John Michael

Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise LIV: Let Nature Take Its Course

(Photo by Phil Baum on Unsplash)

John Michael continues his series Life Is a Sweet, Tender Bruise, reflecting on life and people encountered, thinking about nature, adjusting, and settling in.


Still rearranging and adjusting things, and myself, in my apartment. An old way of living for me made new by my deepening appreciation of and desire for all things beautiful.

I just moved an old lawn chair around front next to the tiny concrete porch. I can smoke and contemplate a little more comfortably than just sitting on the steps.

There is a large dead maple, or maybe an elm, in our front yard, and in one of the crooks of a branch, a family of starlings is living in a hole there. The parents are very dedicated to their young, constantly flying off and returning with food. Starlings are not beautiful singers and squawk and screech quite a bit. I’m a little embarrassed that I don’t understand why they do that.

Today, a large crow landed on the limb extending out from the starling nest and the juveniles started making quite a racket. Both to try and scare off the crow and call to their parents, I imagine.

I stepped and shouted, “Hey!” at the crow which flew off at the sound of my voice.

Then I wondered if I should have kept my mouth shut and let nature take its course. But maybe me shouting was nature taking its course in its own way. At any rate, a melodic whistle coming from the young birds, I doubt, would have had much luck with the crow.


I wondered if I should have kept my mouth shut and let nature take its course. But maybe me shouting was nature taking its course in its own way.


There is a whole troop of starlings in the neighborhood, and several are occasionally in the road out front feuding over bits of food. They are not too impressed with cars and trucks, just hopping a little out of the way instead of flying off when the occasional automobile makes its way through this fairly quiet Normal Hill neighborhood.

I was a little embarrassed again when I just now realized, that along with the locusts and dogwoods in the yard, we also have a mulberry tree. The starlings or some other birds have been busy in the tree as I saw a bunch of fruit on the ground as a way of discovering the tree. Although, it could have been some of the spring winds taking the fruit down.

Mulberries were a big part of my childhood around here and there is a massive tree up the Snake a little way where I like to hike. They produce fruit all summer, so you get the odd sensation of picking ripe fruit while watching other berries just getting their start.

As for myself, I am allowing myself to receive more love. I have people buying me coffee and beers, have had a couple of small gifts come my way over the last couple of days, and a decent cash gift out of the blue just for being me.

Feels good to enjoy God’s bounty and I hate to admit it, once I look past my envy, I am a huge fan of luxury items. Thanks for reading my ramble, I certainly love you folks very much.


John Michael

Hello, good people. I am rarely sure how to describe myself. If I say I am a Christian, many things may arise in your mind that ain't necessarily so. I was homeless for seven years and learned more about myself in that stretch of time than in any other segment of my life. I read the Bible a lot out there and came across a passage in Proverbs that has shaped my approach to life: "A man's pursuit is his kindness." I am well educated with a Master of Social Work degree and have worked a wide variety of jobs in my 52 years. None have lasted too long however. When I was homeless, the beauty of Texas wildflowers made me decide to want to live again. Along with kindness, beauty, play, and self-expression are life-guiding ideas. My shadow contains things like feeling sorry for myself, a truckload of defiance, a desperate need to please women, and no small amount of cruelty. A quote from Luke also has had a lasting effect on me: "For God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." When I read that I thought, "Hell, I have got a fighting chance." I am here to tell you, you have a fighting chance as well. Besides Christianity, practicing Buddhist and Shamanic techniques inform my relationship to God and the world.

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