Monthly Archives: October, 2020

Redemption

We just returned from Walmart. I tell you that ordering your groceries on line and picking them up in the parking lot is the best thing that I have found since sliced bread! For months I was doing the shopping for the Brooks. I was constantly worried about my exposure to Covid 19…and with good reason due to so many shoppers not wearing masks! Now, I pull up the car and pop the trunk and the nice young people load the provisions into my trunk…and wave at me! I wave back!

I was watching a documentary on HBO the other night regarding the author John Meacham’s book, The Soul of America. Mr. Meacham spoke of America’s struggle with isolationism and racism and he cited specific examples of our not living up to our creed of, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.’ Emma Lazarus But, John also spoke of redemption and the history of our country continually seeking to do better.

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Indeed, the last few years of our political life has drawn a sharp contrast not only in our political ideology…but also our faith communities and our families. If we are ever going to understand each other we first must listen to each other and place ourselves in the other persons’ shoes. How we believe and how we feel about government or faith or human rights…did not come upon us overnight!

Certainly we desire redemption for many parts of our lives that have not lived up to the ideal that we were striving for. The entire concept of christianity is the power of the forgiveness of sin and renewal in Christ… with a clean slate before us. As a woman who complained to me about housekeeping in Pulliam Hall not long after I became the superintendent of Building Services…’Mr. Brooks…you could be better!’ I heartily agreed with her and told her, after speaking to her for 1 hour, that I was going to hang up the telephone and get to work on becoming better… That really is the story of us…is it not? We are a people who want to become better! We want to see the forest as well as the trees…

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‘A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.’ Proverbs 15:1 KJV

Just imagine that you and one other person were shackled together and running for your lives. You had been imprisoned by an adversary that meant to ultimately kill you both. You both are emaciated and exhausted and frightened! Each of you had to rely on each other for your continued existence… One of you was a Republican…and the other was a Democrat…

John Meecham often refers to our living in a fallen world. This a common concept in christianity that explains our herculean struggle with ourselves… Each instance that we can shine a light in the darkness and despair of our fallen human condition…is Redemption…

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‘Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread’ — The Jazz Man

Our anticipation of normality has played a trick on us. We seek our comfortable routine and we want to walk on the well worn paths of our lives. Just now I am sitting in my loft and listening to the steady rain that is falling outside. It has rained much of the day and will […]

‘Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread’ — The Jazz Man

Displaced…

Chet headed for home as the cold rain continued to fall. He thought how good it would be to see his

mom…at her correct age. He and Porter and Parker had experienced more Halloween adventure than 1st graders could stand! First there was the hayride to the haunted house…and then everything had seemed to go off the rails! They had had seen the bodiless head that looked like a Jack-O-Lantern and their friend Buddy had disappeared. Then there was the weird experience of traveling to the future where they were shown a film of their adult selves in the year 2020. But, that too had ended in what was apparently a dream…that was all too real! In fact Chet had felt like that he was in a waking dream since they arrived at the Haunted House. And what about the visit to Porter’s cousin Billy’s house and no one being there accept for a very realistic looking Frankenstein and Dracula, who acted as their guides to 2020… Chet wondered if it was not the aftereffects of drinking those two swigs of Peppermint Schnapps that Lanny, Porter’s neighbor, had given him when he drove them to the Orpheum Theatre. Porter and Parker were suppose to come over tomorrow for them to compare notes regarding the strange occurrences that had happened to them.

When Chet arrived home he called out to his mother who was sitting in front of the TV and was engaged in her favorite pastime…watching her stories, as she called her favorite programs. Thelma did not respond to Chet’s greeting and he assumed that she had fallen asleep in front of the television…as she often did. Chet was relieved that his mom was the age that she should be and his Lost In Space Robot Halloween costume was hanging in his closet. Suddenly the telephone rang and and Chet answered. It was Porter and he asked in a hushed tone if Chet had been experiencing anything weird… Chet responded that no more than usual for the last few days of their scary adventures. Then Porter told him that he had rode his bicycle that looked like a motorcycle home and entered to see his mom lying on the couch. He called out to her and asked if there was any supper left. She did not respond… Porter knew that his mother enjoyed a good nap. So, he ate some left over roast beef, his mom’s speciality, and sat in the Lazy-Boy recliner and watched some TV as well. When his mom got up to go the rest room Porter asked how she was doing…and she gazed his direction and smiled… Chet then asked, ‘But she did not respond to you?’ Porter answered that she did not…it was as if he was not there.

Parker saw Doc Irvin as he was leaving Hillcrest School. She sat on the first seat of the school bus that Doc drove and listened to him as he spoke to another bus driver. ‘I tell you it was the strangest thing that I have ever seen…I was enjoying the crisp night air and a good cherry filled tobacco pipe… and having the reigns of the horse in my hands had taken me back to when I was a child on the farm… ‘ I swear…Doc Gasaway!’ ‘The kids were a bit shaken after entering the Haunted House…but they seemed none the worse for wear once they had some roasted hot dogs and smores! ‘But, Irvin continued, when I told the horse, ‘giddy-up…he looked around at me like he had seen a ghost!’ ‘So I stopped and went back to the wagon to count the kids one more time…’

Thursday morning, October the 29th, 1962. The day was gloomy and the rain that had been falling throughout the night continued unabated. Mrs. K called the roll call and when she called Parker and Porter and Chet…they replied, ‘Present…Mrs. K!’ Mrs. K marked each of the three absent and then instructed the class to open their Dick and Jane Readers. Parker told Porter and Chet at recess, of which they had 3 throughout the day, that she had attempted to talk with her mother and father last evening…but they appeared to not be able to hear or see her… Porter said that they should go back to Billy’s house and see if it, now, had it’s furniture… When they arrived there was Billy sitting on the front porch smoking a large cuban cigar! Billy smiled at the 3 and asked them if they had enjoyed their Halloween? Chet replied that, ‘No one can see us or hear us.’ Billy replied that was the entire idea. He went on to tell them that each of them had died in the haunted house and they were now…ghosts!

Parker began to yawn and stretch her arms above her head and rub her eyes. She peered through the dark theatre and on the big silver screen was a Frankenstein movie. She nudged both Porter and Chet…who were also asleep and they roused to wakefulness and dismay that they had each shared the same Halloween Dream…

Moving Inside

It is 46 degrees outside…but it feels like 43. Also the fall rains have set in for the rest of today and tonight and tomorrow. However there are still some beautiful fall leaves remaining at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale! Our 2020 pandemic continues and is intensifying over our entire country. A vaccine is coming…but it is not here… The Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike, during Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker’s daily Covid 19 briefing…wept for almost a minute when speaking of the lost lives to the coronavirus in our state. This pandemic is not laughing matter! Some say that the virus will, ‘go-away,’ the day after the election…my question is will that be all over our planet…

So, I have moved to our loft…where my after retirement desk is. After leaving my management position of 25 years at SIUC I felt that I must have a desk to create some feeling of normalcy for my new state of life. Although I enjoy my little office very much…I only use it on cold days. If the weather is remotely accommodating…I prefer writing on our screened in porch…it reminds me of Maine! We enjoyed my 63rd birthday at Cunetto House of Pasta on the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Our friend Frank is the owner and can be found at our favorite restaurant each time that we are there. MJ mentioned, when we were there on Saturday night, that, Frank looks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders!’ So when he passed our table she asked him how he was doing. He responded that he was doing, ‘pretty well.’ and that the crowd was good…but that he could only use half of his tables…

We are weary…we are tired…we are numbed by a pandemic that we thought would be over by now… We do not want to be one of the last fatalities before a life saving vaccine is produced and distributed for the public! We want to see the 2020 pandemic in our rear view mirror and be able to say thank God I made it through!

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I think over the past few days I have been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel! We are talking as a family about a trip in 2021…and the excitement in Aaron and Jonathon’s eyes has inspired MJ and I to attempt to make it happen! I have often heard the old saying, ‘How many angles can dance on the head of a pin?’ That question addresses where we are at in our current situation. We must be safe…and we must live some semblance of normality…as we dance on the head of pin! I heard my most respected physician and epidemiologist and virus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, say that we do not have to lock down everyone to practice safety during the pandemic. He emphasized social distancing and wearing of masks and increased hand washing and localized lock downs in Covid-19 hot spots.

Our Federal Government must step up to the plate and provide a nation wide plan for mitigating and containing our virus until a vaccine is produced. Our Federal Government must provide financial aid to the millions of small businesses and many other Americans that have lost their income due to the pandemic. Anything less will guarantee that the recovery of our nation will be years…instead of months…

Better times are on our horizon! I can see it and feel it…and it will be wonderful! We will see each other with a renewed appreciation for our common humanity and our shard walk back to Jerusalem…

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Until 64 is the New Magic Number

Please enjoy a great blog from Jonathon Brooks!

jonathonbrooks

Life, when lived with love, is a celebration. Oh, sure there are plenty of speed bumps along the way. There are tragedies and sorrows and death and disappointment. There is sin and heartache and illness. Then there is the road ahead after the speed bumps, or setbacks. On this road can be found love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and even self control. The fruits of the Holy Ghost are fine traveling companions.

Now back to the idea of celebration. What makes for a happy life? Do I need all of the money under the sun for me and myself? Or do I need all the pleasure planet earth can muster up? Maybe I need everyone to like me and tell me I’m kind of a big deal. A happy life comes from within one’s very own soul. Love leads to…

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A Fun Birthday Journey! — The Jazz Man

After we hung MJ’s New Mexico hand woven rug yesterday, we struck out for a major journey for us, during our 2020 pandemic, St. Louis! In non-covid 19 times…we travel to St. Louis often once per month. We have been enjoying the Gateway to the West for nearly 50 years! But in our social distancing […]

A Fun Birthday Journey! — The Jazz Man

Old #63 Is Still Chugging!

The temperature was 80 degrees at noon and is now 54 degrees. Now that is a dramatic temperature drop! Tomorrow is the big day…I leave #62 and join the great #63’s! Why it seems like yesterday I was turning 40…and I thought how old that I had become! You may say that I really enjoy my birthday…and you would be correct. Remember that you only get one per year. I am always in a particular good humor during this time of year. I reflect on where I have been and I wonder what is in store for the future. Life has so many twists and turns and hills and valleys…you feel somewhat like a battle hardened soldier as time goes by.

MJ and I and our dear friends, Steve and Faye, enjoyed a birthday celebration for MJ at St. Louis, Missouri…when she turned 40. I can remember all of us enjoying some wine, which was somewhat new to us, and reflecting on the maturity of purpose and recognition of self…that the celebration brought us. MJ led us in our mutual agreement that we were not only going to guide our own lives…but take joy in doing so! The world was our oyster…and there was blue sky and a clear horizon ahead of us. We chose a good way to live! There has been much more joy than sorrow!

When I look at our sons, Aaron and Jonathon, my life is complete! They have been the focus of MJ and my attention for many years…and they never cease to amaze us with their kindness and growth as gentlemen!

The past 10 years have been a delight! Our wonderful friends and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Ron and Ira Kaye have been so gracious to us and invited us to visit them in Destin, Florida on numerous occasions! Each of these visits have been memorable! Our great friends, Jeff and Margo, have hosted us and traveled with us throughout Europe…on 4 occasions. My view of the world and understanding of its marvelous tapestry…has greatly increased! We have been to Maine, which we love, and we are going back next fall! We have experienced several visits with my brother Brock and my sister-in-law Marcy…and they have enriched our lives!

I vividly recall wondering how any girl would be interested in me. Since I am not blessed with good looks or a fine physique or a keen intellect…I thought that I would be doomed to a solitary life! MJ has been a blessing to me and she is the best mother that I have ever seen. She loves her boys and would do anything for them. She has been a true compass in our lives!

Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale continues to be a holiday in my retired life! I walk it’s golden pathways daily. So many of the good things that have happened in our lives can be traced back to SIUC. The wonderful people that I had the opportunity to meet and who helped me..have made an indelible imprint on my heart! The opportunity that I was afforded to help others…was a special blessing.. So, tomorrow we travel to Cunetto’s House of Pasta on the Hill in St. Louis. We have been going there to celebrate my birthday for many years. They are excellent in social distancing. We will toast the past…and then toast the future…….

The Haunted House in 2020!

So there was our intrepid Halloween revelers in 2020! They were delivered from cousin Billy’s house in 1962. The last they could remember was the very real Frankenstein and Dracula taking their hands and telling them to shut their eyes. Chet noted that Hillcrest School looked much the same as in 1962 accept for some peeling paint. There were still the framed photos on the walls of the long hall. One of the photos had Porter’s cousin, Brenda, in it with her 8th grade graduation class. Porter had always been fond of Brenda as she babysat him in 1962. Parker mentioned that if they truly had traveled in time and it was 58 years later…why not try to find their adult selves…

Chet noted that they would all be either turning 63 or 63 already… as they were born in 1957…they were Baby Boomers…although they did not know the term. Dracula, or at least someone who certainly looked the part ushered them into the school auditorium. Once inside the large room they were told to sit in the front row and prepare to hear about what the future had brought them. Each in turn were shown videos of their senior adult selves and their children and even their grandchildren.

Parker had slipped out of the school auditorium to see what she could discover. She had rode a bicycle that was by the front door of the school up town to inspect the shape that it was in. She found most of the stores had closed as well as the Orpheum Movie Theatre. In the place of the Ben Franklin Dime Store and Carter and Chossier’s Drug Store, as well as many other stores…was Antique Stores and Stores for collectors of paraphernalia. Parker wondered what time had done to the little thriving town of Eldorado?

Chet told Porter that the television show that was played for them in the auditorium, he had seen in a dream. He said that he had experienced a nightmare that the United States had become more divided that the 1960’s and that it had all began with the assassination of President Kennedy. Porter retorted that President Kennedy was fine in 1962 and had just negotiated the country’s safety from the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chet agreed but went on to explain to Porter that everything changed in 1963! President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald and that is where the disintegration of American society began! Chet went on to say that the American people’s confidence in their government had melted away…until in 2020 a reality television show host had become President and was seeking reelection to a second term… Porter asked, ‘What is a Reality Show television host?’ Chet responded that he really did not want to know…because it was similar to the TV show, The Twilight Zone, and the condition of the nation had become basically divided between two camps of people who not only did not agree with each other…but were incapable of compromise or fruitful discussion. When Porter asked Chet how he was speaking in such an adult manner….Chet replied that he had been here before…

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Parker returned to Hillcrest School’s auditorium and rejoined her friends. She told them of the dramatic change in the downtown area. She went on to say that she had seen a political billboard of one of their classmates who had become a state senator…and he looked just like he did in 1962…accept older and more distinguished! Chet said that he wanted to visit Parrish Addition and see if the old home place was still standing. So…Frankenstein drove them to Chet’s childhood home of 1962. Not only was it still standing but there was his mother, Thelma, who was 90 years old. She cried when she saw Chet!. She embraced him and said that she had not laid eyes upon him in over 20 years! Then Thelma wiped her eyes and exclaimed that Chet was a child again! Chet attempted to explain to his mom that he and Parker and Porter had been Trick or Treating in 1962 and had met Frankenstein and Dracula who had transported them to 2020…and that he supposed that they were senior citizens…somewhere?

The two monsters spoke eloquently to the three child time travelers. Frankenstein explained in a voice not dissimilar to the great English Actor, Boris Karloff, that they bad been chosen to see a bit of the future in order to work toward the unity of human beings during their lives. Dracula went on to say, in the resonate baritone of the Actor Bela Lugosi, that they had chosen the 3 midwesterners as a test to determine if the voice of regular people could be heard above the deafening

din of those who had been captured and enraptured by the cry for blood and soil and tears… Porter asked if they were really…real? Frankenstein replied that we are as real as you need us to be…

Parker woke up in her first grade classroom. She had laid her head upon her desk and fallen asleep. Mrs. K had asked, ‘Who is ready for the best Halloween ever?’

Autumn Dreams — The Jazz Man

I continue to be captivated by the natural beauty of Southern Illinois in the fall! The cool temperatures and the proliferation of trees with their resplendent colors…will cause you too, ‘Pack up you troubles in your old kit bag…and smile, smile, smile!’ Of course adding to my good humor is the fact that the old […]

Autumn Dreams — The Jazz Man

Am I My Sister and My Brother’s Keeper?

My favorite month is racing by! I love October! It is fall and my birthday month! I have loved this month since I can remember months… It has been chilly in Little Egypt and rainy. I walked around campus lake this afternoon and observed some beautiful autumn colors on the numerous trees in campus woods. Our world is changing and we are in the midst of our 2020 pandemic. The changes that we are experiencing are all encompassing and many of us are having difficulty in keeping up with the change! When we began…8 months ago…we suspected that this plague would pass in a few difficult months. We were wrong!

Social Distancing is hard both emotionally and mentally. We Americans love our restaurants and bars…we love the wonderful people who serve us and for whom the Virus has been an economic nightmare! Our human make-up is to be with others…our happiness is contained in our fellowship with our friends and colleagues and family. Studies have shown that when watching a movie or a play or any social activity…we most enjoy watching other people! The old saying that, No man is an island,’ is inherent in our human nature.

So we love our fellow humans. We love to see them and interact with them and hug them and shake their hands and bask in the warm glow of their brilliant smiles and friendly and loving demeanor! Whether it is on the football field or in the hockey rink or Trick or Treating on Halloween. We are at the threshold of Thanksgiving and Christmas…and all of the celebrations that ensue and which enrich our spirits and give us strength to end the current year and begin the new year! Some of our holiday experiences may be likened to the popular Christmas movie, and my favorite Christmas show, Christmas Vacation We want to see uncle Leo! We miss cousin Eddie!

We are not fighting a person or a political party or living our lives by the stanzas of Frank Sinatra’s famous song, I Did It My Way! We are fighting a sickness that is easily transferred from human to human and that can take your life! It is not about what the Democrats or the Republicans say…it about the health and safety of our fellow humans…that we all love and want to be with…

Our senior citizens are cherished by their families and friends and fellow church congregants. Do we think that it is alright to take the virus to grandma’s house? A vaccine is coming…but not yet. The Stock Market doing well is not indicative of what is happening on Mainstreet or my street or your street! We will come out on the other side of Covid-19…but will it be with over 200 and 21 thousand dead…or 2 million? When you wear a mask and practice social distancing…you are my keeper….when I wear a mask and practice social distancing…I am your keeper…