“How is your grandmother?”

Today’s guest post comes from Marlene, who gypsies about the great white north, where she rescues abandoned books and grows poems. And I might add, who lives about eighteen hours closer to the North Pole than I; the type that thrives in Longer Colder Winters and Blissfully Sunny Summers amongst pine and moose. Thankyou, Marlene, for allowing me to share this piece; it has ground itself into my gut.

“How Is your grandmother?”
do I know? How
can I answer when I do not think
she has been very how for a long time? How
can I tell you how she stares,
how she stumbles, how she
How can I tell you how
she asks who I am and why I came, then immediately says
she misses my dad?
How I drill her
on her parents’ names, her children’s names?
How can I tell you
how she feels when she never knows
what time of what day of what month of what year it is,
who is at her table,
why I make her wash after going to the bathroom?
How can I tell you how she claps
and sings “Jesus loves me” all wrong?
How can I tell you how
she still plays Scrabble, pieces quilts, sneaks cookies?
How can I tell you how I miss her, how I’m mad at her,
how I mourn her?
How can I tell you how her querulous voice
softens and lifts
when she reads aloud the
Sermon on the Mount? 

Autumn Dance

Frost and sunshine dance in autumn

When October winds blow wild,

Sunrays beckon, balm, enchant us.

Chilly winds chase summer’s smile.

Golden fields await the farmer,

Harvest days sway cool and peart.

Bring the combine—gather soybeans,

Winter watches summer flirt.

Child Training

One’s mind goes in a multitude of directions when the sermon title is along the lines of child training. If you’re a young person you may think, not for me. I wonder if parents feel very preached to and squirm in their pews. Singles may tune out, unless they are teachers vying for answers as well. I find the truth of the Word so guiding and comforting. Anyway…

Recently I wrote a tribute to my dad since I think one should do these kind of things this side of the River; and I put it here in honor of the child training of which I was once a recipient.

Sixty-Four Lines

On Your 64th Birthday

You teach like a champion,

Explain with simple illustration,

Demonstrate truth like Jesus did with

Objects common to nature—geese,

Rhythm, the body, our brain!

We celebrated when you turned forty,

Had a party at school in the basement!

I like sixty-four better. Your hair is whiter,

Thinner, rooted deeper in wisdom.

You’ve endured a lot. I wonder if the

Court trials the days you were pinioned

On the witness stand held a candle to this

Past year when covid collapsed your normal

And you suddenly ground gears with brothers.

I think it has stretched you more than

The year you went into service with

Twenty-three dollars or was it two hundred three

In your pocket and the Little Green Duster

As your only collateral.

A recent sermon you preached on harmony

Versus unity struck a tremendous chord

With me. We are all so different.

A kidney, an eye, a toe, or a lung.

If only all would understand it’s more about

Following the Director than singing their own line!

I remember how you used to sing in the

Shower. I’d waken to hear your rich

Melodies, and I still am amazed at your

Energetic tenor every time I sit in the same

Auditorium! I want my children to know

Every song in Praises We Sing. That must

Have been your philosophy back when we

Sang through the books in family devotions.

Speaking of philosophies, I was thinking

Lately of how you taught us that tardiness

Affects others exponentially for when you

Slide in one minute late, but there are ten

Around the table, you have just stolen ten minutes!

You also believed in frugality and switched off lights

As you made your way to your spot at the head.

I guess our family dynamics were more

Enormous than some. That didn’t

Dampen your adventurous spirit of

Driving grandparents and a wife and

Five children to Belize in Nineteen Eighty-Seven,

Or leave behind seven littles but fly the

Three oldest to the other side of the world

To stand on the equator in Two Thousand. I’ve

Been permanently changed because of that trip.

Vehicles are to be driven, not idolized.

Mornings are golden, why squander gold!

Church is for participation in the bride of Christ.

Why miss out? Strangers are unknown friends.

And dogs are for revenue. Thank God.

You told me once how God took you from

The farm – like David from the sheepfold.

How it’s not so much about skill but

Availability, a heart in tune with the Father.

Your prayers are practical because Christian

Living is where the rubber meets the road.

It’s why you don’t need to slam the trunk,

But maybe why you should lift up your

Voice when you speak. And then sit down

When you are done – without circling three times.


The world tipped crazy that Friday night

When they captured the Teacher and

Bound him tight; with a straggling crew too weary

To pray, a disciple that betrayed him when caught

In the fray, alone and sinless, condemned to die.

The mob screamed “Blood!” in exchange for a thief

When the choice lay before them, they rebelled in

Disbelief that this Teacher was their Savior;

The Messiah, King of kings, so a sign was erected

To identify the Man in the middle, torn with grief.

The earth reeled violent; the veil split in two

When the Son of God fell silent, sacrificed

For me and you. Darkness mantled soldier, mother,

Night embraced each passerby, graveyards yielded

Saints long-sleeping, when the world’s Creator died.

The tomb sang “Empty!” that Sunday morn

When the women heavy-hearted ran with offerings

To out pour; not remembering Jesus’ teaching that

He’d rise and vanquish hell. Angels said, “Why

Do you seek the living Son among the dead?”

A Pandemic Virus

The world has gone mad, but

The finches still chirp at the feeder

So glad for a seed and some suet,

The sun shines today above cloudy

Gray skies, yet the fear and the tension

I sense in green eyes, on terse face

Makes mention of doubt. Have they no Father,

No God that is greater than pandemic

Viruses, rather self to trust. Have they

Not read in Psalm 46 the first verse that

The Lord stays the storm. He’s our refuge

And strength.

Be still and know.


Oh shame, to raise your face and

say ‘Yes, Lord’ to will so wild, for one

would never dream of such

unwanted fate, be found with child, unwed,

betrothed, sure of your lover’s word. Now plans

lie shattered, scattered ‘neath a racing heart, a trembling lip; perhaps a

tear slipped silently as you surrendered.

Yet utter peace enfolds your gentle ‘yes’ and with that word

The Holy Spirit quickens, gives

new life and Comfort that defies the human mind; a

confidence despite the neighbor’s wandering eyes, that all is well

when answering to the Father’s will.

Autumn’s Fairyland

October –

the month of wood dances

and festivals grand

When the trees change their garments for

            laces of yellow and

            bonnets of red,

            blouses of crimson rust-

            browns trim the edge.

Tis gay to be cheery

Not a day to be dreary

While the sky like a canopy spans overhead – in her

            Deepest blue

                        Truest blue

                                    Richest most mildest blue

With a wisp of a horsetail tossed

Here and there.

            Soft as a feather

                        Like a dusting of powder

Oh the magic of raindrops

High high in the air.

Ah the mornings are crispy.

Makes a body feel frisky.

Gives new step after summer has drained all our strength.

Take a moment to savor

Fresh pumpkin’s the flavor

Or apple and nutmeg and cinnamon spice.

God in heaven – You’re awesome!

            Amazing and dazzling

Creator of Beauty – the Supernal Source!

And to think,

we marvel

at Your footstool.

Fragile Morning Mist


Fragile Morning Mist

Whispy and gentle

Giving one more soothing kiss

To the earth.

For twon’t be long ‘ere the

Sun in glorious blaze

Bursts ore the horizon

And shatters morning’s haze!

Can a body e’en feel gloomy

While the sunbeams dance and glitter

Turning every crystal dewdrop to

A million silvery shimmers?

Ah – I cry no –

With the Psalmist who penned –

That Orange Orb comes forth

As a strong man to run.

For e’en as the sun

Beckons sleeper and dreamer

I stretch out my arms enraptured in warmth.

I’m filled with a song

Energy invigorating

A zeal wells up

I’ve been touched from above.

For not only the sun warms my soul

But the Son!

The Giver and Maker, Redeemer of Life.

Oh, let’s praise Him

Each critter

Each creature

Each child

Oh praise the Son Glorious

Who reigns High Above!


When God Laughs

When God laughs—

The rivers gurgle and run,

The mountains beckon to come,

Trees dress in their gayest reds and golds

And wave their arms for fun.


When God laughs—

The animals skitter and scatter,

A summer rain may patter,

The ocean swells and kisses the shore

With her tongue of salty water.


When God laughs—

His children dance and sing

They know they belong to the King.

They in happiness wait for the feast near the gate

When given their golden wings.