Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Familiar Voice

Far too many times, I have picked up the phone only to have someone say, "hello" without giving their name.  They obviously think that I know them, even though I have no clue as to their identity.  Rather than embarrass myself and insult the caller, I continue talking until they will say something that gives me an "aha" moment.  This seems to work 99 percent of the time.
The other day, however, the other person was not so helpful.  Instead, I labored through the call trying desperately to find the morsel of information.  It never came.  The man told me about his aunt's arthritis, how the new job was going, and finished with a crescendo of why he was contemplating a divorce.  I began to feel like I was eavesdropping on my own telephone.  It was too late to say I did not know who the other person was.  After all, I was now counseling him through his marriage issues.  Suddenly it dawned upon me what to do.  I hung up.
The phone rang again.  "Bob?" I asked.
"No, it's Tom again.  I think we got disconnected."  Suddenly I knew that this was my old friend from high school.  Everything he said fell into perspective.  Both of our egos remained in tact and Bob's marriage is doing great...or was it Tom's?  Well someone is doing well somewhere.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Enemy of Mine

Cold, still, rigidly lying on silken ruffles
Hands folded across her quiet heart
Peaceful, now that her battle’s over
Fought in a war she didn’t start

Eating away all but her spirit
Anguished by pain that never ceased
Smiles through tears unwontedly flowing
Though her foe’s attacks increased

You are my enemy, vile cancer
Eating the flesh that gives you life
I will not stop ‘til you are history
This woman you stole was my wife

(Written for a friend)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Freaking Friday

Everywhere I turned there were mobs of vicious grandmas plundering mass quantities of overpriced trinkets on sale.  A torrent of mothers nearly knocked me over as they barreled past to snatch the last disc of Battlefield 3.  When I heard the voice over the loudspeaker announce a flash sale on televisions, it suddenly dawned on me.  I was in the path.  Quickly dodging behind an underwear clad mannequin, I poised for the hurricane.  Loud, indiscernible shouts rang out as I peered out from behind my plastic fortress to see several groups of pillagers stampede past.  It was a close call, but I survived.  What a thrill it is to begin the Season of Joy at Wal-Mart.  Peace to all who survive.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Family Framework

     I'm looking forward to this Thanksgiving.  The older I become, the more family means to me.  There are many reasons.  Perhaps the foremost is that there are waves of time that erode the relational buildings we erect, but family is the framework that holds strong.
     When the friends, popular crowds, bullies, and crushes of high school are fading into memory, family remains.  When those who were transferred or simply moved, who promised to keep in touch are now out of reach, family is but a phone call away.  If down, family lifts up.  While in pain, family applies balm.  When succeeding, family rejoices.
     Dysfunctional families, exist and many feel alone in the world.  Their world of facade with no framework to support crashes quickly with the waves.  So I am thankful for my family, my framework.  Great peace of mind comes to those with healthy family relationships.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who Is Important?

In March of 1981, Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, Jr.  Our president spent several weeks in the hospital.  During his recovery, the nation's work continued without a glitch.  There was no slump in the economy, nor was there an international catastrophe.  
Five years later on July 10, 1986, the garbage collectors in Philadelphia went on strike.  The city soon became a pile of rotting garbage.  Businesses closed because it was impossible to get rid of any waste they generated.  The city was paralyzed.
Imagine if the garbage collectors in all our major cities went on strike.  It would not be long before the country was in crisis.
So who is more important:  the president or garbage collectors?  There is strength in setting aside our personal needs for the good of the whole and there is power in unity.  Our importance in life is only understood as it relates to others.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wall Street Siege

Starving sheep in a grassy field
To food for thought we did not yield
We see the truth in all we read
Yet wither up like a shallow seed

Hiding in cardboard during the storm
A simple acknowledgement becomes our norm
Waves of injustice crash down our dreams
Fallen are hopes by Wall Street schemes

Refuse their falsehoods and promised placation
While politicians in aisles offer them supplication
Twenty percent of our bread has been torched
Through greed and lies the land is scorched

No more pseudo promises of false moral hopes
No more programs to bind us like ropes
Cannibalized the masses? Eating to your fill?
"You are now under siege!" We call to the Bastille


It's been said that bitterness is like drinking someone else's poison and waiting for them to die.  Bitterness is a cancer that eats upon the host.
We have a dungeon in our minds where we keep those who have hurt us in the past.  The crass teacher, the bully, the girl or guy that laughed at us, the one who took our job or our whatever.  We keep them in that dungeon and periodically go down into that dark place and whip them.  Grown men and women will pace in the living room saying, "If only I would’ve... if only I had said…if they were here, I’d…” and after we whip them all into bloody pulps.  Locking the door of that dungeon and return to life, not realizing that dungeon is festering our whole lives.
The only way to find peace in life is to go down and unchain the prisoners.  Let them go and refuse to re-shackle them.  Only then will the vapors of pungent bitterness stop permeating the other rooms of our lives.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Charity Please

A peculiar mystery puzzled our church board.  Toilet paper was continually missing from the stalls.  We would replace it, but every Sunday the paper was gone, roll and all.  Finally, we asked someone to keep an eye on the toilet paper (how crazy it that?).  A woman who was new to the church was pilfering it.
I asked why she was taking it.  She said they did not have enough money and needed some, so, because we were a church, she did not think we would mind.  I told her we would be glad to go get her some at the store and even food if she needed it.  She replied, "Oh I could never accept charity."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Word about Bullies

     As a child I heard, "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me." Who was the blockhead that said that? Names, put-downs, and pathetic attempts at sophomoric hazing can leave deep wounds that never heal. As for me, I prefer being whacked with a stick!
      If you are the target of such unwarranted criticism, remember: Every great leader in history was the target of put-downs. Usually the source was a wannabe trying to get attention.
      If you are someone who feels put-down, bullied, or beat up by others, remember: it will end, you will get through it, and you are not alone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Knighting My Son

     A great dragon wars upon my son.  Each day he must embrace a special power to defeat the dragon.  He cannot kill it, but only thwart the beast.  Today my son turned sixteen.  He is now a young man.  What does that mean?  To paraphrase Robert Lewis, a boy becomes a man when he 1. rejects passivity  2. accepts responsibility  3. follows a noble cause.
     My son battles the dragon of evil that would destroy his very soul.  His power to fight the beast is found in his relationship with the King.  Only when the King steps in can the dragon be put down.  Why does the King not simply kill the dragon?  Because fighting the dragon has made my son into the knight he has become.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Veteran Heroes

You came home from the battles to family and friends
Often bewildered by the changing trends
While you were at war, we spoke of peace
But our regard for your sacrifice will never cease

A parade seems so little but we hope it's a start
To show our gratitude for fulfilling your part
You protected our freedom on land, air, and sea
When our country was threatened, you served willingly

You are the heroes, the models for roles
Of honor and duty, of loftier goals
May you feel our thankfulness for your sacrifices
One day is too little, but we hope it suffices.

Wounded by metal or wounded by pain
The flag we fly contains a blood stain
For many that were lost, who served by your side
Did not make it home, but in our hearts reside -- P J Casselman

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Gasping Heart

I heard when you said you liked my new clothes
Tossing off your words, Neurosis I chose
A huge vacuum of self loathing consumes all
It was not your words but me I appall

Nothing you say will draw me from my pain
Why do you strive with efforts in vain?
Please don't go, I want you to stay
But I hope in the end I will drive you away

Contradiction of who I am and would be
Violations and neglect circumvent me
Pain is what I feel when I open the door
Shutting you out is a must that I abhor

I have refused to believe that I am choosing
Hope is a fairytale I am fast losing
Passivity croons lullabies to my angry heart
Even though I wish a proactive new start

Can't you see that I'm fast drowning?
In spite of medication that I'm downing?
Get out, just leave, no please hold me close
Another lives inside that I just can't oppose

How can I be something other than me?
When the little one inside won't set me free?
Give me a chance; at least toss me a line
I can't handle your rejection, no I'm fine  -- P J Casselman

Monday, November 7, 2011

Worry Schmorry

Storm clouds are unloading nature's napalm on Kansas City.  Widows rattle from thunder between windy vibrations.  Flashing lightning permeates my den as I quietly sit typing replies on Twitter.  I believe it was Alfred E. Newman who said, "What, me worry?"  He had a point.  What good would worry have done for the passengers of the Titanic?  Of course, come to think about it, it might have done the captain some good.  This "don't worry, be happy" thing is more complex than I realized. Consider the birds of the air sitting on that power line during this lightning storm...oh wait, never-mind.  Consider the roasted birds in my lawn...I do believe there's a difference between not worrying and acting foolishly.  Worry comes from a lack of faith. Foolishness comes from a lack of forethought. Care for a drumstick?

Passing Time

The passing time rolls slowly when watched, too quickly when needed, and disappears when unnoticed. Grip time firmly and shape it while you can. For inevitable is the final chime. --P J Casselman

Friday, November 4, 2011

An Excerpt out of- "From Chicago with Hope: The Journey of Ruth"

Naomi could see that something was bothering me, but she waited in silence for me to say something.  The quiet finally became too much and I turned on the radio.   Sensing my avoidance, Naomi turned down the volume.
“Would you stop at the river for me?” she asked.
“Yes.  Any particular reason?”
Tashlikh.  On the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, we pray near living water and cast our sins into the current.”
“How do you do that?” I asked, confused.
“We symbolically use bread,” she replied, pulling out a zip lock bag.  “I filled this before we left home.”
“I’m sure the ducks love the big sinners then,” I laughed.  Naomi gave me a quick smile, but I had already lost her to her reflections.  We drove to the Louisville River Walk where Naomi could complete her Tashlikh.  I could not imagine what sins she was tossing in the bread, because Naomi had been amazing this last year.  She brought a full bag though.
“I brought half this bag for you,” she said smiling.
“Me?  What did I do?”  I knew she was joking, but then she also seemed serious.
“The things we cast on the water are anything we feel guilty for, Ruth.  It helps to just let it go.”  I took a handful of the bread from her and looked at the water.  I tried to think of something I felt guilty for.  Naomi began mumbling prayers I could not hear or understand.  After each prayer she threw a tiny piece in the river.
I pondered a moment.  Martha’s friend was a starting place.  I never should have slammed her hand down at the store.  The vengeful remarks at the bookstore were not my best hour either.  I began to toss piece after piece as I realized how many fragments of guilt I had buried within me.  When I first found out about the accident, I blamed Chili and almost began to hate him.  I tossed another piece of bread.  The way I snapped at the others when Naomi mentioned moving here deserved a piece of bread.  With each small prayer and the accompanying morsel, the guilt I had pent up inside began to dissolve.  It was cleansing to acknowledge what I did, feel sorrow for it, and toss it upon the waters.  I started tearing the bread in half or I was going to need another loaf.  Tears streamed from our faces as Naomi and I walked from the Ohio River back to the car.

A Charitable Heart

The greatest acts of charitable giving are not found on television or in the newspapers. Instead they are found at a dining room table where nothing is heard but a pencil scratching through personal desires to find funds for aid. A grateful heart is large enough to encompass the hurting.-- P J Casselman

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Misleading Gap

     There is a gap between the person I am and the person I want you to see.  Filling this gap can be done in two ways: The first is for me to stretch who I am into the illusion of who I am projecting. I must keep up the facade, while I diligently work to build up substance behind the wall of pretension. This method leaves me empty and never satisfied with my life. My illusion thickens and hardens into a wall you'll never get through.
      The second way is for me to drop the illusion and let you see who I really am.  There's a mess back here; it's in total disarray.  I'm scared of what you'll think.  When I drop my illusion, to my surprise, it was also feeding yours. It seems we both have a mess on our hands. I'll get a shovel and you a rake.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An Excerpt from "Angel Blood: Family Secrets"

The interior of Marcus’ home surprised Michael.  Roman shields hung from the walls.  Swords of various sizes were displayed on racks.  In the middle of the room was the normal large cooking cauldron, but this was surrounded by several small pots.  It was then that Marcus did something that shocked Michael.  He pulled out a long silver stick and placed it over an oil lamp.  A spark shot from the stick and the oil caught fire.  Edric quickly looked at Michael, whose mouth was agape.  Marcus placed one of the pots over the lamp to warm up some pottage from the cold cauldron.
Michael leaned over to his uncle and whispered, “Did you see that?”
Edric acted surprised.  “What do you think you saw?” 
Michael thought for a moment.  Perhaps he had made a mistake.  “Nothing, Uncle,” he replied quietly.
Edric circled in front of Michael.  “If you see something, trust your eyes, not your mind.”  With that he drew his own silver wand and lit another clay lamp.
Michael eyes grew huge and he backed against the door.  “How did you to that?!”  Michael’s voice cracked under the anxiety that flushed through his system.  He had only heard of such magic in stories.
“Do not be alarmed, Michael,” Edric said in a calm but firm voice.  “It is not some sort of dark magic you are seeing.”
“What is it then?” asked Michael, feeling the for the door latch behind him.
“This is the power of your ancestors, Michael,” Edric kept his distance, so as not to further frighten his nephew.
Michael thought for a moment.  Was his uncle telling him that he was from witches or elves?  Why did his mother never tell him about this?  “My ancestors…You mean my ancestors were elves or something?”
Edric sat down a stool at the table.  Putting his wand back in the pocket of his cloak, he smiled warmly at the trembling young man.  “Michael, you are from a great line of those from far away.  You are a Nephalite.”
“A Nymphalite?” asked Michael. “You mean I am an elf?”  He was horrified at such a suggestion.
Edric rolled his eyes.  “Not a Nymphalite, a Nephalite.”  He motioned to the stool adjacent his.  “Come and sit, my boy.”  Michael wanted to unlatch the door and run home, but he instinctively trusted his uncle.  Torn, he decided to sit.

You can read more here:  Angel Blood: Family Secrets .  "Look Inside!"