Rick and Monique

Friday, September 16, 2016

"Why do so many of you fly your flag everywhere, and all the time?"

The Flag Says "You're Free" 

A friend from another country asked, "Why do so many of you fly your flag everywhere and all the time? You guys are oddly patriotic." I put quotes around that, I suppose the friend didn't use exactly those words, but close. I said that unless you are a people who have been constitutionally charged with governing your own country, and given the freedom to stand with each other as leaders of a United States of America, you will have difficulty understanding. I added that citizens of the United States are charged to express and protect citizen rule by teaching and inspiring each other to remain involved as free people, and a free system...Americans by that definition are logically and necessarily (italics) patriotic. Furthermore, freedom inspires hope; Hope for each individual, hope for each tribe, town, city, county, state, and nation. Freedom inspires activity and action, that we are not only righted by, but charged with.

Any one in any system that is not established as free and uniquely citizen ruled must only celebrate with rituals inspired to celebrate a country, or a royalty, or some other meaning-making effort. Americans are charged with the right to celebrate each other, to respect the others' unified rule, and to trumpet freedom as high and low as one can...without it freedom dies.

Freedom will not die by my hand. Yes, we fly our flag, and we are lifted to stand before the first note of our anthem sounds. We raise our flag, and settle it at half-mast because the constitution mandates, we show respect for heroes and each other, and because a free person has no shackles by which to justify him or her to remain seated.

We raise our flag, daily and by the might of those rattled by death, and overtaken by terrorism. When terror happens we are reminded by we together can take up our arms and defend ourselves. I will not hesitate to defend you, my free people with whom we rule. What reason has a man to stand than by freedom's call? No other has borne such a mandate. You and I cannot fail to raise her. You and I cannot fail to stand by the names of the fallen, and by all affected...which means you and I as well. We are all affected by the dawn of new terror, and instead of giving ourselves and our liberties away, we must take them up and stand, and stand hard. Only then do we honor the fallen.

Those who seat themselves in high power honor no one. By defying the oath and creed of a free citizen, you tarry the sword against the repressed, not for them. Only by standing can you take up the call of a free man and honor the repressed, and continue your effort for them. Because freedom is light, responsibility, expectation, and hope. Anything less is merely living. Because freedom means something. I carry my flag proudly because I am a ruler with you. Those we've chosen to represent us have learned the temptation of power wielded by one, rather than power restrained by the many free. You must not allow them such prowess. They have forgotten the joy of ruling amongst the free. Remind them on a day such as today.

A few days ago my daughter Alyssa poignantly wrote, "15 years ago Americans discovered a deeper level of freedom and patriotism. Let's not forget what happened that day. Honor those who have died, survived and continue to fight for liberty and justice for all." "Liberty," she said. You're going to hear words bandied about like "democracy," and "unity," to sway you. These words without Liberty firmly attached to them can mean many things that are not free...and often do. Take heart, and firm your grip on freedom, because you are and will be summarily dismantled from the inside out if you don't.

Understand that your freedom only happens when you take your place as a giant cooperative of citizens who govern, and who are supported by a self-limiting government. That is how to be American, and that is how to honor whom we honor today...the citizens who were viciously and maliciously wiped from this earth on their own turf, and those citizens who rent their lives for their sake on that day, and on days and years after. I am not tepid by my call to unity in freedom, no. I club that bell with all my might, and give you my all. For I am a free man. I am an American.

Why do we fly our flag? The flag says, "You're free."

American? Act like it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Am

I am the strength of a new name, my own name, courageous and empathic, that I shall not disparage.

I am a story of the adventurers heart of the midwest fervor, where pheasant's calls like liberty and children lie in wait for them, leearning to hunt by well aimed finger shots, and travel to fantastical places in cloud chariots.

I am the house of orange, not petty, not stingy, not cheap, but most certainly careful.

I am by God's own hand, and I know in whom I have believed, and I know that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day.

I am the life of stories bathed in the alacritous notes from pipes and players playing with experience meant for them, and retold by me.

I am whetted by tulips and Beethoven, and the ethereal spirit birthed from a rock-n-roll soul rising from the dirt and pitts of the lowlands, and low hearts.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fork in the Road

Feels like I've been awake for all of it.  One day you're three, swaying about the beginners ballet floor, or popping around the corner off the sidewalk into the driveway on your green machine big-wheel, and the next you're...I don't know, hurting with experience and wisdom.

I'm in this meadow.  I remember arriving but I don't remember the fork in the road.  There must've been one, For some of those that I remember aren't here.

I sometimes can't remember if I travelled in the interstate or the back gravel, or which way was most unique to me.  I think people laughed a bit, warmed by fire and wine.  But then why does skin yellow and flowers die?  Eventually what's left is a pot and a coffin.

I don't remember the fork in the road.  I walked through the forest, and even hiked a few.  I wonder if the cliff-sides turned me away or was it the fear?  When difficult choices slithered into my sphere of influence, I feel as if I opted for different modes of transportation.  One only recognizes the path against the sky where there seems to be none were it not for life up there tracking one through the sky.

Do we lack imagination?  Emotional philanthropy means a willingness to emote by either rote, note, vote, or remote.  But the mechanical, the anecdotal, the confidence, and the distant good intentions will taunt me and you.  only that the life between tutus and tardives proved that I trusted something, and that others are here.

Once I reached the place called "roots" I turned.  I had not wondered what I missed until then.  I'd eaten the golden fruit, and remembered the taste but little else.  God had given me secrets I dared never to share, for fear of tears spilt onto rocky soil.  So I buried them, and could fairly say, hid them surreptitiously.  It seems I even left my memory there.

Until someone shook my hand and thanked me. The job wasn't difficult, but I was there.  And then another, and another.  I turned toward a path I thought had been a hike into the uncharted and unnoticed.  I looked at cartographer's record and compared them with the man I'd helped.  His map was similar to mine, to my chagrin.  Oh, there were differences, and there were territories I had discovered.  Turns out I showed others my own territory, and even allowed them to till my land.  There had been moments of terror, and others of joy.

I remembered.  I remembered more of the path.  I remembered animals, and flowers, and stuff that was unnameable, and became nothing more than lollygags and dooperbugs.

I named my own star.  But I still don't remember the fork in the road.  I just remember how many footprints I saw on my path tread.  I remembered more.  Forbidden fruit made me sick.  Made me look at myself without the forest and the road.  I thought I was the capacitor for my own light.  I shook someone's hand, and thanked them.  I thought about that.  Maybe I had chosen something, but my path seemed a series of planned accidentals.

Ah, faith.  Accidents are really no more than a stubbed toe that probably led to something significant.  Anything seemingly worse arose as no accident at all, but periods of growth and anger.

I named a star, I think I told you that once before.  I remember the name, "Narciss" I called it, because it always forced me to look at myself.  I can't remember where the star is anymore, I've moved on.  An arrogant star with a name shines somewhere, just as it always has.

Maybe looking up, into the infinite was a way to avoid the fork in the road.  I learned that the infinite includes up and out.  Prayer works I suppose, and sometimes wishes on my star wojuld come true.

Prayer is a fork in the road.  It proves that God is still faithful either way.  Prayer keeps us looking out and up.  Is the capacitor and the light. I know that now.

I looked for the golden fruit, and realized it was gone.  My bag was empty.  How could this be? What's mine is mine!  But another shook my hand, and I happened to notice his bag was empty.  I failed to understand then what I know now.  I worried about the fruit because it sustained my own pursuits.  But the reason we were all so happy upon that meadow at the end of the path was the realization that they, we could not have foreseen this meadow, and therefore could not have foreseen any of it.

I realized my name.  Narciss.  I had become a fire that had been consumed within itself, and threatened its life.  But I could not have foreseen the path and a I smiled.  I wondered how we all had come to this meadow, with laughing daffodils, and whispering grass.  My muscles were taut and painful.  Man, I'm tired.  Man I'm tired.  It's been a hell of a thing.  I just want to sit down.

Problem is I believed my story mattered to me and those I could persuade to see me.

I felt a hug, and a rub.  Someone behind me, I tried to turn, but was prevented.  I simply enjoyed this holy massage.  I smiled again.  There were forks in the road, but I was never alone.

I wished upon another star.  "Grace."  The star shone bright, but it's illumination turned out to be her.  My star was again not of my own devices, but an adoption gift.  She stepped outside the tendrils of a star and took my hand.

Faith and meadows, a marriage of love and salvation.  She took my hand, and as always the meadow winds changed and a new path emerged.

We now tread, sometimes carefully.  But suddenly there is a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.  I can look around and stretch my hand to the wonder along the path.  My skin has softened, joined by grace, and my eyes are opened, brushed by the holy.  Her hair is now my constant meadow, her hands my security, and our our faith is our hope, and is His confidence and his promise.

I now look to the stars, the hills, and the path.  I can hear my feet scratch the dirt worn by a new path.  Our breath.  Our breath.  Others are there too.  A calling perhaps.

Until a new meadow, I have my grace.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Midwest a poem by richard j. elgersma 

Have you seen the plains of the midwest? I have. I have. Rolls of hay match the natural sway of the land full of wheat, barley and corn touched golden by the midwest sun, a different kind of sun than anywhere in the world if you ask me. Because my sun drips honey dew across the grasses and every living thing. A full warm, familiar, and comforting honeypot tips over the horizon; Sweet abundance garnished with strawberry red and clementines. 

I lived where the streets, full of bicycles and kids and safe laughter somewhere outside the worry of their parents who seem mostly satisfied that they're ok. 

I live in pain and dusted memories, sometimes fresh and afoul, and sometimes drowned in the pheasants cry, and the geese clamoring above in their original peloton. 

God eyes and angels visit this place, all unawares until you've pressed this land for all she's got, leaned into her aggressive hills, wrestled with the hearts of her hard-working souls. And like the honeybee sunk in colorcaves and pollen rest, you lie pillowed on your back in prairies, counting sheep and inventing worlds in clouds.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Floating cotton fields
Perspired July cottonwoods
Curvy summer winds

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rarin' to Roll

Dad got his 1985 250cc motorcycle running after sitting in the garage for more than 25 years. He was knocked over by a ferocious German Shepherd on his way out of the driveway one morning on his way to work. That dog was more than a pain in the neck. He was bloody mean. And I guess he hated motorcycles and didn't like dad much either, making him less of a dog in my eyes. I don't remember that he rode it again. He came back into the house a little bloodied, his hands shaking. I think I remember that he didn't get too excited. I think he always sensed that his wife and his family needed his surety, even when he should be freaking out. The bike lay there on the dirt. That Shepherd held dad at bay for awhile. Eventually he got the bike moved to the garage, and there it sat, a bit tainted, but ready nonetheless. The motorcycle became more a dusty fixture than anything. That's the way of things sometimes. Maybe we needed to forget for awhile. Maybe he couldn't afford to fix it. A man's allowed his reasons. It's all good. By faith and time, wiles and dreams, some hard work, wisdom and a little integrity, some times things come full circle.

Here we are, a good ways down 2011 and his classic 250cc Honda motorcycle is finally fixed, and my Dad is back on the bike! Maybe enough time has past, maybe they can afford it. Doesn't matter really. The courageous don't just get back on the horse, so to speak. They hop on with spurs on. I remember sitting on that bike as a boy thinking I wanted to ride it, needed to ride it, so I could be just like my dad. I doubt I'll ever have to dust off my dad.  He gets hurt sometimes, but never stops.  Some guys stop.  They quit.  He'll never be a cranky chained, stiff wheeled old man, my dad won't.  At sixty-something he's slower maybe.  He smells a few more roses these days.  But he paces himself.  I don't crank my bike hardly ever.  Best way to ruin something is to go full tilt all the time.  Takes wisdom to keep it cool.  

I guess I'll never be just like my munificent dad. But, I am my father's son. When I finally ride it someday soon, I'll feel proud to have the privilege of sharing a part of his life on that little red dream. The German Shepherd's dead. But it's hard to keep a good man and his ride down. The bike, my dad and myself are alive, ready and rarin' to roll.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank You for Serving

Both my dad and my wife's dad came home one day after a long 'bout in Vietnam.  They returned to a country that seemed either to hate him or that wasn't aware he'd come home, maybe wasn't even certain he was ever home in the first place.  They were, like immigrant America, tired and poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  These were the homeless and tempest-tossed we'd sent, some of them more homeless than ever because we did.  Some, we'd not yet earned their trust and yet they defended us.  My lungs well with thankful heaves.  For Americans of every journey, America's not a land, it's a mindset, a way of life.  

Was a quiet day when our camo-covered dads landed back on our soil.  I'll forever salute our dads and be grateful that they returned home.  I'll forever cross my heart and sing loudly and proudly for the ones who couldn't make it home.  

Turns out my birth defect called Spina Bifida has something to do with Agent Orange.  Agent Orange was not a Dutch super-spy, although it certainly fell from aircraft...was much less elusive though.  Agent Orange, the mighty jungle obliterator, the weaponized pesticide, has much to do with when dad served the United States in Vietnam.  The U.S. spread that stuff--thought it would help--tried to keep the war out of the jungles by killing the jungle.  Lasting effect though is more an example of types of friendly fire.  That and everything about war is a lot to sacrifice and a lot to deal with in a lifetime.  Few soldiers dream for death and war and Agent Orange, but they go when called on.  No one truly understands the powerful motives for war, the cause of cause, the paradigms or what it is about their nation that's worthy, always worth the defense, but they serve and defend anyway.  Few truly understand the courage and strength that is the current and currency of a soldier facing the tip of a gun, or the switch of an IED, potentially laced with sarin, or stand in the breach for those whom they love within a nation that is theirs; for they who huddle in homes nestled on a fuzzy line between right and wrong.

I suppose we could relate a bit of what it is to stand in the breach for another; we'd resist opposition to great lengths for our children, for our friend.  We'd honor them with our lives wouldn't you think?  

I know soldiers; intrepid but welted soldiers, flew home to open arms of family and friends who'd in poignant ways gotten used to life without them...had to just in case they couldn't return.  Some sons or daughters waited whom hadn't even met their own dads yet.  That sacrifice straps to the servant soldier's back one-hundred pounds at a time; geared up men and women who form, who run, who crouch who lie.  They return home to open arms of family wishing for a large dose of love and a little of what was, and getting large or small doses of PTSD and at the very least...scars.  War makes life harder to love sometimes.  War makes it difficult to mow the lawn, paint the walls, go out to eat or watch the kids perform some kind of thing...any kind of thing.  Scars make or break families.

These men and women know these soul-traps are coming and yet they bind themselves to ships and guns and aircraft ready to defend what they love.  Duty requires these men and women to look into the faces of other men and women from other places, other nations and hold their own people, the immigrant home, richly in their heart; for they must look upon full-on men and women and then fight them.

War.  A sometimes necessary, sometimes penurious, impoverishing experience.

We've heard stories of oppression and suppression and extreme cruelty to people of other lands, and we've heard of cruelty on our own soil and these evils must expect push-back, must accept the righteous torrent that seeks evil's erasure.  These evils--they're worth eradicating, worth pushing back.  The faithful desire besting monsters.  

There are long histories of boogeymen under the bed.  

A caveat: The people of God are no strangers to monsters--we know.  Sometimes those who call themselves the people of God are the monsters.  It's sometimes difficult to speak for, let alone hear the voice of God.  We just can't be perfect people, even as we constantly wish we were.  We know there's something about freedom that's easier to explain than reveal, even as it's revealed anyway.  It takes certain people of faith to stand for the others, with the others and by the others; takes certain people to hold people safely on their path.  

Good men desire peace--yearn for it. Sometimes oppression must be quelled so that peace ensues.  But peace does not need a cause to call itself peace.  Darkness is not the opposite of light, for light is something.  Darkness needs the light for those to understand they've been in darkness, not the other way around.  The American people--we're not perfect--have many flaws.  But I know one thing.  We seek a free people wherever we send you soldier.  That knowledge alone can lift a man covered in soot, jungle, rock and sand.

I don't know what you saw my friend, I don't know what you experienced or how.  I know you served humbly the freedom cause.  And I know it wasn't silent the day you returned because there were many of us with open arms, hoping you were ok, hoping you could now survive this life, and you will.  Because our arms will never close to you, only around you.

It was a loud and joyful day when you returned home brother and sister, we're mindful that while you are safe, you might not feel secure.  And it was and is with great pride that we receive you, and by an eternity of gratefulness we now protect you.  

Thank you for serving soldier.  A free people welcomes you home.  God bless you.