Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Little Note About Today

Sometimes, it is a very hard thing to put your thoughts in words. I write a lot and still, I’m sure I don’t always say what I mean to say. In the age of social media, it seems that we are being watched closer and scrutinized or even criticized for our random thoughts. Sometimes, just making a quick observation about something can be taken the wrong way. I’ve sort of backed away from constant updates and posts.

I don’t always agree with my friends on facebook. People are often very outspoken on issues I often feel very differently about. I don’t get into debates in these cases. I have “unfriended” people who continually offend me with some kind of narrow-minded obsession.

I’ve had cancer in the past few years. I’ve gone through financial troubles in the past ten years. I’ve gone through some personal things and somehow made it so far. I’ve had to face deaths, some family members had some major health scares and I’ve had to make some big decisions in business. I’m sure I’ve done a few things right and a few things wrong. I managed to secure the old home place for my family. I fixed up the old house a little and it’s even good enough to live in.

We’ve all made mistakes. I’ve made my share. Each time, I was trying to do the right thing but sometimes, the results were not what I expected. I’m not foolish enough to imagine I am finally done with making mistakes.

I’ve really been soul searching for about two years. I’ve changed. I’m growing. I see God in a different way. I see some loved ones in different ways. I took some people off of wobbly pedestals and I’ve tried not to put anyone else upon one. I’m beginning to accept my own mortality. In terms of years, I have more behind than before me. But as for quality, I may have the best ahead.

I haven’t said a lot about Susan. I probably won’t say a lot about her for a while. I’d rather tell this story in retrospect, but I will say that I adore her. She is a very good woman. I’ve looked back over her life while sharing mine with her. Many nights, we’ve sat on Grandma’s glider and we’ve talked for hours. Her story is a lot different than mine. I’ve listened closely for hints of bitterness. She was in love twice before; she has even been happily married twice before. With both husbands, terminal cancer shortened their lives and shortened her time with them, but instead of dwelling on the pain of having to say goodbye to these good men, she talks about how blessed she was to have them in her life. “I could cry because I lost them or smile because I had them.” She says, and it’s not just words. She lives this and she really is grateful in areas where some people might not be. She has taught me a lot.

I fell in love with Susan on our second date. It was Valentine’s Day this year. For us, it wasn’t a romantic night .We went to Dave Poe’s Barbeque and I didn’t even take her any flowers. There were no fireworks that night. It was quiet in her house. We went out to the sun room and she said, “Sit there,” pointing to a recliner, “It was Danny’s chair. You’ll like it.”

She leaned back on a chase lounge across the room. “This is my place.” She said, “I like to just come out here to think.”

We talked a while. She told me all about her new grandson, her daughter, her son-in-law and how proud her first husband would be if he could see what kind of mother his daughter has become. We talked about my life too. I told her about my family and some of my struggles through the years.

In between our conversations, something happened in me. I somehow knew this person. I didn’t feel like I was on a second date. I felt like I was with someone I had known and loved all my life. I was completely at ease. In that moment, I realized I could never be without her. And that’s how it happened for me.

Eight months later, we are getting married; today in fact. In these eight months, I’ve only felt what I felt that night. I’m at ease. She was right; I do like Danny’s chair.

PS Dave Poe’s Barbeque is great.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Brain and God

Trying to take it apart; to defuse it. I want to see what wires I can cut without making it go off.

I heard someone say, “If I hadn’t believed it, I wouldn’t have seen it.”

This is true of the color blue and it’s just as true of me and you. I think the thing we refer to as God is the same thing we refer to as love and that’s just the same as life. All of this is synonymous. We cannot take love out of it. What is happening, as I write with this keyboard and this computer, is God speaking but completely through the thing I think of as me. All expression is inspired. I have got it all wrong when I think that there is a brain in my head that instructs my hands and eyes to put down in writing what it thinks. The truth is that there is a much bigger brain which tells my brain to tell my hands to do what they do. The continuity of it all is liberating. My hands cannot live without me, but I can live without my hands. I am sure I would not like to lose my hands because they seem to make my life easier. But imagine how devastated my hands would be if they lost me. They’d cease. They’d no longer have any kind of life in them. I could plant them in a garden and they’d eventually fade forever from the planet. Even the bones of my hands would eventually turn to dust. Suppose I could live a thousand years beyond my hands. And suppose, within those years, I never grew more hands. Would I be less alive?

This is how God sees me and my beloved brain. “Oh you precious boy; you think you are doing this independent of me. That’s cute.” He might say.

But the thing beyond and greater than myself will be here when I am cut off from this world as an individual.

An indeterminate hypothesis is often referred to as religion and religions want to have the last word. They are there to fill in the gaps left by logic and science. However, if it is what we use to fill in the gaps, there is a very good chance we are wrong. This can be seen clearly by looking back over the centuries and the religions imposed upon each generation.

I’d personally like to remove the fillers and let science fill in the gaps; let the religions fail and then reintroduce religions whenever science fixes a place for them.

In my experience, we’ve only used God as an answer when we had no other answer. We came up with a theory about how the planet got people on it and then came science with a much better answer. By trying to establish God as an engineer, we’ve taken away His credentials. He never put “Engineer” on His own résumé.

If we had left God alone with His poetry, He would have been recognized for it by now, but by insisting that He is a Universe Builder instead, no one is willing to hear His poetry now. They think He said that He made the universe the way Al Gore said he developed the internet.

If I tell you that I made Mt Everest, you would likely not hear me if I say, “You are beautiful and I do love you.”

You’d still be thinking about my claim. You’d want me to go away.

The same thing might happen if one of my friends tell you that they know me. “He is good. He made Mt Everest and he is just a loving person. I know he made Mt Everest because he said so.”

Then you happen to meet me and you’ve already got this idea about me. But maybe I never said that to my friend. Perhaps my friend thought it would impress you if he said all that about Mt Everest and then you’d want to meet me more. But it doesn’t work that way.

I did not create Mt Everest.

You are beautiful and I do love you.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bunch of Pricks

Bunch of Pricks

The old house? Oh, it is so much a part of me now. It is my heart and soul of homes. I’ll never feel like that again in my life and I know it. But perhaps the experience was for a season only. I never realized that while it was happening. I recall feeling so incredibly happy that I had finally found the one place on earth that felt right to me. The sticking doors and squeaking floors were the voices of the departed. I’ve sat where my grandma sat and I’ve contemplated her many hours of peace within that old house. She was also protected there. It was her refuge as surely as it was mine.

I never owned the old house. Even though I owned the experience and I owned the heartbeat, but I might have to move out some day.  

It has taken me a few weeks to get my head around this, but I may have no choice. I began to see the difficulty I might face not long ago. It felt old; it was the same curse that plagued the last generation. The sacredness of the home-place affects everyone deeply, yet the emotions are private for each person affected. I have to remember that the house, the shops, mom’s house and the land means something to several other people on this planet. I’m not the only one who can see the ghosts. I’m not the only one who can go there and feel the warmth of its embrace. It’s easy to become selfish once you’ve been there a while.

I wanted that experience to translate and extend to everyone still living with Della’s blood in their veins, but it is very hard to do while living with the ghosts. We’d get up together each morning and have coffee together. Yes, we would walk the property together. Sometimes, daddy would work with me in the old house, late into the night. I could feel him there. I thought he was smiling while I was cleaning, clearing and rebuilding. I would get lost in a project and the project would seem to be swallowing me whole when suddenly, I would feel daddy nudging me in a new direction and, just as suddenly, the project would begin to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Friends and other family members did a lot to help me there. Bill and I did a lot of the initial cleanup together. Someone would loan me a tool I needed just in time. Neighbors would come over, almost mysteriously, at just the moment when I would need help lifting something. It wasn’t like I’d call them over; they’d just appear at exactly the instant when I was about to take on something too heavy.

In spite of all the opposition I faced in the beginning, I always knew I was on the right path because the doors would simply open as I needed them to. The renovation seemed to go according to plan; yet it really didn’t feel as if it was my plan at all. The ghosts were there all the time. I faced a few pricks along the way, but they didn’t stop progress.

In recent months, things began to change. The garden would barely produce; my gas heaters would not heat the old house and when the weather turned hot, the window units would not cool it. I was fighting termites and drafts. It was still a very glorious home, but I was not comfortable.

I began dreaming up ways to remedy the problem. I thought I’d renovate mom’s house or build another house. Of course I knew I would have to work out a lot of details to make that work, but I had gotten used to working out details. However, the more I tried to keep moving forward, the more the ghosts complained. This could not be the right path. I was faced with way too much opposition. A big yellow sheet of paper with red letter appeared on my back door; “Stop Work” it simply said. Those pricks.

I didn’t see this as my only sign, but rather one of so many signs. All of the doors were closing. The old house patted me on the head and said, “It’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?” I wondered.

This is not what I expected, but that could be said of my last two years. When I ended up in mom’s basement in my 49th year, I looked around and thought, this is not what I expected. When I found a way to clean up the old place and when I found a way to buy it, I thought, this is not what I expected. When I got the old house habitable again, I thought, this is not what I expected. Now that phase is over and I have no idea what happens next; not what I expected.

All of this has been made possible by a series of miracles. I am so grateful. I am a better man. It’s only when I began to think that I had done it all by myself that the miracles ceased. This caused me to scramble for a while. Everything I touched was breaking. I finally got quiet and it began to hit me; it’s not up to me; it never was up to me. The miracles were not my doing.

All I can tell you is that I finally got peace again by accepting my humanness again. None of these things happened because I am good; they happened because they were supposed to happen. I was just one gear in the clock; all of the other functions were simply not me. You might think the opposite to be true, but this has been exactly what I needed to restore my faith. I now realize that whatever happens going forward will be just as miraculous as everything I just experienced; it may not be what I want, but as crazy as it sounds, I still believe there is a path ahead of me, not a jungle where I carve one.

A prick was something like a prod used to move horses, mules or livestock around many years ago. They were a very sharp, spear-like poker and that’s where we get the word “prick”. If an animal didn’t want to feel that pointy prick, it would follow the master’s plan and everything would be okay somehow.

In The Book of Acts, Paul was having a really hard time. Nothing seemed to be going his way. Jesus, with his dry sense of humor, said to Paul, “It’s hard to kick against the pricks isn’t it?”