First Snow

And so, the summer sighs and turns away,

its once green leaves alight in bright farewell.

One final fire before their dull decay.

One final wave before they curled and fell.

The time has come for frost, for geese in flight;

their lonely shouts and silent, throbbing wings.

Dark, crooked branches etch the brooding night.

A quiet withering of summer things.

Meadows sway and bow and fade to white;

A silvering of every blade and flower.

Edged by the piercing gleam of warmthless light,

a frozen kiss to mark their final hour.

Pond’s trilling chorus stills, to silence yields.

Forsaken gardens and forgotten vines.

Night winds moaning over empty fields;

Each stem, a hollowed bone of gentler times.

All melt into the sober, aching earth.

All fall before the stony rule of snow.

The end we saw afar even from birth

must come and every mortal thing must go.

Thoughts about October 7

You couldn’t bear to watch, and it would be dangerous to try. Some things are better left unseen. To know them might be the end of you.

And so, we do not watch. We avoid pictures of the raped, murdered, burned, and beheaded because no sane person can bear to see such things.

This is the nature of cruelty. It transcends debate. It sickens and stains the witness. It screams what we can hardly bear to remember: That evil is real. That evil is among us.

The rancid stench of evil cannot be disguised, and so it is hidden by those who have developed a taste for it and evaded by those who have not. Cruelty creates a strange partnership between the sane, who cannot bear to see, and the cruel, who do not want to be seen. Those who would expose heinous evil have two enemies and no allies. No one wants it known.

The cover-up of evil is also evil, and that evil is among us. We stand aside as Americans tear down photos of hostage Jews and blame the victims for their own mutilation.

This feels like a kick in the gut because our guts, though less discerning than our minds, are less easily fooled. America, which did much to end the holocaust, now does much to excuse it.

This did not happen suddenly. For years, we stood aside as abortion supporters tore down photos of severed children, falsified their suffering, and blamed them for their own mutilation. America, which claimed all men are created equal, now assumes we are created with no value at all.

It’s the pictures that prove it – our disgust at the cruelty of evil, our readiness to let others hide what we cannot bear to see. But we have seen, and we know, and to let these cruelties stand would be the end of us.

Children For Sale

A new movie makes the astounding claim that “God’s children are not for sale.” That’s a nice thought, but, of course, it’s not true. Children are for sale and have been for some time.

More than 50 years ago, our nation decided that children are not people – with natural rights and value – but property to be managed as others see fit. And so, if children are now being offered for sale – kidnapped and forced into prostitution – one might ask if this is so different from our long custom of allowing children to be destroyed or sold for spare parts.

Slavery is slavery. The identities and injuries of the enslaved do not matter, only the appetites of their owners. If we don’t like what slavery does, we must bring an end to slavery.

But first, we must ask if we want slavery to end, and the answer might be No. Our culture is rooted in its principles, no less than the culture of the old South once was. We want to decide who has value, who is a person in the full sense of the word, and who we will not protect.

There is nothing about the sexual enslavement of children that requires a new principle. It’s not worse than abortion and infanticide; it’s just harder to look at. It’s just the shock of, for a moment, seeing ourselves in the mirror.

If we don’t like what slavery does, we must bring an end to slavery, and this will require a revolution as profound as America’s first revolution. It will begin with the humble confession that everyone is created with equal value and endowed – not by the State – but by our Creator with the right to life and liberty.

Our founders understood what we have already forgotten. The children of God are not for sale, but the children of Man generally are.

As If He Knew

I touch his face, and the white cloth comes back red.

I saw him last on Sunday; the whole city saw him – the quiet eye at the center of a storm. The crowds thundered, and the ground shook with their celebration, but even then, I saw a quiet sadness in his face, as if he knew…

Well, the crowds are gone, though their shouts still ring in my ears. I see their faces – the rich and poor, distorted first by joy and then rage in this week of madness. And now, there is only silence.

I lean over him in the dim room, bend to untangle thorns from his hair, and my lungs fill with the sweet, musky scent of perfume – a strange tang of beauty among all this ruin. My friend returns with fresh water, and we begin again, our fine clothes now spattered, our soft hands stained with his blood.

I shouted, too, that day. I had been watching him for months, amazed, and could not help feeling that, against all odds, things had finally come right. That all our misery had been swallowed up into something larger – something we heard was coming but had lost the power to believe.

Well, tears running down my face, I finally believed. I shouted alongside the rich and the poor, my face hijacked by a joy I could not contain.

But it had been wrong after all, and here we are.

He looks ten years older than yesterday, withered and wrung. His hands frozen in a cramp of agony, flesh torn from his back. The five gaping holes where life drained out.

I watched it all. I made myself watch – the gut-wrenching cruelty, the pain flashing across his face. But somehow, they did not win. He did not break. He did not even seem surprised. Every humiliation and misery their mean little minds could think of. Every dirty little insult our own people could spit at him… He took it all and gasped, “Forgive them.”

When it was finally over, I hurried to the governor’s mansion, no longer caring what the other rulers would think. Pilate gave me an evil look and snarled, “So, you’re one of them. Well, you got your wish. Now, what do you want?” His face changed when I told him.

I took his written order to the centurion at the cross. He looked up to the body, then back at me.

“You were his friend?” he asked, with a strange expression.

“Yes,” I stammered, thinking how little I deserved that title.

He called for a ladder and helped me take him from the cross, staring for a moment into Jesus’ face and lowering him to me with surprising tenderness.

It struck me again how Jesus changed us. All of us. Some hated him, and some loved, and some were just confused, but we all changed in one way or another.

Well, his wounds are clean now, and the cool, stone tomb smells of spice and fresh linen. Nicodemus leans over him one last time, whispers, “I’m sorry”, and a tear splashes on the gentle, wounded face.

What was it John called him? The lamb of God… He was gentle, yes, but I met a few of the people Jesus healed. I tasted bread and fish he pulled from thin air. I talked to Lazarus, who he raised from the dead. I held Jairus’ sweet daughter in my own arms. I felt the earth shake when he suffered, and I watched the sky go black.

This was no lamb. No force on earth could bind him, not all of Rome’s legions. And yet he was bound. And he bled. And he lies here, dead.

The blood of lambs is taken, but this man’s blood was given, and an urgent thought stirs in me. A memory. A question. The lamb of God, the old book predicted, “pierced for our rebellion and crushed for our sins… whipped so we could be healed.”

And suddenly, I see it. We celebrated the right man for the wrong reason. This – this! – is what it means to be Messiah: The rightful king, broken for us. This was our punishment, not his – laid on him, our hero, who, even in his agony, forgave us.

We stumble out, exhausted and grieving, just as temple guards arrive with orders to seal the tomb. With a flourish of authority and style, they shoo us away and roll a great stone in front of the door, forgetting that God is on the other side.


Surely he took up our pain

and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

-Isaiah 53: 4-5

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.

-Luke 23:50-54

He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.

-John 19:39

Reviewer comments for “A Different Kind of Sky”

One of the best books I’ve ever read. Such a captivating story…


Started to read at 11 p.m. last night. Finished it at 5 a.m. this morning. Bad idea but well worth the loss of sleep.


Such a descriptive narrative. Well thought out and expertly written. I feel like I just lived life alongside Mike… There is so much depth and richness in the storytelling that I didn’t want it to end.


This book had me laughing and crying. It was an emotional read full of wonder, hope, and sadness.


I found myself experiencing side-splitting laughter, bouts of deep, heartfelt grief, and curious excursions into the overwhelming vastness of human existence, confronting the age-old questions: How is it that humans exist, and for what purpose?


The characters feel like real people. The storyline contains a solid mix of humor, sadness, suspense, and drama.


This book was really hard to put down. The character development by the author draws you into the story, making you feel a strong connection to their life’s journey. Excellent book for a club as the depth is well beyond a surface discussion of life, faith, joy, tragedy, etc. Can not wait for more from this author!

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