Saturday, May 26, 2012

In Honored Glory

"Here rests, in honored Glory,
an American Soldier,
Known only to God"

Architecturally, it is a simple sarcophagus, crafted in white Vermont marble to stand atop a Virginia hill overlooking the Potomac River and Washington, DC.  It is also a place of special reverence to those who served in time of war and to their families. The words, graven deep into the marble say it all "Here rests, in honored glory, an American Soldier, known only to God."  

We know nothing about this soldier, not his name, his age or his background.  We know not whether he came from the country, a small town, or a teeming city.  We can't identify the unit he served with, whether he was married, single, or had a sweetheart.  And we know nothing of how his family mourned him when they heard he was lost and not coming home.  

We know only that he was an American who enlisted and served and whose life ended in battle somewhere in France during what was then called the Great War.

We know not if he was of great courage or a coward, but he has been awarded the Medal of Honor and  the highest military decorations of our allies for his actions.

"Here rests in honored glory, an American Soldier."  In a sense, he stands for all the American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen, known and unknown, who gave their lives serving this nation.   

The resting places of many are well-marked by stones in countless church yards and national cemeteries.  The resting places of others are overgrown and forgotten by all except their Maker.  Some rest in the deeps of the ocean, and others amid a pile of scattered wreckage deep in the jungles of New Guinea or southeast Asia or any number of remote and often desolate places around the globe. 

The names of many have disappeared from the memories of men, but all rest in honored glory, and all are known to God.

Veterans' Day is a time to commemorate the living;  Memorial Day is a time remember and give thanks for the sacrifice of those who gave their country the last full measure of devotion.

How will you spend your Memorial Day?

How will you honor those who now rest in honored glory? 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not Ready for the Rocking Chair

"My heart's not ready for the rocking chair."
    -- song by Martina McBride

Where I work, on major service anniversaries the employee gets to select an appropriate award. Thus, five years ago, after twenty-five years of service, I selected the traditional gold watch. This year, after thirty years of service, I selected the traditional "Boston Rocker". It was delivered this week and has already assumed a place in our living room. It's pretty to look at and sits very nice, but I'm not ready to assume a place there quite yet.

For some reason, rocking chairs have become symbolic of long service and pending retirement.  The porch at Grandma and Granddad's house had two rocking chairs side-by-side overlooking the road.  My grandparents would sit there on warm summer evenings and hold hands and talk and watch the world go by. I have fond memories of sitting there with them, but to assume their place in the rocking chair is not my nature. Maybe occasionally, once in a while, but not as a steady diet. My heart is not yet ready for the rocking chair. 

No, I'm still working on the lay-away plan, trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and doing my best to be all that I am intended to be.

I may have slowed down a bit. Age does that, and, like an old horse, I may have been ridden hard and put away wet a few too many times. But slow doesn't mean stopped.  

My priorities may have subtly shifted. Age and events do that too. The mortgage is gone.  The kids are out of the house, each assuming his or here rightful place as a responsible and productive adult member of society. And grand kids are a whole different set of emphases and priorities. 

My curiosity and interests are wider and more varied than ever. I not only find myself doing new things, but enjoying familiar things more. Instead of asking "Why?" or "How", I increasingly find myself asking "Why not?"  

A mission trip to repair and paint widows' houses and plant potatoes? Why not? 

A raised-bed garden in the back yard? Why not? 

Serve on the board of a non-profit?  Why not?

Do more ham radio? Why not indeed?

Life is good. Life is full.  I may not have decided what I want to be when I grow up, but each day beckons me with near-infinite possibilities and I intend to take advantage of each and every one of them.

My heart is definitely not ready for the rocking chair. There's way too much interesting stuff out there; too much to discover and do.

Will you join me?

To what possibilities is your mind saying "Why not?"

Why not take advantage?

Why not indeed?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Clouds from Both Sides

I have observed that
It's the clouds that give sunrise
Its brilliant colors.

And adversity
That gives life its character,
and people greatness.

For the past thirty years, my daily commute has followed much the same route.  In the morning, I drive east into the rising sun and in the evening I drive west. As a result, I have been allowed to witness half a life-time of sunrises, each one wonderful and each one different from the last.

Clear days begin with a graying in the east, followed by a pink, salmon, or orange pre-dawn and the emergence of the sun as a great red ball. Beautiful, but lacking interest; one crystal clear dawn appears much the same as any other.  Overcast and partly cloudy dawns, however, are brilliant. 

On even the most gloomy and overcast of mornings, dawn begins with a faint pink glow as the clouds reflect light from a sun not yet above the horizon. Sometimes, there is only a thread of color before silver light  increases into a gray morning.  However, on days when the overcast is less than complete, the clouds reflect the light of the rising sun in pinks and reds an oranges of hues and an intensity that defy description. The day that follows may be cloudy or light, but it's opening is brilliant! At such times, I find myself thankful for the clouds, for it is the clouds that make the experience memorable.

We dream of dawns without clouds and uncloudy days. I have sung, and Willie Nelson even recorded a song entitled "The Uncloudy Day". In life, uncloudy days mean smooth sailing. But we humans crave variety and excitement and however nice it is, smooth sailing rapidly becomes as unexciting as a cloudless dawn.

And, even as clouds brighten a dawn, challenge makes life interesting, and adversity causes growth. 

Heroes emerge from struggle.  The greatest heroes are those who have overcome the greatest obstacles and prevailed.  

What challenges or obstacles are you facing?

What will you do to overcome and prevail?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Just DO It!

My talent for putting things off amazes even me.  I can know something needs to be done.  I can have more than enough time to do it.  I can have all the resources needed to do it. It could even be fun to do, and yet I find myself putting it off. 

Rarely, I put things off because other things have a higher priority at the moment.  But that's rarely.  Most of the time I put things off because of some sort of mental block, not against doing them, but against getting started. 

This post is a perfect example.  My goal is to publish one post per week on Friday or Saturday.  I have faithfully accomplished that goal for over six months.  Yet here it is, Sunday afternoon and only now am I starting to put words on paper (or electrons on the screen if you want to be accurate).

And the problem was not that I had no subject.  I maintain a list of potential subjects and am prepared to write on any of them.

No. The problem is that, like a child avoiding his homework, I found myself actively avoiding doing the one thing that would accomplish my goal.  For two days, I avoided opening Blogger and typing in a title and opening paragraph. I wasn't going to do it, and nothing could make me.

And the one thing that got me started was to remember the sentence "Just open the computer and type the first sentence.  And smile."  

Just open the computer.  Just do the first physical action and follow it with the second that's enough to get started. The next action follows, the ideas start flowing and I fall into the rhythm of writing.

Smiling simply makes it more pleasant.

After many years, I have learned that true motivation comes from within.  No one can motivate anyone to do something they don't want to do.

And I've learned that staying motivated requires that one take the first step, and then the next one, and so forth in order to completion.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And then the next, and so forth.

What project do you need to complete? 

What is the first small and simple thing you must do? What is the first step?

Why don't you just do it?

Do it now.