Prayer for the Moral Heart

Jack will livestream today’s poem at 9am, ET,  on his Facebook Page here,  and the video will be saved with all of his past Livestream videos here. 

I said to Julie, “I haven’t had my stomach in such a knot since my dad had to play North Carolina!”

Well, this is it, everyone. This is the first post for the beginning of the next four years. It’s also my last protest post. Four years ago I thought to counter this awful man and his minions by giving the only thing I have to give. I got  so much in return from you.

So, starting next week, each Thursday at 9am instead Julie and I will do our Facebook video chat-and-a-poem only, the emphasis being empathy, as we work to survive the pandemic together. You’ll find me at that link above.

Of course I have wondered all four years whether doing this was worth it to anyone out there. I’m grateful for the responses that came in each week. They were sustaining.

This week, knowing we were nearing some kind of closure, revealing the ugly underbelly that has been there all along, waking us up to how fragile a moral nation is, I received two sustaining messages. One is from an American citizen; the other from a German citizen.

From our American friend Joe MacDoniels: “Here is hoping that you will be able to present a ‘last in the series’ poem on Thursday! That said, I hope you will also announce a new ‘Julie and Jack’ series that will shine a light on redemption, resolution and, dare I say ‘resurrection’ for America and a democratic vision of fairness, equality and hope. With appreciation for four years of starting my Thursdays with glimmers of light, memories and the joy of just falling into the wonderful implications of your words! –Joe

And from German friend Josef Hien: “Dear Jack, I just read a book by Terry Pratchett, from the Discworld series, and I stumbled upon something that made me think of you and what you did the last four years.  In it, a good witch has to fight a daemon called the Cunning Man. He is responsible for spreading fear and hate among people—and when she finally has to face him she says, ‘Your power is only rumor and lies. You bore your way into people when they are uncertain and weak and worried and frightened, and they think their enemy is other people when their enemy is, and always will be, you—the master of lies. Outside you are fearsome; inside, you are nothing but weakness. Inside, I am flint.’ A line a little earlier says, ‘Poison goes where poison’s welcome.’ I really hope that next week there will be not enough hearts and places to be found where poison is welcome. All my best wishes for you—and thank you for being flint!”

And thank YOU all for being flint! All this time, every Thursday and every day.

Prayer for the Moral Heart

There are those who know
the world without words,

not even a murmur or
a breath. Within the modesty

of presence, a prayer
could be green, tattered,

cold, alone as a possum
crossing a back road. It’s

the touch of the still. It’s
where we are Amen,

Shalom, Namaste—it’s our
there, here, our forgotten

habitat of yes. We become
sigh, our “I” the wet dog,

the sparrow nesting
in the anonymity of brown.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Southern Poetry Review
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University

Where are the books? Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

See all of Jack’s Facebook Livestream Videos Here.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Jack on And Then Suddenly podcast by Angela Santillo.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

30 thoughts on “Prayer for the Moral Heart

  1. Yes, thank you for being flint. And thank you for the Discworld quote – it was perfect! As a nation we will have a long way to go to recover from the detestation of spirit and dignity. The seeds of distrust and pure hatred have been sown and they are reaching back to the civil war for fertilizer and blood water. It’s fury will eventually go underground for a time but it will burst out again when we need it least. We must figure out to love those who hate. Somehow.

    Shalom and Cheers!

  2. Dear Jack,

    thank You for many inspiring messages and “being a flint”. I have great respect for You and your thoughts have taught me a lot.

    I am very sad to see you retiring to facebook only. Although I work in the computer industry, and am very open to all sorts of modern technology, I avoid using social platforms like FaceBook or WhatsApp. While their intention originally may not have been evil, they have been poisoned long time ago. They played a major role for 45 to get where he is.

    Hope to read your words occasionally in other places…

    My best wishes for You and your loved ones, stay safe, stay healthy


    Matias Rajkay

    Flemingstr. 3

    86391 Stadtbergen


    • My own thanks to you run deep. I could keep going if I didn’t have such bad nerve damage in my fingers.
      thank you so very much for being with me along this terrible way.

  3. Remember the wisdom of Yogi, and pray that it’s over. P

    Sent from my iPhone–Warning: may contain thumbing typos or strange auto fill words.

    A. Paul Bradley, Jr. The Bradley Group, LLC 20 Bradley Way Lake George, NY 12845 518-339-9055


  4. Jack, Your gift of this column and all its heartfelt words, and your resolve to see through so much more than you knew when you began, is inspiring. I am trusting in the great network of goodness that it is part of to carry us all through these times. Thank you!!

    • Your words, Laurie, touch my heart, deep in my heart. For
      you to know what it’s taken lightens my soul. Let us be
      hopeful that the great arc bends even faster. Thank you, my Friend.

  5. Dear Jack, thank you so much for doing this every week. Sorry you had to do it. But I so appreciate reading your poems and watching you on FB. You have indeed “grown up” to be kind.

    • Jill, Grown up I am not sure of. Kind is always what I try try try to be.
      Your thoughtful words touch the deepest part of my heart.
      thank ye.

  6. Thank you Jack and Julie. You will never truly know how important your posts were to so many of us. They were a light in the darkness, a bandage on a wound, a banquet in a famine, a swimming hole on a hot summer day, and a hug from a child on a bad day. May you find peace in the days ahead.


    • Chris,
      You have sent the most beautiful and meaningful of poems.
      Thank heavens we dan save it always.I have always referred to you
      when asked about a scientist I know who also has an artistic sensibility and
      understanding. I am sooooo very moved by your poem here, so very very moved.
      You have been a gift to me all these years.

    • If I could I would appoint you the U.S, Secretary of Empathy.
      I can never thank you adequately for both understanding what I was
      trying to do and for being with me all along he way.

  7. Yes yes yes to all you have offered to us over these years. And to the two quotes as well. You have made a difference. Gave us courage.

    And checking…are these live readings ever on Youtube? As I am not on Facebook…still a moral and ethical decision. Will see how long I can hold out….


    • You gave me the confidence years ago to try allI have tried since. I am
      forever grateful.
      You don’t have to worry about FaceBook. Just click on the link that
      opens any of the posts and it will take you to the video without
      your having to violate your feelings about FaceBook.

    • To think that my little try to help has indeed been a help to you is a gift.
      How can I know unless told. I would sit down and do exactly that, hope.
      Thank you so very very much, Joy. May your name be part of every good heart.

  8. Congratulation! Your blog worked! Art has an influence on society!
    We are happy over here in Germany, too!
    Thank you very much for your work of the last 4 years
    Renate from Cologne

  9. Dear Jack,

    I want to thank you for your effort of writing your weekly protest posts. I read them regularly with pleasure and it gave me a lot, by reading your observations, stories and poems it was good to know in Berlin, Germany, where I live, that there is a huge part of citizens in the US who are standing for another approach to discuss and resolve the issues of humans,society and the world than by lying and disbehaving and more. So we are happy so far about the election (even if the number of believers in 45 is hard to realize from a more objectiv “spectators view”) and I am confident, that there will be nothing to win at the Courts for 45.

    I wish you and Julie the best, take care

    Martin Schröder Berlin (Germany)

    • Dear Martin,
      Please believe how much what you wrote hear means to me. We too are shattered by how many follow 45. It is very frightening.
      We now must place our hope in the new president and vice president. We don’t understand how anyone can be
      in opposition to kindness, empathy, any work for the good of all people throughout the world. Yor words could not be more
      pertinent. For me to know you are there is heartening. It’s having a friend I have never met. And I am so very grateful.

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