Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fear Be Damned....

I am not sure where we were, just some mountain area, most likely in Colorado. Back when I was a young boy my family did the summer vacation road trips each year. Being on a mountainside looking over the valley below and a mountain creek flowing next to us were the kinda places my dad would find for us; it was beautiful. This particular day as we watched the valley, a storm drew in and the skies turned grey. Then it happened.

The bottom of one of the clouds began to spin, and a point formed. The point dropped down, and then it was a narrow tube. A tornado. We could see it from the mountainside, and my family and the other campers near us gathered to watch Mother Nature do her thing. Twisting and turning wildly through the valley floor, tearing up pastures and brush as it moved along.

I was so scared when I saw the tornado. I am not sure how to describe it except that maybe like a dog that senses a thunderstorm and is filled with anxiety and fear. I remember asking my mom what we would do if it came up to where we were. How would we be protected?

My first encounter with a mega-storm was just a few years earlier when Hurricane Carla came across the coast of Texas near Galveston. I was just 3 years old, but I remember playing on the front porch of our home in Houston during the eye of the storm. Roofing shingles, dead birds and branches littered the front yard as I rolled my metal Tonka truck back and forth under the covered porch. Then little-known newsman Dan Rather reported live from the Galveston Seawall during the storm, an act that would be imitated by later reporters. This marked the first live TV broadcast of a hurricane. I don’t remember being scared at all.

Growing up each year on his birthday, my oldest son got to go fishing. We would skip school and head to the lake and spend the day doing what we loved to do. One day as we floated along talking, he looked at me and started laughing and pointing.

“Your hair is standing straight up,” he said with an innocent laugh.

At that very moment I realized we were in trouble. I told him to set his rod down and sit down. I quickly hopped into the driver seat and motored us to the closest dock. We had been watching a thunderstorm roll in but were enjoying the breeze and the increased action with the fish. I never thought about the potential we might get hit by lightning. It is rare but possible, which scared me.

Fear is something that can wreak havoc in our minds and our lives if we don’t understand it. Unreasonable fear can cause phobias like driving on a freeway or riding in an elevator. There are times I am walking in the dark and in my mind I know it is safe, but I still fight being scared of something. I don’t quite know why that is, but I do.

I truly think that Satan uses fear in our lives to take us out of the game, too. He uses fear to keep us from asking for help. He uses it to keep us from making friendships or taking off time from work to be with our family. He uses it to convince us we can’t do things and are unworthy. He uses it to keep us from opening up and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to our spouses or friends when we are hurting or have needs. It can keep us from being who God wants us to be, who He has trained us to be. Fear manifests itself in so many ways, and for me I have to check in with God regularly and ask what is it I am afraid of that is keeping me from Him. I have to be willing to ask, and I have to be unafraid to hear the answer.

When we were on the mountainside that day and I asked my mom what we would do to keep safe if that tornado came up the mountain she said, “Well, we could lay in the ditch right there, and it will go right over us.”

I ran to the ditch and checked out where my spot was going to be – I wanted to know where I was going when it hit. The whole thing only lasted a few minutes before the tornado dissipated. I learned later that it would not have come up the mountainside anyway. I didn’t know that then and I was scared but knowing my mom had a plan, that she knew what to do, made me feel better.

I know today that God has a plan for me and that everything is part of that plan. I know He has a safe place for me when things are dangerous. Even still, in my humanity, I forget and feed into the fear of everyday life. Fear of death and sickness, money and accidents. But all in all I learned that tornados don’t go up the mountainside and hurricanes come and go. I know that those times I run and jump into the ditch He is with me, protecting me and I am safe. Fear, be damned.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I have a sit spot. No it’s not a blister on my butt from being lazy. It is what “Coyote Mentoring” calls a place in nature you sit regularly and learn about nature, tune into nature, leave the electronics behind and sit still and quiet. In one spot, the same spot and learn it. I love it.

Recently when my daughter and I were walking in some public area, I don’t remember exactly where it was, a mall parking lot or festival grounds, she told me to “walk faster.” “Dad, you’re walking like an old person, let’s go”. She said partially aggravated, partially laughing. I told her I was just taking in the moment with her. Really I was thinking and really not in much of a hurry to be anywhere any faster. I was content. But, I sped up my pace.

It wasn’t long after that the same thing happened, “Dad, you’re walking slow again.” This time it concluded with “you’re walking like an old man, let’s go.” Now, I am laughing. I find myself comfortable in a different pace than this 16-year-old kid and I like it. I like that it aggravates her first and foremost. I am always looking at ways to aggravate my kids with a purpose and this was a good one. “Slow down, enjoy this time with your dad.” I said. Didn’t work, she was trying to get to the truck to get home, a comfortable seat to text from or something along those lines I guess.

Now first of all, my kids are loving and caring as any kids ever. They are also teens and oblivious to a lot of things that don’t include their current life needs or crisis. I lived that way for almost all my life. To this day I find myself caught up in a whirlwind of electronics and business that means absolutely nothing when it comes down to the core things of importance.

Core level is living in the beauty of the moment but tends to only happen when someone is dying, coming back from tragedy, living in pain or hurt in one form or another. We as humans tend to have to have a brick to the side of the head to see life’s true core beauty.

I wanted to say here that there is something to be said for the hippie way of life. I wanted to find a correlating lifestyle that defined what I am trying to describe. I looked up hippie to see if that fit, peaceful, introspective and compassionate but most of the definitions for hippie were anti-establishment and included drugs. That doesn’t fit. But then I realized that in the bible Jesus often went to find still quiet places to pray and be comforted. He would spend the day talking to thousands then jump in a boat and go across the lake to a quiet wilderness area. He often went to the garden to be still and quiet. He found sit spots to connect to His Father and His creation, to reflect on the core level things important to us all.

When I called my daughter at work, Callahan’s General Store, and asked if she would bring me a bird feeder home and some seed she laughed. She joked with the other employee’s at the store who know me about my new obsession with bird watching.

I am liking trying to figure out my humming bird feeder and my new seed bird feeder. I get up early with a cup of coffee and sit on my porch swing and watch in anticipation of a bird coming to the feeder. It is exciting to see the different types.

Oh man, did I just say it is exciting to see birds coming into my bird feeder? Did I just reveal that I am enjoying sitting on my porch swinging in an old swing? Oh geez, I am getting old. But ya know what, I would not change this time in my life for all the youth and muscles and hair in the world. Thanks God for core experiences I will have today through You.