Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Time Travel

Wow. It's been striking me lately how amazing people are, and how much goes on inside them--substance at which we can only guess, because it is not written on the outside.

Over the Thanksgiving season, we were blessed to have family visiting, and among these dear ones was our baby granddaughter. She watches. She ponders. She smiles and interacts, exploring this world where everything, for her, is new. I find myself wondering what goes on behind those violet-blue eyes with their long curling lashes. She is a little mite of a person, yet her inner world is growing by the hour.

We are bigger on the inside than we are on the outside. I find this a fascinating aspect of humanity, and I'm put in mind of the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension in Space)--a time machine from a long-running British sci-fi series. While I am not the world's greatest fan of the genre as a whole, I've been enjoying certain themes that run through these episodes: the sanctity of life, the importance of stewarding the gifts and callings we carry, and the victorious power of love. 

And I like the TARDIS itself. It looks like a sixties-era British Police box  with a cute peaked roof, opaque windows, and a battered, navy-blue exterior. So ordinary from the outside. So extraordinary within. Easily ten times as large as its exterior, the TARDIS is filled with amazing instruments, a mysterious power source, and what seems to be an invincible and steadfast ability to take its occupants where they need to go, provide information and power to perform their missions, and take them on to the next adventure, all very prosaically and without drama.

How like people. We hold the whole of our existence within the tiny confines of our physical bodies. From babyhood to old age, it is all stored within us--the memories, the adventures and experiences both bad and good, the questions, doubts, faith, and core values. When we look in the mirror, we only see our surface, yet we understand  that we are more than what our eyes behold.

It strikes me as ironic, then, that so often we look only on the surface of other people. We see their outward person and assess them accordingly. Maybe they impress us, and for that reason, we lift them up. Maybe they depress us, and so we tend to avoid them. Or maybe we even sort of know them, and can look past mere surface and glimpse their worth. But what if, to quote a well-known verse, we didn't view anyone "after the flesh (outer person)"?

I'm talking to myself, really. A week spent with special people who I don't get to see often enough has me looking at life and people with eyes that want to see those around me in a deeper way. I want to go beyond just hoping to get through the checkout line at the local grocery in record time. I want to see the person behind the counter not as someone with a bad attitude, but as an individual with an interior as big as the universe. What about the homeless person who stakes out a certain corner every Sunday? What is he hoping for? What has happened in his life to so obscure his gifts, talents, and callings that even in his own estimation, he is reduced to smallness?
People are so much bigger, so much more valuable, so much more amazing than what their outsides testify. I love that. And I love it that every time I meet someone, I have an fresh opportunity to look beyond their surface appearance and behaviors. If I look deeper, I may be able to help stir up and even free the greatness within those who have lost sight of themselves. And if I can do that, in a way it will be like entering the TARDIS. I will be transported into a world so much larger and more magical than the one I see with my physical eyes, a world where amazing and unexpected things happen. And the deeper I look, the more the eternity in me contacts the eternity in them, and the more their world can open up to me.

If that's not time travel, what is??!!! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


On behalf of Veterans Day, I want to dedicate this piece, and as I do, I also want to say a special thanks to Charles, to Brandon, and to Joe. You know who you are :-)

Someone very important died not long ago, but only a few people noticed. Where were the headlines for Ace Gibson? Surrounded by family and staff at the veterans’ home, he quietly exited this earth. Why did no reporter show up to cover this, his last great act of gallantry? Though we live in a world of million-dollar sports contracts and block-buster movie earnings, surely the passing of an old soldier is still important.
I know he wasn’t famous—not in the way other men have obtained fame. He was not a film star. Not a NASCAR racer, rolling out of control on a dangerous curve. He wasn’t even a politician or a small town businessman. Yet surely this must be one of  life’s more glaring ironies: Often those that live and die for themselves receive much public acclaim, while those that live and die for others, die in obscurity, unseen and unsung.

That’s how it was for Ace, anyway. What he accomplished on the battlefields of Europe was infinitely more important than any celebrity “job” which ultimately benefits only the celebrity himself. But to be fair, barely a handful of Ace’s buddies are even alive to remember the days when they were all young together, and others knew him to be just a regular guy who looked like any other old man, and they never knew his past. He was a quiet man who lived a quiet life. He stayed married to one woman for 60 years, raised a family and worked with the railroad in Kansas City for thirty years. He never talked about war experiences. Oh, he’d share the funny things—frying “borrowed” eggs in his combat helmet—things like that.
“Did you ever kill anyone, Dad?” his daughter asked one day.
His eyes looked far past her, and finally he answered. “Yes.”
But that was all he ever said. So maybe it is not anyone’s fault that no fanfare was blown and the nation’s flags never moved to half-mast when Ace passed on. There he lay, where the frailness of age and the ravages of Parkinson’s disease had brought him quietly to the end.
 It wasn’t until his funeral that things began to surface. “Did you know that the battalion he was in landed on Utah Beach at Normandy just days after DDay?” someone said. “He fought in the Battle of the Ardennes and was on hand for VE Day.”
“He received five bronze stars for gallantry in action,” shared another.
His wife doesn’t know where the medals are, but she found an old map, yellowed now with the years. It shows the path his battery, part of the Super Sixth Armored Division, took on those sad, weary days so long ago. A dotted line shows where his young feet walked, the battles he fought, the victories won. But it doesn’t begin to tell what his eyes saw, what his hands had to do, and what he was willing to give for our freedom.

More than sixty years have passed. Other wars have come and gone. And other men like Ace—some older, some younger—still hide their stories behind quiet eyes. And this is what I wonder: How do I say “thank you” to them before they, too, pass away unsung? Is there a way I can let these soldiers know that someone somewhere appreciates what they did on the behalf of women, children and a nation still free?
They don’t want to talk about it. But I do. I’d like to speak to each and every one—the pilots, the sailors, the infantrymen, and somehow convey to them that the hardships they endured, the atrocities they witnessed and committed to purchase freedom—were not in vain. I want to show them my children, laughing and carefree, and say thank you. Thank you for doing what you did, so I and my children could grow up in a safe and free country, where we can meet without fear and speak without apprehension.
I also want to say, “Thank you for risking your youthful dreams to purchase mine.”
I’m sure they’d brush it off, saying, as one has already said to me, “The real heroes are underground.”
But here’s what I cannot comprehend, as I look at soldiers—some in nursing homes now, some still strong in the power of their youth, and just returning from Iraq or Afganistan—why should men and women die for people and children they don’t even know? And yet I know the answer, even as I ask: Because within each is heroism, is gallantry, is the willingness to fight for the things that are precious, even to the giving of life. Truly, “…greater love hath no man than this, than that he lay down his life for his friends.”
So what I’d really like to say to Ace and to each and every soldier, sailor, flyer and marine, alive and dead is this: “May He who sees all things, bring to remembrance and hold in honor your quiet heroism. God bless you, Ace—you and those like you. And on behalf of all Americans—a deep and heartfelt thank you.”


Friday, November 2, 2012


Brandy Creek
Philosophy has never been of burning  interest to me.

Those who know me might well consider this an understatement. Questions which have no real bearing on living life well usually hold little attraction for me, though sometimes I feel apologetic about that, as if a more leisurely and gracious me would dabble there occasionally, just because she could.

In spite of that, a philosophical thought not only actually occurred to me, but managed to capture me one lovely autumn afternoon this past week:

Is a moment only a moment--here, then gone, existing henceforth only in memory--or is a moment actually a tiny portal of eternity-a pinpoint at which time and timelessness touch and are forever merged? 

Weighted with our yesterdays and fueled by tomorrow's dreams, is this moment we're living right now pinned to a point on our earthly timeline by our conscious mind and simultaneously stored for us outside of time in a continuum beyond that which our senses can register?

I wonder...

October Colors
As a finger touches a mirror and is in its turn touched by the reflection of a reflection of a reflection as it runs on into infinity, do moments echo-and therefore exist-forever?

And if so, does a moment relived in memory happen only inside our minds, or do our hearts reach into that other realm to live again the essence of the moment?

Without building a belief system around this line of thought, I do very much like it. "He has put eternity in our hearts...", and I, for one, am very glad about that, for there are far too many beautiful moments and beautiful things in life to have them exist for just one fleeting instant in time...