Grieving Over, Yet?

I woke up this morning, a good place to start.  In my goings, my comings, my interactions, I am asked that profound question that has been lurking close by, since the dinosaurs: “How are you doing today?”

Me: “How ‘you doin’?”

Others: “I’m doin’ good.  How you doin’?”  (Just like the commercial, with a New York accent – “How You Doin’?  I’m Doin’ Good.  How You Doin’?”)

Me: “Well, I woke up, this morning. That suggested that it was going to be a good day.”

I have a theory: most people know, that on some level, it is good to wake up.  Not everyone wakes up.  This morning, when sleep slipped away, I thought of my grieving.  Anyone who has (miraculously) read any of my posts might know that my dad finished up his race (a metaphor for his life), last year, 2016, June.  The grieving process has, seemingly,not been, successful.  Some say that this kind of loss involves a lengthy process, longer than a year and four months.  And yet, I’ve been on the other side of the forest from joy, from victory, from strength, from my dreams … Get the picture? The weariness of grief shows up in more ways than one: the darkness, the sadness, lack of motivation, the loss of dreams.  Evenings, the fatigue may hit like a freight train.  I don’t think this is as simple as I would like it to be.  Is your grieving over?  To think, that there is more life, a different life, just over the horizon.  That is a good thought.  Some of you have already reached that point.  Don’t stop: I’m right behind you.

Sunset Other Side of the Trees





It’s the Light, This Morning


There is light, just over the horizon.  Just on the other side of that mass of fog.  Other side of the mountain.  It’s not piercing, or blazing, but it’s there.  Sometimes the fog, up there, accentuates the mystery in our lives, in nature.  

The huge mountains, their peaks taking center stage … are sometimes shrouded by the fog that hints of light.  The peaks, no longer at center stage.  It’s not the peak, that’s the focus. It’s the light, in different forms.

Someone said, long ago:

“Weeping my endure for the evening.  Buy Joy returns in the morning.”
The Grove Park Inn, Ashville, NC /

We need light, we want light.  At night, the sun sinks downward, eastward, and temps drop: we are helped by the light that keeps us warm.  Someone said that there is a fire that refines us like a furnace.  “A fire gives light, which draws us in; and a fire also burns.”


A great quote, from Shadowlands, goes like this: “We read to know, that we are not alone.”  I think sunsets, sunrises, light hiding behind the fog, behind the peaks do that for us as well.  They all let us know … we are not alone.


Brothers, Sisters, Mothers, Fathers

On the other side of the trees, it gets quiet after the kids have turned in for the night.  I’ve had time to think about family; my immediate family and my family of origin.

“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.

Maya Angelou

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” 

"Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.  It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."- William Jennings Bryan   Click here for resources to improve your Intentionality…
“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a choice.  It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be acieved.”   William Jennings Bryan

In our going, from here to there, we come out on the other side of difficult (putting it mildly?) relationships, and step into healthy relationships.  Seasons of relational isolation may still come, that wrap around us like a heavy blanket; causing me to remember.  Overshadowed by two older brothers, tolerated and managed by my parents, I was (am?) the “Black Sheep”.  Over the years, there have been attempts to recapture those elusive years.  We cannot always go back to repair the gaps that leave us with longings for significance and community.

Finding Our Fathers: How a Man's Life Is Shaped by His Relationship with His FatherSamuel Osherson’s book, “Finding Our Fathers”, provided some healing in the midst of grieving the loss of my father.  Osherson  wrote (paraphrased): “Some sons go through their lives searching for love and acceptance from their fathers … perpetually elusive.  Men hope to find it in their work, relationships, or other areas … unable to find what they are looking for.”  We must get past the losses; we must move on; embrace our significance that is within us. 

Healing happens because of safe, powerful, beautiful, relationships: new brothers, new sisters, older individuals who, for a season, pour into my weathered soul.  There is pain and betrayal; there are unsafe people.  Thus, the risks we take.  We are seasoned by both the good and the bad.  Foggy mornings and moonless, starless, nights still happen, where relational isolation howls.  We endure, with strength and faith; the fog will lift; the nights will not always be so dark.  Authentic brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, play a profound role in our voyage.  


Image result for master and commander the far side of the world 2003
From the movie, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”





An Image of Hope

Hope, from an image.  Not just an image, but a painting.  Not just a painting, but a Rembrandt; Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son.

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Rembrandt’s painting connects with a biblical passage, Luke 12.  Here is my “Readers Digest” version, a short paraphrase that does not do the full story justice.  So, accept my apology.  A younger brother, working with his father and older brother in the field, complained to his father about the hard work, the boredom.  He wanted to leave with all of his inheritance immediately.  The father agreed, with great consternation.  The younger brother left on his adventure, and it was not long before he blew his inheritance on drink and revelry.  Hungry because he had no food, no money.  He got a job at a pig farm, and saw that the pigs were getting fed better than he was.  The younger brother then decided to go back home, humble himself before his father (he was truly humbled, broken, devastated) and apologize; he would take a job as a hired hand.  At least he would not go hungry.

The Prodigal Son, welcomed by the father

 When the prodigal son came into view from where his father stood, the father ran to his son with unfathomable gratitude that his lost son was back.    He instructed his servants to put together a feast.  The (above) painting shows the younger son, the prodigal, in his ragged clothes, humbling himself before his father, expressing his sorrow for being a fool, and leaving home.  The older son’s jealousy and anger with his younger brother.  The older brother stands to the right in the painting, looking on, with jealous and angry with his younger brother.

Rembrandt painted The Return of the Prodigal Son about two years before his death, suggesting that Rembrandt identified with the Prodigal.  Rembrandt died penniless, before his fame could catch up with him.

Other paintings resonate with the theme of The Return of the Prodigal Son, such as “Merry Company” by Gerrit van Honthorst (1623), showing the Prodigal squandering his inheritance.

Image result for rembrandt paintings the prodigal son
“Merry Company” Gerrit van Honthorst 1623


I refer to hope, in this post, connected to Rembrandt’s painting, simply because the Prodigal found love, acceptance, and a place to belong.

Lastly, I cherish The Return of the Prodigal Son because I am a prodigal.  The difference is that I never really returned home.  I just made visits.  Yet, my father always loved me; always accepted me; always welcomed me.

All of this comes with strange timing.  Father’s day is coming up, and I consider that I could have been a better father for my son; as my father was to me.  My father is 93, and he recently experienced a fairly serious turn for the worst in the last 48 hours.  My brothers and I are hoping for the best.  Hope is what we have.  Hope emerges from different places, different people, different stories.


Healing in the Land of the Bullies

IMG_0946The storms, continuous. There are good days that have been very good days, a reminder that the storms do, in fact, blow over. Healing happens in the storms: injustice, hardships, pain.  Some people are like storms(!),( they bring chaos, frenzy, intensity. Others are like good days, bringing the sun, clarity, calm. There are unexplainable moments of beauty in the storms.  The dark storms come, without beauty: the bad stuff, people who want to make life hellish / difficult / cruel  … I feel bullied.  And, I try to remember: there is healing.  Healing in the land of the bullies.   IMG_0946  I am not a victim; I (we) have what it takes to do the next thing.  I’ve worked with kids, removed from the home because of the parents’ own style of bullying … sexual abuse and neglect. I think about people in Michigan, violently bullied by a man with a gun, illogical, brutal.  I recall images of people in Paris, running for safety, away from terrorists killing innocent citizens.  I think of bullies like cancer, Parkinson’s Disease; I think of bullies who target students in school; I think of corporations saturated with greed bullying American consumers; I think of women, men, harassed in the work place unmercifully.  Such a small list.  So, the healing … it is not just about me.  It cannot be just about me.  Yet, there are times when I get preoccupied with “self”, and I believe it is about me.  

When we are bullied by people we do business with; when we are bullied by life; the car that breaks down in route to a meeting; the depression that rears it’s ugly head, our joy sliding away … when those times happen, our anguish is real and legitimate, and we do need healing.  We need healing in the Land of the bullies.  And in that healing, we can sometimes see a little more than what … initially … meets the eye.







Paris fighter jets hammering Raqqa with bombs. 7 darkened souls tracked down in Belgium. Suicide bombers being identified. There is still loss in Paris. I am haunted and humbled. My day: get up on time, make it to church. Pick up kiddos, 2:30, after weekend youth retreat. Walmart prescription. Home; laundry; wood in for the stove because some snow’s coming; get the fire going, get the kiddos dinner. Be a good husband; be a good dad; try to make something out of this old, weathered, life, that will hold some redemptive value. Then I think about Paris: hellishness-trauma-loss-violence-fear. I was driving east down Bowles in 1999 April 20th in Littleton, CO. and saw a SWAT unit, not one not two but three, and so many police cruisers-different counties … I turned on the radio: there was a massacre going on at Columbine High School about 10 minutes away, just off Bowles. In 2001, September the 11th I was at work, Denver Rescue Mission, watching on the two massive TV screens in the auditorium, two planes crash into the towers. A report came in, as I stood by Jon Gettings, that the fourth plane had been hijacked. Jon slowly looked at me …“It’s still going on.” Yes, It is still going on. Different ways, different places, different times, but loss follows, and fear, and confusion, pain, anger. I pray, I grieve, I hope, and … I don’t know what else to do. I still have to work. I continue to love my wife, my kids; and I continue to go out and get three or four trips of wood for the stove. God help me, to not get numb, desensitized. And help me to do what I need to do. And help the good guys wipe out the bad guys.

Creeks and Rivers Running Strong

“Redundant” … I am a bit embarrassed that my short writing today is a bit redundant.  I’ve talked about the waters, here, in the front range area of the Rocky Mountains.  I’ve talked about seasons.  I’ve talked about my own grappling with my challenge, stepping into what is next.   And yet, this mix has gathered … like a small group … at the front of my present being.   As the gathering has come together, I … therefore … write.

Every single time I take a look at Bear Creek, it’s waters flowing … not only fast, but strong … I acknowledge the beauty of nature, and I acknowledge my poignant disruption happening.  I know that I would not allow myself to get caught in those currents, for they would overpower me, and slam me against the boulders.

It is one thing to talk about that which I see.  It is one thing to feel what it is that is flowing through my veins, pumping rapids of thought into my mind.  It is one thing to think about the metaphorical implications what all that is around me: a new season arriving as you and I connect; intimidating rapids storming through the passes; the rallying words of wisdom I read and hear.

It is a separate thing … to move intentionally with vision, and passion, and out of necessity … in order to transcend my own mediocrity, my small portions of subtle self-pity, and to fight well in spite of my woundedness.  I do, truly, want to overwhelm the lies that could keep me stuck in the molasses-like fog.

And this business of moving … I believe it is not as simple as I want it to be.  And it is true, that this business of moving  … is not as difficult as I sometimes think.