Monday, September 13, 2021

Saturday, September 4, 2021

O God, Our Help

The quiet notes of the piano played behind the pastor's prayer.  In my mind I began to sing the words of the familiar hymn...O God, Our Help in Ages Past.  That hymn has played in my spirit like a tape recording on a reel as I've watched the coverage of our troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.  It has been a heavily emotional week, with memories tugging my heart.  What does it mean for our nation and our world?

The hymn drew my thoughts back twenty years.  Because of the September 11 attack, the country was called to a day of prayer by President George W. Bush.  The service at the National Cathedral was broadcast in its entirety and I will always remember the scene.  I found it on You Tube (C-Span) and watched that 2001 service with 2021 eyes.  All the living presidents and first ladies at that time were there except President Reagan who was too ill to attend.  There they stood...the Carters, Fords, Clintons, elder Bushes, and George and Laura Bush.  Behind them were rows and rows of members of Congress and other national leaders.  As the service began, they stood together and sang the words written in 1708 by Isaac Watts:

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast, 
and our eternal home;

under the shadow of your throne
your saints have dwelt secure.
Sufficient is your arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

A thousand ages in your sight
are like an evening gone,
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
be thou our guide while life shall last
and our eternal home.

Could we have a service like this again?  Would all the living presidents put their differences aside and sit together for an hour?  The country is so did we get from there to here?  We had just been slammed on our own shores like never before...more than 3,000 lives lost when the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell, the Pentagon was attacked and passenger planes went down at the hands of armed hijackers.  And the theme of the prayer service was national unity.  Several speakers remarked that we were coming together to face a common enemy and we would be stronger together in recovery from this tragedy.  

We fought that common enemy for twenty years.  The enemy still lives.  And what is next?  What do we do now?  As we observe September 11, 2021, I believe the only answer is to go forward, leaning on the One who has been our help in ages past.  The words are just as strong today as when they were written in 1708: 

Be thou our guide while life shall last 
and our eternal home.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Love the Feet

May you live to see your children's children.
—Psalm 128:6

It was a scorching August day in Jacksonville, FL twelve years ago when we took Nathaniel for his first photo session. Daughter Becky, her husband Victor, granddaughter Charlotte and I took our little peanut into the studio and began to prop him up for the camera. There were many other pictures that day, but this one has become my favorite, especially because the company created this presentation of his little feet. It has been on my shelf ever since.

Nathaniel is the youngest of our four grandchildren. He's got a personality as big as all outdoors and a smile to match. He wants to do everything - play sports, swim, ride his bike, play video games, enjoy his friends. You name it...and be careful if he talks you into a game of Monopoly. One recent game ended for me when I landed on one of his properties. We had humored him when he kept adding houses. The joke was on us. My rent was $1200. Wiped me out, to his great glee. To say that he's competitive is...well, you know.

Nathaniel's feet work just fine and believe me, they've covered some territory. His natural ears, however, don't work. He has been deaf since shortly after he turned five. The doctors can't tell us what happened—probably a virus we didn't even know he had. At first, the news knocked our family for a loop. How do we deal with this? But we pressed on and our little guy threw himself into the game, as he always does. Within two years, he had a cochlear implant on each side of his head. The surgical procedure put equipment on the inside of his head and there is a removable magnetic piece that attaches on the outside. It looks like big hearing aids. For Nathaniel, his "ears" are a conversation starter and he's very knowledgable about the technology. Recently, he had a nice conversation with a little girl in a restaurant. She told her mother she wanted to talk to him because she had them, too.

This youngest grand of ours will be 12 years old on August 7. He outgrows his clothes as fast as we can buy them and I see him becoming a teenager in front of my eyes. When they come for a visit, he's always the first one up every morning. He quietly gets his cereal, turns on the TV and lets the rest of us sleep.

And while the rest of him grows, well...there are those feet.

Do you have photos or mementos that capture one of your family members—a "grand," a great," or anyone else—in a particularly endearing way? What about grabbing a cup of your favorite beverage (for me that would be coffee, but you do you!) and taking five minutes or so to write a little bit about it? You can share your writing with family and friends or just use it to savor that person's unique place in your life.

While you ponder that, I'll take a moment to wish my daughter's sweet child a happy birthday.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Someone's Little Boy

I made a new friend last year. Beth Redman Kray thinks in rhyme and she has the talent to give breath to the most mundane little pieces of life. At the urging of her friends (thank you, friends!) she published her first book of poems, Life Song, in 2020. 

As she began to post a few on Facebook, I started asking around. Who is this gal? It turns out that we grew up on the same street although she was a few years behind me. We are two Vero gals, who now enjoy sharing coffee and chats at our favorite place, Coffee House 1420...formerly the Rexall Drugstore on the corner of 14th Avenue and 20th Street.

The poem that I share here with Beth's permission grabbed my spirit because I have had this same thought. She had the gift to put it on the page. 

 As the grandmother of three boys, I leave it here with prayer.

Someone's Little Boy
He yelled, "You're just a piece of trash!
Go on! Get outta my face!"
The homeless man just turned around
to find another place.

As he stumbled off I thought,
how did he end up here?
He once was someone's little boy.
What happened year to year?

And what about the angry man
whose tolerance was gone
and left him blind to only see
a bum to spit upon?

He too was someone's little boy.
What happened year to year
to fill his heart so full of hate,
his mind so full of fear?

As all God's children, they were made
with souls behind that clay,
and so I thought, where lies the blame?
What led them each astray?

When I got home I hugged my boy
and said a fervent prayer
that he would never meet such fate
as I had witnessed there. 

—Beth Redman Kray, from Life Song