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Borrowed Thoughts

I’ve not done this before and don’t foresee doing it again anytime soon, but the opportunity was too great to pass.  For several years, the theme of how accumulated spiritual rubble degrades devotion to GOD in individuals and cultures has percolated in me.  I wasn’t thinking about this, however, when I read something by a favorite teacher that grabbed me as I read it.  Below I repeat his thoughts, verbatim.

“Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found”

“Seek ye the Lord.  The impulse to align oneself on the side of that which is whole is a natural one.  Sometimes it springs from the desire to cover up, to take refuge in the strength of another so as to shun the necessity of dealing with one’s own weakness.  Sometimes it springs from the desire to discover a way by which to understand one’s own needs and to do something about meeting them. The Other-than-self reference is a necessity for peace of mind and spirit.”

“This day I seek the Lord.  I seek to know God that I may understand myself, that I may grasp the true meaning of my own life and have its purpose increasingly defined.  I seek His judgment that I may discern an ever clearer meaning between right and wrong course of conduct.  I seek His love that I may be inspired to love more and more what is good and true, and to transcend all barriers which stand between me and my fellows.”

“Seek ye the Lord while He is near.  This does not mean that God will withdraw from me but it does mean that if I quench the desire to seek Him over and over again, there may come a time when the desire itself becomes buried beneath all kinds of debris in my own life.  The desire will never die, but I must not run the risk of pushing it so far out of my consciousness that there seems to be no hunger in me to become whole, clean and redeemed.”

“Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found.”1

May you be blessed by this reading as I was.  

  1. Howard Thurman. “Seek Ye the Lord,” Meditations of the Heart, Beacon Press, Boston, MA, © 1981.  

Family

I grew-up disconnected from most of my extended biological family, although they are quite numerous, particularly on my father’s side (he was the second oldest of 15 children).  Consequently, I have (or had) lots aunts and uncles and a slew of cousins, most of whom I’ve never met. The reasons for that disconnection are complex and due to a family dysfunction that was in play before I was born; I was just one of the beneficiaries of it.

Thanks to one of my uncles, who used to stay with us during the summers when he was a college student and I was very young, I later learned a lot about the history of my dad’s family.  As a child, I had a special affection for Uncle Joe.  He was ten years younger than my father and still had enough play in him that I just enjoyed being with him.  I looked forward to him arriving every summer to work at the candy factory on the boardwalk in Asbury Park.  

One of his later in life hobbies was genealogy which he took seriously.  His research was pretty extensive, going back to my great-great-great-grandmother, a slave woman named Lucinda owned by a family from whom my family takes our last name.  He did research into that family as well and shared much of what he found with anyone in our family who was interested.  I was interested and have a lot of that documentation, including some very dated pictures.

I later connected with one of my dad’s younger sisters, and through her I met several cousins, her children and the children of other siblings of my father.  Some of those connections have been in person and some by Facebook® because they live so far away.  Sadly, a few of those face-to-face meetings have been at family funerals.  Still, establishing these connections has been a nice addition to my life; they have filled in some voids for which I’m happy.  One of my west coast cousins sent me a picture I didn’t have: my great-grandmother (b. 1867 – d.1944), and the family resemblance is uncanny.  These things are valuable nuggets to me, and I look to pass them on whenever I can.

The day Thanksgiving, two of our grandchildren (18 and 16yrs) surprised visited us.  My wife’s birthday was on Thanksgiving, and although they had called to wish her a happy birthday (we didn’t do the family gathering we normally do because of Covid concerns), they decided we needed a face-to-face visit.  When the doorbell rang, I asked my wife if she was expecting anyone, to which she said “No.”  I opened the door and there they stood with their Covid masks on.  They came in and hung-out with us for a while.  

It was good visit.  We got caught-up on how our granddaughter was faring in her first semester of college and how our grandson (a high school junior) was dealing with going to school a couple of days a week and the rest of the week taking virtual classes.  We talked about their aspirations and even some of their struggles and concerns, all of this with the TV on as background noise in the room where we sat.

I noticed our grandson scanning some of the pictures we have on a bookcase, pictures of various family members, and decided to pull out some others of their dad and our two daughters (their aunts), when all of them were very young.  I passed three or four of the pictures around, and it generated some conversation and few chuckles.  Before long they said their goodbyes and left, headed to the Panera Bread® a few miles from our home. 

As I was putting those pictures back into the albums, I was thinking that there is so much about our family my family members don’t know, and I would love to share it with them.  Isn’t the transfer of important information one of the responsibilities and privileges of older family members?   

I don’t want to push it on them.  Perhaps one day, they’ll develop an interest and an appetite for it.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2020.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise indicated.                              

How Can I Say Thanks?

I write this only a few hours from the dawn of Memorial Day, the day in which the nation is explicit in giving thanks to those who sacrificed and served in times of war, and principally to those who lost life and limb in this service to the country.  I am the son, grandson and son-in-law of men who served in two different wars (World War I and II), the nephew of one who served in Vietnam, and the cousin of two who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.  One of my cousins lost his life fighting and the other shows signs of PTSD.

The war in Vietnam gained height during my high school years and peaked in my early college years.  There were many horrors evident to anyone paying attention.  There was still a military draft in those days, and even though I was eligible to be drafted, I never was, and I never served in a branch of the military.  Still, I’ve seen enough of the ugliness of war to never wish it upon anyone.  There’s nothing romantic about it.  People who experience war are never quite the same.  Often families are never quite the same.

Memorial Day parades are nice, but much of what is seen in VA hospitals isn’t.  Sometimes, the words “Thank you” just don’t seem sufficient.

We’re in a war now with an unseen enemy.  Significantly more people in this country have been killed by COVID-19 in the last few months than in two decades of fighting in Vietnam.*  Many more have died since the publishing of the referenced article, and the numbers will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.  Many of the stories are heart-wrenching as family members cannot even be with their loved ones as they are admitted, treated in hospitals and recover…or don’t.  I just heard of one a few minutes ago impacting people that I know and love.

We are all potential casualties of this war and among the most vulnerable are physicians, nurses and other essential hospital workers, EMTs and paramedics, police and fire personnel.  Odd working hours and extra-long shifts, insufficient rest, the constant risk of exposure, and concerns about their own health and the health of their spouses and children are just samplings of things they face each and every day.  A couple of days ago, I read the story of a physician who cries in her car at the end of every shift before she goes home.

None of them will ever be quite the same after this.  And some are dying as a direct result of their proximity to the war’s hot zones and their attempts to serve those suffering.

I have a nephew who is an EMT.  His wife is a RN who normally works as a school nurse but is also working hours in a local hospital.  They have a child.  The wife of a good friend is an essential hospital worker and has experienced multiple exposures to COVID-19.   They have two children.

I really don’t know how to say “thanks” to them, but I am thankful for them, all of them.  This Memorial Day is for them and so many like them who, along with those who sacrificed in past wars, sacrifice today in order to secure a safer world for all of us.  They are worthy of our honor and our earnest prayers.

*David Welna, Coronavirus Has Now Killed More Americans Than the Vietnam War, NPR Online, April 8, 2020.

© Byron L. Hannon, 2020.  All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.

Check out my Thoughts from Others page for some interesting, encouraging and challenging ideas.

 

I Wonder If There Will Be TVs In Heaven

I wonder if there will be TVs in heaven.

I wonder if Eleanor Rigby will be too busy to be lonely, and all will hold her dear.

I wonder if Father McKenzie’s sermons will be preached, and everyone will hear.

I wonder if Stevie will still wish for days gone by, and will Marvin sing Mercy, Mercy Me without a hint of plaintive cry.

I wonder if Job will rest, satisfied, knowing now, “Why ‘ask why?”

I wonder if Jeremiah will yield his wounded heart, with each and every tear because all  the evil kings and false prophets will be seen, and there is no need to fear.

I wonder if Kipling’s “If” will be needed at all, for none will need help to stand tall.

I wonder if the reason why the revolution won’t be televised in heaven is because the        revolution will either enlist or consume us all.

 

© Byron L. Hannon, 2019.  All rights reserved.