O’er the Tumult

Each month I write a column for our church newsletter. I call it Opening Thoughts. Once or twice I have lifted some of my Balance entries to use there; this time, I’ve reversed that flow, and below is my July 2008 Opening Thoughts.

Packing to go. What will I need? There’s only so much room, but I don’t want to be unprepared. What if there’s no store nearby? I know I’m going to forget something. And I can’t remember if I was supposed to bring my own sheets and towels. Wait a minute…this is a camping trip…of course I need towels, but there are no beds for sheets. What was I thinking? And then there’s a completely different context in which I might ask, “What was I thinking”! Of course, I can’t leave until I write that newsletter article, and I have NO clue where to start. Caladryl – that seems like a good idea; somebody will get bitten by something or take a tumble into poison ivy. Chiggers and mosquitoes and ticks, oh my! Why can I never find that flashlight? Craziness! There’s a fire extinguisher in the truck already. Binoculars. Frisbee. Bible. I guess we’ve got enough food. Three teenage boys and myself. If we run out, we can always come home a day early. Or eat whatever Matt catches from the river. I wonder what’s been living in the tent since it was last upright. If nothing slithers near my hands or feet, I should be okay. But that is a good smell – tent sweet tent! It used to be okay to cut firewood, but now you have to bring your own. That’s good, really. Low impact, leave no trace type of thing. Good practice for camping, not so good for faith. Stealth Christianity wasn’t what Jesus had in mind, I think. He’d prefer we made an impact, left more than a trace of what he’s all about. These boots really are heavy, but I’ll be glad for them if the trail gets rocky tomorrow. Or if it rains – oh yeah, better take my weather radio. I think I won’t shave, see how much gray is in my beard, now. How old was I the last time I slept on the ground? Tylenol! And a pillow – that’s what I always forget. That truck is going to be tight. Two axes should be enough. Two axes, but no computer…somebody pray for me.

I hear a truck in the yard. It’s time to go. Which always seems more momentous than time to stay. But it’s not. Just a different momentum, blessed by the same Lord who stayed and left, who walked and slept on the ground, who prayed and packed everything necessary into the short time he was allotted.

Published in: on June 27, 2008 at 3:16 pm  Comments (8)  

Two Blogs

How many months has it been since I added some new blog links? I don’t know. But there are now two new ones you should check when navigating (temporarily!) away from Balance. Stephen Taylor is a fellow UM pastor who has been blogging meaningfully for nearly a year. I recently found his blog after he had linked to mine and recommended it to his readers — generously, I might add. Go get to know him at NitroRev. I’m excited to be blogally connected with you, Stephen!

Next, there is Lore Ferguson, who has been writing blogs for several years. Find her at The Blackbird Is Involved in What I Know. Go there quickly, but don’t rush away. No photos, but the best use of language I’ve found on the internet. Please take the time to get what she’s saying. But even if you don’t, the way she says it will charm your mind. That’s all I’ll say, lest I skew your opinion before forming it yourself.

Also regarding blog maintenance, I have considered removing from my blogroll those links which are no longer being used by their authors, but I’m hesitant. What they have written previously is still worthwhile, and hopefully, more good thoughts will grace the bandwidth from them before long.

Published in: on June 24, 2008 at 8:23 am  Comments (2)  

Landsford Canal State Park, 6-21-8

Some of what was there:

a family of Northern Rough-winged Swallows


juvenile Red-eyed Vireo

Rocky-shoals Spider-lilies

smooth water beside unsmooth water

blue, with wings in the middle

Published in: on June 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm  Comments (3)  

Last Week’s Lightning Strike

This is a large white oak. At chest height, it measures 11′ 9″ around. It gets even thicker higher up where the limbs start branching out. This photo shows the west side.


These two photos show the east side. The gash here varies from 8 to 10 inches wide.


Much wood and bark was scattered around the yard.


East of the tree, a piece of wood landed 109′ 3″ away. Yes, I measured it. And west of the tree, a piece landed 107′ 5″ away. Everywhere the shredded wood lay, brown juices oozed out, staining the concrete. Iridescence accompanied some of the flow.



I was not home when the strike occurred, so when I heard about it from some church members who had gathered for choir practice and Disciple Bible Study, I thought Faulkner would be terrified. But when I saw him, he was fine, even normal appearing. That was good. His house sits approximately 60′ from the tree. I didn’t measure that.

When I saw the streak marks, running not only down the trunk but also along four major limbs, I thought it unlikely that the tree could survive, and it might not. As of today, though, eight days after the strike, the tree is not showing any wilting of leaves. It would be sad to lose such a wonderful tree, the second-largest in my yard.

Published in: on June 19, 2008 at 4:01 pm  Comments (7)  

Haw River, Jordan Lake

Saturday, my drive to the water involved two kayaks on top of the Frontier.  The 12-foot L.L. Bean Calypso and its pilot, Debra, were excellent accomplices for a day of exploration. 


The day was hot, and the lake was full of motorboats of all descriptions, making challenging waves at times.  But there were quiet spots with blue damselflies at water level and many birds calling in the trees. 


A mud bar with willow trees hosted six or more Killdeer.  A Prothonotary Warbler hopped its yellow self among sticks and stumps protruding from the water. 


A Bald Eagle crossed the river above the treetops, and Great Blue Herons flew slowly where they wished, taunting gravity like ancient sky barges. 


Fish and turtles and leeches and a snake brought notice from two paddlers who cannot not notice such things, each holding their place in the balance of what this day was.


 And what it was was good.


Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 11:00 pm  Comments (1)  

Checking In

My internet access is severely curtailed right now due to an array of computer issues.  I have no internet access at all at home.  For some time now, one of my browsers (AOL) will not allow me to post anything on my blog.  IE and Safari will let me post, but clumsily, not allowing me to establish categories (to aid anyone who might be searching for my subject matter).  But I see that on this computer I’m borrowing, I can easily set categories and edit my material.  It might be time to buy another computer. 

If my e-mail communication to any of you is sporadic, this is why.  You may certainly call me to expedite your thoughts.  I will continue to check this computer when I can and others if available, so your e-mails will not be completely unread. 

I also wanted to tell about the lightning strike in my back yard last night.  That could be the pivotal moment in the demise of my modem and computer’s online capacity.  The repairman replaced the damaged modem, but the computer still will not communicate with it.  The strike was bad, and the tree will probably die.  I have pictures, but they are on my home computer and cannot be accessed.  Hopefully I’ll remember to show them here once order and balance have been restored.  In the meantime, I’m going to turn off comment moderation so you can say what you want about what you read here without having to wait for me to find a computer and approve it.  You can more easily talk to one another like that, too. 

Have a good night, and if you have computer purchase advice for me, I will gladly accept it.

Published in: on June 12, 2008 at 8:26 pm  Comments (2)  

The Beach in the Morning, with People — St. Simons Island

Fourteen wandered while sixty-one slept. Breakfast was not yet accomplished. Someone chose a route that led behind and through the extensive tidal pools. So we moved between the waters with sunlight’s early curiosity dancing up to see who we were.








On the schedule for later that morning was worship at 9:00. But some of us, with sand between our toes, were already there.

Published in: on June 11, 2008 at 7:46 am  Comments (2)