Friday, April 30, 2004

a set list

A little bit of Soul
Black like Sunday
The Difference (in the garden of St. Anne's-on-the-Hill) (acoustic)
(Thinking Wondering) What I'm gonna do (acoustic)
Mr. Evil (acoustic)
Mississippi Moon (acoustic)
Everybody Knows a little bit of something (acoustic)
A Box (acoustic)
Talk to You
The Big Picture
Born to be Loved
Over My Head (acoustic)
Summerland (acoustic)


Wednesday, April 28, 2004


Yesterday evening Allison and I stole about an hour and rode the bike over to see the iris lady. That's not really her name. If so, it would probably be Lady Iris instead of The Iris Lady. But I'm pretty sure her name is not Iris at all. Allison just calls her that because she grows irises. I'll call her that too. Her name is probably Margaret or Phyllis - maybe Jean.
The irises, however, have definite, specific names. There were hundreds of different kinds. Most were in bloom and had a 1" PVC pipe stuck in the ground beside it with its name written on it. Some were one color like the dark "black lightning". Some were multi-colored and intricately patterned while others had gradients of the same colors. They all smelled unique. Given enough time in the garden, I'm sure that each iris could have been identified by name simply by smell. Some smelled like candy (various varieties of hard candy and taffy), some smelled weedy, some powdery. All unique.
I asked Allison if Lady Iris had named these hundreds of varieties, meaning had she developed them. Each name seemed to accurately describe the look and character of the flower to whom it was given. I imagined the breeder/developer sitting, conversing with the flower, taking in its colors and scent, and then naming it according to the feeling she got from such an encounter. Surely these clever, accurate names had not been haphazardly assigned.
I have a name that once was descriptive. It has become haphazardly assigned, assumed, and associated. People who do not bear it, disdain it, because it is no longer associated with the giver of the name. I want a new name. I don't want to just assume it. I want the developer to re-create me so that I have to be renamed to accurately describe me. Could I one day be called, "cares for others", "defends the fatherless", "pleads for the widow", "acts like Jesus," "Incarnational," "seeks Justice", "loves mercy", "walks humbly".
Develop me so that I no longer take Your name in vain simply by calling myself by it.
Lady Iris was very pleased with her flowers. Some of them weren't quite ready yet.

Isaiah 43:1


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

blame it on midnight

Is it illegal to cut, edit and paste someone else's thoughts into your own application? Probably. But honestly, how else could anything we say make any difference to anyone? I have to admit that I hope someday something I have to say might get snipped and find even some out-of-context fit in someone's situation. Encouragement, conviction, challenge, whatever might be needed. So many do it for me. Even when it has to be filtered.
So last night I was riding and looking up at the same old Louis Armstrong smiling down over the lake. I thought, shame on him, dragging me out here every night like this. Shame on the moon.
It made me think about Matt Redman's challenge of discernment to know what needs to be done but to temper the prophet with a pastor's heart. Why should a song about relationships seem such a stretch of application? Jesus calls us His bride.
There are layers here. I won't trivialize art by explaining it away. It spoke to me. Called to mind by Satchmo widening his smile.

Heaven opens up the door
Where angels fear to tread
Some men go crazy, some men go slow
Some men go just where they want
Some men never go

Everywhere is all around
Comfort in the crowd
Stanger's faces all round
Laughing right out loud
Hey, watch where you're goin', step light on old toes
Until you've been beside a man
You don't know who he knows

- bob seger


Monday, April 26, 2004

no more mr. romance

"so dad, are you really growing a white gotee?"
"well I don't know if you'd say that, I've had the gotee for a long time its just that it has gone from gray flecks to white."
"would you have gray hair if you didn't have bleach stripes?"
"well I don't have bleach stripes now do I? do you see any gray?"
"hey dad, remember when you just had plain hair like mr. romance or something?"
"you know, before it was bleached and it was straighter. now its that messed-up, sticking-all-up-go-every-which-way hair."
"would you rather I look like mr. romance?"
"good night dad."
"good night will."
"i love you."
"i love you."


Saturday, April 24, 2004

You're the Song I sing

You fill our hearts with more than we can hold inside,
and so we sing.



Friday, April 23, 2004

an exercise in song lyric references

Got my bike back tonight. Yeeehaw! Four weeks to the day from when I left it at the shop. And what a perfect night to get it back. Above the lake, Venus twinkles astonishingly bright. As if hung from Venus on a string, sister moon sits just below with the corners of her mouth turned up- a sliver of silver. A silver boat being lowered onto Lake Murray. Louis Armstrong’s smile while he sings, “skies of blue, clouds of white, bright blessed day and dark sacred night, and I say to myself, what a wonderful world” with a twinkle in his eye. Al and I rode over to the dam and watched his smile yellow as it drooped closer and closer to the lake. But the twinkle in his eye never dimmed.
So forgive me as I rejoice in the return of my steel horse. I’m a cowboy. I walk these streets, a loaded six-string on my back. Now the journey to anywhere is made enjoyable. Whenever I feel like I don’t want to go to work I just say, “wait! I can ride my bike there!” There’s so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see. Everywhere I go, I’m looking.
Since day one, my bike has been for me a metaphor for the joy in the journey. I’m fascinated with the journey. It’s amazing how many years it took me to notice that my photo albums are full of pictures of roads, lanes, paths, bridges, railroad tracks and trestles. I enjoy going as much as getting there. There is a joy in the journey, there’s a light we can love on the way. There is a wonder and wildness to life, and freedom for all who obey.
Okay, so it’s a bit dangerous. Shortly after I got my bike, Pastor Don bought me a leather jacket. Go ahead and laugh at me if you want, but my pastor buying me a leather jacket? I took it as a God-smile at my new bike and the jacket also became a metaphor. The full armor of God. Protection for the dangers of the journey.
Truth is, we could have just been created and placed at our destination. There must be a point in the journey. Anything can happen. The point of the journey is not to arrive. I must journey until I get there. But the journey is not what is going to get me there. I can only be taken there. The journey is part of being there.
There must be abundance available. “All those who seek it shall find it, a pardon for all who believe. Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind.”

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

-T.S. Eliot

*Special thanks to T. S. Eliot, Louis Armstrong, Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Card, Neil Peart, Sting, and Rich Mullins.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

spring run

serene.jpgAs I headed North on I-75 back toward the airport on Sunday morning, I passed over the Maumee river. I had just sat on the bank of that river the previous evening for an hour or so and watched walleye jump as the sun went down. Quiet, peaceful on the surface, but underneath, teeming with half a million randy walleye in for a long romantic weekend from the business of Lake Erie. As it began to get dark, a single fisherman made his way back to the bank empty-handed, shed his rubber britches, made a call on his cell phone and climbed in his pickup and drove away. Ah, just me and old man Maumee (named by a Miami Indian with a pipe in his mouth or with a decidedly West Virginia accent – just ask me to say “Miami”). I sat and listened to the silence of the lazy river, thought about the windmills, and called Allison to my side via Verizon wireless. We talked and then I sat for a while longer until I was afraid it was too dark to read the street signs back in Bowling Green. Ah, I’ll find my way, I thought. So serene. Quiet whisper.
chaos.jpgThat wasn’t the view at all Sunday morning as I crossed the river. No less than 300 fishermen standing shoulder to shoulder under the bridge. I see no way they could have not been stepping on toes, tangling lines and jagging their jigs. Probably down there arguing that chartreuse twister tails catch more fish while the next guy swears by yellow. No its pink. Some of them think it really doesn’t matter – any colored twister tail will catch a big walleye. Someone gets untangled long enough to hook one, and everyone switches to that color. No one is absolutely sure about his lucky twister tail then.
Of course, I’m just surmising about the activity beyond the obvious community chaos I witness from a distance. All I see are hundreds of fishermen and no fish.
So I drive on up the freeway fairly certain that real truth is found in a mountain stream with live bait.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

random traveler thought connections

expos.gifBack in the day, Allison and I were given tickets to see the Pittsburg symphony with guest conductor Charles Dutoit. Early that summer, I, got the chance to sing the national anthem in Pittsburg at a Pirates/Expos game. We sat directly behind home plate. Cool. Later that summer, I was in Montreal for a few days and lo and behold, on my day off, there was an outdoor concert of the Montreal Symphony with Charles Dutoit, and the Expos were playing the Pirates. Hard choice. I went to the concert, having already seen Montreal expose the skull and crossbones of the Pirates a month before. pitt.jpgAlso on that trip, I got to see this really cool windmill in Pointe-Claire, Quebec,windmill.jpg
the Peterborough, Ontario lift locks, and Joseph Scriven's grave.

Having this past Saturday evening free in Ohio, I contemplated driving up to Detroit to see if there was a Tigers or Mudhens game I could catch, then decided to be lazy and take a drive and see what I could see. I saw... windmills! But these weren't ordinary quaint flemish icons of a simpler time. no no! These were high tech monstrosities that demanded awe, rather than ahhhh. 300 hundred feet high in the middle of a corn field. Visible from miles away. Standing there, face into the wind, ready to be moved. You can't see where it comes from or where it goes, but you can feel its effects.
I want to be a windmill. I want to stand there in the field, completely powerless without the silent wind. Moved and powered by the overwhelming gusts of conviction and the gentle warmth of encouragement.
Stand me in the middle of the harvest and hold me up with the wafting scent of honeysuckle from far corners of the field.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

a multi-ethnic word


have you been outside? Sure, they've been threatening for a couple weeks, but not like this. Winter comes in this way too, you know. Christmas rolls around and one thinks, "gee the winter's mild here." Then the end of January brings the wrath of old man winter down in its fiercest SC manifestation. Always a surprise. It is so slow in arriving that one forgets from one year to the next.
So it was with the arrival of the azaleas. For two weeks, scattered colors in the lawns of every home. Very pretty. Suddenly you open your eyes and they've exploded. Thousands of blossoms tugging downward on the limbs. Overwhelming eye candy. Static lawn fireworks.
I like to call them Ezekiels out there prophesying the advent of spring.


Monday, April 19, 2004

jiggidy jog

home again, home again. I'm back from the weekend. Back to the future in fact. Though the weather, when I landed was the same as when I took off, the calendar was backed up about three and a half weeks. I often mourn that so many wonderful spring blossoms are so short lived. There is that wonderful week when every bloom's lifespan seems to overlap with that of every other bloom. Color everywhere. I need that, you know - I'm not big on subtleties of shade. Brilliant and vibrant, that's my thing. (except clothing - earth tones all the way). Azaleas, Dogwoods, Wi(y)steria, Bradford Pears, countless rod-doesn't-know-the-name flowers, all smiling their colorful faces at once. Then it' over. A good gust out of the south-east and a twenty minute flurry of Bradford Pear Petals, and we're left with green.
daffodils.jpgOnce, about 20 years ago, I spent the last 2 weeks of May and the first 2 weeks of June traveling from Boca Raton to Guilford, New Hampshire. At each stop along the way, we had the very first of the fresh strawberries. Every one said, "oh, you've come just in time for our first strawberries." That was a wonderful month. A wonderfully extended strawberry harvest. Those poor folks in Boca Raton had long since raided the frozen berries for their shortcake while we were following the season north like it was Jerry Garcia and we had a month of Casey Jones.
So how cool would a month of Wisteria be? Makes one want to stay a few weeks and drive on up to Thunder Bay or someplace.
I've been thinking of applying for a writing sabbatical. I'm due. Pack the laptop, start in Jacksonville and make my way NW to Anchorage. The last of the spring flowers fade and the book is done.
Thank you Bowling Green for the daffodils. I envy your next couple weeks.


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

a yellow word



Monday, April 12, 2004

a blue word



Sunday, April 11, 2004

grazie signore

What Thou, my Lord hast suffered
was all for sinners' gain
Mine, mine was the transgression
But Thine the deadly pain
Lo, here I fall my Savior
Tis I deserve Thy Place
Look on me with Thy favor
assist me with Thy grace.

-Bernard of Clairvaux
listen to the music by Hans Leo Hassler and J.S. Bach


Saturday, April 10, 2004

feliz cumpleaños del sur

My friend, Larry the composer, when our friendship was new, sent me a short arrangement of "Happy Birthday" for guitar. I recorded it and have put many miles on that mp3, sending it to everyone I know of having a birthday. I think it always gets a smile. Every year I send it back to Larry. Larry's birthday was on Wednesday, so I sent it to him and told him he should arrange another for the decade. So Wednesday evening I took it upon myself to present him with my own guitar arrangement for his birthday. So now I'll have a personality choice with which to annoy birthday people and hopefully Larry will deem it worthy to annoy his birthday friends as well. Please give a listen.
If you know the background of this particular style, surely you'll recognize the polarity of emotions that can surface at birthdays and the love/hate relationship we have with aging. A nod to Buenos Aires and a birthday wish to Larry, Jodi, Abby, Rah-rah, Ashley and Papaw (I'm sure he must have liked the tango). Did I forget anyone?
Feliz cumpleaños del Sur


Friday, April 09, 2004

vacuitas ex ductum

Had a conversation with a student this morning that got me thinking again about living abundantly and how we (me?) so often focus our understanding of a concept into one area that causes us to miss so much. What we miss is sometimes knowledge of what we should be doing, but it is often a sacrifice of peace that we could have but don’t accept.
At issue today in my mind is freedom. Working among rebel aged students all the time, I often hear the phrase, “freedom in Christ”. Sometimes I hear it used to defend questionable behavior, and sometimes to point out others’ perversion of its meaning. Anyway, this phrase sort of illustrates what I’m thinking. Usually we use it to mean we are free from the bondage of our sin nature in the present (though some use it to mean we are free to sin). We are free now to live without habitual sin in our day to day. This is great of course, but with this application only, what I’m left with is the baggage from past sin. I’m not in bondage to my sin nature - I’m in bondage to my guilt nature. Has God really forgiven me for THAT? But what about the consequences of that sin in the lives of those around me? How can I really have been forgiven of something that affected other people?
One of the ways we deal with this guilt issue is to develop a theology that says God forgives and forgets. Once we confess and ask forgiveness, God can no longer remember our sin. Is this Biblical? How can an omniscient God forget anything? Is this just further evidence of my inability to understand forgiveness – that I have to assume loss of memory in order to believe that God no longer holds me guilty for my wrongs? We say that if someone’s wrong toward me is still somewhere in the back of my mind then I haven’t truly forgiven and let it go. But is this really true? Is not the issue better understood by considering how I deal with the fact that the wrong is still in the back of my mind? If, in fact, I could zap the ordeal from my brain like Tommy Lee Jones or Will Smith, forgiveness would be easy. In reality though, I will remember or can be reminded of things that I’ve forgiven. I just choose not to keep account of wrongs, not to grow bitter, not to use them for manipulation.
The bible says that our sins are cast as far as east from west. From us. We are no longer guilty of them. This does not mean that God can’t remember them. Its just that they no longer separate us from Him. He’s forgiven us. Surely His ability to forgive is far bigger than I realized. He knows me, yet He loves me. Its my memory of my past sins that keeps me tied up, that keeps me from living abundantly. Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean I’m free to sin, nor does it mean only that I’m free from sinning now or in the future. It means also that I’m free from having sinned. This may be my biggest obstacle, perhaps my biggest habitual sin - to distrust God’s promise and accept His forgiveness and to try to understand it on human terms.
Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief.


Thursday, April 08, 2004


What is the difference between having the things you do serve a purpose and having the things you do be your purpose? Sometimes I wonder if the number one habit of highly successful people is not to imitate other highly successful people. Usually success comes from having a goal and assuring that everything you do is geared toward accomplishing the goal. The goal of the imitator is often to imitate what someone else is doing rather than why he is doing it. The terminality of this is to attempt to accomplish the by-product of a purpose. I’ll skip the stupid metaphor I thought of for this.

These are the true profiles of the artist and the imitator. Therefore, the profile of the misunderstood artist is shown in the differences between the artist and the imposter. This difference is so missed and misunderstood that the imposter is often deemed successful by having achieved the by-product. The worst part is that he will never achieve the real success of his model because he erroneously believes he’s already accomplished it.
So the artist is driven to express and create. The true artist, as he is creating, will be satisfied no more or less by the financial reward gained by his art. He may be more or less hungry, but he can’t be satisfied by something different from that which he set out to do. To be satisfied by money or fame or be frustrated by lack of it, is to prove that it was goal in the first place. Many will imitate the financially rewarded artist in order to gain the rewards rather than to create the art. It is this generation that finds frustration or confidence in something less than its models.

Every day there are true artists who have been swallowed up by the machine stepping back giving up highly financially successful careers because their art is threatened or compromised. On the other hand, everyday there are those whose audience has lost interest in their trendy, target demographic spawned drivel so they’ve become financially frustrated. Ironically, it is the latter group who are seen as the frustrated artists.

Like religious zealotry that can’t be understood by people who mistake it for politics, art can’t be understood by people who mistake it for industry. But perhaps the more frustrating thing is when people mistake industry for art. When this happens, so-called artists themselves are consumers and the audience provides for their consumption.
This is a profoundly perverted misappropriation. The "high maintenance" artist is a profound misnomer; for artists are not driven by external demand. The lack of external motivation and the the lack of need for positive feedback, make humility ubiquitous among the greatest artists. This trait is so widespread among artists that it may be difficult to tell if it is a prerequisite for artistry or if artistry begets humility.

Metaphorically speaking, that is.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

penny for your thoughts

A farthing for your friendship. A nickel for your nonsense. A quarter for your quirks. A dollar for your dispair. A pound for your problems.
Surely one of the most important functions and responsibilities of community is carrying one another. To this role I commit. May I be a husband who bears his wife’s burdens in love without qualifying them against his own. May I be a father to whom his children know they can bring anything they are dealing with. May I be a teacher whom my students know loves them more than my standards. May I be a friend who gladly hears, bears, lifts, prays and encourages without a trace of judgment, disappointment, distraction.
I am available. Here’s a penny for you.


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

coemdy fo eorrrs

So I’m sitting here at the computer working on Easter Sunday worship, enjoying a cold beverage. I type a bit and reach for my Mountain Dew™. My fingers don’t quite make it around the bottle and so it tips – just a little mind you, but just enough to send a droplet up and over and directly onto (into) my keyboard. I quickly pick up the keyboard and turn it upside down hoping to drain the dew from circuitry. A dribble comes forth and I hope I’m safe. About 20 minutes pass before my computer begins to change pages, tab, randomly type random letters without being asked. AI? I ask. No, the effects of phenylketonurics on circuitry.
I unplug the keyboard and take it downstairs to try and evaporate the Dew™ with a hair dryer. Then I see that there is some now moistened lint and goo beneath the keys so I let my finger off the “cool” button to try and surge some wind in there to remove it. It takes exactly 3 seconds for a hair dryer to melt the keys of your Apple™ keyboard. Now the entire right hand position of my keyboard is misshapen like shrinky dinks™. In order to try to lift them back into playing position, I take the keyboard apart. I remove all the shriveled keys and give the thing a thorough cleaning. Then I search the house and borrow “test” keys from all the ancient keyboards from Macs gone by. None fit. Eventually I decide that I can live without the numeric pad until I can replace the whole thing. So I remove the numeric keys and place them at right hand position.
Twenty more drying minutes, 6 tiny screws replaced, and we’re back in business. Keyboard as good as new (sans numeric key pad), with confusing errant symbols where the letters should be to thwart any unwary typists who have to watch their hands.

This blog entry brought to you by the letter ¡™£¢∞§•••ªœ∑¨´†øπø圥∑ƒ∂˜…ø∂œˆ∑¨π…


Monday, April 05, 2004


in darkest night his fire doth burn
the peaceful waning hours turn
the thoughts elusive in the light
to shape and form and weight by night.

distracted prayers in light of day
will help the sun to light the way
but focused groans in hours late
the path ahead illuminate


Thursday, April 01, 2004

on a lighter note



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