Transition to Italy

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.

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An Anniversary

It snowed, they say, that day in the deep south state of Louisiana when he was born. Now, here he is today 82 years old. Gerald Buxton, my hubby.

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We planned a simple day–some last minute shopping for our big trip that is just days away now, a stop at the pharmacy, a little business at the bank, and a run by Costco for fuel and for treats for Winston. Throughout the day our children called to wish him a happy day, as did several of the grandchildren

“I’m taking you out for dinner for your birthday,” I had told him previously and he decided on the Cheesecake Factory where he would order their Jambalya. But as the day wore on, and we were miles away from the designated restaurant, he talked himself into settling for Cocos which was much closer to home and where he would order the Oriental Chicken Salad. As we entered the restaurant, we both stared at the bountiful, beautiful pies in the glass case, and I said, “We could take one of those home for your birthday.” But through the meal as we ate our delicious food, we decided I would whip up a coconut cream pie at home.

I did.

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Winston whimpered. . .

Image. . .and because it was a party . . .

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. . . and because that little pup is spoiled . . . rotten, I tell you.

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Anyway, it’s Jerry’s birthday, and I cannot imagine my life without him . . .so, I’m wishing lots more pies and cakes. Many more celebrations–rare, elaborate, or simple. But there.

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Integrity

I gazed as she spoke the words: Words at once so awful that even at their long memory she surely had wept bitter, scalding tears, and yet so glorious that as the words fell about me it was as though I had been showered with a gentle holy rain.

He spoke with no rancor: Indeed he had moments before told of assuring within himself he held no bitterness nor unforgiveness. Tears sprang though, and his eyes reddened, this mature, handsome, godly man who had been wronged.

In the one case, a parent had lovingly, but frankly, warned a friend of the inappropriateness of a certain relationship with a beloved child.

In the next case, people in authority, aware of desperate flaws in a person, failed to be honest with my friend; a decision that led to grief as heavy and dark as that found in the coldest cave in the deepest earth.

Integrity: Its edges push against ignorance and the averting of an eye. Its margins dangle into difficult places far beyond that of sums and of products and of dividends.

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A Casket for Milo

The dad went to his workspace. Scraps of lumber were there that he believed would work for the job he must do.

The death had occurred a few hours before, and if a casket were to be, the dad would be the one. At the workbench he gauged the size, (At the vet’s office yesterday, the nurses had said Milo weighed four pounds.) then fastened the pieces together and made the little box. It was a casket for Milo.

When the box was finished, for a lining, Chloe brought Milo’s favorite blanket, the one he had died in, the one she had wrapped around him that last time when he staggered to her bed. Parvo is ugly and little Milo was bleeding, but in his final night Chloe cleaned up her puppy and lay down beside him in her bed. She slept an hour or so, and when she woke, she looked at his little body and knew that Milo had gone away. . .

The family gathered in the back yard for the service–one mom, one dad, five youngsters, and they buried him on a little hill. Chloe told me this afternoon they  placed a cross there too.

untitled (24 of 96) untitled (28 of 96)On her facebook site, Chloe wrote this:

Rest in peace to my little milo you were one of the best things to happen to me. Ill always remember and miss you. I love you baby

Prayer for Milo

Is it sacrilegious to pray for the healing of an animal? Is it disrespectful to God?

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While I don’t at all equate animals with humans, and while I see no evidence in God’s Word that animals have an eternal soul, as do people, God did create everything that is living, and I suspect he has an interest in His beings. After all He is aware of every sparrow that falls. I know He loves Chloe and her little puppy Milo who is very sick. Milo has parvo, is being treated by a veterinarian, but his situation is quite serious. If you don’t find it irreverent or disrespectful, would you say a little prayer this morning for Milo.

Update 9:30 Sunday:

Weeping in the Buxton homes. Milo has died. Chloe is devastated.

 

Relief Sites for the Philippines

In addition to church organization compassion and relief sites, the following are programs have been set up to aid the desperate people of the Philippines. Taken from Fox News. Photograph by Reuters

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Visit these links to learn how to help victims of the deadly typhoon in the Philippines:

WORLD FOOD PROGRAM

The World Food Program is working to bring food to refugees around the world and people facing hardship due to natural disasters. The organization is mobilizing quickly to reach those in need in the Philippines, according to its website, and donations will help provide emergency food assistance to families and children in the area devastated by a typhoon.

PHILIPPINE RED CROSS

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has deployed assessment, rescue and relief teams to evaluate the damage from the typhoon and to support rescue efforts.

AMERICAN RED CROSS

The American Red Cross, which responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disaster each year, is accepting donations to help people affected by the Pacific typhoon, according to its website. Donations can be made in honor of or in memory of an individual.

AMERICARES

AmeriCares is a non-profit emergency response and global health organization.  In a statement on its website, AmeriCares says it delivers medical and humanitarian aid to people in need worldwide in times of epic disaster or daily struggle.

SALVATION ARMY

The Salvation Army is accepting donations specifically for Typhoon Haiyan.  According to a Salvation Army statement, cash donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors without incurring many of the costs associated with sorting, packing, transporting and distributing donated goods.  The relief services are funded entirely by donors and the Salvation Army says it uses 100 percent of all disaster donations to support disaster relief operations.

MERCY CORPS

Mercy Corps is deploying emergency responders to the Philippines and will be working with partners on the ground to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of survivors, the organization says on its website.  Mercy Corps says donations will help survivors meet their basic needs and begin rebuilding after the typhoon.

INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has dispatched an emergency team to the Philippines to respond to basic safe water, hygiene and sanitation needs. The IRC plans to expand its response as determined by needs on the ground.

Ballet in the Woods

A movement on the rock–rock color, except that it moved, and I saw the scamper of tiny lizard. So small he was, I thought I might have stumbled onto a reptile maternity ward, for surely he must have only just cracked through his tiny egg. I read, too, that lizards may hatch early if a loud rumble or a heavy vibration circles up around the egg, and a sense of danger, the chance of predator, pervades. I hope I had not set up a rumble as I trudged up the small hill into the woods at the end of our street. Surely I did not cause a premature lizard birth this September morning–a morning of perfection, warm, with a faint brush of chill that had seen me to the closet for the first time this season to take out my jacket of lightest weight. I angled down my camera, but he was swift, and escape and hiding were encoded in his ancient reptilian brain, and anyway, he had escaped his crib already, and then he was at the side of the rock, and down, then into the thick grasses . . . and gone. I had not snapped my shutter, of such quickness were his movements.

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The low grasses wave, slender and graceful so that I see they are ballet dancers and the sunlight beams through their stems and fronds and highlights their heavy heads, heads that droop now with seed, precious seed, for therein is eternity. Unmistakable elegance, if one will pause long, and will stare at length; elegance, raw beauty, unmistakably a push against the dismissal of such as mere weeds.

The lizard, gone now, a skitter among the ballet.

Taking Up Autumn

They tell me the daytime hours and the nighttime hours are almost of the same duration on the day of the Autumn equinox, when our spinning globe, because of its slight tilt at the axis, waves in a new season. Now end the days of summer here in the northern hemisphere and we begin our steady approach toward winter. But today! it is fall . . . perhaps my favorite season. (Except that winter stuns me with its beauty, and spring bursting the earth in resurrection is astounding, and then there’s that languid warmth of summer and the lake and the birds . . . )

The ground over which I walk is familiar, and yet strange, for its paths now have lost the warmth of yesterday and my shoes must be of heavy sole to push against the fallen sticks and the acorns which fall from the oaks in abundance here in the San Bernardino mountains. Day and night we hear them–Jerry and I–as they lose their grip on their limbs, and a couple of times Jerry has been thumped, and once last week he said, “I would sit on the front deck with my coffee, but I’m afraid for my head,” for a breeze had struck through the trees. untitled (4 of 6)We drive our car over the long driveway to the sound of snare and the click of fine drum sticks. Jerry sweeps the deck and the driveway and sometimes blows the acorns down into piles where the driveway meets Wabern Court, and then he scoops them up with a shovel and ties up the heavy yard bag into which he has thrust them. I’m always wishing we could come up with a plan that would enable us to sell them by the gunny sack full, (but everyone around here has so many), or market acorn butter or wood floors for cabins. Something like that, but so far: Nothing. Except that years ago when my grandchildren were small and were up here visiting, I let them go to the neighbors and sell our exceptional acorns that look like little people wearing woody hats. “You can’t charge more than a nickle,” I instructed, as they stuffed them into plastic bags, and they came back grinning with quarters in their fists.

When I arose yesterday–the first day of fall–I peered at the thermometer which hangs outside my kitchen window and it read 43 degrees, a drastic drop from a few days before, as though the weather understood that the calendar had declared summer had ended. Our house is amazingly well-insulated, so it was not actually cold in here–67 degrees, I believe, but after he had been up for awhile Jerry said, “Want a fire?” untitled (1 of 10)And so the first fire of the season was laid and lighted, and as is my custom I gazed, entranced, into its flames and saw figures and dreams and had visions.

I’ve put away flimsy summery things, and last night before I went to bed, I removed the pink Chenille bedspread from the downstairs guest bed and replaced it with a much heavier covering, plus I’ve scrambled around in my cupboards exchanging out dishes. untitled (2 of 6)Now there probably is no such thing as fall and summer dishes, but during these days of early fall when I think of pumpkins and Indian corn, I get this urge to bring out my pottery, and to rub polish cloths against my copper pieces.

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Jerry and I will be taking our morning walk in a few minutes. It’s been awhile since we ventured into the woods at the end of Wabern Drive, but today–already I can tell–the intrigue of that curving path aflutter with weeds and leaves and the marks of little creatures just may lure me into its ways.

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New post on God Things here:

The Catch of Friendship

As we parked our car, Nita came from the opened front door of their home, walked down the steps, and then welcomed Jerry and me, as she did also the Stevensons who had pulled up behind our car. We had been invited to dinner with our friends at the Johnny Hodges place!Image

We talked and talked, and of course someone was bound to mention that through the years our conversations had changed drastically, and we all smirked and nodded our heads as we agreed we no longer talk of Pablum, toddler doings or of teenage mischief, rather of blood pressure readings, sugar levels, slugs of Pepto-Bismol, and of walking canes.

“I call my cane a sympathy getter,” Jerry said.

“Mine steadies me,” Berl said.

“I don’t want one,” Johnny said.

“But you need one,” Nita said as she looked lovingly at her sweet, frail husband.

untitled (5 of 26)In the kitchen, she fried fish and shrimp. At the table Johnny prayed and we ate and ate, and after we rested awhile from our labors, we moved to the back patio area, and ate pie and drank coffee. We talked seriously of our love for God and for truth and of regression and of progress.

untitled (16 of 26)We three beauties posed. Jerry snapped the lens.

untitled (23 of 26) . . . and the men were little boys again . . . and roared.

Catch it if you can . . . the spirit of enduring friendship. Hold it if you’re able . . . the smooth feel of enduring friendship, the solidity, the heft. Hear it if you can . . . the music of enduring friendship, the moans of shared past griefs, the silvery tinkle of corporate accomplishments, the echoing words of message and song. See it if you can . . .the tombstones, the hospital records . . . and cry . . . and hold a hand and wipe a tear . . . and know how special, how rare, how blessed you are.

A Particular Day

Relationships are the nib and ink whose line pivots to mark the canvas of our lives. Rich are we whose relationships are many and varied; relationships of differing tones, of diverse depth–some many-layered, others thin, a mere wisp as we pass on this universal trail. Congruent–and inevitable–concerning those with which we have a rich connection is certain pain and certain joy. For of such is life, and those who can bear truth must speak these words. Only those so inclined will dare.

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I looked across the table yesterday and admired Shawnna, the wife of our youngest child, Andrew. Yesterday was her birthday–her 41st, so Jerry and I traveled down to San Diego to have breakfast/lunch with Shawnna, Andrew and two of their children, Chloe and Gentry. Andrew chose a place in beautiful Point Loma, and we sat at little round tables near the sidewalk for a couple of hours, munching and talking.

Shawnna has never said an unkind word to me in the more than 20 years that now she has been a part of the Buxton family. She is elegant, tall and willowy and is of a distinct and quiet bearing. She is intelligent. She is a loyal wife, and when their family has faced significant challenges, she has not once complained within my earshot. She has birthed five exceptional children. I’ve never seen one of her babies dirty or neglected.

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“Look at these little vases,” she said to me across the table, and she lifted the tiny arrangement, its orange flower aglow in the ocean air, for of the small she can take notice.

A man walked past us as he left the cafe, dressed in white from head to toe. To Andrew I said, “Wonder what his occupation is?”

“Rich. That’s real. He’s probably very rich.” And on the way to our car, I saw the man again. “His chauffeur is picking him up,” Andrew said. ImageI wondered at his life–his pain, his joy.

A tremendous conclusion to a delightful day was that we brought Chloe and Gentry home with us, and in San Bernardino we stopped by Rebecca’s house, took in three pizzas from Pizza Hut, ate them, swooped up Nathaniel, and roared up Highway 18 to 138, to our home in beautiful Crestline.

We laid easy plans last night for the three teen-age grandchildren. They’re going to the lake today, taking food and fishing poles, and money to rent little boats. Right now, though, they’re still asleep. So much for early morning adventure.

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