Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Behind Your Mask

Written during the pandemic quarantine

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Behind your mask
Is there a smile?
Won’t you sit down
And stay a while?

I wear a mask
For your protection.
Simultaneously,
I escape detection.

But the lady
At the pharmacy
Still recognized me.
Oh joy, another face to see!

We Cannot Wander

Written during the pandemic quarantine.

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We cannot wander, as we were wont,
Nor visit with our brother,
Nor sisters far, embrace in arms,
For fear of causing them much harm.

Some journeys far, we cannot take,
And many meetings must forsake,
Just through a screen we sometimes meet,
When togetherness we seek.

Or walking in our neighborhood,
Six feet apart; we’re told we should.
Some friend of ours, perchance we meet,
With joy afar, we then do greet.

But what a gift we still do have,
Imagination is at hand,
All o’er the earth, and far beyond,
Imagination is our bond.

By rushing streams, we still can wander,
And mountain vales, both near and yonder,
And air so clear, takes breath away;
Still smell a wildflower bouquet.

Those friends and family that we miss,
For them we offer prayer, and kiss.
We think of them and offer prayers,
And hope that well go their affairs.

Let memory of all that’s good,
Bring us some joy, as so it should.
And bring to mind those happy times
That will return in sunnier climes.

Pandemic

When all the darkness fades away
And light begins to dawn,
Will we remember all the pain
Ourselves and others bore?

Will we remember kindnesses
Both given and received?
Will we remember comfort found
From those who saw us grieve?

Will we remember others’ pain,
Or only just our own?
Just time will tell, remember well,
How much through this we’ve grown.

We are not merely material,
A blend of blood and bones,
Of skin and sinew.

We need a higher Wisdom,
A Being who knows us all,
Someone Who helps us when we fall.

To go beyond our little selves,
To see a broader vista,
To see what angels see.

Though we can think
And feel and do, and make;
Still, we are creatures —
Limited and finite.

As if there were a central Fire,
And we but points on a ball around it –
We each have a unique perspective.

But the Fire can see us all.

The Campground from Hell

Early in our marriage, my husband Tom and I decided to go on a camping trip in northern California.  I was pregnant with our first child.

On arrival at the campground, the person registering us asked, “Do you want to be in the adult or family section?”  Tom and I looked at each other, as if to say, “Huh? This is a campground!”  We finally blurted out, “Family section.”

Once we had gotten our tent up, I was puttering around, and I think Tom was getting ready to make dinner.  I had brought along a small “candle lantern.”  While checking it out, I unthinkingly touched a forearm to the heated metal, and burned my arm so that there was a 2-inch by 3-inch brown spot on it.  It was bad enough to need ice, so we made a quick trip to a local grocery and bought a bag of ice.

After dinner and clean up, we probably stayed out at the picnic table at least until dark, and may have been watching for stars.  Then we crawled into our sleeping bags, perhaps around nine or ten o’clock.  There had been some thumping noises in the camp, but we couldn’t see who was making them or what caused the noises.

As I attempted to sleep on my back, because of my pregnant tummy, while holding a bag of ice against my burn, we increasingly noticed the loud thumping noises.  From the voices and sounds, we surmised that a group of college men were throwing rocks or heavy pieces of wood at some big logs; at least, that was our theory.  This went on for two or three hours.  We finally heard a car come into the camp (later we learned it was a police car), and the noise abated.

“Now we’ll be able to sleep,” I thought.  But a noise we hadn’t noticed before made itself known.  It was a radio from another camp, loud enough to keep us awake.  By this time it was somewhere between one and three a.m.  Finally, I said to Tom, “Look, you don’t have to do this, but if you feel particularly brave, could you go over and ask that person to turn off their radio?”  Tom decided he was brave, left the tent, and I heard him walking towards the noise of the radio.

I may have prayed, not knowing what would happen, “Please, Lord, don’t let some angry person attack my husband!”  After a few minutes, the sound from the radio ceased.  Soon I heard the approach of footsteps, and Tom came back into the tent.

“Well, what happened?” I asked.

“I found the camp where the radio was playing.  A man was sprawled, sleeping, in his Volkswagen van, with the door open and the radio playing.  His campfire was still going.  I tried to speak to him softly, but there was no response.  So I gently reached into the van, turned the radio off, and then came back here.”

I really thought that was a brave act, and told Tom as much.  We did fall asleep shortly, even though we felt it was … the campground from hell.

 

That little house
So cozy and warm
It wasn’t a palace
But it surely was home

I’d stand on the heater vent
Placed in the floor’s corner
Until my shoes’ rubber soles
Got warmer and warmer

Though the air could be chilly
There was still welcome comfort
A place of safe haven
From the world’s disorder

Of course, I remember
The times of great sadness
Of arguments, conflict
And even some madness

But because of that little house
I still like to dream
Of warmth and of closeness
With loved ones esteemed

What’s God’s dream for me, for you?
To go beyond this earthly realm?
To stand before a starship’s helm?
Or rather be an earthbound soul,
To till and dig the crusty soil?

To do those many tasks mundane,
The dishes washed, the diapers changed,
To scrub the floors, wipe dirty cheeks,
To fix the faucets, find pipes that leak?

To work with hands, or with the brain?
Or maybe both – a skill explain?
Will you be famous, or not well-known,
To popularity, or scorn be prone?

Will you be rich or destitute –
What will be your life’s pursuit?
God has a dream He can fulfill –
If only you will trust Him still.

Listening for God’s Voice

You woo me in the quiet places;
It’s there you fill me with Your graces.
I long for silence, to still the voices
That tempt me onto errant courses.

The noise of living makes me weary
(Though noise of loved ones can be cheery!).
The “noise” of nature, by contrast,
Brings calm and peace, or makes us wary.

When list’ning for Your mighty plan,
I calmly sit, or kneel, or stand,
Or even on a quiet walk –
By grace, or chance, I’ll hear You talk.

Grant me, O Lord, that blesséd grace –
No matter what the time or place –
In noise or quiet, at work or rest,
By Your sweet voice to then be blessed.

Still Breathing

The cough that kept me up all night,
The speeding car that gave me fright,
The baby crying in the night –
But, somehow, I’m still breathing.

The wrenching pain I thought would kill me,
The choking air that tried to still me,
The people shouting words that sting me –
Yet, somehow, I’m still breathing.

The hurts I thought I couldn’t survive,
The illnesses, the loves I tried,
The wretched times that drove me wild –
Yet, somehow, I’m still breathing.

I’m thinking, now, whatever happens,
I’ll still exist, I still will matter.
My dreams and schemes, although they shatter –
My soul will still be breathing.

A Year That Is New

All things must pass;
Not many things last.
Let go of regrets;
Let go of the past.

As for the present,
Just live it well.
Seek first God’s heaven;
Don’t foster hell.

As for the future,
It’s a blank slate.
Trust it to God;
He knows your fate.

Into God’s hands,
Put everything.
Why fret or worry? –
Won’t accomplish a thing.

Easy to say —
I worry, too.
But I just want to wish you
A year that is new!

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