06 April 2011

Charles' Poem

Dear Tara and Bill, I am busy reworking some poems that I laid aside last year – debating whether to incorporate all the changes suggested in various and sundry poetry workshops. Now I’ve returned to the original, made some changes and am re-circulating it amongst family members for comment. I had assumed that I sent it to you two years ago but cannot find the evidence in my stored emails.
Love Tio - - hasta pronto.
On First Watching the Northern Lights
His bear-like paw engulfed my hand. We trudged the snow-lit hill.
There’s Orion! My father spoke as he peered left.
The mighty hunter, -- just getting off his lazy couch. And he told
how Orion would face the enraged bull with that red eye
the Bedouins called Aldebaran. Looking north at the pole star,
he told me how the mighty Bear, the Big Dipper in twenty thousand years
would drift apart -- stars fleeing in all directions.
I wanted everything to stay the same.
As we arrived our bull gave out a snort more menacing
than welcome to our barn – a treasure trove of mounds of hay to climb
and piles to jump in and to roll: a place of magic
and of warmth. It smelled of livestock and clover.
The cow with her round body, warm and soft,
exuded comfort seldom found within our home.
The milking done we walked down hill.
But where the Dipper brightly shone, a yellow rainbow
now appeared and from its arc leaped sheets of flame
in sudden squares that shop up through fire-streaked skies - -
all jumbled rainbow colors
And whirling dervishes of light. . .
“Northern Lights,” my father said. Next month we’d see
a greater wonder. From this same hill, we’d see the sun
eclipsed. . . A fiery rim replaced the darkling sun, which vanished. . .
Birds scurried off to bed - - rivulets of morning light
danced minuets on the snow.
My father and his brother quarreled. And split the farm in two.
We no longer walked up to the hill. But sat instead within
the cellar’s frozen quietness counting cold and shiny apples.
There was no comforting cow with warmth and fragrance.
Instead the acrid smell and yellow light from kerosene lamps.
I went away to school. My father had no one left to tell
The Glory of the Winter Skies. - -
His only company the cat and a thousand silent apples.

05 April 2011

Robbie and Anne


If I were my pre-adolescent Bill Collins and I was looking at Robby and Anne, as in this picture, I imagine Robby, who seems to be pointing, might be saying, "Danger Bill Collins, danger!" Anne looks comely and shapely. Ah, my adolescent fantasies intrude.
Robbie is the mechanical stiff, and Anne is in touch with her cognitive and emotional faculties sensing and feeling about her helpful companion.
Anne seems to be wondering, "What is it about Robby?" Robby is incapable of imagination. All Robby can do is to say, "danger." Well, at least, that's all I recall Robby saying; I'd have to watch the 1956 Forbidden Planet movie to recall other robot dialogue. His voice seems to have emotion; hey it's a movie.
Wikipedia says Robby displays "dry wit" and was instructed to "be helpful" to the starship crew. It senses danger, displays humor, and is nice. Dr. Morbius programmed Robby, to obey The Three Laws of Robotics as stipulated by Issac Asimov. It's a machine. It was programmed, as in, coded by a programmer, a human, like Anne, as in loaded with a fixed and known set of predetermined questions and answers.
Imagine Robby as the recent program to scan legal documents for known legal words, and their concepts, so to accurately identify and predict a legal document’s content. If Anne were an entry-level lawyer, bringing in a mid to high 5-figure salary, doing document review, she might now well wonder if her career was safe and if her 6-figure education was valuable. After all, humans get bored and humans make mistakes. Machines create efficiencies, efficiencies create productivity increases, and productivity increases build a bottom line. Hmmmm, but, what about the human capital?

Stewardship: My Boast

I deliberately began responding to God’s call after I became a Daddy, and I felt church attendance wasn’t enough. I wanted a Godly life beyond bricks & mortar, and one response was to start to live my question, “How do I act out God’s call?” I’m guy who reads the book, how to Be a Monastic and not Leave Your Day Job. I’m the guy doing The Book of Common Prayer daily devotion, and I’m the guy practicing and singing in the choir, and I’m the guy on Vestry or Finance Committee, and I’m the Stephen Minister. I’m the guy who was employed as a church secretary for 8 years. I’m the guy who introduced my parish-wide planned giving and end-of-life-planning conversation, and I’m the guy who’s been trained as a stewardship mentor, one of nine in our diocese. I'm a guy who does stewardship.

I could've gone on, thankfully I stopped. I'm just too aware of boasting, and I'm torn about it. On the one hand if there ever was a venue for proclaiming what one person can do this would've been it. On the other hand, in a secular culture consumed and addicted to boasts and proclaimations, which I really just don't care for, I started to cross a line. Thankfully, I stopped.

Well I proclaimed thusly for it was an appropriate occasion for it: a conference supported by the church, self-selected by church attendees, to be encouraged and supported in their personal and corporate parish efforts to learn about, and hopefully, do stewardship. I don't go 'round proclaiming what I do just for my sake. I admit I do take pride in my efforts, I'm proud; please forgive me, but it's not like folks flock to me to touch the hem of my garment, thank God.

And, if you've read this far, you may wonder, OK, I forgive the boasting guy proclaiming on the street-corner, but, what is stewardship, and how do I do it, for me, and for the benefit of my church?