Friday, April 26, 2013

Mountain Stream

Mountain Stream      3-31-2012

By John W. Vander Velden

Flowing swiftly, the crystalline water sparkling, dances among stones large and small, racing headlong through the narrow valley, the land rising steeply on either side.  Great rocks of granite, stacked they seemed, rise skyward.  Thousands of trees, their leaves fresh and new, the green of spring, covered the mountainside.  Growing from any cleft large or small that offered foothold.  Morning’s sun, filtered, illuminated the dogwoods.  The white blossoms hanging over the swiftly flowing water that seems alive as it rushes downward, careening into boulders, leaping off small waterfalls, thundering as it crashed down upon itself, winding left and right and out of sight.  The roar filling the valley certainly heard among the mountain tops.  Glass clear, cold water racing between moss covered stone, its source high above, destination unknown.  Sunlight reflected from the ever changing mirrors of water’s surface, flashing white patterns changing yet understood in a primal way.  No need to explain.  Only to absorb the beauty alive before my eyes, to feel the life, the thunderous roar that trembled my ribs and the dampness of mist rising from tumbling waters, to smell the freshness of blossoms, pine’s needles, new leaves but most of all the scent of raging waters.  Standing silently at water’s edge I absorb it all.  Too seldom I find myself in these places.  Too seldom I force myself to escape what others call the real world to come to a world that is real!  Only moments spent…important moments…vital!  Perceptions shaped…priorities formed…value realized.  So much can be seen…felt…learned…in the time spent along a mountain stream.
  (261 Words)


Friday, April 19, 2013

More Than Numbers

More Than Numbers                           4-16-2013

By John W. Vander Velden


176 injured, 3 dead, an 8 year old lost.  They are more than numbers.  They are more than names…more than faces plastered on the front page.  They are more than just the newest casualties.  They are people…people…with hopes and aspirations…  People that are part of families…they are parents…and children…all affected…some never to return to those they loved.  To families with dreams broken and hearts shattered.  Their loss leaves our world a little dimmer and future’s possibilities lessened.

How do we respond, with rage? It is only natural.  But to do so gives the monsters their victory.  Is not fear and anger their goal.  Do they not use fear to propel their agenda, and hate fuels the fire these villains hope to ignite. We cannot hide…for to cower gives away the upper hand.  Today is the beginning of all the tomorrows that come.  Let us stand firm in what is true…and in that truth find courage to face the tomorrows. 

As we face the future, as we face a battle between what is good and those that attempt to dismantle…as we wonder at the insanity…and wonder whether light or dark shall prevail…let us not lose sight of the goodness that surrounds.  Too easily the vile steal the spotlight.  Too easily pain’s dark clouds hide the rainbows of our world’s wondrous possibilities.  Is it wrong to share tears with the families of the fallen?  I say no…we must care.  To weep for the innocents right and true.  To pray for the victims…their families…their friends.  To pray for the first responders…showing great courage as they faced the carnage.  And yes, to pray for the perpetrators…that they realize the wrong they have dealt…that understand that cruelty solves nothing…that this cowardly act should never have been done.  That such deeds are not a beginning but a foolish end, accomplishing nothing.

Let us not forget the foundation stones on which our country was built.  The things on which we stand.  Surely we should hope for justice…but justice does not require vengeance.  For vengeance’s rewards are short lived and oft bitter upon the tongue.  

As we move to the future…as days turn to months…months to years…we must remember April 15th…remember Boston.  That place…that date will be among others as we remember… 911…Pearl Harbor…Oklahoma City…Waco…and all those dark times and places…Let us never forget they were more than numbers.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What Do You Know?

What Do You Know?                 1-30-2013



Many years ago there was a moment when a business acquaintance asked me a question.  The young man was merely making conversation when he asked, “What do you know, for sure.”  I gave what I felt was a clever come back, “Not much really…but I know a lot of things…maybe…!” 

The truth of that statement has haunted me for years.  What do we know…for sure?  What are the absolute truths we carry with us each day?   So much we know has been taught to us.  We know many facts because someone told us.  I for one have never seen Mount Everest…I believe it is the tallest mountain in the world.  Yet I will never go to Napal with a tape measure and determine for myself just how tall that mountain truly is.  We have been told it is tall and take that as fact…verbatim.  But what if that and thousands of other bits of information are fabricated gibberish…How would you and I know?  There remains the rub…all the things I know…maybe!

But that’s alright.  Humanity shares much information, and we consider it truth until something proves it is not.  It is enough to know that there are seven time zones in Russia, that Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere and Madagascar has many species found nowhere else.  That the Nile flows north and the Mississippi begins in Minnesota.  And that there are millions of facts that fill libraries and attempt to overfill our minds…That’s alright!

But that is not what the question asks.  It asks about the for sure part.  “What do you know…for sure?  Few take the time to consider that question.  And I expect fewer have taken the time to come up with an answer…but I have.  The answers I have assembled may not be the answer that fits you.  But the things I know for sure are:  That water is wet, the sky is blue and my parents loved me…that there is a God in Heaven and Jesus has the power to save me from myself.  And when push comes to shove there is little else that matters!

What do you know for sure? 

(369 Words)


Friday, April 5, 2013


Dawn                     1-25-2012

By John W. Vander Velden


Slowly the black abandons, indigo replaces, stars fade, glorious night ending, the first signs of its replacement above the eastern horizon.  Colors brewing faintly, refusing to be denied.  The stars waning, withdrawn from the heavens.  Only the morning star remains, bright diamond of the east, rebelling, a bold last stand against the new color perhaps…or to shine its proclamation of the new light yet hidden.  The east now aflame, deep red-orange forcing the violet and indigo to retreat.  The colors marching upward…brighter…stronger…the orange reaching skyward…the sky ablaze.  Soon night’s shadows fade, the night sky fleeing, the battle lost.  The whole world silent as, breathless it awaits the brilliant orbs victorious return.  An orange sliver sheers through the horizon’s bond, the disk now released from night’s prison…bright…triumphant…a new day…the dawn!!!


(136 Words)