Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Learn from the past, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow (April 4)

I mentioned in my last post that our grandson Hunter was hospitalized Sunday night with a lot of abdominal pain. At first they thought it was appendicitis and would require surgery but after the surgeon looked at CAT scan and other tests, he decided that while there was a “blockage” in the appendix it wasn’t infected and they would wait and see. They thought the pain was due to severe constipation rather than appendix. Last night, we talked to Tammye and then Chris later. Tammye had spent the night with Hunter and Chris was with him when we first called at 7:30. However, at 9;30 when we called again they were all home. Hunter was feeling better although he still needed laxatives to clear things up. We hope that this is the last time he has this problem and that surgery won’t be needed in the future - even though that still is a possibility.

We also talked to Melissa – she too had a medical problem to discuss with her Mom – Linda wasn’t sure but it seemed like she (Melissa) was having an allergic reaction to something so Mom was “prescribing” antihistamines and topical treatments for the itching. Melissa is still recovering from her knee injury a month ago and it is gradually getting stronger.

We finished our family rounds by calling Kevin & sarah. Will was also experiencing some earache so it seems this was the week for medical concerns – However, we are grateful that there doesn’t seem to be anything serious in all this – I am really beginning to understand that while we may “cut the apron strings” that only strengthens the "ties to our hearts" (Why is it that as I get older my father gets so much smarter than he was when I was young and I get so much “dumber”? )

Linda & I spent most of our day being tourists and wandering through the shops on Main St in Fredericksburg Texas. This is a town that is rich in history and full of reminders of its German heritage (it reminded us of our dear brother Richard & sister Ilse Herzog and of our friends and neighbors Karin & Fred von Althen). There are many buildings that that are over 100 years old – some 150. We saw the birthplace of Admiral Nimitz of WWII fame. There is a museum here named after him that concentrates on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent sea battle of the Pacific.

Many of the shops had various articles- ranging from elaborate needle point on linens to garden stakes to cheap t-shirts that contained various sayings. You know things like “some days I wake up grumpy, other days I let him sleep”. We had many good laughs as one or the other of us pointed out some saying that caught our attention. I saw in John Dobb’s blog that he left on a trip and forgot his clothes . Well John – welcome to the club. I thought I should be able to reel off a dozen or so of these one liners but they’ve flown the coop (You know that they say that memory is the 2nd thing to go and ….I’ve forgotten what the 1st one is).

Anyhow, even though I can’t bring them to mind there were ones that had generated that “isn’t that the truth?” type of response that made you want to burst out in laughter (or cause you to feel a nostalgic tear or to pause a moment and think about how you might live better, love better, be closer to God or encouraged to adopt a “devil may care” philosophy of life” . No matter what philosophy of life -- there is a saying that covers it.

One saying that did stick with me – and it isn’t something new but it seemed to be cause for thought as the day unfolded – is the one in the title. It is difficult to be in a place so full of history and rich in another culture and not be asking- "What can we learn from this?"

I was wearing my “We care” t-shirt that John Dobbs gave us when we were in Pascagoula. In one store the saleslady asked about it and we were explaining that we had spent some time helping those who had been flooded out by the storm surge from Katrina.

This lead into a conversation about the devastation and the impact on people –especially older people who had their whole lives turned upside down. During the conversation she raised (what has become) the inevitable questions of “Why do people want to rebuild in an area that had been devastated?” and the related question of “Why would you help with it if it is likely going to happen again?” I don’t really have an answer to the first question other than the fact that God created us with a spirit of tenacity, many people have deep roots in the place were they live and they aren’t going to be driven away by either manmade or natural disasters if there is any option of staying.

Being in Texas and looking at the history of the pioneers and native Americans I couldn’t help but see that as a lesson from the past. When you consider the hardships they endured, lives that were lost, homes that were rebuilt and how in some cases they persevered and survived. In other cases(both settlers and natives) died to stay where they wanted to be rather than give up. Whether that was due to foolish pride and poor judgment or whether it was courageous commitment to living out a vision of what their lives should be -- seems to be a matter of personal perspective. People from a distance may see it one way- -- those up close may see it another. Each of us needs to learn the lessons of history within the context of our own lives, make our choices as to how we will respond and extend respect to others who see the lesson differently.

In any case, my personal response to the question “Why stay & rebuild?” remains the same as the first day I was in Mississippi “I couldn’t live there but . This came about when one person upon learning we were from Canada said “Oh I could never live up there in all that snow and cold”. My immediate reaction was (although as I said I bit my tongue since it didn’t seem appropriate to say it at the time ) was “Well I could never live here under threat of hurricanes and flooding with all these swamps and snakes, .etc.). I hope my friends in Pascagoula can forgive me for this attitude but as the saying goes “Nice place to visit (and lots of nice people-but I wouldn’t want to live there).

So we learn from history what we can learn and move on to “Live for today” (This is the day the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it). Linda will tell you that sometimes I don’t do very well at that. especially when we are in transition. We have made our choices- we are now on vacation for 3 weeks. But I get uptight and grumpy (maybe she should have let me sleep!!) over silly things because I want to be “doing something” rather than just relaxing. So I need to re-learn the lessons of the past . I need to live in the present with a grateful heart and let my Hope lead me into the future – a future that by definition no matter what happens is a good future as long as I “fix my eyes on Jesus” (well this has turned into a sermon – forgive me but I needed it –maybe there is something here that will help you as well)

I didn’t answer the 2nd question about “Why we should help rebuild if we wonder if it could be an exercise in futility?” One answer is in a comment on a recent posting by John Dobb’s expressing concerned that the commitment of others to helping was dropping off. He was focusing on building awareness of the need – the comments said the story was less about the need and more about the reward of helping. – at least that was what I understood from it. Jesus said that “it is more blessed to give than receive” and that we shouldn’t be looking for a reward here - The good Samaritan didn’t ask whether the man beaten by thieves would take better precautions the next time he traveled. Jesus healed all 10 of the lepers even though only one really got the point and came back to thank him. When we experience the joy of service, it isn’t contingent on whether those served really are going to benefit from the action – we do it unconditionally because we love God and others. We saw a need that we felt called to meet. - it is not for us to judge the “worthiness” of the people with the need.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda


JD said...

Good thoughts, Charlie. I can understand the questions being asked. Truly, we've never seen anything like Katrina ... never. Smaller hurricanes come and go ... there's some damage ... not like this, though. I live here because when I was 29 years old this church took a leap and hired me to be their preacher.I stayed here because of the beautiful spirit of the people. But I would think most people feel that way about 'home'. I, however, would love the cold and snow. :)

Charlie said...

I need to be clear-the need is great and the peopleofPascagoula deserve to have help rebuilding their lives.My point was for those that may use questions like this to "rationalize" not helping. If the attitude was only to help those who are "worthy" then Jesus wouldn't have come to save us.