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Lashed to the Mast

Blessed are the merciful A billion years of pummeling surf, Shipwrecking seachanges and Jonah storms Made ungiving, unforgiving granite Into this analgesic beach: Washed by sea-swell rhythms of mercy, Merciful relief from city Concrete. Uncondemned, discalceate, I'm ankle deep in Assateague sands, Awake to rich designs of compassion Patterned in the pillowing dunes. Sandpipers and gulls in skittering, Precise formation devoutly attend My salt and holy solitude, Then feed and fly along the moving, Imprecise ebb- and rip-tide Border dividing care from death.

My pastor, during my adolescent years, came often to our home. After a brief and awkward interval, he always said, And how are things in your SOUL today? (He always pronounced soul in capital letters.)

I never said much. I was too intimidated. The thoughts and experiences that filled my life in those years seemed small potatoes after that question. I knew, of course, that if I ever wanted to discuss matters of SOUL, I could go to him. ...

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