ESPN I believe in Tim Tebow

•January 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Magi from the Least

•January 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

On the eve of Epiphany, I wander
Lost, looking for a sign.
Stars are obscured behind neon,
Signs hiding any sight of a baby,
Blurring any shadows from a cross.
“Drink this!” “Buy this!” “Look at me!”
Angels’ songs barely register over the sounds
Of cell phones and video games and car horns
And cash registers.
Trees, in stores since September,
Languish in the clearance corner,
Banished before Christmas Eve.
“Where is He, born King of the Jews?
I saw His star…”
Could Jesus have come again
And none of us noticed it at all?


•October 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Autumn flirts with summer and winter
Kissing sunshine, winking at clouds
Today in shorts, tomorrow in sweaters.
Chill winds blow September into October.
Trees dress up, brash in their displays,
Teasing and tempting before revealing–
Some things are better left covered.

Goal of an Autumn Evening

•September 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Cool weather and a lazy evening,
The recipe for a family outing.
My parents wanted to make a memory.
I was seven, on a soccer team,
Eager to see the pros on the pitch.
For one evening we were rich.
Tickets near the field.
Splurging on snow cones.
A tight game, then,
My throat exploded,
My body leaped,
My hands went up in the air
As did my treat.
Another scream-the lady in front
Now wearing my grape dessert
On her fur coat.
“GOAL!” A memory was made!

Nicely put.

•August 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Mismeasuring the Value of Life

•July 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

What does it mean to be “great”?

Is someone great when they achieve remarkable success?  There have been fewer than 50 men (and no women) to become President of the United States.  Are they, by definition of reaching that position, great?  What if you profoundly disagree with their policies and decisions?  Does that diminish the accomplishment?

We have had presidents die in office after a short time in the job.  Were they elected because they were great?  Were they great because they got elected?  Or do we remove them from the conversation completely because they never achieved their goals as president?

Is “greatness” an amoral value?  Or does someone have to exhibit character and grace to be great?  I have a hard time calling Hitler “great,” but his historical impact is immeasurable.

What about Jesus?  Obviously his historical impact is also immeasurable (Christians would argue that it is eternal), but when you boil down the essentials of his life, he died with only a handful of followers and few historians would argue that more than a few thousand people in a remote outpost of the Roman Empire actually would have heard of him during his lifetime.  Yet, leaving any conversation about his divinity or his resurrection to the side, the story of the world cannot be told without discussing him.  So, do we measure his greatness based on a life spent primarily as a carpenter in a small town followed by a roughly 3-year itinerant (i.e. homeless) period where he attracted 12-20 devoted followers and another 100 or so who were relatively committed?  (Most churches would fire that preacher.)  Or, do we measure his greatness in earthly terms by the fact that western history divides its timeline by “before” and “after” Jesus?

I daresay the challenge for all of us is to realize that we have no earthly idea of our own or anyone else’s worth.  No doubt there were many who knew of Jesus, maybe even met him, but had no clue that he would be regarded as the pivot-point of history.  He was Mary’s son, he was the carpenter’s kid, he was that homeless guy that wandered into town, he was that crazy preacher who talked about stuff that drove the really great people–the Romans and the Sanhedrin–to absolute distraction.  He preached in his hometown of Nazareth and they tried to stone him.  He made it to Jerusalem and they killed him.  What is so great about that?

No life can be measured by just what we see, nor by the accomplishments we value today.  What if Moses had died at age 39?  At age 79?  What if Abraham had died as a 97-year-old…or Sarah when she was 84?  These biblical figures lived lives that were ordinary at best, and for most of their lives they could have been considered failures.  Sarah was childless in a world where a woman’s worth was measured by her ability to produce heirs.  Abraham gave up position and wealth to travel aimlessly for decades.  Moses surrendered a position of luxury and ease in a fit of rage, then fled to live in the middle of nowhere for four decades, followed (or perhaps following) only sheep.

This is not just an abstract or empty discussion for me.  At times, it is what I have to tell myself to make it through the next day.  Part of the challenge of depression is that it is hard to tell what is a fair and honest evaluation of my life, my decisions, my accomplishments, and what is the sickness talking.  In high school, I was voted as one of the “20 Outstanding Seniors” in my graduating class.  I am not sure what everyone else has been up to, but I am quite confident that if the voting were re-opened today, I would not make that list.  Measuring my life financially, I made more money 15 years ago than I do today–a lot more.  I have an unfinished (and likely never to be finished) master’s degree, and a ton of debt that I can’t seem to escape.  I graduated from both high school and college with great aspirations.  I can safely say that not a single one of those goals has been met, with the sole exception of raising a family.  Professionally, educationally, and personally, I despise almost everything about my life as it is, and I do not see any reasonable possibility for change.

So, why continue?  Because there is always the unreasonable possibility for change.  And now, that is all I have.

Memorial Day, 2010

•May 31, 2010 • 1 Comment

Birds chirp after rain has fallen
On a hot day, perfect for a cookout.
Burgers, baseball, family time,
Shopping and relaxing.

Hell breaks loose near Baghdad,
New coffins arrive in Dover
Straight from Afghanistan.
A child cries by a fresh grave
In Arlington, or Topeka, or Duluth.

“God, it’s hot!” I say.  I turn on my a/c.
The heat is on in Fallujah, and Seoul, and Kandahar,
But their a/c is a canteen of water.
I watch the game, or a rerun, or my children.
They watch a car coming that may be rigged to kill…
Or may have a family out for the day.  They watch a border
That may remain quiet for another 50 years, or may
Be overrun today.  They watch and give and go away
So I, and mine, can live and stay.