Mancala: Many Hands, Many Voices

This message sent 61 days ago:
Yesterday, buried my dad Too wrecked to go out Maybe tomorrow

The game begins against our will

tinted glass stones slip with clicks into shallow bowls  61 days ago?

smoothed into a bamboo board  So, 62 days ago

click, click  I stood frozen over my father’s casket

 63 days ago, we calculated prayer cards, coffee cups, and parking spaces

and whistled, he would have beenmancala 2

12 bowls, six and six, running  90 today

the length of the board

troughs on either end

12 days before that, a 700 mile countdown

across 5 states   and now we look up

one fist suspended above the board

stones willing themselves a race to spend

to fall 5 eternal days dividing 6 hour shifts

figuring 3 people per shift can sleep 4 hours each

measuring 2.5 every 2 hours  handfuls of gems

and something else every 6  shimmer in the light

we heard  click clink click clink

11 children

and  click click

married 56 years

counted spoonfuls of Popsicle, shirts cut up the back, beads on a rosary,

stitches across a quilt

parsed 80 words in a poem, studied 90 images in a video montage

counted breaths and arpeggios of time

between breaths  A stone falls away

from the board and we glance guiltily down

at the piles of colors, glance up to catch a bird

we counted on God  Flitting

and on each other  Outside the open window

under a vanishing sun

61 days? 70 days? 90 years?

click click clink click

our game ends gently

who won?



He called and said, “Whatever You’re Doing, Drop Everything and Go”

IMG_4111It’s always a random Tuesday or Wednesday, the day everything changes, the day the clouds roll in and everything is no longer what it was, no longer what someone expected it would be. (and can I get a little harmonica here for my muse, Bruce Springsteen…) “All those things that seemed so important, well, Mister, they vanish right into the air…” So, if you pray, however you do that, please throw one up there for my friend whose world just tilted on its axis. Thanks.

In the upper left corner of a narrow lined page halfway into a quality, vinyl covered, silver spiral bound notebook, three letters are scrawled in worried capitals: A P L

Saved there because, when you called, I was busy, in the middle of something important and I didn’t want to forget.

It mattered.

Swirling from corner to corner of a person halfway into a quality, creatively crafted life, three poisonous letters tear away every plan you’ve ever made: A P L

You said, Leukemia, the APL kind.

The sound of those letters sighing as you let them go out into the world, I won’t ever forget that, the way those sounds became

everything that mattered.


Reblogging: Good Leadership Blog – Paul Batz

Reblogging: Good Leadership Blog – Paul Batz

Good Leaders: How does sorrow enrich your leadership?

My buddy Max passed on Easter Saturday and I'm still wading through the sorrow.

Odes to man’s best friend are as endless as the ocean – individual as snowflakes. Last Saturday morning, our oldest dog Max died in my arms. Today, I’m still wading through sorrow and inspired to offer my ode.

What does the passing of a household dog have to do with Good Leadership!? Sorrow is currency for reflection, inspiration and goodness. No one promised the journey would always be sunshine and chocolate chip cookies…and everyone knows sometimes it hurts to love someone deeply.

At 15 1/2 years old, Max aged well into his Shiatsu-Poodle grey beard. He was 12 pounds of grandpa gentleness, and a fearless alpha male protector of our home turf. Three 60-pound Labrador Retrievers next door humored him daily as they raced with Max as a pack, back and forth along our adjoining fence.

Sir Maxwell of the Bloomington Batz family will be missed: my wise, warm and fiery companion.

When fatigue caused the parade to stop, Max would continue barking bloody murder with his snout piercing through the chain link – while the Alpha Male on the other side would lift his leg and relieve himself on Max. To say that Max was “pissed” has a complex double meaning.

When I was a kid, we mused about “dog-years” as 7 years to every one human year. That would make Max about 108 when he ate his last treats at the vet. Max was my soul mate during the darkest hours of my mid-life scare with acute angioedema. When others had to go off to school and into work, Max stayed home with me every minute. Faithfully.

Max was my lap-warmer, and his sister Lola liked to watch as we created blogs in the early morning.

As I write this blog, my heart is warm…but my lap is cold. Especially in his latest years, Max loved to join me in our favorite chair as I wrote, thought and prayed. He helped me write my first blog – in our favorite chair – on January 12, 2010. After our son Ben left the home for college – it was Max and me holding our own against a chorus of females. We had a man crush going, and I’m not ashamed to say I miss him.

If it had been easy to say goodbye, then it would have been wrong.

But alas, good leaders understand nothing lasts forever. Things change, evolve, advance. And we keep growing until we decide we don’t. Easter Sunday was the next day and I found great joy in thinking about the resurrection through the butterscotch soul of Max. I am feeling warmer, wiser and calmer – filled with the undying love and wisdom of Sir Maxwell, the miniature bad-ass protector of the Bloomington Batz family.

Good leaders make a habit of embracing the intense emotions of a life well-lived. And they grow warmer, wiser and calmer by a life well-loved.

Our readers will appreciate knowing: how has sorrow enriched your leadership?