Testimony

     

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m here to testify.

“Amen,” you say, “Amen.”

I cross my hands and cry

The Lord, our God, is here

I see Him in your eyes

with a fire hot to sear

and drown out all your cries

He loves us, don’t you know

He calls us to follow

His straight path and to grow

in love.  He brings a glow

a radiant glow of love

so pure, so strong, so fine

that we look up above

and are blind by His shine

but don’t worry, my friends

for we can easily

cross over, make amends,

climb the heights, dizzily

basking in His wondrous

gift of spiritual life

spreading a bounteous

blessing to man and wife

children, bow down, I pray

I place my hands and sing

calling His love your way

and the joys He will bring

Halleluiah, Amen

Halleluiah, my friend

Halleluiah, again

Halleluiah,  the end.

Night Dream

Death came knocking upon my door

‘cause I was feeling mighty poor

and then I gazed in that firm face,

the scariest in human race.

“Come, my true friend,” to me She spoke,

to which in tears I quickly broke.

“Please, not now,” I heartily cried.

“This must not be the day I died.

For I have much I want to do

to better live all through and through.”

“Come, my best friend,” She said again.

And soon the room commenced to spin.

Around and around we both went

until my life was nearly spent.

“Arise,” Miss Death quietly said,

and lifted me from the still bed.

Golden rays shone around my head

telling me that I sure was dead

settled in a heavenly place

staring straight at God’s kindly face.

Smiles lit up my worshipping eyes

“Come to me, child,” He softly cries.

Into His open arms I fall,

breaking Dream’s terrible dread pall.

I arose with first light of dawn,

knowing I was not yet Death’s spawn.

But given chance to live again,

I choose to be full free of sin.

So praising God, to whom I sing,

of goodness that the Lord will bring

to simple souls who promise love

with our heavenly Father above.

The Saints Went Walking

The saints went walking down my street

waving flags and shouting, “Amen.”

They marched to a steady beat,

calling children, women and men

to join God’s growing army squad.

Beaming bright with an inner glow

they stood, maybe forty abroad

and aligned in six even rows.

“Come, join our ranks,” they loudly cried

and sang the most heavenly tune.

My neighbors hopped aboard the ride.

I waited, not brave to commit too soon.

Just as the parade passed me by

a rainbow appeared high in the sky

and a horde of angels asked, “Why?”

I fell upon my knees to cry

and beg for forgiveness so kind.

One young saint raised a mighty hand

and grace flooded my trembling mind.

I knew then, that in all the land

I was called to follow God’s way.

I stood, strong from heavenly grace.

With steady legs I did not sway

as I rushed to find my own place

among that blessed saintly band.

So now with them I proudly say

to doubters across all the land,

“It’s time to jump aboard God’s way.

It’s now or never,” I demand

of all who just bow down to pray

without sincerity at their hand.

It’s not enough just to obey.

So with the saints I now march by.

Open your heart, ears, hands, and eyes.

Don’t stop to think or question why,

Just step right up.  Win the great prize.

To be Yours

God came to me today

In the form of a tiny child

Whose fragile hands

Reached up to mine

Crying

Love me

Care for me

As if I were your own

Mary walked with me today

As a lowly washer woman

Whose wrinkled hands

Caressed my soul

Weeping

Help me

Touch me

Stay with me

As if I were your own

Jesus spoke to me today

Through the eyes of a blind man

Whose stumbling walk

Came near to me

Calling

Guide me

Trust me

Worship me

As if I were your own

Take time to see

To truly see

The Spirit deep inside

Of every man and woman

Walking by your side

For Jesus Christ may

Come to you today

The Story of Spring


Blessed Sun awakened, stretched,

and flew high into the sky.

Looking down on Mother Earth,

He smiled, spreading His golden

sunshine across Her mountains

with a brilliant golden hue.

Mother Earth smiled, reveling

in the spring-like warmth

that penetrated to the depths

of Her glorious soul.

To show Her gladness, She

ordered a rainbow of tulips

to burst through Her crust,

to open their buds in a

burst of color.

Blessed Sun bowed in thanks,

appreciation for the gift,

then slept behind a blanket

of darkening clouds.

Snow fell, a late-arrival,

covering Mother Earth’s gifts

.

She called to Blessed Sun,

her friend, saying, “Arise!”

And He did, looking once

again at His lover.

All was well in the world.

Balance restored.

Mother Earth returned to work

creating new life,

while Blessed Sun came each

day to keep her company.

The cycle is unbroken.

A Humbled Man

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 things 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 nor 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 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.

Talk to Me About God

Let’s not argue about God.

Whether you believe in a He

     or a She,

Buddha, Yahweh, Christ,

or the words of Kahlil Gibran,

or maybe no god at all other

than the inner workings

of your soul,

matters not.

Why waste our time discussing

the merits of one or the other,

when all speak a common

language?

Tranquility, peace, love,

care for humankind,

trust, giving from the heart,

faithfulness

and honesty,

are more important than

whose “god” is holier.

It makes no difference if you are

born again, or

newly discovered,

a long-time believer,

or a thinking-about-it

skeptic,

for we all approach faith

in our own way,

in our own time.

Tell me about your God,

for I truly want to know.

Show me, not with words,

but with actions,

what it means to follow

His/Her way.

I’ll listen, with open mind

and heart,

for who’s to say

which way of believing

is better?

Not me.

Faith: a Personal Definition

One aspect of faith is the belief in the inherent goodness of humanity.  It may be a naïve way of thinking, especially considering these troubled times.  It may be a bit misplaced in terms of focus considering the quantity of murders, robberies, beatings, and home invasions that take place every day.  However, if we cannot believe that the bulk of those traveling through life with us do so with goodness as a driving force, then we cannot live as faith-filled people. 

Back when I was still teaching something occurred at my high school that challenged my faith in humanity.  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, the members of this group described themselves as crazy misfits who were not accepted by the school population at large.  Hence, to them, “Tard” was a derivative of the word retard.  Kart referred to the food carts which were staffed by Special Education students, the connection, to me, was quite obvious.

Believing that it was a simple mistake, I contacted the teacher who oversaw the Journalism students.  The teacher found nothing offensive about the inclusion of the name in the article.  When I asked her what she would do if a group called themselves “Spics” or “Wops.” Would she print that?  Of course not, she said, as those are ethnic slurs.

The teacher herself had been subjected to ethnic slurs over her entire teaching career.  She had been found crying, many times, over the cruelty of students who mimicked her accent and who left insults on the white board in her classroom.  One would think that if anyone would be sensitive to negative stereotypes, it would be she.

Earlier in the same week a student was attacked outside my classroom.  He was a relatively small freshman compared to others in his class. When I heard loud thumps outside my room, I went outside to see what was happening. My student was on the floor curled up in a fetal position, holding his groin area.  Large tears coursed down his cheeks.  He was unable to speak or move for more than thirty minutes. When I found out what has happened, I was horrified that two very large seniors had slammed the smaller boy against the wall and kicked him when he was down.

I believe that it was a prank that got out of control.  Yes, the students involved tended to be aggressive, defiant, and general malcontents.  Yes, they were not on track to graduate in June.  Even so, my faith tells me that this “beating” was not a planned act of violence, but rather an opportunistic reaction.

In my seventy-one years of life, I have not only witnessed, but also been a victim of comparable events.  As an abused child, I grew up in an environment that was not conducive to the development of faith.  It’s hard to believe in a God that allows physical beatings, verbal harassment, and emotional debasement.  I prayed, every day, for salvation.  My prayers went unanswered, or so I thought.

It was not until I went on a trip to the mountains of southern California with a Catholic youth group from my university that I understood faith.  Looking at the towering mountains and walking amid the amazingly tall trees, I realized that there is a God who loves the world so much that He gave us places of solitude and introspection. 

God does not always our wishes for He knows that we need to be forged by our experiences.  We may not want to walk our given path, but we have to believe that the journey somehow leads us to a clearer understanding of who we are meant to be.

When I stood in that forest I knew 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 the moment with me.  It sounds like a cliché, but I truly felt a golden glow spreading through my body.  That glow was faith.

Since that day, my faith has been my rock.  It gives me the strength to transcend the travails of daily life.  It opens my eyes to the good intentions of others and allows me to feel generosity of spirit.  When disheartening or disturbing events rise forth, it is through faith that I am able to process what is happening.

I do believe that all humans are capable of living lives ruled by basic tenets of kindness and generosity of spirit.  Even when the news is filled with stories of turbulence, I do not let my belief waver.  That is my belief in the goodness of humanity. That is my faith.

God’s Face

Desolate cliffs stand at the place

Where first I gazed upon God’s face

No shrubs or grass to brighten here

No rabbits, birds or white-tipped deer

Sadness reigned throughout my being

Blocked the sunshine from me seeing

Clouds above, below and within

Blackness covered every inch of skin

Upon the edge I placed my feet

Willingly admitted defeat

Dreamt of freedom’s staccato beat

Thought of God whom I soon would meet

When birds did fly into the scene

I wondered what it all might mean

Did He expect me to believe

Relief would help me not to grieve?

As icing on my private cake

A rainbow appeared that did remake

Lifeless soil into softened down

As comfort for my furrowed frown

With crash of waves upon the shore

I realized that I wanted more

Than living life like troubled boar

Whose blackened heart on shoulders wore

The sun burst forth upon a wave

Strode to my heart; pierced with a stave

Releasing sadness, doubt and fear

Then my savior, God, did appear

Now rabbits, birds and white-tipped deer

Frequently to this place appear

Marvelous cliffs to mark the place

Where first I gazed upon God’s face.

On the Way


   

It’s a long way to the top,

but I’m going to get there.

I’ll fight, scrap, and never stop

until my soul is ‘most bare

Step by step I slowly march

eyes focused, brain sharp, heart pure

even though my mouth may parch

I continue on, straight and sure

My goals are set as I go

Do this, then that, this once more

Never complaining, aglow

toward the heavenly shore

I move, completing my plans

Surely as a mountain goat

Until I hear golden fans,

Only then I get to gloat

For here I stand, smiling me,

Successfully satisfied

My Lord, my God, soon to be

My guide, my shelter; I cried.