Saturday, October 3, 2009

Today Was America

Today was America.
I spent the first half of my day traveling over two hours to a small sleepy town in Kansas to attend a Cowboy Story Teller’s of the Western Plains meeting with my dad. He’s the president and has been for over 12 years. And me...I’m the treasurer, a job I acquired one day when I rode with him to their “folding” meeting. That was three years ago. That day I urged them not to terminate their group. Well, now I’m the treasurer. This organization was founded over 20 years ago by a group of people that didn’t want their family’s stories to die. Today there are many, “empty saddles” in the original group. But new members perpetually regenerate. As members gather, concerns for a country gone awry can be overheard. The meeting begins with a prayer giving thanks to our God for the day, our freedom, the food, safe trips to and from, and guidance for our country. A small unorganized board meeting takes place and accolades to an 87 year old member who has mapped the Chisholm Trail and erected markers all across the state is given. As the afternoon rolls on stories, poems, singing and banjo picking permeate the community center... a ninety year old woman relating stories of her childhood, the great grandson of an 1890 homesteader giving a power point of his roots, a beautiful young family of 8 singing Christian hymns, a young mother reciting original poetry about her Grandpa’s spurs as her three year old son looks on adoringly, a cowboy reciting a poem written during the Dust Bowl entitled "Dust On The Bible" and two awesome yodelers yodeling.
The evening finds us in another county in another state 130 miles away. My dad had received a county award and we meet family members there to celebrate. Five members of our county were inducted into the county Hall of Fame. The banquet begins with some unorganized shifting of tables, plates, and people, group singing of "God Bless America", and a local minister expressing concern for a country gone awry as he gives thanks to God for the day, our freedom, the food, and safe trips to and from and guidance for our country. The five honoree's biographies are read, each one giving God the credit for their successful lives. The end to a perfect day...facing a large wall hung U.S. flag crocheted by the 87 year old father of one of the hostesses, the crowd begins to stand, one by one, hearts crossed, as a talented young man sings, "I'm Proud To Be An American."
Today was America, let's pray she doesn’t change.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Exposition Expedition

I rode my dirt bike yesterday. I’m having a foot problem and can’t run, so it felt really good to ride. I left, I thought, early enough to make it into town for evening church. I put on my spandex…a disgusting sight I’m sure for anyone who gets a glimpse, but you have to wear them; baggy, loose clothing gets tangled up in the bicycle spokes. Around the neck of my bike, I carefully duct taped a change of clothes; something decent to put on when I got to church, stuck some toiletries and my cell phone in the zippered pouch beneath the seat, filled my water bottle and headed off to town. It’s 15 miles, counting the back dirt roads I take to keep lurking eyes off my seeping spandex. It was a great trip for the first 9 miles or so- only one vehicle. I know the neighbors along this route and feel safe as I ride along. Our church is located in a small town situated next to a large state lake, the back road I take ends next to the lake and is paved from the lake into town. This route too used to be a wonderful, quiet drive, ride, run or walk in 2007 B.C...Before Casino. It's opening put an end to my quiet, safe, retreat, turning it into a small city complete with a Wal-Mart type parking lot and everything that comes with one…use your imagination. When I reach casino proximity the landscape quickly changes from fields of sunflowers, cattle and milo to toothless, red-faced Dastardly/ Muttley looking types slowing down to gawk (at the spandex seepage I’m sure), rolling their windows down to laugh and share crazy statements with me. “Why in the world can’t there be a dirt road that runs completely to town?” I think to myself.
Naked. That’s how I felt. It reminded me of my first triathlon. During a triathlon there are stations. First you swim, then you bike, then you run. You make sure before you start the race that all of your equipment is laid out at each station, ready to put on for the next leg of your race. Brad was my cheerleader/coach. We had driven three hours so I could participate. However, when I got there, I lost all confidence as I watched sleek, smooth swimmers American Crawling back and forth across the pool. I wanted to turn around and go home, but he wouldn’t let me. I was relieved when my turn was getting closer as the strokes of the swimmers began to resemble mine. I agreed to complete the race and timidly slipped into the water with goggles and swim cap (an alluring sight) dog paddling off. I finished my swim, ran to the next station, dried off, jumped on my bike and rode the distance down a quiet road...with no audience. I then came into the final station to finish the last leg of the race; a 5 K run. The running course took us on a trail that ran alongside an interstate. As I transitioned from bike to running I realized my shorts were missing (due to a lack of communication with Brad who had helped me lay out my belongings). As I looked frantically for them, the transition person was yelling “Go...Go…Go!” I looked down at my legs, looked up at him, looked down again. In the distance I could hear Brad yelling “GO. GO!” I took off…lumbering along I -35 in my birthday suit, or so it seemed to me; cars whizzing by with curious gawks and stares. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that written in Sharpie up and down the length of one arm and leg is a large number, your entry number. Anyway "exposed" I felt that same way yesterday as I rode the last leg of my trip to church… in spandex.
As I awkwardly struggled to climb the last few hills that led into town, it was hard to hide my face from several couples I knew who passed me on Harleys. I made it to church... 30 minutes late... without my shirt, the one I'd carefully duct taped on. I slipped quietly inside while unpretentious and forgiving members glanced back and smiled. I headed for the kid’s class to dig for a “paint shirt” to cover my seeping spandex. Exhilarated I sat solitaire in the nursery listening to the tail end of the preacher’s sermon, thinking to myself that I should probably leave 30 minutes earlier next Sunday and use more duct tape.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Summer Of Our Discontentment...or Discouragement...or Dismay...or Devastation...

The fire started July 10th. We are still shifting cattle around, fixing fence, and rebuilding.

Thousands of acres of grass was destroyed in the fire not to mention buildings, fences machinery, homes and cattle. Thank the Lord, no loss of lives.

The Lord Blessed Us With Rain All Summer Long

Nothing New Under the Sun Including Sustainable Development

  I wrote the piece below last summer after listening to KrisAnne Hall speak at the CICA Convention.  As the Global and U.S. Roundtable fo...