Bringing Home the Treasures

Ships Returning Home

by Max Ehrmann

We are all ships returning home
laden with life’s experience,
memories of work, good times and sorrows,
each with his special cargo.
And it is our common lot to show
the marks of the voyage,
here a shattered prow, there a patched
rigging, and every hulk
turned black by the unceasing
batter of the restless wave.
May we be thankful for fair weather
and smooth seas, and in times of storm,
have the courage and patience
that mark every good mariner.
And over all, may we have
the cheering hope of joyful meetings,
as our ship at last drops anchor in
the still water of the eternal harbor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My response to today’s WordPress prompt: fortune

Note:
In spite of all the tales about its ancient origins, the Desiderada was also written by Max Ehrmann, 1872-1945.

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CHOMP. SO THERE!

And now, to start out the day with a smile…

Christine Composes

Twenty-odd years back, a penpal from Australia sent me a little clipping from their newspaper.  As I recall, it went something like this:

A woman whose name we won’t mention stopped for a break recently, bought a chocolate bar and took it into a cafe.  She purchased a coffee and located the last unoccupied table.  She sat down to enjoy her break.

As she was sipping her coffee a man came along who couldn’t find any free tables; with a nod and an apologetic smile he took the opposite chair at her table.  Then, to her amazement, he took the chocolate bar, unwrapped it actually ate half.

She grabbed the remaining half out of his hand and downed it in a few quick bites.  The man gave her a queer look, took his coffee and went to buy a bun.  With a perplexed glance in her direction, he found another…

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If I Perish, I Perish

It was a dark and stormy night…
… Think 10 pm, end of October. No storm, but not much of a moon. It seemed VERY dark…

And I was all alone…
… Well, not quite. My nine-year-old daughter had just gone to bed. But she’d be a very poor back-up in an emergency. My husband Bob was at work and wouldn’t be home until about 11:20.

In a big old farmhouse off down a lonely country road…
…I felt very isolated while we lived there. Our nearest neighbor was about half a mile to the south…we hadn’t met them yet. A quarter-mile to the north the road made a right angle bend and headed for the county road a mile west. So neighbor in that direction for a couple of miles.

In southwestern Ontario…
…on the western edge of a valley, with the impressively named, but tiny, Upper Thames River flowing along in the valley below us. (This detail becomes relevant soon.)

When a knock sounded at my door…
…I was in the hall near the front door, ALL ALONE, wondering who on earth would be wandering around at this time of night?

I stood there in the hall staring at the door, my fears kicking into high gear…
…Thieves? Murderers? I was 27 at the time and a wimpy type. Would I be beaten, sexually assaulted? And what about my daughter?

But what if someone is really in need of help…
…Right then the words of Queen Esther popped into my head: “If I perish, I perish.”
(Read about the circumstances where she uttered these words in Esther Chapter 4)

At that moment some kind of courage infused me. Those words, and the thought of her bravery in the face of possible death, squelched my fears and I reached to open the door. After all, do thieves and murderers usually knock?

And there stood three long-haired young men…
Twenty-ish, kind of scruffy, jeans and jackets. Nondescript — the perfect look for thugs…

Asking if they could use my phone!

GULP!
(That was me swallowing my fears again.)

The young man doing the asking was polite enough about it, so I swung the door open and he came in. Then I noticed first, how cold it was, and second, they seemed to be kind of wet. So I urged them all to come in.

A bit of back story here:
Up where the road bends toward the left and heads toward the highway, a shady little lane goes off to the right. If you follow it to the bottom, this rather picturesque, abandoned lane crosses the river and goes off to a long-forgotten gravel pit.

Since the river is only a trickling creek all summer, it’s easy enough to walk across the limestone river bed, stepping on flat stones, and check this pit out without getting much more than the soles of your feet wet. Driving across in a car posses no problems at all. Bumpy— but if you take it slow you can cross the Upper Thames and follow the lane on the other side, right into the gravel pit.

In spring, however — or after heavy rains in fall — this creek becomes a torrent. A force to be reckoned with. The young men at my door found this out that night when they tried to cross the river after some serious fall rains had raised the level significantly. They drove in, not expecting that depth of water, and their car stalled midway. By the time they’d climbed out and walked the quarter-mile to my place, jeans wet to the knees, they were…like my tale…a little shivery.

And remorseful. Their remorse increased steadily when the “spokesman” got on the phone and tried to persuade someone among his kith and kin (or a friend) who would come and tow their car out. Finally someone agreed…not very willingly.

I didn’t have the heart to kick them out in the cold again so I made some coffee for them, hoping to warm them up a bit, and fed them chocolate-chip cookies I had baked earlier that evening. They downed quite a few and we chatted as they waited for their ride to come.

They remained respectful and polite all the while. I’m happy to say all three of them were very appreciative and not at all the thieving or murderous hoodlums I’d feared. Phew!

When Bob got home I related the whole story. He found the tale quite interesting and a bit humorous. He knew how fearful I was “living way out there” and was intrigued that when I actually faced a “dangerous situation,” I had all the courage I needed.

What would you have done?

My reply to the Word Press daily prompt

Finders Keepers

Crescent Park Days #3

Wasn’t it the cartoon character Snagglepuss that went around singing bits of this song:

“I was strolling through the park one day
…in the merry, merry month of May
…and I got a strange surprise…”

My husband and I were strolling through Crescent Park early one morning and we did indeed get a strange surprise…

In the center of the park is a cenotaph, a memorial to those soldiers from Moose Jaw who were killed in action in the two world wars. This marble pillar with its bronze plaques was encircled by a flower bed in the shape of a big star. So think five points of the star planted to flowers and between the points lush green grass.

This flower “star” was encircled by a sidewalk round-about, with several lanes or paved paths going off to the south, west, and north, leading to other park attractions.

As I said, we took our walk early in the morning — and it was early spring, so the bedding flowers hadn’t been set out yet. Thus the points of the star were bare black earth awaiting the bedding plants. Bob and I had come up the south path and were following around the main circle when we stopped, amazed.

There, nicely laid out in one of the star points was a pale blue nylon nightgown.

We stood there eyeing it for awhile, contemplating the possibilities. It obviously hadn’t been just dropped there; rather, it was spread out as if on display. Across the street from the park were several three- to five-storey apartment buildings. Had it blown off someone’s balcony when they’d hung a few things outside to dry?

Or was this simply someone’s idea of a practical joke?

I stepped into the flowerbed and retrieved the nightgown. It was maybe a bit grubby for its landing in the dirt, but not very soiled. I held it up. It was sleeveless and double-layered, the outside being sheer nylon, the inside opaque. Not bad. I took it along home and washed it; the fabric proved to be in good condition with hardly a snag.

There was at the time a small paper put out locally, called “ The Shopper,” full of ads anyone could place for free. We decided to give the owner a chance to claim her lost property by placing an ad in this paper, but Bob suggested giving the ad a humorous twist. So we submitted the following:

Found in bed (flower) in Crescent Park: one blue nightgown. Free to the person who can come up with the best explanation of how it got there.

Since nobody answered the ad and the nightgown fit me just fine…I decided, “Finders keepers; losers weepers.”

(True Personal Experience)

Where Is God When It Hurts This Bad?

Will’s father was always religious.  A legalistic type.  He meant well, but he had definite ideas about how God looked at things and spent a lifetime looking for a church that held the same views.  (Like most of us, it took him years to learn that his views weren’t always in sync with God.)

Will’s Dad had been in his late 30′s when he married; his wife was 16 or 17.  The babies came like stair steps–seven of them; Will (name changed for privacy reasons) was one of the younger children.  Because his mother was overwhelmed with caring for her growing family, he and his sister spent some months in one of the homes in the church community.

At one point he thought he’d found the perfect church, so he moved his family into the community, hoping to join this group.  Sad to say, there came a time when something in the church’s doctrines or practices didn’t agree with Will’s father and he uprooted his family to go off in search of a church more in line with his ideas.  He never found a church that accepted how right he was.  He did develop an “unhealthy interest” in his daughters.  When his wife found out about this hanky-panky she had him committed to a mental institute and divorced him.

The mother, by this time, had lost all enthusiasm for churches.  Without a father in their lives–lacking that vital part of parental guidance–the children grew up to make some bad choices that really messed up their lives.  In his teen years Will got into partying, drinking and drugs.

In spite of his substance abuses, he settled down enough to hold a job.  Then he fell in love with a local girl; they married and soon had a baby boy.  For the first time in his life Will was truly happy.  His little family meant the world to him.

His wife had been from a relatively good home, but she followed him into the life of parties and liked it too well.  One day she took her little boy and left him for another man.  Will was dismayed but he knew where she’d gone and was determined to bring her back home.  When he got to the other man’s home, the fellow met him with a broken beer bottle in one hand.  She WASN’T coming back.

Devastated, he returned to his apartment – so empty now.  Like his life.  Everything he valued in this life was gone.  He wandered into the kitchen, opened the cutlery drawer and took out a big knife.  He had nothing left to live for.  Why not just end it all?

Right then a question pierced the cloud of despair that hung over him:  “What about Me, son?”

He recognized and opened his mind to the Voice of God.  The Spirit reminded him of the Christian teachings he’d received as a boy, encouraging him that God could still have a way.  Will realized that it was his own choices that brought him to this brink of disaster.  He was impressed that God still loved him in spite of it.  He saw the Lord as his only hope, the only Light in this darkness.

Then and there he turned his life over to God.  He asked forgiveness for the sins of his past and prayed for guidance through the mess he’d made.  He felt peace wash over him, sensed a calmness that he’d never known before.  He felt free of his past and able to face the future.  He was beginning a new life, this time walking with God.

I wish I could say that everything went well for Will after this, that his wife returned and they had a happy home.  Not so; she moved away and he had no contact with the boy again.  This has given him many heartaches, trials and stumblings, but God has been faithful to pull him out of the depths of despair many times.

By the time Will met the Lord, his father had made a full circle and gone back to the church group he’d left so long ago.  Will’s sister who had lived with him in one of the church homes had also found her way back and was attending there, too.  And this is where Will went looking for a Christian family.  I’m retelling his experience as he told it one Sunday morning years ago prior to his baptism.

So where is God when it hurts?  He’s right there…standing beside us…trying to talk to us in our fog of disappointment, anger, desolation.  He’s not into shouting, overpowering or drowning out all our other thoughts; He’s not into magic tricks to prove Himself to the skeptics.  He’s the quiet, gentle Voice of hope that so many brush aside before they jump over the cliff.  But He’s always there, trying to rescue the lost.  He alone understands just where a jump over that cliff will land us.

He can–and He will–lead us through to better days if we abandon our own plan, take His hand and just follow.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 11-13

A Love That Follows

Back in the 1973 Friendship Book of Francis Gay I found a little story that’s worth retelling for Father’s Day.

Apparently a teenage girl, in a fit of “Nobody here understands me!’ frustration, stormed out the door, telling Mom and Dad she wouldn’t be back.  She hadn’t gotten far, however, before she realized that she hadn’t even thought to take her purse but she was too stubborn to go back on her word.

So she kept walking.  All afternoon she walked down the city streets with no idea of where she should be going.  By and by her temper calmed down and her outburst started to look pretty dumb.  Finally, exhausted and famished, she ducked into a small coffee shop and ordered a hot chocolate, knowing she’d just have to tell the manager she hadn’t a penny and take the consequences.

When the waitress came with the drink she started to explain, when someone slid into the booth beside her – her father.  “Why don’t you order yourself a sandwich, too?” he said kindly.  “I’ll pay.”

That’s all it took.  She was willing at last to admit how foolish she’d been and go home again, where she knew she was truly loved.  Hadn’t her father just proved it?

It’s pretty hard to run away from a love that follows so persistently.

 

Reblogged from swallowinthewind.wordpress.com — June 2012