Consider: Monday, June 20th; it is 6 a.m.(years ago) I had finished my morning coffee and chat session with my friends and was on the way from Warrenton to Manassas. The reason was the result of a Sunday flyer that has discounted a large stereo TV. I can remember when 18″ was enough but now we were marching towards a 32″. Traffic was at a snail’s pace. A snail would have made better time. I finally diverted from 1-66 to take the road past the Stonewall Memory Garden and through the Manassas Battlefield. I received an extended view of the cemetery where many souls reposed blissfully unaware of the chaos civilization hast wrought. I was given time to reflect and even envy them in their “sleep.”(I Thessalonians 4:14) Another mile brought me to the crossroads of the old stone house where the greater part of the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) was fought during a thunderstorm on Saturday July 20, 1861. The stone house is where the surgeon amputated mangled arms and legs in an attempt to save lives. I forgot what discomfort I had at the moment.
Finally, I reached the promised land 45 minutes later, less than 20 miles computed to be a speed of 3 miles per hour. I decided it was time to breakfast at a popular chain. I was seated, handed a menu and left to grow old. I left. It was time for a gallon of deck paint at the world’s largest retailer. I was greeted, assisted and left with a smile and a song in my heart to be abandoned next door in a home supplier. All I wanted was a bit of insulation for the attic.
I began to tell myself that it was time to practice the Christian virtues that our minister, had preached about on a few past Sunday mornings.(Hebrews 12:1-2) I began to feel better, breathing and respiration close to normal, blood pressure came down to an acceptable level. It was time to visit the TV store where I made a purchase and then waited nearly an hour at the wrong door for my pickup. I began to hum the lyrics to “the famous talking horse-MR. ED). I headed home only to be delayed by the train, crossing Route 29 at Gainesville. The cell phone rang. My loved one was worried. “I am not on a world tour and should be home before lunch.” A neighbor had promised to help me avoid my third hernia and help me lift the 100 lb. set into the rec room. He bailed out; he’s a policeman and was late for work. Caught in “what to do?” the neighbor’s son was available and mission completed. The rest of the afternoon was spent in painting the deck, and waiting for the Air conditioning serviceman. Late in the afternoon, I made an effort to take away a week’s trash but was 30 minutes too late.
The Rhode Island Regiments retreated in good order, Many were without shoes and terribly dirty, some had yielded to exhaustion and were borne upon the shoulders of others who could scarcely walk themselves. All day long bodies of strangling troops walked into the city in the pelting rain, Many of their officers were killed, their companys did not know where to go. My neighbor hurt three ribs when thrown from his horse. We have heard of the death of several of our friends but happy to learn that Col Hunter & his aid are safe. (from the Mary Henry Diary of July, 1861)
THE CRACKED ACORN: Spring
Spring is peeking out from woods and the byways. Approiate clothing for those soon-to-be sunny days have already been in the stores for many weeks. Forsynth, crocus, and daffodils are very close to heralding another change of season. Soon snow, sleet, ice and the wintry mix will be just another memory. It is time to check out that new barbecue grill. It will look good out on the freshly painted deck. You can almost taste those tangy hamburgers and hotdogs. Hula hoops and plastic swimming pools are stacked just inside the doors of all the majors retailers. Prices are posted “ON SALE!” and spring has arrived. Snow blowers, salt, sand, and shovels have retreated to the far corners of the store. This is the time for a good bargain but my garage cannot hold any more end of the season urges.
The deer are coming by nightly to check out lawn and garden to see if I have rushed the warmer weather with recently set out shrubs and garden plants. They are looking for desserts. Last year they nibbled everything even the rhubarb. Yes, it is all coming back now. The great out-of-doors, where aching backs and blisters await, where the world has rotated to reveal the beckoning finger to once again take a defensive position on our bit of earthly land. It is the time to begin to think of warring against the unknown and bone up on what alien invaders present a threat to the homeland of clipped grass and tasty fruits and vegetables. We know that we must show true grit with hoe and tiller puffing out its noxious fumes adding to the greenhouse warming effect. We who have had our finest moments in the blazing midday sun, know we will never give up till fall shall come and the frost hits our vicious opponents. So, be on your guard: alder, clover, beggartick, thistle, broomweed, carpetweed, chickweed dogbane, wild garlic, poison oak, pigweed, flebane, sorrel, wild rose, tanweed, tarweed, wooly morning glory, yellow rocket, and all of the other 240 kinds of bad weeds and grasses that will try to smother our outdoors efforts.
When I look out over my 1/2 acre, I feel like Sir Winston Churchill,
“I shall go on to the end, to fight on sea and ocean,and to fight with growing confidence and strength,that I shall defend this tiny kingdom whatever the cost. This struggle will be carried to the edge of the streets,adjoining fields, even to the close by hills. I shall never surrender even if I am subjugated and starving, until in God’s good time, this new lawn and garden with its fresh won glory will step forth to succor me in my pool of blood, toil, tears, blisters and sweat.”
Brother Paul never had a lawn and garden but he did know about the perils of life!
Whatever work we are involved in, remember God is on our side.
SOLDIERS OF CHRIST ARISE AND PUT YOUR ARMOR ON: STRONG IN THE STRENGTH WHICH GOD SUPPLIES THRO’ HIS BELOVED SON. STRONG IN THE LORD ON HOSTS AND IN HIS MIGHTY POW’R,WHO IN THE STRENGTH OF JESUS TRUSTS IS MORE THAN CONQUEROR. LEAVE NO UNGUARDED PLACE NO WEAKNESS OF THE SOUL;TAKE EVERY VIRTUE,EVERY GRACE, AND FORTIFY THE WHOLE. THAT HAVING ALL THINGS DONE,AND ALL YOUR CONFILCTS PAST,YOU MAY O’ER COME THRO’ CHRIST ALONE, AND STAND ENTIRE AT LAST. (SACRED SELECTIONS)
The Cracked Acorn: Models
It’s about that time when ladies’ spring fashions will be paraded. I wonder what the models eat. Certainly, they are not having a BIG MAC or the all u-can-eat bar. The subliminal message is that slim is closely related to physical beauty.
Many years ago at Tabriz, Iran. We had a satellite tracking site at the university campus. We lived in the METROPOLE HOTEL and an army truck with an Iranian sergeant was our driver. One morning he asked us to come over and watch him collect his lottery winnings, he then went to an adjacent kiosk and bought black and white pictures of large fully clothed women staring smiling into the camera. He thought this was the most. He showed them to us and I noticed that there was not one who could have fit into a size 4.
This is the Middle East where Health care is non-existent as it was in Biblical times. Women are required to do lots of manual labor and bear strong and healthy children; this is very dangerous. Simliac and Gerber are unknown. Women must nurse their children or find a “wet” nurse. God intervened in Exodus 2:7 by providing the real mother to continue to nurse Moses at the age of three months.
Genesis 24:16 And the damsel (Rebekah) was very fair to look upon,virgin, never had any man known her:and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17-And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 19) And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they (ten camels) have done drinking. (A thirsty camel can drink 27 gallons in ten minutes.) Here we have a young woman who is willing to draw this water in the heat of the day to be kind to a stranger. This would have been physically demanding even for the strongest man. These qualities impressed the servant sent to find a wife for Isaac.
Genesis 29:16 And Laban had two daughters the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17) Leah was tender eyed:but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 18a) And Jacob loved Rachel. 31) And the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb:but Rachel was barren. Leah could have been by our standards of fashion a small and very slim woman while Rachel was Jacob’s dream of what a woman should be to bare lots of children and be a very physically fit person to handle the running of a large household. Again this was the day of none of the modern conveniences that we have to keep the home running smoothly and also have our spare time “to find ourselves.” Again, the Lord knows best and blessed Leah and Jacob had to learn the lesson of patience.
My 6-month visit was during the reign of Shah Pahlavi (married three times). His first wife bore no male heirs. Likewise for the second wife but she brought into the capitol city of Tehran the fashions of style and dress from Paris and New York. Many of the Iranian women with affordable means copied the Shah’s wife with her European dress and hair styles but beyond the major cities the women still remained covered from head to their feet.
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10
The Cracked Acorn: Lighthouse
At one of the local stores where I buy my gas and get coffee, I purchased a small framed picture of a lighthouse and a small sailboat in an inlet. It reminded me of my few experiences with boats.
First impression is that a storm is brewing at the end of the day. The lighthouse has not switched on its light. It may be late autumn. Leaves are changing colors on the shore. The shore of the lighthouse is rocky and the other shore looks to be one of safety. The small sailboat is trying to reach land near a small cottage in the woods. The sailboat is very small in comparison to the lighthouse. The threatening rock ledges are partially hidden by the lashing waves.
The coming storm is definitely too powerful for the small craft which has its single sail at the fullest extent. The lighthouse stands as a warning for the boat to stay away and not to come near the rocks. Does the sailboat see that it is in danger and will a warning from the lighthouse soon flash the warning that danger is at hand?
The artist of this painting must have known something of life. The sailboat is too small. The inlet of safety is filled with hidden dangers. Without an experienced pilot, the captain may not know these waters and how to get into the shore to escape the coming storm. The passengers may have been lulled into their nice voyage and have not been aware that soon their lives may be in danger. The light is not on in the lighthouse, does anyone care that a ship is in danger. The waves are viciously hitting the shore churned by a distant force while on the shore things still deceptively appear to be calm. Time may be running out for our sailor at the end of the day.
The oceans cover seventy percent of our planet. From the years 1845 to 1938, it is recorded that 105 ships with passengers and cargo went down off the Southern Cape Coast and more probably not recorded. An internet comment on this was that ship builders could hardly keep ahead of all the sinkings.
Many books have been written to emphasize the dangers of the oceans and how unforgiving the Mighty Deep can be. A war time novel by C.S. Forester, THE GOOD SHEPHERD, reminds you of those who have been committed to the deep because of the folly of man.
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was In the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4)
Edward Hopper in 1871 was well aware of the loss of life due to the many shipwrecks and sinkings of his day. He wrote the hymn JESUS, SAVIOR, PILOT ME.
The Cracked Acorn: Self
It was in the summer of 1849 that Phineas Gage, a railroad construction foreman was standing on the wrong place at the wrong time. A dynamite blast went off and sent a tamping iron through the air. It passed through Gage’s head, and he survived. Before the accident he was an efficient worker and shrewd businessman. The accident changed him and made him a profane person, with little regard for others. He also could not make plans for the future. His friends remarked that he had become “the other Gage.”
This and other incidents have prompted research into what is our “self.” Scientists are searching to explain the complex cohesive neural process that explains why we are happy or unhappy. Children up to the age of 12 years are in the SELF learning process and tend not to be bothered by changes in routines and life in general. Adults do not react the same way once SELF has been formed. Sources note that once the brain is fully formed that an action has a programmed response.
Like computers our thinking system is not only programmed to think and act but in the background there is also the planned response. We put a lot of time into SELF. If a test is given with an equal number of questions on SELF and questions about others. Later we can recall the SELF questions but not those about others. How people can become less SELFish and learn to live and contribute to the lives of others is one of the wonderful traits of being human, never to ever be learned by a machine with artificial intelligence.
How we react to our daily lives and how flexible we are to responses from our fellowman is the key to the peace and tranquility we all seek. We all know of individuals who are still at a later time in life trying to find “SELF.” They are reaching for everything that can tell them that they are alive. Some need the thrill of skydiving or cliff jumping to say “Yes, this is the SELF, I have been looking for!” Whatever future studies show, the study of our SELF and how it drives our lives will continue to be interesting reading.
Books that have been written on SELF are: A Self Less Ordinary, Is Self Special?, The Lost Self, Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain-and How It Changed the World. These are just a few of the many books written, to understand our SELF. It all started with the following Biblical Verse.
Genesis 2:7 – And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The Cracked Acorn: The Wonders
Years ago, I purchased a 1956 Chrysler Imperial from a friend. When we cleaned out the trunk, I was impressed that he was prepared for all types of road hazards and in all kinds of weather. He had backups to the backups and clothing to change into to put on a spare tire or to do on road maintenance.
My sons often asked me to tell them of the “old days.” They thought I was ancient. I told them how I lived on a farm and we depended on crops and livestock to give us income. Drought, disease, too much rain and high winds, could seriously damage a good crop of corn and wheat. We also grew the cash crop, tobacco which is a very delicate plant. A quick hail storm could send you looking for a public job to get the family through the winter. Many of today’s farmers have done this. Agriculture is the one big industry quickly affected by natural disasters of any type.
Those who watch weather patterns predict that more and more hurricanes will come ashore and head farther north. I remember Isabel for it left us without power for four days. It took me back to my childhood when we depended on kerosene lamps and cooked over wood stoves. This could happen again.
We have no other choice but to live in this physical world that God created for us. It may not always behave the way we wish. We cannot live in straw houses set upon a sandy beach.
ALL WHO LISTEN TO MY INSTRUCTIONS AND FOLLOW THEM ARE WISE, LIKE A MAN WHO BUILDS HIS HOUSE ON SOLID ROCK. THOUGH THE RAINS COMES IN TORRENTS, AND THE FLOODS RISE AND THE STORM WINDS BEAT AGAINST HIS HOUSE, IT WON’T COLLAPSE, FOR IT IS BUILT ON ROCK. BUT THOSE WHO HEAR MY INSTRUCTIONS AND IGNORE THEM ARE FOOLISH, LIKE A MAN WHO BUILDS HIS HOUSE ON SAND. FOR WHEN THE RAINS AND FLOODS COME, AND STORM WINDS BEAT AGAINST HIS HOUSE, IT WILL FALL WITH A MIGHTY CRASH. (Matthew 7:24-27)
The crowd who heard these words from Jesus were amazed at his wisdom. I wonder how many of that number went and moved their houses. There is always a great lesson to be learned from the Scriptures.
Three million people live within the shadow of the world’s most historically deadly volcano at Vesuvius, Italy. One of its violent eruptions in 79 A.D. described by Pliny the Younger buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Within a period 19 hours these two towns were buried in ash and the inhabitants were caught in the gas and cinders. Yet, today within the shadow of this violent volcano, smoking and sending out tremors, people carry on their daily lives as if this goes with the territory. Mass evacuations have not taken place. Volcanologists note that there are no signs of unrest at Vesuvius at the present time. An estimated one million people live in the area of past eruptions. This does not seem to hurt the real estate market.
The Cracked Acorn: Time
Can time move fast and then slow?
I think that it moves the slowest when you are in a store line waiting to pay. This would be at eleven in the morning on a weekday. I have been caught in these and try to reason it out and think that this is life. I do begin to wonder why this person is returning the third time to the car to ask mother for more money.
I notice that the lady in front of me has a fifty dollar bill ready to pay for a pack of smokes. In the other line (this is a two line gas convenience store) a patron is turning out his pockets to pay for gasoline. He is beckoning to his fellow passengers to come in and help with the money.
The person at the head of my line is using a credit card to pay for a loaf of bread. Wow! At card rates, this loaf may become rather pricey.(Oh that I had wings like a dove for then would I fly away,and be at rest. Ps. 55:6)
When I finally pay and escape this store but I wind up in another line at the grocery store. No 10 or 15 items line here! You wait your turn. Carts are piled high. Food has not gone out of style. Are these people inviting everyone in the nearby town to lunch and dinner. I begin to think of ways to let management know that life is threescore & ten. I am almost there in life, and so, could I cut to the front line and enjoy my remaining time elsewhere.
The news media lets us know that there are more and more senior citizens every year. Well, I think that there should be stores for us. We should be able to have all the time we need to pick over the shelves without concern of those long lines. It is cutting into our time to observe the weather and watch the clouds.
Someone close to me will mention that it is also shortening my naps. I couldn’t go without all the cellphone conversations that I am party to while in line. When the cell plays its merry tune, the rest of us become invisible. Yes! Aunt Bea is doing better if she would only take her pills and follow the doctor’s advice. Yes! I know the new Mercedes are in the showroom.
Parents are using the cell to track the kids at home, or are they at home? I can’t help but wonder if our native Americans did the same thing with smoke signals. Two puffs-your mother in law is here from Shawnee. Three puffs-are you on your way home? Four puffs-it’s buffalo again tonight. One puff- a long and slow one meaning “I still love you.”
The Bible gives us courage in our fast society. Note this in the following Scriptures.
What time am I afraid, I will trust in thee. (Psalm 56:3)
Remember how short my time is wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? (Psalm 89:47)
The customer ahead of me at the supermarket checkout counter had written a check for her purchases and was waiting for the clerk to package them.
Instead, citing “company policy,” he asked her for identification. The shopper looked astounded, then finally managed to say, “But David, I’m your mother!” (from SUPERMARKET humor)