me worry? never

Youth in D.C. march video denounces ‘outright lies’ about him

 

The next possible victims of the shutdown: Your food, flowers and toys

 

Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria after missile fired at Golan Heights

 

Islamic State targets US convoy in northeast Syria

 

Honestly, I did not need to look far on my MSN homepage to gather these news headlines.  If I were a journalist or a reporter for the major news media, I would likely be on a diet of pharmaceuticals – some to keep me happy, some to keep me relaxed, some to keep me sane, some to keep me awake, and then a few to help me sleep.  All this activity in the world about which I should worry.  Yeah, let’s add some Xanax to the menu.

Tell me again how all of you maintain a sense of composure in the heat of national and international news flashing up-to-the-minute headlines on your media screens.  Which drugs (or alcohol) work best for you?  What?  You’re clean and serene?  Hmmmm, let’s talk.

I have a confession to make.  I am absolutely controlled by a situation that does not involve sex, alcohol or drugs.  Aw c’mon, please don’t run away.  I need to talk.  Every weekday night after supper I plan my evening before bedtime.  Read that great book I’ve been wanting to dive into, write another chapter in the short story I am composing, listen to Beethoven and Mozart, get a sheet of paper and do that letter to my aunt, find an interesting episode on PBS, get into Netflix and rent a great movie.

It is all for nought.  Around 7 PM, I am magnetically drawn to the TV remote, although I swear that remote somehow magically finds my hand.  “I’ll just see what’s happening on Family Feud.  Eh, boring.  Ok, how about ESPN?  Shoot, nothing but basketball.  Well, just a quick view of CNN.  Wow!  Did Trump really say that?  Got to go to MSNBC to verify and get details.”

I am hooked.  More powerful than any bottle of scotch.  Four hours later finds me wrapping up with Lawrence O’Donnell and deciding if I should keep on watching Brian Williams just to be sure I did not miss anything important.  I know, I know.  Where’s my willpower?  Am I not bigger than MSNBC?

Ooooh, please don’t think less of me.  Deep down I am a good person.  I remember the days when I read the morning newspaper for my news and watched “I Love Lucy” before going to bed.  I was a God-fearing Christian man who worked on the assembly line for a 10 hour shift, stopped for a beer with the boys, went home for supper and snuggled with the little lady to watch Johnny Carson.  I was not addicted to instant news.  Whatever world catastrophe was pending, it could wait until morning.

BINGO!  There have always been pending world disasters and we survived without 24/7 news coverage.  How was that possible?  Back then we cared just as much about the riots in China and the tsunami in Indonesia as we would today, but we allowed those news events to unfurl at our leisure.  We did not allow the networks to interfere with our daily routine.  We had more important things happening with the job, the wife, the kids, their school, Pastor Johnson’s dalliance with Mrs. Brown, the YMCA, the local library, the latest cops and robbers story.

That’s the answer.  Back then, my waking hours were not trespassed upon by images and stories over which I had no control.  Watching 4 hours of cable news tonight will not give me 1 second of measurable control over what is happening.  I can sleep like a log ( I was going to say baby, but we know babies keep us up all night) and catch up on headlines in tomorrow’s newspaper with a cup of coffee.  That’s much more civilized, don’t you agree?

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I should, and wisdom to know the difference.”

SELMA – 1965

 

America gave him a federal holiday in 1983.  Not all states complied; many objected.  Why should a “white” nation recognize a black rabble-rouser and trouble maker?  A few raised questions regarding Dr. King’s moral character in order to discredit the work he had done for the advancement of the civil rights of black people.  But, with the federal government’s mandates regarding civil rights, justice and equality, strident racism within American society appeared to be a relic of the by-gone days when signs at drinking fountains and lunch counters told black people they were not good enough or American enough to share those same facilities.  We white people probably felt that we had somehow been miraculously cleansed of the centuries of hatred and intolerance leveled on other citizens who just happened to be a varying, darker shade of our skins.  Yeah, the government gave them a holiday, that ought to keep them quiet for a while, we’re cool.

Guess what folks?  Those issues which were a festering sore on our collective, white American soul are back in full force.  It’s as if we learned nothing from the horrors of slavery, the Jim Crow laws, the voting obstruction, the job and housing discrimination, the burning crosses, the hooded cowards raising havoc with people of color, Jews, Catholics, gays, Muslims, i.e. anybody who does not have a white, European, Christian pedigree.

My  initial writing for this post, briefly detailing the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and U.S. Representative John Lewis of Georgia, failed to  convey the anger and disgust which is building inside me today.  The words which I wrote were yada-yada-yada achievement reporting from Wikipedia that somehow seemed to be sanitizing the blood, sweat, and tears of thousands of protesters, marchers, and victims of American intolerance and injustice.  They gave their souls, minds and lives to a cause which should never be summed up in a few accolades for a job well done or a holiday once a year with parades and linen sales at the local WalMart.  Those civil rights warriors deserve much, much more from us.

And we see some groups celebrating today as a day of service, a time of being kind to others.  I like that.  I think MLK, Jr. and Rosa Parks would approve.  Maybe we could also take a few minutes to hear Dr. King’s speeches, the incredible urgings to non-violent action, the famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop”, and Bobby Kennedy’s announcement in Indianapolis to his mostly black crowd that their leader had been murdered in Memphis.  Yes, that seems to be the least we can do in remembrance.  It’s all on YouTube.

SELMA

The movie SELMA is a 2014 production which is the true story of the tumultuous 3 month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition.  The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

 

One day when the glory comes
It will be ours, it will be ours
Oh one day when the war is won
We will be sure, we will be sure
Oh glory (Glory, glory)
Oh (Glory, glory)

Hands to the Heavens, no man, no weapon
Formed against, yes glory is destined
Every day women and men become legends
Sins that go against our skin become blessings
The movement is a rhythm to us
Freedom is like religion to us
Justice is juxtapositionin’ us
Justice for all just ain’t specific enough
One son died, his spirit is revisitin’ us
Truant livin’ livin’ in us, resistance is us
That’s why Rosa sat on the bus
That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up
When it go down we woman and man up
They say, “Stay down”, and we stand up
Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up
King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up

One day when the glory comes
It will be ours, it will be ours
Oh one day when the war is won
We will be sure, we will be sure
Oh glory (Glory, glory)
Oh (Glory, glory)

Now the war is not over, victory isn’t won
And we’ll fight on to the finish, then when it’s all done
We’ll cry glory, oh glory (Glory, glory)
Oh (Glory, glory)
We’ll cry glory, oh glory (Glory, glory)
Oh (Glory, glory)

Selma’s now for every man, woman and child
Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd
They marched with the torch, we gon’ run with it now
Never look back, we done gone hundreds of miles
From dark roads he rose, to become a hero
Facin’ the league of justice, his power was the people
Enemy is lethal, a king became regal
Saw the face of Jim Crow under a bald eagle
The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful
We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through
Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany
Now we right the wrongs in history
No one can win the war individually
It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy
Welcome to the story we call victory
The comin’ of the Lord, my eyes have seen the glory

One day when the glory comes
It will be ours, it will be ours
Oh one day when the war is won
We will be sure, we will be sure
Oh glory (Glory, glory)
Oh (Glory, glory)
Oh glory (Glory, glory)
Hey (Glory, glory)

When the war is won, when it’s all said and done
We’ll cry glory (Glory, glory)
Oh (Glory, glory)

Songwriters: CHE SMITH,JOHN LEGEND,LONNIE LYNN
© Universal Music Publishing Group,BMG Rights Management
For non-commercial use only.
Data from: LyricFind

he freed a lot of people

Drugs, sex, rock and roll.  We drank with abandon and we loved our music.  Our heroes were John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy.  They represented what my generation agreed was the future of our country.  And within a span of 5 years, they were gone.  Assassinated by hatred and racism.  Murdered by those who would not accept change.  We rebelled, some marched, others protested and I….I dropped out.  But the music played on.  The message could not be silenced.  

He freed a lot of people but it seems the good, they die young.  You know I just looked around and he’s gone.

Didn’t you love the things they stood for?  Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me?

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?  Can you tell me where he’s gone?  I thought I saw him walking up over the hill with Abraham, Martin and John.

Abraham, Martin and John

Anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people but it seems the good, they die young
You know I just looked around and he’s gone

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people but it seems the good, they die young
I just looked around and he’s gone

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people but it seems the good, they die young
I just looked around and he’s gone

Didn’t you love the things that they stood for?
Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me?
And we’ll be free
Someday soon, it’s gonna be one day

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John

Songwriters: RICHARD HOLLER
© STONEHENGE MUSIC
For non-commercial use only.
Data from: LyricFind

be still my soul

 

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My Lord, you are my shepherd; I don’t have need for anything.  Even as the dark shadows surround me, I am not afraid because your word and presence give me comfort.  The enemies of my soul are lurking in wait for me to stumble and fall, but I will not falter.  Where You lead I will follow.  You are my shepherd.  You have set a table for me overflowing with abundance and hope.  Surely nothing can separate us for the rest of my days because your mercy and goodness are with me and I know that I am blessed.

“Be Still, My Soul”
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897

1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Hymn #651
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Psalm 46:10
Author: Catharine Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, 1752, cento
Translated by: Jane Borthwick, 1855
Titled: “Stille, mein Wille”
Composer: Jean Sibelius, b. 1865, arr.
Tune: “Finlandia”

ROOTS

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 is overflowing.

beard-beggar-face-35015

Do you know your roots?  In 1976 I began a project which lasted several years researching the family tree.  Fortunately, my family had lived in the region comprising Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, since before the Revolutionary War.  Equally fortunate was the fact that all the old county records were stored at the courthouse in the basement which in colonial times served as the county jail.  Nothing yet was transferred to digital and we amateur genealogists were allowed into the dungeon to do our research from the written transcripts.  It was dank and musty down there in the numerous jail cells and it was not difficult to imagine prisoners scurrying about amongst the multitude of books containing wills, land deeds and orphan’s court records.  For treasure hunters like myself the time spent there was an adventure through days long past.

I don’t believe I fully appreciated the convenience of all my family history being in one courthouse and one library within 30 miles of my home.  My maternal Snyder side of the family changed the spelling from Schneider in the 1860s to 1880s.  The Browns migrated from Europe as Brauns in the late 1700s.  Himmel’s Church in Rebuck, Pennsylvania, is the resting place of my forefathers, Schneiders and Brauns, with headstones among the very first of the burial plots in the church cemetery.  Himmel’s was founded in 1773.

Our Germanic community lived in relative isolation in the Schwaben Creek Valley of central Pennsylvania having settled there from Berks County, Pennsylvania, in the mid 1700s.  The Pennsylvania Dutch which was spoken was called “low German” in contrast to written German which was referred to as “high German”.  There are similarities, but centuries of geographic separation from the mother country made it difficult to read the Bibles which were written in high or “hoch” German.  Many of the words were vastly unrecognizable.  My grandparents did not learn English until entering school.  I was not encouraged to learn the Dutch dialect as it was considered too common, but I understood when family members and neighbors spoke in Dutch.

Further stories of an early migration to America in the 1600s by my people is interesting but I was never able to verify the accounts written in volumes by local historians.  We knew for certain that my ancestors escaped religious and social persecution in lands that are now Germany, that they fled to England and from there indentured themselves to landowners in the ‘new world’.

My people did not immigrate to America because they were weary of the wonderful life they  were having in their native lands.   They did not come here to take advantage of native inhabitants.  They came here because they had nothing and were willing to sacrifice their nothingness for hope in a new land.  They did not speak the predominant English language, did not bow to the predominant God, and did not have any assurance of a better life.  All they wanted was to start anew in peaceful observance of their traditions and heritage, to raise families without fear of persecution, and to share the bounty of a new beginning.

Sounds like some other immigrants about whom we hear today.  My people did not have a statue in New York Harbor to welcome them with a torch and encouraging words, but when others followed their footsteps, I am sure they said,  “Welcome neighbor, we have plenty to share.  Enjoy the bounty with us which the good Lord has provided.”

Yes, I know they would have said that.  That’s who we were back then and that’s who we are now.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these , the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”  Emma Lazarus – THE NEW COLOSSUS 

Our words are perhaps not as eloquent, but Emma Lazarus speaks to who we are.  We have been in the shoes of the homeless and tempest-tost and we will remember.

Picture6

butterfly

 

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”  MAYA ANGELOU

Why is it that butterflies become beautiful in our sight only when they have survived the stages of development leading up to their appearance before us in our yards as flitting, soaring, gliding, sailing, dancing, fluttering marvels of nature?  We hardly appreciate them as eggs, larvae, and caterpillars.  Rarely do we say, “Oh look! A spectacular worm.”

Members of the Kingdom animalia, Phylum Euarthropoda, Class insecta, Order lepidoptera are a species dating to the Paleocene Era about 56 million years ago.  The eastern North American population of monarchs can travel thousands of miles to over-wintering sites in Mexico and reverse the migration in the spring.  The British painted lady undertakes a 9000 mile round trip in a series of steps by up to six generations from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle. WIKIPEDIA

Yes, I am about to compare us, humans, to butterflies.  Don’t you see the similarity?  Or, if you would rather, I could liken us to mosquitoes or house flies?  (Yes, I have been called maggot on occasion.)  We do, after all, share some pesky traits with those insects also.  OK, then.  Now that we see eye to eye,  I am going to call you and me beautiful butterflies.  As you perused the opening photographs, which one is most splendid to you?  Did you choose one that is brightly colored? or one that is intricately patterned? or one that is a stately monochrome?

The extravagant beauty of a butterfly is self-evident.  We see it, we marvel, and we say, “Oh, what a lovely creature that is!”  Not so much with us humans.  We are short, tall, obese and slender.  We are black, brown, red, yellow, white and many shades in between.  We have black hair, brown hair, red hair, blonde hair, straight hair, curly hair and like those of us who have raised too many children or seen too many years, we have white hair or no hair.  Not all of us are at our beautiful butterfly stage.  Some of us are in the not-so-pretty stages of eggs, larvae and caterpillars.  Men especially can relate to being called a “worm” by a disgruntled spouse.

But, as Maya Angelou so profoundly says it, our transformational beauty has to endure the sometimes ugly stages before we are recognized by the world as the gorgeous humans which we are.  Whatever size, shape, shade, or sex we grow up to be, we are beautiful when allowed and encouraged to mature into a sailing, soaring, fluttering, floating masterpiece of the Lord’s handiwork.

Just like the butterfly, each one of us is a miraculous creation in his/her own right.  The Book of Genesis tells us that God created each of us in the image of God. GENESIS 1:27  Male and female He made them in his image.  The wisdom of the ancients tells us that we are God-like.  So how can we be anything less than beautiful, compassionate, loving, replicas of our Creator?

Of course, you can be a pesky mosquito or house fly.  They also have purpose and reason in God’s universe.  It’s your choice.  But, I’m going to be a swallowtail when I grow up.

smiley 3

 

Psalm 23

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.

“It’s January.  Outside the weather is cold and dreary.   Melancholy is knocking on the front door.  I’m looking for warmth and comfort within.  Join me?

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

 

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housecleaning time

Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.orange tree

Most people don’t like housecleaning, do they?  Yeah, I know the end result is amazingly comforting and fulfilling, but the actual work can be a lesson in Boredom 101.  Dust, sweep, scrub, organize, grab the Ty-D-Bol, where’s the Ajax?  For me, it’s a trip into futility because I know cleaning will need to be done again in another two weeks.  And then, before I realize it, the two-week period stretches into a month and I look at my house completely disgusted with myself for being such a dirt-bag.

I am certain none of you, my illustrious readers, have this problem.  You all seem to be outstanding people with impeccable cleaning habits.  But how about your heart?  How often do you get down into the nitty-gritty of what’s on your heart and do a ruthless housecleaning?  Throw out the old, ponderous grudges?  Get rid of guilt baggage that simply is not useful anymore?  Maybe rethink theology that no longer makes sense in your life?  C’mon, let’s get honest.

King David, in Psalm 51, has been confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding David’s affair with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.  David and Bathsheba  David, from the palace, spied the beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop and sent for her.  Then, having slept with Bathsheba while her husband was fighting with the armies, David, in due time, faced the consequences of his sin learning that she was pregnant with his child.  To conceal his transgression King David ordered Uriah home from the battle front believing the soldier would sleep with his wife and the pregnancy could then be attributed to her husband.  Uriah, however, refused to sleep with Bathsheba while his fellow warriors continued to fight in battle.  To him it was a matter of honor.  David then continued with his deceit, got Uriah drunk believing that his soldier, filled with wine, would certainly bed his wife.  That ploy also failed whereupon King David ordered his soldier to the most dangerous position on the front line where he was killed in battle.

End of story, right?  Actually not.  Not only did the entire episode have a witness in the prophet Nathan, David’s conscience and the guilt over his actions were invalidating his spirit.  He was a deeply devout man who had fallen to lust, deceit and murder.  Psalm 51 is a petition to his God, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness…..wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin….cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”

Not quite as eloquently, but equally contrite and remorseful, I have again and again and again petitioned the Lord of my life for forgiveness and cleansing.  Cleanse and renew, cleanse and renew, cleanse and renew.  It will be a lifetime endeavor because I am a human who is faulted and broken in need of a forgiving, loving, compassionate God.

Housecleaning is a good thing.  Sometimes we find things that were thought to be lost.  Sometimes we discover dirt that could be harmful to us.  Often we can rid ourselves of useless bric-a-brac.  But always, we finish the chore feeling cleansed and renewed.

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

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what I love about Sundays

 

Sunday on the farm when I was a boy is exactly what this song says about Sundays.  Worship in our church just down the road, dinner of chicken and waffles with bowls of gravy, apple pie, a nap and then an afternoon of socializing, ball games, and fishing.  Neighbor, it just don’t get any better than this.  

Raymond’s in his Sunday best
He’s usually up to his chest in oil and grease
There’s the Martins walking in
With that mean little freckle-faced kid
Who broke a window last week
Sweet miss Betty likes to sing off key
In the pew behind me

That’s what I love about Sunday
Sing along as the choir sways
Every verse of amazing grace
And then we shake the preacher’s hand
Go home into your blue jeans
Have some chicken and some baked beans
Pick a backyard football team
Not do much of anything
That’s what I love about Sunday

I stroll to the end of the drive
Pick up the Sunday times, grab a coffee cup
Looks like Sally and Rob finally tied the knot
Well, it’s about time
It’s thirty-five cents off a ground round
Baby, cut that coupon out

That’s what I love about Sunday
Cat-nappin’ on a porch swing
You curled up next to me
The smell of jasmine wakes us up
Take a walk down a back road
Tackle box and a cane pole
Carve our names in that white oak
Steal a kiss as the sun fades
That’s what I love about Sunday

New believers getting baptized
Mama’s hands raised up high
Havin’ a hallelujah good time
A smile on everybody’s face
That’s what I love about Sunday

That’s what I love about Sunday

Songwriters: ADAM DORSEY,MARK NARMORE
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC,OLE MEDIA MANAGEMENT LP
For non-commercial use only.
Data From: LyricFind