Tuesday, October 10, 2017

THE TELEPHONE BOOTH

British Red Box, Internet Domain 

Every now and then I run across an article or experience something or hear a message that resonates with me.  I frequently listen to NPR radio in the morning as it wakes me from a night’s slumber.  I consider this such a better way to start the day versus the jarring alarm I used in the past.  I recently awoke to one of their reporters that had come across a story from the area in Japan that experienced the devastating tsunami five years ago.

The narrator told of a man who longed for the conversations he had experienced with a close cousin that had been lost in the tragedy.  Later the man had the idea to place an antique telephone booth at the edge of his property near the sea to seclude himself in quiet conversation with his cousin.  The telephone booth provided protection from the coastal winds and the disconnected receiver became a familiar invitation to talk candidly.

Once word spread that this sanctuary had such a cathartic effect on the man, others who had lost loved ones in the tsunami approached the booth when it was not occupied.  Another family had lost their loved one who was a husband, father and friend that had been driving his truck near the tsunami’s landfall when it struck with such tremendous force.  His body was never recovered and there was no closure for those who knew him.  They entered the booth and finally resolved their repressed feelings after a long five years in silent mourning. There is no communication line connected to the booth but these people were connected nonetheless.

That coastal phone booth is a wonderful metaphor to consider when we read Psalm 46:10 where God implores us to “be still and know that I am God.”  Our creator communes with us provided we come to him and are in a quiet, open frame of mind to listen.  He speaks in a variety of ways including on those ocean breezes and the never-ending heartbeat of the waves.  And we have been assured that he is always with us to hear our conversations.

“Listen to the wind, it talks.
Listen to the silence, it speaks.
Listen to your heart, it knows.”

--Native American Proverb

Sunday, September 10, 2017

LAST FLIGHT HAIKU


                                          Beached, Kiawah Island, SC
An anomaly,
walking the beach at sunrise,
colors in the sun.

A lifeless shadow,
washed up by retreating tides,
covered in time's sand.

The butterfly's life,
is one of resurrection,
and spiritual flight.

Reaching the shoreline,
at long last the journey's end,
hearing "Job well done".

Saturday, August 26, 2017

YOU BET YOUR LIFE




Coin Toss, No Country for Old Men
Call It, No Country for Old Men
Heads or Tails, Jamestown, NC


A lonesome windmill wobbles in deliberate circles as its tail interminably forces it to always face into the relentless west Texas winds. The elevated Texaco sign on the horizon is the only other landmark the dark stranger sees as the pale rider deliberately moves across the desolate land. The red and white porcelain sign sharply contrasts against the stark background and quietly sighs in the wind above the isolated weather worn country store.

The dark stranger enters the aging store as unsettled dust devils whirl in the distance amidst the rising afternoon heat. He confronts the apathetic clerk at the register who probably hasn’t seen a customer all day today and would appear to be satisfied with calling it a day while turning over the dog eared “closed” sign at the front door.

The clerk hardly looks up to ask “Will there be anything else”? He hasn’t taken notice that death is at his doorstep.
The foreboding stranger replies “I don’t know, will there”?
The clerk now senses that the atmosphere in the dusty store has become tense and threatening as he sheepishly asks “Is something wrong”? He then begins the most high stakes conversation of his life.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about do you? What’s the most you ever lost in a coin toss”?
“I don’t know. I couldn’t say”.
The dark stranger flips a quarter onto the counter and covers it with his fingers. “Call it” he sternly demands.
“Well, we need to know what we’re callin’ it for here….I didn’t put nothin’ up”.
“Yes, you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life…..You just didn’t know it. You know what date is on this coin? 1958. it’s been traveling twenty two years to get here and now its here and it’s either heads or tails and you have to call it.”
“I need to know what I stand to win”.
“Everything. You stand to win everything. Call it”.

The reticent clerk finally wakes up to the reality that the stakes are high, very high. The stakes are his very life that is now squarely in the hands of this dark stranger that has suddenly invaded his boring existence for all time. He looks the hit man in the eyes and with all the conviction of a man who is looking deep into his executioner’s twisted soul reluctantly says “Alright, heads then”.
The two men remain transfixed as the high stakes coin toss has suddenly transformed a boring every day afternoon into a heart pounding, nerve tingling, jaw setting, life bursting moment. They both stare at the dusty counter as George Washington’s profile slowly appears from under the stranger’s fingers and reprieves the clerk’s life.
“Well done” intones the dark stranger. “It’s now your lucky coin. Don’t put it in your pocket and mix it with the other coins so that it becomes just another coin, which it is.”

That bit of riveting dialogue from the movie No Country for Old Men is one of my all time favorite scenes. The environment is stark, the dialogue is measured, and the casting is perfection. The country store clerk has just had his life jolted into overdrive and it slowly begins to soak into his mind that he has just bet his very life on a coin toss. Yet it was just his temporary mortal life. How many of us don’t give much more effort into deciding how we will gamble on the fate of our immortal spiritual life? Some believe God’s son when he tells us that he is the way, the truth and the life everlasting. Some believe otherwise. If they’re right, neither party will ever know. If they’re wrong, they’ve sadly lost a restored and eternal life in the loving presence of their creator. And it’s worth more effort than a coin toss.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

MAKE THE WORLD GOOD AGAIN


TOTALITY ECLIPSE, NASA

The Greek historian Herodotus noted that a solar eclipse in 585 BCE occurred during a fierce battle between the Lydians and the Medes. As the the daylight blended into darkness, this celestial event prompted the soldiers to immediately lay down their weapons and declare peace. Steve Ruskin, a historian of astronomy, has observed that “no matter the time period or the scientific knowledge, human responses to an eclipse are consistently, universally, expressions of awe and wonder, and even fear and terror.”

Astrologists consider an eclipse a time of new beginnings and an awakening. Native American Shamans consider a solar eclipse a powerful time of healing. It’s considered a time of mutual understanding that can help the world unite in love and harmony. What better time in world history could this heavenly alignment of the cosmic trinity of earth, moon and sun bring to the human race? According to NASA, a total solar eclipse of the moon covering the sun’s rays happens somewhere on the earth every year and a half, but it generally only happens once in a person’s lifetime. And it’s been 99 years since the grace of a total eclipse descended on a 70 mile wide swath of America from coast to coast. That prompts many to consider this an omen or a portent.

And what more timely words from Martin Luther King, Jr. than those spoken during the civil rights era that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” "Experiencing an eclipse changes the way we feel about space and how we are connected. I hope this moment reminds us all that we share a common origin among the stars, and that we are all citizens of the same planet," said Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society.

There are two ways of spreading light in this world: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Jesus spread love and light and we can reflect His light back into the world through our lives and our actions. Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life noted that “receiving, reading, researching, remembering, and reflecting on the Word are all useless if we fail to put them into action. We must become ‘doers of the word’. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations—what you love to do and what you care about most.”

We Americans were drawn together for a brief few minutes yesterday by a rare cosmic event that reminded us of our place in the universe. It also reminded us of our ability to join in peace as one brotherhood of man. And it was a visible clarion call to action so that the words of Edmund Burke would not be our legacy; “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

SOLAR ECLIPSE HAIKU


Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017

Day blends into night,
as the moon crosses the sun,
blocking the sun’s rays.

Encroaching rain clouds,
ominously add darkness,
and glow in the sky.

Bird calls go silent.
The pulsing song of insects,
pauses all nature.

Totality reigns.
The sun’s corona shimmers,
and bright stars appear.

The action is swift,
as a diamond ring bursts out,
and bright light returns.

People gaze in awe,
“Magical, spiritual”,
shouting and crying.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NEUTRINOS--THE SECRET OF THE SUN


Light, Jamestown, NC

I recently ran across one of those “What did he just say?” comments in The Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far, by Lawrence Krauss. It seems that every second of every day, more than 400,000 billion neutrinos are passing through our bodies and the Earth undetected. Wikipedia confirms that “the majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. In the vicinity of the Earth, about 65 billion solar neutrinos per second pass through every square centimeter perpendicular to the direction of the Sun. And neutrinos can be created artificially with nuclear reactors and particle accelerators.” Just to be clear, that’s 24,000,000 billion neutrinos passing through us every minute of every day of our lives!

Who knew? I’ve been walking all over this planet for over seventy years and was never once aware of all these billions of extremely tiny particles slipping through my body 24/7 without even the slightest tingling of my skin! Krauss continues, “the whole chain begins with a reaction in which two protons collide, and via the weak interaction one of them converts into a neutron, allowing the two to fuse into the nucleus of heavy hydrogen, called deuterium, and release a neutrino and a positron. The positron later interacts in the Sun, but neutrinos, which interact only via the weak interaction, travel right out of the Sun, to Earth and beyond…This fusion releases about a million times more energy per atom than is released when coal burns…This allows the Sun to last about 10 billion years.” Hans Bethe received the Nobel Prize in 1967 by predicting this scenario and the experimental observation of neutrinos almost 40 years later confirmed his predictions. Krauss concludes “The secret of the Sun—the ultimate birth of light in our solar system—had been unveiled.”

I suppose we all might be better off if I had never pointed this out. I’ve been blithely wandering around being bombarded with these tiny neutrinos my entire life and was quite content in not knowing this, but science marches on with or without us. The good news is that this assault on our being is nothing like being microwaved, or we’d all be crispy critters by now! It seems that the more we learn about this mysterious universe we inhabit, the more it leaves us in awe.

Note: See August 10, 2017 USATODAY article on the new Sanford Deep Underground Neutrino Research Lab.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

ISLAND DELIGHTS HAIKU



Chasing the Sun, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Ocean Breezes, Wrightsville Beach, NC


The island delights,
to feel your bare feet on sand,
as you walk the beach.

The island delights,
to feel your legs in cool tides,
as you walk the beach.

The island delights,
when the sun darkens your skin,
as you walk the beach.

The island delights,
when the breeze tosses your hair,
as you walk the beach.

The island delights,
to join its spirit with yours,
as you walk the beach.