A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper personal column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in more than 130 countries.-- My metaphor--Sunrise on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Writer's prayer

(From a much earlier posting, but still true, after all these years; 
desperately needed as it has been more than a week between written words. )

Help me write today. Help my scribbling in a notebook be legible, but most of all let it be legible from my heart, my emotions...

Let the words be true, even though truth is sometimes dangerous to those you love and live with and know...but not to my soul...

Let the words be real, and let them reach beyond me to others who read them...to me first, of course, but let what I write matter...

Let what I right touch people--make them cry, make them laugh, make them angry, make them think, make them feel...as I have when I wrote the words...

Let me choose the right words for my emotions and senses, so that they can sense them too...

Let the anguish and the joy of thinking the words, of choosing the words, of crafting the words, of fearing and loving the words, show in what I write...

Let both the written and the unwritten words, the lines and the unwritten lines and the in-between the lines, speak loud and clear...

I love words...let it show to those who read them...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dreams and questions

In the middle of the night
you awake, from a nightmare
or a strange dream
about journeys and people
long dead or distant,  
jumbled together, making no sense.
Why has your subconscious
riddled your thoughts with memories
long forgotten or submerged?
Is there a message here
or is it just because you
care too much, or not enough?
Or is there a reason at all
other than a reminder 
that there is more to life
than flesh and blood and the present?
And that there are no answers
but just more questions
some that make no sense.

An "old one, watercolor

An "old one," in Martin Park, 5 by 8 watercolor

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I knew I'd been to church

St. John's Episcopal Church, Dubuque, Iowa
When I saw it from the outside, I knew I was going to church
 When I walked inside, I knew I was in church.
Four weeks ago today, I went to St. John's Episcopal Church in Dubuque, Iowa, with my youngest son Derrick, and my granddaughter Liberty, while Naomi stayed home with Barrett, who was sick.
The church is old--founded in late 1834, a little more than a year after the town was established, the oldest town in what is now Iowa. I'm not sure when the building was erected, but the sponsorships under the stained glass windows dated from the mid 1880s.
I'm not a"high-church" person, raised among fundamentalist Texans and Okies, but I felt immediately at home.
First, when you walk into that church, you feel peace, and are hushed by the architecture--a far cry from our  modern churches here that look more like movie theaters or strip mall stores.
I know, I know, the church is the people, not the building, but if that is so, why do we still talk about "going to church"?
I'm sure not familiar with all that liturgy stuff, but the worship service did get me to thinking. Our fundamentalist traditions  and habits are nothing more than liturgies. I'm not being critical, but observant, having been enriched by new experiences.
And in this hour more scripture was read than I've ever heard in one service, and more emphasis was placed on communion than I think I've ever seen. Instead of the focus being on somebody's sermon, the emphasis was on the Word, and communion. We participated in communion, not merely took it. Derrick, who studies such things, says this is typical, compared to our more recent populist cultures and religions.
Another practice that makes me nervous when visiting somewhere is when people all get up and come around to greet you. Here it was simple. "Peace be with you," was the greeting, with a smile. What do we need more than peace?
That, and having your granddaughter set beside you in an old oak pew, next to your son, under beautiful stained glass windows, and the magnificent sound of an ancient organ? 
No, it isn't perfect...the church membership has dwindled, though there were plenty of parents with young children scattered among the old timers. And it's struggling to pay its bills, like keeping it heated for $100 a day. It was cold outside--below freezing, and this was a warm winter day in a city on the Mississippi River across from Wisconsin and Illinois.  
But you hear church bells downtown on Sunday morning. Around the corner and down the street is the towering steeple of St. Mary's Catholic Church, seen behind the top photo on the right, one of 11 Catholic churches in this city of perhaps 70,000 people.
Like it, this building speaks and enhances the glory of faith, and inside the people and the liturgy did what I think worship is supposed to do--bring you into contact with eternity and give you peace. 
I knew I'd been to church.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A walk in the park, healing water

Spring Creek which flows through Martin Park in OKC is a primary source of life for the wildlife and fauna within this urban sanctuary, making it a sanctuary for humans also.
I was drawn to the gurgling gentleness of its flow, or the reflections in the quiet water. Life slowing down. 
And then, reminded of how fleeting our lives are, and insignificant compared to Nature, I caught my shadow looking down from a bluff over the creek. Life as fleeting as our shadows.

       Sanctuary and shadows