Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 6, 2015

Thoughts on Prayer

As I wrote, be taking up some of the slack since Mike Drinkard decided to pause in his posting of hymn lyrics on Facebook.  This is a meditation from a year or so ago.

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“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” Kierkegaard.

The Danish Christian philosopher, theologian and author lived from 1813-1855. The brilliant idea quoted above did not, however, take the thought to a specific conclusion regarding Christians’ prayers.
Let’s take Kirkegaard’s concept and apply it to the prayer Christ taught us.  In the New International Version of the Bible, we’ll look at Matthew’s account of Jesus’ teachings about prayer.
In Chapter 6, verse 8, Jesus tells his disciples, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”  This is a clear illustration of what Kierkegaard meant. Why, then do Christians need to pray, if God already knows what they need? Because of the change prayer works in the nature of the one who prays.
In Matthew 6, verses 9-13, Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray. We’ll examine the prayer section by section and apply Kierkegaard’s concept.
Verse 9: “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,”
The person in prayer is acknowledging the omnipotence and holiness of the Father and by a sincere understanding of the glory of the Father, that individual is coming closer to God.  In the original Aramaic, according to one interpretation, the verse says, “Our Eternal Creator, parent to us all.” We can only address God as “Father” because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Verse 10: “…your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
A Christian in prayer whose mind and soul are tuned to communion with the Father will realize that the Kingdom of God is fulfilled when His will is done without pause or question. The one praying will be changed to more completely follow the teachings of Jesus, to live within the will of God. If we pray for the Kingdom of God to come, our awareness that we must be ready to welcome His coming will be infused in our consciousness.
Verse 11: “Give us today our daily bread.”
How does this change the soul of the one in prayer? The prayer for fulfillment highlights a realization that all that we have, on a daily basis, comes from God.  He knows our needs already, but wants us to continually realize that our sustenance comes only from Him and He is the giver of every good and perfect gift and his love takes care of us.
Verse 12: “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.”
For some, if not all of us, this is the hardest part of the prayer to honestly pray.  Jesus was quite specific about this element of his template for a Christian’s prayer. It is easy to ask for one’s own forgiveness while holding an unforgiving grudge against another. But the words of Jesus, which came directly after his teachings about prayer, are clear and powerful.
Matthew 6, Verses 14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.”
These words form a clear, unambiguous warning about forgiveness. Christians need to heed the injunction and look deeply inside to find forgiveness of others.  This, then, is another way in which Jesus’ prayer changes the nature of the one praying.
The final section of the model prayer says, in Matthew 6, Verse 13:
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
These words are the conclusion of the prayer. The statements many remember as coming after this, do not appear in most modern translations as the words of Jesus. They were probably added as a doxology, an additional prayer of praise, by the early Church.
For the praying Christian, speaking to the Lord about strengthening against temptation should be a vivid reminder to stay far away from situations that could lead to violations of His will.  Then, with only the smallest of pauses, follows a plea for protection. When a Christian asks God to shield them against the evil one in the same breath as praying for help in avoiding temptation, in some ways, the concept is the same. Remember, the evil one often referred to as “the tempter.”
The prayer Jesus taught his disciples was not a prayer for rote repetition. What He taught was how we should pray, not what the exact words of our prayers should be. Christ was specific about the hypocrisy of those who are only mouthing memorized formulas.
Prayer must be genuine and come from deep within the soul of a Christian to alter the nature of the person speaking to Our Father.  God knows our needs before we ask Him; it is we who benefit from prayer that puts us closer to His presence.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 4, 2015

Meditation for March 4, 2015, The Hem of His Garment

Since my son, Michael, has paused in posting old hymn lyrics, I’ll post a few essays that I call “Meditations.”  You may also find song lyrics here, from time to time.

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In one of the most powerful stories of faith and healing, Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the story of a woman who, as Mark writes:

“… was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” Mark 5:25-29

Jesus was and is the Great Teacher. He used this situation, and this woman’s faith, to teach His followers and all those around him a number of lessons. Remember that Jesus was Jewish and was observant of Jewish traditions. This fact is clearly illustrated a number of times in the scriptures, including a fact quite important to this story.

The woman, whose name is not recorded in the Gospels, would have been unclean according to Jewish law as spelled out in Leviticus 15:25-27. Also, anyone she touched would have been unclean and would have had to be ritually cleansed.

The fact that she touched Jesus in her unclean condition would have drawn strong condemnation from the priests. But remember that Jesus said that He had not come to destroy the laws but to fulfill them. He didn’t criticize her for touching him. Instead, He told her: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

The cloak that Jesus wore is important; it was, in accordance with Jewish law and tradition, called a tallit. It was the long cloak Jewish men wore when they went out in public. On the four corners of the tallit were tassels that were a part of the commandment of God to Moses in Numbers 15:37-41. There was more to the story, however, the tassels on the tallit were sometimes called “wings” and biblical scholars point to Malachi 4:2 “…the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” as a prophesy of Jesus and the healing power experienced by this woman as well as others.

When the woman touched the tassel on Jesus’ cloak it wasn’t just that it was handy. These tassels, called, in Hebrew, tzitziyot, represented obedience to God. They represented holiness.

Jesus was moving through the thick crowds on the way to the house of Jarius one of the rulers of the synagogue. Jarius had come to Jesus and implored Him to heal his daughter.

“Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with Him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So Jesus went with him.” Mark 5:22-24

So Jesus was on His way, with an important man, for a vital purpose. The fact that He stopped when the woman touched his garment tells us something else: no person’s needs are unimportant to Him. This was another example of the lessons to Jesus’ followers. When the sick woman’s fingertips contacted the tassel on Jesus’ cloak, He felt her faith through that light touch.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” Mark 5:30

The disciples were astonished that he asked the question since they were in the midst of jostling crowds pushing and shoving all around them. To them it was if everyone was touching all of them—after all, they were on the way to the house of an important man and probably everyone anticipated that Jesus would heal the man’s daughter.

The woman was desperate, and had heard about Jesus and His healing power. When she found Him, she must have knelt to touch his cloak. In times when we despair and have almost lost hope, and nothing that mankind can do to help us, we can remember what she did. She knelt before Him and reached out to touch him in faith and her faith in Jesus healed her.

Taking action by reaching out in humility, while knowing our own helplessness, is the first part of the formula. Having faith in the healing power of the Lord is the other part. No matter how unclean a person has been, no matter how hopeless, reaching out in faith to Him is the answer to healing.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | February 27, 2015

Second V Trooper Audiobook and Special Offers

We are excited to announce that the second novella in the V Trooper series is now available as an audiobook. Narrator Carl Moore, who was the producer for the V Trooper – First Mission audiobook, has done a sterling job again!

The audio snip below is from Chapter 2. Wil Boyd, the Vampire Trooper has been sent to terrorize a man that knows who is building IEDs to maim and kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Anna, the woman who transformed Wil into a vampire, is virtually aware of all that he does, and she provides a bit of help in this situation.

As a special introductory offer, the first twenty people who go to audible.com and download V Trooper – Second Mission – The Demon can get a copy of the Kindle reading version free as a gift. This offer is good until March 10, 2015. This is a nice bonus as many people enjoy having both available, reading the words as they listen to the audiobook.

Downloading the book from Audible as your first selection is free. To get the Kindle version, send an email to author999@gmx.com, with the subject: Free Kindle Book.

By taking advantage of this offer, you also have an opportuntity to win an FM transmitter—pictured below. It allows the user to listen to audiobooks on their smartphone, tablet, iPod or other device. It will be awarded, as a gift, to one of the first ten to request the Kindle book at the above address. The winner will be chosen randomly and the device will be mailed on Friday, March 13, 2015.

Enjoy the sample and good luck in winning the FM transmitter.vtrooper002-audiobook

Transmitter

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | January 31, 2015

Tet, 1968 Remembered

I was unfortunate enough to be in Cholon, the Chinese sector of Saigon for the Tet Offensive of 1968.  My book, Where There Were No Innocents is a work of fiction, but the following excerpt is quite close to reality.  The book carries the protagonist, Mack Brinson, through several days of the fight, but this is much the way it was that morning. The book is available on Amazon as a digital book and on Amazon, Audible and iTunes as an audiobook—narrated by Mike McCartney, the PA announcer for the Kansas City Royals.

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When I left the meeting with my Vietnamese counterpart, I drove to the Cholon PX, in the heavily Chinese part of Saigon to pick up some necessities and a couple of gifts for my Vietnamese friends. Firecrackers were constant.  The kids would take a long, double string of the fireworks and hang them out of the second story of a building.  Another child would light them from the sidewalk and watch them climb the wall with popping flashes and smoke.  They would giggle and cheer, then do it again. It sounded like firefights all over the city.
Good thing there was going to be a ceasefire for the Tet holiday.
I woke up at about 3:00 AM on the morning of January 31st; went to the bathroom and headed back to my bunk, internally bitching about the continuous crackling of firecrackers.

I stopped and listened more closely.

The rhythm was not the rattling snap of firecrackers.  The sound was automatic weapons fire.

“Dan, wake up.  There’s fighting in the streets.”

My roommate was usually hard to wake, but once he sat up and listened he was completely alert.

“Shit.  The shooting’s close, too.  What’ve we got?” he said.

I listed the weapons that had become part of my traveling arsenal.

“Hell, all I’ve got is the old M-2 carbine with two magazines. I’d never expected to need them, here in the city.  Let’s go outside and see what’s happening.” he said.

We dressed and slowly opened the door.  It was darker than normal.  Saigon’s electrical system was unreliable, but there were even fewer lights than usual outside the compound.  The sky, however, was streaked with tracers . Red for Americans and South Vietnamese and green for our enemies.  Our compound appeared safe, but there was an MP Jeep with a machine gun at each entrance, backing up the guards.

“We need to get to SOG headquarters,” I said.

“You crazy? With all that shit flying out there, how’re we going to do that?”

“We’ll go upstairs and get Don Stephens.  I know he’ll be well armed.  You drive the Jeep and we’ll keep the bad guys at bay.  We can be there in minutes, there won’t be any traffic to deal with, and we can ignore the one-way streets,” I said.

Stephens was a SEAL who usually carried a CAR-15 and a 9mm Browning everywhere he went. I knocked on his door and stepped to one side, in case he decided to shoot without checking. When he opened the door, he stepped back inside into darkness.  Only when he’d identified me did he lower the muzzle of his assault rifle.

“What in hell is going on out there?” he said.

“Looks and sounds like the war has finally come to Saigon.”

“What’re you going to do?” he said.

He was wearing cutoff camouflage pants, an olive-drab tee shirt and black, low cut sneakers.

“Dan and I are going to SOG headquarters.  Dan will drive the Jeep, I’ll ride shotgun and you can cover the back.  You want to change clothes?”

He was silent and stepped back into his room. He came out with his pistol holstered on his belt and four extra magazines for the rifle. He hadn’t changed clothes.

“Let’s go. We can’t do anything here,” he said

I was dressed in tiger stripe fatigues with no insignia and a black floppy hat.  Dan had on his regular jungle fatigues and cap.
Dan was a little reluctant, but Stephens and I convinced him to go. We loaded into the Jeep and started out the gate.

“Halt, Sir,” the MP said.

“Why?” I said.

The young buck sergeant evidently thought we didn’t understand.

“Well, Sir, you can hear it.  There’s a lot of shooting all over the city.  We’ve heard on the radio that the VC have some of the streets blocked.  They’re shooting at anything American,” he said.

I took my SOG identification card out and let him look at it.

“Thank you, Sergeant, but we’ve got to get over to Pasteur Street,” I said.

He stood aside and saluted.

“Good luck!” he said.

Dan didn’t turn on the lights and blasted up what would normally be the wrong way on the big one-way Hung Vuong street that ran to the center of Saigon.  Apparently we took the bad guys by surprise.  By the time they’d realized what was happening, we were by them in the darkness. They didn’t expect us to be violating the traffic rules, silly as it seems.
Stephens and I fired a few full-auto bursts at muzzle flashes.
When we pulled up to the gate at our headquarters, our MP gate guard, Culp, the Texan was backed up—as the hotel compound had been—by a machine gun Jeep.
He came to my side of the Jeep.

“Damn, Cap’n, y’all are taking some big chances out there tonight.  How’d you get here through all that?”

“Fast and lucky,” Dan said.

“Y’all got shot at, too.  What’d you do?” Culp said.

“Shot hell out of whoever fired at us,” I said.

“Could’a been you were shooting at some friendlies, in the dark,” Culp said.

I stepped away from the Jeep, and raised the seat to let Stephens out.

“Son, somebody shoots at me, he ain’t friendly,” Stephens said.

The young MP silently pointed to the canvas on top of the Jeep.  There were four narrow slits that ran from the top edge of the windshield to the back bow.  Our vehicle had taken four shots that just clipped the metal at the top of the windshield and ricocheted up the bows, plowing neat paths through the canvas.

We must’ve used up a large chunk of our luck that morning.

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | January 27, 2015

A Poem for Holocaust Day, 2015

While reviewing this before posting, I was struck by the years.  We spent an afternoon, in May of 1971, walking through the Dachau Concentration Camp. I didn’t finish writing this for four more years.  Now, twenty years later, reading it is almost painful. As everyone says, “Never again!”  I hope that’s true, but what I see in places held by ISIS and Boko Haram, as well as other—less well-known—terrorists, I wonder.  The quote at the beginning was actually on a road sign along the Autobahn in 1971.

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ARTIST’S CENTRE

“Visit Dachau, the 1200 years old artists’ centre with its castle and surrounding park offering a splendid view over the country.”

Sign along the Autobahn, May 1971.

It seemed the appropriate thing –

driving North,

after Munich’s beer halls,

toward the marching torchlights of Nuremberg,

filled with Bavarian spring glory;

pause,

– as a traveling artist might

for schnitzel and beer;

visit,

for a May afternoon,

where so many lived their lives

too short

or long.

THE GASTHAUS

         “We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds . . ..” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 Houses and shops stand like unmoving spectators

edging medieval streets

whose cobbles pound our tires,

slamming in rhythmic thumps,

echoing from claustrophobic walls

like jackboots at quick march.

The gasthaus windows hold blurry leaded panes,

ancient as its yellowed mortar and bricks.

It slumbers the days beside shops with newer glass

-a comfortable quiet neighbor,

as old as evil.

Our host, bespectacled and fat,

knows us for Americans,

and waves aside our bookish German,

welcoming in robust English.

We sit in sturdy oak chairs,

before a round hand-made table

under shelves with pewter plates and tankards

high above, on clean white walls.

Dark lager (cold for tourists),

and bratwurst with potato dumplings

blend with holiday gemutlichkeit,

fill us with stealthy languor

until the question

stops genial smiles,

stops talk

that had eddied in holiday air

like swirls of pipe smoke.

The camp,

yes,

where is the prison camp?

The concentration camp.

He doesn’t know,

can hardly understand;

-business keeps him close,

perhaps another can tell,

good-bye, thank you,

good-bye.

The waitress has heard;

-is young, with a dirndl only for work.

Follow the old railroad;

         look where a branch splits in weeds to a siding

         where things were once unloaded.

         We will see chimneys,

         then, the road inside is near.

She tells us a story she had heard;

…the host,

         when only a youth,

         had crept silently in the night

         to throw loaves of bread over the walls.

     *********

 It was always closer than we knew.

From any higher vantage,

-a public building, standing tall

or church with a strong steeple,

we might have seen the camp before,

but persistent soot darkened their windows,

hiding the sight.

We traveled on the prison road

before we knew where it led.

-tracks appeared;

once bright hard German steel

that barely flexed under loaded cattle cars,

lie obscured now,

camouflaged in rust and silence.

“ARBEIT MACHT FREI”

 Work will make you free,

the sign above the gate promised each morning.

Everyone worked then,

The Fuehrer led us to our tasks.

I typed and filed for the SS Doctors;

-precise records:

race, nationality,

crimes against The Reich,

camp discipline,

experiments,

and deaths,

cross indexed by tattoo number

and name.

All the family has poor vision,

-I’m almost blind without heavy glasses

given me by the party-

but wanted to wear the black shirt;

had envied hordes of SS ranks at Nuremberg,

following swastika standards,

stepping to the pagan roll of kettle drums,

emblazoned with lightning and death-heads.

That night in thirty-four, my family joined the march;

bearing our torches toward The Fuerher’s stand,

down that dark path

where a column of spotlights pointed skyward,

and disappeared in emptiness.

The doctors gave me the storm trooper shirt

pinned with silver runes and skulls

-made me one of them

as an honor,

after I assisted in a medical experiment.

-I only followed orders;

only kept records.

They called him their Test Pilot,

-laughed at the irony of a Jew

dressed in Luftwaffe flight gear,

testing North Atlantic water survival

beneath the walls of Dachau.

He sat in a wooden tub,

chained to his task,

submerged to the neck in icy brine

that mocked the life vest he wore.

How long, the doctors had asked,

should we search for pilots

downed at sea in winter?

-How long, they wanted to know,

would it take the Jew to die?

I held the stopwatch.

watching both hands circle,

until his work had made him free.

Late in the night,

as the SS doctors drank and ate,

telling stories and laughing in our gasthaus,

I stole bread from the kitchen,

found my way in darkness,

and threw loaves over the wall.

 *********

 The picture hangs in the camp museum;

-part of the records we kept-

A doctor counts the Jew’s slowing pulse,

another ensures the water is cold enough.

Two others watch.

I stand away,         to one side,

wearing the SS shirt that doesn’t fit,

looking down at stopwatch and clipboard.

Everyone else looks at the camera.

Everyone smiles

but me

and the Test Pilot.

No one in town knows

-or tells-

who that young clerk was.

*********

 THE MUSEUM

Now, the path into the camp;

-a long entranceway,

whose high, whitewashed walls,

blank and mute,

keeps all sights enclosed.

One blind guard tower watches the gate.

It could be a schoolhouse,

an innocent white frame building,

where children hang bright crayon drawings

down long hallways with fragrant oiled floors.

It was once camp headquarters.

Inside, we submerge into the Third Reich:

black and white pictures in iron racks,

enlarged beyond reality,

stare back at us.

Hitler points and screams,

his grainy, sightless, long-dead eyes

storm from the poster

with erupting blackness

like a sudden rush of vulture’s wings.

Snapshots:

–a man chained in a wooden tub,

freezes in ice water.

Doctors in SS uniform watch.

–a “Test Person” locked in a steel tank,

       – a series of pictures

                  taken through a small thick window,

panics as his air is sucked out,

claws his face,

contorted in the vacuum,

until his lungs rupture.

–bodies, living and dead,

like stick-figures drawn by an insane child,

stare out from their wooden sleeping bins,

or lie stacked in a pit;

arms, legs, necks jutting in broken angles.

Exhibits:

–Ledger books

written in a precise hand

translated on another book to English,

to French, to Russian,

to Hebrew,

as exact transcripts of torture and death

-a daily journal

of ordinary horrors

–a long, slatted oak table,

concave across its breadth,

specially made for beatings,

-stained from its work,

stands highlighted by a sudden shaft of sunlight.

*********

         I am only a simple carpenter

         my thoughts lie in my hands,

         -my tools,

         and follow the grain of German wood.

         I could not see the crooked Nazi design

         beneath the lines and print that held their plan.

         They used my work

         …stained my pride,

         bloodied the pores of clear young oak,

         shaming the art of my ancient trade.

         I am only one man,

         …a poor carver of wood,

         I made the tables where they drank at night,

              -and whipping tables for their prey.

         What would you have me do?

         Is a carpenter,

         the son of a carpenter,

                  -to try to save the world?

***

We see nearly all of it now,

tall schoolhouse windows admit the sight.

The May sun is still not warm enough,

but we surface into newer air,

limestone gravel crunches and echoes as we walk.

Only one hut stands,

a replica from new wood,

-a reminder.

For the rest,

empty ranks of concrete foundations,

like indelible tracks from an army of giants,

stand squarely aligned in stone formation;

like casts of dinosaur footprints,

-silent evidence

of what once stood here.

Two chapels at the far end,

grown on this dead ground

like bright fungus

leaching sustenance from a fallen tree,

distance themselves.

Even from this vantage,

where once we would have smelled them,

we still cannot see gas chambers

and ovens.

                          THE CHAPELS AT DACHAU

 Like constructs from an alien reality,

the chapels sit on this barren ground

along the path to gas chambers.

Catholic and Protestant, they lie

unaligned with the vacant, squared foundation ranks.

Their modern concrete,

unstained,

sweeps in flowing curves,

and brown rock from distant quarries,

artfully forms a vertical cylinder,

holding its sheltered crucifix behind a steel fence

with points like tips of bayonets.

No sanctuaries;

comfortable backdrops for pictures,

or sites for occasional brief prayer

by pious tourists who come to visit.

These would have been a place to pause,

where those driven down this trail,

could kneel in meager comfort,

before a cross whose arms were not deformed

into a swastika.

But this dead earth lay unblessed,

churches and their architects — distant:

the Vatican tending her own affairs,

and preachers, heeding the voice of Luther,

could not see

beyond the Nazi walls.

*********

 We finally make our turn,

where the walls seemed to break,

finally see-

what we knew without seeing.

The gas chamber,

the ovens,

three tall brick chimneys;

modest,

even insignificant

by later production standards

-at Auschwitz, at Buchenwald,

and others,

nevertheless, sufficient

for Dachau.

Short, thick, white candles,

burn in stretcher-shaped iron beds,

-that had committed the flesh to the flames-

sending thin guttering smoke

up chimneys still crusted inside with darker soot.

 *********

Like an oasis,

like water in desert places,

standing aside from the “Fumigation Chamber”

surrounded by greenery, flowers and grass

a small statue of a small man,

dressed in tatters and a too-large coat

focuses tired, resigned bronze eyes

on a place beyond our view.

A symbol, the sign says,

of all who suffered here.

 *********

 There were always the walls,

it seemed.

as a man, I could never see Germany beyond the ghetto,

         could only hear the rhythmic stamp of boots,

         grinding whine and clank of tanks,

         shouts and commands of Nazi officers;

         noises in the distance,

         nearly unreal.

My violin, my brother, Bach, and other friends

made music a comforting blanket

covering our small spaces in practiced familiar sound.

Then the night of torch lights,

         doors smashed open,

         armed men cursing, laughing,

         their dogs growling, snapping,

         herding us down streets we no longer knew

         shoving my twin against me,

         packing a boxcar in a strange rail yard,

         new in the town

         where I was born.

Wind and train whistle screamed,

tracks of the Reich hurried from our origins,

distance stretching terror inside like violin gut,

bowed with constant rushing slap of steel to steel,

moaning in discordant minor keys.

Brought at last to Dachau,

because we were twins

because our hair was red,

because we were “untermenschen”

         because we were Jews;

we piqued the Nazi curiosity

we made amusing subjects

for the doctors’ experiments.

 *********

 I am Nathan.

I was here,

stacked like cordwood

waiting for fire.

My life was dirt

beneath the Nazi boots.

Fire transformed the last of sinew and skin

to ashes.

The grinding wheel of years made me dust.

Dust, with all the others.

I am Nathan,

I am here.

I am dust.

Dust on your shoes you will carry away;

dust you breathe

-even as you try to hold your breath

my dust with the dust of millions coats your lungs,

seeps in your veins

without remedy.

I will be here

-always.

I will be with you

-always.

TD `95

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | January 14, 2015

Review of An Unexpected Bit of Humor

I got an advance copy of a short book of stories.  It only took me a few of hours to read—doctor’s office waiting room, restaurant table and my favorite chair, in front of the gas log fireplace—but I was delighted. As the father of two boys and grandfather of two boys, there is so much in this book to enjoy.

*********

Con Chapman’s Scooter and Skipper Blow Things Up is a book that will have those who are fathers of boys grinning in remembrance and mothers thinking, “That’s’s what I suspected those males were doing!”

It’s a short book—only 112 pages—but there are at least as many smiles and several sites of outright laughter.

The father’s conversations with his sons carry the action well and his internal observations provide grins and often, thought-provoking introspection.

As the book progresses, the boys are maturing and their questions, as well as responses, are appropriate to those ages.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it—particularly to those who have, or plan to have, sons.scooterfrontcovernobleed

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | January 5, 2015

A New Year’s Gift to Readers and Listeners

To begin 2015 with a special thanks to those who have read my books—and those who haven’t, I’m offering the following special deal:  go to http://is.gd/TuN3mK

Download Overload as your initial audiobook selection.  Don’t worry, it’ll be free.  You can cancel with Audible at any time.

Notify me at the following email address and I’ll send you a gift: the ebook version of Overload in either Kindle or Nook and Apple format (.MOBI or ePub).  All you have to do is provide an email address to receive the ebook.  No charge. No strings. Ever. Send your notification to author999@gmx.com.

Happy listening and reading.  Remember, you can listen to an audiobook on your smartphone, your tablet, or your computer. Listen to the sample below. It’s the prologue for the audibook

Happy listening and reading!

Tomoverload-audiobook-proof

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | December 17, 2014

A New Fable for Christmas – Seventh Installment

This is the final installment in this Christmas Fable.  I hope all who have read it are blessed and have a wonderful Christmas.

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As Haman and Jude were on the way back toward Bethlehem, the shepherd boy reminded the angel the angel of his promise.

“Jude, we’ve been walking for hours. I’m not tired, but I am curious. Please tell me what happened with the wise men in Bethlehem.”

The angel was silent for a few seconds, as if listening to unspoken words from far away.

“Haman, the Holy Family is safe now, so I can tell you the whole story. You should know, because of your role. Let’s stop for a few minutes so that you can rest and drink some water.”

They stopped at the edge of a spring and sat in the shade of the trees.

“Haman, the danger was from Herod. What the interpreter, Adiva, told you was accurate. The King is a jealous and dangerous man. He tried to get the magi to find the baby Jesus for him, so that he could destroy the child.”

“Surely Herod must’ve had someone following them as they made their way into Bethlehem. The caravan was large and made no attempt to travel unnoticed.

Jude’s smile was like that of a teacher whose prize student has done well.

“Yes. Herod had spies following the company of the magi. They reported back to him and told him where the Holy Family was located.”

“Are they in danger?”

“No more. The night that you left with the magi’s column, Gabriel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to wake up and take Mary and Jesus to Egypt for safety. He led them on their journey and told them to remain in that country until he came again to let them know that it was safe to go back to Israel.”

Jude paused again. His silence became uncomfortable for the shepherd.

“Jude, is that all the story? Now that the Holy Family is safe we shouldn’t worry.”

“Haman, you should begin to understand the evil that can infect mankind. Your friend, the translator, said that she felt evil when she was in the presence of Herod. She was right.”

“What happened?”

“It’s hard to believe, but when the king learned that the magi had escaped, the became enraged and ordered his soldiers to kill all male children around Bethlehem who were less than two years old,” Jude said.

Haman sat silently for a time, then went to the spring and filled his waterskin.

“Jude, let’s go on. I need to be doing something rather than sitting here thinking about those innocent boys.”

“Yes. As you mature, you’ll see more awful injustices, but the Savior which you saw in the stable has come to give you humans the way to find peace.”

The angel paused.

“You see, Haman, Jesus is the Prince of Peace that Isaiah prophesied and you will see Him again.”

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | December 16, 2014

A New Fable for Christmas – Sixth Installment

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that an angel told the Wise Men, in a dream, to ignore Herod’s orders and go home by a different route.  This fable puts the shepherd boy and the angel, Jude, in the story.

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Sleep came quickly for Haman. As he’d told Adiva,  he made his bed in the corner of the stable, on a stack of hay.

Jude had told the shepherd that he should rest well, because he had a vital mission to perform on the following day.

Haman woke when Jude touched his shoulder.

“Is it morning yet?” he said.

“Dawn will come soon. With the morning, you’ll have a visitor, the translator, Adiva. She will explain what Melchior and the others need. Don’t worry; I’ll be beside you each step. Now, go get some breakfast, you’ll need it.

The shepherd boy found a food vendor who’d just opened her stall and bought breakfast. He was on the way back to the stable when Adiva rushed past him, heading for the same destination.

“Adiva, stop, it’s Haman! Why are you in such a rush?”

The girl had run past him in her haste, on the still-dim street. When she heard the shepherd’s voice, she stopped and turned back. She began speaking as she walked. Her words stumbled as she spoke.

“Haman! My master and the other scholars need you. They were told, by an angel—in a dream that all three remember—that we must not go back to our country by the same roads we used to come here. The angel said that Herod’s soldiers would be lying in ambush. The wicked king’s troops have been ordered to force the scholars to tell him where the Christ Child is. He means to kill the baby because he fears losing his throne.”

“Where are the scholars and their people now?” Haman said.

“The whole company is awake and loading the beasts for travel, but they don’t know where to go. You said that you know the countryside, please help!” she said.

Haman sensed Jude’s presence beside him. He waited for the angel to speak. When he did, it was only silent words that formed in his mind.

“This is why I told you that you’d be needed. Gabe called out to these men and warned them. He told me that you could show the way to avoid Herod’s men. He told them that a young guide would lead them—that’s you.”

To Adiva, it seemed that the shepherd was considering how to answer her plea.

“Adiva, will your master and his friends trust me to lead them?”

“They saw that you were in the stable with the Holy Family and accepted your presence. They are eager to leave this place. I’ll take you to them,” she said.

Adiva led Haman to the edge of the town. The air was still chilly, but the skies were brightening. She took him to the tent of her master, Melchior.

“Sire, this young man knows the trails and roads around this town better than most people who live here. His name is Haman and he has volunteered to lead our company to a safe passage out of the area,” she said.

The sage’s deep brown eyes were full of questions but his voice was firm. Adiva translated the words.

“Young man, an angel spoke to me and my friends in a dream we shared. The heavenly creature said that a young guide would lead us safely away from Bethlehem to roads that would take us home. Is that you?”

“Sire, I too have seen wonders I would have never expected and I have been told to show you the way to avoid Herod’s grasp,” Haman said.

“Very well, you may ride on a horse at the head of our column. Adiva will ride with you. When we are well on our way, you will be rewarded for your time,” Adiva  translated the man’s words with obvious delight.

For two days, Haman rode a powerful, dappled gray mare with Adiva. The column made its way across barely visible trails through the countryside that only shepherds knew.

Jude walked beside the horse, speaking silently to Haman whenever the route was in doubt.

After two days, the company made its way through a passage in the hills and came to a major road.

“Adiva, tell your masters to take this road to the north. It will intersect with the trade routes some call the Silk Road. Once there, your column will find easy travel to your home.

He slid off the horse and, after squeezing the girl’s hand, made his way back along the column and through the mountain pass, going back to the shepherd’s life without claiming a prize from the magus.

His reward was the knowledge that he had seen the Messiah and heard the angels proclaiming His glorious birth.

He also had made a friend that would stay with him for life.

“Well Jude, you said you’d be with me as long as I needed you.”

“Yes, I will be here any time you need me. You need to know what happened to the Holy Family after we left. I’ll tell you the story on the way.”

Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | December 15, 2014

A New Fable for Christmas – Fifth Installment

This segment is devoted to what is commonly known as “The Adoration of the Magi.”  Just finished an hour or so ago. There’ll be more tomorrow. Remember, “magi” is the plural of  “magus.”

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Haman watched the girl, Adiva, as she hurried to the open door of the stable to greet her master, Melchior. She was quick and graceful. Her dark eyes and long, black hair were more obvious, now that dawn had begun the new day.

“Lord Melchior, the child you sought is here, as you’d predicted from watching for His star.”

The astrologer she greeted was tall, with pale skin and dark eyes. His hair was white and fell to his shoulders. He wore a long, full beard.

As he approached Mary and the Christ Child, he removed his cap and bowed. As he did, Adiva stepped forward and held the skirt of his long, gold cape when he knelt. As the man spoke, she translated for Mary.

“We have seen the star of your Son. The miracle of his birth has been fulfilled. My humble gift is this casket of gold coins, for he is, indeed, the King of prophecy.”

As the magus, Melchior, stepped back;  a man of medium height, who wore a green cloak, replaced him. The man had short, brown hair and a neatly trimmed beard.

Although Melchior stepped away from the Holy Child, his gaze never left the wondrous sight. Though her master had moved back, Adiva stayed to translate. She spoke to Mary and Joseph, introducing the second magus.

“This scholar is Caspar, he brings a gift of frankincense to recognize the Christ Child’s deity.”

Caspar didn’t speak, but motioned for Adiva to open the top of a silver cask. When she did, a powerful and sweet scent of the incense spread through the stable.

The astrologer stepped back and stood beside his older companion and both watched as a black man who wore a purple cloak removed his cap and knelt before the Christ Child. Adiva translated his words.

“I am Balthazar. I have come from far way, following the star of the Holy Child. I have brought myrrh, the fragrant oil used for embalming royalty. It is a bitter, but necessary, gift.”

Assistants, guards and others in the company of the magi jostled forward, as Balthazar moved away, for a glimpse of the Holy Child.

Adiva moved close beside her lord and whispered to him. As she did, Haman noticed that she inclined her head toward him. She had told the shepherd that she would make sure that the notable men wouldn’t question his presence.

Indeed, they’d been so overwhelmed by their proximity to the Christ Child that they hadn’t noticed him.

“When you can, ask Adiva where the magi have been and what happened there.” Jude spoke in Haman’s mind.

The three principals walked outside the stable to talk privately and Adiva came to stand beside Haman, who had moved to a corner of the stable away from the door.

“My master is talking to the others. Since they found the Holy Child and offered their gifts, their long quest is complete. They don’t seem to know what to do now,” she said.

“Where have they been before they came to this stable?” Haman said.

“We went to the palace of King Herod. The masters knew of no other place in a strange land. After talking to him, Melchior sent me here to wait for him. Herod has said that he wishes to come and see the baby too, but the scholars have an uneasy feeling about the king.”

“Why?” Haman said.

Adiva looked around her and led Haman out of the stable into an alleyway that led to the back of the inn.

“As I stood beside Lord Melchior to translate, I sensed an evil inside Herod. I hope that the three Masters do not lead him here.”

Before the shepherd could answer, a guard who had been with Melchior called to Adiva in a language Haman didn’t understand.

“I must go. I hope to see you tomorrow. Where will you be?”

“Tell her you’ll still be here.” Jude said.

“If I may, I’ll sleep on the floor of the stable. Look for me in this place.”

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