28 February 2007

Praying with the FBI

Just a couple of days ago we asked you to kneel with us and to ask God to intervene and rescue us from our immigration troubles. Amazingly, you must have prayed quickly and fervently, because God acted quickly - within 24 hrs!! The following is an e-mail exchange between Tara and R., a supervisor from the FBI. Enjoy! Join us in showing gratitude to our Gracious God.
February 24, 2007
Mr. & Ms. Baltzley:

We have received your record requests and will begin expedited processing shortly. Results should be completed in about 2-3 weeks and returned to your address in New Zealand via first class mail.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.


FBI CJIS Division
February 24, 2007
Dear R.,

We can't thank you enough for this terrific news! Hopefully it will make it in time for NZ immigration, and being able to update them as to when it will be coming should be very helpful.
BTW, not sure what your own view of prayer is, but we have a bunch of friends and family back in the U.S. who pray for us, and we sent an urgent request to them re: our background check and our visa situation. Within 24 hours of that, we got your email :) Not to diminish at all from the kindness and effort of whoever dug our envelope out of the massive pile of thousands ... God bless you and your team!


February 25, 2007
Mr. & Ms. Baltzley:

You are most welcome and I pray about just about everything in my life!

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.


FBI CJIS Division

Consumer-Critic or Creator-Contributor?

Our Western democratic societies are full of consumers and critics. In fact, at least in America, it’s patriotic to be a consumer -- in order to “stimulate the national economy.” In the same vein, our popular culture is full of critics, be they comedians, journalists, music or movie reviewers, social commentators, or talk show or late night TV hosts. It’s seldom acknowledged how difficult it is, in our 2nd law of thermodynamics-enslaved world, to create beauty or make a sustainable contribution to anything. Consequently, rather than celebrate the brave souls who desire to contribute -- who long to create, selfish people are eager to stand back and cast cynicism about their effort or critique their attempts at imitating the Creator. They themselves go through life unwilling to take the necessary risk to beat back the chaos -- to make a lasting contribution to this world or create something of beauty or usefulness. Our culture trains us to be consumers and critics. As unsatisfying as these roles are, most have too little vision or are too afraid to go against the pull -- the societal flow.

I am reminded of the famous quote by Teddy Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
-- Theodore Roosevelt, "Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

IN EXIGENT TIMES (a poem to be read aloud)

Crowding along the cracks running down Broadway toward the pillowy sheets littering the harbour he stops in for a short black, one sugar.

In reality, he’s a cappuccino drinker, one sugar, chocolate on top, but there is almost nothing worse than a cappuccino in a takeaway cup.

In the end, he was always left with a cup of foam, chocolate still on top, drained of all espresso.

Walking hand in hand with his own apprehension he is suddenly aware of the restlessness of the trees that line the street.

In captivity all their lives they are dreaming of life in the wild, beside a muddy riverbank or hidden deep in the bush crawling with wetas.

As he passes, he leans into each one, “Go free little tree,” he whispers, “Go free little one.”

His self-consciousness lifts. He makes eye contact, smiles caringly at a nice young couple passing by, then makes a little wave to a shopkeeper.

As the boulevard crests, the harbour’s breath chills him, lifting his shirttails, first front, then rear.

He is reminded of his liberty as he watches two women wrestle their hair back in place – he has been free now for nearly twenty years.

A hasty right turn brings him into a small, whitish gallery. After initial fascination with the plush wall-to-wall and the stark white everything, he finds the paintings have surrounded him. He’s been left alone with them.

Suddenly he has no where to run from the tightly dressed, sophomoric docent, who has begun to tell him things he’d rather not know about things of which he has not inquired.

Moving toward the door. Scampering toward the light. He whispers to himself, “Go free. Go free little one.”

01 February 2007

Over Clad Dragons

Over clad dragons with each spoken word pepper each other with exhaust from the fire pot within

Squatty limbs attach at the hip to form hollow wings never able to provide flight

Modestly hidden horns lay beneath stocking caps and sloping hats

Distance is kept from such confident dragons -- the only ones on the block
Only with each other can the heat of conversation be borne

Scurrying past
Eyes lowered
I nurture my own fire within

January 2001