Chilly April 30
The gentleman at Hucks Gas station and the store told me that he admired my skull ring. He said that he enjoys skull rings but prefers silver ones…mine is stainless steel. Skulls have always intrigued me. They are what we look like without our masks. One of the first things that we learn when we arrive in our lives is that we are all temporary. My colleague was fond of saying that we struggle and strive but we will never get out of this world alive. I enjoy the cool temperatures as I seem to think a bit better when it is brisk.
Great monuments we seek to our skills and passion and accomplishments. Many times we have no idea what we have accomplished in the hearts of others. Each time that I visit Eldorado I am reminded of the wonderful people who started me on the road of education and who were selfless in their pursuit of excellence…for the sake of it. Teachers who insisted that I do it right and not cut corners.
I heard from my dear friend Brent and had my day uplifted. What a kind person he is! I have known my friend since we were both kids and I continue to be amazed at his insight and empathetic perception of his surroundings.
Being a Christian is somewhat like attending school in Eldorado. It is not glossy or filled with a laugh a minute or even a provider of the feeling of an electric shock going up your spine. It is slow and plodding with a sense of purpose and place and the humbling of lifelong learning.
No matter the excitement of the moment…you can trust that there will be many that are not so invigorating. Yet…they are all powerful and another block in the wall of…you…
‘Hope differed maketh the heart sick but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life.’
Most of us are people seeking balance. We are neither leaning over the left of our boat nor the right…we are sitting in the middle to ensure that it does not sink.
Ghosts are part of our lives. We may have a different definition of ghosts…but they are there…just around the corner. My friend Richard reminded me of ‘Ghosts from our past’; in fact, our past is an integral part of our present. We fashion our future from the jigsaw edges of our experiences.
‘I am certain that was Rosebud,’ Neva J. exclaimed! ‘Where was she when you saw her,’ Billy B. asked? ‘She was ahead of us in Giant City Woods this morning…When she looked around at me she grinned and motioned for me to follow her into a deeper section of the Wood,’ Neva J. said. ‘Have you ever met Rosebud,’ Chet asked Billy B? ‘No but I have heard much about her,’ he replied.
‘I do not think there is a sadder time than the death of your mother,’ Neva J. said. ‘Perhaps on par with that type of sadness is the death of your child,’ Jane offered. ‘Rosebud looks that same with her beautiful hair and glowing skin and dancing eyes,’ Neva J. said with a tear in her eye. ‘I have asked her why she does not visit more often and she told me that she is never far as she is next to the last of our lineage…I am the last,’ Neva J. said. At times we enjoy a glass of wine together and we laugh and laugh at her jokes,’ she continued. ‘Rosebud told me to call her Rose B. in honor of her maturity, Chet said. ‘So you have seen Rosebud recently,’ asked Billy B.? ‘Why yes…she sits behind me in class…you know the pretty blond-haired girl who is always smiling and is a bit shy,’ Chet said with some disbelief that Billy B. did not know the girl’s name.
‘Rose B. told me that she would be joining us on the nature hike at Giant City today in honor of her and Neva J.’s mom…Grace,’ Chet said. ‘I noticed that when we all took a trip to Hickory Hill Cemetery that next to Grace’s headstone was a small stone with only the name…Rosebud on it…’ Jane said in a hoarse whisper…
When Did It Change
‘I have that new sweetener for your coffee, Dad,’ Billy B. said with a smile. ‘I have prepared some fried eggs and country ham along with hash brown potatoes…because I know that you love them, he continued. I saw a Harley on the street the other day and I thought of you…I have purchased a motorcycle jacket just like yours and a cap to match, Billy B. continued.
‘Hit the deck you rubberneck,’ Neva J. gleefully called out! ‘I have to make Dad another pot of coffee before I go…he loves his coffee,’ Billy B. responded. ‘Dad will be fine…now hurry or you will miss your bus,’ Neva J. admonished.
‘I tell you my Dad is an expert Harley Davidson rider…Evil Kenevil has nothing on him,’ Billy B. told Chet. ‘I would love to see your Dad’s motorcycle,’ Jane said. ‘I will have him drive it to school and do some tricks with it,’ Billy B. laughed. ‘Will your Dad join you for the Father and Son Potatosack Race next week,’ asked Chet. ‘He most certainly will be joining me…we have been practicing for a month,’ Billy B. noted with a wicked grin.
‘Dad I am happy that you sleep on the top bunk of my trundle bed each night…but doesn’t Mom miss you,’ Billy B. asked? ‘Her tears seem to cloud her vision a bit…I will hang out with you until she is feeling better…’
‘Schools out…schools out…teacher let the monkeys out,’ Billy B. sang. ‘Another month…and it will start getting hot in the classrooms,’ Chet observed. ‘May is the beginning of summer for me,’ Jane laughed. ‘There will be some half days in the end,’ Chet added. ‘Let us have a May Day Celebration,’ Daryl proclaimed! ‘You know with the May Pole and the streamers and the dancing and singing and a picnic on the ground,’ Daryl laughed a hearty guffaw. ‘We can gather wildflowers and green garlands and fashion a crown for the May Queen…and I will be a candidate for the honor,’ Jane exulted!
‘We must have a bonfire when it gets dark…and we will have Morris Dancing as I remember from my days in England,’ Daryl said. ‘We will have bell pads for our shins…and sticks and handkerchiefs to wave as we dance…and two clay tobacco pipes,’ Daryl winked. ‘What about the Hobby Horse…we can not forget the Hobby Horse,’ Neva J. said with a wide smile.
The May Day Festivities were awesome! The Morris Dancing was so intricate that Chet disappeared during the performance. Neva J. had brought the Merlot and it was as well received as the Meade that The Wiz had provided. ‘Has anyone seen Chet…he was dancing with the Morris Dancers and suddenly he was no longer there,’ Billy B. asked the group? ‘I noticed that he had a peculiar look on his face as if he was in another time…and his costume did not look hand sewn but original to the ones that I have seen in museums in Wales and Yorkshire,’ Daryl said with some concern. ‘Have you another pint of Meade for a thirsty dancer,’ said Billy B. to Neva J. ‘It is almost time for the crowning of the May Day Queen’ said Jane…’ and I think that I have got a good chance of winning the vote.’
The bonfire was warm and brilliant on a cool May Day evening. Jane had won and she began to ascend to the wicker throne…and have the wreath placed upon her head. Suddenly it became pitch black dark to the extent that you could not see your hand in front of your face…and then the bonfire reignited to a ferocious glow. There stood Chet behind Jane as he placed the laurel wreath upon her head…and they disappeared…
Hands intrigue me. I notice people’s hands wherever I go. Hands contain a wealth of knowledge. For many years I was afflicted with sweaty palms when it came time to shake hands. Between church and work it seemed that there was always a need to grab my fellow companions’ hands and…pump. Prior to the ritual, I would do everything to attempt to dry them…but as I looked out of the corner of my eye to see the person with whom I had just clasped hands…dry their hands on their garment…I knew that I had not succeeded. One day the perspiring hands went away…about the time that I retired.
The hands of the elderly are full of their lives message. You can see the care that they have given their family and the toil of their life. I had a cologne container from Avon many years ago that when it became empty I saved it…as it was a hand. The Bible likens a hand to the fivefold ministry of God. Most Christian faiths regard the hands as significant to ordination and baptism.
‘And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stops thee not.’ I Kings 18:44
What is more precious than a little baby extending its hands to be picked up by its mother? Or, how about the hands that give a cool drink of water to the thirsty.
The office or white-collar worker may have smooth hands while the blue-collar worker’s hands are rough and calloused. Hands hold deep meaning. They are tools for caring for ourselves and for our families. Jesus told Thomas to place his fingers in the holes of his crucified hands.
He sat on the street of New York City. He was blind and homeless and he had fashioned a sign that said, ‘You may curse me for $1. Some tourists fresh out of the Broadway Theatres and on their way to a fine New York dinner…did just that and they laughed and the blind man laughed a hollow chuckle. Suddenly a kind voice spoke. ‘How long have you been blind…my friend?’ ‘I was born this way…good sir…have you an epitaph for me…I am part of the great unwashed and unnoticed and unloved…’ He put his hands under his arms and lifted him up to a standing position. ‘Come to my house and I will make you dinner and there is a hot bath…and a clean and warm bed for you to lay your head on,’ he said. ‘But I am loathed by the multitude and those with resources see me as dysfunctional and lazy and feel that they are enabling me to rely on charity…but is a sore manner to be enabled as children spit on me and some kick me…many do not pay the dollar after they have sworn at me and reviled me,’ the blind man said in little more than a whisper. ‘Not today…I have a job for you in my business and your demonstrated communication skills and ingenuity have illustrated to me that you are just the man for the job,’ he said.
‘I am reluctant to ask…but are you Jesus,’ the Blind Man asked? ‘I am you…and you are me,’ he said with tears in his eyes…
Wind fascinates me. You can not see it but you can witness its effects. We have been experiencing a lot of wind in our neck of the woods for some time. However this evening it is almost still. Our unseen force called wind governs much of our lives. It has been said that politicians place their finger in the wind to determine which way it is blowing and thus what their political agenda will be.
Wind can devastate and destroy. The ferocity of its wrath is unparalleled in our physical world. Wind can also calm the savage beast and humankind alike with a gentle brush against our cheek. God’s love may be likened to a gentle breeze.
Winds of change are real. We travel from day to day believing that we are the ‘Master of our ship and the Captain of our souls,’ when indeed we are riding on the Wind Of Our Life. At times we wonder how we got to the place where we find ourselves. How did some relationships end abruptly while others blossomed like the Rose of Sharon in the desert? How did we set out to do one thing and wind up doing something completely different?
As a young man, I wanted to be a minister. In a few years, I found myself a manager/administrator at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and had the unique opportunity to help people succeed as we kept the camps immaculate.
At first, the wind can be a bit frightening because it sneaks up on you…you can not see it. If we can learn to follow its currents we will find that it is moving us into a safe harbor and a shelter from the storm.
As G.K. Chesterton told us, ‘We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea…and we owe each other a terrible loyalty…’
Adoration can take many forms. MJ and I attended the artist Carolyn Hollabaugh’s Art Opening at Fellowship Hall of First Presbyterian Church in Carbondale. The show is entitled Watercolor Aplenty. Carolyn’s Art is mesmerizing. I soon heard a soft voice say ‘Jay’ and there was Carolyn coming over to greet me as well as complimenting me on my photography. What a high compliment from such a wonderful artist! As I observed Ro and Lisa, her daughter, assist Carolyn in her show I thought what a loving family.
Seek we do the objects of our affection. Whether it is literature or fine art or theatre or a sense of place. We long for home and the warm feelings of belonging and being wanted and even needed. We adore our faith but indeed faith of necessity takes physical form. Painters illustrate the majesty of God and his intricate and unusual creation. A painting can reveal the depths of emotion and pleasure and even the pain of our human experience.
Painting is communication. We have a small window into the artist’s soul. We see the world through their eyes. We feel what they were feeling when they painted a work of art. We adore the beautiful humanity and the glorious depiction of the Secret…that is life.
As I am enjoying my halcyon days I have bonded with our home…Earth. It dawned on me a few years ago that I am outside much of my waking hours. Everything about nature intrigues me. What at one time was in the background of my thoughts has taken center stage. As I was driving to the Woods this morning I saw a parade of Wild Turkeys crossing the road in front of me. As the Blues Brothers were fond of saying…’They were on a mission from God.’
I took our home for granted…a bit during my younger years. There was money to be made and places to go and people to see and things to do…and after all, Earth had been here before me and no doubt would be here after I am gone. The majesty that surrounded me was the landscape of my next adventure…but it seldom entered the foreground.
Earth is somewhat sad at our neglect. Ask our friends about the animals. Extinction is rampant. The polar bears have no where to lay their weary heads…and we are next…
A sense of place is what we all seek. That quest is hard to realize if our feet are in water while we are at church or the theatre or at home. If you have never experienced this unique situation…visit Venice.
It is in our nature to love those who love us. Earth has shown us, love, since the day we were born…
My Kind Of Town
It was going to be an excellent performance. Steve had prepared the marionettes for days and each one knew their role. Since the Christmas Play at Steve and Susie’s house, they had been hidden away over the entire winter. A few of the puppets did not like the staring role that Santa Claus had taken…but the title was…The Night Before Christmas. ‘And what about our Annual Easter Performance…did I miss that…,’ said Peter Rabbit? ‘You know that is the highlight of my entire year,’ PR continued. ‘If you ask me Steve and Susie seem a bit secretive lately,’ Judy whispered. ‘I am afraid I do not know what it is but something is happening in the Human World,’ Punch agreed.
‘Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country,’ JFK intoned with a smile on his face. ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President…uh…oh shit,’ Marilyn sang as Jackie smacked her with her designer handbag. ‘Marilyn…let me say…you still look good even after my wife hit you,’ JFK winked. ‘Let us do the Cuban Missle Crisis as a production of our own…no Steve or Susie…our own casting and direction…with a twist,’ JFK asked with a wicked smile. ‘It was my finest hour…I have heard said, he continued. ‘We will capture you without firing a shot…we are so far ahead of you in the space race that all you can see is the contrails of our rockets,’ Kruscheve bellowed! ‘Now Mr. Premier…you know that we have already beaten you in the Nuclear Arms Race and will soon be victorious in Vietnam, McNamara said. ‘We have only begun to fight,’ Little Kruscheve said as he removed his tiny shoe and began to hit the desk with it.
Opening night for The Cuban Missile Crisis Redux had arrived. In the audience were Steve and Susie and Ivy and Jim and Neva J. and Billy B. and Jane and Chet. ‘Are you certain that you know your lines,’ McNamara asked Kruscheve? ‘Yes I know my lines and yours,’ he responded with a huff. ‘Why is Marilyn here…she was not in the original Play,’ Jackie asked JFK. ‘I enjoy her perfume,’ he said.
Suddenly nuclear missiles began to fly across the night sky. Someone had misjudged. Brinksmanship had gone over the Brink… The humans were gone…and the Marionettes…slept in their beds…
A Storm Is Coming
There is little debate in the United States that storms and tornados last longer and are more devasting than in the past. It is windy today but then again is it windy most days of late. I met a gentleman in the woods today that agreed with me that it had been windier here the past couple of years…but he was quite certain that humans had nothing to do with the problem. In my youth, you might be able to avoid a tornado but their cone was small…while today they can be a mile wide and stay on the ground for upwards of an hour. ‘But what about the Ice Age,’ my Woods Friend asked.
It has been said, ‘Guns do not kill people…people kill people.’ ‘The cavemen and cavewomen killed each other with a rock,’ semiautomatic weapon defenders will tell us. Yes, but not very quickly…
‘We must have any and all guns to defend ourselves against intruders into our homes…and to protect our Second Amendment way of life,’ we say. ‘Stand your ground,’ the Old Man thought as he shot the young African American who was ringing his doorbell…
‘Books are bad…remove the books from school…prohibit them from being read,’ The Governor said. There is one way to think and to hell with the damnable humans who do not accept the One Right Way!
The Old Man Of The Woods said that the storm warnings are very good these days. Rome was the most prosperous country of its day. Its political power reached across the seas. Nero was quite a musician. He could smell the smoke…he felt the heat…and he continued to perform his masterpiece…as nothing was more important than the recognition of his supreme abilities…