Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bear Tooth Highway

The SHADOW knows what lurks
in the hearts of chipmunks ...

A Rodent off the road
of the Bear-tooth Highway ...

In Northeast region of Yellowstone NP
the Pronghorns run wild ...

Yellowstone can be very scary ...
this tree, for instance, was too Petrified to move!

Shards of Peace

When we believe in our right to happiness we will have happiness – Melody Beattie

I looked outside the other day and saw a foreign object lying on the grass in our front yard. Going out to investigate, I found someone had tossed a beer bottle against the line of rocks that separate our castle’s keep from the unbridled hoards who might wish to break our peace. Instead, they broke the bottle and the shards littered our lawn.

It was sad to see this little idyllic town of ours marred by the thoughtless act of some dunderhead who felt it proper to lighten his load by tossing his empty container into the quaint little lot with which God had seen fit to bless us. But, that’s what he did (referring to the dunderhead, not to God).

There was a side of me that wanted to gather up fragments, bag them up for evidence, and send them off to the finest crime labs in the country to be reassembled in CSI fashion, so that our town Constable could chase down the impudent creature and toss him/her off to the State Rock-pile for maybe a day or two shy of eternity.

But then again, I am a man of peace and know better than to think that way.

Oh sure, there are times I would like to stand fast like Gandalf the Gray on the Bridge of Moria, face the Balrog, staff in hand, and declare with thunderous power, “You shall not pass!” But those times are far and few between, and one really shouldn’t be doing that to the four and five-year-olds who ride up and down our street on their bikes. They could start to think me quite weird and, besides, are probably not the ones who desecrated my front yard.

It occurs to me that the desire to wreak mayhem upon those who do bad things isn’t always a healthy response. It’s a natural response, naturally, but it isn’t necessarily healthy. For one thing, I find it gets my blood pressure up. I can practically feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins, raising my pulse and respiration and, frankly, it’s not a feeling I like (although it is better than no pulse, to be sure).

Now, some people enjoy an adrenaline rush, but I’m not one of them. It makes me irritable. When I’m watching a game on TV and my team is not doing well, I start to yell at the players, coaches, and referees. I start to take what’s happening personally, and the results aren’t always pretty. Even though purple is an appealing color for a flower, it doesn’t look that good when it is the primary shade of a television viewer, like me.

So while my initial response to an event or situation may be primal, I find it helpful to take a moment to actually … oh, what’s that word I’m looking for? Oh right … I find it helpful to actually “think” – to put some thought into what’s going on.

While there are some things for which digging a ditch and dying in it are appropriate, a broken beer bottle in the yard is probably not one of them.  Gathering stones and building an eight foot wall around my yard and topping it with razor wire is probably not the best response I could make. Digging a moat around the property and filling it with alligators or piranhas is probably a bit of over-kill, too. 

The point is, there are some things that are simply out of my control. Yes, a broken bottle is an irritation, but it does not call for a nuclear response. In fact, most of us can actually control how we respond to those petty annoyances in life (and by extension, the larger issues of life, as well).

I can choose to wish the person ill who tossed their garbage into my yard, or I can wish him well. That choice is mine to make. I find when I wish someone well, no matter what they’ve done, it is easier to forgive and forget. They will eventually suffer the consequences of their actions if they continue the path they’re treading, so I don’t need to fret over it.

Anyway, that’s been my week and, I think, this is more than enough trash talk for now here in this, our valley.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

American Goldfinch


A small tiny bird came a'flappin' at the door

"Lemme in, lemme in," was his fervent implore

He pecked and he flapped and he raised quite a fuss

but no matter the song, he not once did cuss

When I asked him to enter, away he did fly

and went to the bush, where I'm sure he did cry.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Solving Life's Puzzles

The world is not dying for another book. But it is dying for the rest of God – Mark Buchanan

The story is told of a man who dies and finds himself in a foyer with two doors. Before each door stands an angel identical in every way. One door is a portal to the hot-house, while the other leads to God’s presence. The only aspect in which the angels differ is this: One always tells the truth, while the other only lies. What question must the man ask the angels if he is to enter paradise and avoid perdition?

I’m not fond of puzzles, but I like figuring things out.

Years ago I lived in Spokane and needed to contact a friend in Pullman. This was in the mid-1970s. I had some important information to pass along, but when I dialed the number I received an automated response: “We are sorry; due to technical difficulties, your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please try again later.”

I tried a bit later, but received the same message as before, so I called the operator to see if she could put me through. The operator told me the lines between Spokane and Pullman were down, so the calls could not be completed.

“But I have to get through,” I insisted. “It’s not life or death, but it’s really important.”

She was sympathetic to my plight, but knew she couldn’t put my call through when the lines were down.

“Well,” I continued, “Can’t you go in through the back door?”

She asked what I meant, so I asked if she couldn’t route the call over to Coeur d’Alene, down to Moscow, and into Pullman that way.

Her voice brightened; she told me that was possible, and so that’s what she did. The connection was made, the message communicated, and all was right with the world!

I like problems that have solutions. Actually, I don’t like having a problem, but I like knowing that there are few things in life that happen for which we can’t find a way through. The best problems are those we tackle – not alone, but with companions, friends, associates, or others who care enough to help.

There is the old adage: A problem shared is a problem halved, or (as Shakespeare might have expressed it): To half or to half not; that is the question.

People sometimes complain they see no reason to go to church. “It’s full of hypocrites,” they often say.

Of course, they are correct. I’m in no position to debate the matter, for the fact is the church IS full of hypocrites, but there’s always room for more!

If one can have a conversation, I would not challenge the assertion, nor would I challenge the conclusion. One is certainly free to attend church or not as one sees fit. That decision is theirs to make, and not mine to challenge or correct.

If, on the other hand, one asks me why I go to church (and no, it’s not for the paycheck), I would tell them I go because it is a watering hole for the thirsty, a buffet for the hungry, a first aid station for those who hurt, and a house of hugs for those who are lonely.

I go to church because it is a place where people share their experience, strength, and hope with one another; where they find forgiveness for the wrongs they’ve done, and healing for the wrongs they’ve endured.

I go to church because it is the back door through which God’s message of eternal love for the other gets through, even when other lines are down or the power is out.

Oh sure, the pews are hard and the people are – oh, how shall we express it? The people are so human, but hey, that’s where God has called us; so we gather with all our little quirks, imperfections, and defects of character; we share our problems, we find them halved, and we see God in the process.

So, that’s why I go to church.

It is also where I learned the answer to the story with which I opened: “What door did you say this was to the last person who asked?”

Think about it, and have some fun with life’s puzzles in this, our valley.