Four Introspective Saints

May 18, 2023

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour: Hammy – The Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before him. Didn’t Habakkuk say that? Inwardly a Jew, circumcised in spirit. Silence is worship – to quietly carry Isaac’s wood. In reverence for the Son of God unveiling his will beyond human tracing. Heaven all around, silent. In the council of the holy ones, God is greatly feared. […]

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Bounce on the Donkey

December 12, 2022

I didn’t send an angel to make an astonishing announcement. I didn’t overshadow myself with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t convince my betrothed I wasn’t unfaithful. An angel did that, in a dream. I’m just bouncing along on the donkey. I didn’t issue an edict that all the world should appear for a census. Caesar August did that. Quirinius obeyed – he’s governor now. I didn’t order that we should all go to our hometown to register. I’ve come to […]

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Additional Thoughts about Medical Parole

April 17, 2022

Some Additional Thoughts About State Senator Sharif Street’sProposed Medical Parole Program for Pennsylvania Inmates____________________________________ Issues to Consider with respect to extending medical parole in Pennsylvania: How old is the individual? How much of the sentence has the incarcerated individual served? What proportion of that is his or her sentence? Is the individual lucid, rational, self-aware, able to care for themselves, or do they have significant cognitive, physical or emotional deficits? Have the interests of the victim or the victim’s family […]

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Home-State Poetry Reading

February 24, 2022

I arrive at the coffee house early and enter to secure my dose of caffeine. The manager, Jen, is working alone behind the counter. “Hi – supermax coffee, room for cream.” She nods at this familiar order. “And is it okay if I assemble a few chairs? I want to read some poetry.” “Are you expecting anyone?” she replies, with her back to me to fill the order. “No, not really. I want to read some poetry to empty chairs.” […]

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A Seven-Terraced Triple-Journey through the Inner Chapters of Chuang Tzu

February 12, 2022

Chuang Tzu comes to visit on the terrace of the Coffee House of Grace, my imaginary, spiritual rest-stop near Jerusalem-from-above. We read over his book of brief anecdotal stories, called the Inner Chapters. They are related to disclosing the Tao, an interior, spontaneous type of spiritual or philosophic practice which may be translated as the ‘Way.’ These stories operate by indirect means, rather like parables, but since Tao is in some ways intended to be indescribable, the parables are shifting, […]

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Commutation Support Letter for Darryl Blackwell

December 23, 2021
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T’ao Ch’ien, Wang Wei and Li Po Drop by the Coffee House

November 20, 2021

Courtesy of translator David Hinton, three more Chinese poets, dating from 365 A.D. to 761, have arrived for tea and poetry readings in my Coffee House of faith.  The years are distant, the geography is distant, but for just such reasons, the dialogue has substance.  Their images and observations, their collective plights and pleasures, present a clean palate, an unmarked canvas, on which to taste, to paint.  Like royal characters in a Shakespearean play, we will conduct our debate in […]

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A Coffee House Debate with Hsieh Ling-yun, Mountain Poet

August 14, 2021

After my encounter with the Chinese Poet, Tu Fu, of the 8th century A.D., courtesy of translator extraordinaire David Hinton, I found ancient Chinese poetry rather habit-forming. One of the great things about creating an imaginary coffee house like mine is its flexibility – anyone interested or interesting can be invited in. As it turns out, a mere four hundred years before Tu Fu, there was a poet, named Hsieh Ling-yun, again introduced to us by David Hinton through his […]

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