Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
So, today is a crisp, grey autumn day. I've watched the bright orange and yellow and brown leaves falling on the ground for several days. I need to move a bit, so it is a good time to heft the lawn rake and do some rearranging. I'm at it for a few minutes, uncovering some green ground and creating some nice fluffy rows of leaves. I listen to the sound the rake makes as it scrapes across the turf. I watch the heaps of color grow, stroke by stroke. I am at a happy place of thinking not a thing except the small effort of making each little dance step with the world. Down the block, a roundish lady, all in light blue, calls out to me as she passes by. I don't hear her exact words, but catch her drift. "More leaves are coming! Your work is only begun. But be happy! The day is beautiful, the moment sweet." She smiles, a beam of sunshine. I smile back. I continue to rake. Then, a bearded man, slim, pushing a child in a buggy, passes me, briskly. "I am so proud of you! Look at you, moving those leaves! Some people just wait for the wind to do the job! What a waste of an opportunity for exercise! But you have seized the moment!" He smiles and high steps away. No mockery, he really means it. So, two views of life. One pessimistic, another optimistic, reach the same conclusion. What is there in life, except the moment of it? How many moments are there in a day? How many opportunities are there for happiness, then, in a day? Such wealth!
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Last week I joined our youth group, and many others, in helping with a downtown Portland ministry that provides services and a human touch for homeless folks. The operation is called "Night Strike". You can read about it at bridgetowninc.org. The local leaders tabbed our group to do a "Walk About", which involves patrolling the streets in the Burnside Bridge vicinity for folks who may not make it to a big service mall under the bridge. We met interesting human beings as our feet carried us up and down city streets, offering conversation, PBJ sandwiches, socks, and a drink. The talking part meant the most to me, as we didn't just hand out gifts but some effort to hand out caring, as well. That all felt really good. After a couple of hours, we met back at the somewhat ramshackle downtown church that serves as the headquarters -- all of us except my friend, Rhoda, who did in fact go the bridge, several blocks away, to apply her sewing skills to help mend clothes. I left the group at one point, venturing out in the dark street outside the church, to watch for Rhoda, worried a bit that she might have to walk back by herself. Something in my demeanor or my dress attracted a couple of large, youngish black men. It might help to know I wore ratty, paint-stained blue jeans, a purple sweater vest, and a neon chartreuse running cap -- thinking that would help me fit in the setting, which it did, but more effectively than I anticipated, as things developed . . . As these guys passed our eyes met and they stopped in front of me. I just smiled and held out my hand as I had been doing all evening, and got big smiles and handshakes back. Then I got an offer to purchase what sounded like Chardonnay. Hmm. Well, I didn't tell the honest truth, that Chard is not my favorite wine, so simply smiled and insisted I was fine and didn't need any tonight. No, really, I'm good. Well, OK, take it easy then. You too, good night. You've probably already figured out that I was being offered the opportunity to buy street drugs of some kind. Well, Rhoda came ambling along shortly after that and home we all went. As soon as I got back to my computer I looked up "Chardonnay" as a code word for a drug, and sure enough "shard" is street slang for meth. So now we all know. Bad things are easier to get than good things, sometimes; all the more reason to do good things, as often as possible, I think.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Monday, October 5, 2015
I walked to my first day of school, around the block and up a hill to first grade. I remember feeling nervous and excited about what school would be like. Turned out I rather enjoyed school, but most of all I enjoyed walking there in the morning, and walking home in the afternoon. As years passed, I continued to walk or bike to school when I could. Some days I continued to feel nervous about going to school, depending on what faced me any particular day. But these were not issues of safety. I would worry about a speech in the works, or a P.E. test, or the occasional meathead classmate. Getting myself there and home just required putting one foot in front of the other, and gave me space to think and day dream. On to college, then grad school, and still I walked, and still that time between home and school felt like a pleasant world between worlds. I think it helped me a lot to have confidence that if my feet carried me in the school door they would carry me out the door at day's end. I knew I would live through the day. I don't use the word hate much; it is to me a violent emotion. But there is something I am coming to hate, and using the word seems appropriate. I hate it that children go to school these days, and wonder if they will be killed during the day by a nut with a gun. I am not against guns, and I feel compassion for nuts. But the two together are a bad, bad thing. I think more than thoughts and prayers are needed. Time to take real steps.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
I just celebrated my life upgrade to version 6.0. The new operating system is downloaded, now in the process of installing. While this runs in the background, my feet carried me to the lookout fence next to the Cape Meares lighthouse. Clouds and sun shared the sky, leaving a gorgeous shadow pattern on the sea. As I watched this, I began to see great plumes spurting from the glittering waves. Whales! I did not expect to see whales. They swam all around in front of us, some only a bare hundred yards off shore.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
I felt like an ant gazing up at a gigantic airplane, one with the greatest wingspan of any aircraft ever made. I felt nine years old gawking at the scorched underside of an Apollo capsule plucked from the sea after orbiting the moon. I felt queasy and aghast touching a black ten foot nosecone built to deliver a nuclear bomb. I stood amazed in front of a restored B17 Flying Fortress bomber, with its tiny, fragile bubbles bristling with machine guns. Does that tiny airplane that I could fit in my dining room really fly? I AM TOUCHING A BLACKBIRD. And the lunar landing module looked larger and sturdier than it did on T.V. from the moon as Neil Armstrong set first human foot there. I chuckled reading Buz Adlrin's comment about Armstrong's famous words -- something like, "That may have been a small step for Neil, but it's a long step for me, he is taller than I am." I passed up the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum many times on the way to the beach. I think it is very worth a few steps off the main road to see. I've been to the Smithsonian, it's wonderful. But for me EASM outdid it for accessibility and a feeling of wonder.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
I keep thinking about this part of Sunday’s lesson, James 1:22-25: “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.” I’ve read, and found it plausible to believe, that the very act of moving from one place to another effects short term memory loss. Often I resolve to get or do something in one room, walk into another, and immediately find that I have forgotten what I came in for. If someone is in the room I enter, I usually stare at the person blankly for a moment, then confess I have, in a small way, just lost my mind. Some researchers believe they have demonstrated that the act of passing through a doorway is what triggers forgetfulness. No wonder many people of faith put reminders of God, and themselves, on the doors of their homes. James knows human nature. We all want to know what we look like. Poking at my vanity, he seems to say “If you would pay attention, you would only need to look once.” Or better, perhaps, why worry so much about how I look, when it matters more what I do when I am on the move? I’m about to go for a walk; I hope I remember this.
Monday, August 24, 2015
So, I'm finishing an ambitious 5 plus run, and feeling good on the home stretch into Forest Grove. The road slopes just slightly downhill, and I'm feeling gooood. A city police officer is parked at an intersection I am about to pass. I wave at the officer. As I pass I see he is pointing his radar gun my direction. My first silly thought is that he is checking to make sure I am not exceeding the speed limit. I strut inwardly for a microsecond. Then my soul blushes. You could not have seen it, but it happened. What is my message for the coming Sunday? Let no one think more highly of himself than he ought. Nailed. Thank you, God.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Hello, and welcome to my blog! Thanks for checking it out. You'll find my occasional short devotional thoughts, miscellaneous comments, and observations from the paths I walk, run, and cycle. Even if you never come back - consider yourself prayed for. I believe God who knows and loves you is right beside you.