What Goes Up…

IMG_0383 (2)

“What goes up must come down.”

This is the opening stanza to the song Spinning Wheel by the American rock group named Blood, Sweat & Tears which was written and performed in 1969. As this song came to mind I casually looked for images to reflect some of the lyrics. I saw this squirrel climb to the top of our Bradbury Pear tree, eat a bit and then scamper down.  Rather amusing since the lyrics really don’t have anything to do with the images, except they represent going up and coming down.

IMG_0387 (2).JPG

“Spinning wheel got to go ’round.”

IMG_0430.JPG

The next day I passed by this windmill and recalled the second stanza of the song so I stopped, took aim and shot it just as the sun was getting ready to peak above the horizon.

Oh well, I guess it’s okay to do word association, even with photographs and music!

 

 

Leader of the Band

In America we celebrate things such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, and many more. This Sunday we will be celebrating Father’s Day. It is a time of family gatherings, visiting parents and grandparents or simply doing something nice for dad.

I have thought quite a bit about this year’s Father’s Day, probably due to the fact that Cheryl lost her father in January, and a brother (who is a dad) last year. I lost my Father thirty-three years ago, yet I still miss him. Also, friends of ours just lost their dad to cancer. So, it really doesn’t surprise me that this particular Father’s Day has impacted me. I was going to write a tribute to fathers, but recalled a song which has always resonated with me. I hope it does for you, as well. The lyrics are below, but I also encourage you to listen to this song via YouTube or other audio/visual website; it is soothing and thought provoking.

The singer/songwriter is Dan Fogelberg. He wrote and recorded this song in 1981 as a tribute to his father who died the following year. I dedicate this song to all good fathers- alive, fallen or off to war. And for the many souls who have never known a father or who may have had one who was mean-spirited or only there in form, uninvolved. Bless you, and may you find someone who will be a father to you. And most importantly, we have a loving Father above. Look to Him.

Leader of the Band

An only child, alone and wild, a cabinet maker’s son, his hands were meant for different work and his heart was known to none. He left his home and went his lone and solitary way, and he gave to me a gift I know I never can repay.

A quite man of music, denied a simpler fate, he tried to be a soldier once but his music wouldn’t wait. He earned his love through discipline, a thund’ring, velvet hand. His gentle means of sculpting souls took me years to understand.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old, but blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band.

My brother’s lives were different, for they heard another call. One went to Chicago and the other to Saint Paul. And I’m in Colorado, when not in some hotel, living out this life I’ve chosen, come to know so well.

I thank you for the music and your stories of the road. I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go. I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough. And, papa, I don’t think I said “I love you” near enough.

The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old, but his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul. My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band…I am the living legacy to the leader of the band.

 

The Soul of a Coffee Shop

Tuesday's CoffeeWhile visiting a well-known-chain coffee shop during the Christmas holiday, I decided to sit for a while and enjoy my drink rather than scoot out the door to my next destination.
The cacophony of sounds which embellished this locale reminded me of an orchestra tuning their instruments prior to a performance. At first the sounds seemed like unorganized noise – and could even be considered annoying if in a grumpy mood. But since I slowed down that morning, I heard instead, a strange harmony.

As I listened, I heard eclectic Christmas music playing through the overhead speakers; steamers making hot milk and froth for lattes and cappuccinos; employees taking and repeating orders; a middle-aged man talking with a younger man about weekly events and faith (a Bible lay on the table); two men sharing stories at a perimeter table; the gentle clicking of a young woman typing away on her laptop; the shuffling of the morning newspaper; and the constant stream of people coming and going while exchanging pleasantries and orders with the staff. And, of course, continuous texting.

Most of the customers were in a hurry, but a few not so much. They seemed to be the frequent visitors known by manager and employees alike. There were somber-looking people and joy-filled souls, and preoccupied folk from all walks of life. Some ordered regular coffee, but most selected specialty drinks, custom-made to their particular tastes. Many of these specialty drinks are rather expensive, too, but this is an affluent community and the average customer wants for little materially. Nevertheless, there are needs…there always are.

As I sat listening and watching the steady flow of consumers and busy staff, I realized that this coffee shop (like most) represents a cross-section of our current culture. Some of the people I witnessed could be on the verge of a collapse: emotional, relational, career-wise, health related or possibly financial. Most, I suspect, struggle with something. I certainly do. This much I know…everyone has a story. Some are tragic while some are remarkable and inspiring. Most fall somewhere in between. Perhaps this is why we are drawn to the exceptional, the heroic, and the inspirational. Average can seem so boring.

If we are honest, the majority of us see ourselves as average – and we probably are. There is nothing wrong with that, for without average, we wouldn’t have exceptional. Those who are exceptional-who excel above most-are flaunted and often placed on precarious pedestals of admiration. To be considered the best or most popular at something is alluring. Haven’t we all thought what it would be like to be the best athlete, musician, surgeon, writer, race car driver, entertainer, etc.? And yet, if we actually achieved this vaulted status, we would become susceptible to a host of potential problems, such as loss of privacy, inflated egos, self-absorption, detachment from average people and average lives, forgetting those in poverty, and the list goes on. We’ve all read stories of celebrities and athletes who still struggle to find love and acceptance, despite having achieved fame and worldly success. So many dream of achieving some sort of remarkable status or gaining peace of mind, but, instead, find ourselves miserable, especially during the holidays.

I think most of us try too hard in just about everything we do. Whether at work, at home or at play, we push-push-push until we have nothing left to give. Life becomes a balancing act, and peace and contentment are forced out of the daily equation. We miss out on the simple act of living-of being alive. There is this constant striving for that piece of golden fruit which is just out of our reach. When we fail to secure it, we panic inwardly and ask ourselves, ” Why not me?”. When some of us do grab onto it, it soon loses its luster and we become dissatisfied again. We humans are masters at repeating this cycle.

With the world seemingly spinning out of control, we become even more anxious. This tension leads to lives devoid of hope, and ultimately, joy. I know about anxiety and striving and even self-pity. I don’t come to you as one who possesses exceptional anything or as living a care-free life. On the contrary, 2015 has been a very difficult year for many reasons. Yet, I awakened today. No chalk lines outlining my body. Inward wounds perhaps, but I am still alive and have eternal promises spoken to me by the only One who can legitimately offer and secure them. Yes, this source is Christ. His love is extravagant, and far better than any of the gifts we may receive or give.

My Christmas wish for all is to find Him who seeks us. By doing so, all of our problems won’t vanish immediately, but our souls will be renewed, and a sense of peace and joy will eventually take residence. This world has nothing close to compete with this gift of love filled with grace. His fruit will never tarnish nor fade. Merry Christmas !

Samsung 1-1-14 391

 

Coffee Shop Observations

Tuesday's CoffeeWhile visiting a well-known-chain coffee shop during the Christmas holiday, I decided to sit for awhile and enjoy my drink rather than scoot out the door to my next destination.
The cacophony of sounds which embellished this locale reminded me of an orchestra tuning their instruments prior to a performance. At first the sounds seemed like unorganized noise – and could even be considered annoying if in a grumpy mood. But since I slowed down that morning, I heard instead, a strange harmony.

As I listened, I heard eclectic Christmas music playing through the overhead speakers; steamers making hot milk and froth for lattes and cappuccinos; employees taking and repeating orders; a middle-aged man talking with a younger man about weekly events and faith (there was a Bible on the table); two men sharing stories at a perimeter table; the gentle clicking of a young woman typing away on her laptop; the shuffling of the morning newspaper; and the constant stream of people coming and going while exchanging pleasantries with the staff. Did I mention texting? A lot of that.

Most of the customers were in a hurry, but a few not so much. They seemed to be the frequent visitors known by manager and employees alike. There were somber-looking people and joy-filled souls. Some ordered regular coffee, but most selected specialty drinks, custom made to their particular tastes. Many of these specialty drinks are rather expensive, too, but this is an affluent community and the average customer wants for little materially. Nevertheless, there are needs.

To be sure, many a fine author has studied and written about the topic of human needs. There is little, if anything, I could add that would cause you to take notice. Suffice it to say that there are a variety of needs among these coffee lovers that long to be met. Some are on the verge of a collapse – emotionally, relationally, career-wise, health related or possibly financial. Most struggle with something. This much I know…everyone has a story. Some are tragic while some are remarkable and inspiring. Most fall somewhere in between. Perhaps this is why we are drawn to the exceptional, the heroic, and the inspirational.

If we are honest, the majority of us see ourselves as average – and we probably are. There is nothing wrong with that, for without average, we wouldn’t have exceptional! Those who are exceptional – who excel above most -are flaunted and often placed on precarious pedestals of admiration. To be considered the best at something is alluring. Haven’t we all thought what it would be like to be the best athlete, musician, surgeon, writer, race car driver, entertainer, etc.?

And yet, if we actually achieved this vaulted status, we would become susceptible to a host of potential problems, such as loss of privacy, inflated ego, self-absorption, detachment from average people and average lives, and the list goes on. We’ve all read stories of celebrities who still struggle to find love and acceptance, despite having achieved fame and worldly success.

I can’t speak for you, but I want my life to count for something more than a weekly paycheck, a vacation now and then, acquiring things, offering a helping hand on occasion, or enjoying the fellowship of family and friends. These are important, no doubt, but there must be more. Why is it that we feel so empty at times? Why do we dream of fame and success?

I think most of us try too hard in just about everything we do. Whether at work, at home or at play, we push-push-push until we have nothing left to give. Life becomes a balancing act, and peace and contentment seem like foreign concepts. We miss out on the single most important aspect of our earthly existence: God’s unconditional love for His children. Oh, sure, we sense it and pledge it, but do we absorb it? Or do we instead allow obsession with worldly success to take the place of our soul’s deepest longing?

When was the last time you invited the Lord to wrap His holy arms of love around your soul and let Him embrace you? Please be honest with yourself. I hope you can say, “Today I sat next to my Savior, and we enjoyed each other’s company”. But if you haven’t been embraced for awhile, let me refresh your memory as to how wonderful that reality can be.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23 (KJV).

As you rest in the loving arms of an Almighty God, I pray as did Paul, that you will “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18 & 19 (NIV).