Here’s an unused piece of the communion message that will be posted next Sunday.
Sometimes things aren’t what they appear. My grandpa used to have a cane that he never used to help him walk. What he used to use it for, when he was younger, was showing pigs. It was solid enough to give a pig a good whack, and I guess it looked snazzy in the show ring back in the 19-teens. Another cool cane was one like John Steed had on the old T.V. show, the Avengers. Whenever he’d get in a fix, he’d pull the handle and out would come a cool little sword and he’d slice his way out of trouble. As I get older, the kind of cane that I would like, would be one with a button that you would push and a soap box would pop out and I could step up on it and begin delivering my opinions to the masses.
Funny, now that I’m five years older I’m less interested in delivering my opinions to the masses. Now I just wish I had a cane that would make other people shut up with their opinions. I guess I could use either grandpa’s or Steed’s cane for that.
Maybe they are; maybe they’re not. It’s really in the eye of the beholder I guess. But I do know this. Of all the things we were allowed to play in, on, around, and with when we visited the farm, two things were forbidden, and one of those things was the pigs. (The other was the power take off.) As we approached the farm in the family car, these forbiddings were accompanied with a plethora of gruesome stories, starting with farmer Jones who was chased into the corner rafters of his hog barn by a band of crazed sows, and he’d be there still if his wife hadn’t come looking for him; and ending with the tragic tale of old man Wilson who wasn’t so lucky, who bravely fought them off for as long as he could, but was finally overcome, trampled, chewed up, and digested by his frenzied swine. Nothing was left of him but his wedding ring. (Someone should write a ballad.) So we pretty much left the hogs alone. After all, there was still the barn, silo, pond, manure spreader, other implements, electric fence, three-wheelers, cousins, and acres of pasture to play with and explore. What could happen?
Sometimes you just have to create, man! It’s the search for inspiration that can be a drag. But if yo work hard enough, if you push yourself through that wall, you’ll find it. It may be sketching a crayon box, then realizing that all those colors equals love, and love love love love all over the place, until it leads you, finally to the most important love of all, and the inspiration to an amazing piece of art, the love that a girl has for her special boy, in this case, a boy nicknamed Ear Wax, and the felling that you get holding hands with that special boy–it’s like walking on a rainbow.
If this artist is who I think it is, she’s a nurse now. I hope that she’s still coloring, and still finding inspiration.
This is from five years ago. Of course I don’t have what I read from the Living Water International publication. Sorry. So I just put a link to their website. After you read this maybe you can pour some clean water on your head and send them a check.
A couple years ago my brother and I came to an agreement about Christmas. We agreed that we both had more than we needed or deserved and that our Christmas money could be better spent elsewhere. Se each year he sends me an email telling me that he gave money to someone with less than they needed or deserved, and I send him a similar email.
The group that I have been sending money to for Christmas is called Living Water International. They build wells in places where people don’t have access to clean water. Bringing communities both clean water and living water.
I wanted to share something from their publication that I think has to do with what we remember during communion.
You hear the question a lot. Where is god when tragedy strikes, when storms tear apart lives, when sickness ravages the bodies of loved ones, when we are attacked by our enemies.
What if we look to Jesus to answer these questions. Where was God when the storms raged? He was there with his friends, bringing comfort. Where was God when people who were crippled, blind, and diseased cried out for help? He was there with them, bringing them healing. Where was God when a woman caught in sin was surrounded by those ready to take her life. He was there with her, shaming her accusers, and guiding her to a new way of living. Where was God in a world of those who are in and accepted and those who are down and out? God spent most of his time with the the outcasts and reprobates.
Where was God on the Friday after Jesus shared passover with his disciples? He was being beaten and crucified. Where was God on the next Saturday? On that Saturday, God was dead.
And yet, even today, when tragedy strikes, god is on the roof with us, waiting out the rain, singing with us. God visits aids patients in the hospital, and cancer patients, and car crash victims, and wounded soldiers, and abused children, and refugees from horrible political situations. God still spends his time with those that the rest of the world sees as expendable and worthless.
How does a god who is dead do all that? Of course it’s because god’s not dead. Because after being dead on Saturday, he rose on Sunday. And he told his followers that it was up to them, up to us, to do even greater things than he did. Us, the hands and feet of God.
So take the bread and juice, and this week, if you can see a place where God isn’t working, where the hungry are not being fed, the sick not cared for, the prisoners not visited, where outcasts remain outcasts, remember what has been done for you, then get up. It’s time to get to work.
There was a time in the misty past when summer school was fun. Even the high school kids who had to be there to make up a credit got to go on the fun field trips. In this case it was to a nature center in downtown Kansas City where the kids wrote letters in walnut ink. Always the inspiration, this child chose to write this letter? poem? free form jazz odyssey? to me. A moving tribute if ever there was one. I’m not sure what this poet is up to nowadays. I see him on Facebook, usually smiling. So I hope he’s doing great.
I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
I need sand.
Please give me a baby brother.
In this episode I try to make some sort of political point. Our conversation is kind of a mess. Mare asks me to edit it our of the podcast. I don’t. Also in this episode, Maly wants a hamster, and quit thinking about eating it.
Or, Unless you like chewing on a brick . . . forget it! I don’t know if bit o honey is still around, or if it just appears at Halloween time to take up space in trick-or-treaters’ bags like the similar black and orange blocks of hard gak. If I’m going to enjoy a difficult eating candy that’s no longer on the market (as far as I know), I’ll get me long chocolate covered caramel Marathon bar, unwrap it, roll it into a cylinder, and shove the whole thing in my mouth like we used to at the pool. There’s barely enough room in a kid’s mouth for this, which is what makes it a fun challenge to finish the candy bar without choking to death. I remember my brother and me, and it seems like friend Matt walking back to the pool from the snack bar, chocolate and caramel running down our faces, unable to speak without sounding hilarious (to us) which was really dangerous (and amazing) because you’re then libel to shoot caramel out your nose. I don’t know why the girls didn’t flock to us. Boys may be gross. But we’re awesomely gross.
Four medals, track and cross country, in my high school running career. Why so few? Well, obviously because I wasn’t that fast. Why wasn’t I fast? Sadly, I think it’s because I didn’t work very hard. I wasn’t a hard worker in school. Not in athletics, not in academics, not in anything really. This is a tendency that I carried with me to college and beyond. I had interests, but for some reason, I was never motivated to take those interests and do something with them.
You know, I did work hard one place, and that was at a job. And I counted once that before I became a teacher I had over 20 of them. And at all but two, I worked my butt off. I did what was asked and more. At the pub I put in five 12 hour days and one 6 hour day every week. As a grounds-man, dragging cut tree limbs to the truck or chipper, I had to be told to sit down, drink some water, and take a break. At the Keystone mountain house I had to work hard as I was practically the only one at work not stoned. At every job I had people loved me. When it was time for me to move on, they hated to see me go, and often tried to talk me into staying. I even got a certificate for exemplary service at one place. (It was a grade school, and people at grade schools do like to give out certificates, but still.)
The two exceptions, the two employers that might not find their way onto my resume, are Bill and Dale. Bill is my dad. I worked for him cleaning his office when I was a kid, a grade school kid. I vacuumed and dusted, emptied trashcans and ashtrays. And like most kids, I fussed at what my parents told me to do, when if anyone else had asked the same thing, I would have done it without comment. I remember having the same frustrating conversation with my parents about how to vacuum that has later been replayed between my son and me. The idea is not to roll the vacuum over every square inch of the carpet; the idea is to make the carpet clean, which may involve going over the carpet several times. I hated that. We could put a man on the moon, but we couldn’t invent a vacuum that didn’t have to be pushed over and over and over the same place. I remember my mother vacuuming over the hallway I had just finished, and the ting-tinging sound of dirt and debris going up into the machine. “You hear that?” she’d ask. “The carpet’s not clean.” It was stupid. I’d just quickly dragged the vacuum over the whole thing. Took me about a minute. This carpet should be immaculate.
The other employer that didn’t care for me was Dale who was the owner of the radio station I worked for in Chanute, Kansas. He actually fired me. I was flabbergasted. No one fired me. For the last 15 years of my employment history, everyone begged me to stay. But this guy was giving me the boot. I wasn’t that sad about losing the job; it was one of the worst and worst paying I’d ever had. I was working full time, days, evenings and weekends, and making about $10,000 a year. That’s about $18,000 in today’s money. I was a single man living in Chanute, Kansas, hot spot for eligible young ladies. And of course what woman wouldn’t be interested in the news director of a little radio station in southeast Kansas making no money. I rented a furnished second floor of an old house with no shower. My evenings were mostly spent at home alone, watching Northern Exposure or Twin Peaks, or sitting on my roof drinking. My days were spent trying to find 15 minutes of news in a little town where anyone who could give me news saw me as a threat, as someone trying to sniff out their dirty laundry. Man, I just wanted to fill my time. So I went to city commission meetings, school board meetings, economic development meetings; I called anyone who sent me a press release, trying to fill my time. Writing this, that sounds kind of fun, although it still probably pays $18,000. But at the time I was in over my head, receiving little help from my employer, and just wanted out. So I wasn’t that sad about losing that job, I was just sad that my boss wanted me to lose the job.
As far as hard work goes, I think I’ve gotten better. Actually, compared to my high school self, I’m a freaking type-A personality. I still run. And just the physical act of running is ten-times harder now than it ever was in high school. But mostly it’s the fact that I’ve created a life that I love, that I want to participate in, with my family, at home, at work, my hobbies, that makes a world of difference. I have a life that I’m happy to work hard at. No medals for that. But better than drinking alone on the roof. Hmmm, I wonder if Netflix is showing Northern Exposure.
I had no idea who Jim Pearson was, so I did a little research. Pearson was a U.S. senator from Kansas from 1962 – 1979. His Wikipedia article makes for interesting reading (if you’re interested in the politics of the 60’s and 70’s). He was known for working with his colleagues from the other side of the aisle. He opposed the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, worked to unblock civil rights legislation, and apparently did good things for Kansas regarding gas, oil, cattle, and aviation. His successor was Nancy Landon Kassebaum. Remembe when politicians worked together to do good things for their constituents and not for themselves and those who paid them the most.