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.

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.


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.

Riding Waves

It’s rough. I gulp a breath

before they crash upon my head!

Ten toes touch sand, I push up, up, and out

to break above the swirl. I paddle for I

feel the current drag me back and out—

a rush for spaces wide and blue beyond,

away from tethered tide and timberline,

away from brownish boundaries of beach.

Then looking out I see another wave—

now gaining height, now curling tall, now cresting white.

I gasp for air and squish my eyes—

it crashes in a spray of salty brine.

I sputter, cough, then gag, and vomit lunch,

the salt, this brew, so playful, yet so swill.

Ten toes touch sand, I push up, up, and out.

The current rips from boundaries of the beach

Away from limitations of the shore.

A gulp of oxygen, a spray – more salt

To sand my face. The sun breaks

through, a fearsome blaze to warm this

watery child. Ten toes touch sand.

I push up, up, and out.


Such habits of routine we tout;

We stir and stretch and wander out,

Then make the coffee, find our nook

And settle down to read the Book.

We pray God’s blood all sores assuage,

Then sketch our thoughts on secret page

While sipping slow and soft our drink

That nourishes like ancient ink.

And finally, when the sun has broke

The night’s last grasp on dawning folk

And vibrant crimson streaks the air,

We rise, content that God is there.


Cobalt and crisp she sat on the shelf

Pristine and painted and cold.

A vessel of value, of untarnished blue,

A vessel for eyes to behold.

Crack! The walls shook as the earth shifted plates,

The shelf tilted crazily south;

A blue brittle vessel felt gravity grip

And she tumbled headlong to the ground.

Smashed and crushed she lay on a heap

When the Potter shoved open the door,

He gathered the pieces and whistled a tune

Remembering a dream from before.

Next day found a Potter bent over His wheel;

His hands molding pieces of clay

Tears flowed down his beard and softened those shards

Oh, it proved to be Redemption Day.

Cheerful and charming she sits by the well

Smooth, yet porous deep down

A vessel lifegiving for watering, washing

Cracks zigzag up to her crown.

Chosen by One, The Humble Clay Potter—

He still hums a merry refrain—then

Dust wafts the air with wanderers astir.

Thirsty hearts drink and hope again.

Several of us are doing are doing a word prompt a day in July. “Clay” was yesterday’s prompt.

Trickling Thru the Centuries

How is that the faithfulness of a king four thousand years ago still inspires me today? Asa’s heart was loyal to the Lord all his days. 1Kings 15:14b Who will read my story a century from now and think, ‘She was true – I can be too.’

Why are we such creatures of persuasion? Why are we so easily influenced? Does it really matter what you do when no one notices? Recently my dad was recounting an object lesson on integrity that he had observed. The speaker had stacked a number of cardboard boxes and then asked a boy in the audience to remove one from the stack without felling the tower. As you may guess, this is almost impossible. And so with integrity, that moment by moment choice which develops habits and builds character; a tower with missing pieces can only rise so high.

Last week at school Mr. Stoltzfus encouraged the students to be courageous. A noble choice usually influences the peer beside you to also do right and so on and so forth.

When I was little and caught up in a squabble, my dad would ask three simple words to clarify the responsibility of all parties involved: “Is it right?”

May God help us live nobly that faithfulness may trickle through the centuries and inspire individuals in 6019.


This summer has been a huge gift. I don’t know where to start or stop, but some of you have been asking so I’ll write for a bit.

Frost has said it well, “As way leads on to way.” Conversations, places, people that I didn’t orchestrate and here we are.

A large part of the summer found me with school books and a pen again at Christian Light. My highest regards to the many faithful who plug away beyond the ten-week summer sprint to avail our communities to high quality curriculum year after year. Your halos shine bright. I wonder how long we will have the privilege to write our own school curriculum. What an incredible opportunity. Delving into these pages again awoke a passion that i care deeply about our schools and what we put into them-into our children. Thank-you for the brainstorming sessions we shared, the stimulating conversations in the office or over grilled burgers, the collaborating. This is much bigger than one can do alone. This is also pushing me to grow as an adult, to pursue classes that build writing skills, to stay alive as a teacher.

And then it was the end of July, and a plane whizzed off to Belize. Luckily, I was aboard. Running through airports is not fun, and I did it this time. Lesson learned-give yourself more time. :/ Having lived there for four years, I always go back and find a part of my heart. This year was no exception. No exception. Actually as friendships mature the ties grow stronger. I’m so encouraged to be faithful because I see the faithfulness of my friends. I see the faithfulness of young ones embracing Jesus and walking in His footsteps. I see faithfulness through very hard times. Little ones that were in my 2nd-3rd grade classes are now the leaders, teachers, and brides. The wedding was so hot. Outside under a pavilion, 400 strong we gathered to witness. While the warm breezes fanned us, we listened to the long-winded preachers and the lovely choir, then scarfed down delicious rice and beans and chicken with fresh squeezed lime juice and melting ice cream. It wasn’t an exotic trip, just a week with precious moments; it was bubble tea and tacos with my spanish friends, planting flowers, playing spot-it over cups of iced coffee with another and talking life and laughing. a. lot., barbecue and delicious tortillas, catching rides to visit others, bouncing over speedbumps and thru muddy dirt roads, catching up with a teacher from Guatemala, joining in the heartiest hymn sing your ever attended, walking one afternoon in the sweltering sun to see another long-ago-student of mine and her mother and to learn that she was just diagnosed with cancer, so we sat and talked and cried and prayed together. It was reading stories to the ‘neighbor children’ that used to call at the gate, now one of these-no-longer-a-child will teach school in the same classroom i taught in. God, give me faith to believe bigger and grander. It was reconnecting with former missionaries also back to visit, late nights and full days. And all too soon the plane zooms off and I had to be on, unluckily this time.

In between and among these two paragraphs…

there was a camp-out on Skyline with girlfriends. We go back to school days…that night still makes me smile!!! So good. When it began to drizzle, we were offered shelter by a neighborly camper along with beer and cigars. 🙂

there was a family reunion….i think we number thirty-seven…where do all these people come from some wonder. i do too. tents, rain, campfire bombs, singing, good food, a covered bridge excursion and a random ride on a Amishman’s haywagon….so much fun with nieces and nephews…

another sunday afternoon with a friend by a creek, sharing life and wisdom

another afternoon with a sister and the kids in the pond and more sharing life and wisdom

another afternoon with a friend on a downtown mall in Pittsburgh…it turned into a progressive supper, starting at a French bakery, ending with tofu and blackberry tea, and a variety of other mushrooms and cheeses in between. oh yes, and a parking ticket.

garden goodies the days I stopped in at Mom’s house—always good food and company there

another sunday at Lake Huron…so, so pretty….so, so fun. such good friends.

Now it’s August. Teacher’s week at FB was again such a gift. we gave. we took. we came away inspired.

I was impressed this summer that God knows exactly where I’m at. And he really cares about me. Story one. I’m half an hour from home, sitting at a gas station, texting before I get back on the road. I jerk up to see if the car pulling alongside is going to sideswipe me. The driver motions me to roll down my window. He looks trustworthy so i cautiously put my window down. Is he lost? What does he want? We converse and he says he’s a mennonite and noticed I’m one too. Do I have a baby in the back, he asks. Um, no, it’s my luggage, i’m on a two-three week stint. oh, more conversing…a few more mennonite connections. After a few minutes he says he just wants to bless my trip; he tosses a couple of twenties in my window and away he goes. What is this startled woman supposed to do but keep on her way, thank God for the extra cash, and watch for more angels!

Story two. I’m flying from Atlanta to Pittsburgh but have a six hour lay-over in the Atlanta airport. I go to a Delta desk to see if i can go stand-by. “That will be $75, ma’am.” And besides the plane was full so no chance. Good luck. I wander to the approximate gate since my flight doesn’t show on the departures screen since it is too far off and I begin to kill time; catch up on social media, observe the milling millions, and all the good things one does in an airport while waiting. After about two hours i sling my backpack over my shoulder and head back to a departure screen again. Still no update. hmmm. Find a different Delta desk. “Ma’am, could you tell me which gate I’m leaving from so that i could at least sit at the right gate?” “Sure,” she replies, punch, punch, click, click on her computer. “Would you like to go stand-by on an earlier flight?” “Um, yes.” Then I gave her the previous story. “Oh, her manager just said there is bad weather brewing and they may put people on stand-by at no extra charge, because should a storm set in, they don’t want a bunch of extra people sitting in the airport.” So with a few more punches and clicks, she spit out a new boarding pass for two hours earlier, rerouted my luggage, (no guarantee your luggage will make it on the earlier flight she warned) and I went back down the long corridor amidst the milling millions, ate a bowl of rice and beans, and we were soon boarding. The skies were clear and my luggage was one of the first pieces off at the other end and it was so nice to get to my friends house at ten-thirty instead of twelve-thirty that night.

Of Father & Son

They amble down the beach – he, tall, dark hair,

broad of shoulder. Son, little – trit-trotting in front

curly locks tousle his brow. Father, son, little, big

mesmerized together – spotting a shell here,

a tide pool there – stopping – bending low – gathering

memories among the suds left from the

last whitecaps.

Suddenly he’s done – the little one

arms outstretched runs back to Father’s open arms.

Father hoists him high, then higher still – mounts him on his

shoulder. Now son is above and beyond Him- yet

sustained – grounded – carried by the Father’s strong frame.

The famed career dims in the glory of Father and son

together gathering memories. It dims in the joy of prodigy

seated high – this namesake; one that will carry on

long after Father is gone. It dims in the lore of family,

this friend conceived by his sweat and blood; one who will always

come back the way eddies circle and tides race back to deserted inlets,

who will love you, not despite your idiosyncrasies, but because of them.

One isn’t a Father without a son – this coursing desire of humanity. Is that

why God created me? Without sons He would be Majestic,

Creator, Redeemer. But not Father. And so he bears children to

stop. bend low. collect memories. To share love in dna. To go

beyond His footsteps, but be carried by His frame.

He, tall, dark haired, broad shouldered,

Son, lithe, tubsy, blond

trit-trotting across white sands, collecting moments

among the shells.