Monthly Archives: February, 2023

Coming Home

The Happy Traveler

I love clouds. Today has provided the most unusual variety. Many are of the wispy kind. Their profile against the azure blue sky is compelling. As I have aged I look up more all of the time.

What a new halcyon gift this life is! Even when life is the darkest there is light just ahead of us. We had a lovely Birthday Weekend for MJ! Dinner at the Global Gourmet on Saturday night and brunch on Sunday. She says that she has not enjoyed a Birthday Dinner so much in many years. Mission accomplished!

Aaron told me over Birthday Dinner that he admired me and called me a humanitarian. I was humbled and honored by his kind words. I told him that I had experienced a childhood marked by some sadness when my mom and dad divorced and then the pain that my mom suffered. I felt very darkā€¦

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Coming Home

I love clouds. Today has provided the most unusual variety. Many are of the wispy kind. Their profile against the azure blue sky is compelling. As I have aged I look up more all of the time.

What a new halcyon gift this life is! Even when life is the darkest there is light just ahead of us. We had a lovely Birthday Weekend for MJ! Dinner at the Global Gourmet on Saturday night and brunch on Sunday. She says that she has not enjoyed a Birthday Dinner so much in many years. Mission accomplished!

Aaron told me over Birthday Dinner that he admired me and called me a humanitarian. I was humbled and honored by his kind words. I told him that I had experienced a childhood marked by some sadness when my mom and dad divorced and then the pain that my mom suffered. I felt very dark and morose and had a very dim view of life…until I saw that mom looked to me for emotional support and thus I determined that I would find the good in the midst of the bad. This is a turn in the road for me that has served me well throughout my life. Most days I have to remind myself of my vow as a youth and then I feel better and all is well with the world.

We all are seeking a home. We want to feel wanted and needed and a part of our family and our community. So many of us feel lonely and often alone. Bad things happen to us and we tend to dwell on the suffering. However, there are so many others who are counting on us. It has been said that no man is an island. We feel lost in a crowd and are quite certain that others would not understand our struggles. Senator Fetterman checked himself into the hospital to receive treatment for depression. What a courageous man! Help is close by if we will avail ourselves of it.

Actually, our walk back home is short. It feels long because we are in the midst of it. When we look back on the walk back to Jerusalem…we will see that it was but a moment. We see our fellow human beings through a ‘Glass Darkly’ thus assuming that they do not care or have better vocations than being our friends. In reality, they are searching just as we are for companions and teammates to join them on this lives bumpy and rocky road!

I watched the most interesting documentary last night. A French couple was Volconaligist in the latter part of the last century. The film footage that they captured of active volcanos was breathtaking. I identified in part with them as I love to observe nature in all of its forms. This intrepid couple was infatuated with their and our home…earth. We live in a volatile sphere in the cosmos. All is calm for some time…and then the eruption of the magma and chaos…and confusion…and yes…death. But…what a beautifully magnificent and awe-inspiring journey…

Accustomed

‘I’ve grown accustomed to your face,’ the song lyric proclaims. Indeed life with its ever-changing hues and prisms brings us innumerable opportunities to become accustomed to a person or place or condition. So many years ago when I began working at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale I started on the second shift. The hours were 5:00 P:M: – 1:00 A:M:. At first, my working hours seemed very strange but I determined that I would get used to them as I had secured the best job that I had ever had.

The vacillating vicissitudes of our lives can deliver us lifestyles that are onerous for us and damaging to our psyche. Being Food Insecure is a terrible condition that millions across our planet have become horribly accustomed to. Their waking hours are spent primarily in the search for enough coins to purchase the very basics of sustenance. Poverty and food insecurity and lack of economic opportunity are generational self-fulfilling prophecies made by conditioning people for many years. Finally, they become accustomed to their lot in life as members of the Untouchable Cast.

Some are in churches where increasing demands are placed on the congregation to provide money for the leadership’s targeted needs which often enhances the leader’s own bank account. The minister gets increasingly wealthy and the members become increasingly poorer. Yet many of these folks have become accustomed to their subservient lifestyle in order to achieve the pronouncements of the minister. Many at Jonestown 45 years ago willingly drank the Kool-Aid in their blindness to the bizarre situation that they found themselves in.

Certainly, the New Normal has touched all of our lives at one time or more. Our Pandemic changed our world and it is yet to be ascertained how deep the movement of the geological plates of our world has been disturbed. We learn to live with the changing chapters of our lives. Readjustment is required. A sense of place is necessary. Faith in something bigger than we are is essential.

Be Present In Your Life

It is another warm day but the temperature is dropping now. I had a little walk on Campus and enjoyed it very much. I have been visiting Giant City State Park daily for the past several months…but today I did both. It has been said that the years are short but the days are long. I do not find this the case. The days fly by like a weaver’s shuttle. Each day gives me a sense of place. The older I become the happier I am with who I am. I am happy with my Southern Illinois Roots. I have found a renewed interest and affection for my second hometown…Eldorado… like Chicago was my first. MJ and I have had the opportunity to travel to several countries and yet I am content and pleased with my home.

I recall in my youth wishing that I had the family of some of my friends or the lifestyle that they enjoyed. Even at a young age, it dawned on me that I really had a good heritage, and decided that I would not trade it even if I could. Often I reflect on things and actions that I took place in my life. Some of those actions were deemed controversial by others. I worked diligently as did MJ to befriend some people who after years walked away from us. I would not change a thing as I know that my actions were who I am. There is something to be said for being your authentic self. Agreeing with others is a pleasant enterprise and a comfortable vocation. Agreeing for the sake of being agreeable…is hypocrisy.

Understanding the feelings of others has been my passion. As a manager/administrator at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale I had many friends…but also some who did not like my management style and very possibly did not like me. Those people received my undivided attention. I endeavored to treat them fairly and as a partner in the success of our department…which they were. Some of these folks came to appreciate my manner of management and we united in our dedication to excellence at SIUC. Today when I visited our Campus and since my first day of employment on October 10, 1978…Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale was and is my home.

I am at home at Church. I have the same sense of place that I have had for 55 years. I know that I am supposed to be there. I have always offered my heartfelt advice to church leaders and have taken that responsibility seriously.

You are a unique creation of God. You need not pattern yourself after another nor apologize for your individual personality. We are members of the history of our home…earth. As we play our role in the Stage Of Life we are fulfilling our sense of place and our presence in our life. Each of us has a distinct role in our grand experiment. Each of us is vital to so many in our lives. We touch more people than we are ever aware of. My Blog tells me that at times hundreds of people have viewed it. Perhaps only 20 or so have pushed the like button…but hundreds could have read it and been influenced by it. This is our life…only a few have hit the like button…but untold numbers are watching…

Wind

I grew up living in Tornado Alley. My stepfather was so afraid of tornados that he would wake my mom and me up so that we could run to his car and attempt to outrun what he believed was an imminent tornado. It was my job to grab Chetah his mean chihuahua. Cheetah loved only Earl and she would regularly show me her fine teeth in a snarl. Mom decided that she was no longer going to the car to outrun the oncoming tornado as she deemed it futile. I continued to go…several times a summer…although I told Cheetah that if she bit me…I would leave her behind for the whirlwind.

The wind is unseen but very vocal! It wakes me up at night…but Mylo and MJ sleep right through the gale. Seemingly from out of nowhere Wind blows into our lives and brings change. Whether it be a Derecheo like we experienced in May 2009…or the Wind of Life Changes that bring a new normal to our lives.

We batten down the hatches and trim the mainsail and steer our boat to have the Wind at our back…and wait to see the moon and stars…once again. We had a Black Lab who became so nervous that we had to give her a nerve pill several hours before a storm. She wanted to climb onto our bed and then place herself on the headboard…where there she felt safe…a bit like Earl’s Car I think.

A light breeze brings smiles and harmony and laughter and peace…a tornado brings devastation and death. Such is our lives. We long for the cool breeze on a hot summer day and we fear the destruction of Wind gone amok… There is no playbook or manual to prepare us for every eventuality…there is great comfort in scripture. Our little Blue Orb is a manic and destructive place to live. There are people with love and care in their hearts…and those who wish their neighbors ill. There is the placid sea of tranquility and there is the ‘Slough of Despond.’ We have the pristine view of the mountaintop…the thirsty view of the desert…and the lowest view of the deepest valley where the sun does not shine.

We get it all on our majestic and mad and merry rollercoaster ride of life…what an experience!

Competing Thoughts

Being Human is to have competing thoughts. For instance, most Americans have a poor opinion of Congress but have high esteem for their individual congresswoman or man. We doubt God’s love for us until someone demonstrates that love to us. When we hear the truth we do not accept it if it does not align with our definition of truth. We seek faith as it was explained to us by our friends and neighbors and clan. Many happenings in our lives are so bizarre and over the top of our understanding that it is easier to assign a story to the occurrence that fits with our sense of place in reality.

I understand a bit about the history of Holiness Churches. By the way, the old title of Holiness Churches was worn at one time by both denominational and nondenominational churches. In their heyday, these churches did not believe in going to the theatre or having a television in your home and no dancing or drinking or basically any pleasure of the flesh other than perhaps eating. Now, these folks on a wholesale lot accepted and proclaimed our last President as the second coming of King David of the Old Testament. Of course, the rationale was that King David had his peccadillos…remember Bathsheba. Mind you I am not making light of this belief as it is firmly in the hearts and minds of many churchgoers. Many in the Christian faith seek a Benevolent Dictator. An Authoritarian who has the mantle of God on his shoulders and who must be obeyed because they are sent by God.

Perhaps by our dogma and our hard-wrought doctrine…we are closing the door to many who seek sanctuary and solace and love in what feels like an unloving world. Could it be that we came into our church with a good job and a loving family and perceived status and placement in our community…while others are seeking somewhere to belong…where they are accepted for who they are…they are coming as they are…’ Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me And that Thou bids me come to Thee…Oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come…’

‘Why to Pray…,’ we say. ‘No one is listening…,’ we say! Yet time and chance happen to each of us…and then we pray. Many are agnostics and others are atheists…but each of them would like to believe…

Hard Questions

If you have faith…you have questions. I have been a person of faith for 55 years…and I have questions. During my early faith journey, I heard some concerning analogies made to reason or rationale as to why one person appeared to be healed of God and the other was not. These contentions seemed to range from the people who were praying for the person who got better and became well again must have been praying more fervently…or God respected the one more highly than the other due to their righteous life, and this included how much they gave to the church, and finally that God has a plan and it is not for we mere humans to understand his awesome purpose…

Turkey and Syria have lost upwards of 40 thousand people to the devastating earthquake that hit a few days ago…and now another has struck. Now, these people are God’s creation…his children… Some will say…’Well have they accepted Jesus as their personal savior,’… So the answer is that God is very clannish…or he only likes the members of his Club….or He keeps a running score and tabulates it daily on the petty and minuscule bias of humans as they struggle for water and food and to exist…

How is it that we religious folks are bedrock certain that our denomination and theology is not only the best…but the only true path back to Jerusalem…back to God? How did the inhabitants of one little planet in our galaxy which is one of the millions of other galaxies decide that we would divide our faith and walk into so many divisions that no one can really explain how they came to be?

Is God at fault or does the chasm of doubt lay within each of us for fashioning Him in our own image…

Spring Is In The Air

It is 64 degrees now in Little Egypt. Just a few days ago we experienced an ice storm. Time changes things. The Campus Woods Path walkers were out in force…they understood their good fortune and hurried to avail themselves of it. Life in the fast lane has never been my cup of tea…and even more so since I have retired. I have my own pace and sense of time. I prefer the minimalist lifestyle as long as I have my vintage toys. Home is a house to live in, a sense of place, and that feeling you get when you are at peace with yourself and all others.

Yesterday Pastor Kerry caused me to think of the ever-present need for positive change in our lives or progress. I have found that the more I attempt to understand my friends and neighbors, the more I grow internally. When I can look through the eyes of others I often can see how the world looks from their point of view. Empathy is vital in all facets of life.

Anger subsides when I understand why a person is angry with me. Perhaps I do not agree with their heated feelings regarding me or my actions…but I understand that it looks different from their point of view. We live in our computers and smartphones and television screens. We live in our heads! Kerry said yesterday that a study found that one in 7 men say that they do not have 1 friend. I do not doubt that at all and wonder if the figure is not greater than 1 in 7…as we are a segmented society by our conspiracy theories and fears and prejudices. Emails have revealed that the primary news anchors of a very popular network, knew that the contentions of the election in 2020 having been stolen were lies along with the assertion that a company’s voting machines were rigged. Their concern was not the truth but the fall of their stock portfolio by a reporter revealing the truth.

Have you ever watched old men preen and posture and glory in their perceived power? The saying is that power corrupts and that ultimate power corrupts ultimately.

‘Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ Matthew 6: 19-21. KJV

Mysterious Stranger

Jeremy had reached for the brass ring on the carousel of life…and he grasped it when he met Jennifer. He and Jennifer had started out pretty well. They had been raised in Eldorado and enjoyed a poor but safe childhood. They enjoyed going to the Orpheum Theatre and watching summer movies at the Starlight Drive Inn. Jeremy was a wiz in accounting and planned on attending Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale after his graduation from Eldorado High School. Jennifer was an artist and excelled in all of the art classes that were available to her. Jennifer painted every day and often late into the night. When she was not painting she was thinking of painting. She had been commissioned to paint a mural in town. Marriage Bells were planning on peeling just after commencement. Jeremy excelled at the piano. He played like a virtuoso. His brain seemed to function seamlessly as both a business/artistic mind. Jeremy played at local concerts as well as at Shryock Auditorium on the Campus of Southern Illinois University.

Jennifer brightened every room that she entered. Her glowing personality radiated onto everyone that she met. When someone met her they never forgot her. She was so brilliant in Art that she had been admitted to SIUC into their Art School. She was a cheerleader at EHS and loved cheering for the Eagles. If Jennifer had a bad day you would never know it by her sunny personality.

Jeremy had a secret…he suffered from terrible pain in his back. He wore a back brace that few knew of and it kept his posture ramrod straight. The pain was debilitating and often he wept before he performed a concert. Asprin or Tylenol did not touch the excruciating agony.

Dybbuk was Jeremy’s friend from Europe. He assured Jeremy that he had a pill that would ease his pain and that he would be able to perform his piano performances without any discomfort. Jeremy tried the pill and it worked. He was not only able to perform without any pain but he excelled to such an extent that after graduation he forgot accounting and set out on a Concert tour across the United States and across Europe. Jennifer grabbed her easel and her oil paints and off they went.

Jennifer questioned Jeremy about Dybbuk. How did he know him and what type of pill was he giving him that took away all of the pain in his back? Jennifer was worried about Jeremy as he never seemed to sleep and rarely ate more than a bit or two of food even when there were delicacies in front of him for the taking.

Jeremy became angry with Jennifer and told her to never question Dybbuk…as he was his best friend and understood him better than anyone…including her… Finally, Jeremy began to miss concerts…and rarely came home. His eyes had large black rings around them and his hands shook uncontrollably. Jeremy assured Jennifer that he was fine and had never felt better as Dybbuk was now traveling with them and was giving him injections in his back several times a day.

Jane had met Jennifer in London. She asked if she could speak with Jeremy and see if she could help. An intervention ensued and Jeremy was strangely docile as Jane explained to him that he was a drug addict and that she would take him to a hospital that would help him. She explained that Dybbuk was providing him with a mixture of opioids laced with fentanyl and if he did not receive assistance soon…he would die.

Jeremy was off the pain medication and had learned while in the hospital to deal with his back issues through physical therapy. He and Jennifer had decided to return to Carbondale and attend Southern Illinois University…as they had originally planned.

‘Where is Jane…I must thank her for convincing me to get help before it was too late,’ Jeremy said to Jennifer. ‘I do not know who you are talking about…when you decided to go to the hospital there was only you and I in the room…but you did seem to be talking with someone who I could not see…I just assumed it was the drugs,’ Jennifer said… ‘Well…I know Dybbuk is real…he even traveled with us,’ Jeremy exclaimed!

‘Jeremy…Dybbuk was your nickname for the Old Devil…when we were in grade school in Eldorado,’ Jennifer said…

Who Is That Nice Person?

I was absolutely bowled over today by the majesty of the abundant water in the creek at Giant City Park. Being a regular visitor to the Woods I have seen the creek bone dry. Today as it roared with its waterfalls and swift-moving streams…I could not take enough photos and short videos. I wonder what we did prior to our iPhones? So, we look forward to knowing God for ourselves throughout our lives. Now we may believe that the burden of Finding Jesus is his to bear. In point of fact God is beside us and walking with us everywhere that we walk.

Churches are at their zenith when the members of the congregation put arms and legs on the words of Christ. My friend from the United Kingdom writes about York and the Minster in that lovely city. I laughed to myself when she wrote recently about her experiences in York and I sent her the same comment that I had sent her a few weeks past. As I was writing the words I thought that sounds much like what I wrote the last time…but the memories of York and the magnificent Minster stir the same words and thoughts each time they travel through my old brain. I recall feeling as if we were in a bit of a magical and mystical place when we were in York. We literally were next to the Minster and the profound beauty of the edifice inspired me…much as the Cathedral Of Notre Dame in Paris did…when we visited a few years before.

I can feel friendless and lonely and alone…when someone reaches out to me with a kind word or a considerate thought and suddenly…I have found Jesus…once again. Our church has what is called a Laundry Project whereby members of the congregation and other kind souls provide quarters for those who may need them to purchase soap and operate the washers and dryers at our local laundry. Each time someone receives a few quarters for their real and present need of clean clothes…they see Jesus.

When we feel a bit lost and someone says join me for a chat or a cup of tea…or a listen to our thoughts…we have found Jesus…

The church is not complex…it is the simplicity of love. Money and power and political influence have been conflated with Christ…I feel that he must shake his head in wonder and disbelief. The Bible tells us that he was a friend to the friendless and that ‘The common people heard him gladly.’