Friday, September 30, 2016

Our Sense of Values

Dr. William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, addressed a group of Oxford students in 1941 (in the midst of WWII) and said this:  “The world, as we live in it, is like a shop window in which some mischievous person has got in overnight and shifted all the price labels around, so that the cheap things have the high-price labels on them and the really precious things are priced low.”  Then he added:  “We let ourselves be taken in.”

Have we let ourselves be taken in with regard to our values?   What do we mean by our sense of values?  We mean those things that we consider of greatest worth.  I love words, and am fascinated by how they have formed.  The origin of the word “value” comes from the word “valor,” which is derived from the Latin “valent,” meaning strength, or worth.  Our sense of values, then, is our appreciation of those things which are really valorous things, the strong things, the things of worth.  Every human being has his or her own sense of values, a sense of what is important and of worth, for themselves, their family, their community and their world.  

The big question is whether “We let ourselves be taken in” when we look in the shop window without realizing that the price labels have been shifted around, making the cheap “high-priced” and the really worthwhile things marked “low.”  When a person says, “It’s worth it,” he or she reveals their sense of values.

Leslie Weatherhead tells the story of a young soldier in WWI who went out into no-man’s-land where shells were falling to save his wounded friend.  His commander gave him permission, but added, “It isn’t worth it.  Your friend is probably dead, and if you go out there you might end up dead too.”  The young soldier went, hoisted his friend on his shoulder, and carried him back behind the line after being severely wounded himself.  “I told you it wasn’t worth it,” said his commander.  “Your friend is dead and you are about to join him.”  “But it was worth it, sir,” said the dying young man.  “Worth it?  How could it be worth it?” the officer snapped.  “It was worth it, sir,” said the boy, “because when I got to him he was still alive, and he said, ‘Jim, I knew you’d come.’”  The value of friendship made the sacrifice worth it.  Our life and the life of our world depends on, and is governed by, our sense of values—our understanding as to which things are worth while and which are not!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

On Having Tested My Best Guess

“You must set up a hypothesis and then test it—that is the only way in which you can get at anything,” writes one of my friends of the written word (G.A. Student Kennedy).  This is true of science and it is true of life, particularly the life of faith.  The method used by Newton to discover the law of gravity is the same method by which we must come at life and faith.  We have to make our great guess, set up our grand hypothesis, and then test and verify it by living as though it were true.  

Our “guess” is our guiding star and we must follow it into our world of time and space, testing it in both the dark and the light.  We must follow it as we confront every obstacle, whether mountain, valley or desert, follow it in every confusing perplexity, live it out in both good and troublesome times and in the midst of heartache and joy.  

My great guess (God Is) made many years ago, and the hypothesis (therefore, Love is at the heart of all things, because God is and God is like Jesus) has been tested and found reliable.  With Martin Luther I can say, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”  To be sure it is an act of Faith—but not a “blind” one.  G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”  I have tried it on for many years and confess that it has been and still is extremely difficult, but not wanting, in my experience.  There is a “mystic certainty” that has come in these later years and I sing now with joy and wonder:

Peru:  Feeding the Llama
Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory; Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flowers before thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All thy works with joy surround thee, earth and heaven reflect thy rays,
stars and angels sing around thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and fountain, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
chanting bird and flowing fountain, call us to rejoice in thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest,
wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father,  Christ our brother, all who live in love are thine;

teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

“People of the Lie”

Dr. Smith rocked my boat.  He punched holes in my life preserver.  He created turmoil in the sea of my mind.  He challenged the religious faith in which I had been immersed since childhood.  He tore my interpretation of the Book (Bible) to shreds.  I shall never forget his unrelenting assault upon my presumptions and ignorance during my first year in seminary.  Today, I am so grateful for his persistence in forcing me to seek truth rather than falsehood; to deal with  objective fact rather than simply subjective feeling.   He freed my mind from bondage—bondage to lies, falsehood, fiction—and set me free to think, to study, to delve into what is true and what is false, and not to settle for anything less, both in my spiritual life and life in general.

This experience comes to mind this morning as I ponder our present-day dilemma of 24/7 media coverage of events, our technological advance via Facebook, Blogs, etc., the political divide, and the life of the contemporary church.  A “Dr. Smith” is needed in all of these areas—to push for the facts, for the truth, for what is real and what is unreal.  Scott Peck in his book, “People of the Lie,” suggests that while evil manifests itself in many ways, the common identifier is the “Lie.”

We are all People of the Lie.  The story I told my children forty years ago has been exaggerated over the years—and is no longer the Truth.  My additions (consciously or unconsciously) through the years make it fictional (a lie!).  The Church continues to ignore scientific fact and thus perpetuates lies (that which is not true, or real, or objective).  Politicians excel, especially in an election season, in subordinating facts, truth, and reality.  TV pundits exaggerate every happening, every situation (for higher ratings) and thus evade the Truth and produce a good deal of fiction (and friction among their viewers).  

Truth is a reality.  There are still Facts.  We must work hard to discover them these days, to be sure, but they are realities.  I want to rock the boat, punch holes in the life preservers, create turmoil in the minds of people.  I want to challenge the untruths.  It is extremely dangerous to allow ourselves to become People of the Lie.  The following quotes from Adolph Hitler (who I have never quoted before) should be a clarion call to all of us to use our minds, to think things through, to deal with facts, to seek the Truth in all matter of things.

“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.
Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.

The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.”

Truth is as real as every dawning of a new day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It’s All I Have To Say!

George, at the age of 92  asked me one day if I had ever heard the song, “If I Have Wounded Any Soul Today.”  I told him I did know it and had listened to Marty Robbins and Mahalia Jackson’s rendition of the hymn for years.  George found the song meaningful as he reviewed his journey through the years, knowing that from time to time, he had wounded others, caused someone’s foot to go astray, walked his own willful way, uttered idle words, turned aside from want and pain, been perverse, hard and cold toward his neighbors and friends. Haven’t we all?  I doubt there is anyone who can claim immunity!  All there was to say to George is all that I can ever say to anyone, including myself.  We have all fallen short of humanness—and God forgives and loves us anyway!

It’s all I really have to say about anything and everything: God loves us anyway!  The answer to all of life’s complexities and riddles is found in the face of Jesus as I see him in the gospel and experience his presence in my journey.  It’s all there is to say to the man or woman fighting against cancer or some other crippling infirmity.  God loves us.  It’s all I’ll ever have to say to anybody burdened with painful memories or at the “end of his or her wits” standing in front of a blank wall with nowhere to turn.  God loves you!  It’s all I have to say when depression takes over, or the shadow of death steals in upon a beautiful life.  It’s all I have to say when the world goes mad again and begins to crucify and belittle others to allay its own fears.  God loves us!

In the face of Jesus, the love of God doesn’t seem to me to be a silly, unreasonable idea, trying to look good no matter how ugly the things are that happen; “it seems like Creation’s heart beating against my own,” and everyone else’s heart too, no matter what.   Love is at the heart of all things.  It’s all I have ever had to say and it is all I have to say now.  

Antelope Canyon--looking only at the surface.

Antelope Canyon--from within.

Monday, September 26, 2016

“I’m Back in the Saddle (Study) Again”

The old saying, “Home is where the heart is…” has some validity as I sit here this morning in my study after an absence of over a month.  There is a feeling of being back “home” in the company of my “friends” of the written word, and with the “stuff” that reflects some of the paths my life has taken.  As I bask in this friendly, comfortable atmosphere, however, the words of Douglas Steere come to me.  He writes that a day will come when I must go through the needle’s eye, and that most, if not all of what I have come to identify as my permanent possessions will be stripped from me:  “my possessions must go; my house will be sold or rented or passed into the hands of others, any income that I may have will go to others, and even my books will go…”

“While It Is Day,” however, I will enjoy the company of my friends (books) and the “stuff” of my journey.  If you take time to look at the photo, you will note immediately that I love “wood.”  I particularly like the wood of the oak and walnut tree and so my books are stored in early 20th century oak barrister bookcases and adorned with wood carvings I’ve carved over the years.  There is a story behind the bookcases.  They were a gift (along with many of the books) inherited from an old clergyman I met 47 years ago.    Dr. Cummings and I spent many an hour together.  He was an important mentor in my early years of ministry and each time I look at the bookcases, I think of him.  

When I first brought the bookcases home, they were coated with the dark black stain of the period in which they were used and smelled of cigar smoke.  Dr. Cummings enjoyed his cigars!  My wife did not want them in the house, but after stripping off the old dark finish and allowing the golden oak to appear, I was permitted to bring them back up out of the basement into our living quarters and they have been with me ever since and J. Earl Cummings too.  

Perhaps, someday, when these bookcases belong to another, they will look upon them and think of me!  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Crickets Sing

Every autumn the crickets take up residence in our garage. I suspect they gather there for warmth on these cool autumn nights.  They are out and about all summer long, but I seldom see them, or hear them, until this time of the year.  There are over 900 species of crickets in the world and there are probably 900 crickets in my garage.  They are kept as pets in countries from China to Europe, and used as food in Southeast Asia, where they are sold deep-fried in markets as snacks. 

This morning I heard the crickets singing.  Some species of crickets have a whole repertoire of songs according to researchers.   This morning I seemed to hear several of those songs. The calling song attracts females.  The courting song is sung when a female is near, encouraging her to come nearer.  A triumphal song is sung after mating.  They also have an aggressive song that is sung when another male cricket is present.  Alas, the female of the species does not sing (like the Cicada) which is a shame.  Perhaps as the species evolves, the female will be set free to sing her own song too.

We have a whole repertoire of songs within us too!  A website called Songfacts lists 173 different song types!  In our species, even the female sings!  The question in my mind this morning is:  “What of the many songs we have within us are we singing?  We can choose our song.  Some are singing dirges about how bad things are in our world.  I prefer to sing this song, “For the Healing of the Nations:”  

For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord; for a just and equal sharing of the things that earth affords; to a life of love in action help us rise and pledge our word…

Lead us forward into freedom; from despair your world release, that, redeemed from war and hatred, all may come and go in peace.  Show us how through care and goodness fear will die and hope increase…

All that kills abundant living, let it from the earth be banned; pride of status, race, or schooling, dogmas that obscure your plan.  In our common quest for justice may we hallow life’s brief span…

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fall and "The Fall”

It has taken a day or two to reorient myself to “being at home” and getting back into a routine after 35 days and 6,985 miles on the road.    I’m getting there slowly but surely.

Fall has come—I could smell it in the air, as I sat on the deck yesterday morning.  I could see it in the way the grass and flowers are beginning  to fade from green to brown and the yellowed leaves were falling from the trees.  The bees still hover over the Hosta blooms and butterflies still flit through the air.  A hummingbird came searching for the sweet nectar of the “feeder” yesterday, but alas I haven’t refilled it since my return.  I am probably the only gardener in the area who has a goldenrod growing in my flower bed—and I can’t bear to pull it up. It is the harbinger of this new season called “Fall.”

“Fall” has biblical and theological ramifications.  According to the Judeo-Christian faith, the first  “Fall” was a disaster, whether fact or myth.  The story is told in the book of Genesis—the eating of the forbidden fruit.  This story attempts to explain why our world is so broken.  Eve blames the serpent, Adam blames Eve, and all blame God!  The epitome of sin is separation from God, from our neighbors, and from ourselves.   The story (fact, fiction, or myth) continues,  we are still terribly divided and our world is broken still.

I have Hope in the Inner Light in the midst of the Fall
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I feel I never have enough of in the autumn.”   In the “Fall” we never have enough light—an Inner Light is needed

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Home Again! (Day 35)

We arrived home yesterday afternoon (Day 35).  After unloading the RV, checking phone messages, sorting through mail, and other chores, I had little energy left to write my daily blog last night.  

After finally getting electrical juice to the RV to brew my coffee yesterday morning and tanking up for another day on the road,  saying good-bye to our good friends, we left West Virginia and traveled through the mountains of Western Maryland,  Sideling Hill, South Mountain, etc., (considered a part of the Appalachia region) and Allegany and Garrett counties. We stopped in Frostburg, Maryland and called our grandson, Austin.  He is attending Western Maryland State University there.  Sideling Hill is the boundary between Western Maryland and what Marylanders refer to as “down-state.”  The scenery of Western Maryland is very much like that of West Virginia—and I think— just as “wild and wonderful!”

Within a few hours we were “down-state,” traveling through the more urban and populated areas from Frederick to Baltimore and eventually to our home (for the last 40-plus years) in Rising Sun.  We are fortunate to have friends to look after our home, mow the lawn, etc.,  making it possible for us to be on the road and to wander about this great country.  I am thankful for their help.

This journey was our second trek across the nation this year and the “second time around” was just as wonderful as the earlier trip in the spring.  I hope you have enjoyed sharing the journey with us and I would urge you to get “on the road” too!  See this land, meet the people, experience the wonder of it all:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me

Western Maryland Mountains (not my photo)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia (Day 34)

We left Kentucky this morning and drove east through Ashland KY and then north through the beautiful mountains of West Virginia.  (The Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky are quite spectacular too).  We had arranged with our friends, Mark and Norva, to pick up some Kentucky Fried Chicken and have dinner together at their home.  We visited the town Philippi and Alderson-Broaddus College (now University) in the early afternoon.  My, how things change!  It was at A-B that we first met Mark and Norva—a friendship that has now spanned over fifty years.  

From Philippi we drove those West Virginia “country roads” with many a horseshoe curve to Mark and Norva’s home, situated in a beautiful valley in the midst of the Monongahela National Forest.  We enjoyed our brief evening together—and the Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner.

Postscript:  (Day 33)
We parked in Mark and Norva’s driveway for the night.  Mark always has the extension cord ready for our arrival so that we can plug in and have all the conveniences of home in our RV—conveniences such as the brewing my very early pot of coffee before most human beings are awake.  But, alas, something happened to the electrical connection!  I think Mark turned off the wrong switch last night.  So the coffee pot is ready to brew, if only it had a little electrical juice!  
Mark is up!  We’ve found the problem.  The electrical juice is on and the coffee is brewing!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

“The Wayward Wind is a Restless Wind” (Day 33)

There was dense fog in Illinois early this morning, but sun quickly broke through. We drove eastward along I-64, through the eastern (lower) half of Illinois, southern Indiana, and eventually crossed the Ohio River into Louisville, KY.  Beautiful country!  We are now situated at a comfortable RV Park in Georgetown, KY, just north of Lexington.  This is horse country and gazing at some of the horse farms along the way, I don’t think a “horse’s life” would be half-bad here in Kentucky!  

I’m trying hard this evening to avoid feeling a bit down as we come to our last few days of this road trip.  Tomorrow we’ll travel northward through West Virginia and the following day through western Maryland and home.  I love being on the road and experiencing this wondrous land and its people.  My wandering gypsy-heart would have me on the road all the time, I think, but there are some responsibilities at home that need tending.  I’ll try to “cheer-up,” even as I think of the weeds waiting to be pulled in the flower gardens and the work needed in the lawn, etc. 

Today, in Indiana, I finally had my first White Castle burger (the original slider)! White Castle was founded in 1921 in Wichita, KS.  What Henry Ford did in the auto industry, White Castle did with making hamburgers (long before McDonald’s).  It is an interesting story—and the White Castle burger a tasty treat!  I can’t believe I finally went to a White Castle after all these years of passing by!  (I’ll cross it off my Bucket-list).

My “traveling CD” includes the song “The Wayward Wind.” I think I might be “The next of kin to the wayward wind!

The wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And he was born the next of kin

The next of kin to the wayward wind

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Golden-Rod Awakens a Memory (Day 32)

Have you ever heard of a senile GPS?  Have you ever heard of a confused, disoriented, and befuddled GPS?  Our GPS this morning took us from Lone Pine, Missouri, miles and miles along dirt and rain-rutted roads (a continuous circle) in an attempt to get us to Interstate 70.  I knew “she” (I have an Australian woman’s voice) was baffled when we drove over the same “MO Tt” dirt road three times and “Z” road twice and through Bates City twice—and then redirecting us to “MO Tt” (a dirt road) again.  We gave up on our GPS friend, checked the map, and were soon on I-70 East!  The GPS seemed to be relieved and we were too!

All along the roadside today, both in Missouri and Illinois, the Golden-Rod bloomed its brilliant yellow.  The flower stirred a memory as it always does each September. When I was in the fifth grade, our teacher attempted to have us memorize the “Golden Rod” poem by Helen Hunt Jackson.  Looking out the classroom window that day, I could see the Golden-Rod a’blooming, but rather than latching on to the poem, I was caught up in day-dreaming about what I would do when school was done.  It is a strange remembrance, because it seems (as the memory returns) that I am “out of body” and can look upon that ten-year old boy so eager for school to end. I haven’t changed a bit!

The golden-rod is yellow; 
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
Harvest Moon over Lake Paradise MO
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
 Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed                                   
Its hidden silk has spun.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens 
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.

'Tis a thing which I remember; (a fifth-grade Day Dreamer)
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September

I never can forget. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Day at (Lake) Paradise (Day 31)

As this new day dawned, it seemed everything around me was vibrantly alive: little toads hopping about in the damp grass, fish jumping up out of the water catching their breakfast, butterflies on the wing under a clear, blue sky, dragonflies swooping down to the lake’s surface and some being devoured for swooping too close, birds singing morning songs, and the squirrels squirreling around.  During the night the crickets sang, the frogs croaked, the rain ceased, and this world  I observed at dawn, slept as I did—soundly and peacefully—awaiting its time.  This vibrant beginning of a new day made me want to sing, “Morning Has Broken,” or “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning; Oh, What a Wonderful Day!”

It was a beautiful morning, and it has turned out to be wonderful day.  A hearty breakfast was prepared and then the really important moment arrived—time to go a’fishing!  I first used a lure—no bites!  Then a minnow—no bites! Then I used some artificial (plastic worm) bait—no bites!  Meanwhile, the fish were jumping out of the water all around me.  I tried a grasshopper—no bites!  Finally, I found a fishworm under a rock and immediately caught a sunfish!  And then— it was lunchtime!

The afternoon was as pleasant as the morning, sitting under the awning, facing the lake, and basking in the warmth of the sun (79 degrees) under a gorgeous Missouri sky.  At 3 p.m. the urge to go a’fishing again took over and after finding some worms under rocks and leaves, I spent another hour “fishing” (“fishing” for me is not about catching a fish; it is another kind of fishing altogether, though it is always nice to say I caught at least one, or maybe two, or three).  Alas! nothing!

Now evening has come to Lake Paradise in Lone Pine, Missouri (a place I’ve never been before) and the harvest moon shines bright.  It has been a “needed” day—a day off the road; a “lazy” day—a day of fishing; a “catch-up” day—a day of solitude.  Tomorrow we will be “On the Road Again,” heading east.  What awaits?  What route shall we take?  Where will we be at the end of the day?  With Kazantzakis’ Odysseus, I want to say, “O free soul, I rejoice when you sprout wings to fly, or open up new roads!”

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Paradise “Found” in Missouri (Day 30)

We traveled East Main Street [I-70], Kansas most of today, turning south on a scenic auto route at Topeka to bypass the Kansas turnpike and most of the Kansas City area  The rain of the previous night followed us throughout much of the day, becoming a downpour by 2 p.m. and continuing until our arrival here at Lake Paradise Resort and RV Park in Lone Pine, Missouri.

Driving East “Main Street,” Kansas was just as spectacular as the drive along West “Main Street [I-70] Kansas the day before.  There were still hundreds of windmills, fields of hay, sorghum, milo and corn to be seen—and the skyscrapers (grain silos) in every hamlet along the way.  Just west of Topeka, there has been an attempt to restore the original prairie (Prairie Research Natural Area).  Driving along this section, I pictured the buffalo in great numbers trampling through that tall grass and wallowing in the ponds, and the covered wagons of the pioneers traversing this wide and open space.  What brave souls they must have been!  Kansas is not flat—there are rolling hills throughout and some are named:  Flint Hills, Rolling Hills, Smokey Hills.  Traveling through Kansas is a real treat, even on the Main Street [I-70]!

Lake Paradise Resort & RV Park, Lone Pine, Missouri is a bit lonely tonight and that suits me  fine!  The summer season has come to an end and there are only a few other folk here.  Tonight, as I walked along the lake,  I saw an eagle soar above the trees on the other side—and spied a Great Blue Heron at the water’s edge.   I think it is time to take another day off the road and enjoy this “Paradise.”  I might even “go fishing!”
Tonight, sitting here in “Paradise,” I read a few lines from my reading notes of Kazantzakis’ “The Odyssey—A Modern Sequel.”   I love his use of words, like “his heart filled wth myriad wings and playful thoughts and fragrant herbs,”  or “his words arose like water lilies in his mind’s warm murky pools.”  Can you picture that?  Can you feel that?  How I wish I could express myself like that—here in Paradise, MO.

“The man of many travels climbed, and his heart filled
with myriad wings and playful thoughts and fragrant herbs.”

“The more a soul grows old the more it fights its fate!”

“His lips moved and his words arose

like water lilies in his mind’s warm murky pools.”

Friday, September 16, 2016

“Main Street” [I-70] Kansas (Day 29)

With regret, we departed our pleasant campsite at the Air Force Academy this morning and headed east.  I made four wrong turns within the first 15 minutes of driving out of the Academy and Colorado Springs, even with the GPS telling me where to go!  I think the “day off” was having an effect.  At any rate, we finally made it to Route 24 which took us east to I-70.  I noted that Kansas calls I-70 its Main Street and that seems appropriate.  We drove eastward through the foothills of the Rockies—the Colorado high plains—for about 150 miles before entering Kansas.

Now some may say that Kansas hasn’t much to offer in terms of sight-seeing, but that just isn’t true.  Driving through on the western Kansas “Main Street” (I-70) one can observe “skyscrapers” in every little town.  These are grain silos!  Some are even higher than the church steeples, and I’ll bet there was much harangue in the church councils over the silos superseding the steeples!  There are corn, hay, sorghum, and milo fields all along the way.  (Milo is harvested to feed the many cows, which can also be observed along with thousands of those big round bales of hay along Main Street, Kansas).  Now these fields of corn, hay, sorghum, and milo are interesting because some have hundreds of huge windmills in them, and in front of the windmills are oil wells (and oil tanks to store the oil).  The power of the wind, the power of fossil fuel and  industrious farming go together here in Kansas.

We arrived in Russell, KS late this afternoon and found a comfortable RV Park.  I spent some time with the hostess, who needed to talk about a 3-year old boy in the neighborhood who died today from injuries when the tailgate of a pickup truck pinned him to a garage door.  How sad!  Every community, every family, every person, carries sorrows and wounds that we often know nothing about—but when we are told—we need to listen (for listening is a form of healing and love).  I now carry the campground hostess and this Kansas farming family, who have lost a son, in my bundle of care and prayer.

Taking some liberty with Kahil Kibran’s words, let me put it this way:  Whenever the storm is singing a wild song and dancing a passionate dance, whenever my heart is bare and quivering, wounded, sad, or
Odysseus at Yosemite
hurt, I feel the terrible need of someone to listen to me and to tell me that there is a tomorrow for all bare and quivering hearts.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Day of Rest in Colorado (Day 28)

We have had a restful day here at the Air Force Academy FamCamp.  The “necessities” like doing the laundry, cleaning Odysseus’ interior, etc., have been accomplished and we are now enjoying a peach cobbler.  Life is good on the road!  No bear knocked on the RV door last night, nor did any deer appear in the early morning light—only squirrels (black ones with pointed ears) seemed to want to come near.  Bear sightings have occurred here at the campground in recent days.  In spite of the bears, and the fact that I have crossed off “camping at the Air Force Academy” from my bucket list, I would very much like to return another day.  

Tomorrow we move out again—heading east.  Which one of the many roads shall I take?  That is a question still up in the air at the moment. One thing I am sure of, tomorrow morning I’ll get on some road or another, heading east!  

Camping at the AF Academy

Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek, has long been one of my favorite writers.  He strongly believed that every man/woman has a cry!  He writes how this idea came to him: “I have faith in you, she said; No, not in you but in the Cry of our times.  Be quiet and you’ll hear it.”  “Those words escorted me, said Kazantzakis, “for many days and nights!”  What is the Cry of our times?  Are we being quiet enough to hear that Cry?

Later, Kazantakis would write, “Every man (person) has a cry, his [her] cry, to sling into the air before he dies; let us waste no time, therefore, lest we be caught short.”  There is a Cry of the times, but there is also, Kazantzakis came to believe, a cry in each of us—our own special cry.  What is my cry?  What is your cry?  

The Cry, my cry, your cry, might mean the shedding of tears, or a cry of despair, or a cry of hope, but  Kazantzakis uses the word “Cry” as in “to shout or say something” that is uniquely our own, a cry no other person can cry!  What do you have to shout, to say, to proclaim?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Beneath Pike’s Peak (Day 27)

We left Ignacio this morning, seeing no point in hanging around to see if there would be a space for us tonight at the Casino RV Park, when there were miles to go and so many things to see.  It was a good decision!  After about an hour on the road, I called the Air Force Academy Family Camp (my fingers crossed) and asked if a site might be available for tonight and tomorrow night.  There was a spot and we are now settled in beneath Pike’s Peak.  I’ve been here a number of times, but never to camp.  It has been on my bucket list for the past six years!  Cross it off, Hal!!

Along our way today we saw Chimney Rock, passed by the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and crossed over the San Juan Mountain range, and through La Veta Pass (9,500 elevation) just south of the Sangre De Cristo range.  It was a scenic drive all the way until we reached I-25 and turned north toward Colorado Springs and then it became a bit boring (even at 75 mph).  Interstate travel gets us where we want to go fast—but Interstates do not have the charm of the more scenic roads.

Our campsite here at the AF Academy is a pleasant one.  We are isolated from the other RV’s and surrounded by a beautiful pine forest. It feels like wilderness, even if it isn’t wilderness!  Tomorrow we will take a day off from the road and do the necessary things that need to be done at this point—and rest up as well.
Chimney Rock, Colorado

In my bundle today I carry several people for whom I care deeply.  When trouble, pain, and wounds enter into our lives we tend to feel totally alone.  This “aloneness” lives in most of us, most of the time, as the “great philosopher” Dr. Seuss has told us:

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too.  Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.  There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul.  On you will go though your enemies prowl.  On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl.  Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.  On and on you will hike.  And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Memories and New Experiences (Day 26)

On this day, two years ago, a memorial service was held for my mother.  She left each of her seven children a personal note.  These notes were given to each of us by my older brother after the service.  I don’t know what Mom wrote to my siblings, but her note to me was one of encouragement and love.  I treasure it still!  I never realized the depth of spirit that dwelt within my mother!  

Today we drove north from Page, Arizona into Utah, visiting again the Navajo National Monument, Monument Valley, and the Valley of the Gods.  It was good to re-visit these places that seem to speak to me!  Taking new roads (never traveled before) through southeastern Utah, and eventually driving through Cortez and Durango, Colorado, we ended up at the Ute Reservation RV Park in Ignacio (just 15 miles south of Durango).  As we drove into the Casino RV Park there was a “No Vacancy” sign, but Roberta, the Park Hostess, whom we met the last time we were here, had just received a cancellation. We were lucky!  We had hoped to stay two nights here, but at the moment, all sites are reserved for tomorrow night.  Maybe we’ll get lucky again, but I have my doubts.

If there is “no room in the inn” for us here in Ignacio, we will drive on tomorrow—eastward—through southeastern Colorado.  Our intention is clear now—we are homeward bound, but as Lao Tzu wrote, “…with no fixed plan.”  Walt Whitman in his Song of the Open Road has these lines I’ve joined together to express myself: “You road I enter upon and look around! I believe you are not all that is here; I believe that much unseen is also here…..Be not discouraged—keep on—there are divine things, well envelop’d; I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.”  I can attest to that as we continue our own Song of the Open Road.

Monday, September 12, 2016

So Much More to See (Day 25)

This morning I noted the various posts on FB referencing the 15th anniversary of 9/11—“a day that will go down in infamy,” as Roosevelt said after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  (The day the A-Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima was also one of those days).  We must never forget 9/11, but at the same time, we cannot dwell there.  We must move on to create a world where such things can never happen again.  Fifteen years have passed since the event and it has taken almost that long to get appropriate action out of Congress to care for the victims (particularly the first-responders)!  I get frustrated with our outraged cries of “patriotism” and then our corresponding refusal to take care of our patriots—from the 9/11 first-responders to our veterans.  We respond with rancor about a person not standing for the national anthem at a sports event, but are silent when we hear of the failure of our country to provide our troops with appropriate care!  Have you observed what happens among spectators at a football game when the national anthem is being played?  Most of the spectators are more interested in their beer and the upcoming game than giving respect to the flag that still waves, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  

It was very hot here in Page, Arizona today (97°).  The heat, however, did not keep us from doing a tour of Antelope Canyon.  What a beautiful place it is!  By the way, you know you’ve reached senior maturity when you become aware of the fact that you are the oldest couple in a tour group and everybody is kind of watching you and wondering if you are going to make it!  We made it!

Tomorrow we take to the road again.  There is no definite plan, but there are places I’d like to see along the way, the Canyon of the Ancients, the ruts left by those covered wagons of the pioneers, Chimney Rock in Colorado, and so much more.  I want to see some places for a second or third time like the Navajo Monument, Monument Valley, etc.  My bucket list is endless, because I keep adding things to it!

Antelope Canyon