Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Contentment & Peace- Lessons Learned from a Disabled Duck

Over the past few years my observation skills have greatly improved. This is due to the fact that I prefer to stay in my vehicle, which is safer for all concerned when it comes to such locations of torture and unbridled crazy behavior found in W...M... or other establishments. I have come away with some pretty keen insights, the birds love large parking lots. I have witnessed some really strange things, especially when people don't know they are being observed. When Donna does her hospital visitation in the Toledo area I usually drive. This gives her some time to relax. The most recent trip to one of the hospitals enabled me to observe and be challenged.

Adjacent to the hospital parking lot is a large pond. The pond is in sight of two sections of the parking lot and offers an observation deck for those wishing to sit and watch the ducks and squirrels. I stayed in the car and watched the different flocks of ducks. Some were in the water, most were on the grass that surrounded the pond. As I watched the feathered flocking fowl one duck stood out from the rest. He didn't really have a choice. As the gathering would scramble off to a new locale every minute or so this one duck stayed behind.

The duck in question looked like every other duck. He quacked like a duck, shook his butt like a duck, did every duck thing, except one thing. He could not waddle like like a duck. He was a disabled duck, a floundering fowl, a malformed Mallard. His left leg did not work very well. As the other ducks waddled in unison this poor guy just gimped along. I started to feel sorry for the guy. I thought that he probably really got beat up, verbally, that is, when he took time in the pond doing duck things. I imagined him unable to swim, sorry, paddle, in a straight line. All of the ducks probably quacked a sort of laughing quack as he just kept going in circles.

My thoughts of sympathy quickly vanished as I watched him. The other ducks always followed the lead duck. I have no idea what the requirements are to be the lead duck. I think it has something to do with your quack and waddle. Well, the others would run off after the head duck and Gimpy, my name for him, would pay no attention. He stayed in one place, and in fact  found more food in the place the others ran away from than in two or three places they waddled off too. He was content to stay in his place and look for what was provided. The grass clippings around him must have been filled with all kinds of goodies. As the others ran Gimpy enjoyed the bounty around him.

Gimpy looked like the rest of the ducks, he didn't use a cane or have a handicapped sticker on his back. Gimpy was content, he didn't try to catch the rest and he didn't play on their sympathy. I don't really know how they would sympathize with Gimpy. In the twenty or so minutes I watched Gimpy he didn't move ten feet. Oh, another thing about Gimpy, he didn't blame anybody, parents, siblings/ducklings, friends or foreign feathers. He accepted Gimpy and lived on.

Gimpy was a wonderful lesson to me. He was content in his present, enjoyed what was given, didn't argue with the provider and seemed in peace. A very good lesson for my present, I still fight the present, hoping my future will be like the past, before my disability. I want God to use me like He did years ago. Gimpy showed a  man with a heart for God, but a mind in the past, to live in the present, enjoy the provided and find contentment and peace in following the Lord with a different pace than before. Thank God I am not in some pond swimming in circles.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Banned Books and Rock and Roll

While serving in my second church a very controversial book was at the center of a heated debate over censorship. One group demanded the book be removed from the library because the content was explicit and access to the book was unrestricted. Another group demanded that any book the library deemed appropriate should be available to all. It was decided that the book would be kept, but access would be limited to adults.

As a new believer in Jesus Christ I listened to a conversation by a seasoned minister who thought rock and roll music was a major contributing factor to teen pregnancy. After her community had summer teen dances a number of young girls found themselves pregnant. They debated banning the dances and the music that was thought to be evil.

We are in the beginning stages of the recognition of laws and ethics based on severe judgement. Their are communities across the states that are recognizing certain points of Islamic law. Severe judgement allows for the severed hands of the thief, stoning of the adulterer(usually the woman), killing of a child that dishonors the family name. Orthodox Jews abandoned such judgement, leaving it in the hands of the judicial government that saw the wisdom of combining judgement with compassion and grace.

A movement towards radical judgementalism would seek to extinguish the flames of liberty and freedom. The freedom to think and express, even the most extreme, ideas, books, music, methods of communication, must be safeguarded at all costs. I might think some type of art is trash, some music or written work of no redeeming value, the communicator still must be allowed to communicate. Else some person, or power, tells me I can have no voice.

The personal boundaries of moral and ethical standards restrain liberty and freedom. Liberty and freedom are aspirations, desires, and dreams placed in the human spirit by the Giver of the Spirit. Man desires freedom because he is designed that was, it is part of his essence, his personhood. So, freedom and liberty are very restrictive in their purity. I can do what I desire, I desire to harm no person. I have all of the freedom I want, my spirit has placed limits on my wants. I want peace and contentment, some semblance of security for my wife and children, though, not at the expense of another, or the powers that rule. I want the opportunity for my wife and children to reach their dreams through their own effort and intelligence.

What happens in a society when their are no moral and ethical standards? I believe license and opportunity would lead to devastating immorality and gradual destruction. On the other hand, a people governed by any judgemental and restrictive power is just as doomed to collapse. A moral failure by a person could and would lead to a form of punishment that is barbaric at best and mercy and compassion killing in the severe.

A free and liberty loving people must understand their source of such. They must respect their own moral and ethical standards, and those of others, or lack of in others. The founders of this land listened for more than 150 years of the stories of religious intolerance and corruption at the hands of kings and popes. And they still knew and voiced their conviction that real freedom and liberty came from God.