Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Church”

There’s No Place Like Home After The Holidays

 

We are just back from Texas and our Annual Christmas Extravaganza and Food Riot. Everything went well. There were about 28 people around that tree – just like last year. Next year we anticipate the number to be at least one baby higher. The little ones from last year are a year older, bigger, and more frantically active. Two Twin Two-Year Olds in Non-Stop Motion. Picture a crowded room and in the middle of it is a Perpetual Motion Machine on Overdrive.

Katie, bar the door!

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We Need The Real Thing

IN AN ACT OF SELF-PRESERVATION I have decided to start thinking about where, when, and how Dawn and I might squeeze out some vacation time this Summer.

It has been a while since our last true vacation. Our last vacation was a real doozy to be sure – seven weeks in Ireland, but that was then and this is now.

I know – it seems like we have been going to and from Texas every other day, but those trips don’t qualify as vacations. Those are family visits. I’m not complaining. They are all wonderful people, but visiting with Family is no vacation. We need the real thing.

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Tis The Season

HERE WE ARE.

It is one of those points in time and space that are conflicting and confusing. Sort of a perpetual Monday Morning. Which way do I go or should I just roll over and close my eyes until things resolve themselves?

It is technically still winter, but yesterday the thermometer hit 70°. We are fast approaching St. Patrick’s Day (It needs prep time) and we are into the middle of Lent. Football Season is over, but Baseball is still in the closet trying to decide what to wear.

I have had to assign valuable head space and time to think about all of these things. The whole world, or at least my part of it, is in a state of flux. It is neither here nor there, hither or yon, to or fro. This time of year is just “Whenever.”

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Throwback Thursday From Sept. 2015 – “Sunday In The Park With Dogs”

Throwback Thursday From Sept. 2015

Sunday In The Park With Dogs

THIS PAST SUNDAY MORNING was different than most Sundays, but an absolute delight nonetheless.

Taking advantage of a sunny and comfortably warm day we held church services, followed by a cookout, in a lovely spot in the park. We do that every year, but this time something new was added to the usual service. This time my wife, the lovely and Ordained, Dawn, conducted a “Blessing of the Animals.”

 

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I Heard What You Said

I WISH TO MAKE A CONFESSION. I am an eavesdropper. I may look like I’m totally focused on the book in front of me or this blank page as I write, but I also have an ear turned to the world around me. I listen in on what other people are saying and I hear some incredibly inane interesting things sometimes.

Listening in is how I am able to do blog posts like that one from last week about the Real Estate mavens at the next table. I should be ashamed, but I’m not. I’m a “Listening Tom.”

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Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Take My Sermon, Please

PulpitJUST ABOUT EVERY SATURDAY my wife, the lovely and officially Reverend, Dawn, sits down and writes her sermon for Sunday’s services. She starts planning each sermon days or even weeks ahead of time, but does the actual typing on Saturday. It is a lot of work. She doesn’t get up there and wing it on Sunday morning. It takes her a lot of preparation time and it shows in her sermons. Just ask anybody who hears her.

This past Saturday she was busy working on her sermon when I announced that I was heading out to St. Arbucks to work on this blog.

“I’m going to attempt to be somewhat creative,” I said.

“Me too,” she answered. “I’ll tell you what – how about it if I do your blog and you do my sermon?”

In the past I have volunteered to write a sermon for her, but her better judgment stepped in and said, “No way, Bucko.” I guess she was afraid that I would hand her a sermon that was a cross between St. Paul and Daffy Duck.

“Jesus and the twelve apostles walk into a bar. The bartender asks, ‘What’ll you have?’ Jesus says, ‘Water for everybody,’ and St. Peter moans and says, ‘Here we go again.’”

I must admit that my writing style is a bit different from Dawn’s. Her sermons rely on Scripture and Theological Philosophy while my sermons would tend more toward what I saw at Kroger’s and “Knock-Knock jokes.”

“Knock, knock”

“Who’s there?”

“God”

“God who?”

“God, the Father, who gave his only begotten son…”

Most people know that verse from looking in the endzone at any NFL football game.

I’m still in the market for some inexpensive Biblical bobblehead dolls to use as visual aids. I think that if I could just illustrate the Christmas story with bobbleheads or some sort of Action Figures it would reach out to people in a whole new way. I mean, really, if they can market Jimi Hendrix and Travis Bickle Action Figures at Toys-R-Us I don’t see why they can’t carry the Holy Family or the Three Wise Men (Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh accessories sold separately).

I think that my wife is afraid that I might step over any number of lines of propriety and say or do something offensive. I would never do that. Just because I have a background of working in saloons, comedy clubs and assorted dives it doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to behave in polite society. I’ve even made presentations in front of Kiwanis Clubs and if you can do that and get out alive you can do anything.

If I were the guest sermonizer one Sunday I would get the audience’s, er…congregation’s, attention by being interesting, making my words relevant to their everyday lives, and by requiring a two think minimum.

There is no doubt that Jesus had a sense of humor – just look at the people He chose to pal around with – a bunch of misfits, some “outdoorsmen” worthy of their own show on the Weather Channel, and a tax collector. And one of that crew turned on him.

It was so hard to get good help in those days.

I’ll be the first to admit it – Dawn does better sermons than I could ever do. She has “the calling” for that work. The only “calling” I ever got was trying to get me to refill a nonexistent prescription with a Canadian pharmacy.

If Dawn ever decides that she would like a Sunday off I would be more than happy to step up and knock one out of the park.

I think there is room enough for both of us in the pulpit.

Well, maybe not.

Back Home Again In Indiana

“LUCY, I’M HOME”

OK, so I don’t really know anybody named Lucy, but we are home – back in lovely Terre Haute (That’s French for “You don’t have an accent anymore.”)

After about ten days in the deep south we have crawled our way back north, into the land of, if not milk and honey, then Half and Half and Sweet n’ Low.

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Look Out! She Has A Clipboard.

I THINK I LIKE IT HERE. I have made a friend in the cafeteria. For two days now when I have gone to have lunch with my wife, the lovely and officially present, Dawn, I have selected what I wanted for lunch and I have dutifully marched up to the cashier. That is where the magic happens.

Dawn, as an official part of this Gathering, has her meals included. I, as a mere spectator, do not. That’s understandable.

However…

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We’re Having Such Funnel

WE HAVE ARRIVED. We are now in the Megalopolis of Demorest, Georgia. It is a town that is bigger than a breadbox, but smaller than Tokyo.

Our accommodations are in the dorms of Piedmont College and I’ll tell you – these dorms are nicer than some apartments I’ve had. The furnishings are a bit “IKEA,” but better than stuff rescued from a curbside or dumpster that I have had in my younger days. This dorm has a recreation room with a big screen TV and a Pool Table/Ping Pong Table. There are laundry facilities that are FREE! And each dorm room has a private bath. None of this trotting down the hall to take a shower business. And, may I add, a very nice kitchen. If it had a stove I would consider moving in.

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I Won’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me

I LOVE PEOPLE. THEY ENTERTAIN ME NO END. And they do it all without really trying. Anytime – Anywhere – There is a circus going on.

I offer up last Sunday as a prime example.

On just about any Sunday as soon as church services are over the people are out of there like the place is on fire. BUT… You mention that there is some free ice cream being served in the kitchen and it quickly turns into a prairie dog killing stampede. I almost got run over. I don’t know if it was the words “ice cream” or the word “free” that got them all moving. I suspect both.

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Rechargeable Batteries


IN JUST A FEW DAYS WE WILL BE HEADING SOUTH to attend the NACCC Annual Church Meeting. It is always a good and refreshing time. The delight of seeing old friends – I think that the best word is “Fellowship.” That means more than sitting around with a cool drink and shooting the breeze with everyone.

It is a time to exchange ideas, joys, sorrows, and hopes and plans for the future. It is also a time to recharge the batteries of faith – faith in God, Humanity, ourselves and each other. Time and tribulation can drain our batteries, but this Annual Meeting works to plug us in and reenergize us all for the year ahead.

The chores of daily life draw from our batteries much like accidentally leaving on your car headlights. You may be casting out a light to illuminate the way, but it won’t be long before you find yourself in the dark. The Annual Meeting acts like jumper cables to restart our engines and get us back on the road. Perhaps the old Willie Nelson song, “On The Road Again,” should be added to the Hymnal?

“On the road again

Just can’t wait to get on the road again.

The life I love is making music with my friends.

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

 

When I hear that it makes me think of the message of “Amazing Grace.”

“How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.’

Maybe it’s just me and my life experience, but I see so much in both those songs. Both carry a message of life renewed, rescued from days without joy and bearing the power of the music shared with friends.

Both songs sing of recharging our batteries and seeing our life with renewed energy. Whether you are singing “Amazing Grace” or “On the Road Again,” you are leaving behind the time when life was hard and are entering a time of happiness and energy.

Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia – brace yourself. We are on our way and we can get a little loud at times. There will be a fair amount of singing and laughter. There will be looking back at our past and a lot of looking to the future. There will be joy.

I’m Good At Being “Arm Candy”

 

IN A WEEK OR SO my wife, the lovely and widely involved, Dawn and I, as we do every year, will attend the annual meeting of the NACCC – or in the fully expanded state- The National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. You can see why we call it the NACCC. It’s either use the abbreviation or allot extra time in your day.

Every year the meeting is held in a different city. In recent years we have gone to Orlando, Omaha, Salt Lake City, and Detroit. You get the idea.

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Today Is For Remembering

TODAY IS JUNE THE 6TH, A TUESDAY. It may be just one more day out of the 365 we will experience this year, but it also has some significance for me.

Being of a certain age this date is a reminder of a major event during WW II.

June, 6, 1944 was also known as “D – Day.” It marked the Allied invasion of the European continent leading to the defeat and destruction of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe. That all came to a conclusion a little more than one year prior to my birth in July 1946.

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In This Sign You Shall Fluff Dry

I POPPED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD LAUNDROMAT the other day to take care of a few of my “nice and frilly” things when I saw a handwritten sign taped to the wall,

“Free Wi-Fi! Enjoy your time with us.”

Well, I thought that was the most sociable thing I’d ever seen in a laundromat. Most of their signs are of the “Do this” or “Don’t do that,” variety. I remember seeing a sign in a laundromat years ago that said,

“Do not put children in the dryers!”

Always sound advice I would say.

While I was waiting for my things to finish drying I overheard a woman speaking with the young lady behind the service counter. The woman had also seen the sign on the wall and had a question.

“What is this free ‘Wee-Fee’ and how do I get some?”

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If A Tree Falls In The Woods…

fam1FAMILIES ARE AMAZING INSTITUTIONS. Some people can trace their “tree” back centuries into the shadowy mists of time while others seem to have popped up with the most recent rainfall. I think it all depends on how much research you want to do and how much fertilizer you are willing to spread.

Today’s world is one where our lives are very fluidic. People move from one place to another as easily as a mountain stream. Town to Town, City to City, Continent to Continent. Immigration and Emigration are words we hear every day.

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Not Just Another Day

val1IN CASE YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING IN A CAVE for the last six weeks or so let me be the one to tell you – Today is Valentine’s Day. And you time is running out if you wish to live.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday dedicated to Love, Candy, and Greeting Cards. There is nothing else like it. Christmas may dominate when it comes to the cards and Halloween has a lock on the candy thing, but no other day – not even Opening Day of Baseball Season – can do Love like Valentine’s Day.

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It’s Stranger in the Night 

work1FOR REASONS KNOWN BUT TO GOD AND THAT BURGER AND FRIES I HAD FOR DINNER, I didn’t sleep all that well last night. I did wake up several times to go and contribute to the water table. Getting back to sleep I found a difficult problem.

I finally gave up at about 5:30 AM. I’ll make up for my tossing and turning today in front of the TV. All I need to do is drop my bones into the Rip van Winkle Memorial Chair, turn on TCM and BOOM! I’ll be sound asleep within seconds. Like a Polar Bear in winter.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday –  Continued

Chapter Twenty

 

pull-church“Happy Communion to you.  Happy Communion, Dear Beverly.  Happy Communion to you.”

She had loved the party celebrating her First Holy Communion.  She loved the white dress that looked so much like a small wedding dress as she walked down the aisle at St. Rocco’s Church.  She felt like she was getting married to Jesus.  It was a little Catholic girl’s dream.  It was a holy day for the family.

In the family room, the kids gathered about the table that was piled high with gifts. Wrapping paper with pictures of horses and bright ribbon were everywhere.  Twelve little girls and boys were dressed in their best.  The boys wore suits and several of the other girls wore their First Communion dresses.  The mothers in the room were beaming.

Twelve boys and girls, all of whom were the children of her father’s friends.  Family was Family.  Outsiders were never allowed inside, even if that outsider was a seven-year-old classmate and lived across the street.

On a side table sat a twelve-hundred dollar crystal punch bowl filled with a bright red lake of Hawaiian Punch.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday –  Continued

Chapter Nineteen

 

pull-newspaperWhen she ran from Dominic she was hoping that, in time, her life would become less complicated.

“Well that didn’t happen, did it?” she said out loud as she popped a bagel in the toaster.  She wanted a life that was simpler, not filled with so many dangerous possibilities. “Didn’t get that either, did you?” she said as she picked up the morning paper from outside her door.

 Your timing sucks, girl.  Why did this have to happen now?  Twelve years ago I would have jumped for joy.  Now I’m sick about it, just sick.

“This man…this fine, wonderful, funny, and tender man says that he loves me, and I believe him.  I think that I love him, too.  Oh, hell, I know that I do.  I know that I love the way he smells and the way he tastes.  I love his voice in my ear and his breath on my neck.  He makes me gasp.

“It’s like I’m reading a book for the first time.  One I should have read a dozen years ago.  One that everybody else has already read, and now I want to memorize every word.

“He says that he wants to be with me.  He doesn’t know what that really means.  If I tell him, I’m afraid he’ll run, and I’m afraid for him if he doesn’t run.

“I didn’t know that my skin could ever be so… so in love with someone else’s skin.  He kissed my little scars.  He kissed my moles.  I didn’t know that love could be fun.  I didn’t know that love could be my choice.  I didn’t know love, period.

“I would never hurt him and I’d kill anyone who tried to.  I hope he’d be able to do the same for me.  Hopefully it will never come to that.

“Maybe I can stay here.  Maybe I can be safe.  It’s been only a couple of months, at most.  Oh, why can’t…?  Why can’t…too many things?”

The pungent aroma of the coffee brought her back into her kitchen.  She poured herself a mug and picked up the newspaper.  Quickly scanning past the local news she got to page four.

“Oh, Christ.”
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Retreat! Retreat!

retreat1WHEN I SAY “RETREAT” I’m not saying it as if the attack has failed and we are advancing to the rear. No. This is “Retreat” meaning withdrawing from our usual surroundings to participate in a time for reflection and resuscitation on a more spiritual plane. It’s a good thing to do every so often.

Our retreat is at a facility on the shore of Lake Michigan near the town of Holland, Michigan.

For five days we will be thinking about our past and allowing our future to present itself. Prayer, contemplation, and sharpening our perspective on life are a large part of the retreat.

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