I can’t resist sharing another stroke of genius from the marvelous mind of Mitch Teemley:
I can’t resist sharing another stroke of genius from the marvelous mind of Mitch Teemley:
I’m too far from town to walk to shopping now, but panhandlers occupying busy corners all over town remind me of a few summers back and
On part of my walk to the local strip mall I go beneath an on-ramp underpass rather than cross the busy highway above it. Somebody lives there – possibly a few people. I always look carefully, but never saw anyone. Still, each time I approach I pray; for safety, strength, wisdom but mostly for insight.
I step cautiously along that rocky, eerie path littered with bedding, clothes and rubbish; mostly empty alcoholic beverage bottles, cans and fast food refuse. I once crossed to the other side but it is dangerously narrow along the blind curve. So – no.
For most of my life I’ve carried a small Swiss Army knife, complete with handy tools – way before anyone heard of L.J. Gibbs or NCIS. I taught my sons to practice the same. Days after describing one of my mostly lovely walks to son Quinn, I found a package at my door – a note insisted I carry the content on my walks.
My son didn’t send a tool – it’s a conspicuous, lightweight, gruesome-looking weapon, with a lever to quickly release the serrated blade. I grew up with overprotective brothers and I’ve been through police training. Even with my training I felt uncomfortable about the ominous looking thing – not about carrying it, but having to use it in self-defense.
A few days later as I approached the underpass I realized I typically palm my little knife inside my pocket as I approach. Feeling the new bulge on my belt I distinctly heard from somewhere deep inside,
“…Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.*.”
I kept walking, but thought about the scenario Jesus addressed in that passage. He reminded his apostles His Father was in control and the coming events would actually fulfill prophesies in the coming hours.
My walks are hardly prophetic, but I understood the meaning. Shoulders squared, back straight, my empty hands casually at my sides, I began whistling, announcing my presence to whoever might have been hiding in the shadows. The smells were oppressive, the noise from traffic overhead deafening, so I was glad to return to the sunlight uneventfully.
Delighted to find some of my favorite produce and nuts on sale, I filled my canvas bag. But I kept thinking about the people sleeping on the rocks of the underpass.
By the time I finished shopping and set across the asphalt lot toward home heat already rose in waves.
Gazing up the path before me I ran the rules I’d learned over the years through my mind; maintain a safe distance, know where the shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries are in my area and never give strangers, panhandlers, money – “it ultimately prolongs their problems.”
But I also remember being homeless. Stuck by circumstances, I didn’t trade or abuse substances. Still, I doubt I’ll ever forget being sick with worry about my kids, the judgmental looks of people as I sought employment, the desperation, the longing for someone to give a care. More so, there was the reality that I too could be a paycheck away from homelessness again.
Feeling the weight of the bag on my back, perspiration beginning to form, I stopped beneath a shade tree in the middle of the parking lot. I put apples, carrots and some nuts into a separate produce bag and knotted it so it was airtight. Gazing ahead, once more I asked God to go before me and then started walking.
Approaching the underpass, I called out (in the most rugged voice I could muster), “I’m just passing through. I don’t want anything and mean no harm.” As I stepped around the dirty bedding I set the bag of fresh food on it without stopping.
Cars whizzed by yards away, oblivious to my presence as I stepped back into the sunlight.
When I arrived home I was glad Ellie was there visiting with Erin. As I put the groceries away I described the scenario leading up to the first crossing beneath the underpass. Then I asked for feedback. Ellie thought for a while and then said, “This may sound cliche, but I would ask what Jesus would do.”
She confirmed what I felt. Peace returned and I went on about my work.
The state of our society continues to disturb me, but my primary purpose is to pray, pay attention and obey the Master.
I’m not entirely ludicrous. I asked God about a stun gun. No answer yet. So, I carry the knife. But once in a while I tie up a separate bag of fresh food, take the short-cut beneath the underpass. As I walk along the highway side I place the bag on the wall and announce, “I’m just walking here. I mean no harm…”
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:40 (NLT)
*Matthew 26:52 (NKJV)
Beginning my fourth year with What Next; Behind Roo’s Ruse I’m amazed at all the changes since I began and what I’ve learned. From September 15, 2015:
In the process of life the truly meaningful lessons stick with us and the seemingly unimportant ones redefine themselves along the way. The most significant ones seem to keep reaffirming themselves. Ten things pretty well sum things up for this Boomer:
1. If people ever stop surprising me I will probably be dead. 1. a. I am a people.
2. I alone am responsible for my choices. I may be influenced, but God help me, I choose.
3. People want to categorize people. 3.a. Ignore the categories – no one gets out alive.
4. People like people they can talk with about anything and are also comfortable sharing silence. 4.a. There’s nothing like ‘a good friend and a glass of wine.’
5. Listen with body, spirit and soul; words are optional.
6. When we are young we learn best from our elders. When we are old we learn best from our youngsters.
7. Feel disconnected? Stop and plug in.
8. A single quote from a good movie tells an entire story.
9. To think better, float face up on the water and breathe in the freshest air anywhere.
10. Not much is better than waking up to the smell of coffee and bacon cooking on a campfire.
“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” Proverbs 19:20 (NLT)
In response to the challenge from dear Oneta Hayes at Sweet Aroma, I’m humbly sharing my debut post, the way I threw it out there on September 11, 2014. I defer assigning anyone to do the same, but encourage all bloggers to consider taking a look back (Rules follow the repost). It’s actually fun (mostly) 😉 .
The world is changing. The changes didn’t start on 9/11/2001 yet that was a distinctive milestone.
Yet despite the many changes, some important things are the same as when I was a child – a very long time ago. I’m talking about what makes the world go ‘round; what makes us happy.
Above all the violence, tragedy and the madness, more than ever before I see people care about people. The technological advances in my lifespan alone, the blogosphere all have presented us with more opportunities, advantages that were unfathomable as I was growing up.
We have gone global. Our family, friends, and neighbors – our community has become immense.
Honestly, from my limited perspective life occasionally seems overwhelming; health issues, ecology, economy, strife… We all have dark days when the world feels hopeless. And yet the globe continues to turn, the sun keeps rising on a brand new day.
My dear, sage friend Zoe once said it best: “Every day, you walk out your door, really look around you and help the first person you see. Sometimes all it takes is a smile, say good morning or maybe help carry out the trash…
…The possibilities are endless and it all begins with simply getting out of our heads for a moment, pause, ask the simple, forgotten question, ‘Can I lend you a hand?’ You continue on your way, but you did something.”
Even when it feels like we’re at the end of our ropes, we can get radical and possibly change the course of a day, a life – the world. We start by simply responding to the question, What’s Next? What can I do to help, right where I am right now? I suggest we do the simplest next right thing.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus, The Bible (NLT), John 16:33
Source: What’s Next
A long time ago in a place far away an exceptional human became my friend. Arlene Powers has an infectious passion for living. We met when she picked me from a temp pool to work for her team of professionals. Months later we moved into different departments and then eventually left the Company, but God had glued us together forever.
I don’t recall why we both call each other Bert – it simply works for us. Though she never said it, I suspect Bert recognized I was not your average Accelerati Incredebilis when we met. Always strong, stable, and focused, one would never know she too was familiar with trauma.
I’m frequently thankful most people can’t see feelings and confusion, but Bert does. Pain doesn’t intimidate her, no siree.
Bert recognized the clown in me and patiently coaxed her out. Regardless of my issues, she loved and respected me even when doing so was challenging. In our professional circles our dings were our secret.
Clowning was different from other performing arts I’d ever done, demanding far more work and commitment than I ever imagined. Bert’s passion for it was infectious and I came to love it too.
But not like Bert did. As she typically accomplishes everything she sets her mind to, she designed and hand crafted the most stunningly, beautiful costumes for herself, her daughter and other clowns. Each one unique with lots of hidden pockets and props, they were works of fine, living art. Bert took the art of clowning to a higher level, mastering the craft and then collaborating on books about clowning, costuming and ballooning.
Fellow Clowns, audiences and charities throughout the Southwest enjoyed Arleenie Beenie’s talents for years.
With Bert’s coaching I went to clown camp, trained, developed and copyrighted my face and costume, created props, helped develop skits and routines, together, solo and with other clowns. Adding pantomime, juggling, face painting and balloon art, we were your basic, all-purpose clowns.
Learning to juggle, focusing upon only one thing, was difficult for me. For weeks Bert taught and coached me along patiently, employing an allegory that became my mantra:
A man weighing 190 pounds had to cross a bridge carrying three five-pound boxes. The bridge could hold no more than 200 pounds.
How did the man get all the boxes across in only one trip?
The answer of course, he juggled them.
The bridge is life. The boxes are our struggles, emotions and griefs. The only way across the bridge is to juggle the boxes. We can keep them all within our purview, but we must concentrate on catching each one as it drops. For me the allegory was a game changer.
Though Bert saw what I couldn’t, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher-Bert’s face as I added a third, and then fourth Hackey Sacks to my routine. She radiated the joy of accomplishment for us both.
I imagine that’s how God sees us; laughing with us when we’re just plain silly, and practicing our way through our challenges. Bert also coached me as I juggled my gushing thoughts and overwhelming feelings.
I gave up the Hackey Sacks, Nerf balls and rubber pet fish, but juggling became my personal foundational skill. While I occasionally drop some of my stuff along my way, I keep the boxes moving.
Though I stopped performing publicly after a couple of years, Annie Roo became the biggest part of me. Over the years I became grAnnie Roo. Bert remains the Bertimus Maximus and still creates beautiful art, mostly of birds and she donates all proceeds to Liberty Wildlife and other sanctuaries. She’ll tell you she’s just doing important Bert things.
I have a living example of God’s delight in me, remembering Bert’s face as I jumped the next hurdle, mastered the next challenge.
In loving memory of
my eternal friend, Arleenie “Bert” Beenie/Arlene Powers
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)
Stuck in town I was able to access the reader and came upon Jay’s post. I’m a fan of networking and Jay Colby; Life, Inspiration and Motivation. Stop, browse around and share:
J.Gi is one of those super-techs who doesn’t mind explaining the ins-and-outs of cyber world, makes them less mysterious to non-tech people like me. Gi explained the mysteries of SEOs, Twitter and keywords, making them interesting as she described the gears. As busy as she gets, J.Gi makes time for friends.
Another new blogger friend thoughtfully commented to me (privately – I appreciate not wanting to embarrass me) that the photos in my posts can be too big to view.
Thanks to bloggers like J.Gi, me being a newbie blogger, I rarely know what other bloggers don’t – until then. “I’m all over this,” I thought. In private emails I got to tell her how to navigate around posts more easily. We got to chatting and I shared links to WordPress tips and tricks and Blogging U courses – which are wonderfully helpful as well as fun – I’m very easily entertained. Annnd then I noticed I’d forgotten to press “send” until now. Sigh.
Isn’t our blogging community wonderful that way? There’s some kind soul to encourage, help or give a heads up. We’re all in this together, after all. One hand washes the other.
I feel astoundingly accomplished now. I apologize in advance for my next faux pas.
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)
As Kiera advances[*] her stylish, world-class mom hat continues to adorn her entire persona. For Erin and me, Kiera’s bi-monthly (or so) visits are occasions for tea. I enjoy entertaining, take each opportunity to put on slightly more festive airs, and I continue to learn from her.
Kiera and my mother were friends before the latter departed when I was thirteen. In her absence, Kiera and Newlyn stepped in aiding Daddy and our family whenever appropriate. For that we shall be eternally grateful.
Early after my arrival here I noticed that though any number of canine fur kids typically join their family, cats do not. Only the most stubborn, crafty feral felines dare challenge the pack of five Amstaff and Pit Bull Terriers to retain their standings in the family properties. Kiera is also allergic to cats.
Soon into Kiera’s visits here Erin will ask me for Benadryl. That would be for Kiera, who quickly becomes congested, her eyes redden and water, and soon afterward she develops headaches – much like me. I stock diphenhydramine for those occasions when elevated pollen counts disrupt my rest. I prefer to control symptoms of fur and dander allergies with more natural foods, a vigilant cleaning regime, exercise and supplements, but occasionally I too must pop a pill.
During the waterworks challenge I noticed Kiera resists our fur kids no better than I do, caving in to pet and scratch them. After asking how she does it, she explained, “Well Roo, I will leave soon and get over it. I’m just careful to not touch my face or neck after petting Coco and Lucky, brush my clothes and wash my hands – often.”
While Erin is away the fur kids become pitifully anxious. Before long at all, empathy drives me to distract them if only to silence Lucky’s mrowling and hopfully dissuade them both from joining me in my room/office space. Over the months we’ve developed a routine of cooing, brushing, chasing a laser beam, and finally spreading dried catnip on the carpet – in the living room. Their antics with the catnip is entertaining for me too since vacuuming is a daily task no matter what other chores await Erin’s return.
I will continue to be congested, head achy, marvel over occasional, colorful rashes and my nose continually feels like it is lined with cracking concrete. No. Matter. What. I know, TMI. The point is, I afford it for my dear old friend and the beauty of the Western Slope.
At least misery continues to love company. I can always walk it off – every hour.
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life [or sinuses] for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NLT)
[*] While she’s clearly finished child rearing but enjoying great-grand parenting, Kiera isn’t aging mentally whatsoever. In her middle eighties she is advancing.
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