Matthew 7:13-14

Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who go in through it. Because narrow is the gate and straight is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~ Matthew 7:13-14

Saturday, June 04, 2016


I recently saw a tribute on Peyton Manning from his younger brother Eli Manning. Whether you follow football or not you may know Eli as the guy who wins Super Bowls when least expected. Eli, the younger to his more accomplished brother Peyton, reminds me of myself and my older brother Michael who died in July 2014.  Our younger sister Marianne and I refer to him... as Mike-ee. 

I always looked up to my brother even though he was at least one-half inch shorter than me. He was the better athlete just as Peyton is to Eli.  Mike’s a little "cooler," less outwardly emotional than I and naturally more likable too. He had all the ability to do the things I like to do too, such as act, write, communicate, and give direction. He did them all effectively. If he visited you, and there was a piano at your house, he would have us all singing along. Good voice or not, Mike had you singing. He carried on a tradition from our father - another Mike. Only Mike-ee got you to join in where my Dad was more the soloist. Our Dad, by the way, had quite the voice! 

The difference between Eli and Peyton and Mike-ee and I is that some of you don't know Michael and I want you to know who he was. I want you to know who he is and was to me. You are my friends. I want you to know how much I miss him. 

He was a fantastic person who had my back in desperate times as well as the good times. 

I am remembering this because, for one, I was so moved by Eli's remembrance of his big brother Peyton. There was admiration in his words as we saw pictures of the Manning boys as children playing football.  The other reason was that day was Marianne's birthday and we talked for a long while on our cell phones. She got to be on the Oregon coast for her special day. 

Aside from sharing how thankful to God she was, as for her life she also spent half her birthday conversation speaking of Mike-ee. She misses him so. Sometimes when we talk I want to be Mike-ee for Marianne, but I cannot. He was such a good brother to “Mares.” The two with their families lived near one another in Oregon for many years. Oregon was also 3000 miles from where they began. They both left the NY City area around 1970. 

Mike-ee was the unofficial head of the family in Oregon. There was my sister and 4 children as well as 3 of his own. He was a brother to Ron Carter, Marianne's husband, and Ron is my brother too.  He and Ron made a beautiful business together.  Michael and Ron learned to be great partners and brothers. 

Peyton is gone from the game and Eli's tribute was to a famous brother. Eli's words however were personal and universal. The legacy we leave is personal. The game, job, our physical location, etc., are forgotten. The essence of life however is a signature that has eternal realities. Eli and I share our brothers’ legacy and legacy is what lives on. 

My sister Marianne showed me what really counts. It’s not the Super Bowl ring or the local equivalent of its accomplishment. Neither is it the failure to attain the status of what we call success. What counts is what does not count in the super status of what we spend so much time trying to accomplish.

It's in how much love you gave and give. It’s never too late to give love. It's in how much you give even at the risk of being rejected for giving love. Mike, Marianne, and I found Love when we found God. We found how to value victory, how to savor victory, and to embrace victory even in human failure. We found this as adults. I found Wendy and God found me and we had Stephanie. 

We did not win the Super Bowl. According to Eli Manning, who has won two Super Bowls, there is something greater. 

You may know Jesus or you may not know Him, but if you know unselfish love you are on His Trail. If you want to give and want to receive love, be the first to give love. To truly forgive is to give love too, and this destroys hate for people. 

It all comes from Him. It’s where love flows from ... "streams come out of His Rock, and cause waters to flow down like rivers."

It’s a Super Bowl stream. It's a veil of tears, and waters of hope, and closure. It’s Shalom, Peace and a new start.

He is in your unselfish Love desire and He is there waiting for you and me. He is at the goal post. 

A forever touchdown.


The below post originally appeared on The LoHud Yankees Blog for Feb 16, 2016.  For his post, Dennis follows up on a “Pinch Hitter” post he wrote for last year’s series. His piece last year was called: Alex Rodriguez, Please Come Home

Last season, Alex Rodriguez came home. Beyond the 33 home runs he hit, he was a great player again. More so than his obvious talent, Alex changed his mind, an adjustment that requires a change of heart and is difficult to do as a grown man.

It is even more difficult for one so much in the public eye. A-Rod accomplished this feat by going opposite field — opposite from the expected way.

He did the unexpected. He played the game with joy. It was a boy’s game once again. Rodriguez went in the one direction that would improve his game. He smiled often and obviously enjoyed being a team member. He made choices that transcended career. He chose to be different from what he once was. His year off made him hungry for simple things again.

A-Rod always had amazing ability, but what was missing in his game is what he brought last year. He shined in fun, joy, and mostly in thankfulness to once again be part of the game. 

In the height of “P.E.D.” arrogance, he lied, cheated and blamed others. His talent was blocked by fear and greed. The ironic blessing was that his humiliation became his new humility. New boldness was unleashed through brokenness. His talent was no longer blocked by trying too hard. 

In its place, he gained new mobility and physical strength to excel once more at the game. The new clutch of A-Rod was better than a line drive double with the bases loaded. His new clutch was to say, “The fans do not owe me a thing.” That statement and others like it unleashed the God-given ability A-Rod always had. 

His heavy weight to perform was now lifted. Instead of adding more weight to his burden, he went the other way. It was better than hitting an opposite-field home run at the Stadium, which he so often did. He became a person first. A person who was also an athlete, and not the other way around. 

Rodriguez sacrificed something of himself for his team and his fans by going the opposite direction of the norm. Change is hard to do, but his sorrow blossomed into thankfulness just to be on the team. Thankfulness, the very root of humility, gave birth to a new boldness. He was no longer a defensive person but a broken man. He was no longer arrogant, but a man humbled by life’s journey. 

My prayer is: A-Rod, do not go backward. Go forward and upward. Go deeper into this new direction. Gain more wisdom by learning even as you teach others. The team is taking on new and troubled players, and we pray they all learn that the star system and money cannot buy what you are learning now. Have more joy in the simple things common to all humanity, as the poet-apostle said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” 

Finally, that your spirit of clubhouse gentleness will transfer to others and foster fantastic  team play in 2016. Mercy travels as you journey through the true game, the game of life.

In the words of the poet Robert Frost: “And I – I chose the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”


Monday, May 23, 2016


On May 19th, thirty three years ago, I had just found yet another tarot card reader in Brooklyn, NY, to advise me on my future. I remember I was finished with her no later than noon that same day. It was a Thursday and it was important that I drive home to Woodstock, NY, right away. I had missed seeing Wendy for a few days and I smiled all the way home. That's a long smile getting out of the city traffic, driving another three hours up the New York State Freeway and on to Jessop Road Willow Woodstock. When I arrived Wendy came out to the car in our circular driveway and with her was Pastor Nelson Owen and another man who introduced himself as Herb Hartman.

Pastor Nelson was new in our life. One of our writers for the Woodstock Townsman (we were editor writers for the back page) had introduced us to going to church. It was unheard of to us but she and I were "open minded." I thought the church he referred to, the Willow Wesleyan Church, was a museum. I would often notice its museum-ness in my jogging route as the "past." Alas, it was home of about twelve regular attenders and a high percentage of that twelve were the Nelson’s and Mary Owen’s children.

Herb Hartman was  introduced to me as an evangelist. They wanted us at church that night as this week was "revival" week at our church. The way I remember this conversation was that we were being reminded that the "evangelist" was coming to town. Herb, his wife Sheila, who played piano and sang with Herb, also had a nine year old son Stephen who did a puppet show. Herb eventually preached a sermon and when he was finished invited people to come forward in response to his message. I noticed no one came forward to the altar area. When all was done and we were dismissed, I then noticed Herb Hartman shaking hands as the attenders were going out the door. I am sure Herb and Pastor Nelson were reminding people to come out tomorrow night and bring friends. Wendy went ahead of me to prepare some things at home for us as I still was not really home yet. So I saw an opportunity as the last person at church to be social and to encourage this nice man Herb and his family.

"Mr. Hartman," I said. "You preached a very good sermon and I am sorry that you got no response from the listeners." Without missing a beat Herb said to me, "Would you like to come forward?" Just like that. In my mind as I write this, I do not remember what his sermon was about. I do not remember being emotional. In my mind I was being adventurous and also polite as I followed Herb to the tiny altar space in the white church building erected in 1854. What followed, however, was far from normal and much greater than emotional. Pastor Nelson was soon praying with me and, of course, so too was Evangelist Herb. Things were "happening." Again I do not remember what was said to me or what I said. I do however know the essence of the meeting happened for me at the altar. I looked over at the window’s early evening’s reflection of myself. I heard a Presence say, "As I was always with you alongside you, as a reflection, I am now in you as a revelation of Me in you and you in Me."

The next thing I remember was being very happy. I asked the nine year old Stephen if he would dance with me and we were very silly together. Of course it was my influence, but I was soooooo happy. I came home, and Wendy was so happy with me and I with her. I had a revelation kind of dream just prior to sleeping. It was sort of like being in a live play versus watching a movie. In the dream I saw the image of my most recent tarot card reader dissolve before my eyes. I did not think of this until months later, but I noticed I was no longer smoking marijuana either. In a subtle and yet obvious way, I had a new mind.

Two years later I gave up transcendental meditation. I noticed I was not swearing anymore. I do not remember being told to do this or do that, but I was changing. My nature was human but it was a new humanity – one I did not know before. Wendy and I over the next few days, then weeks, months and years, had lost all our former friends. It’s like we had a plague. We eventually moved away and yet I remember Woodstock so fondly. The air, the land we owned, the softball league, life-acting in Woodstock, the newspaper, and of course, The Willow Church Pastor Nelson and Mary Owen and the Hartman Harmonies . . . on and on and on.

I was "born again" that night thirty three years ago. Yes, it is a birth canal and it is a lot different from Mom’s womb. I was born again - but this time of the Spirit. What I am about to say is only for human ears to hear. Whatever kind of human you are, we humans all have the same origin and have so much in common. By God’s pure heart and personal desire we have the same destiny, too. Namely, that we, all of us, would have a second birth. He, the Son of Man, is also the son-author of humanity. Whatever your starting point in life, even wherever you started this very day, He is ready to initiate a new birth canal. He is the common integrator for all humanity. We used to sing a song that seems appropriate to say now.

"There's just something about that Name."

"Jesus "

Thursday, March 24, 2016


 I drove past a warehouse that looked abandoned. I then realized that the warehouse was Gerald Martinez' former meeting place as pastor for his church. It was called "Joshua's Vineyard." It could have been named ‘Josh and Gerald's Place.’ It felt like home with staircases and an artistic touch painted on walls. He was big on building community.

The further I go in time the more I am realizing how extended family is so very crucial. Gerald was very friendly and kind to our family when we first moved to Albuquerque in 2004. He was family. His children are grown up and we knew them as toddlers or school age. He and Lisa had 6 children.

He died a few years ago and now his church is not in operation anymore.

I got to thinking about legacy. His church died very soon after he did. What good is an entity if it cannot live longer than its founder? Gone with the wind?

I thought more about ‘Geraldo’ which is the particular name I called him. He would often call me just to stay in touch. Our daughter Stephanie was part of his church community and she mentioned Gerald recently to me, too.

I never forgot how, in one way, he was not ever going to get used to the many that come and then go among church family. As I ponder Gerald's life, I am reminded it’s good to be like he was. It’s good to not become disengaged from families coming and going. It’s good to miss someone when they leave even if it is painful. There is a pain that heals and a pain that does not go away. It's like an ongoing thorn in one's side. It can be a sweet pain, but it’s always a pain caused by ones parting. Only God can fill this hole and God Himself also has this pain. The Bible says the Holy Spirit ‘grieves' as in the present tense.

So I thought about legacy. Legacy is so much greater than the entities we establish that eventually become an organization that is replaced. It’s not that legacy is disorganized. It’s just that legacy is beyond organization. That which lasts beyond the building, the plaque, and the hall of fame is the organic. As I write this I am feeling Geraldo liking what I am saying. He might now say, "Yes, this is community Dennis." Everyone has their own language and it's "good family" to listen and share language. It’s God’s signature in heartfelt legacy. It’s an organic thing. It’s not disorganized, but it’s not an organization either.

How can I know and value Jesus death? I was not there when it happened. I did not have to suffer days without knowing if He would rise from the dead. His early family went through this. They experienced the failure of His organization, but His legacy lived and lives on. It’s the life of His death that makes for sweet sorrow.

It’s here in this lonely yet fulfilling place where one can experience the hope from Jesus’ death. We can experience the life of His death in the death of others as well as in the end of personal dreams that have been ended. "He lives. I know my redeemer lives." I meet His story in the encounter of my own, and now Gerald's legacy causes me to remember Him.

Jesus’ legacy lives through death and a pain that does not end pain, but transforms pain. It becomes an ongoing healing of hope. It’s His legacy and He lives in it through the family that we make along the way. It’s a life depicted from William Shakespeare’s "parting is such sweet sorrow."

It’s "community" just as Gerald says.

It's Jesus’ legacy and it's a way to navigate through our time spent here.

"On earth as it is in heaven."