Hugh’s Journal


The feature Hugh’s Journals has appeared here on Sundays. For some basic background on Rev. Hugh Bebb Jones and his notebooks click here.

Hugh journals are filled with contexts and connections big and small. He will note some quote and then more often than not give it a wonderful context.

The connections and connotations he sees in almost everything is related to his theology and his faith. God is continuously working in the world and through others, if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.


More Journal Notes

“Church Door, Albany, Minnesota” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

From my Vacation Journal

7:50AM and the sun is coming finally through the window, reversing the shadows on my coffee cup.

There is something satisfying about filling pages of journals. This one and the work-a-day one are just about full. I have replacements in waiting.

Will anyone ever look at them but me?

I suspect not.

And to what end. I write because I believe that writing is was I was created to do.

That sounds… grandiose.

But I was created to be a husband and a father and a writer.

I am not saying to be great at any of them. But I think I have been very good as a father and relatively good as a husband.

The writing, of course, is another matter altogether.

I write, I dream, I wonder.

I am limited and unlimited by a stubborn personality that will not share my writing to be critiqued. Which will not let me open my writing to mentors or peers or suggestions.

I am am freed and doomed to do it my own way.

To find delight and wonder and pain and anger where most others find only the ideas they have inherited and the words they have been given.

I was lucky enough to find a woman who keeps me tethered to the earth and reality.

I was lucky enough to have daughters who are brilliant and beautiful and kind.

I was lucky enough to have pain and suffering that I could endure.

I was lucky enough to be born when and where I was.

I was lucky enough to be born male and white and hence, to have easier battles to face.

I was lucky.

Travel Journal

Sue and I took a long weekend to the prairie country of Western Minnesota. It is nice to get out where the horizon is far and the wind is free.

I spent the lazy weekend reading parts of many novels, writing, and resting.

I have one journal volume that I call “A Traveling Journal.” I have been bringing with me since our trip to Ireland in May 2016. It has gone with me to:

  • Ireland (County Mayo, Sligo, Norther Ireland, Dublin)
  • South Padre Island, Texas
  • Black River Falls, Wisconsin
  • North Dakota (Jamestown, Dickinson)
  • Montana (Billings, Helena, Dillon)
  • Chicago
  • Iron River, Wisconsin
  • Norcross, Minnesota

187 pages so far of poem drafts, notes, hand-drawn maps, quotes, and a few “sketches.”

I have pulled out of it so far a chapbook that I am shopping around and a few poems that have already been published.

On some trips, I write a lot. On others, not so much.

This trip was mainly prose. Ideas that I may or may not share some day. A bit of verse.

All that matters though is that I write.


a farm
in Western Minnesota
not far
from South Dakota

early September

the nights cool
the days hot

this morning
the rooster crows
again and again

the cool morning air
pours through
the open windows

a little kitchen table
a cup of coffee
a pencil
this page

“Reverse Shadow Sketch” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)


Awhile ago I came to the understanding that I have tried in a thousand ways to ignore many parts of my family roots and background. Why I have done so is not particularly clear to me. And like most of what we do and why we do it is no doubt a combination of many different factors. Some that can be named, and some that will always remain mysterious to us.

At the same time my wife has tried to get me to write down some of the stories I have told to my daughters over the years. It is something I have not yet been able to do.

It is my hope that this new feature at  ClimbingSky will achieve both things. And secondarily that it may be of some interest to someone besides myself.

For now, I am calling these posts Groundwork.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Last night I went through the large plastic bin where I have been keeping old photo albums and began to sort them into piles:

  • one for my mother’s albums and keepsakes
  • one of my father’s albums and keepsakes
  • a smaller one of my own
  • two small ones for brothers, Paul and Jon
  • a large stack with pictures of people and places that I have no hope of ever identifying
  • a slightly smaller stack of people and places I know or think I recognize
  • and a couple of miscellaneous piles of old menus or postcards or souvenirs that were picked up over the years and now passed on to me

The piles are spread now across a card table and the floor of my second-story office.

There are out of focus pictures and faded and bent pictures. There are a envelopes filled with negatives and a box filled with slides.

There is a brochure with an agate attached to it that my Mom must have picked up on one of her stays in with my Aunt Chris and Uncle Leit at their bar in Belgrade, Montana.

There are souvenirs my dad kept from when he was in the Navy and stationed in Kodiak, Alaska: a program from the base’s performance of South Pacific and the menu for Thanksgiving and Independence Day meals. Significant enough events to my father at the time that he kept them.

Last night I quickly looked at everything. Today I look at the piles and wonder where to begin.

I choose a photo from the unknown pile that caught my eye. A young girl, important to my mother (but unknown now to me), standing in front of a car on a country road.

It is easier for me to begin with what I do no know, than what I do. Most of what I know or think I know, I have chosen over the years to forget or to ignore or to pretend I do not remember. It has been easier that way.

I look at the girl in this picture (perhaps my cousin Barb or Norah ?) squinting into the western sun and sky and know that the happy day driving was soon forgotten by her. But the picture and the memory of that day driving remained for awhile with my mother. But now that my mother is gone, only this picture remains. A black & white moment frozen in time.

Next week, I will begin remembering.

Tie-Dye Tuesday

If I were ever to be a pastor again, I would wear a tie-dye robe or alb. Nothing conventional. Nothing too “churchy” or formal.

And if asked by a congregant or a bishop, why tie dye? I would answer: tie dye reminds us of music, art, and summer. It is the cloth of rebellion, hope, peace, and love.

But I am not a pastor, nor do I plan to be one again. I am however a poet, a mystic, and a bit of a hippy. And I want to dress in a way that expresses what I believe to be most important.

So beginning today, and every Tuesday that I go to work, I will be wearing tie dye.

And if asked by a colleague (or family member), why tie dye? I will answer: it is a poke in the eye of convention. It is completely irrelevant. It is loudly anti-Big-Business and anti-establishment. It is an expression of a different way of seeing things and being in this world. It both celebrates what matters most… and offends what matters least. In short, it represents everything I believe in.

And if asked, why Tuesdays? I could say it is because Tuesdays are the day we vote in this country. But that is merely a happy coincidence.

The real reason should be obvious to any who like language and poetry: the alliteration just sounds better than Tie-Dye Wednesday.

So have a happy Tie-Dye Tuesday everyone!


Music Monday


Stella Blue

All the years combine
They melt into a dream
A broken angel sings
From a guitar
In the end there’s just a song
Comes crying like the wind
Through all the broken dreams
And vanished years

Stella Blue
When all the cards are down
There’s nothing left to see
There’s just the pavement left
And broken dreams
In the end there’s still that song
Comes crying like the wind
Down every lonely street
That’s ever been

Stella Blue
I’ve stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can’t win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make em shine
It all rolls into one
And nothing comes for free
There’s nothing you can hold
For very long
And when you hear that song
Come crying like the wind
It seems like all this life
Was just a dream
Stella Blue

Written by Jerome J. Garcia, Robert C. Hunter • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Hugh’s Journals


The feature Hugh’s Journals has appeared here on Sundays. For some basic background on Rev. Hugh Bebb Jones and his notebooks click here.

There is a sense in which I have come to think of Hugh as an artist. It is the instinct/sense he had of the importance of passing on something of himself and his unique experience of being in this world to others.

To me this a different impulse than being a preacher (which he was) or an intellectual (which he was) or a parent and grandparent (which he also was).

Here is a page from Hugh’s journals about growing old. The fact that he gave this the context that he did and typed it up for someone else to read tells me, at least, that he was trying to create/leave-behind something more than himself for more than himself.

Some would probably say that the longing to do so is merely human, and no doubt it is. But I would say that it is the execution of this very human longing that distinguishes art from all the other ways people try to do the same thing.