Archive for the ‘life’ Category

The commons; sacred and secular

January 26, 2020

Here’s a view into a commons area at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv . . . one of the first noteworthy scenes I noticed after stepping off the plane.

CommonsBG

Of all the airport scenes I have ever seen in travels across this world, this view seems to be more accommodating than most. The sight imparted to me a feeling of community, rather than a random passing of jet-travelers.

The late afternoon sun may have lent some bright ambience from above to color my perception in a favorable way.

The next morning, today,  I notice this building on the street where we are staying in Jerusalem.

StPaulChurch

Today I woke up recalling some words from an ancient poet who lived near here.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn;

look to Abraham, your father,
and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
and I blessed him and made him many.

The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

“Listen to me, my people;
hear me, my nation:
Instruction will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations.

My righteousness draws near speedily,
my salvation is on the way,
and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
and wait in hope for my arm.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
my righteousness will never fail.

“Hear me, you who know what is right,
you people who have taken my instruction to heart:
Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals
or be terrified by their insults.

For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last forever,
my salvation through all generations.”

Awake, awake, arm of the Lord,
clothe yourself with strength!
Awake, as in days gone by,
as in generations of old.
Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces,
who pierced that monster through?

Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over?

Those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Down toward the bottom of this text selection, the poet asks:

Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over?

While modern skeptics dismiss the possibility of such divine interventions to make the paths of faith-based emigrants . . . I was reminded, upon reading these words mentioned above, of a certain group of distressed 20th-century people of the book who, when being threatened with massive malicious extinction, took matters into their own hands and . . .

        “made a road in the depths of the sea”

. . . so that they could exodus from Nazi hell and move forward to carve out a place in the wilderness, on the other side of the Mediterranean: A new-old land in which to prosper, instead of being auschwitzed into oblivion.

IsraelEduc

Pretty amazing stuff on this first bright Sunday morning in the old country.

Glass half-Full

Be on the lookout.

January 19, 2020

T’was many and many a moon ago, in troth several millennia ago, Mo met Owi in the desert. It was quite a sight he saw. In a bush that burns but does not burn out, Owi Onewhois told Mo to take his shoes off.

Many moon later Owi stepped in again but he got in trouble with some of the higher ups and so they put an end to him, or so they thought. Actually he made a lively comeback in the most significant accomplishment in homo sapiens history.

After that Owi, or JC as we like to call him managed to find HS abode in the hearts and minds of many a man and woman of good will.

After a while a stupendous institution was built up in his wake and it was quite impressive for a long time. Millions of folks, rich and poor, managed to find a place of service and some satisfaction in the structured arrangement.

After about a millenium and a half some corrective measures had to be taken to get the institute back on tract. Be that as it may.

By ’n by some really smart fellers managed to extinguish the light of JCOwi, or so they thought, and they managed to drum up some new societal structures to take the place of his worldwide institute and that worked out ok for awhile, or so they thought, until they found themselves in one hell of a mess, after a dandy VIP  got himself shot in sarayavo.

Buy and buy, when all that mess had blown over, folks everywhere found themselves in one hell of a dilemma. Not to worry.

Mx had figured out that if all the prolies would take hold of the machine and run it real equal-like they could get the grand clusterfk worked out. Good luk with that.

Well that didn’t work out so well either. In fact many many millions of sapiens were squelched out in the gulags. Furthermore, that was during and after many millions had been squelched in the aushwitz desecration that hitler had hoisted on us in his notable but ultimately failed (thank g_d) blitzkreeg final solution to fk the world because we wouldn’t buy his paintings.

Meanwhile, some EMC2 afficiando had figured out the secret structure of the universe that held untold and untested amps of power in its sway from day to day and from age to age and it would take a real sage segment of humanity to keep the thing under wraps so it didn’t set off one grand worldwide clusterfk.

So far so good on that front, although we have had a few close calls, or so I am told.

Lighten

Meanwhile back at the ranch, FS figured out that the great void that failed to fill men and womens souls would have to be filled, lest homo sapiens find themselves in existential debilitation and g_d forbid annihilation.

Along the same lines, JB figured out that the Mx crowd, now called postmods, had devised a diversion to distract prolish hearts and minds from Mx’s VladStalnMow bloodthirsty sacrilege disastrous attempt to make the human condition work. Blah blah blah is what the postmods later had to say, as through the crumpled ironcurtain trouble and post-wall rubble they shifted their emphasis from taking over the means of production to taking over the means of seduction.

The story is still being told, and history plays out. But watch out. This world is full of danger-lurks. We may need a little postg_d help before its all over with. Be on the lookout for OwiJC.

King of Soul

Blue Ridge Mountain Home

December 20, 2019

Driving in bright, brisk December sunshine, winding slowly along a Blue Ridge mountain holler road, I arrived yesterday afternoon at the house address that I had earlier noted.

Turning off the car engine silenced radio reportage about the impending impeachment, which is neither here nor there. I am looking for an old fella that I recently read about in a locally written book.

The house is small, light green, near the side of the road, very neat and compact, meticulously maintained.I  This home is the kind of modest dwelling that was being built around these parts in the 1950’s, but it has been recently updated with vinyl siding. My carpenter eye notices the perfectly installed exterior. Nice job.

An attractive, low stone wall just a few steps from the roadway affords a stairway down to a welcoming front porch.  The front door is absolutely white, six-paneled proper in sunshine. It begs knocking, and so I do.

The lady who opens it is thin, with gray hair. She has a classic Scotch-looking mountain face, pleasantly aged with complimentary wrinkles. I forget now what she said, but it was some kind of greeting. I offered her my concise explanation for my visit this afternoon.

“Hi. My name is Carey Rowland. I’ve been doing some historical research—for a novel I am writing— about the Cone estate, and the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway through it back in the 1940’s or ’50’s.  I recently read an interview, published in 1997, with Mr. Paul Moody, who, I understand used to work for Bertha Cone.”

“I’m his wife.” she said

Well, gollee, I’ve come to the right place.

This was a pleasant surprise. I’m still new at this historical research stuff. The last few doors I had recently knocked on were run-down abandoned places with nobody home. A little confused about exactly what my next question should be, I blurted:

“Is he alive?”

“He’s right in here. You wanta talk to him?”

“Yes ma-am!”

“Come on in. I’ll get him.”

And so I did, and she did.  Next thing you know, I’m looking around in this smallish, comfortably lived-in den or living room. A few seconds later, Paul walks in, smiling.

Well gollee.

“Well, what can I do for ye?” he says, pleasantly.

And so I explained a little— that I had been living around here since the early ’80’s, raising a family with my wife, and the first job I had up here was working on the Linn Cove Viaduct, which is, as you know, the missing link, in the middle of a 469-mile parkway that took fifty years to build—

And, as the old shake and bake commercial says. . . “and I helped!”

“Well, sit down,” said Paul.

Not in that chair, I thought, noticing the easy chair. That’s obviously his chair, with visual evidence of Paul’s accustomed comfort, possibly reading comfort, over years of sitting.  No sign of a TV in the room.

So I took my seat on the couch. “Thank you, sir!”

Long story short. Paul began talking about the Moses Cone Estate, on which he had been born in 1933, and thereby born into the hired help. His grandfather had been superintendent of the place back in the day— since before 1908 when Moses had died, and his father had been foreman of the apple orchard.

Paul proceeded to answer just about every question about the place that had been on my mind these last few weeks. This was becoming a very productive day, from a writerly standpoint.

He is a very pleasant fellow, full of history, and willing to talk about it. A historical fiction-writer’s dream informant. After awhile he took me back in the other rooms. He showed me the kitchen cabinets he had built, with frame-and-panel cherry doors on cherry face-frame, then took me back into the expansive laundry room, which was sunshine bright and entirely paneled with whitish, wormy pine, milled from trees that he himself had cut down.

A true mountain man, this Paul. The 16-gauge shotgun mounted over the doorway had been bequeathed to Paul from the Cone estate when Bertha died in 1947.

BRPaulmoody

Here’s Paul with his life-long wife, Margaret, who also came from a family of the hired help of the Cone estate, now the Moses Cone Memorial Park. They’re standing in front of another piece of his handiwork, filled with a lifetime of precious family mementos.

BRPMoody

After more friendly conversation and explanation, he took me out to his shop, where he had built the cabinets and the furniture and God-knows-what else.

BRmoodysaws

as far as ole folks from the Old School go, they don’t make ‘em like Paul any more.

BRmoody

And the rest is history, which you may read about in two or three years when I finish the novel . . .

Search for Blue

Winter Daydream

December 4, 2019

Having grown up in Louisiana, I moved to the Blue Ridge mountains while in my mid-20’s.

Ever since that time—the late 1970’s—I have lived, married, parented and grown steadily older in an Appalachian culture.

Truthfully though, the two cities I have lived in reflect a post-Appalachian culture.

Ole long-bearded Zeb with overalls—you don’t notice him so much anymore; he’s probably running a landscape business to service the manicured lawns of well-heeled snowbirds.  And barefoot Ellymae in threadbare calico on the front porch—she’s more likely now to be monitoring the  gas-pumps from behind a convenience store checkout.

To some extent, mountain culture has become homogenized with the dominant American obsession with superficial style and commercialism.

But not totally.

One thing that is nevertheless still quite different  from living down the mountain is the temperature. We typically see a 7-12 degree lower thermo up here.

We actually have four seasons here!

In the Deep South . . . not so much.

When this southern boy first arrived in the high country, I cultivated some romantic notions about the cold weather. I suppose this is because—in spite of the painful nipping in fingers and toes —it was such a refreshing experience after growing up in twenty-four blistering deep south summers.

The immanent—and in some ways, dreaded— arrival of our 2019-20 winter comes as no surprise.

WinterComin

This morning I woke up remembering an old song that I had written and recorded, many years ago, shortly after becoming a mountain man myself. The song is, on one level, about the coming of winter.

On another level, it is about a very noticeable shift in our American culture that has happened in my 68-year lifetime—single parenthood.

I am not one of them. But being a man married, thankfully, for forty years, and a grandfather. . . now provokes rumination about the many challenges  young parents must face in this age of temporary partnerships.

We have many more single parents in 2019 than we did back in the 1950’s-60’s when I was growing up. My old song that crept into my imagination this morning presents a romanticized image of a single mother as she contemplates past and future. In her foreground is the upcoming winter outside her window on a cold, crisp early-winter day.

Since memory of  the song seems to have popped out of nowhere this morning in my awakening dream-state, I thought sharing it with you might be something to do.

      Portrait of a Lady

Glass half-Full

Wisdom?

November 25, 2019

Perhaps my 68 years of dealing with this life’s challenges has enabled me to render a helpful opinion on an important question: what is wisdom?

Wisdom is knowing what to keep and what to throw away.

Wisdom is throwing away whatever is not useful, but disposing it in such a way that you do not make a mess for someone else to clean up.

. . . unless they are being rewarded for cleaning it up.

Wisdom is knowing what to accept, what to reject.

. . . and knowing when to wait until you’ve decided which of those two categories is appropriate in any given situation.

. . . and knowing that sometimes we don’t have time to decide . . .

good luck with that!

Wisdom is using what you have acquired to improve your own life and the life of those with whom you are in community.

Wisdom is listening;

it is also discerning, when the appropriate time comes, to suspend listening and speak.

Wisdom comes in noticing that the world is not a perfect place—there is something wrong with it.

So wisdom then requires discerning the good from evil.

. . . while understanding that there is a purpose for the presence of both in this life.

Wisdom calls us to identify what it wrong, and resist it.

And even to defeat evil when that is necessary.

Wisdom may be conceding that different persons, different people groups, have different definitions for what is good or evil.

And so therefore, in some cases, the grace to forgive wrongness may be more appropriate than judging evil with punishment,

Sometimes even defining what is really good  should be re-evaluated.

Wisdom is realizing that the complexity of this world is largely—though not totally—unexplainable, and there may be—there just may be— a God who operates at a level that is beyond our power to comprehend or measure.

. . . a God Who, at the very least, set it all in motion, as the ancient purveyors of wisdom have insisted.

There will always be someone who knows more than you do. Get used to it.

Wisdom is finding people to love.

Wisdom requires responsibility for those we love.

‘. . . and sometimes accepting responsibility for those we are unable to properly love.

Lighten

Without love we are lost forever.

Love requires sacrifice.

Wisdom means being thankful when someone has made sacrifice for you, because you have not done all this on your own.

You were getting help even when you didn’t know it.

PS. It’s not all about you.

Glass half-Full

Carbon and Silicon

November 17, 2019

Someone said that carbon gives life,

while silicon gives sand.

But now there’s buzz about carbon causing strife,

while silicon wields a magic hand.

The someone was referring to element six on the periodic table,

CarbonSilicon

because carbon provides for life a grab-bar that’s organic,

Lifemicro

while silicon fourteen, just below it, is merely able

to direct our circuits like a transistorized mechanic.

Digiboard

Now we should notice, or so I’m told . . .

carbon seems to be forsaking its own self-styled mission;

it has grown quite uppity and bold—

SmokIndust

whereas silicon swirls predictably in wave-like submission.

Sand3

Maybe we should put our silicon bots to work

to affix restraints on the unsheathed carbon beast,

so the little busybody, carbon number six—that jerk!

can’t grab control and crash our worldwide feast.

Glass half-Full

Head in the Clouds

September 10, 2019

Have you ever had  the feeling that our view of things is  somehow clouded ?

CloudDapl

It seems that we are somehow not seeing things rightly; we are missing something; we fail to read the signs of our times correctly.

I think we are similar, in some ways, to that guy the Beatles mentioned . . .

Well on the way

Head in a cloud

The man of a thousand voices

Talking perfectly loud

But nobody ever hears him 

Or the sound he appears to make 

And he never seems to notice . . .”

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the fool on the hill.

But one thing I have learned—it’s my story and I’m sticking to it— Somehow each one of us will find life easier to manage if we find a way to see the bright side of any given situation.

Because there are, you know, the storms of life that hover in our expectant travel path . . .

CloudStorm

Let’s be aware of the storms, but not let their darkness totally occlude our hope for brighter horizons to come.

To get a balanced perspective, we need to see the good and the bad in this life. And we do well to strive at  accurately evaluating how those two entities are  opposing each other in any given scenario, or . . . how they may be intertwined as some kind of difficult-to-discern mixed blessing or cluster-fuhgedaboudit.

We oughta take notice of Joni’s observation:

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, it’s clouds’ illusions I recall . . . I really don’t know clouds at all.”

So let us understand that, realistically, we do not fully know clouds—that is to say, metaphorically, life’s ups and downs—at all, even though we may believe that we’ve got it all under control.

For instance, we don’t wanna be stuck on Cloud 9 when Cloud 10 might be the better way to go!

And although many traditions may tell us of an Uncloudy Day, let’s not be sideswiped by that unexpected sidewinder that could, in this present scheme of things, drench us with unmanageable discouragement.

Although we often  catch sight of some new development— that rising cloud the size of a man’s hand—let us keep eyes trained on it long enough to anticipate whether it brings the needed  rain or just fizzles to nothing.

And let us try to evaluate what pursuits are truly helpful in this complicated life. We don’t need to be stuck, for instance, in PC mode when it could have been more advantageous to collectively store whatever good we can find in “the cloud.”

As for me, I’m hoping to, one fine day, be caught up in the clouds with the one who brought me here.

CloudBrite

I surmise that this faith expectation is probably the ultimate “looking on the bright side.”

Glass half-Full

Let us do it

September 7, 2019

Let us make love.

Let us make children.

Let us feed our children.

Let us do work to support them.

Let us teach them.

Let us make places where children can romp on grass.

Let them run and jump and romp and stomp.

Let them build treehouses.

Let them grow.

Let them learn.

Let us learn.

Let us try.

Let us fail. Let us repair and recover.

Let us do.

Let us do what is right.

Let us make stuff.

Let us make goods.

Let us craft.

Let us think.

Let us prosper.

Let us profit.

Let us do business.

Let us excel. Let us hope.

Let us cope.

Let us worship God.

Let us take care for one another.

Let us give.

Let us breathe.

Let us laugh.

Let us sing.

Let us speak.

Let us preach, teach, and reach as far as we can.

Let us keep a world where men and women can choose to do what is right.

Let us ride. Let us glide. Let us confide.

Let us hide every now and then.

Let us go; let us stay.

Let us pray.

 

Glass half-Full

what the Original artist did

July 28, 2019

While universe was expanding in all directions, Creator chose one lump and began working with it, rearranging its underneath mass so that water could rise to the surface. The hydrogen/oxygen element would move in a purposeful way instead of just sloshing around.

Creator spun that world into motion so that the sunlight which struck its surface would brighten half of world for a day while allowing the other half to return to darkness during the same interval.

Thus did this division between the lightened side of world and the darkened side establish a cycle which would become known to us as day and night.

Then Creator used the interaction of sunlight and water to introduce an earthly cycle by which water could morph between two different states: liquid and vapor. The liquid would generally flow on, and within, the surface, while the vapor would rise to celestial functions.

This was a heavenly arrangement, although it was happening on crude earth—pretty cool, definitely an improvement over the old lump. Let us just call it day and night. Makes sense to me. You?

Creator was inspired, and so, kept going with it, stirring the flowing waters, gathering them together and thus separating the water from a new thing that was emerging—dry land.

Formless

Thus did we have earth and seas. Once again. . . pretty cool, and btw, cooling; by this stage, progressive processes had definitely been set into motion to produce something worthy of a good narrative.

RockStory

But Creator didn’t stop there. Next thing you know, from out of this developing earth—this interplay between light and dark, active and passive, wet and dry—here comes a new kind of stuff having the coding wherewithal to sprout new stuff never before seen or heard of. Long story short—plant life that could and would regenerate itself on a regular purpose so that Creator could go on to bigger and better things. Awesome!

Jungle1

Through the veggies and their seeds, it was obvious that things were getting better on earth, through the continuing interplay of this very predictable, dependable alternating cycle between light and dark, day and night, active and passive, living and dying.

All in all, not bad for a day’s work, as we say out here in flyover country.

But, hey, that was just the beginning. . .

SSetBrite

Glass half-Full

Search for Blue

June 5, 2019

The Traveler’s main burden is a restless soul. He has carried it dutifully for a long time.

Traveler’s roots were deep, but not necessarily set into a specific place on this earth. Having  traversed many a mile of land and sea, this sojourner had been driven westward, in search of some destination that could not yet be clearly identified. So it might be said his roots stretched deep into life itself, rather than a place.

   At least for now.

   From a continental origin he had sailed o’er channel, into stillness and storm, outside of the norm, through  unknown , and out the other side of somewhere . . .  arriving for a season upon an ancient isle. But finding very little solace there, traveler had redirected  weary legs to ascend yet another gangplank, so that he might be transported to that great land he had heard tales of, beyond the blue.

   The seaport where he disembarked was, as it happened, a frontier for foreigners not unlike himself. They had uncovered motivations to—for whatever reason—not remain where they had begun. And so, having hung their hopes upon such vague restlessness, they undertook yet another phase of the great journey to somewhere yet to be determined.

    By ‘n by, the traveler eventually found himself ascending a long piedmont hill, and so it seemed when he had reached the top of it, the extended journey was now delivering him to a wide westward-looking vista.

    Pausing to catch breath, Travis trained his eyes on a string of  faraway ridges. Obviously high, yet . . . it seemed . . . gently-sloping. . . forested they were, and having no cragginess that he could see from here. That string of mountains  stretched like great slumbering beached whales across the entirety  of his new horizon. From  north  to south . . . blue, and blue to blue on blue, and more . . . blue.

He had never seen such a thing.

BlueRidg

So  this must be the  beginning of Search for Blue . . .