Odds and Ends 1.20

After a few hurricanes, it was one of those rare truly beautiful days between the heat of summer and the cold of winter. I thought I would sit out back and think about stuff. Maybe even write. The neighbors’ unintelligible voices floated over the fence. The smell of K coffee and cigar smoke floated over mine.

I opted to use a steno pad and one of those cheap pens you buy twenty at a time. It didn’t take me long to realize that after all these years I still can’t read my handwriting seconds after the ink is dry.

How long has it been since I wrote anything in longhand! Makes me think back to when I bought my first typewriter. It wasn’t much different than the Army mills I used for transcription in ASA so long ago. I couldn’t afford typing paper so I bought cheap newsprint. Sometimes off white, sometimes yellow. It was in my Army years that I was introduced to prejudice and hatred firsthand as a Jew. I wasn’t trying hard to be Jewish; I was trying hard to excel as a sergeant. How did they know? Where did all this hate-for-nothing come from?

I am not pursuing the answers to those type of questions here. I just wanted you to know that I know what it is like to be hated just because. I will spare you my hundred and fifty million or so examples of such. Hate may be one reason why I have no desire to read much news today. Most news media in any form seems to be hate based or hate driven these days.

Let me clarify. On my phone almost every morning before my world is up and running I scan the news articles and seldom read anything unless it strikes me as important because I know that I am being tracked when I am on any electronic device. Well, that is the high level reason. The other reason is this. Why would I want to read articles that are filled with hate or so biased I want to throw up? How I miss my early NY Times days and newsprint on my hands! (There is no going back, Alan, focus!)

Take this morning. I saw an article headline from The Hollywood Reporter a few days ago that read: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Trump and Biden Are Irrelevant in This Election. This was the first sentence in the article:

This is the first presidential election in my lifetime in which the candidates are irrelevant. For the first time, an election is not about content of the candidates’ character, it’s about the content of the voters’ character.

It struck a nerve. So, I read the whole article. It made me question my own voting history. It made me think; it made me question a lot of things. It made me revisit a lot of things. Is something changing or is it me? Two questions came immediately to mind. “What have I done?” And, “What will I do?”

I wish I would have known this MLK Jr quote in 1973 when I was stationed in Thailand being totally hated by this Arian sergeant. I thought we both served in the same US Army. Gave me the creeps.

So, I believe it was MLK Jr who said: “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”

Then, if it is “about the content of the voters’ character”, please remember that MLK Jr didn’t see the world through black and white glasses. He saw the world and people through eyes of faith. Our God is bigger than that. Our God is faithful and full of grace.

I wonder if MLK Jr would approve of the current state of our civilization and who we have become today regardless of ethnicity, religion, etc.

Thank you, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yes, it is about the content of our character. Our character formed in the image of God or in the absence of God, we are all still accountable before God—before and after this election.

The Eyes Cannot

The path forward has disappeared
or so it seems. It is raining that hard.
And the trail that brought me here

is not the way back. Reason cannot
explain it. Intellect cannot understand it.
But Hurricane Delta will come and go.

Faith can see what the eyes cannot.

Faith keeps the fires of hope burning
when the cold hard truth is that
nothing will ever be the same again.

COVID came and is still here. And the
hurricanes have come one right after
the other. Both can destroy life.

We cannot see the end of COVID. Science
takes its best guess. A hurricane gust just
hit the house. Its end too is a best guess.

The eyes of hope still point to the
resurrection ahead. The meeting of the
dead and those living at Christ’s coming

in the clouds is well documented. When?
“Time unknown, but soon it will come,”
say the eyes of faith.

Don’t you see? The next COVID or the one
after that will not be for me. But the rain
will fall and the hurricane winds will blow.

But faith can see what the eyes cannot.

Answers

I sat out back while I burned
a pile of wood debris that has
been wet since February.

This week of sun was my only
chance before the next big
tropical storm rolls in on Friday.

I sat there with an Oliva Master
3 Blend, 5 x 54, in my hand. It
is the third of four in a gift set

from Father’s Day last year.
Obviously, when I stopped
smoking cigars and pipes in

1976, I did not know I was going
to get this gift. Since I was alone
in the back, I thought it was a

good time to talk to God about
the questions on my heart. He
didn’t seem to mind the cigar.

He is a good listener as I did
most of the talking. Well, all of
the talking actually.

I got up a few times to check the
fire and killed two ant hills along
the edge of the patio.

God was still listening. I know
what you want to ask. Did I get
any answers. Not today. Soon.

In God’s time, I will. I asked big
questions; so I expect big answers.
If you ask, you will get an answer.

Not to worry. Long after the last
cigar is gone, God will hear me
and give me answers.

Shadows in Life

all things are forgotten
by humankind
by time
by design

except for the memories
of war
of abuse
of pain
of suffering

for they are our own
they made us who we are
maybe not who we thought
we wanted to be

and what of the other memories
of joy
of love
of peace
et cetera

they cast light on the shadows
in life with hope for the life
to come

just like the knowledge of God
cannot be listed as a memory

A Candle of Faith

I can’t be having the thoughts I’m having.
The thoughts of past abuse never go
completely away. I understand that.

Those thoughts spawn other thoughts.
And before I know it, I’m back in a place
I don’t want to be.

Pain and pleasure converge once again
and I’m in touch with the confusion of
the eight-year-old that was me.

It is Satan’s fuel fanning the fires of past
abuse freezing my thoughts for today.
Fiery arrows aimed at the heart to destroy

whatever is true. The breath of an angel is
all it takes to quench this Hell fire and
bring me back into God’s grace and truth.

Light and darkness can never occupy the
same space. All it takes is a candle of faith
to dispel the darkness.