31 March 2014


Birds sing fearlessly;
Green shoots burst forth from charred earth;
Dauntless Spring arrives.

14 March 2014

Prayer of a Weak Man

Save me, O Lord, from my odious pride,
From the fleshly lusts that encircle me,
From the evils of false piety and resigned apathy.

I need Your strength, for I cannot stand,
Your grace, for I wander astray,
Your life, for the stench of death overwhelms me.

May my mind be fixed on the stuff of heaven,
My heart on Your grace and truth,
My will on building Your earthly domain.


13 March 2014

Adventures in Hagiography

Hagiographers build the saint's life
Even as they kill the man behind it
Deader than a sinless doornail.

They lose his doubt and fear and foibles,
His bad temper and worse choices,
His lonely nights of dark despair.

They know their audience, to be sure:
Masses eager for a blameless hero,
But one less offensive than Jesus Himself.

In the baby lisping Ave Maria and Pater Noster,
We see Christ as we would like Him to be,
Rather than the bruised, bloody bondslave He was.

12 March 2014


He calls; I step with all my might
Onto the water, treading carefully,
And promptly sink beneath the foaming waves.
Someone has gone badly off-script.

I was promised an easy yoke, a light burden,
Peace amidst violent storms,
So why is an ad-libbed half-ton weight
Dragging me relentlessly downward?

11 March 2014


Like a rainstick-wielding Aztec,
I wave Scripture over a parched soul,
Praying for divine favor:
Heaven-sent rain on a thirsty land.

In the distance: A cloud,
No bigger than a man's hand,
But it soon blows out of sight.
I'm no Elijah, and this is no Mt. Carmel.

10 March 2014

Faith in March

Aviary conversations
Welcome dayspring's bright returning.
Hints of winter's lengthy reign are
Still in evidence: The wind blows,
Chilly, from the northern wastelands;
Sheets of ice adorn the lake-coves.
Nonetheless, sweet Spring approaches:
Unobtrusive, root-deep stirrings;
Cheerful birdsong, evidence of
Things unseen but long expected.

07 March 2014

A Better 5-Minute Timer (Requires PowerPoint)

Over the life of this blog, few posts have been more popular than Need a 5-Minute Countdown Timer? Look No Further!

That post links to an animated .gif I made a long time ago, when I was a lot more tolerant of mind-numbing procedures. As I have gotten more automation-minded, I have learned better methods of doing things, and making timers is no exception.

With some guidance from the folks at PPTAlchemy, I have created this macro-enabled PowerPoint presentation. Simply follow these steps, and you'll be cooking up a fresh 5-minute timer in no time! And unlike the previous timer, this approach allows you to customize the color, the font, and even the duration of the timer.


  1. Make sure that you have Microsoft PowerPoint and that macros are enabled. If you aren't sure how to enable macros, go here.
  2. Open the file in PowerPoint.
  3. Change the slide design as desired.
  4. Select the text field.
  5. Run the macro called "Timerize". For more on how to run a macro, look here.
  6. Save the file as a PowerPoint presentation (if you do "Save As" instead of "Save", then you can use this file as a template for future presentations as well.
  7. Run the slideshow on the new file to be sure it displays OK. (It may take a while to start, depending on your machine's speed - each tick of the timer is an individual image that is being displayed, and it takes a while to initialize all of those.)
Additional Notes: 
  • Be sure that the text field has as many characters as you will want to display. (e.g., for a 5:00 timer, it should have 4. For a 10:00 timer, it should have 5. For a 1:00:00 timer, it should have 7.)
  • Be sure to select the entire text field you want to turn into a timer. If you don't do this, the macro won't run correctly. 
  • You can modify the macro to update the duration of the timer, as well as how long between "ticks" and a number of other variables. Refer to the PPTAlchemy article for more information on this.
  • Feel free to post any other tips in the comments below. 

Lenten Sonnet

The days wax long, which, I am told, is why
The ancients called this season Lententide:
When folk of many stations, low and high,
See harbingers of Spring on every side.

The Sun, with never-stinting zeal, now shines
Where Winter lately blew her icy breath;
His rays revive the frigid earth, as wines
Draw men, half-frozen, from the brink of death.

Cold hearts, turn once again toward that Sun
Whose beams enlighten all our cold, dark land,
Whose death and rising satisfied the One
Who lit the firmament with his own hand.

Embracing those least worthy as His own,
He thaws our hearts and warms us to the bone.

05 March 2014

Ash Wednesday

Dead, winter-ravished Earth
Begins to thaw at last.
Sun's life-giving lips
Brush her icy cheek,
Bring her forth from the grave.

Twelve cheery robins
Congregate, famished,
In my barren front yard.
They peck at the promise
Of life within dead grass.

A distant crow croaks
His harsh message
From the western hills:
"Repent! For the Kingdom
Of Heaven is at hand."