Oasis In The City

Having lived in Southern Illinois for the majority of my life I can attest to its’ unrivaled natural beauty. In fact from the Shawnee National Forest to the Garden Of The Gods…to Pounds Hollow and Rend Lake…it is a Garden of Eden…in many ways. People come to Little Egypt for a variety of reasons and choose to never leave again…although they have moved from exciting cities and bustling communities.

Eldorado has been a focus of much of my attention for the past few days. With my two visits in two weeks…I tried to make up for not having been there for over 20 years. Eldorado…like most of the little towns and villages in our region is economically deprived…and it shows. When I was growing up in Eldorado during the 60s it was a booming community compared to its’ current condition. Poverty is a hard taskmaster.

The Orpheum Theatre was an Oasis for me during my childhood years in Eldorado. No matter what problems that I had encountered…the movies provided an escape and a respite and a rejuvenation for me. I have discovered two Oasis in my town of Carbondale. These areas contain plentiful cool and clear water and abundant sunshine and peace and reflection…and the gift of time to think… existed for me even before our move to Carbondale over 21 years ago.

Southern Illinois @ Carbondale has been an Oasis for me for 44 years. The combination of my over a 32-year career and the last 11 + years of retirement…SIUC has been a constant in my life. I have heard of many who upon retirement say that they will never darken the door of the University again. This is exactly the opposite of my experience. As I walk our Campus daily I never cease to appreciate its’ beauty and the benefits that it provides to all those who avail themselves of the bounty. When I am on Campus…I feel at home.

First Presbyterian Church of Carbondale is another Oasis for me. For 24 years I have felt the love and compassion of my fellow congregants and found a church where I thoroughly appreciate its’ Polity. First Presbyterian Church not only accepts but rejoices in the diversity of Gods’ Human Creation. It is a refuge for those who feel unwanted and afraid and unloved and underappreciated. When I hear and witness that church denominations are diminishing…I wonder if hurting and lonely people realize what they are missing in not attending church. My friend Lisa mentioned recently that many in the queer community often say, ‘There is no hate like the love of Christians.’ Perhaps they have not met a group of loving and caring Christians who endeavor to live Christs’ Teachings rather than giving their allegiance to a cult or a sect that follows the ‘Mean Fever Dream’ of people who base their faith on hating those who do not look or act like them…

I pass First Presbyterian Church…my church… every day…and feel better for just seeing it…because I know what is on the inside…

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