Monday, February 25, 2008

Blackbird Day

Forget Groundhog Day! Today is Blackbird Day. No, it is not on your calendar. But it is here. I knew it as soon as I stepped out this morning. There are THOUSANDS of returning blackbirds and, to me, that signals the end of winter much more than a rodent's shadow in Pennsylvania.

ps. Don't park under the trees.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Praying Tree

First of all, kudos to the elders at Vaughn Park Church of Christ for beginning the process to select additional elders by bathing the process in prayer. Members of the congregation signed up to pray for an hour at a time and we quickly covered all 24 hours of 7 straight days, ending tonight. For my dedicated prayer time, I wanted to be isolated from people, phones, and traffic. I chose the base of these two oak trees near where I work. It was very quiet, except for the mockingbirds, and peaceful. The grass is green under the drip-line of the trees because the limbs protect it from frost.

This dead tree was next to the two live ones.

After my prayer time, I walked across a pasture to this wooded area with a great little stream and these "hugging trees".

A small underground stream formed a tiny waterfall underneath the roots of this tree.

This tree, in the middle of the pasture, was open on the back because of decay. If you look closely, you can see barbed wire that has grown deep inside the tree and the original nails are still attached to a small piece of the tree! Well, maybe you can see it.

Then, as I headed back to my truck, I looked toward the two original trees where I sat to pray.

Maybe it is corny or maybe you had to be there or maybe it was a frame of mind--but the two trees just struck me as looking like two praying hands reaching to heaven and the light is ALMOST breaking through the clouds.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Religion and Politics

If you are looking for heated debate, either religion or politics serve as kindling. When combined, the debate can become explosive. However, in the aftermath of "super Tuesday" I feel compelled to ask one question. If Mitt Romney's followers' assertions that "an individual's religious beliefs should not matter" then how do you explain that he had mediocre results yesterday everywhere except Utah. In this predominatly Mormon state he received NINETY PERCENT of the republican vote! Does it matter to the Mormons?

Likewise, Huckabee won most of the southern, "evangelical Christian" states, although by only a couple of percentage points in most.

Does what a person believes about God, creation, and why we are here matter? It does to me.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

What's the point?

Just last week another person asked me "Why do you carry a 45 pound backpack loaded with tent, sleeping bag, food, clothes, and supplies for a week up and down mountains to sleep outdoors?" As a master of the quick retort, I am always at a loss for a short answer. In fact, when I am struggling up some of the mountains, I often ask the same question. I guess you have to be there....

...where this is home for the night.


...and your Christian friends share thoughts on God's handywork.



...and this is how you start breakfast...



...after a morning stretch....

...and reflection on the day ahead...



...then you DESCEND into the clouds...

No, I really can't explain it. I guess you just have to be there. And getting there involves some work.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Mr. President?

Mike Huckabee made a visit to Montgomery today for a pep rally on the campus of Faulkner University. Regardless of your politics, it is a little exciting to have a contender for president of the USA visit OUR little campus. It was fun to participate and it is fun to speculate on where the process is heading. Allow this disclaimer; I am no politician and since I am part of what Hillary calls the "radical right-wing extremists", my views clearly are not mainstream America in 2008. So what is going to happen? I do not have a clue. But still, it is like the speculation that builds in the final few weeks of college football season. It is fun to guess and imagine scenarios when you can find someone that can discuss it without feeling personally attacked if you can't agree. I favor Huckabee among the 5 candidates that seem to have a realistic chance at this point. Next Tuesday will clarify matters significantly. Clinton and Obama may go down to the wire. Whether the Republican race is between two or three may be decided Tuesday. It will be interesting when running mates begin to be announced. That will likely include some of the drop-outs. Don't forget, one or more independents can still jump in after the Republican and Democratic nominee is selected. Who would that help or hurt most? Too early to say. One thing that Huckabee is saying at these local gatherings is "Don't let the media dictate who will be president." Clearly, we are all influenced by the media--especially t.v. One indication that Huckabee fully understands that is his traveling companion and supporter, Chuck Norris. It could be troubling for Huckabee that the "Texas Ranger" gets louder applause and more autograph requests than the Arkansas Govenor. I thought LaWanna was shaking Chuck Norris' hand a little too long and I almost gave him a swift blow to the throat. Apparrently he sensed this and moved on.
Here a couple of pictures. Maybe you can make out Helen and LaWanna in the corner just left of the speaker. Also in the pictures are Gwen Chapman and Debbie Norris. Sorry the pictures are not better.