An Ongoing Gaze

The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on May 30, 1922

Enthroned upon a marble chair,
Abe gazes east with somber stare
toward a dome where laws are made
and freedom is defined.

One nation under God remains
divided, bruised by hate and blame
as white headstones in Arlington
remind us what we know…

That freedom never has been free.
That what means most to you and me
was purchased with the blood of those
who died that we might live.

That Lincoln’s dream of unity
 of human rights and dignity
will in God’s time be realized
when peace on earth will reign.

  • Next week marks the centennial of the Lincoln Memorial. Gratefully, Robert Todd Lincoln, the only surviving child of the sixteenth President, was in attendance.

Robbed of Life

Another mass shooting finds us hugging our kids and looking to God

Uvalde grieves.
We all grieve
for children robbed of life
at Robb Elementary.

Children who came to school in a bus
and left in a hearse.
Could anything be worse?

It’s hard to imagine.
It’s hard to comprehend.
It’s hardly elementary.
It’s complicated.
It’s evil.

It’s a duplicate snapshot
of our wounded nation
that continues to hemorrhage from the inside out.

It’s a faded photograph
of a broken hearted country
still unable to breathe
on this second anniversary
of another
senseless act of violence.

It’s an image
that violates the value
with which those
made in the Creator’s image
were born.

Imago dei.
You and me.
In Uvalde and everywhere.
A human being
one with another.
A human being
enraged by violence.
A human being
open to the voice of God.

Speak, Lord, Your people are listening!

Hipp, hipp, hurra!

A statue of Leif Erikson graces Shilshole Bay in Seattle

A statue in our city stands
in honor of the past.
It seems to stand a bit more tall today.
This son of Erik (Leif by name)
recalls my heritage
as well as those whose kin came from Norway.

The Viking spirit prompted those
to seek a better life.
Courageously (with strength) they persevered.
Though homesick, they embraced their dreams
of making a new start.
These Nordic pilgrims challenged what they feared.

Hipp, hipp, hurra!

On this Syttende Mai (17th of May) I’m honoring the legacy of my grandfather (Gunder Birkeland) and his brothers who left Norway for America, settling in the Seattle area beginning in 1902.

When Your Dog Dies

The pain of losing a family pet is indescribable

When you lose a pet a safety net
hangs helplessly below.
That stretched-out rope can’t offer hope
or stop death’s well-aimed blow.

When you lose a pet a safety net
can’t stop your falling tears.
On the day they die, you’re sure to cry
while wishing they were near.

When you lose a pet a safety net
can’t catch your broken heart.
The pain you feel can only heal
as time plays out its part.

But…

When you lose a pet a safety net
can capture memories
of walks and runs and family fun
while romping by the sea.

When you lose a pet you can’t forget
those special times you had.
What once was true will comfort you
on days you’re feeling sad.

The Black Dog Bites Again!

The “black dog” of depression robbed these two daughters of their mother


She sang about the good old days.
With love she built a bridge
that helped her run away from the “black dog.”
She knew where she was going
when her day for dying came.
Naomi (from her youth) reached out to God.

“Don’t be cruel!” she prayed intently
as she’d cry herself to sleep.
“Your Baby’s Got the Blues” was in her head.
The rhythm of the rain drowned out
the morning birds who’d chirp.
A change of heart is what she daily pled.

But still this mother languished
from depression’s dreaded spell.
She verbalized her pain most publicly.
Her country music lyrics
often called to mind young love
as she dreamed of joy and freedom. “Why not me?”

This Mother’s Day two daughters
will be grieving for their mom
who couldn’t bear the torture one more day.
May Ashley and Wynona
recognize love is alive.
Please carry them, dear Father, this I pray.


** My introduction to The Judds came as I was spinning records as a deejay while working at KICY radio in Nome, Alaska. It was the summer of 1987. I had just turned thirty-five years of age. My wife and I along with our children accepted an invitation to serve as short-term missionaries at a radio station owned and operated by our denomination (The Evangelical Covenant Church). Much of the music played on the station that served the rural villages of Western Alaska was country/western.

“I Know Where I’m Going” by The Judds was on our play list. I loved the harmony of the mother/daughter duo. I also loved the title. Although the song was not spiritual in the least, it was an invitation to trust the Lord to lead me to a future of His choosing. While I didn’t know the details to what my life and ministry held in store, my Father knew. He knew where He was going with my life. He invited me to come, too.

Curiously, I just turned seventy. As I look back it’s hard to realize that experience in Nome was half my life ago.