Archive for the ‘Faith’ category

ONE LOVELY FURTHER WORD

November 28, 2017

Heavne's turquoice blue

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Before I leave the Sabbath Rest
By which all Christian souls are blest,

Before I write of harsher deeds
The Spruce Tunnel notes a truth it heeds.

So, just one more Little Nellie word
Which witnesses both saw and heard:

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The Point of the Post

Yesterday I wrote about Little Nellie of Holy God and how her experiences intersected with my  anticipated “Sunday Encounter.”    (BTW –  the “Encounter”   happened.    So amazingly . . .  um . . .  )   I really meant to convey that Nellie’s Innocent Faith and her Lovely Holiness are things that are within the reach of every single human soul.

We only need to keep an accurate model before our eyes.

Such  holiness is for Heaven, where “Holy God”  is.    It’s rather sobering to remember that the book of Revelation, that Final Book of the Bible, says that “no unclean thing,  nor anything that makes a lie,  nor any that does abomination, nor anything that defiles . . .”  can enter Heaven.      Only clean, pure, holy souls will be in Heaven.

The Beauty of Holiness

Little Nellie’s life was so occupied with Love for God that there were times when her face was transformed into one of unearthly light and beauty.    She saw the holiness surrounding her Holy God, which it was determined the name she gave to Jesus. She saw  and felt His presence and responded with adoring love.   This holy joy is what gave her face that attracting beauty.

This was unexpected by all around her because she had always suffered severe pain from a  bone  disease.   She was too tired and too weak to walk, it was too painful to sit upright in a chair. At times her face showed a grayish pallor from just the fatigue of breathing as well as the ravishes of the cruel disease. Her jaw was crumbling away, and at times small chunks of bones would fall off.

She should not have been so full of joy and she should not have looked so radiantly beautiful at times.      (My own problems, even my diseases, pale in comparison.   That’s why she should be always in my mind.)

Lovely Beauty in Mind

When I was a girl, there is a hymn we used to sing in that basement Sunday School room in a church in Chicago.   It was a slow,  beautiful melody; thoughtful, and instructive. The first line goes like this:

“Altogether lovely;    He is altogether lovely;   and the fairest of ten thousand is this wonderful Friend of mine . . . .  ”

As I sat there, singing with the large group of boys and girls, my almost-a-teenager-me absorbed those words, and while the nasty dirtiness of the Sixties and the Degraded Seventies and the Self-Centered Eighties washed over me during the next decades,  there that song was, deep in my mind, always calling to me.

And making me understand the Beauty of that little holy child,   Little Nellie.

 

Where is Little Nellie right now?

Where will I be?

 

 

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SUNDAY “EVE”

November 25, 2017

Sunday Eve.”    Well, that would be the evening before a Sunday.     In preparing myself before the “Encounter” at Mass tomorrow morning,  I came across one of my favorite people who ever lived;  she is a kind of teacher to me.  A mentor, perhaps.   Her life is a guide . . .

Do you remember a little of what it was like to be four years old?

Here she is at four years old, just before she died.

Nellie in bed

She’s known as Little Nellie of Holy God.    There are only two or three photos of her.  She came to a Catholic orphanage, frail, very sick, and having just lost both her parents.    When she got better occasionally,  she could join the other little girls in the orphanage’s  school and was fun-loving and beloved by her friends and teachers.

What would it be like to think and feel as you did when you were a little child,  open and sincere and trusting?

She was sweet,  innocent, pure, loving,  generous by nature, and “very sorry” whenever her childish impulses took over and she did some small wrong.

Like a child, who is unspoiled by the modern world.   The way Jesus would want us to raise our children:  sweet, innocent, loving and open to goodness and truth.

Jeus and children

We all have heard that Jesus said “Let the little children come unto Me.”  He said that when the grown-ups tried to prevent the children from interrupting the “grown-up”  conversation.

Jesus and child

Jesus, in His wisdom and knowledge about human beings,  knew that children could hear and understand His words, and He set the children to be an example for us.

Children can grow in the knowledge of Jesus and trust Him.

It is said that Little Nellie spoke of seeing Jesus by her bedside.

nellie and jesus

Little Nellie delighted in the flowers that “Holy God” had made for her and for the whole world.  She always requested that fresh flowers be kept near the crucifix in her room.  As much as her failing strength allowed, she insisted that the “dirty flowers” be taken away –  those that had dried up and withered.

That’s really not a “childish” idea.  She had a natural understanding that we give our best to God.  (Our simple best,  little things  from  our own world around us.)

Jesus also said:  “Unless you become like little children,  you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”       So, not “childish,”  but childlike.  

Just as little children can grow in the knowledge and understanding of the things of Jesus, so can we grow in our understanding of what it is like to be the child we once were.   It is possible.

Little Nellie loved God, and she learned about Jesus and why he had to be on the Cross.   She quickly began to ask question after question, astonishing her caregivers and the nuns with the perception and spiritual understanding implicit in those questions.

If we become like little children —  that is,  if we become more and more like the child we started out to be in this life,  we will not become dumb and ignorant,  we’ll become observant and perceptive.     And, therefore,  docile to spiritual truths.     Docile just means  “teachable.”

Little children know they are not smarter than God. 

It is certainly possible to put away all the sophisticated “adult”  things in your life,  the complicated, complex,  frustrating concerns,  and then just remember (or imagine) how you, as a very young child would fill your time with  learning,  delighting in things,  doing your duties,  knowing your place in the world, accepting that perplexities do exist and we can’t know or control everything around us.

In the end,  we are not in control of everything.  We can’t stop all the Bad and we don’t create all the Good.    There are many things that we must do,  but through it all, we can rest in Him.

Jesus with sleeping child

He sees us as children of God,” He knows our “infirmities” and our weaknesses,  inside out, because He took on our human nature.

My “Encounter” with Him will come during Mass tomorrow morning.   Philosophers can explain it with terms of Substance and Accident,  and with discussions of the Immensity of God, which does not refer to place or space, but rather to an aspect of Omnipresence which intersects with Eternity,  which itself doesn’t refer to time or length of time.

Little Nellie would have pierced right through all the philosophy because she knew that “Holy God”  is present in every Consecrated Host (properly consecrated) — and she had the uncanny ability to tell whether a Host had not been consecrated, and was a mere shape of flour and water.

So sensitive was she to  “Holy God”  that she could tell when someone had just come from  Holy Communion  (properly done) and had Holy God in them.

She was blessed with special graces which inspired those around her and which have strengthened the faith of many;  of many others with childlike faith –  not too sophisticated or too smart for God.

Don’t lose the child in you.

“Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Nellie

 

Little Nellie Organ, of Ireland,  of Holy God.

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THE OLD LADY &THE MASTER PASTOR

November 22, 2017

Yeah, well, this time maybe I am the “Old Lady.”

But here is the “Master Pastor’ —

Sheen and blackboard

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen,  for whom not too long ago all of America — just everybody — stopped what they were doing on a Sunday evening,  turned on the television,  and watched and listened to this man,  Protestant, Catholic,  non-believer alike.

Whatever you may or may not believe in,   one cannot deny his God-given gift for speaking truth,  right to the point,  succinctly, and with good humor.

I was writing yesterday’s post in a spirit of self-mockery,  because I was observing myself, and while I was trying to “enjoy”  a bad mood,  every time I passed my refrigerator,   I’d see the newspaper article taped up there of “Alice Smith,”  the old, old lady who has such a wonderful, optimistic attitude,  and who at 92 years old loves her job as a burger flipper in a nearby McDonald’s.

Thus ruining my really good bad mood.

tundra

I’m good at deep dark Scandinavian-strength funks.  My whole family is.     I’ll bet she isn’t!

So late in the evening,  at the end of my dark, gloomy day,  I picked up a few books and meandered randomly through them.    One is called “Simple Truths.”    By guess who –  Bishop Sheen.   I don’t usually like books that are “just” series of short quotations,  but that’s about all I was in the mood for.

. . .   Found my bookmark,  and the first thing I read was this:

    The astronomer doesn’t give up his science just because he doesn’t find a new planet every day.  The poet doesn’t give up poetry because he cannot write brilliant verses every day.     But the ideal of science and the ideal of  poetry remain.     So,  virtue, faith, and the abiding resolve to save one’s soul remain,  even when one does not “feel”  like saving one’s soul.

     Ideals must never be left to the stomach or the glands.  They reside in the will.   Hence, the Divine Truth reminds us that “he who perseveres to the end will be saved.”

Feelings.   Feels come and go;  they are up and down;  they make us like or dislike something;   feelings give birth to our opinions.

Feelings are alongside our daily activities,  generated by many factors, some we don’t even know about.   But human life –  humans – are made to  live from their Intellect which corresponds to objective reality informed by  our five senses.    Our intellectual activity is made to conform to objective reality, and next comes our will, at the command of our intellect.

Our well-being comes to a skidding halt when we put feelings and opinions in command of our decisions.   We short-circuit our  main purpose in life.

Which is?     Why were you born?      Something else Bishop Sheen taught,  from the catechism:  Why were you born?  To know, love, and serve God in this life,  and to be happy with him forever in the next.      This is the “resolve to save our souls”  that Bishop Sheen spoke about.

going to Heaven

Ask any old lady, Mrs. Smith or me (when I catch up to her age):      “Are you thankful for a good, long life?”    The answer will be:    “It wasn’t long!”   


The next life will be “long.”   Not this one.     Bishop Sheen would say now is the opportunity to see to the health and life of our souls, now is the time to save our souls.  Our “ideal” is salvation.

Feelings be damned.

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CANDY PHYSICS

August 19, 2017

Friday?     It’s been Friday today?     I haven’t been here for four days?    Oh, I’ve been to the Spruce Tunnel,  just not this one.   (See next post)

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I’m in full CleaningOrganizingSortingDecidingPacking mode.      Cleaning and poking around where I haven’t been for a long while.

I’m finding some really random, interesting stuff around my house . . .

M2

 

They’re real and they’re delicious and I can’t finish them off because they’re not mine.

But it’s kind of fun to combine physics and candy.

E   x    p      a       n        d       your thinking.     We’ve been placed in a fun world, full of joy.

LIFE’S A MESS — TAKE HEART

August 14, 2017

(A message  – to me  –  about lambs and lamb’s wool . . .   and death to come.)

Sometimes life seems a mess,  a complicated, tangled mess.    We get to feeling like that once in a while.     We get a lot of “cares”   and loose ends swirling around in our minds.

Alligator Wrong Side

Doesn’t take much sometimes.    As we work and learn and think —  still, everything doesn’t fall into place, and those loose ends don’t get tucked neatly away,  not even at the end . . . .     Most of us will come to the end of our lives with not all things fitting together and making sense.

Alligator Inside Out

 

Of course,  our Maker is seeing a different pattern developing.

Alligator Right Side

Cute little alligator sweater for Cooper!

I didn’t create the pattern or write the directions for the alligator.     I needed a chart for  guidance.  I needed Guidance.

It’s very soft.     I’m using something similar to lamb’s wool.

But I myself am no smarter about life than a little lamb, soft and vulnerable, in the middle of a great green pasture.

Lamb in pasture

I didn’t make the pasture,   I didn’t even put myself here,  and I don’t know everything that I’m supposed to do here,  but my Creator is the One who, with a gentle shepherd’s hand,  made me and placed me here . . .  and watches to see what I’ll do.

Everything will be provided —

lamb and water

Delicious green grass,  water,  companionship,  and Guidance.

I don’t have to solve the problems of the whole world.       I don’t even have to anticipate everything that’s going to happen.     (“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”   Isaiah 40:31)      Even when   Especially when I don’t understand certain things,   there will be strength to go on.

The Good Shepherd is looking down on the life He gave us, with great care and attention, so when things get complicated  we need to just “stay where he put us.”

lamb waiting

 

Although for us humans that means being active, learning, doing, walking in His ways,   and it might look like we’re making a mess,  He is seeing our pattern forming,  from the “Other Side,” so to speak,    and when He sees that we have made our choices,  for or against Him,  with or without Him,  He’ll know when our time is up —  we are who we are going to be.

 

lamb no lamb

 

—  and we’ll be taken out of this beautiful pasture Earth.

And then stand before Him . . . .

 

“REACHING UP TO SLAP GOD’S FACE”

August 13, 2017

(Pardon the slightly blasphemous metaphor —  truly  random, rambling Sunday talk today):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bozeman Trail

The whole quotation (in the title of this post)  is  spoken about a man who held himself apart from the group,  his opinions,  his rights,  a little more worthy than the others, he thought:  “Look at him,”  said Rusty Karnes under his breath, “if he could reach high enough, he’d try to  slap God’s face.” 

boseman trail

(We saw people like that in Charlottesville yesterday –  people who think they are so right that they can throw rocks,  fire, pepper spray and tear gas,  and foul liquids at those whom  they disagree with and want to silence.)  

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God does NOT change.    The world doesn’t change.   Right-and-Wrong doesn’t change.   Honor doesn’t change.   Men don’t change.    And Danger doesn’t change.

bozeman exposed

Exposed on the Bozeman Trail

We’re all mighty vulnerable in this world.    Even when we band together with a few friends and relatives,  we’re always a small band facing the forces of evil and random uncertainties that the world gives us.   It’s a humbling thought.

Bozeman single

We’re alone,  with only one guidebook and only one Church —  a thought for those who don’t intend to “slap God in the face.”

Along the Bozeman Trail you had to deal with snowstorms,  thunderstorms,  lack of shelter or water, Indian attacks, accidents with your horse or wagon wheels,   assorted outlaws and thieves waiting for their chance at you,  and the possibility of losing your way and making the wrong decisions.

I’ve crossed the Bozeman Trail several times – in my car – and I plan to do it again this month.  I’ve dealt with snowstorms,  black ice,   concern about thieves or muggers (as a woman traveling alone),   strong summer winds blowing such hot air that you feel you’re being sucked dry just trying to put gas in your tank;  and I’ve made some bad decisions about which way to go – that turned out all right.    No problem with the Sioux or Pawnee, though.

B protection

Modern times,  about a century later,  there are still perils in our world, and especially now in these times we must think clearly about our “traveling” companions in life.    That is,  who and what values and what attitudes will accompany you?

You must choose your companions wisely.   You want to be sure that the ones who are with you are true and honest and have the ability to protect you.

Bozeman Wagon box

You don’t want your “traveling companions”  to be those who are so sure of themselves that they can’t see any other point of view and cannot allow anyone to think differently;  leastwise you.    You have a right to think things through in your own way.

 

Micah 6:8  —  He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.        And what does the Lord require of you?    To act justly and to love mercy   and to walk humbly  with your God.

One way of looking at it,  there are still only two postures:    (1)    “walk humbly with your God” – or “before your God,” as some versions put it,  knowing that you don’t know everything on this journey through life but you’re on a journey to meet Him and He’s given you a Guide.   Or   (2),  try to reach up to God and tell Him you’ll do it your own way,  the “slap in the face.”

A book and a little story:

Here’s the book I’m reading –   plain, clear  thinking  in it . . .

Bitterrot Book

I might not go all the way to the Bitterroots this month,  way up north in Montana,  but I’ll remember the things I’ve learned from this book.

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Here’s the story I love to tell – and you don’t have to read through it,  I just really like to think about it:

The word “faith” is important to a lot of Christians, and the Bible tells us that the Pillar and the Foundation of our faith is the Church   (not the Bible).      Took me a while,  but I studied that Church and  understood enough to know that that’s where I belonged.

So one day,   a particular holiday that we all must recognize,  I went to church,  went to Mass, along with many hundreds of others in that church building.   Standing room only by the time I got there!   That meant kneeling on the hard stone floor for quite a while.

The crowd had pushed me, elbow to elbow, next to a man whom I recognized as the governor of our state!     There he was, kneeling on the stone floor,  next to me.   Except for a nod of recognition,  I didn’t speak,  and neither did he,  because we were both silently kneeling at that time to  the Lord Jesus,  the Son of God, Who  was present on the  altar, way far away in front of the church.

kneeling

That’s it.     That’s the story.    I disagreed with that governor on a few things,  but we seemed to be both on that same  “trail” in life,  humbling ourselves before our actual, present God.

Neither of us, nor anyone in the church that day,  appeared to be telling  God that we’ll do it our own way,  reaching  up to His face and . .  .  you know.

Our souls are safer that way.

 

July 17th

July 18, 2017

(One more thing to say, while it is still “July 17th”  somewhere in the world tonight.)
I want to pay tribute to some very dear young ladies,  innocent,  pure,  sweet, and very, very courageous.

France gave us the first example of a modern European totalitarian state.  They cried out “Liberty!  Equality!  and Fraternity!”   to make people think they were benign.  They gave us the modern terms  “Left”  and “Right”  when it comes to political opinions, and acted as though “Left”  was the only legitimate way to think.

And if they could not convince you of their arguments  (and their arguments are indefensible),  then they used the force of the law against you.

(In America this has recently shown up as:  “You don’t think the State should decide who gets health care, when,  and how much???  —  Then we’ll just write some laws and a stack of regulations six feet high that make it illegal for anyone to not have State-run health “care.”)     

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Back to France,  if you don’t agree with the State, as it formed in 1789,  then there are laws against you – enforced by the guillotine.   

You know the story.

Here are the names of the innocent young ladies,  singing sweetly, testifying to their hope in Jesus Christ alone,   all the way to the top of the stairs where they knelt down under the blade:

* Madeleine-Claudine Ledoine (Mother Teresa of St. Augustine), prioress, b. in Paris, 22 Sept., 1752, professed 16 or 17 May, 1775;

* Marie-Anne (or Antoinette) Brideau (Mother St. Louis), sub-prioress, b. at Belfort, 7 Dec., 1752, professed 3 Sept, 1771;

* Marie-Anne Piedcourt (Sister of Jesus Crucified), choir-nun, b. 1715, professed 1737; on mounting the scaffold she said “I forgive you as heartily as I wish God to forgive me”;

* Anne-Marie-Madeleine Thouret (Sister Charlotte of the Resurrection), sacristan, b. at Mouy, 16 Sept., 1715, professed 19 Aug., 1740, twice sub-prioress in 1764 and 1778;

* Marie-Antoniette or Anne Hanisset (Sister Teresa of the Holy Heart of Mary), b. at Rheims in 1740 or 1742, professed in 1764;

* Marie-Françoise Gabrielle de Croissy (Mother Henriette of Jesus), b. in Paris, 18 June, 1745, professed 22 Feb., 1764, prioress from 1779 to 1785;

* Marie-Gabrielle Trézel (Sister Teresa of St. Ignatius), choir-nun, b. at Compiègne, 4 April, 1743, professed 12 Dec., 1771;

* Rose-Chrétien de la Neuville, widow, choir-nun (Sister Julia Louisa of Jesus), b. at Loreau (or Evreux), in 1741, professed probably in 1777;

* Anne Petras (Sister Mary Henrietta of Providence), choir-nun, b. at Cajarc (Lot), 17 June, 1760, professed 22 Oct., 1786.

* Concerning Sister Euphrasia of the Immaculate Conception accounts vary. Miss Willson says that her name was Marie Claude Cyprienne Brard, and that she was born 12 May, 1736; Pierre, that her name was Catherine Charlotte Brard, and that she was born 7 Sept., 1736. She was born at Bourth, and professed in 1757;

* Marie-Geneviève Meunier (Sister Constance), novice, b. 28 May, 1765, or 1766, at St. Denis, received the habit 16 Dec., 1788. She mounted the scaffold singing “Laudate Dominum”.

In addition to the above, three lay sisters suffered and two tourières.

The lay sisters are:

* Angélique Roussel (Sister Mary of the Holy Ghost), lay sister, b. at Fresnes, 4 August, 1742, professed 14 May, 1769;

* Marie Dufour (Sister St. Martha), lay sister, b. at Beaune, 1 or 2 Oct., 1742, entered the community in 1772;

* Julie or Juliette Vérolot (Sister St. Francis Xavier), lay sister, b. at Laignes or Lignières, 11 Jan., 1764, professed 12 Jan., 1789.

The two tourières, who were not Carmelites at all, but merely servants of the nunnery were: Catherine and Teresa Soiron, b. respectively on 2 Feb., 1742 and 23 Jan., 1748 at Compiègne, both of whom had been in the service of the community since 1772.

 

I think we should remember them.  I think we should know their names.     They were somebodies’  sisters and daughters.    I think we should pay some small tribute to them,  victims  of the first  Big  Atheistic State Government in Europe.

I told their story before in The Spruce Tunnel.  You can see some pictures here in “One Last Small Song.”

Guil

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HIS LIGHT IS LIFE

July 2, 2017

(Where I am on Sundays)

There are four Gospels in the Bible, each Gospel represented by an icon:  a man, an ox,  a lion, and an eagle.

Gospel 4

At the end of every Mass we are privileged to read and to hear  the first part of chapter one of the Gospel of John.   Every Sunday, over and over.      The words we hear each Sunday demonstrate why John is the Eagle, whose thoughts soar over and above this earthly life and point us to eternal things:

John 1: 4,5  (speaking of Jesus,  the Son of God,  the Word of God, come into the world)  (4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men.     (5)   And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

His Life is the Light of men!

Heaven smaller

No other source for  our  Light-filled Life that enlivens and blesses our everlasting souls!

Made possible for us,  of course,  by the sacrificial  act of Jesus on His Cross,  which we can enter into, like refreshing nourishment for our souls  —

—  which is why I too enter into that sacrifice to the Eternal God –

ALTAR Only One Reason for the Mass

All for Him.

Sometimes there is an astonishing flood of holiness into a person during the Mass . . . a sense of that Light which Christ truly shares with us.

Verse 5  says   “. . .  and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Of course I cannot fully comprehend what happens.

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But that is very different from the world refusing to comprehend it.

A man can live in pleasure and ignore the great Source of Light and Life.  Men can turn churches into restaurants,   but it will not go well for the  world.

Things will end badly

Things will end badly.

In darkness,  confusion,   despair,  and death.

 

Gospel 4 in glass

( You can check with this guy.)

 

 

 

A HEARTBEAT AWAY

June 9, 2017

(Blogging has given me some bad habits;   it’s created an urge to take a picture of everything and blog blab about it.)

We’re  all only a heartbeat away from a very serious crisis —

Hospital cr

Chances are you’re having  ordinary days right now;  some good days and  some bad days in which you have to deal with a flat tire,  a lost checkbook,  a missed text,   a bad attitude from a friend . . . .

Today we here in The Spruce Tunnel were struck with a very serious crisis.   Someone we love, someone so close to our family she may as well be a part of it,  someone far too young to be in critical condition,  is on a ventilator and many other machines in the photo,  seemingly  overnight.

Cause soon to be determined.

One day she is interviewing for a brand-new job;  less than two days later she’s in ICU fighting for her life.

Out of the blue,  unexpectedly, we are all reassessing our lives,  our relationships,  our loves,  and what’s really important.     We have a God-given need to make sense out of things.

And the honest quest for answers will lead back to God.

 

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Please pray for the young lady.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JANUARY 20 – LASTING IMPRESSION

January 20, 2017

From what I’ve seen and heard on this day I can’t escape the one final and lasting impression:   we have a president who seems to be genuinely proud of his country, the United States of America. 

And all it stands for.

amer-liberty

All its history.

amer-betsy

All its beauty.

amer-mountains

All its geography,  “from sea to shining sea.”.

The Moorings Village Pearl of Florida Keys resort, Islamorada Key, Florida Keys, Florida USA

All its ordinary industry and small family enterprises.

amer-seaside

All its abundance.

amer-grains

All its normal, everyday people.

amer-city

All its goodness and faith.

amer-church

All Americans.

america-all

I saw all the new people coming into the government, and they seemed to be glad and proud that they are one of us, among us.     I think they’ll do their best.

Makes me want to be a good citizen.

These new ones have their job, now, and I have mine.

 

BURYING COOPER AGAIN

January 12, 2017

Cooper, the grandson.   Living in the High Sierras.    In the WINTER!

6-snowed-in-400

I wrote a few posts ago about the five or six feet of snow Cooper and his family got last weekend.     And now they have another six feet.

And no electricity.  No cell phone.   I got one last short text from them – and a photo!

I presume school is closed again, because it’s hard getting around on those roads.

8-route-89

I  know this place.  It’s where you try to find the exit leading into their little mountain village.

You can get around with chains on your tires.

10-good-tracks-cr

After the snowfall, you can get around in the village too:

5-downtown-truckee

But when you leave the village and want to go home,  you’ll have to drive on those mountain roads again.

7-driving

Say a little prayer for Cooper’s Mommy.    She’s supposed to return home from a business trip today, and it’s quite likely she’s out there on these roads just as I am writing this.  She needs to drive   UP about 3,000 feet of elevation from the airport to her home.

Into the snowstorm.

 

 

THE END.

November 20, 2016

I’m beginning to like my fuzzy moon pictures.   They have an interesting . . .  charm.

moon-lines

“Moon lines.”  Looks like a black and white Jupiter on edge.

I’ve got some “end of the year” resolutions to take care of soon.    I’ve got to accept my good friend’s offer to teach me something about photography.  Then I have to install my new editing software so I can do useful things with the photos.

I’ve got to get serious about  getting my summer and fall clothes packed away and my winter clothes out and ready —  and sewn!

sewing

I need a couple new vests.  Here’s fuzzy black velvety one almost made.  I had to create the yellow tissue paper pattern so the vest will come out with the right shape and length.   The sewing up will go fast but I need to bring  this  winter wardrobe issue  to an end.

I need to do the end-of-the-year holiday planning,  company,  decorating,  parties.

Lots of things are coming to an end now.   Autumn chores.   NASCAR.  Football season.

You can learn a lot about life from football –

end-at-the-end-zone

After all,  the whole game is a series of drives and the goal is getting to the  “end”  zone.     (The Bears made it this time!!)

And today we arrived at another end,  the end of the Liturgical Year:

lit-yr

We’ve come full circle, and have finished up the green patch at about 11:00, or 11:30.   11:59, actually.      Next Sunday we will be in the blue.

It’s an orderly way of keeping track of time,  which at the same time instructs us in keeping track of  our journey  throughout the year, with Our Savior,   as the major events of our Faith unfold,  one after the other.

It’s like a circular timeline.     And when we reach the end of the year,   the 11:59, so to speak,  it’s appropriate to think more on   those all-important “Four Last Things”  which we all will confront, at the “end”  of our time on earth.

I’m sure you’ve thought of them throughout the year,  perhaps without even realizing that these are “end time considerations” that are common to all.    The Four Last Things are:  Death.    Judgment.     Heaven.     Hell.

Obviously,  we’ll be intimately caught up in only three of those Four Last Things.

We all have common experiences with these things.

Death.    Perhaps you’ve known someone who has died this past year.  Or almost.    Or perhaps you had a close brush with death.    What might have, could have happened, if you didn’t get lucky.

Judgment.    Those twinges of guilt,  self-judgment,  an “oops, I shouldn’t have done that.”       All fundamentally pointing to the existential certainty that we will experience our last and final judgment.   Perhaps you think it will be a glorified self-judgment.   But,  nevertheless,  the judgment will result in . . .

Hell.     Perhaps.    You probably heard Hell referenced at least a few times during this past year without really thinking about it.  Someone nearby curses:  “Oh,  Hell!”    “Damn!”    It’s a curse word because . . .  well,  it’s a curse that is a reality.    It’s just that we don’t often “think about it.”   Why is the entire human race so “fallen”?    So damned?

Heaven.    A hoped-for glorious End,  but one which we’re entirely incapable of producing by ourselves.

Incapable:     Remember the miners in South America who were trapped by a massive cave-in?   All escape routes solidly blocked.   They had little water,  very little food,  no electricity, no light. 33 men trapped deep below ground.  And they were incapable of getting out of there.

They had no way of knowing that a multi-national effort was underway to attempt to reach them.   

But weeks went by.  Weeks with not enough provisions, not much oxygen.  

How do you think they passed that time, knowing they could not help themselves out of that deepest, darkest pit?

69 days later!   It took 69 days to reach them,  and miraculously  all the men were still alive.

Help had come from Above, by means of which the miners did not have,  by efforts that the miners were incapable of accomplishing.     Can you imagine how beautiful the sunlight must have seemed to them?      And they saw the Light and lived again!

The Fourth Last Thing:    Heaven.     Available for us,  by means of the Cross reaching down to us and reaching out wide to all mankind.

Advent,  next Sunday,  begins that process.

THERE’S KNEELING AND THERE’S KNEELING: CLINTON BIGOTRY

October 11, 2016

(From the keyboard of a “Deplorable”)   –

 

Two men, both known for “kneeling” . . .

teb-two-men

        . . .   for different reasons.

One man’s kneeling got him the praise of “America”  as seen through the lens of the entertainment-news media.     Poor oppressed guy.     (Poor oppressed rich guy.)

The other man got nothing but scorn and ridicule for his kneeling.

The poor oppressed rich guy’s kneeling got him a renewed and lucrative contract as the head quarterback of the San Francisco  49ers.   He will bring much value to . . . us.

The scorned man?  There’s something more to his life than  football   sports.

teb-in-crowd

Just recently at a game (where he is employed)  he saved the life of a fan in the stands who fell into an epileptic seizure.    The man had stopped breathing, according to witnesses.   Tim Tebow, the tall handsome man in the photo who likes his fans, ran over to the man,    held him,  prayed for him —  and shortly the man began breathing again.

YOU tell that man that it was mere coincidence.

But that’s not the first time.  A similar incident happened on an airplane in which Tim Tebow was a passenger.  A fellow passenger was in life-threatening trouble — and seemed to be not breathing.

You can guess what happened next.    It was prayer.    YOU tell that man it was just coincidence.

But I wanted to think about kneeling,   whom you’re kneeling to,  why you’re kneeling.

teb-kneeling-men

Men kneel.

Men now and before now  –

teb-knights-kneeling

Men kneel even when they don’t have a church to kneel in.

teb-soldiers-kneeling

You all know I like cowboys!

teb-cowboy

MY kind of cowboy!   –

teb-fond-of-rosary

Wouldn’t you rather have your king (or your Ruler or your president)  acknowledging that he has a Higher Power –  the same Higher Power that everyone else has to answer to?

teb king kneeling.jpg

 

Even The KING OF KINGS prayed –

teb-king-of-kings

I’m not  a man, and yet I can  pray –

teb-me

 

Because in the end,  our end or the world’s end,   that is all we have,  it’s the true source of strength.

teb-in-the-end

 

bar-cross-in-middle

Wikileaks:     All those praying people,  any Catholic that you know,  any evangelical that you know,  any person who prays,   you, me,  she and he —  have been mocked and made fun of,  disparaged and called names  by those high up in the Clinton campaign, according to their own emails.

Let’s see . . .    some hate-powered phrases from those recently leaked emails:     we people who pray  are totally unaware of Christian democracy (their idea of Christian democracy, I guess);   we who pray are:   attracted to severely backward gender ideas;  we “throw around Thomistic ideas and subsidiarity just to ‘sound’  sophisticated”;    Mr. Murdoch is ‘Friggin Murdock’  because he had his children baptized in the Jordan River;    we are ‘bastardizing’ the faith.    And don’t forget from before:   we’re the people who are “bitter”  and clinging to our guns and our Bibles.    Catholics are weird,  reactionary people out of step with the times.

This from the Democrat Party which “weaponized”  the I.R. S.  against conservative  patriotic and Christian groups.    This from the campaign of the Poor Sick Woman who stated that it’s smart to have one persona for the public and another one in private.   Someone who holds herself leagues above the common people, and drops the “f”  bomb on those in her way, including her security staff – and their canine helpers.

They are bigots as well as hypocrites –  and please don’t think they like you.

 

“BY THE SHORES . . .”

July 16, 2016

  Just for my own record,  I made it.

 

3 Shores whited 350

“By the shores of Gitche Gumme . . .”

3 shores of gg 400

By the Shining Big-Sea-Waters –

3 ShiningWaters

It  might look like all “water” to you,  but I spent the day flitting from this spot along the Lake to that spot,  like a butterfly,  sipping in sweet experiences; all varied, all blues,  all waters.

The shores were different from place to place –

3 red shores 400

I climbed down to these red  shelf-rocks,  and then I walked way out onto a breakwater to get more views –

3 out into waters 400

The forest back there covers a partial island,  a “presque isle” in French,  and it holds the grave of  an Indian chief who lives there.    I’m  in   Hiawatha’s native land.

Doesn’t that passageway just seem to beckon a canoe to travel forward into it?

3 canoe there 400

Forth upon the Gitch Gumme
On the shining Big-Sea-Water
With his fishing-line of cedar
Of the twisted bark of cedar
Forth to catch the mighty sturgeon
Mishe-Nahma, King of fishes
In his birch canoe exulting
All alone went Hiawatha.

‘Though Hiawatha can exult as his canoe speeds along,  he must be skillfully aware of hidden dangers.   The lake holds many  hidden boulders, sandbars,  floating  tangled logs,  shipwrecks, shoals,  islands,  and snaggy inlets.

Here’s one very noisy seagull island.   At times it is covered in white (seagulls)  as though there were snow on it  –

3 sea gull island 380

He looks like he has many tales to tell –

3 Ready to Tell380

And, as I said a few posts ago,  I’m here to tell myself my own tales.  Tales of my own life.  Tales that will make sense of my own life.

This is the Lake that I first saw when I was a newborn baby.    I come back to sit by its shores.

Ah, my son, exclaimed the Old Man
Happy are my eyes to see you!
Sit here on the mat beside me
Sit here by the dying embers
Let us pass the night together
Tell me of your strange adventures
Of the lands where you have traveled;
Then I’ll tell you of my prowess
Of my many deeds of wonder . . .

 

 

A 12-YEAR OLD GIRL DIES (I)

May 25, 2016

Here’s my involvement:

. 1.  Once I was a 12-year-old girl.  I know what it’s like to be a girl with her whole life ahead of her.

.2  I worked my way through college, four years, in a hospital.   Pediatrics.   We were very understaffed.  Sometimes it was only an RN and myself for 30 – 40  young patients.  If it became life-threatening, of course they’d send over another person;  a “floater”  who could do some of the routine things.  I got to learn a lot of medical procedure in those days.

One summer evening  there was a terrible accident on a lake shore.   Parents had tucked  their children into their sleeping bags;  hung  the kerosene lantern up high, out of reach;  and when the two children were sound asleep,  the parents left to go out for a short rowboat ride,  staying close to shore.

Not close enough.   Somehow the tent caught on fire and the parents couldn’t get there in time.  The 12-year-old girl and her 4-year-old little brother were rushed to the hospital,  to us.  

I saw them when I came in on my next shift.  They shared a hospital room.    They were burned pretty badly, but at this stage their burned skin was only pink.  The blackened skin had been scraped off, but even the pink skin was dying.   They had to be scraped down every few hours, and a silver nitrate solution poured over the open skin.

Many nerves had been killed, so they  felt horrifying pain only while the scraping was going on.   Brother and sister even talked to each other.   I don’t think they realized how seriously they were burned.

One day,  the little boy was talking to his sister, his sister answered,  but the little boy didn’t answer back.   He died – just like that.    Shock, they said.     The sister did not die,  but . . . .

I was young.  19 years old, I think.   I was in shock too, and I’ve never forgotten this event

. 3.  (of my involvement)   I am a Christian,  and here’s what happened last week to a fellow Christian, a sister in Christ:

Radical-Islamists in the Middle East have stated they want to wipe out all Christians who live in their territory.    Their words,  not mine.    Spoken fairly frequently.    Those who haven’t been exterminated yet are, for now,  paying a very, very high tax.  Ruinously high – unless they convert to Islam.

It’s called the Jaziyah, in case you aren’t familiar with that term or that concept.   Many Christians can’t afford to keep their homes or their businesses.

And one family  missed a payment.   They didn’t pay on time.

So their house was set on  fire with the family inside.     The mother and her 12-year-old daughter escaped out of their burning house and were taken to a medical center.

Now I have seen a 12-year-old girl who has been badly  burned, lying in a hospital bed,  quite close to death, and yet able to talk a little.   I can imagine . . .   this one.    She was about to die;  she wasn’t going to make it.

She  was a devout Christian.    She spoke a little to her mother.   And  “with her dying breath”   she spoke her last two words:

    (“Forgive them.”)

A Christian who is devoted to his Lord will say The Lord’s Prayer daily;  or twice or three times or more daily.    “. . . And forgive us our trespasses   as   we forgive those who trespass against us.”

I think this little girl in the Middle East got it.

Have  any Americans heard about this incident on their entertainment-news media?   Because it’s important.   Because it’s emblematic.     That is,  it’s a signal event, a symbol,  of what is happening   in general,  commonly.     It illustrates the dangers that Christians face all over the Middle East;  It illustrates the brutality of those who are intent on conquering the known world.

They are on the move again.

Which brings me to a question and to the next post . . . .

 

Bar Cross in middle

 

Many sources have carried this story:

One here.

Another here.

Another here.

There’s more, but it’s not necessary to dwell on this story.    Oddly – or horrifyingly – enough,  there are worse stories out there about what the Radical-Islamists are doing to Christians.

But I can’t let my imagination start going to “dipping Christians in acid.”

Et cetera.

 

NOT KNOWING THE FUTURE

April 22, 2016

(I need to keep this focused.  A difficult task these past few hours.)

I always told myself,  if there were a Mack truck  barrelling down on me . . .

mack

. . . .I’d want to turn and face it and see it coming!

You know,  you’d want to see something big coming so you have time to prepare.

bar dissolve er

But today,   the Blue Beauty and me had to go downtown for the class I was teaching.

SAMSUNG

And afterwards,  we had to drive back home.     Familiar roads through the city.

About three-fourths of the way home I was rear-ended  — by a truck ! —  with a great big noisy Whumpf!     It was a tremendous jolt,  and somehow I crossed some lanes of traffic without getting hit again and found  a place to pull over.  The big truck followed me.

It was one of those big service trucks.  Kind of heavy.    The two young men got out of their truck to see if I was all right.  They were so sorry, so apologetic, so solicitous of my well-being.   Just honest, open, sincere,  honorable young men.

I got out of my car holding my chest and coughing a little, which seemed strange,  but I think the seat belt hit into my sternum.    I was also feeling “heat” on my neck and down my shoulder,  but just a little.    The young men’s attitude helped a lot, and I didn’t want them to know I was feeling a little shocked.     Dizzy . . .  or dazed, maybe.

So we cheerfully  examined the car, amazed that there was no apparent damage to the bumper.*     They insisted on giving me their  contact information; and I told them  I was fine,  I’m  healthy,  I’m pretty strong,  and after we were done making sure everything was all right,  I told them to “have a good rest of your day,”   which seemed to amaze them.

24 hr

Twenty-Four hours

(Something’s  going to happen in each of these coming 24 hours.)

On the rest of my somewhat shaky way home,   I thought,  “I wish I had known this would happen so I wouldn’t be feeling so shocked right now.”

After a while, I thought again.    If,  when I was leaving class,  saying good-bye to everyone,  if then I had known   when and where that accident was going to happen,  how would I have acted differently?

“Six more miles to go….”      (I’m all right so far.)

“Just a couple more miles now.”      (hmmmm)

“Around that next corner . . . .”      (But I’ve got to go that way . . .)

“Up ahead at that next traffic light. . . .”     (It’s getting real close now. . . )

“There’s the big blue truck behind me in my rearview mirror.”

“There’s the traffic light coming up where it’s going to happen . . .”   (I’m out of time. )

“I’ve gotta stay stopped here. . . ”

“Yeeeeowwwwaaaaarghhhhh . . . .   whumpf!”

Yep.   It would have been a real tense ride home.    The present moment of that accident would have been my experience all the way home,  or maybe all day, if I had known this right away when I woke up.

Do we really want to know the actual bad things coming up?   Do we really want to know what difficult times are coming?      We’re supposed to live in the Present Moment.    “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”      “Don’t borrow trouble.”     “A coward dies a thousand deaths.”

Having intermittent “bad occurrences”  is part of living in this Fallen World.    They test us and allow us to “prove”  what kind of people we are.    The really bad things aren’t pleasant,  but they  let us demonstrate the strength of our character and the firmness of our faith.

We have to live freely and fully in the times in between the bad occurrences.

I saw this sad picture and it made me think about my own death:

SAMSUNG

Will it be like that?   Will that be me some day?    In a bed?   With a concerned friend or family member nearby?

Maybe not in a bed.

No.  It’s best to not know the time and circumstances,  because if I did know,  knowing me,  I’d be thinking about it all the time.     Counting down the miles, so to speak.

I’m okay with not knowing,  because Someone does know , and He’s waiting for just the right time, the best time for my life here to end.     And I thought someone should write a poem about this idea. . . because a poem is “a transcendent thought, common to all mankind,  that is wrapped  in beauty.”

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Then I remembered,  someone did,  someone wrote some song lyrics that express this thought,  the knowledge that our Creator made us for Himself,  and will bring us back to Himself,  but He doesn’t tell us when or how.   We just trust Him.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

My Grandma used to sing this song.     She says:  “Just trust Him.    He’s working all things for your good.”

We don’t have to worry about each of our next 24 hours.

Bar Cross in middle

 

Just, if you’re interested,  here are all the words to that song.  It’s about Jesus.   That’s why there’s a reference to Blood:

 
I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead

Chorus:
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

I don’t know about tomorrow
It may bring me poverty
But the one who feeds the sparrow
Is the one who stands by me
And the path that be my portion
May be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood

 

  •  Turned out there was damage  . . .

SAMSUNG

That line across the bumper ledge shouldn’t be there.   It should be plain smooth blue.

But  “we”  have an injury now. . . .

Don’t know how we all missed it.

Let it go.

I love my car.

Let it go.  Let it go.  Let it go.

It could have been me.

 

40 Patriotic Military Heroes

March 10, 2016

If I were king,  these are the kind of young men I would want in my army:

The 12th Legion:   They are strong, brave,  experienced in warfare, patriotic, pious – comrades in arms,  brothers,  ready for battle ;   and one time they saved the whole rest of the army nearby through their courageous actions and by the coincidental help of a powerful lighting storm,  earning for themselves the nickname:  The Lightning Legion!

soldiers

Young men,  like these.  40 of them in the Lightning Legion.  An emperor should be proud.

But this emperor had a personal grudge against Christianity.   These 40 men were young Christians,  faithful to the teachings handed down to them,  loyal to the bishop in Rome,  and above all,  believers in Christ Jesus.     The Emperor Licinius wanted them to pledge their loyalty to the Roman gods.

The year is 320 A.D.  in the dead of a very cold  winter  — and no, Constantine did not convert to Christianity and make the whole Roman Empire become Christian!    Didn’t happen.     In 313 A.D.  all religions were decriminalized, including Christianity,  but not including everywhere,  and this was the province of Armenia,  and it was time to get rid of the Christians here.

 

roman soldier

Each young soldier was told to pay homage to the Roman gods,  and one by one, each Christian young soldier that made up this Legion refused.

So, one by one,  each young man was chained to the prison wall, and asked again.   When they refused to give up their faith in Christ,  rocks were thrown at their faces, until they were badly bruised.

They were cajoled, implored, promised good things,   warned, and threatened with death.   Deny that Jesus ever lived!  Deny that Jesus is the Son of God!   Deny that Jesus died for your sins!    Deny that Jesus has prepared a place for you in Heaven and awaits you there!

All 40 young men were then stripped naked, forced to walk to the center of the frozen lake and made to stand there until they died of exposure.    They had time that night to write to their families. Good-byes.  Be joyful for us.   And one young man wrote his parents to take special care of his younger brother so that he doesn’t fall into the temptations of the world, and so lose his eternal soul.   Very touching.  A heart full of love, just before his own awful death.

Here is the lake today,  but not in winter.

lake not in winter

Imagine it frozen, though, and very, very cold.   I don’t even visit my own back yard pond in the winter with bare arms.     Imagine the 40 young Christian men standing on the ice together in the center.

Temptations and promises were thrown at the soldiers.   A large and very warm bath was set up on the shore so that the soldiers could see their relief – if they would deny Christ.  And many hours later,  one did.   Maddened by the effects of the cold winter winds on his body,  one young man ran for the bath’s steamy warmth.

As our physiology would have it –  the shock of the warm water killed him instantly.

The emperor’s men standing guard around the lake watched it all, and were moved by the steadfast faith of the  Christians.    What God is worth courage like this?    What God can strengthen His followers with joy amidst such suffering?

39?    One guard-soldier saw what looked like angelic creatures,   shining spirits hover overhead, placing beautiful crowns on the heads of the 39 soldiers, who were singing and praying out loud.    He began to understand.     The guard-soldier took off his clothes and ran out to join the young men   Now there are 40 again.

40 martyrs

By morning some of the men remained alive, somewhat.   The other guards were told to brake their legs and then throw them in the fires along the shore.     The bodies of all the martyrs were burned and the remains thrown into the lake.

Almost immediately  their story spread;   and they are honored as true martyrs ever since.  March 9th and 10th are the days various Christian honor them.    Poems, songs, churches and shrines arose in their name,  but most important of all,  their legacy is that it is possible to endure the worst that the world can give and still hold onto the Faith that has been passed down since the time of Christ.    And is certain that you will receive your reward, for ever.

Bar Cross in middle

 

Your nation can turn against you,  even the nation you love,   but Jesus never will.

 

LIVING WELL IN 2016

January 4, 2016

(Just a very short note;  still “recovering” from the holidays.)

I forgot who wrote this, but I come across it once in a while:

“HE LIVES WELL WHO ALWAYS HAS OWN DEATH BEFORE HIM.”

I could elaborate on that.
But so can you.

 

COMMUNITY FRIDAYS

March 21, 2015

(In honor of a new Reader of The Spruce Tunnel who especially likes the Food Part,    I’ll offer up the next three posts in honor of “food.”)

I could call this “Fish Fry Fridays,”  but as a kid who moved around a lot,  I see the things I long for — and that is a sense of community.    A sense of belonging to a community.

SAMSUNGAnd that’s why I pulled into this rather full parking lot, ready to meet a nice friend and some of her family members – also very nice! –  and enjoy some good company and sort of good food.      Looks like many others had the same idea.

SAMSUNGIt’s a safe and gentle place to meet.   No pressure.  No performances.    Low key and welcoming.   My friend is a smart, competent, professional young woman who has an intelligent and gentle approach to life.    I was soon to learn that her cousin and his wife and baby have a similar intelligent gentleness about them.     It was good to be with them.

SAMSUNGIt was crowded inside too!   I snapped pictures as I walked along — kind of “shooting from the hip” — so many photos came out a little fuzzy.   But this gives you an idea of where we’d be spending the next hour or so.    Among them.    “Among”  was a nice word that evening.

SAMSUNG  The “food place.”   Where you get your food.     Fried fish.  Baked fish.   Baked potatoes.   French fries.   Macaroni and cheese.   Creamy cole slaw.   Vinegar-y cole slaw.   Pickles, bread, and all the condiments you might need.     Iced tea.  Lemonade.  Milk.   Coffee.  Water.      All my life I’ve seen signs for “Fish Fry”  at this time of the year.    You can get a fish fry at restaurants or at churches.    Only recently have I participated.    If you abstain from meat on Fridays,  why not do it with your community?

You don’t have to belong to a church to take part in their fish fries:     I had excused myself “for a minute”  to go get something . . . .

SAMSUNG     . . . . but the “minute” turned into about fifteen minutes.    I went up some stairs and came across a not-so-old man just struggling and struggling to breathe as he tried to ascend.   He said he couldn’t get the elevator to open for him.    Poor man!    I stayed with him until he was at the top – and still living! —  and then went on down the hallway.    Then   I met a group of people  who were lost.   So I showed them how to get into the fish fry area.   Before I got back to where I was going,  I met more people, one with a big wheelchair,  who didn’t know how to leave!    So I walked them down the hallways until they could see the outdoors.   When I got to where I was going,  the room was full of little daughters and their mother, so I had to go back downstairs again where I started from.

So, see?   You don’t have to know your way around.   It’s a fish fry at a church and you’re invited!     And there’s a community there of good, intelligent, and gentle people.