Indescribable peace

July 6, 2010


I will help others

The way I was helped

My strength was wasted

Resulting in my “burn out”

I could not save my own life


A love much larger than me

Intervened and came seeking

Indescribable peace

Anointed me with joy

© Terry S. Smith
July 2, 2010

Joy unspeakable

April 9, 2010

Joy unspeakable
A gift given to the world
I decided to receive
The treasure available
To everyone who lives
Each person is important
There are no exceptions to this
It’s the people who matter
It’s where love resides
The indwelling of the joy
Rooted in the mind of God
Demonstrated in the flesh
By one who’s like us
I’ve received this joy
There is a depth of friendship
I cannot describe
The vision I saw
As a young man who was hurt
“There is hope for the future
For all who will seek”
I became intentional
In my quest to know what’s real
© Terry S. Smith
April 8, 2010 
Dedicated to New England friends.


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

past wounds

February 20, 2010

Sue was my girlfriend
From the ninth grade to college
She was a princess
She lived in a huge mansion
Her chauffeur drove her to school
In her blue convertible
His name was “Shorty”
Life looked good on the outside
Sue was the oldest of five
Her father I rarely saw
Her mother stayed near
She was beautiful
Her world was as sad as mine
Although hers appeared the best
Money hid the tragedy
It hid all of the emptiness
Suicide was the result
I thought we lived in two worlds
But later I saw the truth
We came from the same sad world
Relationships dark
We met in our woundedness
She was very kind to me
Our hearts were breaking with grief
With no words to speak
At eighteen we parted ways
Trying to hang on to love
She went to the Ivy League
I went to Ole Miss
Our letters were sweet
Our voices became distant
We could not sustain our love
It was not enough
My life fell apart
Despair became a doorway
Sue’s dad died by his own hand
We were both empty
My search led me to seek life
Her search led her to despair
Her depression led to her death
Sadness and grief crushed us all
Money could not fix the pain
Our hearts were broken
Terry S. Smith
December 20, 2008
In memory of Sue, who died at age twenty-six.

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

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.

rising from desperation

October 24, 2009


There’s a world within

A place that never leaves me

How do I deal with the pain

Brokenness abounds

Looking at my inner world

I seek answers for my life


There’s a world without

A place that I can’t escape

Pressures and expectations

Calling me each day

Looking at my outer world

Living becomes a challenge   


There’s quiet desperation

A reality for many

Masks hide the deep despair

The lonely cry out


So sad and lonely

I rose from desperation

Crying out in the darkness

Looking for some light

I found a friend listening

One who had the time to hear


I am larger than my pain

In solitude I found space

How to think and to detach

Discovered new things



© Terry S. Smith

written October 24, 2009


your response

September 23, 2009


No one escapes the trouble

We all “get it in the neck”

The big question to be asked

Is: “What do I do?”


Victor Frankl speaks to this

From a concentration camp

Everyone taken from him

During World War II


His family was destroyed

His wife and children killed

He chose not to be bitter

Surrender his mind


Hatred would have destroyed him

A choice he could have made

In searching he found a way

And he was set free 


Man’s Search for Meaning

The book he wrote in Response

Tells the story well


We all have a choice

Each one is responsible

It’s my decision

What I will do with my life

I am larger than my pain


© Terry S. Smith

written September 16, 2009



September 18, 2009


When I do my best

Sometimes it is not enough

My humanity fails me

It is the place I learn the most

I have learned to forgive me


Looking back I see

My ignorance saddens me

Remembering those I hurt

With good intentions

I did not know their story

I’ve learned to say, “I’m sorry.”


When I learned a person’s story

My heart overflows

With compassion and respect

For their journey in this life


I have laid down my judgment

And picked up compassion

I learned when I judge myself

I’m judgmental of others 


Seek understanding

A secret few comprehend

Listen first, talk last


© Terry S. Smith

written September, 18, 2009



There are many stories of kindness and heroism rising out of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, but you don’t hear many stories about the dogs that helped in the search for survivors.  On a recent trip to New Hampshire for the Heartbeat Retreat, I met an impressive man, Gary M. Jobes.  Gary was one of the fireman called to help with the rescue efforts.  He told me a story about the search and rescue dogs looking for survivors in the wreckage.  His words touched my heart, and I wanted to share the story he told me with you. 


Rescue Dogs

The dogs moved through the Twin Towers, looking and searching.  They were trained to find living people.  The dogs were confused and disoriented because no living people were to be found;  they were only finding the dead.  The firemen quickly started hiding so that these highly trained dogs could be rewarded by finding someone alive. 

The dogs spent long hours searching, and their paws became cut and burned.  The firemen were approached by a shoemaker who offered to custom make leather boots for each dog to cover their injured paws so they could continue to search.  Each dog had its own fitted boots and a number so the shoemaker could make a new set as needed.  He created the protection the dogs needed to do their job.  The firefighters, dogs, and shoemaker worked together as a team to help our country on the tragic day when 2,974 hearts stopped beating. 

For the Hurting 
The shoemaker gave
A gift with no strings attached
An example to follow
His only desire
Was to give all that he had
To save the lost ones
And give the compassion needed
With appreciation to Gary M. Jobes for sharing this story.
(Used with permission.)

Intentional kindness

September 9, 2009

Laughter is a good life sign
Good cheer is right medicine
For those we meet on the way
Lightness brings the light
Weep with those who weep
Be fully present with joy
And give peace where it is needed
Presence is power
Learn to live in the moment
Give intentional kindness
Your life is lived in a day
That is all we have
Remembering the past days
Can help us live now
Learn from your experience
Learn also from other’s lives
Awareness is most helpful
Create internal space
© Terry S. Smith
written October 27, 2008


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