Joseph E Bird

Let's talk about reading, writing and the arts.



life above the common

Mohler House, St. Albans, WV, 1911

Life above the common.

I really like that phrase.  I stole it from Larry Ellis.  It’s the theme of his novel-in-progress about Rachel, a young woman, who, upon the death of her husband, faces a choice.  She can either take her life insurance proceeds and live the good life sipping margaritas on the beach, or do something far more risky in the hope of building a life with meaning and purpose, one whose legacy will endure long after she is gone.   For Rachel, there is no choice.

She’ll buy the house – the house that once was a symbol of everything that was right and good about her town – and sink her savings into its restoration.  Not for her own vain pleasure, and not for the sake of an unrealistic nostalgic vision, but for the people of Walhonde, who may see in its restoration as a home, who may see in its revitalization as a community cornerstone, a shining example of what can be achieved when the choice is made to live life above the common.

It’s not the easy choice.  It’s the idea reflected in the West Point Cadet Prayer.

“Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.”

Larry’s novel is inspired by the real-life Mohler House, located in our small town of St. Albans, West Virginia.  In the novel, the name of the town is changed to Walhonde.  Though a tale of fiction, Larry weaves historical facts about the house into the narrative which occurs in the present, but is supported by the legacy of the men and women who shaped the town – and the world – in the early 1900s.   You can read excerpts here.


A poem for Thanksgiving.

The bread is on the table, we gather ’round to share.
We offer thanks for all this food, with this our simple prayer.
We’ll dine in great abundance, much more than we deserve.
We’ll drink our tea and sip our wine; sweet dessert for us is served.
Do we know how much we’re blessed?
Do we really know?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Your love for us to show.

The kids are so rambunctious, the house is full of toys.
They run and laugh and sing and play, and fill our days with joy.
We sit and talk of days now passed, and those who’ve gone before.
Though missed and loved we’ll see them soon, upon that shining shore.
Do we know how much we’re blessed?
Do we really know?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Your love for us to show.

Our time is filled with worries, and struggles through the day.
We wonder how the world will turn, the strife will always weigh.
Should we speak or just stay quiet?  Which battle should we fight?
We know Your way is always true, as darkness fears the light.
Do we know how much we’re blessed?
Yes, I think we know.
You gave Your son to die for sin,
Your love for us to show.

copyright 2016, joseph e bird

A Prayer for Rain

He didn’t know her name.  They never exchanged words, though they sat side by side on a three-hour flight.  He would never see her again.

He saw her pain.  The source of her pain?  No, he didn’t know.  But he felt it in his own heart.

Trevor Larson wrote this for her.

Hear me, Lord.

Give me gentle rain.

Heal me, Lord.

Take away the pain.

Love me, Lord,

I just need a friend.

Hear me, Lord,

and be there till the end.

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