Past Emails - Wholly Ramblings from Jim

Prologue part two:
When Anita read my e-mail back to me I notice that the computer and I made a missed connection here and there in the body of the e-mail. I said one thing and the computer heard another. That made an interesting sentence when you read it out loud. That's why you had to wonder what I meant when some of the sentences really didn't make any sense. Eleanor edited the e-mail before posting it on the website and I hope that this e-mail will be more accurate. I will try to speak more clearly and listen more closely win the computer reads my thoughts back to me.

The first half of the Gospel of John deals with the ministry of Jesus. The second half deals with Jesus making an attempt to prepare his disciples for his departure. Jesus takes on the task of preparing his followers for his absence.

How did Jesus go about preparing his disciples for his absence?
In the first place he talked about it. But people say that talk is cheap yet that is quite an error. Talk is anything but cheap because it is difficult to talk about something that is so important. It is so hard to do but it is also so necessary. Not only is it so necessary it is also just and necessary. Jesus said, "I am going away." And his disciples asked, "Where are you going?"

They wanted to know if they were going to be able to go with him. And his answer was, "Not now." He told them how he wanted them to prepare. When he was gone he told them to hold on to their faith. He told them to believe in God and to believe in him. He told them that he was telling them the truth; that he was going to prepare a place for them and most certainly he was telling them the truth. If he weren't telling them the truth most certainly he would have told him. And then he gave them an even greater message. There is a lyric in a gospel song that goes like this: sometimes I feel like a motherless child.

There are times in our lives and in our life situations when we feel exactly like that; we feel alone and abandoned almost like we're living in an orphanage and that we had been reduced to just being orphans. Jesus says, "I will not leave you as an orphan. I will not abandon you; I will come to you. And I will ask God to give you the Holy Spirit and that spirit will never abandon you. Believe what I tell you," he said.

When we find ourselves moving into an uncertain future; when we find ourselves anxious and worried; when we become confused and a little bit afraid, we might actually start feeling that we have been abandoned and were having to face this all by ourselves. This spirit will be with us and beside us and inside us. When I first became blind I was confused and frightened and panicked. I started to wonder about how the future was going to be and how I was gonna make it now. During that time a very old and fine friend came by to visit on his way to Texas. I was really in a struggle when he came by and I had a hard time just sitting there trying to visit. As he rose to leave he came over to me to hold me before he left and he whispered to me the following: hold on to your faith. It brought back to me and brings back to me today the idea that I will not be left an orphan having to face all these changes by myself.

He told us and tells us to hold on to each other and to keep loving. He also tells us in the midst of our situations that is just what he will do -- that he will hold on to us and keep loving us and not leaving us to face the world as orphans. There are days when I find that harder to believe and in those days I have to remember to keep holding on and to keep loving. There are rough days ahead for all of us. But we have a partner that won't leave us alone to face the fear that life's situations that are beyond us we think.

When the days get along and I get afraid and I think that I am sitting in the dark all alone I tried to remember that. I tried to remember to hold on and to keep loving. I hope you hold on and keep loving also.

I noticed that I was speaking to the computer at times when I think the computer confused what I was saying. So there will be some awkward phrases and words in this text that I missed. However I think it was a good try and I plan to keep on keeping on and I also plan to come by and see what condition my condition is in. I hope it gets better and I hope that we all have a good weekend. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other. Talk to you down the line.

November 7, 2010
This is a very nice Sunday afternoon; the day is very clear and very cool. It is also a good day because LSU beat Alabama yesterday. It was quite a victory because almost no one really believed that LSU would find a way to win. I have to admit that I am very happy that I do not gamble because I would not have bet that LSU would have wanted to find a way to win. It just goes to show you that you really never can tell; at least that's what the old folks say. Who knows they may even find a way to win a few more games. However I do know one thing to bet on and that is that each remaining game will be very difficult to watch and listen to the calls they find a way to make their games more exciting than one would hope.

Anita is doing an art thing this afternoon and I am waiting here with the Scotties for her to return. She will return around 5 PM and then we will and then we will plan what to do for a late supper.

We don't have much to do on Monday except that I have a few errands and a few people to see. I have a few counseling appointments to take care of but I limit them to a very few. I find that not having I find that being blind is really a deterrent to doing good counseling because I simply cannot see so many things that I really need to see an order to do a good job. I will probably give up counseling in the next few months and not do any more of it at all. I have decided to let those few who come for counseling know that I will no longer continue and that I plan to stop in the next few weeks. I'll offer them referrals so that they can find adequate people to help them with their counseling. I knew that this day would eventually come but I am not upset by it at all. I just wish that I could do a better job.

When I spend time alone like I am doing this afternoon I find that I often have to fight off some negative thoughts. I often think that it ought to be easier to become accustomed to this situation than 80 is. I think that I have made peace with this situation and then something happens that allows me to know that I almost have to make a new piece every single day. I would wish that that would not happen but it seems to keep happening anyway. I really I give thanks that there has been a great new development of technology for the blind. Electronics have made a terrific difference and give me an opportunity to do things much easier than once would have been possible. For instance, this verbal e-mail is coming to you by dictation.

All I have to do is keep fighting with the computer in order to see that the computer knows and pays attention to the words that I am using. I have noticed that each day that I make a time for practicing is very beneficial. The computer continues to improve in listening to what I am saying and accurately repeating it back to me. It is now getting down to later afternoon and Anita will be coming home shortly. The Scotties have been outside almost all afternoon keeping guard and running around the backyard -- they had been but they have been doing a good job protecting me by running back and forth along the fence giving voice to any intruder did they think they have spotted. I enjoy listening to them I enjoy hearing them bark and cavort around the backyard because they really seem to enjoy doing it. And you can bet that it will be very difficult for someone to sneak up on them. So I feel pretty safe.

I hope that you are having a good weekend and enjoy this beautiful weather. Take care of yourselves and I will now send this e-mail and I hope that you all receive it like I planned. Take care now.

November 2, 2010
This is not a test. This will be a real e-mail with a number of subjects contained within it. I hope I can do this and will continue to try and I imagine that my practice will get better and better.

This past Sunday was Halloween. When our culture takes a holy day and makes it a holiday the emphasis is usually placed out of order. That has happened with Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. That is why some confusion has grown up around our celebration of Halloween.

Back in the early days of Louisiana, our celebration of Halloween started in your hands. The holiday Halloween was started in this country especially in New Orleans by the Irish. The Irish settled in the Irish Channel District of New Orleans. That is still where they are today.

All Saints Day is a holy day in the church because there are really Saints that we need to remember when we talk about church history. The Saints of the church have made it possible for us to be in a certain church and in a certain pew on any given Sunday the calls they made it their business to see that the church survive through history. So it is very fitting that we should have something called All Saints Day to remember exactly what they had done for us. They have given us quite a holy heritage and we are to be thankful that we had been given that gift.

Tuesday is All Souls Day. This is when you and I remember those people who have made a significant impact in our lives. I hope that most of the time their contribution has been positive and that is who I encourage you to remember. I can remember some special friends, some special family members, and other just good people who have made a significant positive contribution to my living. On this Tuesday I took a little time to remember them and give thanks for their being in my life. Hope you can do the same and have done the same. I really know that my life would have been much less rich had they not been in my life. Some are still present and others have already passed. But honor those in both categories for what they had done for me and mine. And some of those are those to whom these e-mails are being sent. I give thanks for you and what you have done to help me through a very dark time. I thank you for hanging in there with me.

I have also been doing some reading about Chief Joseph and his Indian nation. I am certain you remember what tribe he was a chief of, but when I tried to save the proper name of that Indian tribe this computer gets it all wrong. It has decided that he was chief of what the computer calls the next page Indians. I don't quite know how to go back and correct the error but I will try to find out. In the meantime you can enjoy having discovered that there is a new tribe of Indians. I understand that the next page Indians were really a handful to try to deal with. If you have any new information and research about these fierce next page Indians I hope that you will get in touch with me. However I do already understand that no minor what they do not claim can claim to be any relation of the Cleveland Indians. In that I think they are very wise.

I will now close this e-mail and wish you a good day. Please feel free to get back with me with any of your observations about my stupendous revelations. I am sure that the LSU history department will be very glad to learn that there is a new Indian tribe that they can send out researchers to study. Beware of the next page Indians! I wish you the best and hope to hear from you.

August Tuesday
Things got off to a flying start today when there was a major wreck on I-twelve west bound that is still making traffic horrible after 10am and you can bet that the excessive heat warning that we got today is being matched in all the cars stuck in the traffic jam caused by two big trucks. The temp today is to be 102 and the heat index is to be 117. How's that for the dog days of summer? Our Scotties are staying inside where it is cool and they only go out the Scottie door to just give a minimum barking performance. I think they have the right idea; best be careful in this heat.

There is another country song in which the lyrics have been helpful in maintaining my mental gyroscope. The chorus goes like this:
Let it rain Let it snow
Let the cold north winds blow
Just as long as you love me.

This chorus makes a fundamental statement about life; regardless of the good time, we are all going to have times when it rains and snows and the cold winds blow. And that kind of weather change can knock us down and spin us around. It can turn out to be downright unpleasant; hard to take even. But it can go a lot better for us if we have someone to just as long as you love me. Love really helps and it can often make a big positive difference. Life will find a way to use us and abuse us, but we can take it and make it just as long as you love me. The second part of the chorus is this.
North or south,
East or west,
You help me stand the test,
Just as long as you love me.

What happens to us in life is hard to control. We can make the best choices we can and still have fate fall all over us and take us to a place we did not wish to go. But we get there and there can be a real test. And there are the yous in our lives that can really help us stand the test that the winds of outrageous fortune send our way. There is magic in that line; you help me stand the test. I attempt to be that for those I love and they make that same effort for me. And when the double twins of depression and despair are pounding on you, that you who helps you stand the test makes all the difference. And the love given in that standing of the test is what gives us our passing test. The test can be endured and passes if we are fortunate enough to have those some ones; those yous who help us stand the test. I daily give thanks for those yous who help with the test I am attempting to stand. Here's to standing the test, and thanks to all of those who attempt to be the you who help someone stand their test.

There is another song that has something to say about all this and it comes from the Muppets. In fact, it comes from a song sung by Kermit the frog. I bet you know the one I'm thinking about. Kermit sings about what it is like to be a frog and a green one at that.

It isnít easy being green; Having to spend each day the color of leaves, when I think it could be nicer being red, yellow or gold. Something much more colorful like that. Itís not easy being green; it seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things. And people tend to pass you over because you are not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky. But green is the color of spring; green can be cool and friendly like and green can be big like an ocean or important like a mountain or tall like a tree. When green is all there is to be it can make you wonder why. But why wonder. Why wonder. I'm green and it will do fine; And I think it is what I want to be.

Kermit is struggling with what all of us struggle with sometimes. Kermit is saying that sometimes it isnít easy being me; it isnít easy being a green frog when there are many other flashy things to be. It is so ordinary being green and everyone knows that frogs simply can't pass as pretty; in fact, they can often seem droopy and ugly. Kermit is saying that it is simply hard, at times, to be Kermit. It just isnít easy being me.

It isnít easy being divorced after youíve been married for what seems a lifetime; it isnít easy being the parents who discover their son in his backyard after taking his life; it isnít easy being parents who watch and worry as a child gives his life and energy to drugs; it isnít easy being blind; it isnít easy being a caretaker; it isnít easy having cancer and worrying about it. For all of us there are simply those times when we say it isnít easy being me. We would like to be golden, flashy, confident, chosen, and tranquil. Yet we know, like Kermit that being green is sometimes necessary. Kermit is engaged in a real struggle; there is no Pollyanna answer here; he has to work at it. And he says being green can be cool; it can be important like an ocean or tall like a tree.

So why wonder if you are green; why wonder. I am green; and I think that is what I want to be. Kermit finds a way to accept being green; it is not an easy acceptance but he wants to stop wondering why. Why wonder; I'm green and I think that is what I want to be. We can get trapped in our own version of greenness, just like Kermit. And like Kermit we must find a way to be who we are, to accept our version of being green.

WE too have to say, why wonder; why wonder. I'm green and I think that is what I want to be. How do we pass the green test? When the cold north winds blow, how do we make it. Just as long as you love me, that is how. North or south, east or west, you help me stand the test, just as long as you love me.

I have found a trinity that helps me stand the test. I call it the trinity of the faith, family and friends. The love that is possible in this trinity helps all of us stand the test that life will throw at us. The first f is the love found in faith. All of us need moments of illumination, some highlights in our Christian life. We can get a reminder of the church that sustains us in our pilgrimage through life. We are a branch springing from the vine upon which we depend, from which we derive our power to be open to the nourishment of faith and the love in that faith. When Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches, he is telling us that we are not isolated beings adrift in a stormy world, each of us trying to find some passing gust of grace, some spiritual jet stream, as we try to keep our faith alive. We are not like the leaves of autumn being snatched from the tree to be blown in all kinds of directions. We are members of the great family of Christ, in that great company of his church in heaven and in earth deriving our strength of body, mind and spirit from his grace right to the end of time. Why wonder; why wonder.

Family is the second f in the trinity. The love that is given in caretaking an old blind man is truly wonderful. When things get a little rough then a call comes from Eleanor or Kathryn, just checking in to see what condition our condition is in. A touch on the shoulder, an encouraging word, a shared moment of foolishness or tenderness helps to keep the demons away. I give thanks for a family that shares love with me so generously. That helps me stand the test of this blindness.

Friends are the third f of the trinity. I have friends that call, send "hang on snoopy" cards in the mail; come by and visit; call or write and seemingly just at the time when there is a low point. That friend, that gift of love from a friend helps me stand the test. I hope this kind of trinity is active in your life; I highly recommend it. Thanks to the you all group for being friends that listen and contact me. It helps me stand the test. Thank you for helping me stand.

July 31, 2010 - Hello to August
Today is the last day of July and it will end with a flame. The temp today is to be above one hundred and the heat index even higher; nothing like starting August with all the burners lit. I guess the advice for today is to stay calm. Hope we can do it. I have heard from a number of friends this week and it seems that most of them and myself have been dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that goes along with simply being alive and making our attempts to live meaningfully in this process called life. I have found that for me a few lines from two country songs can help me get a grip when I feel that I am losing my grip. Here is the first that I enjoy. It is about trains and railroad crossings; we have much difficulty with them in this state.

When the gates are all down
And the lights are all flashing
And the whistle is blowing in vain;
If you stay on the tracks Ignoring the facts, then donít blame the wreck on the train.

I have found that I am in a continuous process of moving from blind grief to blind faith; I have also noticed that I have needed to assign meanings to the individual letters in order to help myself through the bad or down days. I started with grief and the g stand for my making sure to grasp the reality of my situation. I am now blind and it seems that will be my lot until I reach the check out counter for this life. Grasp the reality of the situation is identified in the song lyrics above. If I ignore the facts of my situation by disregarding the gates being down, the lights all flashing and the whistle blowing in vain; then if I continue to not do what is necessary to live in my new reality, then I canít blame what happens to my faith and attitude if I donít get off the tracks.

I must live and cope with the world as a blind person and I must do that with all the ability that this seventy one year old man has left. To grieve for the past will only leave me embittered and being a pain to be around. I will simply not do that; I will get off the tracks and out of the way of the emotional train wreck that would be if I donít grasp and live by the new reality of my life. I repeat those lyrics when I am feeling down and blue and admonish myself to get off the tracks and out of the way. It really helps me to do that.

I even have installed a three trumpet Union Pacific diesel road horn on the east side of my house and have the air compressor and indoor button so that I can blow the horn in order to remind me to get off the tracks and to get on with living. It is really a nice, loud horn and it works wonders for me. So hereís to all of us grasping the reality of our life situations and living them as best we can on a day-by-day basis. I also have another set of lyrics that I use and I will send them along in a later email. Hope that you all have a great weekend.

July 25, 2010
I didnít sleep all that well last night so I am getting off an early email to group you all. I heard on the radio that the last quarter and the month of June have been the warmest world wide since weather history has been recorded. I know that we in the heat and humidity belt have noticed that the summer has been really cooking. I am convinced that something is going on but donít know where to locate the cause. I am sure that we humans have something to do with it but surely not all. I am amazed that we have so many environmental groups that stymie any effort to move to new generating plants, oppose nuclear energy when even the rest of the world we call or they call unenlightened have and are moving to it. We will eventually be made to do some of those things because we will not have any choice but to make some needed changes in order to have electricity or energy. Coal and oil canít be left behind until we develop a new way or choose to use nuclear and really make it safe. That will not come in my lifetime because the green heads will not stop using courts to inhibit any development. But Mother Nature will move us to having to do something. I wish we could be more enlightened in our discussion and plans for moving in new directions that will help Mother Earth correct what is ailing her. Part of this is a cycle that is present in the universe and one we cannot control. It will be what it will be regardless of what we do. But we can do something that is a reasonable response and is well planned and thought out. I just hope we donít wait until a major crisis looming before us is the only thing that activates us to choose a new path on our own. Yet I can only do what I can do and much of my energy is being used by our situation of living out what time we have left with something that resembles grace and dignity. If we can do that and still make some small contribution to life around us then we will be doing the best we can at this point in our life. I can choose to do the best I can today; then I can make that same choice tomorrow. My efforts and results may vary day by day, but I can make sure that it is the best I can do that day. In reality, that is all we can do; but I donít want to settle for not doing the best I can that day. I have my meditation ready for church this morning and I will now start getting ready for crossing the river and doing the worship for another Sunday. Hope you get to worship as well. Talk to you later.

 

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