Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I’d anticipated the call
ever since I’d learned
my friend’s father died.
“Will you do the eulogy?”
With a clenched stomach
I responded, “No, I can’t.”

But moments after hanging up
the wave of necessity crashed over me.
I called back, “I have to do it.”
Hanging up, I sat at my computer,
the blank screen mocking my non-decision.
Gauntlet now thrown, my fingers went to work.

But first, a dark journey
to a life not well lived.
A difficult life transmitting
as much pain as he’d felt.
And now I too struggled
to put his life back together.

It would be easy
to put a smile on the years
but the mourners would know
the lies poorly told
wouldn’t cover the tears
he’d caused and shed.

Honesty and kindness
had never been so hard to knit
as in the words we wrote then spoke.
But rare, bright moments
remembered through a haze of pain
brought gentle, knowing smiles.

A final gift from Jerry
of a lesson rich in healing
as much for myself
as for others.

Monday, September 25, 2006


As a 2-year old, thrown from the front passenger
seat of a 54 Nash (I know, explains a lot!);
going on the horsey-back road around the lake
while on vacation in Indiana so as
to lull me to sleep on a night when I was told
I had eaten too much cheese that caused me to have
nightmares; listing to the right in cousin Douglas’
station wagon on the way to Fourth Presbyterian
Church downtown during an ice storm when his car axle
broke; entertaining myself in the chilly, rainy
parking lot of my father’s work while he puts in
Saturday overtime; lying on the backseat
of a Volkswagen Beetle, watching Indiana
power pole shadows rhythmically pass over my face
on the way to Bass Lake; getting up early on
Saturday morning to ride with my father to
the Scottish shop in order to buy freshly baked
baps (rolls) to be slathered with butter and filled
with sliced bacon as soon as we got home; driving
in the foggy hills of Pennsylvania, to my
brother’s wake and funeral, on the night after
the call came to say he’d drowned at age 32;
sitting in the backseat of the limousine at
my brother’s funeral, staying with my mother who
is too sick to walk to the graveside; a year
later, being picked up from O’Hare in the
middle of rush hour after returning from Scotland
and being dropped off at home in order to change clothes
to get to my mother’s wake; stopping late at night to
get the early edition of the newspaper
to see what lottery number I drew in the
draft; held up by a train, waiting, hoping not to
be late for the National Teacher’s exam; returning
from Christmas shopping, writhing in pain from a
kidney stone attack as my nephew almost
imperceptibly reaches over to turn down the
car radio volume on REM singing
“Shiny Happy People;” hoping, at the real end, to
hear the soft refrain of "sleep in heavenly peace."

Friday, September 22, 2006


A rainy day’s not nearly
as filling as a snowstorm
for those of us who thrive on drama.
While others are content
to sneak by with sunny days,
I like a solid smack in the face
to remind me I’m alive.
Same thing with the horizon.
An endless stretch of water
doesn’t make my soul sing
like high mountains and low clouds.
I hope He notices that I’m paying attention.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life...
I think what we're really seeking is an experience of being alive,
so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane
will have resonance with our innermost being and reality,
so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive."
- Joseph Campbell


Moving forward
effortlessly, days and time pass
just the beginning – lost.

I hear Your call
always, the path is before me
all in the knowing – lost.

Thy will be done,
never, as easy as it sounds,
in the flesh – lost.

A gentle breeze,
touchable God, raucous laughter,
Godseed stirs - found.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Walking the Old Plaza
in the historic part of town
as if I had all the time
and twice the money I needed,
I must have worn my open face
as shopkeepers welcomed me with
bright smiles and friendly questions.
The slightest poke
summoned out deep secrets
told to total strangers
who listened with kind ears.
Proprietors shared their stories
of falling in love with the land;
one even told me
I belonged there,
words spoken as if read
from a script He'd written long ago.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Many years ago, as a child,
Uncle Don was sent to live on a farm.
Proper Scottish family secrets won’t let me
know the reason why.

Many years ago, as an adult,
Uncle Jim disappeared during the War.
He wasn’t killed, we know this
as someone found a matchbook
along the railroad tracks.
Inscribed inside the cover was a message
to Mary – his sister – my mother,
“I’m fine,” Love, Jim.

Don left Scotland for America,
married Christine, had 3 children
and ran the local Ma & Pa grocery.
I remember pictures of him
in his long white apron on the store porch steps.
A generous soul who handed out
Orange Crush sodas and chocolate donuts
to the neighborhood Katzenjammer kids.
Each December, he transformed himself
into the world’s best Santa.
We’d gather at the American Legion hall,
listening for the sleigh landing
on the roof, and then – those bells,
the ones that still give me goosebumps
knowing Santa (or Uncle Don) had arrived.

Uncle Jim set sail for Canada
we’d learn in later years.
Remarried, he returned
years after his sister had died.

Wanderlust is in my genes.
I suppose one day I'll up and leave
hoping to meet Don & Jim
out on the road where we’ll stop
at a local café and talk
about the seed we share.


I've changed. I've found a voice
within me that calls of greater things.
I've met some who carry me
as I seek to live
my dreams, walk
my walk, sing
His song.

You think I've stumbled - perhaps,
but my cross is light and I must carry on.
When did you stop listening?
To yourself - to me?
One day we'll gather at the river,
but now I must leave
while I seek exile in my soul.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Shedding, moulting as seasons change,
heart girded and spirit prepared
for old pain revisited once more
to be sloughed off a final time.

Restless, sleepless as night ensues
replaying life's stumbles again.
Over and over as always,
no relief, only more - the same.

But life in a moment transfixed
on breathing and heartbeat alone
assures us from our deepest part
that with grace, we're already home.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Rolling over in the bottom bunk,
I'm greeted by the very early morning sun
bleeding through the cabin shutter slats
imploring me to come out and play.

Tossing on the bare minimum clothing
required to be considered decent,
I hurry through the well-worn wooden screen door
and declare my presence in the world.

Deep, slow in-and-out breaths
of rich wood and moss scented air
heal my weary soul and heart
and make me ready to begin again.

Down by the lake
benches set as pews sit
before an old rough-hewn wooden cross
aged by weather and prayers.

I follow the gently sloped leaf-strewn path
down to the stone covered shore,
eager to touch the cool water covered
by a sheet of new ice, thin as a butterfly's wing.

Slowly looking up from lake level
a great billowy cloud moves
across the far water - Ruah -
breath of God blesses me in this sacred place.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


The high desert calls to me in a way no other landscape does.
Undiluted colors stimulate my eyes and heart
and make my soul sing.
Each exhalation quivers in resonance with the land.

This connection is a mystery, I of the flat prairies.
Perhaps the potential drama speaks to me of history
past or yet to be.
Or do I simply hear the words of the Great Artist more deeply?

Light and darkness, too, are different here.
Dawn and dusk take longer as if hesitant to yield to the
fullness of day or night
knowing that half-spent, light holds more grace.