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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Walkin' Around Heaven in Shoes?

Old songs, as my readers know, often spark ideas for my new blogs. This morning it was that one that says, "I got shoes. You got shoes. All God's children got shoes. When I get to Heaven gonna put on my shoes and gonna walk all over God's Heaven...everybody's goin' there, Heaven."

So, as the little ditty ran through my head I wondered, Why should I need shoes in Heaven? Wouldn't Heaven's streets be paved with gold, smooth, safe, clean, beautiful? Silly, but often my questions won't leave me until I reason them out. This pesky little question kept hanging on and I decided to make it a blog. Writing is my way of learning some things I can't find readily in books. When I write I listen and when I hear, I type. Click, click, click. Words come out, ideas spring forth like popcorn ink on a page, arranging themselves until I can read them and they make sense.

When I was a child my family lived in a house connected to a country gas station in the southeastern tip  of Minnesota at the intersection of the two main highways 52 and 16. Unlike most children, we rarely got to go outside barefoot and never at home. We couldn't feel the grass between our toes or relish the sensation of sloshing in the mud. Why? Because our home was somewhat of a public place. People who stopped for gas and oil would often fish a bottle of pop out of the ice box, take it out into the yard and, when finished, throw it at a tree or rock. It's really hard to believe that littering was so common it was not considered terribly wrong until Smokey Bear came along. We children would get the job of gathering up the broken bottles, bottle caps, candy wrappers, cigarette stubs etc. It was not a job for bare feet.

So, I asked again, If in Heaven everything would be clean, pristine, pure, no litter, no trash, then why would God's children need shoes? The answer came suddenly: Earth is in Heaven. It's, say, like one of the lower grades in school. Until we learn how to deal with the hazards life presents Heaven teaches us how to avoid them until we can see through them, how to keep our feet shod.

But, no, my pesky little question still kept bothering me. How could I have any corner of Heaven less than heavenly? Surely there is no place in Heaven for broken bottles, broken vows, broken hearts, or broken anything. Why would we need shoes there? Well, I reasoned, What if perfect Heaven is here but our eyes and minds are not yet developed enough to see it, appreciate it, enjoy it? I know that there is a school of mathematics far more advanced than I have gone in the study. But it is working, even so. It cannot be denied or violated. It works whether I know how it works or not, but to enjoy the harmony of this Heaven I'm in more fully I'll need those "shoes" to protect me.  I could stumble, get cut, be infected. Ignorance is like going barefoot in a junk yard.

It used to be hard to understand how other kids got to go barefoot all summer and we had to wear shoes and even sox every time we set foot out the door. I never got a sliver in my foot or had a cut from a broken bottle but I saw the doctor pull out a huge sliver from my little brother's foot. It was a graphic lesson. He healed, of course, but it was plain to see that shoes, obedience and wisdom could have prevented the pain of one little boy.

Heaven, as I see it, is not a dangerous place but ignorance, doubt and fear are because they have no place in Heaven. There is a totally good God in charge but His law only helps us. Its truth is a danger, never to us, only to error, no matter how we may seem to suffer if we've been going barefoot. Every day I can say to myself, I'm going out walking 'round Heaven today. But I'd better wear my good old shoes!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Old Flames

The song starts, “My old flame, can’t even remember his name...” I can remember though. I remember because I always thought the flame would last. 

First there was Eddie Moorehead. He sat a few seats ahead of me in the second row of fifth grade. He may have turned around once or twice but all I remember is my feelings for Eddie were one-sided and that’s the way I wanted it. I was content to just sit and stare at him.

In junior high school David Lovejoy admired me openly but anyone that easy to get didn’t interest me much. I'd rather dream about Nelson Eddy, my movie idol. Still, I had a little fun stringing Little Lord Lovejoy along. A more serious candidate, his name was Al, gave me my first kiss. After that I didn’t like him.

In high school the assistant band director was a dark haired handsome fellow, three years older, named Harry Ericson. I was steady with Harry all four years. I used to spoon with him in his car at a favorite parking place with the car radio playing love songs, but we never got past the kind of kissing we’d seen in the movies. (You of younger generations may need to watch a few of the 40's movies to see what I mean.) I think, besides the eleven o’clock curfew Daddy imposed, there may have been some such threat as, “You go too far with my daughter and I’ll ...” Our last summer together Harry was drafted into the Army and I left home to live with my grandmother in Riverside, CA and attend the Community College.  

The older brother of a classmate in college saw my picture in the paper after I’d won a pin-up girl contest at a party for Battery C at Camp Haan. He had to meet me and he was a persistent fellow. His main pluses were good looks, a convertible car, a motorcycle, and that’s it. I won’t name his minuses but the main one was his pressure to go beyond movie kisses. I’d have none of it.  

Then along came Wally. Wally was Grandmother’s choice all along. She’d known him since he was a toddler living next door to her in Minneapolis. I should have known that his picture sitting on her mantle  meant something. Wally, when he finally took interest in me, was ready to get married and that was just fine with me. That “old flame” lasted forty years and is still alive even though he’s been gone twenty-seven years to this very day.

I’ve had one more old flame turned husband. I called him Robby because his geology students called him Dr. Robby and his first name of Forbes was used by his first wife. Robby and I had a good second marriage. His first had been over fifty years, a long love affair. Ours lasted nearly eight years and I can truthfully say we never quarreled and seldom disagreed. Ours was a sunset love.

I’ve heard of couples who got married in their nineties but that does not interest me now, even though I'm three years shy of ninety. What I’m wondering is this: Who of my old flames will be waiting for me on the other side? Will he still care about me or I about him? Of mine, I’d want most to find Wally, of course. He’s the father of my children and the love of my life. But I’m not sure I was all to him he’d have wanted. I was a good mother and wife, but probably never as witty or sophisticated or thrifty as he’d have liked. He liked my looks until he began seeing me age. First it was, “When you’re a few years older you’re going to be really beautiful.” Then it was, “Did you know you’re letting your head shake like Mom did?” He could not bear getting old himself, but having me get old too? I even had white hair and was called Grandma! Too much. He opted out at the age of sixty-six. 

I have been thinking a lot about love these days and I’ve come to the conclusion that love is so highly subjective it rarely satisfies 100%. To be honest, I don’t think Wally and I will have a second chance at this world’s kind of romance over there. Jesus said there is no marriage in heaven. Mary Baker Eddy has said that “There is moral freedom in Soul.” What that means to me is divine Love is what we’re all after. Once having tasted it we’ll never be satisfied with anything less and Love is too immense to lavish on only one other. I can’t elaborate on the subject, I only trust that divine Love will not be restrictive or base. It will surely be pure, inviolate, and something we find in this world closer to music than any other thing. Enough said.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The End of the Story

The world, according to the Mayan calendar, should have ended yesterday. I'm guessing it didn't because my world is still here and I appear to still be in it. Yet, I'm thinking, something ended yesterday. It was the day itself, December 21, 2012. By that token, "the end" takes place every midnight.

St. Paul wrote, "I die daily." Did he mean that our lives begin and end one day at a time?  Then what about the ending called death, the one others will see in a date
inscribed on our gravestones? The older I get the more I'm confronted by the thought of this end. Not that I'm afraid of it. I'd just hope it will be easy and not prolonged, the way any pregnant woman hopes giving birth will be. Funny, isn't it, that birth makes so little impression on us that we forget it as if it never happened? My friend and teacher, Dr. Merriman, used to say, "You'll never know when you die. Your birth and death are the experiences of others about you. They will not be a part of your experience." I wonder.

This morning I've been playing lazy. That's just one of the perks of living alone. If no one shows up unexpectedly, no one needs to know you didn't get out of your pajamas, robe and slippers until nearly noon. No one needs to know you spent the morning watching TV. The History Channel had a long drawn-out account of what would happen if humans would die out and leave the earth. How long would it take for buildings, bridges, roads, etc. to decay and crumble? If animals remained how would they cope? I was waiting for the end of the story, where Earth would return to its native state. I missed that part. Must have dozed off, because I didn't see the end.

Every story should have an end. We humans love stories, but they need to end. When they do, they give us something to think about before going to sleep. As for our own endings, I'm wondering why they come upon us so stealthily. Slow or fast, they don't tell us why. Why should those little school children in Connecticut have met their end so early in life at the hands of a maniac with an automatic weapon? I'd hope that they will not remember that event when they wake up to a new world. No one likes the idea of dying so it seems fitting that we might not remember it, just as we don't remember being born.

We're coming up to the end of a year. I like this time. It sets me to thinking how I can make my story better. I used to love writing resolutions but now, if I do that, I quickly erase them or toss them aside because I don't want to feel like a puppet or a servant to even self-drawn orders. I learn as I go now. Change my ways as I feel like it. Obey my inner voice and play life by ear. If I set up goals I might miss something. If others want to excel in the improvement of their talents to the point of sacrifice then I'd say more power to them. Guess I'm content to be a B student. Making my moments count in harmless little joys of appreciation, working only when I feel like it, and filling up on contentment is good enough for me.

Now I'm beginning to think this blog should come to an end. As for the end of my life, I'd like to be able to come back and tell you how it was. But I'm afraid I wouldn't remember.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When I Say Raspberries

I pity the children who grow up never knowing the rapture of finding themselves in a raspberry patch hidden in tall bushes of lush green branches laden with those bright red berries that slip away so easily  into fingers and then into the mouth. This experience in childhood is something rare and beautiful to carry into later life.

That’s why I can stand before rows of square clear plastic containers of raspberries in a market and feel an almost sacred sense of awe that those perfect creations were so recently enjoying the sun and shade of the berry patch. What must it be like to be a raspberry clinging to its mother branches? Can the berry know the reason for its joy and the supreme sacrifice of its future? Why does it let go so easily?

In my own country childhood I picked raspberries. The task was so much easier than picking strawberries where I had to bend down low. In the raspberry patch I could stand up and feel both tall and dwarfed by the bushes. Two of my granddaughters, Erin and Katie, know the feeling. They visited my cousins in Minnesota with me one summer when the raspberries were in season. To this day the mention of Verna and Glen bring delighted smiles to their faces. “Oh, I remember them! They were the ones with a raspberry patch in their back yard!”

It is said that as we grow older (and riper?) we can slip into childhood again. I can. Halls of memories come alive like those bright berries on the bushes. I want to speak of them but I know I can never do them justice or translate their feelings to anyone else. At this moment I am sitting up in bed writing on the tray where the bowl of cereal and raspberries was. Words now take the place of breakfast berries who have gone into the “whale’s belly” like Jonah. 

In the order of life I feel like a raspberry, nearly, but not quite, ready for the picking. Life is each day becoming sweeter and richer in color and taste. It’s losing the sharp acidity of its greener days when it knew more certainty, and opinion and when harsh criticism sometimes held sway. 

Getting older, for me, means reflection on the goodness of life. Sorrows only serve to turn us to higher, more permanent joys. I sense it is the calendar I can blame for my feeling like a ripe raspberry this morning. Christmas carols play on my bedroom radio and gather in the years past. At the same time they reach into the unseen future which I can only guess about. The shining light in the eyes of my great grand-babies gives me Christmas joy. Such promise there! They’ll have their Christmases throughout many years too, their own bright memories. My own future, and even theirs in time, means giving up and letting go of Earth's cradle when the time is ripe. Giving up to what? A world more bright? Therein lies the wonder. 

If I could, this Christmas, I’d be so glad to give every one of my great grandies a raspberry patch experience!