The Divine Continuum

I like to hang my thoughts on compact pegs: Mosaic of Providence, Dreadful Dichotomy, Divine Continuum. An email from Jim Harriger a while back brought the divine continuum to mind. He wrote: Because you worked at Union Gospel Mission, George Verley came to Jesus. Because George worked at the Ober Boys Club, Steve Burger became a mission youth worker. Because Steve was the youth director at the Sankey youth Center in New Castle, PA, I was invited to be a camp counselor. Because I returned a second year to that mission’s boys camp, I dedicated my life to serve Jesus. After 45 years working in the inner city, I am now working in a rural ministry, doing Christian community development in a whole new way. Your chance encounter keeps on giving.

Chance? No way. That was the divine continuum. And it reached way back to early childhood, when George lived in an apartment above a St. Paul tavern, but that’s another story.

A while back, George Verely died, long-time superintendent of the St. Paul Union Gospel Mission. My tribute recalled his boyhood conversion during the toughest, most risky camp week of my life. Look it up: www.lloydsstorytree.com, the Ghost of Snail Lake.  I would not learn of George’s conversion for 20 years.  I was just doing my job.

Albert Schweitzer wrote, No ray of sunlight is ever lost, but the green which it awakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith.”

Just do your job day by day in your tiny tile in the Mosaic of Providence. You have no idea what God is doing.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

 

 

Prettiest Girl at the Party

The annual Woodland Garden Christmas dinner was held Wednesday evening. The Edmonds, facility builders and owners, hosted us. They and the WG staff served. Jerry Thilmany and The Strollers entertained: accordion, bass fiddle, and violin /vocalist gal.

The decor was delightful; the food great; the mood bright and joyous. Only downer: the gabby few who carry on private conversation, no matter what. Like ants at the picnic; you learn to tolerate.

I had the prettiest girl at the party. Norma wore a multi-tiered maroon dress, baby pearl necklace, pearl-banded watch, navy blue sox, and classy shoes. I wore navy blue pants, white shirt, and maroon sweater vest matching Norma’s dress. Shoulda took a picture.

What a great place to live! Completely redecorated with new furnishings; the commons areas on all three floors are brightly trimmed for Christmas. I’m half way through my sixth year now. And to think: had I got my way, I’d be living in a cramped studio apartment—with no girl from 313.

To learn how I got here, read Epilogue at www.lloydsstorytree.com. A geezer love story.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

The Miracle Dance

I suspect last Saturday at Bell Brothers was the first time singer Anne Murray closed out a funeral. Here’s how it happened:

Luanne MacMillan had been in touch with me about her mom’s memorial service. Her mom, was my first cousin and I agreed to officiate, walker and all. Luanne and I gathered ideas. I favor up-beat funerals; tributes, remembering by family, and brief eulogy. We planned to put it all together just prior to the memorial Saturday morning.

Wednesday evening, I was browsing through Facebook photos and came across my first-ever dance. Norma, the girl from 313, as my partner. The DJ  put on Ann Murray singing our song: Could I Have This Dance for the Rest of My Life?  Norma danced; I hung on and shuffled. I posted the photo on Facebook drew a bunch of comments. On an impulse, I posted it again, telling about Ann Murray and our song.

The post startled Luanne. That was also her mom and dad’s song! A signal from God?  Ann Murray could close out close out the memorial service!. And she did..

Was that proper for so solemn an occasion? Sure. I focused my brief eulogy on dwelling in the secret place of the Most High; abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. I said life fulfillment does require blazing religious glory but a secret place where we abide in Jesus and he in us.Is there a greater gift for our secret place than to love someone who loves us?

I concluded the eulogy by telling the dance photo story. On cue, Ann Murray came on. Some of us sang along. I got the lonesomes for the girl from 313.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

Tooth Book Scoop

Tooth book copies available within days! Send orders with check to Joel Mattson. Write checks to him. The price: $10 per book—our cost for production and handling.

Joel Mattson, 815 124th St SW #135, Everett Washington 98204.  joelmatt458@gmail.com.

 

Thanks for help. Uncle Wells Fargo gets really crabby if he doesn’t hear from me each month.

Christmas gifts? Friends may enjoy How Do You Know That’s a Tooth? There’s nothing like it.

A blessed Christmas to my Hole News and Facebook friends.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Watch for Word from Joel

Tooth book production is under way. Son Joel, product manager, will send word when distribution is set. If you are kind enough to buy one or more copies, I’ll appreciate it. Uncle Wells Fargo gets really crabby if he doesn’t hear from me regularly.

The Wordshed Mission was never for profit. We sent out over 30,000 books and 1,500 audio books. The Tooth book reprint will be the last, far as I know. Story-making time is running out.

The back-cover blurb opens with: The trail is best discerned from the summit, looking back, an insight gained while resting on a huge boulder at the summit of Twisp Pass in the Washington Cascades. Now I’ve reached another summit: 95 years of living. I find the view splendid, but I missed so much on the way. You can’t see much climbing a mountain trail; absorbed as you are by the next step.

So with life. Each moment’s cares blind us to wonders all about. The Tooth book tells about my climb and goals achieved. Most important: a new view of life and faith, some of which may disturb you. But we need disturbing. We live too long with a hand-me-down faith laden with sacred cows. The back cover blurb closes with: I have ceased herding sacred cows to better serve the Good Shepherd.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Best Book I Ever Wrote, Part Two

See the most recent Hole News post for the beginning of today’s story.

It was church picnic Sunday. Unaware I had lit a firestorm, I took the tooth along. Thinking older folks might be interested, I placed it on the watermelon table and stood nearby. Not a soul came. Finally, an older woman in search of watermelon approached. “What do you think of my tooth?” I said.  She replied in a scorn-filled voice: “How do you know that’s a tooth?” That stuck with me.

I had a new book in the works, my last, and had been looking for a title. The woman’s acid question fit perfectly! The book would be built around Hole News posts and commentary. Enlisting the girl from 313 as proof reader and assistant, I dug in. She was well versed in my earlier writings. As we worked, she would say, “Lloyd, you have to include this or that story in the book. I would protest: it doesn’t fit the theme. She would reply: well fit it. Knowing where my supper came from, I birthed Part Two.

Part Three came during my lost week. It contains scores of quotes from the Hole News compiled by an Arizona friend. When word reached him that I was dying, he sent them to me. Death didn’t take, but Bob’s collection gave he book an ideal close-out. I asked Bob to write the Foreword.

We printed 1,000 copies in 2014, the final book in our Wordshed series. Only a handful remains. Driven by current discussions and hundreds of new Facebook and Hole News friends, production is underway for another 500. Son Joel will manage distribution.

As with all Wordshed Mission books, some 30,000, making money is not the goal. I do hope to recover production and distribution costs. Watch for details

Old Grandpa Lloyd.

 

Best Book I Ever Wrote–soon available.

Recent theological debates have caused some Facebook friends to fear I have drifted from the faith of the Fathers. They are right; but I didn’t drift, I paddle hard against the wind until I reached a faith of my own. In my mind our church Fathers didn’t have everything right.

While reflecting on this risky course, I chanced upon the best book I ever put together: How Do You Know that’s a Tooth?. The cover displays two huge leg bones surrounding an open Bible. Two teeth—one—small, one large—point to the Bible.  The picture, son Keith’s Photoshop artistry, points to the book’s theme: history opens the Bible.

The title was born one Sunday morning at Bayside Baptist Church, Superior, Wisconsin. I was preaching. As I often did, I gathered the kids on the platform for a story before they escaped to children’s church. The story prop was a gnarled wooly mammoth tooth the size of a small football that friend Roger Green dug from his Alaska gold mine. The kids passed it around the circle as I told about strange animals that once  roamed North America. In closing I said, “The critter that owned this tooth died about 16,000 years ago.”

After the service, unknown to me, a knot of young-earth folks caucused. Nothing could be 16,000 years old. God created the universe in six 24-hour days six or seven thousand years ago. Mattson was teaching heresy!

We’ll pick up the story next time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Not Much Fun

 

It’s not much fun discussing an issue with a friend who is totally convinced she or he is right and you are wrong. Their burden is to convert, understand. The best I can do in that circumstance is tell what I believe and why I believe it and go home.

Take 16th century Galileo. He asserted mother Earth revolves around the sun. Church leaders, including Martin Luther, scorned him.  How dare a mere astronomer fly in the face of the Church and Bible?  If Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, it must have been revolving around Earth. Look how long it took the Church to admit they had been wrong.

Surely God does not honor pagan African ceremonies!

I was in St. Mary’s dying. Friends, family, and chaplains came to pray. One of my caregivers, a young student from Nigeria, stopped by my bed. She said: Last night I did our tribal ceremony for your comfort and healing.

Something worked; I lived. Reporting on that adventure I wrote, A drowning man doesn’t ask to see the lifeguard’s credentials. The Jesus I follow pays no heed to limitations mortals place on him, no matter what we think.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

 

Fading Taps

Blind luck produced one of the most memorable North Country Notebooks ever.

Elsie and I were on a driving trip to the South and paused at Civil War battlefield. We picked up the recorded tour guide. As usual, I toted my recording gear. The day was lovely; visitors were few. We moved from point to point, listening to the guide and reading posted descriptions. We paused where the decisive battle had occurred and I set up to do a North Country Notebook, cuing the tour guide to a music section. What followed was pure magic.

The music was a copy of an ancient recording, scratchy and wavering. A male quartet doing a wartime tearjerker. That set the mood as I described the scene, noting the many casualties among young soldiers far from home. A flag flew nearby. As I neared the end of my time, the quartet hushed and a bugler played Taps, His last note faded just as time ran out. I said, And that’s the North Country Notebook. Look for you tomorrow, same time, same station.

I was spooked. You could work hours and not come close to that tone and timing. Made it seem like I knew what I was doing.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

 

North Country Notebook Finds a Path.

The first weeks of the North Country Notebook found me driving 20 miles to WWJC in Duluth’s far west. I recorded five shows, four minutes thirty seconds each. That was untenable in the long haul so I bought a broadcast quality microphone, shoulder-harness recorder, and stopwatch. I could record anywhere and mail cassettes to the station.

Over the years I talked with camp leaders, camping families, and outdoors-type men and women. I told snatches of my current and past outdoor adventures. I recorded from canoes, mountain trails, and small planes over Alaska.

I began a Backyard Anthology, recording from my chopping block. One year I tracked wildflowers in my yard beginning with the first spring dandelions, over 60 species. (Weeds, Elsie called them)  I told about my small backyard wetlands and rowboat garden, reading Robert Frost’s Flower Boat poem.

I hiked me up the hill to record from Hawk Ridge, the site of my first boyhood sleep out.  I biked to the Deeps in Lester Park, where bad boys swam naked.

I was recording in my backyard one day and two young neighbor girls came to show me their pet toad, the General. I recorded our chat. We talked about critters that live in our backyards, dozens of them from bugs to worms to toads. I asked the General what he  thought about that. The girl squeezed him and he obligingly gurgled.

I never ran out of material. How I wish I had saved some of the cassettes!

More next time.

Old Grandpa Lloyd.