The Lantern

Lantern

Do you see that lantern on the mantle?
Its light has shined on three generations of this family
My grandfather learned to read under the tutelage of its glow
Wrote love letters to my grandmother in verse reflecting
The warmth gathered from its flickering beam

My mother found her way home through lost woods
To the arms of my Da, and on the night I was conceived
It lent its sexuality

Bright and slightly hesitant, still it burns, weaving moonbeams
Like silver threads through the tapestry of our lives
Illuminating through the years, it has lit my tears and
Calmed my fears; beneath its flame we all found ways to heal
To bind up old wounds; to celebrate new beginnings, while keeping
Vigil as loved ones passed away

One day I’ll pass it down to my children now crawling on the ground
And in its light they’ll learn to see within themselves, beyond themselves
I take it down and light it whenever I am consumed by darkness; it watches
Over me and comforts me; reminds me that there are so many ways
To become illuminated

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Appalachian Woods

Our lives can best be understood in all the things we craft from wood
The dogwood laid our cabin floor, hung knotted pine our shanty door
Six bowls we carved from fallen maple, a burnt mahogany sets our table
A dozen spoons and forks by hand, hewn perfect fit for every man

And woman, too, with sharpened knife carve etchings of our humble life
Soft wicker thatched this rocking chair and spruce the toys sprawled everywhere
In wooden homes that we have built we hang on pegs our history quilts
Each patch a memory lovingly stitched, our purses poor, our lives quite rich

Our beds and wardrobes never falter, we hand-carved those from summer alder
Our coffins, too, of stout mesquite, for when our journey is complete
In wood we find our heart’s desire or pain if come the wayward fire
And even so, most grievous sin: not to build from wood again

So now you better understand how we live upon this land
Within the forest, and it in us, in God we hope, in wood we trust

Juggling Life

Consider for a moment that we are all jugglers. For in truth, that is what life demands of us; constant juggling – of time, relationships, responsibilities. We feel ourselves, at times, caught up in the endless task of keeping so many things up in the air and smoothly rotating, round and round.

Now suppose we see that we are juggling three balls: one rubber, one wooden, and one crystal.

In the course of our juggling, we slip and drop one ball. Let’s say it’s the rubber ball. What happens to it? Well, no real damage done, right? It bounces. It comes back to you. This ball is your education, your job, your career. In the course of your life you may drop this ball several times…you change jobs, you advance, you are laid off, you go back to school…it is constantly moving in new directions. So do not overly concern yourself when this ball drops. It will retain its resiliency and everything will be fine.

Suppose now you drop the wooden ball. What becomes of it? Well, it’s a bit noisier, true, but in all likelihood, it will become scratched, perhaps chipped. In time, after a few falls, it may even take on a new shine. This is your health and your spirituality. It changes, constantly. It evolves.  It will not look the same today as it will tomorrow. That is its nature. Be mindful of keeping this one aloft, but do not distress if you drop it from time to time. It, too, is resilient and in the long run, it endures.

But what then of the third ball? The crystal ball? What happens if you take your eye from it for a moment and it hits the floor? What becomes of it? Of course, it shatters. It will not return to you for it is utterly destroyed. This ball is your relationships, your family. If you drop this ball, no amount of effort will repair it. It is lost forever. For this reason alone, you must be acutely focused on keeping this ball in the air, at all costs.

As you juggle life, keep this lesson in mind, and keep your priorities likewise aligned.