THE BLIND MIRROR

k8155973We have a fair amount of mirrors in our home, but I don’t spend a lot of time in front of any of them. It’s probably for the best that my eyes aren’t as spry as they used to be. I do spend enough time to see myself, what I look like anyway. What I see in the reflection of a mirror is what I strive for my reflection to be, and it goes far beyond the lines around the eyes that look back through me and into my soul.

The mirror can’t see beyond flesh and it reflects the lies we feed it.

We all tend to judge others we meet on a daily basis by what we see and precisely what the mirror shows, but that can’t begin to tell the story of a life that we can only grasp with our senses. Those senses, while miraculous, can be to easily fooled. We learn to be masters of portrayal over the course of our lives… but it only lasts as long as our tongue and actions are hidden from the light.

“Watch Bill over there, he can be a bit nasty,” I said in jest. The couple of people around chuckled, I could tell they were feeling a little bad for Bill who’d been standing innocently close by when I drug him into the sarcastic foray.

Bill’s a good natured guy and just laughed and played along, “Yeah, that’s me – it’s just part of being in this rowdy crowd,” he agreed.

We all smiled or laughed at the light humor of the day. As I was leaving I took aim and tossed one more sarcastic grenade. I motioned in Bill’s direction, “Well keep an eye on him, he’s tough, not near as kind or gentle as me,” I chuckled at my humor.

While I appreciate bringing smiles to other people’s faces as well as an occasional laugh, I was taken back by the gut bustin’ laughter that exploded from the targets at whom I’d lobbed the sarcastic laced grenade. I’d meant the comment to be amusing, even funny, but not hilarious.

If I were a comedian I might have been gratified. “See you guys tomorrow,” I said smiling and exchanging pleasantries. I thought about the response as I strolled away, the smile replaced by a pinched brow. It’s funny how the perception we have of ourselves, the ones we work so hard to represent, don’t always match up with the perceptions that others have of us after they get past our front cover; the mirror…

While I wouldn’t use the term “gentle” to describe myself, I feel like I have somewhat of a gentle spirit. But what we are on the inside tends to speak for us and make up the true image that the mirror can’t hide. Beautiful, handsome, fine, none of those things can be seen in the mirror… Those attributes are measured from the inside.

The mirror is blind…

 

A WOBBLY WEEKEND

k9401564I didn’t want to drive… but my wife insisted on driving over to the coast so she could take her bicycle to peddle up and down Highways 1. She left on a Thursday and I flew to catch up with her the following Saturday. When she picked me up from the airport she asked me, “Can you hear that sound?” while turning down the radio. Those are code words for big trouble. If she can hear something on a vehicle, it’s much too, too late.

“Yeah,” I answered, “That’s bad – real bad… That’s metal on metal and means the rotors are shot and we shouldn’t be driving this.” My wife told me the youngest, who’s been driving the SUV, mentioned something to her about the brakes a while back… I told her I wish someone would have mentioned it to me…

We found a mechanic shop and drove straight there. Out of state plates with an emergency… not a good hand of cards to be dealt. The owner of the shop with his thick black mustache and accent chuckled like a professional poker player. It’s never good when strangers in that scenario refer to you as their “Buddy”.

We took a cab back to the house and decided to boogie board on the biggest waves of the year in the Pacific. The other old SUV that is officially referred to as “mine” was waiting for me with problems of his own; a low tire. Really low, but I’ve come to expect the unexpected and was prepared.

I wrestled the compressor, air hose, air chuck, and electrical cord away from the spiders and filled up the tired tire. All the while I was spitting cobwebs from my mouth and pawing them off my face and head like a clumsy bear.

I didn’t think much about my shoulder just six months out of major surgery until after I’d been knocked down and arm barred by the tag team of wicked Pacific waves. I was nursing the cuts on my ankles from the collision with the shoreline before I realized we were running behind in our race with the clock and the closing of a Fedex office I’d never been to… No fear, I’ve never been shy of using all the available horse power to cheat time…

According to my wife’s cell phone I knew we were close to the Fedex office with about five minutes before the big hand struck twelve and the little one covered up the five. I gunned the big V-10 off a red light to get over into the right turn lane ahead when I heard the old familiar sound of a tired tire giving up the ghost.

I slowed as the oversized SUV loped on the blown rear driver’s side tire. I made the turn and kept creeping forward until the rim and pavement chewed through the rubber. I wheeled it over tight to the curb, hit the flashers and we started jogging toward the Fedex office.

On the way home the highway patrolman just the Arizona side of the Colorado River and border finished crossing the “T’s” and dotting the “I’s” on my punching bag of a weekend with a speeding ticket…

There are days we call “good” and days we refer to as “bad”. Sometimes it takes really hard days to put things into a proper perspective.

There was a time I’d have cussed a day or weekend like that and swore it was a plan hatched in the devil’s kitchen…I’ve had enough real life days in this fallen world to know that it was a taxing and expensive weekend… but not a bad one.

Each day is a gift… I just forget and need to be reminded sometimes…

It was a wobbly weekend, but a good one to be sure…

 

AN AUGUST NIGHT

x12537277My memory serves me fairly well, like most of us I’d say, but sometimes I need a reminder. I got one during a chameleon August night this year.

It rained cats and dogs when I was a kid, not often, but when it did, the tears from heaven were unleashed with fury on the dusty desert floor.

It’s easy to forget that the desolate washes, or what some folks in the Southwest call “arroyos”, are there for a reason. Tender footed folks chuckle at the street signs that say, “Do not cross when flooded.” I don’t blame em’, it seems harmless.

I’ve seen cars taken by the raging rivers in the middle of a normally dry desert and washed along like a leaf in a tornado. I’ve also witnessed eighteen wheeled trucks treated like Tonka Toys, but that was a long time ago.

We sat on the back patio deep into the normally punishing Arizona August night, that doesn’t happen too often, but then neither does the torrential and cool summer rain visit us like it did when I was still a kid.

August in Arizona is the peak of summer time and the blues that accompany it, but not that particular August night. That night was magical. The lightening lit the sky for an instant on and off all night like a young angel in heaven was playing with the light switch. The thunder shook the house and rattled the ground like a stampede of heavenly cattle being herded across the sky just the other side of the snarling rain clouds.

The place we call home is often referred to as “The devil’s bedroom,” where the temperatures can hover around the triple digit mark even after the sun clocks out for the day. That night God brought Oregon south for a visit.  The temperature was in the sixties. It was so cool that my wife asked me to fetch her a blanket.

The torrential waters falling from above seemed more like it was being shot from a heavenly sized water cannon. We watched in wonder and awe, enjoying the show and evening. The constant and steady patter of the damaging rain eventually rocked my wife to sleep, despite the record setting amount of rain fall in the relatively flat Valley Of The Sun.

My wife was fast asleep, curled up in the chair, swaddled in the blanket, sleeping in comfort and safety that is  promised from the One that designed the world in which we walk.

The miracles that we witness over and over in our lives we tend to take for granted. It would be easy to explain a cold August night in Arizona scientifically, but that won’t explain where the wind originates or the Power behind the perpetual motion that protects our delicate world.

The earth does indeed “Declare His majesty” and sovereignty over what belongs to God… including a cold and rainy August night in the Arizona desert. Along with the His loved ones sleeping through it.

WHISKEY FOR BREAKFAST

k5928024“Can I get you something to drink to start; coffee? juice?” the animated and bright eyed waitress with the matching uniform like everybody else in the pseudo French restaurant asked.

Sometimes, well, often really, I talk without thinking. The tall brunette waitress happened to be working in the bar area, which I guess makes her the bartender. That area has heavy and dark wood wainscoting with old red brick on the walls above it. It’s the perfect setting I like to contemplate or maybe write if I can steal a few moments in time.

“Uhhhmmmm,” I pondered aloud, looking at her and glancing over her shoulder, “Whiskey – Make it a double – Straight up,” I answered. She looked at me with a question in her friendly and customer service oriented eyes. She was stumped. It was morning and and I was ordering alcohol in what’s really a family restaurant.

She smiled kindly, awkward for a few moments until my smile gave it away. “Coffee and water, please,” I said chuckling, probably a little too amused with my pathetic humor. She told me later that occasionally folks will order alcohol in the mornings. I shared with her I couldn’t drink whiskey, and it didn’t matter what time of day.

Over the next several months I’d stop in now and then after physical therapy for my shoulder and sit in my section and read or scribble while waiting for breakfast. Not always, but on occasion I’m a people person. Each person is a story. Sometimes I learn by watching, but more often from talking.

The young lady wasn’t as young as she looked. She has sons; football players in high school. One of them may be headed to play in college. She’s proud, lights up when she talks about her boys. I get that.

“Whiskey this morning, sir?” she asked me on more than a couple of visits.

“You know, I think I’ll just have coffee today,” I answered once. Another time I told her, “No thanks, I’ve already had a fifth for breakfast,” she laughed.

In time she asked what I was writing, “A book?” with some sarcasm thrown in for good measure. She was surprised when I told her that in fact that’s exactly what I was writing. Eventually I told her about this site, told her if she got herself parked in front of a computer to look it up. I didn’t press her, but during one of my frequent fuel ups she told me, “I really enjoyed your posts!”On another occasion she told me she read a bunch of the archives and so did her friend.

My site isn’t fancy, but it does point to the Almighty and His sovereignty here on planet earth. Not all of us are called to preach, but all of us are called to ministry in one form or another. We’ve all been gifted one way or the other to share the Truth of our faith.

The waitress or bartender still chuckles about the whiskey comment I made.

She told me lemon for my water and the extra cream for their stout coffee were my “training wheels”.

I laughed and told her that was a good one.

It’s hard to imagine all the treasures we miss in life by not learning the stories of the lives put smack in the middle of ours.

A CHANCE ENCOUNTER?

The famous Millers Folly. Courtesy of Kelly Schulte.

The famous Millers Folly. Courtesy of Kelly Schulte.

Brad was busy so I tried to slip out without distracting him. He’s been running the front to that Italian restaurant for so long that he’s either developed a sixth sense or has grown eyes in the back of his head. With the front door quietly opened and me about half way out, thinking I’d slipped out undetected, I heard Brad call out, “See ya, Floyd – Thanks!”

I paused and turned, “Thanks, Brad – see you next week,” I answered.

About half way to my car in the dim lit parking lot I heard a woman’s voice behind me, “Floyd? – Floyd Samons?”

I turned to see her, “Yeah,” I answered as she quickly walked toward me.

“It’s Kelly Schulte!” she announced.

“Kelly Schulte? Are you kiddin’ me?” I asked in complete surprise already knowing full well it was the same girl I’d known pretty near my entire life.

We hugged like long lost family. Funny how people we’ve known almost all of our lives, and the ones that treated us as such, do feel like kin.

“I thought that might be you, and when I heard Brad call your name, I knew it had to be you,” Kelly said. We chatted, trying to give each other the readers digest condensed version of our lives standing in the tiny parking lot if front of and Italian restaurant two hundred miles from where we grew up. The spot we both just happened to be eating at that particular night and at the exact time…

Her big brother, the one famous in our town for his baseball skills, was killed in a car accident… I hadn’t heard…

Kelly had heard about my dad passing. We offered one another sincere condolences.

We talked about the endless days spent on her parents famous boat, “The Millers Folly”, the Mississippi paddle wheel replica boat that was unmistakable and the only one like it on Lake Havasu. I can still remember the bright red wooden slatted wheel slapping the water, engine humming, pushing us slowly across the waters of the Colorado River.

We would jump off the second floor of the good ship, Kelly’s brother throwing a football to us with pinpoint accuracy. They’d feed and water us, their neighbor, my friend Hank and I, like we belonged to them.

I asked how her mom and dad were, where they were, and how they were doing. I told Kelly how special those days were to me when we were young, the warm Arizona days when we hovered around the sixth grade mark for what seemed like a lifetime.

Kelly reminded me how much trouble she and I got into during school. I’d forgotten that… Funny how we see ourselves in hindsight better than other folks do in reality. The alphabetical seating landed our desks smack next to each other in all the classes that we shared.

We talked, passed notes, and broke just about every rule they laid out in front of us, but we weren’t so good at not getting caught at it. There was no one to keep Kelly and me from talking and catching up in the parking lot after a chance meeting at a small Italian restaurant in a city with over four million people.

I’m reminded how much value memories have and how much more valuable the ones we made them with are. But mostly I’m reminded that there are no coincidences in this life…