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Savoring My Passage - the monthly journal of A. C. Gray

July 2010
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Bridgewater, July 2010                               Savoring My Passage….acg

    As the calendar turns to July, my thoughts find me surfside remembering the once powder white sands on the Gulf of Mexico and the tragic oil spill that is devastating the lives of the people who live there.  I was there first in my twenties while stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base, going there for occasional weekend rest and recreation.  Walking barefoot on the pillow soft beaches was a sensual delight.  Years later the Red Cross would dispatch me to Pensacola, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Floyd to help with the disaster operation.  No matter the flotsam of destroyed real estate strewn then along the seashore, shorebirds of every variety lived and thrived after the storm and once again it was a delight to walk the beaches.  Now the sad stories of sea and shore life crowd the pages of newspapers and the internet. The whole scenario is a depressing commentary of man’s greed and incompetent tinkering with our planet.  We are left with only the recourse to storm the Holy Gates for miraculous intervention to restore the balance of the natural world where again man’s interference has brought death and ruin.

Rachel Carson, in her landmark book, The Sea Around Us, spoke of the unknowns of the ocean’s movements and mysteries, of man’s futile attempts to measure undersea currents and forecast state of the sea waves, countless wave trains, “intermingling, overtaking, passing, or sometimes engulfing one another; each group differing from the others in the place and manner of its origin, in its speed, its direction of movement; some doomed never to reach any shore, others destined to roll across half an ocean before they dissolve in thunder on a distant beach.”  Despite the unknowns, oceanographers now predict the Gulf’s oil spill will eventually impact the beaches of the whole planet.  Because of migration patterns, it is not an understatement to call this disaster a holocaust for shorebirds worldwide.

“And what of the floods of life?  What shall we say of the days which every soul must know when, as Jesus put it, “the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow and beat upon the house,” until your whole structure of things, all your philosophy of life, is threatening to come toppling down?  What about the happiness’s you build for yourself – the plans you lay, the dreams you dream, the hopes you cherish, and the heart’s desires you yearn for—and then, thundering and rolling mountain-high come the waves and the breakers, crashing down on the shore of dreams, leaving only some poor bits of wreckage behind?  Why then, blessed be God, the Lord sits as King at the flood, the Lord sitteth King forever!  Which simply means that the heartbreaking things of life have meaning and purpose and grace in them, for the Lord God omnipotent Reigneth? There was once a flood called Calvary.  And all the bitterness and ugliness, all the shame and sorrow of life, entered into that flood, and came beating down around the brave soul of Jesus, sweeping Him down at last to the barbarity and infamy of the death of the cross.  “What can God have been doing?” we want to ask.”Was He asleep?  Or on a journey?  Or was He dead?” No!  The Lord was sitting as the King of the flood, that surging flood of Calvary; and out of that grim cross He has brought the salvation of the world.  Tell me – if God did that with the cross of Jesus, do you think your cross can be too difficult for Him to deal with, and to transfigure?  He can make it shine with glory.  James S. Stewart, in a sermon, “The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth.”   

              We must learn to live in the passive voice.  Only those who do so, know what it means to live in the active voice.  The fussy activity of the modern man is not life; it is the nervous twitching of his disordered and starved nerves.  When animals lack certain vitamins, they will become nervous, jumpy, and hysterical.  The rush of modern life is not the calm, poised sureness of mastery.  Rather, it is the jumpy hysteria of starved nerves crying out for vitamins of real life.  Someone has said that no one commits suicide because he is tired of a lack of life.  Jesus put the alternatives this way:  “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  It is pray or faint – literally that.  Those who pray do not faint, and those who faint do not pray.  You can become alive to your finger tips – every cell in your body alert, active, creative – providing you pray….Pray or be a prey – a prey to fears, to futilities, to ineffectiveness.  E. Stanley Jones, Abundant Living.

      Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.                                         First Thessalonians 5:16

When the Music Stopped

This was written by a Chaplain serving in Iraq :

I recently attended a showing of 'Superman 3' here at LSA Anaconda. We have a large auditorium we use for movies, as well as memorial services and other large gatherings. As is the custom at all military bases, we stood to attention when the National Anthem began before the main feature. All was going well until three-quarters of the way through the National Anthem, the music stopped. Now, what would happen if this occurred with 1,000 18 to 22 Year-olds back in the States? I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments, and everyone would sit down and yell for the movie to begin. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place. Here in Iraq, 1,000 Soldiers continued to stand at attention, eyes fixed forward. The music started again and the soldiers continued to quietly stand at attention. But again, at the same point, the music stopped. What would you expect 1000 Soldiers standing at attention to do?? Frankly, I expected some laughter, and everyone would eventually sit down and wait for the movie to start. But No!!... You could have heard a pin drop, while every Soldier continued to stand at attention.

Suddenly, there was a lone voice from the front of the auditorium, then a dozen voices, and soon the room was filled with the voices of a thousand soldiers, finishing where the recording left off: "And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave."
It was the most inspiring moment I have had in Iraq and I wanted you to know what kind of Soldiers are serving you.  Remember them as they fight for us!  Pass this along as a reminder to others to be ever in prayer for all our soldiers serving us here at home and abroad.  Many have already paid the ultimate price.   Written by Chaplain Jim Higgins. LSA Anaconda is at the Ballad Airport in Iraq, north of Baghdad. God Bless America and all of our troops serving through out the world.

Note:  Thanks to Richard Rines, USN Retired, who emailed me this story.

 

amerflag.jpg
Photo of American Soldiers in one of Saddam Husseins Palaces used here as a Movie Theater