Tuesday, January 6, 2015


We went to bed last night with a slight coating of snow already on the car windows and the weather predicting significant depth before morning. Such report, for an old man who no longer has to go to work in it all, merely encouraged me to put the Fiesta in the garage. How nice, though, to look outside a few minutes ago and discover the world outside frozen in a sudden plunge of temperature with only hint of the white stuff here and there. Sitting down in my recliner next to that electric fireplace heater, I settled down with one of my books that arrived yesterday, just me and Frederick Buechner starting a new day in the silence of my living room. “The Yellow Leaves” is not all that thick of a collection of the author’s thoughts, memories gathered together and wrapped into what he, himself, speaks of as perhaps a finality to all else; and his words, with just a decade separating us in this journey, speak to my heart. A descriptive four pages of his mother as she was in her own transition of “approaching the exit”, five more reflecting on an autistic brother-in-law, and then a little over nine detailing encounters entertained with three different U.S. Presidents. Roosevelt was a childhood experience, an image stamped within of his huge frame exiting an elevator, supported by an individual on either side and leaving a young boy with the thought that the most important man in the world needed others to help him. Truman was another story, looking as though it might take two strong men to hold him down should his anger be stirred; and yet, seated at a dinner table with his back half turned toward this newly-married writer, he unknowingly provided glimpse of “seeing the world through his eyes”, his thick-lensed glasses focused on a wife he called, not Bess, but “boss”. Eisenhower was an “opinion changer”, his political views and his military history not held in high regard by Buechner. The two of them, however, were scheduled to speak at a college graduation; and the seating arrangement, by a quirk of fate, placed them side by side. Almost all of the occasion’s details, otherwise, have long been lost; but what remains is the general’s smile, a facial expression that “held nothing back and asked nothing back”. It was straight from the man, himself, no false production for the public, and it broke through all else. Suddenly all the years of badmouthing him and not voting for him were dismissed were replaced by the knowledge that if the moment arose and required it, he would follow him anywhere…. I read, and find myself there within the reflections. Different times. Different people. Humanity unchanged. The globe spins and orbits the sun. Winters come and winters go. What remains is this thread of life that connects us all. How precious the well from which it flows………

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