Tag Archives: Love

Cain and Abel – Relevant?

Is the story of Cain and Abel relevant to today’s society? It’s not cool to kill your brother. I mean WAY not cool. But do we need religion to learn that? If we had no religion at all – would we all be chaotically killing our siblings with out any moral compass what so ever? As though only learning these tales in the Bible can stop us all from becoming atheistic murderous hedonistic plebes?

I love my brother. He’s dead now. But I still love him. (And no. I didn’t kill him.) There is no amount of imagination in this world that would ever bring me to believe it would have been OK to kill my brother. Nor even to harm him. And I couldn’t imagine ever hurting one of my sisters either. Especially not for something like petty jealousy. If I could have ever been so enraged by jealousy that I would want to kill my siblings then all of them would be dead already. Because all of them are much better souls and more successful at life than I am. That doesn’t make me jealous though. It makes me happy to know how wonderful they are and that I was able to share this world with them. They love me. And I love them. The only drawback is that I feel a bit worried about my own relationship with God and ability to drudge on through life in His good blessing. But my brother and sisters aren’t the cause of that worry. Instead they are my bedrock, my inspiration to do better.

The story of Cain killing Abel is irrelevant. In fact it could become a stumbling block to our own faith. Because it makes us indifferent to Cain as a child of God. At the end of that story the hero is obviously Abel, whom God loved and revered so intensely more than the love He held for Cain. So most of us come to love Abel. If we had lived during his time and worked in the fields beside him, helping to tend his sheep, singing with him during happy moments, aching with him during the hard parts, and crying with him during the sad – we would have come to hate Cain for killing Abel. We already do kind of hate Cain for what he did just by knowing the story. So in a way – that story is kind of like gossip. Gossip is sinful because gossip causes hatred. And hatred can grow into murdering your brother if the smoke from your burnt sacrifice doesn’t rise to Heaven.

How many of us sent a sort of silent little prayer to God for Abel when we first discovered the story? Or at least experienced a little twinge of sympathetic emotion for Abel – which is still a little prayer. I think most of us don’t realize it. But that little twinge of emotion IS communication with the Spirit, and communication with the Spirit is definitely communication with God.

Religion teaches us to compartmentalize prayer into something in it’s own sort of benevolent category. We are taught that God is the Omnipotent Supreme Being whom we must adore and obey or suffer His wrath. We are taught that our prayer must be a complete reverent transcending anomaly above the flesh we live in and our prayer must be just this way or just that way in order to be respectful to God. And that prayer is on the highest order of solemnity. BS. We as humans build respect naturally for those who love us. God is not some cold entity who demands things of us and forces us by threat of might to love Him. He loves us. And we communicate with Him everyday whether we know it or not and whether we believe it or not. Because we love him.

Jesus didn’t tell us to “respect” God. He told us to love God. Like God loves us. And He told us to love one another, as God loves others too.

So how many of you have sent a little prayer to God for Cain’s salvation? Doesn’t Cain need our support a little bit more than the favored Abel? What about Judas of Iscariot? Have you asked God to forgive Judas? Is it ok to hate Judas – and hope that he rots in hell? Or did Jesus Christ Himself ask us to love Judas? And to love Cain? And to in fact did not Christ command us to love even the least of our brothers?

Jesus said of the sheep, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”. The goats, the unbelievers failed to do the very same. (Mt 25:35-36)

“I killed my brother Abel because I fell into hatred and jealousy. Because hatred and jealousy are sins. I sinned. Did you forgive me? Did you pray for me? Did you ask our Father to forgive me? Did you intercede for me? Did you visit me in purgatory? Are you a Samaritan who looked kindly upon my sprawled and broken carcass and who offered me water?

Ours is not to judge. Ours is to love. Sometimes quietly. Because those who sin can resent charitable acts borne of love. and our love can become a stumbling block to them. Please pray for these rioters and looters and arsonists and murderers. As Jesus Christ so nobly recognized many years ago – “Forgive them Father. For they do not know what they are doing.

You Are My Angel

We are angels
to and fro
all complete
head to toe

Born in image
of God’s delight
In free will
lies our might

Choices made
Lo, love born lost –
triggered hatred
as icy frost

So cast we out
of Heaven’s gate
down to Earth
and here we wait

Learn to love
His one command
failing that
forced to stand

Wings all clipped
staggering within
this glorious place
of love and sin

Which to choose?
Which to choose?
Free will at its best –
Most fail to see
hatred’s epiphany –
Love is just a test.

For hatred is innate –
sin is born within –
Love is not a choice
But a key not to sin…

And now I know
in all the worlds foils
having found your heart
hidden in Earths toils.

So I turn the key –
I turn the key –
Which your great love
gave to me….

And within I find
such peace of mind –
and the dear beauty
of knowing you’re mine…

And with your love
my wings will grow
And I shall fly to Heaven
with you in tow…..

© 2015 John Allen Richter

I Remember You

Press the Play Button to hear the song – may not work on phone

Saw her walking on the beach, looking mighty fine
Sipping on a soda down at the five and dime
Took her to a movie, honey, it was show time
Sat in the back, baby, gon’ make you mine…

I remember you, girl, I remember you
Big blue eyes and that beautiful smile
Bob Seeger playin’ on the radio
wish I could go back for a while

Summer days back in my early days
having fun with nothing but the sun
colors were bright and your eyes begun
to make me feel, baby, to make me feel

Sittin outside the Dog ‘n Suds
puttin’ pennies on the track
Walking through the old graveyard
in the late night pitch black

I didn’t know what love was back then
I didn’t see the way you looked at me
Now I look back and understand –
The summer love we had…

I remember you, girl, I remember you
Big blue eyes and that beautiful smile
Bob Seeger playin’ on the radio
wish I could go back for a while

© 2015 John Allen Richter

The Rain

Some things strike a chord in us (or should I say just me?) sometimes, perhaps a memory of something we did, or time we might have spent with someone else, or several someone else’s….  One thing I certainly admit to is being melancholic.  Sideways that looks like I wrote “alcoholic.”

It was the summer of 1977.  I can’t really put my finger on what made that summer so special to me.  I mean, – really, what are the triggers?  What is it that makes a time in our lives, any single moment or day that was pretty much the exact same as all those other moments and days bordering it –  that can make that one moment specifically come as memory 30 years later – so incredibly strong and special?   I think it has something to do with happiness.

So there I was, in this memory of mine, standing under what we would consider a “city bus shelter” here in the United States.  You know what I mean, they’re on the street and usually have benches for people to sit down and wait for their bus to come by.  And some of them are covered, for inclement weather.  Passengers don’t want to get wet in the rain.  But I wasn’t in the United States.  In fact I wasn’t even on the street.  I was in the middle of a swimming pool park in Goepingen, West Germany.  (Now just Germany)  It was raining, and we group of friends had stopped there on our way out of the park to get shelter.

These swimplatz’s as they are called over there are simply beautiful parks with a big swimming pool right in the middle.  I mean acres of beautiful green, grassy knolls and forested hills, thousands of people coming to spend their time on the weekends…  Beach towels and blankets thrown all through out, most not even within sight of the pool.  Of course as a 17 year old boy my impetus for going to the swimplatz was to find 17 year old girls….

Isn’t it a pity that the “of course” in that previous sentence makes sense?  That’s another story I guess, about physical attraction and desire – and why its creepy if you call it that instead of calling it “love” and how fluffy it makes us feel….  That’s for another day I guess….

Anyway I spent a lot of weekends at that swimplatz with my friend Larry, another American soldier.  Larry had pretty much the same goal as me.  He did meet a girl one day.  In fact he walked over to where she and her friends were sitting on blankets, about 100 yards from the pool, picked her up, carried her on his shoulder over to the pool and threw her into it.  She popped back up to the surface with a wild, crazy look in her eye and said – in English, “Why did you do that?”  “Because I like you,” Larry replied with every ounce of Larry he had in reserve.  That was Elvira and 10 months later Mikey was born….

Back on her blankets was a gaggle of her girlfriends, each one more beautiful than the next.  Germans graduate high school at 15, and all of these girls were either that or 16.  Of course I fell in love with one of them that day, or more, I guess….  Yes, I’m creepy that way.  I’m also honest.

Over that summer we developed friendships between all of us, I think probably stronger – and more beautiful friendships than I have ever known before.  And I feel pretty confident in saying since, as well.  At their age and without jobs they were available to meet at the pool whenever Larry and I played hookey or could find an excuse to get downtown and off base.  A few times they would come on base to visit us.  And most weeknights we would meet them in pubs (Gasthouses, they’re called over there) because there is no drinking age in Germany – something archaically ridiculous in our own puritanical society I think…

So at the end of one beautiful summer Saturday, after having spent all day on our blankets and towels in the swim park, a few dark clouds started moving in.  I think we lingered around because we were having such wonderful fun together, and I don’t ever remember being happier.  If what we had was not the truest, most wonderful love for one another, and just raw, pure enjoyment of our own company, then I don’t want to know about it.  Even if it wasn’t true, then I want to go on continuing to be fooled into thinking that day, that summer, that group of us was just incredibly special.  I always want to go on thinking that.  I always want to believe that we made up more than just the sum of our parts.

You know, I can’t remember the things we talked about 35-40 years ago, or what color our bathing suits were, but I can sure remember the light blue tint of Larry’s sunglasses as we talked, and Elvira’s smile from ear to ear  – she was so incredibly smart and a wonderfully good friend.  And I remember those dark, incredibly beautiful eyes and just jet-black hair of that intensely lovely girl I’d had my own arm around all day…  Oh God, she was beautiful.  I still remember how her curves just melted my heart away…  I was like a bee on a daisy.  Looking back on that now makes me think how monstrous it must seem to others for me to think about her intense sexuality.  In fact I wrote a song – posted here – not long ago title “We’re all Monsters Inside” – that actually reminded me of that day so long ago.  Monstrous or not it’s the truth.  Not just me either….

Anyway we got caught in that rain, had to get dressed on the run and scurried under that shelter I mentioned above.  The air smelled so wonderful.  Standing there and listening to the heavy, heavy rain fall – I mean it was so thick we couldn’t see 50 yards away.  We all looked at each other in amazement, eyes wide, hardly able to believe the day went from this lovely thing to an incredible torrential downpour.  Wow….  Right now the images of every face in us, those dear and so very young group of friends huddled together under that shelter – is just frozen in my mind.  I don’t know why.  I think maybe happiness, or what some people call becoming one with something larger than ourselves.  There was no great tragedy or great joyous event that caused this memory to burn itself into my mind, like the birth of one of my children or the Kennedy assassinations.  I think it was maybe just plain serenity, or chi, as my sister Sue might call it, at least she did when i caught her literally hugging a tree one day years after this memory.

I had written that little black haired beauty a love poem earlier that summer  attempting to tell her exactly how beautiful I thought she was, how sweet, and how wonderful she made me feel…  Although she spoke almost perfect English I spent considerable time translating it into German from a little handbook Larry had.  I just wanted her to know that I was very serious about her, and I was.  She said she was reading it at home one day and fell out of her bed because it made her laugh so hard….  Ok, that was like a blow to my ego a little bit…  She said her father heard the commotion too, went into the bedroom where she just handed hm the poem because she couldn’t stop laughing.  Apparently he doubled over in laughter too, and insisted she bring me home because he wanted to meet me…

Turns out that in the poem I had mistakenly translated a line in German to “I think you are a wonderful, sweet monster.”  Her dad squeezed me in a hug so hard that I didn’t think that I would ever get away and he smiled and smiled the entire hour I sat in their house….

Turns out she and I weren’t really in the cards, I was moving too fast and she needed to go off to university, but we remained friends and kept in touch.  When I got back to the states I had a  box with a few letters from her, and also a huge stack of letters from my earlier high school girlfriend that I would have liked to keep forever.

Back in Richmond, Indiana I was living in an apartment with a new girlfriend.  I came home from work one day and found her burning the last of those letters in the fireplace.  I asked her if she knew the gravity of what she had just done.  She told me it didn’t matter, that I belonged to her now and those other girls can go to hell.   Of course we didn’t work out either, for many reasons but certainly that obvious fucking one.

And so I’ve spent the remainder of my life without those special keepsakes, hating the thought of their destruction ever since.  Sadly, I can’t remember that little black haired girls name.  But do you know what?  I can still remember every little hair that fell out of place, brushing down so softly across her forehead.  I can remember that sparkle in her eye that always made me feel like I was the most special man in the world.  I remember her smile, her kiss, the feel of her skin against mine as she rested in my arms.  I don’t have the letters but at least I have my memories.

After my Richmond girlfriend and I broke up I went to my fathers house to get some things of mine and found that my little black haired beauty had written me again.  So I put that letter away and kept it for many, many years, though I never wrote her again.  Years later I got married, had children, moved around a bit.  I always kept that letter hidden because snakes don’t bite me twice.  The last time we moved I went looking for it, and it was gone from my hiding space.   Hmmmmm……  After all my years of learning and experience, and dozens of girlfriends, I’ve learned that we really are all monsters inside…  I hope you’ll listen to my song and tell me what you think of it…

You can find it here:


Good Ol’ Blind Joe

Written and sung by John Richter

You know there’s lots of people
on this earth.  Yes there is –
take a look around
You’ll find them in every town
I’m gonna’ tell you a story
about one of them right now…

Good ol’ blind Joe
Oh, he was blind as a bat
Don’t you know?
Yes he was.
We’d ride our bikes on past
And shout out “Hey Joe!”
He’d say “Hey Boy!”
“Who’s there? You know it’s me
but I’m blind.  You know that.”

Good ol’ joe
stood on the corner of his house everyday
His momma’d take him out there
’cause he couldn’t find his own way

He was 24 or 25 when I first met Joe
I was maybe 5, walking by with my momma
He said “pleased to meet you Johnny”
“Really happy to know you”
“I’m out here most days.”
“Just come on by, give me a smile, and a….”

Hello, Mr. Joe…
You’ve been gone so long.
Maybe you didn’t think so
But I’m gonna write you this song…

Not too many people
in this world get along
No, no…
Let me tell you about Mr. Joe,
Mr. Joe
Mr. Joe
Happiest guy I know….

© 2015 John Allen Richter

Barber Jim

song written and performed by John Richter

He come from West Virginia
Oh, such a long ride
On the back of that Harley
sat his pretty young bride
He said we’re going to Indy
Mrs. Barber Jim, yeah
But that’s where it ends
Yeah, Barber Jim

I walked into the door
He said sit down Johnny,
I’ll cut your hair some more
what do you think
about that baseball score
Light up a smoke
and have a joke

Come on over tonight
gonna put some burgers
on that grill
Mrs. Jim gonna make
that cucumber salad, yeah
you know, I grow em in the back
my daddy taught me that

Tell me Johnny,
who’s that guy watchin’ me
I think he’s been ’round since three
and he sure is scaring me –

Old Jim he left for a while
worried his wife won’t stick around,
missed his uncle
went West Virginia town
never said goodbye.

Never said goodbye,
never said goodbye…
Jim took his own life.
Now I see a Harley,
I see Jim and his wife…
Ridin’ to West Virginia

Many years ago i worked for the Indianapolis Police Department where I kept a kept a flat-top haircut, in the barbers a lot and I met Jim, who was new to Indy and was a really nice guy.  We became friends over a couple of years, got to know him pretty well, dined with Jim and his wife a few times.  But one day I suspected Jim had some mental problems because he seemed like he was turning a little paranoid of people following him.  The last time I saw Jim he told me his Uncle had passed and he needed to get back to West Virginia to be with his dad, who I think was a having a grieving spell.  And I never saw Jim again.  One day, a few months later I heard a 10-Zero come over the police radio while I was just rolling around the district and the address sounded familiar.  10-Zero is code for dead person, suspicious.  I wasn’t on the run but drove by to see why it sounded so familiar.  The other officers were already on scene and I could see Jim’s wife on the front lawn, just as she collapsed, sitting with her head between her knees.  Jim had taken his own life…  Words can’t describe.  But this is my song – if it describes how I feel, I don’t know…  But it is what it is.

© 2015 John Allen Richter

Porcupine Days

Porcupine days –
Dog comin’ back –
stuck all through his snout.
I tried to pull it out.
Killed that dog.
Good dog, yeah.
I do not like porcupines.

So, if I was to ask, Lord,
“Why is I here,”
or even better,
“why was Dog here,”
I think I would understand.
‘Cause I loved Dog,
and Dog loved me.

But words won’t work,
they just get jumbled,
yeah, like nothin’ –
if’n I was to ask
“Why is porcupines here?”
‘Cause that don’t make no sense –
I do not like porcupines…

© 2015 John Allen Richter

Oh God We’re Happy

Song Written and Performed by John Richter, 2015

Some days it’s just hard to get started.  That’s how I was feeling today when I tried to write this song.  I’d put a few lines on paper and turn to the keyboard to try and pound it out, and no matter what I did, what voice inflection I used, what chords I hit,  it sounded like crap….  So, I had to remember songs don’t come from the brain, they come from the heart.  And in the end that’s who we are – a bunch of hearts walking around.  Not minds.  Minds don’t really matter.  Except you got to learn, go to school, be competitive to make a fairly decent living.  But other than that – on that final day – when we all stand before God or Allah or whoever put us here, we’re gonna be just a bunch of hearts standing there – not a brain between us.  And our hearts are going to answer.

So I put away my pen and paper and just started pounding the keys randomly and just let these words fall out of my mouth.  Hearts don’t know English, French, or Spanish, or Italian, they can’t write and they can’t read.  But they can emote.  And that’s what this here is.  I didn’t edit it.  I didn’t practice it.  It is simply heart song.  And I hope you can get past my caterwauling enough to feel me. 


You know some days don’t seem to work out
Seems like they all fall to the ground
Right when you need them to stand up
Don’t you know you need to stand up
Sometimes your day just sucks
That’s right, you can’t stop it man
It’s gonna suck really bad

God put us here on this Earth
For what reason I do not know
I don’t think anybody does
But we’re just stumbling around here
like we’re in the dark
We don’t know what we’re doing
no, no, no
We think we do.
We think we’re all that
You know we think we do

We pile into that stadium on Sunday afternoon
We pay all that money to watch a man play ball
Pay their advertisers
To make us drink that beer
and whatever else seems important at the moment

But if you open your eyes and take a look around
While you’re in your car going to town
for that ball game
I think what you’ll see
Is a man on the corner
Hasn’t eaten all day
A family living in the car
Daddy got nothing to say
Standing in bread lines
to feed his family

But that’s OK, you see
‘Cause our guy hit the home run today
And I’m happy
I’m gonna drink that beer and those chips
Gonna make that website on Go Daddy
That’s right
Watch that little sweetie in the commercial
Oh, What is she doing this year?
Oh yeah, Oh my my

I can’t see that man in the car
with his family starving out there
I don’t need to
My man hit a home run today
Yes he did
That’s all I need to be happy
Yes I am
Oh, yes I am

© 2015 John Allen Richter

We’re All Monsters Inside

Song written and performed by John Richter, 2015

You were just living your life
the way you thought was right
until that one stormy night
she changed your life

So now say goodbye
to all those football jerseys
And no more swimsuit editions
Oh yeah, that’s all over now

And just when you thought you can’t take no more
You watch your favorite easy chair go out that door
Better say goodbye
But say hello

Welcome to the club my friend
We’re here to the very end
yes we are
Better make yourself comfortable

Tell me, why do we do this?
Living this age old lie
Trying to get a little something
For that little guy

Yeah, you know that’s right
He’s just looking for somewhere to lay his head tonight
Some place warm
Some place tight

But you can’t say that,
You’re a monster man
No no no,
Don’t matter how long you stick around

You just got to take her to town
Act a clown
All she wants to hear is this little sound

Love, love, love, love, love,
Love, love, love, love, love,
Love, love, love, love, love

I love the way you took my jerseys
And the way you threw away my chair
I got some news for you honey
We’re all monsters inside

© 2015 John Allen Richter

Words Get In the Way

Song written and performed by John Richter

I woke up this morning
In a deep, deep sweat
Thinking I need to tell her
How much I love her

So I practiced in the mirror
for about an hour or so
Before I realized that
These words just get in the way

So i said, Johnny,
Sit down at that piano
and find a way to let her know
So here you go

We’ll wrap it all up nice
in this little package baby
and send it over to you
in this here way

I really love you,
I just love you
I can’t sing about mountains,
and clouds and skies and blues and
birds and stars…..

‘Cause that’s not what you are to me
You’re somebody who takes my hand
And lets me be me……

© 2015 John Allen Richter