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Archive for September, 2015

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“Forewordfinally…find enduring use in the service of the One, Eternal God.

What an appropriate charge, and an indirect testimonial, as well.

I was asked to be at an event today, and accordingly arrived very early.   Truth be told, I was going even before I was asked.   In the waiting moments, I found myself reading the forward section of the above pictured hymnal, and remembering the life of a friend.

Beyond the forward of this volume, there is the index.      Songs old and new are listed by author, by composer, by tune, by meter, by title, and by common name.

Songs from Europe.    Songs from Asia.    Songs from the American frontier.    Songs from those displaced by the American experience who would not return to their African heritage.

Songs written by priests.    Songs written by businessmen, and women.   Songs written by former slaves.

Songs written around 500 AD.    Songs written in the 1,700’s.     Songs written before my lifetime.   Songs written after my children were born.

A song too new to be included in this book now comes to mind:

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

Let my lifesong sing to You
Let my lifesong sing to You
I want to sign Your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to You *

Within these lyrics is a representation of a man I went to remember today.     While only known to me for but a few months, I counted him a friend.    I now understand he said the same of me to some whom he loved.

This man was a father, a grandfather, a dedicated former employee, and a faithful volunteer.   The tools shown above represent but a few of the things he was adept at using.     Most importantly, he was a child of God.

Within the songbook are tales of faith and failure, fatigue and faithfulness.   There is a saying that “God is faithful, and we are thankful”.    That is true, and faith legacies in this regard old and new are shared within its pages.

My new friend passed quickly and unexpectedly within the past few days.     As we carried his body to be laid to rest today, I was reminded of what a true legacy of faith is all about, both from him and from poets, lyricists, and fellow mere mortals around the world from centuries of following the calling of our Creator.

May the tools of his trade and theirs last me a lifetime, and those who follow after me, to find enduring use in the service of the One, Eternal God.

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing…

*Lifesong” lyrics by Casting Crowns

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What hath Jobs wrought?

  I was sitting in traffic one day this past summer when a man ran down the middle of the highway right past the window of my stationary vehicle and headlong into the flow of oncoming traffic from the other direction.   A heavy set man, he was adorned in rumpled gray sweats and flip flops, and he ran furiously down the road waving his iPhone above his head.   As I watched him in near disbelief, the legacy of the famed Steve Jobs came to mind, as did others  of significant accomplishments past.   I think they’re all dead now.

“What hath God wrought” is famously attributed to Samuel Morse at the birth of his telegraph in 1844, but comes from the Bible in Numbers‬ ‭23:23‬ and is more clearly translated today as “It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’”

This phrase rattled through my mind for days or even weeks as I contemplated the behavior of that man in traffic, as well as myself and countless others as our lives and our behaviors are influenced by or even revolve around that thing we call the iPhone.   I’m typing these words on one right now.

Steve Jobs had a hand in the invention of many things, as did Samuel Morse and many others who went before him.  That day sitting in traffic, I happened to be in Yellowstone National Park, enjoying the natural surroundings of the original “Great Inventor” if you will allow me to say, and watching in disbelief at the way people behaved in one of our nation’s few remaining places that could be called truly wild.   All along the way, I wondered what the experience would be like if there were no iPhones.

No GPS.  No calling or texting to find out where our loved ones were. Fewer pictures being taken.   Fewer failed attempts to manage all the things I just mentioned.

I almost forgot to mention “selfies”.   There would be no selfies.   One of the biggest impacts or Mr. Jobs legacy is the way we take pictures of ourselves and other living things around us with near disregard for decorum or danger.   The world is not Disneyland, although we often seek to make it just so.

  
Speaking of Disney, I’ve spent the past two evenings watching a fascinating ‭‭account of his life and legacy on the PBS series “The American Experience”. 

One of the tag lines of the series is “Where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going”.   Touché.

Mr. Disney wanted to make a name for himself.   So did Mr. Jobs, I would assume.   Both struggled, succeeded in great ways, and then struggled some more on their way to the next success.   Then they died, as did Mr. Morse, and King James, and King Solomon, and King David before him.   The list could go on and on.

Mr. Disney even thought enough of himself to have his head cryogenically frozen, or so it is said. I assume it remains there today.

Life is more than a great big selfie.   In the end, people may see and recall who we are, who we were, or where we ultimately went.   Or, they may not.   

The important thing is that you struggle through, get up when you fall down, and fall you will, and keep on going.   The world will be a better place in ways big or in ways small from your best efforts.

And I might add, if you take a selfie or two or post a few words on your blog along the way as evidence of what you personally “wrought” as a small part of God’s creation, so be it.    I might do the same.

I’ve got the iPhone to prove it.  😜

  

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Roll with the changes?

  
I have a good friend from years gone by who is quite active and random in his reminiscing via social media.  

He likely, rightfully, could/should say the same about me.   Touché, indeed.

So this morning, I found my reaction to his post oddly poignant.   It seems a music personality from my youth passed away in the past day or so.   While there is nothing that special to my life about the man who passed, the online tributes from his longtime friend and fellow band mate Kevin Cronin were oddly touching, and I found myself going to YouTube to hear his guitar and these lyrics once more:


I knew it had to happen

Felt the tables turnin’

Got me through my darkest hour

I heard the thunder clappin’

Felt the desert burnin’

Until you poured on me

Like a sweetsun shower. 


So if you’re tired of the

Same old story

Turn some pages

I’ll be here when you are ready

To roll with the changes
Roll with the changes

I’ll admit it’s odd, but I could not shake the tune or the reflections even as I stepped out later for a brisk walk.   This man called Gary didn’t appear to have aged all that well, at least from a worldly perspective.   And yet, there he was in older age and clearly lesser physical condition holding his guitar and apparently remaining active in something he loved.

  
I returned from said walk to an evening of empty nest movie watching with my Little Frau of 26+ years, and we oddly it seems picked a flick about a woman who never ages, The Age of Adaline.

The online critics can describe it better than me:

A sensitively directed slab of romantic hokum that wrings an impressive amount of emotional conviction from a thoroughly ludicrous premise.

And there you have it.   Such is life?   I hope so.   An impressive amount of emotional conviction from a thoroughly ludicrous premise.

Bring it on life, and Little Frau, or Mrs Douglas, or whatever you want to answer to.

Green Acres is the place for me, as long as it means growing old next to you…

  

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There’s a change in the air.   Can you feel it?

It’s Dove Season in Oklahoma.   The first cold front of significance is bearing down on us as we speak.   I think we are ready.

It’s also “empty nest” season in these parts.   “Birds of pray” are flying out and about, and from here in the increasingly quiet hacienda, pray we will.

  
Little Frau and I spent this Labor Day weekend doing just that, laboring, and adjusting for our new life together, and without.   As I was off temporarily storing some items early this morning, I couldn’t help but recall the words to an old Pink Floyd tune “all in all its just another brick in the wall“, and I texted said lyrical thoughts to our eldest up north.

As her smile emoji reply was coming in, another tune was playing over the car radio, and I was reminded how much we have to say “grace” over, and for: 

When all is taken away, don’t let my heart be changed.Let me always sing Hallelujah

And when I feel afraid, don’t let my hope be erased

Let me always sing (let me always sing),

Let me always sing,

Hallelujah 

Here’s my broken,

Hallelujah 

It’s oddly fitting that these words are sung by people who call themselves “The Afters”.

After the air changes, and all the old costumes, chairs, and bicycles are sorted and stored, we have much to be thankful for.

Broken or mended.   

Walled in or exposed.

Afraid or unafraid.

Let me always sing “Hallellujah“.

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2033: not too long…

  
“Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?” [Dramatic pause] “Well, that’s too long!” 

A friend that is close to my age recently posted results from a social media quiz about the year in which he would die, and how.   The prediction of 2033 was admittedly sad and a bit sobering, and I was tempted to see the prediction for my own “date of demise”.

The prediction was admittedly sobering and a bit sad: 2053.   Yes, this exercise of scientifically deficient and psychologically questionable value told me the ripe old age of 87 was in my future.

I set my large bowl of ice cream down (seriously) and shared the news with my Little Frau.   After chastising me for the temporary fascination with death, she reassured me that the website was probably more right than not, if I can continue to shake my nocturnal fascinations with peanut butter and the aforementioned homestyle vanilla.   I digress.

Within the sum of this all lies a point, somewhere deep within, hopefully.

In what would serve as my final engaged conversation with my father, he told me to be faithful in getting medical check ups.   I responded that I expected to fall off a mountain before I could fall ill from disease, a response that was an ill attempt at humor on many levels.

Which brings me to my concluding thoughts for today.   A colleague shared an excerpt from Psalm 90 on the whiteboard outside her room at our school this week.   Reading it again, as if for the first time, touched my soul as only the expressed Spirit of God truly could. 

I suddenly recalled that it matters not whether it is to be 2033 or 2053, nor does the ability to control that outcome truly lie within my ability to influence.    The date is known only to our Father who art in Heaven, and His will be done…

Psalm 90:1-17 Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were born,before you gave birth to the earth and the world,from beginning to end, you are God. You turn people back to dust, saying,“Return to dust, you mortals!” For you, a thousand years are as a passing day,as brief as a few night hours. You sweep people away like dreams that disappear.  They are like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered. We wither beneath your anger;we are overwhelmed by your fury. You spread out our sins before you—our secret sins—and you see them all. We live our lives beneath your wrath,ending our years with a groan. Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty.  But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble;soon they disappear, and we fly away. Who can comprehend the power of your anger?  Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve. Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. O Lord, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approvaland make our efforts successful.  Yes, make our efforts successful! 

“Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve read from Psalm 90?” [Dramatic pause] “Well, that’s too long!” 

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