no longer strangers

NAMASTE

 

 

LUKE 15:11-32

The PRODIGAL SON in the book of Luke in Christian scripture is undoubtedly my favorite of the parables taught by Jesus.  It is my story.

I was raised within the love and protection of a community of hearty, salt-of-the-earth farmers.  Their lives were dedicated to raising families and raising crops.  Very simple needs, even simpler desires.  I often have reminisced that we were the prototype for the “Waltons” of television fame.  Indeed, it is true.  My extended family of great-grandparents, grandparents, mother and two aunts lived in an early 1900s house with 9 upstairs rooms which could be used as bedrooms when necessary.  During the years previous to my arrival in 1947, the household consisted of numerous children and a full live-in housekeeping staff plus an assortment of farm-hands.  During the harvest season Mammy (my great-grandmother) assisted by her daughters prepared a lunch table groaning with several meats, 2 or 3 potato dishes, vegetables fresh from the garden and at least 4 pies for dessert.  They fed 6 to 12 hungry men.  As was customary, the women folk ate after the men had finished.

But it was a hard life.  I was earning a wage by the time I was 12 years old, had after-school chores, and during the summer worked long days in the fields as well as helping to tend the cattle, pigs, and chickens.  It was a very hard life.  I determined early in my youth that I was not going to be a farmer.  When my friends from town came to visit they were awed by my lifestyle.  I, on the other hand, was envious of their freedom to join social groups and participate in extracurricular school activities.  They enjoyed the farm chores which to me were onerous.

Church attendance was mandatory.  Through the eyes and ears of this thirteen year-old, the preaching was ominous and the threats of a punishing God were overwhelming.  I finally accepted that anything which felt good was probably a sin.  When I turned sixteen I was no longer required to attend services or participate in my family’s religious tradition.  When I turned seventeen, one of my multiple addictions had already consumed much of my life and another two, smoking and drinking, kicked in with a vengeance.  By nineteen I was fully controlled by substance and behavior addictions.

My grandfather, who raised me as his own son, offered me his farm.  I ridiculed the offer saying that no way in hell was I going to be a farmer.  Fifty-two years later I am still haunted by the look of rejection on his face.  We never recovered that father-son relationship.  My last remembrances of him are of a sickly man sitting in his favorite chair which offered a view of the highway.  Reading his Bible he would look up to see who was driving by.  Sometimes it would be the community’s undertaker, a solemn man named Lawrence.   Looking at me with his clear blue eyes, Grandpa would quip in his Dutch accent, “Well, maybe next time Lawrence will be coming for me.”

I had an idyllic upbringing and a wonderfully simple life surrounded by people who loved me.  But, I thought something was missing.  I thought that those city folks living in the midst of glitz and excitement were offering a dream which my community and my family’s traditions could never provide.  And at age nineteen I chased after that dream.

Drinking, smoking, drugging, and carousing assured me that finally this farm boy had arrived.  Life was going to be grand and lavish.  Partying every night, trashing relationships became the norm and for a few years I loved it.  Never looked back on what had been sacrificed.  Lost my job because of drinking, failed college because of my drinking, destroyed a military opportunity because of my drinking…..”Aw what the hell?  That wasn’t the life I wanted anyway.”

Then the blackouts began.  The car wrecks, the addiction-imposed poverty, the broken promises to friends and family stirred within me memories of a much simpler life, a life of hard work, joy, and focus.  Like the prodigal in the book of Luke, I asked myself if I could go back home.  Could I return to age sixteen and redirect?

Of course my answer was no.  The farm had been sold, my family was cautious of their wayward son, no eligible prospects for a relationship wanted to take a chance with me, and my faith walk had virtually dead-ended.  I was spiritually, morally, and physically bankrupt.  I was a broken man at age 34 with no hope for redemption.

With nothing to lose except my wretched life, I arrived in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Something about those AAers sparked hope within me.  Their message of sobriety through a Higher Power and a fellowship with kindred sober-living drunks offered a glimpse of a new life through recovery.  I latched on to the enthusiasm and promise which I discovered in those rooms and held on to it for dear life.  Unspeakable joy interspersed with debilitating depression controlled many of the early days getting sober.

My Father welcomed me with open arms as if we had never separated.  He told me that those arms were wrapped around me all of the 17 years spent in the far country.  I finally understood that God walked that trek every step of the way protecting and loving me while patiently waiting for me to return.  The parable of the Prodigal tells me that Father was overjoyed to have me home.  He prepared a feast and a celebration for my return.  The celebration continues.  We are no longer strangers, I have come home.smiley 3

 

 

 

worthy of all praise

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”

orange tree

Listening to great music from contemporary artists and the masters of classical works has the capacity to soothe and encourage.  Sitting in a chair in the stillness of a quiet nook, my world is transformed from one of agitation and discontent to the truth of knowing without reservation that God is, always has been, always will be.  Music such as Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Our God” confirms that others experience this same peace and awe in the presence of a Greater Power, one which defines for us compassion, acceptance, and love.  Unconditionally!

I cannot temper my feeble attempts to be Christ-like with earthly conditions for extending or withholding God’s indwelling spirit.  I cannot deny anyone the directive of Jesus to love my neighbor as myself.  The color of skin, the ethnicity, the creed, the political affiliation, the sexual persuasion, the gender, and the theology of another brother/sister cannot be a determinant for sharing the grace of God which was freely given to me.

Most of us, especially me, are often conflicted by this wisdom from a gracious God.  If you are white like me, male like me, Christ-follower like me, Democrat like me, and peace lover like me, then it is not difficult to also be Christ-like.  My perfect world is one in which no disagreement or contention exists.  My perfect world would also be totally black or white, right or wrong, moral or immoral, no shades of color filtering into it.

That, fortunately, is not God’s world.  The God, which I know today, knew from the beginning that we would be a broken species fraught with discontent, envy, jealousy, anger, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and “isms” of all descriptions.  Yet, God loved us enough to give us messengers in human form who showed us how to evolve into the humanity with whom He would be pleased.  I don’t have to pursue this transformation without instruction manuals.  Each of our great religions have presented to us a path to follow which leads to enlightenment.

Enlightenment is not some mysterious element in a future eternity.  It is not something to be attained by sustained adherence to rigid rules of morality.  No, enlightenment is the discipline of practicing and sharing here and now in this lifetime the same mercy and grace which is freely available to every soul on earth.  In this quiet space of the soul, a corner of absolute connection to Spirit, there are no distinctions, no fears, no judgements.  We all are one with the great Oneness whom some name Allah, some name Krishna, some name Yahweh, and some name God.  The name we call  upon doesn’t matter.  The heart we share does.  How’s your good heart today?

CANDLE

 

 

Survivors of the last school shooting in the UK …. “🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧 Penned letter to students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 🇬🇧🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 …. “!!

It Is What It Is

DB2

~~March 20, 2018~~ 

DUNBLANE SCHOOL MASSACRE

~Dunblane Primary School~

‘We want you to know change can happen’

The Dunblane school massacre took place at Dunblane Primary School near Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland, on 13 March 1996, when Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 children and one teacher before killing himself.

It remains the deadliest mass shooting in British history.

Twenty-two years after the deadliest mass shooting in British history, survivors of the Dunblane Primary School massacre are sharing words of compassion – and caution – to students in Parkland, Florida.

The British survivors sent their letter on the 22nd anniversary of the school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland, where 16 first-grade students and one teacher were killed. They expressed sympathy for the students in Parkland, Florida, and urged them to keep up their fight for stricter gun control.

GoldSwirlDB1

“We have watched and listened with tremendous admiration as you have spoken out for what you believe should happen now,” they wrote.

“We want you…

View original post 177 more words

Survivors of Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting …. “🎭 Stoneman Douglas High School’s Drama Club …. ‘SHINE’ 🎭 …. “!!

Go to Dr. Horty’s site to view the video.  It is awesome.

 

It Is What It Is

Eagle3

Shooting Survivors Write and Perform Song
Survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High school shooting perform “Shine,” a song the school’s drama club wrote in the wake of the shooting.

GoldSwirl

The more I find out about these kids, the more impressed I am.

Multiply that by such a number and imagine how many amazing kids are out there in harm’s way.

Never thought of it this way.

The adults have dropped the ball.

It will be up to their generation to get this done correctly.

My support is with them all the way!

HortyRex©

GoldSwirl

🎶 You may have brought the dark 🎶
🎶 but together we will shine the light  🎶

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students give a moving performance of the song “Shine,” written by survivors Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña, at the end of CNN’s town hall.

EagleV

February 21, 2018

(11:30 PM0
Stoneman Douglas Drama Club…

View original post 135 more words

‘Thoughts and Prayers’ …. “😡 Every Time it Happens …. Over and Over and Over …. Blood Money 😡 …. “!!

via ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ …. “😡 Every Time it Happens …. Over and Over and Over …. Blood Money 😡 …. “!!

don’t rain on my parade

GABBY'S PLACE

I love parades.  Macy’s, Veteran’s Day, Halloween, Rose Bowl…….hmmmmmm, I’m PENCEgoing to send an invitation to Mike Pence to be Grand Marshall .

Sir:

We would be honored to have you participate in the America we love;  a country which embraces all creeds, all races, all nationalities, and all lifestyles.

Sincerely yours,

Picture1.pngFAMILY9

View original post

BREAKING ANONYMITY

BREAKING GABBY’S ANONYMITY

GABBY'S PLACE

Friends, I am sitting here with my life-long friend, Gabby Graywhiskers.  Some of you have met him from previous posts.  He is well versed in a wide array of topics and he is not shy about sharing his opinion.  But, did you know he is also a recovering alcoholic?

“Gabby, thank you for taking time to sit with me today, I would…….”

“Excuse me, Larry.  You just now broke my anonymity to millions of people across the globe and in my hometown.  Nary a one of ’em knew I was a drunk.   ‘Who you see here, what we say here, when you leave here, let it stay here.’  Ever hear that at a meeting, Bucko?  Gaaaawd, what’s my preacher and city mayor gonna think?”

“Gabby, I apologize.  I ‘m sure your drinking was not a big secret.  Besides, I believe my readership is less than 300, so the entire…

View original post 638 more words

Alcoholic? Who, me?

My friends, I’ve been blogging about 5 years and this was one of my first pages written.  I initially intended to write only about addiction and recovery, but have since been led to share with you the things that keep me ticking spiritually.  In a few days I will celebrate 37 years of “clean and serene” living.  I want to take you back to some of my previous writings regarding my experience, strength, and hope.  This particular post has audio…..man, does it ever have audio.  Crank it up or tone it down.  Let your age group be the determining factor.  It is Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”.

via ALCOHOLIC? WHO, ME?