I Will Let Him Go

I have a message on my cell phone from my brother Gary. It’s the usual sort of rambling witty message that we would often leave one another – indicative of our esoteric repartee. This particular message was about the logistics of picking up Doreen and I from the airport – we’d been in San Francisco for a week visiting our daughter . . . his message closed with him saying how he was looking forward to seeing us again. My brother Garrison passed from this world two years ago.

It was a brain aneurism procedure that became complicated. Complicated doesn’t even begin to express how this event devastated our family. All those many hours spent between the waiting room and intensive care, holding one another up, praying for God’s presence, looking for any sliver of hope that Gary might be returned to us—whole. Then to finally surrender to the insurmountable fact that we would have to let him go.

As my older brother, he was unavoidably a big influence on my life, but no area of influence was more profound than on my artistic formation. Given the fearless way he pursued his creative muse with an inexhaustible extemporaneous intuition, how could I not glean inspiration from such a creative process? As we grew older we became closer and as I became more accomplished at my craft, our relationship grew even deeper, encouraging one another to stay true to our gifts and calling. The last decade or so of his life, I was privileged to be able to collaborate on all of his many recording projects – producing and arranging his music.

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I miss being able to call him up to just shoot the breeze. I miss the long hours working on his many wondrous projects, I miss seeing his face at family gatherings. But what I miss most of all is the fact that he was one of the few people in my life who really knew me, who understood how my heart beats . . . so now there’s just a conspicuous hole in my own explanation of who I am. So every once in a while I listen to that message and think – “Yea, I look forward to seeing you again too”


This is from my Chiaroscuro Collection

I Will Let Him Go

I will let him go as a lantern offered to the night
I do not know how much light he shines before dawn
Bending the dark on his path leading home
This finite particle now dancing in the vast starlit heaven

I will whisper my prayer to break the silence of my heart
Shaping my hope to encircle a far greater joy
Echoing with his song’s resonant irrepressible beauty
Found now in that place where every moment is significant

I will wait here filled with immeasurable longing
To find comfort in the familiar voice now absent
To understand the unknowable veiled in impermeable mystery
Until my own lantern is received into such inexpressible joy

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Of Each Broken Place

There’s a fine line between self-perception and self-delusion, no doubt, we all cross that line several times a day. We all have expectations that go unmet, which invariably triggers a narrative we begin to subscribe to about how we think the world should work. It isn’t so much that such a narrative is entirely false, although particular aspects of it may very well be, it’s that our narrative is predicated on a predetermined desired path to a predetermined desired outcome . . . but what if our perception, not only of how life should work out, but the very way we define “working out”, is skewed?

We normally welcome life altering events like marriage and children – we make our course corrections and go about our business. But what of the calamitous events such as betrayal, the death of a loved one, or a protracted illness – where our whole map has been blown apart? It’s simply inescapable that circumstances are what they are, and do what they do – whether we foster them or they befall us . . . no matter how well we hedge our bets.

The discipline of faith is an invitation to follow a path we can’t control, to find contentment with whatever the outcome—trusting that the ultimate outcome will be worth it. If we’re honest, we know that having control is just an illusion, and those who think they have it are self-deluded. As for outcomes, they are rarely, if ever, predictable. No matter how risk averse you are, life is risky and relationships are even risker. Given this baseline context — it could be reasonably argued that a Christian life of faith actually puts the best offer on the table.

The walls of circumstance can often be high and unyielding, but our faith in God isn’t defined by circumstance – it’s defined by relationship. James 1: 2 admonishes us to count it all joy. Romans 8: 28 declares that all things work together for good. These aren’t merely Pollyannaish bromides promoting positive thinking, or incantations meant to ward off bad juju – rather they are confessions of overarching belief . . . that God is bigger than circumstances—and He can be found in their midst.

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Our faith in God doesn’t alter our most challenging circumstances, allowing us to avoid them – rather, it transforms how circumstances alter us, so that we might be better conformed to Christ’s image by way of them. It is our confession that God is the redeemer of all things — therefore all of our broken places, all that we struggle through is given a richer meaning and purpose . . . far beyond what we would have chosen for ourselves . . . sometimes making those very broken places into our most treasured trophies.


 This is from my Chiaroscuro Collection

Broken Glass

In the prism rainbow wash of broken glass
Light dances honestly across each jagged edge

No chance of returning to the practical thing it was
Never to be the safe object of its own limited worth

Who will delight in this impossible puzzle of scattered pieces?
But the light that touches it now revealing its damaged beauty

To be changed instantly by the violence of circumstance
To be found by the pursuing light
That knows the true value of each broken place


I was haunted by this David Wilcox song
the whole time I was writing this weeks blog . . .

Into the Autumn Mist

A person living in Minnesota, no doubt, celebrates the onset of spring, as it most certainly marks the end of their long cold night’s hibernation – but I’m not from Minnesota. I’m from Florida, so my favorite time of year is autumn, as it is the much desired reprieve from the suffocating humidity and withering heat of tediously long days. But it is a curious thing to celebrate a season where the planet tilts away from the sun and the days grow shorter, as they veer into the deep slumbering dark of the winter solstice. A certain introspective melancholy comes over me . . . I must confess, a truly welcome disposition for my artistic soul.

I feel at this particular time of year, as if I’m being pulled into the mist of this harvest time crepuscule. Not unlike entering into that delightful place just a few slow rhythmic breaths from falling off to sleep, where your mind begins to remove the heavy boots of reality’s all day trudging, so you can amble barefoot through the garden of your subconscious thoughts, by the light of the moon. I begin to feel my burdens grow light, not because the weight of them has shifted, but rather because they have been drained of their disproportional pretense . . . I release them as I release myself into God’s presence.

autumn-mist-wallpaper__yvt2This for me is a place of true proportion, as I allow myself to pour into the hollow of my Father’s care – then meander effortlessly the spiritual terrain of my faith, without the least bit of impulse to posture for someone else’s approval. There is a freedom to create, where there exists such a naked honesty. A place so safe, I can address unflinchingly the fear and shame and hurt that bind my heart – so that I may thoughtfully disarm them by naming them aloud in my art. So I guess what I seek most, while all the leaves begin to change and the mist begins to gather, is a redemptive articulation . . . that I might allow God to inhabit my compositions so as to make himself known to me, afresh.


This is a chantey I wrote last fall as part of my Chiaroscuro Collection

Long Buried Stones

There’s a song in the wildwood – that sets my heart free
It’s a gentle persuader – that whispers to me
As it hauls in the ropes – of my turbulent past
And it quiets my storms – till my sea is like glass

I have lived with this longing – till it hollowed me out
And I’ve followed desire – till it filled me with doubt
So in silence I wait – for the solace of night
Till it translates me whole – in the presence of light

Sure, it’s a vagabond’s dream – to be set adrift
And a poet’s refrain – to repair what is left
But the simple inflection – of hope found in a grin
Can unravel the thread – of what’s been locked within

So now pour me out broken – into shards of light
And winnow and cut me – and reshape my life
Remove all my hard places – like long buried stones
Find me misfit forgotten – and then lead me home