Tuesday, August 31, 2010

OLD MILL OF GUILFORD




Old Mill of Guilford, Oak Ridge, NC
Old Millstone, Oak Ridge, NC
Old Mill Stream, Oak Ridge, NC


Take millstones and grind flour;
take off your veil.
Lift up your skirts,
bare your legs,
and wade through the streams.


--Isaiah 47:2

Monday, August 30, 2010

MEADOWLAND FAERIE DANCE




Fairies of the Meadow, Nils Blommer
Faerie Mushrooms I, Jamestown, NC
Faerie Mushrooms II, Jamestown, NC


I spotted the irregular white circle from a distance while enjoying an early morning drive in the cool of the summer’s day. It had formed at the edge of a rather wide expanse of grasses behind a neighboring church yard. It must have sprung up almost overnight after a generous rainstorm quenched the land the previous evening. Modern biologists inform us that the “fairy rings” can start when a single mushroom drops its spores around itself. The spore germinates; a fungus grows and creates mushrooms. Over time, new generations of the faerie shelters grow outwards as the local nitrogen levels are depleted. Rainstorms coax the fruiting bodies of the fungi to poke their heads up from the soil. One of the largest rings ever found is in France and is over 700 years old and 2,000 feet in diameter.

Before people understood fungi, however, they believed that faeries had danced a circle dance in the night which resulted in the formation of mushrooms the following morning. Isn’t that a much more intriguing explanation? These rings are reputed to be gateways into faerie kingdoms. The ring will generally disappear in about five days without a trace, but if you patiently wait for a faerie to return, you may be able to capture it on camera. While we move about in our daily routines, spirits rise and their dance is all around us. The entire cosmos circles in a vibrantly delicate balance at both the micro and macro levels. At the subatomic level of all matter, atoms move in vibrating circles around a centered nucleus and our planet earth delicately circles our life sustaining sun. The days and the seasons also follow the circular dance of life.

J. M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, writes that “When the first baby laughed for the first time, his laugh broke into a million pieces, and they all went skipping about. That was the beginning of fairies.” Ancient myth and folklore describe their nature as magical, ethereal creatures. Some have a dark side, but since we’re just speculating, I prefer the more fanciful side. They were reputed to tangle the hair of sleepers and pinch them in the night if they didn’t think that the house was clean enough. Bread is associated with home and hearth, so it was customary to place a piece in your pocket to keep faeries at bay. Other protective charms include cold iron, church bells, St. John’s wort, four-leaf clovers, and wearing clothing inside out.

I returned to the faerie ring this morning with camera in hand only to find that the cold iron of an alien’s mowing machine had destroyed the gateway. But perhaps I’ll return by the light of a full harvest moon after the next life-giving rainstorm and peer from behind a nearby oak tree to witness another circle dance. And I’ll be sure to wear my shirt inside out and have a dry piece of bread in my pocket.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

FIELD OF DREAMS



Chihuly Dreamscape, St. Louis, MO
Autumn Field of Dreams, McLeansville, NC

There’s been a lot written and discussed about the dreams we human beings have in life. Many of those dreams of course get translated into prayers. And much has been written about unanswered dreams and prayers because the answer can be no, or maybe, but let’s wait and see what happens. In the movie Field of Dreams, the old country doctor gets another opportunity to turn back the clock and fulfill his earlier dream of spending his life as a professional baseball player instead of a health care professional. When confronted with the chance to replay his life differently, he still chose the healing path instead of the base path. If he had gotten a hit on his one big chance at baseball, many people whose lives he had touched in such a positive way would never have known him.

That scene brought back a childhood conversation I had with one of my uncles after we had all played a pick up baseball game at a family reunion. Even then, my dad had displayed a proficiency at shortstop that was still impressive. I was told in that short exchange that my dad had been asked to try out for the Saint Louis Cardinals farm club. The scout hit him scorching line drives and grounders for a couple of hours with none getting past him. He then offered my dad the chance to leave home and join the baseball club. But times were tough, and he passed on the dream, stayed at home and helped the family. When I questioned my mother about the decision, she noted that baseball simply didn’t pay the kind of money in those days that it does today.

That major decision in my father’s life quite probably resulted in our family’s creation. And mine. It’s good to have goals and dreams in life, but when life throws you a curve ball, it just might not be strike three. It might be ball four and a pass to begin a new path around the bases that leads to a new home. Only later after his too early death did I begin to also understand the time and patience he spent with me to teach me the baseball skills he had acquired. I didn’t become a professional baseball player either, but I learned that we’ve got to work hard at something to be really good at it, sportsmanship, a love for athletics, how to be a team player, developing lasting friendships with teammates, the thrill of competition, how to be a good winner as well as a good loser, and the love of a father to impart his dream to his child after he had chosen another path so that the dream remains alive.

And like the movie, the best times involved the simple act of playing catch in the backyard. It’s a very human act of “I give to you and you give back” connectedness, many times discussing something about life and many times in serene silence, with just the sound of the rawhide ball hitting the leather glove. The final act of redemption in the movie unfortunately doesn’t happen all too often in real life. The prodigal son gets a second chance to say, “Hey dad, you wanna have a catch”? And his dad replies, “I’d like that”.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

THE PATH OF LIFE


Country Roads, Take Me Home, Central KS


"You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand".


--Psalm 16:11

CREPUSCULAR RAYS



Glory, Central KS
Grace, Central KS


One of the spectacular scenes displayed at sunrise and sunset, or for that matter, most any time of the day, is the creation of dramatic shadows or columns of sunlit air that stream into the sky. Smaller clouds blocking the sun create the columns of shadows and gaps in larger cloud formations create the columns of bright light. These rays have the effect of a visible blessing gracefully dispensed down to the earth for our renewal. How many of us have looked heavenward to instinctively receive these blessings?

I recently found it interesting to learn that there is a scientific term for this phenomenon--crepuscular rays. But I like to believe that when I see the rays streaming heavenward, the instinct is to see "glory” and when the rays are streaming earthward, it’s simply "grace".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE


Maxine's Serenity Prayer

"All You Need Is Love" is a song written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon/McCartney. It was first performed by The Beatles on Our World, the first live global television link. Watched by 400 million in 26 countries, the programme was broadcast via satellite on 25 June 1967. The BBC had commissioned the Beatles to write a song for the United Kingdom's contribution. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it at #362 in their 500 greatest songs of all time.—Wikipedia

There’s an old saying that goes something like “If you want to make God smile, show him your plans”. There’s a lot of tragedy in the world for sure, and there’s an equal amount of goodness—much of it in response to the tragedies. Another saying in the South which is probably best perpetuated by those in the North, is the most quotable last words of a southern redneck, “Hey Earl, hold my beer and watch this”! Most of us are well aware of the dire predictions in the book of Revelation that the world will eventually be destroyed in order to finally restore its brokenness. And every generation reads world events as signs that this is the time. And then another generation moves up to replace them.

I’ve often wondered just how much human inhumanity God can take before he’s had enough and pulls the trigger. I can only imagine that perhaps there’s still enough humanitarian goodness played out each day to buy the race one more day to try to get it right. And if you’ve ever channel surfed any of the wide variety of low budget reality television shows like “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, “Cops”, “World’s Dumbest Criminals”,“The Kardashians”, anything on MTV, etc., you have a micro view of just a fraction of the human foibles that God witnesses 24/7. A lot of this stuff has to be mildly entertaining while understandably not exactly raising the bar for human development and evolution to our rightful place at the top of the food chain. Since we were created in God’s image, it’s possible that God may share the humor that we sometimes experience when we come across the endless variety of ironic circumstances that we human beings encounter, like the one that was innocently recorded in the bottom section of Monday’s August 23, 2010 edition of USA Today from where else but California:

“LOS ANGELES—More than 80 people were arrested late Saturday and early Sunday at the Love Festival rave party at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, according to police. The fire department said 16 people were treated for minor injuries and three were taken to hospitals.”

Part of the lyrics from the Beatles’ hit song for the world include, “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy. All you need is love…Love is all you need”. Do you really suppose those 80 people who were injured at the Love Festival were meant to be there? Apparently 19 of them needed medical attention to go with their love. What on earth must God be thinking of us? The good news is that the sun came up again this morning, so there must have been at least 19 acts of random kindness committed somewhere around the great blue marble to balance the equation for one more day.

TO BE A BEE OR NOT




Monday, August 23, 2010

MOTTLED SUNLIGHT


Mottled Sunlight, Jamestown, NC

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BUTTERFLY SPIRITS






Rose of Sharon Sunrise, Jamestown, NC
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly with Bee, Jamestown, NC
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Drinking Nectar, Jamestown, NC
Black Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Drinking Nectar, Jamestown, NC
Black Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Taking Flight, Jamestown, NC

Have you ever had that eerie experience, especially when you’re alone, and you suddenly become aware that you’re no longer alone anymore? I was recently laboriously trimming shrubbery around my backyard deck in the heat and humidity of a sundrenched August afternoon. Sweat was dripping from my forehead and I was intently focused on completing the task at hand so that I could retreat back through the escape portal of the nearby back door into my air conditioned sanctuary. I had been working for at least half an hour in seeming solitude. And then I caught a flurry of movement in the corner of my peripheral vision. When I finally turned in curiosity, I witnessed a rush of fluttering activity over and amongst the Rose of Sharon trees that were still in full blooms of white and dark pink colors. Almost magically, at least a dozen migrating Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies had descended upon the flowers to quench their thirst and renew their strength and spirits by drinking in the sweet nectar of the summer blooms. Their winged pollination dance among the competing bumble bees was almost trance like. The male is yellow with dark tiger stripes. The female can be yellow like the male or black with shadows of dark stripes and iridescent blue scales and an orange marginal spot. A male and female began a choreographed spiraling dance down to the grass at my feet. It looked like a Colorado golden eagle courtship flight display, but perhaps they were simply jousting for territorial rights.

Once I had taken in the entire stage of winged actors rapidly moving from flower to flower, I bolted through the back portal to seek both some needed relief from the heat and my digital camera. I then took a break from the manual labor and spent the next hour attempting to capture images of these elusive creatures that were actually in focus. Many were not, but a precious few were keepers. That’s completely OK with a dedicated photographer. I took note of the time. The feeding frenzy occurred around two o’clock that afternoon. So, I arranged my “frenzied” retirement schedule the following day to recapture the scene. However, when I emerged into my backyard, not one butterfly was in sight. Perhaps they were already drinking in the sweet nectar of blooming bougainvillea on the sandy dunes of the Gulf coast. The moment was gone, except for those few “keepers” from one of life’s lucky, magical moments.

The spiritual journey of the butterfly has been the source of great wonder for all ages and cultures. The metamorphosis of this life form is symbolic of renewal, transformation, death, rebirth or resurrection, awakening, consciousness, courage, love, joy, and hope. That hope for us human beings is for positive change or spiritual rebirth and the winged release of our spiritual soul once we depart this earthly life. The analogy is unmistakable when we see the physical body of the caterpillar morph through the chrysalis stage into an elegant winged spirit. Native American legend and myth are alive with butterflies. The Blackfeet believed that butterflies bring us dreams as we sleep. The very spiritual Hopi decorated prehistoric pottery with butterflies and butterfly kachina figures are personified in their butterfly dance. The Aztecs believed that contented deceased souls in the form of beautiful butterflies visited their relatives to assure them that all is well. Many contemporary people share this sentiment and what more perfect life force could possibly convey this message? The Aztecs always sniffed a flower from the side because they believed the fragrant tops are reserved for the souls to visit. Closely observed with measured contemplation, the spirit of the butterfly can indeed awaken our own spirit.

I’ve since learned that butterflies migrate during the day, navigate by the sun and perceive polarized light on overcast days. They use their antennae to sense the wind for the scent of nectar. Their wings of flight are beautifully crafted of pigmented micro scales that scatter reflected light due to their photonic crystal nature. Butterflies have both a fore and hind set of independent wings to permit a more graceful flight. The observed discoloration and health of butterflies is now a “canary in the coal mine” indicator of air quality in major cities. If the butterfly becomes endangered, so do we human beings.

Life presents many memorable experiences when the eyes of our hearts are open to them. I’ve always believed that we do indeed “see in life what we look for”. The universal balance reveals a seemingly equal number of both positive and negative sights and experiences. Both a camera and a Bible sharpen our intellectual and sensory perspective. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively over the past fifty years. Isn’t it ironic—or perhaps not at all—that one of the most magical experiences of my life occurred in my own backyard?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

BUSY BEE


Busy Bee, Jamestown, NC

TIME ENOUGH


My Spirit Has Wings, Jamestown, NC

"THE BUTTERFLY COUNTS NOT MONTHS BUT MOMENTS,
AND HAS TIME ENOUGH."

--Rabindranath Tagore, poet

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

HAVING FUN


Carolyn's Kahola Waffle

"A PURITAN IS A PERSON WHO IS HAUNTED BY THE FEAR
THAT SOMEONE SOMEWHERE IS HAVING FUN".

--H.L.MENCKEN

Monday, August 16, 2010

PEOPLE OF THE SOUTH WIND



Approaching Storm, Central Kansas
Kansa Thunderhead, Central Kansas

There's a very good reason that the original Kansa Indian natives who hunted the northern Kansas Flint Hills were called "people of the south wind". There always seems to be some sort of wind blowing unchallenged through the tall grass prairies of this stark and somewhat treeless landscape, especially along the rim rock edges of the grassy hills. Ancient glaciers and erosion formed these hills, and the creeks in the valleys harmonize with the rustling leaves of the cottonwood trees that gather at the water’s edge. At the very least, a light breeze is always waving the inland seas to the rhythm of life throughout this land. And it is generally moving northward from its birth over the warm and humid waters of the Gulf of Mexico into Texas and Oklahoma and then occasionally colliding with dry and cool air from Canada over the territory named Kansas.

As a youth, I walked these pastures with a shotgun over my shoulder or grasped it in focused anticipation of the exploding rush of pheasants, prairie chickens, ducks, and coveys of quail. During one of those splendid hunts, I spied a small shaped flint arrowhead on the ground as our party moved toward a covey of quail that had retreated into a lush area of small brush and bluestem grasses. That arrowhead had possibly been launched onto the south wind, flying on a feathered wooden shaft in pursuit of the same wild game that I was hunting. I was struck by the bond that now existed between the native warrior of the south wind and my own spirit which fortuitously crossed this same sacred path that day. I’ve always admired these vanquished stewards of the land ever since I learned of their solemn ritual after the hunt. The native Indians would always offer up a prayer of gratitude for the spirit of the bird or animal that gave up its life to sustain theirs. That sacred understanding of the oneness of the universe has been lost on modern man who is now far detached from this closeness to the land and its creator.

Kansas can be a state of mind, as demonstrated in 1872 by a Native American Comanche, Parra-Wa-Samen or Ten Bears, who was responding to a treaty when he stated, “I was born on the prairie, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures and where everything drew a free breath. I want to die there and not within walls. I knew every stream and every wood between the Rio Grande and the Arkansas. I have hunted and lived over that country. I lived like my fathers before me, and, like them, I lived happily”. Who knows? Perhaps that was Ten Bears' arrowhead I picked up.

On a hot and humid summer's day, the awesome manifestation of the plains Indians’ Great Sky Spirit looms ominously on the southern horizon. These are spectacular days with gusting southern winds and bright sunshine, inevitably giving way to dark and threatening skies. Walking those vast plains, I came to be impressed by the magnificent beauty and fury of the boiling, churning, building mounds of moisture laden thunderheads. Later in life, I experienced these towering clouds up close and personal from corporate and commercial jets as we cautiously wove our way around the intense turbulence contained within these marvels of the skies. They inevitably spawned their innocent but increasingly violent lives in the skies of the southern horizon. And then they began their swift and steady assault on the northern Flint Hills of the Kansa people, riding the wild bucking and twisting broncos of the south wind.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

THE KANSA FILINT HILLS



Ghost Rider's Saddle, Central Kansas
Flint Hills Pond, Central Kansas


The Flint Hills in central Kansas are home to America’s last tall grass prairie which was recently set aside as a national preserve to assure its future. The bluestem prairie grasses are the green gold and life blood of these hills and home to thousands of grazing cattle. Limestone rim rocks outline the wind and storm exposed hill tops as you gaze across the landscape. The skies above are a vast canvas that can be a motionless blue from horizon to horizon at one minute and boiling thunderheads in the next. Red tail hawks ride the updrafts and circle the land in search of small prey and deceptively fast prairie chickens cruise in formation on their way to grain fields or daytime resting grounds. Cottonwood trees line the small rocky streams that meander through the draws and natural valleys at the bottom of these silent prairie sentinels. Fossilized remains of an abundant ocean life linger just under the surface and in the limestone rocks and stream beds to remind the casual visitor of the vast inland sea that once covered the land. After the water receded, Native American Indians such as the Osage and the Kansa, known as the people of the south wind, roamed and hunted vast buffalo herds that thrived on the tall grasses. Later, seasoned cowboys would watch after Texas longhorns on their talented horses. It was said that they could ride across acres of moonless pasture land on a stormy, cloudy night and hit the home gate to the safety of their ranch house.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

TAKE FIVE


Porsche Boxster S, Jamestown, NC

Dave Brubeck's quartet originally recorded the jazz classic "Take Five" in 1959. I was still a lowly student with maybe two pennies to rub together on occasion. But my buddies and I would drag the gut in our American Graffiti central Kansas hometown and go with the flow of that consummate cruisin' music. I always dreamed of cruisin' to Dave's anthem in an appropriate sports car as it was surely intended, but there was no discretionary cash for such an extravagance. I just watched classic '58 Corvettes cruisin' on the roads and lived vicariously through the experiences of the older guys as they related them to me. Then as life moved along and I could actually afford a "Take Five" sports car, it was never really very practical, which was fine at the time. But my bucket list always contained the dream. Now it's crossed off the list. And taking five couldn't have been sweeter than it was today out on North Carolina state highway 421 after fifty years--with Dave's classic streaming on the CD and Paul Desmond’s mesmerizing alto sax wafting over the roll bars and out into the Carolina blue sky.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WILLIAM ALLEN WHITE’S KANSANS



Tallgrass Prairie Faith, Strong City, KS

“Kansas, said our greatest statesman, John J. Ingalls, is the child of Plymouth Rock. In the beginning of the settlement of Kansas, the State was invaded by immigrants from New England or sons and daughters of New Englanders, who came to Kansas to make this a Free State…there is your ideal Puritan civilization: a prosperous people, burdened neither by an idle luxurious class who are rich, nor taxed to support a sodden and footless class verging upon pauperism. A sober people practically without a criminal class, an intelligent people in so far as intelligence covers a knowledge of getting an honest living, saving an occasional penny, and living in a rather high degree of common comfort; a moral people in so far as morals consist in obedience to the legally expressed will of the majority with no very great patience for the vagaries of protesting minorities. A just and righteous people in so far as justice concerns the equitable distribution of material things, and righteousness requires men to live at peace among men of good-will. A free people in so far as freedom allows men and women to have and hold all that they earn, and makes them earn all that they get. But a people neighbor minded in the Golden rule, a people neighbor bound by ties of duty, by a sense of obligation, by a belief in the social compact, in the value of the herd, in the destiny of the race. All these social totems are concentrated in the idea of God in the Kansas heart. We say in Kansas that the Republican Party and the Methodist church were the spiritual forces that controlled the State. ‘Ad astra per aspera,’ to the stars by hard ways, is the easy approach to grace, no royal road to happiness, no backstairs to beneficence. There is no earthly trail paralleling the primrose path in which one can avoid the wrath of God and the lady next door. Life and liberty are indeed highly esteemed in Kansas; but the pursuit of happiness only upon conditions set forth in the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and their interpretation by the Kansas statutes.”

--William Allen White: “Kansas: A Puritan Survival,” Nation, April 19, 1922 (Prominent owner/editor of the Emporia, Kansas Gazette)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

KANSAS SKIES




Yellow Brick Road, Central Kansas
Barbed Wire Skies, Central Kansas
Prairie Thunderhead, Central Kansas


The grandeur of Kansas skies can be absolutely awesome! And nothing compares to the Rocky Mountain high of building thunderheads over the panoramic prairie grasses on a hot and humid late afternoon in July. The Gulf moisture riding on southern winds collides and churns with the cooler air drifting down from the Canadian north. Then the artistry begins to rapidly reveal itself in a completely random and grand scale across what only minutes earlier had been a vast blank canvas of clear blue Kansas sky.

The experience might be likened to watching an atomic bomb exploding into a large mushroom cloud of radioactive dust in the distance. And then helplessly waiting as the destructive shock waves rapidly approach as the sky grows dark and ominous. Violent streaks of lightning scar the sky and meanacing rumbles of thunder mark your distance from the onslot as it descends upon you with all the fury of nature unleashed.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

WEATHERED WOLF CREEK BARN





Wolf Creek Barn, Door Slider, Spider Web, Worn Saddle

The old weathered barn has withstood many Kansas seasons of temperature and moisture extremes. It has stood resolute where it was built for the homesteaders who toiled inside her. The rusting door hinge had ran back and forth across its rail at all times of the day to permit implements and men to tend the land and in the day's last light to once again seek shelter from the harsh elements. Now the spider has laid claim to the opening and his turf is uncontested. Unsuspecting flying insects now become its prey as they seek security. The old dried leather saddle now only carries dust particles instead of the adventurous children's romps across the prairie grasses. It's riderless image is a silent reminder of the lively family that once carved out an existence on these sweeping midwestern plains.

FLINT HILLS SUNDOWN


Flint Hills Sundown, Central Kansas

The land can be harsh and hard on those who dare to tame it.
But that same landscape can be transformed in minutes to a vast canvas that would render any Renaissance artist humble.

Friday, August 6, 2010

CIRCLES


Sun Wave, Internet Domain

The circular dance of life would seem to be an eternal round, with all creation joined in the dance. These circle or round dances have endured through the ages as spontaneous or choreographed joyful social activities. Once we begin to learn the rhythms of life, the steps in our spiritual journey begin to fit each measure of music and understanding of God’s word. Our lives revolve around circles and even though we live in a broken world, the circles never break. Many of our circles seem to be spinning faster and faster, like a marathon merry-go-round ride with only one rule; nobody gets off as long as you’re in the dance. The days progress from sunrise to sunset to moonrise to moonset, as we spin around on our planet one more time.

The annual seasons move from spring to summer to fall to winter as we complete one more trip around the sun and add one more candle to our birthday cake. We’re born dependent, experience childhood, grow to independent adulthood, then ease into old age and begin to circle back. Generation follows generation, one season follows another, and the years fly swiftly by, filled with happiness and tears. Only time will tell if it was time well spent.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

ONENESS


Billowing Thunderhead, Central Kansas

We are not only IN this universe, but we are OF this universe. In Paul's letter to the Ephesians he writes, "There is one body and one spirit...one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all(4:4-5)."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ROUGH AS HELL, TWICE AS FRISKY


1960 EHS 2010 Scramble, Emporia, KS

The “Rough as Hell, Twice as Frisky”, best damn class of 1960 is approaching the end game. Almost one half of the roughly 200 members attended our fiftieth high school class reunion in Emporia, Kansas. The weekend edition of the local newspaper published the obituary of the 28th class member to pass on from this earthly life. He had traveled the world and donated his body to cancer research. As I traveled to the event, I wondered how many of us had achieved some level of comfortable living, how many are just getting by, and how many, as Thoreau observed, are now living lives of quiet desperation. I suppose folks could consider all of us in attendance as survivors of life’s slings and arrows at this point in time, the year 2010. We departed our high school graduation high on a wild eclectic mix of estrogen and testosterone to meet the world head on. The Vietnam War was at our doorstep as we ran interference for the Baby Boomer Generation just behind us. We used Jack Kerouac’s travel guide, “On the Road” and read about the new sexual revolution in Playboy. We witnessed Woodstock, LSD, civil rights marches and sit in’s, a war brought into our living rooms every evening, the pill, the rise of feminism, rock ‘n roll, the British invasion, a man on the moon, Watergate, the fall of the Berlin wall and Communism, HIV/AIDS, Y2K, OJ’s white Bronco chase, the Gulf War, Tsunamis, Katrina, and so much more, not necessarily in that order.

We marked time by experiencing such “I remember where I was when” moments as the JFK assassination, the Challenger explosion and the surreal horror of September 11, 2001. Our generation witnessed five decades of historical events such as the Vietnam war that left a smiling classmate's name etched in the black marble wall on the Washington, DC mall, the 1970’s recession and disco craze, the 1980’s Reagan era of economic stability and rising stocks, the 1990’s Clinton era of the stained blue dress and office of the presidency, and the world of terrorism that has defined the 2000’s.

Most everybody got a shot at life and we all had the free will to plunge right in and give it a go. Sort of like cutting open the gates of a Kansas rodeo horseback rider. You know it’ll be a rough ride with an excellent probability of being thrown down hard on occasion. That’s when the real testing begins, as you struggle to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again-- for fifty years. We finally begin to understand that there are many things in life beyond our control except one thing—the ability to control our response to those things. We’ve attended thousands of hours of additional schooling, served in the military, learned trades, married, had children, divorced, remarried, fought cancer and other diseases, received new body parts, lost hair where it belongs and grown it where it doesn’t, climbed mountains and corporate ladders in both directions, striving for success and finally transitioning to lives of significance—seeking redemption, finding depression or peace and perhaps in a limited few cases, experienced a failure to launch.

World events and technological advances are accelerating at a hyper overdrive pace. The end times signs are prophesied to occur at a rate similar to birthing pains that grow more intense and closer together as a new earth and heaven are created. Perhaps we were created to be instrumental actors in the grand orchestration of the unwinding of the universe. Perhaps we are simply another generation of cogs in the eternal wheel of fortune.

Growing up in Emporia, the neighborhood streets were lined with Dutch Elm trees on either side that literally formed a tunnel around the streets. Those stately old trees have since all succumbed to Dutch Elm disease and the streets are now exposed and unknown. And yet, as we drove around on a hot and humid July afternoon in a rolling yellow sweat lodge revisiting the home of our seventeenth birthdays, the Doucette in charge still had trouble holding down all the chatter of friends relating to one another. Just like every teacher who had the pleasure of trying to keep us from relating to one another for all those years up to 1960.

Monday, August 2, 2010

STORMS OF LIFE


Midwestern Storm, Kansas City, Missouri

"He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 'Where is your faith?' he asked his disciples."
--Luke 8:24-25

KANSAS FLINT HILLS SUNRISE, SUNSET



Sunrise, Sunset, Central Kansas

Sunrise, sunset,
sunrise, sunset,
swiftly go the years.
One season following another,
laden with happiness and tears.

--Fiddler on the Roof

LAKE KAHOLA SUNSET




Lake Kahola Sunset, Central Kansas