I Am

I asked God for a picture the other day, and He said, ‘Here, have a poem.’

I Am

In a world that ebbs and flows

like watercolor pastels

I Am.

When the snow turns to rain

and the rain to ice

I Am.

When the phone call from ocology

shatters your calm on the couch

I Am.

When allegations quit your co-teacher

wrench your right arm out of socket

I Am.

Should the Mississippi convert course

converge on Minnesota or

the San Francisco Bay invert

I Am.

I have been, I will be,

I Am.

In Memoriam

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

First Grade

The packer went back and forth

Back and forth

The ground got harder and harder

Harder and harder

A dump truck dumped river rock.

The packer went back and forth

Back and forth

The ground got harder and harder

Harder and harder

A dump truck dumped gravel.

The packer went back and forth

Back and forth

The ground got harder and harder

Harder and harder

A dump truck dumped dirt.

The packer went back and forth

Back and forth

The ground got harder and harder

Harder and harder

A dump truck dumped fine gravel.

The packer went back and forth

Back and forth

The ground got harder and harder

Harder and harder

An oil truck sprayed tar.

The packer went back and forth

Back and forth

The ground got smoother and smoother

Smoother and cooler

A paint truck sprayed yellow lines.

The cars and trucks went back and forth

Back and forth

The road smiled and smiled

Smiled and smiled

The construction workers smiled in their sleep.

After Psalm 95

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord

Shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation,

Enter His presence with thanksgiving,

Shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

                For the Lord is a great God

                A great King above all gods.

His left hand holds the Marine Trench

The height of Mount Kilimanjaro is measured with his pinkie

He patted out the Mojave

And cups the Caribbean in His right.

Gather round and worship—kneel down.

He is God

Be silent at his feet.

Southe’n Bones


When you tell me Guys Mills is beautiful, I just want to say,

Honey, yo’ must have eyes like a grasshopper for yo’ sur’

aint never been to Virginia where the mountains run up

one of side of the forest and down the other and where the

curves twist the roads around boulders and across chortling streams,

where hay fields and vineyards border market stands piled with

sweet corn and tomatoes and melons. I don’t blame yo’ if you think

the golden rod colors the swamp lovely, what with the geese flying

over the sumac and a cream moon shining down, there was a moment

to pause. It must be all in perspective, I suppos’.

Must be somethin’ about knowing

Barbara Hudgins that lives in the trailer in the woods with seventeen cats

and first hearin’ then barely seein’ Nick go by on his bike.

Must be more about the peepers and the wide blue sky

fog steaming off the James River hazing an early morning drive

more about Boutetourt and less about peach ice cream and a paycheck.

Are your grasshopper eyes up for grabs?

Isaiah 30:15

You just are like the pink gladiolas that grow

along the front of my trailer

stunningly simple, yet complex,


like the oak and gum and maple that branch their arms

from one to the next

foresting my view of each sunrise

silent, stately, there.

You just are fullness we miss in our ragged rush to proceed

to the next project, efficient, while the moon rises and sets

rises and sets.

Last night’s moonscape dazzled Monet’s Garden,

it hung white and round against navy velvet—

warm when I touched it, gauzy strands of silver

spanned the scape like bands to hold the scene to the board.

There it was

silent, silver, startling

unveiled for the first look when I stepped out of the garage.


And like that he is gone


Writhing pain

reincarnated as immortality,

Curled toes reborn as

new wings.

Thunder shakes the heavens

“Well done thou good and faithful

servant, enter into the joy of my Lord.”

He falls prostrate like a timber freshly cut,

face to the dust

the earth shakes

“Rise my son, Welcome Home”

a royal crown is placed on his head,

the sun glints off each tip scattering a

thousand rainbows,

a new white robe sheer as satin

enfolds him.

Lightening flashes,

“Your new name” Jesus says touching his forehead,

“Emblazoned only for the Father’s eyes.”

And then reunion

Father and son embrace in

utter delight

pure presence.

He is running now

effortlessly running down crystal streets

pure mirth tumbles from his lips,

Roman and Ada, uncles and aunts

welcome Ivan to glory.

They join hands and run like teenagers

through poppy-filled meadows

talking at once

and circle back to kneel at the throne,

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty

Who is and was and is to come.”


Silence descends to the earth with the snow,

quietness stacks up on every bent bough.

Tranquil white peacefulness tenderly fleeces

dirt wrapped in mystery, still snowflakes sift

downward, on downward,

drift, drifting to earth.

Heaven’s pure manna would banish our dearth

of stillness, of hallowed space, emptiness, home places

cluttered by media, Instagram, Tweetia. One’s

soul vibrates chaos, tumult, and mania, and we

wonder where God is, and can He be heard?

The messages beep at us, emojis-they tickle us,

all echo the clanging and banging of I.

The cacophony swallows us, sinks us, and snuffs us

and we lose more than voices, yes, spirit and mind.

Then it snows and the silence that banners the world

is a mantle of rest from the Father unfurled

where the music is tranquil, the harmony soothing,

the choirs bow—worship with angels ensuing. And

echoes of glory resound from the throne while

He’s counting His children, redeeming His own

in a way and a time, we do not understand,

only hurry is not a word coined by God’s hand.

Would He say, quit you children, take moments to play,

to chatter, be wild, ecstatic, then pray.

Sit silent and ponder. Let profundity fill

all your aches and depressions.

Let the quibbler be still.

Enveloped in mystery, in gentle non-urgency

silence descends to the earth with the snow.

Tranquil white peacefulness tenderly fleeces

quietness stacked up on every bent bough.

Dirt wrapped in mystery—still snowflakes sift,

Heaven’s pure manna would banish our dearth

downward, on downward, drift, drifting to earth.

More Grace…Teachers Weekend Nuggets

God is very fond of you.

I’m an 11th hour child, lucky. So lucky.

God grows people.  Offering grace means embracing patience.

Extending grace costs the giver.

Grace rolls around us like the Mississippi River. We stand in the middle with our cups.

Life is so unfair in my favor.

Grace builds bridges.

A beggar

Day follows day and box follows box, minute follows minute and one month turns into another. Not that I was necessarily planning a six month furlough, but here we are six months from the last writing, in a different place with different neighbors, and a host of differents washed under the bridge. In the midst of transition, it is comforting to go out at night and note The Milky Way. Venus. The Big Dipper. Possibly in another blog we’ll explore more moving details but for now a few thoughts from today.

She said this morning that maybe God doesn’t answer because we don’t ask. The discussion went on, but I was left behind. My prayers were rather short, this morning and yesterday and the day before. Lord, I need you. I’m leaning hard on you today. I really need you. I wonder how much I don’t have because I don’t ask. It’s not that the Father doesn’t have the resources, doesn’t have the supply.

Several months ago I was desperate to forgive someone but had no idea how. And the Father said, I give you my grace. You can forgive.

What does grace look like? I asked. A picture became clear to me. In glory there is nothing withheld. When I knock the Father opens the door and I am welcomed in. Warmly. A servant asks, What do you want? The Father has everything, storehouses and storehouses. Do you need a robe?  The servant runs to get clothes and runs back with a beautiful white robe. What else do you need? Ask! The Father’s wealth is like a bubble bath. The bubbles are pouring over the side of the tub.

No one is turned back. Everyone has access to more than their senses can take in. There is light and music and joy and fellowship beyond the open door.  There is so much grace. More than enough for the neighbor and sister and brother and friend. More than enough for me.

I wonder if we extend measured grace, by the amount we feel allotted to us. I wonder if someday we’ll be knocked over, downright shocked by the grace and pleasure and joy extended to the neighbor and brother and sister sitting beside us at the Great Feast.

This grace has been extended to me time and again and again. I don’t deserve grace, own kindness, or have a handle on mercy, but I’m a grateful beggar. I hope I have the chance to share it with you.

For He is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Chronicles 7:3