Drought of the Soul

In this wasteland
of trials and tribulation
pain and suffering
illness and loss
my soul longs for solace
for Your refreshing waters
but there is only drought

My soul is parched
cracking at its brittle seams
thirsting for Your well of grace

And yet I realize
the well is there for the drawing
it is I who have failed
to lower my bucket
and drink deeply

——-

Yesterday at dVerse Poets Pub, Walter called for poems about either drought or deluge. I chose drought.

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A Dog’s Summer Vacation

I love vacation because I get to spend more time with my mom and dad. Even if a lot of that time is riding in the back seat of the car. Eventually we get out and I get to hang out while they eat their picnic lunch and share pieces of pastrami and chicken with me. Yum! Then we head off on a trail. I’ve never been on such a long hike before, at least not that I can remember. And it’s hot out! I keep trying to sneak into a cool ravine, but they pull on my leash and say, “Stay on the trail, silly dog.” I see a chipmunk run across the trail ahead and I want to chase it, but that darn leash stops me. I do hope we get to the end of this trail soon. This is a long hike for an old dog like me. I need a drink and a nap. Oh, but first a dip in the cool lake.

Summer vacation
Hiking near lava rock flows
Fun, tiring outing

Roman after a long hike

Roman after a long hike

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I’m finally getting around to posting for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub, where Toni is calling for us to write about the dog days of summer.

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Where Division Begins and Ends

I watched the children at their play
Left to their own devices
Selfishness and pride ruled the day
They seemed to forget what nice is

I saw the ones who had no toys
Longingly eye the others
The rich, the privileged girls and boys
Ignored by their busy mothers

On each small innocent face
I saw a measure of pain
What they needed was a helping of grace
So abundant love might reign

The poor kids think they’re missing out
The rich kids equate love with things
What both need I have no doubt
Is the love of the King of kings

But who will teach them how to love
And receive love in return
You and I must show grace from above
To create peace for which we all yearn

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Assumptions of Bias

During the past week watching the news and reading Facebook posts about the violence and racial tensions in this country, I was struck by the assumptions made by some who protested the loudest. One such assumption—a  statement I read more than once—was that white people are afraid of the big black man, and that’s the problem.

I would argue that this assumption contributes to the problem of racial tension and is not true because it is an over generalization. All white people cannot be lumped into one set of beliefs or viewpoints any more than all black people can. Many white people, as well as many black people, would prefer to be part of the solution.

As I pondered all of this, I was reminded of something that happened to me just a month or so ago. We were having mandatory “Implicit Bias” training at work. It’s not the first time we’ve had this training, but this time something happened that made me think about how sometimes our assumptions about implicit bias can be part of the problem. We focus on and assume bias where diversity and camaraderie might flourish if we didn’t try so hard to see the negative.

The presenter was talking about the online Harvard Implicit Bias Project tests. I’ve taken several of these tests before so I raised my hand to offer my unique experience.

“I’ve taken the race Implicit Bias test three times,” I said, “and each time it has revealed I have a strong preference for African Americans. I have no explanation for why that is because I really only know a few African Americans.”

The presenter thanked me for chiming in and started talking about how we don’t always know where these biases come from. Then she said,” That was very brave of you to admit that.”

”Wait,” I replied, “I think you misunderstood me. Why would it be brave for me to say I had a bias in favor of, strongly in favor of, blacks?”

“Oh,” she said,” you said against.”

My boss, who was sitting at the same table as me, replied,” No she didn’t, she said in favor of.”

Later I talked to several people who were on the other side of the room and they all said they clearly heard me say what I actually said. But the presenter—who spends much her time talking, thinking, and studying about implicit bias—heard what she assumed any white woman would say, that she was biased against blacks.

I share this because I think it is so important not to assume we know what others think about difficult issues like this. We have to stop making broad general assumptions about whole groups of people whose only thing in common might be the color of their skin. Human beings—and each individual human being—is so much more complex than that.

The second presenter at this training had commented at the beginning that we didn’t need to talk about religion or spirituality, because that isn’t really very important for people in Oregon. I found this comment odd because it was another inaccurate assumption. For me, my faith is very important and it is the teachings of Jesus that inform much of my belief about others. It is my understanding that we are all created in God’s image, no matter what color our skin, that helps me in dealing with and accepting those who are different from me.

D.C. Talk does a great song called Colored People that I want to end with. I’m linking to YouTube because often embedded videos don’t work on this free blog. I encourage you to follow the link and give it a listen.

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Seeking Truth

Words matter. Our choice of words, whether speaking or writing, makes a difference.

And words have meaning. That’s what dictionaries are for—to tell us what words mean. When we try to use words to mean something other than what they really mean, it causes confusion.

Sometimes people do this on purpose. One such misuse of a word that I have encountered lately is the use of the word “true” to substitute for “believe.” A person will say “such and such is true for me” when what they really mean is “I believe such and such.”

According to the dictionary, the word “true” means “being in accordance with the actual state or conditions; conforming to reality or fact.” Truth is not relative and is not affected by what any one person believes. Truth is external, and belief is internal, in origin.

Many years ago, when I was suffering from major clinical depression, there were a number of things I believed about myself. I believed I would always be depressed based on how long I had been depressed already and my doctor telling me I would always have bouts of major depression for the rest of my life. I also believed I would never be able to hold down a full-time job. I believed no one liked me and that I was worthless. In the parlance of relativism, these things were true for me.

But they weren’t true. They aren’t true and they never were, no matter how deeply I believed them.

And trust me, I deeply believed these things about myself.

But here I am, 18 years later, and I haven’t had a bout of major depression since God showed me how to be free. I’ve had the same good-paying full-time job for almost 12 years, and I had a different full-time job that paved the way for this one for 5 1/2 years before that. On top of my full-time job, I’m actively involved in my church and Bible Study Fellowship, have self-published two poetry books, and take care of my family. And I have a lot of friends, people who like me (and some who even love me).

As I look back over the past 20 years, I see God’s hand in my life, lifting me up and leading me to see the truth. I believe that. But it’s not my belief that makes it true. In fact, I could be dead wrong, but I don’t believe I am.

Whether God is real and cares about His creation enough to do all I believe He has for us is either true or not. It can’t be true for me and not for you, or vice versa. Truth is. As humans, our greatest purpose is to seek the truth. To say that truth is relative—that what is objectively true for me is different from what is objectively true for you—negates that essential human drive to know truth, to know our Creator, to know where we come from, and to know our reason for being.

At any rate, that’s what I believe.

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Two Paths Diverge

image

As I sit on this bench
Winded and tired
Reveling in the cooling breeze
Two paths diverge in a wood
And I must take the one
That goes uphill
Not knowing if or when
I will reach the end

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Peace on the Breeze

There is no scent like eucalyptus
to bring me back to days of yore

Summer sun sweetly gripped us
as down the road on bikes we tore

No Kookaburra graced our gum trees
though a hawk or two was seen

Smelling its scent wafting on the breeze
brings to mind a most peaceful scene

I settle now for its essential oil
to bring me to a stress-free place

Riding again without turmoil
feeling the sun’s warm embrace

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For Poetics today at dVerse Poets Pub, Grace is calling for poems about scents and the memories they invoke. The scent that evokes the strongest and best memories for me is that of the Eucalyptus tree, which grew along the main road a block from the house I grew up in down in Southern California.

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A Betrayal of Roses

He sent six roses
As if roses made it okay

As if roses washed away
feeling betrayed

As if roses proved mom’s belief
he was one of the good ones

As if roses, his cute smile,
and his silky blonde hair
justified his actions

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It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub today and I cheated again. I checked out Bjorn’s blog and found the required word is “rose.”

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The Record

It’s really quite long
This record of wrongs
The list that I’ve kept

I love you, it’s true
But my love for you
Is less than ideal

Don’t tell me you don’t
Believe you I won’t
You keep your list too

We’re only human after all
And ever since the Fall
We’ve been tallying scores

We need His love divine
Covering yours and mine
So we might love true

———

It’s Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub today. The pub opens at noon my time and I’ll be linking this up then. Head on over and see what other poets are serving up.

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For the Love of Summer

Love keeps no record of wrongs
To me summer means love
with its hot sunny days
and plants blooming everywhere

Do you suppose summer
keeps a record of winter’s wrongs
its harsh cold blizzard blasts
freezing rains and icy winds

Does summer hold a grudge
about winter’s dark dreary nights
and short sunless days

Does summer blame winter
for the death of plants
once vibrant and green
now brown and forlorn upon
the frost-bitten ground

Or does summer forgive
embracing winter’s loss
with its warm sunny days
its Godly loving ways

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For yesterday’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Walter called for a poem about the seasons using a line from another poem as a starting point. I didn’t quite follow the prompt because the line that is the anchor and muse of my poem is from scripture, not a poem, and the line itself is not about seasons. Rather, it is about love. The line from 1 Corinthians 13:5 — “Love . . . keeps no record of wrongs” — has been on my mind lately. Then last night I had this idea for a poem involving my most and least favorite seasons and whether their relationship is a loving one.

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