Climb Every Mountain

Climb Every Mountain. I love that song and the movie; and I love mountains. I never got into rock climbing, but I’ve backpacked many mountain trails and ridden horses on a few.

My first mountain was Lake Superior’s pre-glacial shoreline. It towered 300 feet above my childhood home. Like the bear in a ditty Mother sang to me, I longed to climb the mountain, to see what I could see. I was about eight when neighbor John Stai hiked me to the top. Like the bear, all I saw was the other side of the mountain—unbroken woods stretching north.

I couldn’t imagine then my job one day would take me to mountains across the land. My more pious colleagues accused me of goofing off. They are all dead now, while I sit here, revelling in the mystery of providence. Every wilderness trip seemed to fulfill a special purpose for one or more persons.

That terrified lad, separated from his father atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, lost in a whiteout cloud. His words at the evening campfire still enrich my memory.

Box Y Ranch,Wyoming. Three brave campers climb the mountainside to sleep under the stars. Darkness falls and coyotes begin to yip. Flashlights trace a wandering path to our base camp. And the boy and his first trout. Cap Matt and the kids will never forget.

Leaders ending a training backpack trip in the Oregon Cascades rain forest. A liberal PH.D candidate officiates; a fundamentalist youth pastor serves. We break chunks off a smoky fire-baked bannock and drink Grape Kool-Aid from our tin cups. Tears of bonding flow.

The weary hike to Twisp Pass in the Western Cascades, another man’s pack on my back. Riders and mule pack train long gone.  The flash in the dark; a boy on fire, his face blackened. His father’s song of surrender. And the lonely night in my tent, shaken by near tragedy. Why am I doing this?

That all happened 50 years ago. Now I know why.

Old Grandpa Lloyd





Echoes of Lincoln

Thanks to those who labored through the Lincoln poem. I planned just a few lines for Lincoln’s birthday, but The Girl from 313 insisted on the whole works. Knowing where my supper comes from, I obeyed.

While working with the poem, I read Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings. The novel moved me like no other book of recent memory. Maybe we need to rethink foundational issues of our faith.

How in God’s name could any Christian endorse slavery? Yet hordes of Christian Americans owned slaves from colonial times to the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation freed four million slaves.
Christians fought and died to defend the practice, citing the Bible.

Slave-holders and abolitionists roared texts at one another. Yes, Old and New Testament God-followers held slaves. Jesus and Paul did not condemn slavery, though Paul admonished owners to treat bondservants (slaves) kindly, while he required slaves to respect their masters and give them fair value. On one occasion, Paul sent a runaway slave back to his master.

Slavery was horrible beyond description. Read Kidd’s gut-wrenching book. Yet, Steven Foster’s happy-Darkies myth (My Old Kentucky Home) lives on.

Do Old and New Testament cultural norms set the pattern for us? If so, women, remain silent in the church. If you have questions, ask Hubby at home. Sure would have been quiet in some churches I served had the women not spoken up. I can’t measure the spiritual insights I gained from godly women.

John R. Rice, fundamentalist evangelist of a generation back, wrote Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Woman Preachers. He was firmly against them, though he accommodated other stuff Paul opposed. A life-time railer against Hollywood, when TV came on, don’t bother him during Gunsmoke

lavery is found in virtually all cultures through history. Black agents sold Africans to slave traders. Free Blacks in America bought slaves. today, Bible-thumping occupants of pulpit and pew seek to enslave others to their way of thinking. Puppet Christians.

We need to rethink the nature of scripture, and what following Jesus really means.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Song of a Man and a Land, Part Four

This concludes the story poem of American’s greatest president. Lincoln was more than story and myth—he confronted the nitty-gritty of life. You may want to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln embraced those who opposed him, drawing on their strengths. Would that today’s politicians would learn from him.

But it is not a hymn or camp meeting song
Or a mighty anthem I hear,
But a martial air, hot oratory,
The reticent marching of fear.
The retching cry of my child-State,
Sick with the gall of her slaves,
These are the sounds that fall on my ear
As Abe takes the President’s chair.

Half slave half free? Secede! Secede!
The boom of the guns of Fort Sumter.

I watched from a mountain my people make war.
Homes torn, lands ravaged, men fell.
I grew sick from the stench of Andersonville
And the northern dungeons of hell.
Spades ripped my sod. The weight of the dead!
Men hid their shame in my soil.

Then peace. No, not peace, war never brings peace,
But a stupor before the next conflict.
Abe, tired, faced the task of mending his land,
But one shot was yet to be fired.
The last soldier to die in that most tragic war
Was the man from the cabin of logs.

Death-felled, yet Abe Lincoln stood tall,
North and South lowered flags that day.
The Union reborn in hearts called to mourn,
They wore blue coats and gray.
A dirge from the South, a moan from the mouth
Of the people Abe Lincoln set free.
Men gathered the Clod, turned back the sod,
My earth folded close, Abe was gone.

From the north Arctic snow to the summer green South,
One flag, Abe’s flag, was unfurled,
To remember God’s clod, a new kind of man,
In a new kind of land in the world.
A mingling of earth and faith and breath,
Wrought by God for the dark and the fair,
From bold hybrid seeds, of hymn tunes and creeds,
Of courage, daring and prayer.
In the Man, in the Land, see the Book and the Cross.
Don’t lose them, freedom lies there.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Song of a Man and a Land, Part Three

More than a tribute to Lincoln, this long narrative in verse tells America’s story. In this day of poisoned politics, we need reminders. With all her flaws, this is our beloved land. Part three:

My valleys caressed and returned to the blest
In echo the song of the camp.
No lark sang so well as the music that fell
On the air in the night by the river.
A penitent wept at a hand-hewn bench,
Seeking peace with the price of tears.
Camp meeting seeds, swept by faith’s breeze,
Added their worth to the hybrid.

The Cross, the Book, and the man who found God,
Tore down the gross pride of high birth.
Freedom’s cup filled, slowly filled,
To bathe the new Nation with might.
A land of the free! A home of the brave!
Almost, almost, but not quite.

A sore marred the health of the fledgling State,
A people come not by choice;
Bowed with a chain, dark children of pain,
They bore bitter seeds and a voice.
From the hold of foul ships;
Fettered, naked, for sale.
A cancer arose in my throng.
Their anguish-born prayer
From hearts torn with care,
Moses surely soon must come ‘long!
Labor and suffer, weep and more toil,
Dark seeds of shame in my soil.

Now, three hundred years since the white man came
To mingle bloods in my land,
The seeds sown and grown and sown yet again swell.
Nolen Creek, Kentucky.
Tom Lincoln paces. Nancy travails.
A cabin of logs hears the cry!
Moses? Aaron? No, Abraham!
Tom could scarce lift his eye.
An uncomely babe, new-born Abe,
But a son, the darling of Nancy.

Now kings are born on palace beds,
Lords from the ranks of peerage.
Caesars inherit the toga of power,
The garland festooned brow;
Abe? Abe was a clod, born to the sod,
His hope lay in the plow.

Yet the soil Indiana then Illinois
Betrayed a mystic rare fragrance.
The straw Abe chewed, the rail he hewed,
Nourished and wrought a wonder.
Abe jumped and wrestled, he swung his axe.
Abe listened and thought and read.
He learned of a Book left behind by poor Nancy.
No longer poor, now dead.
And the Clod caught the echo of dead Nancy’s prayer
For her cabin-born, uncomely waif.
From the fruit of the seeds of three centuries,
Prayer distilled a sweet wine of life.

Rough Abe drank deeply this nectar of God
And allowed he was more than a clod.
The boy stood tall and became a man,
Taller than men around him.
He stood so tall, he looked one day
To see the White House before him.

To be concluded…

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Song of a Man and a Land, Part Two

I find the Song of a Man and a Land will require three more parts to stay with desire to stay with Hole News length limits. Lots of busy readers out there. Long posts don’t fly. Here’s part two:

Treasure and Empire, the hunger for fame
Lured Old World men to me,
But another kind came with a Book and a song.
They spoke of a Man and a Tree.
They clung hard to life, but many died
Building homes where men could be free.
Free? Idle dream, Old World men,
Yet a seed of promise for me.

Freedom swelled in the heart of one, Roger Williams,
He thrust the seed deep in good soil.
In Rhode Island earth lay hope for new birth,
Ancestral seed for Abe Lincoln.

More nations sent their ships to my coasts
And spewed on my shores ten thousand.
I shuddered to see the plunder and waste
Of my creatures and their homeland.
Forests fled. Plows ripped the sod.
I saw my wild beauty fade
As timid hamlets grew bold,
Stretched their bounds to be cities,
Then spilled out the hardy beyond
My mountain defense toward the Great River.
Boone and more of his kind.

From the North Hampton pulpit Of Jonathan Edwards,
A tide swept down the land.
Wesley flint, Whitefield steel,
Gospel fire, God’s command.
A light in the night of gospel decline,
New seeds for the needs of mankind.

My soil spawned a hybrid, hardy and bold,
A blending of spirit and might.
Ideas more daring than men ever dreamed
Put British Redcoats to flight,
But the time was not right for Abe Lincoln.

Then I opened my gates and the people poled
Their flatboats down the Ohio.
The rafts bore scant goods,
But their hearts bore great hope,
Nourished by seeds from Rhode Island.
Man’s worth as a man. Man’s right to be free.
The stalk and the branch of that hybrid.

I watched the frontier push westward and north.
A man rode out on his circuit.
A thousand miles he rode alone,
To marry and bury and comfort.
He fought demon rum, the Devil and greed.
His Bible, his prayer, his sermon more seed,
The leaf and the bud of the hybrid.

He summoned his flock
From woodlands and fields;
They came, child and man, saint and sinner.
I swept clear the skies that the great moon might rise
On the camp meeting hard by the river.

The tapping of feet to a staunch gospel beat;
Glory shouts rose to heaven; dulling the ear
To the chill cadence of fear already finding its rhythm.

Part Three tomorrow…

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Song of a Man and a Land: Part One

This long narrative verse was born long ago as a Lincoln’s birthday TV special in Anchorage featuring a remarkable group of teens. The idea kept gnawing at me, and slowly grew. Because of its length, I’ll post it in three parts.

I am the nation that gave to the world
The man who is called Abe Lincoln.
I watched legend born in fire-lit books,
River rafts, the smooth shovel slate.
Quiet myth, gaunt truth,
The sad portrait speaks of Lincoln, Head of State.

Abe Lincoln and I are some alike,
A hybrid, a mingling of seeds.
The tall rebel man who freed other men
And the Nation most nearly free.
Note well this mingling of seeds in the land
That sent the tall man to his task,
Else tyrants will rule over slaves anew.
Even now some drink from death’s flask.

Abe Lincoln’s kind was not known in the world
When men first walked my valleys;
Not among my copper-skinned tribes
Or the people of distant lands,
Where the rich were born to riches,
And the poor to servitude.

My first people lived in shadowed days,
With crude tools and simple ways:
Hogans, wigwams, and mystic longhouses;
Shrill cries, soft chants,
The drums and the dance
To call men to war and to hunt.
I found no Lincoln among them.

Then, a west-blowing breeze brings to the lea
The sea-weary Santa Maria,
With a new kind of folk, milk-skinned and bold,
Who call my people Indians
They send more ships to probe my coasts,
To explore each river and bay.
They leave on my beach men, cargo, and guns,
And the ships sail eastward, away.

Red man stalks white man.
Death stalks them both.
There was no wise chief to guide them.

The white man came lusting for wealth,
His passion: power and treasure.
Before him I lay, a new world to gain,
But empire and gold were his pleasures.
He robbed my people,
They fought back and killed.
Red women trembled in wonder
That the sure arrow’s whisper so soon was hushed
By the musket’s deadly thunder.

The Old World men unfurled gaudy flags,
And plunged their staffs in my soil,
Claiming the land for England or France,
For Spain or Portugal.
This dull people dared to think
That man can own a land!
Dull indeed. Did they not know?
The land possesses man?

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Where Have All the Emails Gone?

Time was, my Inbox hosted a bunch of personal notes each day. Now they are rare, fled to Facebook. I was ten years late getting a computer–I had published a million words the hunt and peck way; who needed a word processor —a passing fad?
Then Hole News readers took to posting my stuff on Facebook, drawing hits from strangers, and adding a hundred Hole News subscribers in a few weeks. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. Will www wonders ever cease?
I value Facebook friends, both kindly and the critic. I premised the Hole News on Longfellow–I shot an arrow into the air. Love that poem. You never know when an arrow will lodge in a hurting heart.
Good enough for me.
Old Grandpa Lloyd

Divine Reciprocity

This Hole News mini-series began with a question: What is the most valuable lesson learned in the last decade? Psalm 37:7 sums it up nicely: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not…” I also learned about divine reciprocity. Creator God looks after a huge family, fulfilling needs in remarkable ways.

While I was in Tucson, frustrated out of my sox by my failed search for a Duluth apartment,  a woman named Norma was pleading with God for someone to talk to, someone who shared her broad interests. She tended the library at Duluth’s Woodland Garden Apartments, a HUD Section 8 rent-assisted facility.

Reciprocity set in. Providence transported me, an avid book guy, to Woodland Garden, apartment 313, immediately west of the spacious library. I soon made friends with the librarian and long evening conversations began. Before long, we moved beyond books and discovered several other common interests, including family origins. .

Norma’s ancestors came from a community it Finland just up the coast from my ancestors’ village. When our ancestors emigrated to America in the late 1800s, they settled in adjoining Northwest Wisconsin townships. Norma had attended youth activity in the church my kin built.

As months passed, the age difference between us dissolved and we discovered additional connections between us. Our friendship grew. Norma and I now convene each morning to discuss what’s for supper at her apartment, right after Jeopardy and the news.

Wonders continue to enrich my days; I am as content as ever I have ever been in my 93 years. I plan to hang around a while longer to see how all this turns out.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


When God Says Shush

This is a twice-told tale. If you read it before, you are excused.

I’m in Tucson, my third winter with son Joel and wife Sue. I’m working on a new adventure: living alone for the first time in my 88 years. I’m searching the web and talking by phone with Senior Services in Duluth, where I choose to live.

My limited income requires a HUD Section 8 rent-assisted apartment and my search turns up a meager selection. I can’t imagine a downtown high-rise. Other facilities just don’t grab me. Then, pay dirt. I fist-pump a Hallelujah!

I had come upon a studio apartment in my old home area. It’s walking distance from everything I need. Only one room and a bath, a mite tight, but is will do. I grab the phone but get answer service. I explain my circumstances and request an application. Days pass, then a sheaf of government forms comes. I labor over the forms and return them special delivery.

I wait three edgy weeks, then I get a one-page reply: application denied. Your net income exceeds the HUD maximum by $198 a year. Unless your income decreases or deductions increase, you do not qualify. I phone the manager, thinking I may have missed a deduction. I get the answer machine again. A week passes. Not a whisper. I fire off a pleading email and follow it with a letter.

Now May is fading and Tucson is getting hot. I grumble to God. What’s going on? I know that’s the right apartment for me! I’m convinced God has let me down.

Meanwhile, in Duluth, at Woodland Garden Apartments (a HUD facility never mentioned by Senior Services) the librarian has been praying five years for someone to talk to; someone who shares her interests.

Throughout the search, I shared my needs with Duluth daughter Sally. One day, she shared my plight with friends.  Someone said, “He should try Woodland Garden.” Sally hunted out the facility, talked with manager Jill, and mailed me mailed me information and application papers. I loved what I saw and apologized to God. He said shush; leave it to me.

Stay tuned.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Don’t Bug God

Another year about shot—a really good one for this geezer. Next year, who knows? But this I know: the day you stop learning, you start dying.

Body cells constantly renew themselves, sustaining life. Idea cells depend on you. Brain-dead folks are content to complain, fulfill appetites, and pursue amusement; always staving off boredom. I rely on three fountains to keep my brain refreshed: books, conversation, and pondering.mazon and our Woodland Garden library provide quality books faster than I can read them. I generally have two or three going, matching reading to mood.

Norma (the girl from 313) and Clyde Rogers (Sage of Juniata Street) , along with casual encounters, supply conversation. Clyde and I can easily burn three hours at Dunn Brothers or Sunshine Café sipping cold coffee and solving world problems.

Most mornings about eight, Norma stops by. The first issue: what’s for supper? Then whatever comes to mind. Yesterday we got into the Reformation and Martin Luther (Norma’s strong on Luther). We agreed he and the Church should apologize to Galileo for scorning his declaration that planet Earth revolved around the sun. Within recent years, the church apologized, but Luther, like many of us, stuck with Church teaching.

My ponder fountain flows during in-between moments and sleepless night hours. Like a ruminant, I digest the brain food of the day. Now and then, the past slips in. The other night, I retreated to my lounge chair. I eyed my museum living room and shuddered. How close I came to missing Woodland Garden! Somehow, that segued into vital life lessons. My most important lesson learned in the past decade was, never bug God when you don’t get your way.

I’ll tell you about that soon.

Old Grandpa Lloyd