When My Responses Don’t Measure Up to Textbook Answers

“LIFE SUCKS,” she says at the door,
a line not found in the greeter’s handbook.
My mental rolodex spins,
looking for the proper response.

What comes out is straight from my gut
Sometimes it does, yes,”
a line not found
on the list of approved answers from mature Christians.

“And it ALWAYS will!” she says,
as if daring me
to prove otherwise,
to persuade her it isn’t true,
which might be what she really wants,
someone to tell her her situation will change,
but it’s outside my abilities, I know,
having near gotten over
believing I can fix things for people.

I have no magic words, only an admission.

I’m familiar with that feeling,” I confess,
my standing in the good-influence club
flying right out the window.
I should just take the bulletin she’s handed me and go in.

“Things won’t ever change,” she says,
and I don’t know
whether she’s inviting another response
or intending those words to be the end of the conversation,
but when she repeats it,
“Things won’t EVER change. They will ALWAYS be this way,”
it’s my turn again.

Rolodex long gone,
all I have is the truth.

I’ve thought that as well.
I’ve not always been right about it, though.”

I go settle into my seat, having found my place.


Seeing the Divine Hand in Things

I will not tell this story well. I’ll try, but it’s one of those “you had to be there” things. Still I feel a need to share it. Some former writing teacher of mine will read what I’ve just written, that I’ve started by saying “I will not tell this story well” and will have my head for it. Writing publicly is always such risky business.:-)

Here’s the story, just briefly:

omeletteAt a restaurant on Saturday morning, the man from the next table comes over and introduces himself to Wally and I. He recognizes me from a photo he saw online.

He’s a very nice man. He’s there with his wife and grandson, having breakfast. He’s also hoping to speak with the owner about a job for an ex-con. He says he knows the place has hired people with records in the past and he’s going to give it a shot.

The three of us have a little conversation and discover a connection, a shared interest in prison ministry.

Wally and I leave the restaurant amazed. What was the likelihood of running into this fellow, that he would be at this restaurant, situated at the very next table, at such an early hour on a Saturday morning? AND that he would recognize me from a photo (when, let’s face it, we all work so hard to put up a photo that doesn’t look like the real us)!

Even more amazing is WHY we are at this particular restaurant, which is not near our home and is a little off the beaten path. In truth, we would never have known about the place, except that back in 2014, when we still lived in Ohio, I was visiting a friend one day and there were 6-7 people from InterVarsity there using part of my friend’s home for a staff retreat.

One young woman said, “We heard you are moving to Louisville. My parents have a restaurant there.” She gave me the name.

If not for that day back in Ohio, I would probably not be aware of the place and certainly would not have been present on Saturday for the conversation with the man from the next table who recognized my photograph.

I told you I wouldn’t tell it well enough.

But here’s the thing and my reason for telling the story: Every now and then I catch of glimpse of the hand of God, orchestrating things. And it blows my mind.

Could He really be IN this mess we call life? If so, that changes everything.



Snippets/Megan Willome, non-violence and more

I stole this off Megan's blog because it's cool.MEGAN WILLOME, fellow-writer-I-met-in-cyberspace-and-got-to-meet-in-person-at-Laity-Lodge, devoted an entire post to her reflections on my car wash thoughts in “Poetry with Marilyn Yocum.” (It’s really weird to see your own name pop up on Feedly.) I was honored! Plus, I learned more about what I was really writing about. Sometimes someone has to point these things out.

Anyway, it’s nice for writers to know something they’ve written spurred someone else’s thoughts. We rarely hear about this. BTW, Megan is a fun person to follow on Twitter for all things tea, poetry, dogs and more.

* * *

A MAN in THE CLASS I’M TAKING on Wednesdays said, “Aren’t all writers just people who stand on the sidelines? Isn’t that why they write, because it’s the only way then can engage with the world?” Just so you know, I did not lean forward and clock him on the head.

* * *

THE POST OFFICE PEOPLE are used to me stepping up to the counter and asking what kinds of cool stamps they have. I use run-of-the-mill flag stamp for letters going to places where the stamps are removed before the envelope is delivered (AKA prison ministry). More than once I’ve taken a picture of my latest cool stamps and inserted the photo into a letter, just to inject some color.

BTW, the run-of-the-mill flag stamps have improved. They have a better look.

* * *

my cabin

I HAD A GREAT CABIN of 7th-graders at the winter retreat in January, but when I saw the photo, I couldn’t for the life of me remember when it was taken. Certainly I would not have voluntarily posed in a t-shirt, front and center. Maybe it’s a dummy somebody stuck in there, propped up by the girls. Maybe it was the IBC root beer.

About this….getting involved in ONE ministry of the church was yet another thing done intentionally this past year as a way of getting a life back.

* * *

Someone told me I have spunk. I’ve never been told that before. I’ve been living off the compliment for two weeks.:-)

I hope you are well. Drop me a line.