Tom Bolton

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Name: Tom Bolton
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Hopeful: Caring — August 26, 2014
  2. Hopeful: Alleluia by Randall Thompson and a Prayer — August 23, 2014
  3. Hopeful: In Quiet — August 19, 2014
  4. Hopeful: Devotions on Two Stanzas of Psalm 119 — August 17, 2014
  5. Hopeful: Thinking on a Child, Grown too Fast — August 12, 2014

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  1. Hopeful: Voting like a Methodist — 1 comment

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Aug 26 2014

Hopeful: Caring

Original post at

On a Saturday morning in early 2012, I had been reading Matthew and John 13, and then went to Isaiah. I left with these thoughts in my poetry.

                                      We Care

Sunset 1
I was startled today at the many voices in the text–
so many accents, so many tones under the words–and
Then there was one voice, a unity, one trinity.
We came back from the dessert, refreshed, and in the dim pre-dawn,
A light has risen again!
I turn to God early this morning–once again! Thank you.
Near the kingdom, already past midnight, already past deep sleep,
the oil was gone, some lamps now dry.
Awake, what day is it? What hour?
We do not know, and we learn to lose caring.
We are here for the suffering, the lonely.
Barbara called me one day before and I forgot her.
We care for her now.
Maria-Anne heard my voice this week, and forgot me at once.
We find her and lift her up.
We care for her.
We left some too long alone in hospitals.
We care, even when we forget, and return late at night,
Early in the day.
The rough voice, the smooth words, the academic words, the lawyer words,
The words blend to one this morning.
We care for the weak, the prisoners of life, the prisoners of selves,
And we lift the cross as best we can.
We care.
At what hour? Who cares?
Beneath the cross, we care for ones we left years ago.
We return and we care.

© Tom Bolton 17 March, 2012.

Tagged: Caring, John 13, one Trinity

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Aug 23 2014

Hopeful: Alleluia by Randall Thompson and a Prayer

Original post at

I very much enjoyed this video of undergraduate engineering students in the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology, Surabaya, Indonesia.  I love the presentation of this wonderful chorale by Randall Thompson.

I also want to share this prayer from Dr. Vicki Morris, who just finished volunteering in  an Ebola treatment center in rural Liberia.

Morris said she was amazed by the people of Liberia. “They are not stupid or evil—I know you see a lot of things in the media that make you think otherwise, but they are just amazing people.”

She noted many Liberians think Ebola is God’s punishment. She said she told everyone she met, “God hears your prayers, God loves you.”

Morris said the experience changed her and she is still thinking and praying about what she is supposed to do next.

My prayer, every day, is ‘God, send help.’”

Read more about the work of volunteering in Liberia at the United Methodist Church website.


Tagged: Alleluia, Dr. Vicki Morris, Ebola, Prayer, Randall Thompson, Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology

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Aug 19 2014

Hopeful: In Quiet

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(I was reflecting on Galatians and reading Bonhoeffer when I wrote this.)


                 In Quiet, Reflecting

Today I look in a mirror, and I see there
Brother Dietrich behind me at ten o’clock,
and I’m learning to listen, and
I’m joyous in this community–even when disappointed in us–
and I see too John Wesley and
others who teach me now and across time.
Solomon teaches me too and I wonder if he had the lessons deep inside him, and outwardly he taught us in sound bites.
Was the kingdom firmly in his grasp?
In silence, I listen, and now my friends
question my silence.
Walking beside those who hunger and ache,
I listen, and briefly boost them up.
They seek answers from me, but I have
only a few answers, and I am simple.
Paul is by me too, and he has polished his arguments.
I am simply here, simple in argument.
Like those around me, I love the carols;
all through each year, I love these carols.
God worked extraordinary miracles through Paul.
He spoke extraordinary truths through
these around me, and through Jeremiah and Job.
I do little:
I listen,
and I sing praises of God all my life.
He upholds the oppressed and the lonely
all the time.
He feeds the hungry and visits the prisoners.
How many kinds of prisoners may we find here?
With Teresa, he teaches us to smile
and to give blessings to the blind and hurting.
He loves the lonely, the poorest of the poor.
He is with us in these lowly places, preaching on a mount.
God blesses us in our silence and our listening.
God blesses His servants!
He offers us grace and peace when we listen.
Grace and peace:
Are there any better gifts?
If I were trying to please neighbors,
I would no longer be Christ’s servant.
Let me listen and serve in this
community, this blessed community, this day.
In my fogged mirror, let me see still those who
guide me, and listen and serve.

(c) June 28, 2012, Milwaukee

Tagged: Bonhoeffer, Galatians, Paul, Quiet, Religion and Spirituality, Wesley

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Aug 17 2014

Hopeful: Devotions on Two Stanzas of Psalm 119

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John Wesley said in his notes on Psalm 119, ” The general scope and design of this psalm is, to magnify the law and make it honourable: to shew the excellency and usefulness of divine Revelation, and recommend it to us, by the psalmist’s own example, who speaks by experience of the benefits of it, for which he praises God, and earnestly prays for the continuance of God’s grace, to direct and quicken him in his way.”  I see it also as a Chapter to teach about the whole Bible, and it is interesting to let the verses just pour on me. Wesley had observed that “the word of God is here called by the names of law, statutes, precepts or commandments, judgments, ordinances, righteousness, testimonies, way and word.” He thought that the Psalmist had used the Hebrew alphabet technique to avoid tediousness and to help us fix the directions in our mind. Having delved into this Psalm weekly for three months now, I can understand some concern about tediousness, but overall, I have been astounded at what poured forth from these verses for me. Some mornings, I was surprised at what I had written the night before. It was an immersion experience for me.

Herewith are two of my stanzas contemplating Psalm 119 in 2012:

V. Voice of My New Life                                                                    Scripture

Voiced with all my heart, I want so much to hear you.
I’ll keep obeying you always anyway. Can I?
Voice–plaintive, plennary voice! Hearing my voice, you give me
Victory, new life.
Viewed before dawn, life looked so low, but I
vaulted from my bed to cry and call for you.
Viewing my hope, I am firm in your words:
Joyful in the word. Blessed!
Joy in your word! Teach me.
Vast is your mercy, God-of-grace. Hear my voice.
Voice of my new life, teach me these Scriptures.
Vying with me for all things, over all things,
volumes are heaped on me: volumes separate them–evil–from you.
Vexed, I try to understand, to make your reliable words mine.
You are close to me, near by me, Holy One.
Volumes ago, and eons ago, I learned from your words:
Teach me again to cry out like that.

W. Wicked Loss

Where do I find this suffering? How far do I go?
Wandering farther than I dreamed, I still hold your teachings in me.
Wind your words around me. Save me! Toss me your rope.
The Word always was, always will be: New life.
Wicked ones lose out; far from the word, they are lost.
Way, away from you, they are lost–weighed down, lawless.
Wonders surprise me regularly, Great God.
You gave me a new life when I could scarcely imagine it.
Wicked ones still intrude in my life, and I seethe, but
Written deep in me are words that miraculously sustain me.
Wicked ones disgust me, and then the
Wicked ones are losing. I see it and don’t see it.
Wayward sinners–all of us–but the ones who refuse to repent,
they are lost for good. They missed the words. They are set out to dry in the wind.
Willful still and open, I am joyfully blessed!
Joy in the Word! Blessed!
Joy in your Word.

© Tom Bolton, 03/02/2012

Tagged: Joy in the Word, New Life, Psalm 119

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Aug 12 2014

Hopeful: Thinking on a Child, Grown too Fast

Original post at

      Maibandu, Are You Safe?


I know Maibandu in my mind, and in her letters,
But letters that are written with helping hands.
I see, in little images, the long-past deaths–
Father, Brothers, Play-palls–of
Men and boys gone sooner than imagined.
I see, in yellowed images, Mothers, Sisters, and She-too, raped.
I see her safe now, but the image is too blurry for me.
I see her in school,
I see her working the family plot, and
I see her jumping rope.
Still, years on now, I see no smile.
Maibandu, are you safe as I imagine?
Does a smile yet turn up your lips?
I never see a smile yet.
I never see the image large.
I yearn for the images close.
I yearn for touches and smiles seen close.
Do you see me, Maibandu? How small is my image?

© Tom Bolton, Milwaukee, 03/09/2012

Tagged: Childfund, Sierra Leone, Sponsored Child

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Aug 12 2014

Hopeful: At Always, God

Original post at

Contemplating 1 Peter 4:19 in the New English Translation (NET Bible)

So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.


At Always, God

In the beginning, it is God.
Creator of beauty and mysteries
that startle us each day,
it is God who makes us, and
makes life and beauty so grand.

Starting our lives fresh and clean,
with that smell of baby hair,
it is God who labors to make us love,
who loves us to accept us,
to gracefully embrace us.

In the sun, as we grow and move,
it is in the son, where we feel
the light, and see in the light, and
too often head off into the shade,
and the light yet shines around us.

In the light now we grow,
and daily we yearn to know,
and in the imagination where we live,
we seek meaning,
to find a master, as we, disciples, seek.

And then there comes revelation;
the Spirit who fills us, and
is with us, and speaks to us, is powerful.
We are transformed, and
we live
in this grand creation,
in this gorgeous light.
We are with Him.

(c) Tom Bolton, West Allis, 10 August 2014

Tagged: 1 Peter 4:19, Grace, Spirit-filled

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