Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Lovely Gift

I don’t hate you, September. But I’m delighted that you’re leaving.


Because, in less than six hours, when I tear your page off my calendar and dispose of it, I will automatically open a lovely gift: October!

October is the most beautiful month of the year where I live. The sky is never as clear or as blue as it is at this time. The air is crisp, yet sunny. But the sun we feel now does not even resemble the mid-summer sun of a couple of months ago. It’s not hot! Not humid! Not stifling! Instead, it’s bright and warm. Comfortable. Soothing.

Healing to body and soul.                     

I feel much better after sitting in the October sun for an hour or so in the afternoon – meditating, gazing at the clear blue sky, watching leaves ripple in the breeze as a few opt to let go and float to the ground early. The usual sounds are almost non-existent. There’s a feeling of expectancy. Have you noticed, with children back in school, the neighborhood is much quieter? You can sit for quite a while and hear nothing but distant traffic or perhaps the twittering of a bird who has delayed his journey south. I don’t blame him.

Nights are cool – perfect sleeping and dreaming weather!

I impatiently await the pumpkins, gourds and mums that will soon appear on doorsteps along with scarecrows made from dried cornstalks and straw; I anticipate heavy dew that makes everything twinkle in the morning sunlight, and most of all, I look forward to the magnificently colored foliage that gives off a special warm glow!

During less colorful times of the year: rainy seasons, continuous days of sunless skies, extreme cold periods with lots of ice and snow – whatever Mother Nature throws at us – all I have to do is close my eyes and visualize one lovely October day and all is forgiven!
No, September. I don't hate you. You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul. But I must confess... I love you only because you are the prelude to my beloved October.

 My thoughts on October last year... 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Less Than Forty-Eight Hours

Wow! I can hardly believe it’s almost October – my favorite month of the year! Every twelve months, I go on and on about my love for autumn until I’m sure others get bored with it. But I’m convinced that nothing compares to the beauty of this spectacular season.

Not only is it gorgeous, but it’s a restful time, too. Everything slows down and we have time to relax, at least for about a month and a half – until it’s time to prepare for the big Thanksgiving feast... followed by Christmas shopping, baking, decorating and all the joys of the holiday season.

It seems to me that every year passes a little faster than the last. Perhaps that’s only because I’m getting older. I think we learn to appreciate things more as we age. As youngsters, teen-agers and young adults, we’re so busy living our lives that we hardly have time to notice the beauty around us, let alone appreciate it!

As I ponder life’s different stages, I consider what it might be like if some things were reversed. Imagine having the patience and appreciation when we’re young that we've gained by the time we’re, say... in our mid-50’s. Wouldn’t that be nice? And how much better behaved would our children be if we had them later in life when we have more patience?

Sometimes it seems that a few things are backwards. When we’re raising our children, we’d give anything for a little time alone, but when we’re older and they’re on their own, we often find ourselves sad and lonely, and wonder why they never spend quality time with us. So many elderly couples spend their aging years alone together – the way they started out. Ironic, isn’t it? And one day, one of them is left to carry on without the other. That’s the saddest time of life!

But in the immortal words of a well-known fictional character, “I can’t think about that today, I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

In less than 48 hours, lovely October will make her appearance. It’s impossible for me to think about anything else!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shall We Gather At The River

An old-fashioned baptism in the river today after our church service brought back some special memories of long ago and made me smile.

When my Aunt Betty and I were about ten years old, she attended church regularly at the little church in the coal mining community where she lived.

When I wasn’t visiting, Betty and I kept in touch by writing letters. It was a long time ago – before computers, e-mail and I-phones.

Here’s the way I heard about Betty’s baptism:

Dear Peggy,

I couldn’t wait to tell you – I was baptized today!

Last week in Sunday School, we learned about Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River. People watching from the shore were surprised when a dove flew down and lit on Jesus. The Bible says it wasn't a real bird but the Spirit of God. I can't quite understand how something that looked like a bird was really a spirit. I know parts of the Bible are too complicated for us to explain. Sometimes we just have to have faith.

What happened next was exciting. The Heavens opened up and God's own voice told Jesus how much he loved him and that He was pleased with Him.

After learning about baptism, I figured if I ever want to be a full-fledged Christian, it’s time to get myself baptized. I’m almost ten. So I decided to talk to Pastor Robbins.

At first, I thought he was going to try and talk me out of it, but after asking me some questions, he finally agreed to do it if neither of my parents objected. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to tell Mom and Grandma the good news.

Church service seemed shorter than usual this morning and, in no time; I was standing on the banks of Paint Creek at the old swimming hole waiting my turn to go into the water. The entire church congregation was singing, “Shall We Gather at the River.”

I don’t know if it was because I was cold or nervous, but it was hard for me to control my shaking body. Mom was standing in the back, but I could see her smiling. I kept looking at her to keep up my confidence. Grandma didn’t go because she has real bad arthritis in her legs and can’t stand very long, but when she kissed me good-bye, she said her heart would be with me and she’d be thinking about me until I came home.

Several members were baptized ahead of me. When Mr. Clark bounced up and out of the water shouting, "Praise the Lord," I began to feel more confident. If being baptized made old man Clark that happy, it must be a good thing.

Finally, I heard my name. It was my turn at last! Deacon Roberts led me to where Pastor stood waist high in water. He placed a damp handkerchief over my nose and mouth. "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," I heard him say, then before I could count to ten, I was under and back up again... sputtering and wiping at my eyes. I didn’t see a white dove, but I did see two robins chasing each other across the sky.

Then disaster struck. Even though Pastor Robbins was still holding onto me, what he didn't know was that my feet were in a slimy bed of mud and slipping fast. To keep from falling, I grabbed Pastor's neck with both hands and held on tight. He started slipping, too, and all of a sudden, he fell to his knees and I went under water a second time. Some men rushed in to help. Someone lifted me out of the water and I was so embarrassed! I’m certain my face was beet red.

Mrs. Webb waited with a dry towel but I could tell she was trying very hard not to laugh. I dreaded going home. News travels fast in a coal camp. Don (brother) will laugh at me till doomsday!

When I got home I ran straight into Grandma’s arms. I told her there was no dove; the sky didn't open up; God didn't say a word to me, and I was so embarrassed about pulling Pastor down to his knees.

Then I told her I didn't even feel like a full-fledged Christian and she said that maybe God thought I needed to be dunked twice and, most likely, He was testing my humility. I didn’t know what humility was, but Grandma said it’s the way we react when important events in our life don't go the way we expect them to.

I always feel better after talking to Grandma. I guess I really am a full-fledged Christian after all!

Wish you could have been here for my baptism.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It Has To Be Just Right

Some nights I can’t sleep. This is one of them. To be honest, I don’t know if the problem is that I “can’t” sleep or I “don’t want” to sleep.

Yes I do.

The truth is, I’d rather not sleep. I have too many things on my mind. I often wonder what clicks in my brain around 2 a.m. that opens my creative valve. And I wonder why music is better in the middle of the night than it is in the middle of the day. Now there’s something to ponder...

I remind myself how terrible I feel the next day when I stay up until four or five a.m., but right at this moment, I feel great so what does it matter how I’ll feel tomorrow? Aren’t I the one always telling others to live for the moment? One day at a time? Yeah, that’s me! So I should practice what I preach, right?

And so... with Patsy Cline belting out one of her classics, I start typing.

“Are you about ready for bed?” asks Mr. H.

“Yeah, soon,” I answer. Looking at the clock, I see it’s almost 3: a.m. I remember that I didn’t go to bed the past two nights until around 5: a.m.

I’ve got to turn over a new leaf, I tell myself. I’m tired all the time. No energy. Better sleeping habits would help, I’m sure.

I keep writing. A little blog post about the birth of my daughter’s baby. I couldn’t leave it in the middle, could I? I’d lose my momentum by morning.

It’s short and I finish it quickly. Now to find a picture. Sometimes that takes longer than writing the story. It has to be “just right.”

I finally add a picture of a sweet little baby – wrapped in white. So cute! I’m happy with it. I post it and link it to Facebook. Comments start coming in.

Others like it, too.

It’s an upbeat vignette that makes people happy. I like that!

I look at the clock. It’s 4:40 a.m. I finally call it a night. My last thoughts before drifting off to sleep are ~

What will I write about tomorrow?

How Much Is Enough?

Most of us, at one time or another in our lives, have wished for more money, but the longer we live, the more we learn just how unimportant it is to have a lot of money. I like this quote. "The best thing about getting old is that all those things you couldn't have when you were young, you no longer want. ~L.S. McCandless


Years ago I read an entertaining narrative told by the chief accountant of one of the wealthiest men who ever lived: John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Mr. Rockefeller was a very smart, shrewd fellow. You can get some idea of his attitude toward money from a little anecdote which is supposed to have happened. When someone asked him: "How much money is enough money?" John D. is said to have replied: "Just a little bit more."

Well, this rich Rockefeller eventually passed away. As his vast estate was being settled, someone inquired of his accountant: "Just how much did he leave behind?" Without a moment's hesitation, the accountant answered, "All of it!"

I guess that puts it into perspective for us, doesn’t it?

(John D. Rockefeller: Born - July 8, 1839, Died - May 23, 1937)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Day of Prayer

Before 911

In my little corner of the world today, it's a sunny seventy degrees; a fitting day to bow our heads in prayerful silence and recall what happened on this day eleven years ago – 9-11-01. It was a beautiful sunny morning, but we will remember only the sheer horror and disbelief we felt as we watched the news media play the shocking scenes over and over again. The memory of it will be passed on to children and grandchildren who weren’t yet born or were too young to remember. Like the memory of Pearl Harbor, it will be passed on and on and on. It shall never be forgotten!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Changing Of The Guard

As days turn into weeks; weeks, months; and months, years, most of us marvel at how fast time passes. We go from carefree children, to teen-agers, young adults, parents, and middle-aged grandparents so quickly that one day, we find ourselves wondering how we came to be in the autumn of our years so soon. Suddenly, younger folks are opening doors for us and calling us Ma’am or Sir. I often think, I didn’t even see it coming!

This quote expresses my feelings best: I was wrong to grow older. Pity. I was so happy as a child. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I was talking to a friend this morning whose dog, a faithful companion for twelve years, had just been taken from her. We were bemoaning the fact that loss is so painful, when she said, “That’s the worst thing about getting old; you have to see so many things and people die!”

A profound statement, but true.

Everyone seems fond of saying, “I’m a work in progress.” It’s true. We all are.
Actually, we're in training. Everything we do, everything that occurs in our lives, happens for a reason. We cannot move to a higher level in life without taking a test. The things we go through from childhood to adulthood – the mishaps, hurts, disappointments, successes and failures – all of them prepare us for a test. If we learn anything at all during these training years, then we will handle the later years more gracefully and hopefully, without as much pain. And each test will become easier to bear.

Not only that, but having come through several tests ourselves and moved up a few levels, we will be able to help others cram for their tests. Our experience is invaluable to younger ones who are still struggling with the heartaches and disappointments that life throws at them.

It’s so interesting – watching the changing of the guard, so to speak – the old generation moving on and the next one taking over where they left off.

On this sunny September day, growing older doesn’t seem so bad when you put it into perspective, does it?

It’s still about living one day at a time; savoring every season of your life and helping others do the same.