By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
The last week or so has been 'interesting' to say the least, both from a spiritual and personal viewpoint (and sadly, despite walking with Christ since 1988, there are times when I do seem to want to keep the two paths separate!). The image shown is of two paths or roads diverging in a wood (much as my favorite poet in his poem, "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. In this case, both from what has happened in the spiritual and 'physical' realm, both have seemed to converge and, with apologies to Mr. Frost, "...that has made all the difference."
The week long fast (from food, television, Facebook. I did post some things but did not peruse through at al. No electronic media of any kind other than that required by work...more on that in a bit; all of this combined to heighten my sense of God’s presence in my everyday (man, why not do this on a more regular basis Shook? Talk about an Urkel moment! It seemed easier this year than last, but also more challenging because of another battle that I was in danger of losing at work (and, in actuality, had already lost).
One of our clients there was rather adept at getting inside my head and maneuvering me to do favors for her; things that seemed innocent on the surface, but over time began to push further and further over the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Honestly, it was a big ego lift for this 20-something lady to be hitting on me (even if in my own mind); looking back, it is terrifying to think of how far this could have gone. My surpervisor saw what was happening and warned me (twice!) and on the observed third time, I left them little choice but to terminate me as an employee.
Shame, regret and deep remorse for the loss of what could have been a witness for Christ in that dark place. Instead, I allowed the enemy to subvert me into a trap that is all too common in and out of Scripture. Time spent with Pastor Ethan and my wife began the healing; the Friday night of worship was a catharsis that continued the healing, particularly one song, “I AM a Child of the King” (emphasis intentional)!
Today, while sitting at the bar in Breakthrough Nutrition, an impulse hit me to share with a college student sitting next to me who works some part-time helping out Nick and Blair in the store. I had some cash in my wallet and just felt that she could use it for whatever; to see the expression on her face when I gave it to her let me know that I had ‘heard’ correctly. Leaving right after that, as I walked to the car I sort of remembered hearing the phrase about doing as much good as you can while you can. I could not remember the whole thing or where it came from, so I looked it up:
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
This idea or compulsion is, pushing me now to do so with my time, talent, as well as finances. I’m not sure why NOW. It could be the looming surgery in February or something else that only God knows about (and I like it that way), but those words seem to me to fit with not only what Ethan has been sharing, but what God has been sharing since, “In the beginning…”
Let’s see what happens.
In our ongoing study through the Gospel of Mark, the last two Sundays have dealt with what Ethan has termed, “Bold Faith.” This past Sunday, the 28th of January, his theme for Mark 11:12-14, 20-25 was “Speak to the Mountain” that dovetailed with what I have been experiencing in the last two weeks or so.
As many of you know who follow my blog, I have been on a journey since coming out of prison that has been rather ‘interesting’ at times. Part of that has been my struggle with PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) from my adventures in the Navy and since. Thankfully treatment with Harbor Reins in Cary (equine-assisted psychotherapy) did much to bring healing; really the only overt sign has been my ongoing hand tremors. I began treatment while still living in the Triangle part of North Carolina, starting several different medications and finally having a neurologist there settle on Primidone. After moving to Asheville with beaches (Wilmington), I continued this treatment, gradually increasing the dosage to the maximum allowed. There were times when with each increase the tremors did seem to subside somewhat, but never for very long. While the tremors persisted despite increasing dosages, I did begin to experience some, at times, dramatic side effects in the way of easily losing my balance. It is to the point where I am unable to ride my bicycle, and it would not be a good thing to have some officer administer a road-side sobriety test to me as I would flunk it stone cold sober.
So, what to do? The tremors were interfering with handwriting as well as typing (word-processing?) with the result that I all but stopped blogging. Additionally, much of my morning devotions and Bible study diminished greatly because I was mostly unable to work the computer based study software. I knew that God wanted me to study (big duh) and meditate on his Word, even continue to blog, but the tremors continued to make it all but impossible. As the days became weeks and months, I noticed that I was always tired and would take frequent naps each day despite having slept for 8 to 12 hours at night! It puzzled me why this was happening until one night while driving home from the USO-NC Jacksonville Center where I volunteer, I ‘happened’ to listen to the Good News Network station on Harker’s Island, specifically to a ministry called Know The Truth led by Pastor Phillip De Courcy. The lesson this particular night came from Jonah 1 and something Pastor De Courcy said was like a Gibb’s slap to the back of my head (if you don’t watch NCIS you won’t understand the reference). He said that this snoring prophet was exhausted enough to sleep through a storm because he was running from God’s will for him. I remember ‘speaking’ to God along the lines of, “Okay, that’s why I’m tired because I’ve stopped blogging and studying, but I held up my shaking hands to the ceiling as if to show God why I’d stopped.
So, what to do? I spent some time praying and speaking with God about this, and it was as though he was waiting for something from me. As with Jonah when he wound up in a rather unconventional berth (first ever sub sailor?) as a result of his disobedience, I cried out to God in anguish. While I don’t think it was bargaining (much), I did ask God to take the tremors away. At that moment, my hands did stop trembling! My surprise (yeah, real faith prayer that) lasted for a bit, then I began dancing around and praising God for his delivering me. Another decision I came to was to discontinue the medication I’d been taking to try and get my equilibrium back (something that is not usually a good idea, going from max dose to nada). No one knew of my decision for over a week (including Kathy); there were times when the tremors would reappear, each time I would pray and ask God to once again deliver me from this barrier to what I believed he wanted of me. Then Pastor Ethan spoke his lesson, “Speak to the Mountain!” I’ve no idea how I managed to remain in my seat; perhaps I was so dumbfounded at this lesson being almost exact reiteration of my previous two weeks.
So, is the struggle with tremors now over? No, not really. They are much less noticeable now than before, and I continue sans medication. Interestingly enough, once I made this decision, my energy level returned to normal enabling me to awaken early each morning to spend time alone with my King and his Word even if I’d stayed up late the previous night. As with other areas of my life, the tremors are a reminder of my weakness and dependence on God. It is not the meds or anything other than God’s sovereignty over every aspect of my life that will enable me to honor him each day in all I say and do.
The journey continues…
This time of year we celebrate the birth of a single baby; many would have him remain such as a baby is not at all threatening to the world and its’ ways. The fact that he did become an adult, minister in and around Israel and Judah for about three years, performing feats that even extra-biblical sources extolled was the hinge on which history turned. From that point on, mankind would have real hope that had been given away long before in a garden; not because of his life, but because of who he was, how he lived and died and his physical resurrection from the dead. But that is not the focus of my thoughts here; instead, it is how God did invade his creation, not in might and power, but in weakness and humility.
Think of it, had the Son come to earth as the mightiest, most majestic ruler of all time; taking the physical form to walk among men, even then that would have been a humbling beyond our imaginations. God in the flesh; try to wrap your mind around that! From eternity past, the Father, Son, and Spirit had reveled in the relationship they had as God and from their great love overflowed creation. But also from eternity past, he knew of man’s fall and had a plan (not a Plan B as some suggest) to restore the broken relationship even before creation, before it happened; amazing grace indeed!
This plan was something that would never have occurred to any human as it seems the reverse of what was needed. As with the conquest of Jericho (Joshua 6), this plan appears insanity itself and any who would believe it right equally crazy. As with God commanding Joshua to have Israel march around the city in silence until the last day, then just shouting? Ridiculous any sane military mind would say. But it worked!
Paul, once the up and coming Pharisee Saul, put it like this;
“ 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 ESV
Scholars have wrestled with what it meant when Paul wrote, emptied himself. One source within Bible Gateway Plus seeks to explain it in the following manner;
2:7 made himself nothing. Or “emptied himself.” He did this, not by giving up deity, but by laying aside his glory (see Jn 17:5) and submitting to the humiliation of becoming a man (see 2Co 8:9 and note). Jesus is truly God and truly man. Another view is that he emptied himself, not of deity itself, but of its prerogatives—the high position and glory of deity. nature of a servant. Emphasizes the full reality of his servant identity (see Mk 10:45 and note). As a servant, he was always submissive to the will of the Father (see Lk 22:42; Jn 4:34 and note).
NIV Study Bible Notes
NIV Study Bible, Copyright © 1985, 1995, 2002, 2008, 2011 by Zondervan.
God in diapers! In this weak form, this helpless form, Christ came to his creation, growing into adulthood while remaining a carpenter’s son until the time for his ministry came. John the baptizer introduced him at the river Jordan, and he began to gather disciples even then. Walking in the middle of the Jewish people, unrecognized by most as he just did not fit their preconceived ideas of who Messiah would be. Finally betrayed and denied by those closest to him, he was executed by the Roman government at the behest of the religious rulers; but there the story does not end, it was only beginning.
His-story (history) continues today; an inexorable march to an end he predicted through prophets long ago. This God in diapers is helpless no longer, but mighty to save for any who seek him. Sadly, for many, the day is coming when they will be forced to kneel to this King of kings; those who refuse him now are in that majority condemned forever. Until then it may seem the world is out of control, but the story (His-story) is not yet concluded.
A Song of Ascents. Of David.131 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
David's song, written some say during his flight from Saul, echoes a heart that longs for God; not so much for the things or presents God may give David (relief from Saul's persecution or to be elevated to the throne as had been prophesied over him so many years before). No, David's heart longs for God's presence, not the things God may give.
Matthew Henry's commentary on this Psalm echo what God has been speaking to me through it;
"This psalm is David’s profession of humility, humbly made, with thankfulness to God for his grace, and not in vain-glory. It is probable enough that (as most interpreters suggest) David made this protestation in answer to the calumnies of Saul and his courtiers, who represented David as an ambitious aspiring man, who, under pretense of a divine appointment, sought the kingdom, in the pride of his heart. But he appeals to God, that, on the contrary, I. He aimed at nothing high nor great, Ps. 131:1. II. He was very easy in every condition which God allotted him (Ps. 131:2); and therefore, III. He encourages all good people to trust in God as he did, Ps. 131:3. Some have made it an objection against singing David’s psalms that there are many who cannot say, “My heart is not haughty,” etc. It is true there are; but we may sing it for the same purpose that we read it, to teach and admonish ourselves, and one another, what we ought to be, with repentance that we have come short of being so, and humble prayer to God for his grace to make us so."
How many times I have cried out to God for His presents, but how often have I really only wanted His presence as a child no longer desiring the breasts from which they received nourishment, but only to be with or to be held by their mother? My 'Professor of Theology,' has been at it again. Many times through the day she will seek me out, crying so piteously that you'd think she was in severe pain. As soon as I pick her up, the purring begins as she just snuggles into my shoulder. She wasn't hungry or thirsty; she just wanted to be with me!
Do I pursue God as C.J. often pursues me, longing only for His presence? In his book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer speaks to this subject much more eloquently than I ever could, but many of the themes in there echo deep within me whenever I re-read it. I long for God, but often wonder is it because I know He is such a gracious giver. My heart longs to be of a mind that I seek Him throughout the day only to be with Him! Many times C.J. will seek to interrupt me in something I am doing, touching my knee with her forepaw seeking to gain my attention. How can a loving servant (some would say owner, but cat servants know) say no to such an appeal? So, I know that whenever I call to my King, He will be there to listen, to 'hold' me, and to provide the best gift of all; His presence in my life.
I have been taught different truths before by C.J., our somewhat brain-damaged cat, but this morning was particularly wondrous.
My mind awakened this morning running at warp 12; it just wouldn’t shut up and let me get back to sleep. Finally surrendering to the inevitable, I got up and went into the ‘reading room’ to spend some time just trying to calm my spirit. C.J. normally follows me around in my morning ablutions and medicine taking, waiting (impatiently) for me to pick her up and hold her on my shoulder. It had never occurred to me how persistent she was throughout the day in having me do this; yes, she liked it when I refilled the food bowl or put fresh water in the water dish (with some ice mind you), but mostly just to be held on my shoulder and stroked. To be completely honest, at times it was rather distracting, even irritating to be pursued by this little creature. She would not stop crying until I acquiesced to her demands and picked her up!
Then, finally, this morning…
Awakened by a multitude of worries and problems, I just couldn’t go back to sleep. Getting out of bed and getting dressed, I wandered out into the ‘reading room’ and sat down to begin my daily devotions. It seemed that something was bothering me deep down and it just escaped me. Opening my web browser on my laptop, I connected to Bible Gateway and began searching for a study or devotional centered on the Psalms. Not finding what “I” was looking for, I just started looking for what was there and found Eternal Words, a series that combined Scripture readings with music designed to, “…bring Joy to your heart and Peace to your soul…” I opened the first one, and within it, a quote from Psalm 131 struck my heart as what I’d been looking for;
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2 ESV
Okay, but what does that have to do with my roiled thoughts and anxiety this morning, and how does that fit in with C.J. normally following me around and crying to be picked up. Wait a minute; it’s been over 30 minutes since the bed spat me out and no C.J. Then it struck me; she wanted nothing more than to be held and cuddled by me. No treats, food, water (even ice!); she just wanted to spend some time being held on my shoulder.
A weaned child wants nothing so much from the mother other than just that thing. They may be hungry (especially once they are teenagers!), but the Psalmist is speaking of the desire for God’s presence rather than His presents. Magically (stop your laughing!), C.J. appeared crying to be picked up. We spent over 30 minutes with my holding her close to my shoulder as we both reveled in the time spent together.
That is what God seemed to be telling me; more than all that He has already gifted me with, He desires my heart to long to be with Him, to pursue Him and for that to be not only sufficient but to be completely satisfying to my soul.
Amazing how my little professor of Theology has once again taught me so much.
Last year while attending a business meeting I had asked someone what the possibility of that company having a position with them for me. Honestly, it was more a proforma kind of request; after almost five years of either being ignored or told my services were not needed, I’d all but given up hope of ever finding meaningful work with any business or company. That this was an organization that did much to demonstrate a willingness to reach unreached populations with health care gave me a small amount of hope.
So, I asked.
Amazingly, the person I spoke with responded in a positive manner. For a moment I did not know how to respond. Over 450 times I’d either heard nothing or a polite dismissal; to have someone in a position of authority tell me that there would be a position for me bordered on the miraculous. It would put me in a position to help those who, like me, were struggling to find a way to live a purposeful life after getting out of prison. Those in the room with me who overheard my conversation were exultant at my finding this possibility; it felt as though my long, the night could be coming to an end.
So, we began plans to look into moving to the Wilmington area to take advantage of this. Over the next few days, it seemed as though one door after another opened and connections made all seemed to confirm that this was happening. In late January of this year, we did move, putting our townhome in Durham on the market. When an offer well above asking price was made less than 24 hours after listing, it seemed yet one more confirmation that we were where we needed to be.
I followed the website for this company daily, checking to see when the position that I had asked about was listed; within an hour of it’s being listed on the website, I had sent in an email to the appropriate person with my resume, cover letter and other material attached. As the weeks went by I continued to hope, but then I learned that interviews had been ongoing for some time, but I had not called. Then, one day when I checked I found the position was no longer there.
When I was just out of the Navy and becoming more and more bitter as the result of my wife divorcing me after she’d forced me to get out of the Navy, a friend I worked with in the ED at NCMH, Malcolm MacGregor seemed to have something I was missing. This rather scruffy looking guy never got rattled and always demonstrated a calmness of which I sorely lacked. I knew he was a Christian, but didn’t think that had anything to do with it as I thought I was as well (after all, I’d been raised in the Catholic church and was an American, and so, of course, I was a Christian). We had ample opportunities to discuss what his view of Christianity was (reading the Bible because you wanted to?), but no matter how I at times disagreed with him, he was always kind and gentle to me.
He kept inviting me to this gathering of folks called the Chapel Hill Bible Church which was then meeting in a building on campus (Gerrard Hall) each Sunday morning. I put him off for weeks until finally, I decided to go if for no other reason just to shut him up! When I did I was amazed at what I SAW; what I’ve heard referred to by others in the military as a “target rich environment” because of all the beautiful coeds who attended there. I decided to continue going to the services there to see if I could ‘mine’ this rich environment (hey, I was still a sailor at heart, what can I say?). Over time listening to what James Abrahamson taught, something began happening to me that I did not then realize. Once after a service as many were congregating outside Gerrard Hall, I walked up to Jim and told how much I had enjoyed the lesson. He smiled and said, “Well, praise the Lord!” I was taken aback as I expected a very different response as I’d complimented him, not the Lord.
Sadly, shortly after this, I became so ‘busy’ that Sundays were usually the only day I could sleep late, so my attendance with that strange but wonderful group of believers came to an end. A rich seed had been planted by God through the work of Jim, Malcolm and several others that would not bear fruit for many years. I’d begun dating and then living with another woman (also recovering from a divorce), and we both did attend different ‘churches’ at times through the intervening years but never felt we belonged there.
When we moved back to North Carolina from Florida, we thought we’d found a new home in Winston-Salem, but events and my ego interceded and I found myself convicted of murder following the death of a patient I’d cared for in ICU. I was convicted and sentenced to prison in February 1988 and thought my life was as good as over. Convinced that I’d soon be stabbed, shot, raped or who knows what else, I settled into an uneasy ‘life’ in prison without any expectation that I’d ever get out. BUT GOD (two of my favorite words) had not allowed that seed planted in 1980 to die and began nurturing that all but dead seed into life. My second week at Central Prison, another prisoner invited me to accompany him to the chapel for a church service. Not having anything else to do and looking for an excuse (ANY EXCUSE) to get out of the cacophony of noise that was K Dorm, I accepted.
Chaplain Skip Pike taught that Sunday and I remember comparing him to Jim, keeping things all logical and all, and just thought ‘meh’ at the end. A week later (and a day after my 36th birthday) I was again invited to go; using the same reasoning led me to go. This time another Chaplain was teaching, Eugene Wigelsworth, and to this day I cannot recall what he said or even the passage he taught from; all I know is that when he asked if there was anyone who felt a call on their hearts to come forward, I practically leapt from my chair. I was the second in line (I have no idea if anyone was behind me; all I knew was that the ‘now or never’ feeling in my soul impelled me to move and so I had. When the other prisoner had finished and turned away, I somehow felt unable to step toward Pastor Wigelsworth and began to sob out loud. Had he not stepped forward and hugged me to himself, I would have fallen to the floor. Such a feeling of acceptance and love flooded my heart and soul that even now I can not describe it. Again, I have no recollection of time, or what was happening around me, only as my crying began to subside, a JOY beyond description began to fill me. Pastor Eugene stepped back from me, still holding my shoulders and told me, “You will be fine, young man. I want you to come to my office immediately after the service so we can talk.” I stammered a, “ Yes, sir!” and went back to my chair.
In the following months, I came to love this godly man and to look forward to the times when we could sit in his office and just talk about this seedling growing within me. Far too soon, my time at Central Prison drew to an end as I was in a group selected to be moved to a high-security road camp (where we’d have contact visits!). As we walked toward the area where I was searched before boarding the transfer van, Gene continued to encourage me to follow up on course work he’d arranged for me through Lee College (now University). I’d also ‘discovered’ the Bible Broadcasting Network with such teachers as Chuck Swindoll, Vernon Magee, and others I came to know and respect (indeed, from then on whatever place D.O.C. sent me, my priority was to try and locate a local BBN outlet. Through the years the teaching I heard on BBN and my personal study (used up three separate study Bibles while ‘inside’), God did continue to nurture the seedling, but finding a community of like-minded believers was rare within the prison system.
As I approached the conclusion of my time in prison, I was transferred to Orange Correctional Center in Hillsborough. I had lost contact with several over my years in prison, but once at OCC I reached out to Malcolm (still had his address) and wrote him. He wrote back that he was excited that I was so close and that he would let others know to pray for me. Within a few months, I qualified for Community Visitor passes, but needed some sponsors willing to take me out. I’d already connected with one of the Yokefellow volunteers (Bruce Dalton) and had been out a few times with him when the annual volunteer's banquet was held. The yard was closed to all prisoners, but a guard came to my bunk (where I was reading) and told me that someone wanted to speak to me. I went into the visitation area (where the banquet was being held) and saw Jim and Cecee Abrahamson; Jim standing with his arms wide open and a great big grin on his face. We spoke briefly and he promised to start taking me out on CV passes very soon.
The next Sunday he and Cecee arrived to take me to the Chapel Hill Bible Church (no longer meeting on campus, but in a beautiful building off of Erwin Road). Many of those in the Sunday School class he led knew me from BC (before Christ) and I have to confess to feeling more than a little trepidation at what kind of welcome I’d receive. Very soon it became apparent to me that the doctrine of God’s grace was more than a textbook idea to the people there. The warmth and welcome I felt amazed me after almost 23 years in prison. In the following year and a half, I continued to bathe weekly in Jim’s teaching as my release date drew nearer. Days before that happened I was transferred to Wake Correctional since my wife was then living in Wake County and so my parole officer was also in Wake County. Soon after that, we became regular attendees of the services at the Chapel Hill Bible Church and then members; I won’t claim that I have arrived at being all that He wants me to be, but the atmosphere and teaching there had my roots going ever deeper and my heart filling more and more.
Now, with our coming move to Wilmington, it is time to say goodbye or perhaps “Aloha” would be better. So much has happened and so much has changed in who I was even since surrendering to my King. New adventures await, but it is with a pang in my heart that we draw this chapter of my journey Home to a conclusion. We had a saying we shared in the choir at Piedmont Correctional Institution as we concluded rehearsal on Wednesday night; “See you in the morning or in the clouds.” I guess that’s as good as any way to speak to my family at the Chubby-C.
The journey continues…
One of the ways that I have begun my healing journey is through the Yoga Warrior class through the wonderful folks at the Military Family Ministry at Hope Community Church. Every second and fourth Thursday I continue to stretch the envelope on my ligaments (gently though) and learn to be aware of my breathing. We all do it but have you ever stopped, closed your eyes and concentrated on each breath as it enters and exits the body. Of course, this is similar to what Amy Gressler at Harbor Reins has been teaching me as well as part of the Equine Therapy. Being more cognizant of the NOW, the sensations of air moving past your body as well as the movement of the body (and the horse beneath you). Amy had me matching my breaths with that of the horse; it amazed me how once I’d done that, it seemed the stress and tension just flowed away.
Coming home from the Warrior Yoga class tonight, a song played on HIS Radio (107.7 here in Durham) that has always reminded me that no matter the pressure to DO, all I need to do is “…just breathe…” Breathe is one of those songs that not only is firmly based on Scripture, but is a reminder in today’s chaotic world, that peace IS possible. The mantras that the Yoga instructor has taught us I have replaced with another reminder that is far more biblical:
“I am in Christ,
God is in control;
My future is secure,
Jesus owns my soul.”
Amy sent me a self-evaluation to go over again (I’ve done it before as it is a good measure of where I am in the healing process). Considering where I was when I first started with Harbor Reins and now, the difference is night and day. Most of the nightmares, the self-loathing and ennui, are fading replaced by a knowledge of who I am in Christ and where I am NOW. It fills me with gratitude to my God for directing me as he has in ‘finding’ Harbor Reins and Warrior Yoga as those two have had much to do with how far I have come in the past months. I am also thankful to an incredible woman who has put up with me over the years (yeah, she even stuck it out while I was in prison for about 24 ½ years), but mostly I am grateful to a God, who took me in my filth and welcomed me with open arms. And, though I do continue to blow it (oy vey, how I still blow it at times!), he is there telling me, “Just breathe.”
The journey continues…
What a day!
When I pulled up, I noticed that Liza had already put Bob in the ring, so I decided to go over and say hello. I called out to him, and he came sauntering over to where I was standing which blew my mind, considering our last session. I rubbed on his nose and ears for a bit, and then he turned and walked away; shortly after Amy and Liza came out, and we began our session for the day.
Bob was standing at the far end of the ring, so I placed the grooming tray on a stand in the center and walked toward him to begin. He seems to like most of the grooming (at times he does take a nip at me whenever I clean his right front hoof), but Friday he seemed more relaxed and willing to allow me to do whatever I wanted. As I moved to get him to lift his hoof, he did indeed lift it but then brought it down on top of the toes of my boot (thank God for steel toes). Yep, it hurt like a son of a gun, but I was able to flex the toes inside the boot so figured nothing had been broken.
Throughout the session, Bob seemed a different animal (compared with the previous session when he ignored and resisted my efforts to get him to come to me). It was almost too easy; at one point whenever I would walk away after he came to me, he would follow without being told! Amy had spoken to me about two phases of this; one where I have him come to me, another where I stay in the center of the ring and have him move around the periphery of the ring. I started to attempt this, but each time I called to him, he would walk to me. I would speak to him while rubbing his ears and nose; finally, Amy and Liza told me that by doing this I was reinforcing his behavior, that I needed to be more firm with him to get him to circle instead of approach.
They had given me a ‘carrot stick’ (a metal rod with a length of rope attached) that I had used at times to get his attention so he would approach me. I called to him and, as he had before, he turned and began walking toward me. I popped the rope to one side and said, “No!” while pointing to the other side. He stopped, then walked to the inner part of the ring and began to walk around it. I continued to stand in the center with my arm pointed to the side while I turned with him, continuing to tell him to move on.
I’m not sure who was more thrilled at what was happening, but Amy had a big grin. Earlier she had remarked Bob had begun trusting me more as evidenced by his being more comfortable with my ‘snuggling’ with him; all that had happened that day seemed to reinforce this. I guess our next session will be the ‘proof in the pudding,’ but I am excited at the changes in Bob and me. One of Amy’s observations was that I was obviously more at peace with myself, and Bob had sensed this and so was working with me as a team.
A great day; a wonderful session and an indication that we (as a team) are going in the right direction.
So, what’s new with you?
Another 24 hour period passes and the world seems to pause to celebrate this particular day more than another simply because it marks the passing of one year (2015) and the beginning of yet one more (2016). Spending multiplied millions (if not billions) on the gaiety of such an event and, with the new risks we face, add to that the billions in added security to protect the revelers who gather around the globe.
Why do we do this every year? We eat special meals, supposedly to influence events in the coming year that will bring us additional money and good fortune all the while laughing off such and telling each other that we are not taking such folk-wisdom seriously. But those meals are served with the same regularity as we light up the night sky with brilliant displays of fireworks each year.
Multiplied millions share resolutions to at least attempt to improve their lives, if not that of some attempt at improving the world around them; such promises for change often forgotten in the passing of days (hours?) that the ‘new’ year brings. We hope, perhaps, that this year can be different; that governments can work together, and that industry as well will work more for the benefit of the world and the people who live on it rather than chasing after the amassing of more and more in the coffers of those same governments and businesses.
But what is new with you? Is it vain to hope for improvement as Jiminy Cricket once sang, “When You Wish Upon A Star?” or are we doomed to continue the same circling of the drain as we await the final push of a button to end it all with nuclear oblivion or some other form of destruction? Can that be the underlying cause of such careless and hopeful abandon each New Year Eve? We did not blow ourselves up (at least in the case of the majority) and can hope that such will be the case next December 31st all the while nervously watching the growing tensions between religious groups, countries, and individuals.
Dare I say it? Is there hope in something (Someone) outside of our control? Events that I participated in while in the Navy back in the 1970s make me less hopeful of man’s efforts to obtain “Peace on Earth.” As more countries and the despots who rule them become members of the nuclear club, it seems that we are indeed circling the drain of our demise unless there is Another who will, as the bartender in a pub I once visited in Scotland said, “All right, gents. Closing time.”
We have no means to stop our maddened rush to eventual destruction. A perusal of any news media or just looking within our hearts will demonstrate this truth. Mutual Assured Destruction Doctrine is no guarantee of peace (as I learned in the 70s) and the vehement argument between scholars of different (or the same) religions give me little cause for hope. It is only in one Person that I can look and see hope; a baby born in a slum of a forgotten part of a subjugated people brought that hope to all mankind. A baby foretold for centuries, who was born to die and lived his life in complete obedience to the Law of His people, then executed putting an end, the authorities thought, to this sect of Jews.
But hope arose and continued to grow despite the efforts of any politician or imam; the Light of all men provides a newness in the most despicable of us (and I have, at times, been such and will be again). Scattered around the world, the followers of this One look into a future that is New and filled with a Hope that the world scorns. As this ‘new’ (but far too much the same) begins, I invite you to consider this Jesus and ask yourself what answer He would give you to the question with which I began this.
So, what’s new with you?