My Definition of Faith

One aspect of faith that’s important to me is the belief in the inherent goodness of humanity. I may be naïve especially in the light of the increasing number of mass shootings recently, and it might be misplaced, but it we cannot believe that the bulk of people walking with us are good, than things have truly fallen to a low level.

An example that occurred when I was still teaching Special Education at our local high school was that an article appeared in the school newspaper referring to a group of students as “Tard Kart.” In itself, the label does not seem offensive. However, in the article group members described themselves as being “crazy misfits not accepted by the rest of the school”. Hence, “Tard” is a derivative of Retard, a truly offensive term.

Because I represented all Special Education students on our campus, I felt it was my responsibility to speak with the teacher who oversaw the paper. Despite my explanation, she continued to see nothing wrong with publicizing the term and insisted her writers had every right to do so. Despite this opinion, I knew this teacher to be a kind, caring person.

Earlier in the week a student had been attacked outside my classroom door.  He was a relatively small freshman. The students who accosted him were burly seniors. When I heard a loud thump against the wall, I investigated. My student was curled in a fetal position on the dirty carpet.  Large tears coursed down his cheeks.

The ones inflicting the damage stood nearby with smirks on their faces. I do not think they intended to cause severe harm. I believe that it was a prank that got out of control. The older boys have reputations of being overly aggressive, occasionally defiant and at times, general malcontents. They were not on track to graduate with their class, so they had nothing to lose. Even so, my faith in their humanity told me that the beating was not a planned act, but rather an opportunistic reaction.

As an abused child, I grew up in an environment that was not conducive to the development of a personal faith. We did attend church when it fit my dad’s schedule. We did receive our sacraments when others our age did. I even attended Catholic school for the first seven years of my education. But it’s hard to believe that the God who died to give us an opportunity to go to heaven also allowed physical beatings, verbal harassment and emotional debasement. I prayed, every day, for salvation.

During my sophomore year of college the Neumann Club went on a trip to the mountains east of Los Angeles. Waling amidst the towering trees and seeing the snow-covered mountain tops in the background awakened my deeper faith. There I came to know that God loves the world so much that He gave us places of solitude and introspection.

God does not always grant us what we wish, for He knows that we need to be forged by our experiences. We may not want to walk the path we’ve been given, but we have to truly believe that our journey will lead us to a clearer understanding of who we are meant to be in the eyes of humanity, and in the eyes of God.

As I stood in that forest all those years ago I understood for the first time that I was not the horrible child that my parents saw. Faith allowed me to witness the goodness inside myself, the goodness inside my parents, and the goodness in those sharing life with me. It’s a cliché, but I felt a golden glow spreading throughout my body. That glow was faith.

Faith continues to be my rock. It gives me strength to transcend the travails of daily life. It opens my eyes to the good of others and allows me to feel generosity of spirit. When disheartening events rise forth, it is through faith that I am able to move on.

I believe that all are capable of living lives ruled by basic tenets of kindness. Even when challenged, my faith does not waver. That is my belief. That is my faith.

 

Holy Time

there is only here and now

and the once was and the soon to be

the should be, the could be, the might be

joined together, past, present, and future

blending into seamless time

beginning at the beginning

stretching off into the eternity

marching in a straight line

from time before all records were kept

pointing to time unknown

 

dropped in, snuggled in, squeezed in

human beings alter the universe

irrevocably

jumping barriers

leaping across boundaries

in pursuit of dreams

quests for an unholy grail

chasing illusive butterflies of chance

that change predetermined destinies

altering time forevermore

 

some keeping meticulous track

of minutes

days

months

years

 

while others intentionally forget the done

glossing over the finished

as if brushing off flies

for by shedding the past

the future lies

untarnished

unblemished

 

shining bright as the star that led

the Magi to Bethlehem

in search of

the One who would be

the only here and now

To Truly Know God

To know God,

to truly know God.

That’s what I want more

than anything.

 

He’ll come to me as a friend

and sit by my side.

He’ll sing to me of love, joy,

and inner tranquility.

 

He’ll tell me what a godd person

I’ve been all my life

and how pleased He is with

the paths that I have chosen.

 

When tears run down my cheeks

He’ll wrap His arms around me

and hold me tight, not letting go

until the shuddering subsides.

 

We’ll share cool water,

homemade bread and a bowl

of fresh fruit picked off trees

in my backyard.

Before we begin we’ll bow heads

and offer thanks for

all the good and kind people in the world,

for peace, for love and for self-acceptance.

 

When He bites into the apple

and juice runs down His chin,

I’ll snap a photo and we’ll laugh.

He’ll take a picture of me smiling

so that I may treasure it forever.

 

After our meal I’ll invite Him to spend

the night. We’ll have a slumber party

with popcorn and a G-rated movie.

He’ll sleep in my bedroom.

I’ll be on the couch and when I close my eyes

I’ll sleep more soundly than I’ve ever

slept in my life.

 

In the morning He’ll wake me

with the warmth of His smile.

I’ll tingle all over and even after

hours have past, I’ll recall the happiness

that spread throughout my body.

 

Before He leaves He’ll pull

me aside and whisper

like a gentle breeze, but I’ll hear Him

say He’ll be my best friend forever.

 

Heavenly Meal

Feed me a soul-satisfying meal

Krispy corn flakes will not seal the deal

 

No rib eye steak with golden fries

No onion blossom to greet my eyes

 

Chicken enchiladas?  Surely not.

Or even hamburgers nice and hot.

 

What I really need comes from afar.

Can’t be retrieved by plane, boat, or car.

 

Please give to me a thoughtful caress

Given simply, without duress

 

Prepare for me a heavenly dish

Designed to nourish every wish

 

Mix in prayers for a peaceful life

Whip forcefully to erase all strife

 

Today I need to stuff in my face

Food that is filled with amazing grace

Touched

Things have been rough this year.

My wife died, giving birth to a stillborn child.

I lost my job to a younger man.

The earth shook and things went wild.

 

Alcohol became my best friend,

keeping me warm on cold winter nights.

Teeth fell out and tongue turned brown,

And vagrants challenged me to fights.

 

One rainy night, down on my luck,

No nickel to my tarnished name,

I stumbled into an empty house,

where I could hide in shame.

 

I searched through cabinets covered in dust

and looked under every loose board,

hoping to find a morsel to eat,

a blanket, a shirt, anything to add to my hoard.

 

Upstairs in what was a little boy’s room

a magical thing I did find.

Buried beneath a pile of rags,

a book, to challenge my mind.

 

A stubble of candle sat on a shelf,

and so I quickly lit it with glee.

By the flickering light I eagerly read.

A realization soon came to me.

 

The story spoke of a man long ago

who owned very little but love.

He roamed his world, bringing peace,

goodwill, a message from God above.

 

I am like He, I began to think,

with nothing to lose or fear.

Resolved to act, I fell asleep,

Like a child, both loved and dear.

 

When the new sun brightened the world

I stumbled, confusedly, into the hall.

For there, surrounded in unearthly glow,

hovered the Man, to whom I did fall.

 

“My Lord, forgive this humble man,

who long ago fell out of Your grace.

Today I beg you, I am renewed,

and ready to take my place.”

 

A breeze arose, tore off my rags,

and dried the tears from my eyes.

Gentle fingers brushed my cheek,

And lifted away my cries.

 

That was the day when I took control

and rejoined the human race.

From that day forward, I was His man,

and walked with smiling face.

 

I now believe that my wife and child

truly did not die in vain,

for their sacrifice brought me back to God,

and to feel His love again.

 

 

 

A Mighty Hand

 

A mighty hand reached to the earth

and fingered fractured soil so fine

that particles of dust, no worth,

trickled like lonely sands of time.

 

Tears trickled through a curtain torn

showering grace as before the fall.

With tiny steps, the world reborn

trumpets in harmonious call.

 

New life springs forth with joyful cry

in clear and confidant voices.

As one all speak to beautify

their world of wondrous choices.

 

Rains poured upon the thirsty land

bringing relief from loneliness.

Blossoms burst forth upon demand

blanketing wanton carelessness.

 

No longer parched, the land doth give

joy-filled colors to open eyes,

and offers gifts so all may live

without sin and empty lies.

 

A mighty hand reached to the earth

and dug the enriched soil so fine

and sighed, for it had earned its worth,

erasing the mistakes of time.