Thanksgiving 2020 Thoughts

“In everything give thanks.” The Bible

            Everything? No caveats? Splain me Lucy, please…and thank you. Does this 2020 year opt us out of the verse above?

I certainly don’t want to change this holiday to Thanklessgiving. The verse came way before the last Thursday of November was christened a national day of turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and the Detroit Lions. (Raise your hand if you’re really thankful for the Lions.)

“In everything give thanks.”

Does the last ten months provide the perfect-vision-perspective? I think that maybe we have become short-sighted when it comes to hindsight…I know I have. One year? I certainly hope we can find more context than that. In the history of the world, a year is like a penny in an ocean of quarters. Decent context is hard to find these days. A tweet is worth a thousand words. A screen shot is seen around the world. There are not enough soundbites to satiate a soul.

“In everything give thanks.”

What does everything mean anyway? I suspect it might mean everything. Sounds mean. I mean, how the heck does every blinking thing deserve our gratitude? Deserve? Everything requires a grateful response. Now that’s humbling, but not impossible. I don’t think God would ask of us the impossible, if I may be so bold. God is Love, and could be Love says this is the way, walk ye in it.

I suppose we have the option of being all binary about it. Either you’re grateful or you’re not. Oh, if it were that simple. The verse says “In everything give thanks” not “In everything be an ingrate.” God knows.

Maybe it’s because I’m an older, more weathered human. If all of us are honest, the losses are piling up as we live on. 2020 isn’t an exception, it’s a proof of historical precedence. As one author I read has said, “We’re living in a gnarly world.” I might add, we were born into a gnarly world. We bear an entry wound, and certainly will leave an exit wound.

“In everything give thanks.”

I’m smiling as I read what I’ve written thus far. Come on, Jer, get to a point. You’re such a Debbie downer. (Sorry to all the Debbie’s out there.)

This day, Thanksgiving 2020, there is possibility. If God says give thanks, then by golly I will. I’ll start by thanking God for you! I thank God for family. I thank God for the gift of life! Oh, so much more!

You fill in the blanks…

“I’m thankful for ________.”

Prayer:

“Lord, thank you for a pause in life to be more intentional in our gratitude, even when it’s hard. Amen.”

Hugs!

Going and Coming

Never-never mind

the wherewithal.

The acuity wanes,

searching soul-level

perceptions.

Blank stares burning

focal points down.

Unfinished sentences

atrophy further

into the silence.

Their memories left

for us to curate.

We place warm dignity

over the frontal lobes.

Our prayers shape

around a long farewell.

We know them,

and they knew us.

Let us come as close

as we can.

For Ellen, Nathanial, and Oma and all who love them.

“God, my shepherd!

I don’t need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows,

you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word,

you let me catch my breath

and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through

Death Valley,

I’m not afraid

when you walk at my side

Your trusty shepherd’s crook

makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner

right in front of my enemies.

You revive my drooping head;

Your beauty and love chase after me

every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of God

for the rest of my life.”

Psalm 23 The Message

For Rest

The other night, after my face was warm from the glow of the T.V. I took Apollo for a roundabout. Dog and human under a canopy of a starry starry night. No earbuds. No screen. Simply deep space and fire hydrants to bounce contemplations from twinkle twinkle to tinkle tinkle.

The next morning no word from the burning bush, so I walked to the other one by the garage. The red flamed leafs buffered a cool breeze, but offered not even a whisper. The leaves still spoke though. Color, loud and clear. “Red is our flame,” They said. “Don’t try to extinguish us. We will surrender soon. We will lay ourselves down.”

Then I sat bare foot on the back deck, early, coffee and a small stack of books. Each time the wind picked up the crimson maple leaves fell down. My mind quieted enough so I could feel my heart.

“You are never a great man when you have more mind than heart.” Beauchene

Why is nature so nurturing sometimes? Mother Nature–so apropos I suppose. Like a few evenings ago when we piled into the car for a drive. After a while our breathing found a rhythm. The beauty, deer, and cozy houses dotting the countryside relaxed our shoulders. We got out in it and were the better for it.

I’ll wager that if Jesus showed up and found us overthinking, worrying, and grasping for some sense of control in a schizoid world, he might send us out. I remember my mom doing that very thing, maybe for her own sanity, but nevertheless pushing us out into infinite air to breathe.

The order of the creation story is God saved the best for last. Us. Humans. There was a lot of creating going on before we arrived on the scene. God spoke and bam, out of chaos, order. Out of darkness, light. So much lush, sensual appropriations. It was a set-up–for us.

This weekend I walked nine miles through a forest full of trees. My legs were complaining loudly at the end, but my heart thanked me. Nine men and a cream colored lab hiked the Jordan Valley Trail in the northern Lower Peninsula on a crisp autumn day. The trail’s personality bore resemblance to a thirty-something—just enough weathered skin to settle in, but a passion for what’s next. There were so many metaphors laying around like dead trees. The path, a single rut, wound up, down, and around like a vein, carrying us like platelets as our chests felt both heart and lungs react. Air flow. Blood flow.

We’d ascend to ridges to step along the spine of foothill-like amalgamations, then descend to find the Jordan River meandering, chit-chatting over rocks and weaving through fallen debris.

If a tree falls in the forest… If a rivers babbles in its crevices…? Does anybody hear?

 Again, my heart searched for a baseline—a resting rate. I left much behind for a few days, we all did, and some of it oozed out over the campfire that night, seasoned with a ballad-singing, guitar-playing soul.

The forest was like a bold lettered clarion call to not loose heart. The trees, both fallen and upright whispered, “We’ve been waiting for you. We’re here for rest. We grow and fall just like you. We understand.”

The river had something to say as well. “Eternity is in your heart, like my open-ended flow.”

I know it was really God speaking like a creative via a brush stroke or the rhythm of pedantic pentameter.

“I Am, you know, and here you go. Get out into My gallery, and I will give you rest… Forest.”

Sunday Psalm

With each meandering breeze,

crimson leaves dripped

from the melting maple.

A crowd of color is

forming beneath.

A circular red spread

like a ring, humble,

thankful embers of redemption.

I’ll gather them up

eventually, but for now

I pray for soft kisses

of wind on each

falling flame.  

The Hippie of the Long Gray Hair

On my way into the store for dog food and sour cream I stopped and took in the last call of the sun. You know, when the magnifying glass of the horizon burnishes the great circle before it drops below the surface. A man was trying to capture the image with his phone a few spaces over. Futile. I thought of Elton John.

“Don’t let the sun go down on me.”

Isn’t it funny how the greatest metaphors are so easily dismissed, or just missed? Lately, when the sun is a bit weary and heads under the covers, I think of my sister Ellen (The oldest hippie I know.). She sundowns every evening. Jack, her husband, texts me updates a few times a day. More like downdates after supper. Sundowning is a term attached to people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Sundowning turns my sister from forgetful half sentences (Of which no two fragmental sentences cohere.) to an obstinate curmudgeon. Curmudgeoness?

When dementia began defacing Ellen’s brain at a more rapid pace earlier this year, it was time to get more help.

“Help! I need somebody! Help! Not just anybody!”

Her kids, my siblings, gave Jack some respite. Needless to say it’s a lotta work to manage a person who can no longer manage. Applause and thanks go out to all!

So, I found myself in the same living room that held my mother sitting in a lazy boy wondering who I was. It’s been almost ten years ago. The other day I stopped by to visit Ellen and sat across from her on the same couch. She says I’m still her boy. I’ll put that in my pocket!

Don’t cry Mare, this was your idea!

The crazy thing about this dementia is the teeter-totter aspect of it. Like my other sister (Mare) said it’s like Ellen doesn’t just become like a little child. In fact, as I’ve observed, a stutter step of doing life took over. Stubborn and snarky. Frustrated and fun. Up, then down. Jack texts me often…”She’s back!” As we come and go, she doesn’t know if she’s coming or going.

“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.”

Ellen, the hippie of the long gray hair. Those who love her pluck the petals of she loves me, she loves me not. Mostly, Jack wonders what petal is it today, this hour, this moment?

“Love, love me do. You know I love you.”

For now, we who know Ellen hold on to her memory for her. I’ll remember for her the time I jumped on her like a flying squirrel after a long absence. I was just a kid, but the memory is as fresh as dew. Like I said somewhere else, round and round her memory goes, but this time it spins out of control. The centrifugal force peels her fingers off the stories which once were milestones of her identity. We do what we can but still feel…

“helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still calling her Ellen, we all are, for good reason. Her spirit, soul, and body are still spouting her humanity. It’s her mind that has wandered off because her brain keeps misfiring. C.S. Lewis once stated “We don’t have a soul. We are a soul. We happen to have a body.” I wonder if God sent most of her mind on ahead to scope out heaven and left little half thoughts with us to try to decipher. Easy there Jer.

“It’s a long and winding road to your heart.”

The other day I walked in, grabbed the reaching tool thingy, you know, the one with the trigger you pull, and on the other end it clasps things you can’t get at. Anyway, Ellen was wearing her winter hat with the ball on top. She kinda looked like a cone-head. I grabbed the ball with the tool and lifted up the hat to check under the hood as it were. She smiled. I smiled back. Such a simple thing. Showing teeth. Curling the mouth. Revealing dimples. I’m sure Jack would tell you it’s the little things that hot-wire hope in the midst of hopelessness. Small gifts.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, Bra.”

I don’t know what a bra has to do with it, but life is going on, even in the small significant world of Ellen and Jack and attendants. I believe a Big God sees what’s going on there. Ever present, maybe a bit more present when worship music fills their little living room. God isn’t watching from a distance.

Back to the sundown metaphor and how it reminds me of Ellen. How about this? The sun can’t set without getting up there first. Up. Down. Just like the hippie of the long gray hair. Life.

Sure,

“Yesterday, all my troubles seem so far away.”

But,

“Here comes the sun, do and do do.”

This has become a song that reminds me of Jack and Ellen

God in the Dock, Again.

Thinking on these things again. Heart abnormalities. Human condition shtuff. Then the argument ensues. Just read an awesome book suggested by a friend that addresses the thoughts in this rambling.
“A Grace Disguised”
“How the soul grows through loss”
By Jerry Sittser

Gerald the Writer

“Just who do you think you are?” I demanded.

“Who do you think I am?”

“You are the God in the dock, often under investigation, especially when things go awry.”

“For example?”

“When plates under the ocean slide, causing a wave to morph into a wall of destruction on innocent people. When tornados twist through towns and suck the life out of them. When land dries up and fails to give sustaining crops to families. Anytime Mother Nature gives humanity a swift kick.”

“Natural disasters.”

“Yes. I struggle with them. Why don’t you give Mother Nature a stiff lecture ending with ‘God so loved the world?’ Sometimes it would be easier to be a deist, believing you set the world spinning and then walked out the door.”

“There are many easier ways.”

“Do tell.”

“You may not like them.”

“Well, right now I don’t really care for what you’re not

View original post 834 more words

“What’s Going On?”

I’ve got nothing to say. So I’ll let my fingers do the talking. Now, isn’t that a bit passive-aggressive?

So many swirling dervishes, spinning hearts out of control. Soaked emotional ballasts thrown over the edge of reason. To try to right a ship that is surely sinking seems futile. News cycles peddling faster and faster and still unable to keep up. Pundits and prognosticators sweeping up the glass in the street looking for some coherence underneath.

Facts:

-George Floyd was murdered by a police officer, watched by other police officers, video rolling from body cams and bystanders’ phones.

-A bottom up/top down investigation ensued. All levels and departments of government on it.

-Protests justly formed.

-Riots are not protests.

-Violence is not peaceful.

Many more facts to add, but these slipped through my filter first.

I loathe going political. Honestly, fear gets the better of me and I would rather run silent to avoid push back.

I’d rather our sight be color-blind than color-coded. Since when is skin tone equal to tone of voice? When did we forget Dr. King’s dreams of mountain top perspectives and the long contemplative walk to Selma? I thought we were all just trying to get along. Rodney King and Dr. King sought to bring peace and reason to the fore, and yet we forget.

Trying times are not the time to stop trying.

If it weren’t for the masks at the protests and rioting, we might have totally misplaced a pandemic. Justifiable identity suppression while looting. A masquerade party involving drinks of a Molotov drunkenness. The piece of peaceful protests, (Our constitutional right, by the way.) thrown by the side of the road, and into crowds.

“What’s going on?” Marvin Gaye

What brought a cop to the point of kneeling on the neck of George Flyod with his hand in his pocket like la de dah, Whistling Dixie as it were? Why were bystanders just standing there? What would I have done in that moment? What happened to “Everyone stand back, let’s give him some air?” The arrest was over counterfeit money. No matter why the cuffs were put on him, an officer isn’t prosecutor, judge, or jury. On the side of every police cruiser are the words “To Serve and Protect”.  These officers redefined those terms and now all officers are lumped into a police state of mind. I don’t buy it.

I still believe law enforcement is part of our judicial system. You know, Law and Order and all that. The buck doesn’t stop with Officer Krupke or Jerry Orbach. Laws run uphill until justice is served. Equal justice under the law dispensed by a blind folded lady holding scales. The system isn’t perfect because people of influence aren’t perfect. Sometimes justice is underserved, mis-served, or deliberately maligned. We have to give it a chance, before we take the law into our own hands, don’t you think? Or would it be better to slice the system and dole out slivers into each and every ‘We the People’ and see how justice is served?

If that happened I’d be on the Barney Fife end of the spectrum. Empty pistol. One bullet in my pocket nestled near my heart. Or maybe Andy Griffith, handing out the benefit-of-the- doubt more than reaching for the handcuffs. In short, I drive a brown truck for a living, not a black and white.

Black and white…isn’t that the issue here? The thing is the issue isn’t black and white, clear-cookie-cutter solutions. The problem is some people can’t see beyond the colors to the content of the character. I’m not saying that character is all about grey matter. Grey matter is only the beginning. The eighteen inch trip from mind to heart is the path toward healing.

There were and are peaceful protests. There were and are candles and prayers. There were and are civil ways to air sadness, frustration, and anger. But those avenues take heart and aren’t easy roads on which to walk forward. On the contrary, it seems The Road Less Traveled is blocked by difficulty. The first line of the book is meant to be crossed, not a detour.

“Life is difficult.” M. Scott Peck

Let’s say our prayers and incite peace. These are matters of the heart. God help us all.

The Maker of the Universe, Lyrics. By Phil Keaggy

Still my favorite Easter song.

Gerald the Writer

The maker of the universe,

as man for man was made a curse.

The claims of law which he had made,

unto the uttermost he had paid.

His holy fingers made the bow

that grew the thorns which crowned his brow.

The nails that pierced his hand were mined

in secret places he designed.

He made the forest whence it sprung

the tree on which his body hung.

He died upon a cross of wood

yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened ore his head

by him above the earth was spread.

The sun that hid from him its face

be his decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled his precious blood

was tempered in the fires of God.

The grave in which his form was laid

was human wrought his hands had made.

The throne on which he now appears

was his…

View original post 49 more words

/

Ah, the in between. Hope differed.

Gerald the Writer

Leaning toward Sunday,

Tilting away from Friday,

Today is a back-slash.

A hyphen won’t suffice.

An and/or proposal,

Crux of a both/and scenario.

This end of a Holy Week,

Feels likes an ellipsis…

This Saturday,

Post back lash,

pre punctuation scars.

This in-between

where faith hyper ventilates

and doubt choke holds.

Where a stone weights

the wounds of the world.

Friday/Sunday

Before/After

Death/Resurrection

Both/And.

/

View original post