“So Long, Wally Cleaver!”

Tony Dow’s death calls to mind the speed at which time passes

Just leave it to Beaver to shed a few tears.
It doesn’t surprise me. For so many years
his big brother Wally was his best friend and more.
But now his big brother is gone.

So long Wally Cleaver. So long Ward and June.
So long Eddie Haskell. You left us too soon.
Our “Leave it to Beaver-ville” won’t be the same
with “The Beave” all alone by himself.

Yes, Tony Dow’s death made the news yesterday.
It makes our hearts grieve when celebs pass away.
Those we followed as fam’ly, we watched faithfully.
No wonder it’s hard when they die.

Their deaths are reminders that we’re growing old.
That each day’s a gift that’s more precious than gold.
That now is the best time to tell those we love
how we feel about them while we can.

Wanted: A Shepherd for Lost Sheep

The Lord is my Shepherd and boy do I need Him!

Like sheep without a shepherd near,
we wander lost. We tend to fear.
We stress and worry or we fight
with others in our way.

We grieve a war quite far from home
and consequences yet unknown.
Inflation rates, gas prices, too.
And how the market trends.

The short supply of baby food
affects the way our world is viewed.
As do the senseless shooting sprees
in grocery stores and church.

And COVID still won’t go away.
We mask and vax and boost and pray
and yet the virus undermines
our plans and way of life.

We’re sheep in need of being told
there’s hope beyond our gateless fold.
That Someone longs to calm our fears
and fill our empty faith.

Life is Like a Rack of Billiard Balls

Taking aim at the days of our lives

We rack the days each month and then
they break apart time and again.
Our ordered plans quite randomly
can find us on our heels.

We’re challenged by another’s choice
that silences our eager voice
and finds us angling our aims
and banking (fingers crossed).

Behind the eight ball, we are blind.
We’re snookered by what seems unkind.
But patiently we call our shots
and do the best we can.

Sometimes we scratch and lose our turn,
then take our cues from from those who’ve learned
that life (like pool) takes more than skill.
We play what we’ve been giv’n.

A Letter from a Father in Heaven

Loving thoughts to a daughter from out of this world

My dearest daughter,

I know your heart is broken.
As the last words spoken between us
echo in your mind,
please know I’m not blind to your tears.

I can imagine your fears
of facing the challenges of tomorrows
without being able to pick up the phone and call me.

But as Jesus told his best friends
the night before He died,
“Don’t let your heart be troubled!
Don’t be afraid.”

This One in whose presence I now find joy
will never leave you or forsake you.
He will comfort you as only He can.
He will carry you when you are too weak to stand.
He will fill your heart with memories we made.
In the heat of death valley, He will be your shade.

Please know that the time and space between us

is only a temporary separation.
The gulf of grief will be spanned by grace.
It won’t be long until you see my face again.
Remember, a family reunion awaits.

In the meantime,
care for your mom.
Lean into your sorrow.
Embrace the ache.
Speak my name.
Look at my pictures.
Forgive my mistakes.
Honor my memory by the choices you make.

And each morning when you wake,
thank the Lord He placed us in the same family.
He graced us with the privilege of being father and daughter.
Be grateful He gave us each other
for the years that we shared on earth
(and the time we will have in Heaven).

Never forget how much I love you
and how proud I am to be your dad.
See you soon!


The Home Row of Freedom

A manual typewriter keys remind us of what is not automatic

I’ve had a fascination with typewriters since I was three years old. I used to sit at my pastor-father’s manual Royal and pretend I was writing a sermon.

When I was in 8th grade, I audited a beginning typing class at the local community college. It was then I learned about the eight keys on the standard keyboard known as the “home row.”

In case you’ve forgotten, the home row of keys is comprised of ASDFJKL and the semi-colon. They are the resting position for your two hands. They’re like middle C on a piano. The home row serves as a foundation. They provide a perspective for your fingers as you type without having to look at the keyboard. Once your left hand and your right hand are oriented, you have a sense of security of where you are and where you’re headed.

With that orientation in mind, I’d like to consider those eight keys on this Independence Day weekend. Each of those letters stands for something foundational to our identity as a nation. They underscore what sets us apart. These qualities are the home row of our freedom. 

A stands for allegiance. Whenever we say “the pledge,” we vow our allegiance to more than the flag. We promise loyalty to the republic for which it stands. As we watch the Ukrainians resisting the Russians to remain independent, we see allegiance modeled courageously. What we see inspires us to a greater patriotism.

S calls to mind stewardship. When we sing America the Beautiful we are reminded of what lies beneath our spacious skies from sea to shining sea. The beauty of our country is ours to maintain and keep beautiful. We are the stewards. We are the caretakers entrusted to guarantee a litter-free, carbon-free future for our descendants.

D is for democracy. My Greek ancestors introduced the concept to our planet 2500 years ago. For the last 246 years we have carried forth the concept of self-rule. A government of the people, for the people and by the people is what makes our home sweet home as sweet as it is.

F stands for faith. Although we are a nation that insists on an appropriate border between church and state, we have always been a nation that has recognized a higher power and humbled ourselves with gratitude for the undeserved blessings of the Almighty. The fabric of our union frays to the degree we disregard God’s presence and sovereignty.

J is for justice. In spite of what we promise when we place our hand over our heart and pledge allegiance to Old Glory, we have failed miserably to insure justice for all. Nonetheless, the pursuit of justice remains at the core of our corporate conscience. Equal treatment under the law is the homefield advantage our constitution guarantees.

K calls to mind kinship. America has always been a family of people made up of individual families. We’ve been called a melting pot and an ethnic gumbo. We are a quilt of diverse cultures stitched together by the thread of a common dream. But that common dream does not denigrate our unique backgrounds. Rather, it celebrates them. Kinship is at our core.

L stand for Liberty. The gigantic statue in New York Harbor and the cracked bell in the City of Brotherly Love will never let us forget that liberty is at the heart of our identity as a free people. We fight wars on our own behalf and on behalf of others to protect the right to vote, the right to worship, the right to protest and the right to succeed. 

; The semi-colon reminds us of the fact that our story as a nation is still being written. According to Thomas Jefferson, the American experience is an experiment still being tested. Each Independence Day is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the kind of country we desire to be as we keep our fingers on the home row.