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Sunday morning. I have chores to do today, but first I wanted to share a few thoughts. I’ve been fairly busy the past several weeks. Lots of work, driving, stuff to do around the house. I could say too busy to effect much in the world around me, other than my full plate of personal callings.
But, one day last weekend while heading out for a round of chores, I was on the entrance to a bit of bypass highway, when something on the road caught my eye. I stopped on the shoulder and backed up the fifty or so yards and got out to look at what had gotten my attention. It was what I’d thought it was, a wallet lying open in the middle of the lane, left on the roof of a car while a driver bought gas. It was full of credit cards, discount cards, a drivers license, etc. I did one of my errands, then plugged the address into my phone’s GPS and took the wallet to the address on the lD. The folks weren’t home, but a neighbor knew the couple and told me they were on the way to Spokane that day. I knew how the loss of the contents of the wallet would ruin a day of watching their family member compete in a high school championship sporting event, so while was there, I made sure the neighbor called a member of the owner’s family to share their belongings were safe and intact. I left the wallet with the neighbors. Turns out they had missed the wallet, and had sent their elderly parents out to search for it. I got a call from them, and they had been looking. I’m glad I found it and not someone else who may have gone shopping on the credit cards etc.
I received two calls of thanks, and felt good knowing the day had been saved and the weekend of family sports was again carefree.
This weekend was also calling to plenty of stuff I need to do, project seeking, talking with my son, housekeeping…the usual stuff. But in light of the loss of my young friend last week, I decided to go spend time with the grieving mother of the 31 year old gal that lost her battle with cancer. I spent a few hours there, just talking about a lot of things…mostly listening. I’m no stranger to the rain, so joining a needful soul under a pouring black cloud is a thing to be taken in stride. Time is a gift, and when it runs out on a member of a family, giving your time is a worthy substitute. Nobody is ever more alone than when a child is taken from them. I have no answers, not clever lines, no way to ease the pain…other than to say that someday, thinking of that person will one day bring a comfort, rather than the immediate pain it does now. I know that from my own personal experiences. There is no timetable, but it is supposed to hurt when one is called on ahead, and it will always hurt to some degree, but life and the love that lingers will eventually become a comfort, rather than an all consuming presence…somewhere down the road.
I shared these two events in my weekends because I want folks to know, that there has to be made time, has to be made a small effort. And that regardless of your packed schedule, there are more important things in the world…and that ONE PERSON CAN make a huge difference. Not just in the moment, but in some cases, for the rest of time in the life of another, or in fact, others.
Be somebody. Share your time, listen, occasionally put your own less urgent needs aside, and make the world a better place. Your chores will wait. Do God’s work when it calls out to you. Matty

Sending my love to you, from my heavenly home…

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When you come to the shore on a sunny day…I’ll be the salt in the air, and that seventh wave. The one that’s largest, and makes the most spray.
When you walk where you might, I’ll be the shiny penny there at your feet, the smile on the faces of strangers I’ll hope you may meet.
I’ll be the teardrop that escapes you on a chilled winter noon, when you walk with a brisk Norther at your back, and the warm hearth that calls to you, and makes your steps a bit more urgent to bring you to home a little more soon.
I’ll be a promise not broken, but not quite kept. The clouds in your coffee, after the last minutes of your sleep were best on the cool side of the pillow, and a happy dream that found you as you slept.
I’ll be the silence that sings out to you when you meditate there, in the shade of our tree. The face that’s familiar of a stranger as he passes by. The smile that finds you for no reason whilst you toil through a mundane task and are bored as can be.
I’ll be the melody of an old song, the words of which you can’t quite recall…A twinge that accompanies bagpipes being played that you hear on the breeze, and the strength to keep going, long after you’ve given your all.
I’ll be the warmest feeling, and perhaps, the most desolate too. Like the laughter that erupts while you take in our old favorite movie…the best of your memories, and those not made yet.
I’ll be here loving only you, and I am sorry I had to leave you there alone…but when reveille was called that day as I walked off into the fray, and Lord help me, that proverbial bullet was already waiting for me…and I swear, you were the last thought I had before Taps was blown on that fateful day.
Please, remember me.

Mother’s Day 2015

On a Sunday morning, my Momma would sleep in some. She’d wake up slowly with a cup of coffee. If none had been made, she’d ask why it hadn’t. Momma loved nice housecoats and warm, fuzzy slippers. She drank her coffee from small cups, never very big around. She liked to do the crossword puzzle. I remember her liking a slim style pen. The kind too small for my big fingers to hold. Whenever I’d show up with one; she’d take it from me and say, “oh, where’d you find my new pen?” Lol.
On Sunday mornings around 11, she’d call some of us and share that she had a roast in the oven, and dinner was going to be around 3 pm…I miss those calls.
Sometimes when I’d come by and help myself to a a sandwich, she’d watch me make it while she was eating something boring herself. Then she’s ask me for a bite. After she’d tasted it, she’d say, “this is good. Go make yourself one now…” I loved that.
Momma always peeled potatoes with a paring knife. Lots of potatoes. She was a great cook and baker. She was good at sewing, and loved dressing her kids, then her grand kids. She made beautiful stuff.
Momma loved to laugh. Loved good jokes, even dirty ones. She would laugh real hard at one, then smile and say, “you’re awful”.
Momma loved watching the 90’s Mariners. If we didn’t watch a game together, I always kept my phone nearby. After a great play by Griffey Jr, she call and ask if I had seen it. I’d tell here I had, and she would proceed to tell me about it anyways…
She loved helping people, with navigating officious letters that were hard to decipher, with taxes, and getting help from Social Security, or DSHS if a young mother was left in a health quandary and had no way to get medical help, or feed her babies.
Momma loved life, her family, her friends, and making a difference. Vimy was SMART, making her way through college later than most. She did very well at scrabble and cards…very competitive.
But mostly, she was my Momma, and I loved her so. We didn’t always like each very well, but the fences were always mended, and things warmed up again. Towards the close of her time here among us, I tried to return to her all the care and love she had bestowed on me over my forty or so years, and I held her very soft hands…always so soft. I gave her a few last small sips of water. We talked about time, how we’d had so many good times. She remarked that it hadn’t been enough time. I replied that it had to be enough…because there was little left.
And for me at least, her last quiet words whispered in my ear, were the most important three of all…and I can still hear her, “I love you”, to this day over a dozen years later.

And I can picture her in her chair in the dining room by her computer, smiling at a story I’d be telling her after a day at work, and with her crooked grin, a sparkle in her pale brown eyes, and a gaze my way, I knew then as I know now…Momma loved her middle child…and to that memory, I sigh a happy sigh…dab away a glad tear, and return the same for her…Love you Momma…Happy Mother’s day, Matthew Lyle.

There are no eggshells on my floor, so you needn’t tiptoe once you pass through my door.
You don’t owe me an apology for what someone else did. Nor for what I think you might do, or didn’t do. You don’t owe me. Period. You only owe you, just what that may be isn’t up to me. Only you know what’s best for you.
For all I do know, and everything I am to learn, I am aware there are so many other things I have no clue even exist…So my plate, though full, is likely far too small for what I will eventually come upon. What light will shine, what light will fade. What will be reflected, deflected, and forgotten.
And my glass, whether half empty or half full is not the matter. What matters again is the size of my glass. Not your glass or their glass. Mine. And if it is always half anything, perhaps it is simply too big.
I have many closets in my home. In none of them are shoes I pack with me for you to wear. None that fit her that I want to squeeze you into. Or expect you to grow into. There are no shoes, but I will tie yours if you cannot reach. If you need to learn, I could teach. With patience, and with kindness. Or not. Learning on one’s own is good too. That my friend is up to you.
Though you be mine, and I be yours, we shan’t own one another. I know that I might own some of your happiness, but at the same time, I might also own your sorrow. But I will not own your thoughts, nor your opinions. I won’t fence you in with distrust and suspicion that stems from the same I harbor from my own misgivings. The security I offer you is freedom. The bindings I offer you are trust, the world, and a choice to do and be where you wish. And I hope you choose to be near to me. There is no greater love than one without chains. The chains that bind you and me exist within their absence.

Love isn’t a trial, or a series of pointed fingers and ultimatums. It isn’t a pillow to cry into, or a dread in the night. Love isn’t a state where one is put into their place…Love is choice, and not a need. It’s a safe place, a shelter and refuge when the world becomes the opposite. Love isn’t someone to retreat from. It is someone to seek. It isn’t a word. It is an essence and best part of life itself. If it doesn’t feel safe, and fair, and nurturing, and trustful…then it isn’t truly love. Then it is just the word, without the substance…

In this house, we will raise our voices. Often. In song, and cheering, celebrations and sheer joy. Not in overpowering criticism, or argument, or an angry, spiteful tone. The will be no one lording over another, no superior air that serves to demean and wound. I may be tempted to declare love at the top of my voice, but I’d rather your smile and confidence will be our song for all others to hear with their eyes…
And I hope we do find “our song”.  That it is untouched as a field of fresh snow, yet as sure as the path of a country road…with a view from here to wherever we’re bound, with just enough hills, and turns, and bumps that we grow assured of the presence of one another…even in the dark of night or fury of storm. In fact; I hope we have many such songs. I want you to know you can lean on me when you’re weak, and I the same. That come the dawn, I’ll still be there, and so will you. And that if you lag behind some, I will remain with an open hand and willing shoulder…That is the promise I make. Before we’re lovers, we shall be friends. And after time has gone and had its way, I will forgive you for having grown old. And hope you can do the same.
Time is our canvas and your essence are my oils, your presence is my brush and palette knife…and together we’ll blend the colors and from palette to cloth. There shall be you, and there shall be me…till there is us. Art…and harmonies.

Love, Matthew

I could hardly wait to have you under my nails, on the soles of my shoes, and my wintered stiff knees. There is humus, and compost, and a winter’s worth of water to be found. Last year’s leaves and petals, blossoms and seeds in the mix as well. But you’re hardened and packed, mottled and inhospitable until I nurture and massage the air and life back into you there. Whether shaded or under the noonday sun, I’ll till and turn, mix and churn…and give you a fresh start and make up your bed. Come seed or start, bulb or stem…You’ll give me what I desire, and you’ll get to do what you do best, host life, seek light…the morning dew and evening rains.
Ah, the soil of Mother Nature. The good earth beneath my feet and between my fingers. The smells and textures and promise of what is to come. We have a partnership and mutual gratitude for the efforts of one another. There is little more satisfying to the eye, the palate, the nose and touch, as the gift of things I grow and harvest, bunch and display…or simply allow to flourish and run the course of the seasons. The giving of time, touch, and love and returning of life, scents, taste and a feast to the eyes…
I shall awake some days at dawn, and join the robin there at the tug of a meal. Coffee on the patio, or a seat on a faithful old stump. The songs of morning, glistening drops of infant dawn’s dew decorate the web and leaf, blade and pane. And I shall privately take in the chorus of silence, the occasional song. The long shadows and rose hues on the horizon there. I will give thanks for the opening of the night tightened petals, the yawns of Mother Nature as some waken and others seek slumber.
Tis the ways of life, the tending and harvest. The wait, the reward. The effort and the companionship of what only God can create…with a little help from the gardener’s touch, the ancient pump and cyclical brass that extends a blessing of water from spigot to roots. I will lay down my head after the first stars appear, and return to your embrace while coffee is fresh and the last stars fade. And I will start my day, no matter the tasks at hand, with the love returned, from the humble kingdom that is within the property lines of my nurtured land.
I can hardly wait, to feel you there under my feet while I walk to a magical little spot to take it all in and begin my day…in my garden. Love you old friend and my personal Constant Gardener; Glenda Dawn.

A Friday in March

Be thankful for this day, for the company you keep, for the memories you’re making, for the company you seek. It is always a gift; what has passed, and what will be. One is a promise kept, the other is a promise, or the essence of, a promise made. Smile today, others need to see them. Sigh today, others will feel them along with you…and in empathy and harmony, having made it thorough the week will become a quiet celebration…Happy Friday friends. Matty

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I just took a stroll to my mailbox. It is about a block away in a cluster with many others. Warm today, with a breeze out of the North and West. It’s March 11th, nearly the first day of spring, short just days. But in the air, the brown leaves fly, as well on the streets and sidewalks. I would guess that about 25% of the autumn leaves are yet to fall and be dealt with. Gathered, bagged, and made as fill down the road.
Winter came late last year, and mostly all at once. It was 65 degrees one day, and plunged a night later to about 5 degrees. The leaves were yet green, the sap lost in limbo somewhere between the branches and the roots. And so the leaves held fast, held tight, and the green remained as if in struggle and defiance of the calendar and tradition.
In the months passed well after my sycamores and ornamental red maple have normally given up their leaves, months that have been filled with generous and furious windstorms from many directions, still they dangle and taunt. Today whilst I wandered in my sandals and bare toes, with insects on the wing and ground, lady autumn lingers along with her sister, Spring. An odd dance is in the air.

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And at my feet and on the windshield of my late Momma’s Cadillac there under the trees, lay and pass by. Autumn leaves. True to me the sound so strange this time of year of year, sliding leaves on the warm ground; reserved for November and a while longer, but surely not March. I wondered where the new buds and leaves would find to appear and open whilst the business of last year still straggled.
And so I wander in the midst of an unfinished season, perhaps two. And I wonder if there’s something I missed, something left undone and lingered. Whilst I prepared for spring and unfurled my watering and washing hoses this week, I walked upon decaying leaves, on last year’s loitered declaration that the cycle had turned and came to pass…but not really.
I think we all have those things in life we store away, put off and save for that rainy day, for that moment when a parcel of “round tuits” arrive and then tasks are finally done. When that some-day comes around. I guess last year, when fall was supposed to be…be descending upon me here, it was cast into the warm Chinook winds that came instead.

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And today, nine days short of her official arrival, lady Spring patiently waits on the breeze, whilst the unfinished seasons takes her time to remove the leaves held fast to last summer’s trees. And there will be green leaves amongst the brown, both aloft and on the ground…during the strayed end to this unfinished season.

Have a great day friends. Treat your people and even strangers right. One has no way of knowing when a day might be one that was “the last time” there was to be for someone, or the chance to treat another well enough to inspire them to succeed. Or simply continue on among us…Don’t be the last harsh memory of the souls you live amongst and lives you touch daily. There are no do overs for the that “if I’d have had any idea that was the last time I’d see him/her, or “he/she is someone I don’t care to ever see again”.

You DO know well enough to treat every moment as potentially the one to last an eternity. And you DO know that YOU don’t want others to give you reason to shun them. So don’t be that to others. Kindness is remembered for the duration, just as is spiritual assault. We’re all fragile and mortal. Be somebody worth not just remembering fondly, but as a difference maker. The exception. Be a source of well being. Matty

A Prayer for Jordyn…

At this time last Sunday, I was in a church in Arizona, gladly sitting between two lovely ladies. Kaye C. Upham to my left, and her girl Jordyn Kube on my right. We three were far from alone there. I guess well over a thousand souls shared that common space. There was music, heartfelt song. And earnest prayers for survival in a troubled world.
I felt the presence of my Momma there. She was given credit for decades ago having urged Kaye and her eldest daughter Nikki Neely to find their way through life’s maze by finding their way to these pews we occupied today.
When I do attend, I seek my Momma’s company there still, no matter what city I’m in on that day…She and Jesus find me there.
But today, I was in awe of the three ladies there with me…and honored to be able to join them so far from my home.
But there came that moment when Jordyn embraced me from her quiet space there next to me…taking my hand and nudging me to open my heart, along with hers in the midst of her good fight she’s urgently waging. And too, Kaye seized my left hand, and completed the opening of the doors to my heart there.
Then I was gladly defenseless, and the chorus of the masses there collectively began, whilst all there held the hands of two others, and in turn; of all the others attending there in sight of that cross…
And then began the glad sound of over a thousand voices celebrating, pleading, sharing their faith, “…Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name…”
And in that moment, I felt not the gravity of Kaye and Jordyn and Nikki’s struggle, but the enormity of the community there giving them a knowing dose of the medicine that no clinic, no chemotherapy, no intravenous elixir can. It is called by several names, love, encouragement, praise, prayer, knowing…but the two most vital ingredients that were being administered there in that uplifting moment by the power of the thousand and more; Faith, and Hope…in huge doses. Enough to drown a cancer, and float a struggling young soul. Enough to give her momma Kaye a sea of positive waters she can soak in, along with her girls. Enough to keep Jordyn more readily afloat instead of treading the troubled waters.
I felt the gift of this moment. I was filled with it all to overflowing. And it sweetly Lorded over the doubt. Over the anger. Over the questions. It is a gift to feel the supportive air of faith, over the ominous presence of dread that cancer carries with it…
I hope that Jordyn is able to realize and feel what I felt there in that beautiful moment shared by her momma and I. I hope that she can sigh a happier sigh when the moments are shaded and near to dark. I pray that she can know, that all those decades ago when my Momma sent Kaye to that place with the cross and the gathered souls, that she was already knowing Jordyn, and her struggle…and gifting her these doses of faith, and hope.
Even in the midst of the most unkind things, life and love is kind…and hope and faith will carry us over the rockiest of roads, and light the darkest of them.
Thanks Momma, and Kaye, and Nikki, and THE Jordyn Kube, for letting me join you there, I gladly shan’t be the same…Matty.

Saturday morning. Happy Valentine’s Day friends. I’m not sure what this day is supposed to mean anymore, but I think that the love of a friend, a sibling, a family member, a parent…even those gone on ahead, will fill my heart and validate the day. This makes every other day well worth the effort of joining it, and keeping my heart well and my soul fulfilled. So there is no need to feel any less special on February 14. And besides that, I have already survived the darkest days of winter and am steadily feeling the promises of spring.
I think a focus on Easter is at hand…THE greatest love of all…Matty.