Coach’s Son Tells His Wife What It Was Like

I CAN’T WATCH!!!

I am a coach’s son. Coach’s sons tough it out. Coach’s sons play with pain. Coach’s sons come through no matter what.

One of my former students is a coach’s son. When he was in my freshman (called that back then) English class, he and I would talk about being coach’s sons. I said I learned I could never be a coach. He said that being a coach was all he wanted to be. And he — Brian Morehouse — just became the youngest coach at any college or university level to win 600 games. 600! Of course he owes it all to freshman English.

Of course he’s being celebrated. And he’s carried all the deserved recognition with his usual modesty and without a single cliche. Honesty. Integrity. Deflected attention. Even disbelief. Through and through. And I know he never missed a game.

Me? I turned into a teacher and a poet. And Tuesday night I missed a game. I did not come through. I was to read at a special winter lecture series. I caught and kept a bug that is spreading its way through household after household. And I all but drove my wife Julie crazy first with insisting I go “anyway” and then by over and over and over saying to her how I’m letting everyone down.

“You play anyway. You can’t let down the team. Get out there.”

And so to all of you who didn’t know of the cancellation and who were at the door reading the sign, I’m sorry. And that doesn’t cut it.

Coach’s Son Tells His Wife What It Was Like

I couldn’t wait for the game
to be over. Win. Lose. I knew

what to expect: Talk. Sports pages.
Television. Radio. Even a win was

seldom good enough: “I thought they’d win
by more than that!” “Why’d your father

keep Daniels in? He was terrible.” “Yeah. but
next game?” Losing led to all their reasons why.

I’d shiver hearing “Coach blew it at the end.”
“When’s he gonna give up on that combination?”

Headline: LOOKS LIKE A LONG LOSING YEAR!
Headline: WILL THIS BE COACH’S LAST SEASON?

At school I would sit in class wishing I could read:
CAR DEALER BLOWS SALE AT END OF DAY!

DENTIST SCREWS UP ROOT CANAL!
After a win I’d only sigh. After a loss, I

would lie in bed readying my words, and
cringe as I felt my fists unfold.

–Jack Ridl
Published in Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature

I am welcoming new sign-ups for one-on-one coaching in poetry writing held here at our home or online via Zoom or Skype. No experience needed; all levels are welcome. I always tailor the sessions to meet whatever you would enjoy working with. To set up a date and time just contact me at this link or the one above. Cost is $85 for an hour-and-a-half session or $235 for three sessions. And of course if you don’t enjoy our time together, no charge!!😊

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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.

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.

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

 

Ice Storm

It’s snowing, a quiet downfall of small flakes. Daughter Meridith and I make up children’s book titles using the word “Little.” Today it was “The Littlest Snowflake.”

Prior to Saturday’s Women’s March Reverend Ginny Mikita, with her sparkling presence, offered us gently disquieting and heart-affirming encouragement as she told of the time she and her daughter went to the March on the day after 45’s inauguration. There they heard Gloria Steinem’s call to courage and Michael Moore’s assurance that “this will be over in 4-6 months.”

Saturday it rained. Saturday it snowed. Saturday the wind gusted up to 40 mph. It was as if the rain and snow were a tag team determined to deter the Marchers. The Marchers won. They came into the finish laughing and cheering and shivering. They had marched again. Perhaps the most stirring poster sardonically read something along the lines of “I can’t believe we’re still protesting this shit.”

I sit here, the ever present pit in my stomach. How I love the sensibility that leads all of us to cherish “The Littlest Snowflake.” I try to balance it with a world suffocating under violence and the violation of all we cherish. I can’t. Cruelty overwhelms.

I’m reading Barry Lopez’s Horizon. He’s watching his young grandson playing in a pool, playing in joy, and he writes, “In the beauty of this moment, I suddenly feel the question: What will happen to us? … I want to wish each stranger I see … an untroubled life. I want everyone here to survive what is coming.”

And I too, of course, want everyone I see to survive, to be able always to watch for the delight of the littlest snowflake.

Ice Storm

Here on the couch with my young dog
I’m feeling gratitude, an odd gratitude,
an old gratitude, one I thought had gone

for good down a long back road
that led away from the years when
I felt glad, felt what I believed

was an abiding gratitude: to be,
to be warm, and grateful to be
warm, to have some pillows

and a dozen books and all afternoon.
To be alone without even a sideswipe
of loneliness. To be on page 47,

or 114, or page one and there
was nothing missing. The ice
storm made things warm,

time irrelevant, made the sleeping
dog an Amen to a prayer
never needing to be said.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Third Wednesday
Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Just published is Wild Hope: Stories for Lent from Paraclete Press, by Gayle Boss, an exquisite spiritual writer. Gayle spent years studying species that are not only endangered but near extinction. “Wild Hope is the only book whose table of contents alone gave me chills” wrote MacArthur grantee Carl Safina. The collection has also been been celebrated by Bill McKibbon and Richard Rohr. The woodcuts by David G. Klein are astonishing.

On Tuesday, January 28, at 7pm, come see us in Montague at the amazing, one-and-only BookNook and Java Shop! I’ll be reading from St. Peter and the Goldfinch, and chatting with Book Nook people. The best people. Here’s how to get there.

I am welcoming new sign-ups for one-on-one coaching in poetry writing held here at our home or online via Zoom or Skype. No experience needed; all levels are welcome. I always tailor the sessions to meet whatever you would enjoy working with. To set up a date and time just contact me at this link or the one above. Cost is $85 for an hour-and-a-half session or $235 for three sessions. And of course if you don’t enjoy our time together, no charge!!😊

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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.

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.

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

 

After School

Last week I wrote about having our daughter and her students out here at our home for a class. The house echoed with joy, and it has lingered — lingered along with wondering what future 45, his cronies, and the cowards in congress are creating for them.

Last night local student and friend, 14-year-old Hannah Huggett, received her town’s Youth Social Justice Award for her tireless work combating climate change, gun violence, violations of women’s rights, pollution, harm to the earth. Hannah, of course, gives us hope, but like Greta, she wants more than hope; she demands action.

We’re all proud of you Hannah. Let’s embody that pride by celebrating you with action. Here’s a start: Join the fourth annual Women’s March on January 18. We will be marching from Douglas to Saugatuck. In our towns we will be meeting and organizing all weekend long. For details go here: http://bit.ly/SDWM2020.

After School

Under the bridge from which anyone could have jumped,
we stood and read the history of rust, the sleep
of iron in the rainy afternoon. “I love Eddie”
“Class of 1974” “This world sucks!” We
remembered our hands. And we wished we could lie down
in this dirty stream and feel the fish come back,
see a weary angel lay its wings beside
the abandoned tire and wander off
tossing beer cans from the weeds and laughing.
–for John Armstrong III

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Carolina Quarterly
Subsequently published in Poems from The Same Ghost and Between (Dawn Valley Press)

On Tuesday, January 28, at 7pm, come see us in Montague at the amazing, one-and-only Book Nook and Java Shop! I’ll be reading from St. Peter and the Goldfinch, and chatting with Book Nook people. The best people. Here’s how to get there.

I am welcoming new sign-ups for one-on-one coaching in poetry writing held here at our home or online via Zoom or Skype. No experience needed; all levels are welcome. I always tailor the sessions to meet whatever you would enjoy working with. To set up a date and time just contact me at this link or the one above. Cost is $85 for an hour-and-a-half session or $235 for three sessions. And of course if you don’t enjoy our time together, no charge!!👍😊

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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.

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.

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

Before the Game

Our daughter Meridith, art teacher, and her colleague Ellie, theater teacher, are team-teaching an interim course designed to undermine the damaging distinction between work and play. When we were children there was no difference. We did what we did: work and play fully integrated.

On Monday Meridith and Ellie brought their two classrooms out to our house, one group in the morning, the other in the afternoon, to create a five-course gourmet meal. I watched. I listened. I smiled. Joy filled the house. The class and Ellie and Meridith laughed and talked and yelled and “Oh my gawd-ed” and spilled and stirred and cooked and then gathered together, wide-eyed at their colorful presentation and sat in front of the fire to savor what they had created. And yes they discovered that preparing a meal could be, if they chose it to be, a form of creativity and play.

Remember how Julia Child would make a cake, and it would fall, and she would laugh and say how delightful it all was, and then offer her “Bon appetit”? She always transformed the “work,” the “task,” the “chore” of cooking into play.

I know that Meridith and Ellie are hoping their students realize that value lies in the joy of playful doing, successful outcome or not, and that the things we must do over and over again can be sustained as play, delight-bringing, and as what deeply matters.

Before the Game

“A lot of slush tonight,”
Custodian thinks, looking
over at the row of mops
leaning against the wall
of the boiler room. “I
clean up after everyone.”

The crowd is coming in,
stomping the snow
off their boots, shaking
the flakes from their coats.
He grabs a bucket, takes
a mop, puts them by the door.

He thinks of his son, a teacher
sixty miles away, who’d played
guard, averaged 14 points and
six assists his senior year. He’d
let him in the gym on Sundays.
They’d gone one-on-one.
He’d won a game or two.

He remembers going
out with Cindy Cross.
She married a car dealer.
His hands feel like young birds.

The team comes bursting
through the locker room
door, clapping, yelling past
him. He slaps each player
on the shoulder, says,
“Good luck. Go get ’em.”

–Jack Ridl

From Losing Season (CavanKerry Press)

It’s a new year, and I was hoping these posts would not still be going out there. I was naive, figured six months at the most. So to all of you who have subscribed and to you who have shared and sent a column on to others and to you who have responded, my thanks are innumerable. I have needed to be sustained, and you have done that. As I was writing this post about the wonderful students, I kept thinking about their futures. What will it be? I try not to shudder. All that joy. How I hope they can remain loyal to it.

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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.

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.

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

Christmas, the Impeachment of The President of the United States

Scenario: Greta Thunberg asks to meet with her school principal and guidance counselor. They ask her what the trouble is. She replies,

“The President of the United States is bullying me! I want him put in detention and have to write on the whiteboard ‘I will not bully Greta any more’ 150 times. And then, impeach him.”

 

Christmas, the Impeachment of The President of the United States

My father would be baking kolaces

I’ve shoveled the snow from the walk to the house.

Returning home. Leaving home. Finding a home.

The line into the soup kitchen is a block long.

Wood on the fire. Eggnog. Christmas scarves on the dogs.

All night the stars.

The oldest ornament we own, a wooden snowman sitting on a red sled, is 80.

The delivery trucks follow one another around the bend.

We’ve placed this year’s tea blend in the mailbox.

Each day rearranging the Christmas cards on the windowsills.

There is a wreath on the door.

What family we have left will not be here.

The cold clings in silver webs on the windows.

A woman behind a winter market stand lays a handmade necklace across her open palm.

–Jack Ridl

First published in 5AM; Subsequently published in Practicing to Walk Like a Heron (Wayne State University Press)

D. L. James has not one but two new collections out just in time for you to give to someone who finds poetry a good place to be. David’s humane poems are often funny or catch you not sure whether or not to laugh. The collections:

Nail Yourself into Bliss from Kelsay Books

and

A Gem of Truth from Main Street Rag

Special gratitude for all those who made the local Vigil Against Violence meaningful, and for those who protested 45 on Tuesday, and to all who created moving holiday concerts over the past week, and for those who celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and the Solstice, and the holiday of your heart, may it be MERRY AND BRIGHT!

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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.

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.

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

Out In the Fields With the Dogs Two Weeks Before Christmas

In the midst of it all, there can be light, perhaps even a kind of joy–Greta Thunberg has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

Let’s have this “”little child’ lead us.

And let’s follow the Clumber Spaniels we once got to live with…

Out in the Fields with the Dogs Two Weeks before Christmas

Their great white heads take me
deeper into the snow. They lift
their noses into the wind-soaked
air, then push further into the drifts,
finding the lost smells in the roots,
weeds, and matted ground cover. They
know the deer have walked here,
their own heads lifted high into
the morning. I can only imagine
what worlds fill the dogs’ heads,
what takes form from the thousand
smells we can never know, their
dreams made from all these grasses,
mud, scat, and fur. Maybe something
takes the scents and stirs them into
some bewilderment of wolves
walking a ridge. We walk on.
At home, the Christmas tree,
trimmed with strings of tiny lights,
glitter-covered glass, tinsel, angels,
nesting birds, toy drums, and
the withering paper globes we
made when we were children,
stands in a back window. You
are baking kolaces, baking them
the way my father did, rolling
the soft dough over the apricots,
raisins, apples, and poppy seed.
The snow is falling harder. The dogs
look back, then come to my side, sit
and gnaw at the ice frozen to their feet.
This year it will be the two of us,
and the dogs. We’ve been told
the full moon is to be the brightest
it’s been in 90 years. We’ll watch
it out the bedroom window as it
crosses through the trees, low
in the southern sky, the dogs
asleep at the foot of the bed.

–Jack Ridl

Published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

I hope you will skim back through this year’s posts for books by writers I think you would appreciate and books to consider giving to someone for a holiday gift.

 

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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.

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.

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

Michael Steinberg Made the World Better

Hi folks. Julie here. We are early this week. It’s a hard day, and we needed to talk about it…

Carole just wrote to us. Michael has died. We are staggered. We are staggered the way we are all staggered, trying to imagine the world without our loved ones in it. It’s unimaginable. And it should be, really. Hard to fathom. Anything less would say so little about the life. We should all aim to leave a hole in the world that staggers people.

Michael Steinberg.

Mike.

Many thousands of writers and readers could walk arm-in-arm through the hole Mike has left us. It is enormous and raggedly edged.

And that’s because Mike invented and taught us a whole new way to tell our stories. Then he made sure our stories were heard.

Really, what better gift could a person give the world, what better legacy could a person leave than giving us a new way to connect, one to an other? By giving us a Fourth Genre, he showed us how creative non-fiction can transport us to someone else’s place and time and experience.

And he poured more of his life into teaching and celebrating other people’s writing than anyone we knew. He celebrated Jack’s poems too, because he was generous that way. He listened to Jack’s stories, and Jack listened to his, and Carole and I were very patient, taking walks to stare into woods or along shorelines,  when many… well, most… of those stories centered on sports.

He introduced us to so many writers. And by us, I mean Jack and Julie, but I especially mean you, and the world. Editors paid attention to the writers Michael paid attention to. Careers quietly and not so quietly launched by his careful reading and coaching, his boundless energy for this work.

No. It’s hard to walk through this day, and it’s hard to imagine tomorrow without Michael. And if it’s hard for us, we can hardly dip a toe into Carole’s pain.  So let’s go to her now, and tell her we will never forget him. Not ever. Impossible.

Without looking for it, this poem landed in my lap this morning. It makes me think of that kid in Brooklyn, playing baseball anywhere he could hunt up a game. And then finding his girl.

Carole, we love you…  J&J

Psalm

I am still on a rooftop in Brooklyn
on your holy day. The harbor is before me,
Governor’s Island, Verrazano Bridge
and the Narrows. I keep in my head
what Rabbi Nachmann said about the world
being a narrow bridge and that the important thing
is not to be afraid. So on this day
I bless my mother and father, that they be
not fearful where they wander. And I
ask you to bless them and before you
close your Book of Life, your Sefer Hachayim,
remember that I always praised your world
and your splendor and that my tongue
tried to say your name on Court Street in Brooklyn.
Take me safely through the Narrows to the sea.

–Harvey Shapiro
From A Momentary Glory — Last Poems, Wesleyan University Press

Over in That Corner, the Puppets

For many, “’tis the season to be jolly.” And for some that is not an easy thing to be.

I have failed over and over again–especially in my own home, a place where my anger and disappointment should be kept where it touches no one I proclaim to love. Oh I can try to justify it and even ask others to understand. But that fails to eradicate its effect.

Be jolly? No, I don’t think I can pull that off. But I do feel that I can and should “Be of good cheer.

To “be of good cheer” is a decision. It doesn’t require a “season,” something that puts the responsibility outside my responsibility. But “Be of good cheer,” that’s a sweet and gentle command.

I’m going to take it on, no matter how I really feel, I’m going to “be of good cheer.” And it’s not hypocritical to the way I really feel, because the way I really feel isn’t what’s important. What’s important is the feeling I create for others to be with. I want them to be with someone who can, no matter what, “Be of good cheer.”

A repeat poem for today–

Over in That Corner, the Puppets

Even when the weather changes,
remember to pet the dog, make
the cat purr, watch whatever

comes to the window. If you
stand there long enough,
someone will come by,

a stranger perhaps, one who
could be more, but needs
to keep walking. “Hello”

is likely what you can say.

–for Naomi Shihab Nye

–Jack Ridl

First published in Peninsula Poets.

Subsequently published in Saint Peter and the Goldfinch (Wayne State University Press)

Once again Gayle Boss’s marvelous and original All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings, is here for the Season. The moving woodcuts are by David G. Klein, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Random House, DC Comics, and Marvel. Published by Paraclete Press, it is available where fine books are sold and online. “A lovely invitation into the quiet mysteries of darkness.”–Christine Valters Paintner, author of Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics.

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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.

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.

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

The Man Who Loves Olives

Here in the U.S. it’s Thanksgiving Day.

I am certainly thankful for those of you reading this, for your sustaining support of postings that I began while all but certain they would be short-lived, that I would not end up, three years down the road, wondering how I can keep coming up with anything when the discouragement remains chronic.

Today two painters came to do touch-up work at our house. We had a lot of laughs. One guy had been painting for 40 years; he was 56, and during this time he’d broken his back, his leg, his ankle, and had three knee operations.

He had done the original painting of the walls and baseboards, ceilings and trim. I thanked him, saying how we had talked about the terrific paint job that someone had done. He said how rare it is that he ever hears, “… ‘Thank you.’ And it means so much to me.”

No matter how bad it is, there are people like our painter, who respect and take pride in their craft, who get up and go to work, who, behind our scene, make our lives richer–and deserve not just a paycheck but our thanks.

The Man Who Loves Olives

Every day he goes to the store
at the end of his street and buys
a jar of olives. He pretends
they are from the south of France,
grown by a family who first planted
the trees just after the Romans had
cleared out, leaving the sun and the
light and the mistral. He imagines
the trees, twisted, full of gnarled
knots, rooted deeper than their
history. He knows how the trees,
even when broken, bent, cut back
to nothing but a sprig send
shoots back up into the hot, dry summer.
He knows how difficult it is to pick
a single olive, how they hold to the
tangle of branches, how the timing
has to be perfect or the lovely bitter
taste will fail. When he gets home,
he sits on his porch, twists off the cap,
picks out a single olive, black or green,
and drops it in his mouth, pausing,
letting the red clay in his imagination
open, letting the trees stand against
the wind. He bites down, smiles,
shudders, then pulls out another, the sun’s
light coming through his window,
the heat of the day rising like his past.

–Jack Ridl

Published in Waymark — Voices of the Valley.

My pal Jeffrey Munroe’s hot new Reading Buechner is out and already a Best Seller! And it’s the Number 1 book in the country in literary criticism. He is a wonderful man. He is funny and bright. He knows his bourbon. There are many reasons to love him, and to love Buechner, so we recommend picking up both authors and settling in for a great winter read.

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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.

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.

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

Advice Upon Leaving

Last night, Wednesday eve, people in our area, and probably in yours too, held a vigil for transgendered people who have lost their lives, and for their families and all who grieve with them.

These cruel losses, of course, didn’t need to happen. Each lost person was the victim of hate. They caused no harm. They were hated.

One was the daughter of a cherished former student.

Friends of ours are accompanying their son, who is transitioning and working to be accepted as the male we all know him to be. They know all that lies ahead. At his high school he has been mostly affirmed. His principal has made sure the family can believe in his support. They can feel his care for them.

However, we can no longer trust that this is a government FOR the people. Especially people like this boy.

And yet at the same time, so many people care. It’s on their faces. People who used to engage in political discussion have recognized that civil argument is futile. Better to care: for the climate, for those impoverished in so many ways, for the transgendered, for anyone at risk from fear and hatred, and all you can think of who could be listed here.

Oh we’re all still physically here in the U.S., but many of us don’t live here anymore.

Lately, along with being with those who care, I’ve been living in the world of music. It’s no longer simply a soundtrack to my day. I listen. I really listen. I’ve resettled where there is care and where there is music.

Advice Upon Leaving

Learn how many teeth your dog has.
Enjoy the weather.
Listen to the sound of sweet voices.
Memorize silence
When you are alone, let nothing enter.
Be close to water.
Don’t make anything that can be used.
Find a friend you cannot talk to.
Look out.
When asked what you think,
answer, “Music.”

–Jack Ridl

From The Same Ghost (Dawn Valley Press). Republished in Poems from The Same Ghost and Between (Dawn Valley Press.)

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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.

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.

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