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I just got word that Blake Allard, the younger son of Jana Allard who comments here often, broke his arm. He will be seeing a surgeon at noon (California time) and will have surgery late this afternoon. His right arm is broken in two places for sure, maybe three. He is in a lot of pain. Please pray that he gets into surgery today and that there is no nerve damage.

“You haven’t heard a positive thing out of that [Republican] campaign in a month. All they do is try to run me down,” Obama said while campaigning Wednesday in Union, Missouri.

The accusation came the same day that the Obama campaign released an ad comparing McCain to President Bush, and the McCain campaign released one likening Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

“Since they don’t have any new ideas, the only strategy they’ve got in this election is to try to scare you about me,” Obama said.

Read more

And then,

“Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong,” McCain campaign manger Rick Davis said in a prepared statement sent to reporters one day after Obama alluded to his own race during several stops in Missouri.”



The McCain Campaign has nothing to say. McCain is Bush III. Americans do want the war to be over. Obama was criticized for not going to Iraq, then for what he did in Iraq, and said in Iraq. And in Germany. All the McCain camp can do is criticize. So McCain is a veteran. So what? They have no strong points to bring up. And for Obama to suggest that race is an issue. Oh, my!!!

All emphasis mine

When Jesus came close to his death, he no longer could experience God’s presence. He cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:47). Still in love he held on to the truth that God was with him and said: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

The loneliness of the cross led Jesus to the resurrection. As we grow older we are often invited by Jesus to follow him into this loneliness, the loneliness in which God is too close to be experienced by our limited hearts and minds. When this happens, let us pray for the grace to surrender our spirits to God as Jesus did.

The storm brought tree branches
down, twigs to the park’s entranceway,
where a sign welcomed us back from
the forest and the path

along which we had carelessly wandered
hours ago now. The downed twigs
brought relief. They were calm,
unlike the ones the previous night:

Those were panicked twigs,
and being wet like us—from above
and below—were falling then hugging
the mossy rocks near the rapids in the river,

struggling like jockeys
for the strongest of holds
with each twig rooting only for self,
as though we weren’t.

But by the time our party emerged from
the forest-thicket—no longer lost—
we were of one mind, and the twigs on
the manicured lawn—now littered with brush—

spoke the same inclusive language.

first published in Ghoti

Suggestions For Poets

“Show, don’t tell”. Poetry is first about image and then about emotion. A well-crafted image will create the desired response. Paint such a vivid picture with your words that your reader has no choice but to follow you: to envision your image and to make your emotion – your pain, hurt, loneliness, or joy – his/her own. It is my opinion that you should never tell your reader what you feel or believe or what he/she ought to feel or believe. Ought to doesn’t apply to feelings. Just as a poet owns his/her descriptions and feelings, a reader must be free to experience his/her emotions and draw his/her conclusions from what you write.

Never preach. Never say what ought to be said because you think people ought to hear it. Poets are not preachers. If you want to preach, write an essay. There is nothing poetic about sermonizing, and there is nothing wrong with writing an essay. Poetry is not morally superior or inferior to any other form of writing: It’s just different, especially in its emphasis. The purpose of poetry is to seek truth through imagery, not to vent (although many poems begin as rants). Poetry at its finest creates images that sing – with both truth and beauty – no matter the subjects. Let the words in a poem dictate where you go. If you say something you did not intend to say, so what?

Find your own voice. Write poems that only you (with your personal experience and way of looking at things) could write. Sometimes poems begin in a generic manner, but they should become more specific in revision. Never use clichés unless you are quoting someone. Believable dialog is filled with clichés, because people talk that way, but a poet should use original metaphors and similes that make sense. If they don’t, take them out. Every poem should contain a bit of mystery. It is fine if the reader doesn’t fully understand what something means, but it is not fine to say something that is just plain weird. You are not responsible for the size of your reader’s vocabulary or for telling your reader all of your life’s experiences. Tell what you want to tell when you want to tell it. Ignore suggestions that don’t work for you. I am writing suggestions right now, but I admit there are times when even “the rules” can be broken. A poet is, after all, an artist. But even artists use correct grammar. One has to know the rules first before intentionally breaking them for the sake of art, not in ignorance.

Listen for the music in the words you choose. Since the voice is an instrument, all human speech creates musical patterns. Poetry exaggerates this quality. Rhythm is part, but not all, of this music. I left-justify all of my poems, because I am better able to see how long it takes my eyes to go from one line to the next when I read a poem, when they are arranged that way. This is a personal choice. Many fine poets center their lines. But be careful you aren’t centering your lines only because you like the way it looks. Traditionally, poetry is meant to be heard— that is, read aloud. How poetry sounds often matters more than how it looks, except on greeting cards. I am still uncomfortable when one line is much longer than the others, yet I want to stop revising in ways that continue to value the eye over the ear.

Be careful when you use rhyme. Forced rhyme allows writers to say stupid things or things that just aren’t true. That is due to the limited number of words that rhyme with a given word. I think knowing this explains, at least in part, why so many modern poets write free verse. Slant rhyme (where the rhyming words appear in different positions in the lines, rather than at the end) is interesting, especially if used sparingly. Even so, free verse is not superior to more traditional poetic forms. A poet who writes in forms, such as sonnets, must realize, of course, that a different set of rules will dictate his/her choices.

Showcase your vocabulary in appropriate places. It is not your responsibility to limit your word choice to your reader’s vocabulary, unless you are writing for children. It is fine if your reader needs to use a dictionary. But, in poetry, less is usually more. Choose the right word, not more words. This is especially important when selecting adjectives, because writers tend to overuse them. When revising, pick strong verbs, a few appropriate adjectives, and even fewer adverbs. Use any noun that you know, even if your readers will not recognize it. Have fun! So no one’s heard of the Whitmunger River! What’s wrong with inventing a river? And is anyone truly confused? Do write for yourself first, but be aware that if your readers can’t follow what you’re saying, they will read something else.

Revise. Revise. Revise. Revise. Revision is really the most rewarding part of writing. A poet’s work is never done. Play with words to see what effects different ones produce. Sometimes you will be amazed at what you have said. At times, it is better than you thought it would be. Try using onomatopoeia, consonance, or assonance devices. It is all right to revise any poem you have written, including those that have been published. If you can improve your poem, improve it. After all, you own it.

first published in The Centrifugal Eye

Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, don’t experience God’s presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.

Then it is important to realise that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God’s presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don’t, it does not mean that God is absent. It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness. It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.

All Christian life is meant to be at the same time profoundly contemplative and rich in active work. . . .It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we first of all are called to a more immediate and more exalted task: that of creating our own lives. In doing this, we act as co-workers with God. We take our place in the great work of mankind, since in effect the creation of our own destiny, in God, is impossible in pure isolation. Each one of us work out his own destiny in inseparable union with all those others with whom God has willed us to live. We share with one another the creative work of living in the world. And it is through our struggle with material reality, with nature, that we help one another create at the same time our own destiny and a new world for our descendants. This work of man, which is his peculiar and inescapable vocation, is a prolongation of the creative work of God Himself. Failure to measure up to this challenge and to meet this creative responsibility is to fail in that response to life which is required of us by the will of our Father and Creator. . . . This active response, this fidelity to life itself and to God Who gives Himself to us through our daily contacts with the material world, is the first and most essential duty of man.

Thomas Merton. Love and Living. Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart, editors. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979: 159.

emphasis mine

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God’s
When mercy seasons justice.


Read a well-written post concerning mercy over justice at The Third Eve

Jimmie Johnson won at the Brickyard in the most boring NASCAR race of the century. 42 other drivers and 250,000-plus fans in the stands and countless viewers in the television audience lost due to a lack of testing and Goodyear’s ridiculous tires.

Drivers and crew chiefs and NASCAR officials did “the best they could” this afternoon. But why oh why didn’t Goodyear know they needed a different tire? Hasn’t this race with the “new car” been scheduled for over a year? Isn’t what used to be “the car of tomorrow” is the car of today? I know 10% never get the word, but Goodyear?

I do hope Goodyear officials were summoned to the NASCAR trailer for a big yelling at by NASCAR after the race. A 400 mile tire test at race prices (plus vacation days and nights in a motel and expensive meals away from home) is enough to justify fans throwing cans onto the track. I’m glad they waited until the end of the race, because drivers were clearly not at fault.

Now it’s up to NASCAR to make a move. Put Goodyear on probation until the end of the year. And if they can’t do better than this, fire them and get a tire maker who can do the job. Maybe this isn’t a good year for Goodyear. Or maybe Tony Stewart is right, Goodyear just stinks.

Even though our emotional and spiritual lives are distinct, they do influence one another profoundly. Our feelings often give us a window on our spiritual journeys. When we cannot let go of jealousy, we may wonder if we are in touch with the Spirit in us that cries out “Abba.” When we feel very peaceful and “centered,” we may come to realise that this is a sign of our deep awareness of our belovedness.

Likewise our prayer lives, lived as faithful response to the presence of the Spirit within us, may open a window on our emotions, feelings, and passions and give us some indication of how to put them into the service of our long journey into the heart of God.

July 2008