Thanksgiving in the Country ( Part II )

After the lovely dinner at the table set for eight occupied by only two Mrs. Mayfield asked if I would like to see the portraits of those absent from the table. I assured her it would be an honor so she directed me across the entrance to what she called the parlor. A nice fire was burning in the fireplace and hanging over it was a wonderful portrait of her husband, hanging on each side was an equally grand portrait of each of her sons. There was a smaller portrait of her daughter-in-law who had now left the family, one of her niece and then another grand portrait of her daughter. We took seats in the parlor and were served warm eggnog and pie. The staff was seldom seen but you always knew that they were close by waiting for any command. She explained that she kept the old house of more than 10,000 square feet open so that her staff of six who lived there would have a home and she would have someone to share her life with. I asked why she never came to church nor took part in the local community. She told the story of being an outsider. Her husbands family had purchased the 15,000 plus acres of the plantation as carpetbaggers after the Civil War and thus she felt she was always looked on as an uninvited guest.  It seemed so strange that after one hundred years the old hurt still wounded the people of both sides. There was sadness in the grand old place, in her face, and on my heart as I looked at the splendor that life had given and the value that it also had withheld.

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Published in: on December 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thanksgiving in the Country ( Part I )

I was alone that Thanksgiving and gladly accepted the invitation to have lunch with an elderly lady in our community. She lived in one of those great old plantation homes of the Low Country in South Carolina. She had out lived her family and had no close friends; I was the only guest.  I was greeted at the door by her butler and driver he ushered me into the formal dinning room and Mrs. Mayfield greeted me with the charm and warmth of an old southern plantation. She asked that I sit at the end of the table and she was seated by the butler at the far end just to the right of the head of the table.  Each place had been prepared as if someone would be eating in that seat, but in truth it was only the two of us. The cook and two servants served us and she asked that I offer grace. Then she began to tell me about each empty chair. At the head, on her left, was her husbands place. He had died many years prior but there was his silverware and china. On the opposite side from her was the seat for her son killed in Korea. Next to him was his wife who had remarried and moved out of her life. Next was the place for her niece also deceased, then myself and to my left was her youngest son killed in a boating accident. To his left was his younger sister, killed in the accident with him. There was just the two of us at the splendid table plus the great memories of years gone by which she now relieved. Between the tears of lost love there were moments of thanksgiving. Even in her sorrow she could still remember and be thankful for other days. That day I begin to grow memories of thanksgiving.

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thank You Sal Glunia

On the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour in 1918 an Armistice was declared that ended the First World War.  In 1954 the name was changed to Veterans Day and thus today we honor all of the men and women who have served our country.  It is just and fitting that a good and blessed nation would pause to say thank you to those who have gone the extra mile to let the Bell of Liberty sound.  Men like Staff Sergeant Sal Glunia who next Tuesday will be presented with the Medal of Honor by the President of The United States. Sgt Glunia will be the first living person to receive this medal since the Vietnam War. In 2007 his squad walked into a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan of overwhelming odds. In the first moments of the attack his team leader, Josh Brennan was hit and the medic was killed. Sal saw two of the Taliban dragging his team leader away and charged the attackers in order to rescue Brennan from the hands of the Taliban. Because of his bravery and leadership more than half of his squad was saved and Brennan was rescued. Having killed many of the enemy and calling for reinforcements he was able to get the rest of the squad to safety. Although Brennan later died of his wounds he was not in the hands of the Taliban. Next Tuesday he will wear the Blue field of the Medal of Honor and rightly so for with disregard for his own safety he did his best and saved those whom he could.  Thank you SSG Sal Glunia.

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Once a Vessel of Gold

James was married to my youngest sister.  In so many ways he was the kind of person any young man would want to be like.  To me he was a vessel of gold and honor. I loved him first because he loved my sister, then my dad loved him so much and he seemed to share that same love. I dont think I ever saw my father happier than when he was with Jimmy. I saw him help people, do good things for other and really seemed to love my sister. Yes in my heart he was a vessel of gold. I never did know what happened, but the gold tarnished, then turned and the vessel became one of clay. He left my sister, she suffered, my dad suffered. The vessel was dishonored.  That was forty years ago. Over the last ten years I saw him a few times.  I bragged on his sons and daughter; he said he was so proud they were not like him. I saw him weep for my dad and while the vessel did not change I think I saw the dust fall away. Now this is written from my eyes, not Gods. He died Tuesday, he will be buried tomorrow. If it were possible, I believe, I know, I would go. Not fully sure all of the reason, but I would go. I know God has eyes more forgiving than mine and I know he will accept his vessel what ever it is made of and welcome him to His home.  James I am sorry for the way life turned. But the tears I share are true and real and I invite you to wash your vessel in them.

Published in: on December 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Star (Final Chapter)

It had been over thirty years since Tolui had been in this land of the Hebrews. Then he had been a young boy with his father King Balthasar and they had visited this very Jesus that the multitudes were hurrying about to see, some shouting insults and others shouting faith. His father was now dead and Tolui should have been king but his eyes had gone blind and his younger brother had stolen the throne from him. Now here he was once more in this foreign land, but this time not being led by a star but being led by a faithful servant and dressed in the clothes of a beggar. He could hear the people shouting to be made whole, others were whispering that Jesus was soon to be arrested and killed. Tolui did not know what to believe he simply held on to his servant and listened to the mixture of the crowd.  Then he felt a touch, it was the touch he had felt years ago in that one room mud house. The touch of that baby, the baby his father had said was the Son of God. See my friend, see again, and this time believe, said the man who touched his face. Tolui felt the warmth of the touch, heard the soft words of the voice and suddenly his eyes saw the robe of Jesus moving before him. He wanted to rush and fall before Him to worship Him, but the multitude was too great and Jesus moved on. I believe, Tolui shouted, I believe.

Published in: on December 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Star (Part IV)

Tolui followed his father, King Balthasar as he rose from the floor and backed slowly out of the small one room house.  They turned and walked toward the camels and Tolui asked, Father what happened in there? Who are those people and why did you pray to that man, the one you called Yahweh?  No son, Balthasar said, I did not pray to the man in the room. But father you said father of this child. There was no other man in the room and he was not as great as you, he was not.  I understand why you are confused my son, but the man standing there is an ordinary man with and extraordinary job to do. He is not the father, but only appointed by Yahweh to serve as the father of the child in the place of God. God is the Father. I do not understand. I know about these things but this I do not understand. Tolui said, And who is this Yahweh? Child, Child, King Balthasar said, Yahweh is the God of the Hebrews who once lived in our country as slaves and served our families. They told us of their God, Yahweh, and now I know that not only is He the God of the Hebrews but He is also the Creator and God of all peoples. But father, Tolui spoke and the King interrupted him, Son the prophet of the Hebrews, Isaiah, told them that a Virgin would have a child and that the child would be the Son of God, even God Himself with us. Tonight my son you held God in your arms.

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Star (Part III)

Tolui shook as he held the baby, this small child this room filled with a light from outside; all of it made him feel so strange, not bad, but unworthy to even be here and that he could not understand. His personal bedroom was larger than this whole house, his clothes were by far superior to anything they were wearing, yet somehow he knew that he was the unworthy one in this humble place. His father, King Balthasar, motioned with his eyes for him to return the child to the mother and as he did so his father reached and touched the child more tenderly than Tolui had ever seen him do with anyone.  Then he knelt and nodded for Tolui to kneel as well as the other two kings. The room was filled with the silence of heaven as his father bowed before the child and then he heard the words coming from his fathers lips. Almighty creator, Yahweh, giver of life and Father of this child forgive our presence in this house and let the glory of this moment change each of us forever and forever. May our camels never walk the same, may our minds never seek the same, and may our hearts never belong to anyone except the Father of this Child before whom we bow and pray. Tolui was sure he heard the sounds of wings in the room, the groans of the mud from which the house was built and felt the warmth of the Star shinning outside in the darken sky. His father, King Balthasar, was bowing before a child and praying to a God whose name he did not know. Here in a house of one room made from mud, here before these humble people of this foreign land his father a King was bowing.

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Star ( Part Two)

Tolui felt the camel raise its head and saw the nostrils open and close, and then it turned toward the small house and seemed to recognize something.  It was his father, King Balthasar standing in the doorway of the house. Tolui, he called, Come son and visit with me.  The boy arose and walked swiftly to the door and his father. Tolui was amazed at what he saw; the floor was dirt and true to his thinking there was only one room. A mat that looked something like a bed was in one corner and a young girl just a few years older than he was sitting on a stool holding a baby. A tall older man stood next to her and looked with wonder at both the mother and child. His father said, Come son and touch the child, do it softly boy, do it with care. Tolui reached out his hand and felt the warmth of the young child as his flesh touched him. It was almost as if this baby knew that he was here and that he had come from some far off place to stand in this little room and behold his face.  The mother lifted the baby and nudged the boy to hold him in his arms for just a moment. Tolui had never felt such joy, such completeness, such love. The great star from overhead of the house seemed somehow to bring a heavenly glow to the humble room. Gifts lay on the floor before the mother, gifts his father and the others had brought. Who is this I am holding he thought; who is this child that we have traveled two years to see and hold?

Published in: on December 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Star ( Part I )

Tolui stretched his body on the dusty ground with his head and shoulders resting against his fathers camel. He could see the star almost directly above his head; his heart beat fast as he dreamed of all the possibilities of this night. His father, King Balthasar had instructed him to stay with the camel. He knew that it was not necessary, the desert beast would not move without his fathers command, but stand watch he did. There were at least fifty soldiers and servants also resting on the ground in the area and another four hundred or so camped outside the small village making ready their journey back to the homeland almost two years away. Tolui wonder what or who lived in this small house. It was certainly not the home of a king, not even a minor ruler; in fact it looked like it had only one room. Who could be so important that his father would spend almost two years to find this place and he and his two fellow rulers would go unprotected into this peasants house. He had just turned twelve when they left his country and he would be sixteen by the time they returned. What is in that house that makes it so very important? Why would his father travel so far, spend four years of his life to make the round trip journey, what or who could it possible be. Then there was the star, that star that had started this journey. His father was a priest of astrology but to come this far, to end the journey in this nothing house in this unknown village what is in that house?

Published in: on December 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Journey

Joseph wrapped Mary in the blanket and placed the Child Jesus next to her.  It was not cold, but it was too cool for the newborn and he would need his mothers warmth. Then Joseph stretched out on the mat bed beside her and tried to find sleep after all the events of the recent hours.  Kings had been in this humble place, prayers had been lifted and the room had been filled with the Glory of the Lord.  Now he needed sleep, he must keep his strength and be awake and strong for his new family when the light of morning broke. Suddenly he saw him; the Angel of months ago had returned, he was telling Joseph that he must take his wife and the young child and flee to Egypt. It was necessary for the safety of the child and his family.  But how, Joseph wrestled in his mind, how can I go, what will I do and how will I live. The Angel spoke softly; you came from Nazareth with most of your possessions, you have the donkey and with the funds that King Balthasar and his friends gave to the child there will be plenty. Use the gold first and wait until you arrive in Egypt to sell the other gifts, with your skills as a carpenter and these funds you will have all the Child needs to remain safe until I come to get you. Now go Joseph, go before the dawn. Joseph prepared the donkey and got all the items together waiting until the last moment to wake Mary and tell her of their trip.  Then he stood at the door of the small house and looked at the bundle tied to the donkey which contained the gifts of the kings and fell on his knees to praise God for always proving a way.

Published in: on December 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment