The Potter’s Field

This story begins with a venial sin,
impatience was my crime.
By acting with gall, it didn’t take long
for God’s messenger to stop on by.


With hopes to mend a broken friend
I thought I’d give God a call.
A prayer was said,
just before bed
But there was no reply at all.

By the next night with no answer in sight,
I thought I’d try again
So, a prayer was said,
just before bed,
then with two claps,
went out the light

A call came in, it was my friend,
I inquired about his plight.
He’d been up all night,
he said with spite,
as my prayers had failed to mend.

So, I bowed my head and asked God again,
to heal his broken heart.
If you’re my friend, he’ll quickly mend,
if you’ll just do your part.

Another day came,
and as I called out his name,
the sound of crickets filled the air.
“You’re not being fair, I don’t think you care,
If he fails,
it’s you I’ll blame.”

God peered down and with a deep frown,
He put a checkmark by my name.
“You’ll hold me to blame?”
“Well, that’s a shame,
when you end, don’t look up
but down.”

It’s a preacher I need, an Ol’ time preacher indeed,
to gather prayers from across the land.
He’ll raise in his hand, for those who attend,
the Bible for all to see.
Then with a thousand prayers,
God can’t help but hear,
the voice of those in need.

I checked all around and soon was found
a preacher, who just couldn’t wait
to gather his people together,
and then pass the offering plate.

After all were there, the preacher did swear
that God would hear their cry that night.
For a friend in need
is a friend indeed,
though it costs to fight such fights.
So, as the deacons go, from row to row,
“don’t let that plate come back too light.”

An old man was there, who stood by and stared
and then let out an anguished sigh.
He started to sneer as the plate drew near
laden with money, meant to bribe.

As the plate came by, he peered inside
an ancient message he chose to send.
For what was contained within the plate
suddenly changed before his eyes.

He walked to the preacher, his ordained teacher
and put the plate into his hands.
He then turned to the crowd
who were all looking around
and this is what he said:

“You, sir, did mention that your friend needs attention,”
and he pointed his finger at me.
“But if it goes badly,
as you pointed out, sadly,
that I’ll be the one you’ll blame.”

“This cannot be, so I came here to see
how my Trusted were leading their class.”
“You all pray to the sky,
though, I’m not quite sure why,
did someone say prayer works better en masse?”

“Also, I’m trying to understand,
why this educated man,
shouts with anger towards the sky.”
“He speaks of God’s plan,
oddly, told only to him,
which he’ll share
if you’ll just take a seat.”

“The reason I’m late, is I wanted to wait
and let my teachers right these wrongs.”
“But the curse of the plate, left open the gate
and greed came merrily along.”

“So, today I stand, in the flesh of a man,
it’s answers that you seek.”
“With no sleight of hand,
So, you’ll understand,
behind the curtain, I’ll let you peek.”


“While we can’t debate, one’s Heavenly fate.
or the details of the earthly plan,
please know that I hear
every word that you say,
and I answer, best that I can.”

“First, let me say,
it won’t alter one’s fate,
by the amount of prayers I receive.”
“I won’t change the plan
of any living Man,
because it’s a group,
that reached out to me.”

“You’ve gathered this day
hoping Heaven will wait.”
“But in the end, quite sadly,
it just doesn’t work that way.”
“When Heaven calls out and you’re left at the Gate,
your key to admission,
lie in the choices you’ve made.”

“One should not pray,
to change their life’s fate,
but to ask for strength,
when their need
is most great,
and to focus their mind when they fail to see,
the forest, for the trees.”

“The cost of all this, for both you and me? “
“We’ll, it’s free, you see.”
“No plate to pass, no guilt-filled speech.”
“No glaring eyes, when the times are lean.”

He was feeling ignored, so the preacher then snored,
“Sir, you’re putting us to
sleep.”
The old man then turned,
and with a look of concern,
asked the preacher,
“why are you doing this to me?”

Now, everyone was laughing,
for they knew he was acting,
“It’s like watching him on TV”.
The preacher then yawned and stretched out his arms,
asking all,
to please take a seat.

“Sir, God gave me his church,
nestled here on this earth,
to look out for its every need.”
“Though expenses seem high, the church doesn’t mind,
for that’s the cost of employing me.”

“Sadly, preachers of worth, won’t stay long at a church,
lest they’re paid an acceptable fee,
and by the weight of this plate,
I think I can wait, I feel valued here, indeed.”


The old man felt weary,
he was weakened, quite clearly,
but he’d promised God,
he’d follow this through.

But it seems that the man
that God chose for his plan,
had come down
with the seasonal flu.

“Allow me to rest,
to just catch my breath
and I’ll be as good as new.”
” I’ve just one more request
and if you’ll do as I ask,
I’ll quickly take leave of you.”

The preacher said “fine,
but I’m a bit pressed for time,
as I’ve somewhere else to be.”
So, make your request or
give me your test,
whatever, just finish and leave!”

“That book that you raise, the one that you say
was bestowed from Heaven to thee,
of chapter and verse, you’ve read every word,
on this, can we agree?”

Still holding the plate, the preacher, now late
was angry and ready to leave,
“Of course, I’ve read it, so give me your question,
but quickly now,
if you would, please.”

“For I’m scheduled to be
on everyone’s TV
from noon until just about three.”
“Where I’ll reach out to the masses
with my new book and passes,
inviting them to come see me for free.”

He then smiled at the preacher,
God’s dishonest teacher.
A smile to mask his rage.
He would show the preacher his value,
reflected in a biblical wage.

“So, you’ve read in Zechariah,
his vision of what would soon be.”
“And in the writings of Matthew,
the amount that Judas received,
for his part in the betrayal
of the one from Galilee.”

The preacher just smiled,
“I do know what you mean.”
“But why are you wasting your time
in asking this of me?”


The old man’s heart was broken,
as the preacher had failed to see,
that God was trying to warn him,
that he was risking his eternity.

God had pulled back the curtain,
hoping the preacher would choose to peek,
as he was walking the path of evil
and could change to the one meant to be.

But the preacher, simply ignored him,
“I just don’t have the time,
to worry about matters such as these”

“Well, it’s time for me to leave you,”
said the old man, while floating away,
“I’ve an appointment to see St. Peter,
who waits near the Heavenly Gate.

“He was expecting your arrival
but I will tell him, no need to wait
For it appears that you have chosen,
an entirely different kind of gate.”

The preacher then stood in silence,
annoyed by what the old man said.
“Well, I hate to be late, and the audience won’t wait,
so tell the studio, I’m on my way.”

But with all this talk of heaven,
and life’s perils that await,
he had forgotten, that in his hands,
he still held the offering plate.

The preacher looked down and out came a sound,
So awful,
his body then shivered.

The flock gathered around as the plate hit the ground
and they all began to quiver.

Then the preacher fell down,
hard, upon the ground;
his eyes were now closed
forever.

The fate of the plate
was revealed on that day
as a message for the preacher.

For the money was gone
and left in its place,
were
Thirty Pieces of Silver.

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We opened the box…

The shower is my sanctuary. Its glass walls providing a steamy blackboard where the problems of the world are examined, tested and solved. My mind drifts wildly as the warm water pours across my shoulders, washing life’s drama into the basin, where I watch it splash and swirl before it flows into the drain. I am at peace.

Suddenly, I’m jolted back to reality by a vindictive mind who insists on keeping my tension level in an elevated state.

Vivid pictures of Chuck Schumer come splashing across, taking a once peaceful and bare mental canvas and changing it into a Jackson Pollack painting, full of anger and frustration. I am forced to endure, again, the media clip of his response to the President, who, for whatever reason, capitulated and reopened the government. Schumer, as usual, is arrogant and overflowing with hubris, as if he, alone, brought trump to his knees with only a chair and a bullwhip. I loathe this man, from the tone of his voice to the way that he peers at the world over the top of his glasses. Like a snake in the grass, he stays hidden from the public’s eye until the moment is right, and then rises from the swamp, assaulting my ears with the sound of his voice.

I’m now forced to add cold water to my shower as the temperature has become unbearable. My sadistic mind then drags out Nancy Pelosi’s latest media clip and my blood, again, readies to boil; but, oddly, it doesn’t.

I begin to regain some semblance of peace as an unknown force seems to be washing away the paint splattered canvas as one washes away sludge from the bottom of a shoe. My mental canvas, while not perfect, is at least bare again. As the fog of frustration lifts, I begin to wonder why I feel so differently about the two.

Is she less evil than him? Is she evil at all? Maybe, neither are evil.

The difference bothers me. They SHOULD be the same; cut from the same wretched bolt of cloth. But…they’re not. I search for answers as pictures begin forming on the glass. A column comparison is made, they are the same. Yet, they’re not. It then occurs to me that somehow, my mind has not placed Trump center stage. He has said things far worse than the other two. But, wait, he hasn’t. Why has my mind neglected to add Trump to today’s presentation? There are also plenty of right-wing religious conservatives that should be joining this vaudeville act too; where are they?

More cold water, more drawings, more…then the answer appears. They ARE the same!  They ARE cut from the same cloth. I need to lower my expectations. They’ve all been saying the same thing but using different words and behaviors. Schumer says one thing and his body language fills in the gaps. Pelosi says very little but makes up for it by what she DOESN’T say. Trump says it all and you don’t even see his body language, because your eyes can’t stop staring at his mouth. But they are all saying the same thing; I’m right, you’re wrong and I’m not going to bend. So much for coalition building.

I search the shower glass for a time in history when we’ve had so many bad actors, all pursuing their own personal agenda, at the same time. The wall is empty and reveals nothing. Politics, past and present are filled with small people with big ideas and all standing with their hand out. Each, essentially, has been reduced to that of a lobbyist for their micro-cause.

My expectations when I vote are, apparently, also too high. I’m hoping for an Abraham Lincoln, either Roosevelt or a Ronald Reagan, but instead we get The Big Lebowski. I know “the Dude abides” but I was aiming just a bit higher.

The tragic part is that if, like the mythical Hydra, we chop off one head, two others grow back and they’re usually worse than the original. So, we’re essentially stuck with them.

The election of Donald Trump was a paradigm shift for the U.S.A. I would have said “for America” or “for the American’s” but apparently that would be inaccurate as “America” is just a land mass and “for the American’s” might leave someone feeling excluded. (He says sarcastically).

Anyways, we came too far too fast with President Trump. The world didn’t like it and, it seems, that everywhere north and south of the USA, didn’t either. Since their opinion now seems to matter, we’re looking at a whole new ballgame.

In fairness, politics was in desperate need of a change. A S-L-O-W one though.  With the election of Trump, the hard-right, feeling that their time was finally at hand, oozed out of the slime and clogged the plumbing of the Republican party, effectively rendering it impotent and unable to rise to the occasion; that being the first half of the new Presidency. The average voter (whoever that is) prefers that the pendulum stays closer to the middle.

Politics will never be the same again. This hard-right pendulum swing has opened a Pandora’s box and a whole new batch of hard-left crackpots have come crawling out (think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez).

By electing Trump and drastically changing the status quo, these people, who would normally be just be a bug stain on the windshield, now have an audience and are considered somewhat legitimate; somewhat.

Today, this country is a mess. We agree on nothing, we accomplish nothing, and we are gridlocked. When you deviate too far from the mean, the edges suddenly become relevant.

Normally, the edges are kept in check by the mean, but our world has become constipated. What goes in, must come out, and in 2016, the world uncrossed its legs and took a big crap on the White House lawn. But instead of springing forth flowers, out sprung the “new “politician, spreading seeds of discontent across the country. While each one is different from the last generation, they all remain cut from the same cloth.

In retrospect, I should have voted for Hillary Clinton. My arm would have probably fallen off as I checked the box, but the status quo would have remained the same, and the edges would have remained in the edges.

If the 2016 election taught me anything, its to stick with the devil you know.

With the hot water now gone, it’s time to get out of the shower, put on my rose colored glasses and face the world.

Welcome to the new mean.

It’s time to “own” yesterday…

In the early 1900’s, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This aphorism is, arguably, one of the most important sentences ever written. It reminds us that history has an ugly habit of repeating itself.

Today, we appear hellbent on removing anything from our history that might be offensive or insulting. Our society has gone to great lengths to either ban or demonize examples of the Civil War, the Swastika, Communism, KKK and the like.

We have also banned “offensive” words and ideas, labeling them as “hate speech.” The media has made sure that every unpopular utterance faces the court of public opinion and then it forms a panel to debate the results.

We are “sanitizing” ourselves to death; literally.

These words, statues, monuments and groups represent our past; good, bad whatever. The emotions that they evoke are different for each viewer, ranging from indifferent to horrified. Whether we like it or not; It’s us.

We need to stop hiding from these “symbols” and embrace the lesson. Yes, I said embrace. We should replace the objects that were taken down and talk about them with our children.

They need to see and hear ALL of the details of the civil war, of slavery and victory; everything. If a Klan rally is nearby, they should see that too. The speakers, the hoods and the protesters.

Show the children the face of evil and what it sounds like. Let them hear the bygone words of those that supported slavery as well as those who stood opposed. Let them see and hear the voices of hate spoken by today’s members of white pride. Let them hear the sounds of wisdom and peace in the soothing words of Martin Luther King.

When we remove a monument, silence a dissenter or sanitize the details of our past, we are depriving our children of history’s crucial lessons. In addition, we are also failing to adequately prepare them for an uncertain future.

Our children must be shown the whole truth, including all of it’s ugliness. History has exacted a high price from humanity in hopes that future generations may benefit from the painful lessons learned.

The Puzzle of Our Existence

In the beginning, the world, as we know it, was created. It doesn’t really matter how, it just was.

And, in the beginning, like a puzzle, the first edge was formed. For the sake of argument, let’s say that time moves in a line from left to right, so it was the left edge.

The rest of the puzzle’s pieces didn’t exist yet, only the first row. But like any puzzle, each piece was in search of the next piece to fill its unique void.

The rules were simple. Two factors dictated the creation of the next piece; Humanity and it’s desires/needs and something bigger; God, Mother Nature, whatever. The second just made sure that the first didn’t destroy the world or itself; that it survived.

Now here’s the deal. Each new piece is not random. The piece before it created the space that only that particular new piece would fit. The prior piece is looking for a solution to what it perceives as a problem and in theory, the new piece solves the problem.

A modern example: Polio is ravaging the world. The desire of its citizens is to end the disease. This piece of the puzzle will only allow one other particular piece to fit; the cure.  Enter Dr. Jonas Salk, the matching piece. He was the right person, at the right time and he was a perfect fit.

A Historic example: What happens when humanity becomes too dense in a confined area? Starvation, unsanitary conditions, war. The World has a problem and needs a solution. The matching piece; the solution, if you will, is usually something horrible that quickly “thins the herd” returning the affected area to levels that are sustainable. The European plague of the 1600’s comes to mind.

The point is, what we receive is usually what we asked for. We just didn’t think it would be so painful.

A tragic example: In 1919, Germany “accepted” the Treaty of Versailles. This once proud country was now on its knees. An economic depression ensued, and its citizens were starving, miserable and searching, desperately, for a solution. They remembered, fondly, the heady days of a great and powerful Germany and they wanted it back.

In 1923-1924, the missing piece of their puzzle wrote a book, and in that book, he addressed the problem and then he offered a solution. His name was Adolf Hitler and we know how that turned out. He was the right person, in the right place, at the right time and it ended in disaster.

The moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for as you may just get it.

What I’m suggesting here is that when enough people perceive that something is a problem, they create a space where only a particular and unique solution will fit. Adolf Hitler, in any other time, would have been “laughed off the stage,” but at that particular and unique time, his piece attached perfectly to the piece before it.

Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt, in any other time, may have never succeeded and been just another unknown name. But they were known, they did rise above, and they were the desired piece of the puzzle for the time and place in which they existed.

Each time we add to our linear puzzle, we must accept the results of the outcome. We, the prior pieces, formed the design of the next piece, insisting that it align with our desires and once found, we provided the opportunity for it to thrive.

Fast forward to 2016. Hillary Clinton could not have won the election. Actually, she really never even stood a chance.

The business of Politics had become synonymous with the words: Status quo, Corruption, Gridlock and Dishonesty. The cries for change were at fever pitch and it was inevitable that the next piece of the puzzle would be someone “different.” That is not to say “better,” just “different.”

Enter, Donald Trump: “The everything else but a politician,” piece.

History will judge President Trump as it judges us all. Bickering over whether he should remain in office is a waste of time and energy. The reality is that he is the President, it is his time, it is his place and we, the People, did create this particular and unique void in which his piece fit perfectly.

Humanity really should be much more careful about what it desires. As each day passes, we are actively creating the environment for the next missing piece of our puzzle to thrive; either good or bad.

 

We choose not who will be good and who will be evil; we choose only to open the door and let them in. It is then that they take root and choose the path that they’ll follow. It is also then that we yield to them our fate.

Michael McCown

 

A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.

Mahatma Gandhi

It’s time to rest, John

John McCain

O dear soul, it is finally time for you to rest

To gladly exhale, one last time

Your corpus ever so weary and worn by tireless battles

Never yielding, ever driven to Persevere, to Survive, to Overcome

 You have returned home

Physically broken, emotionally exhausted, trudging one day to the next with Strength and Dignity

You continued the Valiant fight

Until the end, where, within in the loving arms of family and friends, you bowed and gave yield to the calling voice of heaven, and rested, finally at Peace.

Your Sword, alone now, has found peaceful refuge in the proverbial stone from whence it came,
where it will once again, patiently await the next glorious soul, worthy of it’s possession.

M.S. McCown