Meet Jack Reacher

Sorry, Joe. I have never met Lee Child’s Jack Reacher but I suspect I’m about to. The girl from 313 loves him more than me. Norma looks after our library and maintains well over two feet of Lee Child books. I buy each new title as it appears. His books have sold a bazillion copies worldwide.

For the uninitiated: Reacher is Child’s tough protagonist. Norma likes the way he beats up on bad people. Joe Grove, a Reacher fan, is a Facebook friend from Texas. We met years ago in Anchorage where he salvaged the little church I served in 1958-’62. Joe is a blogger and exceptional writer.

I read little fiction these days, and when I do, I insist on good writing in an authentic setting.  I never read fantasy. During my travelling years, Louis Lamoure was my companion. Good company on long flights. I read Kent Krueger, the Tony Hillerman of the North. Krueger knows the Minnesota canoe country. His protagonist is Cork O’Connor, former sheriff of Tamarack County, part Irish, part Ojibwe, and all heart.

I’ll give Reacher a shot. I ordered a small book of his short stories. Maybe that will drown out the raucous yowl of the nightly news.

What are you reading?

Old Grandpa Lloyd


The Song of a Man and a Land

Back in 1938, I proudly carried the American flag for Scout Troop 18 in a parade led by Albert waving from an open convertible. He died at 109, the last Civil War veteran. Thirty years later I told about Woolson’s war in “The Song of a Man and a Land.” To read the whole poem, go to  t Here are the opening and closing passages:

I am the nation that gave to the World

The man who is called Abe Lincoln.
I watched legend born in fire-lit books,
River rafts, the smooth shovel slate.
Quiet myth, gaunt truth,
the sad portrait speaks
of Lincoln, Head of State.

I watched from a mountain my new people at war;
Homes torn, lands ravaged, men fell.
I grew sick from the stench of Andersonville
And the northern dungeons of hell.
Spades tore my sod,
The weight of the dead!
Men hid their shame in my soil.

Then peace. No, not peace, War never brings peace,
But a stupor before the next conflict.
Abe, tired, faced the task of mending his land,
But one shot was yet to be fired.
The last soldier to die in that most tragic war
Was the man from the cabin of logs.

Death-felled, yet Abe Lincoln stood tall,
North and South lowered flags that day.
The Union reborn in hearts called to mourn,
They wore blue coats and gray.
A dirge from the South,
A moan from the mouth
Of the people Abe Lincoln set free.
Men gathered the Clod,
Turned back the sod,
My earth folded close,
Abe was gone.

From the north Arctic snow
To the summer green South,
One flag, Abe’s flag, was unfurled
To remember God’s clod,
A new kind of man,
In a new kind of land in the World.
A mingling of earth and faith and breath
Wrought by God for the dark and the fair,
From bold hybrid seeds of hymn tunes and creeds,
Of courage and daring and prayer.
In the man, in the Land,
See the Book and the Cross.
Don’t lose them; freedom lies there.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


My Apologies

My apologies, Hole News friends:

I have been so consumed by political and religious rants on Facebook, I have neglected you. Last evening, my staff advised me to quit.  She’s a wise advisor and super supper-cooker. I vowed: Cease ranting forthwith.

Ranting resolves nothing; just so much blood and thunder, sometimes slaying friendships.

Such thinking stirred the muse: Oh, I ain’t gonna rant no more, no more; I ain’t gonna rant no more.But how’s this old dog gonna blog his blog If he ain’t gonna rant no more?

You might scan my FB home page occasionally in case I backslide, a term from my Methodist days.

Keep an eye out an occasional olden goldie posted for new subscribers. The Hole News began in late 2008.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Thoughts on My Very Best Gift on Christmas Eve

From Epilogue in Lloyd’s Story Tree: The Mailbox Caper 

The morphine left its mark. My emotional responses grew less stable; I grew increasingly reflective. I understood aging—our parts wear out—but I had given little thought to relationships. I cherished each friend. Falling in love? That was for kids. How wrong I was!

As I resumed evening chats with Norma, I realized how much I had missed her. I took every opportunity to be with her. One morning we joined the group in the lobby waiting for the mailman. Spirits ran unusually high. The mail finally came and the group moved toward the mailboxes, Norma just ahead of me. She collected her mail and befitting the jovial mood she kissed me then turned to the elevator. Something walloped me. I elbowed to my mailbox, arthritic fingers struggling with the key. The lock finally yielded and I snatched my mail and hurried to the elevator, gripped by a compelling desire to hold Norma and tell her I loved her.

The elevator finally came and I punched floor three, the library. Norma was gone. I didn’t dare knock on her door. I grabbed a book and sat two hours pretending to read, hoping Norma would appear to check returned books. I returned to my apartment but lunch held no interest. Back to the library. I puttered through the afternoon. Time dragged. I finally gave up. Supper was out of the question.

Early winter darkness fell. I fired up the computer and began a mushy love letter, fully intending to delete it. Dearest Norma, please don’t laugh, but I’ve fallen in love with you. Clichés worthy of a lovesick teen tumbled out. Writing brought some relief and I read the screen one last time. I reached for delete, be foolhardy abandon swept over me. I hit print, found an envelope and padded down the hall to 313.

I returned to my apartment in near panic. What kind of fool was I?  Surely she would laugh! It was a long, long night. I was making morning coffee when I heard a knock on my door.  Norma stood there, love letter in hand. And she wasn’t laughing.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

The Littlest Tree on the Mountain

She was the littlest tree on the mountain and she knew it.  Not only was she little, she was different.  All around her tall cedars reached to the sky, spreading magnificent branches. Their fragrant wood was much sought after by the king’s builders. The littlest tree wished she could hide her crooked limbs and rough, dark bark. She was a stranger. She didn’t belong among cedars.

The cedars dreamed they would one day see the king. The littlest tree heard them boasting. “I will be a mast on the royal ship,” sang a young slender tree. Said another, looking proudly down his straight, sturdy trunk, “I will live in the king’s palace, a beam in the royal banquet hall,” A huge cedar boomed, “I will be a pillar in the throne room, the grandest place of all.”

The littlest tree looked down on her gnarled dark trunk. Oh, she was strong and almost straight, but she was so small, so plain!  She fought back tears. She would never see the king.

One morning the woodcutters came. They laid down their axes and looked about. A gruff voice called, “Over there; a fine young tree for the king’s ship.”  Axes rang and the young cedar fell. “Over there,” called the gruff voice, “The smaller one will be just right for the palace. And take the bigger one for the throne room.”

All through the day the woodcutters worked and the littlest tree grew sadder and sadder. “I will grow old and die on this mountain,” she cried, “I will never see the king.” With all her heart she wished she had never been born.

In her sadness she heard the gruff voice say, “Just one more. It need not be big or fine. The Bethlehem innkeeper asked for a small tree to repair his stable.” The axe bit her trunk and the littlest tree wept. “A stable? I’m fit only for a stable?  Now for certain I will never see the king.  What king would come to a stable?”

Old Grandpa Lloyd


Santa and the Sunday School Pogram

I came to the church as interim pastor in late summer, two old congregations merged and buil a fine new church home. I immediately sensed points of tension between older, ultra-conservative members and newcomers.  The tension surfaced as Christmas came on. Conservatives were strongly anti-Santa. Risking their wrath, I hatched a scheme with a friend who had a Santa suit and the physique to go with it. I told no one but the lead usher, who guarded the foyer.

I worked with the Christmas program committee, creating a role that involved a large, armless rocking chair on the platform. All went well:: wise men and shepherds in bathrobes, rustic crèche, songs and lisping pieces that charmed grandparents.

As the evening wound down, commotion stirred in the foyer. With a boisterous Ho! Ho! Ho!  Santa Clause appeared and made his way down the center aisle tossing  candies right and left, shouting Merry Christmas! Santa! I called, What are you doing here? This is a church!  He replied, It’s Christmas, a time for joy and giving! Get up here, I ordered, I’ll tell you about Christmas.

Santa walked tentatively to my chair and sat on my knee. He listened intently while I told the Christmas story as I would to a child. The anti-Santa folks melted. I closed by quoting John 3:16–the greatest-ever gift.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

A Twofer Christmas Wedding, Part Two

Rewind to 11:30. I’m at my desk, working up a sweat. Karen had finally agreed to meet with Harry over lunch at the parsonage during her half-hour break, but the hurt was too deep to consider reconciliation. I believed Harry’s faith was genuine. Though he probably faced jail, he longed to ask Karen’s forgiveness and tell he loved her. I racked my brain. What could I say to soften Karen’s heart?

The phone rang and I jumped. It was Ruth, the town florist. She said a young Wisconsin couple had bought flowers and asked if she knew a minister who would marry them. And they will need  witnesses–they don’t know a soul in town. When? I asked. Right now—their honeymoon Greyhound leaves at one o’clock. I’m sorry, I said, but I have an appointment—a bell dinged.  Send them over! Tell them to arrive at noon. I called Elsie to delay lunch.

I introduced the bridal couple to Karen and Harry at the church door and described the situation. Would you mind serving as marriage witnesses before lunch?

We gathered on the platform about where a few years before Karen and Harry had  exchanged vows. My mini-ceremony stressed husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. The couple said I do and hurried off; Harry and Karen stood close. We moved them into a small apartment just after New Year’s.

Thirty years later I pause overnight in the town and Harry and Karen hosted me in their home. I attended a Bible study led by Harry. He served as vice chairman of the church.

How’s that for a twofer made in heaven?

Old Grandpa Lloyd

A Twofer Christmas Wedding, Part One

The tall, trim Wisconsin lumberjack, clad in clean overalls and a checkered shirt, held the hand of Cresiansa Rios, his soon to be bride, as they walked to the church. On the other side of the avenue, on lunch break from her Christmas-rush job,  a reluctant Karen made her way. And on the highway from the west, contrite, desperate, Harry approached.

The four arrived at the same time and I led them up the rickety back steps of the old church.The auditorium was lovely, smelling of spruce. Colorful tree lights and window candles in balsam wreaths added a soft touch.

Being new at the church, I knew little of Harry and Karen’s early history. Smitten by the handsome dude in his military uniform, Karen married Harry, though he was often unpleasant and had a taste for gambling. Their first baby arrived just before Harry was assigned overseas.

He returned in a few months with arrogance, drinking, and gambling increased. He took a job at a local department store. On a sales trip, he gambled away company money and was arrested. His parents made restitution allowing probation for Harry.

Finding a job in a neighboring town, Harry again gambled away company funds. VHis freuent betrayals of Karen became known. Karen’s family funded divorce proceedings and Harry faced jail. A second child was on the way.

I was off to my former church for a long weekend when Karen’s family contacted me. As a ruse to win back Karen, Harry was claiming to have become a Christian.Realising the mess he had made of his life, he had come to my study. Finding me gone, he hitchhiked 50 miles to talk with the pastor of a sister church, where he accepted Christ. He knew our vocabulary. Like the rest of the congregation, I didn’t buy his story.

Harry was waiting when I returned.He came to my study and beggedd me to urge Karen to let him  tell her how sorry he was. He fell to the floor in anguished prayer, tears flowing. My heart melted and the miracle mill began to grind.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

New Theme Song

Got a new HoleNews theme song:
I ain’t gonna rant no more, no more.
I ain’t gonna rant ho more.
How in the heck will I blog my blog,
If I ain’t gonna rant no more?
I’m done with theology, philosophy, and politics. I know what I believe and why, and I am persuaded God is able to keep that which I have commited unto him against that day. There’s just an outside chance I might be wrong about something. You go your way, I’ll go mine.
I’m an old-earth creationist, a believer in the Bible as God gave it, I do not buy Darby and Scofield’s Dispensatioonalism with its novel secret rapture. I believe in the Incarnation, the cross, and return of Jesus in his time. I follow him as best I can. He claimed all authority. That’s good enough for me. And I’m a Republicrat–I vote the issue.
Old Grandpa Lloyd

Lazy Mountain Home: a Christmas to Remember

Wet snow made for slippery roads as we headed north out of Anchorage. Speedy’s van bore a colorful array of mittens, hats, scarfs, and work gloves. It was party time for the kids and staff at Lazy Mountain Children’s Home

Back in the church, the mitten tree stood bare but hearts were full. Lazy Mountain was dear to our congregation. We had planned a family caravan, but good judgement kept all but Speedy and me in town.  A weather front swept in with heavy, wet snow. As we approached the twisting gravel road up Lazy Mountain, apprehension grew.  Speedy drove an aging, rear-wheel-drive van with a light load.

Snow fell harder as climbed. Several times we barely made an up-hill turn. Finally, lights and the Home finally appeared. The party as underway–the folks were surprised to see us. They received our gifts joyously. What fun! Laughter, games, hot cider, kid snacks; 40 or more Native Alaskan kids and a dozen staff.

Closing time came and I slipped outside to check the weather for our drive home. To my delight, the front had passed, replaced by breath-taking cold. The moonless sky was aburst with wonder, scattering stars with abandon.  From inside, the final song brought tears of wonder. Silent night, holy night, all is still, all is bright…

Indeed, a Christmas to remember.

Old Grandpa Lloyd