Wednesday, June 02, 2021

The opposite of love


The other day I tweeted the following:

"Finish the sentence: ONE word only. 'The opposite of love is _________.'" 

Before posting it, I debated whether it was even correct to use the word opposite in relation to love -- should I have said "incompatible with love" or something else instead? But I decided just to keep it simple.

The tweet got close to 100 replies, and BY FAR the most common response was indifference, followed closely by its near-synonym, apathy. This makes a lot of sense. It's impossible to truly love something or someone if you really don't care about them. Love implies a warmth and a sense of personal investment that are lacking in cool, distant indifference. And on a broader scale, apathy and indifference have contributed to many atrocities: assuming someone else will deal with it, not seeing how it affects me, not bothering to learn more ... as one tweeter, Gabe Posey, put it, "Apathy, on judgment day, will probably carry the highest tally for total deaths." That's sobering.

Another very common answer was fear. Some responders who used this word mentioned the well-known Bible passage: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18) It's true that the Bible tells us to fear God -- but I think that kind of fear is more a sense of reverence and awe, not the terror of punishment that John is talking about. If we know we are truly loved no matter what, then we can live freely without fear of that love being suddenly yanked away. 

Another response that appeared several times was control. That one really struck me: is it ever possible to control another person in a loving way? Parents of young children do have to exert a fair amount of control over their children's coming and going, activities, etc. But that kind of control is meant to be temporary and have a specific purpose -- the child's growth and independence. It's not a wielding of power for its own sake or for self-protection.

There were many other words that appeared less frequently but were very striking:

- malice: It's impossible to take pleasure in hurting someone you love.

- pride: I think there can be a good side to pride (there's nothing wrong with taking satisfaction in your achievements), but having an excessively high view of yourself inevitably puts others below you, which isn't consistent with love.

- selfishness: Always putting yourself first makes it awfully difficult to love. (Though I'd distinguish selfishness from self-care, which Parker Palmer calls stewardship of the gift we were put on earth to give: our unique selves.)

- jealousy: Resenting others for what they have and you don't can hinder love.

- neglect: This is in the apathy/indifference camp, I think, and suggests that there's something specific you need to do or pay attention to -- and you just don't do it.

- tolerance: This is an interesting one. It sounds good, but it's actually kind of passive-aggressive: I'm a good person because I let you (or your ideas) exist! That doesn't sound like love.

- dishonesty: Love and truth are so closely linked; how can one exist without the other?

And there were some fun responses, too:

- evol and vole: Thanks for coming out, guys.

- kale. Sigh. There's always one, isn't there.

I'm sorry I haven't listed every single reply; there were a lot! You can read them all here.

Thinking about all these opposites of love gave me a renewed appreciation for what love is. Love is invested. It cares. It is courageous, and it makes others courageous. It frees. It wants only the best. It sees dignity in the other and acts for the good of the other. It enjoys others' joy. It takes responsibility. It accepts. It is truthful.

That sounds like a tall order. It's truly a life's work to love well and to recognize that we ourselves are worthy of love and are loved.

You are loved. You are a person of dignity and worth and you embody, in a unique way, the love that created the world and holds it together. I'm grateful for you.


Image: Unsplash



Friday, April 23, 2021

Five Minute Friday: BROKEN

Today I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word is BROKEN.


I got my first Covid-19 vaccine (Covishield by AstraZeneca) on Tuesday afternoon. The vaccine rollout in Ontario has been quite confusing, so I felt fortunate to receive it. 

I went to bed that night feeling fine, but for the rest of the night my sleep was broken. I woke at midnight feeling cold: not exactly shivering, but as if I were lying in an envelope of cold. I slept fitfully, then woke feeling warm -- not burning up, just too warm.

About 4 a.m. I went to the bathroom and could feel my heart racing. I went back to bed and tried to relax and breathe deeply to slow it down, but it kept hammering.

At 6 a.m. I got up; Richard and Jonathan were already upstairs. I did a couple of readings on my home blood pressure monitor, and my heart rate was 119 beats per minute. When I told Richard that, his eyes widened and he said, "What? You need to call the doctor." I said, "I think I need to go to Emerg."

I took a taxi to the Emergency Department; we were having a freak April snowfall and the lights along the waterfront looked beautiful in the falling snow. 

The man at Emerg reception asked me the usual Covid-19-related questions and I kept saying "I am feverish, but I think it's the vaccine. I do have a headache, but I think it's the vaccine." The triage nurse took my blood pressure again; my heart rate was 137.

Soon I was called in and directed to a bed. A technician came in and hooked me up for an ECG. A nurse introduced herself and a doctor came in, checked me out, and ordered blood work. He said he suspected the fast heartbeat might be a reaction to the vaccine, especially since I had also experienced chills and fever.

The ward was crowded but quiet. Because no visitors are allowed in Emerg due to Covid-19, the only voices were of staff talking to patients and each other. At 7 a.m. it was time for shift change, and I listened as a departing nurse updated an incoming one on the patients in the various cubicles, including me: "Tachycardia, patient says no chest pain or shortness of breath." I kept looking up at the monitor showing my heartbeat; at last it was starting to slow to around 100.

Hours passed. I just lay there messaging back and forth with Rich and my sister-in-law about what was happening. Suddenly I was overcome with nausea and rang the call bell. The nurse rushed to get me a bag to throw up in, and the doctor looked in sympathetically and said they'd start IV fluids with something to ease the nausea. The nurse said, "When you were vomiting, your heart rate shot up to about 140, but it's back down under 100 now." Yikes.

 Another team -- med student, cardiology tech, and nurse -- came in and did a second ECG. They were all very friendly and commended me for getting the vaccine.

After a while the doctor came back and said there was nothing abnormal in my ECGs or blood work -- nothing to indicate a clot or heart attack. He said since my blood pressure was good and my heart rate was stabilizing, I should go home and relax for 24 hours, and if it worsened  I should come back in. Fortunately I didn't have to -- but I was wiped-out from lack of sleep, the stress of being in hospital, and the toll of having my heart racing at 2x normal speed for several hours. I was in bed before 8:00 Wednesday night. 

I guess it's not 100% certain that the shot caused the accelerated heartbeat, but it does seem like the most likely explanation. There's a saying that "The cure is worse than the disease," but not in this case. In spite of what I went through I'm still grateful I got vaccinated. As I lay there for what ended up being about five hours, I thought about the more than 40 patients in the hospital's Covid-19 unit -- all but one or two of them having been transferred from other parts of the province where case numbers are much more overwhelming than they are here in Kingston. I wondered what it would be like to be fighting for your life, on a ventilator, being taken to a hospital three or four hours from home, wondering when you might get home or if you ever would, helplessly worrying about other family members who were also sick in hospital somewhere else. 

The heart thing was worrying, and I'll be apprehensive when August rolls around and I'm due for my second dose -- but I don't want to get Covid-19, and I don't want to give it to someone else. If the vaccination can cause the chain of spread to be broken, it's worth it.



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

What I need to hear from Christian leaders


Recently an investigative report was released detailing Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias’s years-long history of sexually abusing massage therapists, soliciting and collecting photos of women, grooming women and exchanging sexually explicit messages with them, and deceiving ministry colleagues about his actions. These revelations have rocked the evangelical Christian world.

One of our church’s leaders shared on Facebook a post by Greg Koukl, head of Stand to Reason, a Christian apologetics organization, in which he addresses the Zacharias scandal: the post is called “When Spiritual Heroes Fall.” His purpose seems to be to comfort and encourage those who admired Zacharias and who are now shaken by the news of his double life and abusive behaviour.

Many people do feel shaken and upset by the news, so Koukl’s post will likely be of some help to them. But I can’t help feeling that his post falls short of what a Christian leader should offer. Maybe he’ll have more to say later; I don’t know. And I want to stress that I have absolutely no axe to grind with Koukl himself: I haven’t read or listened to his material before now, nor have I ever interacted with him in any way. I am really responding more to his arguments than to him as a person – because those arguments are so generically similar to others I’ve seen expressed online, mostly by men in Christian leadership, and to me they seem inadequate to the situation.

So I’m going to address all five of the pieces of advice he gives in his post and then respond to each of them with my own. Please, read Koukl’s article first.



“First, guard your own soul.” Koukl advises that we not look into the salacious details of cases like Zacharias’s: he says, “Steer clear of the details unless you have a genuine need to know … stay out of the skirmish … Let the proper people right the wrongs.” Besides the fact that this was criminal predatory behaviour, not a “skirmish,” I don’t think most people who want to know what actually happened are hoping to charge in and fix it; they simply want to know the facts and find out how this could have been allowed to go on for so long. But as for “the proper people right[ing] the wrongs,” in fact Zacharias’s own board members and friends in ministry appear to have done a very poor job of righting or preventing his wrongs. His board heard reports of misdeeds years ago – but Zacharias denied it, they didn’t believe it, and they didn’t investigate it. 

I’m concerned that for anyone in Christian leadership, Koukl’s advice may come as a relief (“Whew, I didn’t want to know anyway, so I won’t bother to delve any further”), whereas what leaders should be doing is becoming aware of the patterns of deception that Zacharias engaged in so they can spot them if they occur. The suggestion that we shouldn’t worry because someone out there is taking care of this “skirmish” isn’t adequate for either the person in the pew or the Christian leader – and it doesn’t even fit well with the apologist mindset, which is to dig deeply and think clearly and knowledgeably on issues.

So my advice here is “For the average person, if hearing the details seems like it might harm you or trigger your own memories of abuse, take care; perhaps seek a counselor or therapist to help you process. But if you are in a position of spiritual leadership, don’t look away. You need to be informed. Don’t avoid the details out of a squeamish hope that someone else will take action if similar wrongdoing happens on your watch.”



“Second, do not be surprised that sinners sin.” This kind of admonition has appeared frequently since the report was released. Koukl says it is easy for a “major figure” to suffer a “major fall” if he is not vigilant and that “we’re all deeply, radically fallen, even our heroes.” I find terms like “fall” and (elsewhere in his post) “defeat” to describe what Zacharias did strange and inappropriate – but more than that, this point seems to imply that really, all sins are the same and we and Zacharias are all on the same level in the end. And that is simply not true. 

I have lied. I have said mean things to my kids and thought mean things about acquaintances and strangers. I have nursed grudges, gossiped, and portrayed myself as a more faithful Bible-reader and pray-er than I am. I have avoided people God probably wanted me to give attention to. I am definitely a sinner. But I have not used power, money and global influence to purchase spas in which I could assault those hired to give me massages. I have not rented apartments overseas so that I could spend more time with the women I was grooming. I have not solicited photos from women, hired women to travel alone with me so that they could give me massages, or made threats when told I’d be exposed. I have not railed against my accusers, saying I was innocent when in fact I was guilty. I have not allowed the entire world to see me as a morally upright person when in fact I am a liar and abuser. 

We should be surprised when we hear that a Christian leader has done these things, because they are not just evidence of the sin we all share in as human beings; they are heinous criminal acts. Mind you, it would also be a mistake to swing too far in the other direction and say “Zacharias’s deeds are so beyond the pale that we need not worry about anything so unimaginable ever occurring among the people we know.” But it's wrong to imply that the things he did are just the kinds of things all sinners (even saved ones) do on a regular basis.

My advice here is “Don’t engage in sin-leveling. There is the sin and weakness that all of us are prone to, and then there is predatory abuse. Don’t equalize them, and don’t let anyone guilt you into thinking you shouldn’t be angry and outraged because after all, you’re really just as bad.”



“Third, remember truth is still true.” This comment has appeared a lot too since the scandal broke, and it bothers me. It seems to suggest “Don’t worry, the fact that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again from the dead on the third day remains factually true despite the terrible actions of Ravi Zacharias who preached about those things.” And fair enough! But who was disputing that in the first place? Who was suggesting that since Ravi Zacharias was an abuser, Jesus might not have risen from the dead and therefore I might not really be saved? It’s a straw man which, in my view, evades the real question of what we mean by “truth.” Truth is not just statements of fact or doctrine that we assent to. Truth is also personal integrity, a coherence between our words and our actions. Not perfection, of course – but wholeness. Ravi Zacharias was not living a life of wholeness, and he was manifestly not a truthful person. In fact, he used the gospel message (“the truth”) to manipulate some of his victims, telling them that if they exposed him, people would go to hell because they would not be able to hear the gospel from him. 

So when Koukl says, “If you benefited from a hero who later fell, take heart. God uses even the worst of men to help the rest of us,” he fails to account for the way Zacharias weaponized the gospel for self-serving, abusive ends. The Lord Jesus, in sharp contrast, said it would be better for a man to have a millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea than to draw others into sin (Matt.18:6). He didn’t tell us to be glad that at least His Father could use the  millstone-wearer's message for good.

My advice here is “Remember that truth can’t be boiled down to factual statements and points of doctrine – however much our faith rests on such proclamations. If love is not present, truth is not present. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s inappropriate to question the teachings of a deceitful teacher, or that the message -- however vital we consider it -- is more important than persons made in the image of God.”



“Fourth, do not become cynical.” Hmmm … I don’t know. While it’s not healthy to become so hard-hearted that we can’t see any good anywhere, perhaps a little cynicism might not go amiss right now. Koukl says, “Trust everyone you have no reason to mistrust, which is most people you know.” But for many years Zacharias’s fans and colleagues thought they had no reason to mistrust him. His board members didn’t investigate the accusations against him because those accusations did not fit with the man they thought they knew – which we now know simply means Zacharias was extremely successful in deceiving people. He was allowed to continue his abuses because people in leadership trusted him too much and didn’t ask the questions they should have. 

Also, under point two above (don’t be surprised when sinners sin) Koukl quotes from Scripture, “Jesus did not entrust himself to those who believed in him since he knew what was in man”; it seems a little strange for him now to tell us that our default should be to trust everyone unless we have specific reasons not to.

My advice here is “It’s OK to be wary, especially if you’ve been hurt before. Don’t let anyone in leadership – anyone at all, really – make you feel that you owe them your trust. And don’t let anyone guilt you into thinking that anger and lament over injustice are signs of cynicism.”



“Fifth, firmly resolve to finish well.” Koukl says it should be our goal to hear God’s “Well done” of approval at our death. He says it is the Holy Spirit’s job to make us holy, but our part “is to be vigilant and to fight sin to [our] last breath.” And he mentions letting trusted friends know about our struggles so they can support and correct us. That’s all good advice on the individual level. But I think it’s dangerous to imply that a scandal like this could be prevented with personal vigilance and an accountability partner. It sounds as if Ravi Zacharias not only did not reveal his secret life to those closest to him, but also used those people as cover for his actions. As Tanya Marlow says in her excellent article “But his books are still good, right? – 5 things Christians must stop saying about sexual abusers”, Zacharias groomed both his victims and his environment, creating a system in which sexual abuse could thrive undetected and uninvestigated. 

So I think we need to focus more on the kind of culture we are creating and not just on personal piety and accountability. Our task is not only to be vigilant so that we as individuals don’t do something as bad as Ravi Zacharias did, but also to participate in making our world (and that includes our Christian environment) safe for women and other vulnerable people.

My advice here is “Remember that the Christian life is not just about me getting God’s seal of approval at the end; it’s also about what I will do now to cooperate with God in seeking justice for the oppressed and victimized.”



I am not a spiritual leader. I’m an ordinary person who heard about the Zacharias revelations like everyone else. And frankly, as an ordinary person, I need more from people who are Christian leaders, especially men. I need more than just platitudes that put my mind at ease. I need to hear things like

  • “This is what our church/organization is doing, or commits to do, to ensure that such a scandal will not happen in our midst.”
  • “This is what we are doing, or commit to do, to ensure that women are valued, respected, and listened to.”
  • “This is what we are doing, or commit to do, to ensure that accusations of wrongdoing, even against people we hold in high esteem, are not hushed up or swept under the carpet, but are investigated and dealt with.”
  • “This is what we are doing, or commit to do, to show every person we work with, interact with, and preach to that they are a valued person in the eyes of God and that there are no special, entitled people who are beyond correction or questioning.”

This is what Christian leaders need to be saying.

And they need to say what I as an ordinary person also feel confident saying: 

Jesus is a friend to the hurt and abused. His heart is broken when their hearts are broken. As the words of a well-known carol put it, “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found” – not to establish a movement in which the strong are given free rein to prey on the weak. He cares for the oppressed, and He is always, always on their side. So if we want to follow Him, we must also be on their side.

A bruised reed he will not break, 

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.”

Isaiah 42:3





Friday, February 19, 2021

Five Minute Friday: OBSERVANT


Today I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. 

This week's word is OBSERVANT.


I watched a movie not long ago about an observant person.

The movie's called Paterson, and it's about a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey who is also named Paterson (why is never explained) and who has a "secret life" as a poet.

He carries a notebook with him everywhere and writes his poems in it -- we see the drafts appearing across the screen as he walks to work or drives his bus around the city. He stares at a matchbox while eating breakfast, and that inspires a poem that ends with his love for his wife. He eavesdrops on the conversations of passengers on his bus, stops to listen to a rapper composing in a laundromat, chats with a young girl who has a notebook of her own.

His daily routines are mundane and rarely change, but his inner life is rich. There isn't always a direct connection between what he observes and what he writes; the things he sees and hears are more like compost enriching his creative life.

Our lives are richer when we are observant, when we take notice of the things around us. It's so easy to walk around in a fog, stuck in our heads, preoccupied with ideas and worries and plans. At least it is for me. Simple objects, sounds, and conversations can inspire our creativity. They can also connect us with other people and remind us that we're just a small part of something greater.


Saturday, January 02, 2021

17 syllables say so much: my end-of-year haiku offer


On December 30 at around 1:00 p.m. I was on Twitter and impulsively posted the following tweet:

A year-end offer:
Give me ONE WORD, and I'll write
a haiku for you.

What happened in the next nine hours (and probably longer if I hadn't eventually had to time-limit my offer) was amazing. 

First I got a few words from people I was already connected with on Twitter. I composed and posted a haiku for each of them as quickly as I could, knowing I wouldn't really have time for planning or rewriting. (I used the standard 5-7-5 syllable pattern, but I didn't adhere closely to other common rules of haiku like seasonal references or the hinge word at the end of one of the lines; I just kept it simple.)

Then I started getting words from people I didn't know -- dozens of responses.

By the time I gave up and muted the thread at around 10:00 p.m., I 'd written about 140 haikus.

Some of the people who gave me a word were familiar to me from Twitter or I could tell a little bit about them from their Twitter bio; this made it slightly easier to know what direction to take with the haiku I'd write for them (for instance, I would not say something about God or faith unless I knew they would be open to that). Other responders I knew nothing about, including why they gave me the words they did, so I just went with whatever their word brought to my mind.

Some words appeared multiple times, such as grief and hope -- and I wrote a new haiku each time a word was repeated. Some words seemed to be niche things of interest to a particular person (like badminton or drummer); others were fun or silly like supercalifragilisticexpialodocious and moist. Someone offered cannabis but then deleted it -- I'm not sure what I would have done with that one.

I definitely made a couple of mistakes as I was writing; I saw afterward that two or three of the haikus had mis-numbered lines. That was bound to happen when I was putting out so many in such a short time. You know what they say: "Haiku in haste, repent at leisure." I also fear that I may have missed one or two words people gave me; it got quite difficult to keep track of the thread after a while.

Many people expressed gratitude for the haikus I wrote for them, some telling me that what I'd written was just what they needed. After the year we've had, I think people are looking for things that make them smile, that bring delight and encouragement.

An unexpected byproduct was that I also got about 100 new Twitter followers (and lots of new follow-ees too) out of this exercise. For me Twitter is primarily about connecting with people and sharing ideas and interests, so this was a bonus.

What follows is the list of haikus I wrote that day, in alphabetical order. First I considered grouping them thematically, but I think part of the fun is having odd juxtapositions like compassion appearing between coffee and cookie. That's what life is, after all: one moment you're pondering the importance of resilience and the next you're looking for pickles in the refrigerator. Or maybe that's just me.



Though I've never had
affogato, coffee and
ice cream sure sound good.



Sometimes our feet take
the same paths we always take;
other times ... we stray!



Anime: art form
with many faces. It brings
whole new worlds alive.



God as a baby?
There's enough mystery there
to fill the cosmos.



Badminton was once
a game for rich folks' leisure –
now so fast and fierce!



When I hear bagpipes,
I'm transported to a place
of lochs and green braes.



Some voices are like
a balm to the spirit – they
bring rest, calm, and peace.



To seek for beauty
is a worthy quest. It's there,
waiting to be found.



To walk through the world
as one beloved by God
is to carry light.



Ah, lowly bilgepump,
friend to those who go to sea,
we wave our respect!



Like a fence line marks
what's yours and mine, boundaries
demarcate our selves.



Spare a moment, yes,
strike up the big brass band for
bowling – what a ball!



What's a Calvinist's
favourite flower? The TULIP.
Hey, it's just a joke...



Candle flame flickers
So small, yet darkest corners
Are suffused with light



"The only fixed thing 
is change": there is so much truth 
in paradoxes.



We seek clarity 
but must often be content 
with a bit more light


How do I love thee?
Black? With cream? With some sugar?
Coffee, you're the best.


Without compassion
we don't truly live; hearts were
made to care deeply.

Let me lose all things
but compassion. Others' pain
must matter to me.



Such a confused year:
we hesitate to ask what
the next one might bring.



To forge connection
when life pushes us apart
is hard but worth it.


Consistency (or Commitment – she told me to choose)

A strong commitment
to consistency can lead
others to trust us.



Our neighbours brought us 
cookies. So much kindness in 
a sweet, small morsel.


It takes courage just
to face the future, to take
steps toward the light.



This past year, the most
dauntless spirits were tested.
We're strong together.



The quiet water
looks serene, but go deeper:
there's so much beneath.



should be a last resort. Try
talking things out first.



How often this year
we've felt dejected -- such loss!
O God, make things new.



In a year like this
it's hard to find delight,
but it waits to be found



Bees flit among the
delphinium, drawn by
their purple beauty.



takes us just so far; we fall,
but friends help us rise.



Stars shine like diamonds
in the velvet nighttime sky:
so close, yet so far



arianism fills up
a haiku quickly.



Our love's distant, but
just geographically.
Our hearts are still close.

Distant from loved ones,
we zoom the miles between us;
it's the next-best thing.



Little Drummer Boy
gets a bad rap, but admit:
his timing's perfect.



This year we found out
how much we need to embrace
the people we love.



After such a year
we can feel empty -- so spent!
God, fill us again.



This year has taken
such energy just to live.
Next year -- let us dance.



Envy: deadly sin
or seed of holy desire?
Purify it, Lord.



Life's ephemeral:
we pass away, yet leave our mark,
our stamp on this world.



Men bow to toddler:
Epiphany! Another
of God's reversals.



Life's exuberance
can't be contained -- like water
it flows and rushes.



There is faithfulness
in choosing to do the next,
nearest, needed thing.



We are family.
What hurts you hurts me; your joy
can make my heart sing.



Sometimes what we fear
becomes a friend, showing us
a new place to grow.



Under the snow, plants
lie dormant: waiting for spring
and new flourishing.



Sometimes our focus
is drawn to our faults – but we're
all so beautiful!



As you go forward
into this new year, may you
always walk in hope.



Surely Your goodness
will follow me. May I not
be lost from Your sight.



We encounter grace
in some unlikely places
as well as faces.



Don't deny your grief:
it means you are alive, with
a heart that still beats.

I hold grief awhile:
Don't tell me to cast it off.
It can be a friend.



Leonard, I love you,
but "Hallelujah"'s wrong: SHE
wasn't on the roof.



God, bring your healing
to our bodies, our hearts, and
this brutiful world.

I asked for healing;
God sent laughter, deep and rich
and restorative.



The hedgehog looks like
a boot-cleaning brush, but he
thinks he's quite handsome.



The smallest kind act,
helping  hand: these have power
to change the whole world.



do you ever wish to be
graceful like a swan?



Will history show
that we cared for each other?
What's our legacy?



This night, spare a thought
for the homeless, who just want
the same things you do.



The year slips away;
we face the new with a hope
softened by sorrow.

Like a small candle
sputtering in wind, hope shines
through the darkest night.

Hope is like a light
we carry, casting a glow
'round our walking feet.

Emily D said
hope has feathers, and it sings.
Sing over us, hope!

Hope, stay by our side
as we enter this new year.
We have such need of you.

Hope takes one more step,
carrying just enough strength
for this day's walking



Majestic humpback:
you sing your haunting song as
you swim deep and far.



Impatience to hug,
hold those we love, grasp their hand –
it's holy longing.



The Great Conjunction:
infinite space draws our gaze
up to planets' dance.



Inside meets outside
in a sweet integrity:
a life of wholeness.



Year-end calls us to
introspection: what to leave,
what to take forward.



Jeannie did wonder,
"Will I regret doing this?"
She hasn't so far!



The journey of life:
a thousand miles made up of
many single steps.



Step outside your door;
hear birds sing, watch them flit, swoop.
Birds are joy with wings.



Justice is a stream
that flows down with power from
the place our God dwells.



We all need kindness.
A stranger's smile – even masked! –
can lighten our step.



Knitting is an art:
stitch by stitch, something is made,
unique and special.



lockdown days: we learn to move
at a slower pace.



This year has been hard.
We can lament that, yet be
thankful for what's good.



The library's closed
for lockdown. Can't wait till we
can go back and browse.



Narnia's wardrobe
exists - that liminal place
between the two worlds.



When the way is hard,
love can give strength, remind us
our small life matters.

Love's never wasted,
never falls futile to earth.
It always gives life.



Malamutes frolic
in snow, await instructions
to run, pull, race -- GO!



Hunt's Manwich:
the lunch of kings! Well worthy
of its own haiku.



There’s always one guy
who asks for a word like “moist” –
I know he loves haiku!



Lean against the oak.
Listen: its pulse is sure, strong --
And so is your own.




As we are passing
through life, we hope to be loved
and love in return.



"Patience, but not yet,"
we laugh -- for its lessons take
a lifetime to learn.



A patient person
has learned their place in the world:
no better, no worse.



Peace falls like dark
at the end of a hard day.
Soft sleep restores us.

There's peace in sunrise,
sunset, the rhythm of days –
just let it happen.

Peace dances with play
Water splashes over rocks
They need each other



The road can be long.
Perseverance takes one step
and then another.



is a rare gift. We marvel
at its wise insight.



A pickle haiku
can be sweet or sour, briny
or sharp; try a taste!



Let us shake the hand
of whoever first put fruit
in pastry. Mmm, pie!



Every new day has
its possibility, its
chance for grasping joy.



Practicing presence
calms, connects us to God,
others, earth, and self.



Prism, bend the light.
Break it. Send colours flowing
in all directions.



The full moon last night
was radiant; its soft face
smiled reassurance.



Peanut Butter Cups:
food of the gods. Dear Reese's,
we give you our thanks.



"Your next word is not
in the refrigerator" –
sounds fake but ok....



Release the old year
but carry the gifts it gave
into the new one.



Let the old year go;
it won't be missed. Let the new
bring renaissance.



We fall, get back up,
praying our resilience
keeps our hearts soft still.



We're resilient
yet weak. None of us can do
this life thing alone.



Time cannot restore
what this year took from us, yet
we go forth in hope.



Or just planets lining up?
Either way: lovely!



So much depends on
whether you slice salami
thinly or thickly.



When winter winds blow,
we seek shelter, a warm place
to rest and find peace.



In silence, we meet
ourselves – and learn to befriend
the person we are.



The stars sparkle
in the evening sky – the world
is full of magic!



Like trees, we stand tall:
deeply rooted in the earth,
reaching for the sky.



Life can be sublime
yet ridiculous: we laugh
and we bow in awe.



docious -- I did it!



Surrender is trust:
not white flags to enemies
but a Friend's embrace.



You mustn't say,
"Oh, I was just a survivor"--
that is no small thing.



Essential workers –
what would we do without those
who teach our children?



A tendril of hair
pushed behind the ear – a touch
that speaks gentleness.



We pause to give thanks
for love, joy, even mistakes
that caused us to grow.



I cross the threshold
between two years, leave the door
ajar behind me.



Toddler takes first steps:
so much laughter, such delight
on their face and ours.



Tomorrow, draw us
forward in hope, even when
yesterday's been hard.



Lean in -- trust, don't fear!
Strong arms hold you -- and your arms
hold someone else fast.



Ubiquitous words
like mask, distance, lockdown – but
we just want to live!



Uncertain future,
I won't grasp or control you
but let you unfold.



Life is unlearning
old, unhelpful ways, turning
to embrace new ones.



God, nothing can be
unprecedented for You:
You dwell beyond time.

Courage, dear pilgrim:
these unprecedented times
can still hold deep joy



It's so hard to wait
for news, for change, for that word
that brings the heart peace.



The wholehearted life
lets inside and outside meet
in sweet harmony.



Winter days lengthen
after solstice: a few more
minutes' worth of light.



God, my yearning heart
meets Your own in this still place
where we both kneel, known.



The year has held joy
yet has been hard. We need words
like "yet"; they speak truth.



Yoda, Jedi Master:
your wisdom's great, belying
your very small size.


And finally, to the guy who complimented me on the speed and quality of my responses:

The secret is not
to overthink – let instinct
take the reins and run!


I hope you've enjoyed reading these little poems. Maybe you've found a haiku in this list that speaks directly to you at this moment and gives you something to carry into 2021. Happy New Year, everyone.