The cool air blows through mountains. Changing leaves are shaken loose carried to river. They float like tiny rafts racing to the sea. Soon the last leaf will fall and the forest will sleep through the winter. As I look at the single leaf caught in the eddy of the mighty Kanawha River I have to contemplate how it’s all connected. Not a single leaf drops from the forest without God’s knowledge. No life is insignificant. As I continue to watch the circling leaf I see that the pattern repeats and the leaf returns to same spot where it almost breaks free and the current draws it back upstream. What is needed to free the leaf is a disruption. As a child playing near water I learned that if I could make a big enough splash by tossing a rock into the eddy I could disrupt the pattern and free the leaf to continue it’s journey.
As humans, we are creatures of habit. We are trying to get just a little further in our journey down the river of time but we get caught up in life’s eddies. We get to point where we almost break free and the current draws us back towards the past. We need a disruption to break us free. There have been times in my life when I felt like God was tossing rocks into my nice smooth eddy. I was content to ride that eddy until it eventually pulled me under. The loss of a job, a wrecked vehicle or some other personal disaster abruptly changed the pattern. As I look back on my life I realize that these events were not attacks but instead they were opportunities to advance. Sure it’s unsettling to have your nice comfortable pattern shattered and you have to struggle to get above water again but you have to trust that God knows what he’s doing and look for new current that will take you to the next leg of life’s journey.
As we began to enter into the dark days of winter I know that there will be people who struggle emotionally. Life doesn’t seem to be vibrant and joyful. Let me suggest that you might just be craving a change in the pattern. Try something new. Take an alternate route to work. Or, in some cases find a new job altogether. (Be responsible and make sure that it’s not negative impact overall). Go visit an old friend or make a new one. Whatever you choose do something that breaks the routine. Remember that no life is insignificant and even though you may not understand what’s happening that you matter to God.
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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled ” Sycamore Leaf On A Small Journey ” and is available for purchase by contacting me on Facebook or by using the Contact Form on my website.
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Tonight’s image is an old mile marker that’s found along an abandoned road near the Meadow River in West Virginia. Apparently it marks mile number 42.
Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Universe have already begun to snicker. For the rest of the world here’s why. In the book and subsequent movies a large supercomputer named Deep Thought was built to answer the ultimate question of “What is the meaning of life, God, the universe and everything?” After billions of years Deep Thought came up with the answer 42. The irony was that the people who built the computer were long dead and by the time the answer came nobody could remember the question or why it was asked. Now, to be honest I have never read the book and was only present while the movie was playing. As such, I’m only familiar with the trivia. But when I heard the story I began to appreciate implication.
We as humans seem to be hardwired to want to skip learning experience and go straight to mastery of just about everything. We want the “cheat codes”. So much so that we often put more efforts into gaining the cheat than we do experiencing the win. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide the scientists and priests who spent all that time looking for the meaning of life did so at the expense of living life to its fullest. This is the folly of trying to win at all costs. It’s the struggle that makes the victory sweet. If you skip the struggle then the victory is hollow and you never really get to experience it fully. What’s more is that you tend to be so focused on the goal that the importance of the original purpose is lost.
Maybe I’m making that very mistake myself in trying to make my point. Let me close by simply saying that life is an adventure. One that you’ll miss if you try to skip ahead.
Oh and the answer to the question asked by Douglas Adams? Well, I have an opinion of course. The meaning of life, God, the universe and everything is that we were created by God to know the love of our creator. That’s it. It’s that simple. No need for advanced AI or billions of years waiting for an answer that’s as vague as the question. Just talk to him and listen for answers.
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The mid morning sun has driven away most of the clouds. As I walk the gravel road that leads into the forest I’m aware of almost everything that moves just inside the trees. Several squirrels and a few chipmunks scurry around looking for the first of fallen acorns. The birds flitter from branch to branch. The buzzing of insects is all around. A few leaves tumble down from the canopy. The sounds of nature fill the air. The rapids in the Gauley River below roar and the voices of the other park patrons blend into the chorus. There are five females, two males and three children all near the playground. I can’t see them. But I know that they are there. I can follow the concentration of the bird noises which grows softer where the humans are present. Deeper into the forest the chaos of the outside world fades away. I can smell the horseshoe fungus growing in a black locus tree. The smell of Wintergreen tells me a large birch tree is nearby. As I drop over the hill the forest opens up into a small clearing. A stump left behind by the park rangers is the perfect spot to enjoy the solitude. A place where the unbroken chain of thoughts and contemplation can lead me to a place where inspiration lives. And then it happens. An idea is born and it grows into a dream. And the dream was wonderful. I’ll open the little file in my memory and tuck the dream safely away for now. I began to walk back to my big blue truck occasionally peeking into the file in my memory checking on the little fledgling dream. He has to be kept safe and warm while I prepare a place for the dream live.
If your mind can conceive and your heart can believe, then your will can achieve.
Our dreams are possible only if we work to make them real.
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They always ask, “Do you remember where you were on September eleventh, Two Thousand and One?” Yes, yes I do. I was working for the prefab housing plant and we had been able to transfer to a new plant that was closer to home. The housing market was really starting to drop off and work was slow. We kept a radio on because the internet was barely off the ground and in rural West Virginia the only access was at a public library. We were taking our good sweet time to complete the day’s assignments. It’s nice to be able to knock off early occasionally but when it’s every day it really cuts into a paycheck. The radio signal was very weak and the static was horrible but we could enjoy the classic rock as we double and triple checked our measurements. Through the static and over the sound of the hammers and power saws we heard the words Plane…Hit…Tower. The line boss hit the emergency stop and the whole plant fell silent. We changed the station on the radio and redirected the antenna to pick up the AM news station. The details were starting to come in and one of my coworkers was drawing with his finger in the sawdust. Being curious I stepped over to look at what he drew. The numbers 911. That was about the time that the first tower collapsed.
The boss shut the lines down for the rest of the day but kept us on the clock with the excuse that he was calling for more blueprints and didn’t want us to leave and then have to call us back in. I spent the rest of the day out in the lumber stacks looking up at the crystal blue sky. It was the first time since the early 70s that I couldn’t see a contrail.
I listened to the memorial service today. The thing that held my attention this year was the children and grandchildren of the 9-11 victims and the hope that they carry for the future. What was born out of all that pain and suffering was a generation that’s dedicated to the betterment of mankind as a whole. Young people who want to cure cancer and solve problems all kinds.
God takes the bad things that happen and uses them for our benefit. As we remember the past and the loss let’s not be trapped by the memory. Instead, let’s honour those who’s lives are memorialized in art and verse by building a future that they would be proud of.
I don’t pretend to know how many miles of roads there are in the world. I’m pretty sure that it’s a lot. Highways and byways, dirt roads are jeep trails stretch out like an intricate web across the globe. Some roads are major interstate highways and others can only be traveled by foot. And oh the places where they can take you! There are large metropolitan cities with amazing architecture. Glass and steel and concrete comes together in an artful pentacle that pierces the heavens! I’ve been on roads that go under the mountains and even under the very sea itself! I pass by roads every day and wonder where they end or, even if they do end at all. But no matter how far you travel or what wonders your eyes drink in there’s one road that’s the most welcomed of all of them. This one road will take you to a place where you are the most content. It’s a special road that ends in a different place for each of us. In case you haven’t guessed, it’s the road that brings you home. No matter how rocky or how many twists and turns and no matter how high the hills that you have to climb are the road home will be the one most eagerly traveled. An old Irish blessing goes…
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the rains fall softly on your fields.
And, until we meet again may God hold you gently in the palm of his hand.
Tonight’s blog post is dedicated to my fellow West Virginians who are living out of state and being evacuated from the path of Hurricane Florence .
There are days that are absolutely awesome. The birds are singing, the clouds are big and puffy, and sun is shining. A balmy breeze rushes through and seems to give you a hug as it passes on beautiful days like that. Warm summer days are days that are custom made for creating memories. A quick trip to the park or the lake and nothing to do except be with a loved one and hold hands while taking a leisurely stroll. I wouldn’t need a camera to have the image of such a day forever in my heart.
But, today is definitely not one of those days. Today we have a visitor to our wild Wonderful West Virginia. The the last tropical storm to make landfall on the Atlantic coast has decided that we need to enjoy it’s presence. The wind has been relatively quiet but the rain bands have pushed their way past the natural barrier of the Blue Ridge Mountains and are planning a few days of fun. In truth it means that those who have come to enjoy the white water rafting and kayaking will have a great time with our rivers swollen from the rain. It’s something that happens quite often this time of year. The sky is dark and foreboding and for a while every stream coming off the mountain is a miniature river. These are the days when I take the sunshine out of its bottle in the form of a photo. I’m instantly drawn back into that perfect sunny day. I can even smell the dinner being made on a grill.
We can’t expect that every day will be awesome. Rain has to fall and like everything else there will be days when we have more than we need at the moment. That’s life. On other days we’ll see more than out share of beautiful weather. My whole life I’ve been told to look on the bright side. As I’ve grown I’ve discovered that looking on the bright side is much easier when you carry the sunshine inside of you.
I remember the country store. We still have a few country stores in the world but not many. There was one gas pump (Petrol for my international friends), a variety of canned goods, perishables such as fresh vegetables and hardware. There was no vending machine. Instead a large chest near the counter kept eight ounce glass bottles of soft drinks on one side and beer on the other side. In the back of the store you could find a small selection of sporting goods. All of fishing tackle, shotgun shells and 22 caliber rifle rounds were common as was traps for fur trappers. But the most sought after resource to be found in the country store was the counter itself. Not a counter that’s crammed to brim with cheap impulse buys but a spacious wooden counter that worn down from being well used. It’s stained with coffee and soft drinks and scratched from hardware or change being tossed down at checkout. A properly equipped counter in a country store comes with a smiling face and plenty of conversation. In the days before Facebook we made a public post by mentioning something to clerk ( Who was usually the owner/operator). The clerk would then leak the news to the next customer during his checkout. ( yup, back then gossip was done without any social media). There was a bit of an art to being a clerk in the country store. Just the right amount of conversation and gossip would keep the customer in the building long enough to encourage a subsequent purchase but not so much that they felt trapped. The clerk knew everyone in the community and what gossip to keep to himself. ( A built-in spam filter!) Well, most of the time anyway.
Today mostly what you find is the convenience store. The best way to tell the difference between a country store and a convenience store is the atmosphere. A country store is welcoming and inviting where a convenience store is focused on bulk processing of sales. The later type is usually clean and neat with no coffee stained counters and very little in the way of a relationship with the customers. Just pay and get out. With the onset of automation the friendly clerk will be replaced by computer and a scanner.
My friend Sophia and I was commenting about how something made by human hands was more valuable than something stamped out by a machine. As we move forward into the brave new world of robots and app purchases consider the value of the people who are out there building their business based on a relationship with the community rather than just bulk processing of sales. ( And do stop by Sophia’s blog. She covers a broad range of things from an intelligent and interesting angle in the UK. )