Respect the Mystery

The following text is taken from my book AND THEREBY HANGS A TALE [Harvest House, 2010], an excerpt from Chapter 7 OH, HOW THE WORLD DOTH WAG.

AMONG THE BEST OF DOGS, quiet dogs, yappy small dogs, privileged dogs, nervous dogs, good-natured dogs, big lazy dogs, if there really is a silence-is-a-good-thing rule, there are also exceptions. Of course there are. With living things you have to make room for exceptions.

I was working with my son Adam last summer. He has an organic pest control company in Franklin, Tennessee. Business was good. His workload was increasing, and he asked me to come along and help. One of the houses he serviced had an Akita in the back yard. The Akita is a Japanese dog, a very serious minded, no nonsense kind of dog—things I learned later. Of course I did. At the time, I knew nothing of the breed. It was a dog. I knew that. All dogs are alike, right? So I took the immediate posture of well-meaning-nice-guy-getting-the-confidence-of-the-animal-because-I-am-good-at-this-I-know-what-I’m-doing-I-wrote-the-book-dogs-love-me-leave-me-alone. Truth is, I doubt seriously if I had any such thought whatsoever.

As the dog approached the fence, which he did slowly, circumspectly, without thinking about what I was doing I reached in to pet the dog. Big mistake. Continue Reading…


I stumbled on this lovely poem by Harold McCurdy, Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, at University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). It just had the right pitch for the beginning of a new day.


You know how it is. You come on a view sometimes

That makes a gap in the world and sets you dreaming:

Perhaps a curving road overhung with branches,

Rockwalled, rosebordered, patched with sun and shadow,

Opening out to where it bends away in a haze of glory,


You dream that beyond, in a calm clearing,

Standing at an old weatherbeaten gate, waiting,

Unexpected but expecting you, are the immortal

Unseen companions you have been looking for

All your mortal days.

Your mind leaps forward

Past weariness and defeat into the infinitely possible.

This world, your world, becomes but one of a multitude,

Beautiful, but still a particle, a trifle,

Among the uncountable suns and planets of your home galaxy,

Beyond which, entirely invisible to you, dwell beings

Who are to themselves, as you to yourself, a burden of gross matter

In comparison with others further along that endless road,

Which, rockwalled, rosebordered, patched with sun and shadow,

Opens out to where it bends away in a haze of glory,


Christmas never forgets

THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS IS THAT IT NEVER FORGETS. Like Mary, it is always pondering, treasuring something deep in its heart. One of the possible meanings of the name MARY is “bitter,” and yet we often overlook or circumnavigate this meaning for something a bit more promising, something more appropriately “Christian.” The last time I saw my father alive was when he waved goodbye to Benita and me Christmas night, 2000. The night was as sharp and as crisp as the memory itself.

For many families, and particularly those of Newtown, Connecticut, and countless others who have suffered loss, Christmas will never be the same again. It will ever be haunted, and with a bittersweetness worthy of the name of the young girl, the Mary, at its center. And though words alone are hardly sufficient medication, too often it is all we have. The following is a Christmas benediction.

[The images are select faces of the Newtown Connecticut slaying.]

ruined, lost, and broken [a prayer from Thomas Wolfe]

The following rhapsody was written by American novelist THOMAS WOLFE (October 3, 1900-September 15, 1938), in his second book, OF TIME AND THE RIVER (1935). Wolfe was anything but religious and yet these words make a rather perfect prayer. I post this in honor of his 113th birthday.

“Come to us, Father, in the watches of the night, come to us as you always came, bringing to us the invincible sustenance of your strength, the limitless treasure of your bounty, the tremendous structure of your life that will shape all lost and broken things on earth again into a golden pattern of exultancy and joy. Continue Reading…

bad hair and Hank Williams

Last year I was given a guitar by an incredible lady, a very dear friend, a Martin guitar that belonged to her mother. The guitar was made the same year I was born (no, I’m not telling). A hint: it was the same year Hank Williams wrote YOUR CHEATING HEART.

In those days our families were close and we were always singing and playing and finding some excuse to do both. The point is, I spent a lot of time in the presence of this guitar. We have history, deep history together. If wood can retain memory, this thing heard my first cries as a newborn, my first laughs. Continue Reading…

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