Papa looks for home.
He can’t seem to find it
even though he’s in it.
We show him pictures,
hoping this will help.
It usually doesn’t.
We take him to the old place.
There are vines, rotten boards.
Rusty saw blades.
A bench with no legs.
Distance in his eyes.
No rest. No rest at all.
Always wandering. Searching.
Never finding.
Nothing is sadder than this.
But Papa, dear Daddy,
Look at me (Lord, still my soul.).
Be with me. Take my hand.
(I’m trusting to the Unseen Hand.)
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
Let’s listen to the crickets.
You are my sunshine.
I never knew you danced so well.
In this quilt (Mama made it)
let me hold you.
Home is here. With me.
Home is in my eyes.
Home is.

(art by Lester E. Potts, Jr., an artist who had Alzheimer’s)


When I came up out of the river

I saw Him standing there

like a white oak tree

with light in His leaves

and shaggy bark

thick and ancient

as a temple wall –

a champion with roots

to the center of the earth

stretching east and west.

I came up out of the water

fell on my face before Him

reached up to touch His bark and at once

everything green in me rooted and grew.

Wet by river water with mud on my knees

I wept and was held.

Sheltered in the shade

I looked up through His limbs

and saw a dove.

In the Heart

In the heart there is a garden,

in that garden a new grave.

Life departed grants a pardon;

Love the guilty came to save.

Primal beauty of creation

much more beautiful became

through the Gift of this Oblation,

through the Glory of this Name.

Where the tree of good and evil

cast its shadow on the ground,

now the cross of the Redeemer

lightens everything around.

Those who mourned are now rejoicing

in the rising of the Son;

from each heart, with praises voicing:

“Mercy triumphs. Love has won.”

Door of My Heart

Door of my heart,

bolted and battered,

over the threshold He waits,

gently He knocks…

Yield to His voice,

peaceful and loving;

wounded and welcome and true,

calling for you,

calling for you.

Come to this table and dine!

Come Lord, though meager my portion.

Yours is the Body, the Blood,

the bread and the wine.

You bid me, come as I am,

clothe me in garments from Heaven,

washed in this life-giving flow,

the Blood of the Lamb.

Door of my heart,

opened to Heaven,

welcome the Father, the Son,

Spirit of Truth.

Let in the Light

of your dear Savior,

Loving the darkness away,

welcome the Day…

Eternal Day.

Story Time with Old Folks

I move to silent spaces where the breath stops

and listen to your lines.

The voice of primal life inside you

speaks around and through and under.

Floating in placid expectancy

to where the river slows and widens,

I am found inside the circle of your loves.

Time flows broadly by this island

of reverence and prayer and existence.

All things here are shades of gray.

I see porches on a hill, well-worn rockers,

a steeple rooted in a grove of oaks.

Corn tassels wave the day farewell

and the called cows come back home.

Barefoot boys take a creek bank by force,

and old ladies weave health into the home place.

Someone sings a song I know from somewhere.

Our people gather at a grave.

Scents of a set table warm and comfort.

Hands with veins of leather reach for mine.

The circle tightens. My soul is loosed.

Love is the only true time traveler.

In This Very Room

In this very room. We are together.

Perhaps all come reluctantly. At someone else’s bidding or insistence. Maybe it only seems so. Truth be told, we need to be here. With each other.

The air here is warm, pleasing. The spirit free, compassionate. The voices diverse, authentic.

No one is enabled, yet all are supported. No one is pitied, yet all are heard. No one is compelled, yet all are forthcoming.

We eat the common bread and share the cup. We are honest. “Now” exists, and that is all. That is enough.

Across this backdrop spreads a story. We listen. Not just to hear, but to know. To be known. We listen for our throaty voices. To catch something familiar. Something new.

Hearing the rawness of it makes us cry. Because we are denuded. And losing skin always hurts. We feel the shedding of another.

We go to the dark places together. We need to know the whole story. Nothing is withheld. Because we have to help each other heal. And because each one of us carries a light. And the light is metered out so that all of us must share it.

What we see here changes perspectives. This is real. This is more beautiful and terrible than “I’m fine” and “Let’s get together for coffee” and “So good to see you” and “I’ll call you when I’m in town.” No, this is not a promise or a regret or a wish. This is the bloody aftermath of being human.

And I enter. I go there because Something in me rises up and reaches down and stretches out and takes it all, embracing, to Itself. It is not mine to claim in pride. It is mine to share in gratitude.

I go, not out of valiance or bravery or breeding or martyrdom. I go because Something out there is looking back at me with the greatest sorrow ever shown by any eyes, and all at once the deepest well of kindness. I go because a Father is running out to meet the child who fell as good as dead, yet lay there looking for the eyes in that great starless sky-black nothing of a face. Mercy’s gaze that had always seen him and everyone and everything in the soft still light of Love. Because that’s how it has to be when all you have is the bloody dirt or the cesspool or the grave. The Eyes have to be up there seeing you, seeing the light in you, and loving that feeble little flame burning alone in the dark.

No water. No first aid. No money. I am empty. Yet I go. And what I bring is more than food and balm and riches.

Offering this empty cup of my life, somehow I know, here in this very room, there is a Presence that will come and fill it. To overflowing. So that we all may drink of it and live. Here for the first time I know that all I need to bring is emptiness – acknowledged, wept over, accepted, offered. And then this truth: it will always be filled if others stand in need.

And it does come. Through the tears and sweat of the story. Through the candle-warmed air we all take in. Through the reaching out of hands and affirmation of words. Through holding and through being held.

We are swept up together in this soul stirring wind. We move to the center, lifting our faces to the Light of the great all-seeing Eyes of Love. We pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.” And it is. And it has been. And it always will be.

Just because it Is. And because we are, too.

2015-12-19 04.16.35


Soul mist rising
On the morning waters
Light enlivening
Filling the day
Ever new
Glory of this newborn day


Sunrise mist over Lake Nicol, Tuscaloosa, Alabama