Saturday, November 20, 2010

God, Please Don't Pick These Flowers

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God, Please Don't Pick These Flowers

We humans have tales or legends that are ment to ease the pain of loss from death. The story of “The Rainbow Bridge” may comfort many when a beloved pet passes on. For human loss, especially the young and the especially good people, it is often said that God appreciates beauty and he is picking this beautiful flower to decorate his home in Heaven.

I am now passing out of middle age. Because I am a sinner, I have no special fear of being “picked” for my “beauty”. However, I do see the beauty in the flowers that are being picked near me. It has been my practice to lament these losses and to say prayers for their prominent display in God's house. My younger sister was the first of these, so many years ago. Then my brother. Followed by my closest friend. With the remembering of these bringing others to mind.

Of course it is not my place to be any judge of the beauty of any of the elements of God's garden here on Earth. But, as I look about me, I see, more and more, the potential of others beauty. Here are family members, friends, aquaintences, strangers of good repute, and, soldiers who are putting their lives on the line for me and my country.

With Jesus' caution: “Judge not, lest you be judged” in mind, it is still difficult to not see an occational weed, who's removal or reformation would add to the beauty and good order of the earthly garden. When my minds eye perceives one of these possible weeds, the gardener in me wonders at the picking of the flowers and the leaving of the weeds. Such a question seems to arise in the hearts and minds of all humans when they consider their losses.

The only explanation there seems to be, for not doing a thorough weeding is the caution that the flowers would be uprooted with the weeds. (This gives me comfort in that the presence of the flowers about me protect me from being uprooted.) And the only reason for weeds is the giving of free will to us humans. Free will being the unhindered choice of behavior, good or bad, without regard for consequences. We get to choose for ourselves to be a weed or a flower. I would like to be a flower, but there are so many temptations.

Now, recent revelations have shown me the hand of God hovering over my part of the garden. Heart disease and cancer threaten people close to me. I see shadows around some of my most favorite people. These things have added two lines to my regular prayers: “Oh God, give these for whom I pray, the things they need most” and “God, please, don't pick these flowers!”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Doubts: A War Story

A War Story: I served in the Air Force 1971-1973, mostly in Texas fixing airplanes. Each spring we had a "War Readiness Exercise". The goal was for the brass to determine how long it took us grunts to get ready for war.

It began before dawn on an unknown day. We would get a phone call  from the shop chief ordering us to report to the shop immediately. Points counted off if we were shaved. Everyone was to bring a dufflebag packed with clothes. We were to pack all our tools and equipment and line up in the flightline ready to board an airplane… Presumably to take us to war. The old hands said that sometimes they actually made people board the airplane and take off. I never did.

After we were lined up an inspector would go down the line and spot check our materials to insure that we were indeed ready for war. He would walk down the line, and select a person to check. The inspector, A bright young Captain, stopped in front of me. First he asked to see my tools list. He moved his finger down the list until he saw "Electric Scissors" then asked to see mine.

I pulled out my "electronic Scissors" (extra heavy duty scissors for cutting wire). Unknown to the captain was the fact that the computer print out truncated the word electronic by leaving out the "on" leaving "electric". (Honest guys, I wouldn't pull your leg.)

The captain and I were about the same age: 25 and we stood at the front of a large group of men watching our every move. He, not wishing to look a fool and me not wishing to offend. His face showed the realization that he was going to look bad no matter what. Either he was going to look a fool because I put one over on him, or he was going to look a fool by not knowing what electric scissors were.

As I explained the situation, the Captain shook his head but said nothing. As the silence dragged on, the man beside me chimed in "It's true captain"and he pulled out his tool list and his electronic scissors. Two or three others did the same. The captain walked away shaking his head and believing he had been had by a bunch of three stripers. I have often wondered if he asked to see anybody elses "electric scissors".

After the flightline inspection, we were deemed to be at our forward deployed base and had to fly war missions. Our planes took pictures of things. As a shop weenie all I had to do was to check out the cameras and controllers after the missions. This continues for three or four days until the brass is convinced we were ready for war. Then, everyone meets in the big hanger for a kegger and steaks.