Tag Archives: thoughts

Thoughts, and Prayers

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the use of the phrase “thoughts and prayers,” and its use after events of loss and suffering.  We all tend to say it.  Your best friend’s Grandmother passes away, and your response is “my thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of loss.”

What does this phrase mean?  Thoughts and prayers of what, exactly.

In this case, I think these are thoughts of sympathy (or empathy) and prayers of comfort directed towards those who have lost someone.  The thoughts are just to let the person know that you have them on your mind. It seems kind, and harmless, but I believe that this is most meaningful when you know them, or have shared the relationship that they just lost.  Prayers of comfort (in our society, from my perspective) stem from the Judeo-Christian belief in an all-powerful God, one who can (for lack of a better word) gather you up and give you a big spiritual hug.  I believe this expression is less effective (for the person who experienced the loss) when you don’t really know them, or you sense that the conveyance of sympathy is insincere.  The issue of late, where our nation’s leaders express their sympathies (time and again) over a repetitious tragedy – that could have been avoided – is an example of this.  Their approach to this expression of sympathy weakens the concept of prayer.  Why? Prayers are supposed to be powerful, they are intended to reach us, change us, and help us.

Let’s talk about prayers a bit.  There are different kinds of prayers:   thanks, confession, hope, comfort, deliverance – to categorize a few.  All prayers are goal oriented.  They are intentional- to get us to believe, to convict our minds of something, to help out someone, to give ourselves clarity, etc.  They are meant to spur us to action.  The strength of our humanity is in our ability to act, in compassion, of one mind.  I think prayer facilitates this.

But the issue is, you must act.  Prayer without action at some point, is empty.  The very act of prayer should indicate that you are considering a problem that needs a solution. Our lawmakers offering their prayers to those who have lost loved ones in a senseless mass killing is an empty platitude without some intention to make their suffering worth the cost.

Churches should know the power of collective and intentional prayer. It is the “superpower” of churches (I know it sounds silly, but in today’s language – this is it). Yet, I believe, in these times the focus has been misguided.  Too many are concerned with their belief that “we” have pushed God out of society and they pray for supernatural intervention.  First of all, the idea that an all-powerful, ever-present God could be pushed out is – ludicrous.  Did you ever think that God may have taught us about prayer so that we could discern and then act with conviction to make changes that impact each of our lives, to meet people where they are, to comfort them out of love, or to right wrongs? Perhaps, that it is a lesson to learn to be more like him.

This is complex, but not hard.  Lawmakers should take up and pass better legislation that reduces assault weapon availability and improves mental health assistance. It is heartless and cowardly to not do so.  Those who pray for supernatural intervention should pray themselves for discernment about the importance of lawmakers who can act in the best interests of all humanity, collectively and individually.  They could also pray for strength to act out of love – not morality, not condemnation, not prejudice, not to point out faults, and most of all – to not be afraid to admit they are wrong.

And then do it.



The last ones

Where the omegas light
or the zebras graze
coming to a sundown at the end
of a day, with the hues just finishing
at the edge of the page.
Come what may.

Trek down to bottom
of the waterfall,
the pool that collects and swirls
and spalls. Shapes majestic rock
to a minor crawl.
You’ve seen it all.

Walk away from
blood and tears you’ve shed,
The memory maybe still fresh,
and living in your head. Not
worth the pain or the dread.
That’s what they said.

The last ones take
a moment to decide,
to conquer and reign in the now,
the meantime. It’s true what they implied,
yet often untried.


I’ve seen the gyre and pivot
around the grain uncurled,
still- reversal and stagnation-
(and as the water swirls)

The contemplation makes its way,
all coy and taciturn,
into a rolling, restless gob
that smolders as it burns.

As leafed through- which is page on page-
then little more is left to do,
than humor – pander – orchestrate
these words that I’ve warmed to.

Popcorn thoughts of kindness

I’ve been doing a bunch of bits and pieces of things over the past week, I feel very scattered. I haven’t really had time to sit down and write much. This is OK. Life happens. I do have a lot on my mind these days.

I had some blogworthy tidbits I wanted to jot down, but they were not worthy of single posts…kind of like kernels of popcorn that presented themselves.

National Poetry Writing Month is just around the corner. I last participated in 2013 (I think). I proudly completed the entire month for the first time. Well, I’m committing to do it again in 2015. It’s a good way to stretch your poetry legs, gets some things written down, try new forms, and shake out the dust. If you are a poet, and are participating, let me know. So we’ll see how this goes.

A reminder, my very first chapter book Accidental Songs is available on Amazon. I self-published this collection. I invite you to check it out, purchase it 🙂

Spring is getting its claws in the seasonal change, judging from the number of robins that I’ve seen recently, the rapid changes in weather that are apparent, and my allergies ramping up. I’m looking forward to the green landscape though.

I happened to read this quote in my twitter feed this week,

“We’re all smart, distinguish yourself by being kind.”

This was posted in a twitter account entitled “ShitAcademicsSay”. I don’t know the origin of the quote, and have been looking for it’s primary source. The original context apparently has to do with academic publishing and review, but I see it as a more universal restatement of the golden rule. I like it.

I heard Nat King Cole’s version of Smile a few weeks ago. The music by Charlie Chaplin, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954. It was a mantra for a few days in the bleakness of winter. I love how a verse, a song, a quote, or even a picture can present a moment of beauty and relief.

That’s it. Popcorn’s done.

Thoughts for the 31st of October

I have a lot of random crap in my head today, so indulge me…

Music sets a great mood for holidays. I turned on the cable holiday music channel yesterday, and to my delight, it was Halloween-focused. Great favorites like Monster Mash, (It’s a) Monster’s Holiday by Buck Owens, Rick Scott’s Halloween Hoodoo, and The Guess Who’s Clap for the Wolfman to more contemporary adult fare like The Eagles Witchy Woman, Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman, and the ubiquitous Thriller and well known movie soundtrack clips.

Some others were a bit of a stretch…just because devil is in the lyric, it doesn’t make it an automatic Halloween song, does it? Cases in point…(She’s got the) Devil in her heart by The Beatles, Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones, The Devil went down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band. All great songs in their genres, but not on my go-to list for Halloween mood music.

I’ve also been singing Grim, Grinning Ghosts to myself since yesterday… Thank you Thurl Ravenscroft.

Movies have also been a source of enjoyment for me this Halloween season. I am particularly thankful that some stations broadcast the older, more gothic-than-slasher, creepy movies. I’ve seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween and Friday the 13th and most of their sequels over the years, and I’m not as big a fan of revisiting those movies as some are. I really enjoy the classic horror tales and anthologies. Some that I’ve seen this year are Twice-Told Tales* with Vincent Price, The Legend of Hell House with Roddy McDowell, and House of Wax with Vincent Price. I caught a moment of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter last night and just couldn’t force myself to watch it. But, if I catch Bela Lugosi’s Dracula on tonight, I will be watching.

I tried a leftover casserole recipe on Tuesday. If you have leftover chili or taco meat, or taco soup, this is a good thing to try. In a small baking dish (8 by 8), spread out the leftover chili/soup/taco meat about an inch or two deep, then cover with a layer of sharp cheddar cheese. On top of that add one mixed box of corn bread (Jiffy brand works well). I added a handful of cheese and half a jalapeno pepper to the cornbread mix. Cook according to the cornbread instructions. You get a nice layered casserole dish. Quick and easy.

Well..you know how it is, sometimes you write a lot, sometimes a little, and sometimes none. I’m in a little-to-none mode right now – at least in the poetry realm. I recently had a poem selected for an online publication in January 2015, so I’ll be sure to highlight that when it happens.

Have a safe and happy Halloween.

*I am now intrigued by the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne, particularly his short stories, such as Rappaccini’s Daughter and Dr Heidegger’s Experiment. Both stories use a plot foundation of chemical dosing. One as intentional poisoning/conditioning – Rappaccini, and the other as a discovery of a potential fountain of youth to restore their lost youth/bring back the dead – Heidegger. As events unfold in both stories, their desire to manipulate people is their undoing. It ultimately leads to retribution and judgement on them for their actions. Karma is dark romanticism, indeed.

What I was thinking…better metaphors

I thought it would be fun useful cathartic to summarize a collection of thoughts/experiences that occupied my brain the last couple of days. brain

What I’m thinking –
My wife and I listen to entertainment/talk show radio on our commute to and from work. We get a dose of top 40 music and sophomoric humor in the morning, and sports talk radio in the evening. I was actually paying attention to music one morning, when I heard Katy Perry’s Dark Horse featuring rapper Juicy J…specifically this lyrical gem in the rap section:

She’s a beast
I call her Karma (come back)
She eats your heart out
Like Jeffrey Dahmer (woo)


Now….I am, admittedly, not a big fan of rap, though I understand the phenomenon and the urban appeal. It is a form of poetry(rhyming, meter, metaphors, alliteration, etc). I admire certain artists’ ability in rap…both in writing and performing (eminem comes immediately to mind).

But, not only is this example in poor taste…it is just lazy writing. To trivialize a serial murderer in a song lyric about addictive love/lust…surely someone could have come up with something better than that. I’m not a lyricist, and I don’t make a living as a recording artist, but I hope that we as a society don’t reach the callous point of integrating our worst examples of humanity into pop culture throwaway lines…like that.

What I’m reading –

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m a slow book finisher, and I tend to have several books going at once (probably around 5 right now, at last count). Most recently, I just started Robert Edsel’s The Monuments Men , in anticipation of the movie that going to be released soon. That one has me intrigued, particularly because the book is very factual and dry at this point, like a history lesson. It certainly has the makings of a great war time adventure story, and I will finish it. Incidentally, the last two books I finished were Graham Moore’s The Sherlockian and Dan Brown’s Inferno, both of which I finished within a couple of weeks of each other last summer/fall, which is some kind of record for me.
Things that I’m writingwriting

I’m writing alot these days for work: technical reports of various thus and so. I enjoy putting together different ways to discuss trends in data, make predictions, and discuss what observations/results mean or extrapolate to other conditions. It is not surprising then, that for poetry, my inspiration comes mostly from observation. My most recent poem vignette is the result of me staring at a picture on my wall (of twirled poppies) that is located next to a window (where, conveniently this time of year, I can see winter/snow). The symbolism in this poem is not lost on me, as poppies symbolize sleep, peace, or death; these are beautiful and yet, being stuck in a frame, they appear to twist and strain to see the bitter cold and and peace of snowfall.

Things that I wonder aboutcogs

I like statistics and trend relationships. The stats functions here on WordPress tell me something about my readership.
1. Someone in India really likes my poem, Respite, I get a hit from India every couple of days. Whoever you are, thank you for visiting…let me know what you like about the poem.
2. I don’t get many visitors for non-poetry posts. But, I will continue to write things as I feel inspired to.
3. NanoWriMo 2013 really boosted my readership, coinciding with Freshly Pressed, but I don’t think many of them returned after last April/May.
4. I get the highest hit rate when I write romantic or stylistic Romantic poetry. My take is that people like poetry that makes them feel good. But, still, I get very few actual comments (I’ll harp on that some more).

Thanks for visiting. And if you happen to write song lyrics, insist on better metaphors.