Come Aside and Hear

Come Aside and Hear

Prayer of St. Gregory of Nyssa

O Lord, from You flows true and continual kindness.  You had cast us off and justly so, but in Your mercy You forgave us.  You were at odds with us, and You reconciled us.  You had laid a curse on us, and You blessed us.  You had banished us from the garden, and You called us back again.  You took away the fig leaves that had been an unsuitable garment, and You clothed us in a cloak of great value.  You flung wide the prison gates, and You pardoned the condemned.  You sprinkled clean water on us, and You washed away the dirt.

Make The Soap

Dig deep the spade, coconut oil mounding

Measure it ounce by every ounce, exact

Olive oil, ladled slip and splashy

ounce by every ounce, exact

Be it palm oil, orange and greasy, be it tallow

Rendered by hand, not easy

Be it lard, creamy and bright white

The fats, the oils, are heating

and ready.  Shea?  Okay.  Castor oil too.

For bubbles, for lather, for this and for that,

There’s a science here, for utilizing fat.

Hold your breath now, don gloves and goggles


the Instigator, the chemical catalyst, the danger in it all.

Bringing that pure water up to 200° lickety-split,

Caustic enough to eat through metal, to blind on contact

There’s always a hush of awe and

much respect and caution,

Time to make this new thing.

Lye water poured into warm oils

Sliding down across the bottom of the pot like an underwater river

See it turning white?  That’s saponification and

never was such a big word so fun.

Yeah, we hang our be-goggled faces over the pot and watch the chemical reaction.

We ooh and ahh like we’re watching fireworks.

We’re seeing the molecules being stripped and the oils turning into salts

and glycerin and this is soap’s beginning.

All that clear fluid turns creamy white and I can’t help but smile,

my cheekbones lifting my chemical goggles.  Adjust.

Stick blender whirring, we give the chemical reaction

a huge shove forward, molecules crashing, soap happening.

It’s like a thin pudding now

Essential oils are dribbled in, herbs, root powders, seeds,

honey from our lovely bees.

Blend again and we have fragrant, beautiful pudding.

Pouring that mass into molds of all shapes and sizes,

some big slabs

some round columns

and we can’t stop smelling the air

and smiling.

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*our soaps are available for purchase here:  lancastersoapco

Startling Night

Where goes that startling night

Fireflies rising

And the dew hovering uncertain over the grass

Years and years of summers

Shifting light, morning, noon


Hours slip by as water, water in the stream swift-flowing, irretrievable

Here and then


The coolness remains

The night, the startling night

with fireflies rising.shortstory6

Dear Church

Dear Church

There were men made old by time only

Thoughts and eyes clear and seeing

And soft wives sitting beside them

Their whole form a delicate sigh.

They’d talk and life moved in ordered ways

And no one refused a piece of cherry pie because of gluten.

Their lives had breathing room

Twinkies didn’t bear a load of guilt, bad parenting, toxicity, nor politics. They were a dessert.  Go figure.

You could be sure when the new dad proclaimed “It’s a boy!” that it was a statement and not a guess.

Every pillar hadn’t been rattled yet

Every ancient belief hadn’t been shouted down and reviled.

They didn’t know the darkness their grandchildren would know

But they see it now

Their breath catches

and they see it now.

How the public square isn’t a square at all, no straight lines, no corners,

A circle, a smooth circle where the idea can echo back to itself forever without a stray hit nor odd angle.

All edges were curved, see, by force, see, and the corners bashed inward.

It took time but mostly we were asleep, the church snoring loudest.

We awoke to the circle and some cried out

and the man and his wife shake their gray heads

and watch Jeopardy.


I am angled,

I am not easy, and I am not asleep.

Dear church, Go and sin no more.

Sleep no more, die no more.

Be shaped by the cross, by the Word made flesh


be shaped by the world,

by the circle that will smile on you and pat your ever-yessing head


give up the name then;

don’t drag that beautiful, loaded name through that mud. Christian, little Christ.

Be honest,

fully, if you’d rather be smiled at than mocked


give up the name.

Bread, Butter, Coffee, Joy

broken4It never takes all that much

to fill the soul to over-brimming

spilling joy

if levels be near the top; if the depths have risen.

But to that one

with empty cavern yawning

all good things fall soundlessly

to an imperceptible bottom.

Swallowed without digestion.

Oh, dear one

here I glory in my bread



and baby’s sounds

while your tears fall on a sunny day right steady.

I would tilt my overflowing heart

and spill it into your famished one

but it doesn’t work that way, does it?


Knees hit the floor and the ache in them is a holy pain.

“Fill, Father, where emptiness

and misery

and darkness reign.”

When He fills, dear one

you’ll know it


the startling green of an everyday leaf

the song that water sings meandering into the gutter

how the wind glides over your bare arms

as a caress

the shock of joy over simple bread and coffee

Almost like an assault upon your senses

the world in all it’s common beauty

smells, scenes, faces, all

is lit within, see it?

We were meant for such living, even

East of Eden

Even through a glass darkly.

Such is His signature, see it?