If you were me

I'm stymied, I guess.
I haven't written for a while,
After criticism and censorship.
The problem I have is this:
Each word, each thought has been dug up,
Dug up from the internal (and eternal) junk pile that is my recollection.
These thoughts are mine, I own them, and yet…
I permit the criticism of others dear to me to destroy my writing; my decision.
And so I approach each new thought with their censorship in mind; don't dig too deep.
Ok, so maybe I didn't think through enough the offending thoughts.
Maybe they were right, but still I must admit a stricture on my thinking.
And so now I begin again to write.
Unable to keep these thoughts buried, I must present them to you.
You have a right to your opinion.
I have a right to mine.
But should I publish for all the world to see?
Do I needs/must take into account the effect on others,
Or do I only have obligation to my Self to write what I feel?
Who reads this stuff anyway?

– Small town boy

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Security or Balance?

I noticed, when going downstairs while using the handrail,

That I don’t cling to it for safety/security,

But I lean on the handrail,

For balance.

And, as always, I seek the metaphor for life, my life.

I think security/safety is important for a stable life, but

It is balance I seek for a meaningful life.

Balance is often thought of as a teeter totter between two members of a dichotomy:

Good/evil, fit/unfit, religious/atheist, etc.

But there are no dichotomies; there are three or more forces involved in each problem.

As a physics teacher, I believe in force vectors, in which the sum of each force AND their directions determines your movement.

Unattended, forces are exerted, causing movement.

And so what reaction to these forces do you perceive?

A. Nothing, I am blown by forces not of my making.

B. Resist the impinging forces by my own personal strength.

C. Seek balance, seek to balance forces with other forces that act in opposition or in replacement of forces arrayed to place stress in my life.

For me this balance comes in the form of meditation, jigsaw puzzles and bike rides.

Walks in the beach, turning off cable news, spiritual practices, walking with the dog etc. offer balance to my stressors.

Hugs, cuddling, touch, kisses, are powerful forces in this regard.

And so, instead moving according to forces I don’t control,

I sit quietly as the whirlwinds if life,

Not fighting,

Just leaning 

In a direction that

Gives me balance.

It is this balance that sustains me in the face of trauma,

Like death of a loved one, illness, surgery, motor accident, addiction, and so on and so on.

Balance, and God,

And my wife of forty five years.

Love is a great balancing agent.

I see others, people who don’t have balance,

And I can’t give them balance,

I can only be sure that I am balanced.

Can you see?

That I am balanced?

And not teetering?

Sometimes, sometimes, I teeter,

When I teeter I know what to do,

Seek balance, find equilibrium,

And go on to the next event.

– Small town boy

Where does the flame go?

Where does the flame go when the candle goes out?

Where did it come from?

It’s a zen question like:

“You know the sound of two hands clapping; what is the sound of one hand clapping?”

The heat, the light, the flickering,

Where do they go?

A flame is not what you think it is,

While it dances there in the melted wax,

Hiding the wick it relies on,

Forgetting the required spark that got it going,

Regardless of its pending demise.

It is merely energized molecules,

Vibrating so,

That we are able to see that part if the spectrum it displays,

Light. The light.

And to feel the heat it radiates when we hold cold hands to the flame,

And feel it’s life.

Flames can join other flames,

Till there is a conflagration.

Is that where it went?

When life was snuffed?

Did it join the conflagration 

Of the universal flame?

Energy is neither created nor destroyed,

Nor are you, my love.

You have been,

We shared your brief life,

And you are 

Still, resurrected.

I know. I feel your warmth yet.

I bask in the light of you.

I love you.

– Small town boy

Today is the next day

Since I decided to live out each day I have been given,

My life is much simpler and anticipatory.

After experiencing grief over the loss of my eldest grandson this weekend,

I realized this morning that today is the next day

In a series that is ongoing 

Despite death, and grief, and sadness.

The moon still shines and becomes full again;

The sun rises; the rain falls; flowers bloom again.

Even as they will when I am gone.

Even as they have since my father, my mother, and my sister have gone.

One day after the next.

So, each day holds the promise of a next day.

And this is it.

I still love you, even in your absence;

I still have those around me who love me;

I await the gifts you have for me today,

With great anticipation.

Thank you.

– Small town boy

The Ocean

God is like the ocean.

Powerful, beautiful, and dangerous.

S/He ebbs and flows with lunar cycles.

One can stand at the edge and watch or enter the surf and feel the power, straining against it.

In warmer climes, one can swim in the salty waters, until one is  out of their depth, but stll able to stay afloat, because of belief in the ability to float and swim.

There are boats on the water, large and small, some fishing the depths, some transporting cargo to unknown places.

There are animals near the shore, birds, crabs, sea lions, and sand shrimp, all occupying there own niche, all a part of the oceans ecology.

Am I part of God’s ecology?

In the depths, where I can not see, live giant whales, sharks, fish, octopi and squid, and so much more: diverse in nature but adapted to life in the sea, each having its own part to play, each a part of the food cycle.

Am I part of the spiritual food cycle? Whom do I prey (pray) upon, and who preys (prays) on me?

The sea has been here before me and will be here long after I’m gone.

As I stand here naked before it, arms upraised, willing myself to resonate with its roar, I await the day.

Resistance is futile, harmful, and not in keeping with why I was made, not in keeping with my basic, fundamental nature.

Being open and working with the forces present allow me to ride the crest of the wave, to receive the power offered, and to live with a force stronger than my own and feed as my soul requires.

Thank God for the ocean and it’s abundance.

The ocean is great and reaches far away past the horizon to where others stand by it and marvel at its grace, beauty and power, my brothers and sisters on this globe,

A planet, when seen from afar, is notable because it is blue,

Blue because of the ocean.

Let me sail forth today, find the spirit of God, and fish for the sustenance offered me.

Let me be with other sailors riding the wind and the waves, going together on life’s journey today.

Amen

– Small town boy

It’s my turn

It’s my turn to be old.

I’ve already had a turn at being young, being a teen (I extended that a bit), being twenty something, thirty something and forty when I thought I was old.

My grandfather and my grandmother had their turn with dignity.

My mother’s turn was short (age 68).

My father gave up his turn (suicide at age 37)

Now that it’s my turn to be old, I want to take advantage of all the older ‘adult experiences.’

Like a midday nap.  Like grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Like seeking my self that has been created over the years. Like getting to know my inner child.

Some activities I don’t enjoy, but I acknowledge that they come with the territory and I intend to experience them and grow.

Life enlarged prostate. Like aches and pains. Like ten pillls in the morning and ten pills in the evening. Like obesity and diabetes. Like limited walking, hiking, running abilities.

Slowly I am becoming disabled, in body, in mind, in vision.

But that’s ok.

My body is the one mostly feeling the age.

My heart is large and full of love.

My mind is seeking new ways to discover, like meditation, like quiet time, like turning off the television which hadn’t been invented when I was young.

My spirit soars with the eagles, as Chief Dan George says in “Little Big Man,”

I take one day at a time, and the days fly by, months come and go as I focus on today.

It’s my turn, my last turn, and I want to do it right. My children are watching and I want them to know they have nothing to fear when it’s their turn.

Soon I will experience old age.

I will be more disabled, more spiritual, more medicated and older. Who knows how old; who cares?

So I’m here for you if you need me to love you, to pray for you, to sit with you, to offer unsolicited advice.

I’m here with my wife of almost 45 years. Our marriage is old too.  We like it; we like that we’re together and with children yet.

So if you live in the young world, have faith, you too can have your turn.

Your get to have a turn at being old.

– Small town boy

Play ball

Neither of my great grandchildren, nor my grandchildren for that matter, know much about baseball.

I tell them we went out every recess to play ‘workup’, the game that allows you to workup from outfield to infield, pitcher to catcher, to become the batter.

And we played with a baseball and brought our own baseball mitts. No protective gear. On the playground. With girls. And after school too. And on weekends.

So when the world series was on everyone listened, asking those near a radio to tell the score.

We didn’t have caps or teeshirts or other memorabilia.

We had bubblegum trading cards. Baseball players in bubblegum, with stats, which we collected and traded.

We went to the movies to see the game, in the newsreel at the beginning before the cartoon and the movie.

What I’m saying is that we didn’t have teams, nor little league, nor Babe Ruth; we had workup, where everyone got to play every position. It was egalitarian.

We didn’t chew and spit or grab our crotches. Well, we chewed bubble gum, for the baseball player cards.

And everyone could play, every position;  everyone, anyone, who showed up.

And we all showed up.

– Small town boy

The Box

I think you’ve built a box.

You began when you were small, actually you built most of it when you were very small.

You had lots of help.

You made your box like those around you, because that’s what you thought boxes should be like.

After you built your box, you began to  put things into it,

Things you saw, and things you saw the others do,

Things you heard, especially if it was strident; those were very important words and sounds,

Sounds like tsk tsk, or tut tut, or oh my!

And swear words. You kept all the swear words you ever heard.

And jokes, jokes you didn’t understand, or  didn’t see the bigotry in.

And you watched how people in your life treated other people,

And you wrote it  down.

Actually it’s the things you didn’t write  down,

But remembered, that have had greater affect on your view of the world outside your box.

You never ever let anyone inside your box, it’s personal and private.

You dont show others what is in your box, except by your actions.

Your children watch this and put things in  their boxes.

Sometimes you just spend the day moaning or crying over something awful in your box, quietly and seriously, but unwilling to toss anything out of your box. You don’t ever clean house.

Every hurt, every slight, every put down are all in there. And you nurture them in silence and in the dark.

And then one day, there is someone new in your life, someone you wish to share even those things deep in your special box.

Someone who helps you clean out the trash just by being in the same room, next to you.

Someone who shines the light into your box, and make the shadows disappear, and makes you feel light headed.

With love you both step outside your boxes and think in new ways, do new things, have new experiences.

And later, in the comfort of your abiding life and love, you begin to examine the box you have built

and tear it apart.

And the more it gets rent asunder,

the more you feel the light and the love,

but It now seems to be coming from above!

And so you share it and you grow, growing too big to fit into any box anymore.

And the love you have received spills out onto everyone you come in  contact with.

You love everybody. Every body! Even yourself.

And you no longer need the box.

You’re whole now.

You’re all that He meant you to be and more.

Your world is so large, so large, so large that

You are one with all.

– small town boy

Life Quilt, square 5, Elmo

Elmo isn’t really my tee shirt, he belongs to Betsy.


The Elmo costume isn’t mine either, I just found it as I was putting my Bike Friday fold-up bike into its suitcase for transport to Burning Man 2015 in Black Rock Desert near Reno Nevada.

2015 was my year to go to Burning Man with my friends Joy and Ben in an RV we had purchased together.

But as I was getting my Bike Friday ready I remembered that I needed an “art bike”, one that was decorated or costumed and the Elmo costume fit the bill just fine.

The playa was not kind to the Bike Friday, Elmo, or any of the other things I brought. The alkali dust sticks to everything.


But I rode it everywhere and soon Elmo and I were beginning to be seen. I got the name, “Bare Necessities.”

​​
One day as I was leaving the Semper Fuego theme camp where we were living, friends shouted, “Lloyd, look!”

And there on the street was an art car dressed as Elmo. I followed it to where it lived, only a block away and introduced my little Bike Friday Elmo to the big Art Car Elmo.


My little Elmo was so happy.

Now the Bike Friday is back in the suitcase and the Elmo costume is in the costume suitcase.


Till next time?

– Small town Boy

Life Quilt – row 1, square 4 – Northwest Medical Teams, Part 1, Wild Bill in Mexico

I told you earlier how my wife and I got connected to Northwest Medical Teams (now Medical Teams International).

My memories with NWMT are linked to three men that went with me: Wild Bill (Mexico), Ben (Peru 1), and Jeff (Peru 2).

(Let me pause here to show you the awesome quilting talent Joanne exhibits. Watch the background fabric, how she worked to match it in concept to the tee shirt square.)

Wild Bill

The first mission I went on with them was to Mexico on a Gift of Hope mission for families living in the city dumps at Oaxaca and Mexico City. My roomate came to be known as Wild Bill, not because he was wild, but because he looked the part. Wild Bill was from Laramie, WY and he had just returned from a trip to the Amazon with his daughter. His working life was in Chille where he worked in the forest.  When he was through he drove the Pan American highway all the way home in a VW bus. He told me he spoke passable spanish.


Oaxaca dump

In Oaxaca we had christmas presents for the children.  Bill and I went door to door with bags of presents with family names and children’s ages on the outside, provided by our incountry agency Manos de Vida. We were to tell them these presents came in nombre Jesus Christo. (NWMT is a faith based organization which is a major reason why i love them and ultimately led me from the Episcopal church to the First Congregational UCC church I now attend and where my spiritual journey began)  I kept bugging Bill to. remember to say that and finally he had to. Ask me to stop.


Later in the week we laid concrete floors in two huts  for families that live in the Oaxaca dump.


Mexico City dump

In each site Manos de Vida took us to the Children’s club. And then we went out among the homes from there.


We walked and walked till I grew tired and had to have a ride back to the. Children’s Club house. The dogs kept us company as we went door to door.

This trip was after Thanksgiving 2003 and into December.  We were sad to leave, but glad to return home.


Wild Bill was the oldest volunteer to travel with NWMT at age 85.  He has since passed away. Bless your heart and thanks for helping me understand.

– Small town boy