Odds and Ends 5.20

“Same stuff, different day.”

Another late afternoon break
after a late lunch. Too full to
sip water.

I could see my neighbor’s
fire through the slits in his
backyard fence.

We talked briefly once maybe
twice in the last two years. He
is burning, boiling, or cooking.

Today’s chaos is winding down.
I saw him drink from a can. The
heat of the sun is pulling back.

I sat and had these thoughts.
Something bothered me. Did I
take it to the anger level?

It is a misconception that
anything or anyone “makes”
us angry. We are responsible

for what we feel and how we
act or respond. Anyway, I
thought some more.

God’s grace doesn’t make it
impossible to sin, or be angry,
or things like that.

We must make choices. The
difference is this if one does
any of the above.

If you do not know God, you
may not know what you have
done and may not care.

If you do know God, you know
what you have done. You care,
repent, and

ask God for forgiveness because
God forgives all our sins. We can
choose to walk away from God

or walk with God. “Same stuff,
different day” will be back again
tomorrow. God too.

Just the Weather

with the hurricane season
drawing to an end well at
least I pray so I was thinking

night is coming as is the cold
and more rain that cannot be
controlled or stopped

all creation or nature or the
weather are daily reminders
of God’s power and promises

the wind whips and the trees
sway in a chorus of prayer to
turn humanity back to God

before the Holy Spirit is told
to no longer hold back what
is to come

all that remains will have
exceedingly more to worry
about than just the weather

Odds and Ends 3.20

Until now it was a lazy day.
The wind has doubled or more
and the sun is in full retreat.

I better hurry if I want to make
my window for a late afternoon
cup of coffee.

I made a 10 oz cup instead of a
12 oz cup to have enough room
for cream as I decided to try

a cup with cream only. Funny, I
like a double espresso with
sugar. But regular old coffee

black kills my taste for coffee.
I took a sip and put it down.
When I picked it up again, there

was a tiny bug floating in the
cup who didn’t like the coffee
either.

So much for my Plan A. No time
for a Plan B if I had one today.
I guess it is time for me to start

cooking dinner. I am baking
chicken legs. Why chicken legs?
It is the only fresh meat in the

fridge that was dropped from
our scaled down Thanksgiving
menu. We already cut back

on the variety of food and
will cook less of everything.
Instead of for twenty, it will

be for ten, but in reality five.
We just went to back to Phase 2
this afternoon. So the few who

might have come will now get
curbside delivery service. All
wearing masks of course.

At any rate, there will still be
more leftovers than usual.
Turkey and ham will abound

for a good week or so. You have
heard it before, “Be safe, not
sorry.” It is hard to plan with

COVID. Things change quickly.
But we can plan to pray.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Give thanks and pray.

Odds and Ends 2.20

I am sitting out back on the patio where I usually sit on a stack of pavers that sits next to the hose reel. I use the other short pile of pavers as a table. Just big enough for a cup of ice water and a pen or some such thing. My phone is small enough to rest on the hose reel.

With my pen in one hand and cigar in the other and steno pad on my lap, I try to put my finger on what is so odd about this day after Election Day. I am not sure there is any difference between today after this election day or the day after a hangover. Neither of them memorable or so it would seem.

Looking around, it is actually a perfect no day. No bees, no hornets, no mosquitos, no flies, no squirrels, no birds, no dogs, no cats, no people, and no election day results. But like it or not, I believe there is anxiety in the air.

So, my God, I must ask. God, I am not asking you for my pick, I am asking You for Your pick. The likes of Lincoln, FDR, Reagan are gone. (I know there are more, but I can’t think of any others who stand out at the moment.) I served twenty years in the Army to support our country. It is our duty and privilege to vote. I didn’t want our country to go down the tubes then and I don’t want our country to go down the tubes now.

It is so quiet I can hear the distant rumble and whistle of the mid-afternoon train slowly making its way through town.

Any day now we will learn who won the election and I will thank you, Lord, for the next president you have allowed to serve your purposes for America and in the world.

Closing thoughts.

For me, someday this election will be a distant memory like all the other presidential elections that preceded it. Election Days come and go. My peace in this annoying, anxious, gut wrenching election process, regardless of the outcome, is You, my God.

The presidents or leaders of countries change. But praise God, Lord, You never change—you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May God bless America.

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.

Ancient History

I put the suitcase I borrowed from
my mother in the trunk and got in
the car.

My father drove and smoked. And
smoked some more. He is usually
lecturing nonstop by now. I cracked

the window open to get some air
then closed it again. His visible
nervousness made me even more

nervous. He started talking. After
each cigarette, he’d open the window
just enough to flick it outside then

close the window without interrupting
his monologue. He never wanted to
hear anything I had to say, so I

listened to his World War II Army
stories again about his basic training
in Burlington. No post there now.

Ancient history.

I think he was trying to give me advice.
He pulled up to the front of the AFEES
building in Newark. As I got the small

vinyl suitcase out of the trunk he asked
me to please write. We sort of hugged.
I started up the steps as he drove off.

Seems like just the other day. That trip
to Newark ended with a late-night bus
ride to Ft. Dix for basic training.

It was fifty-five years ago yesterday that
I enlisted in the Army. Thank you, my God,
for your protection and care. You are my

refuge and strength. You alone are God.
The rest is ancient history.