“Where did you get that!?”

I remember the weekly trips to the grocery store. It was a family adventure. I remember walking down the aisles and, for a break in the monotony, making sure I did not step on any cracks on the floor. With such little feet, it was easy to stay within the tiles. I remember the aroma of coffee after it was freshly ground. You could buy the beans and grind it before you left the store. I also remember marshmallows in boxes. Chips, too, and soda in returnable bottles.  But I stray from my opening question. “Where did you get that!?”  Let me explain.

Treats were just that: treats. A bag of candy was a treasure. Three little boys to share a bag of candy. I do not know if mom and dad ate any at all; but I figured that whatever was in the bag, 1/3 belonged to me.  Anyway, my older brother apparently was not much of a candy eater. My younger brother was a candy consumer. It was essential to have a safeguard, or the candy would be gone within a day or two. That disturbed me and not just a little. I was incensed. The candy was gone and not because I had eaten my third. It was gone because my younger brother knew neither about fractions nor sharing. Egregious. I am sure I complained, but I took things into my own hands.

As I have already shared, I figured a third belonged to me. And I counted out my third and hid it. My own personal cache. That way, I was assured that my third was protected, and I could enjoy the candy for an entire week. It was a grand and successful scheme. My younger brother never found my hiding place, and I made sure not to retrieve any candy when nobody was around to divulge my hiding place. It worked brilliantly. It also became fun, a bit of a taunt against my younger brother. He would see me eating some of my portion and would demand, “Where did you get that!?” I would reply that it was part of my share, he had eaten his, and I consumed with nary a sense of obligation to share. There was not a bit of guilt either. He could had proportioned his third like I had. It was his fault he had no more to savor. He likely consumed more than a third of the candy, but my third had been secured, and I was not going to share any of it with him.

So, what is my point? Why do I need one? We are amid a COVID-19 pandemic and have been ordered to engage in social distancing. Memories arose and I elected to type about them. I could claim that my point is the importance of limits and boundaries. That would be valid. I could confess that I enjoy gloating about my success at protecting my third and taunting my younger brother. That would be valid. I could confess that I was selfish. But, I won’t. I think I was justified. It has been fun to reminisce. I still like candy. I still have tendency to want hide to the treasure. I will share but am still mindful that if I am not careful, someone will eat more than their fair share. The danger now? If I hide it, I may never be able to find it. When I stumble across it, it is likely stale. Stale is still better than not finding it. It is also a pleasant discovery, and I find myself asking myself: “Where did you get that!?”

Despair

I have had the privilege of spending time with people who have struggled with life. Some of those have felt so desperate they have contemplated suicide. Not that they wanted to die, but they felt so hopeless and despairing they contemplated suicide as a way out of their darkness. I attended a seminar recently. Suicide prevention was the focus. As I pondered suicide the following spilled out. It is raw and essentially unedited. My poetry, if that is what is called, is like singing in the shower.  It resonates with me. I imagine it will also resonate with others My heart goes out to those who find themselves feeling helpless, hopeless, and hapless. Hope? Suicide closes that door. May those who need hope, find it. Find someone you trust and share with that trusted other. Dare to reach out. Dare to be that trusted other.

Dare I not

Tattered.

Shattered.

Scattered.

Have I ever mattered?

Death where is your sting.

Bring it on!

I have longed for it.

Despair.

Life?

Hardly.

Like I was killed and not allowed to die.

Where?

What?

Whom?

Trapped!

Despair.

Yet, hanging on.

Why?

There is less?

There is more?

Even though crushed.

Still a desperation for hope.

Is it within me or beyond me?

Maybe both.

Perhaps the beyond.

Then the within.

More than synchronicity!

I hunger for it.

The pangs are potent.

Dare I hope to eat?

If only I could turn the stones of life into bread.

But bread alone is not enough.

But I crave it.

I crave drink, too.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”.

Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst”.

Tattered.

Shattered.

Scattered.

Have I ever mattered?

Dare I risk eating?

Dare I risk drinking?

Dare I not?

Richard L. Brewer

02/05/2020

Grim Reaper?

Grim Reaper?

Waspish.

Hornetish.

Hoodwinker, he.

Like a window peeper.

Not wanting to be seen.

But, with a grim purpose.

The sting prepared.

But, what?

The sting is only temporary.

That one was prepared.

No true death.

Only transition.

From one slim sliver.

To the never-ending.

Eternity with Him.

Grim?

Only from this side.

Reaper come!

Richard L. Brewer

9/19/19

Asp Enticement

I have this good friend. I have mentioned him in previous posts. He is an inspiration, encourager, and challenger. He has called my creations “pithy”. I am not as painstaking meticulous as is he. Things come to my mind. I tend to voice them, pen them, and leave them as they are birthed in my mind.

I do not intend to be disrespectful to those who endure Tourette syndrome, but I have described myself as being a bit Tourette-like. If something comes to mind, I am inclined to regurgitate it in raw-form. Hopefully, I do not do this in a disrespectful, harmful way. Rather, at least I would like to think, things come out in an unpolished, raw way that reflects my pithy mediocrity.

 Anyway, this good friend recently sent another one of his poems and it captivated me. The poem led to some email correspondence between the two of us and the following creation spilled out.

Asp Enticement

“Hiss.

Hey.

Whoa.

You gotta see this!

More than a beauty.

It holds power.

Don’t you want to know?

Forget what you heard.

This thing is the real deal.

I am not asking you to sell your soul.

You have been hoodwinked by a naysayer.

Just a little nibble.

You will KNOW.”

Know. Knowing.

Gnawing.

Regretting.

If only, NO.

Richard L. Brewer

8/29/19

Prodigal

It occurred to me that the prodigal was not all cleaned up when he returned to his father. He was a filthy mess. He was tattered. He reeked. His intention was to ask his father to be treated like a hired hand. Yet, his father ran to greet him, embraced him, and kissed him. Then, the father had the best robe brought to him and sandals for his feet. And, a ring for his finger! How extravagant. And, then the fatted calf was ordered to be slaughtered to celebrate the return of the penitent son. More extravagance. The prodigal’s father, an example of our Lord. Oh, to be like the prodigal: ready to be penitent. Oh, to be like the prodigal’s father–accepting and embracing of the one who fed the pigs? “Oh no!” I fear I have been more like the non-prodigal. I pondered and then I composed the following. Pods for thought.

The prodigal, the father, and the non-prodigal.

He assuredly stunk, the prodigal.

He had fed the pigs and pined for the pods.

He had been foolish.

He had demanded his inheritance.

He had gone to a faraway land.

He had spent his inheritance on sensuous pursuits.

Then: money spent, famine came, dire desperation.

He found a “job” feeding swine.

The filth, the smell, the revolt.

Then, an “aha” moment.

He could go to his father and beg to become a hired hand.

“I will admit I sinned and am no longer a son.”

His father’s servants had food to spare.

“Yes, I will become like one hired.”

So, off he went toward home.

He was still far away when his father saw him.

His father ran to him.

Such an undignified response.

Such love and compassion.

Crazy love!

Reaching his son, the father embraced and kissed him.

The son: tainted, filthy, and reeking.

“Bring a robe, bring a ring, and kill the fatted calf!”

“My son was dead and now is alive!”

His father was elated and loved him.

“He called me his son.”

“He embraced me in my stench and filth.”

“Me, the demanding prodigal.”

“He put a robe on me.”

“A ring on my finger.”

“He said, ‘Kill the fatted calf!’”

“I am a filthy, degraded mess.”

“Yet, he called me his son.”

“The one who was lost is found.”

“The one who was dead and is now alive.”

“He rejoiced!?”

“What manner of love is this?!”

And there was celebration.

The older son heard the commotion.

“What is going on?!”

Then, the non-prodigal erupted with anger.

“This son of yours wasted himself with prostitutes and sensuality!”

“I will not go in!”

The non-prodigal had lost nothing.

And he resented the father and the prodigal.

Like Christians who shoot the wounded.

The non-prodigal unloaded his gun.

Electric Fences

Electric Fences

I have both vivid and vague memories of my paternal grandfather. Visiting him was interesting. He whittled and smoked cigarettes. He was a man of few words. He liked to tease, sometimes in a painful way. My most vivid memories involve him trying to get the grandkids to touch the electric fence. The fence provided a very convincing shock and was to be avoided: meaning “I fell for the suggestion at least once”.

During once visit he suggested I touch the fence. I chose not to. I had learned that it did not feel good. (No shock for any reader, I am sure). He asked me if wood conducted electricity. I replied with a confident “no”. He invited me to pick a stick from the ground and touch the fence in order to verify my scientific knowledge. I obliged. I grabbed the stick and touched the electric fence. I received a very memorable shock. What a shock: my scientific knowledge had failed me. The stick was wet from the morning dew and I had not noticed. But, grandpa had.

I am leery of electric fences. I do not like the experience of touching one. That was learned in early grade school. I had been fooled twice; both times out of ignorance. I was wise enough not to urinate on the fence as he reportedly had suggested to another cousin. I am glad that invitation was not my first to the electric fence. I do not have any desire to know how that must have felt.

I think about the electric fence on occasion. Usually, it is when I am talking to a person (client) who continues to engage in the same behavior and continues to get “shocked”. Interesting how a person can continue to repeat behaviors that result in pain. As the saying goes: “If you keep on doing what you are doing, you will keep on getting what you always got”. It is so easy to repeat behaviors that lead to painful consequences.

I challenge my clients (and myself) to stop grabbing hold of the electric fence. Watch that you are not tricked by a “wet stick” and certainly do not urinate onto one. It is advisable to learn one’s lesson and avoid the inevitable—and what should be a readily predictable—shock. But, alas, many keep grabbing the electric fences of life, to be shocked again and again. There must be a better way. What (or whom) are your electric fences?