Optometrist: With the spoon over your left eye, please read the top lines, and then the bottom numbers. Optometrist: Now, with the spoon over your right eye, please read the top lines and then the bottom numbers. Which is clearer: the first image or the second? Patient: Well doctor, it all depends on what I am focusing on. Optometrist: What do you mean? Patient: When I stare at the object in the distance I can see it clearly. And, conversely, when I focus on the object up close I can also see it clearly. However, I can’t seem to focus clearly on both objects at the same time. What should I do? Optometrist: That’s simple. Open both eyes when you stare at something and all will be clear. Patient: You mean I don’t need corrective lenses? Optometrist: No, but don’t be mistaken…you need vision correction, but that won’t be achieved with glasses, contacts or LASIK. Patient: Then how? Optometrist: By changing your perspective. None of us can see clearly when we view life from a narrow point of reference. We must expand our field of vision which allows more light to enter through our eyes, into our minds, and which eventually illuminates our hearts. By developing a greater point of view we see more clearly. The result will be an objective perspective.
This past weekend we returned from a trip we made to Ft. Worth, Texas, where we visited relatives. There is a section of Interstate I-35 between Emporia and El Dorado, Kansas where the famed Flint Hills are intersected by the highway. The Flint Hills are a geological feature with tall mounds covered with natural prairie grass and gullies cut into the rock. These hills stretch across the eastern portion of Kansas at a North to South direction for 200 miles and are approx.80 miles wide. The elevations vary, but average about 1,400 feet above sea level. They are similar to a mini-mountain range. Due to the flint (chert) near the surface of these hills, farming is not possible. However, the great stand of Blue Stem prairie grass is perfect for cattle grazing. Cattle dot the landscape like trees do mountains at the timber-line. When atop one of the many hills, the visibility is astoundingly far, as if one were looking across a great ocean of blowing grasses. To view photos and learn more, please check out the Flint Hills via your browser as there are multiple sites which display this region.
On our return trip, as we were well into the Flint Hills, there was broken cloud cover. These clouds were moving very quickly. As the shadows of these clouds blocked the sun momentarily, racing shadows swept across the ocean with great beauty. Only a video camera could really capture the essence of what I am trying to describe. A still photograph would give you a static version of a moving thing which would be of some benefit, but it could not convey the race that was taking place. Although we were traveling at the designated 75 miles per hour speed limit, these shadows swept over us like planes. I wanted to catch a shadow, but knew it would be a futile effort so I chased them instead. As the highway would wind and climb then drop and climb again, each group of shadows would laugh at us. They were free of the restrictions of earth and gravity and pavement.
So, I thought as I drove. I marveled at the sheer beauty of clouds and their offspring. I calculated their speed and distance. I was in awe of their ‘light as air’ design, and the ability of each cloud to obscure our view of the sun…even for only a few seconds. The shapes and heights and colors of clouds amaze me, especially at sunsets when white becomes gold or possibly red-orange. And the shadows. They are shift and elusive. They ply across the ground, covering everything in their path as they dart past our field of vision. Magnificent is the word for what I saw. I wish you could have witnessed it for the heavens put on quite a show Monday afternoon.
Have you ever chased a shadow? Caught one? Why not try? Free yourself from anything that holds you back and simply ‘go for it ‘. While you’re busy chasing shadows and staring at clouds, consider who made them and rejoice that we have been given yet another reminder that this world was created for a reason and not by accident. That reason just happens to be you…and me. By enjoying the simple, yet most profound things this world has to offer, you may discover a new dimension to living…peace.
Father Knows Best was an idyllic weekly show that aired on television from 1954 to 1960. It starred Robert Young and Jane Wyatt, along with their three fictional children. The show was based on a middle class family in a suburban midwest town. It was a drama / comedy type show which portrayed dad as a thoughtful father who offered sage advice and a mom who was the voice of reason. Much of my description comes from Wikipedia, and is accurate. Fast forward to 2014 and what does father look like in today’s culture. Here’s my observation. Hollywood and advertisers have made father to look like a buffoon and is generally the laughing-stock of most shows and commercials. Gone are the days where father may have known best, and instead we find father (if he is even around) as not knowing how to do anything. If he attempts something which requires any degree of difficulty or intelligence, he fails. However, mom can do no wrong and performs the man’s tasks with relative ease.
The feminist revolution which began in the 60s turned our culture upside down as far as roles and perceptions are concerned. I will be the first to acknowledge that there were (and still are) inequalities among the sexes in America. Many of these have been corrected, but often at the expense of our understanding of what real fatherhood looks like. But, it goes deeper than that, as the change in roles and perceptions are really about men in general-the American male, to be exact. And, if he happens to be a Christian father with moral convictions, watch out as the rhetoric can become ugly.
Was there ever a perfect father like Jim in this TV show? No. Was there ever a mom who always was the voice of reason as was Jane? Again, no. But why have the tables flipped so drastically that men have been demoted to bumbling idiots and yet women are portrayed as smarter and better equipped to handle any situation or crisis? This is not to say that in some cases women are better equipped, but not unilaterally so. Also, I do recognize that guys can act like children at times. and deserve some criticism.
I acknowledge that Father Knows Best created a quasi-accurate portrayal in its presentation of the common family. To begin with that family was white middle class and only dealt with issues of little cultural significance. Then, like today, our culture was diverse. There were many classes, many colors, many economic variances, many social issues and many barriers. Fortunately, many of the negative issues of that time have been corrected, or at least have improved. But not the American male. No sir. He is portrayed as incompetent, bigoted, foolish, silly and dumb. Actually, I know some of those folks myself, but they are in the minority and not the majority as we are led to believe. Wow, I really do know some of those guys!
One of the few times the media portrays fathers (and men in general) as being reasonable, smart and manly is around Father’s Day. The reason…consumerism and the selling of goods to make money. Once this holiday is over the advertising media will revert to its previous froth that men are no longer manly.
Most of the men I have known, and now know; and most of the fathers I have known, and now know are not morons. Imperfect, yes, but they have brains, they work hard, they make wise decisions and give prudent advice, they lead by example and are humble. Of course, there are always exceptions. I submit to you that fathers, when they can be found with their families, are much better creatures than we have been led to believe over the past fifty years. As a side note, the case of the missing father is a deep issue which requires more time and space than I can offer in this post.
Is there room for improvement? Yes. However, let us start from a better premise which states that fathers (and men) in America are thoughtful, reasonable, intelligent, creative, strong, kind and wise human beings who care about their families and our culture. Some respect would be a nice change of pace. Does father know best? Not always, but more often than not. If my dad were here, I would tell him so. Perhaps you should, too. Hopefully, he is deserving of such praise.
P.S. The photo is of my father-in-law, taken recently with my cell phone. I love Charlie.
P.S.S. This post is not a rant, but simply something that has bothered me for a while and is strictly my opinion. I hope no one has concluded that I do not value women because I do very much. Also, this dynamic about males not being respected in our culture (my perception) may not apply to other cultures, and I understand that.
After the rain when the earth is cleansed and flowers bloom. After the rain when rivers rush and ponds overflow. After the rain when birds sing and sunlight breaks forth. After the rain when tears dry up and hope sprouts. After the rain when God smiles and rainbows appear. After the rain when babies jump in puddles and parents laugh. After the rain when clarity returns and dark clouds disappear. After the rain, yes, after the rain, when the world seems strangely right.
Yesterday morning’s routine was like any other Monday with the exception of this photograph. The difference is simple. Rather than look at the sky and crane and piers, I stopped and shot a photograph of them. Most likely, it won’t win any prize, but I found the image captivating; nature’s beauty with her array of colors and swirls as a background for the projections of steel sprouting up from the earth like trees. God and Man…genius and ingenuity… creator and created. Some see a disparity between the two, but I see unity. Soon, a hotel and convention center will replace the crane. Then, the piers won’t be visible, nor will the rest of the foundation system. However, without these unseen supports this structure could not stand. All of this is rather similar to our existence and God’s foundation of eternal influence and grace; without these man and his civilizations would quickly crumble. As the old saying goes, you can’t always judge a book by its cover, and in this comparison, one can’t experience our reality without the unseen foundation of God’s love for His creation. So, enjoy what we’ve been given even if it is only a glimpse of the sky or the possibility of a vacation in a luxury hotel.