He stands on the street corner outside Union Station although it would be more accurate to say he stoops.  In his body, he carries the burden for all to see, his back severely bent from illness and injury, or could it just be the weight of a cruel and uncaring world?   He asks if I can light his cigarette and spare a little change.  How much does it really cost to show him a little LOVE?

She comes to talk to me again.  The government is out to get her.  They are keeping her away from her son who she hasn’t seen in many years.  Today is a good day; she’s less agitated than usual.  I remember my mother has the same condition and could just as easily be lost among the sea of mentally ill homeless.  Of course I have places to go, I’m a busy man, but could I spare moment to listen PATIENTly?

A man rushes by, late to work again.  His boss is ready to fire him so he doesn’t notice he’s about to barrel into me at breakneck speed.   I dust myself off and pick up my bag.  He hasn’t actually hurt anything and he offered a brief but genuine apology.  Would it hurt me to offer a KIND word in return?

Jim at work just got a raise.  Can I congratulate him for a job well done and NOT stew in my own ENVY?

When I find out that Jim is still making much less money than I am and didn’t score as well as I did on his last certification, can I encourage him and NOT BOAST about how much better I think I am?

Can I manage my team humbly as true a leader, helping each of them to become the very best they can be and NOT as a dictator motivated by PROUD ambition?

Although, I am find myself surrounded by people with different agendas, different beliefs who rail against me.  Our Father calls us out to be in the world but not of the world.  Can I get my point across in pure speech and NOT VULGAR slang and wicked words?

Can I walk in this world as a Christian, as a patriot, as the defender of my family without using my responsibilities as a excuse for gathering up more than my share?  Can I act treat others in a way that is fair and NOT SELF-SEEKING.

Can I find a way to forgive, a way to forbear?  Can I change my worldview so that I am NOT so QUICK TO ANGER?  Can I measure the gifts that a person has brought into my life and NOT instead KEEP A TALLY OF WRONGS?

Can I deny my flesh, my wicked sinful nature?  How do I discipline myself and NOT act as others who DELIGHT IN EVIL.

I REJOICE IN THE TRUTH my Lord, that though I cannot do any of these things in my own strength, my HOPE is in you.  I BELIEVE that you will lead me in right ways and pick me up when I stumble.  In that faith I will PERSEVERE until the very end when my love is perfected in your presence.

Grant me FAITH to carry on.  Remind me daily of the HOPE I have in your eternal kingdom.  But above all help me to LOVE with unending compassion as you have first done for me.

 
The great stories of myth and legend are the hero's journeys.  The path of the hero is often more important than the success or failure at the end of the journey.  Winter's Bone follows the saga of a teenage girl in an impoverished rural area of the Ozarks on a quest to save her family farm.  The people she encounters along the way tell a story about kinfolk and mountain justice in the 21st century.  The pervasive influence of drugs in an already distinct culture provide a powerful story that the viewer will not soon forget.


While it was a little hard for me to accept the Terminator (re Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles) as a sherrif, reminders of my uncle teaching me to fire a rifle and my grandmother using a washboard and clothesline helped this story resonate with me even though I've lived most of my life in the suburbs.

Winter's Bone had the depth and texture of "O Brother Where art Thou" and more, there is little comedy beyond wry sarcasm to lighten up this well written and well acted drama.  There is a reason this one did so well at Sundance.

Winter's Bone is Rated R for some drug material, language and violent content.
 
Every time I get so discouraged that I feel like I'm ready to call it quits, I get a sweet reminder of why I started writing in the first place.  I just signed off on the proof of one of the upcoming anthologies that will.  The writing was actually very good.  Of course, there are always things I would like to change any time that I revisit a manuscript, but I am excited about this story.  Look for updates soon about State of Horror: Pennsylvania a collection of several very scary stories featuring demons, ghost and nightmares all with the state of Pennsylvania as a major character.
Here's hoping you have a sweet reminder. 
 
Is well… a beginning anyway.  I am in the midst of revamping Le Fey, one of my current short stories.  The first 5000 words are solid writing with strong character development.  The problem is that the end is weak at best, bordering on stupid.
There are days when sitting in front of the keyboard, I feel like an art student with a four-year degree that just draws apples, lots and lots of apples.  Creativity often comes in spurts and there is a limit to the power of discipline when the idea just isn’t there.  I have a dozen other stories that I am working on, but I really love these characters and I want to see this story through.  I suppose I will have to sleep on it.
I hope the rest of you are having better luck.  Keep writing my friends!

 
Turmoil
Embroiled in feelings
Reaching out for nothing
Angry with myself for the selfishness that consumes me, that consumes everything in my life
Leaving me unsatisfied
Devouring everything in sight yet hungry for more
Angry, scared, lonely
What is this life?
Why can’t I master my own body, my desires, and my will?
Help me
Comfort me.


You, the One who knows me intimately
I can’t believe that you haven’t snuffed me out
Washed me away in a cleansing flood
Where is the rainbow now?
I can’t see it but I hold on to your promise
I believe in you
But, even demons do that
II cling to you with all of my strength
Still, I am so very weak
Distractions
Flirtations with disaster
The enemy surrounds me on all sides
He comes to steal my joy, my birthright
“You are no child of the King,” he tells me
You are born of wickedness and sin. How could you ever be clean?
But you O Lord
You are my true Father

I remember when we walked together in the garden
I broke your one simple rule and you cast me out into the desert
Yet, even in the wilderness of Sin, you were there
You’ve guided me by cloud in the daytime and in the fire by night
It’s been almost forty years and I can almost see the Promised Land
I sent my son Joshua ahead, Caleb with him and they believed and trusted you to deliver them
Once again, I hesitated
Trusting in my own strength I hesitated when saw the giant
Therefore, I wander without hope bound only by my own blindness and fear
Still, I am not without hope

You delivered me from the giant when I was weak
Not my strength or the stone but faith brought Goliath to his knees
I had gone mad, consulting with witches and men who claimed they were wise
Once more, you comforted me with your sweet music
Again, I grew restless, full of myself from my victories
I saw her from the rooftop and I had to have her.
Remember me O Lord
Revive me and restore the joy of my salvation


I asked you for wisdom and you gave me all that I asked for and even more than that
So, I built a great temple in your name
Yet again, I forgot you and found myself in bondage to sin again
For years I cried out to you
You sent me messengers of your grace and love but I ignored them, and hurled insults at them
Finally, you came to me directly
You placed your hands on me and the uncleanness fell away
The scales fell away from my eyes

Now I wait upon your return O Lord
The dragon is loose in the world
The wanton woman calls out my name,
enticing me to forget you and drink from her cursed fountain
Who is like God? Come and slay the dragon
Bind up the deceiver for the last time
Wash me in your holy fire and set clean linens on me
That I may praise forever the name of Him who was, is, and is to come.
Eternal, only wise God, full of glory and wonder
Reign in my heart forever
May your name be praised.

 
I thought for Lent this year, I would do a series of poems to lead us from focusing on ourselves to focusing on the people and the world around us.  Difficult times arise frequently in life and it is easy to focus on our own suffering, but when we step back and see the pain and frustration of those in the world around us, it helps put our situation in perspective.