Doesn’t play well with others

It’s standard early education comment,

but I suggest to Mr. Trump
the ways some of my dear friends
have become grown ups.

An introvert rehearses a few remarks
before public occasions,
and, in every setting, finds the person
who most needs a listener.

A friend with Asperger’s syndrome
calmly asks –
Have I been talking too much
about what interests me?

In a social setting
another who was abused as a child,
laughs gently and says
(before someone is embarrassed)
I’m not a hugger,
but imagine my smile
means you’ve made my day.

A friend of mine, learning
how to be in the world
after parents who thought wealth
could take love’s place,
waits to speak until asked,
and is comfortable with apology.

Even a bully, named and helped,
has become one of the
kindest adults I know.

People are trained to help
finding strategies,
because some of us by nature or nurture
do not play well with others.

Most of us care enough to learn
how to behave at, say, NATO.

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We are the Socks


One of my favorite summer pastimes is reading books that were given to me for Christmas. You see, I read a lot of books, but mostly I read … fiction and mostly I read, I will readily admit it, science fiction and fantasy and a few mysteries, too. The library practically holds things I will want to read and my list is long.

However, friends often give me “worthwhile” books, books that they feel I should really read — theology and mission books, poetry and social justice books. And I read them in the summer. When everyone else diverts to “beach reads,” I find the time to read some serious pieces, the kind of books that take — read, think, read, take a walk, read, think some more.

How embarrassing it was to discover that I received “We are the Socks” two Christmases ago, not just this last year. Thanks again to Bill and Mary Beth Mankin who gave it to me and to Lance and Christine Muteyo who are among the dedicatees.

It’s wonderful. If you are engaged in peacemaking, if you have a church reading group that would like to discuss international mission, if you want to be challenged to blessed and ordinary acts of kindness, and if you want to be filled with ideas for workshops in the future (watch out because those who are in my next workshop will become caretakers of eggs … and just maybe play soccer), then you should read a copy of this book. I read it as fast as I read John Scalzi (and a lot more deeply)!

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A poem not intended to be about immigration

We put a dog dish in the backyard,
a big-dog bowl, not far from that dog’s grave.

Shady, we called her, a rescue,
stolen really,
chain cut from the crack house
where she was a guard dog –
sweetest tempered dog we ever had
except for that deeply ingrained,
(beaten in)
defense response to anyone
appearing to be in police uniform
(here’s looking at you, FedEx).

Shade’s bowl is out there,
and the birds come in this dry season,
the ground hog humps his belly up
heavy with Louise’s vegetables
(something else stolen).
The fox kits are there, a deer,
more birds,
once a wandering cat
(no birds for two days),
a runaway dog, the kits again.

It’s a simple thing –
turning a memory into kindness.

I live in a nation where much abundance
has come from stealing.
I guess it’s guilt
that makes us feel threatened
to share a bowl of water.

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Mongkohl — for Tham Luang cave

I just heard his name
the mother says, and it is what we all say,

we who are waiting near and far away
during this rescue of the Wild Boars footballers
from Mai Sei,

and everyone who waits in the rain
for the life of a child, a friend.

I just heard his name,

and that is always our prayer –
and it lifts up the rescuers and supporters,
in every kind of danger,
every fear, every loss,
in the great unknowings of love.

For eight boys and their coach
in Tham Luang cave,
for Saman Gunan and the gift of his life,

for the four rescued today,
the hopes of tomorrow, the next day,
the longings for all our children.

We say — Mongkhol –
and claim for hope those not yet saved.

One mother, pieta,
and all the resurrection.

(Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)

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I always laugh about spilled cream

I always laugh about spilled cream,
even the special from-the-farm whipping cream
from well loved cows
in a glass bottle,
which tips over in my friend’s kitchen
when she hit it with the hand mixer.

“Whoops, chemo-brain,” she says,
and we start pushing the counter flood
back into the bowl
with our hands
(the sponges are disgusting)
while dancing around
to prevent beagle bellyache
from too much dairy
before we can mop up the floor.

She’s been telling me
that they are going later in the week
to buy a grave,
also apologizing that the crust
on her perfect strawberry-rhubarb pie
is a little brown —

that’s when the cream went,
and I’m glad I remember my mama’s words,
“it’s no use crying …”

My friend and I have shared tears
for many, many years,
but on the balance
there has been so much more laughter.

(sometimes I just share a personal poem — this is for Diane)

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Children’s Song for Mark 6: 1-13 “Welcome” from Aotearoa

Lynne Frith writes “I’ve been a bit inactive on the writing front, but today came up with a brief song for Sunday 8 July, to use after talking with the children about welcome and hospitality(Mark 6:1-13).

We will follow the song with greeting each other and welcoming visitors.

Here it is, sung to the tune “Hush-a-bye-baby”. (United States “Rock a-Bye-Baby”) It would be simple enough to add other verses, by changing lines 3 and 4, to further describe who we might be welcoming e.g if you’ve taken a bus, or travelled by car…..

Welcome to all,
Whoever you are,
If you live near
Or have come from afar.
We’re glad to meet you,
To see your face,
And now we greet you,
Sharing God’s grace.

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July 4, 2018, This Land is Made for You and Me

Chorus
This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I saw my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking

Is this land made for you and me?

“This Land Is Your Land” is one of the United States’ most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 based on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”, which Guthrie considered complacent and not realistically critical of America – Of course, Irving Berlin was an immigrant and a case can be made that many immigrants so love their new countries that they are very non-critical. Others are fearful to even whisper a complaint. Guthrie varied the lyrics over time, sometimes including more overtly political verses depending on the occasion.

One thing that I consider very interesting is how this song itself travels … in Canada, it goes like this …

This land is your land, This land is my land,
From Bonavista, to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters,
This land was made for you and me.

And in the United Kingdom , the lyrics are:

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From the coast of Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands,
From the sacred forests to the holy islands …

Of course there are separate versions for both Wales and Ireland!
In the Bahamas …

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From Grand Bahama down to Inagua
From the Berry Islands, down to Mayaguana …

In Aotearoa New Zealand written by high school students …

This land is your land, this land is my land
From Paihia to Stewart Island
From Lake Te Anau to Rotorua …

There are versions for Sweden and Namibia and Israel and India, Here is India:

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From the Himalayas, down to Cape Comorin
From Mumbai city to old Calcutta
This land was made for you and me.

Back to the United States — For July 4, 2018

This land is my land, I won’t deny it –
I name the sorrows, but I’m not above it —
from the Trail of Tears to the Middle Passage
the pain of others profits me.

From Charlottesville to blood soaked high schools,
from families shattered to travel ban rules,
when a pipeline crosses a sovereign nation
the chance of change comes down to me.

And so for Bears Ears and Tornillo’s tent street,
for Melania’s jacket and Roseanne’s harsh tweet —
I am confessing, I’ve dropped the blessing —
maybe not you, but surely me!

Across our borders the walls are rising.
Lawmakers’ votes show compromising.
The songs are old but we’re harmonizing –
our children’s hope is you and me.

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

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