I’ll Stand

I may have too many days in the past and not nearly enough days in the future, but one thing is certain, TODAY is a day I have been given and I don’t want a single moment to tick off the clock with a regret hanging on to it

As most of you know, I’ve been writing a blog journaling my ‘voyage’ on the Starship Genesis Two-Seven, the analogy being the journey I am now on as I have a diagnosis of a terminal lung disease known as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. That journal of ‘The Passenger’s Log’ can be found at www.rossriggs.com/voyage.  For the most part, the blog is an update on the most current medical info I have and the tests I’m going through. There are other issues though that come up I need to wrestle with as the voyage continues. When those get a bit long in their wording, I turn to a Ministry Minute to think (or write) it through. The writing is, for me, cathartic. I hope you will come along and comment as you feel inclined! This is one of those talk throughs…

One of my most precious crewmates, Ally, is in Children’s Hospital right now, over a week battling her own medical issues which she will survive, no doubt but her life will be changed. (My family, conscripted upon my Voyage are ‘crewmates’ and those of you who sign-on to be with us are ‘shipmates’ and I appreciate every one of you!)

As a Papaw, it would be easier, and my preference would be, to take on all that my precious crewmate is dealing with and free her from it. I know her parents and my first-mate feel the same way. It gives us a small reminder of how God must have felt when His own Son suffered so. Jesus taught His disciples,  recorded in Matthew 7:9-11, “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

It seems that God has had much to teach us this first half of 2021. I think perhaps one of the biggest tests has been our faith. Faith, not just in the fact that God is God and Jesus is exactly who He says He is and that the Holy Spirit is always present with us to help us with every moment of every day, of that my belief is solid. More so, it is the faith to stand for what we believe. I am reminded of our responsibility, particularly with government, to question when we see things that don’t make sense to us. Finally, when it comes down to it, what is really important in life and what is not. Living a ‘life sentence’ is actually something we all do but we don’t think of it that way and I find that, even now, I have days where it does not come to mind so frequently. Other days, I am reminded almost continually that sooner, rather than later, I will see my wonderful Savior, face to face. That brings an incredible clarity to life here. Still, I have every hope that God will override the doctors’ prognosis and whether through the use of a lung transplant or other miraculous act on His part, I will speed past the 3 to 5 years I’ve been ‘allotted’ by the human physicians and go on for many years, if not decades to come. Whatever God’s plan, it is perfect and I will trust Him totally.

About those responsibilities to stand for what we believe, that comes upon me because of the raucous and almost unbelievable age in which we live with governments at all levels dictating for the citizen the inanest rules. These rules come without the strength of a law behind them and the people fall in line as herds of cows to a cattle car. The end of the line for that car is only that, the end of the line. Like so many sheep without any sense of a shepherd, people blindly fall in and do whatever dictate is demanded by government. They all but roll over and play dead at the merest insinuation that ‘action will be taken’ against you or your business if you do not. Sadly, the same has been true for our churches. Under the fear of either governmental action or a mysterious virus that no one seems to be able to quantify nor clarify, they buckle under as if their only faith is in the government edicts and not the supreme Lord of the Universe. Many are driven by good intentions, not wanting to incite more fear or panic into their members. Some try not to create some split between those who will not stand for the unconstitutional edicts of government’s interference with religion in the name of public health and those who are dreadfully scared of the virus quoting Scripture to say we are to honor government. (That is a theological argument not meant for these few pages.)

This virus, although it has some lethality, is no more than annual visits of influenza we see every year. Additionally, citizens, businesses, churches kowtow to the demands the government has put upon the people, such as the wearing of microbe infested and virus breeding masks that do nothing to stop the spread of any virus but hamper the best possible filter the human body has for such filtration, the God designed human olfactory system. Such masks and shields are absolutely useless and more likely harmful. Still, people wear them when alone in their cars, outside for a walk in the fresh air and every other minute of the day, all fear induced. Just recently in an obvious political move, the Ohio governor has abolished all such rules minus long-term care facilities and nursing homes, still which makes no scientific sense but helps breed more germs. Anyway… that short stop atop the soap box brings me back to the purpose of this post and that is the clarity of living life after being notified that your allotted time is going to be apparently much shorter than you had hoped.

Tim McGraw wrote a song back in 2004 that really is powerful. I think I make the analogy between Tim McGraw’s song and the freedom that comes from such awareness of one’s mortality because in our current day we need to remember that we live in a country wherein God’s providential blessings are ours. We call them ‘inalienable rights’ which have been bestowed upon us by God and not government  Those blessings are recognized as the highest law of the land, though not without detractors, of course. We have lived in a time recently where they have been forgotten or at least ignored. I suppose that is not surprising, so much of America’s ‘leaders’ seem to have forgotten or are ignoring God, much to their personal peril and to our nation’s death knell. For seventy years the National Day of Prayer has been hosted at our nation’s capitol building. Not this year. It was refused. Also, this was the first time there was no mention of the name Jesus Christ at the event.

Tim McGraw

When the narrative of Tim McGraw’s song is actually your own, it brings with it a freedom, and an urgency to act on that freedom. Although each of us lives under the diagnosis of death, excepting the return of Christ, few of us live like it. I know I have not and I, as The Passenger aboard the Genesis two-seven,can celebrate, in one sense, the freedom it brings now that I do. 

Someone once said that young men should always be concerned about dating a girl whose father is older because when a man reaches a certain age, the threat of a life sentence is not much of a deterrent. I am now at an age that allows me the freedom to do pretty much what I choose and to say what I feel without fear of retribution. My guiding restriction is to never do anything to grieve the Holy Spirit nor taint my testimony. Granted, burying a boyfriend with the John Deere or the Case in the back forty is probably not on the wise things to do list. I didn’t say it wasn’t on a list,  just not on the wise list! However, with the added advantage of a small glimpse into the future, plus the freedom given me by age (read that: wisdom)… I can say and do most anything, within reason. Whether or not anyone listens is up to them.   

Allow me to explain and I apologize in advance for the length of the post. If you choose not to venture on, I won’t be offended. I have a tracker on the blog so I know who actually reads all of this and who doesn’t, but don’t let that bother you. Feel free to drop out of the text anytime… I may notice but I won’t hold it against you… You may be mentioned in my eulogy someday but, hey, no worries…

Here is what Tim McGraw wrote in “Live Like You Were Dying”

“I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishin’
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again

What kind of a world would we be living in right now if everyone lived each day with their last day in view?

W. C. Fields

There is a story told of W.C. Fields, on his deathbed I must share. First, you must know that Fields was a famous, if not, infamous, comedian of the early 20th century who was known for quips like, “I like children – fried.” “There’s no such thing as tough children, if you parboil them for seven hours, they always come out tender.” “Children should be seen and not heard from – ever again.” Supposedly, on his deathbed it was reported that he was seen carefully reading the Bible. When asked, “Why?” Fields replied, “I’m looking for loopholes.”

When it comes to having the real sense of freedom, I believe it can only come when you absolutely know and understand that each day you have in your hand is truly a gift and there is no guarantee of the next. Yes, I know we all say that, but we don’t live like we believe it. Recently I heard a man say, “Yesterday is dead. Tomorrow isn’t promised. Today is all you really have.” Worrying about what has been, is crazy because it’s gone. Worrying about what may be is crazy because it likely won’t be and if it is, do you really have any power to change it? And truly wasting the precious moments of today by worrying is crazy because when those minutes tick off on the clock, they are gone and you don’t get them back. Squeeze the life out of every single one of them! Wasting them on worry or on something that is sucking the joy out of life is hurting yourself and why would you, or I, want to do that?

No Regrets

I may have too many days in the past and not nearly enough days in the future, but one thing is certain, TODAY is a day I have been given and I don’t want a single moment to tick off the clock with a regret hanging on to it. Besides, regrets are messy and hard to clean up when they drip to the floor.

As I was finishing this post, a song came on the radio and the refrain pretty much says how I have decided to live in these days by God’s grace. The song is by Natalie Grant, titled In Christ Alone and the words are: “Till He returns, or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.” May you stand this day in the power of Christ. Do not allow some government politico to tell you what you can or cannot do without the strength of a moral law behind it. Trust in the Sovereign Creator of the Universe not a bureaucrat physician who hasn’t seen a human patient as a clinician in thirty years but sits behind a desk and generates Pablum for peasants rather than prescriptions for patients.

God bless. The Passenger.

BLESSED are the CRACKED

Huh?

What in the world does that mean? Why is it a title to a ‘Ministry Minute’ post?

The line was quipped by a master comedian of the last century, Groucho Marx. He has become a kind of philosopher in residence when it comes to the voices in my head. Okay, I know, Mr. Editor, a couple of more quips like that about myself and the Red Flag cops will be after me and my benevolent voices! So, “blessed are the cracked… for they shall let in light!” Allow me to let in a little light from the wisdom of Groucho Marx!

Personal file

I have a walking stick with a handle which is a silver head of a black lab, resembling my dog Gunner. Gunner is my own black lab but with shepherd and chow mix. He was a service dog, working with me at local hospitals including Akron Children’s.  On the stick is an inscription with Gunner’s name and ‘Comrade’ then a quote. “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” You guessed it, Groucho Marx.

I’m not as devout a follower of Groucho as I am, say, The Three Stooges. They are a class of philosophy and lunacy all their own. Still, Groucho is a bit of a conundrum. Cynical mirth on the outside but, scratch the surface and the thoughts of someone much deeper emerges.

Long before Charles Dederich, a self-help guru from California, said in 1978, ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’, Groucho Marx understood it much more deeply. Allow me to introduce, Julius, aka Groucho, the leader of his brothers in a comedy team. He was born in 1890 and died in 1977. A master comedian, he never cursed in any performance which speaks to his character. Groucho became famous in radio and later, the 1950’s, began the televised ‘You Bet Your Life’ quiz show. So, consider now, Groucho’s philosophy on living a happy life:

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it will be. Yesterday is dead.  Tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today and I am going to be happy in it.”

What if most of us would latch on to that sentiment, particularly those Christians among us who feel compelled by the weight of their calling to go about as if dragging Marley’s and Scrooge’s chains combined? But, then again, we live in an era of not needing to take responsibility for anything. Why should we take responsibility for our own mood? Those who throw rocks at cops or blow up buildings to voice their angst have seldom felt compelled to take responsibility for their actions. Society is rampant with those not accepting responsibility for anything. Their poor health after a 40-year 3-pack-a-day smoking habit is the fault of the doctor who doesn’t have a pill for that. The drug addict turned thief, once caught, regales us through the media about how life has cheated him. Society is to blame for all his trouble.

“I …have the power to make me happy…I choose…” A Christian with the joy of the Holy Spirit can rejoice regardless of circumstances. It is not that they walk around with a silly, ‘I’m in love with life and I want you to have a daisy in your lapel’ kind of irrational rot. They have, though, an inner peace, a joy that comes not from circumstances but in spite of them.

Have you ever heard someone say, “You make me so angry!”? That is an incredible amount of power for anyone to give someone else, the power to create your mood. More accurately, it could be said: “I dislike your actions so much, I am choosing to be angry!” Of course, we don’t speak in such a way, but it is more accurate. Why would you want to let anyone else choose your mood? If you put that on ‘auto-pilot’ and walk down the street, you’d be schizophrenic after two blocks!

I am going to choose to walk daily in the joy of the Holy Spirit and trust in Christ for what comes. Groucho is an interesting fellow; but, when it comes to directing my life, I’ll go with the Holy  Spirit.  Still, there is room for considering the philosophy of Groucho and his wisdom. For example, it was he who made it clear, “A black cat crossing your path… is going somewhere!”

Groucho understood the brevity of life and the problems of health care even back in the mid-twentieth century. He said, “Growing older is easy. You just have to live long enough!” And that brought him to the problems of medical care. “A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running!”

Of course, like many in show business of his day, marriage was not a generous endeavor for him. Married three times for 22, 6 and 15 years respectively, Groucho said: “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury!” And on the topic of divorce, his wisdom came through his cynical wit. “Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse!”

 Here though is the quote of his which spurred my thoughts in writing this today.  

“The first thing that I can record concerning myself is that I was born. These are wonderful words. This life to which time nor eternity can bring diminution. This everlasting, living soul began. My mind loses itself in these depths.”

Not much is written about the Marx family’s faith or Groucho’s own walk with God, but this quote betrays a depth of understanding that perhaps he did know our Creator God. That, of course, is between him and God.  Let’s consider his quote…

Groucho was awed by the concept of a person being born and more so, born with an eternal soul. He calls it an everlasting, living soul and such shows an understanding of the depth of the miracle, which is man, which is creation. Few sadly take the time to consider how incredible, how amazing the birth of a human being is and that it involves the beginning of a living soul that will never die. No where else in all of creation is there such an event. Humans alone can mirror the Creator God by having an eternal soul. Groucho understood.

No doubt, it seems that Groucho was a little cracked and thankfully so because he has allowed a little light to shine on his understanding of an eternal soul. Perhaps if we could capture some of Groucho’s awe over our eternal soul and the miracle of our birth, we might stop to appreciate each day of our lives a bit more and the Creator who gives each to us!

courtesy quotefancy.com

And Then There Were Three

Are you old enough to remember an old television ‘soap opera’ that began in 1965 … “Days of Our Lives”? I understand it is still running today, obviously different actors but I wouldn’t doubt the story line is the same! The opening segment showed an hourglass, and the narrators mellow voice came in saying, “Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” If our mother missed a few days of it, no worries, the situations were dragged out for so long, you could keep up even after a month sabbatical! I remember that my mother would do her ironing in a room where the tv was visible from where she stood. For those of you who do not know what ‘ironing’ is, Google it. You’ll find that Meriam Webster defines it as:  “the action or process of smoothing or pressing with or as if with a heated iron.” But I digress.

Like sand through the hourglass… Jack Nicholson playing in The Bucket List describes life as ‘like smoke through a keyhole” and the psalmist wrote in Psalm 90:6, “In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers.” He goes on to write, “We finish our years like a sigh. 10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

Moses wrote Psalm 90 speaking toward man’s frailty. Solomon, a king who wrote many psalms, and wrote Lamentations echoed the despair of Moses often saying that life is vanity and striving after success in life is all vanity for another man will come and receive all of the bounty from your work. WOW, a total downward ride at the beginning of this paper. I wouldn’t blame you if you quit reading right now. But I suggest you keep reading for there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train! Maybe.

What spurs the thoughts of sand through the hourglass, smoke through a keyhole and grass that grows up and then is cut and thrown to the fire? This past weekend and, in fact, the entire last few months have brought into very sharp focus the brevity of life and my own mortality. That, however, is not necessarily a bad thing.

It is interesting that before everything that has taken place in the first quarter of 2021, for Christmas 2020 my daughter Suzanne got me a “Bucket List” book you fill out the list and then describe how it was fulfilled. Now, with the stark realities of life bearing down on me a bit, that list is all the more important. A top priority on it is for my oldest grandson Aaron and I to get to Colorado to see the Air Force Academy and simply just be together. That is a priority more so now than when we first talked of it last fall.

Notice what Moses wrote, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”  Now, Moses has been wandering in the desert for 40 years because of a stubborn bunch of people, a million or so, I believe and all they did was complain. I can understand why Moses would be a bit sullen! Still, God’s word is inspired writing. Moses wrote what God wanted him to write. As far as the 70 or 80 years, Moses lived to 120 and he started the wandering when he was 80! No wonder he was sighing when he came to the end of his time and after all the wandering in the desert, he did not get to enter the Promised Land. He died before they went in! But what about us? What is our attitude? More importantly, what is my attitude?

I haven’t hit the 70 mark just yet. Six more years plus a few months. With the lung disease with which I have been diagnosed, I can still make 70, good Lord willing, but it might not be a race where I’m coming in full speed, pedal to the metal at the finish line. It may be more a tortoise kind of finish, but we shall see. Still, I don’t see me ‘ending my days with a sigh…’ I don’t see that the best of my days are trouble and sorrow. Quite the opposite!

I am, among men, most blessed. I have a loving wife of 40 plus years, five wonderful kids and their spouses plus 12 amazing grandchildren all who love me far in excess of what I deserve. I have a nice home that keeps me warm in the winter, dry during the rain and pleasantly cool in the heat of summer. I am retired from a career which I deeply loved, and I believe was successful at it. I can get up and go when and where I want, most of the time, my surgeries past and, hopefully even future, have not prevented that. I have time to fish and ride my Harley and I have a new amateur radio transceiver for my hobby time. I can walk out my back door and see my horses or walk to the pond to fish. There is food in the pantry, fridge, and freezer – plenty to go around and some for those in need. I could count blessings on, and on, but you will think me bragging so I’ll stop there.

The admonition that Moses gives which I try to hang on to is: “Teach us to number our days so that we may gain wisdom.” Two events recently and a phone call I just completed even as I write this remind me of my own mortality and the importance of this admonition to number our days. First was my eldest brother’s death in late November. This past weekend my remaining two brothers and I headed for West Virginia to the mountainside where we roamed as kids. There we planted a rose bush for our brother in a small cemetery on the side of the mountain and placed his and his wife’s ashes there, completing a committal service for him. Now there are but three of us. The ‘fab four’ we jokingly labeled a silly photo we took several years ago at a family get-together are now not four but three. That is a stark reminder that life is not a forever event, at least not the physical life in these mortal bodies. Every soul ever born lives forever. The question remains for each, where does it spend that eternity? For the Christ-follower, the end is sure. A new body and our souls will continue for eternity in the presence of our God whether in a celestial realm or walking the new earth that God will make (Revelation chapter 21). Those who reject Christ will spend an eternity separated from their physical body but in physical torment for all of eternity. It is wise to know our end and to, as the old knight in the ‘Holy Grail’ movie with Harrison Ford admonished him, “choose wisely.”

The second event of these past several weeks, as I mentioned a bit ago, is the diagnosis of a lung disease. The initial prognosis is not a good one but, that is, as I say, “a God thing.” If you want to follow along on the voyage of the adventures with a terminal illness – life is a terminal illness! – but check out VOYAGE at www.rossriggs.com On the Welcome menu you will find the links to the current and past postings. Getting a diagnosis out of the blue when you really don’t think anything is going on other than aging and being out-of-shape is a real kick in the pants! It will help you re-focus what is going on in your life!

The phone call I just completed from a dear friend who is not able to travel. He received word just a few days ago of his mother’s death, fairly suddenly from a pneumonia complication. Unable to get to her bedside before her death or even attend her funeral, he grieves in solitude. Reminded of his last visit with her over a year ago, he longs for a time to see her again. Thankfully, both have Christ and know their hope is certain.

So, now there are three and, if the doctors are right, in a decade, maybe  less than a decade, there will be two. Thank God for the hope of heaven. Without such a hope there is no hope. Keep up that ever stretching, reach for all that God has for you. Try not to get caught up in the negative and worry about whether you will end your years with a ‘sigh’. I probably will end my with “Whew!”

God bless!

A Little Woodworking

There is only the truth of God’s word. It is timeless and it covers every possible contingency.

There are times when I listen to a speech or sermon; even read an article, and I find parts of the message which are inconsistent appear clear to me. Inconsistencies within an article on the components of a spiritually filled life, such as trust in God for all things has been troubling me. The article was all about trust and how we can completely, totally rely on God, the magnificent Creator. Yet, I look around at our society with the folks, those who claim a Christian faith, so terrified about being without a mask, searching for places to get their vaccine and even churches still doing only parking lot services and I am deeply concerned. I was beside myself! (Not literally, that would have been a violation of the six foot rule!)

I thought, who are we trusting? Is it God who created our bodies with our amazing immunity and a protection system of skin and noses with membranes and cells designed to stop infection or were we trusting some politician who was told something by someone, not a believer in Christ? We must not be trusting God because now we wear man-made masks not designed to prevent infection. Instead, these masks are more likely to hold onto germs and nasty things in the air so we can breathe them directly into our own lungs? It is not possible to believe what was being taught and rely on masks which are proven to do more harm than good. That was where I came down on the question. How would God respond to such a lack of faith? I began to chew on the spiritual questions here. Realizing that at least more than once in my life I have been wrong about something, I decided I needed to think and pray this through.

When it comes to the issues with COVID, I know all the data, the 99.5 plus percent that survive COVID, the numbers of people who are affected even worse by the flu, those mostly at risk being over 70 years of age, same as the flu. I was pretty certain I was on the correct side of the issue. We trust God, toss the masks, and get our churches open and running!

Then, Matthew 7:3-5 hit me like a wooden spike right through the eyes.  

Years ago, my doctoral dissertation was titled, “In Times of Crisis:  A Plan for Creating Contingency Management Teams in Missionary Sending Churches and Agencies.” Based on scriptural truth including the work of Nehemiah in rebuilding the temple with workmen and armed protectors working side by side, the entire concept is that God gives us the tools and ability to help ourselves while at the same time being completely in charge of all events in our lives. Our natural fears which prevent us from stepping in front of a train are part of God’s survival system for us. With the violence in our world and because of my experience as a police officer, now retired, I carry a firearm every day, everywhere. It provides me the capability of intervening on behalf of those at risk of serious harm. There are people within certain church circles who would say (and have said directly to me) that my contingency planning and other preparations are hypocritical. They say, God is in charge of all things so any preparation on our part is a sign of not trusting in Him. One mission agency leader staunchly opposed my arguments for preparation, and made his opinion quite clear.  (Anyone who says Baptists don’t ‘ex-communicate’ don’t know how some organizations work!)

It was time for me to really get down into the desert and wrestle this one out. I already have severe hip pain so, here we go! Where is the line between using the tools God has given us to prepare and protect ourselves and others and ‘letting go and let God’?

I still maintain the truth worked out within my dissertation is correct. God is in charge of all things. The day we are to die is known to Him before we are born, as is every day of our life. From before time began He knew this of us. Nothing is outside His control. He also gives us the ability to protect ourselves and others. If this weren’t so, we would have no need of police. Jesus taught in some instances to go prepared for whatever might come and other times He instructed His disciples to go and allow God to provide completely for them. I believe God has given us gifted physicians and surgeons, researchers, and care-givers. God still determines our length of days, but these gifted persons help us preserve our quality of life, if not our quantity. The planning by Nehemiah was with God’s favor and the use of armed men guarding the workers was prudent because of the risk. Could God have totally protected them? Of course. Most often, particularly in today’s economy, He chooses to work through humans, often Christians. Could the guards have also been a ‘Linus VanPelt security blanket’ to ease the minds of those under the threats and with God’s approval? I believe the answer to that is also, ‘yes’.

So, what about the masks and opening services? I passionately believe they should be open and, if anyone feels the need to wear a mask, whether because of age or illness, they should do so without any awkward stares from folks who suddenly judge themselves as ‘more spiritual’ because they are ‘simply trusting God.’ Still, my time woodworking (or perhaps in the woodshed) was not finished. I still had some wrestling God wanted me to do.

There is an old story of a young farmer trying to get his mule to move. Pulling and tugging on the reins, screaming, and cussing at the mule were all to no avail. An old farmer stood watching with interest. He told the young farmer the only way to get the mule to move was to talk softly, lovingly, encouragingly to the mule. The young farmer scoffed and, handing the old farmer the reins said, ‘Go right ahead!’ The old farmer smiled, picked up a 2×4 and smacked the mule right across the head. The young farmer was shocked! “I thought you said to talk kindly and softly to him?” The old farmer replied, “You do, but first you have to get his attention!” Sometimes, I can be a mule in need of a 2×4. (More woodworking!)

As if it was important to test my thesis, before I finished writing this short article, I had to see the doctor to determine why I was having such extreme episodes of shortness of breath. The doctor’s visit turned into a CAT scan which led to appointments with a pulmonologist and in-home oxygen. As I write this I am waiting for a biopsy of my lung tissue to be scheduled. I’m told it’s not expected to be a cancer. It isn’t COVID. Could it be the remnants of an old Covid infection? Possibly. Still, though, there are a lot of variants that don’t fit that. I’m also told that if I get COVID now, the flu, or a similar infection; it could be life-threatening. Do I make sure I wear a mask now every time I go out? Which side of the faith fence does that fall on?

After much consideration of this new question, I can say to you I am 100 percent comfortable not wearing a mask anywhere. I am not afraid that I will get an infection and I totally trust God to do whatever He wants to do. However…

What about the oxygen? That becomes a common-sense method to help with quality of life, not quantity for me, at least.

There is yet another consideration. If my family, those I care for more than any, ask me to wear a mask and do other things to prevent the risk of any infection, what would I do? If the doctor, who is a born-again believer tells me to prevent infection of any kind  I should mask up, what do I do? If I wear it to keep them comfortable and because I respect their wishes, but I know God knows my heart and He knows I trust Him, is it Okay? What if it impairs my Christian witness for others who do not know the back story, they just see me, “Mr. No-Mask” suddenly wearing one. Is my testimony hurt?

Sometimes a question doesn’t have an immediately clear answer. Sometimes, maybe there is more than one good option. That is where we can trust God’s word. You can be certain, there is only one truth. Regardless of what the Oregon school board believes, 2+2 still only equals 4. There is only the truth of God’s word. It is timeless and it covers every possible contingency. The truth is that God is in control. He will always do what is best and will bring glory and honor to Himself. If I can trust God with my every breath, I can trust Him to make certain my testimony is not damaged while I take the prudent course of action and do as I am asked by family and instructed by my physician. If I say that God has placed physicians in our lives to help us with our quality of life and then I refuse to follow their admonitions, I am not honoring God. I will do as I am told.

According to God’s word, every individual is responsible to God for his or her own actions, for the condition of their heart. That said, no one can dictate to you on an issue such as whether you are trusting God either by wearing a mask or by not wearing a mask. That is between you and God. He knows your heart and you can always ask Him to strengthen your faith. I am certain I will do that as I go through whatever lay ahead. I believe our churches need to open up and trust God and not allow politicians to push us by decrees that are not laws and are not passed in an open session of our legislatures (state or federal) to make laws, by votes of elected representatives. That, honestly, has always been my biggest sticking point regarding ‘mask decrees’.

If the governor decreed all Christians to wear a yellow crucifix sewn to our outer garment, would we do it just because he said so? Just wondering. If it is under the threat of death, would we? I am not judging any past groups of peoples. The Jews persecuted by the Nazi 3rd Reich showed incredible fortitude and no one can walk in their shoes today. But we, as a church, better decide now, before it happens, where do we draw our line in the sand? The time is coming when we will either hold that line or acquiesce. Prepare now to stand strong when it comes, not if it comes.

My time woodworking has been beneficial to me. I hope maybe it might help you think through some things for yourself. I’m not as ‘spiritual’ as I was before. Now, I am just thankful for each breath and I’ll keep on, one breath at a time.

En route pour la Bastille

Our pompous politician pontificating on the penetration of the police palisades protecting the parliamentary proceedings was anything but profound.

On January 6, 2021 something incredible happened on the streets of Washington D.C. I have witnessed over six decades of life in America including all kinds of demonstrations and riots on the Mall in D.C., particularly during the challenging 60’s. What I saw, Wednesday, is still a bit hard to believe.

What isn’t unexpected is the haughty, self-righteous indignation by Democrat politicians  who lionized the rioters of 2020’s summer of discontent who killed, kidnapped, held entire communities hostage while burning private businesses and public property, toppling historical landmarks all in the name of Black power, to coin a phrase from the 60’s.

Like the ancient god for which January takes its name, the Democrats, from their second face, castigate Wednesday’s demonstrators as un-American, insurrectionists to be sent to the stocks or perhaps drawn and quartered if some would have their way. The D.C. demonstrators’ zealous exercise of their First Amendment rights eventually carried them to inside the Capital building. (It should be noted that a video released today (January 8th) shows Capital police opening a fire door to allow demonstrators inside the building, so it was not by force. They did not bust down a door or break a window but merely walked inside as police stood by.)[i]  

I’m not here to argue the validity or the criminality of what was done. I want to merely point out some grievous double-standards and one very amazing lack of any understanding of history by a high-level U.S. politician. I wish I could give you his name. His comment came in the immediate aftermath of the Wednesday debacle and after reading it, initially, I dismissed it as blatant ignorance. Oh, that I would have kept that news snippet for I cannot seem to find it now. Here, though, is the crux of what he said. Again, this is a national level politician who happens to be a Democrat. (I don’t believe Democrats have a corner on the ignorance of history market, probably many Republicans are just as clueless.) This one happened to be a Democrat. Please, if any reader happens to come across the quote, I’d be indebted for having it sent to me.

Our pompous politician pontificating on the penetration of the police palisades protecting the parliamentary proceedings was anything but profound. He declared their actions were un-American. Claiming that America was always a place of peaceful transfer of power, he attempted to belittle the actions of those who sincerely  believed in their cause by saying ‘we are not a bunch of French revolutionaries.’ Allow me to say with all the educated wisdom I can muster, “Huh?!” To be compared with those who dared storm the Bastille on the 14th of July in 1789 is

  1. A magnificent and certain compliment of the highest regard
  2. Exactly to the point of what the demonstrators themselves believed

Allow me to attempt to educate our ill-advised Congressman.

Storming of the Bastille iii

The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 in Paris was the beginning of the French Revolution. In power was King Louis the XVI, a man whose crimes against his own people were heinous, innumerable and beyond any standard of humanity. “The success of the revolutionaries gave commoners across France the courage to rise up and fight against the nobles who had ruled them for so long.”[ii] According to historians, the final straw was that the commoners, or the ‘Third Estate’ had demanded the king give them more say in their own governance. Those high in power had forgotten that their role was to represent and not dictate, to protect and not disenfranchise. Finally, the people who truly were the nation of France had taken all they could bear. Their response was, ‘No More!’ Sound familiar?

This particular politico apparently believes that Americans are not like those people who took a stand for their own liberty and fought against injustice. He thinks Americans will kowtow to the whims of the Deep State. He is wrong.

America, throughout its time has amazed the world at our ability to have a peaceful transition of power. That peace has always been undergirded by our faith and trust in our elections and our belief that our votes mean something. We could make the changes we sought at the ballot box. These last few years have taken away any trust in our elections for many Americans. Without that trust, a peaceful transition of power is not possible.


[i] https://twitter.com/gatewaypundit/status/1347615270504955904?s=25&fbclid=IwAR3Qkkhqh_5UFzBaY48KDA9-sTzHljNlwgajoUdozZRzyW6TSvjBp1YTwuc

[ii] https://www.ducksters.com/history/french-revolution

(iii) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Anonymous_-_Prise_de_la_Bastille.jpg

50 Years of ‘CQ, and Standing By…’

“…it gets into your blood and there’s nothing you can do about it but live it.”

The National NC57 was built as a ‘high-end’ receiver just after WWII.

In the late 1960’s, a twelve-year-old boy was regularly visiting his uncle and staying (on non-school nights) sometimes into the early morning hours. Luckily for him, his uncle lived just across the street! Of course, I was that young boy and my uncle, was Vernon Clarke. He was a ‘ham’ radio operator whose callsign was W8TJS or topless jazz singer! My fascination in the hobby was with the phone-patch traffic Vern would run for U.S. Navy ships at sea allowing sailors to talk to their loved-ones by phone connected through Vern’s radio. He ran phone-patch traffic for scientific expedition stations in Antarctica and for missionaries all over the world. It wasn’t so much that I chose Amateur Radio as a hobby as ham radio chose me. Vern used to say that it gets into your blood and there is nothing you can do about it but live it.

Back in my day… (I’m allowed to say that now, I get ‘senior discounts’ at Denny’s!) Back in my day, to get a ‘Novice’ license from the FCC to operate a ham radio, you first had to pass a sending and receiving Morse Code at a rate of 5 words per minute. I would tune my receiver to code sending stations and try to copy what they sent. I had a Radio Shack practice key that would allow me to tap out code and I’d hear it on its built in speaker. It wasn’t attached to a transmitter so only I (and most everyone else in my house, none of whom cared to listen) could hear my code sending. My father, though never into ham radio had been a radioman aboard the PC1261 in WWII, and could copy code and type it onto an old manual typewriter at a speed of 60 wpm. My attempts at 5 wpm were like nails on a chalkboard to him but he never complained!

“Straight Key” used for basic CW (continuous wave) Morse Code

In addition to the 5 wpm code test, a written test on radio basic electronics, FCC rules and federal laws related to radio operation. Thankfully, the Novice test could be given by a ham radio operator with a minimum of an Advanced grade license which Vern had. I sat at his radio and he gave me the code test. Once I passed it, he ordered the written exam. I sat at his kitchen counter where I had sat more times than I can remember for soup or hot chocolate on a cold winter day, so it was comfortable, and I was as at ease as I could possibly have been. After what seemed like an interminable 6 weeks, I received my Novice license in the mail. I was now officially a ‘ham’ with a callsign of WN8KMP. Vern proudly loaned me a Heathkit HW01 crystal controlled (rock-bound) transmitter. Pictured here are some typical crystals. Each was good for one frequency. If there wasn’t someone available on the specific frequencies matching your crystals, you were out of luck. You could not tune until you found someone. Hence the term rock bound.  I would pound out in code, “CQ, CQ CQ” which is ham radio code for ‘is there anyone out there who wants to talk?’ It is followed by your callsign and then you ‘standby’ or wait to see if anyone answers.

The Novice license was good for just two years and was not renewable. This was designed to push you on to a higher grade license which included Technician, General, Advanced and Extra. Not all of those grades exist today but I still hold my General class license I finally received just before my Novice ticket expired. The code test for General Class was 13 wpm which after two years wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but test jitters having to take the code exam at a federal building in Cleveland, Columbus or Detroit was a bit unnerving. Hence two failed attempts, but the third time was a charm! That was an adventure all its own for another day.

I began enjoying DXing which means reaching out to people in faraway places and often times we would ‘Rag Chew’ which was slang for just talking about our hobby, our families, and what it is like to live where we do. Still, on voice, a ham will call, “CQ, CQ, CQ” when looking to meet a new contact.

When I got my General class license and became WB8KMP, I dropped the ‘N’ and picked up a ‘B’.  I bought a used Heathkit HW 101 which did CW and SSB (voice) on multiple bands and with a VFO or variable frequency oscillator. That meant, basically, I was no longer rock bound! I could go anywhere in the ham bands my license would permit! The HW 101 I bought was three years old when I got it in 1973. I eventually upgraded to the Heathkit SB104 which I still have, and it still works.

The world has changed drastically in my 50 year ride as a ham particularly in electronics! The things a small transceiver can do that will fit in the palm of a hand go far beyond anything the large transmitter-receiver sets of the 60’s! Hams now communicate by satellite and by SSTV and computer links. For me, though, I still love DXing and Rag Chewing! I have radios on bands that use repeaters to rebroadcast signals and are used a great deal in local emergency communications. The world of Amateur Radio is as expansive as the inventive minds of hams can make it. I’m pleased to still be hamming it up after 50 years, but I certainly cannot believe that it got here this quickly!

A QSL Card – a card used to confirm or QSL a contact – exchanged between operating stations

Even now, long after my wonderful uncle became a ‘silent-key’, I am still scanning the frequencies and every now and again, someone just might here, ‘This is WB8KMP calling CQ and standing by…”

In ‘ham speak’ I will say 73’s for now, which is so-long or see you later! Back in the day you could also say 88’s which was ‘hugs and kisses’ if you were speaking with a female ham or referring to a ham operator’s ‘XYL’ – another term probably not politically correct today. You see an unmarried lady in Morse Code abbreviations or cw slang which was used in voice communications, too; was a ‘YL’ or young lady. A married lady was, by someone’s logic, an ‘XYL’ – sell that to Cosmopolitan today!

Best 73’s and I hope to talk with you later on down the log.

WINTER’s PERFECT MOMENT

If there were a list of the people who dislike winter the most yet still choose to reside in NE Ohio, I would be in the top ten.

A disclaimer right off the get-go (no, not a gas station but a colloquialism meaning, the very beginning). If there were a list of the people who dislike winter the most yet still choose to reside in NE Ohio, I would be in the top ten. In 1975, when I left for the Air Force, I vowed that I would never again reside in a cold climate of my own choosing. The distinction ‘of my own choosing’ was because the Air Force has lots of great places they can send you that, like Olaf in Frozen have never even heard of summer. However, I soon returned to Ohio and here I have remained. Now all my children and grandchildren live within 35 minutes of me and my wife, Karin. Thus, there is no way we are moving now unless it is a mass exodus second only to Moses and the Israelites leaving Egypt! Now that my un-love of winter is clear to you the reader, allow me to extol some amazing things about the single moment of winter to which I absolutely look forward every year.

This year, 2020, that moment  is at 5:01 a.m. EST December 21st. As I write this, it means that at 5:01 tomorrow morning, for a single moment in time, something occurs which is the most favored miracle for those of us who are called ‘winter-haters’. I want to be clear here, ‘winter-hater’ as an epithet, I think is a bit strong, but it wasn’t us that choose it. A bunch of ‘winter-lovers’ who walk around all summer in ski-boots longing for snow chose the name.

Courtesy The Farmer’s Almanac*

Interestingly, the moment that we love the most is technically named the ‘Astronomical First Day of Winter’ not to be confused with the ‘Meteorological First Day of Winter, December 1st. At 5:01 a.m. the sun, because of the tilt of the earth on its axis, will be at its very farthest point away from the Northern Hemisphere and my beloved NE Ohio home. The sun, itself, hasn’t moved of course. It is our earth’s tilt that changes and gives us this moment in time.

At 5:02 a.m. the earth will slowly begin its tilted path corrections and from then on until the middle of summer, the days begin to grow longer! Every day after tomorrow, until my joyous celebration of life called summer, the hours of sunlight will grow to be more and more. The dark, cold of winter will slowly begin to abate and spring will be on its way back to us with all its lovely greens and vibrant colors to replace the grey and ugly drab of winter.

‘Ah… but the beautiful white snow!’ you say.

Courtesy The Farmer’s Almanac*

Sure, it’s one of God’s amazing parts of nature and a new fallen snow across a meadow or a mountain ridge is beautiful. Snow filthy dirty along the roadsides and sidewalks, tracked into the garages across Ohio both by tires and boots is a n ugly reminder of the cold, nasty parts of winter we dislike so much!

So, here is to my favorite day of winter, the Winter Solstice! Supposedly sun worshipping Druids in Ireland built Stonehenge to help them honor this day for it is at the moment of the Solstice the sun appears to sit directly on top of one of the monoliths arranged there, still how we do not know. If you have an interest, you can watch a live stream from Stonehenge this year.**

To quote Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, who I believe through a child’s heart full of love and awe at the world, was a lover of summer like me and so many others who dislike winter, proclaimed, “God bless us everyone!”

* Information and photos courtesy The Farmer’s Almanac – “Winter Solstice the First Day of Winter” at http://www.almanac.com

** https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/festivals/stonehenge-livestream-winter-solstice

He Will Give His Angels Charge Over You

Just today I received the following email from Abigail. I  suppose she knows that from the Bible, Abigail came to mean servant and actually was an early English slang name for a servant. This wonderful Abigail is a servant of Christ who owns a great little company called Heavenly Divine Company. I encourage you to not just visit their site but become a customer, you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s here e-mail:

Abigail’s email has spurred me to share two instances when I believe there is no other explanation than angelic intervention which saved my life and the lives of some others. You may choose to believe what I am about to share, or not. I was present in each these and I know for myself, the veracity of what I write.

The first incident came on a freezing winter night, with icy roads and a bitter wind, but a full moon which made visibility incredibly clear against the white snow. I was working night shift as a police officer, sometime in the mid-1980’s, when I observed a vehicle blow through a red light at high speed. I attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The vehicle sped south toward the city limits and I was in pursuit. The road conditions made it treacherous. We approached the crest of a hill that I knew to be steep on the other side and have an intersection with a state route immediately at the bottom. As I watched the fleeing vehicle crest that hill, I slowed down and advised the other responding car by radio to be careful of the hill. When I got to the top of the hill, no vehicle in sight and I was right on its tail. No car overturned, no crash, no taillights, nothing. Calling off the pursuit I continued across the highway, south, and turned on my spotlight to check the couple of access roads that went into a wooded area on the west side of the road. The only place the car could be hiding. I went back and forth two or three times across the area, again, nothing. I could clearly see each road, no car.

A week later I received word through an informant that the vehicle I had chased had a large drug shipment in it for delivery. The driver was heavily armed. According to the informant, the car had pulled into one of those lanes, backed in. The way he described my actions driving back and forth, it had to be true that I was seen from the very lanes which I checked but saw nothing. I was then told the driver had a high-powered rifle with a scope and my head was lined up in his sights. The driver had determined that if I spotted him and started to pull into where he was parked, I was dead. The total distance between me and where the car would have been was less than 50 yards. You tell me. Why I did not see the car and go toward it?

A second event happened on the opposite side of the world almost two decades later. The town, Tuzla, Bosnia, again winter and this time high atop one of the mountains upon which this section of Tuzla sits. I had travelled up the narrow winding road in a large blue van belonging to the missionary, Brad Collins, who ran a hockey ministry in Sarajevo and in Tuzla. My wife, Karin, and I were there in our role in missionary care in support of Brad. Along with a Bosnian pastor from Tuzla, we had gone to the very pinnacle of this mountaintop where there was a small neighborhood of shacks housing squatting Roma’s (gypsy’s we would call them, a term offensive to this tribal group of people. They are not, as the name might suggest actually Romanian but  originating “ in the Punjab region of northern India as a nomadic people and entered Europe between the eighth and tenth centuries C.E. They were called “Gypsies” because Europeans mistakenly believed they came from Egypt. This minority is made up of distinct groups called “tribes” or “nations.””[i]

We visited with friends in one of these small homes and when we took our leave we found that due to the narrowness of the road, the size of the van and slippery pavement, turning to go back the way we had come was not an option. We proceeded the only way possible down the road in the dark of night. The freezing rain made it nearly impossible to see on the dark mountainside. I was in the front passenger seat and suddenly I heard myself exclaim to Brad to ‘STOP!’ I had no idea why, but I had a ‘bad feeling’. I got out and started walking ahead of us and soon found that had we continued another hundred yards or so we would have gone off the side of a cliff. The road had given way. No barriers. No markers. No lights. No road. Just a steep, several hundred foot, drop. We tried to back up the slight incline we were on. The van spun every which way and no matter how we tried to push or plan, we were going nowhere. On the hillsides around us were a few houses, all dark. Well past the bedtime of most of these folks, I suppose.

Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina

In utter desperation, and I mean desperation, as I slowly walked along the driver’s side of the van in the road, balancing myself against the van, I simply said, “Lord, we need help now.”

I came around the back of the van and there stood four or five men who had not been there seconds before. Every house around us was still dark. The men pushed the van back to a place where it could be turned at a flat spot on the side of the road. With the vehicle turned, we could go back to town from the way we had originally come. As soon as the van was ready to reboard, I turned to thank the men profusely. They were not there. They were not walking away. They were not just behind a bush (if there was one). They were gone. You may think I’m rowing my boat with only one oar, but I know what I saw, and I know angels walk among us.

Just thought I’d share that with you this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. You can rest assured that what the Bible says is true and God’s angels have been given charge over you.

God bless.


[i]
encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/roma

Who’s Bringing the Coal?

The Faith of a Child

My brother Rodney, eleven years my senior, has had a wonderful distinction for the last twenty years or so. In part because of his age, but mostly due to his striking resemblence to one who has gone by the names of St. Nicolaus,  Pere Noel, Shèngdànlǎorén, Grandpa Frost, Kris Kringle, and, of course, Santa Claus, children everywhere he goes see him as Father Christmas. Even in the summer, children asked him if he was Santa on vacation. To all of my children and grandchildren, Rod is very affectionately known as Uncle HoHo.

It was not that any of my children or grand one’s believed Rod to be Santa… the knew it! They never hesitated to tell friends their uncle was the one and the only, absolutely true Santa Claus.

As warm and touching as that simple fact can be, it causes some issues down the road. It was that place in the road where my daughter hit a very large, lump in the throat kind of, chuckhole just yesterday. You see, Uncle HoHo is soon to shuffle of his mortal coil and when such news reached the ears of my grandson, who, at eight years old, has the logical mind of a master engineer; aware of concepts far beyond his years while yet keeping about him his own childlike faith, he despaired.

After considering the consequences of the passing of his dear great-uncle, he queried his mother, catching her more than a little off guard.

 “How will Christmas come with no one to bring the small children their presents? Even the naughhty children, who will deliver them their coal?”

Some form of this question has likely been considered across the centuries and there is no way to know what a long ago mother might have said to her inquisitive child. Different movies and stories have adopted some reasonable, and some not-so-reasonable, solutions. One such effort was the movie: The Santa Clause. Tim Allen’s character had to not just take on the job of Santa but become Santa including beard, belly and baked cookies. It was a recipe for comedy! Thank goodness there are always wise elves nearby to assist the novice maker of merry.

As long as there are children with hearts full of love and wonder, whose minds are not shackled by the weight of this world, there will be Santa and the Christmas of the Norseland, images of a red coat and white fur, gifts to children in all cultures and traditions. His name will be different depending on the GPS coordinates in the dashboard of the sleigh. Santa will always know the hearts of the children and, if any child ever does deserve a lump of coal on such a festive day, I’m sure Santa will deliver it, though I suspect it would be a first!

When it comes to the true meaning of Christmas, nothing will ever stop it from coming. Our Heavenly Father has seen to that from the dawn of time when He planned the first nativity to bring the Good News to all people. “For unto you, is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

That message, the message of Christmas will forever be remembered and celebrated throughout eternity yet to come. For those who take time in these days to remember the Christ-child, Christmas will always be a celebration of hope, joy and peace. Of those promises, my grandson need not fret for God, Himself, has made it to be so.

In the spirit of Christmas and to honor the devotion Rod had to sharing the joy of Santa and Christmas with children and adults everywhere, I am asking you to make a tax deductible donation to Legacy of Honor, a 501c3 to assist veterans, first responders and their families with any need they might have. You can make your donation on-line at: http://www.honorthelegacy.org Thank you and may God bless you this year with a very Merry Christmas and a love-filled New Year!

GOLDEN SILENCE

REFLECTIONS at a BEDSIDE WHEN NIGHT COMES

Golden Silence

It seems to happen between two people who have grown close. Not necessarily intimately, like husband and wife, although they are primary examples of such communication. It can happen between siblings, often twins, but any siblings close enough in heart. It happens to some cops. Long-time patrol partners who have depended upon one another for their very lives. Cops who have spent countless hours together sharing every possible human emotion from exhilarating laughter to darkest fear. This communication is, in its own way, an extra-sense. Not meaning, one sense more than you need, as in ‘extra’ but extra or outside of the normal senses. Another term could be a supernatural sense. This communication is golden.

Many agree that mothers have a supernatural sense – something that tells them ahead of an incident something is afoot. This sense always involves those who are close in heart.

Veteran cops develop what’s called, cop-sense. This is an ability to know that trouble is near. There is no immediate reasoning for the feeling the cop gets, but the hair stands up on the back of the neck and your ‘spider senses’ begin to tingle. It is much easier for me to share times when it has happened than to try to explain how.

So that brings us to a seventh or eighth sense, depending on how you explain other unexplainable communications between humans and the unseen world. The Bible speaks a good bit about the goings on-line a dimension we as humans cannot perceive. Why not some mystical, though not evil, goings on through the mist, the veil that seems to linger right before us close enough to touch. Touch it we cannot; even though it seems touchable. Yet it is just surreal enough to be able to laugh off when goaded by those who scoff at such things.

For those readers senior enough to recall him, Rod Serling had a name for it. “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call the Twilight Zone.”

There are a plethora of explanations among the followers of JK Rowling as to why Muggles cannot see the magical, mystical beings and things that live in parallel dimensions with their world. From the disguising acts by some mystical creatures to the bureaucratic actions of the Ministry of Magic to  cover-up such knowledge, the explanations abound. Yet one explanation better matches our non-fantasy world and our inability to clearly understand what goes on beyond us. Why do some seem to comprehend such communication and others do not? “… the implication is that they are actually paying more attention to the world around them. Possibly because through magic they are more connected to it.” Putting away the fantastic realm of Rowling, let’s return to a real world in which inexplicable communication truly exists.

Perhaps  that which we dub a new sense is not a new sense at all. It is the attentive and focused minds of those who seem to understand it.

A mother senses danger for her child because she is attuned to know it. Couples grasp their partner’s thoughts because, out of love, or shared time together, they have come to focus upon it and then anticipate it. A cop on the beat has a premonition of trouble. It is not so much they have mystically perceived it, but they have travelled a similar route before, and experience has opened their minds to sense it.

That brings us back to what I have called, the Golden Silence. No, it is not the first few moments as you sit back in your easy chair just after the grandchildren have left with their parents. This is a silence so rare; it is golden. It isn’t really a silence, though, at all.

It is a golden time filled with communication, feeling, and understanding. There is in it compassion and love, sadness, and grief. There can be joy and intense happiness all encapsulated in this golden silence. Its rarity is its greatest treasure for if it were frequent, it would become common. Golden silence is anything but common.

I experienced golden silence just tonight. It was what has brought pen to paper for me to share the thought with you. Okay, more like cursor to electronic page then pen to paper.

It came between my oldest brother and I. Eleven years apart in age, we were closer than twins at times. Our bonds were forged over a chess board in a small kitchen on Sunday afternoons. Forged during countless hours in a patrol car together, one a cop the other a young brother eager to become like his senior. It was forged  sharing the pains in life and the ravages of heartbreak and anger, of loss and love. Forged in recent years across a nursing home room which, too, was full of heartbreak and love. Sealed by memories shared and family ties which remain strong, this closeness brought us to this night. The phone call from the nurses’ station at the nursing home suggesting I come, though the hour late. There was cause for serious concern and it was time to by-pass the rules and bring two human beings who love each other dearly into touching distance, regardless of bureaucrats’ edicts.

I could easily mis-quote Dr. Seuss here. “I sat there with Rodney. We sat there we two. And we thought how we wished there were something we could do.” But there really wasn’t any misgivings about opportunities missed. There was just silence. Golden silence when we both knew exactly what the other was thinking and there was no need to utter a single word. To try to speak it would be to ruin it. The communication was simple. It was direct. It was silent. It was golden. It was love shared.

Many agree that mothers have a supernatural sense – something that tells them ahead of an incident something is afoot. This sense always involves those who are close in heart.

Veteran cops develop what’s called, cop-sense. This is an ability to know that trouble is near. There is no immediate reasoning for the feeling the cop gets, but the hair stands up on the back of the neck and your ‘spider senses’ begin to tingle. It is much easier for me to share times when it has happened than to try to explain how.

So that brings us to a seventh or eighth sense, depending on how you explain other unexplainable communications between humans and the unseen world. The Bible speaks a good bit about the goings on in a dimension we as humans cannot perceive. Why not some mystical, though not evil, goings on through the mist, the veil that seems to linger right before us close enough to touch? Touch it we cannot; even though it seems touchable. Yet it is just surreal enough to be able to laugh off when goaded by those who scoff at such things.

For those readers senior enough to recall him, Rod Serling had a name for it.  “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call the Twilight Zone.”

There are a plethora of explanations among the followers of JK Rowling as to why Muggles cannot see the magical, mystical beings and things that live in parallel dimensions with their world. From the disguising acts by some mystical creatures to the bureaucratic actions of the Ministry of Magic to  cover-up such knowledge, the explanations abound. Yet one explanation better matches our non-fantasy world and our inability to clearly understand what goes on beyond us. Why do some seem to comprehend such communication and others do not? “… the implication is that they are actually paying more attention to the world around them. Possibly because through magic they are more connected to it.” Putting away the fantastic realm of Rowling, let’s return to a real world in which inexplicable communication truly exists.

Perhaps  that which we dub a new sense is not a new sense at all. It is the attentive and focused minds of those who seem to understand it.

A mother senses danger for her child because she is attuned to know it. Couples grasp their partner’s thoughts because, out of love, or shared time together, they have come to focus upon it and then anticipate it. A cop on the beat has a premonition of trouble. It is not so much they have mystically perceived it, but they have travelled a similar route before, and experience has opened their minds to sense it.

That brings us back to what I have called, the Golden Silence. No, it is not the first few moments as you sit back in your easy chair just after the grandchildren have left with their parents. This is a silence so rare; it is golden. It isn’t really a silence, though, at all.

It is a golden time filled with communication, feeling, and understanding. There is in it compassion and love, sadness, and grief. There can be joy and intense happiness all encapsulated in this golden silence. Its rarity is its greatest treasure for if it were frequent, it would become common. Golden silence is anything but common.

I experienced golden silence just tonight. It was what has brought pen to paper for me to share the thought with you. Okay, more like cursor to electronic page then pen to paper.

It came between my oldest brother and I. Eleven years apart in age, we were closer than twins at times. Our bonds were forged over a chess board in a small kitchen on Sunday afternoons. Forged during countless hours in a patrol car together, one a cop the other a young brother eager to become like his senior. It was forged  sharing the pains in life and the ravages of heartbreak and anger, of loss and love. Forged in recent years across a nursing home room which, too, was full of heartbreak and love. Sealed by memories shared and family ties which remain strong, this closeness brought us to this night. The phone call from the nurses’ station at the nursing home suggesting I come, though the hour late. There was cause for serious concern and it was time to by-pass the rules and bring two human beings who love each other dearly into touching distance, regardless of bureaucrats’ edicts.

I could easily mis-quote Dr. Seuss here. “I sat there with Rodney. We sat there we two. And we thought how we wished there were something we could do.” But there really wasn’t any misgivings about opportunities missed. There was just silence. Golden silence when we both knew exactly what the other was thinking and there was no need to utter a single word. To try to speak it would be to ruin it. The communication was simple. It was direct. It was silent. It was golden. It was love shared.