Saturday, July 28, 2012


Last night Beth had this craving for an ice cream cone from Graeter’s and, while neither I nor the granddaughter were in the mood, we agreed to the drive. In my own mind was the possibility that their bakery display might provide a muffin or a Danish for breakfast. McKenna was just along for the ride, I suppose, although she did eventually polish off the rest of Mamaw’s vanilla cone. As it turned out, actually, the pastry cabinet was nearly bare and so the whole adventure is one of those that makes one wonder “why” and “what if”. There are two routes that could have taken. I chose the expressway, it being longer, but quicker. Normally, when a tire blows, my course of action is to immediately pull over to the side for repairs; but, while a strange sound had alerted us of what had taken place, the car, itself, was still seemingly handling the intrusion well and the exit ramp was only a quarter mile away. Pulling into a deserted garage just off that escape, we confirmed our suspicions and the old man, not all that enthusiastic any more to tackle such tasks, got the gear and the donut out of the trunk. There was no mumbling. The event was unpleasant. Life, however, is life. While I was fumbling with the jack, however, reducing its size so as to slide it beneath the frame, a silver SUV rolled in beside us and emerged, leaving his wife at the wheel and a couple of young children in the rear. He offered; I accepted; and the two of us remedied the situation in but a matter of minutes. Dialogue between us, though, revealed that his kids attend the nearby school where I’ve been working the past decade and his father is a former acquaintance of mine from the railroad! He and she, both, rejected my offer of payment, but accepted my heart-felt gratitude, the two of us shaking hands, indeed a bit of a tear in my eye to have found such Samaritan spirit yet alive in this world today. The blow-out, we had learned was caused by a small, rectangular piece of metal, no doubt flotsam and jetsam from the construction on the overpass we had passed under, just one of the negatives and the chance choices involved in the incident. Yet the encounter with this family and the fact that there had been no serious accident plus my having been able to avoid dealing with it in the vicinity of high-speed traffic speaks to me of His hand in the matter. Seeing several others this morning facing the same dilemma not far from that very site where my own bit of bad luck occurred makes me wonder if perhaps this isn’t one of the methods President Obama is utilizing to provide “shovel-ready jobs”…….

Friday, July 27, 2012

"A Different Drum.................."

These last few weeks before school starts are always broken by classes scheduled here and there, the system with twenty-four hours of training, yearly, built into my paycheck and it being easier for me to amass them now rather than later. Nonetheless, with this past Tuesday morning taken from me, all of this coming Monday likewise lost, and three days the following first week of August marked for such purpose, the feeling of it being summer “vacation” disappears. Not that I’m complaining. In truth, there’s a part of me anxious to be working with the kids again. It isn’t as if anything exciting is always happening around here. Always, at least two or three books keep me entertained, a “Words With Friends” scrabble game on Face Book give me challenge, and a folded blank piece of paper is carried in my pocket just in case my scrambled thoughts need to be recorded for future consideration. Swimming with the granddaughter and the youngest grandson is an occasional pastime. Daily dates with Beth, going for ice cream at Graeter’s or just shopping at the Mall, are counted by this old man as “fun”. A three mile exercise walk in the park, taken when opportunity allows, keeps me “tuned-up” in more ways than one. It isn’t hard for me at all to enjoy life at seventy, not constantly needing multiple diversions and something “new” to keep from being bored, my source of “oxygen” coming from an inner well not of this world. Indeed, Nova’s quantum mechanics and string theology videos have me wondering if those microscopic wiggly sound waves that exist at the heart of everything there is, in fact aren’t simply fine-tuned by the voice of God, part of that connection that comes to us through the Holy Ghost! I wrote a song once about a melody deep inside that just goes “Jesus”. Maybe my choice of metaphors in an attempt to describe what being “born-again” is all about wasn’t all that bad…….

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"In a Nut Shell..............................."

With Beth spending last night with the sister-in-law battling blindness, I utilized the benefits of cable television, recording a couple of shows that we usually watch together and viewing instead an episode of “Nova” that I had earlier snagged via that same procedure. Where this old man has been the last few decades as to be so ignorant of such scientific discoveries is beyond me. In truth, some minute pieces of the program sounded familiar to me in terms of my maybe having heard a bit of it in one of those Fifth Grade classes I occupied awhile back while working with the kids in Special-Ed. It seems, though, that “String Theory” was first birthed in 1968, ridiculed by some but not by all, rejuvenated in ’73 through the continued efforts of a few faithful, and given a seat at the table in ’84 when three of the known forces in our universe were finally mathematically proven to be equal to the fourth force. The only problem is: while gravity, the glue that holds everything we see together, is observable, the wiggly microscopic strands within the centers of that trio on the other side of the formula are yet impossible to be captured by any magnification we presently possess and that leaves us with nothing but successfully solved algebraic deductions. As one fellow put it: “Are we talking here of theoretical physics, or just a philosophy?” He, interestingly enough, was an astronomer, one of those pursuing answers to both our genesis and our destiny, just not ready to accept that which could not yet be proven more substantially. What Christianity at large might opine about it I can only imagine, knowing some who, sitting in their individual towers fashioned out of chapter and verse, appear almost frightened that it all might crumble if they give any space at all to the idea that their theology was less than perfect. If God is more than whatever image of Him we hold, however, and He, alone, is the foundation of what I believe, then at the core of whatever discovery they stumble upon, He remains center stage, the origin and power of the whole

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


“In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us; but if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean, or matrix, or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other and for our life here together. This is given; it is not learned.” ….”Annie Dillard, “Teaching a Stone to Talk”

I’m sitting in the parking lot of one of our local high-schools, munching on a couple of fig newtons and enjoying my morning cup of decaf. The sky is overcast, grey with a few drops of drizzle entertaining me on the roof of my car, nothing quite so serious that I couldn’t walk from here to the main entrance without getting wet. My class doesn’t start for yet another fifty minutes, the old man, as usual, arriving early due to not checking his schedule beforehand. In truth, though, I don’t mind, such space being almost sacred to me. It is quiet here, a soft voice spoken here and there in passing and distant sounds of life otherwise coming to me on a gentle breeze indeed the only assurance of my not sitting in some sort of vacuum. The above author writes in one of her essays, of holiness being a force, but one able to be resisted, noting that God had seemingly spoken to her on one occasion of His being there in her presence, just not as she had previously thought Him to be, she went on to say that she had anyhow turned and walked away. Out of fear? Perhaps. This is also the same woman, however, who once witnessed a total eclipse of the sun and, by her own testimony, became “one with the universe around her” as the shadow of the moon, 129 miles wide and at a speed of 1800 miles per hour, sucked her in and passed through her. She did scream at one point, but remained to walk away afterwards, thinking to herself that the experience, once survived, was merely something that she had, if not conquered, at least faced. That field, wherein out of the silence she had come in contact with the Creator, would later be “possessed by angels”; but, nonetheless, from glory, itself, she had “turned with a sigh of relief”. No; the psalmist reasons that there is no fear even in passing through the valley of the shadow of death, “for Thou art with me”; and I have found it to be so. His presence comes to us from within us and, if allowed, calms the sea around us. The question is only a matter of whether we will reach out and take His hand……

Monday, July 23, 2012


An Annie Dillard quote encountered over the weekend has me re-reading “Teaching a Stone to Talk” for at least the third or fourth time. Seemingly blind to any perspective of God being tangible in so far as what she has thus far witnessed within the religious community, she writes, nonetheless, as none other I know, of the mystery of creation around her, man, himself, being the most enigmatic piece of the puzzle. In one essay within this particular book, the “Pole of Relative Inaccessibility” is reported to be that point on an ocean farthest from land in any direction, existing just as well in the vice-versa of such scenario. Just before describing, then, some of her experiences in attending Mass at a small church somewhere, she also defines the “Absolute” as being that point of spirit farthest from every accessible point of spirit in all directions”; and, in so doing, she makes me smile. In truth, the comical pictures painted with her pen are not meant to individually accuse the Catholic, or to isolate, for that matter, the condition to Christianity. All men and religion, in general, are examined with an inability to understand what we claim to gain through our chosen patterns of pursuing the Creator. There is no argument, for she finds within nature and the universe around her evidence of His existence. It is how to make contact that has her buffaloed; and, after forty years in this, I can only confess to identifying with both her confusion and her perception of the ecclesiastical community in general. We are, or so it seems to me, a laughable bunch in many ways. Yet in spite of who and what we remain, even in Him, in the middle of all our ritual, ego, and stupidity, there are those moments when His grace meets with us. It happens – at His discretion, as He determines. When, I wonder, will we finally realize that it has little to do with all our attempts to sanctify ourselves, and everything to do with our recognizing we are nothing without Him……

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Somewhere yesterday, in the middle of all that continual coverage of the Aurora movie massacre, I settled into my recliner and watched an old Gary Sinise film entitled “Mission to Mars”. Long before my coming to Christ, such science fiction was a passion for me, the ending to this particular plot not giving me any reason to question its suggestion that intelligent life, in escaping the red planets eons ago, actually seeded their DNA here. Never mind that such theory solves nothing since it only leaves us pondering the genesis of those whom we hold responsible for our beginning. Some might argue, of course, that Christianity is no different. If God, as we believe Him to be, is a reality, then who created Him? What was before Him? Will He at some point cease to be? Eternal? In either direction? How can that be? To ignore such enigma seems silly to me, although my own personal response to all who would demand one of me might not be received. In “my book”, it comes down to “faith”; but not just a mental block of cement constructed out of my grit plus chapter and verse. While belief is important, what’s even more valuable as a foundation is evidence! If Christ indeed resurrected and, somehow, in conquering death, hell, and the grave, reconnected me to the Father via a Third Person of the Trinity, then somewhere in this there has to be at least an occasional encounter that verifies the fact, a place where three becomes four and all doubt is removed. I’ve known a few mileposts like that, events to hang my journey on, anchor assurance for my soul. To each their own experience. To every man his own measure. The deepest universe, however, is the one in our belly and it is through that one I seek to explore……

Friday, July 20, 2012


Wednesday evening, giving us reason to wonder if we would even be able to even reach the rescue mission, powerful winds blew through this area dragging in their wake a torrential rain that threatened possible flooding. It lasted about an hour and then, just as suddenly as it came upon us, all ceased. My son-in-law showed up with his saxophone and the two of drove down to meet with the other half of our group. Arriving a few minutes early, we found the dining area already set up for church, but occupied by maybe a little more than half the usual crowd, the weather, no doubt, having eliminated the others in any attempt to walk there through such fury. Whether it could be held responsible, as well, for my own struggle during the hour we were there to worship with them is debatable. I’m more inclined to think it just part of life as it comes to us. Nonetheless, in truth, not only was it hard connecting with what the others brought forth, when those final few minutes were handed to me, it felt like I was merely serving warmed-up leftovers instead of manna from heaven. It happens… In Edersheim’s “Jesus the Messiah”, the author speaks in one chapter of the angel Gabriel appearing unto John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, while he is alone just outside the Holy Place. The old man has been chosen to assist in a yearly temple ritual and the task carries with it great honor; but, struck dumb because of his unbelief, he is unable to completely fulfill his mission and the stigma will mark him as “unclean” for future assignments, treated with benevolent contempt, known by a label roughly translating to “idiot” priest. Such label, for whatever reason, has settled into my thoughts, the very idea that men should, in any way, consider themselves to be sanctified, righteous, or “set above others in their social status” through whatever merit they think themselves to have gained on their own seeming ridiculous to me. “Anointed” or not, there is no permanent transfer of all that He is unto us. We remain vessels, human in our stumble, used of Him as He sees fit, the glory always His, the lesson always ours to learn…….

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


It’s dangerous, I suppose, to turn me loose in the park for an hour. With merely the next step before me and almost nothing to interrupt my thoughts, my mind is free to explore anything and everything with Him. Early this morning, before the sun had even conquered the hills to the east, my feet touched the path leading to the soccer field and a musical verse of worship poured forth from somewhere within. It didn’t last long, just a chorus entertained the night before, lyrics not yet fully conquered, but correct words not required; and, by the time I crossed the small wooden bridge giving entrance to the oblong oval course about to be orbited, mental activity otherwise was already underway. We return to the rescue mission this evening. Light a fire and stir the pot. Smell the aroma and let the Spirit put a little freshness into the soup as questions begin to bubble up within my brain. Are we, in effect, breaking the Second Commandment when we carve out an image of God formed from our own thinking, be it Biblically based or not? Or can it be that the error is in bowing down before it, believing we have somehow captured Him in all that He is? In front of me I become aware of two women who are walking their dogs and leaving no space for anyone to pass other than side-stepping into the grass. Do they think they’re the only ones out here? No big deal. We all, at one time or another, think ourselves the only one out here. It would be a better world, surely, if we all learned it isn’t necessary for everyone to see things as I do. In the end, who is it that won’t stand in judgment; and grace, it seems to me, is to be given there in as equal amount as we gave it here. And so it goes. Sermons are not my thing. Doctrinal three point messages aren’t in me. He is; and sharing Him with whomsoever is as good as it gets. Set the table and let Him serve as He sees fit. Breaking bread is what it’s all about……

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


It’s a little after nine in the evening here. The sun has not yet sunk below the horizon and there is just enough light for me to enjoy the view around me. We’re at the sister-in-law’s house for the night again, the temperature still hovering around ninety, and her air-conditioner having “given up the ghost” about an hour ago. Outside, though, a gentle breeze is blowing and I’ve escaped to sit on a bench beneath a tree, pondering for a few moments all the flotsam and jetsam presently going round in my head. There’s a low rumble in the distance. One of those jets, no doubt, that just flew overhead leaving behind a white streak across the sky. An orange cat just crossed the road below me, disappearing into the grass almost no more than it jumped the lower part of a wooden fence, and some cattle, somewhere beyond my sight, are giving notice of returning to someone’s barn. It seems to me right now that the world is a stage inhabited by an immeasurable multitude of people, all of us with our own story to tell, each of us in one way or another caught up in our own journey. My own existence is insignificant other than the fact that it “is”; and, because it “is”, it matters to me and me alone in the nitty-gritty of what it is. No deep theology in that statement. If all I have in this state of “being” is merely my next breath and there is no guarantee that the next one isn’t the last, I am inclined to believe a precious gift is wasted if all I’m doing is sucking in oxygen. Value, though, is a debatable commodity. Does it equate to achieving great wealth? Conquering personal pre-determined goals? Or maybe simply “doing good” in so much as my conscience dictates? For this old man, it all comes down to maintaining a connection with the Creator who has known me from my mother’s womb. When questions occupy my mind and my soul ponders the mystery of it all, I am grateful to Christ for a way to reach through the veil and make contact, for there is a peace and an assurance that can be found at His well……

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Knock Knock......................"

I awoke Sunday morning with a mental block. After talking to the kids at the Detention Center last week on the truth of all of us holding our own individual definition of God, each of us envisioning Him in accordance with whatever history has come to us in our journey thus far, and the real “proof in the pudding” an internal connection acquired for us through Christ, my intention this time out was to take the same message a bit farther. It was another fellow’s group on this occasion. I expected no more than a brief “slice of the pie” and had no more than a few thoughts about the walls we build around us in our life; but, even so, there was no tangible flow, no sense of His presence in it with me and I knelt to talk it over again with Him. No audible voice met me. No great immersion into His well. Picking up my Bible, however, with a sudden pull to Psalm 51, I began to read; and, when I got to verse five, it all came together. After a statement as to our having been born in iniquity, the writer proclaims “Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” Peace came to me. It was time to go. As it turned out, though, there would be but four of us to speak and, rather than my simply adding a bit at the end of the hour, the initial slot was assigned to me. The others were dry, they said, and in need of a spark. For twenty minutes the Holy Ghost fed those youth, visibly reaching through the veil and touching their hearts, establishing grace and giving hope beyond their present circumstances, not a matter of me being anointed, but a tangible manifestation that captured such space, embracing all, remaining throughout as those with me also shared. Before we left, one boy in particular asked for prayer and that led to a communal holding of hands as we thanked Him for the experience. It’s amazing what can happen if we are but willing to receive…..

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Beth and I had discussed another possible mini-vacation getaway before school starts again, but with opportunity given us in the sister-in-law situation, we decided to drive down to the Youth Camp in Barbourville and watch the granddaughter Thursday evening participate with others in a drama presentation. Actually, we booked a room at the Hampton and visited Williamsburg on Friday. It’s just a few miles down the road, an area that she knew in childhood and still home to the gravesite of her younger sister. Leaving the expressway, we found ourselves following a single lane “path” that literally snaked its way up one side of a mountain. Surely it rose at least a thousand feet in no more than a half mile! Once we conquered such ascent, however, suddenly my wife was once again in familiar territory, the small old-time holiness church of her memory yet there, but with a larger one now existing beside it. What’s more: we would discover that our precipitous climb to get there was merely “the back door”, the route before us recently black-topped and leading us in a slow descent to within fifty feet or so of our original point of entry!... I wonder sometimes. About eighty years ago, Beth’s mother came to Christ in a little home prayer meeting up in that area. When they moved north, the family joined a small group of believers that went from a tent to a chicken coop to a barn and, eventually, to the large sanctuary that now seats over a thousand. If they could see the present facility, it would amaze them; but what would they think of all the changes that have occurred along the way? I stepped into this finding a Reality having stepped into me. Forty years later, having come full circle, I intend to step “through” even as I stepped in. The journey has only convinced me all the more that everything begins and ends in Him……

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The Navy released me from active service May 8th, 1970, thirty-two days short of completing a ten year enlistment. The picture, here, is of my two oldest daughters sitting on the curb with a friend just outside our base housing in Rota, Spain, possibly just days before flying stateside for my discharge to be processed. Their mother rolled their hair up into something known as a “beehive”, the two of them looking like miniature movie stars and the moment being quite memorable to me because of the evening prior to our flight being spent in a local hotel. Beth, with her own head crowned in like fashion for the trip home, had run a few inches of water in the tub and was keeping an off-and-on eye on the girls as they splashed in the suds. Then, with the two dried off and dressed for bed, she went in for her own bath. As loud as the scream was that brought me immediately to my feet and sent me running to check on her, it was the sight of her standing there with only a towel wrapped around her, her hairdo now nothing more than a wet mop dripping from her face to the floor, that remains in my mind. The kids, it seems, had switched the spigot to the shower mode; and when she leaned over to turn on the water: surprise, surprise….. Brenda and Jamie are in their forties now, three adult boys having given them the other side of the coin. Melissa, who came to us nineteen months after the above event, has two other younger grandsons plus the only granddaughter in our six-pack. We spoil them all, for sure, McKenna bringing back memories and the trio a gift from God in more ways than one. We almost lost their mother when she was nine, a miracle over-riding a hay-wagon accident that left us with the uncertainty of what the future held for her. Things happen. Sometimes one can look back and laugh at calamity; sometimes all one can do is give thanks for what was beyond understanding; sometimes we are just left with questions. Through it all, His presence can be an anchor-line unto us, but the choice is always ours to make......

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The opportunity was there, this morning, for a walk in the park, my exercise routine lately having changed to a short drive, entering via the main gate, and then adjusting my course in accordance with the temperature, the shade, and the distance in any direction. The soccer field is my best way of putting variety into the routine, each lap taking me about eight minutes and therefore I orbit it in accordance with what else will give me about an hour. Once in motion, though, the whole event is a sort of a “mobile prayer closet”, my mind continually in conversation with Him but with a need to keep catching myself as my thoughts often tend to drift off track. It’s just as true, however, that what’s taking place “upstairs” connects with that river of life “downstairs” and, out of the mouth of the man, flows audible, passionate petition and praise. Sometimes it comes forth in “tongues”, but not always. Today there was, in the beginning, just me and one other old fellow doing nothing more than tossing a ball for his dog to retrieve. About the third time around the track, though, that well arose within me; and, thinking myself alone with God, I just allowed words to spill out for a few minutes, talking with the Creator as if He was, as indeed He was, in each and every stride taken. Then my peripheral vision suddenly made me aware of someone about to overtake me, the grass to the side of the path revealing his silhouette gaining on mine; so I interrupted my speech for him to pass and certainly not wanting to appear like some schizophrenic religious fruitcake loose on the grounds. Too late. His shadow began to drift farther and farther behind me. I could still hear his footsteps, but with increasing evidence of him leaving a little more space between the two of us; and when we passed the small bridge allowing him to exit southward, a glance in that direction informed me of his decision to leave the area. Of course, one never knows nowadays. It is a weird world out there. Maybe I should have hailed him down and offered him a tract…..

Monday, July 9, 2012


I’m sitting in the parking lot of the Cincinnati Eye Institute, Beth inside with the sister-in-law for another check-up before surgery Friday. It’s early, the sky overcast and rain predicted to hopefully lower the temperature somewhat, a good breeze, at the moment, reinforcing that forecast. I’m not thinking so much, however, about the weather. My mind is focused on “walls”. Our visit yesterday to the Youth Detention Center was successful in so far as the kids being open to us, having seen no arms folded and locked across anyone’s chest, no anxious tapping of the toes signaling a desire to “just get it over with”, no foreboding frowns on faces showing obvious disagreement with what we said. They were listening. Our words were being received. Nonetheless, when it came down to final prayer, neither was there any sign of “surrender”, any penetration accomplished through the Spirit remaining a private matter locked up and hidden inside each Individual’s heart…. Sitting in church last night, then, I found myself observing from the balcony how that same scenario works itself out within the sanctuary. Fellowship may well not be what coming together to worship is all about, but a willingness to “let down the barriers”, to share one’s heart with another, creates that space for the Holy Ghost to move in our midst. It doesn’t require everyone believing all things the same; nor does it demand some standard of perfection achieved by those who enter into it. Indeed, if “love covers a multitude of sins”, then grace overlooks an abundance of ignorance, stupidity, and humanity as it exists. In that sense, “unity” is a mutual move toward each other that becomes alive in Him……

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Still spending most nights with Beth at the home of the sister-in-law battling blindness, I drove to a nearby McDonald’s early this morning to retrieve a couple of senior coffees. On the return trip, turning onto a single lane country road that weaves its way alongside a small creek, I found myself suddenly face-to-face with a young fawn, surely no more than a day or two old; and even though my car came to a halt, it just stood there a few seconds, frozen before me, then turned and scampered into the shrubbery. A rare moment. Not more than a half mile farther, however, nature was once again caught off guard as I turned a curve to find six plump chickens scattered here and there across the pavement. The hen party came to an abrupt end, feathers ruffled, wings beating, and loud squawks informing the world of their having been so rudely interrupted. Nobody hurt or transferred to the dining room table, however. Life as it comes to you, I suppose, on both sides of the scenario. We’re an odd bunch down here on this huge blue ball in the middle of nowhere. Our paths intersect and sometimes there is magic, sometimes there is panic. Nonetheless, regardless of all the ways we are separated. By culture and climate, by history and hardheadedness, (It doesn’t take much!), yet surely we are tied together somehow, linked by an invisible umbilical cord that should suggest there is more to be gained through peaceful negotiation than that which comes to us through “making war”. There will never be a time, of course, when all will agree on everything; but hopefully we can learn along the way, that in spite of occasional whirlwinds, each day also holds the possibility of knowing grace in the journey…..

Friday, July 6, 2012


I just finished Robert Fulghum’s “Third Wish”, two thick volumes holding a fictional tale that concerns itself with the lives of three people in particular, all looking for meaning in their life. Nowhere within the story is there any mention of anyone actually turning their thoughts toward the possibility of a Creator. Rather, the plot seems to continually suggest purpose is found in an honest relationship with others and, strangely, in the final chapter the reader suddenly discovers that the author has seemingly injected himself into the book, all former characters no more than reflections of his imagination, each created in an alter-image of himself, and he now this writer who is dealing with his own persona, his own hang-ups and theoretical ways of looking at things. It was an interesting perusal. There is much within that speaks truth in so far as human character, the world around us, and the journey we take within it. Yet, in dealing with that need in the depths of who we are for fellowship, for affirmative witness, and that not so much an assurance of our correctness, but a confirming of our worth in spite of our imperfections, Fulghum makes no mention of any sort of Spiritual connection, ignoring, even though he once held the position of pastor within the Unitarian Church, the possibility of what actually calls to us in our stumble down the path being the voice of God. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (which also, by the way, includes the admonishment for us to love our enemies) may well carry its own reward; but it is best fueled by the commandment which precedes it. Without the knowledge of Christ “in” me, a revealed ratification of Divinity having accepted me as I am, it’s awfully hard to give grace to others if you haven’t found it for yourself……

Thursday, July 5, 2012


July 4th this year was simply one more day on the calendar, Beth and I staying with a widowed sister-in-law, wife of the older brother who passed away in early March. She is nearly blind in one eyes, now facing surgery on the other with no guarantee of her gaining back any vision there. The situation requires constant assistance. Her house sits in a hillside community, one of several stretched alongside a small winding road such as we know here in Kentucky. It's morning and I'm seated outside at a table in the backyard listening to the birds fill the air with music. The sun in not yet so high as to produce the thermal blanket we've known here recently. A slight breeze is dancing in the trees nearby, much like an invisible sprite playing hide-and-seek with me. Regardless of not having heard one explosion whatsoever at any time yesterday, nor seeing any multi-colored fireworks lighting up the sky last night, my thoughts at the moment are nonetheless turned to something that an old Navy friend, a pastor down in Alabama these days, said to me after reading my last post. "For me, " he opined, "God and country just go together!" I would agree that this nation is only as strong as the spiritual commitment it holds with the Creator, but I have also long viewed government and church as "two peas in a pod". What can be said on the former can as well, in many ways, be said of the latter when it comes to "politics". What we within the faith must learn, however, is that getting rid of corruption is not a matter of merely demanding our ecclesiastical ethics be mandated and forced upon all. Better that we might first examine ourselves and learn to live what we believe in such a way that the Spirit is a reality manifested through us. The world does not respect the swinging of our personal sword as we, alone, possess truth; but it has no choice other than to recognize Christ, risen and live in His people.....

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


If our long drive home Saturday from St. Pete was marked by several occasions of my, either accidently or on purpose, reversing course on the expressway and losing time, it also had a few other moments that stick with me, one in particular no more than a face now vividly etched in my brain. We had stopped in Jellico, Tennessee for one last tank of gas, finding but two small stations, each connected to a fast food restaurant; and, as it was, the five of us needed refilling as well as the car. My taste buds wanted Wendy’s, but Papaw got out-voted, four to one. Into Arby’s we went, needing to stretch our legs; but, deciding the coffee might be fresher next door at the outlet, I walked over there while Beth ordered and didn’t notice the old man sitting alone in the booth until I returned. It was the “WWII Veteran” ball-cap on his head that caught my attention. That had to make him nearly twenty years older than me, one of my father’s “bunch”, not many of them left and all of them greatly valued in my book. Walking over to shake his hand and extend my gratitude, I immediately noted a circular white scar on his cheek and also realized his nose had gone through some sort of reconstruction. Nothing grotesque, but evident enough to let me know that when he spoke of having served in Germany and earning a Purple Heart, it wasn’t hard to guess what sort of wound he had suffered. His eyes, though, seemed to possess a sparkle to them, his smile giving evidence of an appreciation for my having taken a few seconds with him; and, when I spoke of having been in for a decade during the Viet Nam era and lucky enough to have never come close to action, he told me I had been fortunate. What stories he might have told me had there but been more opportunity was lost as we gathered our food, climbed back into the Honda and headed north. The encounter, however, brief as it was, will serve for my Fourth of July celebration this time around. These guys gave all and I count it an honor to salute them. Our officials in Washington may have forgotten the basics of what this country holds for a foundation, but some care enough to put their life on the line for it……