Miraculous decisions

December 29, 2009

I climbed a tree at seven
Alone, sitting nauseous
Confused, no language to speak
The horror I saw
Mother with another man
Drinking, talking unaware
Of the blow she was giving
To a little boy
The decision in the tree
Was to disassociate
Distant emotionally
From the pain inside
My world unraveled
Significant relationships
Shattered before me
Looking back I see darkness
Outwardly my world was dark
Inwardly I searched out
Looking for the light
A mystery discovered
I am larger than my pain
In weakness I found
A child has hidden strength
Unseen by the human eye
When he’s traumatized by life
Receives certain gifts
A decision to seek truth
At any cost know what’s real
A miracle decision
That will bear great fruit
Each day’s decision
To live life genuinely
Responding to truth
Will bring surprising rewards
A joy to be discovered
It takes discipline
Understanding and wisdom
Listening to all the facts
Before deciding what’s true
The truth sets you free
In ways I cannot explain
Looking back I celebrate
Not afraid to speak
I’ll be bold as a lion
With courage I’ll go forward
Miraculous decisions
Looking back I can see
Moments of healing
© Terry S. Smith
 December 28, 2009

Gentle in failure

December 26, 2009


I’m always learning

I will be mindful of you

Of the things you say


It will be my intention

To pay attention to you

To maintain an attitude

Of love and kindness


My focus is important

On what holds life together

What motivates me each day

On what matters most


I’ll be gentle in failure

With you and all those around

I have learned a basic truth

You get what you give


© Terry S. Smith

December 26, 2009

A Christmas Story

December 24, 2009

This picture and article appeared on the front page of the Burlington Daily Times on December 24, 1985, in metropolitan Boston.  My mother died in the year 2000, at the age seventy-seven connected in the heart, soul, and mind with the joy of His peace.


A Christmas Story

A man painfully remembers: years of confusion, guilt, and learning to survive in a world where hate and fear consumed his childhood.

When he was six years old, his mother stood on the hood of the car, kicked the windshield in and cursed the boy’s father to hell.

When the boy was eight, divorce and alcoholism robbed him of his mother.  The parent’s failure, anger, and hate tore the relationship apart and another family unit fragmented.

This is a story about a mother and son coming together after eighteen years, and about the One who stirred their hearts into a love that brought healing and hope to a once broken relationship.


Carol, Sid, Mama, Robert and Terry


I had always wondered about her.  She was beautiful, but many of my memories were painful, reinforced by my father’s hatred for her.  While I was growing up, he cut me off from anyone who cared about her.

Then during my last year of graduate school, I found where she lived, discovering that in a city of 600,000 people, I was driving past her house daily.

Should I go see her?  What would she be like now?  She would be forty-five years old.  Could I understand this woman who left four young children, never again to be involved in their childhood?

She didn’t know who I was when my wife and I knocked on her door in October of 1968.  But a new journey began.

Her story was hard.  She had married at sixteen, had three children before age twenty-one.  She married five times, was an alcoholic, and currently was living with a man who was not her husband.

She hated herself.  She had attempted suicide by cutting her throat, jumping out of a car going eighty miles an hour, and by putting a gun to her head and pulling the trigger.

But, the gun misfired.  It fell on the floor, blowing a hole in the wall.  She lived!

The reunion with her son helped her to realize she could start over again.  She began to fight!  But it was like trying to climb a greased slide.  My family — a wife and two babies — now included this woman, my mother, who, after wanting to die all these years, now had a desire to live.

The failure I experienced in my childhood caused me to pursue the field of counseling to learn how to live in relationships, and not make the same mistakes my parents made.   There had to be a way to live in this world and not be victimized by failure, anger, insecurity and guilt.

People can come back together and healing can take place in relatiionships.  But how?  How could this woman ever have forgiven herself for leaving her children?  How could the children have ever forgiven her for abandoning them?

As a family counselor in Burlington, I have chosen, for a model, one person in history who knew how to love and treat human beings.  I find very few people who have read his life.  Not many are willing to give and extend mercy toward those who hurt them.  Not many are willing to say: “I am wrong!”; “I am sorry!”; “Forgive me!”

The little baby whose birthday the world celebrates at this time of the year grew up to be a man.  He met a woman at the well who had been married five times and was living with a man not her husband.  The man at the well treated the woman with dignity, respect, consideration, and compassion.   It changed her life.

The angels announced at his birth that he has come to bring good tidings of great joy.  The woman at the well experienced it the day she met him.  I have tested it on the streets of the twentieth century and it holds today.  My mother found hope, forgiveness, and new beginnings because this man’s evaluation of human worth represented by the heart of the God and Father of us all.

Our challenge at this season is to look past the commercialism of Christmas.  To look beyond the religious ritual, and to sense the mystery of the One who came among us to demonstrate and to give a new quality of life.

I’ve just returned from a family wedding.  It was the first time in thirty-five years the family was together.  My mother flew back with us, and will celebrate her first New England Christmas with me and my family.  We realize that we owe this reunion to the One whose perspective on life continues to bring into a dark world hope and light.

Our hearts are full of thanksgiving as we celebrate the reality of his presence.



December 17, 2009

Christmas season brings the lights
Lighting it up with hope, joy
Looking to give and receive
The Light of the world
Light within is the answer
Many walk in dark places
Confused and afraid of the night
Because they can’t see
There is a presence
Given to all who believe
A love without end
Where can I find peace?
The most important question
Asked when I was young
Wisdom is what I needed
Insight to find a new way
A longing for what is true
A way to find peace
© Terry S. Smith
December 16, 2008

joy defines the soul

December 14, 2009

As wax melts before the fire
As smoke is blown by wind
As light exposes darkness
Joy defines the soul
I will give thought to my ways
I’ll pursue paths of freedom
How I think is important
I will think clearly
A heart of peace gives me life
My body becomes rested
I am ready to be kind
To those who’re in need
I’m in relationship
With myself and with others
Joy with skin on it
Maintaining the joy
Is a secret I have learned
It’s larger than death
It still takes my best thinking
When I arise each morning
I’m quiet and reflective
A simple practice
I always take space
To consider what is true
Then relax and celebrate
A much larger love
Big enough to face trouble
That’s in me and in you
I’m always learning
Seeking new information
How to live in joy
© Terry S. Smith
December 14, 2009

the way to joy

December 11, 2009

A gentle hand touches me

A loving smile embraces

I respond with gratitude

Overwhelmed with joy

Each day is a mystery

Who can know what it will bring

I will begin with laughter

Peace comes in the pain

The journey is hard

Easy answers do not work

The trouble is real

My parents failed me

They did not love each other

Home, not a safe place

Their parents failed them also

The cycle must be broken

It’s time to stop the death run

I will start with me

Somebody needs to live it

To reveal the way to joy

Forgiveness stops the cycle

Love will overcome

I’ll be a victim no more

By decisions of others

Responsibility’s mine

Which way I will go

© Terry S. Smith
December 11, 2009
Dedicated to my grandson Preston, who is 6 today.


December 1, 2009

A Christmas Story
One told around the world
Has brought life to me
In quiet I think
Of all the sacrifices
Freely given love
I will look for ways
To see things as they are
Get all the information
See all the angles
My life will depend on it
I don’t want to miss life
© Terry S. Smith
November 24, 2009