Monthly Archives: November, 2020

Cold Friday! — The Jazz Man

The Writing Porch looked inviting…but it is cold! It is currently 48 degrees but it feels like 46. Now…I have always attested to enjoying the cold…but I was younger then… than I am. now… What has dawned on me is that two weeks from now…Thanksgiving will be over. I think that it is about time […]

Cold Friday! — The Jazz Man

Old Friends and Pleasant Memories

It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Autumn leaves are descending rapidly to the ground…and a crisp chill is in the air. The last few days have brought thoughts of our rapidly approaching Thanksgiving… and Christmas…not far behind. Our 2020 pandemic has morphed time somewhat and what was New Year’s Day of 2020 has turned into the Holiday Season and the closing of a most difficult beginning of our decade. This morning my good friend Jeff messaged me and asked if I could pick he and his lovely wife, Tish, up at Carbondale Memorial Hospital…as he was being released. I responded that I would be happy to do so and I would await his message. Jeff went on to say that one of the primary reasons that the hospital needed to release him was due to their need for his bed for a Covid-19 patient.

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When I saw Jeff…a tear came to my eye…as I so appreciated being reunited with my old friend of nearly 50 years! I had not physically seen him in well over 40 years! It was as if there was no time separating us! There was no awkward renewal of friendship as we have a camaraderie that is beyond time. Jeff and I and many members of his family attended the same little church in Elkville, Illinois…many years ago. We ruminated and reminisced and he told me that his brother Doug sent me greetings. I was so pleased as Doug is another life long friend! As I listened to Jeff speaking I was transported back to our youth and it was as if no years had passed. Jeff is a Marine and I respect his service to our country very much!

Memorial Hospital seemed very busy. Recently in church board discussions we noted the rapidly increasing amount of virus cases in our region. The spread of the virus is getting worse exponentially! It is projected that family gatherings during the upcoming holiday season will be one of the primary coronavirus spreaders. My friend Rick cautioned our group, the other evening, that our pandemic is gong to be a long haul! Our Governor, in bis daily Covid-19 briefing just told us that, ‘We are running out of options and we are running out of time!’ As I waited on my friend this morning…I saw the precious healthcare workers coming and going. These are human beings just like you and I…and they are placing their lives on the line…for us!

Jeff commiserated on our former pastor, Jack, who was a Marine and fought in WWII…including on Guadalcanal, an Island in the Solomon Islands. Pastor Jack told us of his adventures and challenges in WWII…both private and at times in his sermons. His mesmerizing account of what he had seen and heard and felt…I will never forget!

A Warm Sunday in November

It is 79 degrees on November the 8th. A cool breeze is blowing through the writing porch and 2020 marches…rapidly…to its conclusion. Jonathon and I have been frequenting a new eclectic shop called Electric Larry’s. They have old beer steins and vintage comic books and Russian nesting dolls. It is the type of store that is right up our alley!

So, we had a Presidential election…and now it is over… Many are happy because of the results and many are sad at the outcome. One thing is certain…our country needs to heal…and divisive rhetoric will never accomplish the task. It has occurred to me that we proclaim that we are part of the world’s greatest democracy…but not all of us desire a democracy. Many people are content with having a leader tell them what to think and how to feel and to define who their enemies are…and who are their friends. We seek religious freedom for our religion…but think little of religious freedom for those who are not of our faith.

‘On the same day the US got a new president, ‘Saturday Night Live’ host Dave Chappelle served up a biting monologue that hit the lowlights of the year, and he rage and tension that the country has felt.’

‘I would implore everybody who’s celebrating today to remember, it is good to be humble winner. Remember when I was here four years ago, remember how bad that felt? Remember that half the country right now still feels that way.’ CNN

‘All these white people out there that feel that anguish, that pain, they’re mad because they think nobody cares…maybe they don’t. Let me tell you something. I know how that feels.’ He said he also know how police officers feel, when they put on a uniform, that they have a target on their back. ‘Believe me, believe me, I know how that feels.’ But, he said, many people hate each other for it.’

‘And I don’t hate anybody. I just hate that feeling. That’s what I fight, and what I suggest you fight. You gotta find a way to live your life. You gotta find a way to forgive each other. You gotta to find a way find joy in your existence, in spite of the feeling.’ Dave Chappelle CNN

So the divisions in our nation are large and have gotten larger. When we speak of the good old days are we speaking of the good old days for our family and friends…because many of those perceived happy days were anything but good….for a large portion of our country. We must look at our fellow human beings…and really see them. Let us seek a common truth that all of us can work towards. Not the truth of cynicism and contempt…but the joy of our common humanity as we take each others hands and walk our way back to Jerusalem.

The Adventures of Thomas Turkey — The Jazz Man

Thomas enjoyed his lackadaisical life on the Hill in St.Louis. His wife Abigail had requested that he speak with Fred to ascertain what he and his wife, Maudie, were planning on for Thanksgiving dinner. Abigail wanted to invite Fred and Maudie to their house for the holiday feast! She was especially fond of Maudie who […]

The Adventures of Thomas Turkey — The Jazz Man

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Brody just returned from Hydro-therapy. He is a 16 year old Boston Terrier and the exercise of a 10 minute walk in chest high flowing water…is an exhausting enterprise. If it was not for the peanut butter that is held in front of his nose…I do not think he would complete the task… Nora Jones is playing and singing on the internet in a live performance that she has done since the beginning of our 2020 pandemic, each Thursday.

Our year has brought us many stresses and trials and troubles…laid upon our regular life hurdles! All of us need to give each other some extra leeway…and we need to give ourselves a wider path. I have read with great interest the terminology of ‘Snowflake’ with this seemingly harmless meteorological term being applied to persons who are hurt by others unkind and biting and demeaning remarks. If you follow the ‘Snowflake’ labelers you will discover a propensity of using this terminology for those with whom they disagree or who they feel deserve marginalization. As they observe the emotional pain of their perceived lessers…they take some perverse pleasure in momentarily boosting their perception of toughness and invincibility. But, if you continue to watch these lords of the universe…they whither under even the tiniest of harsh words or constructive criticism…or misplaced attempts at humor… The point is…words matter. The childhood axiom that I heard quoted on numerous occasions that, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones…but words will never hurt me…’ is totally untrue.

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All too often we create a standard for ourselves that is wearing our bodies and minds out! It could be that it is not our burden to be all things to all people? Our human condition is a finely tuned instrument that is reliant upon the care necessary to keep it in tip top working condition.

Worry is an all consuming activity! So much of the time those things that we agonize regarding…will be ephemeral or non-existent memories in a year or less… Time heals all wounds…it has been said. Certainly time evaporates many of our interpersonal conflicts and answers the age old question…Are we keeping up with the Jones’s? Have you considered that there are times in your life that you are doing good…just to tread water?

Beware of those who want to solve your problems for you! Stay clear of those who claim to hear from God and then want to telegraph his instructions to you…for your life… Take one day at a time…once it is completed…you have a new day… I enjoy causing another human being to smile! It may be a little thing…but it brings me peace… ‘A soft answer turner away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.’ Proverbs 15:1 KJV

Often the simplest of lessons of life…are the most difficult to learn. We have gotten the life’s equation backward…we live to work…when we should be working to live…

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Watch How You Go! — The Jazz Man

MJ and I have been watching the PBS series, Endeavor, on Amazon Prime. It is the prequel to the Inspector Morris series. Young Inspector Endeavor Morris is the protege of Detective Inspector Fred Thursday. DI Fred Thursday’s primary admonishment to his friends and family is to, ‘Watch how you go.’ I believe this is equivocal […]

Watch How You Go! — The Jazz Man

Election Day

Recently it has been to cold to write on the porch. Today it is 70 degrees! Oh, the wonders of weather in Little Egypt! I am wearing a heavy shirt from LL Bean of Maine. I purchased it at their Flagship Store in Freeport a year ago this spring. I love Maine! Pastor Kerry sent us an inspirational message this morning regarding our need to vote and the primary message of Jesus…’To love our neighbors as ourselves.’ MJ and I found the message uplifting and a harbinger of peace… Today is absolutely beautiful. There is not a cloud in the sky. There is a quietness and a certainty and a feeling of joy…in the air.

Prior to today there has been over 100 million Americans who have cast their vote. This is unprecedented and illustrative of our being in the midst of our 2020 pandemic and the passion that voters on both sides of the aisle have for their political candidates. I have been reflecting on what a great nation we live in. We are able to cast our vote for the leaders of our choice and the voice of the people will decide this election. The old and the young…the rich and the poor…citizens from all of the countries of the Earth….are able to say today…this is the country that I love and this is the person that I want to call from our group of 328 million…to lead us as our citizen representative! Today hate does not prevail… Today is a day of solemnity and centeredness and hope and promise for the idea of one nation under God…

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MJ and I have visited El Paso, Texas many times. Her aunt and uncle moved there in the latter 1970’s from Southern Illinois. We loved visiting Juarez, Mexico with them… as it is the bordering city of El Paso. It is difficult to determine where Juarez ends and El Paso begins. I purchased a chess set there…many years ago. Also we bought a stone carving of the Last Supper and gave it to MJ’s mother and father, Berl and Fernie. Aaron consumed some hot peppers in a restaurant in Juarez and he had difficulty in putting out the oral fire! On another occasion we visited uncle Merle’s favorite restaurant where the procedure for notifying the wait staff of your culinary needs was to raise a miniature flag at your table. Merle enjoyed the procedure so much that he kept asking if we needed another Sopaipilla or enchilada…in order for him to facilitate the obtaining of the delicious delights by raising his flag… Fort Bliss is in El Paso. Their cafeteria served a brunch on Sunday that was to die for! We attended every Sunday that we were in the city. The visit to Fort Bliss Sunday Brunch was the height of our semi-annual visits! The young woman, who was the hostess for the Brunch, always smiled broadly when uncle Merle would greet her! Sometimes we would walk the Fort Bliss Cemetery with Merle and Lauretta and ponder the symmetrical and white grave stones for each of the servicemen and women who were buried there. When Merle passed and we returned with Lauretta…the young woman who was the hostess….wept when we told her that Merle had died. In the cemetery there were notations for the Jewish faith and the Muslim faith and many others…as well and the christian faith…but all of these women and men were united in their love for the United States…their country…as they fought and died beside each other…

You know our founding fathers did not envision our elected political leaders serving careers in their community service as our representatives… The farmer was expected to return to his farming…the shoemaker was to return to the making of shoes…and the tinsmith was to return to his prescribed trade when public service was over… I have never been a political leader but I firmly believe that elected office is to be held with a loose grasp… I was humbled and honored to hold elected office as both a representative on the Civil Service Council @ Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…as well as the president of the group and I held several elected and appointed offices in church government over the past 50 years. Always, I have been happy and pleased to lay down those assignments as soon as I felt that my effectiveness and mission was completed… There is an element of peace and contentment in letting go of a call to service…when the service is completed. The dramatic roles that we play on the stage of life are temporary…and there is another worthy actor waiting in the wings…

So we vote and we wait for the results. I have read the admonishment that we should vote like our lives depend on it! I heartily agree! We live in a democracy…or as Benjamin Franklin told us, ‘If we can keep it!’

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My Favorite Hat With the Red Feather

Please enjoy an inspirational blog from Jonathon Brooks!

jonathonbrooks

I’ve worn a variety of hats throughout my life’s story. Personality change and a positive attitude are not easily attained. As a boy I was one person, as a teenager I was someone else, and as a man I’m yet again another version of myself. I used to like baseball caps, however, now I prefer fancier hats.

As a boy I was in love with life naturally. I did not have to try to overcome anything in order to be at peace and have childhood joy. I loved to laugh and smile and have a fun time. All new days held beauty.

As a teenager I lost my joy and my way due to undiagnosed mental illness and a poor attitude and a plethora of sins. When I was 17 years of age I decided to begin praying like my life depended on it. I also began reading the Holy…

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The Hour Grows Near… — The Jazz Man

As I sit in my customary seat on the writing porch…the evening shadows are falling. The time of year when we watch the warm and pleasant days of summer transform into the cold and introspective days of winter. Thoughts of all that we are thankful for and a more clear view of sugar plums dancing […]

The Hour Grows Near… — The Jazz Man

Welcome To The Holiday Season!

As I walked the beautiful campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale I was amazed that the beautiful leaves are still resplendent in their majestic array of colors! It seems like a dream that 2020 has gone by like the blink of an eye! Where did it go…

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Aaron has a birthday this month…I am excited about it! Then comes Thanksgiving which is MJ’s favorite holiday! I really did not realize the significance of the holiday before we were wed…soon to be 43 years ago! In my childhood home I watched the Macy’s Day Parade…and that was it! My mom was already planning our Christmas celebration! Mom dedicated the months of November and December to planing her Christmas dinner and the cleaning of our house and the purchase of Christmas gifts… What took her roughly 7 weeks probably could have been done in half the time…but mom took her Christmas planning seriously. One year I received a Big Swinger Polaroid camera. It was grey and it took an almost magical instant snap shot of whatever moment in time that you captured! I took it on my 6th grade trip to New Harmony, Indiana and snapped a pack of film…and maybe two. I still have the photos…and one of them was taken at home of me playing my tenor saxophone. I as extremely proud of my saxophone and my music teacher told me that I played the best set of scales that he had ever heard…for a beginner…

We have so much to thankful for. We are alive and sentient on a beautiful planet in a vast galaxy that is a part of untold and infinite space. Somehow we believe that our ideas and conspiracy theories and peccadilloes are the only thing going in God’s creation. We would be wrong! Pastor Kerry reminded me this morning during our Zoom church service that the very reasons that one side of the political tug of war says are the reasons that they are voting for their candidate…are the same reasons that the other side of the battle pronounces are the causes they are supporting for the candidate of their choice… The election is upon us! It happens this Tuesday…although 90 million Americans have already cast their ballots. The lofty concepts of the United States are ideas that it is up to us to make real… It is not automatic and no one will do it for us… It would be the same with christianity. It is up to us to be God’s arms and legs on this earth! It is on our backs… to be the eyes and ears and tongues of truth for the principles of what our nation is founded upon. If we believe that we are a nation of immigrants and a open door to the promise of Emma Lazarus, ‘With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breath free, The Wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

The holidays are coming and they mean something to most of us. Thanksgiving is significant and Christmas is celebrated all over the world. We love these special days because of the principles that they hold and that we grasp on to. The same can be said for our nation. It has been a golden city on the hill for all of the peoples of the earth… The United States has represented hope for the hopeless! We have brought comfort to the oppressed and food and shelter to the hungry and homeless… Shall we continue…or shall we seek another identity that is self-serving and insular and isolationist in a global society?

Hate speech and mockery and violence is not the clarion call of our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence! Vitriol and division of our citizenry is not the answer to our problems but rather a catalyst of civil war… ‘Weeping my endure for the night…but joy cometh in the morning!’ Psalm 30:5 KJV

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