Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Wheelbarrow – 4

Our home on Beach Road sat on an acre. Other than a birch tree in the front, planted too close to the house, there was nothing in the yard (my memory is hazy, there may have been shrubs off the front porch). When we left Beach Road, some six years later, we had planted 15 – 20 trees, an extensive border garden, an herb garden, and numerous shrubs. All of the foregoing required topsoil and mulch, and it was all hauled in the wheelbarrow. In addition, in order to plant the gardens and trees and shrubs sod had to be removed and placed elsewhere – this was also hauled in the wheelbarrow.

We ordered dump truck loads of topsoil and mulch and hauled it around the yard in the wheelbarrow – how many trips we made to and from the piles of mulch and dirt I have no idea; I do know the wheelbarrow was essential to bringing gardens to life, it was essential for bringing Vickie’s vision of our own Eden into manifestation. We also had an extensive vegetable garden in which the wheelbarrow played its part.

What was once a plain barren yard became a place of color and texture and beauty and interest, it became a place of definition. We could not have done it without the wheelbarrow – such a basic tool, such a basic idea, such a basic necessity for the gardener. A box on a wheel with handles – pretty simple, pretty important.

One great point about having a wheelbarrow is that should the power grid ever fail that the wheelbarrow will still work – it may be one of the few things that will. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Things that Happen

My cousin Clyde was in a staff meeting the other day when his left arm began to itch. As he scratched it he felt something beneath his shirt sleeve. What could it be? Was it moving? Would the itch stop? Was it living? Would it bite?

Since the meeting had only just started, and since the agenda was long, he knew he needed to deal with it sooner rather than later. Because he was seated in the middle of the conference table he didn’t want to draw attention to himself, and so while his right hand remained over the unidentified object beneath his left sleeve, he waited for everyone to turn their attention to the Power Point presentation on the screen at the far end of the room.

After a few minutes had passed, Sam, to Clyde’s right, asked Clyde to please pass a pitcher of water; without thinking, and being left-handed, Clyde dropped his right hand from his left sleeve, reached his left arm out to grasp the pitcher of water, passed the pitcher to Sam…and as he withdrew his hand from the pitcher what should come out of his sleeve…but a dryer sheet.

Clyde, being quick on his feet quipped, “No wonder I was feeling bouncy this morning!”

These things happen in life. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

When Jesus Christ Is Not Everything, He Is Not Anything

“But by His [the Father’s] doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 1:30 – 31.

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ…that I may gain Christ…that I may know Him…” Philippians Chapter 3.

The warnings of Jesus Christ to the church in the book of Revelation contain the words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” What the Spirit says to the church is that Jesus Christ is to be our all in all; our words, our actions, our loves, our thoughts – are all measured according to their fidelity to Jesus Christ and love for Him and testimony of Him. The same book of Revelation portrays a world intoxicated by power and commerce and money – with people selling their souls, worshipping the beast, in order to pursue the love of gain, of wealth. Revelation portrays a religious system committing fornication with the governments of the age, no doubt foolishly thinking that it can maintain an alliance for its own preservation.

When the professing church looks to man for salvation, when Jesus Christ ceases to be everything, then He is not anything. Jesus Christ is either all or nothing – He has not given us another option and He will not accept anything less than our all (Mark 8:27 – 38). He will not accept nationalism, He will not accept an economic agenda, He will not accept a political agenda – He will accept no other gods before Him, He will accept the names of no other objects of worship – and He will not approve the church assuming any other identity than the identity that He has given it – the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the Flock of God – a people belonging to Him and to no other.

Better to leave this life in the rags of the world but in the riches of Christ than to leave this world a whore.

If Jesus Christ is not everything then He is not anything. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Wheelbarrow – 3

A quick online search indicates that the Chinese invented the wheelbarrow around 100 A.D. If this is true, it is much to their credit. We could have done without gunpowder but not the wheelbarrow. Think of all the lives saved if they had passed on gunpowder…but the wheelbarrow…now there is a worthy invention.

Perhaps a man was riding a unicycle with a basket of produce on his head. Perhaps he passed another man carrying produce in a box. Perhaps a third man saw them and put two and two together (or is that put one and one together?).

When we moved to Chesterfield the closest hardware stores were Lowes and Tom Brown’s – not the Lowes at Winterpock Road but the Lowes in the K-Mart shopping center. The Lowes by the K-Mart eventually moved to Winterpock Road…at least as I recall. If your memory is different I’ll defer to you.

There was a Hechinger’s hardware store, or home center, or whatever they were calling it then, down on Midlothian Turnpike at the Route 288 junction. Growing up in the D.C. area we had Hechinger’s around town, however, like many companies they expanded, and expanded, and acquired, and expanded some more; now they are out of business.

Tom Brown’s Hardware was a local chain of stores, they’re gone now – the big fish swallowed the little fish. The Leviathans Lowes and Home Depot are on a mission to rid the sea of competitors. Maybe Darwin was right.

There was a Tom Brown’s in the Ukrops shopping center at Hull Street and Courthouse, I still think about it at times when I drive by. I know it is weird to think of a hardware store that has been closed for years.  I also think about McIntyre’s Hardware back in Montgomery County, MD. That was the local hardware store in the Kensington area when I was growing up. I just checked the internet, that infallible guide to everything, and it looks like there is a McIntyre’s Hardware in Damascus, MD.

Speaking of Tom Brown’s Hardware, do you remember Buster Brown shoes? I see the name used but I don’t know if the shoes are still around.

Anyway, we purchased a wheelbarrow and I would really like to remember if we bought it at Tom Brown’s or Lowes or Hechinger’s or Builder’s Square, but I can’t remember. I do know that we didn’t buy it from a shoe store selling Buster Brown shoes. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Supreme Court

“I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; the court sat, and the books were opened,” Daniel 7:9 – 10.

How sad that our gaze was diverted to the composition of an earthly court in the expectation that an earthly court could reform the hearts of mankind and thus relieve us of the command to make disciples of Jesus Christ and live as citizens of heaven. There is only one court we should be concerned about, and it is a court whose decrees never change, a court where righteousness does not compromise with unrighteousness, a court that does not take into consideration public opinion or what the majority thinks.

Our failure to read Biblical history means that we do not count the times the kings of Israel and Judah sought ungodly alliances for pragmatic reasons - alliances viewed by the Court of Heaven as a repudiation of the true and living God – Israel rejected Yahweh as its husband. Can the professing church learn nothing from this?

So-called Christian leaders (certainly not all, for the faithful seldom receive “press” – and seldom are popular with the sheep – those leaders challenge us to think Biblically, to be conscious of the Gospel, and do not give us easy answers or easy ways to live) entice the Christian masses with one-line philosophies and emotional appeals to our economic and social well-being, drawing us into a cult of the patriotic that entertains no self-criticism and that is antithetical to the Biblical teaching that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is as if we have a national glory that eclipses God’s glory.

We had a witnessing opportunity to stand apart from the kingdoms of this world and stand with the Kingdom of God, we had an opportunity to first and foremost be the faithful Bride of Christ identified with Jesus Christ.

It is one thing for others to not recognize the church as the church because it is of Christ; it is another thing for the world to not recognize the church because it is of the world.

Which supreme court is the one that really matters?

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Next to the cosmic mystery about where socks lost in the washer go (a few years ago I tried to establish the fact that they are transported to Planet Sock, a planet that must be constantly repopulated by abductions from washers because none of the inhabitants have matching mates), there is the sock question, “Why do socks that seem fine in the morning decide to descend on one’s legs during the day until they arrive below your ankles?”

Is this an insidious tortuous design? Are these socks with a sick sense of humor? Why does this often occur during meetings in which any attempt to pull the socks up will likely be noticed? And why are we so gullible?

We inspect the sock drawer, considering what pair goes best with the day’s attire. Our eyes alight on a pair of socks that harmonize, but then our memory says, “Don’t you remember that the last time you wore these they played Chutes and Ladders, with the pair insisting on descending and you fighting against the pull of gravity? Don’t you recall how preoccupied and uncomfortable you were that day, in the midst of the people you were meeting with?”

But then we inspect the socks and they seem fine. Perhaps our memory is playing tricks on us. Perhaps it is another pair of socks that did the deed. We surely would have tossed the offending socks away after such a day of mockery and discomfort.

So in good faith we select the socks in question and wear them. All is fine for the first hour, the second hour, and then, as we sit in a room with thirty people, we have an uncomfortable feeling above our ankles…creep…creep…creep…down go the socks. We have been suckered once again, taken advantage of, in our effort to grant the socks a reprieve we have once again played the fool – oh cruel unforgiving world.

The best we can hope for is to catch the socks before they drop below our ankles, before they hide within our shoes – otherwise we will either be digging within our shoes to pull the socks up, or we will simply have to remove our shoes and adjust our socks – all the while providing entertainment for our fellow workers.

Are there mischievous socks lurking in your sock drawer?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Wheelbarrow – 2

It was apparent that we required our own wheelbarrow, but where to buy one? We lived in the Winterpock area of Chesterfield County in the days before they widened Hull Street Road, before the Walmart at Hancock Village Shopping Center, before the traffic light at Winterpock Road and Hull Street Road, and before the Lowe’s at Hull Street Road and Winterpock Road.

If you’re wondering why Hull Street Road is called Hull Street Road and not just Hull Street or Hull Road you’ve come to the wrong place for a certain explanation. My best guess is that in the City of Richmond it was Hull Street but that when it was in the county that folks knew it wasn’t a “street” because it was a road – you don’t have streets passing through farmland you have roads. No self-respecting rural area has a street running through pastureland – it’s got to be a road or a route or maybe even a highway, but it can’t be a street. Come to think of it, in the city it is simply Hull Street.

The nearest thing I can come up with is that the state highway department (VDOT) put in an order for dozens of signs for the street and the road; a few dozen destined for the city were supposed to read “Hull Street” and a few dozen more were supposed to read “Hull Road”. The problem was that the foreman of the sign shop in the state prison, Clem “Four Eyes” How’dIgetthisjob, had broken his glasses the day before the order came in and misread the order, thinking through his blurry vision that “street” and “road” were to appear together on the sign. When VDOT received the signs the area resident engineer didn’t pay any attention to the wording and told his crew to install them. Before long signs for Hull Street Road stretched for miles and miles, from the City of Richmond all the way to Out Yonder.

About six months later the head of VDOT was driving down what he thought was Hull Road and noticed that it was Hull Street Road. He called the resident area engineer and asked who made the mistake and what it would cost to rectify the problem. The resident engineer, having seen the error shortly after installation, had a ready answer – it was not a mistake, but rather a cost-saving measure designed to save the Commonwealth of Virginia thousands of dollars over future years. By putting the words “street” and “road” on the same sign the commonwealth did not incur two setup fees for sign production, because it could abbreviate “street” to “St” on the sign it saved on the cost of ink, and it saved labor hours in trying to figure out just where the street ended and the road began. The engineer also told the head of VDOT that part of the test was to see whether people would notice, and if they noticed, whether they would complain. Few people had noticed and no one had complained – other than one person from Out Yonder who wanted to know whether Hull Street went west and Hull Road went east, or was it the other way around. He said no self-respecting rural area had a street running through pastureland. The resident engineer’s response to this complaint was to encourage Walmart to build Out Yonder – no more pastureland.

The head of VDOT, Mr. Leanonmyshovel, nominated the resident engineer for an efficiency award – which he won. The resident engineer in turn called the warden and gave credit where credit is due to the foresight of Clem Four Eyes. The warden told the governor and Clem got a pardon. Now Clem works for VDOT in the “consolidation of signage” department.

As I mentioned above, if you want a certain explanation of how we came to have Hull Street Road you’ve come to the wrong place.