School Terribly Wonderful

Transparent blue liquid bubbles in a slim beaker gradually formed an electric azul crystal that I gently placed on my bedroom shelf.

Ms. Papadopoulos taught history of the ancient Mediterranean—her ancestral backyard—passing it on through modern day stories from European cafes.
A world of history
Stories flowing from past to present.

The desire was growing
A longing
To know the world, to interact, to share stories together.
To be a lifelong learner.

Like that day up in the Tibetan mountains, running along the grass plains next to the yaks. Millennia upon millennia of history that I hadn’t read about in school.

So far beyond the books and beyond the tests
Which, at best, make us robots and numbers,
And always make me cringe.
I don’t value them. I value you, your story, you, just you, without the numbers, letters or titles.

They were many, the days in the classrooms, often grey and fog-tinged, when those of us with restless bodies longed to stretch out into the world, to go beyond.

To stand up and read
The world
Like a book full of vibrant life, dangerously real.
Adventures to be had, sights to walk and stories to experience.
Life dug up like archeological fragments, shared history.

And I find myself longing for more.
Out on some grassy hill looking to sea
Or beyond a mountain peak
Knowing that I learned what I loved.

And I loved to learn.


Words & Photo (of a friend’s bookshelf) by Jonathan McCallum


Glistening Years

With curly locks, toys, dolls, blocks
You hold me near
I hear that beating rhythmic flow
Your love
Will never stop, never go

With braided hair, sweet embraces, garden picnics
Sun-filled yards, glistening tears
You sing to me
A song to laugh, to dance
Over scrapes, beyond shadowy fears

With growing years, a clear warm voiced song
As you hold grand little ones
I loved you then, I love you now
Moments shared have showed me how
I hear that beating rhythmic flow as you leave

As you go
You in heaven as on earth will be one to wipe away
Glistening years

By Jonathan McCallum 

Sea King

Massive wave hills were breaking further out than I had ever seen.
I told myself and my friend that I would stay close-by shore,
And go no further, no more.

Slipping into the icy froth of the rip express lane,
Passing familiar rocky point,
I sat on my board, just gliding seaward like floating royalty in a river coronation,
Absorbing solar praise,
Robed regally in wet fur seal like suit,
Laughingly shouting back to my friend enjoying the shore-break surfing:
“Check this out!”
Forgetting to embrace shoreline wisdom.

My mistake apparent within seconds,
I am no king of the sea.
Today the familiar merry go round rip
joyfully ridden back to wave riding position
Bulged uncharacteristically and pulled me near to panic,
An unstoppable river, impossible to defy.
I was riding a water chairlift out to liquid white mountains.

In a salty blink, I whispered, “Save me!”
Doubt gushed, poured and exited out.
I saw daughter, wife, scenes of life.
I heard a royal blue voice call out: “Keep going, yes further out.”
Each shivering stroke showed feeble faith
As the sets rising green and tall drew terrifyingly near.

A precious wave approached from an unexpected angle,
Birthing hope within—to catch it would be certain escape.
It lifted me up, throwing me down, carrying me in.
I rode that surfboard like a rapid-rafting baboon,
Arriving to the shore,
Whispering appreciation to the real Sea King.

glass shatters

Glass shatters, sun light flows, a biting wind awakes my soul. I see, after all, that life is light, not sharp clear panes. I took glass for beauty, yet it was the penetrating wind that awoke me to see through, see the view, to see You.

With words,
We condemn as casually as breath flows out,
Loving sparingly as if a trickle could nourish the flood plains
When we need the deluging river.

My skin, with fragments of glass, feels the wind as I walk, out.
My daughter is already there playing in the breeze;
My wife by the brook, refreshing.

I’m tired by words, energized by words. There are words, though not eloquent, that soothe my soul. And there are words, lucid and doctrinal, that harm me. The phrases may be correct, may profess a desire for truth, yet they wound. They could never be found in Your mouth.

You said, “Don’t judge.”
We add: “unless…”.
We scold the “lost” as if we had never been.
Yet I see, with the wind in my face, just how “lost” we “found” can be.
Lost in a way almost impossible to see.
We have lost humility, the ability to see.
The glass is stained.

There is a day that resounds in my soul, an unsought email, an opinion turned valuation.
A confident, evangelical man charged me to preach both testaments, the whole Bible.
To preach the gospel, he said.
Not. Just. Jesus.
I had never felt such a jolt, the crash nearly audible.
Is He not the old and the new?
Is He not the fullness of the gospel?
The. Good. News?

The glass that cuts the wind and chills the light
Jabs at my feet as I walk to the stream.
To see myself clearly reflected.
I, too, judge and burden, lose sight of the way, speak heartless words,
Get lost.
It’s just that today my window broke, the Light flooding in,
And the Wind woke me.

By Jonathan McCallum


stillness, soft glisten, fall, whisper wind, come sun, soul shine, bring day, blue tinged snow, white valley, brightness, life.

eternity longing, flow stream, melting of heart, belonging, sunsets fragrant colours rising above horizon.

warmth of flickering orange light carpets bare, tired feet.  soup, laughter, wood-scented, steaming meal.  smoke wisping from chimney, over lonely woods, hills and ranges.  beauty, familiar natural sounds.  life at its shining, naked best.