Don’t Let It Hit Ya

Let’s see how many thoughts come up when I say the word, “DOOR”.  Play along, it’ll be fun.  “I’ll see you to the door”, “They hire, but they have a revolving door”, “She’s like the girl next door”, “Show him the door”, “When the door closes, look for a window”, and Sir Paul’s song, “Soemeone’s Knockin’ At The Door”.  If you think about it long enough you can come up with a few said doors and what they stand for.  Have you ever actually picked up a door, I mean, carry one?  Watch your back.  Who would’ve thought hinges and door jams were so strong and stout?

I’ve been shopping for a storm door with a doggy door flap.  They aren’t cheap!  For cryin’ out loud (as my grandmother always said), all I need is a glass or screen door for the back sun-room leading out to the back steps with a boot box sized cutout for my dog to come and go as he pleases.  For him I want, okay I ‘ll say it, an “open door policy”. My ongoing conundrum?  The neighborhood possum. ARG! After my wallet loses weight then I somehow have to carry that heavy door from the home improvement store to my back porch.  What a project!

Whatever door you step up to in life there seems to be a running theme under its true character of purpose.  After all, you are denied entrance to a place unless that door is unlocked, ajar or wide open.  Isn’t that what you look for first when moving into a new place?  Security lacks if the door is below standard, not to mention weatherproofing.  For example, take a look at my snapshot above.  This photo was taken at Ft Belknap just outside Graham, Texas.  The fort has a lengthy colorful history going back pre-Civil War days.  (That’s a young fort for the northeast seaboard states)  On the sprawling  grounds you will find these thick-walled buildings constructed of limestone or large blocks of sandstone.  This particular building is small, not much larger than the average living room.  It lacks windows of any kind.  There are two doors, one on the north end and the other on the south side.  If you can expand the shot you will see that the wall around the door is a good two feet thick.  Knocking on the door you instantly realize how solid that wooden door is.  The definition of the word, “sturdy” doesn’t make it.  When you read the plaque in front of the small unassuming building it reveals this was the armory and ammo storage.  Gunpowder, musket balls, cannonballs, pistols and rifles all safe and sound from potential enemies.  Of course the opposite is true.  If there were to be a fire inside, the vault-type construction protected all who were on the outside.

Like the soldier’s commodities inside an armory, so too are your precious things behind doors.  Only you know what that looks like in your own existence.  The loved ones locked up safely at bedtime.  The love expressed behind the door of a honeymoon suite.  The savings bond in a safety deposit box behind a bank’s vault door.  Or, how about the classic car in mint condition behind a locked garage door.  Whatever your personal treasure is in your heart of hearts, no doubt you have it behind a door that is not accessible to the strangers among the general public.  In fact, you only allow certain people with special credentials entrance to that protected area.  Some might even have been allowed a key.  Am I right?

Let’s face it, I only really want my precious ones to live on the inside of my dwelling place. Behind the door is my castle, my lounge, my breathing space from a loud, crazy and volatile outside world.  If I’m right, you feel that way too.  That space is reserved for you when you’re without make-up, when your hair is a mess, when you need a shower, when you’re naked running from that shower to the closet, when sleeping, when eating, when you reconcile your bank account and when clipping your toenails (lol).  You get the picture.  And hopefully, when your loved one leaves for the day you resist saying, “Don’t let your shadow touch my door again”.  Instead, we wish them a terrific day with the promise of an accessible door of safety and security when they return.

Do you like brave writers?  If not, now’s your chance to dump your fuel for a landing somewhere else.  I’ll wait for you right here until you make up your mind….(Jeopardy theme song)…..You’re still here?  That must mean you are open-minded and a reasoner who calculates from all points of reference.  I admire you.  Okay, thanks for reading my next line.

I have a friend, no….let me rewind here.  I have a love, no….allow me to reboot.  I have a brother, no….let me restate.  I have a “resident” living in me behind my inner door.  He’s not my imaginary pal from my childhood fantasies.  He certainly is not a Disney cricket on my shoulder.  (I know what my inner voice sounds like)  We literally have non-audible round table discussions from my hearts’ conference room, the one that has a two foot thick door.  I find He is not republican, democrat or independent only because He is not political and yet cares about my leanings.  He has proven Himself to be THE reliable source of the wisdom I am always choked-off from.  I have noticed He soothes my fears and calms my personal storms, especially when I am the hurricane of my own shores. Sharing is His number one aspect in my daily wanderings.  What knocks me out is how He gently gives me a heads-up on dangers on the outside of our door.  When I am hit hard from a combatant I am sorely not trained to take on, He warns me ahead of the punch and delivers first aid when I come home again.  This resident, who actually built my thick door, has taught me how to double lock, install a motion detector floodlight, security camera and monitor.  I am far more aware of the sales rep’s product, with brochures in hand, who pounds on my door at dinner time. He stays with me behind locked doors even when I stink, cuss and scream, never ever leaving.  Concerning authentic love never tosses you out.  Who does that?  I mean, really?  If you were at my house kicking, shouting, dishonoring me and family while berating me with the odor of sour violent language, my foot would be planted in your back as I shout, “Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out!”  Unlike my reactions, He is accepting of me and my explosive madness.  Beyond all, He protects and defends me when I blatantly misbehave against God’s outline for me and others, all behind closed doors.  If not, I know my door would be blown off its hinges and I would be taken away in chains.  Why?  Because I KNOW MYSELF and left to my own feet, I KNOW where my grazing area lies.  Quiet self-honesty will be in brilliant colors and HD.  Try it after you shut out all the noise, if you dare.

Look closer at a mystery surrounding our rustic door from Ft Belknap.  Examine it.  Do you see it yet?  Here’s a hint. Look on the left panel of the door itself.  Now do you notice the oddity?  The door lacks a doorknob!  Only a skeleton keyhole ready for a key-packing Sargent At Arms.  That’s what my inner door looks like.  Only certain precious ones have the key to enter.  Oh yeah, have there been times I’ve opened the door to an enemy?  WAY TOO MANY TIMES!  Have there been times when a thief has unlawfully entered who was unwelcomed?  Oh, yeah.  My One, my Counselor didn’t force the door opened seeing there was a missing doorknob. He knocked lightly, but consistently, day and night. Being Who He is, He has a master key, but never used it.  There was a day, 50 years ago, when I answered the knock allowing Him entrance.  He has willingly never left.  I must admit here that there have been bloated times when I expanded myself, my interior of the heart, but curiously it never forced Him out.  Instead, He quietly took a corner and cautiously watched until I was sick of my-“self”.  Because of that simple maneuver of my hand turning the bolt and knob I have enjoyed a personal relationship with God Himself in a way that never would have been possible.  There are lots of doors in life along with all their invitations. Yet, there is only one door to my heart and mind along with only one very soft recognizable knock belonging to one set of knuckles. I recognize the rhythm of His cadence.  There is no crowbar in His hand.  He isn’t wanting to shatter me for destruction, but to bend me gently to a loving cup of java at my personal table.  He hears me out regardless of frustrations, idiocy and anger.  He never speaks over me like debating talking heads on a news program.  He wants to listen with a bent ear and kind, caring eyes.  God wants to be headlong and INVOLVED in the twist and turns in life where I find He is alive and well.

Since that door-opening day, I have often refilled my tank with fuel for the race.

(ASV – Alan Standard Version)

“Notice, I stand at the door and knock.  If ANYONE opens the door and lets me in I will drink and eat with him/her, and he/she with me.” – Jesus (Revelation 3:20 

On Track

Texas summers will fry you.  The heat on any given day could melt candles, even to the point of wearing kitchen oven mitts to touch your steering wheel.

Long ago and so far away….(not really), I was married to a very disturbed woman who almost took my life on so many levels of reality.  If I were to spell out all the abuse that occurred in our apartment, not only would you find it hard to believe, but it would not be in this format.  After reading my novel, no doubt you would vet a love interest that much more.  Oh, please do!

It was a hot one in the Dallas Metroplex the day I took this picture.  The forecasts were calling for 101-105F degrees for a good week or two.  However, the unbearable heat in the apartment was far beyond the temps outdoors.  Literally, as in many times before, I had to physically evacuate the mounting slaughter of my very spirit.  Have you been there?  I was very unhealthy as I was in rehabilitation recovering from a full-organ shutdown, coma and six weeks in the hospital from February of that year.  (That is another event for a future post.  Stay tuned.)  After walking three-four miles to a hotel, I crashed until the following day where I dreaded the sweltering walk back.  Frankly, the hike to and from could have killed me while suffering the condition I was in, but it mattered not.  Admittedly so, I feared seeing her drive up after discovering me on the road or at the hotel.  That was the current pit I was in.

On the way back to my personal hell the next day, I decided to walk an abandoned railroad track.  (You may want to stop reading at this point because what I write next may cause you to reject my story on a dime.  However, if you continue reading you will at least understand I believe with every ounce of me that I am laying out the exact events as they happened.  You’ve been warned.:)  Not hearing an audible voice, I was spoken to in the core of what turns me to the right and the left.  The communication was so clear and distinct there was no mistake that I was given a “spirit nudge” that didn’t come from my own imagination.  It would be easy to blame the outside articulation as a delusional dehydrated man in ill health suffering heat exhaustion, but in this case I knew better. Not only have I experienced heat exhaustion before, as well as self-consultation along with a writer’s imaginings.  Yes, I KNEW and could decipher the vast difference.

These tracks were abandoned long ago years after the expressway was built just half a mile to the west.  They were heavily traveled with the line coming from downtown Dallas all the way to Oklahoma and beyond servicing many a passenger with nicely bundled baggage in tow.  Yet, there lay the tracks, rusted, laced with weeds, baking in the Texas unforgiving sun.  Words, no….rather impressions came to me that I was NOT abandoned as horrific as my circumstances seemed.  The One who had nourished my very being from womb onward had/has never abandoned me regardless of my circumstances or even my bad behavior in life.  Circumstances by their very nature change.  Like the Texas weather, give circumstances a few minutes, hours or days and things will blow eastward away from above your head.

As I walked the long abandoned rails, I was in class.  I learned that there will be times you begin to adhere to an idea that God’s promises written in ancient texts may seem rusted, abandoned and full of the weeds and dust of days covering over the truths handed down. Never is it always easy to flush such ideas in the abyss of forgetfulness, but rather a struggle emerges.  After conditioning the struggle causes a spiritual numbness seducing even the very faithful.  Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t the fact of faith.

Have you noticed the calendar changes every day?  I left the old rusted tracks that afternoon realizing God’s Spirit may seem dormant at times, and late to arrive whatever depot platform you find yourself standing on.  However, I, the student, learned once again: He may seem late but He’s always on time.  In fact, He awaits your arrival whether you’re on track or off no matter how much baggage you need to check-in.  Leaving the train-starved rails that day I can say I found fuel for the race.

Lost In Comfort

July 1987 (Photo credit Express News.)

Lost In Comfort 
(Link to article)

This tragedy was/is incredibly personal for me.

I (as Alan Scott at the time) was part of an award-winning pioneering radio team called, KOJO94-Dallas/Ft Worth, TX, (2 years later we changed call letters to KLTY as it remains today). It was a 100k watt adventure with cutting edge contemporary Christian music charts competing with the top 40 formats and sounds of the day. I should add here that it was 1987 where many cuts wouldn’t be heard in a church service at the time simply because of conservative traditional church service music tastes and appreciation. (It wasn’t a good or bad atmosphere, just the facts.)  We had our first sign-on date on July 4th that year with full-blown marketing plans for demographics way beyond the “churched” audience. If you were here in Texas listening to our format, you either loved us, confused about us or you hated us….all in Christian love of course. For the on-air staff, it was all about a tight segue, tight board operating, hitting our marks, testing our target audience, monitoring our competition down the dial, doing social proof for our very local core audience and listening to our consultants. We were “doing” radio at its best with some of the finest on-air vets available racing to increase our ratings as quickly as we possibly could. Then…GOD stepped in without a heads-up.

The great Bob Morrison and Dave Tucker headed up our news dept. At first word of this tragic nightmare, we dropped everything and went into ministry mode. Suddenly we were breaking format, slipping on hard unit breaks and keeping the mic open way longer than our objectives. We began adding songs out of format for healing lyrics and spiritual easement. Because a couple of very local churches were involved in the devastating event, we fielded on-air phone calls from family and friends of the victims recovered, along with the missing, giving heart-wrenching stories of the loved ones lost to the Guadeloupe River in south Texas.

Frankly, for the person of faith or the agnostic, there was very little relief among the reports given.  It was overwhelming. Never-ever expecting it, I found myself being a late night on-air counselor to many who would call sharing their grief and needing songs of soul and rest. Local teens, I would not have ever met, were becoming known to me, their personas, their talents and love of life.  It’s one thing to read of someone’s life and another to have the parent cry out of their soul just who that child was.  I must admit, I had to hold back lots of tears opening the mic for a stop-down break while still doing the business of the station. As an actor I had many scenes where directed tears fell becoming almost on-demand for me, but 30 years ago this week, the opposite was the struggle.

Many of those kids today would now be in their mid 40’s. No doubt there were potential business leaders, nurses, doctors, musicians, teachers, parents, pastors and politicians. I still think about the lives lost, but mainly I think of the families left behind who are hurting once again this week with the 30th anniversary upon us. Above all, I am grateful I learned early why I chose that profession. In a single hour, we all learned it wasn’t about hitting the weather forecasts right at :14 and :44, or spilling out the calls and frequency with the handle followed by the next PSA tagged with the pre-selling of the next Amy Grant hit within the quarter hour, all wrapped in a total of :13 seconds of blather. I never forgot that lesson.  As a communicator it served me well for touchstone moments to come.  In fact, I understood and held to the difference all through my radio career all because God stepped in and walked through the rapids of the time.

I am 30 years older now and I find that for me, Comfort, TX remains to be more fuel for the race.