Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 4)

December 1, 2003. Was a blur. I really don’t remember much besides trying so very desperately to sneak in one of those travel sized bottles of Bailey’s into the hospital so my parents and I could have a proper, ceremonial rite of passage. Two very small things blew it for me: 1) I couldn’t find one of those cute little bottles like the stewardesses give you on air planes in all of Charlotte…ok, so I couldn’t find one in all of the two stores I had the chance to drop by. 2) And then there was the minor combined issue of my father a) currently being in the hospital, and b) on the transplant list for a new liver. The hospital runs a pretty tight ship in general, I kinda forgot about the fact that to be on a transplant list is kinda like being under house arrest. You may think your body’s your own, but for a certain length of time your butt can be grilled—or in this case—you could be called in for random drug testing at any time. And seeing as we were on hospital turf, to have smelled Bailey’s on Dad’s breath probably would have initiated one of those random times for him! All in all, not good. Didn’t work. Sensing my sheer disappointment, mom took me out to an Irish pub and bought me a Guiness. All was amended…well, pretty right near all....

Monday, November 28, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 3)

Yikes! And I'm not done yet! So here's part 3 of my most memorable thanksgiving:

Thursday, November 27, 2003. The church had rallied so very well. Since my aunt and cousin had arrived they had committed to bringing our family meals every other day for two weeks and they provided us with a full Thanksgiving feast. All I had to do was heat up the turkey. Somewhere in between being back and forth from the hospital to home with the kids I had remembered to take the meal out of the refrigerator but, lost in the fray, the idea of actually heating the turkey was completely otherworldly. I had the presence of mind to grab a carving knife, the kids, and the food (the knife was for the food, not the kids) before leaving to go to Charlotte for our Thanksgiving festivities. The day before I had had grand visions of streamers and decorations to fix up the hospital room where we would be feasting, but some how one seems blessed to have simply practicality when caught in such a time of flurried activity.

The third floor of Carolina’s Medical Center was completely empty on my dad’s wing, and, from what I remember, there were only two or three people on Britny’s wing. Dad’s nurses volunteered the small kitchenette/breakroom area for our family gathering (mom’s parents and my uncle had come down the day before). In my mad rush I had forgotten all manner of plates, utensils, and cups…thank God for an on site cafeteria! Nurses were volunteering left and right to go “sneak” down to the cafĂ© and get what we needed—the adventure they saw in the endeavor was almost as humorous and uplifting as their eagerness help.

Our little room was furnished somewhat sparsely with a refrigerator, a sink, inaccessible cabinets, a microwave, a folding table, and one of those hard vinyl hospital recliners that my whole family at one time or another has spent a sleepless night or three in. We wheeled both my dad and Britny down the hall and started pulling out the food to see what all we had by way of variety. After noticing small chips of ice falling from the packaging we pretty much deduced that all the food was not just cold but half frozen! I remember my bright idea of sticking the containers in the microwave for a few minutes was abruptly shot down by some member of my family saying, “What, do you want to blow us all up?! Those containers are made out of aluminum…you don’t put metal in a microwave!” I try. My uncle got to cutting on the frozen turkey with the one useful tool I did have the presence of mind to grab while the rest of us scooped out iced mashed-potatoes, slushified cranberry something-or-other, and the well chilled dressing. Plates had to go into the microwave one at a time, so by the time one person’s was warmed up they had to go ahead and eat or it would be cold again by the time the next plate was heated. What a crazy, fun mess!

My friends the Trents showed up at the tail end of the festivity to add some festivity of their own. They brought me a birthday cake. Since I had gotten home, I hadn’t really thought much about the fact that my birthday was in a couple of days, but most assuredly when I had thought about it I never pictured spending my 21st in the hospital with two of my family members...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 2)

Saturday, November 22, 2003. I was on a plane. My friends had taken such care of me—Elizabeth had purchased a ticket for me to fly home, Mrs. Wilbur drove me to the airport, and the Trents were in Charlotte waiting to pick me up. My family was looking forward to seeing me…on Monday. My Aunt, who had come in from West Virginia with my cousin earlier in the week, was the only one in my family that knew I was flying in early. It was a wonderful surprise. I’ll never forget the look on my Dad’s face. I think I asked some thing like, “do you guys need anything” before I walked in because they told me later that they had thought at first that I was a nurse!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003. I love action! I’ve always wanted to be a professional driver, or even better a stunt driver. I’d always seen great emergency mad driving skills on TV and had wished that I could do that. It was my day. We were flying in the emergency lane past interstate traffic in my family’s Ford van with the blinkers flashing. My aunt and I were taking my cousin Britny to the ER. Mom ended up staying at home with the kids rather than returning to the hospital to see dad that evening. Providence is a beautiful thing. Britny and my aunt both have health issues of their own and on this particular evening Brit spiked a pretty dangerous temperature causing my aunt to wonder if there was a shunt malfunction to blame. Never a dull moment.

Later that evening Britny was transferred to not only the same hospital as my father, but the same floor. God has a bit of a sense of humor amidst His graciousness in keeping the family together. My mom and aunt kept each other going that night. They were the ones to point out that nothing could have ended up any better than God had planned it for a situation like this. Thanksgiving really started two days early at that point...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Most Memorable Thanksgiving (Part 1)

I attempted to start writing in hopes of churning out a memory that would be concise, clean, and coherent. I'm ending up with anything but. And yet I feel like I should ride this one out, so I've decided to make it an installment blog. I'll probably end up with at least three parts if I keep writing like I have been thus far. So, here's part 1 of my most memorable Thanksgiving:

I try so hard to merge my worlds. Some times more than others, but it always seems to be a constant at the forefront of my mind. I suppose I’ve grown sentimental in my old age in longing for simplicity and unity, but I also feel that living in fragments is not really the way God intended life to be lived.

I haven’t always thought this way. I once was an island—or at least considered myself one and did most everything in my power to alienate myself to some remote part of a hypothetical sea. No, I had to be taught, over time. But there was one mile marker, a point in time where I can look back and say, “that was the moment”.

Saturday, November 15, 2003. I had been making plans to drive home to North Carolina the Monday before Thanksgiving. That was before my 6:30 am phone call from my father who told me that while he and Micah were out watching the newly released Captain and Commander at the movie theatre he had gotten up to take Micah to the restroom, fallen down the steps, onto the hand rail, and ended up breaking his hip and shoulder.

Call me superstitious, but ever since my junior year of high school it seemed that our family in general and my father in particular had developed this knack for hospital visits punctually around the times of mid-terms and finals. So don’t think me cold and heartless when I say that I wasn’t too shaken or surprised when dad informed me that he was once again in the hospital just before another holiday. After all, it takes talent to be that predictable!

While I say that I was not surprised or shaken, I was however automatically shifted into responsibility/action mode. I can be a bit hot-headed and reactionary in times like that so I decided to call my long time sounding board for all things sane and sure—Der. He told me stay put until we knew more about what was going on. I wanted to go home. I just knew I needed to go home right then and there. Who else was going to take care of my family? The week that followed was the longest of my life I’m pretty sure. And all my friends knew it. So when Elizabeth Taylor asked me if there was anything at all she could do, I knew exactly what I wanted—to get home as soon as possible—but I had neither the courage nor the humility to ask for help to get there. So I phoned another friend, Joanna, like her father, another sounding board for all things sane and sure...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Blessed Excitement

The truth is, I'm so excited! I mean, I know I'm probably a little nuts and I'm sure there aren't really a whole lot of people out there that can say this with as much enthusiasm as I have behind every keystroke of this blog, but I LOVE my job! No, really, I do! Yesterday was spent in desperate earnest, attempting to get out the King's Meadow Thanksgiving Newsletter before, well, Thanksgiving. While it made for a rather long and interesting day, it was so incredible to be reminded of all the things we have to be thankful for as a ministry. We've charted where we were a year ago, noted all the steadfast volunteers that have come our way, and planned for the incredible vision that God has given us for the future. The best part of that vision is that it is so very tangible. There has never been a time when so many people have been so excited about what we are doing and attempting to do. There have never been so many--though they are still few--eager volunteers willing to do what needs to be done to spread the word, ease the load, and bolster spirits. There have never been this many visionary plans out on the table that have the potential of all being launched within the foreseeable future. It is so very exciting! Now we just need the money!

To see the fruits of our collective labors, click here to read the KMSC Thanksgiving Newsletter. There is much to be thankful for this season...and I haven't even gotten to my personal list yet! I am truly blessed indeed!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The King of the Limestone Scepter

The leaves have fallen. Winter’s here. There’s so much beauty just outside my window as I type away in my office attempting to save the world one e-mail, one newsletter, and then one phone call at a time.

Fairly often I get sidetracked but I’ve been pretty regular in taking my special concoction of memory vitamins so most of the time I eventually get back to whatever it was I was sidetracked from. (Though on Tuesday I forgot to turn in a payment…but when I turned it in on Wednesday, well, they forgot to charge me a late fee so I suppose I’m not alone in my mental schizophrenia!)

What was I saying?

Oh, yeah, so I get side tracked. The other day I walked out of the office to go to a meeting and was surprised to see that my truck was parked right out front. (I never park out front.) I had thought for a second that some one had played a joke and moved my truck. Then my mind jumped to the realization that the only people that would do something like that either don’t have a spare key to my truck or they can’t drive a stick shift automobile. But then I thought that maybe some one really did because I saw a piece of paper stuck under my windshield wipers. I’m such a kid, I love it when people leave me notes! About 20 people went through my mind in quick succession as to who the note could be from. But it wasn’t from anyone I thought of. Even better, it was from someone I had really been wanting to get to know for the last couple months. This adorable old man who works across the street from me. I say adorable because he rides stately around the streets of Franklin in a small but steedly golf cart, cradling his chalk-tipped scepter as if parading the might of his noble position.

What was I saying?

Oh yes, my note. Well, as is the case with any one in any kind of higher position than my own, I must at some time or other pay my respects to the greatness of their station. Apparently the King of the Limestone Scepter saw fit to draw the line on my lack of dutiful obeisance and collect from me his rightful tribute…..So then I walked across the street and paid my $11 parking ticket.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005


No matter what is said about the banality of cleverness, I still think that cleverness is, well, clever. One of the most clever songs I have ever heard was done by the "one hit wonder" group Reunion. I love music and this is just one of those songs that brings a wide range of artists, songs, and movements together in, well, the cleverest of ways. Here is what has to say about the group followed by the lyrics and audio file of Life Is A Rock:

Reunion was a studio group created around songwriters Norman Dolph and Paul DiFranco, which scored one US Top 10 single in 1974 with the novelty song "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)". The group had already released a number of singles on RCA Records with no luck when writer/producer DiFranco approached writer/singer Joey Levine to work on the song which ultimately became their only hit. The song had been written two years previously but had remained unfinished. Levine, Dolph and DiFranco took final writing credit and it was recorded in a bubblegum style (Levine had had success writing hit songs in the 60s for studio bubblegum outfits such as the Ohio Express, and was a member of the Third Rail). "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" reached number 8 in the US in late 1974 but further releases under the Reunion name failed to chart. They did not record any albums and the project was soon shelved.

Life Is A Rock by Reunion

B.B. Bumble and the Stingers, Mott the Hoople, Ray Charles Singers
Lonnie Mack and twangin' Eddy, here's my ring we're goin' steady
Take it easy, take me higher, liar liar, house on fire
Locomotion, Poco, Passion, Deeper Purple, Satisfaction
Baby baby gotta gotta gimme gimme gettin' hotter
Sammy's cookin', Lesley Gore and Ritchie Valens, end of story
Mahavishnu, fujiyama, kama-sutra, rama-lama
Richard Perry, Spector, Barry, Rogers-Hart, Nilsson, Harry
Shimmy shimmy ko-ko bop and Fats is back and Finger Poppin'

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me
Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

FM, AM, hits are clickin' while the clock is tock-a-tickin'
Friends and Romans, salutations, Brenda and the Tabulations
Carly Simon, I behold her, Rolling Stones and centerfoldin'
Johnny Cash and Johnny Rivers, can't stop now, I got the shivers
Mungo Jerry, Peter Peter Paul and Paul and Mary Mary
Dr. John the nightly tripper, Doris Day and Jack the Ripper
Gotta go Sir, gotta swelter, Leon Russell, Gimme Shelter
Miracles in smokey places, slide guitars and Fender basses
Mushroom omelet, Bonnie Bramlett, Wilson Pickett, stop and kick it

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Life is a rock but the radio . . .

Arthur Janov's primal screamin', Hawkins, Jay and Dale and Ronnie
Kukla, Fran and Norma Okla Denver, John and Osmond, Donny
JJ Cale and ZZ Top and LL Bean and De De Dinah
David Bowie, Steely Dan and sing me prouder, CC Rider
Edgar Winter, Joanie Sommers, Osmond Brothers, Johnny Thunders
Eric Clapton, pedal wah-wah, Stephen Foster, do-dah do-dah
Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Surfer Girl and Little Honda
Tighter, tighter, honey, honey, sugar, sugar, yummy, yummy
CBS and Warner Brothers, RCA and all the others

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me
Life is a rock but the radio rolled me
At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

Listen (remember) they're playing our song

Rock it, sock it, Alan Freed me, Murray Kaufman, try to leave me
Fish, and Swim, and Boston Monkey, Make it bad and play it funky

(Wanna take you higher!)

this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, November 12, 2005

In Truth: A Reply

My interpretations of terms:
1) truly false: genuinely false
2) falsely true: unintentionally true
3) falsely false: true
4) truly true: true

A thing can not be falsely true and truly false at the same time. Truly (or genuinely) false truth is false because it has been "de-truthed". To say that trueness and falseness are falsely false and truly true is to say that both truth and fallacy are in the right, are equal, are true. Two negatives make a positive--to be falsely false is to exhibit truth. If you were to say that falseness is never falsely (or unintentionally) true but is usually truly (or genuinely) false truth (meaning that it is false because it has been "de-truthed"), then that last statement is incorrect in saying that the previous statement is truly false. True?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

True Truth

I was a bold first day teacher. Even though I had no idea what I was doing that day, I knew that I wanted to emphasize the fact that I was open for questions and that dialogue was welcomed. I also said that if I did not know the answer to something then I reserved the teacher privilege of researching and answering in a later class. That being said, I did not really expect much to come of that proclamation by way of response until much later in the school year. And that is where my simplistic ignorance as a new teacher was almost immediately addressed. Within the first week and a half I gave the assignment of writing a journal on the importance of truth. One of my students decided to write a creative follow-up essay, which he handed to me and asked for a response. Here is what Robert wrote. The response will have to come after a good nights rest!

False truth is only true when it falsely faces the true truth, but remains false to be truely false. When the truth is truely false and falsely becomes truth, then the truth is falsely true, truely. For truely, falseness cannot be true, unless the true truth is falsely true and truely false. Some would have you believe that false truth is truely false, but in fact it is truely falsely true, truely. Some say that falseness is not false truth, but rather truely false truth that has been de-truthed. Trueness and falseness are not falsely true or truely false, but rather falsely false and truely true. Sometimes falseness is misunderstood, and so can be considered to be amazingly truely false and falsely true. Truthfully, falseness is never falsely true, but usually truely false truth. This statement is truely false.

Is this statement true/false

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Soaring Intentionality

I sit within four plaster walls covered in a lovely quite cheerful powder blue paint with bright white trim. Modest and strategic decor highlight the room making it clean and simple. Before me is a framed series of colorful sketches depicting four historic locations in Scotland, the first of which is the Gileskirk Cathedral. I often stop mid-day and stare at it. The image of the Gileskirk dome has become such an integral part of our ministry at King's Meadow and Gileskirk Curriculum that I often forget the beauty and larger whole of the cathedral itself. While my office is housed in a lovely 1800's chapel, I still can not help but wonder at the intentionality and detail that used to go into churches, or buildings in general for that matter. The soaring splendor of places like Gileskirk or Ely Cathedral have altogether been replaced by the sweeping sprawl of fellowship hall functionality. Sad. I should love a return to the intentionality of planning for a lifetime, building across generations, and working in community to leave the kind of legacy the cathedrals embody. But, for now, since I am not planning to build any type of building in the very near future, I think that I will simply do what I can with what I have where I am by being intentional within these four walls and those of my own home. After all, even in the small things soaring truths can be conveyed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fun New Discoveries

So, there was a question as to where yesterday's S4theD could be listened to online...I searched long and hard to find a place where King's College Choir, Westminster, or even Trinity could possibly have Jesus Christ the Apple Tree in its beautiful entirety. But alas, a lack. I found several upbeat remakes of the old hymn, but I couldn't let my self settle for those in stead of a choir arrangement. So I set off across the world wide web in search of a way to put an audio file on an independent blog. After much Googling I ended up right where I started,, bottom of the page where there is this novel button labeled "Help". I pushed it and did a search for music posts and came up with this newly re-released--this time for free--audioblogging technology. The big bold letters F-R-E-E are what did it for me at first, until I dug a bit deeper and realized that this new thing could be done totally independently from a computer and an online connection. Audioblogger is designed to be an on-the-go way to blog by telephone by waxing eloquence verbally as you may normally do so in writing. I was fascinated. I signed up. Am I ever going to have my voice on the world wide web? Um, NO! I have used audioblogging for an alternate purpose, having in the back of my mind that the technology should not control the human but the human is charged to take dominion over the technology and use it as an enhancing tool. Or something. Basically, I played the song from my iTunes with my phone on speaker phone. Way to take dominion! So today, I offer you two means of pleasurable listening. One is a second hand, bumps-and-static recording of a choir rendition of Apple Tree as lead by James Galway. The other--the link here given--is a modern folksy remake done by The Rankin Family. Enjoy!

Audioblog: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

Monday, November 07, 2005


I had started the habit some time ago of having a "song for the day". It started out being simply a song that fit the mood or doing of the day or even ended up being just the first song that popped into my head when I woke up in the morning. Being a fairly random person I ended up sharing some pretty diverse stuff with who ever happened to be around when I played the song--mostly those of us in the King's Meadow office. The tradition died away for a bit a year or so ago and just recently has been revived. Now I send what has come to be known as the "S4theD" out via e-mail to a few friends and KM folk. I have begun using it as both an opportunity to read the music I listen to on a regular basis--by including the lyrics--and as a punctuated breather in the middle of the day.

Today's song lead me on a rabbit trail that I simply felt like sharing. I find it intriguing to learn about the lives of writers and composers and see how often their story is told or explained in their music. Jesus Christ the Apple Tree has long since been one of my favorite early 1900's hymn tunes--ever since Dr. Grant introduced it in Humanities class my 9th grade year. Here is a piece written about the author, Elizabeth Poston (1905-1987), written up by the Friends of the Forster County in the UK, followed by the text of Jesus Christ the Apple Tree:

Elizabeth Poston was born on 24th October 1905, at Highfield House, Pin Green, Stevenage, the site of which is now occupied by Hampson Park. In 1914, a year after the death of her father, she and her brother were taken by their mother, Clementine, to live at Rooks Nest House, childhood home of E.M. Forster. She lived there for the rest of her life, until 1987.

A highly regarded composer and musicologist, Elizabeth Poston had a distinguished career in radio broadcasting. During World War II she worked for the BBC in London, Bedford and Bristol, ending as a 'secret agent', using gramophone records to send coded messages to allies in Europe. She never revealed the exact nature of this work and it remains secret to this day. After the war, she was one of the team who founded the Third Programme, which became Radio 3. She was an authority on carols and folk-music; her two Penguin books of Christmas carols, published in 1965 and 1970, were regarded as definitive. One of her best-known and loved carols is Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, which is a regular feature of the Christmas Eve service of Nine Lessons and Carols televised from King's College, Cambridge.

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.