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Archive for January, 2012

When scribes of some new century lift up the fateful quill

To record in novel tongues what good fortune or grave ill

defined our nation’s tenure as the leader of the world,

of the accolades that followed, or the curses that were hurled

and the meaning of the silence when that final flag unfurled

They will tell of those who longed to call her cherished borders home

like ancient generations venerated Greece or Rome

Or will they sigh of how it rotted like a decadent empire

or perhaps, the noble nation, in one final blaze of fire

chose instead to be a martyr among nations, then expire.

They will speak of how two destinies ran strong and parallel

within the country’s psyche, and how both could bode them well:

The first great vein, a love for God; the other, love for gold

two rivers, one pragmatic, one prophetic which foretold

how conflicted we would be as our narratives unfold

They may write of three small clippers, and the isle of Salvador

Sing the praises of Columbus, or his legacy abhor

Will they see the island natives’ thirst for blood at Navidad?

Or call the Spaniards murderers in the name of some new god,

and the gold prospector mixed with priest as normal, or as odd?

They’ll grant the Mayflower Puritans were those who chose to act

with government ordained by God and sealed by their contract

Or will they vilify the Puritans as ‘puritanical,’

and call the Holy Scriptures they obeyed tyrannical

and citizens who tried to hold to those ideals fanatical?

They’ll report on English settlements that bore the Monarch’s name

like Jamestown, where the gentry soiled their tender hands in shame

How their charter to make money from the New World was embraced

yet the part to bring the gospel to the savages erased

and belief in national destiny laughed at and effaced

Will they honor Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening

and mention Wesley’s hymn “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”

and tell of how George Whitefield brought salvation to the slave?

Or will they mock the famed revival as sensational and fake,

its role in America’s revolution, censure and berate?

They will pen the great rebellion from the British motherland

as King George damning those Yankees as a renegade young band.

Or they’ll see the first Americans as patriots and strong

and their independent spirit countering despotism’s wrong,

their triumphs and their sacrifices codified in song.

Will they read the Negro spirituals in the style of Amazing Grace

as the triumph of the essence of a noble, battered race?

Recount the trial of Phyllis Wheatley poems to statesmen of her day

how politicians doubted her to Massachusetts’ shame

or will they use the truth of slavery to justify or blame?

Recorders of the future may well cast our Civil War

as a rip across the fabric of the glory that we wore,

or they’ll paint the American psyche with a dark-pigmented stain

and say that state secession was a cover-up for gain

or call the practice of enslaving our own countrymen insane.

They’ll pen volumes of the global wars our men were called to fight,

conclude that freedom was worth defending and this nation did it right.

Or they will call us “ugly Americans” though all we ever asked

was land enough to bury those who died there in the task

to stop the spread of tyranny, and its evil face unmask.

Will they see this current century as a time of great excess

and its people spoiled by government and enslaved by selfishness?

Or will they see the American fiber that rose from New York dust

preserving our republic by sacrifice and guts,

and carved on granite mountainsides “In Christ alone we trust!”

Well every nation has its destiny, but some more nobly called–

This was our birthright, this our place in time and history’s halls.

This was our charge, our hallowed duty between two vast and distant shores.

We judge ourselves, but our descendants judge us even more

as either those who fought and won, or as those who dropped the torch.

We vow this day, here bound by love for this the United States

that our conscience has been laid bare here, our soul scored and displayed

that we will give our heart, our breath, bone marrow, and our lives

To guard our sacred values so that freedom can survive,

and leave the scorn or the praises for posterity to decide.

When the tides of history ebb and flow then sweep the sands away

there remains the fateful hourglass to measure out the day

There to capture in its curv’ed glass some justice’d roguish grains

and weigh them in the balance, then toss them out again

onto a desert stretch of some forgotten beach and countless sands.

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Coming Alive

Last month I registered a prayer in my journal. I asked God to let me be truly alive, to feel deeply and express that toward others, to love people and God like I should.

Here’s what happened. My swimming pool had been drained for about two weeks and I had gotten accustomed to it being empty. I cleaned it out, fixed everything up, then decided to fill the pool.

The day the pool got full, I went walking by it to check on my firebowl. As I saw the water in the pool I had the strangest sensation in my emotions, like a welcoming attitude toward the water, as if I had actually missed it. For an instant, the water was alive, it had personality, it evoked feelings in me. I felt that I was seeing an old friend again.

Does that prove that I am truly coming alive and able to fully feel again. I’m not sure. But I know one thing: it was something I had never felt before.

I’m sure a man lost in a desert would have fantastically alive feelings at the sight of water. Or a man coming home from a dangerous war battle would feel he had come back from the dead when he sees his family for the first time again. Perhaps a woman can feel truly alive after her first-born child takes its first breath and is laid on her chest.

Whatever makes me come alive, I want more of it, and I want to never tire of that thing.

 

 

 

 

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Broken Windshields

I was fifty feet behind the truck before I could read it. Even with 20/20 vision I could not read the sign at 200 feet.

What could break my windshield from a gasoline tanker? A driver, angry that I was within 200 feet, could throw a bottle out his window, I suppose.

My question is – and I think it’s valid –why make a sign that can only be read at one’s peril?

I think that symbolizes what has happened in our culture:

We’re in danger of something hitting the windshield of civility because we’ve broken through the 200-foot moral barrier.

THE EIGHTEEN (WHEELER) COMMANDMENTS

Stay 200 feet away from

the broad metal backside of sin

A mile away from immorality

A league away from lust

Give wild urges a wide berth

Keep a safe distance from damnable doctrines

Avoid vanity and forego ego at all costs

Watch for falling rocks of faithlessness

Don’t be adrift in the wake of wickedness

Finally,

Don’t follow any THING if you cannot

See what is in front of the THING!

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