Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Love Note. From God.

On particularly rough days, when doubt is easily harbored and I'm certain I can't possibly go on, I like to remind myself that my record for getting through bad days so far is 100%...and that's pretty good.

I took a rough little tumble...then I got up! I remain undefeated!

Challenges must be viewed as opportunities, portals for thoughtful reflection and personal growth. This gift came with a love note: "Joel, slow down. You're welcome, God." Such humor and irony!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Gravel Road

One stone about
With a beautiful view
Just a rock in the road
At piece with you.

We accumulate 
And annotate
In aggregate.

We touch, we talk
Leave a place to walk
For tomorrow's traveler
We turn to chalk. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I came upon a Gate.

Riding through life one day…I came upon a gate. Fashioned from scrap metal and finished in Mother Nature's signature patina of rust, it was a long forgotten discouragement, left behind after the coal was gone.

Helplessly named Private Property, a custodian assigned to limit and control access to something…or somewhere; all while freely sharing through a holey, windowed construct, the remote beauty and intrigue within.

There, through her cold countenance, in a shroud of snowfall, a pearly path of ascension rolled and ranged ever up and out of view. Riding through life one day…I came upon a gate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

South State Street, Lewis, IN

I don’t know why I was so unsettled; the end was inevitable. But still, there is something deep within us always surprised by change. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Coasting down the slight grade on South State Street one September afternoon in 2015, I was moved to stop and take a picture. The bricks and mortar constituting the structure have stood for more or less 100 years. Thanks to a long-since changed demographic and the vicissitudes of time, the building was condemnable, making a last stand in what was once Lewis, Indiana’s business district. With roof missing, walls shifted and cracked, windows shuttered by plywood long turned grey, she spoke softly with the sadness of an unvisited grandmother.

Earlier this fall while on my way home from somewhere I took a detour through the increasingly unfamiliar streets of Lewis. My grandparents, Helen and Titus, lived on the corner of E. Green Drive and S. State Street. During childhood, my summer job was to patrol these streets on a bike. Hundreds of hours…hundreds of miles. The regular patrols have ceased, time has not. 

Countless times I had ridden by this building, rarely ever giving her a moment of consideration. On this beautiful 2016 fall afternoon, she's gone. I reflect upon my childhood joy and peace. In this moment I pause...I listen and take a simple picture. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Fifteen more Miles.

"Difficulties increase the nearer we approach the goal." 
-Johann Von Goethe

Goals should be set high, pushing us to achieve what we thought was impossible. I am close. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

there was Smoke. then Something Changed.

He wanted to quit. The pain was great and the effort had nearly reduced him to tears. But something was changing. 

A compelling tone of encouragement reverberated from somewhere inside. Still, he wanted to quit, but couldn't...or wouldn't. Either way, can't or won't, something was changing and it was good. 

Buried deep within the recesses of the soul, darkness and light dance together. In this place we find our limits are made of smoke. Here we find fire...and something is changed.

Find your fire. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Railroads and Road Blocks

Winding away from me, down the tracks in either direction, no end in sight, are hoppers filled with anthracite. The sounds about me, wind whistling in my ears and gravel popping under my tires, dims and disappears as I approach and stop at the railroad crossing. Nature’s beautiful silence fills the void...birds singing both near and far. 

It’s November and my coordinates are roughly 39.30*N and 87.23*W, the days grow short and the shadows long as the South Pole tilts toward the sun. A coal hopper casts a shadow of doubt over what is an otherwise glorious day. Roadblocks tend to do that. 

Lucky for me I have a bike with attitude, it will go just about anywhere. And so we do. After a quick survey of the situation and a smile for myself, obstacle turns to opportunity. No, I didn’t hobo the wasn’t going anywhere. Along the rail-bed I head East and eventually South. About a quarter mile down the line I find one end of the train. There was no locomotive attached to the last hopper, only what must have been the “End of Train” device, a technological replacement for the caboose. 

As I cross the tracks behind the final car I’m bathed by the November sun, discover an access road to deliver me somewhere new, all while I enjoy the expansive view of rolling Indiana farm ground. And that my friends is what happens when you follow your heart and chase the light! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Courage and Grace: Put Your Boat in the Water.

Life, like a river, does not sit on the bank and watch itself flow by. Moving...always toward destiny under different circumstances, in a state of peacefulness, rage, flood or recession...always moving. Regardless of the conditions, we need only courage and grace: the courage to put our boat in the water and the grace to delight in the journey. We will get there...eventually. 

*Photo by Jim Cota, Wabash River

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Breach for Acquittal and Conspiracy

Up here, 34,000 feet above everything, hurdling through the atmosphere at 540 mph - I quietly contemplate. This space is somewhere between Heaven and Earth.

Up here, the narrowly focused view constitutes considerable perspective - I am. And, in this moment, up here, all at once time stands still, retreats, and then gently disappears.

Up here, in the space between, is a breach for acquittal and release. Up here, in the space between, resides faith to conspire and court what will be. It's beautiful up here.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Here I sit, at a bridge. Contemplating.

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."
-Winnie the Pooh

Situated on a country road in the shallow valley of a forest near my childhood home there sits a moss-covered concrete bridge. The canopy above opens and closes at the wind's command, letting golden sunlight dance on the water gently flowing out from under the bridge, toward tomorrow.

I have crossed this bridge too many times to count. An interestingly uninteresting structure, this bridge is, for a couple reasons. It literally delivered me from childhood to points near and far about the globe. But more importantly…because there were other roads from my house to the world…this bridge served as a portal for the imagination, dreams, and adventure of a boy.   

But we forget. 

We allow the act of crossing a bridge to become so common place that we fail to recognize or acknowledge the important span between the supports. I passionately work on perspective and its role in my life, yet I still catch my thoughts far beyond and long away; especially when the destination is predetermined and the journey but a means to that end. I suspect most adults are exceptional at crossing bridges in this manner.

We adults also contend with the bridges built in the mind, bridges that cause grown men to yield. They give us pause because we know not where they lead. What happens? The unfortunate manifestation of fear circumvolving change and uncertainty serves adults in a terribly limiting nature.

Always crossed on the way from one place to another, bridges provide important and necessary structure in the world. A bridge will deliver us to the other side of something otherwise difficult to pass, or by not crossing will deviate the path meant for us to take.

Here I sit, on a bridge, contemplating the gentle flow of water toward tomorrow. Here I sit, at a bridge. Contemplating.