Teaching my Daughter how to Drive

Her brother let the clutch out much too fast
the first time he tried to start up the van
in the parking lot of the store that closed.
I told her how he lurched and jerked and ran
over the orange cones that I took to use
from soccer practice as a parking space.
The VW died, he swore, but tried
again and then again–giving more gas
and slooowly letting up the clutch. She learned
and did the opposite: the engine roared
as she held in the clutch and mashed the gas
pedal to the floor. I yelled to be heard
above the engine noise, “Let up, let up!”
and as she pulled both feet up, the car died,
of course. She threw the keys at me and cried.

She took the class at school and got an “A.”

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, October 9, 2013

A Mother’s Love

Katie and Kay (Mom) at Katie's graduation.

Katie and Kay (Mom) at Katie’s graduation.

Today Kay shared this at the cemetery as we laid to rest the ashes of her first-born daughter Katherine (“Katie”)

For Christ to have gone before us,
To have kept us from ultimate sadness,
To be our brother, our advocate,
The One who ushers in the Kingdom,
And the One to come,

Does not keep us from our digging today.
We still gather here and throw the dirt on our sacred dust,
We take the shovel like all those gone before us
And surrender to the Unknowable—
The place where
Love and Beauty and Kindness grow wild.
Where sorrow has no needs,
Where there is all beginning and
Nothing ends.

I know this Love of hers lives on. I feel it.
I watch it in many streams of synchronicity,
Where my heart leaps from memory’s knowing,
Where I share a breath from her beyond.

And then I cry in secret,
Begging that she return

On my terms.

But if my begging is selfish,
The answer to it is not.
If I but knew the splendor of that Place where Love lives,
I would marvel in her good fortune
And ponder her grace inside a timeless waiting for us,
A begging for our good fortune
To come on her terms.

We live our lives in time.
She lives all time as Splendor.
We are bound between this stalemate
And the mystery that is our promise.

Until then we have no other luxury than
To shout her precious memories to the sky
In loud thanksgiving that Love herself lived with us awhile.

Then, because we live with fuller hearts
From knowing more than before our loss,
We turn our shovels over
As those with little other choice for now.
For now we dig.
And shed our tears
With greater Trust.

Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is
In heaven.

– Kay Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 9, 2013,
the third anniversary of loss and fuller hearts.

He Always Taught Her to Respect Herself

“He Always Taught Her to Respect Herself”

Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL – April 24, 2012

A college-age daughter does not enjoy

hearing that her dad was quite the

when her age.

She can see him in a boy

that she is with:  so tall and gaunt, a grin,

a joke, a casual touch roué. But now a man

quite married to her mom–could he have been

a thong-collector?  (No, back then they called

them “panties…”)

Now a lawyer, then he studied

seduction,  Casanova, de Sade?

Now he’s a Deacon in the Church– absurd!

Steve Shoemaker standing at historic pulpit of Sheldon Jackson Church, Colorado

“Views from the Edge” note: Steve is not a Deacon and he’s not a lawyer. He’s a retired Presbyterian minister, poet, and activist living on the prairie near the University of Illinois. Steve was Pastor and Director of the McKinley Presbyterian Church and  Foundation at the University of Illinois. He concluded his ministry as Executive Director of the University YMCA  at the University of Illinois, a vigorous campus student center as big in heart and mind as Steve. His voice is heard every Sunday evening as host of “Keepin’ the Faith” an interview show on the University of Illinois’s radio station, WILL AM – Illinois Public Radio.

Still Waters

Pond photo - Shoreview, MN

Pond photo - gcs - Shoreview, MN

Story by friend and classmate Harry Lee Strong, San Juan Community Church, CO, sent by email today following “The Words of Childhood” – April 28, 2012

Yesterday I visited 94-year old Angie again.

Her daughter had called Thursday and said:

“Hospice gives Mom two weeks – could you please try to see her soon.”

In my five months with Angie, I’d never gotten more than a smile.

As I was preparing to leave yesterday, I said,

“I’m preaching on the Shepherd Psalm Sunday – you remember it, right?

‘The Lord is my shepherd …’

Precious Angie’s lips began to move …

She stayed with me all the way through the green pastures and the still waters.

(You ALL know the story line – I went to minister to her – & Angie turned the tables …)