Monday, September 29, 2008

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself...

Upon his inauguration as President of the United States, March 4, 1933, this is what Franklin D. Roosevelt had to say:

"I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

"In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

"More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

"Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men."

To read, and hear, the rest - and I highly commend it -- click here: Franklin D. Roosevelt First Inaugural.

Journeys and salt air and joyful surprises

I've been thinking lately about journeys and oceans and far away places and adventures with joyful surprises. The photo is one I took at dawn near the island of Bora Bora in the South Pacific. And here is a poem, another gift from Karen in Tennessee. May your week have an adventure and a joyful surprise or two.


by Hilda Morley



Taste of salt on my fingers,

                                           that’s how

I like it:

               the line of sea rising

above the dark-green pine,

                                           the sea meeting

the horizon,

                     so always the eyes are lifted higher,

                     the pulse buoyed upward

with them

                  So it

should be for us all—

                                  to belong to

whatever moves us outward into

the wideness, for journeying,

                                              tales of

distant places,

                        treasures piled

                        to fill our smiling,

                                                       for us to know of

along the travelled coastline,

                                           the mountains

we can climb to,

                           each port,

                                           each harbor

another window to wash our faces in,

                                                         pull us


               & made for us,   made for

all of us,

                as the birds know, who

fly the continents,   the oceans

for their secret reasons,

                                     a map of the earth

written inside their bodies,


under their breastbones:   

                                       a continuance

of the now most fragile,         

                                        always travelled

patiently enduring world

Saturday, September 27, 2008

On Earth as it is in Heaven

The events of this past week are mind-numbing. Wall Street melts down; government officials talk of an economic depression or a severe recession; the candidates for president debate economics and foreign policy; wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere continue to rage. The focus throughout, at least in our own media, is on ourselves. And I am certainly not immune to worry as I watch our retirement assets shrink.

I would like to suggest that we not forget the poorest in our midst, and that we not forget that we are connected in this fabric of life to the rest of the world. More than 1 billion people -- one-sixth of the world's population -- live under conditions of extreme poverty. We can attempt to ignore the rest of the world, but the events of this past week should teach us that we are linked to the poorest of the poor everywhere.

Little noticed this week was a meeting at the United Nations focused on global poverty and the lack of progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed to reduce global poverty. The MDGs have won wide-spread endorsement from governments and churches (including ours), yet little has been done. Experts at the meeting noted that industrialized nations have, so far, blocked efforts primarily because of short-sighted and self-serving trade policies. 

I must confess that I was disappointed that neither candidate for president addressed the issue of global poverty in last night's debate, although the debate was billed as a dialogue about foreign policy and economics. Also little noticed this week was legislation foundering in our own Congress to put limits on cluster bombs which kill and maim civilians.

And all that said, please do not despair. There are things we can do. Our voice can be heard. On the left side of this screen, under the listed links, are several organizations worthy of your prayers, your financial support and your volunteerism, and I've made it even easier for you by repeating those links in the text here. Episcopal Relief and Development is the arm of our church working tirelessly around the globe to relieve human suffering. ERD needs your dollars and needs your time. One of the most rewarding weeks I've ever spent was with Lori in Central America building a house through ERD for hurricane victims. The Episcopal Church has a website, Global Good, listing other opportunities for us to have an impact and make progress on eradicating worldwide poverty.

The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) is a bipartisan organization that documents and advocates for refugees and war victims. CIVIC has won deep respect from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. The founder, Marla Ruzicka, was from Lakeport, California, and she was killed in Iraq by a car bomb in 2005. She was 28-years-old. The day after she died, we said special prayers in the California Legislature and paused for a moment of silence. The work of CIVIC carries on, and needs your financial and volunteer support (the photo at right is from CIVIC's webpage).

Finally, as we enter this Fall harvest season, I hope each of us will consider where we should put the first fruits of our labor, and how we can truly live into our Lord's Prayer that "thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." 

Blessings to all,

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More photos from Sunday's Celebration of New Ministry

Dear Readers, we have more photos from Sunday's rector institution service! Brought to you by photographer extraordinaire Dudley Rochester. The photos include the presentation from the children; a photo of my family; photos of Bishop Peter Lee; and the Don Brown-Jim Richardson looking confused shot (somehow, so familiar). Thanks Dudley!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A poem to get you to the end of the week

Here's a gift of poetry from my Tennessee friend, Karen. 

A Quiet Life

by Baron Wormser


What a person desires in life

  is a properly boiled egg.

This isn’t as easy as it seems.

There must be gas and a stove,

  the gas requires pipelines, mastodon drills,

  banks that dispense the lozenge of capital.

There must be a pot, the product of mines

  and furnaces and factories,

  of dim early mornings and night-owl shifts,

  of women in kerchiefs and men with

  sweat-soaked hair.

Then water, the stuff of clouds and skies

  and God knows what causes it to happen.

There seems always too much or too little

  of it and more pipelines, meters, pumping

  stations, towers, tanks.

And salt--a miracle of the first order,

  the ace in any argument for God.

Only God could have imagined from

  nothingness the pang of salt.

Political peace too. It should be quiet

  when one eats an egg. No political hoodlums

  knocking down doors, no lieutenants who are

  ticked off at their scheming girlfriends and

  take it out on you, no dictators

  posing as tribunes.

It should be quiet, so quiet you can hear

  the chicken, a creature usually mocked as a type

  of fool, a cluck chained to the chore of her body.

Listen, she is there, pecking at a bit of grain

  that came from nowhere.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Photos from the "Institution"

My friend, the Rev. Peter Carey, has posted photos from Sunday's institution service on his cool blog. I've posted one pic here from his blog.

Thanks to all for a great weekend!

Thanks to all for such an amazing weekend! The celebration on Sunday was wonderful, and the welcome from St. Paul's folks just keeps coming. Thanks for all the hard work, the prayers, the flowers, and the warmth from everyone we have met. You are helping us to begin to feel at home.

We had many friends and family from "away" (and a few are still here), and they were much taken by Charlottesville and the warmth of St. Paul's. And now I feel truly an institution, not because of the bishop, but from the youth group's paint job on the Beta Bridge (no, Californians, that is not Bay-to-Breakers, it is the Beta Bridge, a C'ville thing). Here's a photo from Jane Rotch.

Monday we unpacked boxes, with the Browns pitching in (doing most of the work), and we spent a little more time with visiting family. The family flight out of C'ville didn't happen, so they spent an extra night. Today it is back to work. And the blog will be back in action with various new items soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Big day for St. Paul's

Today is the official installation, or "institution" of me as the ninth rector of St. Paul's. The Book of Common Prayer calls it a "Celebration of New Ministry" and I like that title better than being institutionalized. It is my hope and prayer that today's celebration will be about the ministry we will do together, and how in the years ahead we will grow into our mission to serve as a beacon of hope and mercy to the world around us.

The ceremony will be at 3:30 pm at St. Paul's, with Bishop Peter Lee presiding. The preacher will be the eighth rector of St. Paul's, The Rev. David Poist. And we have lots of out-of-town guests; we will process into the church the banners of the two faith communities that have formed me the most: Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, and All Souls Parish, Berkeley.

Lori and I hope to see you this afternoon!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Moving in day

The Bekins van arrived bright and early this morning, and unloaded all our stuff. Somehow it all fit into our condo. The biggest challenge was that the stairwell was too narrow for two box-spring mattresses, so the movers hoisted them straight up to the third floor. Yikes!

Unpacking will take months, but at least we know have a place to call home.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day 6 - We Made It!

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - We rolled into Charlottesville this evening, having driven 2,800 miles in six days.

Today we got out of Louisville at the crack of dawn. Although we wanted to explore Louisville for a day, we realized the better part of valor was to get out, given the storm damage and recovery operation underway.

So off across Kentucky we sped. 

This afternoon, we reached West Virginia, and we spent several hours meandering off the interstate. We drove up US 60 into the mountains to see the New River Gorge, which is a National Park Service area, and the massive arch bridge that spans the gorge. It was well worth the drive. 

And West Virginia just may have a claim on being the birthplace of ham biscuits, judging by the number of "Biscuit World" shops we saw along the route. In one town, they advertised "Buy two ham biscuits, get a third free." Yumm!

Back out of the mountains, we got off at White Sulfur Springs and explored that fascinating area. Along the road is a house made totally out of coal. And it is for sale. Probably shouldn't be a restaurant, however, given the chance of kitchen fires.

We are now in Charlottesville for the night, and we've picked up the keys to our condo. Moving in begins tomorrow. Here's a few photos from the trip.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 5 - Onward into the soggy East

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky - Today's drive was a mixed blessing. We officially entered into the Eastern half of the country at 1:52 pm Central time, crossing the Mississippi River in St. Louis. We celebrated with lunch and and a pale ale at the Schlafly brew pub, a local institution in St. Louis.

We drove through five states today - Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. Although the scenery was beautiful, we also saw considerable destruction left in the wake of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ike: flooded roads, swollen rivers, downed trees and miles-upon-miles of destroyed crops. Here in Louisville there are 200,000 residents still without power. Our hotel is across the street from a storm evacuation center, and National Guard trucks are lumbering up and down the street.

We also heard from Lori's brother, Don, who lives in Houston with his daughter, Wendy. Don's house escaped major damage and flooding, but he expects to be without power for a week or two. He considers himself among the luckier in his neighborhood. All of this is all the more ironic for us given the perfect weather we've enjoyed on this trip.

Today's tacky Jesus sign award is a tie between the big green "Jesus" sign near the St. Louis Arch, and a sign near Kansas City that reads "Jesus is our repose." I am still contemplating the meaning of that one.

Tomorrow we will head eastward on I-64, and expect to get to Charlottesville sometime in the evening. We've had a great adventure seeing so much of this amazing country of ours. But we are road weary and ready to reach our new home.

Day 4 - Oz

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas - We drove across Kansas. And drove and drove and drove. 

It took us 12.5 hours to make it from Denver to Overland Park, which is a suburb of Kansas City. We left Denver before dawn (see photo of the dawn overlooking Denver from our friends' mountainside). The hardest driving of the day was making it through commuter traffic to escape the sprawl of Denver. A few hours later and we were crossing Kansas.

They love museums in Kansas, and every town along I-70 tempts the traveler with a museum or "hall of fame." The museums included the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame; the Barbed Wire Museum; the Fick Fossil Museum; the Combat Air Museum; the U.S. Cavalry Museum; and of course, The Oz Museum. I was tempted by Oz, but by the time we got to exit 328 in Wamego, it was closed.

The signs along the way are worth spotting, everything from "Jesus is Real!" to "Brown vs. Board of Ed Historic Site." Here's the most puzzling official sign of the day, from the Kansas Dept. of Transportation, and found in numerous places: "Prepass Follow in-cab signals." Any ideas what that means?

See you soon...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day 4 - "I think we are in Kansas"

SOMEWHERE ON I-70 -- We are stopped at the biggest, most full-service reststop I have ever seen, just across the state line in Kansas headed east on I-70. This rest stop has internet connections, free coffee, maps, artwork for sale, books, oh, and bathrooms.

We are sailing across the gentle-rolling prairie, lush with sunflowers and silos. Tonight's destination, 645 miles from our starting point this morning in Colorado, is Overland Park, Kansas, and our friends Jim and Gail Greenwell. Gail is a seminary classmate and is the brand new rector of a large church in Mission, Ks.  More about that in another post.

I will post photos later tonight. Blessings and safe travels to all...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day 2 & 3 - Crossing Navajoland and the Rocky Mountains

DENVER -- Our drive on Saturday was spectacular!

We got out of Salt Lake City before dawn and headed south of Provo on I-15 where we picked up I-70 in Salina, Utah, and then headed east another 550 miles. We will be on I-70 until we pick up I-64 in Saint Louis, Mo.

The trip across the Utah desert was amazing, a true feast for the eyes. The mesas are red and purple and sandy, and millions of years of sea bed are exposed. The wind and rain sculpt the mesas into twisted towers and arches. At one of the rest stops we met a group of Navajo artisan women selling pottery and jewelry, and we enjoyed talking with them about how they make their art, and we bought a few items. The Navajo reservation is to the south, but Navajoland extends up into the Utah desert.

The terrain changed dramatically when we entered Colorado, becoming greener as we followed the Colorado River (the same river that ends up in the Grand Canyon in Arizona). We were soon climbing into the Rocky Mountains along the sides of deep river gorges.

The Rockies are stunning, and the peaks are already covered with snow. We are fortunate to make the crossing now and not before more snow makes its appearance. Pullouts for chaining tires are everywhere (and I am carrying our chains). We crossed the highest point on I-70, Vail Pass, elevation 10,603 feet, in the late afternoon.

We are staying with friends, Robert and Ann, at their spectacular home on a mountainside in Morrison, Colorado, and we will relax here on Sunday before we head out on Monday for Kansas City. I hope all of you have a blessed Sunday!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Heading East of Reno -- Day One

SALT LAKE CITY -- We set forth across the great American desert today, driving 647 miles and 11 hours. We crossed our home range, the Sierra Nevada, then descended into the long expanse of desert that is Nevada. At dusk we entered Utah, and drove another two hours to a motel in Salt Lake City. A nearly full moon lit our way. Tomorrow we will head into the Rockies and our destination is Denver.

Driving across Nevada is truly like sailing across a sea. Long, long horizons, with mountain ranges floating like islands above the desert. Ranges go by with names like the Ruby Range and the Bitter Root. The wagon trails are all but obliterated, and we are left to imagine how difficult it was not that long ago for the Western settlers and adventurers to make the crossing. Dry lake beds, filled with borax and salt, still line the highway. And there are wonders aplenty for the eye, from "Jesus Lives" billboards to a caravan of Drumstick ice cream trucks headed we know not where. And along the road: an old desert rat art colony. And every town now looks like a mini-Las Vegas, or maybe just another suburb of Reno.

Here are a few photos, in no particular order, from our adventure today.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Parting shots

The moving van with all our world possessions is on the way. Here's a few parting shots from moving day, empty house and all.

Moving day is here

The Bekins moving van has invaded 12th Street, and the loading is underway. We've filled trash cans to the brim, and our neighbor's trash cans up, too. Mike and Lee are our movers, and they will see us at the other end of the country in about 10 days (after they make stops in San Jose and Fresno to pick up more households destined for the East Coast). This is a bitter-sweet day for us. We've lived in this house 18 years. Ohmygosh, do you know how much STUFF accumulates in 18 years?? As long as everything goes as planned, we will hit the road tomorrow. Onward we plunge...

Packing and packing and packing

We've had a very long day. The packers were here 14 hours, and they packed and packed and packed. Tonight we went to Tom's & Alan's for a late dinner (thanks!). We are camping in our house tonight. Tomorrow Bekins loads the van.

Monday, September 8, 2008

California Here I Come...

...right back where I started from, open up your Golden Gate, California here I come!

Today, dear readers, I head back to California, my native land. I am so looking forward to being re-united with Lori. This is the longest we have ever been apart in our nearly 20 years of marriage. I am also looking forward to touching bases with our dearest ones -- family, friends and neighbors, and those who are alone.

Later this week the moving van arrives to load up our gear. We will set forth across the Great Basin on Friday, and hope to make it to Denver by Sunday, Kansas City by Monday, and back in Charlottesville by Thursday. Oh, and do please come to my "institution" as Rector at St. Paul's, on Sunday Sept. 21 at 3:30 p.m. The Rev. David Poist will be the preacher, and Bishop Peter Lee presiding. Earlier that morning at our regular services, my mentor and friend, the Very Rev. Donald Brown, retired Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, will be preaching.

I probably won't be updating this blog on a daily basis. So I hope you will take the opportunity to catch up on a few items, particularly yesterday's entry on worship and the stewardship conference from the day before.

Until meet again, cowabunga dudes!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Changes in our worship today (maybe more than you want to know)

Those of you who were with us at our 10 a.m. service today noticed a few changes in how we did things. I’d like to explain what we did and why, and invite your conversation as we continue to see what works, and what doesn’t.

After our procession and opening hymn, we began today’s service at the Holy Table, with all of the clergy assembled together. You may have noticed that the Table had only candles and books. Think of all this as a meal in two parts, the Liturgy of Word and then the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the Liturgy of Word – the first part – we gather around the Table to hear the old stories of our ancestors, the story of salvation contained in Holy Scriptures. We are not ready to eat yet until we hear the ancient story of salvation and how we are part of that story. Symbolic of the centrality of the story of salvation is the placement  on the Holy Table of  the book containing the Holy Gospels. The chalices and patens for our meal were elsewhere (more on that in a minute).

The Gospel story of the day was read aloud by the Rev. David McIlhiney, who carried it into the congregation. Another way we symbolize of the centrality of the Gospel is to hear it read aloud in the middle of the congregation. We stand up for the Gospel to show our respect and reverence for the holy book as it is carried and read (this is an echo of the Jewish practice of reverencing the scrolls containing Torah). Also, as the Gospel is carried into the congregation, it is appropriate to turn and face the book from wherever you are standing.

You may have also noticed that the chalices and patens – the vessels we use to serve our Communion – were kept on the High Altar. Partly we did this because the High Altar is well situated to hold these objects. Another reason for keeping them there temporarily is out of respect for the original purpose of the High Altar as a communion table, and in remembrance of all those who have received Communion from the High Altar.

After the Liturgy of the Word (which includes the sermon and the Prayers of the People), we moved into the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The shift in the action was symbolized by our setting the Holy Table for our sacred meal. We moved the chalices and patens from the High Altar to the Holy Table, while at the same time the bread and wine for our Eucharist was brought up the aisle from the congregation. And the Gospel book was removed.

At the end of Communion, we moved all of the used chalices and patens to the sacristy. We cleared the Holy Table, symbolic that our meal was over and that our in the work in the world must begin anew.

I hope you noticed something else fun today! During the passing of the peace, our children marched up the aisle as we sang to them. They gathered around the Holy Table and we gave them a blessing before the children sat with their families. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did – and we will do it every week!

Finally, a few words about the Baptismal Font. You may have noticed there were no flowers in it today. The reason: I believe it is important for us to preserve the integrity of the baptismal font as the central symbol of who we are and the ministry we share together. The historic baptismal font at St. Paul’s is placed centrally in the nave (where people sit), and the location of the font is another symbol of the centrality of baptism to our life of faith and ministry. It is through our baptism that we are all chartered as ministers in the Church (please see our baptismal covenant, Book of Common Prayer p. 299).

Soon, we will put a simple glass bowl in the font containing water blessed by one of our clergy, and we will keep it full of water seven days a week. Some people have asked me, “Isn’t that catholic?”

The answer is, yes, the baptismal font containing water is catholic. The word “catholic” means “universal,” and we affirm each week in our Creed that we believe in “one holy, catholic and apostolic church.” Catholic means we are all bound together regardless of our church brand. Catholicity is not owned by any one denomination. Contrary to popular belief, the Roman Catholic Church does not claim to own the title “catholic” but joins with us and others in sharing the description of "catholic" through baptism.  The central symbol of our catholicity is baptism. To put it another way, our connection with Christ and with all Christians in all places and at all times is through our baptism. The font at St. Paul’s is an enduring symbol of that reality.

If you would like to know more about how the Episcopalians, Lutherans, the United Church of Christ, Methodists, Roman Catholics and other branches of the universal catholic faith have a common understanding of baptism, I highly recommend reading Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, a lengthy statement hammered out among church leaders in Lima, Peru in 1982 under the auspices of the World Council of Churches (commonly called "the Lima statement"). The statement notes: “Through the gifts of faith, hope and love, baptism has a dynamic which embraces the whole of life…” It is through our baptism that we are one with Christ.

And, finally, the photo on this blog entry is one I took of what is believed to be the oldest baptismal font in the English speaking world – at St. Martin’s Church, Canterbury. The church pre-dates the great Cathedral, and the font is more than 1,000 years old (long before the Reformation and Protestant divisions). The font is centrally located at the entrance to the church, symbolic that we are truly Christ’s own forever!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Giving is the essence of living

Today I went to my first Diocese of Virginia event: the annual stewardship conference. I joined six wonderful and enthusiastic folks from St. Paul's -- we had enough to fill a table. And I am pleased to report I did not have any flat tires on the way home (see blog entry re Vestry retreat).

Bishop Coadjutor Shannon Johnston gave a terrific presentation about his own struggles with giving over the years, and how giving has become central to his spiritual growth. He implored us to see stewardship as something bigger than the annual pledge drive. Giving, he said, is central to our mission as Christians and integral to our spiritual health and well-being.

In the afternoon we were treated to an rousing talk by The Rev. Dan Matthews, the retired rector of Trinity Church, Wall Street (and a much revered CDSP grad!). I've heard Dan speak before, but never so eloquently as he did today in attacking the dominant culture of greed that says we never quite have enough and our self-worth is measured by how much money and possessions we hoard. "We are captured in a culture of scarcity," he said. The central mission of the church is to break through that culture and free people from its chains. Jesus spoke over and over on that theme, far more than he ever mentioned sex.
Dan gave us much to think about: He emphasized that stewardship is not really about balancing the church budget but is about how we are called to give beyond ourselves: "People give because they have a need to give, not because the church needs it. Give because you need to give." 

And giving, he pointed out, is the foundational principle to our spiritual health as human beings. "Giving," he said, "is the essence of living." We are at our fullest when we are joyfully giving -- and that is a theme I hope we will be open to exploring more in the weeks ahead.

By the way, I highly recommend you read one of Dan's best talks on this subject (and it includes an anecdote he told today) by clicking: Our Mentality of Scarcity Among God's Abundance

Friday, September 5, 2008

Living with eyes open

How about a Mary Oliver poem to wind up the week?

In the Storm

by Mary Oliver


Some black ducks

were shrugged up

on the shore.

It was snowing


hard, from the east,

and the sea

was in disorder.

Then some sanderlings,


five inches long

with beaks like wire,

flew in,

snowflakes on their backs,


and settled

in a row

behind the ducks --

whose backs were also


covered with snow --

so close

they were all but touching,

they were all but under


the roof of the duck's tails,

so the wind, pretty much,

blew over them.

They stayed that way, motionless,


for maybe an hour,

then the sanderlings,

each a handful of feathers,

shifted, and were blown away


out over the water

which was still raging.

But, somehow,

they came back


and again the ducks,

like a feathered hedge,

let them

crouch there, and live.


If someone you didn't know

told you this,

as I am telling you this,

would you believe it?


Belief isn't always easy.

But this much I have learned --

if not enough else --

to live with my eyes open.


I know what everyone wants

is a miracle.

This wasn't a miracle.

Unless, of course, kindness --


as now and again

some rare person has suggested --

is a miracle.

As surely it is.