08 January, 2011


Borderland Wars

Given the events of the day, I am thinking a lil' road trip on the blue highways out into the cold broad sky and sleeping land might give me some perspective. I need to walk this ugly madness out of my being and seek clarity.

Heroes are rarely known, recognized. Madmen are... Fame and flame in madness. Its a crazy culture.

One shot kills a judge. Another has completely altered the life of a true civil servant. One more cuts short the life of a 9 year old child.

That it has happened here in the U.S. makes it "NEWS". That it happens every frikken day in the Middle East, in the Sudan, in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan is no longer "news". That literally thousands of police, public servants and innocents have been brutally murdered in the drug cartel wars a mere few hundred miles south has no meaning?!?!?

Decapitations and brutal mutilations, assassinations and wholesale murder are a daily occurrence in Mexico, the horn of Africa and the Muslim controlled Middle East, while our own citizens, young men and women, choose to stand in harms way to protect us.

It is all insane.

Putting it into perspective, cold as it may seem.........We have become what we fought for damn near 300 years to NOT be.

Might be time to get on our knees and ask the good Lord how we can change.

06 January, 2011

Twelfth Night - Feast of the Epiphany.

Who Say's You Can't Go Home?

I spent some futile time today, attempting to scan and post pictures from holidays past in the old farmhous we siblings call, "The Homestead." It didn't happen...

The scan and post.

Perhaps that is best. The Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth images that well up in a cold fountain from those years are as clear and comforting. And yes, some of the aftertaste is as distant, ugly and downright painful as yesterday's back cracker work.

In my body, I know Kronos, that old Saturnalian butcher pounds away at me. I know him as well as I know my own artisan and writer's hands and crippled back. They are both the scars brought on by years of toil and making do. My own stubborn Irish/Swedish streak, and the fear that what I created was not quite good enough in God's eyes has haunted my footsteps.

I have no pictures.....YET! I have words.

Allow me to tell the tale from Spring to Summer, Summer to Autumn to Winter's chill.

This is the recollection of living in the old farmhouse with the remnant of the apple orchard off to the east. This is the old house on the crest of the northern rise, where our bedroom window opened on to the sunrise, where brother John and I would wake in the silky May mornings to seriously sexy, explosive mounds of apple blossoms. That fragrance has yet to be matched.

This is what I remember:

- I recall sweating and raking the first drop from the apples. Might have been not enough water or no germination. Still, we mowed and raked. At the same time, we planted the Summer garden. Tomato plants, squash, peppers and herbs snuggled into the soil. Cherries from the lone tree ripened. Wild raspberry ripened on the briars. Then there were heirloom roses blooming. Long canes, heavy with butter yellow, five petaled blossoms, redolent with a gentle citrus fragrance.

If the year was wet, we would gather young asparagus in the ditch... enough for a meal or two.

- The second cull, large enough to fit as missiles in our young and hungry hands, ready for war. We began the siege of tree to tree, building forts of childhood sight. Grab a rake as a facemask! Run grab a shovel as a shield! Arthur and his knights will rise up behind us as the sour and sugar nectar of exploding young apples splattered our faces. Up in the towering elm next to the well house, we built a platform. It grew high and hither over the years. We watched summer sunrise and sunset there, and talked of bikes and Mickey Mouse and later, girls, their budding breasts and smiles.

- Come full summer where the fall of crabapple and second cull fell and fermented. While corn ripened and tomatoes blushed, robins and squirrels ate the fragrant and potent sour mash. Stumbling red breast birds, like the Wright brothers, attempted to fly. Rodents with attitude and numb butts, chased their newest lover up and down in an erratic Archemidian twist, stopping to scold and chatter.

- Apples full and apples sweet, apples come to harvest while the full corn rises. It was then that we siblings and cousins gathered all ripe on trees and the fresh fall on the ground. Applesauce and applebutter, cider and pie followed the garden harvest into mason jars, settled in the cool, damp cellars. Summer saved to rise again come the depth of Winter's chill. We, no longer children, no longer young, lanky legged and clear eyed, turned away from the old times, turned from the wonder of family.

We walked alone.

- Came Epiphany - When or where God's Spirit reminds the rebellious and bellicose, lost and lonely, empty and forlorn beings that we became... that our parents just might have been OK. They might have been and done the best they could; teaching and guiding as God called them. Winter and the cold knowledge that we can no longer pick up a phone and call, and say "I love you Mum, thanks for being here." The same for fathers, and their strong, long hours at work, or their weekends guiding us in building, digging, gardening. Or just plopped down watching football or baseball, a cold PBR in hand while stinky cheese and tins of smoked herring and oysters wait to be nibbled on rye crackers in a den redolent with the subtle fragrance of cigars and pipes, Old Spice and man's sweat, clean and honest.

Epiphany -- God is shown forth and made manifest. He did it then, He does it now, and He will continue to do it until I, or you, are released from these earthly shells and return to Him.

Yes, let us realize in this Epiphany season....We can go home again.

05 January, 2011

8th, 9th, 10th Days of Christmas


Out on the high plains, the high desert, winter is clear, winter is silent. Sunrise light burns gentle against cockcscomb peaks. They rise out of the dry seabed, a ocean of sand and sage, crumbled rock and cactus. Yucca waits, sucking moisture from empty skies. Come spring its wax white, lily flowers will bloom as Christ's passion, death and resurrection greet us in the great Paschal feast.

Black spots on the basin floor, Angus cattle feed in the cold. Its morning. The air sweet and brittle, bites sinuses, sears cold in the lungs. Down low, the Rio Grande river winds her lonely way, bisecting the state. Blackbirds and waterfowl rise dark waves in the riparian morning.

Up here, on the flats, Light, nothing more...just light rising against a dun landscape. Cedar and pinion mark the hillsides where antelope wander, cattle graze and the thin, winter winds moan. The rest is silence, deep, profound, and clear. Its not the silence of death. Its is the silence of waiting, anticipation. It is the silence broken by Epiphany. It is the knowing that Emmanuel, "God is with us."

In one community, the painted whimsy mailboxes wait, their heads akimbo angles, waiting. Across the gravel road, the adobe catholic church, the center of life, waits. The Christ mass has passed, remnants of the nativity bonfire lay cold and dark. Tattered remains of luminaria huddle mournful on the church walls.

On one lone lane, someone's dream crumbles slowly. Clapboard and nails oxidize in sun and cold, sun and heat, sun on sun. Days, weeks, then months without rain, desiccate souls, dehydrated flesh break hearts, twist minds. They broke, I'm thinking, shattered by the desert, broken by the brutal high plains. Gentle souls raised in the verdant Ohio valley, I'm thinking, unused to the sun on sun, dry on drought born winds and the withering immensity of sky, were shattered like carnival glass when the dust bowl came.

I am reminded in prayer, of the desert fathers.

"Abbot Lot came to Abot Joseph and said: 'Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence, and, as I am am able I strive to cleanse my heart of (evil) thoughts; now what more should I do?' The elder rose up in reply and stetched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of flame. He said, 'Why not be totally changed into fire?'"
Abbot Lot, 4th century, The Desert Fathers

Faith and ferocity in Spirit, the desert fathers, the mystics seeking Christ's path through suffering and silence found a burning jewel of knowing.

God is in all things, for those who heed His call, for those who seek His will. He is there. He is always there, always available...waiting.

Come tomorrow, the Christmas season ends, Epiphany begins. Christ's light shines forth to the whole world. He too, is present, a constant being who was, and is, and evermore will be.

Will you seek Him? Will I?

Merry Christmas!