Midlife Dimensions


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It’s sundown Lord.

The shadows of my life stretch back
into the dimness of the years long spent.
I fear not death,  
for that grim foe betrays himself at last,
thrusting me forever into life...
life with you unsoiled and free.
But I do fear.
I fear the dark specter may come to soon.
Or do I mean too late?
I fear that before I finish I might stain your honor,
shame you name,
grieve your loving heart.
Few they tell me finish well.
Lord, let me get home before dark.


Will my life show the darkness
of a spirit grown mean and small,
fruit shriveled on the vine,  
bitter to the taste of my companions,
a burden to be born by those brave few who love me still?
No, Lord let the fruit grow lush and sweet
A joy to all who taste
A Spirit sign of God at work,
stronger, fuller, brighter at the end.
Lord, let me get home before dark.


Will it be the darkness of tattered gifts

rust-locked, half-spent  or ill spent,
a life that once was used of God now set aside?
Grief for glories gone,  
or fretting for a task God never gave?
Mourning in the hollow chambers of memory,
gazing on the faded banners of victories long gone?
Cannot I run well until the end?
Lord, let me get home before dark.

The outer me decays.
I do not ask reprieve.
The ebbing strength but weans me from Mother earth,
and grows me up for heaven.
I do not cling to shadows cast by mortality.
I do not patch the scaffold,  
lent to build the real eternal me.
I do not clutch about me my cocoon,
vainly struggling to hold hostage  
a  free spirit  pressing to be born.
Will I reach the gate in lingering pain,
body distorted — grotesque?
Or will it be a mind wandering untethered
among light fantasies of grim terrors?

Of your grace Father I humbly ask,
Let me get home before dark.


--Robertson McQuilk

Try To Hear What I'm Not Saying


Don’t be fooled by me.

Don’t be fooled by the face I wear

for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,

masks that I’m afraid to take off,

and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,

but don’t be fooled,

for God’s sake don’t be fooled.

I give you the impression that I’m secure,

that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,

that confidence is my name and coolness my game,

that the water’s calm and I’m in command

and that I need no one,

but don’t believe me.

My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,

ever-varying and ever-concealing.

Beneath lies no complacence.

Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.

But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.

I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.

That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,

a nonchalant sophisticated facade,

to help me pretend,

to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,

and I know it.

That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,

if it’s followed by love.

It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,

from my own self-built prison walls,

from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.

It’s the only thing that will assure me

of what I can’t assure myself,

that I’m really worth something.

But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to, I’m afraid to.

I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,

will not be followed by love.

I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,

that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.

I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing

and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,

with a facade of assurance without

and a trembling child within.

So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,

and my life becomes a front.

I tell you everything that’s really nothing,

and nothing of what’s everything,

of what’s crying within me.

So when I’m going through my routine

do not be fooled by what I’m saying.

Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,

what I’d like to be able to say,

what for survival I need to say,

but what I can’t say.

I don’t like hiding.

I don’t like playing superficial phony games.

I want to stop playing them.

I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me

but you’ve got to help me.

You’ve got to hold out your hand

even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.

Only you can wipe away from my eyes

the blank stare of the breathing dead.

Only you can call me into aliveness.

Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,

each time you try to understand because you really care,

my heart begins to grow wings—

very small wings,

very feeble wings,

but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling

you can breathe life into me.

I want you to know that.

I want you to know how important you are to me,

how you can be a creator—an honest-to-God creator—

of the person that is me

if you choose to.

You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,

you alone can remove my mask,

you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,

from my lonely prison,

if you choose to.

Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.

It will not be easy for you.

A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.

The nearer you approach to me

the blinder I may strike back.

It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man

often I am irrational.

I fight against the very thing I cry out for.

But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls

and in this lies my hope.

Please try to beat down those walls

with firm hands but with gentle hands

for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?

I am someone you know very well.

For I am every man you meet

and I am every woman you meet.


-- Charles C. Finn

It's In The Valleys I Grow

By:   Jane Eggleston, Virginia

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It's then I have to remember
That it's in the valleys I grow.

If I always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God's love
And would be living in vain.

I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it's in the valleys I grow.

I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I can be very sure that
My Lord will see me through.

My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan's loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
When I'm feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it's in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord.
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank you for valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it's in the valleys I grow!

As I pulled my laundry from the bag,

A kind man spoke to me

He said, “You look lost and lonely,

As frustrated as can be,”


I took a breath and forced a smile

and mumbled out a “yes”,

I guess it was so obvious

To see my life’s a mess


“Friend, you read me rightly”

I said from deep despair.

“It’s my first Christmas without her.”

And I looked out with a stare.


He said, ”I know the feeling,

My wife left three years ago,

She now makes her home in Heaven,

Where the Savior said she’d go.”


I said, “I’m so sorry” but he said,

“You needn’t be,

‘Tis a far, far better place she goes

Than here with you and me.”


My clothes went in the washer

As he tried to quench my pain,

He knew my heart was breaking

But I smiled just the same


He said, “I’m only two doors down

Should you need a friendly ear,

Or a shoulder you can cry on,

That will soak up every tear


Or just a hearty laugh or two,

Some coffee or some cake,

I’m not blessed with cooking skills,

But burgers I can make!


I thanked him for his kindness

And said “I’ll see you soon”

Then the light shimmered off his wings,

As I turned to leave the room.


And suddenly it came to me

That in my darkest hour,

God sends me Angels from Everywhere,

Filled with His healing power.


David T. Petrie    12/25/2006

A free verse reflection on "Male Grief"


Why is it men sometimes sit on a dark porch and brood?

This dark sadness is not unfamiliar to women,

but men seem especially prone to it.

Some call it Grief.

Why do men grieve?


They grieve lost dreams

Man is a dreamer.

He sees what's not there,

what could be.

He wants to invent. Explore. Discover.

Young men especially.

They dream of the future.

Seeing great visions.

A life full of opportunities.

The young man can become a great athlete,

start his own business,

raise three fine sons,

buy a ranch in Wyoming,

sail around the world

in a handmade sailboat.


Most men hide their dreams from others.

Sharing your dreams is risky.

Dreamers are told to grow up,

settle down,

be responsible.


But as a man passes through life,

his dreams recede in the darkness.

They first become unrealistic,

then unlikely,

finally, impossible.

He now views his dreams

through the rear view mirror of life.

Could-have-been dreams.

So the man mourns.


His wife asks, "What's wrong,

you seem sad?"

He answers, "nothing."

He tells the truth.

There is nothing wrong...

that he can speak about.

He doesn't even know why

he feels so dark.

If he did, he couldn't expresses it

like she could.

She would finish his sentences.



So he goes out for a walk in the dark.

He makes something with wood.

He feeds the dogs.

Sits on the dark porch in the rain.

He knows.

He won't admit it, but he knows.

He will never climb Mount Everest.

He'll never own his own business.

He'll never have that ranch.

Never be a great athlete.

Never move to Alaska.

He might make a handmade boat,

but he will never sail it around the world.

His dreams, now pipe dreams.

Yet, he says,

"One of these days

I'm going to sail a month

on one of those tramp steamers."

"Have you lost your mind?

What would possess you to do such a thing?"

He withdraws the dream

into the protective shell of his soul.

And the man broods.

So he reads books about sailing ships.

Collects maps of the ocean,

cuts out pictures of ships

and uses them as bookmarks.

He rides the Ferry across Lake Michigan

with his son.

They talk about the ocean.

And he watches his dream becomes a fantasy.

So, the man grieves.

He will never do it.

Relentless responsibility pierces his dreams.

The calendar crushes them.

So, he broods on the porch.



Why is it men grieve

and brood on the dark porch?

They grieve lost virility

The man puts up hay.

He can toss a bale eight bales high.

Do it all day.

Sleep hard.

Do it again tomorrow.

This year is different.

He is sore tomorrow.

And the next day.

Next year it will be worse.

He bends over.

An involuntary grunt escapes.

The son defeats the father in Ping-Pong.

Father dozes on the couch at nine.

Falls asleep before his wife.

Gets up in the night.


The son lifts the heavy end.

And his wife passes him one night.

He is slowing down.

She, speeding up.

Same desire, less energy.

Same interest, less spectacular.

He is getting like her.

She becomes like him.

Like he used to be.

She teases him.

He teases himself.

His son brings home a pretty girl.

He reaches back.

There is less there now.



So the man broods.



Why does he brood on the dark porch?

He mourns his loneliness

He is lonely.

Even among people.

Friends, family, workmates.

Still lonely.


He has no friends.

He has many friends.

Yet he has no friends.

He hungers for a high school buddy.

A college friend.

A war buddy.

He cannot find them.

He is lonesome.

She arranges his social life.

He visits their friends.

He becomes a half-couple.


So he goes fishing.

Plans a hunting trip.

Joins a service club.

Buries his father.

Shoots skeet.

Takes up golfing.

Buys man-toys.

He seeks someone.

He seeks Jonathan.

There are needs a wife can't meet.

He is disappointed.

No Jonathans.

The men are threatened.

They distrust.

They compete.

They tease with shallow yuk yuks.

They know him,

yet do not know him.


There are stories he must tell.

Only to men.

Safe men.

Understanding men.

Wise men.

Real men.

There are stories he must hear.

From men.

Wise men.

Men who know.

Old men.

Men who've passed this way before.

He yearns for a man-group.

A few.

A crew.

A team.

A gang.

A squad.

His squad.

Where stories can be told

and heard.

To men who care.

Men who trust.

Men who help.


He is incomplete.

Something is missing.

Still a boy. A man-boy.

Only men can make a man of him.

So he is lonely.

A lonesome man without friends.

So he broods.


Why is it men grieve

and brood on the dark porch?

They mourn past sins.

The big man sits on the pastel pew.

He does not sing the happy songs.

He does not clap as his wife does.

He is not happy.

He cannot be merry.

He mourns.

He mourns for sin.

His own sin.

Past sins:

The girl he used in high school.

The friend he betrayed.

The thing he stole.

The man he beat for promotion.

The habits he hid.

The lie he told.

Sins, all forgiven.

But consequences still.

He mourns the consequences.

It hurts where the bullet was removed.

He cannot smile today.

He is a man of sorrows.

He broods about pain.

The consequences his own sins

have caused others.


Why is it men grieve

and brood on the dark porch?

They mourn the pain of others

He works in his shop alone.

He rides his horse to the mountains.

He watches nothing pass,

from his wheelchair post at the window.

He is mourning.

What does he mourn?

He mourns the pain of others.

Even the pain in nature.

He remembers the gasping robin.

He stares into the mirror eye of a dying deer.

He buries his dog.

He dies with a thousand warriors.


Ron's son drowns in the lake.

Charles loses his job.

And packs to move away.

Ken's son is drinking.

Ken does not sleep at nights.

Nathan's wife leaves him for another.

Gene's wife dies.

Richard is dying with cancer.

Only his eyes can talk.

The man bears these pains.

So, he mourns.

He suffers the loss of others,

their grief,

their rejection,

their pain.

He is wounded by the suffering of friends.

Even enemies.

He bears their sorrows.

Absorbs their pain.

This is why the man broods.

This is why the man mourns.


In some ways the grieving man is like another

One who had no beauty.

Despised and rejected by other men.

He too was a "man of sorrows."

He knew about suffering.

People looked away from this man of grief,

like people shy from a scarred face,

He was pierced for all men.

He was crushed for all sin.

Our sin.

My sin.

Wounded for my transgressions.

Yet He opened not His mouth.

By His wounds, He heals.

He poured out His life unto death.

Bore the sins of many.

My sin.

A man of sorrows.

Who understands men who grieve.


By Keith Drury, 1993.

You are free to transmit, duplicate or distribute this article

for non-profit use without permission.

It was all very beautiful the day we were wed
We stood before God and our vows had been said
For richer or poorer, for better or worse
Til death do us part, what a beautiful verse

We meant what we vowed and started our life
With him as my husband and I as his wife
We felt very blessed with the life that we had
The trials and triumphs, both happy and sad

But as the years passed, what we both didn’t know
Is love can’t be felt if you don’t let it show
You settle for comfort instead of life’s joy
Then in roars the lion to steal, kill and destroy

You’re not sure what happened, you try at all cost
To win back his heart but your loved one is lost
His soul has been stolen, One Flesh torn apart
You cry out to God for his soul and your heart

Then God whispers softly “My child come here
Put on your full armor for battle is near
Pray and have faith that the devil’s been beat
Go wait in the light, lay your pain at my feet

This battle is Mine, your prayers have been heard
My victory is certain, you know by My Word
So walk by your faith and not by your sight
My Word is My promise all wrongs will be right

It may take some time, our ways aren’t the same
Keep love in your eyes and try not to blame
Satan will shoot you with fiery darts
To try to confuse you and harden your hearts

Don’t let him fool you with lies and deceit
Keep your eyes fixed on Me and don’t think of defeat
For I AM the Lord, there’s none stronger than Me
And I will build hedges you can’t even see

So fear not my child and take up your sword
And walk right with Me, your Savior and Lord
His hearts’ like a river that turns in My Hand
Just wait for my promise while taking your stand

Remember Beloved and rest while you sleep
Your tears in a bottle forever I’ll keep
I AM the Restorer, I’ve spoken, it’s done
The flesh torn apart will again become One.”

Micki Lowery
Dr. Conway
The Beatles song describes my midlife status.   I want to salvage my marriage of 15 years from the malaise of the last three years.   I am a 47 year old Christian male in the throes of something I now understand better after reading your 1978 edition of Men in  Midlife Crisis.   The term midlife crisis has floated nebulously  in my mind for  several years, but I had no idea that it was such a real, widespread cultural phenomenon.    I picked up your book in our church library as I was waiting to pick up my son.   So much resonates with my situation.  There are many instructors/teachers in the Body but not many fathers.   You truly are a father, in the gospel, to many sons and daughters.   Thank you for your honesty and integrity.   I am presently recovering from drug and alcohol dependency and found your book timely in my quest to center all on Jesus.   I wrote this poem in the valley of our time of infertility and the commencement of my midlife crisis five years ago.   If it benefits someone you have my permission to pass it on.     "Rob"

                                                                                    Cracroft Wanderings

I remember the end of August

                                                                                               when we witnessed

the tide turn

and leave behind

thin tufts of


beach grass

clinging to a

windswept Pacific coast.


I remember the last days of summer:

plaintive cries

from grey gulls seeking

precious life

among the barren

broken oyster shells.

Beyond tangled rosehips

                                                                                             we watched

the osprey circle

her vacant nest

silhouetted silently  

by the rocky water's edge.


I remember the

cold splash of

October's rain;  

your face

as we wandered

the leaf strewn pathway



I remember November,

passing quietly

near the  faded wooden fence

                                                                                             where lilacs blossom

in late May

                                                                                             their soft petal fragrance


yet not forgotten.


I remember December's darkening

when we walked

snow struck streets

our mingled breath hanging  

in the cold  night  air

your warm hand  in mine

I remember