The last of the short pieces i wrote for the Midrash class attempted to answer the question (gap) why are men in the old testament gathered to their people, while women are merely mourned? why the different treatments of their passing? Posted in Midrash
The conflict between Isaac & Ishmael is often used to excuse the grudges between Muslims and Christians. A different interpretation of the text provides a different picture, one where war in the Middle East is not perpetual, and where peace is indeed possible. Posted in Midrash
I wrote this when I was in my late teens. Much of the stuff I wrote in that time seems to be lost, but Liz copied the poem & decorated the margins with fall leaves. It hung on the wall in my attic bedroom until recently. The ink faded. In places it was only a shadow on the paper. “Trapped in cold concrete” refers to the community college I was attending at the time. “Paint crew reds and greens and blues” is a reference to stage crew. I helped build sets for high school & summer theater plays. See if you remember what it was like to be a teenager in love.
It’s to be sung to a traditional blues tune. I don’t read music, but I do whistle & have a pretty good ear. I’ll see if i can do a recording of it & get that posted.
The Lizzo Blues (ca. 1975)
Well I’ve been runnin’ all the morning
I’ve been runnin’ all the night
And you know some people tell me
Such cavortin’ ain’t too bright
But I’ve got the blues
I’ve got those rotten stellar blues
They get down in your pocket
And you’ll spend your time a-wishin’
You’d see her once again
So you’re working all day
And talking all night
Your parents been away
You’ve never known such delight
I’ve got the blues
I’ve got those far out Lizzy blues
And just one free back scratch
Can take away those blues
Well you wonder how she does it
Now just how she stays so pure
‘cause once you’ve been trapped
There ain’t no man-made cure
I’ve got the blues
I’ve got the flea-bitten, Lizzy-lookin’ blues
And though I feel like shit
I just know I’ll never quit
So here I sit just writin’
Entrapped in cold concrete
The wind and snow a bightin’
But ol’ Lizzie makes me feel so neat
I’ve got the blues
Oh Lord, I’ve got the blues
I’s s’posed to go to sleep last night
But Lord I’ve got the Lizzy blues
I’ll sleep some more tomorrow
And I’ll stay inside tonight
A wonderin’ ‘bout ol’ Lizzy
I’ve got to figure what she likes
I’ve got the blues
I’ve got the paint crew reds and greens and blues
But I know that if I fall in love (heaven forfend)
My mind’s gone down the drain
Now I’ll write you one more verse, dear
I’ll write you one more line
‘Cause I know by now you must be
Feelin’ really fine
But I’ve got those blues
Those ? far out Lizzy blues
I can’t explain why I love you (reason to be found)
But I’d like to stay your friend
Season of twilight
Your father will grow old and die, as will you and I.
And our children….
‘Tis best to make peace while peace can be made.
When he’s curmudgeonly, ornery, contrary or just plain cussed,
Picture a sign on a strand of hairy binder twine around his neck,
The sign laying against his chest
Jagged letters by infirm hand scrawled, that say:
Just keep in mind that it really means
“God, I need your love
now more than ever”
Hold me tenderly in your heart
Allow me dignity
As I sing my final song
No one knows the last line. ###
I’m not obsessed with death. This & “Back to Iowa” reflect what’s going on in my life. My in-laws come over for Sunday dinner. My wife was struggling with her dad. I wrote this for her on Christmas morning as I sat in the silence of Meeting for Worship.
A Father’s Advice
It seemed the only opportunity. It seemed that career progression planned to take my son & his wife to England, not the sort of place one commutes to or that such plebes as myself visit for the weekend. It seemed the only opportunity to see them before they left. The birth of their son is immanent. So we bailed in the car Thursday at 9 PM and drove all night for a long weekend in Wisconsin. We arrived at 6 in the morning feeling sort of spent, like the fuzzy edges of a spent thundercloud.
After lunch on Friday, Christopher & I went for a hike in the greenspace near the apartment where he lives. We talked of a broad range of subjects from box elders and mulberries and milkweeds to engineering. Then he asked “Do you have any advice for a new father?” It’s something I’ve thought about a lot. Here’s some of what I said.
Mom & I agreed early on that we would present a united front when we you kids asked us something. Whichever one of us was asked first, the other one would agree. In the event of a disagreement, the policy stood and the matter could be discussed privately by us at a time when a decision wasn’t riding on it.
Grandma did a number of things I think were good parenting. Say we were making cookies. She would show us how to measure, then let us measure (for real, not pro forma), but say “can I check that?” The wisdom was in affirming what we did with the opportunity to suggest better ways or corrections.
The actual goal of parenting is to raise children who are capable of making unsupervised decisions that are ethically and morally acceptable. In the same vein as making cookies, allow kids to take risks and succeed while supervised, like spotting them the first few times they cross the monkeybars. Risk allows kids (and adults, too) to find boundaries, which are often well outside expectations. It allows them to learn to evaluate, to fail, to succeed.
My Quaker scoutmaster encouraged me to practice running rapids backwards when the choice was mine so that when the time came that the choice wasn’t mine, I could do it. One day I wound up running a rapid called Coliseum backwards in my C-1 (a decked canoe that looks like a kayak). Coliseum is a class 5 rapid on the Cheat river in West Virginia.
As parents, we always put the truth of the matter (whatever had happened) at the top. It wasn’t to say that there wouldn’t be consequences, but that they would be less if you told us than if we learned of them otherwise. Punishing kids for truth-telling trains them to evade responsibility. Another advantage of the approach was that it was forward-looking. There may have been an element of blame, but the focus was on what was wrong and how it could (or needed to) be changed. As they grew,the kids knew they could tell us what was going on in their lives. It kept communication open, even when they were teenagers. They later admitted that they (more or less) gave up pushing our buttons because they knew they weren’t going to get our goat.