It was an unexpected downpour…that burst out of the sky.

The older couple huddled under their lone umbrella…trying to stay dry.


Until they saw two young girls…with a joy so beautifully unrestrained




playing in the rain.


The old man began to smile, held his arms out high…

then walked from under the umbrella..leaving his wife behind….

“Come back under here you insane old fool.” His wife demanded…

but the old man…he gracefully declined.


“Do not worry about me.” he said. 

“I am neither foolish nor insane...
It’s just...I had forgotten what it feels like…

to stand out in the rain.”


His wife closed up their umbrella…

and with a joy so beautifully unrestrained…

they laughed, 

they jumped 

they danced together…

playing in the rain.

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From the safety of his room…watching raindrops sliding down his window pane…he noticed a bird…perched on a branch…with no protection from the rain.


The more he watched…the more he thought…that bird needs caring for…so he put on his raincoat…grabbed an umbrella…and headed for the door.


“Where are you going with that umbrella?” His mom asked.  He said, “Don’t worry Mom…it’s not for me…It’s for a little bird…caught in the rain…whose sitting in our tree.”


And she could not help but smile…as raindrops inched slowly down her window pane…as she watched her son…holding an umbrella over a bird caught in the rain.


And she thought…how wonderful is a child’s innocence…it has it’s own beauty…it’s own rhyme…and how endearing is that innocence…whose only enemy…is time.


And she found herself praying that in him this innocence would never wane…as he waved to her while holding an umbrella…over a bird caught in the rain.


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I was returning a bike to it’s home this morning…left out by a child who, no doubt, was remiss and as I pushed it along the sidewalk I began to reminisce.


Back to when I was a child…remembering what it was like…the day I learned to balance…the day I learned to ride a bike.


I remember the innocence…the freedom…riding without a care…I remember the smile on my face …I remember the wind blowing in my hair.


I’d ride for hours with my friends…friends with whom I’d grown…for once you hopped on your bike in our neighborhood…you never rode alone.


Our bikes took us on adventures that strengthened our hearts and soothed our souls.  We’d only stop to climb a tree…skip some stones…or dive into the swimming hole…


We loved to ride together through the ditches during a rain..

and if we fell and skinned our knees…we just ignored the pain. 


We learned to ride with no hands…down our street and all around…

We’d attach baseball cards to our spokes just to listen to the sound.


For when we heard those baseball cards…on whatever bicycle we were striding…no longer were they bikes…but motorcycles we were riding.


On our bikes is where we learned to be independent…it’s where we learned to pretend…on our bikes is where we learned what it means to be a friend.


At the doorstep of the house I set the bike down…gently on its side…and I thought how different the world is now than it was when I first learned to ride.


I’m not sure it was true…but when I visit those memories again and again and again…wasn’t the world a little kinder, a little gentler, a little more innocent back then?


Perhaps that’s why as I grow older I find it difficult to comprehend…how, though many people still remember how to ride a bike.…they’ve forgotten how to be friends..


How somewhere in the midst of living…they’ve forgotten how to be kind…

How without the  even realizing it…they’ve left their innocence behind…


Which makes me wish more people would remember exactly what it was like…

The day we found our balance…the day we learned to ride a bike.

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Our children and grand children have all grown…

which is as it should be…I don’t mind

but every now and then I miss the innocence they left behind…


It’s not that their innocence is gone forever. They will always have a trace…

It’s just that as they all grow older…other feelings take its place…


It’s funny as a father then grandfather…as our children and grandchildren grew…

once their innocence became a little buried…some of mine did too.


But yesterday for a little while…my circumstances turned

when a friend visited with Jaxson, her grandson…and my innocence returned.


We played with toys our children played with…matchbox cars, a ball…a train

but the most fun we had was outside…when I taught him how to make it rain.


I showed him how to hold the hose…”straight up like this”…I explained…

“and when you press the lever here…you can make it rain”.


At his age he doesn’t say a lot of words that is until we made it rain…when

I heard him say as plain as day…again…again…again.


And so we made it rain again and again…and again

the old man and Jaxon who’s about to turn three

Until a little rain was not enough and he turned the hose on me.


And so for the next few moments our destinies were set

and when the rain subsided…we both were soaking wet.


He waved as his grandmother took him home to change 

and with water dripping off my back

I waved goodbye to Jaxson…

as I welcomed my innocence back.

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Dear God,


It’s Billy, have you got a minute…I apologize for bothering you

with the entire universe to look after…

I imagine you have a lot to do


But have you checked in on the Earth lately…

perhaps from way up there it’s hard to tell

but I think if you look hard enough

you’ll see we’re not doing very well.


I know you must be happy with all the love down here

and that is a reason to celebrate…

but as happy as you are with all the love

you’ve got to be saddened by all the hate.


Which is why after church this morning 

I’m sending this prayer to you…

you see I’m afraid and confused and I’m worried

and I don’t know what else to do.


So God if you happen to have the time…

I wonder…could you to re-create….

a world that keeps the love that’s already here

but gets rid of all the hate?


I hope this isn’t too much to ask…

and I’m not even sure what kind of power you’ve got…

but if you could make this one prayer come true

it sure would mean a lot.


And if you make this dream come true…

in church will I never miss another Amen…

and I’ll make you this promise:

I’ll never bother you again!


Well I have to go now…

My mom says there are a lot of things I have to do…

And if you’re going to get rid of everyone’s hate

I imagine so do you.


Your friend,


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You have to love the reasoning of a child.

You have to stand in awe…

You have to love it

Oftentimes I think that, as adults…

we could use a little more of it…


Their son saw magic everywhere

In ever cranny 

and every nook

When they asked how he sees so much magic

He smiled…


because I know where to look.

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When he looked up at the sky, 

and saw the clouds 

he grinned….

then he climbed up to the top of his tree


and waited for the wind

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She knew her daughter’s heart was pure 

and that compassion she’d never lack

when the leaves began falling from the trees 


and she tried to put them back.

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We watched our granddaughter play volleyball…”There she is!” we both exclaimed

when she stepped onto the court…when she got into the game.


She only played a short time…didn’t even have time to mess her hair

The ball never came her way, but that didn’t matter…we didn’t care.


Her team won the game!…and though it was sad to watch the other team lose

We were happy!

What a beautiful day!

Then we went home and watched the news….


A child wearing a home-made gas mask in Syria…

her father’s face so worn and drawn.

They were pulling bodies out of the rubble…

after 7 years their war goes on….


7 years of war…cities destroyed by hatred…fighting and bombs

children who may be lost forever from their dads, their homes, their moms….


And we thought how lucky it is for our granddaughter…

playing volleyball so innocent and free

while halfway across the world there are children not as fortunate as she.


Who are running for their lives…while around them building fall

Who I imagine would give anything…to be playing volleyball.


And we’ll be happy watching her next game…

happy to be there win or lose…

Forgetting for a moment the rest of the world…


until we go home and watch the news.

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