The Water Dragons

Nature, Pond, Magnificent Dragonflies Male, Flying

Image by Schwoaze from Pixabay

I sit in the sunshine and watch the cobalt blue dragons darting above my garden pond.  A gentle tinkling of the pond fountain as it sends shimmering streams of crystal water skyward becomes the soundtrack to which the dragonflies’ dance.  They take no notice of me as they focus upon their late summer tango.

Flitting here and there
Darting above lily-pads
Water-Dragons dance

Padre

d’Verse Haibun Monday: Insects

 

 

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The Crown vs. Impala: A Sagasius Tale

Hammer, Horizontal, Court, Justice, Right, Law

Image by succo from Pixabay 

 

Alfonso Sagasius was nervous.  He was about to prosecute his first case.  He was so freshly qualified as a barrister that he was going to enter the courtroom in a borrowed wig and gown, his not yet having arrived from the robe-makers.

His chambers were not worried however as this was a routine open and shut case.  A petty squabble between to foreign merchants that had taken an ugly turn ending in a theft and an assault.  Sir Litigious Summers KC was sure that young Alfonso was up to it.  The experience would do him good.

The facts of the case did seem straight forward enough.   A burglary had occurred in the offices of the Sealander, Lee Hong.  While not much was taken, the culprit being surprised by the arrival of the merchant’s brother, Lee Yang.  But the interloper got the drop on the middle-aged man, and left him with an egg sized whelp on the forehead.  On the pavement beneath the office, the Crest-men of the Watch found a brooch bearing the seal of the Green-landian ivory merchant Ria Impala.   It seemed circumstantial, but Lee Yang quickly asserted that it had been a dark skinned man who had assaulted him.   The Crest-men looking for a quick settling of the matter immediately arrested the ivory merchant.

One thing above all bothered Sagasius: there was no motive.  The supposed theft was of a small rosewood chest containing about a pound of ground rhino horn.   Yet Impala, though primarily an elephant ivory merchant, had nearly a hundred pound of rhino horn as a secondary commodity in his own warehouse.  This was explained away in his own brief by citing that the theft was meant to disrupt his rival, Lee’s trade.  This bothered the young barrister.  If Impala wanted to undermine Lee’s business, wouldn’t he have stolen the eighty pounds of the substance from the Sea-lander’s storehouse instead of the inconsequential amount from his office?

As the trial began, this question nagged at Sagasius more and more.  Was he on the wrong side of this question?   But duty was duty, and the law was the law.

Then it seemed to become more bizarre.  Sagasius was questioning Lee Yang when key facts of the case were being related to the court.

“Mr. Lee,” Sagasius began.  “You have told the court that you entered your brother’ office out of hours to collect a notebook you had left behind earlier in the day.  You further related that as you entered the room you went to the desk and picked up your book and started to leave.  But that before you could exit you were confronted by Mr. Impala and punched before he ran from the premises.”

“Yes, that is the case,” Lee responded.

“And you didn’t see him before he accosted you?” Sagasius questioned.

“No the room was dark, as was the Green-landian, so he was almost invisible,” Lee replied.

Sagasius raised an eyebrow at the blatantly racist statement, and then asked, “Was it so dark that a man could not be made out at all, even in the shadows?”

“Way too dark,” Lee replied.

Though Sagasius was prosecuting, his sense of justice overwhelmed him and he asked, “But light enough for you to find your notebook, and to navigate the room?”

“Well yes, I knew where the book was,” he said after a moment’s hesitation.

“But the Crest-men’s report says there were over a dozen books and scrolls on the desk.  Didn’t you bring a light to make sure you had the right book?”

“No, it wasn’t necessary, there was light from the hallway,” Lee explained uneasily.

The defense attorney capitalised on this exchange in the cross examination.  but it wasn’t until Lee Hong was interviewed that things began to really sound fishy.

“Mr. Lee,” Sagasius began, ” Was it usual for your brother to enter you offices after hours?”

“No, but it was fortuitous that he did on this occasion, or who knows what might have been taken.”

“Could you please elaborate on what was at risk?” Sagasius asked.

“Certainly, there was a bag of diamonds worth over eight hundred gold pieces in the top drawer, the same drawer the sample box rhino horn was kept in,” Lee explained.

“And what was the value of the box and horn?” the barrister asked.

“Ten, maybe twelve gold pieces,” the merchant responded.

“So the thief passed up diamonds for a mere sample of your wares?”

“It seems so,” Lee responded.

Neither Sagasius or the defense attorney had any further questions.

Next it was time to question the defendant.

“Mr. Impala, can you identify this brooch?” Sagasius asked.

“Yes, it is one of my cape closures.  It is made of carved ivory, and the pin on the reverse is made of bronze.  I sell about three dozen of them each year.  it is a profitable little item,” Impala replied.

“So it is not your personal brooch, even though it bears your seal?” the lawyer asked.

“By the gods no, my brooch is made in the shape of a gold lion with ruby eyes,” the merchant said incredulously.  “The pins are nice, but I would never wear one.”

At that there were murmurs from the gallery, some because the case was unraveling, and at least two by individuals who were quickly removing ivory brooches from their capes.

The court did not take long to acquit Impala.  Sagasius was dismissed from Summer’s chambers, but had earned the reputation of being the most honest man in the Great temple, if not in the entire Inns of Court.

Three months later, Lee Hong returned to his offices after hours to once again find his brother snooping about the desk.  The lamps were indeed lit, and it was clear that his brother was pocketing rhino horn.  Further investigation found that Lee Yang was suffering some profound “marital dysfunction,” and was dipping into the supplies of the known aphrodisiac and performance enhancer.  It was later found that on the night in question he had found the diamonds in his search for the horn, and in his excitement stood to suddenly, banging his head on the open drawer.  He passed out and fabricated the story before hiding the rosewood box under his robes.  The brooch on the pavement was indeed a coincidence.

Padre

 

The Gambler: Song Lyric Sunday

This week, Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday challenge was to come up with a song that features trains.  Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler is set in a quiet railroad carriage, and offers one perspective of facing life.  While, I am not totally in tune with the teaching of the song, I do find it moving and memorable.

 

Lyrics:
On a warm summer’s eve
On a train bound for nowhere
I met up with the gambler
We were both too tired to sleep
So we took turns a-starin’
Out the window at the darkness
The boredom overtook us,
And he began to speak
He said, “Son, I’ve made a life
Out of readin’ people’s faces
Knowin’ what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes
So if you don’t mind me sayin’
I can see you’re out of aces
For a taste of your whiskey
I’ll give you some advice”
So I handed him my bottle
And he drank down my last swallow
Then he bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light
And the night got deathly quiet
And his faced lost all expression
He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die
in your sleep
And when he finished speakin’
He turned back toward the window
Crushed out his cigarette
And faded off to sleep
And somewhere in the darkness
The gambler he broke even
But in his final words
I found an ace that I could keep
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em (when to hold ’em)
Know when to fold ’em (when to fold ’em)
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Don Schlitz
The Gambler lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Padre

Weary But Renewed Each Day

Sunset, Dawn, Nature, Mountains, Landscape, Kaçkars

Dawn – Image by RÜŞTÜ BOZKUŞ from Pixabay 

 

Daily life can be hard.  Aging can make it harder, as can illness.  We scramble to make ends meet, and all to often we try to carry on on our own.  But this is a foolish approach.  My wife Dianne discovered that early in the final stages of her cancer.  She was not Super Girl or Wonder Woman, at least not in strength and endurance.  It was at that moment of revelation and realisation* that she turned to the scripture, 2 Corinthians 4: 16 “So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day.”

It was plain to her, and should be to us, that even when we are physically strained, our spirits are lifted by He who made us.  He provides us with a renewal each and every day, this is through not only a good night of contented sleep, but through enlivening our souls with His promises, and with fellowship with our brothers and sisters.  Through prayer, time with the Word, and in our contact with those who love us in unity we are renewed.

How obvious is that, when we reflect on Jesus’ own words!

Matthew 11:28-30 tells us,  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Are we laying our burdens before God?  Or are we so ego driven that we forget the simple promise?  No man is an island it is said, but there is a Rock on which we can take refuge.

To do it alone I can but strive

But I grow more weary if in this way I strive

There is a promise to which I must hold

He will comfort give me, and lighten my load

 

We trust in our own strength

Just a bit too much

Our pride will betray us

If we cling to such

 

So let us lay our burdens down

And be renewed as we walk our way

His promises fulfilled

Day by day

 

Padre

*Dianne’s journal 9 June 2019

Bilateral

Photo courtesy of P. Allman

Security was tight.  The first bilateral meeting between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Fairie in nearly nine hundred years was about to take place on a remote island somewhere in the Northwest of England.  It was going to be a diplomatic coup for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and it would prove he could arrange trade deals in a post-Brexit world.

As the two boats were moored the shaggy haired blonde Johnson strode over to Queen Wilhelmina LVI and bowed before extending his hand for her to shake.

“Your Majesty, I am chuffed that you have agreed to this meeting,” The Prime Minister said a little too loudly.

“As am I, ” the regal Fairy responded.  “We have much to discuss.  Oh, by the way, I love your pink boat.”

Padre

Sunday Photo Fiction – Sep 29 2019

Encounter

Sun, Summer, Blue, Sky, Partly Cloudy

Pixabay

Vale laid down in the grass, hands forming a pillow under his head. The sky above was clear, non repeating, robin’s egg blue, astonishing in a thousand infinitesimal ways. There were no clouds as far as the eye could see. There was nothing at all on which to fix one’s gaze, no way to compartmentalize or digest the sheer vastness of that perfect/imperfect canvas. When looking straight up he didn’t see the stone walls or the heavy metal gate, he didn’t see the prison. He felt free and although that freedom was a self-induced delusion, it was still better than a white room clad floor to ceiling in foam.

Vale had lived at Applewhite Psychiatric Center for three years, on and off and in that time he’d changed doctors, prescriptions, and diagnoses more times than he could count. Three years was a long time in the life of a teenage boy. He was aware, painfully aware, of how much he lost/gained by being here. More than anything he was aware of all the irreplaceable memories that he would never have the chance to forge. Of course if he’d been able to live outside he wouldn’t be here. Intellectually he understood why his father had admitted him. Emotionally it was a betrayal that kept him up at night. He hadn’t actually forgiven his father and he hadn’t thanked him either. It was complicated. They were complicated. He’d sought to disassemble the boundaries of their relationship and he didn’t really know why. Teenage rebellion didn’t begin to cover his destructive tendencies. He’d went too far. He knew that now. Yet, for all that, he still hadn’t managed to crack the mask that his father wore. His father was unreachable, seemingly insensate. His mother was the same. She never visited. His father was willing to assume more responsibility. He visited at regular, if somewhat infrequent intervals. Vale needed time to prepare in between. It was easy to fall into old roles when confronted with a familiar cast. His father would visit soon. He’d marked it down in his calendar with a star.

He’d had a good week hence the free time outside. If he kept up his good behavior he could win a day pass, escort mandatory. Vale was still considered a suicide risk. He was an expert at committing suicide and resurrecting himself after. He was unexpectedly hard to kill. It had been a couple of months since his last, almost successful attempt. He’d required a blood transfusion and days in the ICU. Anything could be used as a weapon with enough ingenuity.

Suicide was about the furthest thing from his mind today. Today was a good day. He wasn’t happy exactly. The medications didn’t allow him full access to his emotions. He no longer knew how to classify his emotions because they didn’t quite feel like they belonged to him. He’d always hated it when people responded “Just fine” to “How are you?”. It struck him as being dismissive at best. Fake at worst. He hated that kind of self-aggrandizing mediocrity. Today if someone posed that same question to him he could honestly answer “Just fine.” because he was just that, no more, no less. Honestly being fine didn’t feel like he thought it would feel. He’d equated fine with a kind of loss, an emptiness and that was almost true of his current state but not quite. He could feel the wind on his skin, just a touch too cold, and a little musky with the encroachment of autumn. He could feel the sun on his face, just a touch too confronting. He could even feel the grass beneath him despite his canvas jumpsuit. He wasn’t numb and the morning was far from mediocre. He uncrossed his arms and held up his fingers in a makeshift rectangle in an effort to shrink everything down to a level that he could comprehend. He laughed out loud, letting his arms fall open. He brushed against someone’s leg and then bumped their shoe lightly. He scrambled to his feet quickly, fussed a little with his hair (not for the sake of neatness but for the sake of checking for grass, bugs, and twigs) and looked up unsure of who he would find. He’d completely lost track of time.

The man there was a stranger but somehow familiar.  He wasn’t “good-looking,” but still he drew Vale’s attention to his face.

“Why did you laugh?” the man asked.

“I – I was – happy.  But it was probably the meds,” he quickly added.

“Why not happiness for what it is?” the man asked.

“What do you mean?” Vale challenged.

“You were at peace, the sun is warm, and the sky is an unbroken blue.  Isn’t that in itself worth a little joy?” the visitor asked.

Vale felt uncomfortable with the question and tried to frame a dismissive response, but the cool breeze on his face seemed to instantly cool his annoyance as well.  And there was that look in the man’s eyes, not the patronising half concern of the doctors, but something akin to true compassion.  He blinked.

“What’s wrong?” the man asked.

“I’m okay.  No – I’m not,” he corrected. “I’m not okay, because I am really confused by what I’m feeling,” Vale admitted.

“And what is that?” the bearded figure asked.

“Well first of all – I am ‘feeling,’ the meds usually cloud that, but it is – it’s – peace.”

“Peace sounds a good feeling to me,” the man observed.

“But I never have peace,” the boy replied.  “My life.  My life, it’s like my parents – always conflicted.”

“Not all parents are conflicted.  My father is always loving,” the man replied.  “Would you like to meet him?”

The man put a hand on Vale’s shoulder and led him across the manicured lawn.  It was then that Vale saw that the stone walls and iron gates were gone.

***

In the infirmary, the doctor stepped back from Vale’s pale form.  “Looks like we have him back again.  Good work everybody.”  Vale had not attempted suicide on this occasion, but his attempt the month before had left his heart weak.  He had suffered a heart attack in the night, but the near death experience would stay with him always.  He had found peace.

 

 

Padre

 

I penned this not as a tale of the sadness for the plight of a young person (which is a tragedy), nor as a diminishing of the need for compassion and concern over those who suffer mental illness.  It is rather an affirmation that all are loved by God, no matter what toils and distresses they face in life.

Sunday Writing Prompt “Create Together”

Your Light Before Men: Nine Quotes to Remember

votive-candles-holy-sepulchre

I have known several godly people in my life.  Their gentle natures and God focused lives are even now an example to me.   Brother Dominic, a Benedictine monk and my wife Dianne shared this virtue of being lights to the world even in their overwhelming humility.

Here are several inspirational quotes on this theme, and I hope we can learn to live them.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5: 14-15).”

Letting our light shine, or more exactly letting God’s light shine through us is not a matter of purposeful religiosity.  The Scribes and Pharisees had that.  It is more living in relationship with God, and the Spirit will shine through you.  It isn’t pretense, it is surrender.

‘If God is the centre of your life, no words are necessary. Your mere presence will touch hearts’ Vincent de Paul.  De Paul captured the idea of Matthew 5 well.  Our very actions speak to others.  “Godly is and Godly does.”

And our actions are not meant to be for the purpose of the thanks or praise of men.  Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Colossians 3:23).”  Remember it’s about our relationship with God.

But again, this isn’t about religious showiness.  It was phrased well my Martin Luther,  “The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”   Just as it said in Colossians, not for man, not for ritual, but truly for God.

Our walking the walk, will nevertheless impact others.  In fact, our lives may well be the only introduction to God some people ever receive.  Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me,” D.L. Moody said.   We are read, and scrutinised.  Billy graham worded it this way,  We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.”

This principle is biblical.  Paul reminded the Corinthians that,  “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. . . . (2 Corn 5:20).”

So, More depends on my walk than talk” –  D.L. Moody.

But again, this is not artificial, it is about relationship and dedication to the Lord.

As Shannon Adler put it, “Hide yourself in God, so when a man wants to find you he will have to go there first.”  Drawing others to God, now that’s letting your light shine indeed!

Padre

Old Fagin

Old Fagin was a sly old bird.  In his youth he had been a prince among thieves.  But now his eyes were dim, and his back and wings sore.  But as I have said, he was sly.  Rather than forage for himself, he had collected a group of young birds around him.  It was they who took the risks now, and in exchange for his tutelage and “protection,” they supplied his every need.

But how did an old magpie attract such a loyal following?  You see, Fagin unlike his fellow magpies did not eat the eggs or kill the young of smaller birds.  No, he took them to his perch and there nurtured them.  His retinue now consisted of twits, sparrows, and robins – each able to move unobtrusively as they robbed the nests and roosts of others.  None would see the coming of the harbinger of their misfortune.   I told you he was a sly old bird.

Padre

Thursday photo prompt: Harbinger #writephoto

 

Truth Hurts

two man and woman holding cups on tables

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

John sat quietly at the table trying to work up his nerve.  Arlene knew something was up, but gave him the time he needed.

Abruptly he said, “Arly, I have something to tell you,” tears welling in his eyes.

She sat stoically waiting for what she knew was going to be bad news.  My God, please not an affair, she thought bracing herself.

“They are cutting shifts at the plant,” he said.  “And I agreed to take a third cut in hours and pay in order to keep the job,” he sniffed.

Before she could say anything, he continued.  “I am so sorry, Arly.  I know you were looking forward to the holiday, but truth is I have had to cancel it.  It’s going to be so hard to even keep up with the mortgage.  Truth is that this is killing me, I can’t stand letting you down.  I can try to find an extra job and make it up to you.”

Arlene reached out and grasped his hand. “Sweetie, you haven’t let me down.  I love you and that’s a truth that should never hurt.”

Padre

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Truth That Never Hurts

 

 

 

The Stand Still

Things were rather desolate now.  Public transport was halted, offices empty, tables un-served.

All because of blind political policies and the clash of ideologies.

Yes, the high-born, privately educated premier had an agenda: wealth and privilege must be preserved.

The opposition leader and his trade union supporters similarly demanding the rights of the common folk.  “Resign,” they demanded.

Thus do ultimatums lead.

Padre

 

Weekend Writing Prompt #125 – Ultimatum

FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: WEEK #39