Where is your fire?

cuppajoeandthou

I wonder what underlying message is being derived from the “be all you can be” type of advertising campaign I see more and more?

The ads I see regarding this concept of anything being possible are images of astronauts, doctors, athletes, etc.  When the ad is over I look at my life and could be tempted to wonder if I have lacked courage for a bigger dream?  I could have been a humanitarian aid worker risking my life to get food and water to starving peoples across the globe or rallied for needed change in government or society.  I could have chosen a career that would have been one of the highly esteemed professions which are set in relief to the more mundane jobs not shown in these ads.  Was I wrong not to?  Have I let down the human race because I didn’t sign up for one of those marathons?  Have I settled for less?

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The Day it Rained Mud

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A lot of noteworthy things happened in 1937.  Howard Hughes flew cross-country from Los Angeles to New York City in a record-setting seven hours and forty-seven minutes.  the German airship, Hindenburg, bust into flames and was destroyed.  San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge was opened to traffic.  Amelia Earhart disappeared after takeoff from New Guinea on her quest to become the first woman to fly around the world.  That’s quite an array of noteworthy, sometimes pivotal events.

There were some less majestic events that year.  A new meat product called Spam was introduced.  Ernest Hemmingway’s novel, To Have and Have Not, was first published.  Walt Disney’s animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered.

Some people with recognizable names were born in 1937.  They included Vanessa Redgrave, Dustin Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Tom Smothers, Waylon Jennings, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, and Saddam Hussein.  It was quite a year for births.

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The Day it Rained Mud

IMG_3595

A lot of noteworthy things happened in 1937.  Howard Hughes flew cross-country from Los Angeles to New York City in a record-setting seven hours and forty-seven minutes.  the German airship, Hindenburg, bust into flames and was destroyed.  San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge was opened to traffic.  Amelia Earhart disappeared after takeoff from New Guinea on her quest to become the first woman to fly around the world.  That’s quite an array of noteworthy, sometimes pivotal events.

There were some less majestic events that year.  A new meat product called Spam was introduced.  Ernest Hemmingway’s novel, To Have and Have Not, was first published.  Walt Disney’s animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered.

Some people with recognizable names were born in 1937.  They included Vanessa Redgrave, Dustin Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Tom Smothers, Waylon Jennings, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, and Saddam Hussein.  It was quite a year for births.

Oh, yes, there was one more.  I was born one Saturday in March at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati.  It was the first day of spring.  My entrance was orchestrated not by birds singing in the sunshine, but by muddy raindrops splashing against the windows.  It was raining mud–the result of clouds emptying their moisture contents through the filter of dust from the great Midwest dust bowl.  What a way to make an entrance!

Across seventy-some years since then I have discovered that there are many kinds of contradictions that often exist side-by-side.  The hope of spring interrupted by muddy rain is one example.  Another might be the horrific disasters that often occur in the midst of great celebrations.  Sometimes we can feel trampled by the stampede of it all.

It’s always possible for life to rain mud on us.  It’s also possible to rise above the storms to the heights of enhanced fulfillment.  The world of the Twentieth Century into which I was born is not much different from the world of the Twenty-first Century where I now find myself.  Tragedy, suffering, and hardship are always present.  So are love, hope, faith, and enduring relationships.  How we experience the world depends a lot on how we walk through it.

I’ve learned that I can only do life one step at a time.  Whenever I’ve tried to plot a path to take me somewhere I thought I needed to be, I’ve hit unexpected roadblocks.  I’ve had to learn to have goals, but keep my focus centered on one step at a time.  Sometimes my steps leave deep imprints in my mind and spirit.  Some pieces of the journey serve to enrich and inform new experiences.  Often it’s only by looking back that I can see how to go forward.  I venture that we’re all like that.

Life is often orchestrated by muddy raindrops–but there are always offsetting strains of promise and hope waiting to be discovered beyond a waiting rainbow.  God is the composer of it all, and when I keep my spirit tuned to him, muddy raindrops never form
the last chord!

 

SPRING’S PROMISE

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Boatyard (2005)

Spring arrived early at Dinkel Island this week.  Everybody in town seemed energized.  Boaters began bringing in their craft for overhauls and painting at the boatyard behind Pappy’s Place.  Junior Hawkins hired extra help to handle the load.

At the drugstore, the Old Geezers sounded a note of caution.

“I’m the first one to welcome a little warm up and fair weather,” said Jimmy Charles.  “Perks things up around the golf course.”

“Well, I’m too busy to play golf all of a sudden,” remarked Doc Patcher.  “Even with that new emergency care place out at the Crabber’s Creek Shoppes, we’ve been swamped with allergies, runny noses, sneezes and more.”

“Well, well,” said Ed Heygood as he walked in on the gathering.  “I thought you guys would be too busy washin’ windows and cleanin’ your yards to hang out around here in such beautiful weather.”

“Wouldn’t miss this charming companionship for…

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SPRING’S PROMISE

Boatyard (2005)

Spring arrived early at Dinkel Island this week.  Everybody in town seemed energized.  Boaters began bringing in their craft for overhauls and painting at the boatyard behind Pappy’s Place.  Junior Hawkins hired extra help to handle the load.

At the drugstore, the Old Geezers sounded a note of caution.

“I’m the first one to welcome a little warm up and fair weather,” said Jimmy Charles.  “Perks things up around the golf course.”

“Well, I’m too busy to play golf all of a sudden,” remarked Doc Patcher.  “Even with that new emergency care place out at the Crabber’s Creek Shoppes, we’ve been swamped with allergies, runny noses, sneezes and more.”

“Well, well,” said Ed Heygood as he walked in on the gathering.  “I thought you guys would be too busy washin’ windows and cleanin’ your yards to hang out around here in such beautiful weather.”

“Wouldn’t miss this charming companionship for anything,” said Darrell Tellerson.  “Besides, we gotta have that cup o’ mornin’ joe, no matter what else is goin’ on.”

So the week started, and the enthusiasm around town grew stronger each day.  Out at the retreat center, Gracie Love moved the gathering place for a church group’s spring planning retreat out onto the deck, overlooking Tranquility Bay.  There seemed to be almost a sonata effect to birds chirping, gulls soaring, and small animals scurrying about.

When the group broke for lunch, Gracie felt so moved by the spring atmosphere that she offered a devotion, which they welcomed.  After reading Psalms 150, Gracie broke out into one of her favorite hymns, Morning Has Broken.  The world seemed to breaking afresh into joyful promise.

“Thanks for your thoughts and song,” said the group leader.  With all the political upheaval, economic turmoil, and stories of shootings and crime flooding us from the news media, it’s good to be reminded that this is God’s world.  He has created it, and wants the best for all his people.  Spring reminds us to step back, stop living in the throes of reactivity.  Let God show us his love, repent and ask forgiveness for our lack of faith, and see what wonders God will unfold.”

When spring breaks forth from winter’s bleakness, it’s a reminder that God is bigger than any situation, decision or dilemma we face.  Like sprucing up boats at Pappy’s Place, we need to spruce up our spiritual lives.  Spring’s promises:  the potential for goodness and grace when God’s love touches us afresh!

 

 

 

Spirit and Spunk

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The aging woman bends over her work.  A magnifier-light helps compensate for reduced vision due to macular degeneration.  Her fingers move with surprising agility, guiding the threaded needle to convert colorful strips of fabric into a quilted pattern.

Affection for the task and sheer determination rob her arthritic joins of their debilitating potential.  She works with skills first learned as a three-year-old at her grandmother’s side–watching, copying, learning.  She now makes a fan quilt by cutting, piecing and sewing fabric wedges onto a patterned background.

In a day when quilts are digitally generated and sown together by a computer, it is refreshing to see the human touch.  Quilting has been a healing resource for her in the face of many changes and losses–two children, a husband, siblings, parents.  Life still surges through her veins, offering inspiration to others.

At the age of thirty-three she faced the reality that her third-born child was developmentally disabled with cerebral palsy.  When voices cried to “place” him in a care facility, she said “No!”  Each day brought challenges that she bravely met.  She and her husband tackled the task of founding a custodial/educational facility  for developmentally disabled adults that they called “Community of Hope.”  It lasted thirty years.

In a later stage of life, this woman faced the loss of that son, and later her daughter.  Then came her husband’s Alzheimer’s and ultimately his death.  Living in a retirement community she returned to her roots, becoming a key figure in quilting circles.  The quilt she works on today will be sold in the fall to benefit the facility where she lives.

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Oh, by the way, this woman is my mother, Mary E. Harris, who resides in Assisted Living at the Bridgewater Home.  She is a woman of spirit and spunk who will turn 105 in May!  Hopefully her quilts will endure as long as she has, maybe longer–a legacy of God’s grace and her unwavering faith.