Finding Floyd

HIGH ALERT

I spotted the pudgy kid immediately as he sauntered into the outside eating space from the sidewalk flanking the main road. I’d just plowed down an egg white omelette and a salad; the kind of meal that leaves you starvin’ like Marvin about an hour and half later. But that didn’t keep me from being being on high alert.

The young man’s thick brown locks were disheveled, his heavy beard matted, and his clothes were nice, but dirty. I knew right away he’d been sleeping outside.

After a lifetime of being on high alert I knew almost instantly the kid wasn’t dangerous. I also knew, for whatever reason, he had no pride, and I mean the good kind of pride. The kind of pride that makes you give a darn about how you look and how you live.

I noted his brand name dirty tennis shoes with the laces dragging the ground as he shuffled his way toward the first table. They were an older couple that were waiting for their food to be brought out from the French lunch eatery. I tuned my ears to the occasion.

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“Do you have a couple dollars you can spare?” the kid asked.

I couldn’t hear the gruff white haired man’s response, but I recognized the scowl. The kid turned away unabashed and undeterred and hit the next table in line; a group of middle aged women gossiping over afternoon coffee. They too sent the begging youngster packing.

I can’t think of too many times I see people begging, and a lot of folks are doing it these days, and I’m not forced to consider Jesus’ take on matters. Then Paul’s…

I know Christ said if someone sues you for your coat give him your shirt also. All of the Beatitudes speaks to the heart of the downtrodden. The kid was downtrodden, how or why I could only speculate.

Paul never minced his words and in his letter to the Thessalonians addressing the lazy people was no different; “If you don’t work you don’t eat.”

The begging kid wasn’t in any danger of starving to death and didn’t look like he’d ever been deprived of a donut.

My heart breaks for women begging.

I guess ’cause I’m a man that has lived outside in the elements by night and worked by the sweat of my brow by day, showering twice a week at the price of a buck a pop at the local YMCA, makes me less than sympathetic to able mind and bodied men in their prime begging.

I was next in the path of the kid begging and he knew my answer as soon as he looked me dead in the eye, but he asked anyway.

“You gotta a couple dollars?” he asked.

“No,” I said louder than I meant to as I was shaking my head.

Perhaps I was wrong? I’ve learned that as much as I’m on high alert to physical things, I need to be on high alert on matters of the heart as well. It’s easy to judge others by my life and standards… too easy.

 

IT’S HOT OUTSIDE

“New Easy Open Bag” was printed in big blue letters on the white heavy duty plastic bag. Now I’ve spent enough time on this globe to know that just because someone claims something doesn’t mean it’s going to be true. Call me a cynic if you want, but I see myself as a realist… one that tends to lose patience when it’s hot outside… and it’s hot outside.

It’s not a secret to anybody on this continent, and most others, that’s it’s hot around here this time of year, especially in Arizona.

Along with the mostly cloudless skies, this part of the country has hard water. So, like a lot of us, I have to haul the ridiculously heavy bags of potassium, or salt, to dump into the software unit to keep our skin from looking like our neighbor the rattlesnake’s.

I like to get the torture and heavy work over asap, so I haul two bags of potassium at a time. Getting the bulky bags that weigh around fifty pounds in and out of anything, especially a lifted truck, is no small feat. I heave the dead weight up into the back of my truck without using too many jerking motions, like the kind that tore the rotator cuff in my good shoulder.

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I use the back of my light long sleeve to absorb the sweat that’s falling out of me like thousands of little faucets. Plus, there is no such thing as parking close to the front of the store in the summer, everyone is trying to get as close as they can.

The air conditioning in the truck didn’t begin to cool the inside, that had been baking in the parking lot that you could fry and egg on, before I got back to the house. I wrestle the bags to the ground one at a time. I lean the first one against my leg while I fight the second, grab both by the plastic handles and shuffle over to the softener. I can almost feel the discs, what I have left, being squished out between the vertebrae in my spine.

I shrug both bags up as high as I can right before I drop them in hopes of flattening the bottom enough so they won’t fall over… it never seems to work.

It was then that I read those words, “New Easy Open Bag”. I was hoping it was true… I reached down and grabbed the corner by the perforated plastic and gave it a yank… the only thing that gave was my wrist. Pain, mixed with sweat, especially when it’s in my eyes, causes instant fury.

I tugged more, but eventually had to get violent with the bags to get them open then in the softener.

I’m not sure if everyone has a breaking point, but I still do I guess… All the wisdom and understanding of this fallen world can’t keep me from losing it sometimes, even at this age.

I called them bad names in my mind – wanting to inflict the same pain on the makers of those stupid bags.

Some of us still lose our patience when it’s hot outside… and it’s hot outside.

INSPIRATION

It’s an odd thing how folks look for inspiration. I’m not pointing an accusing finger, I’m guilty of it too. But I’m convinced that most of us are a lot like that song by Johnny Lee; “Lookin’ For Love in all the Wrong Places,” from the Urban Cowboy soundtrack way back when.

We look for magical inspiration in all the special places on earth. We search the majestic mountains, lakesides, streams, forests, and intimate manmade settings. And to be sure it does work sometimes, but not for the long haul, at least not to those who are claiming to be writing for the Higher cause.

I hit the hip new coffee shop with the industrial decor on Pacific Coast Highway in search of some inspiration. My patience and would be inspiration faded fast in the line that stretched from the back of the store out to the street. I wasn’t the only one with the idea to find inspiration there. In fact, I was at least a hour and a shot of caffeine short.

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My eyes squint at the high white clouds that hover over the Pacific Ocean as I thump out this post. It’s a thing of beauty. I gaze past swaying and sky scraping palm trees. A queen palm dances gently in the ocean air. They’re my favorite tree. The make me relax and breathe easier when I take the time to notice.

A few minutes ago I watched a hummingbird climb toward the heavens then dive-bomb after something a little lower on the food chain. The ocean breeze washes over me like an invisible stream of water and I shiver when the sun gets caught behind the vast cotton ball clouds.

I appreciate a nice setting, like a coffee shop or a corner restaurant. I’m awed by nature. But as I ponder and search for inspiration to fulfill this in born need to create, I realize yet again that while these things are nice, grand even, they can’t, alone, bring the inspiration that I seek.

“The earth declares His majesty”…

It is only in God that we can find the kind of inspiration that satisfies the soul and then the ends of our senses. When we honor Him with the words that He gives, we find the peace that He created for us in fulfilling the calling set within us by Him.

We can search the ends of the earth for grand inspiration, but if we don’t seek Him in the process… it’s like trying to snatch that ocean breeze with our hands.

GOD AND MY DAD

REPOST FROM AUGUST 26 2010.  – My Dad passed from this physical world to the spiritual world May 7th of this year. God blessed me with an earthly father who, “Ran the good race, and fought the good fight.”

I could write a book about the character traits that make up a good man based on my Dad’s life. In fact… I did.

My first manuscript is titled, “The Common Threads Of Greatness.” I penned it in 09′ finishing the last of it in August, the last August of my Dad’s life. We didn’t know it was his last summer.

I’m not sure if God inspired me to write it based on the lessons taught to me by my earthly father, about my Heavenly Father. Whatever it was, it honors both my Heavenly Father and my earthly father, and I’m honored my Dad got to read it this side of heaven.

We talked of things written in my manuscript while he was battling his short bout with brain cancer. He spoke of the wisdom in my book as if it were a revelation to him. It wasn’t, but he was proud of me.

My Dad lived his life far above and beyond the folly that my life in my early years were marked by. His life was marked by selflessness, mine selfishness. His life of self-control contrasted mine by the lack thereof.

One of my favorite stories Jesus told was, “The Prodigal Son.” My Dad reminds me of the dad in that story. In the story, I would be the example of the selfish son, who by his actions disrespected and dishonored my Dad and family. My Dad like the dad in the story never judged. He knew like the wise dad in Jesus’ story that I would need to learn life lessons the hard way.

Like the dad in the famous story, my Dad waited patiently and looked for me off in the distance, coming back to the light. It was my Dad who welcomed me back to wisdom.

When I reflect my life and conversations with my Dad I will forever remember how he always addressed me. He called me Son… That word, Son… In his voice, it spoke love to me. The tone in his voice was forgiving, nurturing and accepting. It was my name to him. I never heard the words uttered by him to me and didn’t feel his love. Even when he was trying to correct me or instill wisdom, it was patient and it was kind.

I’m honored to be his son. He was a simple man of simple faith. That faith in God that directed the paths of his life. I thank God for the example He set before me in my life.

The amazing thing I’ve learned about truly great people in life is this; The great ones never tell you they’re great. Their lives are marked with humility. Their actions speak volumes. Sometimes us foolish people miss it even with it right in our face. I didn’t miss it this time. I got to see it over my lifetime.

I thank God for my Dad. I wish I could have seen him a little longer…

I wish I could have talked with him a little more…

I wish I was a little more like my Dad…

I’ll carry my love for my Dad with me in this soul cage until I see him again on the other side…

I miss my Dad……

MY DAD

Conclusion to the intro to my latest manuscript… My dad didn’t abide any person making sport of anyone, and no reason was acceptable. That’s what landed me in the hot seat. I guess I made two mistakes. The biggest one was being caught by a salty and sour school teacher by the name of Mr. Stroker. The other one was making fun of another kid at school.

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My dad sat beside me on the bed, his elbows bent, hands on his thighs, his head down, eyes shifting, as if he was searching for a brown spider in the thread bare carpet of the same color. His belt was resting between his mighty thumb and fingers, his light green eyes faded. Then he told me he was disappointed in me. I was thinking that I could live with that, especially since I was getting ready to get a beating. But he didn’t move, his serious green eyes were in search of brown spiders, and he told me a story.

My dad gave me a glimpse into his life as a child. He told me about how kids at school made fun of him ‘cause he didn’t have no shoes to wear to school. That’s when I got a knot in my throat. He went on to tell me that he never would have thought that one of his own kids could ever make fun of another person. I hung my head and cried. “Great,” I thought to myself, “Now I get to hurt on the inside and the outside too.”

But my dad stood up, grabbed me by the chin with his thumb and forefinger, pulled my chin up to look him in the eyes that had come back to the moment. He told me that he better never, ever, hear of me makin’ fun of no one ever again, said we were made by God to protect the weak, the ones that couldn’t protect themselves. Then my dad, who was bent on teaching me to be a proper man, turned and walked out, threading his belt back into his patched and faded work jeans.