29 June 2009

The Peach Truck

Greetings Dear Readers,

As many of you know I am a Southern gentlemen who moved to the Midwest some years ago. The reasons that I moved here have moved on but the place and I agree so I stay. There are a few things that I miss about my Georgia home. One of them is sweet, succulent, and salacious Georgia peaches. Then I discovered the Peach Truck. It comes every summer that the crop is good. The people who run it are honest and kind and they see to it that they keep the prices just and reasonable. For far less than it would cost me to go get them I can buy perfect peaches by the half-bushel and eat, freeze, eat, pickle, and eat them.

Throughout the year I enjoy the benefits of a few days of effort and the spending a few dollars. The point is that I get what may be the true perfect fruit on God’s green earth and it makes me miss Georgia both more and less. The truck is later than usual this year but it is coming. I still have a few frozen peaches from last year and will make some ice-cream for Independence Day I think.

Anticipating the truck this year has settled some things in my mind that are important to me. Since I was just in Georgia briefly, when the climate is at its worst, I know my thoughts about it are fresh. The day we loaded the truck to bring my Son, Bezel to Wisconsin the temperature was 100 degrees with 98% humidity. I hate summer weather in Georgia. It is hot, muggy, steamy, and you never really get dry. I miss my family but not enough to live in Georgia again. I miss the Varsity® and Chic-fil-A®. I miss Sunbeam Bread® and White Lilly Flour®. I miss listening to ALL of the Braves games on the radio.

As I write this it is 59 degrees and the humidity is 66%. I have the windows open and can breathe. The expected high is 73 degrees. All and all I love where I live, but the peach truck has me thinking. What have I given up to be in this place where I love to live? My parents are getting older and do not see them often. I have nieces and nephews I rarely see. My family is mostly far away. This place suits me but I realized today that I put more effort into finding out when the peach truck is coming than I did with communicating with my family whilst I was in Georgia. For this I publically apologize. I learned distance from my parents from my parents. I want to break that cycle somehow and have not yet found the key.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

23 June 2009

Shameless Advertising

Greetings Dear Readers,

I know that some of you really enjoy my blog. I know that some of you read it because it sends itself to you. I get very little feedback and would like more. I am requesting that if you enjoy my blog, you send it on to some of your friends. I cannot reward you. I cannot pay you. I can promise that with an increase in feedback and more readers I will be motivated to write more.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

15 June 2009

Recounting what is Good

Greetings Dear Readers,

I am somewhat of a Survivor addict. It is on the ever-shrinking list of shows that I will not miss if possible. During the final episode of each evolution the remaining castaways go through a ritual that intrigues and entertains. They walk a long hike where they encounter the torches of their fallen comrades from the island. As they stop at each torch the survivors recall something positive about even the worst of the ejected players.

Yesterday was my 12th anniversary of marriage to Avalon. Her absence was both keen and sharp in its pain. My counselor recommended a method of dealing with the pain that I have avoided believing that would only hurt worse for doing it. Yesterday evening while I was alone in the home, I spent a couple of hours thinking deeply about the beautiful things from my time with Avalon. I focused strongly on remembering past joys without hoping for future ones.

Taking my example from one of the people in my Divorce Care® group, I began to list the good things not about Avalon as a person but the good things we shared in our years together. This simple act broke through a barrier that I have been having the hardest time piercing. As I made my list I saw so many things that I would not have experienced were it not for who she is and the uniqueness that God has placed in her.

It is very difficult to love someone and realize that you cannot do anything about their rejection of you. It is painful and nightmarish. It is also joyful to know that no one can take away the beauty and grace of the things you have learned from that person. One must take care if they venture down this path to discipline themselves away from sorrowful remembrance of things lost and focus only on the joy of things shared.

I will return to this list when I feel the sorrow of a future without Avalon terrorizing me. I know that I will never move beyond missing her. I still think in moments of triumph that I cannot wait to share them with my beloved. The painful milestones are still close in my rearview mirror. I do, however, have a new salve for the pain and I thank my counselor and my friend from Divorce Care for it.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

14 June 2009

Names for Animals part 2

Greetings Dear Readers,

My Son Maxim reminded me last night that I promised you all another round of Animal groupings called venery or collective nouns. Shall we dive right into it?

We all know that fish swim in schools. They also congregate in other groupings. One can witness a shoal of shad, a grind of blackfish, and a lap of cod. I have done this last in a fine dining restaurant. Eels swim in a fry, whilst herrings are in a glean. Salmon, oxymoronically come in both a run and a bind. This sounds very unpleasant to me. Tilapias gather in a taint, trout in a hover, goldfish in a glint, and clams, quite comfortably in a bed.

Bats come is a cloud. Buffalo gather in gangs, although I have not heard of many buffalo selling drugs or street fighting. One can have a string of ponies, a rake of colts, or a stud of mares. This last one seems at best odd. Imagine how far away one could smell a surfeit of skunks. One could see the dreadfulness of an ambush of tigers, a destruction of wildcats, or a glaring of cats (they stare at me all the time). We have mentioned that bears come in a sleuth but one reader pointed out that Polar Bears come in an aurora and sun bears in a sloth.

One may see hopping along a brace of conies, a husk of jackrabbits, a prong of jack-a-lopes, and I really want to see someone pull this off, a leash of rabbits.

Moving into the skies we may see a siege of bitterns, tribe of sparrows, and a knob of pintails. Eagles congregate in convocation whilst magpies gather in a congregation. This may be why there is so much gossip in churches. One may see a hill of ruffs, a hedge of herons, or a desert of lapwings. Very geographical I think.

The next time you are out and about with a group of friends remember that you should be happy. You do not need to travel in a piteousness of doves, a sorrow of sorrels, or a lamentation of swans. You may wish to go on a lark of well, larks, join a band of jays (they play metal mostly), or join a harmony of nightingales.

Until then I wish you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

10 June 2009

My Friend Judas

Greetings Dear Readers,

I am trying to find that narrow path between right and wrong by purging my anger and loving others as I love myself. Above all I am trying to love God with all my heart in the way he wishes to be loved. I need to speak to an old friend who does not really wish to hear me. Perhaps you too can benefit from my conversation with Judas

Many years ago a student came to me asking questions about Judas. I have felt for a long time that Judas is both harshly judged and maligned by history. I will not say for a moment that what he did was not wrong. Judas did indeed deceive and hand over Jesus to those who eventually demanded that his crucifixion. What was Judas’ motive? This student, like many believed that Judas was condemned from the beginning of time to betray Christ and be nothing but a hated tool in the hands of God. This student once wrote that they should just be called Judas as well.

I do not believe that this is true. As I wrote about during Holy week, I believe that Judas was a man of great faith and poor obedience. I believe that Judas bought it all. I think that Judas knew that Jesus was God incarnate and that he hoped to push him to act. He wanted Christ to follow an agenda that was not Christ’s. Judas wished for Jesus to vanquish the enemies of Israel. Judas had the flaw of not seeing who Christ was beyond the power he wielded. I believe his repentance shows this.

I did all I could to reach out to this student. I gave him all the love I had to give and more. I still love, deeply and honestly, this student who became a friend and even family to me. He eventually betrayed me. He used my love and trust to set me up, to rob me, and to harm me deeply. My friend Judas betrayed me with a kiss.

I am not Christ. I was not perfect in our relationship. I know I failed my friend many times. None of my sins merit intentional premeditated betrayal. So what I have to say is simple. I forgive you Judas. Your sin is not upon your head as far as I am concerned. We are both very crooked sticks and our only hope is Christ. Unlike the Apostle Judas, you need not pay for the innocent blood you have shed because forgiveness is back where you fell. Full restoration is possible, but like all of us, you must bear the yolk of Christ that you swore to bear. The forgiveness is not conditional but you cannot call yourself my friend without repenting from your betrayal. As for me, I have been and always shall be your friend.

I love the Judas of the New Testament. I believe that he was not in line with God’s plan and just as stubborn as I am sometimes. I love my friend Judas. I have judged both of these people harshly at times and that was wrong. I always will love my friend Judas. I pray some day that he comes to his senses and sees that restoration is always possible as long as I am alive.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

08 June 2009

I Am In Danger

Greetings Dear Readers,

Not so long ago a friend took a real risk with me. She tried to tell me just how much anger she saw in me. Internally I denied what she was saying, writing it off to so much of the life circumstance I am in at the moment and the current stresses in day to day living. Poppet, I was wrong and I apologize for not hearing what you were saying a the level it deserved hearing.

Yesterday one of the pastors at my church talked about a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. He explained some things at a level I had never considered before and I realized that great danger because of my anger. Here is the passage and after it I will talk more about my situation.

Mat 5:21 - 26 “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'Never murder. Whoever murders will answer for it in court.' But I can guarantee that whoever is angry with another believer will answer for it in court. Whoever calls another believer an insulting name will answer for it in the highest court. Whoever calls another believer a fool will answer for it in hellfire. "So if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember there that another believer has something against you, leave your gift at the altar. First go away and make peace with that person. Then come back and offer your gift. Make peace quickly with your opponent while you are on the way to court with him. Otherwise, he will hand you over to the judge. Then the judge will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison. I can guarantee this truth: You will never get out until you pay every penny of your fine.”

You see, the anger here is not talking about righteous anger over the wrongs done to others. It is that common everyday anger that I embrace when someone violates my space, speech, rights, or progress. It is easy here to say that everyone does this. Everyone feels this kind of anger. Yes, but I am not accountable for everyone. I have said that we are all crooked sticks, but the one I need to focus on is me.

This anger that is so dangerous is the anger that had me calling the guy who cut me off in traffic “stupid.” This is the anger that causes me to be impatient with my children or me to arrogant when I do not get good customer service. I am not saying that in some instanced the other driver, the counter clerk, and my children are not in the wrong. I am saying that my feelings and my responses based on those feelings are not always righteous.

I think that the only way to get out of this anger is to see people as Christ sees them. I rail on everyone from politicians I dislike to lady in the express lane with more than 12 items. The thing is that Christ wishes me to be better than all of that. He wishes me to see that it is my pride and arrogance that cause me to trample on others whether they can hear me or not.

I used to never allow the word “stupid” to be said about anyone. My children were forbidden from it and I did not call anyone that. Now I do it all the time. The path back will be a harsh and hard one. I must remember that my stick is crooked and I, therefore, cannot judge the straightness of another’s. Poppet, thank you for point out this huge bend in my character. By God’s grace I will do better. I also apologize to my children for setting a bad example for them. Mostly I ask forgiveness of the times I have insulted those who did or did not know that I was insulting them. Every one of them deserves better from me.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

01 June 2009

The Truth is the Truth

Greetings Dear Readers,

Recently I have had to deal with several truths that are both unpleasant and painful. Put simply put they are still truths. Some truths are still simple. If you drop a pen gravity will take hold and the pen will fall to the floor. Some truths we count on to be true. Others we avoid like a funny smelling uncle or a rosewater smelling aunt.

The thing we must embrace is that there are truths we refuse to embrace. I do not want for a moment to diminish hope. We can accept painful or messy truths without giving up hope. We can have real hope without shutting out truth. I have over and over wrestled with truths that I would rather deny but are painfully rising to the surface.

As a teacher I lay out truths daily hoping that students will catch the important ones. I know they watch me. I know they look to see how I handle the painful truths in my life. I know they watch to see if I will live what I believe or if my “truth” is just another stream of carob coated words professing to be chocolate.

Last time I wrote about some very painful truths and they were accompanied by a discussion with beloved Son, Maxim. We talked about the way Christians often hide hard truths from people to supposedly protect them from losing faith. If faith is based on, well faith, then asking for certain truths to be evident is a detractor. Maxim and I spoke of the event in John’s Gospel concerning the woman caught in adultery. The earliest manuscripts we have do not contain this passage. This is simple truth. I do not know if there definitive evidence either way yet. I do know that what matters is that people will not even talk about it.

We no longer truly deal in truth. We deal in the stories and filters that we put in place to make our lives easier or more comfortable. We do not wrestle with the things that will not make our families, faith, or careers more unsettled. We instead live with lies and vagaries that supposedly make us comfortable. I did this in my marriage and it cost me my wife.

What we must do is embrace truth at any cost. We must do it lovingly and with kindness or compassion as necessary. We must deal in truth coupled with grace. I must leave behind my safety nets and conveniences and speak the truth in love no matter what the cost. God is good and he knows what he is doing.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn