Saturday, March 20, 2021

Whose Language can we Forget?

The Block on Which We Live. My wife and I were walking around our city block today. It's huge! I estimate that it's over a mile--almost two miles--around the permieter. The block includes a housing neighborhood named Springbrook Meadows, a retirement center, a winery, a bank, a veterinarian hospital, a Ford dealer, a hospital. What did I forget. A medical clinic? Yes. Anything else? Yes, something else: a grassy, green knoll, topped with trees. The knoll offers a view of a chain of hills to the north and east, and a sweeping view out over the Willamette Valley toward the Willamette River and beyond. A neighborhood,a popular golf course, woods. All of that. Beautiful. In the northeastern section of this small town "city block"--behind the parking lots of the Ford dealer and the town hospital--that's the location of the grassy, green knoll. I want to introduce you to what I consider to be an omission on this beautiful and ignored city historic site. A marker on the site raises a question. As I say, we two were walking around the block. On the south side, beside U.S. Highway 99 West,we diverted toward the interior of the block to visit the green knoll. When we arrived at the top of it, we read a notice that the knoll was the site of the house of the town's first postmaster, Sebastian Brutscher. In fact, Sebastian's house on the knoll was the first house south of the Willamette River, which flows in its streambed east-to-west about three miles away. Imagine: Brutscher built a house well back from the river--the site must have seemed 'way out in the woods at that time. Why didn't S. B. stay, like the others of his time, along the banks of the river? Undoubtedly, land was cheaper--maybe free for the taking--further out in the woods. Today, where Brutscher's house foundation once stood, you see a picnic table. By the picnic table is a marker--an upright, white-painted 4 inch by 4 inch wooden post, about 4 feet tall. If you pause before the post you'll notice writing. If you can read English, concentrate on one side; if French, another side; if Spanish, the third side; and if Japanese? (I don't know--just guessing) the fourth side. I concentrated on the English version of a beautiful appeal for world among the the world's peoples.
A view of the Brutscher knoll. My question is: why those four languages? If the knoll commemorates Brutscher, why not include his native language--German. Since the knoll lies on land once trod by the Yamel Indians only, why not include the appeal for world peace written in their language? Why honor one component of the "world" and not all components? Especially poignant question in view of the historic pre-eminence of the Indians in this spot. It seems to me that the search for peace would be more effective if all actors were to be included. Peace for some should be peace for all.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

"BY SOME KIND OF AUTHORITY?" OKAY, BUT BY WHAT KIND OF AUTHORITY? tHAT'S MY QUESTION.


 Terrific question for all of us in our times. For everyone at any time for that matter.

What got me to thinking about this?
This Bible passage: Mark 1: 21-28. Please, please. Review this passage. Today (1/31/2021) I heard Bishop Diana Akiyama explain this text. She simply preached that JESUS taught as one who had divine authority. TRUE HUMAN AUTHORITY is rooted in divine authority, she said.
Akiyama got me to thinking about human authority I have experienced. I recall the inaugural address by President BIDEN. He affirmed goals of justice and inclusion that seemed authentically truly human and rooted in faith. I think of the incredible personal strength of Rep. Nancy PELOSI, maneuvering non-stop to resist division and the scuttling of democracy. I’ll just bet that her phenomenal personal strength is rooted in a faith commitment that generates true human authority, like Mark recommends.
Closer to home--I think of my family members and the authority they exercise at home and at work. What I experience is authority rooted in love, like Mark attributed to Jesus.
Quiz for each: is my authority and the way I exercise it rooted in God? To answer “yes” seems pretentious maybe. But as Akiyama said, the spirit of Jesus lives on and can support us every single day as we exercise authority in our family and social spheres

Thursday, January 28, 2021


82ND     BIRTHDAY    GUY

Okay!  Great!  So now what?

So here I am, sitting at the dining table, camera looking past me to the street beyond. I passed through the doorway into the  "82 year-old room" two days ago.  

What next?  Who knows?

"Why not run for President four years from now?"   Good idea maybe but nope, not for me.  Although I did run for a state legislative office in Washington State once a few years ago, I lost by a narrow margin to the incumbent. I was the lucky guy. He wasn't, because unfortunately he died in office shortly after the win. Obviously at 82 I'm just too old for politics.

Thus, for me, this 82nd year is a time to lie back and rejoice.  You can see a first attempt at that in the photo below. I'm rejoicing, because so many wonderful friends and relatives wrote, texted or telephoned with messages of love and support. Because my wife prepared such wonderful celebrative meals, and still let me take her out to a Dairy Queen store to buy a "bag-supper" (using a much appreciated birthday gift card)! I'm glad for the M.D. who told me, two days after the birthday, that my minor difficulties in remembering stuff are simply age-related.  What a gift is that! 


 


Interesting to me as a Christian minister that the Bible has so very little to say about birthdays and how they are to be regarded and celebrated. But Christian churches themselves say and do a lot, like lining us birthday celebrants up, singing "Happy Birthday" to us, thanking God for us, praying for them.  And all that's just okay. 

But, beyond all that, a birthday in old age is a time for a thankful heart. Thankfulness for living in an age like this, where reaching 100 years has become the new normal. Thankfulness for medical care.  Thankfulness for friends and family who. . .

support you, 
remember you, 
help you in many ways.  

(Writing this just now, I'm thankful for my daughter, who tipped me on how to move that photo from my phone to my blog!)  

Thanks to all. Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Coyote On The Golf Course!

 Yesterday (11/11/2020) I was walking around the perimeter of the Chehalem Glenn golf course near my home:  https://www.chehalemglenn.com/

 It advertises itself as the "Fantastic Golf Course in Wine Country." "Fantastic" is correct in my opinion, but the advertising doesn't give all of my reasons why I agree with the advert.

The course is fantastic for its gorgeous design, wonderful views of small Western Oregon-sized mountains to the west, north and east. For its golfers and walkers--additional views of a wonderful large farmer's field and a great forest of very tall Douglas fir trees. Very Oregon!  But that doesn't cover every bit of interest. All of that is fantastic, but here's another.

Months ago, at one point along the perimeter trail, I saw a coyote staring at me, not more than 50 yards away. Actually, it seemed a lot closer and got my heart rate to rise a few notches. It stared at me across the grass, then disappeared into the woods behind it. No problemo.

But yesterday I met a woman walker on the perimeter trail, quite close to my previous sighting of the coyote. She warned me: there's a coyote up there. She pointed in the direction I hoped to walk and from which she'd just come. 

I asked, "Well, how did your dog react?" Like many walkers on the perimeter trail, she held a leash, but in her case with a large, unique black dog on the other end. 

She said, "Oh, he was calm. He's a retired police dog, y'know."  We both laughed. "Ha, ha, ha."

Well, I told her I'd be on the lookout for the coyote. She went on with her guardian, the dog--and I, with no weapon and no protector dog--continued in the opposite direction. Only I diverged. Instead of walking along the perimeter trail I wisely cut across the golf course itself--using the manifcured green grass around Hole 14. 

When I reached the top of a green knoll and looked back, there was a coyote, just standing on the perimeter trail itself, looking right at me! 50 yards away. Was he hungry? I didn't know. I just stood still and stared him down. In a half-minute or so of this mind game--his mind vs. mine--he turned and walked off in the other direction. Five minutes later I climbed up another knoll. At the top I looked back, and he was still there, a-lookin' at me.

I love living near the countryside. Every day brings its sights and sounds, like the roaring motors of giant elevated pick-up trucks or the beauty of a sunset over western mountains. But coyote visits? Not so sure about that one.

Any thoughts? Please comment.

Monday, November 9, 2020


LEAVES FALLING

Darrell Reeck, 11/9/20

 

Leaves--beautiful, bedecked in fall color--we’ve admired them on our curbside tree since they turned from summery green to fall red a couple of weeks ago. But this morning my dear wife called me to the front door to watch the red leaves falling en-masse--all at once it seemed--from the maple tree onto our curbing and the parking area. Neither of us have ever seen such a leaf-fall. It was like a steady stream of water going over a steep bank. By noon it was all over.  Now the tree is nearly bare--just trunk and branches, ready for winter. Amazing. In just a day.

Something similar has happened to the American President’s legal effort to turn the election around. David Bossie, Trump’s legal adviser charged with overseeing the legal campaign to reverse the president's loss, has been diagnosed with Covid-19. Several other high-level Trump staffers have been diagnosed with Covid-19. They are like falling leaves. Perhaps these poor staffers should have “sprayed” themselves months ago by wearing masks.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/11/09/covid-19-campaign-adviser-david-bossie-tests-positive/6228110002/

Our tree will revive next spring with buds and leaves. It’ll be beautiful, like a green balloon. Not so sure about the Trump legal effort this fall. Could be way to late.

 

 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Black Lives Matter: my letter to the late Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Reader: in these days of Black Lives Matter, I want to share a memo I wrote to (and in honor of) the deceased Martin Luther King, Jr.    The memo was written in 2009; King died in 1968.



Dear Martin Luther King, Jr.

Re. Memories of your and our Dream.

Martin, you provided a beacon of light to me in the 1960s through your courage in the face of danger and your marvelous communication skills demonstrated in a book such as Why We Can’t Wait and in oratory like “I have a Dream.”  

Dear Martin,

In 1961 I arrived in Chicago from the frontier State of Washington.  In seminary I interned with ministry mentors in Chicago, particularly the Revs. Jim Reed and John Winters of Parish of the Holy Covenant. 

Together with thousands, we marched for educational justice at the headquarters of Chicago School Board.  I felt ever so white, but knew my presence was appreciated by African-Americans in the demonstration.  

On one weekend in 1962, a group of several black students from Tougaloo College, accompanied by two Chicago clergy and two seminary students including myself, attempted to integrate worship services in a couple of segregated white churches in Jackson, Mississippi.  I was not at great risk personally, even though ushers called police for help as we approached a church, asking for entrance.  

My colleagues and I were visitors in Mississippi, on call to help provide some cover for the Tougaloo students in their equality campaign.  They were the ones at risk.  I would go back north.  But during that weekend I had a glimpse of the risk that they and many others were taking routinely in pursuit of the American dream.

Your 1963 speech, I have a dream, was unspeakably motivational and, at the same time, heart rending.  The March on Washington exhilarated me.  The fact that it had to happen depressed me.

Then the horror of the assassinations:  yours, President Kennedy’s, Robert Kennedy’s.  

Somehow our country managed to pick up the pieces and get on with national life.  The forces of darkness did not prevail, though residual conflict remains until this day.

A couple of your Boston University professors later taught me as well:  Prof. Paul K. Deats and Dean Walter Muelder. They were so proud of you.  Paul gave me the privilege, as his assistant, of bringing the manuscript of one of your books from Mugar Library to a secured showcase in the School of Theology library.  Your hand-written editing notes appeared on the typescript.  As I walked down Commonwealth Avenue with that treasure in my care I marveled at the sense of contact with you that I enjoyed at that moment.

From you, I learned the values of risk for the sake of higher values of community, equality and justice.  I give thanks to God that I was allowed the opportunity of brushing up against your jet stream.  I’m one of millions who testify that you live on through your influence.

Sincerely,           Darrell Reeck

Sunday, May 10, 2020

CAN WE RECONCILE REAL HUMAN NEEDS WITH COVID-19 RULES?



We all find ourselves up against some Covid-19-induced dilemmas. Not just employers. Not just workers, Not just school kids. All of us.

These are some rules DESIGNED to limit damages of Covid-19:

Don’t leave your home.
Don’t let anyone into your home.
Don’t shop in public stores including grocery.
Wear your face mask out in public.

I accept the need for such rules. They're necessary for my family's good. You may be limited by similar rules.

But the rules entail dilemmas. Example #1: how do we survive if we can’t enter a store to shop for groceries?  

Do I ignore the stay-at-home rule and go to the grocery? Or do obey and starve?

Large-scale workarounds have been launched, like Federal Reserve Board lowering interest rates.

But in the neighborhood, you and I are left with small-scale problems that must be overcome. In this situation, some helpful heroes have appeared in the lives of my wife and myself.

Here’s a way around the “don’t let anyone into your home” rule. Our daughter and her kids have made a couple of family visits, not in our home but on our driveway.  Daughter and her kids have remained on the driveway, by their car. Lucy and I open the garage door but stay ten feet inside the garage. In one such visit the whole family sang “Happy Birthday” to one of us and chatted. Then they left without coming into the home. Results: spirits lifted, smiles on all of our faces, and no rules violated.

“Do not go grocery shopping.” That’s a rule imposed for our protection by our retirement community. But how to obey this rule and stay alive? In this situation a younger resident from a nearby neighborhood came to the rescue. How did she know about us? She directs a community chorus in which Lucy sings. Out of the goodness of her heart she checked with Lucy, volunteered to shop for us, and they worked out a system. 

In this workaround system, Lucy emails our shopping list to her. Then we place reusable cloth grocery bags on the driveway for the volunteer. The good fairy, wearing protective gloves, picks up the bags, buys the groceries, then returns to place the full bags just outside our garage. The volunteer texts that she’s left the goods. We collect the bags of groceries. We clean the bags and contents against virus, and we’ve got groceries for a week! Thanks so much to the volunteer heroine!

What about the grocery store itself? What are they doing to sell without breaking the Covid rules? A couple of grocery stores in our town (and more broadly as well) have brought out an online shopping system. Here's how it works. First, customers establish an online shopping account. Once that's set up we email our list of items and the store replies with a collection time. At collection time we park in a designated area in the supermarket parking lot. An employee places the groceries in the trunk while we wait a responsible distance away. We’ve obtained our order without entering the store; we’ve obeyed the rule.

My doctor encourages me to take long walks out of doors. But the rules require keeping social distance. How do I walk for an hour on public sidewalks and woodsy trails without violating the social distance rule? Mainly by using trails and walkways sufficiently wide to allow for social distance. Or by switching to the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Most oncoming walkers cooperate to maintain social distance between us. In a low density community it works. (I can't say it'd work in Brooklyn, however.)

Adjustments like these require require a bit of creative thinking and work-arounds. May these adjustments keep Covid-19 from overwhelming individuals and communities.