Sunday, June 30, 2013


Rain Drops, Jamestown, NC

The days last light is retiring over the horizon. Darkness settles in with the gentle sounds of a light rain on the windowsill and windowpanes next to the fireplace by my recliner. The rain drops against the window are neither threatening nor intrusive. Rather, they patiently and randomly create intermittent music for the soul that prompts me to disengage all electronic distractions that spoil the moment. Obvious squall lines are moving through the area marked by times of light rain showers and quiet interludes. It is a time of peace and restfulness that begs to be indulged with a good book and a civilized glass of wine. These occasions are few and far between in the grand scheme of life, so it’s good to savor the experience.

Although the weather is wet and raw outside, the atmosphere on the inside of my sheltered home is one of pleasant appreciation for God’s goodness on this damp summer’s evening. And as the cloak of drowsiness is slowly gathered round, there’s no better lulling music to begin a restful night’s slumber than gentle rain drops outside my window—we’ll all sleep soundly tonight.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Raw Beauty, Jamestown, NC
Abstract Beauty, Jamestown, NC

Isn't it interesting how something out of the ordinary can be beautiful to some folks and repulsive to others? I took this image of an ordinary daylily and then applied extreme color saturation and exposure to create this totally abstract image of the same flower. I think this image has a fluorescent beauty all of its own, but I suppose there may be those who consider it repulsive. The old adage that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” has certainly stood the test of time.

A friend recently posted an image on Facebook of a beautiful young woman with a marvelous smile. When I first viewed the image, my focus was immediately drawn to her bright demeanor and that winning smile of hers. It was only after my mind processed that image that I finally noticed that she had lost both her hands and feet. The day she lost her limbs had to be a very repulsive scene, but the glow of her inner beauty most certainly has sustained her throughout her personal tragedy. When Mother Teresa was asked how she could possibly continue to treat what many would consider society’s more repulsive people left to die on the streets of Calcutta, her response was immediate and revealing. She simply stated that she saw Jesus in every one of them. She had conditioned herself to compassionately look past the uncommon and see the inner beauty, no matter how abstract their image had become in their suffering. Many would characterize both her mission and that of Jesus as extreme compassion.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Serendipity, Jamestown, NC

The random gift of finding good things accidently is called serendipity. How many times have you been on a trip and noticed a fleeting message on an outdoor billboard tempting you to turn off at the next exit? Taking the exit was not on your itinerary, but the side trip turned out to be the highlight of your vacation. Or how about sorting through a stack of bygone jazz music only to discover some of the best music of your life? Or how about joining one of your good friends on a double date with his girlfriend’s new acquaintance and ending up marrying her? Or just stopping by a local pet store to see the exotic fish in their aquarium and returning home with your all-time best friend for the next twelve years? Or casually accepting an invitation to a youth group so you can meet girls and learning that no matter who you are, you are loved without condition and someone has already redeemed you? Or how about driving to the farmer’s market in the late fall and purchasing some spent annual potted flowers on a table priced at three for five dollars and discovering one of the most beautiful blooms you’ve ever photographed the next summer? And you still don’t know what it is or even care at this point. That’s serendipitous!

Monday, June 24, 2013


Soul Mates, Jamestown, NC

These two Daylily blooms were intertwined from their inception and should remain that way for the duration of the entire day until they begin to fade away. Everything is relative, however. To the Daylily, one day is a lifetime. And we human beings get lots of days of our lives to cherish, but many of them go unnoticed and unappreciated because we're always expecting just one more.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Walking God's Path, Blue Ridge Mountains, NC

God created human beings in his image and placed them in a perfect creation. He created us for relationship and shared love. He imparted free will in us; the ability to choose. The first couple had only one restriction in their Camelot world; not to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil. It wasn’t that this fruit didn’t look good or taste good; it was simply there to test good choices and obedience. The two humans actually walked with their creator in the cool of the morning in the “beautiful beyond belief” garden that was designed for their pleasure and sustenance. But the woman was first tempted to eat the forbidden fruit by a fallen spirit and as so often happens, she spread the blame to her mate by enticing him to disobey as well.

Their free will disobedience tripped an internal circuit we all share that made them aware that they had done something wrong. It opened their awareness to both the good and the evil that permeates this existence. It exposed them to their nakedness and prompted them to be ashamed of their actions. They hid among the trees in the garden when they once again heard God moving through the garden in the cool of the day. They intuitively recognized that they had not only broken their relationship with God, but the world around them had also been shattered. Consequences were in order. They chose to blame others rather than accept responsibility; chose to hide rather than confront; chose to make excuses rather than admit to wrongdoing.

That intuition is still part of modern human DNA. It has been embedded in the spiraling strands that have been ingeniously passed along for generations. It’s with all of us today. We still know when we have detoured from good living. We call the mechanism “conscience” but it remains a mystery, like our mind, soul and spirit. God has a plan for us, but he gave us the free will to ignore it and go it alone.

King Solomon, the richest and wisest man to ever live, wrote in his wisdom book of Proverbs to “trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take”. My niece and her husband chose this scripture for me to read at their wedding this month. Then our associate pastor used it this morning as the focal point of her message. I’ve learned enough about teaching to know that if you really want to drive home a point, you tell them, then you tell them again. When Jesus wanted to really get someone’s attention, he repeated their name. So I think this posting was destined to be written!

It’s not good to spend life hiding in the bushes off the path, but confronting our weaknesses and staying in touch with our creator, requesting his forgiveness, accepting his grace, changing our behavior and deferring to his directions along a path of living a joyous life to the fullest.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


In the Eye, Wrightsville Beach, NC

June marks the official beginning of the hurricane season, especially for the eastern Atlantic coast. Present day satellite systems now provide us with some fascinating images of the large circular systems that generally include a distinct eye at the center of these strong cyclones. At the storm’s height the eye can be very symmetric, but it becomes oblong and ragged as the storm weakens. This calm eye is characterized by light winds and clear skies, but the surrounding eyewall is composed of towering thunderstorms where most of the severe weather occurs. The barometric pressure in the eye can be fifteen degrees lower than the outer wall. It is typically 20-40 miles across in distance which implies that a direct hit by one of these phenoms of nature can bring extreme weather conditions, followed by a period of relative calm in the eye, followed by more violent winds as the opposite eyewall passes over.

It seems that life itself can be characterized by these weather systems. We can be overcome by the leading edge of an approaching eyewall before the calm eye enters our life to help right the ship. And just as we get comfortable with life, we get blindsided by the opposite eyewall. When we’re in the midst of these calm eyes, we need to use the opportunity to give thanks and focus on recharging our batteries in preparation for the next eyewall. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take full advantage of the calmness and live fully in that serene moment, we just need to guard against the complacency of being lulled into the misdirected perception that it will never pass. The winds of life are always in motion.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

JULY 4, 1826

“Monticello is my poem in brick and mortar".
Bachelor's Quarters, Monticello, VA

“If you ever find yourself environed with difficulties and perplexing circumstances out of which you are at a loss how to extricate yourself, do what is right, and be assured that that will extricate you the best out of the worst situations. Though you cannot see when you take one step what will be the next, yet follow truth, justice and plain dealing, and never fear their leading you out of the labyrinth in the easiest manner possible…Be assured that nothing will be so pleasing as your success.”

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing”.

I had the good fortune recently to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in neighboring Virginia and learn more of his legacy. I had planned my trip to allow an entire afternoon to roam the grounds as Jefferson had done two hundred years ago. When he was just a boy, the top of this mountain was his favorite retreat to read books and gaze out as I did upon the plum colored ragged mountains on the horizon. The initial excavation in 1769 became the cellar of Monticello’s South Pavilion, a one room brick cottage that was eighteen feet square which he called his “bachelor’s quarter’s”.

Nearly sixty years later, Jefferson would breathe his last at this beloved mountain top home. But this consummate renaissance man of American history first was recognized as a student, architect, revolutionary, legislator, warrior, slaveholder, diplomat, statesman, president, educator, planter, husband and father. Besides his presidency and the founding and design of the University of Virginia, Jefferson’s legacy has perhaps been most defined by his creation of America’s Declaration of Independence. The new Continental Congress appointed a committee that included Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to write the declaration. Jefferson proposed that Adams write the first draft but he objected, reasoning that he was obnoxious, suspected, unpopular, not a Virginian and Jefferson could write ten times better. So Jefferson secluded himself in his second story Philadelphia apartment and emerged with the now infamous document two weeks later. The final wording was agreed upon and approved on July 4, 1776.

Jefferson’s Dr. Dunglison was at his bedside on July 3, 1826 when Thomas awoke and asked, “Is it the fourth”? The good doctor replied, “It soon will be”. Those were his last words and he died at 12:50 on Tuesday afternoon on July 4, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams, who had become a good friend and correspondent of Jefferson’s died just a few hours later in Quincy, Massachusetts. Neither man was aware of the other friend’s passing, but both men left an indelible mark on the country they founded and a legacy that challenges us all.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Healing Energy, Flint Hills, KS

The good doctor Luke tells the story in the eighth chapter of his book about a woman that had been bleeding for twelve years. This condition rendered her untouchable in Jesus’ time on earth. As he was making his way through all the people crowding around him and his disciples, the woman desperately reached out and touched the hem of his cloak. Her bleeding stopped at once and Jesus asked “Who touched me”? When everyone denied it, his disciples responded as we would have expected and pointed out that the crowds were surrounding and pressing in on them. But Jesus wanted to make the point that “Someone touched me. I know that power has gone out from me”.

When the woman finally came trembling to Jesus, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed. Jesus used the occasion as another teaching moment and proclaimed to all those around him that her faith had healed her. I’ve always found it interesting that it is obvious that Jesus did not come to restore our broken world at this time. Hundreds if not thousands of people were left with their infirmities and terminal illness as he walked among them in the holy land. He seldom interfered with the natural laws and tragedies of the time, as his mission was to secure all mankind’s forgiveness so that all could later participate in a restored life in a new earth and a new heaven.

Healing does occur in this lifetime, but it is not assured. Jesus is quick to note that it was not his magical cloak that healed the woman but her faith. And it’s interesting to consider that Jesus acknowledged when the woman’s silent prayer for healing was heard and answered, discernable power went out from him. God’s healing energy can restore our body, soul and spirit if we only ask. A multitude of healing occasions occur during our lifetime and has been assured in the next. I’ve watched with a childlike wonder as the eight inch wound spanning my knee joint replacement has miraculously healed over into a faint character line highlighted by the sun’s rays. It’s been said that “when you get to the end of your rope, grab onto the hem of His cloak”. And feel the power!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Ozark Storm, Lake of the Ozarks, MO

Life isn’t about randomly wandering about trying to find ourselves. It’s about purposely developing our character or soul in a way that would find favor with our creator; enabling us to maneuver through the storms of life so that we can continue to emerge on the other side while living a meaningful life.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Past and Present Reflections, Emporia, KS

Hugs, Handshakes & Good Conversation

I just returned to the Kansas City area where I lived for thirty years before moving to the Carolinas fifteen years ago. Stepping outside the airport terminal where I may have come and gone about one hundred times initiates the memory recall odyssey. As I sense the wind waving in nearby tree branches, I’m reminded that this land has a haunting familiarity unique to my existence. These same shuttle buses that previously carried me to the satellite parking lot to retrieve my personal car now detour to the new central rental facility. It occupies land that I passed multiple times which contained shimmering prairie grasslands moving in concert with the vast green inland ocean.

After negotiating an upgrade, I exit onto familiar interstate highways for the surreal drive past the somewhat familiar city skyline before I blend into the suburbs we roamed for many years. I traversed these streets when I moved to the area after college graduation and then after marriage, childbirth, three apartments, three houses and two different employers. When I enter some streets their signs and buildings register as known images. And then totally foreign images of intersections, shopping centers and office complexes confuse and obscure my mind’s GPS system recall.

I check into a hotel room instead of driving home. I’ve arrived alone as I did at the outset almost fifty years ago as the circle of life continues its relentless course through time and space. The local news is always a conundrum. Young energetic anchors have morphed into older men and women with graying hair. Fresh faces have been overlaid with carefully sculpted character lines. The voices are familiar but the images; not so much.

As I drive south toward our last home neighborhood, the expected landmarks have been obliterated and completely replaced with expanded round-about intersections surrounded by familiar retail brands that have seemingly sprung up overnight while I apparently lapsed into a deep Rip Van Winkle sleep. Instead of driving home to greet my wife and daughter, I find life has happened. I stop at the Memorial Gardens to pause at my wife’s and my final resting place. The eternal rustle of leaves from the nearby oak tree provides a serene background sound, masking the nearby traffic.

It has become a somber homecoming, but then I join old friends to share a meal, a hug, a handshake and good conversation. Later, I circle back to the airport to pick up my daughter and son-in-law arriving on a flight from Chicago. The next morning we drive together to my hometown birthplace in central Kansas for a family wedding where hugs, handshakes and good conversation over dinner again lightens the load as the circle of life continues to rotate through time. I read wisdom scripture in the old stone Lutheran church where I was confirmed and we gathered with cousins to recite “good news” scripture at Christmas time. We drive to the reception through the once bustling Main Street thriving with family businesses which has now been abandoned as shoppers converge on the ubiquitous Wal-Mart on the edge of town.

As I fly back to the Carolinas, I arrive at the airport where I used to pick up rental cars on business trips. New friends and neighbors now drive me to and from my present home with hugs, handshakes and good conversation. I’m reminded that we may never get completely comfortable with our surroundings on this planet which we call home. This may explain a lingering anxiety that hovers just below the surface of our daily lives. Perhaps we shouldn’t even attempt to strive for it, as these environs are very temporary at best. And our permanent home actually resides on the other side of the thin veil that separates it from whatever reality our senses perceive around us.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


La Casa, Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Lake Therapy, Lake of the Ozarks, MO

The healing process continues after four months of knee replacement physical therapy. A round of golf was one of the primary driving goals from the outset and is now imminent. I’m recording the dawn of a new day in one of the myriad sheltered coves on 1200 miles of shoreline at the Lake of the Ozarks. Chickadees and wrens are joined in praise songs for another spectacular sunrise creation over the vast lake waters. Large bodies of water instinctively draw the human spirit to them, perhaps for the serenity we always enjoy there and possibly because they stir long forgotten memories of our sheltered time in the fluid of the womb.

A long fresh air boating excursion on the lake with close family is another leap forward from a major operation. The whole being of body and soul experience a renewal as the miracle of God’s healing power is released. Puffy early summer cumulus clouds lazily drift overhead against a clear blue sky, remnants of the violent storms that were spawned just days before. A great blue heron regally sits atop his throne on the surrounding canopy of trees lining the steep limestone bluffs created by ancient primordial oceans. Fresh water spray cools the temple and exposed skin.

There’s nothing more therapeutic than moving through warm waters and cool morning breezes on a large expanse of relatively placid water while breathing in the filtered fresh air that naturally wafts over and around you. You can sense the healing power of vitamin C being absorbed from the warm sunbeams that offset the cool air. You can’t leave the lake without reflecting the sun’s glow from exposed skin that has been naturally pampered by nature’s spa. Even the fading red character line extending along the full breadth of my knee has now been feathered into the overall whole. And the painful reality of my recovery has now been feathered into the fading memory of the distant past as I clean up my golf clubs.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Beach Walking, KI, SC

"The cure for anything is salt water -- sweat, tears, or the sea". -Isak Dinesen

When you think about it, salt water really is a timeless panacea. There’s really nothing to compare to an honest day’s work or workout where you are making a difference and contributing value to society or your health. I’ve often remarked that bailing hay in the middle of a Midwestern summer was the most honest, invigorating, hot and sweaty work that I accomplished at a minimum wage during my lifetime.

Tears of joy or grief almost always provide both the body and soul with an emotional release that ultimately leaves mankind with the fortitude to go on with life. And a first light sunrise walk along a deserted sandy beach will cure even the most melancholy or broken spirit as the foaming waves break ceaselessly over your bare feet.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


One More Day, Kiawah Island, SC

Addiction is an interesting component of our human experience. I wonder if anybody has ever escaped it? I once worked for a man during one of my summer college breaks who I shared a beer with after work on one hot afternoon. He raised his glass somewhat dispassionately and mused “one’s too many and a thousand ain’t enough”. And then there’s one of the richest men on the planet at the turn of the century who responded to a reporter’s question about “just how much money is enough” by stating “just a little bit more”. I’m sure we all know someone who is addicted to their work. Their life is way out of balance, but they can’t go home on time. Junk food producers know about addiction all too well as evidenced by today’s obesity epidemic. One potato chip company had a very successful marketing run with the catchy phrase “bet you can’t eat just one”.

I admit to an addiction for vanilla ice cream. When I cave in to a “buy one, get one free” Eddy’s Vanilla Bean special, the containers have my complete attention. Late in the evening I can hear the muffled cries from my freezer calling out to me to free them from their frozen imprisonment. I succumb to freedom’s cry and release the tasty spoonful’s into my anticipating stomach and later onto my expanding stomach. I know that I’ve experienced all the taste that I can after that first spoonful, but I’ve never stopped at just one. Consequently, I don’t believe that I fully appreciated any of them. So, I just try not to bring these guys into my home any more.

Are there any good addictions? Do you think Mother Teresa was addicted to doing good? Was her life out of balance too? Maybe. Our pastor years ago mentioned that he was extremely attracted to a pretty young female in High School, so when she finally agreed to a date he placed his Bible between them in the car--but I don’t recall if he said that it worked. Could it be that most of us are also addicted to life and we never want it to stop? If we were informed that this was our last day on the planet, would we do our best to bargain for “just one more”? Or have we confronted our addiction and really learned to appreciate today—kind of like vanilla ice cream?