Saturday, January 29, 2011

To touch the face of God

The Shock
(by R.P.Edwards)

A sudden shock
Untimely death
All to focus
Holding breath
No time for these
It’s only life
And prayerful knees
How sad it takes
The jarring crack
To break our bondage
Bring us…back
But rest assured
That time will soothe
And forgetful we
We’ll wayward…move

I was sitting in the University classroom.  It was my normal routine.  I don’t remember the subject offered; nor the teacher who taught; but I do remember Dr. Monson popping his head in the door.  He, a middle-aged gent (a bit crusty, navy vet) was paler than usual as he relayed the shocking information: the space shuttle Challenger had exploded a little over a minute into its flight.  All seven aboard, including Social Studies teacher, Christa McAuliffe, died. Many in America watched and, by the end of the day, we, as a nation…refocused; at least for a little while.

Funny, I don’t remember a whole lot from my University days.  This Challenger episode, however, was a notable bookmark.  And it’s still there; twenty five years later.

Now, at this point I was going to gently segue into the sad truth that often it takes a jarring stop before we realize we’re on the wrong road; or at least drifting towards the rail.  But, due to a work interlude, I’ve had time to reconsider and I just don’t want to go there…today.  Instead I offer a couple links for your perusing.  The first is the speech given by President Ronald Reagan on that fateful day.  It, of course, finishes with the famous line:   We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."  Reagan Speech

I thought it only appropriate to have the complete poem from which the words come.  It is titled, High Flight, and was written by a young aviator who died at 19 during World War II.    High Flight

Also, here is a link to President Bush’s speech concerning the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.  Worth reading.  Columbia Speech

Conclusion? This life, at its longest; is short.   It would be wise to consider our individual ends.  For we all, sooner or later, will slip the surely bonds of earth….


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Civility and Sacrifice

(by R.P.Edwards)

Civility, civility
Democracy’s salve
Calming contentions
Conversations…to have
Passions, on leashes
Warring…with words
Yet measured, in malice
So as not
To disturb

“You have no idea.”

In this world there are measures of devotion, love, sacrifice, selflessness. The greatest example; the one without peer, begins with the words, “For God so love the world…”  But, below this ultimate are lesser degrees of “you first” and, far from the top, but certainly well above the bottom, was the selfless act of my wife towards “yours truly” just the other day.

You see; I was feeling a bit under; poorly; bummed; and, my wife (a compassionate soul) volunteered to make the coffee and bring me a mug.  But, as this exercise was taking longer than normal I surmised she was up to something “more,” and, so she was; for, after several minutes she arrived with, not only the java, but also a hot bowl of oatmeal, along with wheat toast on the side.  This, of itself, was sacrificial, but, BUT what raised it to the “you have no idea” level was the preparation of the porridge; for, following the tradition set forth by my mother, I like a dollop of peanut-butter mixed in with the oats.  My wife, God Bless her, absolutely hates goober’s child.  She informed me that a lot of “mouth breathing” was necessary to accomplish the love-gift.  Thank you, honey.  That was quite a sacrifice.         “You have no idea.”

Well, I didn’t watch the State of the Union Speech, but I did listen to a portion the old fashioned way; the radio.  Only heard about fifteen minutes, but it was enough to appreciate this civilized republic we live in.  There they were, often bitter opponents, sitting next to one another; setting aside their agendas…to be civil.  The words I heard were soothing, inspiring, presidential and, though I differ greatly with the chief executive in so many ways, I recognize his office, and hold no personal malice towards the man. 

However, beyond the civility, there must be a tangible “turning.”  In the Christian sphere it’s called Repentance; when one stops heading “away” from God, and starts heading “towards.”  It goes far beyond words.  It involves “acts.”  And, as far as the nation is concerned, yes, we must be wise with our money and methods, but we also need to recognize that all our blessings…are inherited.  Inherited from a people who feared God, recognized moral living, and gave every human life…a chance to grow old.  This kind of sacrifice will bring God’s blessing and, in the distant future, when a great grandson or daughter (should we be so fortunate) looks to the history books and asks what was necessary for the change, we can begin by repeating my wife's classic response, “You have no idea.”


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Talk

The Talk
(by R.P.Edwards)

They talk about talking
For talking is king
Their bread and their butter
Their place
And their bling
But talking is useless
When actions
Are few
So talk about talking
For that’s
What you do

It’s a Sunday afternoon.  The ballgame is on and, for the most part…I’m indifferent.  Don’t have a stake, a dog, a horse, or any other idiomic image tied to the outcome.  And, though I know some who are feverish fans of one or the other; I am somewhere in the region of … “ho hum.”

Watched a little of the “talkers” this morning.  The coming  State of the Union address was one topic, and some spoke of the importance of the words; the phrasing, the demeanor, the promises.  Again, I find myself in the region of … “ho hum.”  Why?  Because talk; albeit eloquent, educated, emotional, knowledgeable, Presidential, is, in the end…oh so cheap.

Again.  President Obama, he, above all other presidents, ever; is the abortionist's friend.  Under his leadership the United States is viewed as weak and indecisive; and our ever increasing IOU’s make us beholden to those who do not have our best interests at heart.  And then there's some other stuff I just don't feel like "talking" about.

So, oh talkers; talk away.  After all, that is your forte; your fortune.   And, since the chief executive is going to visit your living room; analyze on.  But, after your critiques have dissipated and dissolved; then we’ll see if there is any substance behind the syllables.  Either way, it will give you talk about.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mice, not so nice

Word Police
(by R.P.Edwards)
"In the crosshairs"
"In my sights"
"Launch the campaign!"
"Join the fight!"
Useful words
They make a point
But “word” police
Get out of joint

I’ll admit it.  I was snookered.  Taken in. Wooed by…the whiskers.  My thoughts turned to Mickey and Mortimer, Pixie and Dixie, Stuart Little, Mr Jingles from “The Green Mile,” and that very clever mouse from “Mouse Hunt.” I even said something like, “If they showed up at home; they’d be dead.  But here, I kinda feel sorry for ‘em.”

I’m talking about a few mice that invaded our feeding hole at the job.  It’s cold out; pickin’s are slim, and…they’re kinda cute.  “Pet” came to mind.  That is…until they started climbing and leaving their poison pills…everywhere.  And, when their “calling cards” showed up by the coffee pot; well, let’s just say the “cute factor” could not hold down the scale.  RIP.

This little offering is being written not long after the House of Rep’s voted to repeal Obamacare.  Yeah, it doesn’t have a chance.  It’s doubtful that the Senate will follow suit and, if they could be persuaded, the President would most likely veto any attempt to remove his “signature legislation.”

The similarities:  In the back of my brain were these images of a friendly, cute, lovable…mouse.  In reality they’re nasty, little rodents that don’t mind pooping everywhere.  In the same way the few agreeable traits of the massive Healthcare bill that was shoved down our collective throats have been trumpeted as if that’s all there is to it. But, from what I’ve heard and read…it’s an overall stinker.  We need to recognize it for what it is, flush it, then put together something that retains the good, but avoids the leavings.

Of Mice
(by R.P.Edwards)

Mickey and Mortimer
Pixie and Dix
Stuart Little and Jingles
So cute, and the tricks!
What’s good on the screen
So distant and dear
Is gone when the leavings
A mouse, was just here


Monday, January 17, 2011

His will?

I wonder
(by R.P.Edwards)

I wonder if it bothers
God, being blamed, for all
Murder, pain, and mayhem
“His sovereign, chosen, call!”
But Scripture speaks of choices
A thief,
who steals,
and kills
Methinks we have a portion
Not His
But our own

Not much time. Work beckons. To the miles. To the mill. To the hours…to fill.  Anyway, there’s a disturbing train of thought in Christendom that has to do with the Sovereignty of God.  Now, “Sovereignty” is a fancy word that says God is all powerful (not many will dispute this).  And, coupled with the Biblical acknowledgment that “His ways” are above “our ways;” we, understandably, may encounter happenings in our lives that leave us scratching our heads and saying, “Why God?” or even, “God must have a reason.”

However, I think, if we’re not careful, we’ll use the above reasoning as a cop out.  An excuse.  And, frighteningly; a misrepresentation.  And, last week, I heard the word “sovereignty” tied in with the murders of the six in Tucson.  The question perhaps phrased as, “Why did God allow…” and the answer phrased as “God is sovereign, and I don’t know…”

Some observations.  Jesus said that the “thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  But I came that they might have life…”  Jesus also said, in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done, on earth, as it is…in heaven.”  Now, I’m not a theologian.  Not a pastor, or priest or any kind of backward-collared guy, but there is, apparently…evil in the world.  And, Jesus is the self-declared counter to that.  And, in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus seems to infer that God’s will is “not” always being done down here, as it is “up there.” 

So, let’s go ahead and make the leap; it appears, for some reason, that, for the time being, God’s influence is limited in certain areas.  I believe it’s a contractual thing; the whole “God gave man authority, and man…sold Him out; gave the keys to the evil one.”  And yes, there will come a day when everything is made totally right (read the book of Revelations), but, it seems that at the moment, a lot of bad things happen that don’t have anything to do with God’s will.

Conclusion: do I think the grisly events in Tucson had anything to do with God’s sovereign--I decree this should happen--will? I say…NO!  Just as I believe God had nothing to do with the sixty-nine babies that were ripped to pieces in my home town’s abortion clinic last week.  But, let me offer this, I believe He saw it coming, and perhaps tried to alert some of “His” to intervene (even if it was just prayer); and, sadly, and all to often…we let Him down.   

A slight add on.  Do I believe good can come out of this tragedy?  Of course.  But I believe the same “good” could have come…without six dying at a madman’s hand.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Words that heal?

The Bucket and the Envelope
(by R.P.Edwards)

The bucket and the envelope
Containers, much the same
A holding place for offerings
To ease another’s…pain
But one speaks of the living
The other…of the dead
The bucket and the envelope
Our common…mortal…dread

You know, I don’t talk a lot about my “day job” at the steel mill.  For one; who cares?  For another; it’s poor taste; after all, I am gainfully employed while many others…are not.  And, I think it makes the metal “masters” a bit nervous; and we certainly don’t want that.  But, let me open the window, just a bit.  You see, in this fire and brimstone industry, results are key.  In other words; the product must be made in a timely fashion, up to specs, and out the door on time.  No steel…no deal.  And, since we’re interested in the “result,” we’re not so interested in the pretty packages people come in.  In other words, we don’t care about your “hairdo,” we’re concerned with your “can do.”  And, subsequently, things can be a bit crude and coarse around here; but that’s how it is, even when it comes to…donations.

The opening poem has to do with two “collections” that occur from time to time in “steel land.”  Sometimes, on the way in, as we pass through the cheese grater (slotted turnstile) there may be a white five-gallon bucket waiting.  These containers, the former carriers of some sort of maintenance glop, are cleaned out and, in this case, used for a cash depository.  Seeing one of these (along with an attendant) usually means…somebody’s off work due to injury or illness, or maybe their kid is grievously ill.  They could use a hand; a little “we remember ya” offering.  Wallets open, and the bucket fills. 

Then there’s the envelope.  It’s one of those big manila things; normally used for transporting in-house documents, but, when walked around the “floor” by a laborer…it usually means somebody’s loved one…has died.  Last night, while in the break room, such an envelope was placed in front of me.  Sure enough, a co-workers dad…was dead.  The wallet was retrieved; the pittance was put in (along with a sigh), but I knew this little jingle of cash could never replace the voice of “Dad” on the phone, or a slap on the back from “the old man.”

So, where am I going with all this?  Well, a week back we had the “Tucson Tragedy,” where a congressperson was shot and six others died due to a nut-jobs actions.  This week a great get together was planned--a memorial thing--and a number would speak, including the President.  Many wondered if his “words” could heal the nation.  And as for me? I didn’t tune in.  I didn’t give a rip.  Why?  Because, like my jobs purpose for being…I’m interested in the final, tangible product.

Now, of course I’ve prayed, and am concerned, but…I’m just tired of the production.  I’m tired of the science of Hollywood that knows what theme music to play and what inflections to put on the syllables.  I’m tired of the polished pundits who live in a world of words and spray tans and artificially white teeth and ivy league elitism. I’m tired of Mensa midgets who delight in putting Sarah Palin down, but they, themselves, are not worthy to carry her water. 

In conclusion: I’m interested in results.  So, let’s see if those who have, previously, championed abortion; sought to cheapen traditional marriage; weakened the military; and have gleefully put our kids and grand kids into debtors prison; let’s see if their “words”…heal.


Monday, January 10, 2011

The Tendrils of Grief

The Order
(by R.P.Edwards)

In order of importance
They line up at the gate
Awaiting Heaven’s greeting
The endless…celebrate
But those with names and titles
The very few, there are
They’re often found, quite near the back
For God defines…the star

It’s been a few days since the shooting.  When the Arizona malcontent, Jared Loughner, opened fire at a little political meet-and-greet which killed six, and wounded…many.  The victims immediately identified: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (grievously injured, and apparently the main target), Federal Judge John Roll (killed), and a nine-year-old girl (also killed) Christina Taylor Green.

Now, this is not a commentary on the motive of the monster, or an exploration of the misconstruing of the media; nor a delving into the knee-jerk notions of legislators and lobbyists.  No, its just a simple observation of the tendrils…of grief.

You  see, it’s all in the knowing.  The attachment.  The connection.  In this event we--we of this Constitutional Republic--we who have a direct hand in the election of our “voices” (not to mention the recent momentous elections), one of “ours” was targeted and injured.  In essence, the thousands upon thousands who put her in office, and all of her constituents, were also attacked.  She is a public face; a familiar voice; we “know” her.  And this…wounds us all.  And we all, to some extent…grieve.

Next; Federal Judge Roll.  Again; someone important.  Someone known. Someone whose decisions have touched many.  And, since he was appointed by a president, he too is (was) attached to the nation. 

Finally, an innocent nine-year-old girl interested in public service. And, since many of us have children, or know children, we too are wounded at the thought that someone would be so cruel as to murder such a beautiful flower. To destroy such a promising young life.  It reaches each of us and, since just three short months ago I brought two of my sons to a political event, this connection adds to the heartache.

You see, it’s like the pebble in the pond. The closer to the splash, the more intense the wave action.  The family grieves most, then the friends and the acquaintances.  It finally ripples down to the head-nod of the obituary reader.  Grief comes from knowing.  But, of course, knowing does not mean…importance. At least not in God’s eyes.

A final thought: It is only right to be appalled and incensed at the cruel actions of the crazed gunman.  It is only right to mourn the loss of life.  And, it’s only natural to focus first on those we, in some way…know.  But, on that same day, there were four others who were murdered that haven’t been given much press, and their mourners…will be less.  And, on that same day, I’m sure there were many others murdered in less spectacular fashion.  The mourners for these, will be far, far less.  And, in my home town, at least sixty-five unborn children died by the abortionist's hand.  Their mourners…

Perhaps, when all is said and done; perhaps we should all…increase our “knowing.”


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bill O'Reilly...wise up.

(by R.P.Edwards)

“Potential Human Life”
The antiseptic phrase
Used by careful cowards
Fearful of…the day
Not unlike the era
When “potential” dealt…with skin
And the gentle spoke misgivings
While the heavens cried out…  “SIN!”

“I’m absolutely, factually correct when I say a fetus is a potential human being; and no one can deny that.  I respect your opinion, but until you become a Supreme Court justice, Hugh, it remains your opinion; your belief.  I can’t run this program based on my religious beliefs, so I try to put up arguments based on facts. And I believe we are successful in doing that.” 

The above is Bill O’Reilly’s answer to the following question: “A fetus is a human being with potential, not a potential human being! As a Roman Catholic, why do you keep getting it wrong, Bill?”  (submitted by viewer, Hugh Garber)

Short and sweet.  Listen, I’m a Bill O’Reilly fan.  He’s the regular guy who made good.  The rough, no nonsense interviewer known for piercing questions and opinions that don’t back down.  A champion of the “folks,” and, who can forget how he led the charge to have “Jessica’s Law” (legislation to greatly increase the penalties levied against sex offenders who prey on children) put on the books of many states.  But, when it comes to abortion, Bill has become…something less.

A couple things: The “Culture Warrior” segment, where Bill converses with a couple of well spoken ladies (Margaret Hoover and Gretchen Carlson) about the issues of the day; when it comes to abortion, this hot-button topic becomes…tame, tepid, colorless.  Indeed, the term “baby” is forboden.  And, this “opinion” show suddenly becomes almost nauseatingly…neutral.

Understand, I’m all for hearing both sides.  But when it comes to abortion the “Factor” is stuck in middle-left.  Question: where is the abolitionist on the panel?  Where is the champion for the innocent? Where is someone like Alan Keyes who can eloquently speak for those who cannot speak for themselves?  And Bill, really, equating Supreme Court speak with fact? How about the justices on the Taney Court?  You know, the wise ones who equated black skin…with property? Surely if this was 1859 you wouldn’t use the “until you become a Supreme Court justice” line.

Conclusion:  Bill, you’ve got a great platform.  A ponderous pulpit.  We’ve seen how your passion on a subject can direct your stories, your words, your invitations.  We’ve seen how you can move the nation; influence the “discussion,” indeed, in some ways…change the culture.  I have to conclude that perhaps when it comes to life in the womb; you’re unconvinced.  And sure, you don’t want the show to be all about your “opinion,“ but, as you’ve said before, it’s not a “news” broadcast.  “Opinion” is given and asked for…all the time.  So, for whatever reason, in this area, the "Factor"...fails. And, although you may be wavering, there are millions and millions of us in your audience who believe that the birth canal is not the determiner of personhood. And…we “regular folk” would like a representative on your show to say it. 


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Prescription

(by R.P.Edwards)

Treat the symptoms
That’s our way
The pain
The cough
The chill
But cancer laughs
At our display
For cancer comes
To kill

“Daddy! Daddy! Come quick!”

It was the ten-year-old, Marybeth, darting in and out before the self-closing (rather quickly, I might add) screen door had a chance to cycle.  Homer, “MB’s” Dad, put down his store-bought coffee and--righting the shoulder straps of his brown coveralls--walked away from the kitchen table a little faster than usual.  His daughter’s voice had the sound of fear in it.  Seldom heard; and never…to be ignored.

With the screen door’s sharp thwack behind him he ran to his daughters side as she gently stroked Elsie’s moist brow.  This “Jersey,” a fine milk-producer, had been his child’s idea in the first place.  And, since the Borden mascot was the inspiration, the name was a natural.  “Honey,” he said softly (also stroking the bovines snout) “she’s just calving, that’s all.”

“But, Daddy (the girl, tears now streaming, looked up into her father’s eyes) it’s different this time.  Something’s wrong.  Something’s terrible wrong!”

The elder took a closer look.  She was right.  Normally this cow could calve and not miss a beat (this would be the third time) but there was a struggle, a hindrance, a reason for the delay.  And, although he was not a vet, he’d read about the problem; and he knew what had to be done. “The calves in the breech position,” he muttered to himself.

“W…what does that mean?” sobbed the kneeling waif, her pigtails lining perfectly with the tears that dripped from her bowed head onto the light tan hide below Elsie’s troubled left eye.

“It means the baby’s coming out the wrong way.  I have to try and turn her.  I’ve only seen it done on TV.  But if I don’t try…she won’t make it.”

A few minutes later Elsie was cleaning “Elsie 2,” and, as the farmer wiped the birth leavings from his muscular bare arms, the smile on his daughter’s face (she, crying again, but this time for joy) made this little excursion into the dairy business something more than just a pet for his pet.  It made it something deep, and warm…and life altering.

Inspiration comes from strange places.  There I was; tucked head first into the slightly elevated wheel-well of my Safari van (that’s how you get to the spark plugs) and, as I contorted to reach the darned things, I thought about those instances (fact or fiction; I know not) where farmers have to reach in…to make things right.

I hear the new guys in the House are going to do something interesting from the “floor.” They’re going to read, aloud, the Constitution of the United states.  What a novel idea.  And, not only that.  They are supposedly going to require that said document be cited when new legislation is proposed.

Now, thinking along the lines of our near-founding document, I remembered that President John Adams had something to say about it.  Part of the quote is well-known (in some circles, anyway).  I’ll expand on it a bit.The following comes from a letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, October 11, 1798.

“…because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry,  would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The last line of the quote is the remembered one.  Simply, the Constitution doesn’t work without a “We the People” that are…self regulating.  And, that which bridals the populace is… “morality and religion.”

And so, I am certainly in agreement with the Republican upstarts who want to bring us back to our Constitutional base.  However, sadly, there has to be a solid place… “beneath” the base.  And, sadly, the reading of the document will not repair the bedrock which has eroded so badly.  Frankly, it will take a revival of historic proportions and, although it may very well end up under the Capital dome; it is very unlikely…it will start there.


Saturday, January 1, 2011 God

To be Known
(by R.P.Edwards)

Oh, to be known
That is our dream
That many would know…who we are
But flesh comes and goes
With its notice and knows
Known to God
Is better…by far

I had popped in a Christmas Cassette (still not “over it”) and proceeded to put together a one-egg omelet;  egg, Italian cheese, Mexican cheese, and some of a mini-summer sausage thing that came in a Christmas package a couple weeks back.  Some old sourdough bread in the toaster, and coffee from the Bunn completed the feast.  Then, as the yuletide tunes intermingled with the waftings…I heard it.  A siren.  A barely audible (Christmas tunes, plus window fan obscured) oversized alarm-clock type irritating…buzz.  I listened more closely.  A tornado warning.  Not a test.  A warning.  And here it was, the last day of 2010.

Well, the TV weather folk--who had preempted a basketball game to interject--showed the radar picture.  Ominous.  A blazing red line of storms; the kind that birth…tornadoes; barreling towards us.  We sent the kids to the basement and…went to the porch.  Got a little hairy (and yeah, I know the "porch" thing was dumb), but no twister. And, although we were spared, some, nearby, were not.  Indeed, in a place called Sunset Hills, where a tornado had touched down and wreaked havoc--but injured “no one”--the mayor unabashedly said… “It was a miracle.”  And, at least one other, when asked of the ordeal, mentioned the beseeching of God as their roof…caved in.

Now, I’m not embarrassed in the least to say that we, also, had sought the aid of the one who calmed the sea.  We’re Christians.  Our lives are incomplete…without Jesus.  And, frankly, this is not an admission of weakness, but rather of…reality.  Indeed, not one more breath is possible…without Him.  The problem is, many are unaware, or forgetful of our dependence.  And, when a nation has forgotten, then it may very well take a storm…to bring us to our senses.   Now, in the natural the weather folk warned us of the impending wind--warnings that probably saved lives.  Oh, how we need the spiritually discerning to warn the rest--“the rest” being a nation that thinks itself independent and immovable--that a storm of another kind--the kind that can break us down to our very foundation--is on its way.  Perhaps the warning…will produce prayer.  But if not…the storm…surely will.