Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Power... July 5th, 2016

All of yesterday and most of this morning I have struggled with “power”. Not the act nor the position, not even the attribute. I have struggled with the word. I have considered what power is in people, what it is in government and what it is in the world. I have looked at its being used well and at its being abused. My husband pointed out two aspects of power from the context in which it is used; as ability or position to accomplish certain things or authority or right to do same. In all cases, power walks a fence. Fall to the left and it is a negative, an imprisonment. Fall to the right and it is a positive and freeing state of mind.
The photographer who took this shot of the ocean is Lynn Watson, a high school classmate. He is faithful to take pictures of the sunrise virtually every day. His photos have shown that even from the same vantage point every day, what we see and how we perceive it is unique and in constant flux. That morning sky is always majestic, always breathtaking, always beautiful and… always changing.
I was taken by this particular picture not for its gentle tiptoeing into the day draped in brilliant ribbons of colorful splendor, but because of its evenly structured strength and silent power.  As I consider the temporary power of earthliness and the choices for misuse that we people of the world have at our fingertips it can be a terrifying state of mind. O, but that is where that strong and silent, phenomenal power of God’s wisdom and grace jump right in! He has given us good power tempered with love and self discipline. Through His grace and mercy He has shown us His truth… truth is power. It is the correct,  “right”  side of the fence. Through this power we know Jesus. Make Him known!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Write About... A Certain Place on the Map

A Certain Place on Someone’s Map

The palm fronds quivered in the December wind; scratching, clawing against a corner of the board fence that stood like a weathered sentry guarding the back side of the parking lot. There was an eerie loneliness that pressed down hard on the flawless little seaside town. I looked at my watch. It was only five ‘til nine. The streets were empty. A draft rushed in from the ocean and ran its fingers along the back of my neck. I almost turned to see who had touched me when I remembered... I was totally alone.

He had told me to wait by the car; not in the car, mind you, but by the car. In the increasingly less likely hope that I could flag a passing motorist, he wanted me to stand out here like some sacrificial critter... in the dark... wrapped in the hideous blanket of evil that covered this deceiving place. I leaned down to look at the tire. It had grown noticeably flatter and apparently our ‘slow leak’ had turned out to be something much closer to a hissing gash.

I stood up straight and peered to the left then to the right down the dark road. There was nothing but emptiness; emptiness and... quiet. There was no sound at all except the distant coming and going of the waves and that dreadful scratching and clawing. A vague sense of uneasiness began to twirl around me with another burst of damp salty air that blew in from the direction of the beach.

My husband was no coward but he wasn’t the bravest injun in the tribe either. I just knew that he would be gone only a short time as he looked for help. To be gone so long was not like him at all, especially under such ominous circumstances.

We happened to visit this tiny resort town on the Florida panhandle because I had read a magazine article that raved about the ‘planned’ community. It was planned, alright. Right down to what time Mr. and Mrs. Whoeveryouare would mysteriously poof out of sight.

We had rolled into the rustic little spot as the sun was hovering close to the blue green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The whole setting was like something from a movie. The scene had all the appropriate props that were all situated in precisely the right places to evoke an unavoidable desire to be there, to linger and to stay... always. It was… captivating.

Ed parked the car and we began to literally stroll the wooden sidewalks; strings of softly glowing lights overhead swayed with us in the sea air. There was so much charm packed into the shops and eateries that it seemed to ooze out into the night. We laughed and held hands. We drank in the feeling and meandered down to the perfect beach, sat in the perfect gazebo and enjoyed the perfect sunset as it draped its ribbons of color across the perfect town.

Now, a shiver crawled its way up my body as I sought to make sense of that picturesque face of serenity having transformed into a brooding, demonic sneer.

“Lord, it’s dark!” I chattered the words in a loud whisper. “Where in the world is Ed?”

I had sensed that something was wrong as we made our way up from the dunes in those last few moments of twilight. That which had a short time before been a vibrant, “Wouldn’t it be great to retire here?” little township, had become a ghostly sound stage from which all the actors had gone. As I had shaken the sand from my shoes, I suddenly could not wait to get to the car and make the drive back to our hotel in Panama City where Ed had come to work.

When we reached the parking lot we had found the ailing tire and set about finding some way to get it repaired so we could “Get the #@*^ outta Dodge.”

Nothingness is a difficult pill to swallow in a culture that’s “bustin’ at the seams with stuff”. It’s a void that creeps up; crawls over you ‘til you feel yourself trying, seemingly to no avail, to fill your lungs, to breathe. I leaned my backside against the car and placed my hands on my knees. I held my head down in an effort to get rid of the dizziness and the feeling that I was about to lose the dinner I didn’t have.

“Ed, where in the world are you?” my thoughts reeled.

Ed looked at her from the window of the spacecraft. She was a mere dot on the earth now. He felt a sense of something he had learned is called sadness welling up from way deep down. He had loved her well. He had loved her long and probably always would. He would miss her. He was glad they had allowed him to spare her; she had suspected nothing.

He longed to explain the staged town and its use as a travel portal for his planet. He watched her as she stood slumped against the car so far below him. With his mind he healed her deflated tire. Then, he settled back, closed his eyes and thought of being home.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Write About..."a mess"...

     "Hey, young'un, git on up yonder on the truck 'fore ya git left behind."
I scrambled up into the bed and settled in with the others; my mom, dad, sister and Aunt Bill.  The rusty old pick-up ground into gear as my Uncle JB let his foot off the clutch and put on a little gas.  We bumped and bounced across the washboard earth that had been furrowed time and again.  I watched the puffs of dust that billowed and swelled behind us as I sat on the tailgate and dangled my legs over the edge.  The flurry of dirt would drift on the air then settle on the leaves of the trees that stood between the fields and the narrow road that led here.  The dusted branches looked ashen against the bright blue sky.  When raindrops would first come, they would splatter into the dust leaving millions of little freckled faces.  But there was no rain today.  And was it hot.  Even the early part of summer brought scorchers in central Florida.  Florida is where I was born.  I stayed until I was 30, and then moved on.

     The truck rolled to a stop and I jumped to the ground.  I threw the scratchy burlap sack over my shoulder and made my way to the far end of the row to start pickin' as I made my way back.  To my reckonin' made a lotta sense 'cause that way the heavier my sack got, the closer I was to the truck.  This ain't your backyard, Martha Stewart, little organic garden patch... my Uncle J played with the big boys and right on top of the Magic Kingdom.  He owned most of that land outside Orlando and was a commercial farmer.   He grew green beans for Del Monte.  Blue Lake green beans; millions of 'em; row after row after hundred mile row.  Yep.  Long before Snow White ever floated down Main Street USA, I squatted there; I sweated there; I suffered heat exhaustion; right there.  Me, a poor little child.

     I considered looking into the labor laws but decided that I liked eating those beans too much so I kept my mouth shut and picked.  There was the proverbial Pollyanna 'glad game' to play; sad side of the coin bein' I had to pick a lotta beans.  The glad part?... bein' glad we were only gleanin' the fields.  After the huge mechanical pickers, after the migrant workers; just us, family, cannin' in the summer so we could be eatin' in the winter.

   Ya know, I couldn't say what folks in other parts of the world do when they have a mess, but where I come from, we EAT it.
     We got fried chicken, biscuits, mashed taters... and a big ole mess o' green beans!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Life Is On

The young man rose, took the two steps across the tiny room and returned with a box of generic Kleenex. I pulled one of the tissues out and dabbed it around my eyes. Since September of 1993 I had spent hours in these cold, stark exam rooms. In August of that year, I was swimming in a friend's pool and went rushing to the bottom to grab hold of the ring my nephew had thrown. As I reached the twelve foot depth I was suddenly gripped with the fear of drowning as an extremely sharp pain shot through my left ear; I fought my usual response to the unexpected, which is to draw in a huge gasp of air (uh, that would have been water). I made it to the surface (and I did gasp) but within a couple of minutes everything was perfectly fine.
"Very strange." I thought to myself; but all's well that ends well.

The next day I was flying to Scotland to meet up with my husband who was going to be there on business and as the plane made its way to cruising altitude, again the knife shot through my ear. It didn't take long to realize that whether it be from depth or height, pressure was the culprit. In Scotland, I saw a general practitioner who gave me a strong antibiotic and a firm order to see a specialist as soon a I got back to the states.

I had known I was dealing with a mild hearing loss for several years and had been to a couple of doctors who told me my eardrums were getting flabby (why not? so was everything else) and therefore the sound was not bouncing off them the way it would if they were still stretched tight; sounds were not resonating. I could live with that... and did. Until that summer, 1993.

Upon the visit to the new ear man, it was clear I would be visiting him for many years to come. I was diagnosed as having advanced cholesteatoma in that ear and surgery was gonna happen. This disorder comes about quite often because of an old infection or injury that was not properly treated or even discovered. I did have a history of ear infections when I was a child and ran some high fevers at times.

After the initial surgery, it has become a regular, every six month occurrence to make a visit to the ear  specialist to remove any new intrusion of scar tissue, or other alien beings that may have hatched there, from the ear canal.  To get to the point of all this, I finally started wearing hearing aids in the late fall of 1998.  Because my hearing loss is a "reverse curve", the loss of low frequency sounds instead if high and the opposite of 98 per cent of the rest of the folks (what's new for me?), it has been a true struggle to get the instruments to actually be a benefit.  I got into the habit of wearing only the left, as that ear has lost 60 per cent of hearing and the right 'only' 40. 

What a struggle... for myself, in trying to hear, missing important info, having people look at me like I'm nuts because I've responded based on misunderstanding, my laughing at all the wrong places in conversations and the very worst, being laughed at.  It's a struggle for others in having to repeat things or raise their voices to decibels high enough to be heard several blocks away (well, not quite that loud).  It's no fun for anyone.

"Life is on.", is the trade slogan of Phonak, the company that makes the new hearing aids I have.  I have been in several times now to get them adjusted to life beyond the cloistered environment of the audiologist's office and into the noisy, traffic laden reality of life in an urban world.  It's been no good.  As soon as I put in the second hearing aid, I imagine what life for dogs exposed to those high-pitched whistles must be like; or life for vampires exposed to sunlight... excruciating!

Until today.  Today a hearing aid technician worked with us in trying to figure out how to compensate for this particular portion of my weirdness, and like a gift from God Himself... I could hear.  The sound is clear.  It is balanced.  It is music.

If one has never had a hearing loss or disability it is difficult to understand the joy of hearing the soft spoken voice of a child or sitting on the front steps (at MY age) and crying over the sounds of birds chattering their news of the day or hearing, after over thirty years of marriage, the gentle whisper, "I love you." from that man you so dearly love.  Yep, after twenty something years of being off-line, once again I'm wired.  Life indeed... is on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Time Thief

I didn't even catch a glimpse of whoever it was... it all happened so fast. But someone did it, and with no mercy. It almost makes it not worth having an item of value as there is always someone or some 'thing' that wants to take it away, rip it from your hands and haul fanny into the shadows before you know what hit. That's what happened back in February. Some unknown, and most assuredly evil, force stole these past six months of blogging sessions that were to produce at least one little writing every 28 to 30 days.
There are several possible perps to choose from in this thievery though it could be that a portion of each decided to band together and act in unison... a little bit of distraction, a smidgeon of disinterest, a tidbit of busy-ness and a whole passle of "I'll get to it in a bit." There was a hint of "I don't have anything to say." (We all know better on that one!) Sadly, things even reached the dreaded reality of forgetfulness to the degree of actually forgetting I even HAVE a blog! At any rate, here I am in September, it's the first day of public school and the neighborhood is quiet, almost to the point of spooky. Vacations are over, fall cleaning is underway and the familiar door arrangement of oversized sunflowers has once again found its way to gracing our front entrance. Our youngest grandchild, August, had the audacity to turn nine in (guess when) August and she is so savvy and maturing so quickly that I feel it all slipping away... one little month, week and hour at a time.
When I turned 60, October will mark two years ago, several friends gave me beautiful journals to jot things down in because they knew of my "love" of writing... it is a love I have betrayed, neglected, way too long. So, I, the eldest female in the gang, challenged Gus, the youngest, to write with me. I passed on one of the many journals I had received and we made a deal to write at least a paragraph, or sentence even, every day. It was a good birthday gift as she writes very well. We shall see.
As for the multi-faceted thief, I pray for the stamina to be ready, always on guard to fight; to fight for that most precious gift of Time. We seem to misplace it so carelessly.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Write about... A Dessert That Betrayed Me

I burst from the classroom. The news had been delivered. As I wobbled down the sidewalk, my thoughts tumbled in directions that bumped into each other; crisscrossing, tangling and tying up. The clear and luminous sky of that Indian summer day was spent on someone else... its beauty went unsung, unnoticed by me. I made scrambling efforts to think clearly and to wrap my mind around this thing... this violation... this rape... of the American spirit.
In ninth grade civics class less than a decade before, I watched in numb bewilderment as John F. Kennedy slumped into his wife’s arms, his life spilling from his body. The people... cried.
Four years later when I graduated, I was filled with hope and promise anew... only to come face to face with the turmoil of Viet Nam. This was a slinking and slithering war, slimy in all it came to be. It was war without “honor”. It dragged on and on. The people... cried out.
A recklessness like that of a child gone wild in learning that her father is a liar soon exploded in the rebellion that was Woodstock. The people... cried no more; they blew their minds in clouds of smoke and swallowed their fears on sugar cubes. The Pentagon Papers fluttered to the ground.
The atrocities of corruption were indeed on the rise but it seemed that always it had been the people against the authority. Be it right or wrong, informed or ignorant, godly or demonic... it had been America standing up... rising up! Appalled by assassination, weary of war and disheartened by dishonesty, we could still look to our leadership to understand our nightmares and try to recapture our dreams.
But now, on this campus on this day, the flood came crashing down. Watergate had been opened and it drowned the American dream. My President had suddenly become a doer of dirty deeds... deep in the darkness. Kicking and screaming at the assault, the molesting of a people, I wished on him his ‘just desserts’.
Ah, the innocence of youth; the hope that gushed forth in the absence of knowledge, in the bliss of ignorance, so many years ago. All runs counter to the specter of today's pending doom.
And in this day when a leader turns away from his people, when the government denies its country's worth instead of defends it, controls instead of corrects, infects instead of instills; that day surely is... the rape of a nation.
Just desserts, indeed, and desserts that betray us. For here, in the wake of dragging our battered spirits through today’s thickening mire, the violation that was Watergate has all the gentleness of ... a first kiss.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Colors of the Orient

Colors of the Orient

Parchment moon o'er streets of gold, the sleight of dragons' wings,
cherry blossoms, lantern's glow
what fare of noble kings.

Stoic, cliff-faced majesty, spring forth in quaking birth;
Sleek and stony sentinels hold fast the fragile earth.

Mirror lakes enshrouded in a misty China blue
'neath reaching arms of evergreens
all strung with pearls of dew.

Silken lady, silver land of mystery and veil...
however did your peaceful heart
become so drawn and pale?

With books of red a violent haze came marching
in the street,
with anger, black, your vision died;
a nation learned defeat.

With Xeroxed fear, row after row, your pain
reached every soul...
O, China, mighty conqueror, the prey of
mind control.

Somewhere from deep within your ache
a "David's heart" was born,
and filled the crying, writhing Square
the grinding tank had torn.

O, hulking beast stand silent in the triumph of
the youth!
How powerful the victory of meekness
speaking truth.

Sweet ancient land of longings, stony gods with vacant stares,
your winding paths of western dreams
are those the whole world shares...

...of hope and love triumphant, free of fear and filled
with peace...
triumphant human spirit, may your rainbow never cease.

Write about... An Apple

Golden, delicious, dancing on the breeze.
Calling, humming, there among the trees.

Magic, lustrous, tempter of the weak,
Instrument, weaponry, attacker of the Meek.

Forbidden fruit, an evil seed planted in her mind...
Golden, delicious... betrayer of mankind.

Write about... Something Under Lock and Key

The lantern spread its warm fingers of light across the futon and wrapped them around the papers that Mi Chai held her in her hand. The photograph was dim and pale; the shades of black and white were all but fused into a hazy apparition. The faces were barely discernable, yet she studied them. She leaned closer to the paper shell that held the candle and her eyes traced every ghostly line of the man and woman that lay in the palm of her hand. Though a distant memory, the couple was held captive and confined within the narrow frayed border. The pair was never straying, ever steadfast within the creased and wavy edges of their boundary.
The woman there was small, elegant; she wore the traditional shiro-maku, a wedding kimono. Its straight, angular lines betrayed the gentle curves and soft skin that trembled beneath the silk. She stood with her back nestled against her man; he tall, strong and bearing a courageous kind of good looks. An American flyer standing proud in his dress uniform, he had enveloped his bride, lifted her to a tallness of which she had only dreamed. Mi Chai thought about the meanings of the words shiro-maku... white and pure. Those were the words that defined the love that poured out of the faces and spilled from the tattered print. Mi Chai moved her gaze around the ragged snapshot and was lost in the hugeness of all that it held.
A small fan was tucked inside the wide obi sash that was wrapped around the woman’s tiny waist. Mi Chai’s mother had told her time and again of its significance; the gradual widening of the open fan implies happiness and thus brings a happy future. A small sack-like purse dangled from the belt and promised prosperity. An undersized sword encased in satin was hidden in the folds of the obi and offered up its oath of protection. Mi Chai sank into a watery stare that echoed,” Why?” The man and woman smiled on. Even though it had gone so wrong... they smiled on.
What horror had destroyed the powers of the tokens... good luck charms gone grievously awry? Mi Chai was only six when Yumiko had wailed and fallen to her knees under the weight of despair. What smallness of minds and hearts had ruled that the magnitude of love could be whittled and chiseled down to the confines of a law? Marriages not recognized by the American military; Japanese spouses... outlawed, banned... destroyed. They had carried her man away; the love of her life, the father of her child. An earthly redeemer and now, he was gone.
Many years had passed since Yumiko had given up hope of ever again being with the one she loved. She had sunk into a grief so profound it had swallowed her and dragged little Mi Chai’s joy behind. Finally, in total emptiness, she died.
Yumiko left a gift; a gift for Mi Chai. Abiding by ancient custom, she had carefully fashioned her wedding kimono into a futon cover for her daughter. For almost fifteen years now the white embroidered silk that graced her bed was the tie that bound her to the mother she had lost and the father she had barely known.
But the greatest gift was the folded parchment she had found situated inside the lining of the bed covering. It was neatly folded around the wedding picture and a paper listing the name of her father; where he was born, when he was born, his favorite things and best of all, his vow that someday, he would return.
For the millionth time, Mi Chai blinked back the tears and placed the papers inside the small wooden box and turned the key.

Write about... A Never-Ending Struggle

They sat perched. Lofty and waiting. Waiting for the perfect time, the precise moment at which to strike. The hours had dragged on and their muscles were almost frozen. They had all but utterly stiffened during the night. They were unqualified to move, hanging on and not knowing which way to go. They waited for instructions. They waited for direction. Nothing came.
They had been at this very spot many times before. Suspended, hovering... on the brink. There were eight of them. They each knew their jobs, should they ever be called to perform them. They each knew their boundaries, should they ever be called to cover them. They were reasonably trained, fairly skilled; and in the small hours of the night when all was quiet, when nothing stirred... achievement was their only vision. The distractions of the day were over and they crouched, poised. Focused and ready to hit. Yet more often than not, they waited... longing to be called upon; longing to serve; yearning to fulfill their purpose. It seemed a never-ending struggle. All the preparation, the working to be fit and ready - only to face the let-down of no command... They sat perched. Waiting for the perfect time.
Finally the order came! All eight fingers jumped to attention and flew across the keyboard! Reasonably trained, fairly skilled! Writing! Filling the paper! Achieving... performing! Always under pressure, but always loyal.
And all too frequently, forgotten.