Author: Jim Kerr

Learning to Live with the Beast Within

I have a beast inside of me. The beast is strong and fearsome and black as the night. The beast dwells in the deepest, darkest regions of my being. Twice in my life it has risen from the depths and wreaked havoc on my days, dragging me down into a wasteland so black and bleak that to die seemed the only way out. My first bout with the beast was in my early twenties, when I was getting out of college and unsure of my path in life. The second time, even worse than the first, was in my...

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Trash Day (a poem)

                     “Trash Day”                                 I The black bear’s got me again. Walked out this morning and there he was, before the men had made their rounds, rooting through the trash the way he does. Tried to run but in three bounds he had me, pinned to the ground, pressed beneath the weight of his paws. Foul, insatiable beast: Nose slick wet with kitchen grease; eyes as black as burnt-out coals, mirrors of his bitter soul; lips up drawn to show his teeth flashing fierce in scizzored jaws, set in gums that drip and seethe the rabid froth from which he draws. And his breath! Rancid as the rubbish he eats: coffee grounds and tannic tea; clotted cream and rotting cheese; the sulfurous stench of cracked shells; week-old fish that reeks of hell – all we shed in vain disgust is fitting food to feed his lust. Enraged that I disturb his feast he bends his head to meet my face and sounds a rasping roar so deep that I’m loathe to fight the death I taste. But not to yield, I summon the will, the stubborn Scot within me still: I pound my fist into his snout and claw his pus-encrusted eyes. I raise my voice in fearsome shouts that match his own ferocious cries. But the old bear savors...

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When A Hero Arrives for Pickup

We all know that both good and evil live in the human heart, because we see varying amounts of each in the people and situations we encounter through the course of our lives. What’s fascinating to me about this is how frequently we see both sides of the good-evil coin playing out in the same field at the same time. Think, for example, of the heroism witnessed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the bravery of heroes like Oskar Schlinder during the Holocaust. Our family saw a real-world example of this last week when a modern-day hero showed up...

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Watching the Train of Troubles

I sit this morning during my meditation watching the train of troubles pass by. Worries about my kids. My parents. My job. Things I need to do. Bills I need to pay. An endless train of troubles. They’re all so urgent, every one of these passing thought cars. They’re loud and brightly painted, like a carnival train. They flash at me, beckoning urgently at me to jump onboard. I have gotten better at this task of witnessing over the years. Just sitting and watching the mad procession of thoughts without acting on them. Still, now and then I get...

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When A Leader’s Words Lack Moral Authority

Yesterday’s horrific violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia was shocking for a country that prides itself on tolerance. So I was encouraged to hear political leaders from both sides of the aisle in Washington condemn the violence for what it was: an unacceptable expression of hate and intolerance that goes against the core values and ideals of America. The words of the U.S. President about yesterday’s events were less clear. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms,” Trump said from his golfing vacation in New Jersey, “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many...

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