Some Thoughts – From My Perspective of a Soup Can

Once upon a time, there were two philosophers: William Toppingham, and Archibald Siderwick. Both philosophers had their own ideas, and both had numerous followers.

The Toppingheimers believed that they were superior, as they always looked at every issue from up above, believing that a bird’s eye view would bring every problem into clear perspective.

The Siderwickians believed that wisdom was on their side, as they took a more “grounded” approach, looking at issues from various sides (but never from up above, as they didn’t want to be seen as foolish Toppingheimers)

One day, a young child asked a simple question: “what shape is a soup can?” His Toppingheimer father said, “It’s a circle”. But his Sidewickian uncle (who happened to be visiting at the time) said, “that’s ridiculous. It’s clearly rectangular!” The visit had been going well, up until that point, but this simple question put the two brothers at odds. Before too long, the uncle left, and the child still did not have a satisfactory answer

The two brothers each took the question to their mentors, and each was confirmed in his answer. Toppingham said “circle”, and Siderwick said “rectangle.”

Within a few days, the argument had been taken up by the masses. The Toppingheimers staged protests and demonstration, the Sidewickians resorted to insults and name-calling. It wasn’t too long before the first rocks were thrown (both sides blamed the other side for starting it), and ultimately, blood flowed in the streets.


Maybe my story is silly, but I think my point is clear: it’s surprisingly hard to look at an issue from someone else’s perspective. Who was right in my story? Both…and neither. From one angle, a soup can is a circle…from another, it’s a rectangle, but viewed from all angles, it’s clear that neither point of view is completely accurate.

We live in a divided world. The current “soup can” is a virus, and we all are looking at the issue from one of 2 or 3 perspectives. I have my own point of view on the matter…and I have my reasons. I firmly believe that my way of seeing the issue is logical, rational, intelligent, and correct. But guess what? Those who hold opposing views also firmly believe that their way of seeing things is logical, rational, intelligent and correct. Who’s ultimately right? Probably, to some degree, the holders of both views. Who is wrong?…probably to an even greater extent, both camps. Maybe the answer to who’s right should be: “Who cares? Let’s find some common ground and start behaving like civilized human beings once again!”


Even while writing this, I must confess that I still find it hard to see past my own nose to look into the eyes of someone who holds a different viewpoint than me. I still find myself so blinded by my own desire to be right that I can’t see how I could possibly be wrong. So if you find yourself in the same room as me, and I get upset with you because, “I’m right and you’re wrong”, please be patient with me. This whole process of seeing things from someone else’s point of view is something I’m still working on…but I’m trying. I only ask that you try too. Hopefully before too long, we’ll all learn to get along again.

Shepherds: Part 5 – Bethlehem (Christmas Day)

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. -Lk 2:16-18, NIV

All at the same time they began to talk
“Let us go and do as the angel said!”
They quickly found a safe place for their flock
that they might go and find the manger bed

In Bethlehem the shepherds found the boy
exactly as the angel had foretold
and when they saw him, they were filled with joy:
this was their Saviour promised from of old!

that night before the Lamb those shepherds bowed
those keepers of the sheep a Shepherd sought
and then they could not help but speak aloud
about that infant in his straw filled cot

The shepherds’ whole world changed that Holy Night
and so they shared the News with great delight!

Shepherds: Part 4 – And Then! (Fourth Week of Advent)

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” -Lk 2:13-45, NIV

The firmament exploded then in song
as Heaven’s choir filled the nighttime sky
What praise burst forth from that angelic throng!
an adoration song to the Most High!

The angels sang of peace for those on earth
for whom God’s gracious favour had been laid
when they’d proclaimed the Saviour’s wondrous birth
the impact of their message did not fade

So once again the shepherds bowed down low
but now in worship rather than in fear
their own praise song began to quickly grow
as they thought how God’s Promised One was near

and then those shepherds all with one accord
agreed to go and meet the Infant Lord


Shepherds: Part 3 – The Angel’s Message (Third Week of Advent)

“…I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” -Lk 2:10b-12, NIV

The angel told them that he brought good news
that on this night, Messiah had been born
the long-expected Light for all the Jews
had come as though a long awaited morn

In nearby Bethlehem the angel said
wrapped up in cloth they’d find the infant boy
laid in a trough instead of in a bed
an infant sleeps who’ll bring the whole earth Joy!

In wonder, now, they listened to the voice
that spoke to them of prophecy fulfilled
those fearful men had cause now to rejoice
and as the angel spoke their hearts were thrilled

Those lowly shepherds now stood over-awed
for they’d received a message straight from God

Seven Words from the Cross – Part II

Christ’s second “word” (or saying) from the cross is found in Luke 23:43 (the story leading up to the saying starts in verse 39). The following poem is based on that story.


Beside his own, two other crosses stood
one convict on his left, one on his right
one mocked the Savior from his beams of wood:
“If you’re God’s son, then save us with your might!”

But he who hung on Jesus’ other side
acknowledged he deserved this painful fate
and then: “Lord, please remember me”, he cried,
“when you have entered through your kingdom’s gate”

Christ answered him “I speak the truth today
in Paradise the two of us shall meet”
and though the sky was swiftly turning grey
that man had ne’er before heard words so sweet

Like him, we have no hope to earn God’s grace
but we’ll see Mercy if we seek his face


Today marks the beginning of Advent – the time of year in which Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  In Matthew chapter 1 we can find a geneology of Jesus’ ancestors starting with Abraham.  In the culture of the time, only male ancestors were included in geneologies.  Matthew broke with this tradition by including five women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary). This was clearly deliberate.  If Matthew thought it important to include these women, then perhaps we should pay attention to their stories.

I plan to publish one poem for each Sunday of Advent, and then a final poem on Christmas day to highlight each of these five women – most of whom seem that they should have never been included.

I’m starting with Tamar.  Tamar’s lineage is not known, but it is speculated that she was a Canaanite.  A foreigner.  She was married (by arrangement) to Er (Judah’s eldest son).  Er was “a wicked man in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord took his life. ” (Genesis 38:7 NLT).  For the complete context of this poem, I would encourage you to read Gen.38.  If you are unfamiliar with Tamar’s story, my poem will make much more sense if you read her story before reading the poem.  I’ll include a few more notes after the poem to try to explain a bit of the historical context.


Twice wretched wife of Judah’s eldest heirs
Twice wed and widowed by his oldest sons
Two times denied the chance to bear a child
And thus for offspring you were left with none

To Judah’s youngest son you were betrothed
And promised that you’d get one final chance
But even he was as stolen from your life
You thought you’d never twirl a mother’s dance

Seducing him who stole your chance away
You fin’ly had a child in your womb
And though condemned to death for harlotry
You proved that you’d been wronged and staved your doom

Deceived deceiver, pregnant by a tryst
God’s grace made you an ancestor of Christ


In our modern Western mindset, the idea of a childless widow marrying her dead husband’s brother may seem somewhat odd, but during the time of Tamar, it was not merely common, it was practically a necessity.  As people aged, they relied on their children to take care of them.  Children were, for all intents and purposes, a form of “old age security”.  No children, especially for a woman, meant no means of supporting oneself in old age.  If a woman was widowed prior to having children, it was the duty of the closest male relative of the deceased (usually a brother), to provide an heir for his brother (so that his brother’s estate would be passed down to his own child, rather than being dispersed elsewhere).  The first child of this male relative (also known as a “kinsman redeemer”) would be considered the heir of the deceased, while all subsequent children would be the heir(s) of the kinsman redeemer.  When Onan refused to provide an heir for his brother, he was condemning Tamar to a life of poverty.  When Judah refused to allow Tamar to marry Shelah, he was not only denying Tamar the security that children would bring, but he was also cutting off his own family line!

Tamar may have acted in a way abhorrent to modern readers, but she was providing for her future in the only way she could think of to do…and even benefiting Judah by providing him with an heir.

Jesus came to earth, not to provide us with earthly financial security, but to provide something much greater: eternal life.  I can’t say this with certainty, but perhaps it was partly for this reason of future hope that Tamar was included in Jesus’ lineage.

One Small Cog

“I’m merely a cog, one insignificant gear,” said Charles to his friend Robert at a dimly lit table in the corner of a small cafe. His voice, not much more than a whisper, was not meant to travel beyond the booth in which the two men sat, but travel it did. Not far, but just far enough to be heard by an older man at a booth nearby.

The older man rose slowly from his seat, a slight hunch to his shoulders betraying his age to any who might care to look. His hands and face wore the lines of years as well, but his eyes…if you only looked at his eyes you would think that you gazed upon a much younger man.

He took the five steps that it took to arrive at the table of the two younger men, and he pulled a card out of the pocket of his immaculate three-piece suit, presented it to Charles, and said, “If you would care to come to the address on the card, I have something to show you that you may find interesting.” Without another word, he walked to the front, placed some crisp clean bills on the counter, and walked out of the cafe.

The two young men exchanged a glance, and shrugged off the unusual experience before continuing the rest of their meal in silence, but the thought of the older man did not quite leave them alone.

A few pages of the calendar turned, though, before the two men broached the subject of the old man again. “Do you remember that old man?” asked Robert one day, and Charles only replied by putting his hand in his pocket, and pulling out a card. Only after placing the card carefully on the table did he speak, “I can’t stop thinking about him. What do you think he wanted to show us?”

“Should we go find out?” asked Robert, and with little more discussion, the two men found themselves on a journey they had never quite intended to take.


At the end of their drive, they found themselves at a small and unremarkable building. A door, a small window,and little else. “What if he doesn’t remember us?” asked Charles as he lifted his hand to knock.

After knocking, they waited long enough that they were certain that no one would answer, and were just beginning to turn to walk back to their car when they heard the sound of the lock being turned.

The older man slowly opened the door, looked at his guests and smiled. “I’ve been expecting you, but I didn’t realize my humble shop would be quite so hard to find. Please, come in!”

Robert and Charles noticed immediately the sound of ticking. As they followed the old man, they saw the source of the sound: clocks of all sizes, too numerous to count, lined all of the walls, and when they arrived at the back room, they saw a table covered in gears, springs, pendulums, each laid out in a precise order. At the end of the bench was a clock that was nearly assembled, but had not yet been placed in its housing. “Come! Look!” The two men went and were amazed at the fine intricacies of the work in progress. Some gears were large, others were tiny.

The old man then said, “I once heard one of you say that you were ‘merely a cog, an insignificant gear’. Can you tell me, in this clock, which gear is the least significant?”

The two men stared intently at the already ticking time piece. After a lengthy inspection, they finally called the older man and pointed to the smallest gear that they could locate.

The old man then put on a pair of magnifying glasses, pulled a pair of tweezers from a drawer, and pulled the tiny gear from the workings. Immediately, the clock stopped.

“You can see that that gear was more significant than it first appeared. Would you like to try a different one?”

Charles guessed that any gear removed would have the same result, regardless of the gear’s size.

“Correct!” replied the clock maker (for that is what the old man was). “We are all, indeed, ‘cogs’ or’gears’, but my friends, never make the mistake of thinking that any gear is insignificant.”

Grocery Poems – Aisle 1


“The world is nuts!”
the manager heard the stock-girl say
as he was walking
into the break-room
to drink a cup of coffee
with butter-pecan creamer

and he listened to her list
the woes and worries of the world
that she had heard on the evening news

she spoke of terror and war,
global warming and famine
trafficking of drugs
trafficking of girls
of chaos and calamities
too numerous to name
and so…

his break, ceasing to be a break,
he went and stood
for a while
in Aisle 1

which held, among other things
the nuts

file and rank,
rows and columns
pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, cashews
almonds and chestnuts and hazelnuts too
walnuts, brazil nuts, all in their place
and seeing this order
he felt great relief

and if you were near him
you might have heard him sigh:
“Oh no, my dear girl,
the world is certainly not nuts…
If only it were.”


photos by the author

poem (and perhaps a series of poems to come) inspired, in part, by Bjorn Rudberg‘s “Aged Librarian” poem series.

Sharing this with dVerse for OLN

Parable of the Snowflake

I studied a snowflake until I knew its every nook and cranny, every bump and divot, every point and every void until I could see that snowflake with eyes closed tight. I examined the trace elements held within the water molecules that composed it. I weighed it, measured it, took its temperature and even photographed it.

I became an expert on the snowflake, writing essays and theses, and even books. I traveled the globe presenting lectures to packed houses.

I was world-renowned for my wisdom and insight into my snowflake until I came to the conclusion that no-one could know more about the snowflake than I.

Until one day, a child presented me with another snowflake and told me, “Look!”

I scoffed at the child and said, “I have studied my snowflake for more years than you have been alive. Of what benefit could there be for me to look at your snowflake?”

The child simply held out his snowflake and again said, “Look!”

With haughty superiority, I took his flake, knowing exactly what I would see, but to my surprise, I looked at a structure that held almost no resemblance to what I thought a snowflake should be.

Then, with the child by my side, I looked around where we stood and beheld a million billion flakes of snow covering the countryside, and I wept, because I finally realized how little I know.


On March 2nd, at dVerse, we were invited by host Frank Hubeny to write prose poetry.  Alas, at the time, inspiration did not come to me.  Therefore, I will be sharing this at dVerse for Open Link Night instead…and thanks, Frank, for the prompt (even if I am responding a bit late!)

Santa and Blitzen Debate Reality

“There’s no such thing as a ‘non-magical creature’, Santa.  You’re much too old to keep on believing in such nonsense!”

“You keep saying that, Blitzen, but tell me this: where do the milk and cookies come from?”

“Magic, of course.  They appear out of thin air…just like we reindeer can magically fly, the elves magically make toys, and you can magically show up to practically every point on the globe simultaneously…with us reindeers’ help, of course.  You don’t need to leave toys behind in payment.  The elves use much energy in magically creating those toys to be used in the Reindeer Games, but you keep squandering them in the foolish notion that you’ll stop getting your precious milk and cookies if you stop delivering toys to these figments of your imagination.”

“But what if you’re wrong?  What if there is  a world of non-magic out there?  What if it is the very nature of cookies and milk that come from a non-magical world that actually sustains the universe of magic?  Oh no, my dear Blitzen.  It is much too risky to stop believing in good little boys and girls.”