Finding Floyd

THE HIDDEN TREASURE

Repost from September 2011

hidden treasure

image courtesy of photobucket.com

He was weary from the journey, the unforgiving desert seemed never ending. He couldn’t decide which was worse, the long flat dirt stretches mixed with a smattering of occasional cactus and creosote bush, or the rocky treacherous hills.

The topping of each hill or mountain felt like a little victory in itself but was short lived, only to discover another one following the last. He knew out there on the other side of the hottest stretch of dirt on earth was what he considered the promised land. The hidden treasure. He remembered the land transformed into it’s most unforgiving point right before the magical place.

After what seemed a lifetime, he finally reached the four thousand foot mountain range. He could see for endless miles west from that vantage point. He knew his destination was in reach as he braced himself and slowly made the descent back and forth, cautiously down the mountain. The drop off in spots was several hundred-foot sheer cliffs. One wrong move would mean certain death.

He smelled it before could see it. After a treacherous journey, he could feel the air begin to cool. He could almost taste the cold water as he swallowed, his dry mouth beginning to water in anticipation.

He crested one last hill, not knowing for sure if that was the last one, but alas he found himself looking at the most beautiful place on earth. His aching back and legs now couldn’t be felt.

He beheld the beauty first. Right out of nowhere it looked like his personal Garden Of Eden had sprung up. The vivid green leaves of the well watered cottonwoods formed a tall barrier hiding the treasure below that sustained them.

Below that, deep rich green bushes and vegetation among the cottonwoods spread out and up from the valley. Across the canyon, he glanced a high mesa, “If this were my land that’s where I’d build my home,” he mumbled in a low, barely audible voice as he talked to himself.

He envisioned looking out over the valley from that mesa in the late Fall afternoon. He could picture in his mind the beauty enriched by the long shadows across his perfect canyon.

He suspected a place that beautiful would likely have some dangers. He thought about the serpent in the Garden Of Eden he learned of as a child. His head locked straight ahead, eyes squinting at half mast, trying to focus as he searched for any movement. Even more troublesome would be the two legged animal. He’d come to realize it was easier to guess what a wild animal might do than it was a desperate human.

As he slowly continued along the far ridge, he caught sight of the very source of life that turned that place into an oasis. Making its way through the golden crust and sand, he spotted glimpses between a few cottonwoods of the dark blue shimmering water. He could see the sun brilliantly reflect off some of the bigger partially wet boulders flanking the creek.

He’d seen the beauty many times… He got close so often but never got to touch or drink the cool water or sit in the shade of the heavy cottonwoods with his toes buried in the golden sand.

He was moving too fast… He had a schedule to keep, he had responsibilities. He was caught on the hamster wheel just like a rodent… He could only look at the beauty and study it by slowing down to 70 miles per hour as he passed by on the interstate.

Those were the dreams of his youth… Those were the dreams of yesteryears…

The road to the big city was the on-ramp to life in the fast lane.

He remembered the verse from the Bible, “Be still and know that I Am God”….

He wasn’t very good at that one…

He is me…

CAULKING

I read somewhere that no matter where you are on earth, you’re within about five feet of a spider. Kinda creepy to think about. Especially ’cause it’s probably true. Caulking is sorta like that, but only if you’re in or close to a structure created for shelter.

Everybody knows about caulking, most have dabbled with it, but we don’t give it a lot of thought. That’s the whole point; it’s created so that nothing stands out or catches your eye that’s not supposed to.

I liken caulking to asphalt filler. When we’re sailing down a nicely paved, or repaved, road we don’t give it a lot of thought. Some of us with heavy feet syndrome tend to give in to our disease…

It’s not until you get on a crummy street that has cracks and potholes in it that we tend to pay attention to where the jarring and damage causing crevices lie waiting to take out a precious tie rod.

I pay a little more attention to finish details and design than other folks, due to my being in the business and all. When the areas around the corners of windows aren’t caulked properly they stick out like a sore thumb. Same with the tops and the bottoms of baseboards; if they’re not properly caulked that dark line grabs my eye like a drowning chap grabs a life preserver. You can add the side of a cabinet where it attaches to the wall to that list as well.

The genius design of that simple sticky mixture that we call caulking is that it hides the imperfections that exist in every structure ever built. And like riding a bike; most of us can do it, but some folks, especially the ones that do it for a living, do it a whole lot better.

There are a lot of things in this world that are similar to caulking. A lot of women won’t leave the house without their caulki-, I mean, makeup on. I don’t tuck my shirt into my pants anymore… untucked somewhat hides what used to be ripped. I don’t smile as big either. I quit wearing my retainer after I got my braces off when I was a kid…

Most of us have issues we like to cover up, or not draw attention to, like caulking at the top of baseboard to fill in the voids between the trim and wall.

It’s peculiar how we use invisible caulking to hide our hearts… Since none of us are perfect, it’s easy to assume that we hide behind a facade of invisible caulking from time to time. We hide what we want to say and do, but just like every structure has flaws… so do we… but we can only hide them from others… not ourselves and not our Maker.

I think true craftsmanship and beauty are about the foundation and structure… not the color of paint and makeup that hides what’s really there…

NO LOITERING

Mundell’s was the hot spot for teenagers to hang out at in our small town back in the day, back when my oldest brother was finally driving legally. Mrs. Mundell was the owner of the drive in style fast food slash shake shop.

She was a dark haired woman that was old enough for her hair to have gone grey, but it was still just beginning to color at the edges, sorta like a leaf at the beginning of fall. Her reading glasses were perched permanently at the tip of her nose as she’d take the orders, mostly fountain drinks, from rambunctious teenagers. She’d never frown, but she’d never smile either. And her monotone voice matched her demeanor.

There was a faded sign under the metal awning where the cars pulled in on an angle and the four tabled patio, opposite side of the bathrooms, that read, “No Loitering”.

Now a lot of the kids would break that rule, but not all of them. If they bought a small drink and sipped it like it was poison they could stay all night. And some of them did.

Typical of our generation, the kids would go cruise the small town, sometimes race their or their parents car, ’cause everyone thought their V-8 powered cars were fast, and end up back at Mundell’s.

Occasionally my mom would take my sister and me to Mundell’s for a cherry Coke, before the mega corporation actually made one. It was fun to watch the teenagers, especially their cars, and dream of the day that I’d get to loiter and cruise.

image courtesy of Havasu museum

I saw a sign the other day, I can’t remember where, a gift from time, that was sporting those old fashioned words, “No Loitering”. That’s what picked my mind up and dropped it back in the seventies.

You don’t see those signs much these days. As kids, those signs warning us not to loiter was a good excuse to do just that. I remember a few grouchy shop owners would point to the signs and bark at us, “No Loitering!” We’d chuckle and give them a smart reply, usually something about not feeling like a Loiter. It was kinda fun just to say the awkward word.

The loitering signs went the way of the loud V-8 powered cars and the dinosaurs, not to mention Mundell’s Drive In. After Mrs. Mundell retired the old drive in became a used car lot. Eventually it was torn down and is now a two story office building.

These days a lot of businesses encourage folks to loiter, they don’t call it that, but that’s what it is, at least to us Baby Boomers.

I have frequent business meetings at convenient Starbucks. Unfortunately, sometimes they last a long time. And inevitably when I’m in those meetings there are youngsters, and oldsters alike, with their noses in a book or laptop, loitering. They don’t even keep the key to the bathrooms locked up behind the counter… not to mention the bathrooms are inside now…

Not that everyone in small towns are best friends, but you still know everyone. When I go back to visit the town I grew up in, which isn’t so small anymore, you know when a Home Depot pops up you’re officially not a small town anymore, I still run into people I grew up with. We know each other a little more intimately than folks who had more people to interact with…

And because we loitered under the signs that said, “No Loitering”.

TEACHERS, BOOKS, AND MISTAKES

I like old adages. They’re sorta like a Proverbs, well some of them anyway, they use just a few words to make a big point. There’s wisdom in that, maybe genius. The whole point is that they make us think, or at least that’s the intent.

After finishing my post last week and before I hit the “publish” button, I texted my mom and asked her if she could send me a picture. I wanted to post a picture of my first Little League baseball team. The team that I was on that lost the championship when I got tagged out trying to steal home base.

My mom couldn’t find the picture, I knew it was a long shot, she’s got a zillion photo albums. But she did find some other pictures. One in particular I’d forgotten all about. It was a picture my brother took of me jumping off a cliff in Crystal Beach, a spot north of Lake Havasu where the Colorado River runs swift.

That picture made me ponder old adages. Here’s what I came up with after seeing that picture;

“I learned much from my teachers, more from my books, and most from my mistakes.” Anonymous.

It was a different world then. We grew up fast. There was no such thing as “helicopter parents”. Our parents trusted in the Good Lord to send His angels to protect their reckless and foolish offspring.

At the time of that picture my brother was about sixteen. I was ten or eleven. My brother was crazy, everyone in town knew it. I was dumb and that probably wasn’t a secret either. He was smart enough to watch from below and take the picture for posterity’s sake.

That’s me flying at the upper right hand corner.
My brother took it from a lower cliff.

Everyone makes mistakes because none of us are perfect. There was only One. And all of us have regrets. Mistakes and regrets are the necessary ingredients to learn wisdom. It’s not a matter of living in the past, it’s a matter of learning from our mistakes. And if there’s no regret or remorse there’s no fuel to learn.

I like the NIV translation of Job 12:12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?”

A lot of us are lucky or blessed to be able to tell the tales of our sordid past. I think it’s proof all by itself of the Divine intervention of God in this world.

So this post isn’t a rejection of last week’s, but a clarification of it. I think we should strive to have joy in this life like we had before the days and years left our senses tarnished and calloused. But with the understanding of God’s grace that delivered us from the days of teachers, books, and mistakes.

DAYS OF SUMMER

Franky McGill could burn the seams right off a baseball he threw so fast… at least that’s what it seemed like my first year in Little League. Franky pitched for the Jets. I was playing catcher for the Astros that summer day of the Banning California Little League championship game.

We were good, but having Franky McGill on your team was like having God on your side. It was the bottom of the 9th, two outs, nobody on base, me up to bat with my new cleats.

I started the season without cleats. My parents stretched a tight budget a little further to get them. I felt invincible with those cleats… even if Franky McGill had already struck me out a couple times that afternoon.

image courtesy of hobbylobby.com

I can’t recall the count at the time, but the pitch was low, I shouldn’t have swung, but I was a sucker for low pitches. I do remember the ping of the aluminum bat and my cleats digging into the Southern California dirt as I ripped around the bases for a slide in triple.

A few pitches later I was way off the bag after Franky threw another strike while my teammate watched, knees trembling. Mike Hawkins, the Jets catcher pump faked a throw as a warning to me to get back to third. So I turned and took a couple steps back the bag. Just as Mike threw the ball back to Franky I raced toward home plate like a charging mini-bull.

Franky had to wait for the ball to get back to him and I was already three quarters of the way to home base. Did I mention how fast Franky could chuck a baseball? The ball got to Mike’s mitt before I got to home plate. It was too late to stop with Mike waiting.

I had two big brothers and they weren’t the sweet sensitive type. My brother Bobby was playing Pop Warner football at the time and at that age I was a sponge. I lowered my head and leveled the Hawkins kid.

He was squirming on his back, moaning in pain and trying to suck the wind back into him that I’d knocked out, but that kid was tough, he hung onto that ball… and the game was over.

I like to win as much as the next person, probably a whole lot more, but more importantly, I’m not afraid to play the game and lose.

Too many Christians play this life with fear. They don’t want to risk losing so they don’t chase their dreams and desires. That’s not how God designed us to live life. The “abundant” life Christ is referring to in John isn’t about wealth, it’s about living life without fear because He already knows every outcome that we endeavor!

I reminisce the by-gone days of summer. That memory of my young dumb self God is using to remind me that I need not fear this world. Maybe you too need a reminder now and then that we need to “fear not, for He has overcome this world”.

May we live this life with the joy and excitement that we did in our long gone days of summer.