Tuesday, June 30, 2015

July 1 -- The First Day -- Forces Larger than Yourself


  1. 21 Grams

    It carries the weight of a thousand decades
    its shoulders bare every burden
    with strength that would bring envy to Atlas
    and resolve that would conquer Caesar

    It loves more deeply than a baby's smile
    and feels more strongly than a virgin's kiss
    bound to its charge with unbreakable chains
    until set adrift on Charon's ferry

    It wields the bravery of a thousand ships
    navigating the storms of earthly life
    with determination and stubbornness
    and the purity of a fool's heart

    It hates with the fire of Hades
    engulfing those that cross its path
    banishing its charge to unspeakable fates
    Unless convicted by the Blood of the Lamb

    It has held its ground against a thousand coups
    with the tactics and strategy of Sun Tzu
    against all odds it perseveres against the darkness
    outlasting even the blackest of nights

    It gives to the most needy
    it feeds the emptiest of bellies
    likeva missionary, it spreads peace
    and waits with a mother's patience

    It carries the weight of a thousand decades
    though it only weighs 21 grams
    but the very nature of a human soul
    is the strongest force on Earth

    1. Great poem, Molly, and a great expression of your faith.

  2. Well, I jumped the gun on posting it. After I was done, I of course had additions I wanted to add. So, the new and improved version will get posted later

  3. Super Typhoon

    The tropical weather was hot and balmy, because of the location to the equator. It was normal to have it in the nineties and very humid. There was a house my wife and I rented out. The house was two stories with many rooms. We were staying in nearby Manila, Philippines when the weather took a change for the worst. There were always typhoons blowing through during the rainy season, about thirty or more a year. It was not unusual to have big ones and smaller ones, but what was really neat was to hear the strength of one, rain down on top of the galvanized roof; and you could hear it pound down in sheets of different intensities with a weak to stronger than normal rhythm. Just to hear the dropping of the rain was frightening.

    There was a small creek outside the house where we use to live in, at a different time, living with her Uncle. The day after the big rain, we got up, and the creek was a raging river. It was a good thing we were on higher ground at the time when the house was built.
    I wondered, what about the low land dwellers? All of their huts and houses, washed away by the giant flood? I was safe and hoped they were just as dry as me.

    Back in Manila, we had a typhoon coming and the T.V. announced it was a super typhoon! The width of it showed on the radar was the diameter of the entire country. All you were able to really track in terms of devastation was where the eye of the typhoon would land, which was directly east of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. When I saw the communication go down I felt I was on my own and was at the mercy of God Himself. I kept repeating to myself as I brushed my hair back over my head “This is a good day to die, this is a good day to die.” And I did not know when the big typhoon would hit, or how strong it would be, when it did run aground. All I knew was that we were in its direct path and that it was the biggest typhoon ever recorded. The country had seen its fair share of typhoons, but they had never seen in its history a super typhoon. This one could not even be rated on the scale of one to four, being a five rating, it was off the charts.

    There I was, not really praying, but just hoping the roof would stay on and the walls would hold. But, then again, I was in a strong house and most everyone else was in a small shanty made of cement cinder blocks and a galvanized tin roof, or worse yet, just a bamboo house with palm leaves protecting them. What of those smaller dwellings in the strong winds an torrential rains? I was not expecting the typhoon to move away from its direct westward path, but when it did, I breathed a sigh of relief. It veered north and ran over the city just above us, Quezon City, which was the capital before Manila.

    I remember when it had missed us, I was looking outside at the one kid who was playing in the rain as though he knew, danger was passing. The communication came back the following day, as I was watching the television and saw the aftermath of the giant typhoon. I was thankful it was not us who were battling the high waters and destruction, but at the same time, I felt sorry for those that had to sit on top of their rooftops without food or water, waiting for relief. When the city was overrun by the typhoon it was washing down like a river I had witnessed at her Uncles place in the province nearby. The ash from the volcano, Mt Pinatubo near the city was flooded and made the water a dingy grey from all the leftover ash in the previous year’s eruption. The ash was so much, that the level was as high as the rooftops to begin with and came up to the top of most of the palm trees. Now, it was nothing but a grey river of water rushing through the city.

    1. That's great Daryl. Strong memory piece!

  4. I remember seeing on T.V., a strong elderly stout woman had slipped in the mud and sludge during the flood, and was covered head to toe in the grey. She looked like a ghost, with her hair and face the color of the water. As she stood up to gain her balance in the rushing river, it was hard to recognize her as human. She was a sheet of whiteness that depicted the entire scene. This image had been etched in my mind ever since, with her turmoil in the raging water.

    And what about the relief, to the people stranded on their roofs? They were dropped off big fifty pound canvas bags of rice from helicopters. I can remember saying, “How is rice going to help these poor people? They are stranded on rooftops, and they have no way to cook the rice!” Still, the people seemed resilient as the city and country they were from. They were used to typhoons, but nothing quite like this one. It was an amazing experience, I’ll probably never forget. The time I almost got run over by a major storm and the witness of all the devastation in its wake, made a big impression on me. I was no longer just me, I was part of a bigger picture, a part of humanity, and the suffering of many. Yes, I got lucky, and it wasn’t my time to die, or as I feared, was not going to have been a good day to die.

    My mind had shifted from my own well being, to those around me. It had changed me, to come to know compassion beyond myself. I was on a different level of understanding, with a time of trouble sweeping over us and a survival I was truly thankful for, but at the same time I knew there were many more who lived through much of the destruction and in the direct path of the power of nature, still suffered greatly. I in my own way, felt sorry for these people, but as they were there and had no choice but to survive, I was only visiting and had a choice to come home to the United States. There were other storms and I am sure more survival stories, but I was sure the impact of the super typhoon, left its mark on the people there and those who really took the brunt force of the storm.

    I can’t say I felt the storm directly as those that did, but indirectly, the storm blew over me and washed away all my feeling of self, making me less significant , yet more profound at the same time.

  5. time

    plods on
    drags us

    we can’t
    hold it
    we can’t

    1. That's definitely a force larger than ourselves.

  6. Litany of the Living

    It is okay to beg.
    It is okay to worry.
    It is okay to cry out.
    It is okay to be angry.
    It is okay to seek comfort.
    It is okay to let a stranger in
    while holding those close to you
    at a distance.
    It is okay to be wrong
    about bunches of things.

    Wherever you are:
    It is okay.
    It is okay.
    It is okay.

    Don’t be ashamed to cry out
    and plead for someone to listen,
    even when the only one who hears is you.
    There are tender hands who braid
    our Milky Way of petitions
    into the universal song.

    I see how you rise up from those wordless
    hours and name your life. You build a fortress
    with the letters in your pocket. But your
    alphabet is more pebble than stone.
    You can’t undo the past like a shoelace.
    Let quiet surround you. Stay.
    And listen like a canyon.

    I don’t know when you will learn
    that the sun, which seems lost
    to you now, is rising somewhere else.
    And that the world is never,
    all at once, plunged
    into darkness.

    But you will.

    -- Lynne

    1. Fantastic Lynne. I love the directive nature of this and that it's meant to make people feel all right.

    2. This was wonderful. I really loved you're last stanza :)
      Thank you for sharing.

  7. Melody of a Churning Darkness

    all of this sand becomes our skin,
    tenebrous midnight swallows
    a sweep of white white world
    into infinity nowhere

    all of these small granules like
    cocaine through fingers
    and toes, light-scars and
    their ephemeral dance
    a distance enough away

    thunder is still a low groan
    in another room, it brings us closer.
    We are baited on the shore here
    there are no immediate fish,

    only black pockets of kelp, promising
    to curl us under the lullaby of night
    fragments of storm, burning ocher kaleidoscope,
    melody of a churning darkness

    we have travelled so far to escape
    the rain, lying in an ocean, waiting.

    --Charlotte San Juan

    1. Fantastic Charlotte! And I'm so glad to see you here!

    2. Yeah, I really loved this one too Stephanie.

  8. Force majeure
    Was in this case gravity:
    I fell down the mountain — ok not as
    As far the whole slope
    I’ll grant you but pretty darned far because I tripped on some
    A root or one of those semi-hidden rocks that
    Never jut out on city pavement unless you
    Live with bumpy oak trees or twisty maples or
    Something surprisingly nature-y and then you fall
    down on the street in your best jeans after
    Clubbing really hard or when you’re so
    Vain (and drunk) you wear your sunglasses at night
    But —
    this time with the mountain (as opposed to those urban examples which
    Are purely theoretical) I fell down fast past all the
    Other much more agile campers, passing them by
    like Icarus
    Only really clumsy and not on fire, but I’ll tell you
    This —
    My knee was an epic mess (ha). Even the first aid
    Kit carrier was stunned, and I limped back
    To the weird death-camp truck they always
    Made us ride in, and I vowed I’d never hike again, but then
    I went to Switzerland so of course I broke that
    Promise but oh that feeling of tumbling,
    Knocked down by the weight of my own body
    And the earth wanting to have me perfectly
    Grounded and ready to do something
    Radical to get me there.

    1. This poem has all the magic that I think only you are capable of. It's really wonderful.