Author Archives: Tom Schultz

About Tom Schultz

Was there ever a time that I did not love writing? If so, I can’t remember back that far. A decade or so ago, along with other life changes, I started exploring fiction, memoirs, and creative nonfiction to complement my essays. For me, writing is always about the melody and the rhythm, as well as the light and the image. Around the same time, I went to law school as a “nontraditional” (read middle-aged) student. After a couple stressful days in an auditorium at Michigan State University, packed with 1,000 other folks taking a bar exam, I survived and joined the Michigan bar as a newbie lawyer. I have the opportunity to write a lot at the day job, but felt the need for a place to express more creativity than is allowed within the four corners of a legal brief, and to share my feelings with others. Voila! Blogging. When I began, I thought my posts would be all about writing. Serendipity is a gentle goddess, though, and I soon rediscovered my passion for photography. With the aid of my fellow bloggers, I have worked on presenting a vision and, hopefully, conveying a sense of spirit through pictures as well as words. Politics has always been my passion, but not what passes for politics in our time, poisoned as it is with partisan rancor. No thanks, not interested in that scene. Only as we as a society can reintroduce spirituality, in all its emanations and wonder, into the political process (in the broadest sense) can we really extricate ourselves from the swamp and find a path forward. And it would surely help if we could in our journey find faith between men and women, too. The arts suggest to us the hidden potential for change in society. In the distemper of these times, beauty can be subversive. In my writing and photos, I hope to evoke some of the spirit in my favorite art, of all forms.

Miracle of Snowflakes

She could not fathom the hexagonal miracle of snowflakes formed from clouds, crystallized fern and feather that tumble down to light on a coat sleeve, white stars melting even as they strike. How did such force and beauty come to be in something so small and fleeting and unknowable?”

Eowyn Ivey, The Snow Child

This weekend’s foot of  snow has given the Michigan landscape a white frosting, but the ephemeral nature of our weather ensures that its presence will be fleeting.  Before it disappears, come walk with me across an icy stream and  along  a woodland trail.

Kensington Park, Michigan

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Last Full Measure of Devotion: I Discover a Personal Lincoln

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial, NPS photo

Sheltered in the warmth of a Detroit library’s archives on a blustery fall evening, I happened upon a clue to  Abraham Lincoln’s political artistry.   Having often visited Washington, I have met the  marble Lincoln seated at the Memorial, his presence like  an ancient oracle  looking out toward the reflecting pool, his famous words etched on the walls, and a steady stream of tourists looking up to a revered, if distant, figure. The setting last Thursday allowed me a more personal insight.

Reblogging this in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday

The archivist led our small group into an alcove where the library kept fragile materials.  A letter on yellowed paper, too frail to be touched, rested on a display table. Written in a forceful, cursive hand, the note  was dated October 11 in the first year of the Civil War.  The writer sought the aid of the Secretary of War.  The signature at the bottom read, Abraham Lincoln.

At first glance, the letter’s content seemed   mundane. Lincoln was asking the Secretary of War to assign two junior army officers to a general named Sherman. Never having seen one of Lincoln’s letters up close, I mused over this bit of history.   For me, there was a sense of the past looking over my shoulder.

Walking out of the alcove, I found myself imagining the story that might lie behind the letter. I pictured Lincoln in the White House with his young son, Tad, playing nearby.  A  Congressman from a Midwest prairie district, fortified for the occasion by a prior visit to nearby Willard’s bar, asks the president for a favor for two constituents.    Perhaps one had been a small town lawyer and the other a local politician; now they were  officers in the  Union Army.  Did I mention that Lincoln is a Republican and the Congressman a Democrat?  Lincoln listens intently, turning over the Congressman’s request in his mind.  Rather than committing himself, Lincoln tells a droll story, and the two men share a hearty laugh.  Today, this scene would be impossible,, but in 1861, politics worked in just this fashion.

Abraham Lincoln mastered the political arts as a lifelong endeavor, beginning with many years spent brokering deals in the fractious Illinois legislature.  His shrewdness and deft touch have never been equaled in American history.   Lincoln’s strengths met the ultimate test in the  Civil War, where military triumphs required a sturdy foundation of political success.   In the North, popular support for the war remained problematic, from the opening shots at Fort Sumter to the last bugles at Appomattox Court House.  Lincoln faced a precarious high wire balancing act during his presidency.

Rancorous partisan strife marked politics in Lincoln’s time.  Yet, if  Democrats deserted the war effort, the Union cause would be lost. One key to their support was the appointment of prominent Democrats, sometimes woefully unqualified as officers, to positions in the Army.  Lincoln knew that such concessions to political reality were unavoidable, though no one felt the resulting loss of life more deeply than he did.  Fortunately, he eventually found the commanders he needed to win the war.

Lincoln’s simple words in a faded letter remain with me as I write this.  Certainly, his speeches deserve to be enshrined in our country’s memory, yet it should not be forgotten that he was first and always a politician of great sensitivity and finely honed persuasive ability.  He could reach out to an opponent, arrange a deal, and reach a compromise—all the while keeping his eyes on the prize.  Such is the legacy that Lincoln left us, if we would only learn from his bequest.

Photo Challenge: A Tour of Michigan’s Cascades, Gentle and Wild

There is a waterfall in every dream. Cool and crystal clear, it falls gently on the sleeper, cleansing the mind and soothing the soul.
–Virginia Alison

A tour of Michigan would be incomplete  without pausing  along the way to listen to the music of  waterfalls, from a gentle stream near my home to the crescendo of  a roaring river in the forest primeval of the Upper Peninsula.

Photo Challenge:  Tour Guide  

 

Fleming Creek, Michigan

Au Sable River

Iargo Springs, Michigan

Tacquamenon Falls, Michigan

WPC, Tour Guide: Mildly Intoxicating Feeling of Beauty

The enjoyment of beauty has a peculiar, mildly intoxicating quality of feeling. Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.

–Sigmund Freud

Nothing quite as serene as  a summer sunset over a local Michigan lake,  the sky lit by a golden glow and a stillness in the air.

Photo Challenge:  Tour Guide 

Newburgh Lake, Michigan

Newburgh Lake, Michigan

Sunset Over Icy Lake Michigan

Reblogging since this is simply a superb photo. A model of color and composition. And it’s Lake Michigan.

Atoms of Thought

I was fortunate to venture to the lake shore on the rare cloudless day this time of year.  The lake generously served up more photographic opportunities than I could possibly seize upon.

IMG_1605

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Photo Challenge, Beloved: Life and Food for Future Years

While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years.

–William Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey

Still, the sound of this woodland stream whispering over the rocks brings back fond memories of boyhood summer vacations spent with my grandfather.  “Life and food for future years,” indeed.

Photo Challenge:     Beloved   

 

 

Huron National Forest

Pine River, Michigan

pine river, michigan