Each year on the day after Thanksgiving, we time travel to Charles Dickens…A Christmas Carol…via St. Charles, Missouri. This has been a holiday tradition for well over 20 years in the Brooks home. One year we did not go…and Aaron and Jonathon let us know of their displeasure. There is, Pierre Noel, and Father Christmas, and Santa Claus…alongside Tiny Tim, Scrooge and Bob Cratchit. There is a colorful parade that marches down the cobblestone street, that has soldiers and drummers and Santa’s elves.
We have been visiting Jansens Clocks, each year, since our first sojourn into the magical world of St. Charles. Nine clocks later …our house has been transformed into our own clock shop. We enjoy a delicious Reuben Sandwich at Bradden’s Restaurant. On Black Friday, there is a generous and kind red headed lady that is the bartender. Each year I order Grand Mariner…and she pours me a triple…or more! I then, being in the Christmas spirit, order another! After that we visit my favorite Bookstore; Main Street Books. This unique shop reminds me of the book store in the 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie, You’ve Got Mail. Emily, who is the owner of the compelling literary cornucopia…has the personality and ability to cause you to want to read something new and different and to take an intellectual journey.
Emily and her wonderful colleagues, simply, bring the books to life and their familiarity with the content of them…causes the words to jump off of the page for the lucky reader! They can be found @ mainstreetbooks.indielite.org.
Main Street has, temporarily, closed it’s doors for the pandemic, but they have a vibrant and efficient on-line presence. I have, already ordered 5 books…and I probably will order more. This quaint shop is important to me and my son Jonathon, who first pointed out the beauty of their bibliophile enrichment to me…several years ago.
I just received my first order of 3 books from Emily at Main Street Books, and she enclosed a handwritten post card thanking me for my patronage and wishing me good health and safety. You will go far and wide and not find such personal and considerate customer service as what Emily exhibits on a person by person basis!
Jonathon just walked out on to the porch, where I do my warm weather writing, and told me that he is preparing to order another book, a science fiction selection entitled, Lagoon, from Emily at Main Street Books. And…she even sends a book mark with every selection!
Books are the fabric that connects us in our present pandemic distress. Main Street Books, in St. Charles, Missouri, is a purveyor of peace…
The Earth Renews
As I enjoyed my daily stroll across campus, today, I considered that our Earth is engaged in it’s annual spring renewal, irrespective of our pandemic. The trees are resplendent with their blossoms. Squirrels are playing and frisky in their antics. They have always been comfortable on the campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…but they are additionally so..due to the lack of humans in the way of their happy antics. Today was cool and pleasant…and it had that, certain feeling, of promise and hope and renewal of life!
I enjoyed a few puffs of my wonderful Christmas gift from Aaron, my Christmas pipe, in my automobile. Remember, we are on a stay at home order due to the coronavirus, and I was on my way to Walmart for needed groceries…which is permissible…from necessity. I though of friends and family and suffering and joy. MJ and I have a dear friend…
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As I was driving to my walk, this afternoon, I noticed a group of young men who were jogging…and not social distancing. It is funny how I noticed this, now oddity, when not long ago the close pact group of athletes would have appeared normal and uneventful. They ran with the unabashed abandon of the invincible.
‘Dozens of choir members became ill after a rehearsal earlier this month in Mount Vernon. According to Skagit County Public Health, 60 members of Skagit Valley Chorale met on March 10. Within several days, 45 members became ill, 28 tested positive for COVID-19, and 17 members did not get tested but had consistent symptoms. Two people in their 80’s died.’ Q13 Fox
‘The city of Lynchburg is furious.
‘We had a firestorm of our own citizens who said, ‘What’s going on?’ said Treny Tweedy, the mayor.’
‘Some Liberty officials accuse alarmed outsiders of…
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This morning our church had a ‘Zoom’ worship service. What a joy to see our friends doing well, in their homes. The Spanish flu, pandemic, occurred from January 1918 – December 1920. ‘It infected 500 million people-about a quarter of the world’s population at the time.’ Wikipedia. Zoom and other social streaming programs are a tremendous […]
I read, today, of a university student taking in a homeless person, to stay the night, due to the individual not being able to find admittance in our cities homeless shelters. This wonderful person noted that the shelter seeker… was her ‘neighbor,’ according to the scriptures.
Jonathon told me of an article where a minister attested that God was good in that the coronavirus was only killing 1% of those that contracted it. I wonder what the minister would say if his loved ones were members of the 1%? By the way…why does God get the blame?
There is a popular school of thought, in certain religious circles, that some suffer due to their wayward and sinful ways. Inherent in this doctrine is the caveat that if you follow the teachings of the church or sects, leader, you will flourish…while others are the chaff of the wheat from the threshing floor…or the dross from the refinement of silver. The exclusionary doctrine is tepid and cold comfort to the adherents of the ‘us against them’ philosophy.
There has never been a time, in the majority of our lives, like this time. The unseen enemy that we are fighting is no respecter of persons or rank or religious affiliation. From the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the heir to the British Monarchy…to United States Senators and members of Congress…to our beloved American actor, Tom Hanks, we are all in this together.
Our first responders…are not boasting of their accomplishments…they are to exhausted…and afraid. Nurses who have no choice but to wear the same face mask, all day, and wash it out and bleach it…in order to have a semblance of protection…while they work to save our lives…are demonstrating profound love!
I spent my career in housekeeping services at Southern Illinois University@ Carbondale. I know of the courage and love that our custodial staffs across the world are demonstrating as they disinfect and protect us from the coronavirus!
As Jonathon and I were standing in line at our local supermarket, yesterday afternoon, I noticed that management had installed a plastic shield that partially protected the cashiers from human contact with the customers as they rang up their sale totals. However, the shield offered no protection when it was time to pay for the purchases and receive your change and receipt.
Our state governors are, often, the leaders in the United States effort to combat the pandemic. To discuss political persuasions and to categorize their extreme and herculean efforts according to political likes and dislikes…is obscene.
Grandma Askew, spoke to me when I was a child, and talked of coming plagues and pestilences and drought and famine. As I read the Bible I noted that the theme of all of the scripture writers…was love. We engage in social distancing…from love for the members of our human family.
‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ I Corinthians 13: 1-7 NIV
Please enjoy a wonderful Jonathon Brooks, Blog!
The secret to having friends is to make the first move. If I aim to be a friend, or friendly, to my fellow life traveler then perhaps they will return the favor of friendship. We all want friends. Although we don’t all want to boldly initiate the first move.
I am an introvert in an extroverted world. I’ve worked hard throughout my lifetime to be more outgoing. The desire to be kind and make the world a better place has caused me to be more extroverted than I ever could’ve imagined as a boy. If I would have always stayed in a shell of shyness my life would not be what it currently is. My life wouldn’t be as rich or as full of love and friendships. For this I am thankful to be an extroverted introvert.
Kindness is a king of the virtues. Mean is no way to live…
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Love is the answer.
Several words that are used to describe our profound emotions as we travel the long and curving path of life, are difficult to describe. We often say that we love someone or something or someplace, and yet if hard pressed to elaborate regarding about what it is that caused us to use that powerful word…we find it a bit like attempting to capture a beautiful cloud before it changes and morphs into something else. I see love when I see our nurses and doctors risk their lives to care for us during our pandemic. They work countless hours…often without the proper personal protective equipment…knowing that they have a great potential of contracting the disease.
Many times I have been comforted by a fellow traveler and made to feel less afraid of what I was facing and secure in the courage of their kind words…to only understand later that they were…
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Jonathon and I were in the drive thru of the SIU Credit Union, this morning, when what do I hear, but a friendly voice call out, ‘Hello there, Jay Brooks!’ When I looked around to see who was so jubilant, there were our friends Jane and Bill. They looked like two college kids on spring break with their wide smiles and happy demeanor. Just having the opportunity to be exposed to their kind conversation and smiling faces…placed my ship on course… for the day.
As we walked the beautiful campus of Southern Illinois University, we saw some wonderful volunteers who were receiving donations for the university’s Food Pantry. Cars would drive up with their donations and hand the food to the caring people.
MJ said that our friends from London, Jeff and Margo, called us today and that she had a lovely conversation with Margo. We have been friends for nearly 50 years. It appears that they are confined to their flat as we are confined to our home, due to the coronavirus. I love the United Kingdom, and London is a wonder! Each time that we have news from our UK friends…it makes my day!
Brody, our 16 year old Boston Terrier, went for his hydrotherapy this afternoon. Our Veterinarian’s office has a, wise, social distancing policy…whereby we stayed in our car and telephoned, and one of their marvelous technicians came out and took Brody in for his, as he calls it, Peanut Butter Therapy. The young woman even sent MJ a photo of Brody as he tread water with his tongue extended as far out of his mouth as possible to obtain the motivation for his exercise…the peanut butter!
This evening, Jonathon and I have a church board meeting to attend via, a streaming service called Zoom. It will be a new experience for us both, and another change in the way that we do things…in our efforts to halt the spread of the virus.
Happiness is not just a warm puppy, but the human connection that we have with our friends both near and far. When the days seem desperately dark…look around for a fellow traveler…holding a candle…to light your pathway.
As I walked the Campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, today, I was struck with the profound beauty of the picturesque blue sky…an azure sky. Although the state of Illinois is on a stay at home order, issued by our Governor, we are allowed to; walk, run, or hike, outside our homes. Campus is an ideal place to facilitate social distancing…as I seldom see another human. I was thrilled to hear my name called out and when I turned to see who was greeting me…there was my friend Sarah and her distinguished dog.
We are living, in real time, in a pandemic. People are dying. The United States has just experienced it’s deadliest 24 hours. This is someone’s mom…or dad…or sister…or brother…or grandmother…or grandfather. Lives have, already, been inalterably altered…forever.
When fiction and ‘Tall Tales’…bump their head against the hard tungsten steel of facts…the fanciful narratives evaporate like fog…
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A Rummikub marathon marks MJ and my 42nd anniversary. She won five games and Jonathon won, one. I think that I was second place, once. Life has changed in the past 42 years. For one thing…I am no longer 20 years old. I recall being in a meeting with my friend, former Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard, where he briefed the University constituency heads regarding the dangers of the SARS virus, and the potential for a virulent pandemic…and how SIUC would respond to it. I ruminated regarding what it would be like to live through a worldwide pandemic similar to the pandemic of 1918.
‘In 1918, a new influenza virus emerged. During the same time period World War I was taking place. The conditions of World War I (overcrowding and global troop movement) helped the 1918 flu spread. The vulnerability of healthy young adults and lack of vaccines and treatments created a major public health crisis, causing at least 50 million deaths worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States.’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
MJ reminded me that 42 years ago, this morning, I and my best friend, Steve, enjoyed breakfast with my mom in Eldorado, Illinois. I was so excited to soon become married to Mary Jane. I could not believe my good fortune. I do not remember being nervous..probably because I was to young to know better? I remember wanting to continue to be involved in christian service…and perhaps to become a minister, and to succeed in a career in order to help provide my new bride with a good life.
MJ was a school teacher and I was a janitor. I hoped that I could measure up? Needless to say…God has been very kind to me throughout the past four, plus, decades. I was just thinking that we should take a trip to celebrate our 42nd…and we shall once the virus has passed us by.
Now is a stellar time to reflect on where we have been…and where we are going. What is important to us? ‘Where there is life…there is hope!’ Political party and prejudice and peccadillos…melt away in the face of our shared humanity. We all want Dr. Anthony Fauci to speak to us every day! We all want the scientific and medical leadership of our leading immunologist and the Center for Disease Control.
Life has been the most harrowing and tighten-your-grip…white knuckle roller coaster ride since March 24, 1978. Often the view has been awe inspiring and at other times, the hairpin curves caused me to feel that I was going to fall out of my seat… But, after each challenge…I am changed…softened and more accepting and more reflective on the miracle of life…and the joys of the path back to Jerusalem.
So, soon, Jonathon will go and pick-up our called in curb-side delivery of our dinners from one of our favorite, local, restaurants, Hunan. We will enjoy the delicious cuisine and plan our futures…43 is just…next year…