Monday, September 26, 2016
Monday, September 19, 2016
We do it every third Saturday. You'll see our club's name on one of those "Adopt-a-Highway" signs. Its a messy job at times, one gets rather hot and sticky whilst doing it. I noticed one of my compatriots slapping his calves, brushing away about twenty ants that were making their way up his leg.
As it turns out, this month's clean-up occurred on the same day as the nationwide coastal clean-up day, when thousands of folks took to the beaches and byways to pick up trash and litter. A fine, fine effort.
I'm proud of my club's dedication to this task--and it always feels good to be a part of it. But it also makes me very sad--and even a bit angry. When will we learn to recycle, reuse and reduce? Ladybird Johnson, way back in the sixties, emphasized keeping America beautiful. And, yes, that's an important part of efforts such as ours. But today we realize litter has a far greater impact on the environment than mere aesthetics.
Sometime before I joined the club, our monthly effort was dubbed "roadkill"--someone's slightly twisted bit of humor! (We like to laugh in my Rotary Club--it's part of what keeps me active in it!) But that moniker is also a reminder that our treatment of the roadsides and beaches can kill if we don't, pardon the pun, clean-up our act!
Let me know if you'd like to join us some Saturday. Or better yet, invite your congregation, civic group, Scout troop or bridge club to take on a section of highway themselves! And, if you see someone limping along with just one sock, let me know!
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Earlier this summer my wife Linda and I took four of our granddaughters to a stage production of The Wizard of Oz. Following the same script as the revered 1939 movie starring Judy Garland, the cast sang and danced their way from Kansas to Oz and back again.
No doubt you'll remember that when Dorothy wants to return to Kansas near the end of the play she is instructed by Glinda, the Good Witch, to click the heels of her ruby red slippers together while chanting "There's no place like home, there's no place like home . . . ."
As I write this Linda and I are headed to our home, back to Southwest Florida, after a three week road trip. It's been a good trip, despite a few bumps along the way including some sickness, a death in the family and a rearranged itinerary. But still, we are both eager to get back to our house, our church, our friends, our cat and our Florida family. There truly is no place like home.
But this trip has reminded me how very, very personal and particular home can be. We've stayed with several friends and my mother. We've visited with our daughter Elizabeth and her family, my brother Mark and his family, and many other family members and friends. And in most instances we have been places folks considered their home. Boston and Newburyport, MA. Lincoln and David City, NE. Barbourville, KY. Andover, OH. Gloversville and Broadalbin, NY. And more. All places called by somebody we love "home".
They say "home is where the heart is"--but I wonder, for there is a bit of my heart in all these places--and other places as well. So maybe we've been home all along.
Now, if somebody could do something about the hundreds and hundreds of miles on the highway . . .
say, maybe if I just click my heels together . . . .
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Middle America is different from the coasts--so is the Deep South. Sometimes, as a life long Easterner, I forget that reality. Folks in places like Tennessee and Kentucky are much more willing to wear their faith on their sleeves--or in some cases, as above, on their vehicles. As I sat waiting for Linda in a parking lot in northern Georgia, I was amazed to see a white pick up truck a few rows away, with the words "Thank God I'm a Christian," emblazoned on the tailgate.
Later that same day, I was passed on the highway by a tractor trailer, decorated with a variety of Christian symbols and mottos, including "To God Be the Glory," again in red letters, this time on the side of a white cab, and, on the mud flaps, "Jesus Saves." Somehow that seemed especially appropriate!
I am grateful to be a follower of Jesus, but I'm not sure I'd call it a point of pride. Rather it means humbly recognizing that I can't do it on my own. That I need guidance, that I need help. Perhaps that is all the fellow with the pick up truck means as he proclaims he's a Christian. But I'm not sure I would read it that way if I was not. I might see it as a bit of braggadocio--as a boast. I'm a Christian--I'm saved.
Maybe that's why I like those mud flaps. If you'll pardon the pun, they seem much more down to earth. Jesus' wise words save me from the messes I might otherwise get into. Indeed, the way of Jesus even saves me from myself! But that said, I'm not about to get my car painted with a cross--nor am I about to get a set of mud flaps. I'll just keep traveling with Jesus in my own way. And hopefully, though that won't show up on my vehicle, it will show up in how I live.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
She gave it some thought and came up with at least two other ideas. First, she wanted to go to Red Cloud, Nebraska. Red Cloud, you ask. It is the childhood home of novelist Willa Cather, and Mother has her PhD from the University of Nebraska--but she'd never made it to Red Cloud.
So the wheels were set in motion, and this past weekend, Linda, Mother and I all set out for Nebraska. While there we spent time with my youngest brother Mark and his family, and on Saturday, Mother and I, accompanied by my niece Jennie, hit the road and drove across 150 miles of prairie to Red Cloud.
More about the day itself in another post--for now, I'll simply say it was a big success.
The next day Mother was a little teary. "Well," she said, "I guess that was end of my bucket list."
"No," I quickly reminded her, "there was another trip on the list. You wanted to go to Boston one more time."
Immediately she brightened up. "Boston!" she said, "That's right! You know it's like Jerusalem for me!" And so it is.
So Lord willing, we'll make that trip to the city of baked beans, cod fish and the Red Sox in the coming year.
Bucket lists. It's really never to early to make one--so what's on yours? Dream big! Dream wild! But most importantly, dream now!
(Photo L to R: Jennie, Mother and me on the porch of Willa Cather's childhood home in Red Cloud)