~

An unspoken dream
That is in everyone
A longing within
This dream articulated
In universal language

~

I had a dream as a child
I wanted a home with peace
An atmosphere of loving care
To celebrate life

~

Moments of oneness
I remember them so well
Laughter and playing
Learning a rhythm of joy
Experienced in the child

~

I got a glimpse of it
The first seven years of life
Playing ball with the neighbors
Being held with love

~

Children need a holding place
Of personal tender care
Where they feel safe and secure
Untouched by trouble

~

The home is the place
Where joy is at the center
Laughter the result
Forgiveness reigns all around
The freedom to discover

~

I will tell the world
That peace is within their reach
What you need first is desire
Then a clear vision
If it is there you will find it
Relationships that flourish

~

I’ll never give up
Living peace and sharing it
It is my great joy

~

Those who want to know
Who are searching with their heart
Will certainly find
It will take your best thinking
Then faith and courage to act

~

It is in practicing
The things that you know are true
You’ll discover more

~

There are daily practices
I’ve discovered on the way
That are essential to me
For living in joy

~

I awoke from a dream this morning, with my heart going out to the children who long to be held, and to experience home as a safe place.  I felt that safety as a little child, although my parents as teenagers did not know how to provide it.  There was extended family, (and neighbors) who provided this safety until  my family unit fell apart.  I believe there is a longing in everyone to find a place of peace where joy sits at the center.  I want to be a part of pointing the way to this authentic life that is available to all.  These reflections came out of my dream last night, and after meditating on Proverbs 20 and John 15.

© Terry S. Smith

 

*****************************************************

The following article and picture appeared on the front page of the Burlington Daily Times on December 24, 1985, in metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts. 

 

A Christmas Story – December 24, 1985

 

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 seven 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 relationships.  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.

**************************************************

My mother died in the year 2000, at the age seventy-seven.  She experienced in her heart, soul, and mind, the joy of God’s peace.

~

Cry of My Heart

December 6, 2010

~
I grew up in fear
My parent’s relationship
Was broken and dark
They were ill prepared to love
Hostility and hate came
~
Home – not a place of safety
Home – not a place where peace dwelled
Home – not a place where joy filled
A longing deferred
~
Fear was realized
Love was shattered by these two
Four children suffered
All around were broken hearts
~
Could the cycle be broken
Was there a way to find peace
Could there be love in marriage
And how does that work
~
I found a way to find life
I listened to my longing
Imagined family
Where there was great peace
~
Love and peace the atmosphere
I could see it in my mind
Then I set on my journey
Fifty years ago
~
My dream compelled me
Determined not to repeat
The story of my childhood
For my children’s life
They are grown now and can tell
The cycle has been broken
~
There are certain things
I have learned to hold sacred
And practice each day
Beliefs that refresh my soul
And give to others great joy
~
Seeking peace was a secret
It gave me the right questions
Then I practiced what I found
Voices I could trust
~
For my father and mother
Who were unable to give
I discovered larger loves
Who’ve been my teachers
~
I have learned to wait
To be strong and take heart
I discovered the goodness
And focus on truth
~
The cry of my heart 
Was heard by a higher love
I cannot explain
But in practicing his thoughts
I found my self comforted
~
My heart leaps for joy
Unexplainable friendship
That’s larger than death
Has given me confidence
To see what matters most
 ~
His words breathe life into me
My focus intentional
Introduces me to joy
His truth restores
 ~
© Terry S. Smith
December 6, 2010
 ~
Reflections written early in the morning after meditating on Psalms 26-29; John 15.
 

Extravagant love

August 31, 2010

~

My voice is silenced

With this massive loss of Liz

I have no language

~

I need words of hope

I’m searching for the voices

That will speak the truth

~

Liz LaVelle’s life speaks!

She is God’s voice to us today

Her life rings out with passion!

Spontaneous joy!

Our hearts are grieved beyond words

Comfort those nearest and dear

~

One voice comes with Power

One voice speaks to death’s darkness

One voice with authority

“You will never die!”

~

Today we don’t grieve for Liz,

We grieve for us, our great loss

She lives, we’ll see her again

How do we go on now?

~

We draw near to You

You have sought us and found us

Broken and seeking

~

There is one who comes

I cannot explain this love

It’s bigger than death

The words of Jesus bring life

Breathe hope into my spirit

~

To Liz’s precious family:

You will see Liz face to face

Jesus keeps His promises

Let him comfort you

~

To Liz’s friends:

Let Liz’s life be remembered

Let her voice be heard by all

God is real…and He loves you!

His love is extreme

~

Christ lives in the human heart

Little children saw God’s face

As Liz loved, touched, and cherished

She saw the children

God’s gentleness calls

All of us to stop and think,

What really matters?

~

Liz knew what mattered

Her cup was full of His joy

Her life invites us

To arise and say, “thank you”

Love God, and one another

~

Liz’s word to all of us:

Do not weep for me

I cannot come to you now,

You can come to me

Let God’s Spirit comfort you

Draw near each day to His heart

~

Extravagant love

He always keeps His promise

Please accept this treasured gift

Then give it away

Joy comes in obeying Him

Love each other as God loves

~

Please see the children

The ones who’ve been abandoned

God is here to comfort you

Raise you up in love

~

Terry S. Smith

August 31, 2010

~

inadequate words

July 29, 2010

~
My heart is broken
The depth of loss, no language
My dear friends suffer
The loss of their precious child
I cannot fathom their pain
~
Please come and comfort
Helpless, hurt, grieving and stunned
Surround them with hope
We now see and are aware
Only you, Jesus, can speak
~
Jesus was angry
His response expressed in tears
Then he acted with power
He raised Lazarus
And he will raise your daughter
~
Let God’s Spirit come
Hold you, comfort you, secure you
In ways that only he knows
That you need him now
He is the air you breathe
His presence brings us comfort
~
Our hearts are deeply grieved at the news of the death of twenty-year-old Liz LaVelle.  On July 28, 2010 while driving to Nashville, she was in a fatal car wreck.  My words are inadequate, so I turn to the One who is big enough to help bring comfort, hope, and a promise of resurrection.
~
The above meditations were written after reading Psalm 145, 146, Proverbs 29, “My Utmost of for His Highest”, Oswald Chambers, and John 11.
 
~
Terry S. Smith
July 29, 2010
~

Space

June 13, 2010

~
Children need their space
Room to make their own mistakes
Where it’s safe to fail
~
Letting go is hard
You’ll need wisdom and power
A daily practice
~
Let go of the reigns slowly
But you must learn to let go
You’ll decide if you believe
That God is loving
~
Your message must be 
I believe in you today
My love will always be there
You have room to fail
You don’t have to be perfect
I will love you regardless
~
Remember the daily practice
God is eager to teach you
He will come if you will ask
Do you believe this
~
Peace will come from God
It is not the children’s job
To give that to you each day
That you must discern
Set your boundaries clearly
Then trust God and laugh a lot
~
© Terry S. Smith
June 13, 2010
~
Written after meditating on Psalm 61-65, and Proverbs 13 & 24.  A blessing for the parents whose children are graduating into the adventurous world of the teenage years.
~

searching

March 3, 2010

~
Those I loved were gone
I sat in the darkest night
Afraid, not able to speak
Alone and helpless
~
At the darkest time
No hope on the horizon
Light broke in the dawn
~
To live was my decision
There was fire in my being
Mysterious energy
Coming from within
~
My search became real
The path began to open
The pain was universal
Everyone’s lot
All around there were others
Searching to find what was real
~
It is easy to escape
And medicate all the pain
That is what my parents did
And gave it to me
~
Was I to repeat
And give this to my children
I decided, “No!”
~
I found a community
Of people wanting to know
Seeking knowledge and insights
How to be human
~
Searching is the key
Being honest and fearless
Not afraid to ask questions
Even about death
We’re at different places
But at one in our seeking
 
© Terry S. Smith
March 3, 2010
~

seeing life

March 2, 2010

~
Circumstances won’t control
Who I am, how I respond
There is a power within
The freedom to choose
~
Bitterness will rob
A person from seeing life
It is cancer of the soul
A person can heal
It takes time and good thinking
Daily looking to learn
~
Wisdom is available
Understanding is the key
More profitable than gold
Seek with all your heart
~
I began to seek
With intention at eighteen
Hungry not to repeat
The past handed down
My children would not suffer
The abandonment and loss
~
© Terry S. Smith
March 2, 2010
~

The Dancing

February 19, 2010

~
Dedicated to the Class of 1960
Clarksdale, Mississippi
 
At our 50th reunion
We’ll celebrate with old friends
Some classmates left us early
We remember them well
 
I learned to dance as a child
Music brought rhythm and joy
The movement brought energy
Taste of something good
 
As teens on Friday nights
We would dance, laugh, and sing
Giving and receiving friends
In motion with joy
 
Religious people
Thought and said it was not good
To dance, especially dance
To laugh and sing was O.K.
But dancing, not acceptable
 
I was not too religious
And home was not a safe place
There was no laughter at home
And no one would dance
 
Another place I found joy
Playing baseball and tennis
A place of community
We always had fun
 
When I played my position
With precision and rhythm
Things happened with teamwork
That also brought joy
 
Friends found in community
Where joy is at the center
I discovered this secret
As a teenager
 
Today I’m living the dance
The joy continues to grow
Older but younger inside
With lightness and love
 
I live in community
Creating happy memories
Playing with nine grandchildren
Teaching them to dance
 
© Terry S. Smith
February 6, 2010
~

Heritage

January 13, 2010

~
Heritage – a striking word
Is something that we all have
Others will ponder
~
My children reflect
They know the good and the bad
When I am gone they will see
Remember the truth
Of the way I live my life
Inspires me to wise choices
~
Do not speak rashly
Those words will cut the heart out
Of the little ones
~
Trustworthy envoys
Will bring healing to the soul
Joy to the hurting
~
Intellectual
Emotional, Spiritual
Consider these three
~
Process with integrity
This relationship journey
Seeking truth on every front
Do not be afraid
~
Thinking, feeling and loving
Integrate all three of these
With those living close to you
You’ll discover joy
~
Loneliness can be a gift
I’ll surface the heavy rocks
That are weighing down my soul
Direction can come
~
Do not be afraid
To ask the real hard questions
You were built for joy
~
Those of us who know the pain
Who still live in it today
Can listen and understand
And offer you hope
~
© Terry S. Smith
January 13, 2010
~
Written after meditating on Proverbs 13,  Psalms 61-65, and My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers.
 

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
~

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.

~

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.
~

a tribute to my wife

November 16, 2009

~
She is a balanced woman
She laughs and sings when alone
She takes delight in people
She is my beloved
 
I love to hear her singing
She plays the dulcimer well
Her poetry tells a tale
Of the years gone by
 
Her smile captures me
Her forgiveness renews us
Her joy is larger than me
She knows who she is
 
She is not without her faults
But she has learned how to think
Not take too seriously
Herself or others
 
© Terry S. Smith
written November 16, 2009
~

Legacy

September 5, 2009

~

Can anyone speak to life

How do I break the cycle

Handed down by my dad

Is there a model

 

It’s the hardest thing to find

I found that in my despair

I clarified my questions

Set my mind to life

 

I knew what I did not want

Can I find another way

Will my children weep like me

Can I give them love

 

I’ve seen despair win

Rob people from being loved

I am determined

To bring light, life and loving

In view of all that I meet

 

The path that I choose 

Will impact generations

I know this is true

 

We all leave a legacy

A life that we will pass on

I will not be uninformed

I’ll engage my mind

 

 

© Terry S. Smith

written September 5, 2009

~

~

One of the places

There seems to be confusion

Making marriage last 

 

Forty-four years of marriage

With someone opposite me

Has been a problem to solve

How can she like me

 

She said, “I do not like you”

I said, “I do not like you back”

Now we have a problem

So what do we do

 

We have four children

Responsibilities here

Children we love and care for

Will the past dictate

 

My parents divorced

They could not figure it out

The children suffered greatly

So what do I do

I decided to face me

To see my problem not hers

 

I wanted us to be friends

The way it all started out

In seeking I understand

Barriers in me

 

 

I must deal with my issues

Seek understanding of me

Study personality

I needed insight

 

So the first place to begin

You must decide who you are

The person you want to be

Then state it clearly

  

Solitude is hard

It is part of the journey

Beginning with me

  

written August 22, 2009

~