Fighting Off the Wolves

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”[i] The thirteen colonies  unanimously endorsed the Declaration of Independence which spells out the reasons the colonies felt compelled to break from English rule, knowing that it would come to war. The vast majority of the men of the Continental Congress that drafted the Declaration would consider themselves Christian or members of the universal church.[ii]

The Laws of Nature, as understood by the writers of the Declaration means that “all people have inherent rights, conferred not by act of legislation but by God, nature, or reason. Natural law theory can also refer to theories of ethics, theories of politics, theories of civil law, and theories of religious morality.”[iii] In God’s relationship with His creation, according to Thomas Aquinas, He placed within each human a realization of natural law which teaches the person that “good is to be done and pursued and evil is to be avoided.”[iv] A mistake man makes, according to Aquinas is to believe that natural law, because of its name is non-religious but rather it is an instrument of God which helps draw true believers to salvation in Christ while also arguing implicitly against false religions.

If Natural Law and Nature’s God entitles humans to assume the powers of political sovereignty and separate from other political powers it is the responsibility of those seeking separation to state their specific reasons. A general consensus of the need for separation will benefit the fledgling country or political entity and its leaders should attempt to avert any opposition to their cause through reason, when possible.  

One such reason for which such separation is demanded is the physical threats of death inferred and consummated against Christians by political leaders and national powers. This can extend as well to the evil done in the name of a national power which is threatening the same and even committing murder against non-Christians. Christians understand a responsibility for protecting all persons and in so doing are doing good in the Name of Christ.  Good is to be done and evil avoided (Aquinas).

The logic of such an argument for the use of all legitimate means, including war, against the offending realms must then be weighed against the biblical commands to honor political leaders. Paul writes in Romans 13, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.”[v]

It is believed by many that the creation of the United States through the Revolutionary War was divinely blessed by God. In the Twentieth Century, most who sided with Allied Powers against the mass murderers of the Third Reich and the Japanese Imperial forces believed their cause to be just and true. They believed their cause to be blessed by God and many believed that their protection of the Nation of Israel and Jews the world over was divinely orchestrated and victory was assured. How does that square against Paul’s writing that occurred during a time when the Roman government was sending Christians of all ages to be torn apart by vicious lions and gruesome deaths in  spectacular arenas?

Was Paul declaring a submissive attitude or a respectful attitude and what is the difference? An examination of the Greek verb phrase be subject in the Strong’s Concordance, is defined as:

ποτάσσω hupŏtassō, hoop-ot-as’-so; from G5259 and G5021; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey:—be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.

An explanatory example of the verb phrase is:

“a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.[vi]

The question comes, is Paul directing his submission command to the church or to individual Christians in their daily walk? The statement Let every soul is a clear answer to this question. How does that play out in ‘real life?’ Let’s review one simple biblical event that creates a conundrum for us in this discussion.

When God, through His angel, released Peter from prison and he fled after making himself known to the church in the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother, was he not breaking the law and not submitting to government? According to the biblical record in Acts 12, the church was praying for Peter’s release and God answered  their prayer. There are more examples of Christians fleeing persecution in the New Testament. If they were to submit in the way we are defining it here, shouldn’t they simply have gone to the officials and stood in line to be executed rather than fleeing? Recall that in the 1st Century, when the church fled Jerusalem, God used it to spread the Good News across the region. Peter broke the law yet God ordained it and used it for His good.

Evil seems to be ever present in our society. How can a true Christian stand by and watch immorality such as mass arrests, deportations to concentration camps, and murder of people for any reason continue? Is there no command to combat evil?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

any disobedience is allowable only if a person is fully convinced that we stand at the eschaton and that this state is actually the particularized embodiment of Antichrist, which is to say totally of evil, the very incarnation of the demonic (which, by the way, is a judgment I would think sinful human beings are hardly qualified to make). And, Bonhoeffer continues, if that state is Antichrist, then Christians dare not render it obedience in anything. If the state is not Antichrist, total obedience; if it is Antichrist, total disobedience–these are the only options Bonhoeffer considers. Thus he leaves himself no room for the other biblical command about our obeying God rather than man.[vii]

During World War II, one Christian pastor in Germany knew he could not just stand by and watch. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Vernard Eller, writing on the works of Bonhoeffer, makes this conclusion based on  earlier Bonhoeffer’s earlier writings:

The passages Eller uses to sustain the idea that Bonhoeffer felt so strongly about simply submitting to government were all written before Bonhoeffer became part of a plot to assassinate Hitler. That is an obvious indication that he had come to a point where he either, believed Hitler to be an anti-Christ if not the Anti-Christ, or he had come to rethink Romans 12:21. I will illustrate what I mean there in a moment.

I think perhaps Eller would have done well to explore further one of his own earlier points.  The conclusion that Bonhoeffer left no room for anything but submission and no room for the commands to obey God rather than man. Earlier in his thesis, he quoted Bonhoeffer, “The whole of Paul’s doctrine of the State in Romans 13 is controlled by the introductory admonition: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). It is immaterial whether the power be good or bad, what matters is that the Christian should overcome evil by good.[viii]”  He quotes him again on the point of the world versus Christianity. “The world exercises dominion by force and Christ and Christians conquer by service”[ix] In this treatment of Bonhoeffer and the view on what Eller describes as Christian Anarchists, it is important to understand Eller’s own pro-liberal viewpoint. He writes, “I am not surprised to find a conservative, legitimizing tendency surfacing in Bonhoeffer’s thought.” Rather than see Bonhoeffer’s re-thinking of his position as growing in an understanding of the full meaning of scripture, Eller sees it as Bonhoeffer’s conservative values twisting the Word to fit the conservative narrative and supporting action against the state. An analysis of the change in his position is warranted to help us better understand what our role should be as Christians in the 21t Century.

Let us go back to our original question of how revolution, civil disobedience, the work of undergrounds to save the lives of hundreds, if not thousands upon thousands, in the days of slavery in the U.S. and opposing Hitler in WWII. Are these actions legitimate when it comes to Romans 13? The entire book of Romans, remember, is one text, not written in chapters or in numbered versus when Paul penned it to the church in Rome. So, one needs to read the letter in  whole and, in this case, go back a few paragraphs to what we know as Romans 12:21.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”[x] Overcoming evil with good is a command from Paul to the church. I am not playing a game of semantics here to justify something that would be illegitimate for a Christian to become involved. A misapplication of this command would be to infuse a political change of power only to replace one set of politics for another, neither God-honoring or divinely ordained. Seldom is that an answer and it does not fit in the schematic we have here of a Christian doing good in the Name of Christ to overcome evil. A Christian’s allegiance is always to God not to party.

When the cattle cars are lined up and your neighbor’s family is being herded away with certain death the end result, finding a way to stop that or prevent their arrest is doing good. Sending a runaway slave farther along the Underground Railway is doing good but against the law. When we can say our actions are in the Name of Christ  and not in the name of the GOP, we are on the right track. We must never wrap the cross in the flag. Hitler did until finally his flag replaced the cross. The question comes to each individual member of Christ’s body and to the body as a whole. Church leadership must be certain of their own theological understanding of Romans 13. To read into it a one-way only with submission the singular path and no contextual connection to Romans 12 is to err in such a way as to leave too many believers struggling with how they are to contend against evil in their own roles.

The church in America and around the world showed itself susceptible to the manipulation by governments during the recent pandemic when isolation, closures, edicts of masks and physical separation all but silenced the church for over a year. Sadly, the silence of the churches sent a message loud and clear. Driven by a narrow focus on Romans 13 and fueled by the fears of the congregants, the churches capitulated.

The church, not simply the pastors and leaders but every member of the Body of Christ must know scripture and must know how to read it correctly. Proof-texting, of which some may accuse me even in this instance, by taking one set of verses outside of their context to support a cultural stand is dangerous, divisive, and perhaps even, demonically driven. The whole counsel of God, the Bible in full must be brought to bear on such serious decisions as when to obey God and not man, not government. Our founding fathers took their role very seriously and much prayer and much contention came as they argued the merits of their actions. Each knew they could be killed under the current law for the insurrection they were planning. It was, without a doubt, treason under English law. Under God’s law, it was the right thing to do. Can we today, draw our line in the sand and say, ‘to here and no further for in all things I will obey God before man?’

Allow me to close  with a movie quote. You knew you would not get all the way through this sincere effort to bring today’s struggles with evil and the response of the church to bare without at least one  good movie connection! It comes from the movie, The Patriot. Reverend Oliver surprises everyone when he prepares to join the Revolution. His response is timely. “A shepherd must tend his flock, and at times, fight off the wolves.”[xi]

Reverend Oliver in The Patriot

[i] https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

[ii] Universal church is not to be confused with the Universalist Church which accepts all gods, all religions. The Universal Church is the body of true believers, followers of Christ across time, across all political and denominational boundaries that are the hands of Christ reaching out to the world in His Name.

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law

[iv] https://taylormarshall.com/2014/06/thomas-aquinas-natural-law-5-points.html

[v] https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=government&version=NKJV

[vi] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g5293/nkjv/tr/0-1/

[vii] http://www.hccentral.com/eller12/part6.html

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2012:21&version=KJV

[xi] https://quotegeek.com/quotes-from-movies/the-patriot/8024/

FATHER is a VERB

This Father’s Day I have been thinking a great deal about my own father, Ralph Riggs, who went to be with his Lord back in 2000. It is hard to believe that 21 years have come and gone. I was always glad that Dad did not have to be around for 9/11. His heart would have been broken. A survivor of D-Day, he had seen enough.

I have his picture in my study and in my bedroom. I say good morning when I see it and I often long for one more time to talk with him. When I think about Dad, I begin to understand that FATHER is a verb as well as a noun. Let me explain.

A verb denotes action and, of course, there can be a great deal of activity for dads. That isn’t exactly the activity I was thinking of, however, Being a dad is a learning process. If you are a father, think about what it was like the very first time  you realized the implication that you were about to be a father and how this huge weight seemed to appear on your shoulders. It wasn’t an oppressive weight, but a weight nonetheless and it remains there as long as you have children, no matter how old they are.

You immediately realized how totally unprepared you were to be a father. And then the day came when you laid your eyes for the very first time on your son or daughter. You looked on their face and, if walking on Cloud 9 is a real possibility, that is what you were doing.

Over the years, maybe more children have come and so do the days when you watch them begin to crawl and soon to walk. The first time your toddler reaches up and takes hold of your little finger and walks beside you, it is a feeling you never want to lose. Then, there are the hugs. When they are little and they haven’t seen you for a while, maybe all of 30 minutes, they come running to you and hold you in a hug that has got to be the same feeling we will have when Jesus hugs us.

There are the prayers for your child and they change drastically over the years. There are the nights when you cannot sleep and you stare out into the night sky wondering what you are supposed to do to make things right when you messed up big time. The nights that tear at you when you realize maybe you’re not the sheepdog you are supposed to be.

Hopefully, God has blessed you with a help-mate, a MOTHER for your children who seems to be the glue that holds it all together. If you have been given a godly wife, you are, of all men, most blessed. I thank God for my wife every day.

After many years, if you’re lucky, your children are still telling you ‘I love you” when you talk with them and they still actually want your advice on something. You see them grow into young men and women and you realize how much of their success is due to God’s grace and not much, at all, to your wisdom as their father. You thank God every day that He has your children in His hands and at some point you realize they aren’t your children at all, really. They are God’s children and He has trusted you to raise them and teach them, prepare them for what He has for them in this life. It breaks your heart when you think that they are missing out on what God has for them and you are elated beyond compare when you see God blessing them. Father is a verb.

Perhaps I have figured out why being a grandfather is so great. You finally get to settle in a little bit and enjoy all the growth you have had being a dad. Father is a verb because it is an action – it is continual growth. You never stop growing as you go from father to grandfather. As grandfather, you have just enough wisdom given you that you can watch your son or sons-in-law grow as fathers and share their joy in the good times and help them with the weight of the hard times.

Rejoice in the sunshine of the smiles of your children. Thank God that He will continue to hold them in His hands when your time on this earth is over. Praise God that He has blessed you with one of the greatest blessings in life, being a DAD.

ON THESE THINGS

OR… 21st CENTURY ‘WAIT WATCHERS’

I see you… you’re sitting over there waiting. It seems like we spend so much time waiting. We wait for our ride. We wait for the next meeting to start or the class lecture to begin. We wait for the ‘waiter’ at the restaurant. We wait for the nurse to check our weight. We wait…

I’m not certain if anyone has done a study on this idiosyncrasy we have developed when we are waiting. I am sure it has some cultural nuances but more similarities than differences cross-culturally dependent on the modernity of one’s surroundings. I also suspect the time which lapses between when a wait begins and this thing which we do almost subconsciously is initiated has decreased dramatically in the last two years.

What I observe in Americans, as I’m not traveling as much any more for a plethora of reasons, is also something I do. Like most, I do it when waiting and without even thinking about it. By now you may know of that which I speak.

Let me pose it to you as a question and I want you to NOT answer it now. I want you to, yes, wait until the next time you have to wait for someone or something and then, when you catch yourself doing it… consider how long it took you to begin. Better still, ask someone with whom you spend a good deal of time to watch for you to do it and to time how long it took you before you began. That may be a better measure. I’ll get back to that concept in a moment.

What is the idiosyncrasy, the thing which we do almost subconsciously? Check our cellphones. Yep, the second we have to sit and wait for something or someone, we pull out our cellphones and look at them. We are probably not expecting any major news item, or phone call, or text. We just need to look at our phone. It didn’t ding to tell us there was a message. It just draws us to look because what was on it the last time we looked has changed and we haven’t seen it yet.  We constantly check our cellphones and when we do it, we rob ourselves of real human interaction.

Before Cellphones

I believe some of us do it to avoid real human interaction. Think about it. You are standing in a line or in a small group waiting. Most, if not all, of the people around you are unfamiliar to you. In ‘old days’ we simply avoid eye contact, maybe look at our newspaper. (I’ll explain that to those who have never seen one or maybe suggest you watch an old Sam Spade detective movie and watch the private investigators hide behind a newspaper while surveilling someone, usually in a hotel lobby… nowadays, a spy cannot hide behind a cellphone like they could a newspaper!)

Avoiding eye contact, though, is uncomfortable if you don’t have something at which to stare. Of course, once you make eye contact with a stranger standing a few feet from you, you are forced to acknowledge that they exist and that you can see them. Then they are forced to return the acknowledgement and now, it’s blown. You both know the other exists and the other knows you know they exist so you almost have to speak to them. You have to use real words and your voice and make a facial expression to coincide with the words so as to communicate with them. WOW! If you had just looked down at your cellphone earlier, you could have avoided this whole uncomfortable situation! You are now perhaps forced to get to learn a little bit about someone you did not know before.

This may come as a surprise but you may find that in meeting someone like this, in human form, with a body and a smile and eyes that respond back to your smile, there could be a new friend or at least an acquaintance. It may be someone interesting and enjoyable.

Even better, they may be someone who needs to know Jesus.

“Oh no!”, you say. “You’re not taking me down that evangelization path where I have to give five points and a prayer to everyone I meet!”

NOPE. Maybe they just need someone to say “Hello” to them and smile at them so they know they exist. You’ve heard the story, I’m certain, about the man who was walking to the bridge to commit suicide and decided that if one person smiled at him on his way, he would not kill himself. I don’t know if that story is true but what if it was and that one person was the person standing in line in front of you at the grocery store and they happened to turn and look at you? Would they get a smile or would you be staring at your cellphone?

I have another thought on the subject and that is the actual reason for this message and its title, but before that, one quick rabbit trail about eye contact. If you are a parent or grandparent of a child – any age – even grown with children of their own, but especially the littlest of the brood, answer this. Think about the last time that they came to you and just had to tell you something at that moment, it could not wait another second! They just had to tell you something so important! Did you stop whatever you were doing, (like staring at your cellphone) and look in their eyes as they told it to you or did you just tolerate it for a second and go, ‘un-huh’? If you did the latter, I guarantee you they walked away knowing you didn’t hear them and they suspect you don’t care about what they have to say. What would it have cost you to really listen and be there? Imagine what you and they would have gained if you had!

Am I important to you?

Okay, that was a freebie thing to think about. Back to the real purpose.

Even if we are not using our cellphones to avoid human interaction, we may be robbing ourselves of important uses of our wait time.

 Are you like me and get every single red light?

WOW! Don’t you hate that! All that wasted time waiting for the light to change! Once, when my children were small, pre-school age but very verbal (too verbal sometimes), I was behind a car at a light and the light changed to green. Almost immediately, my child blurted out from the back seat in a voice determined to be heard by the driver in front of us… “What are you waiting on, the Spirit to move you?” Oops… I was teaching impatience. At least it wasn’t, “There’s only one shade of green!” or something worse!

I started trying to use the ‘wait’ time to talk to God or at least think about Him. For someone I love and to whom I owe so much, I spend so little of my day thinking about Him or talking to Him… I’m getting better at that.

Some of our wait time would be great prayer time. It could be a time to simply think about God, too. Maybe, our wait time should be time when we fill our minds with the good things in life and not the fake news or gossip texts or the less than appropriate jokes we share. (I use the pronoun ‘we’ for a reason).

Do you know what got me thinking about this? I came across a small crucifix necklace that I really liked the look of and on it was engraved the well-known Philippians 4:13 passage, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” This one is sold by Heavenly Divine Company and it got my attention because of some of the things I’m experiencing right now. I thought, ‘You know, that might be a good witness statement and a conversation starter, as well as a good reminder for me.’

So, I went back to Philippians and read the chapter wanting to make certain I wasn’t taking something Paul wrote out of context and retro-fitting it to my current day thinking rather than Paul’s intended meaning. When I did that, I came upon these words from Paul:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV biblegateway.com)

How different would our moods, our attitudes, our human interactions, and our listening to our children be if we did what Paul suggested – commanded- rather than staying buried in our cellphones during our wait times?

Maybe we should think on these things.

I said earlier I would get back to you about measuring how long it takes us to look at our cellphone when we suddenly have ‘down time’ or ‘wait time’. What if there were an app for that?  Wouldn’t that be an interesting bit of data to see when you look at your daily usage? Just thinking out loud on that one!

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!

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

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.