Amazing Grace

‘Amazing Grace’ is a Christian hymn published in 1779, with words written in 1772 by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725-1807).’

‘Newton wrote the words from personal experience.  He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by other’s reactions to what they took as his recalcitrant insubordination.’

‘He was pressed (conscripted) into service in the Royal Navy.  After leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade.  In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel off the coast of County Donegal, Ireland, so severely that he called out to God for mercy.  This moment marked his spiritual conversion but he continued slave trading until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether.  He began studying Christian theology.’

‘Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper.  ‘Amazing Grace’ was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. ‘

‘With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, ‘Amazing Grace is one of the most recognizable songs in he English-speaking world.’    Wikipedia

It is so easy to believe that our faith journey is the right journey and the only path to understanding God.  We retreat into our christian/political corners…much as pugilist do in the boxing ring.  When the bell peels out, for the next 3 minute round to begin…we rise from our stools with the cuts that we have received having been treated and our bruised and blue and blackened face…continuing to swell.  We know that this time we will knock out our opponent and that we will receive the Champion Belt!

‘Amazing Grace’ is my favorite Christian hymn.  It was for John Newton, the slave trader…it is for our political leaders….it is for all of us…in the darkest night of our soul!

‘As for Saul, he made havoc of he church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.’    Acts 8:3.   KJV

Wonder

‘A feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.’    Dictionary

Have you ever looked into a child’s eyes?  If they are well cared for and loved…they are full of wonder!  The world that they are surrounded by is all new and fresh and beautiful and inexplicable.  They see the unexpected…everyday!  Children do not want to go to sleep at night and they jump out of bed each morning, eager to begin a new day of exploration and discovery!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Santa Claus is real to children due to the fact that virtually everything that they encounter is a new experience and a miracle and a mystery.  Youngsters know that they can become anything that their hearts desire.  It is easy to believe that a Leprechaun lives at the other end of the rainbow…and that he has a pot of gold with him!

 

We live on a planet that is comprised of approximately two thirds water.  Most of it has never been seen by the human family.  Not many of us have climbed Mr. Everest or visited the Antarctic or walked on a glacier.

We speak one language and understand little of other cultures or ethnicities, or have broken bread with a person of another race.

We are involved in our own belief system…that was passed down to us from our parents and that they inherited from their parents.  We are suspect of other faiths…and yet we have never darkened the door to their church or mosque or temple.  We have heard the gossip and the lies and the suppositions about our fellow travelers and we have been content to believe the whisperings and back-bitings and slander…rather than explore for ourselves to determine the truth.

Do we know our neighbor?  I do not mean in the allegorical sense…I mean the person that lives next door to you?  Have we investigated the wonder and beauty of not only feeding the homeless…but getting to know them?

When we look into the night sky, there are untold stars and planets looking back at us.  If there is intelligent life on other worlds…perhaps they are biding their time…for the human family to first know each other…before they make their acquaintance?

I wonder what would happen if we would look into the eyes of our brothers and sisters….and see wonder…and ourselves looking back at us?

‘Do Not Piss On Me and Tell Me It Is Raining’

Now that is a bit of a harsh statement.  I do not, as a rule, like quotes that use crude language.  However, I have used the quote above since my colleague, Earl, said it to me many years ago.  The word play…simply describes what I have experienced on numerous occasions during my life.

Politicians are excellent in  assuring us that they have our best interest at heart, when in reality they have their own interest at heart…and we are merely pawns to move around the chess board when it enables their political success!

How many times have we been told, by our elected leaders, that we must send our young people to war?  We are assured that we are fighting for freedom…and find out that we are fighting for oil!

There is nothing more insulting than to have a leader or a supervisor or a manager or an administrator…tell you a lie…to your face.

I worked for a boss, many years ago, that not only lied to me on a daily basis, but forgot the previous lie that he had told me and therefore developed a new one…at times on several occasions.  One day I told the boss that he must settle on which story that he wanted me to tell the staff…as he had, thus far, told me three separate accounts!

I was meeting with one of the chancellors of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and was sitting and listening to the most outrageous fabrication of the truth…whereupon I admonished the leader that if he did not quit insulting my intelligence…that the meeting was over and that I was going to leave.

To not experience the respect for yourself as being a rationale and logical human being…is the height of insults!

President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, lied about the Tonkin Gulf attack, during the war in Vietnam…to facilitate the addition of thousands of Americans to the war effort.

After 50 thousand Americans lost their lives in Vietnam…we exited from the roof top of our embassy and left our South Vietnamese allies behind!  We not only did not win the war…we lost it!

I have witnessed preachers and pastors assure their humble flocks that if they will just give until it hurts, of their finances,…that they will be blessed and made wealthy and healed of their maladies!  I have seen the same people struggle to survive and to put food on their tables for themselves and their families!

In this world you must pay attention to the words that are coming out of a leader’s mouth and weigh those words against the empirical truth that you know is right.

When you see a political leader admit to lawbreaking and wrongdoing and assure the American people that they not only have the right to do so…but they have the right to do anything that they want!  You must think for yourself and admit that the understanding that you have seen with your own eyes and heard with your own ears…supersedes the rhetoric that issues fourth from a leader that may be, ‘Pissing on You and Telling You That it is Raining!’

 

 

Waiting For Godot

What Is Man?

The beginning of a Billy Bump alternate reality, adventure!

The Jazz Man

Billy B. and Carl were having a tough time in second grade.  Rather,  Billy was having the tough time as Carl seemed to warm up to the newest mathematical wonder of equations. Billy B. had taken his homework to his mom and asked her for her help and after two hours of agony…she admitted that she did not understand them and that furthermore she had not experienced them during her time in school.  She went on to ruminate on what the second grade teacher, Ms. Blackwell, had been drinking to think that seven year olds were ready for this involved mathematics?  Jane announced the she was going to visit Mrs. Blackwell and determine if she could do the equations and if she could…she could illustrate to her how they were to be ciphered!

The next morning Carl was smiling like the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland!  His eyes were…

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Colleagues and Friends

I saw my former colleague this afternoon at our local McDonalds restaurant.  Mike was one of the hardest workers that I have known.  His humble manner and quiet disposition caused him to be the kind of person that you could place in any campus building, and he would work successfully and without incident.  He was appreciative of the opportunity that was afforded to him by Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and he worked like his career depended on his professionalism and work-ethic!

As we were leaving Mike told me that he had enjoyed working with me and that I always treated him right.  He made my day!  For you see…it was my honor to work with him!

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Mike was illustrative of the Building Services staff at SIUC.  I have never been associated with a finer group of skilled technicians and a group of elite, as the Marines would say, ‘Shock Troops’ who worked so diligently to keep their University alive and thriving!

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I reflect, often, on the hidden gems of our school.  The Building Services staff is not given to seeking praise or applause.  They labor quietly behind the scenes to ensure that our
Campus is clean and well maintained.  No administrator is watching when they bring food in each evening to feed the student workers on their housekeeping crews.  No one is keeping records when the civil service staff is mentoring their students colleagues and encouraging them and being a surrogate mom or dad to them.

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Oftentimes our university leaders are focusing on major plans for the revitalization and renewal of SIUC…and they are meeting with important people and officials with official titles…and the Academic Cabinet is toiling over the knotty conundrum of recruitment and retention….while the Building Service Workers are inviting their students, who have nowhere to go, to their homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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There are many heroes in this world…many are unseen and unheralded!

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The Joys Of Fall II

Please enjoy The Joys Of Fall II!

The Jazz Man

So, Billy B. was frozen as he watched his ghostly father filming himself as a child and his mom, Jane.  Try as he might…he could not move his limbs.  Finally, Jimmy D. shook him and the apparition disappeared.  Billy fell asleep immediately and slept the sleep of the dead!

The next morning Jeff D. was in charge of breakfast, and it was delicious!  Bacon and sausage along with eggs and grits and homemade biscuits, that Billy B. constructed, and the luscious aroma of campfire coffee…was almost more than the senses could absorb!

Billy had almost forgotten the frightening images that he had seen the night before and assumed that it must have been the moonlight playing tricks with the shadows of the campfire?  When all of the sudden…Ronnie B. piped up and announced that he had seen three ghosts last night and that although he needed to pee during the…

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62 Is Fast Approaching!

Yes, it is true…on the 24th of this month I turn 62!  Time has always passed quickly for me, but since I retired…it is rushing by like an out of control locomotive!  I can recall thinking that my elders, when I was young, were so old when they were 62, and now I am there….and it does not seem so bad.

I remember a minister, who I was fond of, taking his shirt off and demonstrating for several of the teenagers in the church that he could lift a 170 pound weight over his head…and he was 40 years old.  I do not think that I could have lifted that much weight over my head when I was 40.

Many of the children that attended the little non-denominational church that I attended through my teens and 20’s, now, not only have children but their children have children!

Several years ago we were blessed to have the opportunity to renew our friendship with our dear friends from the early 1970’s, Margo and Jeff, and as we visited I contemplated that it seemed that no time had passed between us…when in reality it had been more than 20 years since we had  been together!

One of the most enjoyable privileges of retirement is the opportunity. to have time to think and reflect.  Life whirls by so rapidly that it can make you wish for a chance to have some time lapse photography at your disposal.

I grew up as an only child and subsequently learned to do many things by myself.  I discovered games and activities that did not require anyones participation but my own.  However I was so pleased to learn in February, 2012 that I did have some siblings that were interested in contacting me.  I saw my lovely sister, Jolene’s photo on Facebook, the other day and I had to share it on my page.  My brother Brock, who is the youngest of the Brooks lineage, while I am the oldest, is coming to see us, along with his sweet wife Marcy, who I think of as my sister, in December…and it will be a marvelous Christmas present!

Mary Jane and I agree that our sons are the center of our lives!  Aaron and Jonathon have brought us an abundance of joy and love and peace, and we continue to be amazed at their abilities and care for others.

An advantage of Facebook, of which I have been a member for nine years today, is the connection that it provides with people that you have not seen or heard from in many years.  When I logged on  nine years ago, I noticed how many of my former classmates that it provided the ability for me to connect with.  I throughly enjoy seeing their, youthful, faces and reading what is transpiring in their lives!

Time goes by so quickly that it is a bit like gossamer wings or sand in the hour glass…it is impossible to capture!  Whatever trouble or trial that you are currently enduring…will pass.  Whatever joy or happiness or blessing that you are currently enjoying…is not forever in this life…it will pass.

If you are rich beyond measure…you will leave all of your money at the mouth of the grave.

If you are poor and ill and suffering…you will leave it at the mouth of the grave.

If you are happy and content and a  lover of life and all that it has to offer…you will leave it at the mouth of the grave.

That sounds morbid, I think!  I had another minister, once, who was stricken with liver failure.  Dean and I visited him in his hospital room and he looked like a skeleton with skin stretched over it.  And he told us a story.  John said that he had thought that he felt so bad and, seemingly had no hope of recovery…that he had prayed to die…when God had told him to look at the little plant that had been delivered to his hospital bedside by a well wisher.  John said that he had watched the little plant struggle for life and turn brown and begin to whither…and then green shoots began to appear and the plant fought back to live…and it recovered!  John said that God told him that all of his living creatures wanted one thing more than anything else….life!  Dean and I prayed for our pastor…and he lived and began to gain weight and flourish.  Later he was able to receive a liver transplant and subsequently lived for several more years!

There is a bit of an anti-climatic feel to this life, no?  It races by so quickly,  that the feeling is a somewhat like experiencing  the old carnival ride where you entered a large tub and stood along the wall…whereupon the tub began to spin and the centrifugal force held you against the wall as the tub leaned sharply to the left and to the right.  You knew that this was your reality…only as long as the tub was spinning.

Could it be that this life is but a mere preparation for our endless life throughout eternity?

Keep Burning Bright

Please enjoy a Jonathon Brooks Blog!

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One light burning casts out the darkness. This light could be a match struck or a light bulb from a living room lamp turned on. My savior described himself as the light of the world.

I’ll boldly state that I used to walk in darkness. What is the darkness to humanity? I believe it is things like self-pity, loneliness, hatred, melancholy, bitterness, anger and giving up. Darkness has to do with despair. My divorce from the darkness happened when I was eighteen years young.

What is the light to humanity? It is the good stuff! It’s things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. The list from the previous sentence is from the book of Galations in the New Testament part of the Bible. That list of good stuff helped to light up my soul when I was a teenager. It helped make a man…

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