Spring time is very good!

Spring flowers one

Then God saw everything that He had made. And indeed, it was very good. So, the evening and the morning were the sixth day (New King James Version of the Bible). The preceding comes from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 31. Every time I read that verse; I’m moved to think how it must have been at that time when creation was finally at its height of glory. There was no ruin from humankind; no smoke stacks, exhaust from burning fossil fuels, no fast-food wrappings strewn across the landscape. There was just nature, unspoiled. If you’re reading this and you don’t subscribe to the Biblical account of creation, that’s okay. This piece isn’t meant to be an attempt at protolyzing. However, I would find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t believe that at some point in the distant past, nature was indeed unspoiled.

ppy Spring

There are parts of the United States that are still shivering from the frostbite inducing effects of winter (or is it early spring weather?). I live in the South and though we have some cold weather during winter, this time of the year winter finds itself giving up to the gentle approach of spring. It’s not uncommon, this time of year, to find some trees still transforming to showcase their fine greenery. The struggle between one season clutching to hold on and another trying to push through can be more than a minor inconvenience. I often leave home earing a light jacket and later removing it due to rising temperatures. You are probably asking yourself, when is it safe to plant my vegetables, when will the threat of frost succumb to warm, humid nights?

SPring flowers 2

I find myself experiencing a sense of rejuvenation during spring. The state of dormancy from which the trees and grass are trying to wake themselves, describes me too, to some extent. I too, have been lying dormant somewhat, staying inside mostly, not anxious to venture out into the wet, cold dreariness of winter. It’s funny how winter didn’t seem to bother me much in my youth. There seems to have been an inner thermostat that could regulate my body temperature, keeping everything at a comfortable level just fine for optimum operations. Now, I feel sometimes that I’ll shortly be one of those frail old folks, who will be caught wearing a coat in the middle of July.

Spring is very good, and each day brings forth an evening and a morning, as I enjoy to the fullest of God’s creation.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Familiarity

Shoes well-worn

Do you have a pair of shoes that you’ve been thinking about donating to your favorite charity? However, each time the idea invades your mind, you gently push back the very thought of parting with the well-worn, comfortable feet coverings. Those things to which we have developed a comfort level to the point that parting with them is such great sorry, we often exhibit an unreasonable degree of connection.

I’ve been slowly getting rid of stuff on my side of the closet that serves no purpose but to occupy space. When I retired, now over five years ago, one thing I promised myself was that I would send unnecessary clothing and other junk packing. Well, since inanimate objects have no conscience or means of self-mobility, what I really mean is that I would pack them up and carry them away. There are pieces of clothing that I have not worn during the entire five-year period I’ve been retired. These things could be serving someone else’s needs. But there’s some senseless comfort in seeing them hanging on racks, laying on shelves, just being there.

Familiarity is a quality that fits well with more than “things” in my life. It also wears well with certain people. Over the last three decades, I’ve developed a comfortable, trusting and intimate relationship with two of my healthcare providers, my optometrist and my dentist. I recall when both started their practice. My dentist bought out a practice that I had already been going to. It was operated by a young man who was a school classmate of my wife’s. He was a rather pleasant fellow; however, I didn’t stay with him long before he sold his practice and moved into corporate dentistry. I’ve had countless conversations with both my dentist and my optometrist about politics, weather, various social trends and life in general. These folks have left indelible marks on my life and anatomy (especially my dentist). She has shared my cancer journey by caring for my teeth during a time when chemotherapy and other cancer fighting medications have had their way with my dental health. I stopped counting years ago the number of extensive dental procedures she’s had to perform to keep my oral food processor in fine working order.

My optometrist has cared for my vision with a degree of dedication, and passion that I could not have asked for. Now, that I have early signs of Glaucoma developing in one of my eyes, he sees me more than he did decades ago, when an annual eye exam was enough. He and I share a comparative degree of faith in God and devotion to family that make my visits to his office quite delightful. A few months ago, he informed me that he had sold his practice. This was not news I wanted to hear; however, I understand his motivation for doing this. He’s been in practice for a long time. The frustration of running a small business, with the plethora of regulations he must navigate, is overwhelming at times. He made sure that he would be around for the next three years before leaving patients, like myself, with whom he’s developed a good relationship.

While sitting in the chair, having preparations for replacing a crown that was put in place twelve years ago, my dentist informed me a few days ago that she had also sold her practice. She also plans to stay around for the next three to four years, phasing out towards her final retirement day.

Familiarity saying

Familiarity is a comfortable feeling and the thought of losing it can be a bit unsettling. When you reach my age, you realize you probably don’t have decades upon decades to build strong connections with new friends, associates, healthcare providers and others. Losing the well-worn and comfortable ones from your life means things are winding down in a way, never to be quite the same. However, I must take stock in my relationship with God. He’s always been there, and my faith tells me that He will always be there, offering a kind of familiarity that no one else can provide. I’m grateful that He’s added so many familiar ingredients to my life, resulting in a mix that has been a pleasant taste to savor.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

We don’t all think alike: a problem much too often?

Divisive thoughts 1

I often observe things that make me ask the question: Why do they think like that? I’m a regular social media user. Facebook is one of my social media hangouts. Occasionally, someone will post a question to Facebook, which functions as somewhat of a survey. Recently, there was one that posed the question: If you could delete anything from the world, what would it be? I don’t always respond to these little informal surveys; however, this time, I was game. When I read the question, I focused primarily on the word “thing.” To me that indicated and inanimate object or a concept. I don’t know why exactly; it just made sense.

If you’re a Facebook user, you know that once you respond to a post, you’ll receive notification when anyone else responds to that same post. The question previously mentioned garnered many responses, and they started to come in almost immediately. Most people indicated things like hate, disease, cancer, bullying, the kind of things that affect human behavior or the human body, leaving a mark that the world community could very well do without. I’ve come to notice that whenever someone posts a question like this one, there is a small number of people who respond in a way that indicates a bias against a human being. By the way, my response to the question was hate. I think hate, if eliminated would shut off the entry to all manner of social ills that plague human kind.

Before I go any further, I must admit my bias might shine through, though I hope dimly. One of the responses to the question indicated “Obama.” I found that response rather odd. First, most people evidently thought like me, apparently thinking a concept, an infection, destructive weather, earth quakes, or something that forces itself upon all of us should go. However, the response that indicated the name of a former President of the Unite States was troubling to me. Mr. Obama is no longer president, yet this person felt he, and I’m guessing here, had left a mark on the political landscape that would only be erased by his elimination from the planet. As I thought more about the response, I couldn’t help but think: How violent, how cruel a response this was. Furthermore, I thought this response came from someone who was infected by the thing I indicated the world could do without: hate.

Our country, the United States of America is quite divided now. This division is nothing new. There has always been an under current of hostility that has been bucking to get loose and openly project vitriol against “them’; those other folks who don’t look like us, talk like us, or who by virtue of birth/culture occupy a demographic that is deemed minority status. I have come to think that anyone who hates, for any reason, but especially because of some warped stereotypical concept of another human being, is just as much a victim as the person to whom they project their sick thoughts.

Being a person of faith, I take the Holy ancient Judea-Christian scriptures seriously, and when they tell us that God loved the world (the people in it) so much that He gave His Son as a sacrifice, I see the inestimable quality of that sacrifice. This sacrifice was offered out of love, but the perpetrators who carried it out administered it out of hate.

Divisive thouhgt 2

A world without hate, would be a marvelous thing, and it will be eventually. Oops, my faith is showing.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Tired

Tired oneOftentimes, I find myself at a point of experiencing some feeling, some emotion, some frame of mind that is the antithesis of what I think I should be. There was a time, when I would feel guilty for having these feelings, since they are seasoned with pinches of dismay, disappointment, weariness and a few other mood disrupters that people of faith just aren’t supposed to have, at least that’s what they say. You know (they), that opinion leader who lingers around everywhere, but you have no idea what they look like.

That feeling I’m talking about lands hard from time to time. You feel vanquished in a way that tends to shake your mental and emotional infrastructure more than anything physical about you. Of course, when you’re emotionally and mentally challenged long enough, the body is guaranteed to follow likewise. From listening to chronically ill people, I think this feeling lies in wait to prey on us. Before, you get all judgmental, this feeling I’m talking about has nothing to do with loss of faith. After all, if we’re honest, faith if graphed, probably wouldn’t look like a straight 45-degree line. Faith is authored by God, but exercised by faulty creatures called human beings, who find themselves confronted with all manner of challenges daily; challenges that come to rob and steal whatever peace we’ve been granted by the grace of God. These challenges cause jagged interruptions in our faith line graph. Those of us who truly have faith in God continue to experience upward movement of our line, though jagged, the dips are temporary.

Tired Two

When you have a chronic illness, or two, or maybe even three walking with you as you go through life’s journey, some days are good, and some aren’t. I’m not assigning qualitative evaluations to the actual days God presents, but more so one’s ability to take each day in and enjoy it for all it presents. Some days the drugs you take, as maintenance, to keep that cancer from recapturing the territory it conquered before remission, have an accumulative effect. It’s during those times, that the beauty God projects on natures 360-degree screen is just hard to appreciate. You’re tired, seemingly void of energy reserves, challenged to put one foot in front of the other. Add to that, the human interactions, which should be an unquestionable blessing, are just not gliding smoothly. People are asking for this and for that, with what seems to be an unconsciousness of your condition. I know that sounds a bit like self-pity, doesn’t it? But when you’re tired, you’re just tired. Self-pity has nothing to do with it.

The great Civil Rights Heroine, Fannie Lou Hammer is known for saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Hammer was dealing with the depths and breaths of injustice nurtured by the Jim Crow Laws of the South. The tiredness which I’m referring to in this piece is no way equal to what Hammer was navigating; however, on a personal level, the symptoms are certainly similar.

Writing has, a cathartic effect. Believe it or not, I don’t feel the same as when I started this piece. I’m still “tired”, but not too tired to realize God continues to bless me despite my feeling like a balloon still trying to hold onto its circumference, but without enough gas inside to float. Yes, I’m tired, and my prayer is that this state of mind doesn’t set up permanent residency in my being ever. I pray that I continue to be the one of faith walking with confidence “through” the valley of the shadow of death.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Blessed to live a long life, against worldly odds

long ife

If you live long enough, things happen: You might become wiser, when you apply life’s experiences and the lessons learned from them to how you live; you realize that there are many good things in the world; you find yourself having fewer contemporaries…just to name a few. The latter is a reality that is clearly apparent; watching people you know leave the scene often gives you a sense that you’re becoming more and more a lone survivor. Granted, your mortality is just as real as those who have left you, but you’re still here and you’re becoming more the member of an exclusive club, as you keep breathing.

When you are living a meaningful and blessed life, you really take note of the value of living a long life. I know I’ve written several times before about me having Multiple Myeloma, that incurable, hideous cancer. I’ll be celebrating my nineteenth anniversary since diagnosis in four days, March 12th. Some people might say that at sixty-eight years of age, I’m not that old. I’m not one to be talking about living or having lived a long life. If someone is saying that, I vehemently disagree. Roughly 22,000 new cases of Multiple Myeloma are diagnosed each year and about 10,000 deaths occur yearly. Confronted with those numbers, and still here, as I am, I’m living a long life.

There’s a gospel song, titled, “The road is Rough.” The chorus to the song is: “You know the road is rough and the going gets tough and the hills are hard to climb. I started out oh a long time ago and I’ve made up, I’ve made up my mind. Yes, in Jesus strong arms where no tempest can harm, I’m safe and secure. I’ve decided to make Jesus my choice.” The doctors have done a great job with me. I’ve been blessed to be located close to one of the world’s best Myeloma Treatment Centers in the world. My faith tells me that all things are working to my benefit because of the God I serve. With all the prayers being deposited on by behalf, and God’s providence, there are no roads too rough for Him. I’m the most grateful benefactor. He is my choice.

If you’ve read any of my musings before and wondered why I call myself “Old and Blessed”, I hope this gives you a sense of why I feel this way. There is nothing like living and living well against the odds. Of course, when the odds are against you, God does His best work.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Thank you!

I’ve written before about why I blog. I would imagine many others who take the time to share their thoughts, their feelings, tidbits of their soul write for many of the same reason I do.

One thing I would think we bloggers enjoy is knowing that folks are reading our musings. Furthermore, we enjoy even more when readers take the time to give a bit of feedback.

To all of you who do read my stuff and especially to those who respond: Thanks so much! Encouragement comes in many ways. Responding to a blogger is priceless.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Because You Are Different …

The heart expressed in this blog is the kind I wished we all harbored. I don’t reblog often, but this one is truly worthy of much sharing.

catterel

I grew up in a white working-class area of the English Midlands in the middle of the twentieth century, and didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t white till I went to university in Liverpool in 1959. In my hall of residence, among others, there was a jolly Jamaican making delicious dishes in our shared kitchen, a sweet Chinese girl who played the piano like a professional, and a beautiful Indian girl with long hair down to her ankles. We also had a black Jamaican President of the Students’ Union in the early sixties. So my primary reaction was Wow! Awe and admiration! These were amazing, talented and exotic people, interesting to talk to and be with.

My first personal encounter with racism came a couple of years later in France, where my landlady was most upset because her niece was set on marrying an Algerian. I was studying in an international…

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