Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Serve because you can!

Many who have "served" will tell you that they received much more than they gave. You will hear that from volunteers everywhere. Quite often it's true of many who have volunteered to served in the military. I am one of them.
That has often left me speechless when someone thanks me for my service. In that moment my heart aches for those lost in service and for those who cannot say they received more than they gave. In that moment, I see the faces of the men and women I have known who were irrevocably scared by events of their service. They humble me.
Having worked at the Survival School, I heard first hand accounts of the many situations faced by our men and women in combat situations. I've met former POW's. For many veterans, physical survival was the easy part. I've heard their stories. I see their faces. Mine is not one of them. I am humbled.
If I pause and lower my eyes when you thank me, it's because of them. It's because in that moment I wish to honor them.
And so, I seek that path.
My job in the Air Force was to entertain those men and women and to tell their stories. My job was to bring a part of home to them as comfort in lonely times away from home. In a stroke of luck or fate, I was honored to serve in the elite Armed Forces Radio and Television. There were only about 500 of us worldwide while I was serving. These were the days before internet and broad satellite access to broadcasts. We had teletype service and MARS stations. And in Greenland, we often felt as though we were in Mars.
Across all branches in the military, there are many serving in non-combat roles. There are accountants, mechanics, electricians, computer techs, doctors, nurses, guards, clerical workers and on and on. They are all serving.
Is all service equal? I would say not. Is all service valuable? I would say so.
Throughout our community are volunteers who serve. Many will say they have received more than they give. It's true of those who volunteer as firefighters and it's true of those who volunteer to set up an event. It's true because your focus is on lifting others and by lifting others, you lift yourself.
Service should be recognized as valuable. But it is not all heroic. The act of service should not be heroic, it should be a way of life. We should all be seeking to serve, not for recognition but simply because we are all lifted up by it.
That's not to say that there are no heroic efforts. Some are able to do greater acts by fate or by design. Some find it within themselves to rise above. Some find themselves in situations that cause them to find something within themselves to do much more than they they ever imagined they could. They are heroes when the rest of us wonder if we could have or would have been able to do what they did.
And so, I will be focused on a more positive response as kind souls recognize my small service. Something like, "may we all embrace the service of our abilities", while remembering those who served beyond what they knew their abilities to be.
However you are serving, wherever you are serving, Thank you for your service! It matters!!! May it lift you as much or more than it lifts others. You will be my hero when you rise beyond what you thought you could possibly do in a most unexpected situation. You will also be my hero if you steadfastly serve because you can.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What the walls say.....

What stories these walls could tell! In just the time this 102 year old house has known me, it's filled with to brim. Many I know and many I don't know, could be told if these "walls could talk". And then there are all the stories that happened long before my time.
The downstairs bathroom was once a very early ham radio room. What communications took place in that room? Who did he talk to and where were they from? How far could that ham radio reach? Where was the antenna? Could it reach overseas? Why was he interested in ham radio? In what years was he tuned in? If only these walls could talk....
I stare at the covered hole in the wainscoting of what is now the dining room. A stove once sat there when that was originally the kitchen. What kind of stove was it? Where was the sink? Did they have an ice box? What did the table look like? Was there a more formal dining room in what is now the family room?
Why did M.R. like doors so much that there were originally 11 doors? Why did every room need to be so closed off? Why a door even on the back stairs and three into the hallway? Was it to regulate the heat?
M.R. Henderson, the first owner of this house, was ,by trade, a carpenter. He lived next door first and had this house built. Did he actually do any of the building? Certainly he had a hand in it's layout and design. How did his family use these rooms? What was his purpose for the third floor walk in attic? Was the interesting tool I found under the surface in the yard his?
I learned some things through his son James who visited once while I was away but his stories were collected by a friend who was here. Sadly, I missed that opportunity and now many years later have many unanswered questions.
What stories these walls could tell!
Though the walls don't tell all that has happened here, they resonate with the combined energy of all who have crossed through the threshold. Many who have spent much time here will quickly tell you that there is something special and unique about this place. I knew it the instant I walked in just over 17 years ago and I know it still. It's an old house with endless needs but there is indeed something special and unique about this place.
It's walls quietly speak it.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fake News

What does the term "fake news" mean? Does it mean that someone is reporting false information? Or does it mean that someone is reporting information as though it's important news and it's not really important.
This term "fake news" is such a new thing that it's very confusing especially when spouted by someone who so often provides false information. Meanwhile, most of the things labeled "fake news" by this person are provably true and as such, quite important as news.
There is not a single person, a single reporter, a single news source that is correct 100% of the time. I'm not. You're not. We get things wrong. Hopefully, most of us try to get things right as much as possible. We need to be slow to make blanket statements and diligent in our deliberations. We need to remove barriers and blinders that may cause us to dismiss true information because it is not what we hope to know or learn. When we get to a point where we call truth and discussion of truth "fake" because we want it to go away, we have lost our sense of reality and have lost our moral compass.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Forgiveness, Humility and Grace.

The most important things to do are often the most difficult. They are also the most rewarding.
Embracing forgiveness, humility and grace are top among the most difficult and the most rewarding experiences of my life. I know now that they are the magical healing forces of the universe. When two people can come together in grace, humility and forgiveness, it is transformative in ways neither could quite anticipate.These are the building blocks of creation. Creation cannot sustain without them.
When we refuse to forgive someone, we generally communicate that there is something unforgivable in their behavior. We see them as separate, disparate characters from which we must detach for our own good and our own satisfaction. Any sense of humility and grace are buried. They are buried because we are suffering and afraid to face our own frailties.
Those frailties reveal themselves in the statements that begin with "I should have..." Why didn't I..."  Those statements require personal forgiveness, humility and grace. We will grant those to ourselves quickly. We forgive our shortcomings. But the other person... what they "should have"... what they didn't...well, that is unforgivable.
We are not separate, disparate characters in life. We cannot be islands unto ourselves. We are and always will be connected. As others reveal our frailties, we can be thankful. We have likely also revealed theirs to them. As we find voice to express those with forgiveness, humility and grace, we will unleash magical creative forces beyond anything we can possibly anticipate. Anything other will result in an endless cycle of building followed by destruction.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My first car

Sometimes circumstances lead you to someone who will have a lasting impact on your life though you only know them for a brief time. This is one of those stories. It came about because of my first car.
Many my age tell stories about great first cars; a Camaro, Mustang or Firebird, a VW bug or some kind of muscle car of the day like a GTO. My first car was a VW Squareback, a little station wagon that never shows up at classic car shows today. I was stationed in Spain (1980) at the time and bought it from a young couple on base who may have known the engine was on its last leg because shortly after I bought it, the engine blew. It had a fuel injection engine and was going to cost a small fortune to repair. My heart sank.
Then I heard about a VW guru on base who was a civilian contractor for Rockwell named Nim Wire. Yes, that was really his name. He was rather intimidating looking with long grey hair and an equally long and bushy grey beard, piercing eyes and a droll style of talking.
"Can you fix it?"
"No, but you can." He answered.
"Me? I never worked on an engine."
"I'll tell you what to buy. I'll tell you what to do."
"Can't you fix it?"
"No, but you can." He insisted.
And so, Nim Wire guided me through the process of tearing apart the engine and converting it  from fuel injection to a carburetor engine using a kit he magically knew about. While waiting for the kit to arrive, he gave me a book to read that I believe was the first Idiots guide to anything that was ever published; "The Idiots Guide to Volkswagons". On one of the opening pages was a drawing of a tool with a caption, "This is a wrench."
The base had a really cool garage where we could rent a stall and sign out whatever tools we needed. Nim would stop by every so often to tell me what to do next, then leave me to the assigned tasks. He loosened a few tough bolts for me, but he remained determined that it was my job. I tore that whole engine apart, using the kit, and put it all back together as carefully as I was instructed.
No one was more surprised than I was when I turned the key and it actually started.
The engine in the back cargo area was originally covered with a removable lid but the carburetor extended up too high to replace the lid. I didn't care that it look weird and sounded loud inside. it actually ran! For decades I continued to work on my own cars, largely due to learning from Nim Wire. I never saw him again but I have never forgotten him.
What happened to the car? Well, not so very long after that I bought a moped for transportation. And, of course, I have a moped story or two --- another day.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Christmas Magic begins with you.

Are you creating the life you want? Are you creating your holiday dreams? Are you creating the community of your visions?
This time of year there are many grumbles. "Christmas is too commercialized." "Walmart is too crowded and lines are long." "People are grumpy."
Meanwhile, others are creating Christmas magic. Their holiday traditions revolve around adventures and experiences. They are creating life, dreams and visions. They are creating happy times by choice.
For them, no commercialization can overshadow the heart of Christmas. "Happy Holidays" simply means "lets be happy" this time of year. Checking off a shopping list at Walmart is not their primary goal. And a grumpy person can't steal their joy.
We live in a magical area and Christmas here is as close to a Norman Rockwell painting as you can find anywhere. Just before Thanksgiving, as I was driving through Franklin, the big tree was being lifted into place in front of our wonderful court house. As I look left and right traveling on Liberty street, store owners were busily decorating their windows. Franklin's annual light up night with the parade and fireworks was days away. As we neared that day, I began to see people preparing floats for the parade. The weather was mild and spirits were high.
The day arrived and my heart sank. It was rainy. In years past, hours before the parade people began lining the streets and floats were in place early as participants made last minute adjustments. This year with only several hours to go, there seemed to be empty spots where floats were in line years past. The streets were fairly empty.
Suddenly, even with a light drizzle, an hour before the parade, our store filled with people listening to our friend Deanna sing Christmas songs, the floats rolled into place, and the streets filled with people and umbrellas. The parade ran over an hour long and the fireworks with music were spectacular as usual. If the numbers were down, no one seemed to notice. And the rain could not dampen the spirit of gathering for this treasured family tradition launching the holiday season.
Soon after, the giant tree went up at Oil City's new park. And this weekend the ever popular Christmas Past celebrations will mark another favorite local tradition with craft shows all around town, music, a bon fire by the canon and you won't want to miss the Christmas Tree display at the Museum of Art, Science and Industry!
Meanwhile, in Titusville's Burgess Park, the fire department continues the local tradition of decorating the entire park. Gather up loved ones and take a drive. You won't regret it.
If we want all these things to continue and we want our community's to grow and thrive, all we need to do is show up! Stop in the local shops and find a treasure. Join in with a caroling group or create one of your own.
Pick up the Derrick's Good Times and find an event that lifts your spirit.
Check out the Chamber Calendars':
http://www.venangochamber.org/calendar/
https://www.franklinareachamber.org/events/calendar/
Create the life you want! Create holiday dreams! Create your community!
Christmas magic begins in your heart.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

I believe....

When I am fully embracing divine understanding, I know I have been given everything I need, every opportunity, to create my own life. It does not mean that my creation will be perfect. My imperfection will be part of my own creation because I will not always seek divine inspiration. And those I include in my creation may not be divinely inspired.
When I am fully embracing divine understanding, I know there will be divine intervention. Imperfections collide to create discomfort, chaos, and crisis. We are divinely nudged to adjust our creation.
When I am fully embracing divine understanding, I stop to listen. All around me there are divine voices. If I fail to listen, I will be divinely nudged - perhaps divinely pushed - to adjust my creation.
Lately, I have questioned the divine's role in mass violence, massive destructive forces and wars. The "manmade" ones are most certainly the result of a collective failure to seek and follow divine understanding. We fail to understand the balance that would provide peaceful coexistance.
The forces of nature and their divine purpose still baffle me. The Garden of Eden story includes no hints of a furious or destructive nature. Was earth actually once a place of perfect balance? Will discomfort, chaos and crisis push toward that balance again?
When I fully embrace divine understanding, I believe we have been provided everything we need to create....to create....to create. When we all fully embrace divine understanding, I believe......