“Honestly, Jacob! I woke you up when I left an hour ago! You had two jobs. I asked you to feed Daisy and let her out; she is your dog! I asked you to bring those two boxes downstairs for the team rummage sale. You know what? Never mind! I don’t know why I bother. Jacob Stephen, get up! You have practice this afternoon. Maybe I shouldn’t let you go. Maybe I will just call your Coach and tell him how lazy you are.”
My twelve-year-old sat up in bed. He rubbed his red eyes and smoothed the creases on his flushed cheeks with the back of his hand.
“No! Mom!” he protested, his voice raspy and heavy with sleep.
“And don’t worry, I will unload the groceries myself!” I shouted, ignoring his plea.
I stormed down the stairs, into the garage and grabbed two shopping bags in one hand and a large bag of dog food in the other from the trunk of my car.
“Ouch!” I bumped my elbow on the door frame.
“Are you okay?” asked the lanky, middle schooler slipping into his basketball jersey and maneuvering the stairs in untied shoes.
I didn’t answer. I just proceeded to my tiny kitchen, dropped the bags on the counter and jerked open the door to my refrigerator with such force it shook the wire shelves. Helplessly, I watched as a container of fresh blueberries tumbled out onto the tile floor. They seemed to have minds of their own, scrambling to nether regions, disappearing under the stove and in-between cabinets. Some rolled all the way into the dining room. Our newly acquired kitten was having a blast chasing one oversized berry across my living room. I stepped on a couple before I got to the broom and dustpan.
That’s when the great blueberry debacle came to a screeching halt. I sat down to wipe the squashed, sticky berry from my toes but not before purple juice attached itself to my hands which I inadvertently wiped on my khaki shorts leaving a stain. My sunglasses slipped from the top of my head and reaching to save them from the impact of the floor I transferred more blueberry remnants onto my hair, my face and the lens of my glasses.
I looked up at Jacob who was handing me a wad of paper towels at arms’ length, trying to keep a straight face so as not to poke the bear. He knew I had reached my limit.
But then, we both laughed. We laughed so hard our bellies ached.
“You wanna go get some pancakes?” I asked.
“Bet!” Jacob yelled over his shoulder grabbing his gym bag from the spot  just inside the door where he left it the night before and heading to the car.
“Wait! The trash!”
I couldn’t help thinking how easily this had gotten out of hand and how my anger had been like that container of blueberries. Hurtful words had tumbled out of my mouth just like those blueberries, difficult to retract and leaving a stain.  The peace and quiet of a Saturday morning was no more.
Even days later, dry and dusty blueberries would appear in my kitchen. I hadn’t found them all. They had been too hard to find. It had been too easy for them to slip away and nearly impossible to retrieve.

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” Proverbs 14:29


The Theatre


One lone lily
Awakens from her
Restful night’s slumber
Graceful ballerina stretches
Soft, silky arms
Toward orange, pink, purple sky
Breeze gently nudges fragrance
Ripples flirt with pond’s thirsty shores
She dances on soft waves
Breathes in the beauty
Morning music plays on
Redbird balances on a nearby twig
Rabbit scurries through the tall grass
Dragonfly makes her presence known
Soon glorious sun emerges
From his hiding place
Just as he does every morning
At dawn of each new day
Slowly, but surely
He takes his place
Against a flawless African sky
Sun smiles, his face warms the air
Sand glitters, jewels reflecting light
Road climbs, disappearing over the hill
Tall trees, leafy branches, massive white trunks
Dig roots deep into dark rich soil
Faithful soldiers standing guard
Lily has returned to her comfortable bed
Fish nibbles and plays beneath her
Water rocks her to sleep again
Marking the end of the performance

No audience
No applause
No standing ovations
No curtain calls

It doesn’t matter
Tomorrow, Lily will wake with the dawn
And the curtain will rise on this
God’s glorious stage

Once again

The Staircase


There is something strangely wonderful about the way these old stone steps are worn on one side more than the other. The staircase winds its way up three stories. The building is over a hundred years old, as is the institution it houses. More than a school,  it is preparation for life.  It speaks to decades of tradition.

These stairs have known the footsteps of generation upon generation of young men. Hungry intellects seeking to understand their world.  Blank pages writing their own stories.  Open hearts seeking place and value.  Thirsty minds drinking in knowledge. Ready hands honing skills.  All in the hallowed halls of this age-old school.

Poets might encourage these boys to choose the “road less traveled” and to not “go gently into that good night.”  There is definitely time for that, but for now, these young men will not veer off course.  They will follow in the footsteps of those who came before them, boys who grew into men, students who became teachers, healers, builders,  lawmakers and  warriors, followers who became leaders.

They may step carefully at times, other times with purpose and intensity.  They may reach for the banister to steady themselves, its ornate design smooth and oiled by the many hands who have held on before them.  To be sure, they will ascend and descend each step with certainty and confidence.

To be sure, these steps are worn because time after time, day after day, generations of young men have walked in the footsteps of others.  There is an assurance in that, an assurance that says, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”  Sometimes, the worn path is best.  Sometimes history should be repeated.  Sometimes the familiar breeds content, not contempt.

Someday soon, these boys will move on to the next leg of their journey.  One day these steps may be replaced with elevators or  concrete but for now they are a testament to what is and what always was, sure and true.

I can’t help thinking that God sometimes wants us to take the worn steps, the ones that have stood the test of time.  The steps that are certain.  The steps that boast  of a  journey well taken.