God Came To Breakfast

God Came To Breakfast

 

A star

fell in my cereal

this morning.

It left a hole

in the roof,

splattered milk

in my face,

and just lay

among the cornflakes,

waiting

for my spoon.

 

I wrote that poem decades ago. It was one of a sequence of 16 poems for a chapbook called “The Ghost Behind Your Eyes” that I self-published in 1986. But I could have written that poem this morning. Yesterday. Last week. Or tomorrow.

That’s just the way God is. God never gives up trying to reach us with love and grace. And not just once. All the time. And not just some of us. All of us. Without exception.

When we don’t open the door, God calls. If we don’t answer the phone, God tries email. When we block God as “spam,” a letter will arrive in the mailbox. If we don’t open the letter … Well, sometimes God can’t think of anything else but coming through the roof like a shooting star.

God isn’t trying to break anything. The furniture hardly ever needs to be glued back together. The carpets are rarely stained. No windows are shattered. And our hair, if we have any, still looks fine.

Yes, sometimes the dog may bark and the cat leaps up on the back of the sofa. But I’ve never had to call my insurance agent after God tired of my insistent non-embrace of all of the love that is right there in front of me.

God will wait as long as necessary for us to pick up the spoon. And don’t worry, God’s love never gets soggy, it’s gluten-free and there’s not a drop of cholesterol anywhere.

Human nature can be such a confounding beast. We accept what our leaders tell us at face value—even when we know for certain they’re not telling the truth. But Jesus teaches us that God is love and instead of accepting the wonder of it all, and sharing it with each other, we reach for the remote to see what’s not worth watching on any of a million channels

God has come to breakfast.

Why don’t I simply dig in?

Why, on some days, do I insist on swallowing everything else? Anything else? Even the thing in the back of the refrigerator that’s so moldy it may have just moved?

Alternative Facts: The Meek Ain’t Gettin’ The Earth

Some of you may recall my office at The Farmville Herald. A mess. I kept everything. For 36 years. When I packed up to leave it was like an archeological dig—I found another layer of ancient Troy. I’m still excavating at home more than 18 months later, finding the corner of another box of papers I hadn’t finished digging through. I’m amazed at what I find.

Today, I uncovered a press release from The Emperor. You know the guy. Said he was The Big Cheese but didn’t notice the smell. Invented truths. Called them “Alternative facts.” They were more like the Emperor’s New Clothes. If he’d tried to wear these facts he would have been stark naked. It’s so easy to see right through them all. Claimed there were a billion people at his coronation, for example.

So this emperor, Tiberius—who else did you think I meant?—he ruled the Roman Empire back in Jesus’ day. And this press release is headlined “The Alternative Sermon On The Mount” and claims to be what Jesus really said. “The mainstream Matthew Gospel media is so biased. Bad. Terrible. Not nice,” The Emperor declares before the press release states:

“Blessed are the rich in spirit, for they will get even richer.
“Blessed are those with no feelings, for they shall hurt everyone without caring.
“Blessed are the strong, for they shall take everything on earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst, for people shall get out of their way.
“Blessed are the merciless, for they shall receive a hero’s welcome.
“Blessed are the impure in heart, for they shall see anything they want.
“Blessed are the warmongers, for they will be called whatever they order people to damn well call them.”

The Emperor claimed that Jesus had been misquoted in what he described as the “so-called” Beatitudes. “Jesus called them the Not-To-Be-Attitudes. Told me so himself,” The Emperor is quoted as saying, “when we met in the Oval Sanctum of the Holy Temple of Me.”

Good thing The Emperor had such a lousy press secretary and thank goodness Matthew got his Gospel published first. Here are a few more—ahem—“Alternative Facts About What Jesus Really Said”:

“Punch the other cheek, too.”
“Do unto others. Again and again and again.”
“You are the salt of the earth. Corner the market on pepper.”
“You are the light of the world. Turn it off.”

What a guy, The Emperor. No wonder all of his statues fell down. Tiberius was no Caesar. He wasn’t even good enough to get a salad dressing named after him.

My high school math teacher never let me get away with using alternative facts on Algebra tests. I guess The Emperor thought people would believe whatever he said. But, I just threw his “alternative facts” in the trash.

Let’s stand together and be poor in spirit. Let’s mourn when we must. Let’s be meek, and hunger and thirst for righteousness. We’ll show mercy and be pure in heart. We’ll be peacemakers. We’ll season the earth with our “salt” and keep our light shining.

(Ilsa Loeser has my deep and undying gratitude for her expertise and generosity of spirit in making this website a reality. I have just enough technical ability to brush my own teeth)

What Have I Been Up To?


Writing. Lots of writing.

That’s what I’ve been up to since I left The Farmville Herald at the end of May 2015.

I’ve always tried to show words a good time—take them out for a nice bite of something good to eat, maybe a show afterwards. You know the sort of thing. Often, admittedly, the words don’t return my calls when I phone to ask them out again. Plenty of times I couldn’t blame them, either.

But I must write to live. It’s like breathing. Even if my breath stinks, I’ve still got to keep panting. Same goes for writing.

I began writing a book on Prince Edward County’s civil rights journey—creation of the Brown Scholarships (the first Civil Rights-era reparation in U.S. history) as its centerpiece—the moment I left the newspaper. It was a day of sudden downpours. I remember hugging a colleague farewell in the parking lot. The sky said it all. I miss the community of people, and being by their side with meaning and purpose, so much.

Writing the book has kept me sane. Relatively. Every day, I’m sitting at the kitchen table, typing away, my pug dog, Pugsley, happily asleep at my feet. The book is called “Gather Your Light: Overcoming the Shadow of Massive Resistance.” I might have finished it a few moments ago. Of course, I’ve thought the same thing dozens of times.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner has written a terrific foreword for the book, and Tim Kaine—you might have heard of him, too—penned a brilliant afterword. At the very least, I’ll publish a decent seven-page volume called “The Collected Forewords and Afterwords of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, edited by Ken Woodley.” (Smiley-faced emoji.)

I’ve also been writing a weekly meditation for my church, at the invitation of our pastor, the Rev. John Boucher. That led to another blessing I never saw coming. It gave me the confidence to “audition” for Forward Day By Day. An agency of the Episcopal Church, Forward Day By Day has been publishing daily spiritual meditations since 1935. It has half a million readers in 50 countries. I was asked to write the January 2018 meditations. An unbelievable opportunity. I know it’s not a dream because I have a contract and the thirty-one 210-word pieces are complete.

So, the bottom line of what I’ve been up to is that God is good. So is my wife, Kim. None of these things would have happened without her love and support.

There’s lots of words left in me, yet, and I thank you so much for joining me as we take them out together. Some may be indigestible. You don’t have to swallow them all.

A First Step In The Light Direction

No. Not that way. That way lies darkness.

Come this way. Over here. Let’s take these first steps together toward the fields of light. We’ll stumble, for sure. Trip and fall. But we’ll always get back up. You take my hand. I’ll welcome yours. Together, we’ll make it. Together we’ll share the light.

In the days ahead, we’ll catch up. It’s been a long time. Much has happened. But not today. Today we begin this journey together and that is more important. Thank you so much for being here.

Oh, sure. I hear them, too. The fields of darkness are always calling, leaving voice mails, tweeting this and tweeting that. “Tweetle-Dee” and “Tweetle-Dum.” Offering us the world. Two worlds for the price of one. Buy one world and get one free.

Yes, the same old song: “You can have anything your heart desires. Just give me what I want and nobody gets hurt.”

Yeah, right. But the fine print never changes: an eye for an eye for an eye for an eye forever and ever and no amens, if you please.

Light, on the other hand, turns the other cheek. Light doesn’t betray with a kiss, it loves. Darkness wants to rule the world. Darkness wants every vote. Light doesn’t need a nomination. Doesn’t need to be elected. Doesn’t need to be sworn in. Light just is. Light always has been. Light always will be. It’s just that sometimes darkness convinces us to close our eyes and then swears that’s all we really need to see.

A few more steps. No, there is no security perimeter. No border check around the fields of light. Your credit balance doesn’t matter. Your creed, your color, party affiliation or the sound of your music will not be used against you in the fields of light.

Now, yes, just through those slogans and soundbites and be careful of the marionette’s strings, the pomp and circumstance of puppetry. Yes, the fields of light await. No, we aren’t the first to find them. And thank God for that. Countless millions have come before us. Even more will come after we’ve gone.

The wondrous thing about this light is that there is enough for everyone. Love and grace, too, it’s all a part of the light. We’ll glean what we need and leave the rest behind for those still on their way. Just as others have done for us. We won’t stash the light away in off-shore securities. True light, happily, cannot be hoarded or stuck in a vault. Light is its own dividend.

Oh, and yes, a word of advice: don’t worry if you experience light that lasts longer than four hours. Leave your doctor to care for someone with the flu. Just enjoy the ride. It’s the journey of a lifetime.