Sunday, September 30, 2012


As I helped her into the back seat of the car, I couldn't help noticing her lovely red hair.  I've always been a sucker for red hair.  She was trim and very agile, young, and pretty by anyone’s standards.  Her eyes were friendly but seemed to show a little fear, maybe uncertainty about how our trip today would turn out.  I had arrived early to pick her up, looking forward to our day together.  Her name is Bailey.

Bailey and I would have plenty of time to talk on the one hour drive down to the PetSmart store in Canton Georgia.  I would probably do most of the talking, which would come as no surprise to folks that know me.  I talk.  Some say… a lot!!

Fran and Larry Joe, the owners of Briar Cove Kennels just outside of Blue Ridge Georgia, had met me at the door this morning and introduced me to Bailey.  She had been staying with them since the Humane Society of Blue Ridge had gotten her from the County Animal Control department.  Animal Control has no more room and the fate of the dogs we are getting today was not looking good.  We try to find Foster homes for those awaiting adoption but there is a shortage of Fosters and Briar Cove is a wonderful alternative.  Larry and Fran love the dogs that we house there. They get excited when one of our little guys finds a home. 

Anne and Lynn, two other Humane Society volunteers drove up to pick up other dogs for their trip to another PetSmart location where a similar adoption event was to take place. Our Humane Society group, along with other local rescue groups, hopeful of finding loving homes for these wonderful pets goes to various adoption sites to show our available dogs.  

As we drove towards our destination I spoke to Bailey about being homeless.   She listened and seemed to understand when I told her how much she was loved.  I explained that sometimes things happen that make us feel “homeless”, unloved, unwanted.  Sometimes people pass us by, and we are hurt, not understanding or just plain forgetting that we are God’s cherished ideas, for eternity!!   

As we talked she calmed down and I showed her that she wasn’t homeless.  Yes, she had been at Animal Control, but those folks all love dogs.  Then, that Divine Love that motivates all good acts led our rescue group to take her to Briar Cove.  That may not have been her forever home, but she was being taken care of, fed, sheltered and loved there.  Now other caring people were working hard to find that one special family that would give her a real home.

I’m not sure how much Bailey understood about logic and I doubt that she read the Bible, maybe didn’t even know much about spirituality, but I pressed on.

“Bailey”, I said, “there’s a verse in the Bible, in Psalms, written thousands of years ago by David, who experienced life’s bumps and bruises, and that verse reassures us that “God sets the solitary in families”  (Psalms 68:6) He knew that God was active in our lives. Even back then people sometimes felt alone and sought comfort, the poor, downtrodden, widows and homeless, living solitary lives, many of them finally discovering that home was really not about a roof and walls, but it was is about living in someone’s heart."

“You see Bailey, home is not a house, not a fenced yard, not a "place" at all, home is the warmth of a loving hug,  a gentle hand smoothing your beautiful red coat,  home is having someone actually appreciate you and your enthusiasm, your loyalty, and your friendliness demonstrated by that tail that wags incessantly. “

“As a matter of fact, girl, that love that is home is with you right now. I am here with you and I love you. The people at the Humane Society love you, that’s why they spend countless hours on behalf of all abused and abandoned animals. The people at Briar Cove love you, that is why they are helping, the people at Animal Control love you, that is why they picked you up in the first place and wanted us to help you further.   And Bailey, when you were abandoned and wandering before you were picked up, even then, God who created you, and all of us, loved you.  We are all God’s guests on earth, each one of us.

Bailey didn't say much but she listened.  She was much more relaxed and  already maybe feeling a little "home thought" coming from me... I love all dogs, and I REALLY wanted this lovely girl!!   But I was under strict orders from my very patient wife not to bring "still another" doggie home.  

I had to leave the adoption event early and later in the evening I received a call from Larry at Briar Cove.  Bailey had not come back with the other dogs that had not yet been adopted and Larry was inquiring.  I just KNEW she had found her home.  And she had.

I love you Bailey and know that you are loved and happy in your new home.  Thanks for a wonderful conversation and for sharing with me your love and enthusiasm and the conviction that there is no such thing as “homeless”...  It helped me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Recently I read a striking quote from Edith Sitwell, an English Poet born in 1887.  She said,  “I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty...But I am too busy thinking about myself. “

I am not sure if she was serious or this was just a clever phrase.  But it did prod me to think about SELF, and it’s children, selfishness, self justification, self love, self condemnation, self centered-ness and on and on.  How vulnerable we can become, that old love of SELF blocking out the needs of others and the good we could be doing.   Like the blinders on an old plow horse,  old "Mr. Self" can limit us  to a constant focus on our own lives, so important to us, granted,   but still just a very small part of an endless universe of Mind.  

Photo: And finally..the creek that speaks to me 24 hours a day and now as I write.  I am so grateful for it.I recently saw a picture that a friend had shared on her Facebook page, a picture of a gentle creek, flowing naturally and calmly through her property.   
I could almost hear a voice in the bubbling murmur that the creek was sharing... a voice telling me that life flows on, over rocks and obstacles... And wends its way along its course without fear, or rancor, or strife...  Gently singing it's sweet song of life and harmony, effortlessly carrying along a fallen leaf on its surface, nurturing the little fish swimming in its comforting boundaries, sharing it's beauty generously, selflessly...  with all.

The thought of the constant, effortless  flow of the stream, unmindful of itself,  reminded me of a Hindu saying, depicted in this simple picture…

Important as each one of us is, as precious as we are to our Father, the Creator, that infinite source of Love and Intelligence, our own lives are made meaningful only by loving and caring for others. 

My favorite author wrote a wonderful description of a worthy life goal, love and affection free from SELF:
"As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth. "     (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896 -Mary Baker Eddy  )

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Can you hear it?   What is the voice saying? I am straining to hear but I can’t make it out.  It’s a weak signal.  But it is definitely a voice….

I’m sitting in the Radar Approach Control facility, the air traffic control center,  at Thule Greenland, the U.S. Air Force's northernmost base, located 750 mi north of the Arctic Circle and actually East of the magnetic north pole.  A faint transmission  is coming over Guard channel, a radio  frequency monitored by all air traffic control facilities worldwide, it is the emergency channel ..   Now nothing…silence.   

But, listen closely, there it is again, an Air Force fighter pilot calling in a MAYDAY, a distress signal.  There is more static, but listening carefully, the voice can be heard.   Somewhere over the  Arctic Ocean or Baffin Bay , in the total darkness of the winter months where the sun never even peeks over the horizon, this pilot flying an interceptor aircraft is apparently lost, with navigation instrument failure.  

Now I have heard the plaintive sounds of dit-dit-dit  dah-dah-dah  dit-dit-dit, the universal Morse Code S O S distress signal in the past, the pleading sound of a ship somewhere in the North Atlantic, keying out their call for assistance,  my heart going out to those brave mariners needing help in the unforgiving North Sea, and no way for me to help.   But, this time, it’s an aircraft, one of our own Thule interceptor aircraft returning from a mission.  

Razor Blue 1 finally heard my calls to him!  “Thule Approach, Razor Blue 1, I read you weak but clear.”  Now going from a Mayday call to a calm voice, this pilot made me feel better!!  These Air Force fighter jockeys  always seem fearless,. I’m scared for him and I’m feeling guilty about being on the ground in a warm control room.

Now we are getting somewhere.  With eyes staring holes into the radar screen I watched to see if I could spot the radar return.  I had given him a tight 360 degree turn and the large wing area of the F102 Delta Dagger aircraft presents a fairly good radar paint when it banks steeply and presents the entire bottom side of the aircraft to the radar signal.   There, there he is.  I've got him!!   “Razor Blue 1, Thule Approach Control…Radar Contact at 82 miles WNW,  continue your  turn and roll out on heading 170 degrees.  I’ll vector you in.”   The calm, matter of fact, textbook voice of this controller belies the thumping heart and concern.   But, we found him and  he’s coming home.   
It’s all about listening.   Hearing above and through the static.  Listening for the quiet voice, the weak signal,  the signal that can be heard loud and clear when we fine tune the frequency.  

BUT... WHAT has happened to us, the human race???…  It didn’t come suddenly, but with stealth, the arrival of NOISE.  "Turn off the TV,  will you please, Dear,  those commercials are so loud I can’t think."   Oh, it wasn’t the commercials?  It was several political analysts arguing over some obscure meaningless  point, almost shouting,  talking over each other and getting louder and louder

That’s better, no wait,  what’s that noise?  Oh, it’s the ear shattering blast of a huge truck gearing down on the hill across the river, or is it a group of motorcyclists?  Somebody’s really proud of those  loud exhaust pipes, I know.  Then there are the cars passing by with the stereo blasting,  factories clanging, train engines passing nearby with their horns shrieking, iPod, CD players, cell phones, ring tones…STOP!!!!

Where has all the silence gone? 

Here’s a test.  Have you ever been deep in the woods, or the middle of a lake, or in a desert place, or some other REALLY quiet spot where there were no sounds, except maybe the whisper of the wind, or the song of a bird, or the ripple of water over the rocks in a stream?   Or even as I have, in the middle of my corn patch with the bees buzzing loudly around the corn, doing their work?   A place where there were no other sounds to distract,  where no voices rang out with human opinions, where it was possible, and oh so very enjoyable, to shut down the physical senses and just… yes… listen.  Jesus called it “entering into a closet”, a quiet place where you are alone with your thoughts from God.

Is there a conspiracy to keep us from listening to the quiet things?  Has loud noise stolen our ability to Listen to the sweet, soft sounds?  Is noise an escape, a diversion so that we don’t have to think, or listen to the sounds of our mental voice whispering?   Or to avoid what  I call the built-in GPS,  the God Positioning System.
You can hear silence, you know.  And in that silence, there are Angels.

Now Angels, to me, are not winged creatures that fly down from heaven.  My concept of angels is captured perfectly in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.  She describes ANGELS as  “God's thoughts passing to man; spiritual  intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness,  purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality."  

Angel thoughts are those pure, loving, inspiring thoughts that pop up spontaneously and we wonder where in the world they came from.  Now God’s “angel thoughts” don’t REQUIRE silence, I have heard them in the midst of frightening situations , or when the crowd was roaring at a baseball game, or even over the screech of brakes in a tight driving situation.   But..Oh.. the beauty of the still small voice that whispers in velvet tones in the stillness of the “closet”, where all extraneous noises are shut out and focus is totally on listening.  This is where the uplifting thought, the enlightening ideas, the inspired solution to a problem over which we may have been struggling arrives, the light that shines in thought to dispel the darkness of confusion and uncertainty, to reveal a wonderful opportunity.

Will you Listen with me?  The Divine Mind, God is talking… Shhhh......

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Potato Farmin'

Now I’m not blaming anyone but myself. I should have known better than to trust an old Georgia farmer, George Brown.

George is a neighbor and dear friend. He lives just down the road from me and we have been friends and gardened together for several years. George has quite a bit of land along the river and I have two tractors.  A couple of years ago I  volunteered to do some bushhogging for him, clearing the weeds down in the field along the river.  

Over time that progressed to the point where George invited me to garden in his field.  I think he felt sorry for me since my little vegetable garden plot is on the top of a ridge and all my rows either ran steeply uphill/downhill,  or from East to West with the tractor sliding downhill sideways as I plowed or cultivated.  

After telling me about a new kind of watermelon I should plant so that my melons wouldn’t roll downhill  (George is a funny guy!!!),  he suggested that “flatland farming” was much easier and invited me to join him on his land.

 I was delighted.  The soil in his field is rich and fertile, a sharp contrast to my rock strewn clay, my North Georgia version of  “Rockytop”,  and there is good access to the river if it is necessary to irrigate in midsummer.  .

But back to "Wiley George" Brown.  Last Spring George asked me to lay off five or six 150 foot rows for potatoes.  Now having grown potatoes I know that it’s a lot of work. I reminded George that old Ed Vest down at the IGA grocery in town had some really nice potatoes, and buyin'  was much easier than diggin' and plantin', but he insisted. So I went into his  area of the field and laid off some rows for potatoes. Then I went about my business through the rest of summer, but did have occasional flashes of fear and dread  in my thought , wondering just how he planned to harvest the potatoes and what my involvement would be.

Old Reliable Steiner Tractor
Well, when it came time to harvest potatoes George called me and asked if I had a turning blade plow for my Steiner tractor that we could use to turn up the hills of potatoes. I said I didn’t.  Then George, and this is where the “wiley” comes in,  had a flash of inspiration and told me that he had a “walk behind plow” once used to plow and cultivate behind a mule in days before tractors and other 20th century farm devices were available.  . He figured that if we could hook that plow up to my tractor and we could turn potatoes out of the rows. :::: sigh:::::

On the chosen day I drove old Steiney down to the field and we hooked up the plow with a chain.   Now George, in calendar years, is a little bit older than I am.  Granted, age is not much of a measure  of the man since I have seen grown men act like babies and young children display the wisdom of the ages. But being under the illusion of human age and its frailties I looked at George and said, "This is going to be too hard George, you drive the tractor and I’ll man the plow.”   George replied that he knew nothing about my tractor, didn’t particularly want to know about it  and assured me that he was perfectly capable of walking behind the plow.


So off we went, very slowly, very slowly, George walking down the newly turned earth rows, trying to keep from tripping, all the while holding the plow blade down into the soft earth  so that it would get under the potatoes and dig them out of the hills. I kept looking back thinking maybe I was going too fast, but George kept nodding approval of our progress and occasionally motioning to one side or the when I was getting a little off kilter.

Then disaster struck. At the end of the second row, in an incredibly timely move,  and an impressive demonstration of mental telepathy, George said his wife Louise had made a sandwich and it was now his lunchtime. I was just about to celebrate when Smokey Brooks, another neighbor and also good friend, showed up and said that he would fill-in while George was at lunch. My countenance fell, no rest for this weary guy.

I told Smokey how to do the plow and which rows needed to be done.  At this point he  was concerned that he had worn his good shoes and that he would prefer not to be on the plowing end, walking in the dirt.  In a most admirable display of good manners,  and knowing Smokey to be an honorable man, I didn't look down to see if he was telling the truth.    

Soooo  I showed him how to operate the tractor.  Now keep in mind that this was all before I knew that Smokey’s nickname is "Pedal to the Metal Smokey",  later  confirmed by his wife Janice.   Apparently Smokey got his nickname from the fact that he drives full speed ahead wherever he goes.  

In any event, as Smokey mastered the controls, I grabbed the hand plow and we started down the row, Smokey revving the tractor up to full RPMs and me hanging onto that woefully inadequate plow. 

The Steiner tractor has eight wheels, can move mountains and she is fast.  I found myself running faster and faster to keep from being dragged helplessly.  Just keeping the blade in the ground was a trick since the plow kept jumping and skipping from one side of the row to the other and we were reaching the point where my feet were flying behind me like a cartoon picture.    I yelled:   “Smokey... SLOW DOWN!!!    Smokey  SLOW DOWN !!!”. This is the moment that I learned another fact about Smokey,  either he doesn’t hear well or he concentrates intently when he is driving a tractor!!   

I’m not sure if we actually reached 35 miles an hour, or just how fast that tractor will go, but I’m sure we were maxed out.  When we made it to the end of the row some potatoes were turned up, some areas of the ground were not even touched by the plow, and I was exhausted, legs trembling and hands blistered.

Time for counseling.   “Smokey, we have to slow down this operation.”  

Smokey nodded knowingly and we started off down the next row. Apparently, unknown to me, "Pedal to the Metal" is an incurable condition and we were soon back up to top speed,  hand plow bucking and dancing, sometimes on the surface of the ground…  sometimes not…me hanging on with my feet barely touching the ground as I tried to keep the plow blade sunk into the ground.

After an eternity we reached the end of the row and I called the whole thing to a halt. This is where God intervened and George showed up, took over the plow with me driving and Smokey switching to picking up the potatoes.  Once again we were back on a more acceptable pace.  

I won’t elaborate on the amount of work it took after the tractor adventure was over, working on our  hands and knees picking up the potatoes and throwing them into piles, so that we could go back later to pick them up in buckets . 

Of course George gave me some of the potatoes for my effort but we didn’t eat them all.  Even though they were delicious, I decided to keep a few on  the kitchen counter as a reminder of how wily Georgia farmers can get the best of innocent Ohio boys.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


It was a dark and stormy night, rain was pelting down and my headlights could barely distinguish the form lying in the road, still and limp...

 Well, that's the start of many a great novel and it was partly true recently, except that it wasn't really nighttime... but it was dim and very dark due to the heavy clouds and persistent  rain.

 A single car proceeding cautiously along the deserted Aska Highway, following the river towards Blue Ridge, Georgia.  The occupants, Thais and Copper,  were a couple from south of Atlanta.  Their business at a local firm completed, and a long day behind them, they were making their way slowly along the dark roadway, returning to home and comfort.

 The form in the road startled them to alertness,  they slowed down and finally pulled over to check it out.  There, in the pouring rain, a large dog lay quietly, not moving.  

 This  fellow had obviously been without food or care for some time.  And he wasn't too interested in moving from his chosen spot in the middle of the road despite the river of water running over and around him.  He had given up.

 The couple decided that immediate action was needed and they were able to get him loaded into their car.   Now what to do?    Even though this wasn’t their familiar territory, they got the telephone number of the local Humane Society.   Upon hearing the nature of the problem, Humane Society volunteers immediately picked up the ball.  The couple was able to transport the dog, now named... yes... ASKA... to a meeting point, a local animal hospital.   

 Aska was quite a sight.   At over 70 pounds, afraid, dirty, smelly and matted, he was a candidate for medical treatment and a good shampoo and hair cut.  

The matting was so bad that he had a large piece of window screen embedded in his coat.    His ears were very sensitive and he didn't seem to be able to hear.   (Sometimes with a dog though, you aren't sure if they don't hear or are just ignoring you!!)  

Humane Society volunteers got him checked in with a veterinarian for evaluation and appropriate treatment.  He did indeed have a very serious ear infection.  A total exam revealed that he also had heart worm.

Thanks to the selfless action of these visitors to our area, Aska was rescued,  received his legally required inoculations and all other appropriate treatment, including a great haircut and grooming, and was treated and released to the care of the Humane Society.  He was a sweet, loving dog and you could almost see and feel the gratitude he reflected for being rescued... "somebody DOES care".

Animal rescue groups face situations like this every week. Selfless volunteers working through rescue groups, or as individuals, who are present day “Good Samaritans”, see the tremendous need for love and “caring”.  Rescue efforts to save abandoned and abused animals are expensive and more importantly, require people who care enough to spend time helping.    There always seems to be a large supply of dogs and cats that need our help, the supply of Volunteers is not always so plentiful. 

Now, back to the couple that rescued Aska.  Their hearts are large and even though they lived 100 miles away, they came back to check on their Aska and eventually adopted  him to give him a loving home.  

The Bible story of the Good Samaritan reflects the kind of loving heart that doesn’t walk by on the other side of the road, or in cases like the Aska story, drive on by in the pelting rain, ignoring a fellow occupant of God’s universe in need of help and healing. Actions typified by the Good Samaritan's actions when he found an injured stranger are still being carried out by loving hearts.    

"But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,   And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him."

"And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee."   Luke 10:33.

If you have the heart of a “Samaritan”, or would like to find out if you do, you will experience a warm feeling and the joy of serving by volunteering with a local animal rescue group.   They would love to have your help.   

A Grateful ASKA headed for "Home" and Love

Sunday, September 2, 2012


As I worked at my desk this morning, I looked down to see our two small dogs lying peacefully in their soft little beds. Even though it was approaching midday the doggies seemed to think it was an appropriate time to take “still another” nap. 

I hated to interrupt their "well deserved" rest but I really needed to shred some financial papers. As I put the papers into the hopper, the shredder came alive with a loud high pitched whir and vibration as it ate up the paper. I looked at the dogs, still peacefully lying there, knowing that no matter how much noise or commotion there was around them they were safe, they were with their "Daddy" and, if he was there, all was well, he would protect them from all evils.

Such trust.

The absolute trust and confidence demonstrated 
by these innocent little dogs' in the love and care of their “Daddy”  is such a good example for me. It brought to mind the many times when things seemed to be going wrong in my own experience, when confusion and fear, my equivalent of the shredder howling and screeching, caused concern or worry about what was coming next. The dogs’ peaceful repose in the midst of what, even to me, was loud and disturbing noise, showed once again how unwavering trust brings a sense of peace.

Over the years I have discovered that when we begin to have more faith in our Creator, more faith in God, in whose image and likeness we are made, not as "flesh and bone material bodies", but as spiritual beings, we can have more confidence in where we are being guided, we can develop that sense of Trust as well. The Bible has this simple reassurance:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Now some folks, even some of my own friends and relatives, think the Bible is just a compilation of stories that have little or no relevance or meaning today, stories and promises that have been outgrown and have been overturned by the latest technologies and "scientific opinion"..

            WHAT????     OUTDATED????        IRRELEVANT????

Do they mean that a compilation of stories of humanity’s struggles to understand life and its meaning are not important??  Is a book that describes how men and women through the centuries have slowly come to understand that life is more than bread and meat, more than power and conquest, more than self centered preening, more than self gratification, and that is more about loving and cherishing each moment of life and love, each tender touch, each moment of peace, each inspired idea of life's true beauty and meaning, each day’s blessings... to be disregarded?  A book that includes the historical account of the life and teaching of a man who loved, fed, healed, uplifted and taught people how to see above life's troubled seas?? Not relevant, not current, not applicable today? Hardly!!

We are each different. Maybe God hasn’t spoken out loud to us yet, but I know that the guidance of the Divine Intelligence, the Mind that is God is always coming to each of us, continually, when we are receptive, when we silence the roar of the physical senses and actually stop to listen.

When I was small I found a poem that meant a lot to me, it reassured me. It went something like this:

Each morning when I wake I pray
I put my hand in God’s today

I will not worry fear or fret or plan,
He wants me where and as I am;

And if I be relaxed in free,
He’ll work his purpose out through me.

As the years have gone by I have tried to hold onto that message. That sense of being safe in God’s protection, even when the way seems dark and discouraging.

I attended a talk one evening some years ago whose gentle lesson I will never forget.   It was given by Alan Young who was at that time giving talks on Christian Science. You may remember him as Wilbur from the "Mr. Ed", the talking horse TV program. 

Mr. Young told a story about going out early one morning to get the newspaper. As he walked down the driveway he saw the man next door walking towards his car holding the hand of his small son. Mr. Young looked over at the boy smiled and said “Hi Billy, where are you going today”. The little boy threw back his shoulders and with a beaming smile said, “ I don’t really know Mr. Young,  but I’m going with my Father.” That was enough for him to know. With a sense of confidence, joy and expectation that small boy summed up what can be our view of life. 

Put your hand in God’s today and wherever you go, go with your Father. He will always be talking to you, caring for you and guiding you.

Dog’s Trust.  We can too!!