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Posts Tagged ‘points of view’

The past is a bucket of ashes

Yesterday morning Pastor Conley read a poem that was written by Carl Sandburg in 1922. I don't remember ever having read the poem before, but it resonated with me and I thought I'd post it on my blog. If you read it aloud, it is particularly stirring.

"The past is a bucket of ashes."

The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.

The doors were cedar
and the panels strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.
The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where the golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
… and the only listeners left now
… are … the rats … and the lizards.

And there are black crows
crying, "Caw, caw,"
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest
over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The only singers now are crows crying, "Caw, caw,"
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are … the rats … and the lizards.

The feet of the rats
scribble on the door sills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.


Do you think it applies to society today or only to times past? Have things changed since Sandburg wrote this in 1922?


"Leave it all in the hands that were wounded for you." — Elisabeth Elliot (Through the Gates of Splendor)

=^..^= =^..^=

There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

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Recently our daughter Nora posted a picture on Facebook of something that Della had done with her toys.

Della Organizes

Nora commented that instead of playing with her little ponies, Della had organized them. I replied that for some of us organizing is playing. 🙂

Then this past weekend Becka and I visited a long-time friend Cathy who had been Becka's roommate in college. Cathy and I chuckled about the picture Nora had posted and also about our own perfectionistic tendencies to be organized. And so I decided to do a blog post about OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). If you're wondering about my title, I jokingly call it CDO — putting the letters O, C, and D in alphabetical order, as they should be. (I wish I could say that I came up with that one.)

I hasten to state that I am not trying to make light of people who really do struggle with daily life because of this disorder. That must be a terribly difficult thing to deal with the resulting debilitation. The humor in today's post is mostly about those of us who are perfectionists or have some OCD tendencies — when things are not totally orderly, it bothers us. Think of this post as more of a test to see if you have OCD tendencies. This next cartoon illustrates OCD quite well.

OCD Spider

See how quickly you can spot the thing/s out of place in the following pictures. How quickly you can find them and how much they bother you might signal how CDO you are. OK, here goes!
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Little Humor


When you tell people, "I'm not happy," do they ask which dwarf you are instead? On St. Patrick's Day do people ask you where your pot of gold is? Do you hate to gain even one pound because it instantly shows everywhere? Do you constantly have to ask random strangers to help you get something off higher shelves in stores? Do people use you as an armrest without asking? When people drop things, do they ask you to pick it up since you're closer to the ground? Do you always end up in the front row in pictures and choirs?

If you have never faced any of those situations, you're probably one of those disgustingly tall or otherwise normal people. 🙂 For a long time I have referred to myself as "short and dumpy." Whenever I say that, I hear everything from hearty laughs to nervous chuckles .... like, is it ok to laugh at what I just said about myself? I come from a family of short people — my French grandma was 4'9", her daughter (my aunt) 4'10", and my dad (Grandma's son) was 5'5". At 5'8" I felt like Gulliver with much of my family in France. My mom's side of the family added little height to the mix — Mom was 5'1" tall (in her younger years).

In my annual physical recently, I learned that I am now 3/4 of an inch shorter than I already was for my whole adult life! Losing some height that I could ill afford to lose and my wife's recently reading the funny thing I've used as my signature line at the end of this post made me decide to do a post about being short. This will give you a glimpse of how we experience life from the altitude at which we fly.

Things you get to / have to hear as a short person:

You're like really short ... to which you reply, "Thanks, I had no idea."

You work at a bank?! Is it a piggy bank?

Well, at least you don't have to worry about door frames and ceiling fans.

Have you ever thought about playing baseball? You'd be perfect for playing shortstop.

Do you have enough money or are you a little short?

Do you also have good short term memory?

Are you a member of the Lolly Pop League?
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Dispatches from the Front

Tim Journaling

This past week my friend Tim Keesee and I met for coffee. He was excited to tell me that he has a new book coming out at the end of May. The book has the same name as his award-winning DVD series — Dispatches from the Front. There are currently 6 DVDs, and a 7th one will be coming out this summer telling what Tim saw and learned in North Africa.

Here is the first paragraph about the DVD series from the webpage:

Believers everywhere desperately need a renewed vision of Christ and the unstoppable advance of His saving work in all the earth. Our view of God’s Kingdom is often too small and limited to what we have experienced. Dispatches from the Front highlights the marvelous extent, diversity, and unity of Christ’s Kingdom in our world. The journal format of each episode underscores the daily unfolding of God’s activity on the “frontlines,” bringing viewers up-close with sights and sounds from distant corners of the Kingdom.

picture of Dispatches DVDs

If you have never viewed any of the DVD's, you need to! If you have viewed them, you know what a masterful storyteller Tim is. His training and background as a historian, his gifts of observation and journaling, his openness to understanding cultures foreign to his own, and especially his ability to paint vivid images with words make the video series go far beyond being merely informative (which the most definitely are!). The images and word pictures reach into the very hearts of the viewers as they meet fellow believers who are on the frontlines, following and serving Christ.

I asked Tim for permission to give my blog readers a taste of his new book. Here is a section of the Prologue that he penned while visiting his native Danville, VA:

"A train calls to me in the night silence. For as long as I can remember, it has provided the music—and my pen the words—to a restless life. A million miles later, I'm back where I grew up—and the train's whistle is as sweet and lonely as ever....

"Mama used to play hymns on a beaten-up piano with a keyboard that looked like an ugly grin—its ivories yellowed, cracked, or missing. I remember how pretty she was at the piano. She had a lilting style that made me sing, even when I was too young to read. An old plaque still hangs on the living room wall: "The way of the Cross leads home." Mama has finished that journey, and yet tonight on this side, amid the clutter of memories and the mocking monotony of a ticking clock, I miss her.

"One of the things I love her for is that she gave me to the Lord—which meant that she had to let me go. Travel just wasn't in our family's DNA. Our roots run deep in the red clay of the Virginia foothills. Only things like world wars and great depressions could move us away, but always we came back to these familiar hills. I was the first in ten generations to leave Virginia. So even though Mama did not understand my wanderlust, like Hannnah, she had given her son to the Lord, and she kept her word, even when it hurt. She bought a globe—it's still here on the dresser—and over the years, she traced the paths of her promise.

"And so, I've gone far from this place. A sixteen-year-old sailor who used to be me looks down from the shelf. The picture is faded, but I still smell the salt. Back then, my small world suddenly became as vast as the ocean. And everything I saw I wrote about, filling in the blanks that only imagination could attempt before.
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Under Proper Management…

Franz Schubert

Looking through my files as I tried to decide what to post this week, I ran across something that I, as somewhat of a musical Philistine, found humorous. It's about Franz Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, as evaluated by someone whose greatest strengths are managerial rather than musical. It sheds a bit of light on how management looks at things differently from how others do.

Schubert's Unmanaged Symphony

A managed care company president was given a ticket for a performance of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. Since she was unable to go, she gave the ticket to one of her managed care reviewers. The next morning she asked him how he had enjoyed it. Instead of a few observations about the symphony in general, he handed her a formal memorandum which read as follows:

1. For a considerable period, the oboe players had nothing to do. Their number should be reduced, and their work spread over the whole orchestra, avoiding peaks of inactivity.
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