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Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  173                       Cumulative Days Blogging: 158

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                    Total Trip Mileage: 1149

Mother with Child

I am composing this posting as I sit in the memorial garden at my church on a beautiful sunny Sunday.  I would like to wish my mother (Rose Ann) a wonderful Mother’s Day; she is half the country away but will be spending it with one of my sisters.  As I have recently dealt with the transition of “letting go” of my eldest son as he enters the US Army I have often thought of my mother and the fact that she went through this six times!  I have such a deeper appreciation for what she must have gone through across a span of ten years. Thanks mom… I love you!

As I sit here wrapped in the beauty and inspiration of Mother Nature, I find myself thinking about the universality of the mother archetype.  She shows up in all cultures across all of recorded history.  Yesterday I came across an appropriate Indian saying: “All women in this world are forms of the Goddess.”

Migrant Mother

According to some belief systems motherhood is not the only or most important archetypical phase a women goes through in her lifetime.  Some authors within the Wiccan/Druid systems speak of three distinct female archetypes.  Not all women will experience all three over the course of their lifetime, some choose to halt the progressive unfolding of this archetypical journey, while others are blocked or forbidden to express them by their culture or society.

These are sometimes called the “Triple Goddesses:” 1) The Maiden or Virgin – an independent women who is enticing and filled with energy and passion; 2) The Mother – a women who embodies fertility and growth while displaying tenacity, protectiveness, and resourcefulness; 3) The Crone – the wise old women who embodies independence, resourcefulness, and life knowledge.

Rose Ann from Maiden to Mother

Some women move graciously from one phase to the next, while others struggle to hold back the future (cronyism), to hold onto the past (taking extreme physical measures to retain the Maidens allure), or try to recapture what was lost.  Clearly the society and culture a woman is embedded in can greatly help or hinder these transitions.  The business and marketing world clearly cherishes the young maiden physique which drive huge markets in cosmetics, diets and plastic surgery.  Some religious and political systems over emphasize the Mother phase and do not allow or support women being educated, taking part in decision making or amassing wealth.  I live in South Carolina.  The state has 50 state senators who draft our laws, how many women are part of this powerful body?   None… zero!  Which archetype is neither recognized or cherished “in these parts?”

Many societies create rituals to signify the transition between phases.  Marriage and weddings represent a transition from Maidenhood to Womanhood traditionally with children following close behind.  Traditionally women would give up their employment (independence) to become a full time mother.  It can be argued that menopause represents a physical transition to the Crone stage; sadly most modern societies do not have social rituals to signify this change. Although my partner Susan recently joined her friends at something called “Menopause the Musical!”  Perhaps as the mass of female Baby Boomers reach this phase we will see the development of some recognized transitions. I believe that we should celebrate and embrace all three archetypes.  We should have a Maiden’s Day and a Crones Day, not just Mother’s Day.

Even Avatars had Mothers

However, on this day we should give thanks for the loving and caring qualities of our mothers. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a living mother, making this day a sometimes difficult celebration.  For others it is the joy of being a mother that gives this day meaning and helps them project their future onward towards coming generations.  For others there is the joy of having a trusted intimate relationship with older women who assumes a “mother like” role in our lives.  I suspect that this form of relationship is a fulfilling manifestation of the Crone archetype.  Let us give thanks for all the biological mothers who raised us and for all the various wise old women who have and continue to help us through life!

As I sat in the church garden studying the memorial monument I recognize a number of names one stood out in my memories and warranted recognition on this special day.  I hope you enjoy this poem/musing:

Fern Evelyn Thompson Moss

I stand on flat smooth

   Stepping stones

      In the church memorial garden

I stand at the base

   Of a granite monument

      Baring names of the departed

I smile at the memory

   Of your small stooped stature

      Of your radiant smile

         Of your heartfelt greetings

From 1918 to 2008

   You walked among us

      Spreading joy and comfort

         Living your wisdom

We miss you Fern

You live on

   In our memories

      In a beautiful garden

         In wildflowers and grasses

You live on

   In our unfolding lives

      In the lives of those we touch

We miss you Fern

Don't forget mother nature!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  172                       Cumulative Days Blogging: 157

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                    Total Trip Mileage: 1144

As I climb on the bike today my thoughts are with my family, friends, students and fellow pilgrims who have shared words of encouragement with me as I experienced the mixed emotions associated with sending my eldest son off to his active duty station and most likely war.

Yin-Yang: Symbol for the Chinese concepts of harmony and complementary opposites. Acceptance of apparent contradictions as each phenomena is seen as containing some element of it’s opposite.  The universe is seen as moving in cycles that contain underlying harmony, this understanding is essential to understanding life and change.

I realize that any discussion about the military and armed conflict always draws mixed and sometime strongly held reactions from people.  This is even more the case when I consider that I am part of a very liberal and pluralistic faith and have reached out to a wide circle of open caring people who value compassionate relationships.  I realize that questions of the use and existence of the military raise deep concerns for many people.   

I find within myself an ongoing struggle between my positive memories of the military and my knowledge of the destructiveness that military service can visit on soldiers (I have worked with many PTSD survivors from WW2, Korea and Vietnam), and the innocent civilians who get caught up in the conflict (I heard horror stories of collateral damage from Vets).  I have received several strongly negative comments about my recent Facebook and Blog postings.  Many of them expressed the belief that the world would all be better off without a military and conflict/war. 

I whole heartedly agree that humankind and our planet would be better off if we could extinguish this incessant drum beat that has appeared throughout human history, leading our young men (and now young women) off to war.  Ideally I dream of a world where there is no anger, no bullying, no hatred, no racism, no killing, no conflict.  However, I am a realist and while I sometimes let myself dream of idyllic times, where we all coexist in peace, I realize that there are reasons why we need a social institution called the military. 

I believe we sometimes need to grab our shield and spears and man the ramparts in defense of our ideals and of higher good.  I recognize the danger that arm conflict can get wrapped up in ideology, the whole argument about a “just war” troubles me when it is tied to religious principles.  Far too many people have died in the name of God, as each side hurls the label of “heretic” at the other. 

As a Psychologist I ask myself what motivates this apparent “need” for a military.  I believe the military can serve two different but valid functions, one within the individual members (intrapersonal needs) and the other within a culture or society (interpersonal needs).  There  is a great deal of variations in how these needs manifest themselves, also they may differ across time (as evidenced by the fact that the US attack on Iraq represented the first time our nation attacked someone who had not first provoked us… now what was that all about?)

Some of the Intrapersonal needs comes about because of inner conflict, between parts of ourselves, or because we find our “world” under apparent attack (our idea of right and wrong challenged by gay marriage, abortion, growing numbers of minorities).  These frustrations can lead to a “lashing out” at others who are different from ourselves.  I tell my students that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about what a “jihad” represents.  It is my understanding that we are to undertake a jihad against those forces within ourselves that block us from achieving a connection with the divine.  As often happens in religious and political undertakings (crusades, liberation movements, cults) the enlightened purpose behind a movement is lost when egotistical and self-serving motives take over. 

We all struggle with conflicting inner forces, we all have a dark side! I believe the critical thing is to find a balance between our inner forces.  Until we can find this balance inside ourselves we will not find it in our exterior world and our relationship with others.  My son struggles, as I have struggled, in a constant yin and yang balance between desires and ideals.  The military with its multitude if new experiences and new views helped me find my balance, I hope that it might do the same for my son.

Another dynamic that comes into play are Interpersonal needs.  I have repeatedly lamented the dichotomous thinking that we see so prevalent in our society.  This form of thinking manifests itself in the “win – lose” and “us versus them” arguments spewed forth by “hot heads” on both sides of the political and religious spectrum.  What is particularly problematic about this form of thinking is that when one group (political party, race, culture or church) chooses to take this perspective, seeing everything as warfare or a win or lose game, it puts great pressure on other groups to assume the same stance.

 Peace and harmony between people only works if both sides decide that this is the overriding goal.  True peace and harmony is not imposed on vanquished by a victor it is a choice made by both sides to compromise and find common ground.  When one side amasses an arsenal the other side has to respond in like.  I do not believe that the response must always be in the direction of a stronger force, if you have leaders with foresight and a greater understanding, the response can be one of compassion and a measured strike at those directly responsible (the actual terrorist or the individual despot leader) you do not have to destroy a whole country.  If you mean to counter a radical ideology you do not need to demonize a whole religion or ethnic group.

Examples of the “Yin and Yang” of life abound all about us.  You see it in nature, in the lives of animals, in our inner self, in our community and our nations. Let us never cease striving for balance for a healthy perspective, for a lessening of conflict and an acceptance of differences.  Let us never cease the struggle to be loving caring compassionate beings!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  171                       Cumulative Days Blogging: 156

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                    Total Trip Mileage: 1139

National Day of Prayer in United States: National Day of Prayer is held on the first Thursday of May each year, inviting Americans of all faiths to pray for the country and its leaders.

Is that a sacred scripture or a weapon?

Greetings fellow pilgrims!  I am reminded today why one of my favorite statements about technology and electronics is” “just when you think it is your friend it turns on you!”  I rode the bike this afternoon and dictated my posting concerning today as the National Day of Prayer.  Then when I sat down to transcribe it I found that the tape was blank!  For some reason it did not record so I will have to try and recreate it from memory.  Here goes…

I hope that everyone has taken a moment during the day to offer a prayer in whatever way is appropriate according to your belief system.  I feel the need to add this qualifier (“in whatever way”) because sadly the events of the day have been marred by controversy.  I say sadly because our community, nation and world can use all the help we can muster to set aside our differences and come together to face our growing shared problems (terrorism, global climate change, dwindling resources, conflict and war).  However, even something as promising as a call for all people to turn toward the divine for help and guidance has become a derisive issue.

Two issues seem to provide fuel for this controversy.  One centers on the issue of whether it is appropriate to have an “official” day of prayer; the second is a question of what constitutes an appropriate prayer.

Private Prayer... Freedom of Expression

A recent court decision, which is being appealed, sided with the argument of those individuals who believe it is inappropriate to have an officially sanctioned day of prayer as this represents the government sanctioning religion in general. Whether this religion is practiced by a majority of the people does not matter as the backers of this legal challenge believe it breaches the separation of church and state.  These individuals will often point out that existing laws that are written in inclusionary manners are often ignored or actively flaunted by elected officials who use their proclamations of faith for political gain.

Not just for Christians!

Personally, I do not see a problem with the government sanctioning a day of prayer as long as there is no official prayer and individuals of differing faiths or no faith at all are not subjected to exclusionary prayers.  An exclusionary prayer is one that proclaims or insinuates that there is only one valid path, valid name, valid experience associated with the divine.  Such prayers may outright condemn as false or heretical any and all other paths and names for the divine or divine experiences.

Recently at a local county council meeting atheists, secular humanists, and two groups of Buddhist were made (they were given no warning and/or before the fact choice) to sit through an “in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior” opening prayer that specifically targeted with condemnation abortion providers and gays.  The council member who delivered the meetings opening prayer offered no apology when a person in attendance complained. How do you think the Buddhists in attendance (community members, taxpaying citizens, who were there to request the county’s recognition of Buddha’s birthday) felt?  Were they made to feel uncomfortable and excluded simply because a “devout Christian” did not want to miss an opportunity to preach his message, which happened to be one of hate and exclusion in this case.

 Just this last week I sat through a graduation ceremony for a local state supported university.  While most of the individuals in attendance were likely Christians, the opening and closing invocations, which were given by a member of the school’s board of trustees, ended with proclamations about Jesus Christ.  In addition, the US Senator who was the commencement speaker also worked into his talk mention of Jesus Christ. Curiously, he finished his talk by sending off the graduates into the world with the advice to “make lots of money!”  No call to rise up and transcend our needs and desires for the greater good of the people and nation.  No challenge to aim for Mars, cure cancer, help clean up politics, just a call to produce and consume!

 I am living in the Bible Belt so I recognize the importance of faith and religion in people’s lives. It is an important part of my personal life.   However, it is troubling and unsettling to see individuals who represent all of the people of the county, state, country (elected officials and University board of trustee members) act as if there is no valid diversity of beliefs and faiths.  It seems to me the least they can do is to use a pluralistic inclusionary invocation at public meetings. If someone in attendance wants to mutter the name Jesus Christ under their breath while their neighbor mutters Buddha or Goddess, or just takes a deep breath and relaxes, how does this deny anyone their “right” to their faith?  Does it matter at all that I have the right to sit in a public meeting (this is not a church service or revival) without having to hear someone “proclaiming their faith” in ways that insinuate that I, my children and my fellow church members are somehow misguided, wrong and “going to hell.”  Again, I am not attending their church or revival, I am not speaking about the ten commandment signs they place in their yards, I am speaking about a tax payer funded meeting, conducting “official business” where I have to just sit and bite my tongue, I guess because I am in the minority! 

It is my understanding that the reason we have a constitution is to protect the minorities, as the majority can vote in the leaders who write the laws.  Therefore the courts and the constitution are there to protect the non-dominant races, faiths, sexual orientations, ethnic groups, and political groups.

Back in the Fall I blogged about the importance of great teachers, most being guided by profound deep faith in the divine.  I included Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Billy Graham.  Rev. Graham’s son Franklin Graham has placed himself in the center of the ongoing controversy about today’s day of prayer.  It seems that he was invited to speak at the Pentagon but this invitation was later withdrawn because of some very negative things he said in an interview about the Islamic faith.

While Franklin certainly has every right to free speech he needs to recognize, as I have taught my sons, that the things we say have consequences.  You can’t go saying negative things about a major religious tradition which will be part of an ecumenical Day of Prayer, with the purpose to “bring together” the community, and expect to be welcomed.  To add insult to injury he now claims that this is all part of some systematic affront toward white Evangelical Christians by President Obama.

In a Tuesday USA Today interview he was reported to have said: “Muslims do not worship the same ‘God the Father’ I worship.”  He also took a swipe at Hinduism, saying, “No elephant with 100 arms can do anything for me.  None of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation.  We are fooling ourselves if we think we can have some big kumbaya service and all hold hands and it’s all going to get better in this world.  It’s not going to get better.” 

Hindu Deity Ganesha

Is it any wonder why the organizers of the Pentagon service uninvited Franklin Graham?  He proclaims to know what Muslins believe and then displays his lack of knowledge about the Hindu deities (Genesha has an elephant head but only four arms; Vishnu is often pictured with multiple sets of arms).  Again I have no problem with Franklin Graham offering whatever form of Christian prayer he chooses at private gatherings or public religious gatherings, but not at officially government sanctioned event that are undertaken to bring together our diverse communities of faith.

One final point; as I stood in the locker room at my gym this morning Franklin came onto CNN, which was playing on the locker room TV and made a timid statement that he can only be expected to pray in the way he was taught to pray and in the way he believes.  He may believe this to be the truth, but if we accept this reasoning and logic then a lot of people who had in the past to change, adapt and adjust might have been “off the hook.”  If a racist Southern sheriff could have just said “that was the way I was raised” as an argument for why he should not be expected to follow the new civil rights laws, or people opposed to women’s new found right to vote refusing to give them a ballot because they still believe in “the old way.”  There are many loving, devout Evangelical Christians who can sit in a meeting and hear a non-denominational prayer without feeling that their faith has be slighted. They might even listen to a prayer by a Hindu or Muslim and see the similarity in all forms of prayer.  If Franklin Graham wants to limit himself to exclusive Christian prayers then I suggest he stick with his church and his revivals.  If he wants to be accepted into the larger faith community than I suggest he learn how to speak to the heart of all faith and religions, free of any denominational or specific faith trappings.

Hindu Deity Vishnu

Just a quick aside, when I served as the Chaplin for my son’s Boy Scout troop I often lead prayers that called on the boys to look within themselves and toward the divine for strength and answers.  It was not a Taoist prayer, or a Unitarian Universalist prayer, it was an inclusive upbeat non-denominational prayer.  I did it! I challenge Rev. Franklin Graham to do the same!

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Greetings friends and fellow pilgrims.  I am still preparing for and adjusting to my son’s departure for Fort Lewis Washington.  As a going away gift I am having the book “365 Tao” bound as a hardback book.  He has read it in the past to the point of breaking the binding so I thought a hardback copy would serve him well,  I also had the book binder include several pages of my words of encouragement and what I call “Words of Wisdom.”  I thought my readers might enjoy see them, so here they are:

The following represents “Words of Wisdom” I have gleamed from my life experiences.  I hope that pondering them may help you recognize their possible relevance in your life.

 1)      “Shit happens” – our lives are a constant parade of events that we are required

                                             to adjust too,  how we adjust affects our level of happiness!

  TYPES OF SHIT:

a)      Just Happens” Shit – we have little or no choice in the event’s occurrence

  1. THROWNESS – conditions we are born with (gender, race, baldness, etc)
  2. “DROPPED OUT OF THE BLUE” Shit – largely unexpected or unforeseeable events and conditions (illness, accidents, acts of nature)

      Keys to adjustment for the “Just Happens Shit”:

  1. Acceptance and Accommodation – some people actually embrace the

            event as a way of adjusting (“bald is beautiful”)                                        

  1. Foster Coping Skills – prepare for the next “unexpected event”

            (buy insurance, build strong social support, foster spirituality, get training)

      Most Common Errors:

  1. “Fight the Shit” – this is the basis for many marketing efforts

                                   (hair loss treatments, diets, cosmetic surgery)

  1. “Fear the Shit” – worry about all the “what ifs” that could occur

 b)      Stepped in It” Shit – we have some responsibility for these events occurrence 

                                                       as they are influenced by our life choices

  1. CONSEQUENCES – conditions we create by our actions, they are not necessarily predictable, but likely outcomes of our actions (highly probable).  They may involve the consequences of ours and others people’s actions, we tend to not see these coming, although in “hind sight” we realize that they were highly probable. (cancer due to smoking)
  2. “SEE IT COMING” Shit – if you are observant and know how to recognize it, these are the situations/ relationships/ events that you can steer clear of/ avoid (getting in the car with a drunk, going out with a drug user, skipping classes, unprotected sex).

      Keys to adjustment for the “Stepped In It Shit”:

  1. Make Corrections – change the causal behaviors or attitudes that 

                                       lead to event (quit smoking, start exercising, 

                                       leave the relationship, training, etc.)            

     2. Learn From It – take a lesson away from the experience and then 

                                Implement changes to decrease the likelihood of   

                                future problems (choose relationships more wisely)

     3. “Fight It” – work to take control (now) over the things you still have

                         control over… manage the fallout! (apologize)

      Most Common Errors:

  1. Embracing the Shit – this “there is meaning in suffering” attitude 

                                        often leads to a lack of action (everyone dies!)

  1. Misinterpreting it – seeing it as “Just Happens Shit” and accepting it 

                                      as an unchangeable situation. (I said “I do!”)

      Note:  Situations often represent combinations of these categories.  An unwanted  

                pregnancy maybe experienced as a “Dropped out of the Blue” event, but in 

                hindsight it is a “See it Coming” Event.

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” – Douglas Adams

 2)       “Be Happy”           

-    Life is all about attitude! Attitude represents a filter or lens (like a pair of glasses) that we  

           view the world through.  Like a dirty lens, we often assume that what we perceive

           (through the lens) is the world and not a filtered image (anger is a dirty lens)

-          always remember that your lens needs polishing and cleaning… check it frequently!

3)      “Never Say Never”

-          We can only make predictions about the future, none of us can know what it holds!

       This attitude helps keeps us from committing to inflexible positions… keeps us from

       having to “eat our words” in the future… helps us keep our options open!

“Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.” – Diana Robinson

4)     

“Be Certain, But Humble”

-          Strive to be certain about your beliefs (in yourself and your worldview).  Strive to have your life experiences fit your life view, but be humble about your beliefs because they are yours and do not necessarily fit the life experiences of other people. 

-          This is particularly important with respect to political and religious beliefs.

 5)      “Change is Mandatory, Growth is Optional!”

-          perhaps one of the most important overriding points about life is that it is a process!

-          it is always in the process of becoming something (something more or something less, but surely something different) our control over this process is sometimes limited

-          like it or not, planned and unplanned changes (shit) happens, it is what we do with these changes (resist/ignore/adjust to them) that is of paramount importance

-          how we respond dictates the general course our life follows (do we consistently make mountains out of mole hills… or see mountains –obstacles- as just speed bumps)

-          wise choices do not always lead to success (a lack of failure) but they always lead to  growth (improving our happiness and chances for success in the future)

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” – Buddha

 6)      “Always strive for Balance”

-          Growth is a process of finding balance between our desires and needs (present and future) and the demands of life situations (rules and laws, other’s needs)

-          Buddha and the Taoists preached “the Middle Path” – don’t deny your needs but don’t give in to excesses – always treat others with compassion and care!

 7)      “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you have too or should!”

-          Life presents us with multiple possibilities and choices, we must choose wisely!

-          Not all choices are equal! Some choices represent unreasonable risks (You can see it coming shit) and     

            threaten to move us away from a balanced position.

-          Stupid people make stupid choices: 1) They couldn’t do what they tried to do (lacked skills to do it); 2) They

            didn’t see the potential risk (should not have done it); 3) They told themselves they “had to do it” (a dare,

            standing up to an insult, to look tough).

I hope that you found my words thought provoking and humorous… have a wonderful day!

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  170                             Cumulative Days Blogging: 155

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                    Total Trip Mileage: 1134

35th Engineer Battalion

Greeting to all my fellow pilgrims!  It is good to finally climb back onto the bike and report to you all what has happened in the past weeks.  I had taken to the roadways and drove to Missouri to attend my eldest son’s graduation from US Army training.  I then shared a day and a half drive with him back to South Carolina.  The trip back was the rainiest stretch of travel I have ever undertaken in my life.  It rained steadily from Memphis to Atlanta, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Mississippi and Alabama impacted by the string of tornados that were figuratively “in our rear view mirror!”

I enjoyed the opportunity to visit an area of the country I had never had the opportunity to see before, the Ozarks.  The tree covered hills, rushing rivers and streams and pastures populated with cows and horses were idyllic.  In many ways it reminded me of the upstate in South Carolina, for I saw a lot of timber haulers, pickup trucks and trailer homes! 

Standing out from the crowd!

I experienced a great deal of pride watching my son’s graduation as he had distinguished himself in his training and received the US Army Engineers Trailblazer Award,  a distinction granted to only about 5% of the recruits.  The award proclaimed: For meritorious achievement as a combat engineer Pvt.  Edwards distinguished himself by exceeding course standards for all combat engineer occupational skills training levels of motivation, discipline, teamwork, and leadership throughout the training cycle, signifying him as one of Charlie Company’s finest.

He now stands tall and proud and is excited about making his way to Fort Lewis Washington where he will be assigned to a specific unit.  The drive to Missouri afforded me an opportunity to reminisce about the joy and sorrows of parenthood and the time I spent with him as he grew up.  I know that this mixture of ups (joys) and downs (stress and sadness) are part of the process of parenting, and a teenager’s need to find their own identity and path in life.  I am excited about the growth he has shown in the military.  I am excited that he will be seeing new places and meeting new people.  These can be valuable transformative experiences.  But I am also apprehensive as I know he will cross paths with problematic people, and be forced to make problematic choices.  He very likely will go to war and be faced with death!  I will save my thoughts on that prospect for another day.  I look forward, with mixed feelings, to his life unfolding and my watching from the sidelines… but I have no other choice!

Ho'oponopono Prayer

The title for today’s posting came from last Sunday’s sermon by the Rev. Pat Jobe.  It is a Hawaiian prayer!  Prayers come in a number of different forms and this one does not fit easily into the standard categories (e.g., Petition, Confession, Adoration, Intercession, Meditation, Thanksgiving, and Consecration).  Given that it does not make any reference to the divine it functions very much like a therapy or self-help device.  It offers a four step process to deal with feelings of sadness and anger at people or events in our lives.  These many represent current situations or feelings we are carrying from our past.  The first step is to declare “I’m sorry,” the second step is to ask “forgive me,” the third step is to declare “thank you,” and the final step is to proclaim “I love you!”  Listening to Pat talk about the prayer and its usage made me realize that I needed to repeat this prayer with respect to both of my sons and my long deceased father.

Proud warriors at ease!

Years ago as I prepared to become a father I remember thinking about my own father, about the pain and sorrow he visited upon his family.  I cursed him for the scars we (his children) carried forward into our futures.  I knew on some level that he carried his own scars, for he was the product of an emotionally distant alcoholic father.  However, the pain was strong and not easily extinguished.  I swore to myself, as I awaited the arrival of my first son that I would not make the mistakes my father made.  I would be emotionally involved and invested in his life at the same time I would let him become who he needed to be!

I am happy to report that I did not make the mistakes my father made!  However, sadly it seems that I made all new ones!  I’ve come to believe that you cannot be a parent, a partner, a teacher or a friend without making what in hindsight can be called, mistakes.  We cannot be “loving caring involved human beings” without some times disappointing or falling short of the hopes and expectations of those we love.  I realize now that my father was just doing the best he could.  I don’t make excuses for his bad choices, but I do forgive him for them.  I thank him for the many gifts he gave me, including an interest in art and nature and my mechanical abilities.  I am sorry for the frustration and sadness I know I visited on his life, especially as a cocky teenager and I do love him and regret that he never saw my successes and his grandsons.

I apologize to my sons, I am sorry for the things I have done that might have hurt or dismayed them.  I ask for their forgiveness.  Even if I knew of all the mistakes I’ve made I could not go back and change them, none of us can, so please forgive me!   I have received so much joy from having them in my life.  I have gained a youthful sense of awe and wonder as I experienced the world through their eyes.  I have sense the possibilities of a future that extends far beyond my own time on this earth.  I love you both and I pray for your safety.  I pray that you have sons and daughters that bring you as much joy and provide you with as many insights as you have brought into my life.  I will love you whether you succeed or fail, I will love you as much when you leave as when you come home.  I will love you where ever you travel, whether I still walk this earth or whether you are on your own.  My thoughts and prayers will always be with you!

I recently posted and old poem I had written about the sadness and regret I felt that my father and I had not talked and shared our thoughts and feelings as adults.  The following represents a follow up to that poem:

Trip Partners

young man

crisp uniform

ribbons and medals

a stoic face

hum of the highway

engine sounds

then he speaks

stories of intelligent actions

in a passionate voice

old man

casusal cloths

joyful smile

pride filled heart

a wish has been granted

a poem fulfilled

father and a son

two men – two voices

on a cross country trip

past troubles and sadness

in the rear view mirror

pushing through the driving rain

ahead of dangerous storms

racing forward

toward blue sky

toward sunlight

toward the future

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Looking in the rearview mirror!

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and encouragement!

My son graduated from his US Army training and he and I spent most of Friday and Saturday driving in heavy rain showers just ahead of the tornados that hit Mississippi and Alabama.

It was a satisfying and thought provoking trip.  I will be posting pictures and my thoughts tomorrow under the heading: “I’m Sorry, Foregive Me, Thank You, I Love You!”

Thanks to Rev. Pat Jobe for a wonderful sermon today… it was the inspiration for the above title!  Have a safe day!

Newly minted soldier!

Greetings fellow pilgrims!  I had stepped away from my stationary bike for several days in preparation for a cross country trip that starts this morning.  I will be driving to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri to witness my son Max’s graduation from US Army engineer training.  He will then drive back with me on Friday and Saturday. 

I look forward to seeing him and I am proud of the seriousness with which he has training.  My apprehension is about the likelihood that he will be travelling to Afganistan some time soon.  I will spend my drive today sorting out my thoughts and feelings on the topic.  In the mean time I have reposted my Jan 5th blog which was the day Max left for bootcamp.  I am especially looking forward to my drive home with him, as the second poem notes (below) I never had such an opportunity with my own father.  I will have more to say about the graduation and the trip in the days to come.  Hold us in your prayers!

Jan 5, 2010

 We watched at noon today as my son Max walked to a waiting van. Along with six other young men, they started a journey into manhood as warriors for our nation in a time of war.  He carries on a tradition, from father to son.  My grandfather an Army veteran of WWI sent his oldest son to the Army in WW2. He sent his youngest son, my father, into the Navy to fight in Korea. My father sent his oldest son, yours truly, into the Navy during the Vietnam War.  Now I send my son Max into the Army to likely fight in our latest war. All of the “Edwards boys” came back in one piece; I pray that Max will continue with that tradition! 

  Remembering all who serve!

I searched the internet for a Soldier’s Prayer and found many.  But none that was satisfactory for the feelings of relief, excitement and pride that I feel at this moment.  They use names for God I do not use, and ask for things I would not ask.  So I send my son off with two poems.  Both were written in the past, one a product of my pride at his earlier warrior efforts.  The second written with memories of my father in mind, longing for a dialogue that could never be, a dialogue I hope to someday have with my son. 

  War Games 

  

Warrior on the line!
Waves of geese 

    Pass overhead 

      Squawking in support 

As the ground forces 

   Surge forward 

      Tanks on the line 

   Fleet fast infantry 

      On the corners 

   HQ in the rear 

 The defense 

    Meets them head on 

       With a crash of pads  

          And helmets 

 Generals  

   Shout orders  

       From the sidelines 

JV football practice 

   My eldest son 

      Mans the right side 

         Of the attacking line 

  Handshake and a handoff to the Army!

What I Knew Could Never Be 

 Its taken a quarter 

 Of a lifetime 

 For me to learn  

 How to speak. 

 I was not raised 

To have opinions, 

 I was raised  

 To mouth my father’s words. 

I was raised to act proper 

 To be seen and not heard. 

 Don’t follow the crowd 

Follow me was the message. 

 He prefered to have me 

Be different from my peers? 

 Not to challenge him 

 With my questions of youth? 

 My spirit left home 

 Before my body. 

 It journeyed to the sea, 

 Driven away 

 In search of acceptance 

 And the wonders I knew to be. 

 I saw my father 

Only a few times in adulthood. 

 Superior I was, but sad I felt 

 At what I knew could never be, 

 A dialogue between father and son, 

 Two men, two voices 

Be safe son and know that you are loved! 
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