There are times when I take things for granted, thinking they will stay the same forever. Each day, just as dark blankets our neighborhood and everyone is inside their home, their porch lights come on and I walk down the hall into our bedroom. Walking over to the windows to pull down the shades, I observe the quietness and serenity that slides quietly down our street. I have done this so often that the solitude this moment presents has been taken for granted. That’s disquieting. The one thing that 28,566 complete spins on this planet has taught me is that nothing is permanent. My wife and I were watching the evening news the other night, and it was mentioned that the Columbine High School massacre happened twenty years ago (April 20, 1999). That seemed impossible to both of us. I would have guessed it happened 8 years ago. What had I done with all that time? How could I think that 20 years was only eight? For me, there is only one explanation; I take a lot of things for granted. I am of the opinion that if you assume things will always be the same, the days merge in with each other and become indistinguishable, thus nothing makes them noteworthy. I can remember as a young boy (1950’s) making the long trip from our home to visit my Aunt Letha (Mom’s sister). After a couple of hours, my brother and I would fall asleep in the backseat and by the time we awoke the car was parked in Aunt Letha’s driveway. We had absolutely no recollection of that long trip. That was the way I felt when I realized that twenty years had passed instead of eight. It is way too late for a New Year Resolution, but I am making one now. I resolve to start looking closely at the blessings in my life, to refrain from assuming that tomorrow will always be as charming as today, and to notice the laugh or smile someone makes, or the brightness in their eyes. In the King James Version of the Bible, Job 1:21 says: “The Lord Giveth and The Lord Taketh Away”. I should always keep that in mind.
I read an article recently that stated, “The average wealth of the poorer half of American households has dropped below zero in the years since the financial crisis (2008-2009). What does that mean? It means that fully half of Americans hold more combined debt than assets.” … David Leonhardt––New York Times. That is surely a depressing thing to know. I also read a while back that the average American did not have $450 in the bank and that bothered me too. I don’t really know why it does, because as a young man with a wife and two children, I would borrow from the bank to buy things our family needed, pay it off in a couple of years, and then borrow again. I showed up for work every day and tried to do a good job knowing that sooner, or later, my head would pop above the waterline. That just seemed to be the way things were supposed to work. I believe everyone should learn that lesson, it worked for me, and I have seen it work for others, so I know it is a feasible life plan. I have had some blessings along the way to help, it wasn’t all the result of my hard work. When you invest in the stock market, you may as well be standing at the card table in Las Vegas, because you are going to need some luck (I don’t believe God blesses gamblers, so I’ll just call it luck😊). The person that says, “I am who I am because of what I have done” ignores the blessings received along the way. Ernest Dimnet said, “There is not a single man who has not had great moments, has not risen to rare occasions.” I believe that is true.
My wife and I are avid bird & squirrel feeders, and we have four positioned so we can watch them during breakfast and lunch. We also have a birdbath sitting on top of a big rock so they can eat, drink and bathe all in the same place. They have a choice of shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds, suet and hummingbird sugar water. It is easily discerned that squirrels have a hierarchy and, in some respects, so do birds (big birds’ rule). At night, we have flying squirrels on one particular feeder and then, late at night, Rollo (raccoon) makes his visit. Rollo is very smart, overcoming just about any obstacle we place in his way. We only do that because he is so wasteful. But give him time and he will figure out a way around our schemes to thwart his destructive nature. Well, lately he has been emptying the shelled peanut feeder on the ground and that annoys me to no end. So, determinedly, I take the feeder out to my favorite chair in front of my workshop and sit there and scheme some more. I am proud to announce that I have solved the dilemma, I think. I placed a locking mechanism on the top of the feeder handle, sorta like a device you would use to clamp two steel cables together. It requires a little more effort on my part to fill the feeder (every other day), but I absolutely refuse to be outsmarted by Rollo. However, I have to admit that I enjoy this simple little contest with him. To a younger person this would strictly be an annoyance, but to an old guy like me, this is a “get up off the couch and go do battle” kinda thing.
“I have no doubt we all appear simple and unsophisticated to superior beings” … Sir Arthur Helps. I cringe at the thought of Rollo outwitting me. Stay tuned.
I struggled out of bed at 0500 on Easter Sunday, April 21st , eyes blinking wildly, and got dressed for Sunrise Service at 0600. As we headed down the road to our destination alongside the James River, I noticed a line of cars behind us, headlights glaring, following us to the Sunrise Service location. Stumbling around in the dark after we left our car, we all gathered close to the water and Easter Sunrise Service began. After the service, we left for breakfast at the local United Methodist Church (Trinity).
I was raised in the Methodist Church. Each Sunday morning my mother would place a nickel in the hand of my brother and I and that was what we gently placed in the offering plate at church. There were a lot of Baptist in my hometown and they always, with a slight grin on their face, referred to us as “Warmed-over Christians”. I believe that was because some Methodist were known to imbibe alcohol occasionally.
Anyway, back to our Sunrise Service. After we arrived at Trinity Church, hot coffee and a delicious breakfast were awaiting and I dove right in, eating the last delicious morsel about 30 minutes later. As we said our goodbyes and drove home, the minister’s words were bouncing around inside my head, “Don’t be a Christer”. He was referring to those who only go to church at Christmas and Easter. I am guilty of not going as often as I should but I am definitely not a “Christer”. It is written in Matthew, 18:20: “For where two or three gathers in my name, there am I with them.” Yeah, but I still know he wants me there every Sabbath and not every other Sunday.