Song of the South: Unsought Answer

As we talk about learning to embrace our struggles, temptations, and trials not as enemies but as potential teachers on our journey, I can’t but help think of my own journey to learn this lesson.  I recently wrote a poem about this experience, which I hope opens you up to this process in your own life.

Your progressive redneck preacher,


Unsought Answer

storm cloud

Sitting, as I am apt to do, upon my porch

I hear the music of the rain

It falls all around,

unceasing as time,

ever-present as breath.

I breathe.

I not only smell that freshness of rain

but taste ozone, electric upon my tongue.


Hearing you, storm, I am amazed.

You sound like earthquakes on the San Andreas fault,

your unending vibration shaking ceiling above

causing wall and window to rattle.


rain on tin roof

You are as violent as the rat-a-tat of guns

echoing like bombs being blown up at Fort Bragg, the background music of my boyhood,

sung by someone else’s sons and daughters

being taught war like it was hide and seek,

some game to play with friends,

not the terror that stalks by night

which, like a monster under your bed,

is always there, just outside the corner of your eye,

even when every gun is laid down.


Yet, unlike that specter of war

those returned soldiers described to me,

the sound of you, storm, does not steal my sleep.

Rather, it quiets my soul,

causing me to sleep like a babe in his mother’s arms.

Your water music rocks me,

a lullaby to my battered heart,

baptizing me with new life.



I cannot help but think of when

Jesus and his own lost boys

went out upon deep waters

and how, silly storm, you put him to sleep,

while they woke in terror to your song.


It teaches me, though I do not want to hear,

that the difference is not what pummels my walls

but how I listen to its song.


boat in storm

I remember your voice

when rain did not assault my window

but heartache was the wind howling through my world

and the trees of my hidden grove shook

so their leaves rattled

their bark broke.


At first I too shook with terror,

a little boy lost amidst tangling vine,

certain you meant me doom.

Then, for a second, something shifted

and in your storm, without it ceasing,

I felt a stillness beyond the roaring noise,

a cool breeze within your unending gale.


pentecost sermon

In that moment, like the crowd upon whom the tongues of fire alighted,

suddenly what sounded like threatening babble clearly whispered my name.

I heard your voice.


Now, once threatening shadow,

I know your name too:  “Teacher”




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