I’m just visiting

 Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

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“You’re only here for a short visit.  Don’t worry.  Don’t hurry.  And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”  Walter Hagen

If you are like me, you are saying, “Well, who is Walter Hagen and why is his inspirational quote noteworthy?”

Wikipedia informs me that Walter Charles Hagen was an American professional golfer born in 1892 and died in 1969.  He was quite successful in his career, third only to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in lofty achievements.  Walter Hagen

Without any further research of his write-up on Wikipedia, I can reasonably assume that my only connection with Walter is the appreciation of flowers.  We certainly don’t have golfing in common although I have enjoyed a game of putt-putt in the past.  And possibly one can find a similarity between golf and croquet, one of my favorite games as a child.  Think about it.  Green grass, a piece of equipment with which to hit a ball, a course that the player has to follow, and the camaraderie of grown-ups chasing balls makes the two games rather similar, don’t you think?

Life was much less frantic for Walter and me.  We grew up without the annoyance of television and internet, cell phone and social media.  We walked evenings after dinner for our ‘constitutional’.  We actually stopped by the neighborhood houses to talk to our neighbors relaxing on their porches.  And we enjoyed the fragrance of jasmine or gardenias or roses wafting across the front yard.

There was no need to hurry inside to watch the Nightly News or Fox News.  Our morning and evening newspapers kept us up to date on everything we needed to know.  The only pressing engagement after dinner was the radio broadcast of  the Phillies playing the Pirates at 8 PM.  Mom and Sis had finished the dishes  which were draining to dry aside the kitchen sink.  Mom grabbed her sewing basket and Sis did the crossword puzzle while the household men sat by the radio listening to the game.  No hurry, just enjoying the important things in life.

The Great Depression had ended and life was good.  A chicken in every pot and a new Chevy in the driveway.  Dad’s job at the factory guaranteed he could provide a comfortable standard of living.  He had a great pension plan and was saving for retirement while Mom was doing what most wives did in our neighborhood – staying at home taking care of the house and the kids.  No worries, just enjoying the important things in life.

Okay, okay.  You caught me in my fantasy.  I’ve only read about those great times when life was good, but dreaming is the next best thing to living it.  Times and situations have changed, have they not?  Instantly connected to events half a world away, one thousand and fifty channels on cable to entertain us, neighbors whom we have never met, an exercise bike in the basement to replace the constitutional, and Mom, Pop, Sis and Junior rarely seeing each other as they run out the door to various commitments.

I’m only here for a short visit.  Is there really any reason to worry or hurry?  If there is, then perhaps I have missed the important things in life.  There’s a flower garden out in the back yard.  I think I will go out and smell the flowers before my visit is over.

 

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EPIPHANY – jan 6

At about that time some astrologers from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in far-off eastern lands and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:1-2

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Epiphany as a Christian feast finds its earliest reference in AD 361 by Ammianus Marcellinus.  This day, marking the end of Christmastide, celebrates the announcement to the entire world of the arrival of the Christ – the union of human and divine – in the child named Jesus.

The child Jesus was brought into existence to proclaim first to the Jewish shepherds and secondly to all non-Jews the birth of a new order in the world where man and God are united.   This baby Jesus was proclaimed to all mankind, regardless of race and creed or sex and lifestyle, as a king, savior and messiah.  Jesus, the man, through teachings and words attributed to him, asserted the worth and value of all humankind.  None is excluded.  Neither you nor I, Muslim nor Hindu, American nor Mexican is missing a seat at his table.  That is the essence of the feast of Epiphany.  Love and compassion incarnate came into the world to show us how to live.

 

 

faking it

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There is an abundance of material presented daily for us to read and absorb.  Some of it is straight forward news – local, national, international – presented by dedicated news people in unbiased reporting.  Some of it is pure entertainment, while a growing segment is opinion representing viewpoints regarding every issue under the sun.

The internet, blogging in particular, is a godsend for those of us who are driven to write and share.  Whether you or I want to compose a book and be published or write just a few lines to vent and reveal pieces of ourselves, how we use our creativity is a personal decision made every time sitting down at the keyboard.  Sometimes, having a game plan is irrelevant – we merely type one letter after another until words, then sentences, then paragraphs are created.  We are not censored and should not be discouraged from sharing what our minds have fabricated.  That’s what blogging is all about for many of us.

All too often, when I limber up my fingers, I assume the role of opinion writer.  And that would be fine if that is the type of writer I aspire to be.  But, it’s not.  Many others in our blogging world do a fine job of sharing opinions just as many others are fine news reporters, but my opinion, as pertinent as it could be, is not what I want to share.  My views on politics, society, religion are as valid as yours, but as my wise old grandpappy said, “Opinions are like a certain body part.  Everybody’s got one.”

2019 finds me struggling – emotionally and physically.  Life ain’t what it used to be and certainly not what I hoped it would be.  So, what do we survivors do?  We take stock, adjust our binding underwear, grab the appropriate ball cap with a message and wear it proudly.  Early AA friends always said, “Fake it until you make it.”

And that’s what I’ll do because I’m too damned stubborn to quit.

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crazy?

 

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Are we crazy?  Many people think we are when we express belief in a formless, invisible power which can’t be touched or seen.  How often have acquaintances and family ridiculed our naiveté when making reference to the One who gives life and breath, the One who transcends all human understanding and reasoning?

“Well,” they say.  “Define it.”

“Can’t.”

‘”Describe it.”

“Can’t.”

They question further, “Where does this undefinable, indescribable power live?”

“Within me.”

“Ohhhhh, I see.”

Yep! Undoubtedly and indubitably crazy.  They didn’t get it.  They didn’t understand that I had to go crazy with love for the Higher Power that pulled me out of the insanity of alcoholism.  They didn’t know, as I did, that there is a difference between crazy good and insanely stupid.  Why was I insanely stupid?  Because every time I sat down on that bar stool, I thought that this time was going to be different from all the other times.  I thought that I would have two social drinks and then go home.  I was sure that my drinking habit would miraculously change.  Why?  Because I had will power.

Many years passed with innumerable drunken escapades resulting in hangovers, lost car keys, misplaced wallets, puke-covered shirts, broken relationships, car wrecks and a shattered self-image.  I finally understood the insanity of my alcoholic behavior.

Admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.

It was insane to think I could drink and expect a different outcome at the end of the night.  It was never going to be a night like that of my buddies who knew how to drink socially.  You see, I would drink with them at the nice bars, bid them all a good-night when they went home to their families and then sneak to the other side of town where the action was.  You know – the sleaze bars where it was easy to score and the potential one night stands got smarter and better looking as the night progressed.  And that’s when I went crazy.

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Initially, family and friends thought it was extremely cool that I was on the wagon.  “Hey, Larry’s not drinking anymore.  Awesome.”

But, Larry had to change more about himself than simply not setting his butt on a bar stool every night.  There were deep-seated issues that needed attention.  Issues of insecurity, anger, envy, pride, and laziness.  And that’s when the heavy artillery had to be called in.  Detox, psychotherapy, meetings, meetings, meetings.  Changes had to be made and I could not do it without help.  I surrender, I give up.  HELP!

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

I took the “as we understood God” part of step 3 very seriously and, unfortunately, not many people (family and friends) got it.

“Crazy!  He’s crazy with religion.  He went from a drunk to a Jesus freak.  I liked him better when he was drinking.”

Yep, I’m crazy….but at least I’m not insane anymore.

 

 

 

Heaven and Hell

Is my life directed by the promise of heaven and the threat of hell?  How about yours?  I spent many of my younger years in hell.  Been there, done that and today I’m not afraid of hell because I know that the state of mind which I call hell can not be imposed on me by an entity which is vengeful and wrathful, a God which sits in judgement breathing fire and damnation.  Only I can impose hell on me.  It would have to be my choice to return to the hell I knew in addiction and, today, I won’t go there.  The God of my understanding is with me and in me.  We, together as one, control our destiny, so why would We impose hell on both of us?  Doesn’t make sense.

Look, I am not going to engage theological arguments with those who believe a literal heaven and hell.  If that trips your trigger, go for it.  It tripped my trigger also for many years and I was the meanest, most miserable man on earth because I knew my eternity was going to be spent in hell.  Why was that?  Because I could in no way conform to the type of person who made it to the Pearly Gates to claim his room in the heavenly mansions according to the edicts of religion and preachers.  I was doomed.  Church could not save me, preachers could not change me, and good religious folks gave up on me.

I am the prodigal son who took his God-given inheritance, ran to the far country, drank and caroused, lied, deceived, stole, and partied himself into a moral bankruptcy that no human power could forgive or change.  Finally, when totally and absolutely defeated, I looked back to the home I had left, fell to my knees and begged a new start.  My Father was standing there on the return road and ran to meet me, threw arms around me, hugged and kissed, and cried, “Welcome back, my son.  I have never stopped loving you.” LUKE 15:11-32

Yeah, that was 39 years ago and I remember it like yesterday.  Still get weepy-eyed.  No sir, there’s no way I’m going back to hell.  I’m the woman at the well drawing water when Jesus stopped to ask for a cup of water.  She, being a Samaritan woman, did not associate with Jews and was offended by his request.  He, being a Jew, should not have defiled himself by speaking to a Samaritan.  But, Jesus knew her past history of immoral behavior and offered her a drink from the living waters of eternal life which he offered to all who would believe.  Just as the Samaritan woman, I accepted the offer. JOHN 4:4-21

I am Peter who swore his loyalty and love to Jesus only to betray him three times in the courtyard of the high priest because the faithful disciple was afraid for his personal safety.  Loving his disciple Peter as much as ever, Jesus suffered humiliation, flogging, torture and crucifixion even though Peter betrayed and abandoned him in the greatest time of our Lord’s human need.  That is who my Father is, the one who met me, a drunk who betrayed Him and all who chose to love me, on the road back to sanity and sobriety. LUKE 22:54-62

I am Thomas, the disciple who refused to believe his Master had defeated death and was still alive in Spirit.  “Not until I see the nail holes in his hands and wound in His side, will I believe.”  A strident atheist, a confirmed non-believer, a vocal blasphemer and doubter is who I was when I spied my Father waiting for me on the road back home.  My Father wept with joy at my return with tears of compassion and forgiveness even as I had been the wayward denier assailing his person and spirit at every opportunity. JOHN 20:25

I am Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee who directed the first man to cast stones at Jesus’ follower, Stephen, outside the city’s gates.  I persecuted and ridiculed those who believed in Jesus and I tried to destroy their faith in something which I had previously known but cast away in my addiction.  Then, when my life detoured to my personal Damascus, the scales of darkness were removed from my eyes and, like Saul, I was unblinded to the truth of my Father as he came running to me singing “Paul, Paul, believe in me”. ACTS 9: 1-19

I am Paul, the redeemed and forgiven Saul of Tarsus, who, after the conversion on the Damascus road, dedicated his life to telling all about the Lord of his life, Jesus.  This is my story, my truth.  I can share it, but I can’t give it to you.  You must discover your truth for yourself.  Come and discover.  The yoke is easy and it is light.  No load is too heavy, no burden too great, no sin too unforgiveable.  Give it up.  Our Father will joyfully meet you on the road and carry you home.

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My Story

If I told you my story, I would tell you about the enemy, alcoholism.  For you, I would remember again the self-loathing, the despair, the brokenness, the heartache, the shattered relationships…..if you wanted to hear my story.  I would be thrilled to tell you my story because it ends with victory over the enemy, an unearned, undeserved victory won for me by a Savior’s grace that was greater than all my sins.

I would tell you about a Father’s love that never gave up on me.  As with the prodigal son returning from the far land, my Father saw me from afar wanting to come home, met me on the road, threw his arms around me with caresses and kisses saying “Welcome home, my son.”

If I told you my story, you would hear about mercy and forgiveness.  From the filth and mire of a life spent in the depths of addiction, I would tell you about the day, when on bended knee, I tearfully begged for a renewal, a way out of my desperation.  And my plea was answered by a merciful and forgiving Father who erased the pain and self-loathing, wrapped His arms around me with love unceasing.

“This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.”

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UBUNTU

 

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In the Xhoso culture of Africa, UBUNTU means, “I am because We are.”  Dr. Horty @ IT IS WHAT IT IS  blog shared this with her readers.  I found it absolutely profound in the troubled times of our world and especially American society today.

The boy replied, “How can any one of us be happy if the others are sad?”

An anthropologist visiting and studying the Xhoso tribe placed a basket of fruit and presented a game to a group of young boys.  Run to the fruit and claim it.  If the strongest and fastest of those boys had raced to the basket of fruit placed at a short distance from them, that one boy could have claimed all the fruits.  Instead, they joined hands, ran together as a group, and claimed the fruits as one, thereby insuring all would partake of the prize.  When the anthropologist questioned their action, the reply was, “Ubuntu – I am because We are.”

And we think we are more civilized?  There is much we can learn from those peoples in “uncivilized” back regions of the world who have learned a lesson most of us have failed to grasp – our humanity will have a much greater chance of survival if we learn we are all connected and we are one.

The ancient mystics understood this concept.  They, when contemplating the creative  source, declared that all of creation is one with the Creator.  Every member of every species on Earth has a unifying spark of DNA derived from that Creator at the beginning of time.  It is a connection that is infinite and eternal.  WE ARE ONE, because we were designed as one.

“I AM BECAUSE WE ARE”

Perhaps it would behoove us to take this wisdom into our collective heart and soul, celebrate our Oneness, and live life accordingly.  Possibly it is the only way our species will survive.

 
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