. The punch line to the joke is: “Be sure, your thins will find you out.”

You know me ... sometimes I can’t resist my inner imp. He just jumps up and takes over for a little mischievousness. Recently, for example, my computer did something that it does regularly. It disagreed with something I was saying and changed it. I typed in the phrase “wonderful sign,” and it changed the words to “wonderful sin.” I tried again and it repeated its effort to put words in my mouth. So, the imp in me swung into action and I wrote that usually I am against sin. I could hardly wait to hear from readers wanting to know exactly what sins I am not against.

It didn’t take long! It brought back to mind an old, old joke about the fellow who was hired by a church to repaint its exterior walls. While doing the job, he began to realize he was not going have enough paint to finish the job, so he added enough water to the can to get it done. Next day came a thunderstorm and washed off the weak paint. The moral of the story was an allusion to a comment in the Bible, Numbers 23:32. The punch line to the joke is: “Be sure, your thins will find you out.”

Ah, these lazy days of summer. The perfect time to think about what we would like to accomplish whenever we can get around to it. Have you ever thought about how much of life is spent thinking about this? I have been planning to write a country ballad for a long time but I always end my thinking by dropping the idea into my “when I can get around to it” file.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016 21:19

God knows, but tell Him anyway

Have you ever noticed that people of faith seem to have a need to remind God of what God already knows? We do this especially when we pray. What causes us to do this? Maybe we don’t trust God’s memory and we feel the need to remind God what the all-knowing One may have forgotten. Makes you chuckle, doesn’t it? Do you suppose we distrust God’s memory?

Preachers often tell God what God knows in prayers. That’s because we parsons seize upon almost every moment as an opportunity to preach. So, under the pretense of praying, we exhort the congregation rather than God. It gets slightly annoying, doesn’t it? On the other hand, what if instead of praying, we simply shrugged and said, “God knows,” when confronting a challenge? Would that be better? At the very least, when we tell the Divine what we believe God already knows, it demonstrates that we are aware of what is in our hearts and on our minds.