Life, So They Say…

“Life, so they say, is just a game and we let it slip away…..Like the twilight in the road up ahead, they don’t see just where we’re goin’.” – Recorded by: Seals and Crofts (1973).  Composers:  James Harris/Janet Jackson/Terry Lewis.

Where do you think you’re goin’?  No, really.  Where?

Earlier this week I watched a very thought-provoking PBS documentary on various perspectives on life and death, especially death.  The perspectives came from a wide range of individuals with varying degrees of education, faith and science.  I was amazed at the vast differences concerning the leanings about death and the afterlife.  It turns out, we all agree on death.  It happens.  It’s unavoidable.  We know it’s real because we watch it happen here on earth every day.  We all agree, death is as natural as birth and life itself.  And then there comes the next step, that is also very natural, the afterlife of the spirit/soul.  That is where the tapestry becomes unraveled in the minds of humanity’s plethora of paths.  It’s fascinating how we, around the globe, concur on these things all the way until the muscle, called the heart, stops pumping.  Why is it that there we splinter into a wide field of thoughts?  Why is it that there we debate?  I’m pretty sure of the reason.

As a life-long follower of Jesus (Yeshua), I was introduced to the theology of life being eternal early-on in childhood.  I received the news from my mother first, followed by Sunday School in our church and so on.  I really don’t recall never having a faith in Jesus and His teachings.  Yet, at the same time, I was left hanging on God’s purpose in some aspects of the life of Jesus.

Here we are, in what many call, Holy Week.  It’s the week Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, at the beginning of Passover week, to shake things up for the religious establishment that had become so hypocritical and corrupt, even by secular standards.  He had been teaching (sometimes even talking…You’ll get that if you read it again.) throughout Israel for about three years, by this time.  A tremendous amount of the public had witnessed His miraculous acts and magnetic teachings of God’s grace, kindness and love.  It was new.  It was fresh.  It was brilliant in an authoritative way that was clearly noticeable.  It was liberating.  Forgiveness was His good news, regardless of wrongs recorded.

The religious hierarchy of the day were amazed at the throng following Him and said, “…Look, the whole world is following Him!” (John 12:19)  Of course, it wasn’t the “whole world” at the time, but to them, with the Passover holiday crowds, it seemed to be true.  Now, He came to the hub, the capital of Israel, to set the record straight concerning God’s intentions, along with God’s anger, at the corruption among the religious leadership who continued to twist the system of laws, and create needless judgment upon the poor and afflicted.  They didn’t like it, either.  So much so, they were conspiring to shut Him up for good.  By late Thursday night, right after the Passover feast was consumed, they had Him arrested.  A mock overnight secret trial (kangaroo court) followed with the decision to do what they could to have Him executed.  A few hours later, He was flogged, beaten, spat upon, beard yanked out by clumps, slapped, a cap made of thorns in mockery, etc.  (See the movie, The Passion Of The Christ for a better visual, but be ready.) He hung on a Roman cross the following morning for six hours until He expired.

Cross

His execution wasn’t a total surprise.  He told His followers many times He was going to lay down His life for the world He loved.  He went so far as to make it clear He wasn’t going to have His life “taken away,” but rather He was going to “give it away.”  A side note:  In the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, where He was arrested, He and the disciples were very familiar with the place.  Knowing they were coming to arrest Him, He refused to run.  There are exit steps in the back of the garden that remain to this day.  He could’ve made a way of escape easily and timely.  His mission from birth was to become the sacrifice for the sins of all humanity, the perfect lamb, God Himself had prepared, so to speak.  Since Genesis, sin had to be covered and an innocent animal — a life not guilty of the transgression — had to pay for the sin by its blood.  This is the way God would teach us how serious law-breaking would be, helping us understand what it means to Him.  Otherwise, we would be clueless.  Out of love for us, He chose to move on with the sacrifice, knowing full well the torture involved.  THAT, I understood.

Mainly, I had trouble with the Resurrection on the third day.  The purpose puzzled me.  After a slew of decades, wondering, then studying the scriptures concerning God’s redemptive blueprint, I finally got it.  At first, and still true for so many aspects of God’s designed timelines, it’s like an ant looking up at the Empire State Building in New York and wondering how it got there.  We have finite minds, unlike the I AM, the One Who Was, and Who Is and Who Is To Come.  How does a pencil look at the artist and say, “Hey, I know how you made me, everything you are doing and will do?”  If we think like the pencil, we are not too sharp and we certainly can’t erase our gargantuan ignorance.

Pencil

Watching the PBS documentary, I was glued, soaking in what the agnostics had to say, as well as the atheists, the scientists and the faith-filled individuals.  Death is nothing more than an end of the flesh getting blood flow, brain matter becoming inactive, while the organs are instructed by the brain to shut down.  Done!  Off to the mortician slab, our remains go.  Or, are we (our spirits) actually done?

If you read my “Confronted By Death” post from Feb 13th, you will know, I too, am one of the few in the percentage of Americans who experienced a near-death, or flat-line death experience.  I LOVE the fact that the One I follow, Jesus of Nazareth, Israel, experienced the body losing life.  He is acquainted with suffering and depression.  He has been there, done that.  I LOVE His willingness to give His life, according to God’s plan, to bridge the separation of my imperfect life to His holiness.  Like a never fading dye, it was applied to my spirit.  I accepted the fact and received, or inherited, an afterlife with my Creator, not because I deserved it, but because He offered it freely as a gift.  I am so glad I took it and opened that gift certificate, as all who follow Him have done.  Yet, I remained stunned at the idea of a resurrection in the mix.  It seems like His sacrifice for us was enough wow factor to spread over the eras of history.  Why a resurrection?

Not only was it prophesied in the Old Testament that Messiah sent to us would come back from death, bringing back life with Him, but Jesus Himself also told His followers on several occasions to expect it.  In some biblical scenes, it’s almost as if He were saying, “Watch and learn.”  And they did.

Like John Lennon’s grave, his bones remain.  Buy a flight and find out that it’s the same story for John Kennedy, Elvis, Bruce Lee and Winston Churchill.  Their remains are still in a box.  You have the testimony of your loved ones who have passed away each time you go to their funeral or graveside.  The remains are just that…remains, but they speak out to you.  “Its” flesh has hardened and stiffened.  It begins to decompose the moment the heart stops.  If you touch the remains lying in the coffin, you will feel a coldness, like touching a cold aluminum flagpole in the winter.  Your loved one is not home, even so, they testify to the strength of death, and it’s so very apparent!  It is, at this point, where the divine contrast shines.

So again, why is the resurrection of Jesus so important?  He said it would happen, but why?

Instead of being the final nail in the coffin, the incredibly broken, nearly bloodless body of Jesus, once again breathing air with blood flowing without restraint to the organs and tissues, was part of a final piece of His testimony. The statement was loud, showing the world He was Who He said He was.  After the time I experienced death and resuscitation in 2013, I was damaged with ongoing disabilities due to organ shutdown, heart damage, lack of oxygen and hypothermia.  You just don’t bounce back to normal after death.  I do not have the power, the control, the on/off switch to death.  I do not have the strength, the ability, the know-how to fight death and tame it.  I can not will it away, negotiate with it, or slow it down.  Furthermore, I don’t have the energy to get myself up off the floor when life’s sledgehammer slays me, when the rug is pulled out, when the items of stability are removed, when the very base where all things stand is crushed.  But, I KNOW WHO CAN AND DOES!  That Sunday morning of significance displayed triumph over tragedy, death to darkness, hope for the hopeless and deliverance for the damned.  He created life, created organs and created lifespan.  He marked out the borders of life’s existence from outside of it, very much like the creator of that pencil.  The pencil-maker knows how it works, how it is to be sharpened and how short it will get with use, ALL CRAFTED FROM OUTSIDE THE PENCIL.  All, from conception to the grave, has been conquered by the One I hope on, live on and lean on.  The empty tomb reminds me of my spirit’s future.

Empty tomb

PBS gets it.  Life here is a puff of smoke.  It’s here and gone.  Much like a Texas wildflower in the spring.  It blooms and it withers so quickly.  Life everlasting is immeasurable.  As He exited the tomb on that Sunday morning, He was telling all generations of imperfect humanity……. “I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…” (John 11:25) (NIV) 

Easter is always more satisfying when you have answers from a great amount of fuel for the race.         

 

Letting Go

“I’ve got it all it seems, for all it means to me.  But I sing of things I miss and things that used to be…” – This One’s For You” (1976)  – Composers:  Barry Manilow & Marty Panzer

I am convinced that many of us writing posts in our blog pages do so for therapy sake.  It’s okay, you can disagree.  I can really only speak for myself.  So, I will.

If you look over my entries since I began writing the Fuel For The Race blog, you might find I often write of loss, personal loss.  I’m not sure about what that says about me, or if it states anything vital at all.  What I will say is, each university ought to have a course on loss.  I’m terrific at loss, just a loser when it comes to letting go.  How about you?

On my semi-daily walk, I have come up on lots of yard and garage sales in my neighborhood.  The weather is warmer and the buds are out, tis the season.  Slowing down, but not truly shopping, I love to see what people are laying out on their lawns for a quick buck.  I saw an oxygen tank yesterday (really), an old travelling chest that had to be 100 years old and a car seat for a newborn.  With a sigh, I shook my head and walked on thinking to myself how there are some things I just couldn’t part with.  Yet, I am well versed in parting with precious things…unfortunately.  My grief is old and long.

At the top of the page is one of my treasures.  Not the painting, but the girl.   Meet my middle daughter, Megan.

Let me be blunt at the risk of sounding rude and bitter.  My first marriage was a lesson in damage control.  Without dragging you through a good mound of dirty laundry, I will fast forward to 2006.  After 26 years of marriage, I desperately needed to divorce my wife.  In fact, I had wanted to since 1988, or so.  Again, this will not turn into a thrashing of my ex-wife, but I will tell you the results.

House Countryside Lane

Living in Buffalo, NY at the time, we had a beautiful house in Williamsville, a picture-perfect suburb with lamppost-lined streets and zero crime.  Two nice SUVs sat in our two-car garage, and three lovely daughters, each with their own separate bedrooms, 18 trees towering over the property with a huge backyard where our Yorkie and Great Dane could pow-wow.  Down the street was a large nature preserve.  Often, wild turkey and deer walked through our lawns.  It was a peaceful place, a place I shopped for over three months.  It was my first home purchase.

I had moved to the area in 2003 to take an offer to host and produce an afternoon drive-time music radio show.  I was an on-air talent and a vet in the industry, so it was an opportunity I felt I couldn’t ignore.  We had dreams of living there, at least until we retired.  Along with the dream were images of watching my girls prepare for prom, graduate one-by-one, attend college at nearby University of Buffalo or Buffalo State, and maybe even see the family expand with weddings in the future.  However, dreams can also be nightmares.

In October of 2006, all came crashing down.  I made a decision to end the marriage. Losing the dream would be in the mix, splitting of possessions, valuables and beloved pets.  Then came the decisions of our individual lives.  D’Anna, my youngest (almost 8 years old at the time) would go live with her mom as they were moving back to the Dallas, Texas area.  Right or wrong, at the time I thought D’Anna needed her mom more than her dad during this time of her life.  My oldest, Tabitha (just turning 18) was a graduate and already on her haunches to make a new life in the workforce and would roommate with a friend from high school.  Then there would be Megan.  She was about to turn 16 while in the middle of her junior year in high school.  All I could think of was my responsibility to get her through her junior and senior years as a single dad unscathed, hopefully, from the trauma of the marriage.  Megan and I (and Jojo, the Yorkie) streamlined, downsizing to the max, leaving a 12-room house and squeezing into a nearby apartment.  We made a home for the two of us, as we picked ourselves up off the floor from a devastating pile of wreckage.  We had our challenges, but we did it.  We got through the next couple of years as she blossomed and excelled in the music arts.  I loved it!  She was being…me!  I am an actor/singer and always have been.  Now, here she is, a chip off the old block, with 30 years in between us.  She and Tabitha both were tremendous child-actresses.  Megan wowed audiences from the time she was 4 years old onward, but I didn’t expect a knock-out singing sensation.  She left acting behind and picked up the mic, with the exception of playing the female lead in “Guys and Dolls” her senior year.

Some things you never expect, even on the edge of possibility.  Among the volley of pitiful pitfalls, bankruptcy was an unavoidable exit ramp I was forced to take in the immediate wake of the marriage.  (Longer story there.)  There was a repo of one of the SUVs. (My ex had possession of it in Houston, Texas for a time.)  She chose to take one of our vehicles, electing to drive away with the one we were still paying on.  She agreed to make the payments, but neglected to do so.  Emotionally, and psychologically, I was far worse than I realized.  My mental state was at an all-time low.  The following Spring, I lost my dream job, due to a format change at the radio station.  I would not have done it, but I do understand how some make the decision to end their life on this earth, which is always the wrong exit.  Meanwhile, I had to protect Megan and see to it that she finished school with adulthood looming.  I took another radio show at a network some 3 hours away, southeast of Buffalo.  The drive was beautiful, but non-negotiable in the winter months.  I would stay near the station Mon-Wednesday, then ending the week driving back and forth on Thursday and Friday, staying at the apartment with Megan over the weekend.  When there were events at school, IE: musicals, choir concerts, talent shows, or Megan singing with their jazz band, I always drove back for those nights.  It just about killed me, as well as the $4.25/gallon gasoline prices.  That was my schedule for a couple of months.  Soon after, I was speaking to a friend about a new job back in Buffalo, where I would be a dad, present and accounted for.

Megan also had joined a garage/basement rock band from her school.  Little did I know it would be the start of what she would fall in love with.

Over the summer of 2008, right after Megan graduated, I began talks with another radio station back in Dallas, Texas where we originally came from.  In late August, I made the decision to move back and take the job even during the negotiation process.  One afternoon, I sat her down to let her know what my plans were.  I offered to take her with me and start a new life back in her hometown where she still had old school and church friends, not to mention family on all sides.  She surprised me by choosing to stay in Buffalo with her many friends and familiar stomping grounds.  To be honest, it was painful to hear her answer.  Of my three girls, Megan was, and is, most like me on many levels.  I was Mr. Mom for her and Tabitha when they were little, which built a tight bond that I will always be grateful for.  With that said, I wrestled with it all for a long time.  Many sleepless nights I wrangled with the thought of parting ways, leaving my pal to take over the apartment, to live life on her own without my protection.  It was soooo hard for me.  If memory serves me right, I believe I went back to her to see if she would change her mind.  No dice.  She assured me she would do well, stay safe and make wise choices.  Interestingly enough, later her older sister, Tabitha, made her way down to Texas with her roommate as well.  Soon, the entire family would be within an hour of each other, except for Megan.

Megan and me

If you’re wondering, if I made the right choice, as well as Megan, here’s the scoop.  Today, she is considered one of the most highly regarded vocalist in western New York and with two high quality stellar bands.  She’s been on the cover of magazines, newspapers, recordings galore, radio and TV shows.  She’s been voted as best female vocalist of the year via Buffalo, NY voters at least twice.  Her original band, Dirty Smile, is an internationally award-winning, highly sought after group and has played in several cities on the northeastern seaboard.  She and Grace Stumberg have put an all-girl band together, Rust Belt Birds.  Grace is super talented.  She’s Joan Baez’s duo partner and guitar girl.  I AM ASTONISHED at Megan’s accomplishments.  She has done well all by herself, without me holding her hand.  She always says I taught her how to sing and perform, but it’s HER work ethic that developed this success rate.

Megan Mag

Meganfest

“To succeed you must suffer.” – Bruce Lee

Megan on cover of Artvoice 2016

I had to let go of my life during this personal storm.  We all had to forge through it in our own ways.  Sure, loads of possessions were left out by the curb as well as good standing, credit crash, prime property, vehicles and pets, but that wasn’t the worst of it.  It was almost spirit-sucking to say good-bye to D’Anna, my 8 year old.  We remain pals to this day. (See last week’s blog posting.)  It was heartbreaking to see my Tabitha leave while sprouting wings that were not fully in use just yet.  Letting go of a marriage, as difficult as it was, it was a marriage I held together for 26 years, in spite of the damage we all experienced.

Letting go that August day of 2008 was one of the hardest things I have ever done by far.  Certainly, part of it was because Megan is like my twin in so many ways.  The other part of this painting, she was the final string I was holding on to from a life I once had.  We remain close to this day.  I love my daughters and I hate geography.

Megan hug April 1st 2017

At the end of the day, it’s okay to lay out that old antique travelling chest, the empty oxygen tank and the baby car-seat.  After all, it’s just…stuff.  Right?  Family is forever.

Girls & Me-March 2015

Letting go might be hard, but much easier when filled with fuel for the race.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

 

Spooky Stuff

“Fear of the dark, fear of the dark.  I have a constant fear that something’s always near.  Fear of the dark, fear of the dark.  I have a phobia that someone’s always there.  Recorded by: Iron Maiden, 1992.  Composer: Stephen Percy Harris

BOO!  Did I scare you?  Probably not.  It’s okay, my feelings aren’t hurt.  However, I do have a daughter who understands BOO really well.

Meet D’Anna, my youngest daughter.  The snapshot above was taken three years ago when she was sixteen years old.  We had dinner at one of our favorite eateries for Tex-Mex in a north Dallas, Texas suburb.  We both hadn’t been there in many years and felt the tug to go.  Just inside the front door, in the atrium, is a rather large stuffed (what I assume to be a grizzly) bear.  He stands in the corner of the entry way.  He’s certainly not to be missed as you must walk passed the bear to enter the doors to the dinning area.  When D’Anna was a little one, she was frightened by him, as most small children would be.  She would react by wanting to be held, with her face buried in my shoulder.  She would say, “Walk faster, Dad.”  She wanted us to be out of that atrium as quickly as possible.  As she got older, she would place her back to the opposite wall from the bear, never taking her eyes off of Mr. Grizzly, walking sideways until she quickly made her way to the door where the maìtre d’  was waiting.  Being a badly behaving dad, I am sure I once said, with all fear in my pipes, “I think I saw him breathe!”  (Shame on me.)

So, there we found ourselves.  Same bear, same atrium, same daughter.  This time a well-rounded, indestructible and wise teenager of the world, with her back to Mr. Grizzly.  Again, she hadn’t been there in many moons, so one of her most profound statements, one that truly spoke to me was, “Hey, he doesn’t look as big as he used to be.”  The fear obviously melted away as the giant bear was being viewed through a different lens.

Woods at night

Fast forward to March 2018, just two nights ago.  Our two dogs, Sammie and Shorty, went out into the very dark backyard to do their biz just before bedtime.  Like racehorses they took off out into the blackness of the property barking like country hunting hounds, which they’re not.   My wife Michelle, called for me to come take a look at a large black shadowy figure perched in one of our trees.  There it was, way up high, huge and ominous looking, nestled tightly by its claws on a long sprawling thick limb.  A neighborhood possum, the largest I had ever seen (possibly pregnant) came to visit, but frozen stiff in the canine calamity.  I had forgotten how, as a defensive strategy, in an involuntary response, the possum will play dead when frightened or highly anxious in a traumatic event.  I am sure there is another thirteen-letter medical term for this action, but I can pronounce, “Thanatosis”, a state resembling shock resulting in playing dead.  Frankly, I felt badly for the mammoth marsupial clinging to our tree.  In many ways, it reminded me of myself.

In May, I will turn 58 years old, yet I feel as if I have lived three or four lifetimes.  I have lived through incredible tragedies, traumas and turmoils.  My life was forced into a horrific near death experience (Read my post from mid February.)  There have been abuses suffered in every aspect.  Unexpected health crashes are part of the maze, including a quadruple bypass performed this past December.  A novel could be written of the countless trials, tortures and troubles.  All of which could have ended my mental health, and/or my very life, like a road running out of pavement.  There’s a great possibility I may be the poster child for survival training.  Maybe I should teach a course on the subject.  Yet, I hear the lyrics from Kelly Clarkson’s hit, “Stronger” and wonder why I didn’t write the following section of the song…

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Stand a little taller…What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter.  Footsteps even lighter…”

Stairs in Savana seawall

The lyrics sound appropriate, and even true, but alas, I am a little girl staring at a stuffed grizzly, or a frozen possum in a tree.  Even though those in the know say about 98% of what we worry about never happens, I must admit it doesn’t help.  Fear overtakes my steps forward too many times.  After the old ship gets a constant beating against its thinning hull, the anxiousness of launching again can override the euphoric adventures of what lies beneath, or around the darkened corner, or down a flight of stairs to a mysterious place.  In recent years I find I tend to freeze.  It’s funny really, I used to be the opposite when I was younger, before the tsunamis ravaged my landscape. How is it I was once known as the brave warrior with sword drawn, leading the charge, forging off into the blackened thicket of things?  How is it I was the kickboxer unafraid of the next punch or shin across the rib-cage from a world contender?  Where are those days?

Lens

In essence, I just spelled out my worldview, my fleshly camera angle with the warped lens through which I tend to filter.  However, I do have another view that is detached from my human knee-jerk reactions to the stuffed grizzly and barking pack in the velvet night.  The view, through my very spirit, that part of me that will never die, outlasting all things I consider mine: my body, my brain, my health.  It is that boundless, reconstructed and renewed spiritual center of my DNA I must default to when the “BOO” in life causes me to grab the nearest tree limb.  There is where I find the “hidden Person of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4).  It’s Twila Paris’ old song spells it out, “The Warrior is a Child”.

It is to be God’s grip, not mine.

After all, the grizzly standing in the opposite corner really is smaller than when I first met him.  When there are bear tracks in the dark, it’s best to be lit with fuel for the race.

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” – Paul from, 2 Timothy 1:7. (NAS)

 

Chaff

“Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea.  All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see.  Dust in the wind.  All we are is dust in the wind.” – Recorded by:  Kansas, 1977.  Released, 1978.  Composer:  Kerry Livgren

They came somewhat covertly early last week, Tuesday morning to be exact.  Several masked scrappy-looking men, wearing gloves, dark glasses and baseball caps broke through, encroaching with the sunrise.  They quietly pulled up to the curb in a truck in the early morning while I remained defenseless in a deep sleep.  They brazenly, with all sense of one focused purpose, poured out of their truck, covered their faces with bandannas, and raided our property in broad daylight of the dawn.  It was horrifying.  The dreaded lawn-care crew invaded, started their mowers and latched themselves onto their leaf blowers without apology.

I never really liked spring in Texas.  Not that the blooms are less to look at than those in New York, but for other purposes.  Maybe it’s the pollen gifting sneezes, or the childhood memories of saying goodbye to classmates at the end of the school year.  Maybe it’s because the Texas heat , with deflating humidity, begins to melt your energy as early as April.  Either way, I could go from fall to winter then winter to fall with nothing in between, at least I think I could.  But here they were, marking the beginning of things to come as they chopped away at the lawn for the first time this season.

It’s funny the memories of yard work I have endured (and hated) over the years.  In the days of yore, I recall cranking up the old Craftsman mower from Sears (after my mom lit a fire under me) and went to it.  We were poor and couldn’t afford lots of lawn-care tools.  In fact, the mower I cut my teeth on didn’t have a grass-catcher bag attached.  The blades of discarded grass and weeds spewed out the side of the mower laying on the last row of newly sheered lawn where it remained.  As expected, in the end it disbursed by the wind.  What did stay, turned yellow and crunchy under the feet in the Texas sun.  It was what it was….chaff, so to speak.

Dust In The Wind was a huge hit when I was a senior in high school.  In fact, it became a classic and is highly regarded today as a treasure among the American songbook of the 70’s.  Kerry Livgren, of the group Kansas, and composer of the song, had become a Christian after years of spiritual searching and testing other theological and philosophical road-maps.  The other members of Kansas once said, back in the day, if you went to the back of the tour bus where Kerry was, they always were prepared to debate religion and philosophy.  In the lyric, you can hear his search for spiritual redemption and value.

As the decades go by, kids grow and exit stage left, grandchildren enter from stage right and health issues attend the golden way.  I can see, for me, school never seems to let out.  You get to a certain age where you have seen more in life than you will in the future.  I’m there.  One might ask; “Alan, just what have you observed?”   I’m glad you asked.

As the masked men tackled our lawn, wild flowers were hashed and slashed, weeds were mulched and clovers sliced and diced.  (Yes, even the four-leaf variety.)  When finished, all the tiny bits and pieces were blown away into the early morning March air, never to be rejoined to the stems left behind.

If you use your imagination, while sitting on a lawn chair with your cup of java, you can place your life among the shortened blades of grass.

Mower wacking

I’ve learned that dreams are mowed over, products of your work gets cut down, property rusts, rots and falters.  Diplomas and certificates, confirming conquered majors and minors, turn yellow and fade.  Fellowship, itself, blows away as friends leave you in the dust, or physically move away.  Strength, once thought of as life’s nuts and bolts, weaken, losing its grip.  Have you noticed that even careers, businesses and opportunities, once thought as bedrock, fall under the active sickles?  Wealth, retirement or income can escape in a day as things change with a blistering gust from Wall Street.  Beloved pets come and go like Texas Bluebonnets in early spring.  Isn’t it true, even self-esteem withers when there’s a drought?  Reputations often are bagged and taken to the curb as public image can be weed-whacked.  Your closest relationships grow old or often sour under the beating rays of the sun.  Unfortunately, marriages often get mulched under the swinging blades of life.  Certainly, the very life of the famous, the proud, including kings and queens, are visited by the blades.  When a loved one is cut down, before the possessions are distributed and the bank account is dissolved, the life is remembered.  The lyric of George Harrison comes to mind in, “All Things Must Pass”.

“All things must pass.  None of life’s strings can last.  So I must be on my way and face another day.  All things must pass away.” – George Harrison (1970)

In the end, there is a great tractor that cuts wide and deep, ravaging everything under its path.  The chaff of such is tossed into the wind, or bundled for the herds waiting in an open pasture.  After the team of mowers and blowers have loaded up their trailer and all is raked and bagged, what remains?

Billy Graham would say, the only thing that truly lasts is your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Eternal, not temporal. Imperishable, not perishable.

The mower needs its gasoline just as we need ample supplies of fuel for the race.

“For, ‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field, the grass withers and the flowers fall.” -1 Peter 1:24 (NIV)

 

To Miles With Love

“There’s a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who standing looking
Ooh, it makes me wonder…”
Composers:  Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
“Stairway To Heaven” – Led Zeppelin, 1971

(In honor of my friend Miles.)

Out of the blue I heard you didn’t pull the cord
The parachute used to float through life has failed
They said you were sleeping, not spilled on the floor
Gigs hushed, mountains unscaled, now grief prevails

Gone are those sweet days of our youth’s resilience
You with your rock band and I with mine
Gone are the days of full volume, crushed to silence
Where are our shots of laughter and innocent times

Miles' Warrors

You faced the horror, finding your mother passed
I knew we were too young to absorb or defend
So you turned to medicate softly to deaden the gash
The depths I did not see, the mask held to the end

Miles' keyboards

Fun-loving years we gleaned, all things well considered
You covered the pain with amps, frets and strings
Watching from afar your heart and mind dismembered
In wild abandon, you fought through choking weeds

The winds of change split our paths, yours a thorny way
Decades of numbing drink with daily acid to drop
Sad, not finding you through the wars of chosen haze
Still, your talents carried you with art and prints to crop

Miles' Art

Your love spread wings, giving shelter for those in your Victorian
They say you had a lofty heart, always aiding, always there
Yet, the demonic fuel did flow, like Pilate in his Praetorium
How were you able to be played, yet show Christ’s love and care

Miles' Corvettes

The great house has been stilled, and the guitars now hung
Your Corvettes are washed and waxed with no place to go
Shelves hold your empty bottles and your dealers stunned
Like dominoes, your inspired drunks, all lying in tight rows

As for me, I couldn’t sleep the night you so quietly left us
It all makes sense as I think back on the ache in dismay
Sometimes the burn of our past brands as we adjust
But, Miles, my best memory, that glorious night we prayed

How vital to select the correct nozzle, pumping fuel for the race.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – Jesus – John 10:27-28 (NIV)