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Birds

The Mockingbird will sing for countless hours

his stage a wire a pole a nest a tower

He tells the world all sounds he’s ever heard

And leaves the listener to fill with words

His acapella repertoire of power

 

He’s something of  a crier on a hill

His news is never noisy never shrill

He brings his audience a melody

From nature or man’s machinery

Its whistles, hums and jingles, warbling trills

 

He acts like they’re the sounds we’ve never known

But not for gossip not for show alone

He sings like they’re original creations

Like he’s the bard of aviary nation

His song continues when his strength is gone

 

He sings like it his job, until he stops

He sings when he is silent till he drops

He sings like it’s his part to tell his story

He sings until he stops for Lori

The Mockingbird, original, yet not.

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Longing

I  must spend half my free time looking for houses and property in North Carolina. I dream of the life I might have had if we had moved there in 2016. But, that life is a mirage, appearing now and again to a thirsty soul. I drink water, but the mirage remains. “Two roads converged in a yellow wood, and I looked down one as far as I could to where it disappeared in the undergrowth.”(Robert Frost). My eyes keep straining down that path, I wonder what friends and faces it would have brought. What satisfaction I might have had teaching again, being needed again, having my siblings near me again.

I want a piece of land. A place to wander. A crying spot. A place to reflect while I break small sticks into fragments. Dirt to filter through my fingers. My ‘Trip to Bountiful,’ so to speak. A place for hymn-singing, and humming with the accompaniment of insects buzzing.

A life without brothers and sisters around . . .  It breeds a loneliness that perhaps people with small families never feel. There are slots in the soul, carved out like paper doll spaces. Some boy shapes, some girl shapes. Empty spaces which emit a hollow cry now and again. A longing to connect to a natural relation, a blood line that is never broken. Sure, we’ve had disagreements and disappointments, failures and forgiveness. I know the chain of complex connections has been rerouted and re-welded time and again, but the chain still clanks and jingles out a familiar sound: I’m here.

It’s no accident I was born into a big family. You can say we didn’t have electricity or TV but our lives were meant to be, and destined to mix. In some ways I’m looking back toward a more hopeful past than I am for building a brighter future. A cloudy sunset looks better in some ways than a clear sunrise. Why, I don’t know. Seems I can choose my past but others are choosing my future. Getting old means being set aside. Memories swell and hopes shrink. I’m just being honest. Without God, there would be despair. But I can never despair. Despite all my mistakes, regrets, angry outbursts, tears, and repairs, I can still have hope. I pray I will mean something to many people, and a great deal to a few. More than anything, I want my life to have meant something to my saving God, Jesus the man I want to be like at the end of the day.

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I went to an “all-church prayer meeting” at the end of the year. We didn’t pray though. We didn’t have to, because we had prayer representatives. We listened and nodded. Representative pray-ers.

When I was in high school we had an all-white student council, even though around 10 percent of our population was black.  The students complained and we ended up having a black representative on the student council and a black cheerleader.

But it wasn’t an easy seat to obtain that seat. They had to hold a sit-down in the student commons before we would listen, but listen we did. Henceforth, we had black representatives and black girls on the cheerleading squad.

But when she cheered, the black students all cheered; the white students all cheered too.

So, if we have to have a prayer representative, let them lead us in our cheering. Don’t let them cheer alone.

Anytime we let a representative pray for us, we are not really praying. It is called “thinking” if we are only listening and assenting.

Let’s lift our voices and pray together to God. We represent our selves, bare our own hearts, shed our own tears if it comes to that.

We aren’t gathered to listen to one person pray. We are gathered for God to hear all of us praying. Then, no one will be self conscious.

Huddle up, and all — cheer!

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I find an increasing number of Christians today who say there is no eternal torment, only extinguishment. I told one friend that if he believes that, other false doctrines will follow. And they have.

The first false doctrine to follow that error is in the immortality of the soul. It’s true that the Bible doesn’t say explicitly that the soul is immortal, but it strongly implies it. In fact everything in the Bible implies that the soul will live on, for good or for ill. The unique creation of mankind as opposed to animals, the Fall and blood sacrifice, the resurrection of Christ, the fact that people need a savior, and it goes on.  Redemption and heaven would mean very little if there is nothing to be redeemed from and no heavenly reward.

If these heretics believe that there is no immortality until we are raised from the dead, then how are we spiritually alive now in the new birth? The body is what is going to put on immortality, not the soul.

Other doctrines that will follow will be of the justice of God (How can a good God send people to hell?) which begs the question: is God perfect? Is he just? Actually, sending people to hell is the just thing to do. It will give people what they want — autonomy and godlessness. It verifies free will.

If God is perfect, then he must have a perfect hatred of sin.

Hell is not for the amount of sin, but for the type of sin: the rejection of salvation for the reward of self-government.

 

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You could be sprinkling mica on the stars

Or bowling black holes at Antares dwarves

Or lassoing the aurora borealis

But you would rather sit here with your kids

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Post-free America

I have to say I am down about America’s future. In just a few years we have lost so much. Not in lawsuits and court rulings but in our American core. Institutions which I once considered inviolable and sacrosanct are now shredded. The bedrock of civilization – the nuclear family – is jackhammered into pieces. Sexual identity is a plowed under patchwork of unidentifiable landscapes. Freedom of expression is roped and gagged, and the Christian religion of our forebears is now viewed with suspicion and labeled as fascist and bigotry. Truth itself is a manipulated set of facts and yelled statements. People have become little gods issuing edicts and final judgments from tiny hand-held machines. Accusation and indefensibility are the two sides of the currency we trade in today. I feel I am witnessing the fall of Western culture, and no one is lamenting. We are celebrating it as an end to the greed of the wealthy, the dominance of the white male, and the final equality we hope will emerge out of destruction. What will rise in the place of the greatest nation on earth will be either authoritarianism disguised as egalitarianism, or chaos celebrated as the crushing of old-fashioned ideas to make way for a new era of progress. I rue the day when the culture pivots toward the abyss of wishful thinking. We may never come back.

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I talk to people about what I’m currently studying, whether it’s Don Quixote or the wildebeest of Africa. I may sound impressive at times with such fresh knowledge but I’m so limited. True, the museum of my mind has many rooms and they have often been stocked with treasures eliciting oohing and aahing. But, stay in that room please, because the other rooms have tons of things in them; they are just covered with the white cloths of forgetfulness. I wish I could remember what is under all those covers but I can’t. So, when you come to visit my ”museum,” don’t wander off. Thanks!

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