A Walk at Lake Gregory

Image This is one of my favorite places down at the lake and I can’t calculate the times I have lifted my camera and snapped my shutter for another picture. When I walked there a couple of days ago, a duck couple swam lazily, the elegant male lounging about in the center where I could easily photograph him, while his busy little lady was dipping and tucking, many times only her brown tail feathers visible, as she gathered lunch

ImageSpring flowers have shot through the warming earth, shafts of color that tell the new season.Image

Image

This was only the second day I had walked Winston very far around the lake and I had expected him to bark at the ducks, but he didn’t; merely starred at them as they paddled about, then flew high, and skidded again into the cold water.ImageImageI thought of my grandchildren as I walked, and a lacy throw of sadness fell about me–not too heavy–but there, for they’re much older now, and situations have changed, and I don’t have them up here as much as in years before.

The grounds around the lake were filled with picnicking families, and a couple of ball games were in progress. Once I heard behind me a little voice say, “Granny,” and even though on some level I knew that call was not for me, I turned, a miniscule flash of hope thinking maybe some of them have made a surprise visit, but the child was not mine.

A foursome ran by Winston and me, three eight or nine year old little girls followed by a boy about the same age, who couldn’t quite keep up. He yelled–seemingly to save his pride. “I’m not running as fast as I can.” I grinned. Winston tugged on his leash. He too wanted to run through this glorious spring day.

Winston didn’t want to leave when we arrived back at the car; instead lay as an unmoving lump on the pavement, so I gave in, and walked a short distance away into a wooded area near a parking lot. I sat down on a large rock. Winston lay beside me, and we watched the people as they parked their cars and pulled fishing poles, picnic hampers, and balls and bats from their vehicles.

Two little boys raced up the incline where we sat and ran past us. In a minute I felt a gentle poke on my shoulder. When I turned I was looking into the face of a six-year-old or so boy. He pointed to the parking lot where a bright red bike sat. “That’s a dirt bike.”

“Sure is. Can you ride a dirt bike?”

“Yes, mine is blue and orange.”

“Where’s your mom,” I asked him. “I want to take your picture.”

“No pictures.” He yelped and grinned and raced down the hill to his family.

Image

Winston and I sat a while longer, then we walked to the car, and I drove the few minutes it takes to reach our home. Winston napped the rest of the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Of Golgotha and The Resurrection

Tags

, , ,

ImageWe walked up the hill, the famed one, or should it be called the infamous one?, the hill whose name had whipped by my ears since childhood, and over whose thought I had cried, and I had colored little pictures in Sunday school classes, and cut yellow paper crosses and made scenes with stones and twigs, and jelly beans lay about. Earlier we had passed the sign, and almost by the minute I lifted my camera and snapped the shutter, as though if I weren’t eager enough or ready enough the moment would pass . . . and I would not get it all. . . and I would be left empty.

ImageIt is not a hill far away as the hymns of earlier day had told me, so without too much effort, and without trudging very far, I climbed the last little bit, mounted a cement patio area, and when the leader of the group ahead of me was finished, we finally stood to face Golgotha. The skull was there.

ImageNearby a woman hung laundry on a line. Below tour buses were lined in an orderly way.

ImageAnd in the garden among ancient olive trees we stood and looked across the Kidron Valley just as Jesus had done, and one day He had wept over the city and said He wanted to take care of the people, wanted to protect them as a mama does her babies, but you don’t seem to want me to do that, He lamented. And soon they ordered Him from their cities, and called Him a devil . . .and He ached for them. And wept.

It is such an ordinary place. It is not heavenly. It is not mystic. And in such an atmosphere Jesus prayed that night in the garden, and blood ran, and His disciples fled.

And when I looked at Golgotha that morning a few weeks ago I thought of my dear friend Johnny Hodges who clinched his ancient watery eyes and threw his head back when he told me that he wept when he first saw the hallowed spot, and he had said to his wife, “Elaine, this is the place. This is where Jesus bought my salvation.” I did not have that response. I looked at the old wall and understood when our guide said that Golgotha is just outside the gates and thus the location would agree with scripture, that this surely is close to the very spot of the crucifixion, but there were lines of tour buses and vendors waiting to press their gadgets into our hot hands  and “buy your tickets” and “take a number for your turn” . . .and so I looked, but I did not see.

I have seen before. I see now, though a vast body of water and land separate me from the Holy spot, for I see with my soul and with my spirit. Carved into my being that day was a fresh understanding that Jesus endured the garden and the cross and the scourging and the thorny crown in all its ugliness and it was such an ordinary day, ordinary lives, dust on the roads, thirst in parched throats. It was not glorious. No tensil, nor flicker lights, nor cute nativity sets, nor glittering pendants about one’s neck. And yet . . . in the garden angels tended that Holy Man, a cloak of black snuffed out the brilliant sky, that thick curtain in the temple ripped in half, and beneath it all the earth wrenched and cracked in agony.

untitled (127 of 342)And then we gathered and Brother Walls served us, and I kept my cup and Jerry’s.

untitled (123 of 342)We sang great hymns of the church. We sang of the blood, the running great stream of blood.

untitled (128 of 342)And with my family and friends, I cried . . . and remembered . . . and felt.

untitled (109 of 342)We saw tombs and entered them and studied their style.

untitled (111 of 342)And at the tomb on that Easter morning as women went to minister to the body of their friend, they “found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed there about, behold two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen . . .”

 

 

 

 

Honor to Whom. . .

Tags

,

Since I was a friend of his, Holly had said more than once to me, “I need to meet him. I want to thank him and remind him of how he has influenced my life,” or words to that effect. Then when she heard that he and other dear friends would be at our home on Tuesday, she asked, “Do you think it would be okay if Patrick and I come up and talk with them?”

The situation was this: Quarterly, we three couples–friends for most of our adult lives–rotate to our homes where we share dinner, and a breakfast the following morning: Stevensons, Hodges, and Buxtons. Holly and Patrick Garrett, our young friends who pastor a church in Yucaipa, CA., had not met either the Stevensons or the Hodges. It was in particular Johnny Hodges that Holly wanted to meet.

Earlier in the evening, I had phoned Holly and asked if they would be coming up. “Yes,” she replied. “We’re finishing drama practice and will be up in about an hour.” Our scrumptious dinner was over. Jerry had outdone himself on smoked St. Louis style ribs, (that’s another great story in itself), we had eaten dessert and had drunk strong coffee, Johnny had removed his shoes, and we had all slumped about in delicious old-time-Imagefriend conversations when the Garretts arrived. We made the introductions, offered food and drink, then rather quickly, Holly addressed Brother Johnny Hodges.

“I don’t know if you remember all the details,” she began, and then summarized the story. Her parents, Joyce and Richard Pierce, were not serving God, but because of family connections in the church asked Brother Hodges to marry them. Then sometime later when Holly came into the family, the Pierces asked Brother Hodges to dedicate their baby daughter to the Lord. He did so, and during the ceremony he urged them to continue to take little Holly to God’s house. Thus began the conversion of the Pierce family. He became a minister, and years later started a church in Costa Mesa, CA. It was there that Patrick Garrett found God, and where he and Holly fell in love. They married, have two sons of their own, and now pastor a church in Yucaipa.

“I want you to see the fruit of your labor, Brother Hodges,” Holly said as she pointed to Patrick, who was listening intently.

Image

A sweet presence of God surrounded us on Tuesday night in our living room as this beautiful young lady sincerely honored the man who those long ago years reached out to her parents, and thus “effected” her salvation, and those of her parents, her husband, her children, and those to whom she and Patrick minister today. I admired her for her thoughtfulness and for her sincerity. It was an unforgettable moment.

Image

Brother Hodges is now 82 years old, declining, and in very poor health. Many do not recall the days of his youth when he was an honored district leader, and was a preacher of rare skill, anointing, and distinction. Holly, too, has no memory of those days, but she has listened to the stories, and has heard their message, and has inculcated its meaning into her very soul. May there be more Holly Garretts in this world. May there be more Johnny Hodges.

Image

 

 

Missing Bacon

Tags

, , ,

On that first morning in Tiberius, and after our worship service in a boat on the Sea of Galilee we walked off the small sea vessel and climbed a gentle incline to a museum. untitled (86 of 228)

untitled (82 of 228)Along the way I learned that the area we were treading was near the place where the Gadarenes lived, and where that pitiful man, (probably more than one) the demoniac, dwelled among the tombs, and where Jesus healed him, and the devils that had possessed him sprang into a herd of swine, which then ran into the sea and were drowned. The keepers of the pigs were scared out of their wits as they spread the tale about the countryside. What a beautiful story, for Mark 5, verse 15 reads thus: “And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind . . .” What a sad story, though, for verse 17 tells that the people responded by urging Jesus to leave their countryside. Strange. I guess the pig meat was more important to them than the healing of their friend.

untitled (90 of 228)In the museum sat an ancient boat that had been excavated and restored as much as possible. The boat was of the style and age that was used when Jesus sailed with His disciples on the Sea of Galilee. I stared, and tried to imagine the eternal God during those years when He became a man. When He was hungry and tired and when He fished with Peter and John. Amazing.

untitled (88 of 228)

untitled (87 of 228)Striking to me during this delightful trip was the ordinariness of this, The Holy Land. Farmers still plow. Mothers still cook meals for their families. Daddies go to work, and children go to school.

untitled (92 of 228)The countryside is quite lacking in quaint beauty or majestic scenery or abundant flora and fauna. Israel is a simple place, but to this day, the eyes of the world focus there. All because of Jesus Christ, the righteous.

____________________

Click on this line to see more pictures that I posted today in Flickr.

 

Random Thoughts on Israel/Italy Trip

Tags

, ,

1. ImageAlthough Jerry and I missed all our family, we desperately wanted to see Winston. Rebecca and Nathaniel picked us up at LAX, and waiting in the car was our black and white puppy. We’re all happy again!

2. I quite enjoy utilizing moving sidewalks in airports. Gives me an exhilarating feel of rare accomplishment!

Image

3. In our hotel in Istanbul a clock was on the floor under the counter in the bathroom. Never seen that before. Someone thought it might also be a scale. Definitely didn’t check that out: too much cheese, butter, and fine breads the past couple of weeks.

Image

4. I posted more than 100 travel pictures on Flickr today. You might want to check them out. I’ll be posting more daily.

Finale

I’m sitting in the lobby of the Innova Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey awaiting our van which will arrive in less than an hour to take us to the airport for our 12 1/2 hour flight to Los Angeles. What a blast this has been. Don’t have pictures loaded to show you, but last evening we visited the grand bazaar here that consists of 5000 vendors that constitute the largest market place in the world. Our final dinner was  . . .guess what?. . .Burger King! First American meal we’ve eaten since we left. Not bad. We were worn out, Jerry was resting in the hotel awaiting a sandwich, so we grabbed a burger. Cool experience to see veiled women walking about shopping and eating hamburgers.

At the far side of the Grand Bazaar we hailed a taxi, Steve showed the driver our hotel card, and we roared down the narrow streets and the furious bustle of this the third largest city in the world. Taxi driver, I said. Yet he stopped five times to ask directions; one from someone on the street who ignored him, four from other taxi drivers. He and Steve in the front seat were roaring with laughter, talking to each other . . . in some strange language consisting of Turkish, English, sign language, with perhaps a bit of Spanish thrown in. “Is right?” he asked Steve several times. He, the taxi driver. Finally we saw the outline and brilliant light of our hotel, saying “Yes, yes, this is it.” Taxi driver was laughing uproariously. Steve tipped him well. The experience was worth it.

One of the things we’ve had to guard against (as is true in any part of the world) is pickpockets. On our last night in Rome as Steve was trying to locate a restaurant that had been recommended, two men lunged from a dark doorway and snatched his phone. They ripped the sleeve of his shirt, but he was able to trip one of them so that the man fell against a car, and Steve was able to retrieve his phone. His knuckles were skinned. The picture below is of a nice-looking lady, either in Israel or Jordan, who was pushing a child in a stroller, had another toddler, and tried to take the purse of one of our group.

Our room faces the Mediterranean Sea. Early this morning I watched through the fog as large ships slowly passed. It is Monday night in California; early morning here on Tuesday, April 1. Seems inappropriate to arrive home on April Fool’s Day, for this trip has been anything but that. Cheers! Onward! Bon Voyage!

image

Rome

Tags

,

The eternal city . . . except that it really is not, but for now Rome is nothing short of fascinating. Our hotel, the Lunetta, is my favorite one of the entire trip. Small, (only 30 rooms) a four-star, it is elegant. The joyous thing about this gracious place is that when I open the front door and step my feet onto the ancient cobblestone street, my eyes and ears are jammed with authentic Italian life. We’re in the middle of it all, and they’re wonderful people: loud, passionate, friendly, and beautiful. So loud and happy that Saturday and Sunday night (and into the wee hours of the next day) they partied beneath our 3rd story window. Once in the black night I flung wide our big window–which has no screen–and looked below. The streets were full of revelers. They were joyous; Jerry not so much!

Michelangelo’s THE DAVID! Enormous–much larger than I imagined. Unspeakably beautiful. For some reason, these pieces of art make me weep. Such incredible talent. The Sistine. No words.

Rushing now. To Istanbul today. Will spend many days writing and posting picture when I’m home. Arriving in Los Angeles tomorrow evening.

One of the chapels in the Vatican complex we visited yesterday. It so happened that the pope made a live address, which we watched a portion of on a screen, the timing and crowd of 50,000 making it impossible for us to see him personally, although we were standing right there. Biggest crowd I have ever seen.

image

image

Transition to Italy

Tags

, ,

It is just after 3:00 on Wednesday morning, and we’ve spent a few hours in an airport hotel in Amman, Jordan. At 3:30 our luggage must be in the lobby and our bus will take us to the airport where around 6:00 we begin a series of travel today–air flight to Istanbul, then another to Rome, where we will transfer to a train and end in Florence tonight.

Our days in Israel have been such that I have not been able to write about everything, but I will get to them all. Part of the challenge has been the fast pace of the trip, and often I am not able to get on the internet.

A happy group of girls ran our way as we walked toward the Jordan River. They were smiling, so I stopped to talk and take pictures.

“What is your name?” I asked this sweet young girl.

“Elizabeth,” she said. “What’s your name?” She lives in Bethlehem.

Image

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,062 other followers