My Sanctuary: a repost of “Oops, I Didn’t Go To Church Today”

This Sunday morning, my sanctuary is my backyard.  My sermon is the various bird chirps, squaws, hums, and tweets that fill the vast Maple tree hovering like a huge, green tent over my yard. My pew is a black wrought-iron chair shaped to my body with a feather pillow folded against my lower back. My brethren are three lazy West Highland White terriers and one lazy Shetland Sheepdog. For the most part, they lounge beneath my wrought–iron chair with no conscious whatsoever.  They are the experts, not regarding spiritual things, but regarding guilt-free living.  The sermon today is guilt-free living.

Not that long ago, I could not skip church without feeling guilty. Not long ago, to skip church for anything other than a bedridden condition was reckless, naughty negligence. An encompassing need to justify my delinquency badgered my thoughts.  I don’t do that as much now.

Now I realize how 31 years in controlling churches seriously confused me.  Now I am unraveling. Now I know that “whatever the law says, it says it to those who are under the law” (Romans 3:19). Image

I am no longer under the law. And that is a big HALLELUJAH!


Cooking Pumpkin Pies and Feeling a Tad Bit Nauseous: A Reflection on Thankfulness

How cozy.  Cooking pumpkin pies and feeling a tad bit nauseous.  I’m suspecting that the nauseousness, with the signature before-getting-sick thickness in the back of my throat, is a gift from my two-year-old granddaughter.  Bless her heart and cute, little runny nose.   I’m thankful that taking heavy hits of Olive Leaf extract usually nips these symptoms in the bud.  I hope so, because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I like to eat.  Of course, eating is not my primary pleasure at Thanksgiving.  The most important thing for me about Thanksgiving is to remember what I’m truly thankful for.

I’m thankful for many of the same things you are probably thankful for: family, friends, reasonable health, a home, food on the table, opportunity even in this economy, the comfort of an Almighty God who loves me deeply through the thick and the thin of life, and the opportunities I’ve had to pursue my passions.  I’m so, so thankful that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I’m glad he does not change with this ever-changing world.  Mostly, I’m thankful that I’m thankful.

I know people who are not thankful. They have been deeply hurt. Pain has hardened their hearts. Some of these people blame God for the devil’s dirty work. Bitterness has disabled their joy, their hope.

I’ve been hurt, disappointed, confused, mistreated, and lonely at times.  But never do I want a hard, shriveled up heart.  I never want to not care about people. I never want to lose hope.  I never want to let the enemy of my soul rob my peace, joy, contentment, and appreciation.

I’m thankful to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving! Love strong! Eat well!

And don’t forget that it’s not fattening on Thanksgiving.

Your friend,


Ch 2-The New Promised Land-excerpt

     One day, behind the gym after lunch, one of the popular girls walked up to me and shoved a cigarette into my mouth.

      “You’ll like it. It’s cool to smoke,” she said.

      I spit the cigarette out. “But I have asthm…,”I started to explain as a fist landed hard and strong, into my left breast, causing instant radiating and pain that took my breath. The onlookers laughed.  Nobody seemed to care that she had punched me. I should have reported her, but never did. Instead, I compensated for my defect.

      After the assault thick black eyeliner adorned my eyes and I began to “rat” my hair. On a bet, even though I felt guilty doing it, I sneaked scotch from my parent’s bedroom and took it to school in a purse-size hand lotion bottle that was still scented with almond-scented Jergen’s lotion. I forced myself to drink the putrid mixture in front of some cool 9th grade girls. These were the girls whose smooth, salon-ratted hair tapered at their neckline and long, polished fingernails. They spoke clearly, not with a thick New York accent, giggled with airy artificial laughter, and hung around boys between classes. And they went to the noon dances.

      Every cool kid at Adams Junior High went to the noon dances. The first time I worked up the nerve to walk through the door, into the multipurpose room, I felt like an intruder. But the music, the talking, the laughing, and the dancing mesmerized me so thoroughly that I temporarily forgot about myself. I stared at the kids dancing to“Lightnin’ Strikes Again” by Lou Christie, and “I Was Made to Love You” by Stevie Wonder, and the music of Herman’s Hermits and Dave Clark. Usually only girls danced and they danced with each other. The girls who danced had the highest ratted hair, called “beehives,” and the thickest black mascara and darkest eyeliner. They wore skirts “pegged” so tight I wondered how they could move at all. Only a few guys danced. They mostly watched like the rest of us.

      I started feeling normal at the noon dances because so few had the guts to dance, I realized that most of us felt abnormal together.

The wait is over. Today, I will read my entire manuscript on paper for the first time in nine years.  Yes folks, that’s nine years of writing, editing, applying the edits and comments of others, rewriting, rereading, and “seasoning.” Now that I have WiFi at home; i.e., continuous access to the web, I may even Twitter my progress. Why not? People Twitter everything else.

Stephen King Says…


Stephen King, one of my writing mentors, suggests in his memoir “On Writing,” that a writer should let a draft “season” for six weeks.  He says to resist the temptation–and it is a temptation–to sneak a look at a pending manuscript.  But even though it hasn’t been quite six weeks yet, I do not want to wait any longer.

I don’t think I should pass up the wonderful resource unemployment has opened up for me: time. I feel an urgency to use that time to get back into the flow before I get back into a “real job” flow.  

Thanks Steve, but I need to get the show on the road. I have been working on this book for long enough!



Mystery at Meadow Ridge (What do you think happens next?)

     From the ridge below Cow-Pie Summit, 6,051’ above sea level nestles a high mountain meadow. For most of the year, the meadow is cross-country skiing heaven. If the federal government had not designated this land prime wilderness, it would no doubt be covered by snowmobile tracks.

      In June, spring thaw is in full fledge, and by the 4th of July, wild flowers have broken through what snow remains. By late July, the meadow is a stunning array of color: Bright Purple Fireweed, Wild Iris, Marsh Marigold, Scarlet Paintbrush, Silver Lupine, Wild Chamomile, and Fairy Trumpet  sway in the usually gentle, breeze.

      For generations, summer hikers have stopped to rest and admire the Meadow’s beauty.  Drawnby the beautiful flowers, many hikers step into the meadow to pick a bouquet, but retreat as soon as their hiking boots sink into gushy, black mud that is the soil of the wild-flower garden.  Others, determined to pick flowers, walk further into the meadow, their boots pulling like suction cups until they find themselves suddenly knee deep. But when they try to escape, the knee-deep mud sucks their leg in deeper. Pulled out with the help of fellow hikers, these people rest exhausted, barely noticing the slimy brown leeches that cover their legs.

      These are the lucky hikers.

      Some solo hikers have never returned from Cow-Pie Summit meadow. A few locales believe that the lost hikers probably sunk to a slow and agonizing death in quicksand interspersed throughout the meadow.

      “It’s deep enough to swallow a mature bull elk,” Zeak Godfrey said lifting his coffee toward Jan Butler for a refill.

      “I seen a mature bull elk struggle to get out of one of them holes,” Crazy Jake reported. “Why not a person?”

      Though most folk don’t take much stock in such silly notions, most agree that what lies unseen below is deadly.

Learning the Hard Way

It’s gone.  The  start to a new blog entry went bye-bye. Usually, I write my post in Word and now I know why.  I accidentally deleted some pretty good impromptu prose and couldn’t get it back.  Then, in my search for some kind of undo button, I lost the remaining words, which fortunately are written in my journal.  And so, that’s how it goes.  Back to the drawing board.

That’s all folks.