Friday, December 28, 2012

A Bridge is...

Google Images
A tiny cry
Lustier now
One large finger reaches
Five tiny ones grasp
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is born.

A solid thump
Dignity hurt
Tears fall, wailing starts
Some comfort sought
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is strengthened.

Oh lonely walk
School begun
Strangers at each turn
Seek kindred souls
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is started.

Cross my heart
And hope to die
The pledge is given
Friendship forever sealed
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is cemented.

This sweet love
The first to be
With every intention
Of lasting past forever
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is expanded.

Long black robes
And sweaty palms
Fine speeches made as
Superior becomes equal
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is spanned.

Nine to five
Joyous terror struck
Until new minion is
Equal to old master
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is possible.

A coffee shop
Pumpkin pie
Double sugar, double cream
Eyes meet, hearts unite
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is completed.

Some angry words
Senseless battle
Second thoughts, wisdom prevails
One face turns to another
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is repaired.

Two, then one
Alone again
House empty, heart full
One thing forever sure
Hand reaches out for hand
A bridge is gone.

In stillness now
The bonds released
Peace fully and forever known
A nail-scarred welcome
Hand reaches out for hand.
A bridge is crossed.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tinkle and Clang

Google Images
A flurry of discordant sound announced the arrival of several sections of the bell choir.

“Move it, you three. You’re late and we haven’t got much time,” chimed the Bell Master from his place on the bottom rung of the carillon.

“Nag, nag, nag,” whispered the D flat to his buddy, C, as they climbed into their places on the top level. “What’s the hurry, anyway? Clang’s got his clapper in a knot for sure this morning.”

“Morning? It’s still dark outside,” protested the F major, breathlessly hauling himself up behind the others.

The smaller bells finally got themselves into place, just as Clang struck the note that indicated readiness and silence in the ranks. He looked around, carefully checking to make sure no one was missing. Worse than a faulty note was no note at all.

“Where’s Tinkle?” he boomed from his assigned spot.

Tinkle was the littlest bell of all. Her spot was high up at the top of the carillon.

Like an evil wind brushing through the tower, the rustle of the bells created dissonance as everyone looked around, hunting for Tinkle.

“I’m here sir. Just polishing, Bell Master.” Her clear, high sound rang out as Tinkle took her place at the apex of the musical arrangement.

“That girl takes herself too seriously. ‘Just polishing, Bell Master.’ As if fingerprints made any difference to anyone,” mimicked the D flat.

“You have something to share with us?” came Clang’s voice from down below.

Everyone froze. More than once Clang had said out loud that he wished they never had to have contact with their human counterparts—the evil always rubbed off a bit, like fingerprints on the burnished surface of a bell.

“Uhmmmmm, no sir. I was just, well, wondering what all the rush was about,” stuttered the offender. “It’s not even daylight yet.”

“Well, if—and I know keeping time for you doesn’t usually include knowing what day it is—you had been paying attention during rehearsals, you would have remembered that dawn today is the biggest moment of our year. Today we bring hope to the world.”

From somewhere in the middle of the bevy of bells came the dulcet tones of one of the G’s. “But, boss, do you really think anyone listens to us? It’s nasty out there. Everyone knows what happened to poor Liberty. Those humans are a mean lot and we don’t seem to be making much of an impact.”

There were a couple of chuckles from the group at G’s unintentional play on notes. The subdued merriment stopped as Clang’s clapper sounded for silence.

“I’ll admit that I sometimes have my doubts as to whether anyone gets our message, but that’s not the point. The point is that we have a message that we have been assigned to deliver, we’ve been practicing faithfully for this last year, and we are going to chime out that message no matter what. It’s up to the Master Musician to do the rest. So, are we ready? It’s almost time.”

The bell choir stirred, positioning themselves, clappers at the ready, all eyes on Clang.


“Yes, sir?”

“Don’t forget, your part is critical. Sometimes people don’t hear the high notes, so you can’t hesitate or show weakness.”

“I won’t let you down, sir.”

Slowly the blackness outside the tower retreated before the insistence of the watery light of a winter sun. As it peeked above the horizon, Clang readied himself, gave the choir one last check, and nodded to Tinkle.

The high, light sound rang out loud and clear, followed by a rolling scale of melodious notes that reverberated across the awakening town.

Far below the tower, in the manse beside the church, a pastor looked up from his prayers. He had wrestled all night with his Christmas morning message. What could he say that would bring hope to a world where evil ruled men’s hearts, where even Christmas was banned with an “X”? How could he make sense of a world where, in the name of preserving peace, war was wrought?

He listened, remembered, and smiled. Hope was in God’s final note—which had yet to be played.


And in despair I bowed my head/There is no peace on earth I said/For hate is strong and mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good will toward men/
Then peeled the bells more loud and sweet/God is not dead nor doth he sleep/ The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/Of peace on earth, good will toward men./
(from: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day)

Friday, December 14, 2012

One Little Snowflake

Google Images
Once upon a time, long ago and far away there was a little snowflake. She was one of many waiting her turn to announce the coming of yet another winter season. The delicate embroidery of each flake had been lovingly crafted by the Master Snow Maker. Still, the little snowflake felt lost and forgotten in the presence of the bigger and more complex designs.

As her time approached, the little snowflake grew more and more worried. “I can’t do this,” she whispered, for she was afraid of what might await her out in the outer limits of the heavens.

The little snowflake made one last appeal to the Master Snow Maker. Perhaps he would have compassion on her and let her wait until she too, was bigger and better.

However, he shook his head, and with a wise smile, eased her out the celestial windows along with a multitude of others whose time has also come.

“You may not become the cusp of the biggest snowball, or the cornerstone of the strongest snow fort. You might not be the first to signal the coming of winter, or freeze into perpetuity in the still waters of a waiting stream. But, you’ll be exactly what you were meant to be just as you are. You will do what you were designed to do-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o …” and his voice drifted away as she fell further and further into the dark night.

For a time she lost sight of the rest of her companions as she drifted down through puffy clouds. She was teased by gentle breezes and tossed by some that were not so gentle. Now, more than ever, the little snowflake felt small and oh so alone.

As she drifted through the blackness, she tried to remember all that the Master Snow Maker had said. “You are unique. You know that I never make even one snowflake like any other. Only you can be you.”

“But I am only one among so many,” she argued.

“You are still the only one that is YOU,” he patiently insisted.

The little snowflake felt her progress slow. The breezes had faded. The night was still and silent. The air was cold. She could see more clearly now. The clouds had drifted away leaving the skies intense with glittering stars. One in particular drew her attention. It shone more brightly than the rest, bathing the landscape in a warm glow that penetrated the cold and dark.

“I’ll head for that star,” she said to no one in particular. She picked her currents of air carefully and soon found herself under the pale light of the bright star. Below her, the little snowflake could see the outline of hills against the dark sky. Nestled among them was a village. Pale lights flickered from the rough dwellings, occasionally disappearing as their inhabitants went off to bed. Against one hill, on the edge of town, a shed rested, its tired beams sheltering the entrance to a hollow carved out of the hillside. The star on whose mantle she rode seemed to point the way to that unlikely spot.

Closer and closer the little snowflake came. In the light of the star, she saw that there were four-footed beasts huddled beside the humble shelter below her. Some of her quicker companions melted themselves into curly wool and rough hide. Others slipped through the gaps in the roughly hewn slats in the roof and came to rest on the woolen cloaks, weathered cheeks, and calloused hands of the sheep keepers seeking shelter inside the shed.

The little snowflake braced herself. Her end was coming. She wondered how it could possibly fulfill all that the Master Snow Maker had promised. She landed gently on soft and pure flesh; the tip of the tiny nose of a Child nestled deep in the straw of the feed box. He made no sound, no move to brush her away. She, so small and insignificant, would go unnoticed right to the end. Or, would she?

As the little snowflake melted into Him, she felt the warmth of His smile and sensed that, somehow, He had been waiting for her arrival. In a flash as bright as that of the star she had followed, the little snowflake knew in her deepest being that in finding Him, she had found everything and had discovered not her end, but her beginning.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It All Depends On Who's In Charge

Google Images
Soon. Too soon. I know you told me that you’d be with us, that we should be courageous and strong. I can hear your words ringing in my ears, reverberating through every sinew and muscle, sticking like Jordan’s muddy banks to my every sense. Nevertheless, it still feels like it’s too soon.

You took Moses too soon. I know, I know — he blew it at the rock, but I’d rather follow him than be the leader. After all, he was your friend, got closer to you than any man ever has. I hear that voice again reminding me about what you said: you’ll be with me just like you were with Moses.

I just feel that I will never be as close to you as he was, obey you as well as he did — the rock notwithstanding! I’ve never had that intimacy with you that he did. That’s my fault, I know. I’m sure not blaming you. I try to meditate day and night on your word, just like you said. It’s not easy to find the time or the energy with all these people at my heels.

When I think of all the things that could go wrong, I get a bad feeling. I told the people what you said, and they promised to do everything they were instructed to do. But, as soon as they said that they would obey me just as well as they obeyed Moses, I could feel the hair rising on the back of my neck. They think they are better than their fathers. You and I both know they aren’t. I know I’m not.

Then there’s the business with the prostitute in Jericho. I hope I didn’t make a mistake there. You told me not to spare anyone and now I have to live up to the promise that Micah and Judah made to that woman — and to whoever ends up sheltered in her house. She did take a lot of risks for them, and showed some strong faith in you. Still, I feel as though I’m already breaking the rules you made. How can you bless me, or these people, if I don’t do exactly what you tell me? I hope there are exceptions.

I’m a military man, not a diplomat, so who knows how many toes I trampled on issuing the orders to get us across the river. That WAS pretty amazing though. I remember the Red Sea parting, but not too many others do. Crossing the Jordan with the waters piled up before us was like déjà-vu for me. I still haven’t gotten over the big hoopla once we crossed. For the first time, I really felt that the people saw me as their leader, not just as a Moses stand-in. Now that I’ve reached that plateau, I’m not sure I want to be here.

I suspect your latest command brought me down a couple of rungs on the leadership ladder. That business with the circumcision took the stuffing out of most of the male population — quite literally! Boy, you sure do ask us to do some scary things. While the men were healing we could have been wiped out, easy pickings for any ten-year-old armed with a pick handle.

Well, here we are, facing Jericho. I sound confident, but my innards are churning. You told me to be strong and take the land you promised, and here I am thinking that the desert is beginning to look pretty good!

Wait, someone’s coming from the Jericho side.

“Who goes there? My men know better than to draw a sword in the presence of their commander, so you’re either suffering a lapse in judgment or, you are an enemy. Which is it?"

“It’s a good thing YOU don’t have your sword drawn then, isn’t it. I’m not one of your men, nor am I one of your enemies. Give your brain and your innards a break, Joshua, I have come as the commander of the Lord’s army.”

Get down, man! Get down. This is a Moses moment.

“My Lord, give me your orders.”

“Moses took his shoes off in my presence once; you do the same. I touched the ground you are standing on and it is now holy."

Forgive me; here I was thinking I was in charge of all this. It’s you; it always has been. Just as I was Moses’ servant, I am more than happy to be yours. Issue your orders, Lord: I’m ready now, whenever you are.