Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Front Porch Swing

The Front Porch Swing
(by R.P.Edwards)

Simple slats
Painted white
Waiting there
Day and night
The children’s plaything
The elder's friend
But oft’ alone
With none to spend
A pleasant pause
Awaits me there
With cares suspended
In sheltered air
An invitation
A place of Spring
Where moments…matter
The front porch swing

A May morning. Because of much rain in recent days (and more expected) the air was thick with moisture. The flowering tree that abuts our street (you’d think after all these years I’d know what kind it is) was quickly losing it’s milky white blooms and these, pleasant to the eye on the tree and when freshly on the earth, have taken on the hue of soggy cardboard after only a short time. I, for some reason (can’t really recall) was out on the front porch of our humble dwelling and there, to my immediate right, waiting…was our simple, white, porch swing. I must admit, I haven’t paid much attention to this silent fixture, but today I thought I’d accept the invitation.

I remember years ago, when we had just moved into this house, seeing the two anchors rudely protruding from the ceiling. “I guess they had a swing?” I deduced (what a mind.) And so, in the coming months I ran across a “deal” which required a little assembly on my part (nuts and bolts…I can handle that). I hung it up, slapped on some paint…and there it was. From that time till this (other than a repair or two, and an occasional warning to the kids to not bang into the house) I haven’t given this resident much attention. But, today, I thought a visit was in order.

I’ve often had my best times of fellowship over a cup of coffee, and this was no exception. I poured a hot portion into my oversized mug, grabbed some reading material (in this case, the Bible) and gingerly sat down on the “bench.” I must admit, it was a little strange at first. No filtered air. No artificial light. No manufactured noise from commentators which we so often invite into our home. And, although I was initially a bit concerned about the stability, I soon learned that my cup was safe…and I was anchored as well. And so, I read, sipped, contemplated and communed. In front of me, birds flew, neighbors walked by, and I, rocking gently, was slowly brought to a calmer, happier place...a place that is sometimes very hard to find in troubled times such as these. So, the conclusion: I think I’ll make some room for the gift on the front porch. I hope to visit again, soon. Perhaps even tomorrow. But, I will tell you this, when it gets to be ninety-five degrees outside…you can forget it!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Stone

From “The Stone
(by R.P.Edwards)

At last I learn
What I’ve been told
That “treasure” lives
But not in gold
So to the stone
I come to see
And hear the words
“Remember me!”

The journey of the song began nearly twenty years ago. A recent arrival to “flyover country” my young family (just four of us then) joined a church that would, a couple times a year, rent a “memorial hall” for the purpose of holiday gatherings. On one such occasion (perhaps the first) I noticed the plaques, the inscriptions…and the stones. I don’t know what steered me, ever so slightly, away from my obsession with “self,” --perhaps the benefit of age, or some lesson my “Pop” had dropped into my subconscious decades earlier-- whatever the reason, I began to be somewhat appreciative that these names, these many, many names…represented young men whose lives were cut short…deprived of family, fortune, heritage…that I, bloated from a Thanksgiving plate, could carry on. I remember, vaguely, trying to convey some of this sentiment to my two young men. How much they heard…I know not.

Fast forward a few years. The fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II was quickly approaching. I picked up my Appalachian instrument (autoharp) and composed a song that expressed my diluted sentiment (diluted, because my motives are not always “pure”). Well, nothing came of it (perhaps nothing was supposed to) and now, fourteen years later, with the aid of a technology not easily accessible at that time, “The Stone” is born anew. If you haven’t viewed it yet…now would be a good time.

This entry will be posted on Memorial Day . I probably won’t watch the parade…but I will remember them. I, most likely, won’t attend the ceremonies…but I will remember them. I won’t be terribly caught up with the “feelings” of the moment…but I will remember them. Instead of pausing this one brief season, I will, as God enables, stand daily--in their stead-- for their “values.” No, not the manufactured and massaged values of Academia, or Hollywood, or a wayward Judiciary. But the values of the Marine who, clutching his pierced chest, knelt into the black sands of Iwo Jima and then stood up to take the hand of his Lord. The values of the sailors whose lifeless bodies sank beneath the waves at the Battle of Coral Sea. Their bodies succumbed to the depths, but their spirits rose unhindered. The values of the thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands who knew that courage began at an alter with a bowed head and a resolute heart. Yes, it “is” time to remember them. But more than that…it is time…to “be” them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Preacher

The General
(by R.P.Edwards)

The General sat upon the stand
Medaled, scarred, and lame
While lawyers layered in Harvard threads
Ascribed a baseless claim
He had to smile, amid the din
At liberty’s wayward sons
Proclaiming freedoms learned by rote
That he, by blood…had won

Thrilling, titillating, alluring, smooth. The gathering of the faithful, already intoxicated by the visual aura of the cathedral--glorious murals, towering stained glass proclamations, magnificent marble statues, all illuminated by massive gold and crystal chandeliers--these listened intently to…the preacher. Like a skilled conductor the famed orator directed the music--his words--to waft and weave among the people like the gentle wisps of burning frankincense that arose from the many brass censers and intermarried with every molecule of air in the place and, as the eager listeners breathed in, and out the fragrance, so these also “breathed” the words. They joyously received them, cherished them, and absorbed them into their very being. Yes, the preacher, using the carefully crafted words of the “faith” continued to soothe and massage and sculpt the scripture to suit his whim, to suit his…goals. However, far in the back, shorter than most and, afflicted with the sniffles, an aging, disheveled elder simply looked to the Book. Oblivious to the “show” he--pausing every minute or so to dab his sore nose--carefully followed the references and examined the context of the “message.” After a half hour, even as the crowd around him swayed and nearly swooned from the cadence of the hypnotic voice, the elder, his eyes burning with rage, slammed shut the ancient text and, as all (even the preacher) turned towards the interrupter, He nearly shouted, “If any man preaches unto you a gospel other than what you have received…let him be accursed!” For a moment there was silence but, as many dismissed the “old fool” with a wave, others, the true believers, let the words germinate in their heart and, even as the preacher continued to peddle his wares; the spell had been broken. Soon, one by one the great hall emptied until only the lifeless words reverberated midst the lifeless relics.

What utter boobs. What buffoons. What naive numskulls we be. Oh, I like a Hollywood production as much as the next guy. But really, must we always, always! give sway to all the carefully crafted cues and catch phrases that are the product of psychology and focus groups? Must we always lower our defenses when words like “values” and “American ideals” are effortlessly thrown out and linked to sacred American texts as if they somehow belonged (HA!) Perhaps it’s because we “are” the “Hollywood” generation, the consumers of confection, the believers of bologna. Whatever the cause, eventually the “works” will overshadow the words and, when that happens, perhaps then…the words will begin to have meaning…once more.