Why the bulwark?


“1. A wall or embankment raised as a defensive fortification; a rampart.

2. Something serving as a defense or safeguard.”https://www.thefreedictionary.com/bulwark

I received another poem this week by my good friend, the Poet Mark Tappmeyer. He signs his work with (MT). His work is not empty. Rather his poems frequently evoke a stirring of my thoughts and emotions. His poems are an invitation for a “pregnant pause”. The “pregnant pause” this week, stirred me and a poem was birthed. He has granted me permission to share his poem, entitled “Defense”.

“[H]ow cleverly you defend yourselves  
against all that might do you good!” C. S. Lewis
The bulwark you throw up
with sweat, picks, and shovels
a bucket of self at a time.
The walls,
   with persistence,
with which you
encase yourself.
The guard towers you erect.
The sentries in squads
   with narrowed eyes,
   armed with blades
   and pikes and pride,
   relieved on the hour.
Even the endless routine–
   the practice thrusting,
   feigning, blocking.
The tutorials in slashing.
If you only knew  
what you were working so hard
to keep out.

                            MT (empty)

The following is the poem that resulted from the pregnant pause.

Why the Bulwark?

Fear and anxiety.

Feed them both.

Both are well fed.

Calories of fear and fret.

Fret adds to fear and fear to fret.

Fret adds to anxiety and anxiety to fret.

Neurotic obesity from binge feeding.

Is it fear?

Or, is it neurotic anxiety?

What is fear?

What is anxiety?

Are they the same?

Do both require the same remedy?

Fear has a basis, the reason identifiable.

Anxiety is diffuse.

The basis of both can be evaluated.

So it is true for anxiety.

But, it is easier with fear.

Because they are different.

Fear allows potential for identifying a cause.

I can identify an objective stimulus.

The objective can be strategically addressed.

Much more difficult for anxiety.

No objective stimulus.

I have to create or imagine the supposed cause.

Then, I have to create a strategy to manage.

The diffuseness of anxiety requires layers of protection.

My castle is unsafe.

My castle must be made safe.

My castle is very lonely when defended.

Anxiety can block all access, even the peep hole.

But, hope exists for fear.

It can be strategically addressed.

Fear can be used as information.

What am I missing? What have I created?

The only thing to fear is fear itself?

The cause of the fear may merit fear!

The only thing to fear is anxiety itself?

Anxiety is diffuse.

The only thing to anxiety is anxiety itself?

Merriam Webster has this to say:

Anxiety involves apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness,

Usually over a sense impending or anticipated ill:

Something that is not obvious or objective.

Both fear and anxiety are information.

Fear provides better information and the likelihood of an effective strategy.

It can save countless bricks, locks, keys, and other just-in-cases to protect my castle.

Anxiety will likely lead to over-design, cost overruns, and still, an ineffective defense.

The real enemy of anxiety is inside me.

How do I block me out without great cost?

I will put in another safe-room:

Another thumb print, iris scan, and voice recognition just-in-case.

Hardly utter safety.

Rather, utter isolation.

No windows. No doors.


My anxiety swells.

Worse than a Jenga tower.

It will collapse.

Turn my anxiety to fear.

Turn my attention to identifying the cause of the fear.

Turn my identification of the cause to objective examination.

Turn my objective examination to developing sound strategies.

Turn my strategies into efficient blueprints.

I can fortify my castle as needed and still maintain accessibility.

If I am afraid of the task, I have need for objective examination.

If I end up anxious, I scrap another strategy;

Or build another layer of defense.

Everyone is cheated: I am the foremost casualty.

If it is fear. I can strategize and plan.

I am protected, nobody or nothing safe is a casualty of caution.

I prefer fear over anxiety.

I can learn to manage both.

Mediocre Meanderer, Richard L. Brewer.


An added tidbit that came to my attention this week:

The Scottish minister John Baillie prayed:

Let me use disappointment as material for patience;
Let me use success as material for thankfulness;
Let me use anxiety as material for perseverance;
Let me use danger as material for courage;
Let me use criticism as material for learning;
Let me use praise as material for humility;
Let me use pleasures as material for self-control;
Let me use pain as material for endurance.

Tender Juices

Stewed, but not Tender 

Tender juices.  

What be they? 

Juices are just juices. 

Tender needs texture. 

No wonder he asked, 

“Dad, what are tender juices?” 

Dad chuckled and cleared up the mystery. 

“Intended uses” was his reply. 

What was the context, you might ask. 

A rote mealtime blessing. 

Part of which went like this:  

“Bless this food to its intended uses”. 

No wonder he was puzzled. 

I am glad he asked.  

I don’t think I would have asked.  

I would have been perpetually puzzled. 

Or, I would have drawn conclusions in my mind. 

None likely anywhere near accurate. 

Thank you, Steve, for asking the question. 

I think of that on occasion. 

I wonder…. 

“How much I have concluded based upon my ‘mishearing’?” 

I wonder… 

“How much of that I do in regard to my faith and theology?” 

What have I foreclosed on? 

What convictions without substance? 

Misunderstanding can be dangerous. 

Misunderstood, or created, can become gospel fact. 

Yet, I read that no scripture is for private interpretation. 

How much do I violate that? 

By mishearing, misunderstanding, or biased interpretation. 

Thank God for His promptings to ask questions. 

Thank God for His tenderness. 

I have more asking to do. 

Thanks, Steve, for the lesson. 

I could easily stew in my own juices. 

And never tenderized. 

Sting of Death

I was recently informed of the death of three friends. I felt a sting and pondered. Disquieting. Uncomfortable. Once they were and no longer are. A lot to consider. Out spilled the following. The stinger will come for us all.

Stinger, Beam Me Up!

Dead and gone.

Gone and alive.

More alive that formerly.

Never to die again.

Not to be seen again on this side.

Reunited at some point. 

Better life?

Won’t have to ask.

Will know by experience.

Sting is on this side.

Heaven better than epi-pen.

I wonder if those in heaven regret having lived so long on this side.

Sting me up, if that be the case.

Looking for Scotty. Nothing grim about that crew member.

In the blink of an eye.

Dead, but not gone.

More alive than ever before.

With no need to gloat to those left on this side.

Envy and hesitancy.

Not forever. 

Waiting for the stinger.

A Lesson From Romper Room

“Do Be”

I remember a daytime TV program from my childhood. It was called “Romper Room”. It targeted preschool children younger than 5. It was franchised and syndicated from 1953 to 1994. The program had an oversized bumblebee as a mascot. His name was Mr. Do-Bee. His purpose was to teach the children proper behavior. He always started his sentences with “Do Bee”, as in the imperative “do be”; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romper_Room.

Thinking of “do be”: We are human beings. What one is doing is the product of being. As such, healthy doing follows healthy being. Logically then, unhealthy being leads to unhealthy doing. Perhaps we can take the advice from Romper Room’s Mr. Do Bee and correct some unhealthy beings and unhealthy doings and replace them with healthy beings and healthy doings. It would be really gratifying to start with “do be” and hear “well done”.

Unfortunately, some of us have been scripted with “don’t be”. Of course, “don’t be” is impossible. You cannot not be any more than you cannot not behave. You will be and do regardless the directive, since you cannot not be and cannot not do. The “don’t be” often becomes an unhealthy “be” by default. “Don’t be” influences, and can even dictate, whatever doing ensues. Re-read this paragraph from the beginning if you cannot get what was written. My hope is that you cannot not get my intended message.

Are you following me? Please “do be”. Let me share a “don’t do” which became a “don’t be” but did not help me with “do be” so I could “do do”. I remember my first date advice: “Don’t do anything you would be ashamed of.” “Don’t do” became a trigger for “don’t be” and don’t do”. So, the “I be” and the “I do” became my unhealthy “go-be” and “go do” because there was not a healthier directive to form a healthier “I be” to direct a healthier “I do”.

Did you get that? How nice to have healthy directives so as to develop a healthy “be” so to have context for a healthy “do”. In the words of Romper Room: “Be a ‘do be!’” How important that we discover who we are as human “beings” so that we can learn to engage in healthy human “doings”. Oh, to have the right seeds sown, on the right soil, to produce the right fruit. We can get this and even teach this! Do be! Do do! “Go be” and “Go do”!

Free at last!

“I have jumped the track and I am free at last” (Thomas the Train).

The Delta variant of COVID has interrupted us shortly after we began to develop some hope and optimism. It has necessitated a return to some safety precautions. Irritating, depressing, anxiety producing. Perhaps you had begun to feel optimism. You were picking up speed and steaming along. Then, it is as though your train has jumped the track.

Oh, the importance of the track. One analogy is provided by Rick Warren. Life is like a railroad track. It has two rails. One is what is good about life. The other is what is bad about life. We cannot get anywhere without both rails.

I was recently reminded of an old Thomas the Train cartoon. He stated, as he lay beside the tracks: “Free at last!” But, we are not free without rails, rules, and limits. There is no freedom without limits. It is true for anything we consider important in our lives. The work we do, the games we enjoy, the activities in which we engage. All require limits. Limits provide freedom and safety. How free is a fish in a fishbowl? We tend to prefer large fish bowls. But, regardless the size, we cannot survive without one. Stressful. Trying. Anger provoking. Anxiety arousing. Depression inviting. Though limits and rules may seem disruptive and irritating, we cannot live without them. As I drove to work yesterday morning I stayed in the right lane. Fortunately, those traveling in the opposite direction stayed in their right lane; my left lane. All went well even though a farm vehicle slowed me down until I could see a clear path to pass. I am glad I knew the rules and the potential consequences of ignoring them.

Freedom? Not without rails, rules, limits, and/or boundaries. Imagine your favorite sport without limits. Chaos. Utter chaos.

Asp Hole

I have mentioned my friend who is a major influencer in my decision to do some writing. His name is Mark Tappmeyer. Our friendship dates back to the summer of 1982. He recently shared a poem he had penned. I really liked it and responded with a short paragraph. Mark emailed back with this response: “Richard, whether you know it or not, you’ve written a prose poem–a modern and popular category.  Perhaps one for your blog.” MT

Wow, without knowing what I was doing, I produced a prose poem. He suggested I share it. I requested permission to include his poem that stimulated my prose poem. He willing consented, even giving me permission to include his poem without citing his authorship. Not a chance!

His poem reminded me to the seductive power of temptation. Yes, the serpent is crafty, crafty beyond anything else. Best to stay out of his reach and run if/when he should make an appearance in our garden.

My friend wrote:

The Serpent Advises on Apple Eating
“Now the serpent was more crafty . . . .”
                                             Genesis 3:1
You should know that from a tree in the middle of the garden
hang globes of fruit—like fist-sized worlds. 
You can, without much reach, pluck and munch. 
But that’s just one of several ways to eat the fruit:
two stones, flat and river-washed, can mash
the tiny skulls into a pulp for those who like to slurp,
or each ball of sweetness can be sliced and dried
into a fruity leather for packing as one roams from home,
or, my favorite, dice and bake them into pies
or tarts, which shouldn’t be resisted.
It depends upon your appetite,
which in truth lies-sss behind all apple eating.

                                       MT (empty)

My response:

“Love it!”

“Succulent, seductive tidbits of temptation. All alluring. The asp is apt and able. Temptation threaded through a big hole. Bad noose! Then, the serpent disappears. What an asp-hole.”

Indeed. The asp is a purveyor of propaganda, the asp who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He allures us by appealing to our appetites. Sometimes we did not have the appetite until he enticed.  His temptations, when heeded, lead us through a noose. Then, the asp retreats until another opportune time. God help me to be mindful, discerning, and obedient.

I heard the sound of Darth

Luke Ponders His Fate

I heard the sound of Darth,

His voice was echo-like and raspy.

As were all the sounds that surrounded.

This seductive, chasmic expanse.

Luring me to stray from being mindful.

Oh the power of Darth.

The continuously lurking and killing kind of Darth.

The stomp of the elephant would be fast and final.

Darth’s taunts are blunt, brutal, yet conniving, even attractive.

Darth can sound like the tender trill of the chickadee.

To listen and heed is the continuous erosion of vitality.

Me, an accomplice of Darth?

I could readily see me succumb to the raspy lure of Darth.

What will be?

It is decided by me.

Me thinks I have no courage.

So, I succumb and hide under my pile of dirt

and close my eyes to the world.

My choice.

And, then the voice in the still of the Garden:

“Adam, where are you?

Richard L. Brewer



Homonym/antonym: repent/re-pent. One means to feel sorrow and change direction. The other means to shut up or shut in. May the Holy Spirit convict me so that I might repent vs. re-pent. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. How remarkable. Freedom vs. being bound up.


Holy/holey. One means sacred, devoted, set apart. The other means a gap or an opening. Oh, that I might be holy vs. holey. I am reminded of how D.L. Moody responded when he was asked if he was full of the Holy Spirit. His response was, “Yes, but I leak”. I do, too, but I want to be less holey and more holy.