PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE

Are you a people watcher?  It’s a great hobby.  I’m not talking about being a busy body who wants to know what every neighbor is doing or keeping up on the latest gossip.  People watching helps pass the time in waiting rooms, airports or while sitting in the mall waiting for someone who does not keep track of time.

At one time I gave programs for many churches and mother/daughter banquets.  Since I was the entertainment and not a participant I could sit in anonymity and watch the procedures.  It was fun to see the same characters popping up in all gatherings.

There was always the “chairlady” who exercised her duties in a most matter-of-fact manner and was obviously well suited to the position.  Then there was the pious gossip who used prayer time to give the juiciest details of those for whom she requested prayer.

Almost always there was the ‘fashion plate’ whose attire advertised the fact of her status in life.  She often sat beside the young mother who obviously had time only to throw on the least wrinkled outfit that didn’t bear evidence of an oatmeal tossing baby.

The last description reminds me of an incident that happened one Sunday morning years ago.  I was sitting behind an older lady who always came to Church in the most fashionable garb complete with hat and white gloves.  This morning an elderly man in wrinkled clothes with unkempt hair took a seat beside her in the pew.  She gave him a rather frosty greeting and turned her eyes toward the pulpit.  As the sermon progressed the man began nodding.  His breathing became slow with an almost imperceptible snore.  He began listing to the side; her side.  We could see the surreptitious glances she was casting his way and the tiniest of movements away from him.  I have no idea what the sermon topic was for everyone sitting within sight of the fascinating tableau was mesmerized.

Slowly he would lean toward her, but at the last moment he would jerk awake and sit straight again.  Then he would slowly begin leaning.  Would he reach her shoulder this time?  What would she do if he did?  Luckily for her – or perhaps in answer to her silent, frantic prayers – the sermon ended, everyone stood and catastrophe was averted for one more Sunday.

All in all I’ve found that people are people and the same characteristics are found in pretty much all groups.  If you change churches thinking the next congregation will be friendlier or more open or more – you name your preference – you soon find you’ve brought your problems along with your Bible and the same people are sitting in the pews.  Only the names change, for people are people.  Hopefully we will learn to love our neighbor in spite of his or her imperfections just as we learn to love ourselves in spite of our own.

Next time you have occasion to be a people watcher maybe you could say a quick prayer for the mother with a baby in the stroller and two more hanging onto her skirt.  And remember that God is a people watcher, too.

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Final pages of the Chronicles of Windfallow

Coby motioned for Lee to bring the plasstring.  He addressed the crew members of the Quasar II, “Get these men secured and stay here to guard them.  You will be seeing a real light show in a few minutes, so don’t panic.  OK, Golden, please have your fellow Alari bring Kiota and his crew back to consciousness, then you are all free to return to Windfallow.”

He stretched out his hand to the Alari, “I thank you for all your help, Golden.  You and the fallowfolk have never been anything but hospitable and friendly toward us.  Go with our gratitude and prayers for your new home and our thanks to the Creator.” Coby kept hold of the Alari’s hand.  “Golden, could you show my crew who you really are before you go? And let Kiota know the real power that captured him and his crew?”

Slowly, each Alari who stood beside the spacer he had captured began to change.  As the spacers regained consciousness, they saw around them creatures with dazzling white robes, golden wings unfurled, and faces of burnished bronze.  And, instead of winking out as was their custom, Golden and the other Alari flew through the plasglass barrier and down to the planet.  No sound was heard as the humans watched their departure.

Then, as the Alari disappeared from view, the small planet, wreathed in light, exploded.  The blackness of space formed a backdrop for the mushrooming clouds of light and color.  Then the sky was empty, as though no planet had ever existed in this time and place.

Kiota gave an audible groan as he watched his dreams of wealth and power disintegrate.

One of the Quasar crew members found his voice and asked in a breathless whisper.  “Who were they, Captain?”

Coby fought for control.  He knew the planet had not died.  He knew God has just moved it beyond the reach of any human.  But Angari was gone.  And all hope of visiting that serene and beautiful planet was gone.  He cleared his throat, brushed his hand across his eyes and spoke, “You have just been given the honor of seeing the angels of Windfallow.  Kiota, these Alari are the same ones who captured you the first time you tried your tricks.  The rest of you, don’t ever forget; a world that seems vulnerable and yours for the taking, may have guardians you cannot see.  There is a God who created the universe and He watches over His children.”

******

EPILOGUE

Angari and his glorious companions rose through the blue-green sky of Windfallow.  As the home he’d known for centuries grew small and remote, the Alari concentrated on the brilliant light toward which they moved.  Brighter than a billion stars, it beckoned them onward.  When they had reached the outermost brilliance, his companions halted.  Golden put his hands on Angari’s shoulders and spoke for all, “My brother, we are now parted for a time.  You go to the Creator as His beloved servant.  We will meet again when all have come home!  Farewell!”

Angari was alone in the brightness.  He walked now on lush grass surrounded by sights and sounds so pure it made him weep.  Far ahead he saw figures coming to meet him.  Could it be?  Stiltz?  Sparrow?  Zach?  One by one they came to meet him.  Silent, but with smiling faces and outstretched hands, they walked with him.  Others joined them, kings and queens he had known through the centuries, joined in song and the brilliance increased.  It came not from stars but from the multitudes who came to greet him.  And there was more.  He felt as well as saw the scintillating brilliance arching high into the sky above the HolyCity; so distant yet so clear.  And he knew the One who waited for him.  Yes.  He was home.

 

As Angari moved into his home, a small planet slipped into orbit around the light.  Bathed in swirls of color, she shone with ruby, diamond, emerald, amethyst….

 

 

Here ends the translation of The Windfallow Chronicles.  The original books from Windfallow were once again placed in their wooden box; the aroma of new earth and springtime enveloping them.

Danny and his fellow translators took the box to the Dean’s office.  “Here are the originals and the translation, Dean Harlan.  We really enjoyed doing this for the scientists.  If you read the last couple of chapters, though, you’ll see that Windfallow is gone from our universe.  I guess we’ll never get to see if what they say is true.”

“Thank you, students; this will be credited to your index.”  The dean rose and shook hands with the three men and two women.

Only Angari, had he been present, would have seen the Creator’s Spirit shining in the young people. And he would have smiled.

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“I”

‘I’

 I built me a house and I said,

“I have created this!

I am something!’

And God smiled.

I took me a wife and I said,

“Now I am complete!

I am something!”

And God sighed.

I built me a business and I said,

“Now I am secure.

I am something!”

And God spoke.

So.

I built me a church and I said,

“See what I have done.

I am something!”

And God wept.

c.Donna Swanon

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Donna's Flag A HERO’S TIME

            We lost another hero last week.  One more of the Greatest Generation slipped away into history.  One of the thousands of young men who left the safety of homes and communities to fight for the freedom we enjoy today.  In 1943 Miles Kennedy joined his fellow soldiers and traveled to countries he’d only heard about.  Hands that were used to holding farm tools now held a rifle.  A kind heart and ready smile must have endeared him to his buddies.  We know little about his life over there for he talked little of it.  Heroes are like that.  They do what must be done and leave it there.

But one day he told this story to a friend:  “We landed on the beach there in Normandy.  I was shot before I really got onto land.  I was laying there half in and half out of the water, waiting to die.  Then, I heard a voice say to me, ‘It’s not your time, Son’, and a little while later a medic picked me up and got me to safety.”  A Purple Heart bears testimony to that moment, along with the other medals this hero brought back to Indiana.  They were put away in a box along with the memories that should never be part of a young man’s background.  The war was over and Miles took life up again farming the land he loved and had defended back there in Europe.

But the man who became a hero in war also became a hero in peace.  Miles married and took his place with Rovene in our community.  After retirement he became a driver for Judge Hall and I’m sure there were a lot of serious conversations during those trips.

Most of all, I remember him from Church.  He counted attendance every Sunday, walking down the outside aisles and coming back up with the numbers in his head and candy in his pocket.  Those red and white peppermints were passed out as he shook hands with his friends.  When he found out my favorite was Tootsie Rolls, he would reach into the other pocket and bring out a few.  Gradually he became known as the ‘Candy Man’.  The children all knew who he was whether or not they knew his name.

This quiet man touched many lives and was quick to remember a young man or woman who perhaps came only infrequently to Church.  He let them know he knew them and was pleased to see them.  That means a lot to those who walk on the edges of faith.

His time had not yet come on that beach a few thousand miles away, but his Father always walked beside him and last week He called him home.  We are so grateful He let us enjoy him for another 64 years!

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A COUNTRY DAD

Dad was of German descent with all the cold and legalistic traits of those people.  He loved his family but could not praise us.  I believe now that he was only able to show his love by criticizing us and making sure we did things the right way.  But he could be jovial and entertaining as well.  Dean and I loved to ride with him in the old Willys Jeep when the snow was deep and the roads impassable to any other vehicle but tractors. He would sing silly songs and take great joy in bustin’ through drifts.  He loved to tell stories and could keep us all in stitches about growing up with his brothers.

        And he could be tender as well.  One of the few memories I have of my childhood is watching him sitting by Lois’ hospital bed, set up in the dining room, feeding her.  Struck down by Polio in her junior year, it was a long recovery.  Mother told me once that all us kids ever saw between our parents was fussing and bickering, “But you never knew what went on in the bedroom, and I never slept a night that my head wasn’t resting on his arm.”

Dad had a neat, distinctive script and he was almost never seen without a note book in which he made lists and figured expenses.  He was an avid reader and taught a boys’ Sunday school class as my mother taught the girls.  Later he taught adult Bible classes and they were well attended as he spoke from neatly printed notes.  However, we often had “roast Preacher” for Sunday lunch as he criticized the current minister and I believe it was out of a deep inner disappointment that he had not had the opportunity to attend college.  Visiting ministers, evangelists and missionaries were frequent guests in our home and Dad loved debating with them.  Probably one of his biggest disappointments was that I chose marriage over BibleCollege.  That Dean attended Purdue was a great source of pride to him

If Dad were alive today he would have a computer and live on it.  His appetite for knowledge was insatiable.  He was on the School Board, the Farm Bureau Advisory Board, served as CountyCommissioner for a term or two and was a 32nd degree Mason; all this and the breadwinner for his family.  His fields were as neat as he was and he loved the terracing and checked corn planting that was popular in the fifties.  He was a gentleman farmer in the true sense.  His clothes were always neat and pressed thanks to Mother’s expertise with an iron.  Even when working he was as neat as could be managed.

His farming transitioned from workhorses to tractors and he loved innovation.   Dean and I came along at the same time horses were being phased out of the operation.  I can remember a team called George and Kate; a team of black Percherons who were put out to pasture when their usefulness was over.  I remember a Thanksgiving dinner when one of my sisters came running to the table to tell us George had died.  Kate was blind by this time and had to be put down for she was lost without George.  My sisters grew up on the backs of workhorses and I have family photos to prove it.  In their polka-dotted dresses, sausage-curled hair and bare feet, they were the epitome of farmers’ daughters.

The world would be a better place if more families had the advantage of such a father.

 

 

 

 

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Festival of the Bells

Zach has been introduced to the citizens of Windfallow as the hero who saved the Great Bell of Fellowship.  In his honor a Festival of the Bells has ben instituted.  We partake now in part of that Festival.

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Zach sat in a place of honor between the Queen and Robin as children and Alari performed before the grandstand at Bellkeep. The music was at times sweet and at others loud and invigorating. There were jugglers who tossed sparkling crystal balls high in the air and acrobats who defied the law of gravity.

Then, the entertainers left, the crowd grew still and the King and Queen of Windfallow rose from their seats and walked to the middle of the open area. They stood with their backs to one another, the better to see all the people. King Dagan spoke first. “Citizens of Windfallow and special guest, Zachary. We have called a special celebration of the Bells, which will be held on this date forever to commemorate the safe return of the Great Bell of Fellowship. On this day the Great Bell of Fellowship, the Great Bell of Peace and the Great Bell of the Angels will be rung in unison at exactly 12:00 noon.”

The Queen took up the speech. “Never before have we heard the Bells rung in unison. We do not know what will happen, but Angari says it is appropriate that it be done. Friends, it is almost noon. I ask that you remain silent until the Bells have rung.”

With that, the King and Queen returned to their seats and waited with their subjects. A great silence fell over the crowd. Zach could feel the people around him holding their breath as they waited for something they had never experienced before. Then Zach heard a sound so compelling, so overwhelming, he fell to his knees in reverence. When he thought he could no longer stand the sweetness of it, another tone joined the first and the harmony swept through his feet, up through his chest and arms, his hands rising without conscious effort.

Now a third tone joined the others and Zach felt his heart would burst with the power of it. Suddenly they were surrounded by brilliantly white angels, wings spread and voices raised in magnificent music. Their robes and wings blazed with iridescent color and their hair shone like spun gold. Even his amber glasses could not soften the brilliance and Zach was struck blind.

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From The Chronicles of Windfallow: Vol I, The Great Bell

Though he could not see, Zach could still hear the music and feel the wonder around him. “If I never see again, I have seen enough,” he whispered to himself. “I have seen and heard the host of Heaven.”

 

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VIEW FROM TOMORROW

Life was not always like this for me, you know.

There was a time – oh there was a time!

I marched with the best of them!

 

I flew those silver birds through hell

and brought them back every time.

Life was not always like this.

 

Sometimes I remember things.

Like the time I found those pups

only a couple weeks old

suckling their dead mother

at the bottom of a foxhole.

 

I cried as I drowned those pups.

I wanted to be back on that Indiana farm

where I cold raise those warm, wiggly buggers

and make coon dogs of them!

God, how I wanted that!

 

I remember shooting the enemy

and seeing around his neck

a gold locket.

Then having to get up and fire again

to keep that piece of real estate

on our side of the front.

 

I remember the men, good, bad, brave, weak,

who shared that life and made it special.

Ah, we had us some times!

 

What’s that, you say?

What am I doing here?

I don’t’ know.

Sometimes, I think I’m trying to forget.

But mostly, I guess, I’m trying to remember

that time when life itself was a battle.

 

I wait for those spaces when the whiskey fog lifts

and the reality of a civilized world closes in.

Those minutes when I seem once again

to be them aster of my fate.

When the lives of my men and the fate of a world

rested on the tip of a carbine.

Or when these red eyes saw the world

from the blue skies.

when life meant something.

No, life was not always like this.

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