Early prose


 GREEN ACRES 

by Don M. Blews

 

             A green acre washed with shades of aspen, pine and poplar gradually fills with a refreshing breeze. Tiny condensation droplets, formed the previous evening, roll off the sun soaked leaves and needles of swaying trees. My body, safe from the demands of an intense outside world, has found serenity under a red cedar. This haven is ablaze with nature's color, balmy with weather's spirit, and quiet with God's company.

            I sense the presence of animals close by, some furry, some feathery, some even scaly, but all harmless. They are calm animals that keep it simple and do what they must for this day only. These phantom creatures are just under the lush underbrush, just behind the thick shrubs, just over the highest trees, and just beyond my reach.

            It is hard to consider leaving this safe environment. Have I yet reached the soul of tranquility amongst God's creature comforts? Perhaps I will sit a few more contented minutes. I feel almost nourished, just about satisfied, and nearly at total peace with my mind, my body, my soul, and myself.

***************************

            When meditation was first suggested to me I was uncomfortable with the idea. Meditation brought a picture of a poor diminished soul, sitting cramped in a lonely corner. The dictionary definition of meditation conjured up the notion of painfully deep, disciplined thinking. All that hard work and deep thinking sounded to me like only more head noise. Why would I want further suffering?

            Eventually, learning the world was not out to get me but rather it was my reactions to life's happenings that dictated my happiness, I began to open my mind. Taking some action steps, the challenge of meditation soon became part of my life.

            Finding my private green acre started with an easy directive of sitting with eyes closed on a chair in a quiet room. I then tightened and released each muscle in succession from my toes to my forehead. Enjoying the simplicity of this, I made a commitment to attempt this exercise each day in place of the last fifteen minutes of the eleven o'clock news. As a compliment to discovering meditation I found the value of removing one activity from my life in order to put in a new one, even in the midst of a hectic agenda.

            My next move was to use an outside lawn chair for the muscle relaxing exercises. Here I was able to capture the sight of a handsome red cedar in my back yard. The tree's lower branches drooped down just enough for a body to be cozy, and its wispy new growth allowed one to actually see the wind. Then, I began to build on my blossoming green acre. Starting with the red cedar, I fabricated profuse shades of green bursting with the refreshment of water droplets and the sounds of quiet breezes. I had constructed an exciting new world, one made for me alone.

            My finale was to speak with God under the swaying red cedar, where I asked His forgiveness, praised His presence and abundance, surrendered the turmoil in my head, and asked for strength. On returning to the real world, I planned the actions I needed to fill my life with positive behaviors in place of the negative ones. All this I practiced regularly and found that, in good time, green acres become easier to secure.

            Today, this experience takes fifteen minutes of my daily life. The green acre in my meditation transfers to my real life.... the green acre has become part of my spirit, part of my physique, and part of my very nature. Time spent under that cedar has led me to live at peace with myself in this world despite the most challenging obstacles.

            Whatever events life may bring and wherever these events lead, it takes just minutes to glide through the muscle relaxation and soon be sitting under my serene red cedar immersed in God's love. It is then that my diabetes becomes a challenge instead of a major problem, anger over astronomical medical bills becomes gratitude for nature's bounty and hope for a new day tomorrow, and my muscular dystrophy finds peaceful acceptance. In good time I'm hoping to spot one of those illusive animals just beyond my reach.

The End 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GARDEN OF EDEN

by Don M. Blews

 

            The weather was unforgiving that night. It was nearly impossible see beyond the hood or hear above the battering as the wind hurled rain against the car. Thoughts of nestling at home with my family left a warm scent of freshly brewed coffee. These thoughts and scents became my ally against the cold night air forcing its way into the car.

            When I saw the red warning light glow on the dash I prayed, "Please God, just a few more miles." "Was I being punished," I asked aloud, "for skipping the car maintenance this winter?" Soon I knew God had answered my prayer when my choking car made it safely to a service station, and I praised Him for this.

            I searched the dark parking lot of the station for another warm soul and prayed "Please let there be someone to open this place." A light suddenly flooded the area, illuminating my car and my eyes, but not the ghostly man looming his shadow toward me. The man quickly caught up with his shadow and peered his kindly face in my side window asking, "can I help you?" Within the hour I knew my second prayer of the night was answered as I paid the gentle, gray haired mechanic for all his work. And again, I praised God.

            Just five minutes down the road a veering van ran a stop sign, drowning me with the light of his high beams. Feeling like a Volkswagen being charged by a Mack truck, I opted for a safe ditch. As the van disappeared into the murk of night, I prayed from the depths of the ditch, "Please let there be a tow truck close by."

            After limping a mile back to the service station with the pelting rain ripping at my ears, neck, and anything else exposed, I was angry and assumed God had not answered this prayer. I knew we could no longer expect to live in a Garden of Eden, but this was ridiculous. "Now what was I being punished for?" I yelled, "had He forsaken me at my hour of need?" After all, I thought, wasn't He the one who got me through the car trouble and the closed service station? And so goes another tale of woe, complete with praises and hazes to God.

********************* 

            Reflecting on that little tale of woe in a January past, I see that I was very busy asking God for things to go the way I wanted, thanking Him when things did go my way, and getting angry when things did not go my way. Recently however, remembering the Good News has changed my priorities.

            Today, I've learned it is I who stays out too late, misses necessary car maintenance, wears inadequate clothing, and drives too fast for the weather conditions. And, I find it is God who gives me the strength to tread through tough times, times for which I or the world around me are responsible for. God also gives me hope for a better tomorrow. Now, I thank God for life one day at a time and the promise of the Good News.

            The Good News is found in the Holy Bible and it began at the Garden of Eden. Following are six simple steps I often take to strengthen my faith and hope so I will not forget this news, the most powerful message of all time. Although memories of the bible as a child suggest a vast collection of confusing passages, frequent readings of the verses corresponding to these steps have cleared the way for a simple thinker as I. The order in which I work these steps is important, as will be revealed.

 STEP ONE:

The birth of mankind:

 And the Lord God formed man

 of dust of the ground,

 and breathed into his nostrils

 the breath of life;

 and man became a living soul.

 (Genesis 2:7)

Reading Genesis I:1-2:7, in the Old Testament of the Bible, I discover our pristine world as God's creation embracing all that is material and spiritual. I feel the impact of the planet earth forming in His hands, the first plants thriving, and the animals multiplying. Then God made man in His image, gave us a soul, and trusted us as caretakers over this garden of Eden.

STEP TWO:

Man's original sin:

 In the sweat of thy face

 shalt thou eat bread,

 till thou return unto the ground;

 for out of it wast thou taken:

 for dust thou art,

 and unto dust shalt thou return.

 (Genesis 3:19)

Reading further in Genesis 3:1-3:24, the only command God had given us in the Garden of Eden was not to eat fruit of a particular tree. The temptation to eat this juiciest of fruit was overpowering. Coaxed by a serpent, man took a bite of the forbidden fruit, for which he and the serpent were quickly given the ultimate punishment. Man was cast from the garden to suffer a new concept called death, succumbing to the dust of the earth by disease, famine, and old age. The serpent was left to spend life slithering on his belly. All this, for as long as they both shall exist on earth.

STEP THREE:

Our savior's birth:

 And she shall bring forth a son,

 and thou shalt call his name Jesus:

 for he shall save his people

 from their sins.

 (St. Matthew 1:21)

In St. Matthew 1 and St. Luke 1 of the New Testament of the Bible, I meet the ancestors of Jesus, including His birth mother the virgin Mary with her humble roll in this special birth that eventually fulfills God's promise in the Old Testament. This was the promise to be forgiven of our sins, sins originating with our ancestors at the Garden of Eden. This birth is to be the very heart of the Good News, the very faith of our salvation, and the very hope of mankind.

STEP FOUR:

Our savior's death:

 Then Jesus said,

 Father, forgive them;

 for they know not what they do.

 And they parted his raiment,

 and cast lots.

 (St. Luke 23:34)

Reading of Jesus's crucifixion in St. Matthew 27, St. Mark 15, St. Luke 23, and St. John 19, I am reminded of His hands and feet being nailed with crude spikes to a splintery cross of heavy wood. A cross that He lugged on His shoulders with no protective tunic, while treading over rugged stone streets with no sandals. Jesus carried that cross to His own death site, while a crown of thorns drew precious blood from His head. All of this selfishness and suffering were only for you and I, born yesterday and today.

STEP FIVE:

Our Savior's resurrection:

And, behold,

 there was a great earthquake:

 for the angel of the Lord

 descended from heaven,

 and came and rolled back

 the stone from the door,

 and sat upon it.

 (St. Matthew 28:2)

I feel the power of God during the resurrection of Jesus in St. Matthew 28, St. Mark 16, St. Luke 24, and St. John 20. Here I read of the great earthquake, and how the angels appeared before Mary and the guards to tell them that Jesus has risen from His grave. A modest miracle for God and a courageous all loving act of Jesus has changed the world and its people more than any other event in recorded history.

STEP SIX:

Promise of salvation:

For since by man came death,

 by man came also

 the resurrection of the dead.

 For as in Adam all die,

 even so in Christ

 shall all be made alive.

 (1 Corinthians 15:21&22)

In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul teaches that death came upon man because of Adam and Eve's sins. But it is only through the death of Jesus, for our sins, that salvation is possible. Paul explains that we will have eternal peace in heaven if we truly believe, let God in our lives, and live by His word. Paul further suggests if we have faith in the Good News, follow through with the Lord's will, and thank Him for this, we will be victorious through His son, Jesus Christ.

*********************

            Suffering and pleasure undeniably take place on this earth. We sometimes get ill, have financial problems, and loved ones may pass on unexpectedly. We may get pay raises, buy new cars, and find medicines that help us. But, just as death came upon man because of Adam and Eve's sin, most of these events seem to be direct results of the daily activities of modern man. However, the beauty of nature around us and the promise of salvation are from God, for us to enjoy.

            What happened at the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis, gave us life as we know it on earth. From those beginnings came the Good News as we know it today. For this, I am grateful, as I thank God for Genesis. And as a personal bonus, I am able to live in peace with the complications of my diabetes and muscular dystrophy, knowing that life is not meant to be a constant "Garden of Eden". Any suffering I've had is far less than the sufferings Jesus endured for each of us.

The End 

 


 


© Don Blews 2016