Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Brush on my Cheek

The air brushed past my cheek like a feather, ever so slightly touching my skin.
No noise, just movement.
Again it moved across my face, my senses heightened, ready to discern the presence.
Now stillness, nothing.
Stillness for such a long time, still nothing.
Perhaps it never was, my wish, my dream, my hope.
Closed eyes, closed out world, listen, sense.
Lids shut, the air moves again past my face.
A glow, faint, then growing brighter.
Eyes still closed, every cell, every sense in tune and anticipation.
The glow, now as bright as the sun fills me.
The air moves, growing stronger as it begins to push against me.
A noise, like the movement of wings comes near.
Now with each sound of movement comes the rush of air.
And then the Voice, a voice like thunder in the mountains.
The words, " Behold the dwelling place of God is with men."
The Seraphim speaks and I tremble.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Cupcake Caper

It must have been one daunting task to feed seven kids everyday of the week. In our house there were five boys (small horses), and two girls. Mom used to pack our school lunch everyday which meant almost a loaf of bread just for those. And, I never met a boy that only ate one sandwich of any concoction. Mom also made our treats, cookies and cupcakes, by the gross.

Well, as boys will be boys, one of the precious cupcakes came up missing just before supper time. Supper time, means mass grazing for the boys, we didn't have much money but we sure did eat good. Anyway, mom got really upset and knew it was one of her male offspring. How did she know? Nobody confessed to the cupcake caper so dad sent all of the boys upstairs to bed with no supper. No supper, a fate worse than death for five stomachs that required a constant flow of substance for survival, yet alone to thrive and become pillars in our community.

Off to bed, we climbed up the stairs. I was mumbling something to be sure. The three older boys started to argue and accuse each other of the cupcake caper. As the accusations and denials flew across the bedrooms an awful truth began to descend upon us, we are gonna get hungry, in fact we might even stay up all night fighting the severe hunger pains that would descend upon us any minute. With the pains of being famished descending so did the tears.

An older brother, who shall remain nameless, unless he doesn't buy me a steak dinner, headed down the stairs making his speech of confession and blubbering words of contrition. It only took a minute for the rest of the herd to descend the trail and gather at the feed trough. I might never know if that brother was the real culprit of the cupcake caper. In fact, he may have just been the one that was most hungry. After all he did turn out to be six foot six inches. That my friends is a big horse.

Jesus took a lot of time when it came to dealing with food and our earthly needs. On the hillside He fed thousands with a minuscule amount. He grilled fish outside for the disciples. In the upper room He opened a door of grace with bread and wine. And, during a great Jewish feast He declared that He was the Bread of Life. I am so blessed and glad to know that I don't have to go to bed hungry anymore.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Clutching Bottle and Pill

Long did I clutch bottle and pill,
Friendship my aching soul to fill.
Such longing in my heart,
Their lie, mask playing a part.

I cried, I tried, to abandon their lies,
Their hold on me, a noose tied.
Free, Free, Why can't I be,
Of this hook, so deep in me.

Deep darkness, Despair, All I see,
Chained down, I want, Can't flee.
Death, Peace of death, Please cover me,
Earthen grave, My only plea.

Stretched out, Damp cold night,
Pain, Punishment, I sense is right.
In deep despair, My head hangs low,
Eyes, Tears, Capturing a glow.

Hands reach to hold my chains,
Scars, History of cruelty, Pain.
Love, Compassion, Shine from his face,
Shackles, Links, Shattering, Falling in our embrace.
tg 2-21-2011

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

An Old Piano

The old upright piano seems nestled, she wouldn't say it that way, in the debris on the side of the village street. Her top and keyboard were covered in dust and soot from diesel engines. Missing cobblestones attempt to embarrass her as one of her legs is tipping towards the rubble at her feet.

The dust and dirt on her top looks streaked as though tears ran down the angled top. Her many fingers, once bright and clean, now covered in dust try to hide the missing ivory caps on five of her fingers. Fingers that could sense the spirit of the musician even before his long and excellently manicured fingers touched hers, now they are silent.

The genius of Mozart and Bach, Chopin and Beethoven had given life to her beauty of wood and wire. The beauty and flow of the wood fibers would come alive, like the breath of divinity giving life to wood that yielded itself to the saw many years before. Now in her humiliation she gives up this life, like so many strewn around her. Will anyone mourn her passing?

This piece was the result of a photograph from WWII taken from a French village.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Poem- High Flight

Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter silvered wings.
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun split clouds and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of.

Wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hovering there, I've chased the shouting wind along and flung my eager craft thru footless halls of air.

Up, Up the long delirious burning blue I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace where never Lark or even Eagle flew.

And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space. Put out my hand and touched the Face of God.

Pilot MaGee composed the poem beginning at thirty thousand feet and had it complete before he touched down. It was written on an envelope. He died later in a training accident.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Bitter Old Man

Bitter Old Man

The old man is lying on a dirty old metal bed, the sheets unchanged for weeks.
He lies on his side with his knees drawn up, like he did 80 years ago.
The gray on his head is matched by the gray of his life.
He has been alone now for years, abandoned by all, left to his bed and bitterness.
Life is hard and that is exactly what he taught everybody around him.
His wife, stoop shouldered by the burdens and his words, crumbled under his care.
For years she tried to please him, her efforts only gained more scorn and weight on her shoulders.
Children now gone, haven't seen the old man in years.

His son, his namesake, pledged to never see or speak to him, never to enter the house until it was funeral time.
A daughter, broken by suspicion and cursing, still lives broken, trying to make her daddy happy, five or six times since she saw him last.
He knew they needed to know that the world is cruel and the best a man could do was to work all of his waking hours.
Home, he expected all to understand his life and be content that he put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
His words, never from a warm spirit, only the ones that needed to be said, the food is cold, the chores are undone, the wood needs carrin-in.
He expects respect and obedience, cares not to know what troubles live in his home.
All homes have trouble, life is hard and you just put up with it.

On his bed his hands are shriveling and gnarled, evidence of years of toil, toil he thought so unappreciated, work ignored, sweat unnoticed.
Unaware of the words of a mother to her children, words of work by their father, toil to provide food and shelter, long hard days spent on the end of a shovel.
He looks down at his hands and realizes his heart and soul is just as bent and gnarled as they are.
He mumbles in a voice no one can understand, words that seem garbled, "God what did I do wrong?" Life is hard and they had to learn, the world is cruel and unloving. I did what was best.
A message begins to move deep in his soul, he feels uncomfortable, struggles on the hard rusted metal frame bed.

His stomach churns and his legs move to curb the pain.
A voice very clearly and quietly speaks it's message of unwelcome truth.
Today you are alone, alone on your bed, waiting to die, where are your children?
You are choking on the weeds you planted most of your life.
It is now time for you to realize what you have done, and live and die with it.
Even though you lie here abandoned and scared, yes I will be with you.
I will try and help them understand your life and keep them from your pain.
If only you would have tried to reach me, tried a small amount of kindness.
Soon all your pain and ugliness will end.

Friday, May 3, 2019

A Quiet Repose

Rain drops hang off long slender needles, made a brilliant green by droplets no longer clinging to cloud.
The earth beneath the living statues is soft and covered in a blanket of brown needles.
Thousands, millions, the blanket has no pattern to the eye, to the giver they tell of history, of storms and snow, of wind and sun, passing days and months, years and generations.
The scent that rises from the moist blanket mingles with living needles and bark. The fragrance is beyond description but not experience.
Breathe deeply and fill your soul with peace and tranquility as almost blinding rays of sunlight reach you through branch, limb and needle.
Steam escapes from hidden rooms beneath the blanket as the sun warms the earth.
The blanket beckons your wearied body, go ahead, multitudes of creatures have already felt the comfort.
The blanket is thick and soft, your hand presses down and the blanket gives to your desire.
Lay back and sense the blanket give and move to your weariness.
The scent, the warmth, the moisture, they approach and beckon to lay with you.
Soon you are wrapped in comfort that fills your very soul, yea, every cell.
From your repose, looking up, the living statues reach into and then become part of the heavens.
Sleep overtakes and you dream of heaven, a land of pines, smells and sweet comfort.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Invisible World

After walking in circles for forty years it was time for the Jewish people to settle down. Out of the original adults that left Egypt on two could enter the promised land Joshua and Caleb, With the death of Moses Joshua was given the mantle of leadership. God instructed Joshua in when, and how, he was to lead the Jewish nation in the land of Canaan.

Standing on the edge of the river Jordan  Joshua's obedience to God caused the Jordan to dry up, allowing the Jewish people easy access to their land. Again, the obstacle of water could have stopped the people from acquiring their land. Joshua, listening to God, caused the obstacle to dry up. Upon entering their land one of the first obstacles in their way was the fortified city of Jericho.

Jericho was well fortified and quite large. The walls of the city were built of stone and close to ten feet thick. Behind the walls the soldiers were well armed and seasoned fighters. To the Jewish people the conquest of Jericho would be bloody and quite possibly, unwinnable. Joshua knew that the people were unsure of what was to come. Joshua's time with God would bring the answer, but not the one most people expected.

Joshua instructed the people to march around the city once a day. On the last day the parade was led by the priests. At the end of the march Joshua instructed the people to give a great shout. As the sound of the shouting Jews penetrated the stones they began to shake and crumble. And we all know the rest of the story. The Jewish fighters entered Jericho and the city was taken.

Why is it that the visual seems to be  more powerful that the invisible? The Red Sea and Pharaoh's army petrified the Jews, And, that was after they witnessed the miracles of the plagues and Passover. The report of the spies struck terror in the hearts of the Jews. It was as if Moses, and God, wanted the Jews to perish. And, this took place after the parting of the Red Sea and drowning of Pharaoh's army.

We give power to what we can see. That is not wrong. The speeding car is power. The airplane is power. There is substance to the visible. That my friends is our three dimensional world. But, isn't there another dimension? Is the invisible real? Yes, of course the invisible is real. Our modern electronic devices operate on the invisible, as did the old radios and television sets. The electricity coursing through your home and our entire country is invisible. We can transform that invisible power into images on testing devices, yet it remains invisible.

Is there another dimension? Is there a spiritual dimension in our world, in the universe? Many would say no. If not, how would one explain the power of love. How would one explain the power of sacrifice? What would cause a man, or woman, to sacrifice their own life for the life of another? Love and sacrifice are just two of the unseen spiritual powers in the world. There are many additional virtues that emanate from within the human heart.

We need to be looking past the obstacles before us and really see the gift of the Divine hand of God. He desires our families to be healed and whole. He desires our country to be honorable and Godly. He desires His children to become the shinning beacons of His light we are meant to be.

Look beyond the fortress of doubt and fear. Catch a glimpse of the glorious hope we have in Christ.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Scars


The scars on feet and hand,
Visible across the land.

Did people notice scars on His feet,
As He walked on the cold stone street?

As He raised His hands high
Did scars find one's searching eye?

Did His brow show signs of thorn,
A cruel crown this King had borne?

For now, He is cloaked in Light,
He did cry, It is over, I've won the fight.

Transformed from signs of hate,
Scars will embrace as we pass His gate.

The hatred of men, shown one day,
In His kingdom banished, forever away.
tg 4/12/12
1/21/16

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Feet Near the Earth


Feet Near The Earth, Crowned Brow To The Skies,
God's Arms Outstretched Mankind's Savior Dies.

On The Death Post and Beam,
His Precious Life Blood Does Gleam.

Three Iron Spikes Hold In Place,
Spotless Lamb, Now Dirty Sacrificial Face.

Voice, Whispering, Cracking, Groaning,
Pouring Out Life, For Sinners Atoning.

Parched Throat, Dry Lips, Mercy Please,
Cheap Wine On Hyssop, Creator They Tease.

Deep Into The Heavens Does He Gaze,
Searching, Praying Father, Nothing But Haze.

Completion Of Redemption, He Cries,
Wounded, Bruised Head, He Bows, He Dies.

Cold, Granite-Like Men, Face Death,
Watch, Remark, Christ Of God Gasps, Last Breath.

Now, Their Hearts Hard As Stone,
Strangely Moved, Even Their Sin Atoned.

For They Have Watched Countless Die,
Limp, Lifeless Bodies, Suspended High.

Men, Now Close To Post And Beam,
Ugly Truth Transformed To Beauties Gleam.
TG/3/1/2011


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Palms and Pain


Palms and Pain
Palms waved, a King to see,
Multitudes eager to bend their knee.

Joyous, expectant, loud their cry,
Christ, meek, mild, on a foal passes by.

Cloaks and palms they lay on the ground,
In a week, not a friend to be found.

He didn't arrive, earthly king to be,
Spurned, they would hang Him on a tree.

His kingdom, not visible to their eye,
Veiled and hidden, till after He would die.

Innocent, Pure, His life He laid aside,
In dying, bringing multitudes to abide.

Lifeless body lay in a borrowed tomb,
Mankind's monument to despair and gloom.

On the third day a woman came to see,
To prepare her Lord's body, broken on that tree.

Vacant, empty tomb is what she did find,
Questions, despair on her mind.

Turning around, she finds her Lord,
Wanting to clutch Him, her Jesus adored.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Thoughts or Questions

I would love to discuss questions about Encounter at River's Edge.  Please feel free to bring up any questions. I'm more than willing to talk about the purpose of the story or the characters and their voices in my head. Blessings to all of you that have been so encouraging.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Who is Etche?


Still whispering her song, Rose sat next to Al. She said, “I only have a minute and then I have to get busy again. Isn’t she a remarkable woman! I’ll tell you about her in a couple of minutes, you are gonna be really surprised.” Al thought, “How can I be any more surprised?” Rose got up from the chair and said, “I’ve got to go to Hazel.”
Rose sat across from Hazel, placing her hands on the crisp linen tablecloth. Al could tell Rose was talking to Hazel but this time he couldn’t understand what was being said. A moment later Rose put her hands on both of Hazel’s. Then she walked around to Hazel’s seat. Pulling it out for her, Hazel stood and the smile on her face was an absolute glow. As she turned to walk to the back door, the front door came open.
Hazel turned around to see a man dressed in khaki slacks and navy sports coat standing in the doorway. Without a moment’s hesitation she said, “Frank, it is real, this is such a lovely place. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.” Rose walked over and introduced herself and said, “I will be right with you Frank. I’m just getting ready to introduce your wife to Etche, the River Guide. Please allow me to walk with Hazel to the back door.”
Frank spoke up, “It is okay Hazel my dear, I will be with you in just a short time.” Al watched stunned and emotionally moved as Frank walked to his wife and took both of her hands in his. He bent forward and kissed her on the cheek. Al heard him whisper, “I’ll see you in just a few minutes.”
Just as Hazel turned back to Rose, the back door opened and in stepped the River Guide.  He took Hazel’s hands in his and bent forward and whispered something in her ear. As they moved towards the back door, Hazel turned and gave Frank a wink and a smile. Rose said to Frank, “Welcome Frank, I’m honored to know you. Please come and have a seat.” Rose guided Frank to the table his wife had just occupied.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Etche Enters


Just before Rose and Gene got to the door, it opened and in stepped a man. He was dressed in dark green brush pants, a dark rust colored heavy cotton-canvas shirt, and an oiled dark olive hat. As he stood in the door, his presence was powerful and striking. The stubble on his face, hair to his shoulders, and his countenance gave the impression of a very rugged woodsman. 
Stepping forward, he took Gene’s hand, pulling him forward the two men embraced. As they turned to the door, the newcomer looked across the diner and caught Al’s eye. He gave Al a slight smile and nod of his head.
Gene and the rugged looking man walked out the back door. Rose turned towards Al; her face was glowing as she walked to the table. She said, “I am filled with joy every time I see Etche, the River Guide. And, when I get to introduce a traveler to him, well I’m so filled with joy, I just, I just want to shout.” 
Al was silent as Rose sat on the seat across from him. Finally he said, “What is really going on here? And, who is this Etche, the River Guide?” Rose answered back, “All in good time. All in good time. I have another traveler coming in in just a couple of minutes. I have a couple of things I need to get ready.”

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Al begins writing an Eternal Story


Al stammered, “What do want me to do?” Close to being speechless, he continued, “I do want to be faithful to what God wants from me. There is just so much I don’t understand.”  Rose responded back, “There is a lot you will never understand, at least not here. In a few minutes precious folks will begin coming in. I am going to take care of them. They are going to have the most fantastic meal in their memory. As they come in, I am going to tell you about their lives. I want you to write it all down. And, don’t just write what you see and hear. I want you to write what you sense.”
Al asked, “Can you explain a little more to me? I’m supposed to try to find out what has been going on around here. Gracie is expecting me to come back with a story or a dead end.” Rose said, “I know this is confusing. Your story will come together, but in a different way. As time goes by, you will understand the purpose of your writing. And, I am going to help you see things that have been hidden. Kind of like your camera on the ground.”
Rose got up from the table and said to Al, “I’ll get you a cup of coffee and be right back. And, by the way, in two minutes an elderly man by the name of Gene, is gonna be coming in. When he does, I will be paying attention to him and what he wants. I will come by and tell you about him. Make sure you’re ready to write down his story. You do have your nice leather portfolio from Gracie, don’t you?” Al looked at her nervously as if he didn’t know if he should smile or look worried.
Two minutes later an elderly man pushed the front door open. He hesitated a moment, looking around. His feet shuffled on the old linoleum as he made his way towards the tables. Al noticed a few things right away. He looked like the world had been hard on him for a long time. He wore a waist length brown corduroy coat. The stubble on his face and the hair on his head was the same length. As he walked past, Al noticed a skin condition on his chin and around his mouth. The way he puckered and moved his lips told Al that the elderly guy was missing most, if not all of his teeth.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Al meets Rose

Walking towards him, Rose was carrying a cup and saucer. She set them down and said, “I told you who I am, who might you be?”  Al introduced himself and told her he was reporter from Salmon Stream Crossing. Rose said, “A reporter, what in this world brings you up here?” Al said, “I’m just following up on a couple of things. Seems people say they see strange things along the river.” Rose answered, “Near as I can tell they say strange things been happenin on this river for a couple of hundred years.” “Well,” Al said, “What do you make of it?” Rose answered, “Nothin happened around here that wasn’t supposed to be happenin.”
Rose turned and went back behind the counter. Looking over at Rose he thought she looked familiar. His mind went back to Sarah and their time on the coast. “No it couldn’t be,” he said to himself. “Wasn’t the woman at the old roadside diner, wasn’t her name Rose?” 
“Rose,” he said, “Could I talk with you for a couple of minutes?” “Well sure,” she said. Coming over to the table she sat right across from him. Al asked, “Have we met before? You look familiar to me?” She answered, “Well we sure could have. I’ve been all over and there and back a few times.” Her answer didn’t do anything for his confusion. So, he decided to ask her a direct question. He asked, “Have you ever been in southeast Virginia?” “I suppose I have,” she said.
Rose said, “I suppose this is all pretty confusing to you. You come in here and I haven’t given you a simple answer to any of your questions. You really don’t know why you are here, do you?” Al’s response to Rose was quick, “Well, yes, I do know exactly why I’m here. I’m here because strange things have happened along this river for a long time. And, just a few days ago a guy walked into my office, telling me an incredible story about a man, a boat, and the two times he thought he saw the boat vanish. That is why I’m here."
Rose smiled and said, “That is what brought you here. But, that is not the reason you are here. I wanted you to come here for a story that will help lots of folks.” Al’s chair ground on the old wooden planks as he tried to pull it back.  She said, “Leaving won’t answer the questions still in your soul. You asked me about the south. I know more about you than you realize. I know about the diner, and Bee. I know Sarah and how she broke your heart. I know about your little baby girl. I know about Agape Station.” Al was as still as concrete, stunned, as she continued, “I know Stan, the hotel manager. And. I know Edith.” 

Friday, March 1, 2019

United Hearts


With his foot bouncing a hundred miles an hour on the lower rung of the stool, Jimmy asked Al, “You alright? Please don’t mind me for asking. You seemed a little upset with Gracie.” “Oh, I’m alright I guess,” Al said, “I just think Gracie does too much for me. I’ll talk with her tonight.” Jimmy laughed and said, “That’s exactly what she said, that the two of you would talk tonight.”    
Walking into the living room Al found Gracie sitting in Ray’s chair. A sense of sadness welled up in his heart. He thought, “She will always be drawn to that chair. The smell of Ray’s after shave and tobacco will linger for a long time.” He sat on the edge of the sofa just a few feet from her. “Gracie,” he said, “I want to apologize for what I said at the office. What I really wanted to express to you was, I think you do too much for me. You cook most of my meals, you have been doing my laundry.”
Gracie started to tear up. A moment later she looked at Al and said, “It has been hard these weeks and months, you know, losing Ray. He was such a large part of my life. We loved our work here. For years it was Ray that worked hard. He didn’t want me to work. But, when we came here it was different for both of us. Ray wanted me to work, and we were a great team. I think when I lost Ray I still needed to take care of somebody. I guess that was you.”
Getting up from the sofa, Al walked over to Gracie. Looking intensely at her he said, “I miss Ray. He will always be a very important person in my life. He allowed me to come here, and I will be forever grateful. By coming here I got to know you. You are such an important person to me right now. Please forgive me for being sharp with my words. You are the last person I would want to hurt.” By this time both friends were wiping away tears. Before getting up, Al took both of Gracie’s hands in his and kissed the back of them, “I love you,” he said.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Door Opens Ever So Slightly


Al introduced himself, and asked, “What can I help you with?” As Al was listening, he stretched out the phone cord as far as possible and waved for Gracie to come over. “Sir,” Al said, “I’m going to put you on speaker phone. Is that okay?” The voice on the other end said, “That is fine with me.”

“Okay,” Al said, “Let’s start over. I introduced myself. What is your name? What is going on?” Through the speaker phone, “My name is Charles. I am a dentist in a small town north of Eagle Ridge. I fish the river at least once a week. For the past few weeks I’ve been fishing just downstream from a small restaurant, River’s Edge Diner, I think that is the name. Last week I thought I saw something strange. Today I was at the same spot, and I swear that what I’m going to tell you is the truth.”

Al interrupted, “Excuse me Charles; Is it okay for me to take notes while we talk?” “Sure that’s alright,” Charles said, “You are going to think I’m nuts, so what’s the difference.” Gracie spoke up, “Sir, we are not judging, we want to hear your story.” “Well okay,” Charles continued, “I was at the same spot this morning. And again, I saw this fellow walk down to the river with a man who looked about middle age. They got into the same guide boat I saw last week. They headed across the river and caught the current heading my way. About a hundred yards away….you’re not gonna believe me. The darn boat started to sparkle, like stars were exploding from it, and then they were gone, vanished, and the boat with them.”

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Unexpected from God


Al said, “Gracie, you are a blessing to me and other folks around here. I’m going upstairs and sticking my nose in a book.” On his way up the stairs Al leaned over and kissed Gracie on the cheek. “Good night,” he said, “Thanks for a wonderful evening, and I don’t mean just the food. You are a blessing to me.” Gracie smiled as he went past. She heard him go up the stairs, and she sat back in Ray’s chair. With her eyes closed it would be difficult to see the tiny tear form.
            Al sat on his chair reading for an hour or so and then got ready for bed. He knew the week would be busy, and he was going to be dragging by Wednesday night. As he got into bed and pulled up the fresh smelling sheet and comforter he thanked God for Gracie. Before giving in to his tiredness he thought about the sermon of the morning and prayed that he might be ready for the unexpected from God.
The flashes of light were blinding. Al tried to make out the hands on the big wind-up alarm clock. It was just past midnight. The flashes increased to a steady strobe. The pillow over his head did nothing to mitigate neither the pain nor the nausea. After an hour of wrestling with the light and pain, exhaustion won and the battered man fell asleep.
The morning light found him on the floor, half way to the bathroom.  He didn’t want Gracie to know, so he pulled himself together and made it into the shower. He let the hot water run over his aching and tired body. When he was shaved and dressed, he headed down the stairs and made it past Gracie. Once out the door, he walked over to Chuck’s place.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Gracie comes to church


Al found his usual seat in church Sunday morning. Larry and Jimmy joined him a few minutes later. As he sat waiting for the service to begin he thought that Pastor Hank must be doing something right. Over the last few weeks about half a dozen new people started attending. The preliminary music was just beginning when Jimmy turned his attention to the door. Both Larry and Al caught Jimmy’s movement and looked towards the door. Spotting Gracie all three men stood up.
Gracie saw the three men right away. She made her way to where they were standing and moved past Larry and Jimmy. She took a seat between Al and Jimmy. When she sat, the other three followed her. Al leaned over and whispered in her ear, “I’m glad you came this morning. I think you kind of surprised a few people.” During the service all three men were dumbfounded as Gracie sang with a beautifully clear soprano voice. More than once the three men stopped singing so they could enjoy the pure voice of the most important lady in their life.
Pastor Hank spoke on, “The Unexpectedness of God.” He used a couple of biblical stories to enforce the truth that what we see as unexpected is not at all. God uses events and circumstances for whatever his purpose is. He said that when Jesus turned the water into wine, it was totally unexpected. He challenged everybody to be ready and expect the unexpected. “And,” he said, “don’t be surprised when God brings it to you.”
At the end of the service Larry excused himself and headed out the door. Gracie tried to talk to him before he left but Pastor Hank was quick to get to the back and welcome her. The pastor talked with her for a minute, and then she joined Al and Jimmy waiting outside. There was a chill in the air as they walked the few blocks down the street.
Before Jimmy turned off Gracie invited him over for dinner. She told him to come around six and not a minute later. As they continued she said to Al, “I was intending on asking Larry over as well. I didn’t want to seem to be forward, but I missed talking to him.” Al said, “I’ll see Larry in a couple of hours. I’ll tell him we expect him for dinner at six.”

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A Gift Foretells the Mystery

On Friday the information from the hospital arrived. Al read through the papers and signed the release form for his medical records. He walked the two blocks down to the post office and dropped the envelope into the outgoing box. He walked back to the office and found Gracie, on the phone, as usual. As he walked past her on his way to his desk, she waved for him to stop. Motioning to the phone, he turned and came back to her desk. He heard her say, “All right Bill, I’ll tell Al and I’ll talk with you soon.”

From the snippet that Al heard, Gracie had his attention. When she hung up he asked, “What was that all about with Bill? Something I need to know?” Gracie said, “Bill called to say they found the remains of an elderly man in the river about two miles downstream from where you and Ray were. The coroner said the man died of a severe blow to the back of his head. And, it would be consistent with a victim falling backwards and hitting his head against a large rock.” Al said emotionless, “I guess that pretty well answers that mystery at the river.”
            
That evening, while Al and Gracie were in the dining room Gracie gave Al a brown paper bag. “Open it up.” she said. “I ordered this more than a month ago. Folks from the mail order company never heard of us. Seems like some people don’t even know we exist up here. I wanted to get it for you a while ago. Well, anyway, here you go.” Al looked with surprise at Gracie.

Al sat with the paper bag on his lap. He opened the paper bag and then pulled out a plastic bag. As he looked into the clear plastic bag, the brown paper bag fell to the floor. As he pulled out a natural brown leather portfolio his smile brought an instant smile to Gracie.


Gracie said, “I can’t have you going to council meetings and other important appointments carrying around just a tablet of paper, can I?” Al was motionless for a moment and then pushed back his chair, bending over he gave Gracie a hug. He said, “Thanks, I have never had a leather case, and this is beautiful, and my favorite color.”

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Thoughts Behind the Stroy

Some thoughts behind my novel, Encounter at River's Edge. My highest priority in the story was highlighting the wonderful people that I have know in forty years of ministry. Society would label them as extremely religious people. I knew them and know them as men and women who fell in love with God. Their everyday relationship with Christ was as normal as breathing and as vital as the blood coursing through their veins.
They were not caught in the trap of religion, which is man-made and futile.

The main character is Al. He is as baby boomer who represents many of us. His name is pretty common among boomers. He has no last name, which is intentional, because he has all of our last names. The trauma he endured set him on his path, That path was filled with pain, questioning, and ultimately led to his salvation. Though his path is much different than ours, there are many similarities.

All of us on the spinning orb have dealt with trauma and pain. Accidents happen that bring injury or death and we hurt. Natural disasters blow away our security and we suffer. Some of us have endured the death of a child and no words can ever explain that pain and sense of loss.

Al's trauma and pain led him to the whiskey bottle. And, contrary to the belief of some it was adequate, for a while. It was only when he was stripped of all dignity and sense of self that his eyesight changed. We are very much like that. After all of our efforts at self-salvation have failed we change our vision.

The part of the story that places Al at The Agape Station is meant to be basic and foundational. Reverend and Mrs. Williams represent all that is beautiful of the gospel message. Taking place in a converted grocery store illustrated two types of sustenance. The first use of the store was obvious. It represents every little market in every town that people depend on for their survival. The use of the store as The Agape Station gives great meaning to the words of Jesus, "Man shall not live on bread alone."

Al, with his life now in the hands of God, understands that life must have eternal purpose. He knows that his life is meant to have an everlasting impact upon the world. With his decision made, he heads off into the unknown and unexplored of tomorrow. It takes great faith and courage to step of the cliff of security and into the void of uncertainty.

Al's journey north, into the unknown, will change his life. New people, new friends, new vistas await him. He will have times of great enjoyment and great loss. The single greatest event in his journey is waiting for him.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Al Talks of the Angel Edith


“I don’t mind telling you about myself,” Al said, “I came close to getting killed, and the results left me with pretty bad headaches and nightmares. Close to a year ago I collapsed, and the doctors found a growth in the back of my brain. They did surgery and told me that my future was uncertain; the growth might never grow again or it could come back.”
Al continued, “I went a few weeks without symptoms. And, I really thought that the headaches and dreams were over. But, they’re not. I can live with what is going on. It might sound strange to some people, probably not you, but, I’m okay with whatever happens. The Lord is in control of my life and I know that.”
He went on, “I haven’t told anybody what I’m about to tell you. On my way here, I think I met an angel. Her name was Edith, and she was one of the sweetest old ladies I ever met. We traveled together for a while and she told me some pretty incredible things. She told me that God wanted to use me in a very wonderful way and she really encouraged me. We had coffee at one of the stops and then she said she had to meet her family and walked away. The funny thing was, she said she was walking around the corner and down the street. When we first got out of the bus, I remember looking around the coffee shop and there were no houses down the street. Just the coffee shop, gas station and a couple of old, abandoned clap-board buildings.”
Pastor Hank said, “That is an incredible story. God must have His hand of guidance on you. I don’t understand what this little town has to do with any of it. But, what I know isn’t that important. It’s what God has planned that is vital. Now, as far as an angel is concerned, that is fascinating. I’ve heard of people who believe they witnessed or talked with an angel. What made you think Edith was an angel?” Al said, “That’s simple. She knew things about me that nobody knew. She spoke with an authority that I’ve never heard before. And, I knew in my soul that there was something strangely wonderful about her.”

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Nightmare Demons Continue the War


Sometime in the night, when the stillness is only interrupted by her nocturnal creatures, flashes of light, a child vanishing in a red mist, and infant cries, sent Al falling off his chair. As he tumbled to the floor, he hit his head on the stand, sending his reading lamp crashing down. As he fought away the voices and the vanishing child, he placed his hand on his forehead, the warm blood covered his cupped hand.

Startled by the noise, Gracie was up the stairs and kneeling over him. “Dear God,” she said, “What happened? Did you have one of your nightmares?” With his hand on his forehead Gracie went to the bathroom and brought a wet cloth. She pulled his hand away placing the cool wet cloth to his head. After a minute she said, “Better let me take a look, you might need a couple of stitches.” Gently moving Al’s hand Gracie said, “I think I should call Doc Sam. You ought to have some stitches” “No Gracie,” Al said, “After it stops bleeding just put a couple of butterfly bandages on it. I’m not going to the doctor.”

By daylight they had finished a pot of coffee. Gracie was trying to convince Al to go downstate and see a doctor. She had told him that the general practice doctor wouldn’t be able to help him. Near dawn he agreed that if things didn’t get better, he would travel downstate and see a specialist. She tried to pin him down to a specific date when he would call and make an appointment. She’d have to be content with his word that if things didn’t get better, he would make an appointment.