some word-smithing

All the Way Back Home to Shalom

To read the whole essay click here. All the way Back Home to Shalom by Stephen HagueMarch snow 2018

For Julian and Marcus upon their return home March 10[really the 7th], 2018 in hopes that home will always be with, behind, and before them.
And for Lucas who made traveling to Mexico and back home a joy I will never forget.
♥   ♥
In memory of the Contes’ family home (which burned down the day I finished this essay), and which did not destroy their home nor their memories of it.

“Homemaking, like world-building, is a world-ordering enterprise. To turn space into place is to establish normative boundaries that bring a certain kind of order to the life lived within those boundaries.[1]

What if I was to ask you what is the word that most warms your heart, touches on your deepest longings, evokes your riches memories? For me, that word would be HOME. Home to me is the essence of our earthly life, the center, the focus, the foundation of life in this world. And, this is coming from one who loves to travel, and often “get away” from home! “Home” may not be the word that comes to your mind, especially if you had a painful or tragic home-life as a child, or do at present. There is also the feeling, or reality, of homelessness and displacement prevalent in our times. Yet, if you have painful associations with the concept of home, let me suggest for the moment that you put aside those pains and fears and allow yourself to consider the beauty of this word “home.” That is, I suggest, the pain of those who have suffered through childhood is in fact particularly acute because we have an intrinsic understanding of, and longing for, what home should be, for as we are made in God’s image he has made us for home. Therefore, I believe all humans that have ever lived can understand and relate to the pictures I am going to present here on this theme.

To read the whole essay click here. All the way Back Home to Shalom by Stephen Hague

[1] Prediger and Walsh, Beyond Homelessness, p. 53.



Despair and Hope

Despair                                  Hope
don’t hope                              don’t despair
don’t wait                               don’t let
for hope                                  despair arrive
to arrive                                  to bind you
with its                                    hand and foot
hands tied                               don’t run
behind                                     to hide behind
its back                                    its back
don’t wait                                wait
for waiting                               for hoping
is conceding                            consigns death
to hope                                    to despair,
that is                                      that is,
already                                    before it’s
too late.                                   too late.

And the Desert Will Be Glad


If mountains worship God by being mountains and stars worship God by being stars, how do humans worship God? By being human, in the full glory of what that means.”
R. Middleton

And the Desert Will Be Glad

Awash with the sweetest
scent of magnolia
magnificent aroma
as the blueberry and strawberry crepes
sizzle on the griddle,
that antique iron one
your grandmother left to me
to remember the many times
of chess and Life
and checkers before the fire-place,
the one which set ablaze the chimney
a number of Christmas mornings
to which the firemen said
we must get a sweep.
The cat and dog sit to wonder why
but why is not their question.

We tried every summer
to strain the soil to grow our salad,
soil that had been used to cover the town dump,
shoes and bottles every season sprouting
with the lettuce and potatoes.

The sons of Zebedee
wanted their glory early,
before the cross, but learned
his cup was their cup also.
The earth hums.

All day long it was
one of those days
of expecting someone,
but none came,
expectant and hoping
content to wait, anticipating.

This week the pastor’s sermon
touched my son’s heart,
on having the ambition of the kingdom,
not to power and prestige.
These words
are hard ones
kind of words.

Peeling the potatoes
the texture and sound
of scraping its rough dirt-like skin
to the pulp, moist with white starch,
as the cool-sharp-blade
slices the core and bangs
against the cutting- board
with a thud.

It is a sweaty-hot day
of heavy, slow clouds
hazy-large on our horizon,
barely a bird is singing
and the day is long
but it is so sweet
with the ordinary,
in which God delights the most,
and when the rocks of the hills
and the rivers
break into singing,
and the grasses with their
fragrance of creation
clap their hands
for his good pleasure.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Col 1.19-20

The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
and the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the rose.
Isaiah 35:1
יְשֻׂשׂ֥וּם מִדְבָּ֖ר וְצִיָּ֑ה וְתָגֵ֧ל עֲרָבָ֛ה וְתִפְרַ֖ח כַּחֲבַצָּֽלֶת׃

Yada: The Wound of our Knowledge

Yada: The Wound of our Knowledge (in appreciation, for Steven Garber)
“If you know, you care; if you don’t care, you don’t know.” S.Garber

  1. Does theology matter,
    or do anything?
    Or mean anything
    to matter
    to anything
    or anyone?
    Do we need it
    for anyone
    to mind it
    at any time?
    Does it do anything?
  2. Since so much
    depends upon
    the nexus
    between knowledge
    and responsibility,
    knowing and doing;
    since our survival
    depends upon
    our truths being true
    to the way the world
    actually is,
    why we continue
    even when everything
    that might be done
    is still undone,
    and why when words
    become flesh
    we step in
    and begin
    to know
    and finally see
    what love
    will ask of us,
    and to find
    it is more
    than we are able
    to give.
  3. To know is to care
    to remember
    the telos of life
    to do what we know
    in love.
  4. I am not
    what I could be,
    nor will be,
    until He makes me
    as he wills and is.
  5. Our names
    are hidden
    on the inverse
    curvature of the earth’s horizon
    which disintegrates
    with each stroke of the rower’s oar
    whose name is not known.
    A Great White was tagged
    and named Mary Lee
    and was spotted near our shore today.Ever-receding
    with each [shudder] of strength and oar
    the alphabets of our names
    tumble with abandon
    seemingly random re-organizing
    across the rim of visible space
    spelling catastrophe
    of immeasurable magnitude
    when these waters covered our earth
    our home our names
    now rewritten in a cursive
    of love we do not yet know,
    names written on a stone
    hidden in the heart of the sea
    beyond the cold arc of the sun
    burning like white steel
    hot and blinding letters
    too scorching to touch or say
    we watch for when
    they will be known
    letter by letter
    pronounced with thunder and rain
    and with no more sorrow nor melancholia.
  6. I longed
    for my children
    to know the world,
    but also to care.

The Polarities of the Little Prince & the Pragmatist

For ever-curious Julian who asked, what do you think is the meaning of The Little Prince?
For Marcus who marveled with and loved The Little Prince.
For Lucas who so much lives like The Little Prince.

 1. “Unless you become as little children . . .”

Innocent as doves
Wise as serpents,
In undying friendship,
Boundless creativity
And imagination,
Open to the immensity,
The stars of the heavens,
Mysterious and mundane.
Trust, love, responsibility,
And vulnerability.
Matters of significance,
Not necessarily consequence.
What is significant
Is not necessarily
Visible to the eyes.
Wells in the wilderness
Hope in faith,
Possible beauty.
not childishness.
To see what is, as it truly is,
Not what we vainly imagine.
Wonder and awe,
The uniqueness of each person
And their loves.
To return to love,
see with the heart.
In death properly faced
There can be new life.

2. “He who tries to save his life . . .”

Will blinded be
By appearances, power-politics
And pragmatism.
And growing up
Into vanity,
No wonder
Nor trust, no love, nor
Selling the galaxies,
The Objectivist utility
Of others,
Awe-less and Serpentine,
Beauty-less and thirsting,
Machinations of consequence
And denial.
When all is said and done,
A barren wilderness of heart
And mind without purpose,
A futile business
Of practicality
And expediency,
The drought of death
In a garden of infinity,
Drowning in the sands
Of insignificance,
Without water in a desert,
Closed to its potentialities
And possible destinations.

[In reality, we are a mix of both the Prince and the Pragmatist.]

pdf: The Polarities of the Little Prince and the Pragmatist

To imagine there’s no heaven . . .

To imagine there’s no heaven
but one on earth, it isn’t hard to do . . .

Think of all the good
that you have ever known,
all the joy, peace, happiness, pleasure, delight, and beauty.

Imagine all the good times, friends, grace-filled family reunions,
banquets and feasts, and all the fabulous places, sunsets, paintings, crescent moons.

Recall the many aqua summer evenings of pure bliss
sitting out under the stars with friends around a fire of embers.

Remember all the moments of shimmering wonder at the sea
and how we marveled at God’s awe-filled universe.

Consider the times of laughter
that made us roll on the ground in fitful abandon.

Bring back to mind the incomparable joy of first knowing
that Jesus is the King of creation,

suddenly to see this world as it is
with eyes and heart open to love its glories.

In other words, picture life as you know it now
without any consequence of corruption.

Yet, even more, consider “heaven” as the eternally creative life
we have now begun in this world to its very fullest extent
before his glorious presence.

Then, it isn’t hard to imagine a brotherhood without “religion”
when the world will be as one,
with no greed nor hunger,

the peace of perfect shalom,
no death nor destruction when all the kingdoms of the earth
become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.


tiel 2Saturdays
We would sit and wait
for the dust motes
to settle like the soft moss
under the old tire swing
hanging from the oak in the pasture
on the western side of the barn
that seemed perched in time
like the planets and stars at dusk
in conjunction
when the barn swallows
would swirling dance above us
before the bats would charge
into the dark to catch their fill
and the fire-flies would heat up the misty fog
rising through the tall grassy fields
when no-one is rushingtiel 2
to this or that
matter of great consequence.

The air is liquid tiel and calm
as crickets sing with the bullfrog
drumming in the pond a deep rhythm
like pearls that shimmer a sound
so translucent it feels like words
new words rising up with force
of blooming light
birthing beauty
and the day gives out
its gifts of rest.

It is an ancient Sabbath
the promise
we await.