Runner’s Bliss



Hidden UnderneathWM
Hidden Nature © Tim Graves


running urban.
retail, noise, traffic, distracted drivers.

concrete, loose gravel, strewn trash.
watch out. don’t get hit.
running urban.

running rainy.
spit, drizzle, cool.

cool air, damp air, rain-filled air.
trust your feet. drop-fogged glasses.
running rainy.

running secrets.
pathways around and beside.

beneath, tucked away, nearby.
allow the ahhh. it’s for you.
running secrets.

running urban.
running rainy.
running secrets.

hidden nature.
runner’s bliss.




My wife had an outpatient procedure. The first time I accompanied her to one of these procedures, I was left in the curtained prep and recovery area when she went into the surgical unit. And I stayed. And I fretted. Alone, beneath fluorescent bulbs I cried. I worried. I played out the worst in my head. I barely resisted dumping my panicky feelings on my daughter via text.

This time, I wandered downstairs, bought an apple, and found the hospital’s Healing Garden. The warm summer sun warmed my spirit as I wandered the Healing Garden and chomped on my apple. As I admired the floral symphony, I wasn’t alone this time. The Holy Spirit touched my worries, acknowledged them but reminded me of the love that flowed through doctor’s fingers, nurse’s skills, and anesthesiologist’s watchfulness.


Tiny PerfectionWMSunburstWMJoy IncarnateWM

On a Summer Balcony

On a Summer Balcony

Breeze moves across bare legs,
knees remember long pants,
and toes yearn for socks.

The heat, so bright,
ignores the shadows,
on the northside.

Summer voices surf in on the breeze,
reminding the shadows that the sun,
will expose its secrets soon enough.

But for now the cool shadows,
are only pierced by rattling dishes below,
and memories within that do not forget.


White Trucks

There is a white pickup truck near my home. I see it when I walk the dog. It catches my attention when I take my morning runs. The racism oozes from this particular truck. The truck sports a large window sticker bearing these words: “White Trucks Matter.”

No. This is not funny.

Humor has a way of revealing our beliefs, convictions, or values. Our laughter-disclosed feelings are sometimes those things of which we are not proud. A self-aware and moral response to revelations about ourselves can lead us to personal growth and change. Noting what we find funny can be an impetus to lessening unconscious ways in which we act in racist ways.

Sadly, the owner flaunts his racist values. Though you and I may not post racist signs on the back of our vehicles, we have a lot of growing to do. For those of us who are white, a willingness and awareness of our privilege is critical. Whether revealed by our humor or not, failing to accept the existence of our own privilege, denying systemic racism and privilege which benefits us, is no less offensive than “white trucks matter.”


Additional Information

TEDx Hampshire College: Jay Smooth – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race

On Racism & White Privilege

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, National SEED Project

White Privilege: Let’s Talk, United Church of Christ


I Sent Her Away

The child, without affect, and the mother with earnest tone showed up on my churchstep. Cardboard (begging) sign tucked beside baby. Lots of words spoken quickly. Perhaps well-rehearsed. Perhaps not.

Rent due. No job. No money. How much is your rent? $500. More words. Many words. Diligent and speedy words.  Let me see what I can find out. I’ll be right back.

I return with little. Empty hands really. Have you tried FISH? Helping Hands? More words. Rent. No job. No money. The air filled with earnestness and (only later I perceived) panic.  Give me $300. No job. No money. Diapers.

FISH can help with diapers. Words. Fast. Eyes. Brown eyes yearning. For cash. Brown eyes yearning for relief. Quiet baby in stroller. No affect. No gurgles or babbles, smiles or cries.

I don’t have money for rent. You can come back for a meal on Tuesday. Too little (I know). More words. Begging words.  Desperate words (though I didn’t realize it until later).

I’m sorry. We have no money for your rent.  I’m sorry.

You’re not sorry. You didn’t give me any money.

Moments after she leaves, I run to catch her with a one time rent referral in hand. I stop at the door with still-little but something. Very little. A slight hope. But it’s not rent she really needs.  Cash. Words. Fast words. No job. No money.

Two big men got out of van. She gets in. They are gone.


Nagging feelings. Cloud hanging. Piecing together, a member gave her food. Another gave her cash. She’d set up shop at edge of parking lot with that cardboard sign and sad, emotionless child.

But it’s the tone I missed. It was the bursting with desperation I failed to grasp.

The child, without affect, and the mother with earnest tone left behind horror in my mind. The desperation. The two big men in the van. The dull child.

She was in need. Desperate words. Earnestness and panicky words. Pleading brown eyes. She needed help but I fear it was not with rent.

And I sent her away.



The Blue Campaign, Department of Homeland Security
National Human Trafficking Hotline


Around the Bend

Around the BendWM

as you say,
summertime often fills the water with voices.

But around the bend,
I reply,
that is where my eardrums cease to tingle.

And in the silence,
I am Gaia,
creator and creation.

Without tingling ears,
plastics or steel,
we are all one, interconnected.

The Myth of Human Separateness

The Spirit moves us together,
she dances around the edges.

An opening appears,
and she oozes into the space between us.

The Spirit fills the space with respect,
laughter, and comfort.

She dances joyfully,
overjoyed at our response to one another.

The Spirit smiles and nods,
bursting with joy.

“Aha!” she says, “I told you:
human separateness is a myth.”


Pomegranates & Pussy Willows

pussy-willowwmWe gathered around a table where Mrs. Straub showed us what she’d brought in this time. She gave each of us a branch to hold and observe with our eyes and hands. While they didn’t taste as good as the pomegranate seeds she brought in, the softness of the pussy willow is embedded in my memory. Though I know they can grow in other parts of the United States, I don’t recall seeing them in Missouri where my family moved after Oregon’s Willamette Valley.


And so, as I run past them in my new home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a pang of joy wells up in my eyes. I was blessed by a first-grade teacher who understood the importance of hands-on science learning. When we weren’t able to get out of the classroom, she brought nature to us in the form of pomegranates and pussy willows.

This morning I paused on my run to peer at the pussy willows clustered in the wetlands. I made another scientific observation: rain beads up on pussy willows as it does on my rain jacket. Thank you, Mrs. Straub for helping me to appreciate our world.