Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What Is A Note?

What Is A Note?

What is a note, if not played with other notes?
What is a note, if only played solitarily?
What is a note, if not played in harmony with other notes?
What is a note, if it never knows the joy of melody?
What is a note, if it never dances counterpoint?
What is a life, if it knows but itself and lives only to itself?

We have bartered away symphony for cacophony.
Melodious harmony for noise.
Beauty for the hideous.
Uplifted hearts for baseness.
Intelligible speech for chaotic utterance.
Purity for debauchery.

We desecrate and are desecrated.
We tear down and are torn down.
We are ashamed of the modest and we exalt the coarse.
We offer our children to the gods of economics and hedonism.
We drink from polluted wells and streams.
Parasites live among us and within us – eating our souls.

Romans 1:22.

Robert L. Withers

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 6, 18, and 31

Yesterday, May 18, is the anniversary of the day Patrick went to be with Jesus. As I have written in previous years, the loss of Patrick was, and is, felt acutely. I cannot drive on the Zuck Homestead without feeling the void, nor without feeling the love and affection I have for Patrick.

May 6 is the anniversary of the day my dear and sweet brother-in-law Rod went to be with Jesus. Rod was a loving brother to Vickie, and a loving brother and friend to me. If I was facing a challenge that I didn’t think myself capable of overcoming, or a goal I didn’t think I could accomplish, Rod was the ultimate encourager. As I write this it occurs to me that no one has ever told me that he was proud of me the way Rod did. Rod was confident in the love that Jesus had for me and Vickie, and confident that God was in control. When Rod decided to stop dialysis he was peaceful about the decision, and he was confident about being received into his Master’s presence.

Rod and Patrick were both men without pretension; neither cared about impressing others. They both had an innocence that was refreshing to me and which often convicted me of my own ego and hypocrisy. They both had a foundational love for Jesus that seemed unaware of the religious games that many of us are prone to play. Love Jesus, love others, help others whenever you can, honor friendships, don’t worry about “things” – their lives continue to convict me of my unbelief and selfishness.

May 31, 2016, one year ago, is the day our grandson Austin died in a freak accident at home. You don’t expect your grandchildren to die before you do. I cannot write about this…for a few reasons. I look forward to seeing Austin in Narnia and I hope, between now and then, that Austin has connected with Patrick and Rod – I think the three of them will enjoy each other.

While death leaves its void, it also leaves its hope and reminds the follower of Jesus Christ that we live in a continuum, that we are pilgrims and strangers here and that we are seeking a city that has true and deep foundations, whose builder and maker is God. While the void is there, the longing and expectation for future relationship is also there, as is the remembrance of past joy and love and affection. The present, the future, and the past meld into an awareness that it is a thin veil that we pass through and that we ought to live as if this could be our day to take the step, to breathe our own last breath. For the person living in Jesus Christ, our last exhale on earth will lead to our first inhale of the sweetness of the presence of God and of friends who have gone before us in Christ. When we leave the shadowlands we will be overcome by the reality of the beauty of the Trinity, of the Lamb and those who follow and adore Him.

As an old Puritan prayer goes, “May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one; and should my life end today, let this be my best day.”

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How Much Else Have I Missed?

Yesterday morning I headed out to mulch a section of our yard that has crepe myrtles. This was a project I really wanted to finish. I had worked on it Saturday and wanted to wrap it up Sunday. Between the two days I probably spent at least two hours in that area. My eyes were on the ground and the pickup truck; take a bag of mulch from the truck and spread it on the ground, take a bag from the truck and spread it on the ground…you get the idea. After completing the project I returned to the house for a break.

An hour or so later I returned to that area of the yard with Vickie. She wanted me to help her clean up a perennial bed. I provide the labor and she provides the direction. Well, not really. I provide the labor when we need to use heavy tools to prune or remove plants – she puts in a lot of “smart” labor in terms of cleaning around plants so that they aren’t damaged.

We had only been out in the area for a few minutes when she said, “Isn’t the rose bush pretty?” At first I didn’t hear her (what else is new), but then I looked up from my focus on the ground and saw the rose bush which grows over the entrance to our vegetable garden (photo below). Yes, it was indeed pretty. I was ashamed to tell her that I hadn’t noticed it, ashamed to think that I had been out there two days in a row but that I was so focused on the task at hand that I hadn’t seen the beauty of the roses.

Later in the day, as I pondered the rose bush, I wondered what else I miss when I get so focused on the task at hand, when my eyes are on the ground. It may be a cliché when someone says, “Stop and smell the roses,” but it is no joke.