Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Walk!

Back around the late 70's or early 80's I started my own personal tradition. I don't think I started it with a "tradition" in mind. Just a one time thing that lasted into parts of three decades or so. I would go into the woods or somewhere quiet and walk and think and pray and try to make sense out of my life. I loved to walk up at Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama. The falls were a part of my youth just as they were for countless Gadsden/Etowah County kids and families growing up. They weren't the only place but they were the most relaxing place for me to walk. Black Creek was narrow and swift and cold and I would walk the woods and the rocks and while it might seem crazy today. I felt no need at all in my late teens or early twenties to tell anybody where I was. This was my time to open up to God and to myself about the deepest thoughts and problems and hopes of my life. The coming year and all the people and experiences of the past year. So, I have walked in North Alabama and the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. The woods around Altoona, Alabama and in Colorado. Life has taken some twist and turns I didn't expect.

I don't walk in the woods much these days. Don't get out as far by myself as I once did. Meditation with ear buds has replaced long walks and silent prayer has replaced at least to some extent the verbal out loud talk. Believe me talking to God while walking beside a swiftly running creek or walking the beach with waves breaking is a much easier thing than talking out loud in the grocery store. :-) The beach and woods and creek cover nicely. The store might get ya a day in the Psyc ward or at least a visit from the nice officer to make sure you're not volatile. :-)

Anyway, as I thought about it today I started thinking about old times. I thought about people that have been in my life. Some for just a moment and some shaped and molded my thoughts and actions for a lifetime. All are and were important. I have been able to reconnect with some people on facebook that I never thought I'd talk to again in this lifetime. I have also been able to come to a peace about my life. I don't hate the past and I don't regret the people I've known and cared about and if I do have a regret it's how I missed so many relationships or treated people shallowly and missed the dance of life by worrying so much.

I don't smoke these days at all. Not tobacco and not anything else either. :-) My 58 year old lungs would give out if I tried. Breath is a precious thing these days. Believe me. I don't drink except for the occasional glass of wine with my wife on special occasions or maybe a single beer on my birthday with a birthday dinner. My stomach will not tolerate alcohol well these days.  My brew is coffee and Colombian means coffee these days. ;-) So life is different. But, regrets? Some yeah. I would do some things in moderation and some things I wouldn't do at all. But, it's not my wild and lonesome frustrated vices of my youth that I regret. It's how I looked at people and if I treated people well that I would change for the better if could.

I once thought that if only I had the right home, job, bank account, city to live in that things would be okay. Now, I realize that I always had the right home, city, bank account and job if I could have just looked up and enjoyed the dance instead of waiting for the "right" time. Oh well, there's a reason they call it youth.

I worked for Child and Youth Services in Fort Carson, Colorado for a little while several years ago. The director there had a monthly meeting and she always had a segment called "Lessons Learned." I like that. I use it myself sometime. So, here at the end/beginning of a new year are some lessons learned. But, these are lessons learned over not only a year but a lifetime. I think about that sometimes. What would I say if an angel came to me and said "well Steve, it's time." What have you learned in this lifetime? Lets wrap it up. Well, after groveling and "Slangin Snot" as the old folks used to say in my southern youth. ;-)  I think I would say some of this.:

Lessons Learned:

1. Made peace with my past: The people and relationships and mistakes and regrets of the past have shaped how I am evolving now. I went for a time in denial and shame of where and what I had been. I had an old nickname back then that I completely refused to talk about and knew people I completely refused to even think about. I was so scared that by thinking about it I would feel that old helplessness and I would lose myself. Superstition? Yeah maybe. Denial? Yeah. But, finally I made peace with it. It doesn't bite. Some of the people I have loved the most were back there. Some of the most frustrating things in my life were back there too. I recently took my old nickname and decided to own it. To make it positive. Not to call myself that. My name is Steve. But, at least to use it in a fun way to celebrate my youth and life. There's an old saying in baseball when a batter hits a home run. "Touch em All." Meaning of course to touch all the bases on the way around. If you don't you can still be called out. It's also a celebration of hitting the home. Touch em All. I do that now with my past as well as my present. It's all important. I touch em all. :-)

2. Treat people the way you want to be treated: Harder than it sounds believe me. But, I do try to treat everybody with respect of the Divine within them as well as me. We are not bit players in each others movies. We are all on the journey and how we  treat people that have no power to pay us back or give us something in return says everything about us as human beings.

3. Forgiveness isn't the same as saying it's okay to be an asshole. I try to give people room who have hurt me. I try to give them room to be human. I can honestly say I don't hate anybody. I can give them room to be themselves. But, it doesn't mean that by forgiving that I have to say what they did was okay. That's still something that they will have to work out someday. God doesn't balance his books every Tuesday but he does balance them. However, I try to live my life and not wait and hope to see the ones who hurt me obliterated or hurt or get theirs. Hate just eats away at the one who does the hating. So, I release my "right" to have revenge. Now, understand that doesn't mean that you let somebody keep abusing you. It doesn't mean you can't take a stick and get em off you either. :-) It just means you don't give them the "power" of having you dwell in hate toward them.

4. Pray: This is the most important thing for me. I don't prescribe to a religious dogma these days. I have my faith and belief but it's not so fragile that I have to beat others over the head with it. I also don't need the approval of others in authority to verify my own life and spiritual journey. But, I will say this. In my opinion (That's imo for you young age of the internet folks.) :-)  Prayer isn't a shopping list to a cosmic Santa. For me it's calling on the very source of my being the very real maker of my soul for help in this life. I heard a scientific type person say once that he didn't understand how but he had found that there is a power and if you will call then you will get help. Sometime all I can say is "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God." But, I know I'm heard. I am trying to learn to live in mindfullness. To remember to breathe. To worry less.

5. Honesty: Now I know people like to say "I'm honest" but lets get real. There are things in life (or at least there are with me) that we don't share with others. We can't because others aren't in our skin and couldn't possibly understand all our reasons for everything we've done. But, I do believe that God esteems honesty. I lived so much of my life trying to please others. So, the church would think I was a good Christian. The girl would think I was a good guy. The friend would think I voted for the right canditate. That God would give me good stuff if I thought the right thoughts. It took a while and it's still ongoing. But, I try to be honest with myself and therefor with God or my Source of being. It's liberating in many ways because I no longer have to pretend to believe something I don't believe just to please people. I don't have to be close minded either. I can pray and meditate and do an honest search for sanity and clarity.

So, on this New Year's Eve I pray that I am open to the voice of the only one who has the authority to know my innermost person and thoughts. I pray for enough.

 I read something on the internet the other day. An older lady was saying goodbye to her daughter at the airport. She told her daughter that she wished her "enough." Her daughter said the same to her. A man later asked the lady why she said that to her daughter. She replied that she was terminal and going home to die. She wouldn't see her daughter again in this life. So, she wished her enough. It was something they had always wished for each other. Enough resources to live and have food and shelter. Enough hope and love to go on. Enough rain in each life to enjoy the sun. Enough lack to enjoy the good times. Enough darkness to enjoy the coming of the light. Enough. I pray for enough this year. Because if we look up and if we can keep going there really is enough. But, I'm not naive and I know that crap happens. I also am reminded of a youtube video of the great psychiatrist Carl Jung. He said that he didn't believe in god because he knows there is a God. Belief is not knowing. He said I know. That when he talked with his elderly patient's they didn't talk hopelessly about an end. They talked about looking forward to something better. So, yeah I admit that life isn't always going to end in prosperity or good health or another new toy. It's not wrong to seek prosperity or even to play with a new toy if we don't harm others to get it. But, it's also true that humans need hope. So, if I've learned one thing in my 58 years so far. I've learned that hope is eternal and we are more than brain chemistry. I wish you hope this year.

Eagles: "I Wish You Peace"
 
I wish you hope when things are goin' bad,
kind words when times are sad.
I wish you shelter from the raging wind,
cooling waters at the fever's end.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jesus Laughing!

I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint.My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me: Psalm 22:14


Wait, I'm fifty eight years old. I have a family and health needs and I'm way to old to be out looking for a job. It's coming up on the holidays. Oh, God, my lips are numb and my mouth is like cotton. I've never been this scared in my life.

I had a dream shortly after that on a restless night. I was in my truck but it was losing power. I thought "well, this can't be good." Then I was in my old workplace and a friend was there behind me. "Wait, I shouted there's a giant hole in the floor. Don't move! We were on the second floor in the  dream but the actual building doesn't have a second floor. Still I was grabbed from behind. Forcefully but yet with strong and sure presence that I was safe. I was taken down the stairs swiftly and out the door. I heard every footfall my rescuer made on running down the stairs. I was put into a strong speedy vehicle and delivered where I was supposed to be. I jumped out once the vehicle stopped and went inside.

Wow, on waking up. Was that you God? Was that my Guardian Angel? Do you have this? Still, fear and confusion would follow so many nights of :

Whatif? whatifwhatifwhatif, What If? What if I never work again? What if I get sick? what if my wife or child gets sick? What if we lose our home? How will we eat? How will we live? Crazy time. I can't breathe. Can't sleep! What if?


 If someone asks, 'What are these wounds on your body?' they will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.: Zechariah 13:6

My child has Asthma. But, he is now on All Kids. But, what am I reading from this good Christian conservative now on facebook? It's a shame we have Medicaid? Really? So, my child should die of an Asthma Attack because I no longer have my Blue Cross? That's God's Will? That's what our nation was founded on? Oh Jesus have mercy. I've worked for the past 30 years and now I'm a moocher because I want my child and wife to have health care? Onward Christian Soldiers.

Meditate, breathe, thank you Wayne Dyer for the youtube video that helped me with my breathing and calming down every evening and morning. Peace. Still whatifwhatifwhatif!

Job Interview: I have my license ya know. LBSW! But, everyone here is younger than me. How long do I think I can work? Why do you ask that? I'm afraid to say that out loud but it's pretty clear. They need a younger social worker.

Wait, waitwaitwaitwaitworryworryworryworry.
Whew, my wife got a job in her field. Not a high paying job and no benefits but it will help.

Letter from first job interview: Thanks  for applying. Better luck next time.

Second Job Interview: At least I'm not the oldest one at the table this time. The social workers and director are older than me. Good sign. I'll be glad to use my experience and yes I am licensed.

Wait,wait,wait,wait

Third job interview: I'm the oldest here again.
Wait,wait,wait.

Thank God, Second interview called. I got the job. So blessed. Now, I can breathe. Also, I have seen how tough it is to get work This sounds brief but it took months. It was a up and down and panic in the night soul numbing time. I can't put it all in here. I'm not ready to do that may never be.

Jesus Laughing:

I saw this and downloaded it. I thought the day might come when I can use this Picture.  I thought about it once I was looking for work, I thought about what it might mean.Jesus thinking before his trial Crazy Time!  Gone to the garden. Oh God let this pass. Thoughts: "Ya know your not anything special don't ya? You will die like all the rest and go into oblivion. RUN!

I can't run. I have to do this. I was born for this. "Are you Crazty?" Run!
Oh, God, whatifwhatifwhatif. Run! Let this pass from me. RUN!

Meaning of my profile picture of Jesus laughing:

Some people see Jesus as the virgin born son of God. I was raised Christian and even though some of my more liberal views would be thought heretical now, I still identify so much with the one who walked and lived and died to show me the way home. So, here's what I think about when I see the picture of Jesus laughing:

A long time ago I saw a cartoon in a Christian magazine of a man who had just gotten to heaven. Somehow, the artist managed to catch the worn out weary person who has just come through life. But, at the same time the "Rest and healing and Whew, that's over" feel too.

So, I think about Christ. The journey finally done. The voices finally stopped. The fear finally faced and victory hard won. The weary hard dry journey over. The loss of everything and everybody he loved finally shown to only be temporary so what does he do?

He Laughs. With JOY! With Life! With relief, with Hope! With Love.


And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; Job 19:26


So, even before I make my last journey. Even now I can Laugh!

God doesn't balance his books every Tuesday. But, he does balance them. Peace!








Sunday, September 27, 2015

Truth!

38Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, "I find no guilt in Him.: John 18:38


This particular bible verse has always resonated with me.  No matter what your view of truth is this is an ironic moment and a very human moment. A man, a human being who has temporarily been given fallen into or whatever a position of "authority" has just asked one of the most important questions a human can ask. Depending on your own world view he has at the least just asked the wisest most devout and holy Jewish Rabbi/teacher a question that has cosmic implications. At the most he has just asked the very manifestation of all that is love, being, wisdom, life the very image of "God" the most important question a human could ask. But, what does he do? He turns away and walks back out to the crowd. So very sad and so very human. He really wasn't looking for the truth. He was looking for his own political and personal absolution of responsibility. In other words he was just doing what "we" do.

"You can't handle the truth." ....A Few Good Men

That one has fallen into the great American quote book.But, the thing is the character was having a melt down. He had "his" truth and it should have been self evident to all the "idiots" he was talking to at that time. Again, it's what we do. We talk at each other not with each other. 


"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."...Albert Einstein 

So many people give away their power and their soul to political agendas and religious teachers and pop scientists masquerading as philosophers. I see so many facebook quotes of people yelling at each other. Calling names and saying "Well, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Nixon and on and on and on" did it first. So What? Does that mean you give your "team" a free pass? That's a dangerous road folks. Hold em all accountable. I have a secret for you. Anybody of any party that has ascended to high state or national office is indebted to some other power, money or group. So, stop acting like they are angels sent from the forces of holiness and hold em all accountable. But, I digress. Often. :-)

I have a secret that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ or the church that I grew up with will find heretical. Now, I'm not one of those former Christians that became an angry atheist. I'm not angry or atheist. But, I have to tell ya something that some of us "formerly fundi" folks think. At least I do. The angry god that you worship? The one who is a meglo maniac and burns poor sinners in hell forever? The one who can't even look at the creation "he made" and the one who is always smiting enemies and cursing people and making you bow and scrape? He's not someone that I would want to spend eternity groveling in front of. 

I thought of this when I think of my son. If I made my son come to me and say "Father, I am but a worm in thy site. Deserving of eternal pain and torment. Filthy and wicked and unworthy of thy love. Please accept my undying worship and love" What do ya think would happen? He would either hate me and wish he could just tell the truth or some where down the line DHR would be called. 

I'll tell some of my "science" minded friends this. A world where the only goal is to procreate and head to personal oblivion isn't a world I would ever want to be born into. You can use jargon and high sounding words. But, if you put lipstick on a pig you still have a pig.

So, what is truth? I find truth in being honest and open in my own meditations. That doesn't mean taking a guru or making a fourth person of the "godhead" out of the bible. I find truth in looking at the night sky. Not, in the myth of it all being a chemical reaction in my brain. 

 
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things....Philippians 4:8

So, if you find the bible to be inerrant then I'm fine with that. Just understand that I don't take your judgements or interpretation of the bible as having any authority over my mind or life at all. If you think Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins are all wise on all things outside their own narrow field of expertise then I'm fine with that. Just know that I don't share that bleak and narrow worldview for my own soul. If you think Obama is a Kenyan and Bush was a patriot for flying planes from Texas to Alabama during Vietnam. But, Kerry was a coward although he went to Vietnam then I'm fine with that. But, I don't share your worldview about what makes a brave American. If you think everyone who disagrees with the president is a racist backwoods hick then I'm fine with that. But, I don't share such a stereotypical worldview.


So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets: Matthew 7:12 ESV

That's my truth. That's my religion these days. I often fall short. I often treat people the way they treat me. Which isn't the same thing. :-)

Peace!

 

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Dreams May Come.

  When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

I fell in love with this poem years ago due to a episode of the "New Twilight Zone."  1985 or so. From what I can remember a scientist in a lab is working on some sort of holographic projector. Somehow a human fetus is captured and grows though the stages of child, girl, woman, and old age. The woman says she is from the early part of the 20th century. It turns out that she died in childbirth and the scientist is the reincarnation of her husband who never forgave himself. Yeats, the author of "When You Are Old" is featured in their discussions. This particular poem is quoted at the close of the show. As the woman is dying she somehow uses a message to send the scientist back to his wife without the guilt and ready to continue this lifetime. Anyway, it stayed with me. I have heard this poem described as sad but I don't think it is.

    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true,
    But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

Somehow to me it has always spoken of eternal relationship and the continuance of love and relationship.


And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

I look up at the night sky from time to time. I'm always awed and wonder how anybody would prefer a street light or neon pollution to the majesty of that sky. But, sadly, floodlights come on out here in the country where I live and so I have to find a place where the stars can be seen.
Another thing about the night sky. I've heard people say it makes them feel small and insignificant. It has the opposite effect on me. I feel like I fill the whole universe. That if I could just get quiet and "see" that I am part of and belong to infinity.
It's the feeling I get when I get into that rare "sweet spot" when I pray or meditate. If I could just not have to pee for a blooming minute. :-)
Ahh, the joys of growing older. It's really not for sissies.

 But, somehow if I and you can just see it. There's still stars to see and roads to travel. I think one of the things that started me this evening was thinking about old friends and classmates and family members who have gone on. I look sadly at the lined faces and even at my own crows feet and graying hair. But, on the other hand I think it's all part of a journey and not a destination.
I have had some dreams where I knew I was dreaming but that was okay. I saw a quote the other day. "What if we are dreaming and when we die. We wake up!"
I have my faith and some would cringe and call it heretical. Some would call it pie in the sky. I have learned a few things in my 58 year journey on this planet. One of those things is that God loves the truth. So, I can be honest about my thoughts. I had a wise woman say to me once. "Steve, don't tell anybody, everything except God." I find that to be true.
To Sleep: Perchance to dream ay, there's the rub.
Revelation 3:12 makes reference of being a pillar in the temple of God and not having to leave it anymore. I'm not going to tell you or try to persuade you of any theology. I just love the verse. It resonates with me.

 There will come a time and place and I will be home. But, right now? I'm still on the journey. Once I'm finished with this leg of it? I await with Shakespeare to see "What Dreams May Come."
Peace!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Books!

  I love books. I have read most of my life. I read for fun and I read for knowledge. As I've gotten older I don't read as much fiction and I read mostly on my Kindle Fire where I can adjust the font and the lighting to my aging eyes. Still, I've often said that I don't know how a person forms a world view if they never read. I started out with comic books and ghost stories that I would order from my Weekly Reader. Sports stories and also mystery. I was never great at math or science. But, reading? It came natural to me. English? Sentence structure? Not so much. But, actually reading the words? They flowed. Always have for some  reason.

If you have ever read my blabbing on this blog then you know I love classic rock and even throw in some country. Some jazz and blues and gospel. But, I also have a secret about "rock stars." Authors have always been in some way my "rock stars." Yep, King and Straub and Lewis and Peck. Thurber and Rice and Oats and Koontz. Many more be they steady or one hit wonders. :-) So, it was with interest that I came upon a "list of bets books" on the internet. Oh, I knew I would not like most of em. Here's another little secret. Most of what passes for great literature in the English speaking world is dry, boring and pretentious. I remember having to read "Great Expectations" for a Lit class back in the day. I remember thinking to myself "If I didn't already love to read, this would kill it!" But, as usual I digress. :-)  So, here are some of my favorite books over the years. Both fiction and non fiction. Of course I don't include (although, they  really helped solidify my reading) Batman or Superman or XMen or Thor or Archie or countless other works of great literature (comic books of my youth) But, they have a special place in my heart. :-)

Fiction:
1. Salem's Lot...Stephen King: I read this a long time ago and really fell into the story. To me the town and the characters were what drew me in. Vampires? Well, yeah I was a big fan of all things that go bump in the night. But, I was living in a small southern town and this small town in New England just really resonated with me. The dude shooting rats at the town dump. The well meaning all around town employee finding the remains of a dog at the cemetery. The kids daring each other to go into the abandoned house which was surely haunted. The quiet writer falling in love with the small town girl. The priest and the haunted father diving into the  grave of his son who was one of the first victims of the vampires. My young head was (as you can see from the memory of the book) immersed for days in this story.

2. The Stand...Stephen King: Yeah, I know. With me if it's rock then it's Eagles and if it's  books then it's King. What can I say? See above about characters for the reason I loved this one.

3. Mystery Walk: Robert Mccammon: I remember thinking that Robert Mccamnon did for the south some of what Stephen King did for New England. This one from the early 80's was a story of a healer and a supernatural battle taking place in Alabama and also reaching Chicago and from what I remember was a lot of fun. I immersed myself in this one.

4. Interview with the Vampire...Ann Rice: This one came out in 1976. My senior year. The characters reminded me of people I knew. Also, what red blooded American boy hasn't fantasied about being a vampire? All the power and hold over women? The girls that wouldn't talk to you otherwise? Eternal life and being able to party forever?

Honorable mention:

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, whose self-help book THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED and especially People of the Lie really made an impression writes a (in my memory from reading it so long ago) really moving and spiritual account of a nursing home. I honestly don't remember that much about it except that it moved me back then and I never forgot having read it.

The Abyss...Jere Cunningham: Written in the late seventies or early eighties. I don't actually remember much about this one. Chances are you've never heard of this or the author. But, if memory serves it was about a small southern town and the horror was set in a coal mine. Living in Altoona, Alabama (small southern coal mining town) might have something to do with why I remember reading this. It's also why my memory puts it way to high on this list. ;-)

Non Fiction:

1. Devil in the White City..Erik Larson: This one revolves around the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893 and possibly the first know American Serial Killer H.H. Holmes. This isn't a serial killer book but rather a book about the upcoming turn of the century. The killer is interspersed with the story of invention and change that was first evident at that time and place. Chicago is wonderfully rendered and the first Ferris Wheel and other 19th century inventions are front and center. This reads like a fast paced novel and a history of the late 19th century. Highly recommended.

2. People of the Lie...M. Scott Peck: This was written in the early eighties. I was a young man starting to wrestle with my faith. Surely, intelligent people didn't still believe in things like spiritual evil or eternal goodness. Then along comes a very intelligent psychiatrist with a very revealing account of his own journey from hardened materialist to believer that we are on a spiritual as well as physical journey. This book talked of human and demonic evil. Not from a religious tract point of view. But, from a boots on the ground human experience.

3: Hostage to the Devil..Malachi Martin: This book scared me to death. Seriously, don't read this one unless you pray, meditate, surround yourself with light. I know that sounds really serious and even silly coming from a skeptical person. But, this one was intense. Not sensational but really serious. Father Martin was a Catholic Priest. A Jesuit I believe. His account of actual slow and steady demonic possession of five ordinary people is riveting. Thing is this isn't some "well they walked past a seance or insulted a Gypsy." This is really a serious account from someone who takes the subject seriously. No Green Pea Puke in this one boys and girls.

4. The Great Divorce: C.S. Lewis: Yeah I know. Including a book by C.S. Lewis from those of us who were a little intellectual and raised in the church. It's kind of like linking to a George Takei post on facebook these days. :-) But, this is a great book and it really had an effect on the way I viewed heaven and hell. Not because I agree with all of it. I don't. But, because it has a ring of truth to it. These people are on a bus trip from hell to spend a day on the outer reaches of heaven. But, they are so caught up in their own self righteousness or lust or hate or loss that they don't realize that they are in hell. Nor do they realize the outskirts of heaven. Good stuff here. Non fiction? Well, it kind of fits.

So, anyway there are many more books that I could list. There are even some that I like more than the ones I have listed. But, these had an effect and I thought I'd share.

Peace!



Friday, August 14, 2015

2015:
58 years! I have grown up with people who are now 58 or approaching 58 or 59 and even 60. The youngest of the baby boomers! That's us. We grew up on rock and roll and t.v.. We lived through Vietnam and Watergate. A president was murdered in our childhood. A man walked on the moon. I remember something as I toss and try to sleep. A picture in the paper as 1969 was giving way to 1970. Back then there was a little cartoon in the paper depicting "Baby New Year" and the "Old year."

 Baby New Year of 1970 was fresh and ready to take over. But, as old man 1969 walked off stage he tossed (sorry, it's been a long time ago and my memory isn't perfect. But, it was something like this) Anyway, he tossed a look back over his shoulder at a headline: Man walks on the Moon! "Beat That" says old man 1969 to Baby New Year 1970 as he continues off stage!

1976:
Beat That! Gotta be a way to beat that says my young self as I ponder  the state of my life. I live for 16 years in the same neighborhood and "she divorces him" and I find myself in this little coal mining town finishing up my high school years and full of anger and angst. Graduation coming up and I'll get out of here. Out of here. I do have to admit that there are perks to this little town. The grass is so green and the sky so blue and...But, I hate it, hate it, hate it! I'm going to go out and get blasted for the first time in my life after graduation. I know it's wrong. I well, I pray a lot and my grandmother is so religious and I feel really guilty but...

Hey kid! Why don't you stop worrying so much! Although, I admit you might be right not to totally be comfortable with drinking or getting blasted! Oh, if that were the only time and the only thing..but, years are coming and you will sleep through most of them.

Now, am I dreaming? At 58 or 59? Am I young or old? who is this kid? Old man? Anyway, I wish I could tell him...But, "he's" to self involved to listen. Hey, kid! Yeah, be proud of that hair :-) The reason you hate barbers so much? Well, right now it's just simply that you don't like getting hair cuts. But, you will miss it one day too. Maybe, on some level you know that...

19 years....I am faster than I've ever been in my life. I feel like I could run everywhere I go. Hey, look mister. Why are you so worried? "Thinking to myself that I wouldn't be worried at his age." :-) After all, how many years can he have left? Old people! Just chill! Now me! I'm young and I have time.

What does an 18 or 19 year old have to worry about kid? Hah, you don't know much of anything yet! But, I wish I could tell you something Kid.

I'd tell you something old dude if I really gave a crap that is...Why I'd tell you:

Life is too short to worry so much! It passes so quickly. Sometimes, you just need to breathe. Take a risk. Talk to her anyway...Take your family on a vacation...Stop worrying. After all it's time to live a little.

Okay, let's stop talking at the same time. Your older so go ahead tell me what you have learned....I may be young but I can tell you are just dying to "preach at me." Go ahead!

Well, first off. You need to really look at your grandparents. I know, but really. Granddaddy has lived hard. Worked in coal mines and came though the depression. Alcohol has taken a toll but it isn't "who or what" he is.  Really look! Talk to him and even get out of you own ass long enough to give him a hug and some little bit of your "so important" time.

Your grandmother. Remember her telling you that her family was "Shanty Irish" when her daddy was young? You never listen to her stories though do you? Do you know there is more to her than being a religious person? Do you also realize in the coming years how much those fanatic prayers will sustain you in your own moments when you are talking to God yourself? Really look at her. Give her a hug. Look at people! Wake up!

Stop selling yourself so short! Stop living other peoples expectations of you. Stop living others religion and others sense of beauty and prejudice. Look at yourself! No, really look. Wake up!

Well, okay mister...But, let me tell you something! You have a family. You have a wife that actually cares what you do and where you go. You have a son! Part of you. Blood and genes and life that you have a part of. Life is short and you have a chance to enjoy this part of it! You still have pretty good health. Although, you need to stop being a glutton at the table. Dang dude! You put it away! Sorry about your hair though! But, really mister. Wake Up! Live and stop worrying so much about what other people think. What are you 65 or so? I mean I don't know if I'll ever get that old. Sorry, that wasn't polite. But, Oh, only 58! Well sorry, but at my age all you older people look like my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles. But, really. Wake up! Relax.

I'll tell you something else young man...you need to go ahead and decide. Go to Gadsden State and take some classes. You can work and take classes.Did you know if you join the Air Force right now that you could retire before 40 years old and start another career if you wanted to that is. Meet people, relax. Live!

Also, stop worrying. Yeah, there is a "God" maybe not the angry old man that you are so afraid will strike you down for that "skin magazine" you hid under your uncles house the other day. How do I know? I know a little. That first ever cigarette really made you light headed didn't it? Yeah, she does smoke and she is sexy. Well, guess what? Her opinion of you isn't the most important thing in life. Look around. Live a little. It goes by way to fast and you have your own head way to far up your own butt!

Live a little. Breathe. Don't stop talking to God even when the people around you think you must be nuts. It'll help you keep your sanity. It's also a big part of who you are. Always has been. Gets a little harder once you put aside the religious certainty. But, still...

Go to that Kiss concert in Birmingham. Oh well, you say that you don't like feeling like the third wheel so let Ricky and Deborah go. Well, Okay but you will really regret not going to more concerts!

Take your family to the beach...Hey, you live within 4 hours well, 6 the way you drive. But go ahead. Live a little.

One  more thing kid...This little slice of hell? You will look back one day and really miss these green hills and that blue sky. No, you shouldn't stay here. But, you should look around a little bit. Hell? Well, let's just say that word might not mean what you think it does. ;-)

1976201510151976Now:

Now: I gotta get going. Weird dreams and crazy thoughts and it's 3:30 and man what my thoughts get up to on these nights I can't sleep..Thinking about my youngoldyoungoldyoung...myself. Gotta finish out this year and get to the future. After all I'm young and it's early....get to work after all the I have responsibilities and I'm not young,old, young. these days.



And you, of the tender years can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix,the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you....Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Peace!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

All I Ever Have to Be!

  Back in the eighties. I believe it was the very late seventies to the early eighties but honestly whats 2 or even 5 years in relation to 35 or so? It's been a minute as some of my younger social work colleagues say. I was really a fan of Amy Grant. What? Ya mean my little Foghat, Eagles, Queen, FleetwoodMac Loving self? Amy Grant? Well, yeah. I loved her acoustic stuff. Also, I was trying after several lost years to find myself and going though a very religious search. Loved her enough that I even went to a concert at the BJCC by myself to see her. One of the songs that stayed with me is "All I Ever Have to Be."

"When the weight of all my dreams is resting heavy on my head."

Young and full of young adult hopes and also young adult post teen angst. I just thought if "only" I had that opportunity, that girl, that job. I was hopeless, depressed and just wanted somebody to tell me what to do.

"And the thoughtful words of help and hope
Have all been nicely said"

Oh, yeah. Do this and God will love you. Say that and people will respect you. Get a job, cut your hair, Act your age. But mainly, just walk like a man.

"  But I'm still hurting, wondering if I'll ever be the one
I think I am - I think I am"

It just didn't really work. I knew that I needed to "change." I just didn't know how. I saw one person when I looked out of my eyes and in the mirror. But, the world must have seen somebody else. Seemed that way at the time.

" Then you gently re-remind me
That You've made me from the first
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst"



Took me years to get this one. I don't and never did have to "improve" to catch anybody else. All I had to be was the best me I could be. The only person I had to catch up to and even pass was the person in the mirror.


"And I realize the good in me is only there because of who You are
Who You are..."

I finally started to feel that if I am a part of the creative mind of the universe then I am worthy. I should be humbled by the human experience. Because we are so lustful, warlike and greedy. But, I should be proud because in the midst of all that we are kind, compassionate and all in this together. In the midst of a funeral or another tragedy I still see God. I still see hope. I still see a plan, not always a comfortable plan. Not even always a good plan from my perspective. :-)

 "And all I ever have to be is what You've made me
Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan
As you daily recreate me help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find"

I had a friend at a church that I attended before and when I met my wife. Wonderful person but he had boundless energy and loved to meet and play music and worship. Thing is he would wear you out when you came in the door. Did you go to this fellowhip? that concert? Heard this song? I had another friend there who was so together looking. This guy was young, beautiful, smart and had a hunger for God. While I was aging and yet still young enough to think "Wow, I could never be that holy if I looked like he looks and could just walk into a bar and pick up girls." Finally, I had to just realize that I didn't have to be energetic or more holy than the next guy. I just had to find myself. My balance.

" And all I ever have to be
All I have to be
All I ever have to be is what You've made me"....Amy Grant

Disclaimer here: For all my post about religion and how I'm not religious. For all my beliefs (and I honestly do mean it) that it doesn't matter what religion or no religion you are. For all the times that I cringe when conservative Christians try to make God and Christ out to be blued eyed American conservatives. I have to say this.

Yes, I know my source of my being lives. Better to say I live in the source of my being. Yes, I do believe he put on human flesh and participated in the dance of life. Yes, I do believe there is a reason for life and death and there is an eternal observer to all of it. He/She/Source,Holy Spirit gives me hope. The Christian message of God become flesh is (to me) the very height of divine love.

But then again, I don't have to convince anybody else do I? All I ever have to be is what he (with my help or hindrance) is making me.

Peace!