“A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Amazing Grace

In tragedy's wake,
grace visited us again,
sharing love's mercy.

Through the embrace of
compassion and forgiveness,
grace found expression.

What infinite love
can bestow on humankind
occasions wonder.

Adding prose to my weekly poem is a departure for me. However, after the families of those slaughtered in a Charleston church said they forgave the killer, I have reflected a great deal about what forgiveness means. And, it turns out that the issue of forgiveness has a great deal to do with coming to terms with MS.

First, let me address the Charleston event. For the South Carolina victim families, the heavy lifting required just to voice, "I forgive you," surely must have been overwhelmingly hard. Yet, that's what many did, leaving the rest of the world in awe of their graciousness; thereby, encouraging us to examine the nature of forgiveness and grace in our lives.

Inspired by the remarkable example of the families, I was led to ask myself, where have I failed to exercise forgiveness? The answer landed me squarely on MS' lap. We MSers struggle in varying ways while coming to terms with how MS has altered our lives. One's body seems to turn on itself destructively, which can feel like a vicious, random, and senseless attack. The impact may alter so comprehensively the person one used to be, some might say that person died.

But, who or what can we blame for that? Understandably, we turn MS into a villain toward which we direct our anger, resentment, and fear. Yet, as Robert Parker reminds us, MS does not exist as an entity.

The irony is we end up becoming both victim and victimizer. Certainly, one loses and likely grieves for the person one used to be. However, MS could be viewed, too, as the killer who also might need forgiveness. Because how do I separate MS from who I am physically? Am I making my emotional and perhaps physical healing more difficult by viewing MS with anger and loathing? Do I then end up hating and loathing my body? If MS can assume a separate existence at all, shouldn't it be integrated affirmatively into whatever characterization I hold of my physical body? Is it necessarily a matter of It versus Me? Is there an act of forgiveness I can embrace that will limit self-destructive behavior?

In saying, "We have no room for hate. We have to forgive," what can the South Carolina families teach me? If they were able to respond so magnanimously to an act of such horror, how can I embrace their forgiving nature with respect to my MS?

I say that, thinking that following their example surely seems laudable. Yet, in a practical sense, what difference does it make for me to forgive the "entity" which destroyed my life as I knew it? What real impact does forgiving MS or the process of MS or simply my body's physical breakdown have on my life? This is especially challenging since MS will likely cause a never-ending cascade of losses and grieving. How can I forgive and move on if the process of loss seems endless?

Or is the act of forgiveness encapsulated in the following haiku, which I removed from the above poem because I wasn't sure I wholly accepted its meaning?

Remaining open
to grace's bountiful gifts
ensures renewal.

I would like to rise to such a noble sentiment. Yet, in a practical sense, I am not sure what it means. I want to avoid the hazards of what some have called "cheap grace." I am assuming those commentators were alluding to the need to keep forgiveness from being an empty act, and that forgiveness can, and perhaps should, require emotional, spiritual, and psychological hard work.

Yet, again, I am led back to the question, what does that mean for me in a practical sense?

I'm hoping you will illuminate me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015



Daily life requires
a miracle a minute
to do anything.

Miracles mostly
dodge my power and control.
Randomness may rule.

While my world shudders,
shaken and destabilized,
I feel overwhelmed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015



A lily emerged
from its somnolent slumber,
opening fully.

The world too awoke,
welcoming daylight's entry.
Renewal prevailed.

Hope's lasting promise
joined the chorus of rebirth.
Or was it a tease?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On My Journey


Facing stiff headwinds,
I tack and then tack again
but keep losing ground.

The losses pile on.
New normals replace old ones,
scarce time to adjust.

To find peace I pray,
"teach me how to live like this"  *
and to do it well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Getting Things Done


It used to serve me.
Push, push, push, and keep going
to finish a job.

I still complete tasks,
pressing on through exhaustion
until I collapse.

Dogged willpower
stubbornly commands and rules.
Not always for good.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015



Orchid petals waft
from their airy loft in trees,
drifting down to grass.

My falls rarely glide
to a cushioning surface,
brain and bones at risk.

Lacking orchid grace,
my last fall injured a rib.
It hurt when I moved.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When It Comes Early

Whenever it comes,
MS is always costly.
In youth it's tragic.

Deprived of choices,
family and employment
take a heavy hit.

Youth should be allowed
full testing of potential,
not blocked by limits.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Truths and Metaphors


tornado wipe out
roofs, walls, foundations, and more
falling in a heap

earthquake upheaval
most solid footing shredded
wounds needing healing

survivors stumbling
arms stretched out and seeking help
walking in a daze

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lightening the Journey


Companions gather
from all corners of the globe
on the internet.

Veteran or new,
each knows MS's terrors.
No need to explain.

Compassion abounds
among fellow travelers.
The journey is shared.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What's It All About?


Please don't look to me.
I am humbled by my dearth
of true certainty.

While we reside here,
we excel, fail, and just are.
We may find love's source.

In our finite time,
all seems really important.
Precious few things are.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Deplore …


becoming housebound
my friendship circle dwindling
social life a bust

peeing all the time
being unable to work
money running short

not knowing how much
MS can take credit for
life's seeming shortfalls

Wednesday, April 15, 2015



On dewy Spring morns,
narcissus petals unfold
gossamer beauty.

Within the arbor,
interwoven tree branches
shelter loveliness.

Fed by reflections
on the winding water course,
fantasy takes flight.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Week from Hell and Good News


Like an invasion,
fever, coughing, and aching
took over my life.

As bad as I felt,
even worse was wondering
what MS would do.

What is the good news?
The flu has taken its leave.
The Beast seems quiet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015



A leisurely walk
on surf-gentled sandy shores,
my feet sinking in.

A sprint up the stairs
with excitement in my voice
to share my good news.

A last-minute run
to the theater with friends
to watch a great film.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015



Acceptance may lag
the clear evidence of loss.
Adjustment takes time.

Unwilling to cope,
resisting recognition
becomes an M.O.

When I am ready,
I will feel my way through it.
A work in progress.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Best Intentions


I took my heels out,
intending to donate them.
I was not ready.

Ten years have gone by.
Someone could put them to use.
I know that but still ….

My heels remain here
where I can touch and see them
until I let go.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Is Hope Always Viable?


What accounts for hope,
for one's faith in renewal
though gloom may prevail?

History may say
the odds favor sorrow's wail,
not joy's healing hand.

Those who struggle with
an incurable disease
may question hope's worth.

Is hope logical?
The facts may point us elsewhere.
Why insist on hope?

When odds are awful,
does hope no longer make sense?
I resist that thought.

I may be foolish,
perhaps tilting at windmills,
yet I affirm hope.

for creating new meaning
will always exist.