Journeys of the Heart
   Context is everything. You can feed everybody, stop global warming, meet energy needs, clothe all the naked animals, and still have a miserable world if you have not touched the heart.
   Feed the world, and you will soon have a greater population to starve. Topple global political conspiracies and local gangs will arise to terrorize and oppress the less powerful. Take away all the weapons, and people will still beat each other to death with their bare fists (It is a fact that more people are killed every year with hands and feet than with weapons). Africa is a nation rich in natural resources, well capable of meeting all the needs of its people. Yet it continues to be rocked by civil strife, disease, and waves of genocide.
   Within the technical section of my web site it should be obvious that I care about people with limited resources. My innovations attempt to apply that which is cheap and common to solving some of the most fundamental technical problems of human existence. My concern however, is that they are delivered in a context of peace and nurture that would promote a culture of giving and peace.
   I do not claim to be a paragon of such virtues. I know that I am capable of being as wild, violent, and ultimately selfish as any human being. But I have yielded to the saddle and bridle of wisdom and restraint, and been sculpted by failure, misery, and pursuit of the ultimate reasons for existence. “Wild” still comes out when someone cuts me off on a freeway, and “selfish” sometimes tempts (well sometimes more than tempts) me to do the same for others. But all-in-all, compassion has been birthed in me, and has motivated the efforts visible within this web page.
   Many people have said I should write a book; I don’t see my life as being as dramatic as many, but I’ve been a few places and done a few things.
   Some of these stories and poems are deeply personal, and some involve very painful and difficult lessons. I share them, in hopes of helping others who can relate to them. Some stories may be fun, and are shared for the sake of the art.
   Let me justify my occasional use of poetry: I am not a literary person – English may have been my least interesting subject in high school. When I would be trying to sort out my thoughts however, I found the stark simplicity of two-liners (a question and a tentative answer) to be helpful in recording and organizing them. I also discovered that the discipline of rhyme forced me to search through more words, and to better identify the most appropriate nuance. The fact that people call this poetry is purely coincidental.
   I am accustomed to people simply not believing some of my experiences. No offense. Some were a little extreme, and some contain mystical components that are automatically rejected by some people – I understand and respect that. For my part, I have no choice but to believe what I have experienced, and I assure you as best I can that they are all real – with or without the belief of the reader – real joy, real pain, real life.

A JOURNEY BEGINS
   Major spiritual awakenings seem most commonly associated with disasters. For some, time to think is a disaster.
   Late in my senior year at a small high school in the nearest town 9-1/2 miles away, I was living at over 9,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies. From where I was living an hour and a half of climbing would take me to a place I could ease my face out over a precipice of approximately 1/4th mile sheer drop. I could step out of my back door and in five hours be on top of a 14,000 foot mountain straddling the continental divide. It was awesome country, and a privilege to live there. And although the hand of God is most evident in such places, beauty itself is wasted on eyes that refuse to see.
   I had been exposed to Christianity all my life, and from time to time had made various levels of commitment as a child, but now it was time to find my adult path. I wanted reality, and it didn't matter if it was good or bad, as long as it was real. I had at least made the decision that I would rather be real and miserable, than to live as a blissful ignoramus. So I tossed out a prayer to a God unknown:
   “I don't care if you're Jesus, Buddha, or a renegade marshmallow; if you do exist and have a purpose for me, I want to serve you – otherwise, I have no real purpose.” The prayer was honest; I had no games to play. I figured that if God was real, He knew my address and could communicate with me if He wanted to.
   In the stillness that followed, when I received a sense that Jesus was indeed at the center of it, I immediately rejected it. I attributed it to the fact that I had already been exposed to that. I then realized that I was not being intellectually honest. The fact that I had been exposed to Christianity did not in itself preclude the involvement of Jesus in the cosmic plan. Beyond all that, I had asked in honestly, and so far, this was the only answer I had. In this very tenuous acceptance I resolved that I was not going to force anything to work. If it wasn't real, the sooner I found out and quit wasting my time, the better. If it was real, it would stand without my help, and be mine if I cooperated with reality – as best as I could comprehend it.
   I was not a nice person by this time in my life. I would pretend to care about people so that they wouldn't hate me, but in reality I really didn't care about anyone. On my way in to school the next morning some nerdly little Jr. high girl had gotten hurt or embarrassed or something, and as I was sitting there feeling sorry for her, it came to me as a shock what I was doing – I was feeling compassion! The day before I would have been laughing at her like everybody else!
   To me, this was the first tangible evidence that God was real, and that He was actually doing something in my heart.
   This began a very tenuous period of incremental growth. There were no questions I was afraid to ask (still isn't), and I feared no answers. Beyond this, I lost all fear of what people thought of me. I was free to explore thoughts and actions with honesty and abandon, without dependence upon the affirmations of others. Because of the growing love God had planted in my heart, I would not intentionally offend people, but these concerns were for their sake, and not for the sake of their opinions about me.
   What had appeared from the other side as entering into a confined enclosure had in fact become a liberating exit into a universe of exciting and unlimited possibilities.
THE GIFT
   I considered emotions a weakness, and I really didn’t see the point in them. I was a techno-nerd that analyzed everything. I wasn’t some intellectual wannabe trying to put on airs. I just didn’t understand anything about emotions, and frankly, was afraid of them. Some friends even called me stoic. Yes, I cared about people by this time, but nobody needed to know it. Besides, I was carrying 17-1/2 units and had a part-time job. I had no time to get involved with anything or anyone.

Susie, thanks for the gift
The busy young man worked as hard as a fool
Earning money to live and a full load at school
He met a young lady he’d known from the past
Sit down and relax – don’t drive life so fast
She would sing like an angel, was pretty and fun
Nice talking with you but I really must run
Though a drop of cold water had touched his parched soul
He couldn’t let feelings detract from his goal
So he buried himself in his work and his books
As he tried to kill thoughts of her voice, form and looks
After some time had passed she again stood before him
Talked him into a date – she seemed to adore him
But Susie, thanks for the beautiful gift
Another date and the power of a passionate kiss
[abridged] beg your pardon, what emotion is this?
Sadly she faded – dated others he’d learned
And in the young man now a jealousy burned
A desert, invaded by showers and flowers
Of love, care and passion and jealousy powers
Walled in by a dam of fierce strength and denial
Put his heart and his soul to their very worst trial
Stop! No! He can’t let this happen!
He can’t afford time or the strength it is sapping
Deliberately, carefully, as calm as he could
He put feelings on paper, but it did him no good
So then he delivered the note to the lass
Stood there as she read it – this guy was so crass
As she burst forth in tears of injustice and strife
He turned coldly around and walked out of her life
As he entered his room, a stark Spartan abode
He knew that he still had something huge to unload
For the first time in certainly ten or twelve years
He fell on his bed and exploded in tears
Susie, dear Susie, thank you so much
for this beautiful, beautiful gift.

FUNERAL
   There were only 86 kids in the entire high school my junior year. Percy was the town bad boy. He was the only one who knew how to get marihuana, and he died in a crash when he and Eli were outrunning the cops. Eli survived almost unscathed, other than the fact he had been the driver of the errant car that had killed his girlfriend a few months before.
   Have you ever felt obligated to go to a funeral of someone who was almost impossible to eulogize? This is cold, but it’s honestly how I felt.

Mumble good things
about someone
the world is glad is gone
He was all right
I guess so
but now life must carry on
You pass through
the elements of
the most expected form
You can go now
you’ve fulfilled your
obligation to mourn

BITE A SLEEPING BEAR ON THE EAR, AND THEN IMPROVISE
   One morning as I was getting ready to go to work, a friend burst into my cottage and asked if I wanted to go to Guatemala next Tuesday. After about a third of a second of careful contemplation, I said “Sure.”  A couple missionary families had four vehicles they were moving, and needed drivers. Their church was to pay plane fare home.
   Guatemala was an interesting place, so upon returning to the States, I drove back down there and began to help out and explore. I had almost no money, and generally imposed upon people for a couch or a shed to sleep in.
   After about four months, as the “almost” part of my finances continued to thin, I found work teaching English. This lasted another two months until I came down with Hepatitis. I then moved to the Capital to recuperate, and to sell my car for bus fare home

HER EYES STILL HAUNT ME
   I was living in a small village at a little over 9,000 feet. It was in a sort of plateau, but the surrounding terrain was pretty extreme. One of the local jokes was that people were frequently injured by falling out of their cornfields.
   I was walking back towards the village one morning when I met a drunk Indian stumbling along, he was literally roaring as he went. It was early, so he had obviously been at it all night.
   A small tired girl was trotting along behind him – she could not have been more than about three. She was thoroughly terrified. Her only hope of survival was to keep up with her father-turned-beast, who had no idea she was even there. Adult Indians usually carried walking sticks in this area, to ward off the starving dogs. She would likely be killed if they encountered the wrong pack.
   Her look of terror, fatigue, loneliness and bewilderment still breaks my heart to this day.
   Long before a journey of a thousand miles began with a plane ticket, it began with a single step. For many, the journey to a virtual hell for themselves and those who depend upon them begins with a single drink. The child of my memory was only a little more desperate than children in America who sit at home fearing the return of an abusive parent who is out squandering the family income on destructive substances.

THE BROTHER I’D NEVER MET
   Those Indians were incredible. They had been carrying heavy burdens on their backs since they were small children, and as adults, many of the men would walk dozens of miles with burdens of two hundred pounds and more.
   On a stroll through the market place I spied an Indian who had carried a huge load of dried shrimp from the coast, along a road that crossed seventy miles of jungle, and then up to his home high in the mountains. He had come down to this 9,200 ft town that morning to market his burden.
   The instant our eyes met we began saying “Praise the Lord” in Spanish. Such was this instant recognition that it was as if I had known him all my life. We knew the same Jesus. Here was this long-legged gringo 3,000 miles from home (about 6’2”), and this four-foot something Indian for whom Spanish was likewise a second language. We stared at each other, commented briefly on life and spiritual gifts, smiled, nodded, blessed each other, and departed.
   As brief and simple as that encounter was, it taught me many important things.

CULTURE SHOCK
   While recuperating in the Capital, I had just gotten dressed after a shower when the house shook with a muffled explosion, followed immediately by the sound of shattered glass. My initial thought was that the water heater had exploded, but it was in fact a terrorist bomb a quarter of a mile away. The kitchen window had been blown in, and the blast was followed by a rattle that turned out to be machine gun fire. The remainder of the night contained intermittent gun battles, accompanied by the sounds of racing cars.
   Guatemala had actually been a communist country for a brief period in the early fifties, and those who remembered it wanted nothing to do with it. Many of the younger generation however had bought into the grandiose rhetoric. Some who were students during the week ran around with the communists in the hills on the weekends.
   As we poured out into the street I met a family across the street with two lovely daughters; their hospitality was touching. I had a little change left, and when I took one of them to a movie, the mother and sister came along too. The surprise was that the sister hurried past me and paid for all four of us – they knew I had very little. I fell in love with all three of them.
   I appreciated the protection of the families there. They know what men are like, and unlike in the U. S., they care more about their children than they do about other people’s opinions. Then too, when we accidentally had a couple minutes alone, I discovered that there was a reason for the Latin reputation.

KILLING
   During the Viet Nam era I was about as ignorant as anyone, but as awareness of what was really going on begin to sink in, I happened to be on the wrong side of the ocean. About all I could say was “Thank you American tax payers, I couldn’t be doing all this without you.”
   During my two years of active duty (which started about three months after the events in the movie “We Were Soldiers”) I had three different ships and two Far East cruises. I rode destroyers, and operated continually.
   On my first trip, I remember my last night in the Philippines. The next day we were to set out across the last 700 miles of water to Viet Nam, and I was considering deserting.
   Somehow, it had not occurred to me until this very evening that they had gone to all this expense and training so that they could deliver me across the ocean to kill people. I had a decision to make, but before I made the actual decision I decided I was going to be one extreme or the other.
   Interestingly, I had read three books on world history while on the voyage across the Pacific, and then had then read a massive tome on the history of warfare. The chilling awareness I had gained from all this is that the history of humanity IS the history of warfare.
   No one has a right to be proud or ashamed of where they came from, because none of us had anything to do with it. I realized that I should have voted and acted more responsibly before getting to this point.
   But now, here I was on the breaking edge of what nations have done since tribes have existed. The morality of the war had nothing to do with it; I was part of a current. I had nothing personally against the men I was to kill, and I had no resentment against those who would attempt to kill me (I was extremely pissed on the other hand, at such an attempt on this side of the ocean).
   Unquestionably, many will consider this a cop-out. I am uninterested in the opinions of any who have not had to make a similar decision under such circumstances.

I LOVE YOU SAILOR
   One of several books I will never write would have chronicled the stories I had experienced or heard in the various bars in the many ports between Japan and the Philippines. The title would have been a line from a lovely innocent-looking Asian girl who looked into my eyes and said “I love you sailor – no shit.” It was a good line, and some of my shipmates actually believed it.
   There’s a picturesque way of describing a particularly base location to the effect that “If I had to give the world an enema, I’d know where to put the tube.” I’m of the opinion that that distinction wanders around the globe a bit, and I also believe that I caught up with it one Christmas Eve in Sasebo, Japan.
   The bar population of such ports varies widely, depending on how many and which type of ships are in at any given time. Shore Patrol (Navy cops) are assigned from the ships that happen to be in port at the time – in proportion to the population of the ship.
   When the Shore patrol was assembled for that evening, I was assigned to work with an old chief petty officer who claimed to never have stood a shore patrol in which he didn’t have at least one drink. In keeping with well-established maritime tradition, he was lying of course.
   When the assignments were read, everybody laughed when the beat for the Chief and I was announced. After a few seconds of whipping my head around to a few people asking why everybody was laughing and just getting smirks, the chief explained that we had been assigned to “shit street”. They could laugh – they weren’t going.
   Every port had its “shit street,” where the most fights and general chaos were likely to erupt. This was Christmas Eve; we were in for it. It’s our turn to be the cops, and everybody’s going to hate us.
   The chief was incredible. He carried a small string of sleigh bells, and whenever we’d enter a bar he’d hold them up and ring them, proclaiming “Merry Christmas”. Never mind the “SP” brassards on our arms and the martial hardware we carried, this guy knew his work. When somebody was out of order, rather than do a tough-guy confrontation, he’d locate some of his friends who were willing to take them back to their ship so he wouldn’t have to be written up or incarcerated.
   “Cinderella liberty,” as in “get home before midnight”, was the general rule of such ports, and as the bars emptied and the hour arrived, true to his boast we entered a bar. The “hostess” was a bit older than most. I would guess she was in her thirties, and if she was typical, she had probably been selling it since she was about thirteen. He gave her a crude greeting, and she promptly returned with something a little grosser. Pretty soon young and tender here was trying to figure out how to crawl under his coffee cup.
   And the bantering continued to descend. After about twenty minutes, he had that old gal with her hands over her face giggling.
   When you see a middle-aged prostitute blush, you know you’re in a strange place. I liked that old chief. I’m not saying he was my best friend, but he was a darned good enema.

THE NEWPORT NEWS
   While cruising in the Tonkin Gulf, we were aware of heavy gun emplacements that protected water-born logistics on their way south from ships like ours. One afternoon the cruiser Newport News showed up, which was extremely rare. In fact, I had never heard of a cruiser being in the Tonkin Gulf before or since.  As it turned out, they had a news reporter on board and they wanted to show off their big guns.
   So “big stripes” on the cruiser ordered “little stripes” on the destroyer to go in close to shore so that the suspected gun emplacements on shore would reveal their locations by shooting at us. The game was that the cruiser would then blow them away with their big guns.
   Three gun emplacements suddenly opened up on us simultaneously, and a solid hit from any one of their shells would have sent us to the bottom. As we ducked and dodged through it all, and as shrapnel clattered against the superstructure of the ship, the cruiser began firing, and couldn’t hit a thing. We managed to dump about twenty rounds from our own much smaller guns on one of them, and apparently made it too noisy for them to concentrate. An aircraft scrambled from a carrier somewhere south of us silenced the other two.
   About a week later, a friend sent me a newspaper clipping showing my ship fighting for its life with mammoth splashes of water all around it. So apparently, the damage, injury, and risk of four-hundred lives, was well worth it after all.

THE LONE RANGER
   Almost immediately after I got out of the service I bought a small chopper. It had begun as a 650 Triumph Bonneville, but had been bored and cammed for a radical increase in performance (at about half the gas mileage). The frame was pure custom with no fenders – or anything else that was not absolutely necessary. It was nothing but muscle and wheels.
   The first weekend I put about 470 miles on it, the first of thousands of solitary miles, most of them at night. Sometimes after work I would travel 150 miles before heading back.
   One Saturday afternoon I was a little bored, so I took a trip to see a friend who lived on a ranch in the extreme northeast corner of L.A. County. He represented the Sheriff department in that area, although I had never seen him in uniform.
   As I left the highway to follow the dirt road up to his property, there were bikers all over the place. The Monks, the Saints, the Devil’s Disciples, and the Free-Wheelers (out of Arizona I believe) were having a joint outing (pun accidental, but it works). That was before the helmet law, and Americans still had the freedom to look as cool as they thought they could.
   As I drove through the middle of them and we were checking each other out I recalled an interesting detail. I had no gang colors on my jacket, so I was free game to any gang that wanted to beat the crap out of me until I was willing to join their darling little club.
   As I exited the gauntlet and continued on up the road I encountered Bob. He had one hand on his 357 magnum, the other pointing at me, and a clear command to stop ringing from somewhere between. When I took off my shades and spoke his name, he was shocked, but pleasantly surprised.
   He had a must-do errand, so I was sworn in, left with his 357 magnum (although I was packing my own piece), and – believe this or don’t – his sixteen year old daughter. This scene was straight out of a cheap novel. He returned about an hour and a half later with two CHP units with two officers each.
   As I literally cruised off into the sunset that afternoon, I was musing: “Gee, I’ve never been an L. A., County deputy sheriff before.”

A RITE OF PASSAGE
   A solitary misfit on a motorcycle has left the LA Basin through the San Gabriel Mountains, and is just starting across the Mojave Desert towards the lower end of the High Sierras. He would often make such trips within about a 150-mile radius after work or on a weekend, but there is another consideration these days: He has known for three weeks that he was going to have an accident, but has not modified his driving patterns.

Angeles Crest Highway is almost behind
   His bike climbs to 70 from a curve that was blind
80 then 90 and so goes his speed
   but he carries a band-aid in case there's a need
His bike tops 100 as he crests one last hill
   passing all other traffic as though it stood still
A hundred and ten then a hundred and twenty
   My God what a rush!, then on to one-plenty
He smiles as he looks at the fragile front wheel
   between him and the road and a death he could feel
He then lifts his gaze to adjust to the track
   and in speed-blurred desert sees death grinning back
But as peace assures him his end is not near
   he starts talking with God and beginning to hear
I don't understand God, this thing that You've shown
The meaning of pain in this life I have known
But I know that You love me surely more than I do
   so I'm just going to trust You to bring me on through
As time became precious he lowers his speed
   down to about 80, still more than he'd need
A small winding road that he'd never been on
   then beckoned his heart to the mountains beyond
As he entered a curve that his bike couldn't take
   he realized he had a decision to make
He straightened it out so he'd miss the guard rail
   and then figured out what's the best way to bail
He then sailed through the air with the greatest of ease
   over cart-wheeling scenery on a warm desert breeze
He could hear thump and bump from his bike as it broke
   over auto-sized boulders, manzanita and oak
He suddenly found himself flat on his face
   The entire hillside had just this one smooth place
Through some miracle greater than most he had known
   he found he had broken not one single bone
But the pain from inside could far more than suffice
   than to put him to sleep and it would feel so nice
But he knew that to sleep then would bring certain death
   so he fought to his feet while still gasping for breath
The battered bike lay there; its gas tank was caved
   but was not leaking gas, so it just might be saved
Exhaust pipes were dented with one twisted out
   but with help from a rock it might be straightened out
He considered the road on the hillside above
   and wondered if passing cars had any love
But NO he can't do that he'd stay quite aloof
   because people will hurt you and his heart was proof
A search though the brush yielded tools and a part
   and he got that thing working -- well at least it would start
After fighting the hillside and pain like a goad
   he finally got that machine back on the road
Then as if he hadn't had quite enough
   he said as he road “boy am I ever tough”
In answer his body convulsed with such pain
   deep sobs drove him spastic and threatened his brain
Ok God! I hear you help me if you must
   but please do not send me a human to trust
The late afternoon was now losing its' light
   He needed a place to hang out for the night
An old two-roomed school house had people about
   a church from Burbank had come there to camp out
They could see he was fighting to maintain his grip
   but he refused their offer of a ninety-mile trip
Just lend me a patch of this old hardwood floor
   by the time the sun's up I'll be out of your door
       - but -
A sweet kiss on the forehead as he lay there that night
   began to unravel his cold lonely fight
To a dust-covered bum here's a token of love
   In care of a human from heaven above
As the sun rose he was barely able to stand
   He knew he'd soon die if he refused their hand
The surgery and eight days of hospital stay
   gave him time to consider events of that day
Let people get near you a gentle voice said
   But God I'll get hurt said the lad on the bed
I was hurt said the voice in the same gentle way
   crucifixions are painful now wouldn't you say
Trust me for your hurts, and yes, there'll be pain
   but I'll be there to help you start loving again
You thought you were macho to endure all that pain
   but your great fear of love makes you weaker than rain
He began to relax and let deep healing flow
   He began to forgive, He began to grow
A day that began with a kid in a race
   created a man with the strength to embrace
MARRIAGE COMES AS A KIT – MUCH ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
Will you forgive me when I’m not sorry?
   Will love me when I’m wrong?
Will you still love me when I’m being stubborn
   and convinced I’m being strong?
I’ll forgive your pointless nagging,
   and your word assaults endure.
I will love you while you’re hurting me,
   and pray our vows stay sure.
If God’s only love towards us
   was the kind we give each other
We’d be doomed unto death eternal,
   and never know God’s son as brother
But God’s love transcends mere justice,
   and is greater than our sin.
So please forgive me as I stumble,
   and let’s be free to love again.

QUESTIONS
   One night, as I was dealing with some real questions in life, I began to write some of them down. One risk you take when you ask real questions, is that you might also have to deal with real answers.

Who can afford to give?
Who can afford to trust?
Who can afford to sacrifice
all that God says that we must?

The heart that would give becomes wounded
The soul that would love receives pain
The lonely cry out for some mercy
and the trusting is betrayed again

Where does strength for this life come from?
Where does one go for love's rain?
Where does one go when they're thirsting?
Oh where can one hide from this pain?

The air became gentle and fragrant
and peace seemed to be all around
A strong gentle hand soothed my shoulder
Though no-one had uttered a sound

Words could not answer my questions
To no voice was such eloquence given
But the joy in my heart could not argue
with the love God had sent down from heaven
Jesus

THE ADVENTURES OF RENT-A-PIG
   I had been laid off in Colorado Springs, and went to work as a security guard until I could find something better. My beat was to be a small convenience shopping center near a recently developed area. When the anchor store is a 7-11, you know you’re not dealing with big-time.
   Left unattended on a Friday or Saturday night however, there would be six kegs of beer and about a hundred and fifty kids in the parking lot. All I had to do was instruct them to leave the area after they had made their purchases, and make sure that they did. Instructing was the easy part.
   My only training was to spend one Saturday evening on the beat with my boss. During this time he told me that things were unusually quiet for a Saturday night, because about six of the ring-leaders were in jail. The night before, they had done about $1,800 worth of damage to his cars when they got up on the roof and peppered them with bottles and rocks.
   My boss was from New York, and his techniques were simple: If people don’t do as you say, MAKE them do as you say. I could see that these kids really hated him. A few weeks later I asked him if there was a tidy way to break up a fight. He looked at me like I had asked the stupidest question in the world. With a hands wide gesture he said “You drive a car into it.” Silly me, why didn’t I think of that?
   The weekend following my Saturday evening of training, I was to have the beat all to myself, and I have never dreaded going to work so much in my entire life. I approached to see a line of parked cars with belligerent-looking teenagers sitting on the trunks.
   After telling them to leave, I allowed them about ten minutes in which they did nothing. I then asked them if they planned to, and explained that I would rather not get them into trouble. About a third of them wised up and left at this point. A few minutes later, when I began scribbling down license plate numbers, the panic cleared the parking lot in a matter of minutes.
   Eventually through a series of small boring stories I won’t bother you with, respect was gained, friendships were made, and the cooperation was generally good. It remained crazy though. Some kids asked me if they could used a car wash sprayer to get creative junk out of their hair that had held it in wild sculptures (Knox gelatin was a favorite) – sure, why not? There were occasional fights, sex in a field behind the complex (they didn’t ask), nude swimming at an apartment across the street (at night of course), and wandering lonely kids that just wanted an adult to listen; I couldn’t go anywhere so I had the time.
   One morning a few months later, I saw year-book style pictures of five of my friends in a newspaper. They had been out drinking and partying, and sometime that night they had all died in a car crash.
   Rent-a-pig cried.

THE WARRIOR’S SONG
   There are times when a man has no option but to confront potentially deadly situations head-on. Consider some of what goes through the mind of at least one such person.

I just may not make it I may not survive
It'll only be God's fault if I'm left alive
So goodbye to the grand plans I've made for my life
Goodbye to the children the baby the wife

I'd figured on having a lifetime or so
but it just may be over and be time to go
what could I do better if I had one more chance
What could I accomplish what could I advance

I look at all this junk that I've got around
It's so worthless now that It's getting me down
I've scheduled more time than a full life would hold
I've lived life as if I would never go cold

But now as I see it all what have I done
Though my time may be up I don't feel I've begun
I've taken life my way and fought serving God
And now all that I am may be under the sod

Now what can I say to convince those behind
that they need new direction they need a new mind
God above made you and Him you should serve
If you go your own way you get what you deserve

Homeless
   When the Berlin wall fell in the early 90's the Cold War was over. Major government contracts for no-longer-needed hardware were canceled and huge aerospace companies began slashing their staff. In Orange County CA, any company stupid enough to advertise an job opening had 300 to 500 resumes to deal with within two days, and $70,000 engineers were living in their cars in a matter of months. As a casualty myself, I was spending my days going door-to-door through industrial areas looking for problems to solve. Eventually it became McDonald's? Knott's Berry Farm? anyone? anything? -- nothing. When I wasn't walking, I was writing, and trying to invent ways (legal) to earn money. I picked up a couple short-term positions, but nothing for long.
   We could no longer pay rent and began to use up friends and family as we stayed in living rooms and closets with people who didn't want us there. At one point I was living in a friend's driveway while my wife and children were in three other places. Eventually a mutual friend connected us with an extremist group in the foothills outside Visalia (in the Central Valley) through some writing I had done. After about six months we were kicked out of there because we were not politically compatible.
   Jobless and homeless, we managed to find a temporary place in a homeless shelter. Life is a mystical journey, and at this point it was clear that I was to ask God for an opportunity to buy another home. To nip a long story in the bud, a year and a half later I was reestablished as an engineer and we were moving into a home of our own. A few years later it was paid for free and clear. God fed us and clothed us when we were destitute, and we are well aware that the rules haven't changed since. The only difference is that now we can see how He is doing it.

Some civic officials need lessons
   So I'm standing in the darkness, rain, and mud of a homeless camp expecting to spend the night helping people pack their soggy, muddy belongings. We would then move them to a yet unapproved place, and set up a new camp so they can crawl into their miserable mud-soaked belongings and get a little sleep the next day.
These parolees can either do this or return to nice, warm dry prisons the next day. The choice is unanimous – mud wins, and this night delivers a record rainfall. Somebody's cell phone rings; we have a brief reprieve – one more day. Sleep well my friends.
   For the last several months, local law enforcement – both city and county – had been driving all the homeless they could find out of other camps, and concentrating them in this one area. Then the media declares “See how this camp is growing? People are moving here from all over. We've got to do something.”
This cruelty to homeless is now underway inf Visalia. For most, a 30-day notice is legally required for eviction; for parolees however, they have a bigger club.
   The head parole officer in the area told the press that they never parole people to “the river.” “That's not how we do business.” city officials were planning a major excursion into the homeless camp the next day to inventory the residents, offer referrals to all available shelters, and view the facts for themselves. So now the twenty-some “non-existent” parolees that had been assigned to live at the river by the parole officers needed to move by sunup so his lies would not become so obvious to everyone. Fortunately, that very evening the tour had suddenly been postponed for a day. I suspect this may have been the work of a compassionate mayor (he was voted against 4-to-1 on a proposal to provide sanitation for the homeless camp).
   Earlier that evening the mayor got an education. A few homeless advocates (and a couple of homeless leaders) had been invited to a small meeting at which the mayor was to speak. The owner of the property had welcomed the homeless, but the mayor quoted a statement by the local sheriff that she had changed her mind. I couldn't help but smile as I glanced over at the owner, who soon corrected the lie. Numerous other lies quoted or misquoted by the media were addressed that night.
   The next day the precaution was taken to keep the parolees out of the camp while some of us returned with lists of things to pack up for them. It may have been a good idea, because we were shadowed by a sheriff vehicle on the levy road on one side. There was also an unmarked 4-wheeler loitering directly across the river on the other side, with binoculars pointing in all directions. This may have been purely coincidental, but by now we were just a little paranoid.
   The result of this “cleanup” was that the homeless moved across the river back into town. Crime increased, and more bushes and dumpster enclosures were favored with human feces; Help keep Visalia green.
Soon the city council responded with another edict: Homeless are not allowed to sleep on either public or private property. They have not evaporated, they are only spending more time in jail and looking for more ways to hide. One friend was telling me how he was awakened and moved three times in the same night by the same uniform. Once a homeless person has found where to find food and made a few friends he can semi-trust, it is suicide to migrate to another town where you know nothing and no one.
(You can find a little more on this subject in the section on emergency shelters.)

THE STRANGER
   Of the various injuries and heartaches I’ve experienced, the most excruciating have been for my children.
He doesn't know quite how to show love
He's trying so hard to be strong
He works hard to do for his family
and he doesn't have time to be wrong

But he cries for the love of his children
When he's some place where they cannot see
And his heartache he covers with manhood
because that's what a father should be

Now he has been some miles and knows some things
He 's been there and come back alive
He's seen people die in the pathways
and he knows what it takes to survive

And he cries for the life of his children
God protect them as they go along
Do they have to make the mistakes he made
O Lord help them to know right from wrong

Dad you don't understand that this world that I'm in
is so different from that which you've known
I now have my own mind and it isn't so kind
that you treat me like something you own

And he cries for his children who hate him
Lord help them to please understand
that he loves them and does his best for them
and may they never step out of Your hand

And he cries for the love of his children
and his love bears him down like a mountain
Though his eyes can't shed tears from his prison of fears
his soul pours them forth like a fountain


BREVITY
   For about a year I was working in the Silicon Valley area south of San Francisco, and returning to my home about 200 miles away on the weekends. I had arranged my schedule so I could begin my Friday commute home an hour early, in order to miss the infamous Bay Area rush hour.
   Thursday night I was having a vivid dream of traveling through an area of green rolling hills, when I realized I was actually awake. I consciously looked at the clock (3:45am), and then at the muted light coming through the window. The “dream” continued, and was in fact a vision – I was conscious, I was rational, I was being analytical, and yet the scene continued.
   I was then traveling up a larger hill, and up a narrow valley once down the other side. A huge snake, about five feet thick, was suddenly stretched across path ahead. In fact, there was no path or features in the valley beyond the snake. It all ended here.
   Visions have been extremely rare for me, in fact, I can remember no more than two or three – but these proved very important. So I spent the day intermittently praying about it, and quite puzzled.
   On my way home that afternoon as I left highway 101 to head east, I began to notice that the countryside was much like that which I had seen in my vision. After a final hill that was higher than the rest, I began to travel the freeway up the valley, leading towards the ascent of Pacheco Pass. Traffic, still fairly light, was at about 75-80 mph – typical of the area.
   The threatening clouds cut loose with a suddenness and fury I had never experienced. I have witnessed many violent electrical storms in the mountains of Colorado, but in this case there was a brilliant series of flashes that came downward on one side of the road ahead, went horizontally across the road, and into the earth on the other side. The effect was like a broad ladder of about five rungs, spanning the shoulders and both sides of the freeway ahead.
   The downpour and lightning came on so suddenly that we had barely begun to slow down when a car came sliding sideways towards us down the mud-slicked meridian. My instinct of course, was to slow down, but something told me not to, and I obeyed.
   As I came abreast of the car, its wheels suddenly caught, and it shot across the lane behind me. I saw the violent head-on collision in my rear-view mirror. I immediately pulled over, and went sprinting back to three smoking cars, and two corpses.
   I got home a little later than usual that evening, but my wife had not yet become concerned. I had decided that there was no point in frightening her with a description of what had happened. But then I had to account for a patch of blood on my shirt obtained while assisting a survivor.
   I had been shown the vision for a purpose, and thoroughly believe that it was a vision of my own death. Somehow though, God had chosen to intervene, at the cost of two other lives. I am left with the questions of why I was spared, and of why others were killed in my place. More importantly, I am left with an awareness that my life does not belong to me. I am on borrowed time, extended by the one who spared me from disaster. I am here to serve.
   We are all on borrowed time; neither life nor death are truly accidents.

PROVERBS
THE REST OF THESE ARE UNSORTED, AND CONSIST MAINLY OF SOCIAL AND POLITICAL OBSERVATIONS.

WHERE ARE WE BEING LED?
Ever step outside and listen
Outside the protection of your friends' opinions
Ever dare to listen for yourself
Still the voices of your TV stereotypes

Lift your eyes like a newborn babe
to the sound you used to hear
Look through the eyes of one outside
who's not been trained to fear

Truth is simple, truth is plain
Truth is clear like falling rain
But truth is cleansing and can cause pain
as it shines its' light on a life that's vain

But quiet now, and listen
to a sound that's been there long
When that old man was a hippie
He used to sing that song

Where have all the flowers gone
and why do I still care
What have all our efforts done
the system's still unfair

I see a strange thing passing in this country
but then it's never really gone away
I see the protests of the sixties still here with us
and the children from back then have more to say

What are you doing to this country you with power
Can't you hear what we've been saying all this time
You make us more dependent every hour
You make self reliance sound like it's a crime

If I trusted you completely I could do this
But I watch you screw-up almost every day
Who's purpose are you serving with our power
Does it matter what the people have to pay

Was it that we said it wrong
or did you just not hear
The rich man's greed and puppet strings
are still the things we fear

The freedom spark that started then
it somehow still survives
And it wants to pry your greedy hands
from off our throats and lives

The media appeared to be
the movement's friend indeed
But they were sold to the big man's gold
and shackled by their greed

We bought it and we taught it
as the way that it should be
But we found we couldn't tell what's wrong
without morality

We need to unlearn what they taught us
and to relearn how to stand
or we can be compliant putty
and learn to lick our captor's hand

The media, the nations,
the congress and them all
are all owned by the same people
and await their every call

I found an ancient volume
on a shelf where it then lay
And opened to the back to see
the things it had to say

It said we'd all be owned by one
Who'd someday rule us all
And if we didn't bow our knees
our head's would surely fall

It said we'd be identified
by numbers on our head and hide
The ones who did could buy their food
the ones who didn't starved and died

I shuddered as it came to me
Son of Social Security

-----
Strum a heart
Strike a chord
Stir a spirit
Speak a word
Awake a feeling
Open eyes
Draw out some people
Harmonize

We're in this world together friends
What happens now you see depends
On how we choose the lives we lead
do we hoard our stuff or meet a need

We've been taught to build up
some very high walls
The men they wear dresses
The women wear balls
This world it is coming
apart at the seams
Where is the structure
Where are the teams
Why can't I love you
and say that I care
Are you going to sue me
if I should so dare
Why are things shattered
in pieces like this
Why aren’t things simple
and who outlawed bliss
The answer is simple
so simple it's odd
Our culture is wasted
because we've ignored God

AMBITION
I'll ride the wind, I'll watch the sky
   I'll not let time just pass me by
I'll ride the crest of history's flood
   I'll not be sedi-mentary mud
I'll be the cause not the result
   a fire brand a catapult
Life has beginning Life has end
   But a book with meaning shapes a trend

NOW
Life can only be lived
   a moment at a time
It can be adjusted
   in response to the past
but the past
   cannot be changed
Life can build for the future
but the future
   is not guaranteed
      nor is it yet life
Life is now
Our opportunity to live for God
   is now
Our opportunity to fulfill our purpose
   is now
Our opportunity for peace and joy
   is now
We will never
   have this moment
     again

-----
You can't tell a kid a thing
to try and do so just brings pain
Don't try to stop them let them be
their stupid selves like you and me

-----
I have filled the day with people
and with things that must get done
I have filled my life with projects
I'm a slave to what's begun
Does a tree live in such tyranny
Does a flower live this way
Do other living things decide
how much they have to do this day

EXCUSES
This one isn’t really about sports.

Coach if I could do it again
I know that I would surely win
Butcha see it wasn't me
It' not the way it should be
I wish I could do it over again
-- but the time is gone

I wasn't quite ready that time
or the other guy committed some crime
But now I know
and I'm ready to go
Coach wontcha let me try it again
-- but the time is gone

Now isn't that the thing we always say
when things just didn't go our way
We paint the past with excuses
for our mistakes and abuses
We should be giving all we have today
-- before the time is gone

-----
Let's depart a little from the norm
and share some things
Dare to risk a little love
and see what real life brings

-----
People are afraid to say "I've found it"
Even though they know it's surely true
People aren’t supposed to know such riddles
But opinions aren’t the master of a few
-----
Knowing and doing
are two different things
One is for watchers
The other builds kings

-----
I'd rather be God
said the angel on high
That seat has been taken
you'll lead those who die
And thus began conflict
between light and death
And so it continues
till our specie's last breath

I'd rather be God
said the king on the throne
King Neb-u-chad-nezz-ar
then fell like a stone
He spent seven years
eating grass in the field
Until God once again
Gave him power to wield

I'd rather be God
said the kid on the block
Until one that was bigger
felled him with one sock
His ego was hurt
and he wanted to stand
So he bought a big weapon
to hold in his hand

I'd rather be God
said the babe in the chair
As he smeared half his supper
on his face and his hair
He saw no good reason
for carrots and peas
Grownups are his servants
He'll do as he'll please

The dream of world conquest
has not gone away
It's just become subtle
so low it must lay
But humans are weak
and some are so sour
It's scary to think
what some now do for power

-----
It's time to leave It's time to fly
It's time to prove the things you've learned
It's time to live It's time to die
It's time to see what can be burned
-----
You may never know how life will go
Until you have freedom to fall
Are you a saint or only paint
Will you survive or lose it all

-----
In the early seventies oil producing nations conspired to
raise oil prices. Gasoline shortages ensued, and heating
bills skyrocketed. The year had also brought us the
Watergate scandal and a major Indian protest in South
Dakota. By early January, the headlines that had seemed
so important at the time were of no current value, and
almost forgotten -- until I began rereading them in reverse
order as I burned the accumulation of papers to warm the
house.

I sit here burning papers
to reduce the heating bill
I read of crimes of yesterday
and the pages they did fill
Each useless page has been upstaged
by something new and bad
and now I’m down to burning it all
cause the heating bill we had
I read of holidays and mental sick
of Halloween and a sadistic trick
You wonder what makes people tick
then there’s someone’s ode to tricky Dick
You wish the world would let him be
now up in smoke goes Wounded Knee
I could go on but why repeat
I think I’ll just enjoy the heat