Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sheep, Kine, Donkeys, and Camels

Last week we referenced Genesis 32 in which Jacob is given a new name.  Continuing the reading through the chapter and into the next, we find Jacob with his family and his worldly goods approaching the land which had been promised to Abraham and his descendants, the land he had left many years prior.

It seems to be running through Jacob's mind that he and his twin brother Esau had not parted on the best of terms.  And he had to know that the trick he had played on his father, at his mother's behest, which deprived Esau of his rightful inheritance might weigh in Esau's assessment of his brother, and might in fact prove perilous to Jacob.

Then Jacob gets word via his scouts that Esau is approaching with an army of 400 men.

In a tactical maneuver, Jacob divides his camp into two contingents thinking that if one part of his party were attacked, the other part might escape.

But more, Jacob prepared a gift for his brother: 580 animals with their tenders.  These, too, he divided into blocks, sending several groups "with considerable space between them."  When the first group meets Esau the herdsmen are to tell him it is a gift from Jacob.  Then the next group will arrive with the same message, and so on until all the animals have been presented.  Then Jacob himself will show up.

Then the guys saw each other.  Clasping one another, hugging, tears of happiness at the reunion!

Jacob and Esau embracing

Esau said, "What is the meaning of all these beasts?"

"They are from me to you.  I have prospered and I want to share my wealth with you."

"Nay, keep your livestock.  I have also prospered.

"No, please take them.  They are yours."

"Okay."

Esau of course invites Jacob to join him, come with him to his land.

You  need to read the story to discover how much the newly reunited brothers trusted each other.

There is a moral in here somewhere, perhaps many of them.  But, Praise the Lord! I am not a preacher so it is not incumbent upon me to ferret them out and present them to you.

Have a blessed Lord's Day.  As Jacob did, follow God's lead in your life.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Pratt Household

A bit ago you were introduced to the Pratt twins, Darlene and Darren.  Today, a bit about the rest of the family.
 
Mr. Pratt, Edwin, if it really matters, because everyone calls him "Pastor" or sometimes "Reverend," is the pastor of Pineville Community Church.  Pineville, as you are aware, is tucked away in a serene, not to mention somnolent, valley just a bit past beyond.  Parochial?  Not so very much.  If you were not born there you are not a "local," even though you may have lived there for seventy years.  Go figure.  The Pratts are not locals.  They came to town to pastor PCC nine years ago, just six weeks after the birth of the twins.  Five years later Mindy was born.  Mindy will ever be known as a local.  But never her parents or her siblings.  See above.

Mrs. Pratt, Samantha, is very much involved in the good works of the church and with the community at large.  She is a regular participant in the doings of the PTA and is a volunteer at the Pineville Community Hospital.

The baby, four-year old Mindy, is beautiful, charming, a living doll, one might say, and is beloved by all.  She is the good child, the payoff to perseverance, the balance over against the antics of the twins.  And how does Mrs. Pratt cope with all the responsibilities that devolve upon her as pastor's wife, mother to an angel and two hellions, still finding time to be of real service to the townspeople?
Bad luck often brings with it good fortune and in this case the bad luck of Samantha's mother in losing her husband to cancer three years ago has turned into the Pratts' good fortune.  For the past year Mrs. Cline has lived with the Pratts.

There is no cause for mother-in-law jokes, for Edwin and Eldena, that's Mrs. Cline, are the best of friends.  It might even be said that they adore each other, and Samantha loves them both and all is peachy-keen in the household.

Except for Darren and Darlene.  Please understand that these children are loved by all the occupants of the house, that there is no abuse going on.  They are well and properly cared for.  It is just that they are exasperating.  Twins: double the trouble, half the restraint.  If the girl-one don't get you, the boy-one will.  Or they both will.

Case in point.  Last Saturday Pineville Community Church had a Sunday School picnic in Pine Park.  The feast was consumed and the ladies of the Silver Set were tending to the cleanup duties.  People of all ages were entertaining themselves and each other, letting the meal settle a bit, you see, and the softball and volleyball games had not yet started.  Guys sitting around picking their teeth, ladies standing about in little clusters relating-- What?  You think gossip is going to slip into this account?  Not so.

Last Sunday Darren's Sunday School teacher, Miss Prunella (we call her, for Darren thinks of her as an old prune) had been a bit harsh with the lad over an itching powder incident involving Suzie Fletcher.  The young Pratt had yet to develop sufficient spiritual strength to forgive and forget.

So it was that Darren was crawling around on the ground, ostensibly looking for-- for what? Lost spectacles? A four-leaf clover?  Never mind.  As the boy sees his sister, pigtails flying, rushing headlong toward her, Darren positions himself, on his knees, directly behind Miss Prunella's legs.  Darlene turns her head to look back, ostensibly to see if the one chasing her is gaining on her (this is how she told it later) and in that instant of looking back and moving forward she ran into the unlucky SS teacher who staggered backward half-step, ran into Darren and fell on her back, plum knocking the wind out of her.  Beautifully executed teamwork by the twins, all deniability factors rehearsed in advance and carried off flawlessly.

The preacher's kids. You know what they say about those.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Pratts of Pineville

 "Hi.  I'm Darlene and I am nine years old.  This is my brother."

"Hello.  I'm Darren.  I am nine, too."

"Oh, you are twins. How adorable!"`

There is an opinion that will change in less than a week. Most people who know them will say, "Darlene, indeed.. She's no darling, that's for sure. And Darren will dare anything, so long as it's ornery."

 Darlene and Darren are the first offspring of the Rev. Mr. Edwin Pratt and his lovely wife, Samantha. The twins have a sister, Mindy, age four. Technically, Darlene is the first-born of the Pratt children, being four minutes older than her brother. Pratt is their name, and mischief is their game.

Darlene's strawberry blonde hair is almost always in pigtails. Her complexion, to use a cliche, is peaches and cream, but that she wears a permanent Swiss dotted ribbon of rusty freckles across the bridge of her nose and under the eyes to the very corners of those bright blue orbs. A level could be placed across the tops of the heads of these two when they are standing side by side and the bubble would fall strictly inside the lines. It is likely, though, that in a couple of years Darlene will be the taller, but that probably won't last very long.

Darren has distinct double cowlicks and some wag said, not in the hearing of the Reverend, that those were exactly where the boy's horns would sprout in a couple of years, at the rate he was going. Of Darlene, well, she already has horns but keeps them pulled back in braids. Darren's band of freckles is the mirror image of his sister's. The eyes are the exact same shade as Darlene's baby blues.

Despite their similarities in appearance, however, these children were possessed (someone once said, "No kidding!") of two distinct personalities. Prepare to be surprised. Darlene was by far the more rambunctious, the one more likely to engage in physical altercations, and the one chosen first in most pick-up games on the playground or in a vacant lot. By contrast Darren was more the contemplative type, likely to be in a corner with a book, sometimes even a dictionary or encyclopedia. He is the kid who is picked on by the playground bullies. In particular, Darren has one nemesis who persists in annoying the lad, though this exchange once took place when Darlene was with her brother.

Clifton: "One of these days soon I will catch you when your sister's not around and I'll beat the crap out of you."

 Darlene: "You do that and when I catch up with you I will break every bone in your ugly body."

Clifton has confined his pestering to verbal taunts, a circumstance which will doubtless prevail.

 ©2017  David W. Lacy

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Get over yourself, and fear not!

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.  Exodus 14:13-14 (KJV)

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 "The people" whom Moses addresses are Israel as they were fleeing Egypt.  He is using the very name of the people, Israel, to exhort them to trust in God who "will fight for them."

In Genesis 32 we read the story of Jacob wrestling with God and after the night-long contention God gives Jacob a new name, Israel.  Israel: God contends; perseveres. God prevails.

Then the Psalmist reminds us again to "Be still and know that I am God." (42:10)

Fear is an adjunct of self-reliance.  In trusting God we have nothing to fear.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hallelujah Time with Preacher Partlow

Did I tell you about the time Preacher Partlow pitch a tent in Las Animas? Well, Preacher, he work across Kansas from Wichita to Syracuse a holdin' meetin's all along the way. Tuk him most a summer, too, on account he draw such crowds even in that godforsaken territory, well, any entertainment was better 'n nuthin', so as he offen stayed in one place three-four weeks. Well, he closed out in Syracuse on a Sunday night and a Monday he head on over to Las Animas. His old double A truck loaded to the gills, what with the tent, the accordion his wife played, and of course, his trombone and his trumpet. Now his was a small-time operation, doncha know, just him and his wife. His wife was Noreen Gibbs, you know, and afore she married Preacher she was purty well-knowed around Tulsa, on account a she had a voice people pay money to hear. They say she could paralyze the devil, and put the angels to shame. Anyway, people come to Preacher's meetin's to hear him play them horns and hear him preach. Orate was what he done. But it didn't hurt the draw none to have Noreen on the platform with him. And when she close out the evenin' with “Just as I Am,” those folk didn't hit that sawdust trail-- not much they didn't. Line that rail along the sawdust, why I guess they did.

So one Sattidy night about two weeks into the revival in Las Animas, Grady Smith and Hank Morton from over th'other side the river, over to'rd Fort Lyon, made it up atween 'em to go over to Animas an' bust up Preacher's meetin'. Now, ever'body know Grady could whup anyone in Bent County, and Hank was his toady, would do whatever Grady tol' him to do. So they get onto they cow ponies and ride on over to the tent. Now Preacher had a wonderful meetin' that night, the music had plum warmed the people into a most receptive frame a mind, and Preacher know this harvest was ripe to reap. He was givin’ 'em low-pocka-hirem, gettin' ready to thrust in the sickle, so to speak, when Hank and Grady bust into the side a the tent on they hosses, Grady from Preacher's right and Hank from his left, and rid them hosses right up onto the platform. They did. Grady leap out the saddle and drop the reins. “This here meetin',” he shouted, “is over! And I'ma whup you, Mr. Preacher Man.”

Partlow raise both hands, palms out toward the crowd and cry, “Folks, just hold your seats and put on a Lord's measure of patience. I am going to step out back of this tent with this youngster for just a few seconds, and I'll be right back.” Grady roared with laughter, and Hank, still aboard his pony, said, “Like hell.”

Now Grady was a hoss his own self, six-three and prolly went two thirty. Preacher mought a weight one fifty-five, but he'd have to be plum dressed and plum wet to make 'er. Preacher step offa the platform and out back the tent with Grady right on his heels. Miz Partlow step to the platform and in her angelic voice start singin’ “When We All Get to Heaven.” Preacher turn to face Grady, Grady tuk a roundhouse swing with his left, which Preacher duck quicker'n I can tell it and come up with a right widow-maker smack! into the bottom side Grady's chin, whilst he bury his left in his gut. Grady hit the ground, out like a campfire in a hail storm, just as Noreen was hittin’ the strains of “what a day of rejoicing that will be!”

Preacher step through the tent-flap onto the platform, raise both hands again, said, “Thanks be to God!  Now, all you sinners come to Jesus now!” And they done it.  And Hank Morton on his knees with ‘em. There was a stringer there thet night, and the La Junta Tribune-Democrat reported they was forty-seven people confessed Christ as they savior!

Text © 2013 David W. Lacy


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Seriously

No getting 'round it: today is π day.

Make mine pecan.  (Aren't all mathematicians a little bit nuts?)

The printer dropped his tray.  Everything was pied.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tale of the Three A.M. Blog Post

A marvelous idea for a blog post slapped me upside my mind at three o'clock in the morning.  This happens.  All too frequently.  I lay abed and composed it.  This is good stuff.  So l edited and polished it, refined it, perfected it.  Four-fifteen I make a trip to the little room next door, return to bed.  Shiver a bit to get warm again, run the post through my head one more time.  It is perfect!

I slept.

After I showered and dressed, eight o'clock, I went to the computer and logged on.  Brought up blogger to write my post.

I could not remember. One. Single. Word. Of that perfect gem.

I wrestled with this throughout the day, convinced that ere nightfall I would recover my work.  Not so.  Not one inkling.  But I do remember that it was an absolutely wisdom-of-the-ages, polished and perfected, ready for the world

One-liner!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lunch Hour

Swimming was scheduled from 11:20 to 12:10.  That class was followed by lunch and I had no obligation to be any particular where until my next class started at 1:00.  Choices for lunch were many and as I like variety I availed myself of various opportunities.

At the top of the list was the brown bag, for Mom would make the sandwiches and cookies, Dad would pay for the victuals, and David ate well, but on the cheap.   Sometimes in the fall and in the springtime this lunch was consumed as Roland and I sat at a chess table in Acacia Park which was just across the street from school. Some days, though, as this student was usually pretty flush for funds as he had a job he worked twenty-eight hours a week a different option would be selected.

Next choice was the school cafeteria.  I remember little about it except that it was on the top floor and a walk back from the Y, climbing the stairs and joining a vast mob was not always an appealing option.  But like clockwork, I am thinking on Thursdays, the staff made and served Spanish rice.  Now why exactly I found this appealing I don't remember, but I liked it a lot in those days and I could get the full meal including milk and dessert for thirty-five cents.

My next choice was the cafeteria at the YWCA.  The YW building was another block yet farther south than the YMCA.  The YWCA building was a five-story affair on the corner of Nevada and Kiowa.  It was probably the second-tallest building in town and today would be referred to as a "low rise."  It has since been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

I could easily walk the block from the YM to the YW, ascend the elevator to the cafeteria and enjoy a luscious meal, a gustatory delight to a boy, full meal, for example. a pork chop with potatoes and white gravy, green beans on the side, for sixty-five cents, coffee included.  Cherry pie, fifteen cents, twenty-five ala mode.  Change left over from my dollar for a Nehi Cream Soda after school.  Too, the girls with the smiling voices, that is, telephone operators, worked at the exchange next door and several of them had lunch at the Y.

A block and a half north of the school was a "corner grocery" where a certain element hung out, before school, after school, and at lunch time.  I think they dined on soda pop, moon pies or twinkies, and candy bars.  Most importantly to most of them, though, was the fact that they could get in a smoke or two before class.  I never went there, but you know.  Word gets around.

Across Nevada Avenue from the YMCA was a hoppin' soda shop.  I stopped a few times after school but never took lunch there.  Most of those students who did lived on upper Cascade Avenue or Wood Avenue, Culebra Drive.  You know, out of my social stratum.

Finally, of course, which I have already mentioned elsewhere, were the days that the lunch hour was spent shooting pool at the Y.  Candy bars and RC Cola.

Bon appetit!

 My Little World
Colorado Springs, Colorado
1951-1952

#11 Red Top Cafe.  I did not include it as a school lunch choice as I reserved this very special treat for my Saturday lunch.  Walked across the street from the office, #10, then thirty steps up the alley to the hole-in-the wall behind the theater.  The best burger in town ("one's a meal")--maybe anywhere--thirty-five cents.  Coffee, a nickel.
 #12 Shop mentioned on Bob's blog a few years ago. 
*Intersection of Pikes Peak and Tejon was known as "Busy Corner."  It was said you could meet up with anyone in town if you stood there long enough.  Second door east on north side of Pikes Peak, a broom closet-sized hot roasted nuts! shop.  A dime's worth of Spanish peanuts gave two boys an abundant snack!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Kate and Tommy Reprise

In Springtime, they wander through the flowers, walk in meadows, long, happy hours.  “A year this June,” Tommy said, “in yon church we will be wed.  You’ll meet me at the garden gate.  My carriage comes.  Don’t be late!”

Summer’s languid afternoon found Kate and Tommy on the ground, the picnic blanket spread, their hungry bodies to be fed.  “Not yet,” said Kate, “Mama counseled me to wait.  The pleasures of wedded life to be shared by man and wife.”  “I’ll wait 'til then, don’t be late.  Meet me at the garden gate.”

That Fall needles on the ground from dark green pine trees all around.  “Here, Love, lie with me on the duff.”  “Oh, Dear One,” said Kate, “That’s not enough.  I’ll hold and keep you evermore after we exit the church house door. I’ll meet you at the garden gate.  And, oh, Tommy, don’t be late!”

Winter's winds now harshly blow as Kate walks alone through the snow.  Her heart, though is far away for on this cold December day Tommy’s ship is hast'ning home and nevermore shall Tommy roam.  His last words to her had been, “Don’t be late; I’ll meet you at the garden gate."

And at June’s first full moon breezes aloft softly croon.  Kate in gown of white shimmering in evening’s light was waiting at half ‘til eight at end of lane, at the garden gate.

The moon is high, no longer evening; bright, starry sky.  Tommy’s horse and shay have not appeared this summer day.  Mama comes to hold Kate’s hand.  The girl sobs, “I don’t understand.  He said he’d meet me at garden’s gate; promised he would not be late.”

“Kate,” Mother said, her voice severe, “Each mid-June you have stood here.  Tommy’s ship went down, you know.  It’s time for you to let him go.  It’s now been eight long years.  Get up, sing again, and dry your tears.  Tommy cannot meet you at the gate; life marches on, and you’ll be late.

©2015 David W. Lacy

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Are We Any Better?

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Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard (Isaiah 5) is a lovely poem expressing God's loving treatment of his people (the vineyard) and yet the vineyard produces wild grapes (sin and rebellion).  The message becomes a prophecy of punishment for a people who have turned from God.*

This passage from the middle of the song which pronounces woes upon the wicked was certainly intended for the leaders in the Judah of Isaiah's day, yet might it not be instructive for us yet today?

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes,
and prudent in their own sight!

Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine,
and men of strength to mingle strong drink:

which justify the wicked for reward,
and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!" (vv. 20-23)

Incidentally one of my favorite passages in the song appear in verse eight:
  
"Woe unto them that join house to house,
that lay field to field, till there be no place,
that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!"

Crowded populations, no place to find solitude.  Sound familiar? 

Grammarian at work:  "a people that is" vs. "a people who are."  There is some history at work here and a choice has to be made.  My first draft used the first form, the final draft the second.
 


Friday, March 3, 2017

Swimming at the Y

I transferred to public high school for my senior year.  My reasoning which sufficed to convince  the parents was that I needed to take physics and senior math which at the time was trigonometry and solid geometry.

Then I found that in order to graduate I would have to have credit in physical education.  So as a senior I enrolled in a  PE class.  I chose swimming.

*WARNING.  If you do not wish to have an image which you cannot unsee burned into your mind, STOP reading now.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
 
The swimming classes were held at the YMCA pool which was a one-block walk to the south of the school.  The routine required stripping and showering, soaping thoroughly, including the hair. (When did you last "shampoo" with bar soap?)  Then we entered the pool area.  You did not read the part about donning the trunks?  That is because there was no, I mean NO, clothing in the pool.  Twenty naked teenage boys lined up alongside the pool so Coach could call the roll, then into the water. The instructor shouted encouragement and humiliating taunts to each and all for the next thirty minutes.

Back to the showers where we rinsed the chlorine off our bodies, toweled down, then, some days, the fun part.  Snapping someone with a damp towel is much more fun than being snapped by a damp towel.  Coach knew this was going on, how could he not?  But he also knew when to step in and put a stop to it.  No permanent injuries suffered by anyone, so far as I know.

Once dressed, we ascended to the main floor where most of the guys checked out and headed for the school house.  Some of us who chose to fritter away the lunch hour stayed to shoot a couple games of eight-ball.  Nope, no "closed campus."  Lunch hour might make another post.

Oh, I passed the course, got my PE credit.


My Little World
Colorado Springs, Colorado
1951-1952

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Pretty Lady

In the attic again.  Picking my way through the boxes and framed pictures, I stooped to pick up a picture lying on the floor.  General Palmer astride his bronze horse, tall  pedestal in the middle  of  the  intersection.  I flipped the snapshot  into  a nearby box and straightened up too fast and too much without regard for the rafter above my head.  I mean, squarely atop my head.


The birds were twittering and chittering in the elms shading the sidewalk as I hastened down Weber Street.  I had walked all the way across town to Memorial Hospital to visit short minutes with my friend, Mary, as she had a ten-minute break at six  o'clock.  We had not seen each other since I left for college those many months ago.  I still had a soft spot for her.   Our visit was pleasant but not very  informative, for what can one say in ten minutes?  So now I am hurrying home because I promised Mom I would go to meeting with her this evening.

Passed by the east side of the old high school and reaching the corner I turned right onto Platte Avenue toward the west.  The sun had dropped behind The Peak, light rays streaming upward and outward, a painting almost as a child would represent a sunset, yet so very powerful my heart leaped within  me!  God's creation is marvelous beyond our abilities to fully appreciate it sometimes.  Then  there are perfect moments such as this one.

What is that figure that just crossed Nevada Avenue and is heading toward me with a quick and purposeful stride?  A young woman.  As she passes the front entrance of the high school I am nearing the middle of the block.  I recognize her.  It is Gwen.  Gwen whom I have not seen since the night we crossed the stage to receive our diplomas more than a year ago.

Gwen and I had started our senior year here in this building that stands beside us as newbies, that is we were both transfer students, the only thing we had in common.  The half-thousand other seniors all knew each other, more or less, but a small subset of the class were new to the facility.  I noticed Gwen.  She would have been hard to overlook because she was easy to look at.

Gwen was one of the best-dressed girls in the school, but fashion did not dictate her choice in style.  Her skirts, for instance, were hemmed two inches below the knee in a day in which the style required the hem two inches above the bobby sox.  She often wore a bolero jacket, style dictating an angora sweater.  The jacket was almost always accessorized with a scarf, either around her neck or over her shoulder.  Her makeup was modest but exquisite, with one exception.  Her carefully-applied lipstick was just a shade too red. Gwen's hair was black and when one looked into her eyes he had to know that the hair color was as honest as the piercing eyes.

Gwen and I were friendly to the extent that we spoke to each other in the hallways, she smiled when she saw me and I thought she was visiting Earth from Olympus.  In other words, way out of my league.

The aura of mystery surrounding the young lady never entirely lifted.  It was known that she had moved into town from another city.  The guys whispered behind their hands, "She lives with her sister, you know.  No parents in that house."  From which I was to infer-- what, exactly?

And thus we met, mid-block, late afternoon on a lovely summer day.  "Hi, David!"  Had she not spoken first I would have passed her without a word, for my daddy taught me that a gentleman never addressed a lady before she spoke to him.  "Hi, Gwen!  How are you?  Haven't seen you in, well, in a year."  We stopped to visit a bit.  I told her of my college choice, my plans for the summer.  She told me she worked in the secretarial pool at a large company whose corporate headquarters were on Cascade Avenue.

Breaking eye contact with me, dropping her head just slightly, her right foot caressed the back of her left calf.  Gwen said, "You could walk me the rest of the way home, if you like.  I live just around the corner on Weber."

Seldom to that point in my life did I fear that my heart would leap completely from my chest.  I took two very deep breaths, blushing I know, for I could feel the heat rising from the top of my head.

"Uh.  Oh, wow.  I'd really like to, but I promised my Mom I would take her to her meeting this evening and I am running late now."

"Oh.  Oh, okay.  Nice to see you again, and good luck with your life.  'Bye!"