Saturday, July 29, 2006

God's Majestic Playground

Have you ever wondered as I have how wonderful and majestic the universe is. Having grown up watching Nature shows from Channel 13 that featured animals interacting with each other. That is on a micro scale. From God's lenses, he takes in a more mighty view-seeing everything through a fish eye lens-getting all the nuances together-interchanging the lenses that He has in His camera bag. having those images hanging in the walls on heaven, he captures what He has made and can reflect in His sabbath afternoon His creation.

One time in particular that I remember is a night when I was almost ready to go to bed and my dad invited us out to the steps of the cottage by the woods and sea to look up and the see the Northern lights that swept the evening sky. A floodlight that flashed back and forth across the heavens. A time of particular unique beauty that could never be captured by an artist. Something that has to be savored in the moment. Something like the sip of ice cold soda on a hot summer day or the slurp on an ice cream cone by the DownEast Ice cream shack overlooking Boothbay Harbor.

Thank you God for giving me the opportunities to view your creation during the past 30 years in Maine-years that I have been fully alive and alert in the world. Being able to discern and understand hardships and to appreciate the times alone and with family in nature to be nurtured again and brought into a sense of wholeness again. An aliveness being infused into me. A lot of that time was before I understood the role of God in my life. And for an appreciation of His provision of angels in key times of my life such as when I fell down a flight of stairs on the fourth of July Weekend in 1976-our country's bicentennial year. A time of upheaval in our kitchen being remodeled. But mostly as a time for me when I was spared significiant injury and given a chance to explore a world that has given me a great deal of meaning. That might be why Maine has been so valuable to me since I recognize it as a gift given to me by God to appreciate and be able to endure tought times as well.

There was never a time where I ever doubted God's presence around me. But it became more real to me as I started my college days At Fairfield University. This was when I sat and had lunch with a student I met in the commons and started to discuss the issues of life and the mysteries of God. Some thoughts ended up on an envelope that had a prescription in it. Kind of poignant that lessons of living in the present and also towards the future were forged between mouthfulls of food and drink. How I wish I could have more opportunities to step out onto a porch or into the commons to discuss details of life with others. But they are opportunities to ponder the role that we have in the face of God's creation.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Crunch crunch underfoot

Let's say it is a warm autumn day outside and ones feet crunch underneath the ground and the leaves are scattered about by your feet. I trample the leaves underfoot and move them methodically between my shoes which are gathering dust by the minute and move them throughout.

Out on a baseball diamond somewhere, some kids are playing a game of baseball and are running the bases and the opposing team is trying to catch the ball and make the throw in time to prevent the run from scoring. There are parents in the stands and they are rooting for son, Johhny , who has just made the cut to the team after many years of not making the team.

Not having the experience of playing sports but some in the watching of it in the form of basketball. The rapid movement of feet across the hardwood floor of the gym with the coaches and players yelling out commands with rapid succession.
The whistle of the coaches and the sounding of the practice/game clock being rewound after each drill or segment of the game.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Triumphal Arch

Today is a sad day and a happy day. For my friends, we mourned an excellent lady of the Christian Faith who was 41 years of age. Annie B. as she was known to most of us was a gentle spirit who loved Jesus and loved interacting with others whether on a softball field, in her family or with teenagers.
Life is a short journey and can take turns that are unexpected. We are on loan from God for us to be His hands and feet and mouthpiece. As the Bible states, We are the body of Christ. I needed to be reminded of the shortness and brevity of this life=something that I do not like to be reminded of.

On the happy side of today, I got to celebrate the goodness of God through interacting with new relationships that my friends have entered into through marriage. It was god to have an extended time of fellowship-stretching out my hands to strangers who I don't know and friends that I have known for the past 10 to 20 years. Many churches getting together and joys and dreams being reviewed in light of the puzzle of life. We are all pieces of a big jigsaw puzzle where we all try to line up to the picture of how God wants us to be. Let us pray that we are all connected to one another-getting glimpses of others lives-the good, bad and the ugly.

At a 2003 real life retreat, the speaker we heard from had three points from his talk. He said that we are to have no reverses. In that we have to keep going the course that has been laid out before us. There are to be no retreats-no going back to what might be easier. And there are to be no regrets. Sure we are going to miss Annie B. for her love but it is all about attitude of how we face our lives. May God be our shining light. No matter how dark the circumstances that we face.

And lOrd help me to be a good spiritual father to Gary who you have entrusted into my hands to guide. Let me be more patient and understanding as I am his disciple. Let me continue to interconnect with others to God.

Thanks for giving us a chance , Annie B, to share and remember how precious this life is on earth!!!! REST under the triumphal arch that you entered.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Deepening the wells of Life

Ever stand at the edge of a well and look down! Usually very shallow at the top with some rocks that line the well and then a string and bucket fill the top of the well. Not all wells are like that though.

When I grew up during my summer vacations in Boothbay Harbor region of Maine, my parents and I went to the Beath Springs which had running water 24 hours a day for almost 6 of the summers that we cottaged on Pratt's Island. This well had a stream that we would direct into our 1/2 gallon pails that we would fill up for the weeks use of water for boiling our water for cooking. The road that led to the well had rocks and the tires crushed along the pebbles as we approached the Springs.

During Biblical times, Jesus met a samaritan woman at the well. He said that for you to be satsified, I will give you living water. Come to this well and you will need to be coming back for more. Going to the Source will give us hope for today and many more for tomorrow as one of the christian songs states.
At times I feel less than fulfilled and not where God wants me to be. I feel a little dissatisfied that I do not have certain blessings that others have such as marriage or children. But all I need to do is to look at what God has provided me with-a custom built well that I need to keep tended to. So that it will continue to run and not get capped off as Beath Springs had to be. I need to keep digging deeper!

Wells are what cause entire communties and the world to gather around them as what happened with little Jessica McClure who was trapped for several days in one. It brings out the townsfolk to work together to find solutions in such a crisis.

Another kind of crisis that was resolved was with Helen Keller. She was an unruly child that learned to trust Anne Sullivan as she place her hands under the running water pump and water gushed out into her hand as the word ""WATER" was etched into her palm over and over until she could understand the association between the two.

In our faith walks with God, we need to let God etch into our hearts His presentce and into our souls a deep reservoir that can only be filled by Him. We need to bring buckets to fill it up which will be received through an attitude of humility.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Abandoning isolation

This is the first trimester of Autumn. We are in the midst of the season of summer before it will bring forth the season of Autumn. This process of creating does not occur inside a womb but within the realm of Nature. Within the trunks of trees and within the blades of grass that go through stages of withering and strengthening.

There are some seasonal shifts that are easy to see. Yet it is hard to pinpoint exactly when one season ends and another one begins. The season of Summer that we are in right now had its birth within the season of spring. Even with the wetness and coolness of it, it emerged its head into the world in the form of warmer temperatures and slightly longer days.

Just as children go through different stages of growth, plants and other living creatures make changes too. Changes that are almost like that of the season-having various periods of rebirth even admist occassional periods of decay.

Just as the seasons look to each other and depend on one another, they look to the world. And look for participants they do-inviting skiiers and baseball players to particpate on slopes and on diamonds-for others to enjoy. The seasons are never alone-they abandon the idea of isolation and welcome participation.

And that is just as it is for the season of us writers in the world. Each of us go through different stages of renewal and we depend on one another to inspire others. today, I handed off a couple of pieces that have appeared in Triumph for others to enjoy and read over and over again. one to a 5th grade teacher that I had 31 years that helped me transition myself into the world of public education from that of private education which was more secluded and isolated-that of being on a cul-de-sac.
It was during that time that I was eased into the world of public education-to develop a love for it through field trips and a good interaction of my parents with my teacher, Diane, who helped make it a team approach. having ended the isolation from being a part of a larger whole withoust structure in my private schooling years, it was good to be home to an educational field. A field that I gained better footing thorugh time. Thanks again, Diane, to your 37 years of facing challenges that have faced you each and every year-of leaving a footprint of legacy on students throughout the world.
And a second blessing that I handed my work to a hairdresser friend to hopefully have her isolation be abandoned into a more community mindset.

Just as the group in the LiveAid benefit, We Are the World, was sung in 1985 to help end the crisis in Africa. We all are the world and we are needed to make it a better place.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Take a Peak

Good Morning Sun. I am ready to take a peak and be encouraged. It is kind of hot out here and I need a little relief. I am going to go behind the moon and cool off some. Let me go behind the moon and get some needed relief from the glare and heat of the sun.
In life, we all face struggles on a daily basis and it is a good reminder that we have uphill battles to climb with our peaks. But we need to take peeks on our peaks-hills that have an upward and downward face as well. Times that will go well and times that it seems it is a bad-hair day for all.
It is real good to have those havens to go for the rest. Like the local bookshop to stay secluded in the rows of books-in awe of what others have created. In the same way, we can add to the rows of others imagination with encouragement-reaching out with rods of support.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Mosaic of life in the city

I started my day off with an adventure to the dentist office. As I walked in , I was greeted by my dental hygienist, Anna Cherslaka. I was puzzled at first since she looked different from last time. She said, "Scott, Don't you recognize me",it's Anna. Her hair was darker and pulled back. She wore alight colored blouse under her blue uniform. Then I saw her name tag .Upon talking with her, she came from Russia 6 years ago with her family and just became an American citizen. Still missing home but willing to give this country an effort for the opportunity it brings.
While sitting inthe chair having the instruments moved around my teeth and gums. Being asked how many times I flossed and brushed, I said oh well 3 flossings and 7 brushings. Not long enough. Oh if I only will live up to floss once and brush twice daily and rinse.

Then off to a lunch break at Jam's Deli in the heart of downtown Bridgeport. Being served by a hungarian woman at the deli. Having a thanksgiving wrap of turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce with sliced carrots throughout. And as I ate the wrap and sipped the Snapple, I watched the construction of the lofts going in at the CityTrust building with the operator of the crane lifting up several huge planks of tan plywood into the empty windows of the gutted building. These men and women working on the buildings within the city are bringing our city to lifefe. Building the veins and arteries that will give it a true heart. Being the cowardly lion on the yellow brick road in search for a heart of Courage. Right now being connected to life support-being on dialysis-until all the connections are ripe for it to take off on its own.

Looking at the Visions of the Heart art exhibit at the Housatonic Commmunity college again=seeing the depths of people's imagination-from those who have suffered and triumphed throughout life and made it a pleasant remembrance of struggles and victories gone through-a demarcation of their participation in this divine life. Of their marks upon the canvas and screens sowing the seeds of their minds-bringing together colors of joy and peace. Of simple everyday objects that reflect the minds, souls, and hearts, and bodies of these artists. Celebrating all that God has given to them for us to enjoy. Images leaping off the walls-helping me to forget troubling moments of the time.
Having the warmth of the city on my face as I traveled throughout it on foot-walking by the Chase Branch and the empty space once occupied by Soul to Soul Restaurant-a place I ate at once.

This little melting pot of the imagination and the magic of men. Just as magic takes a sense of curiosity and wonder, so does the black child sitting on the Coastal link bus spending countless moments with his mom as he sips on the frozen bag of his popsicle-slowly sipping on it until it has covered his face and arms and legs with the sticky gel of red all over him. Sitting in his own world looking up to his mom and the goodness within her and his enjoyment of the very moment he is in.

Even as I wander in a city today that is neglected, I need a heart that has put on spectacles of compassion and understanding=seeing a little clearer of who the citizens are and how they are linked by a common thread of the culture and the melting pot that they come from. Something that I am beginning to see and am anxious to explore to see where it leads.

A little poem that I thought of this morning can flavor a little of what is happening in our city. Citywide we are getting a face-lift with pockets of joy to dissolve the ruins of our times -to add to our melting pot eventually.

Adios de Usted. Hola Cuidad de Bridgeport.
Las tiends cerradas de neglecto. Open eventually. Puertas de opportunidad y ventanas para los amigos.
Cumpleanos. Anos de miseria y jubilee.

Just waiting for the time when open signs and clearly visible windows with life can be seen. Waiting for the womb to pop open with life and chirps to be heard!!!!!
Finally, as new wine requires the new wineskins to hold the newness to erupt, new life will burst forth once again.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 230th Birthday

Hsppy Birthday to the USA. We are 230 years old. No middle aged crisis or teenaged years for our country. Just the typical bangs and scrapes that any child gets in his daily life. And lots of wisdom from grandarents and parents alike. Imagine yourself as Christopher Columbus on a boat sailing the seas on his sailboat. "Landmass ahead, Sir. We better take to shore and find out what this land is that we see here." The captain of the boat pulls in the sails and Christopher's crew embarks into the dinghy and heads off to the shore to find out what this land is all about.

I am thankful for what Chris discovered and the privelege it is to live on this continent of North America. It has not been an easy place for our country but it has been a good proving ground for our country. Many leaders have taken initiatives here and have grown our place to be a land of opportunity. Not so much for everyone but it has a potential for those with disadvantages such as handicaps.

So let us break out the potato chips and the nachos and celebrate what America means to each one of us. And try to blow out 230 candles on the cake!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Moving out of the Tower of self pity

Lately I have been stuck in a tower of self-pity--of comparing myself to others. Seeing myself as less compared to them and not having as high a regard for myself. I only wish that I could easily escape that spot. But it has been a little difficult to do lately.
I realize that I must recognize the gifts that have been deposited into me by my God who makes it very possible for me to have an abundant life as the writer John promises through the words that Jesus spoke when He ministered for his 3 years.
Upon reflection, a few of the gifts are my ability to communicate the language of speech and writing-given to me by the constant efforts of my mom and dad when I failed to start those skills at the age of 3.
Another gift is the use of dry humor-evident in my Uncle Dick. It is the ability to come up with something somewhat wry that people will not grasp onto immediately or at all but causes me to smile knowing where it came from.

Being established where I am was not by accident. It has been through many years of planning and time spent by my parents looking at the Fairfield Citizen over the years and then finding the ideal spot for me and then working out the details to make it happen.

So it is so important to see beyond ones surface and look at the connections one has in life and to recognize those connections and nurture them and deepen them to rely on them when emotional droughts and self pity occur.