How about a quick detour? Really not, as what happened today, is part and parcel of the life I live now that my beloved is no longer present. I really do miss her, but I am amazed at the way God seems to have re-directed my course in life. Today was merely more evidence.
I joined a new church a few months ago, a loving congregation that I like to claim has "loved me back to life". With Derlene gone, I was lost, not just because of her absence, but because there were issues with the others who would have an immediate say in my future. I listened for awhile and decided that I had a future and chose to walk into that future.
Today was an example of how my life has been blessed and I write because I believe that if you can hear my heart, you will be blessed as well.
Cookeville, Tennessee, is the home to a University that appeared to me along my way, some 65 years ago. I was home on leave from Japan and my mother decided it would be good if she and I and my grand parents would drive down from Michigan and visit my sister who was attending Baxter Seminary in nearby Baxter, Tennessee. As we drove into Cookeville, I noticed a football stadium along the way and learned that it belonged to Tennessee Tech and I would learn that they had a game scheduled while we would be in the area. It would be the first time I had ever witnessed a "big time" football game.
I have no idea as to who won or lost, but the sight of that stadium has remained etched into my mind. And it remained dormant even after I was employed by a company that brought me to this area, three times every week. Nor did I recognize its significance when I met and married my beloved Derlene who lived nearby. We spent the seven years of our marriage in the shadow of that stadium.
And today, I drove by it as I headed to Tech's student body center to take part in a gathering known as a Window on the World. I was about to be amazed. Walking up from the parking lot, I was met by a gathering of students representing various aspects of life in our world. There were an abundance of signs, but as I approached each one, I was met by an eager student who was well prepared to advise me on the conditions of our world with regard to how we are experiencing our daily lives. I was very impressed. And then, I walked on into the facility where the administration of the University seemed to be housed. Today however, it was crowded with signs and students and tables on which their "causes" were appropriately displayed. I had to believe they really were representing the worlds in which we live out our lives. Listening to them, I was more than convinced they were dedicated. That was just the first floor. My reason for being there was up on the second floor.
Our church has been representing an organization known as Heifer International for a number of years.
I was interested in helping as I had a personal experience with them, of providing funds for the purchase of farm animals to families and other groups throughout the world and the contributions were used to fund areas where poverty had been and currently is, exacting its toll on the youngsters of such communities. What is fascinating about the concept is the fact, our children - from the more affluent nations of the world, are encouraged to relate to such gifts. Its existence dates back the years when such conditions were being made known to nations such as ours. Today, we were encouraging the children passing by to present their "passports" so that they could be authenticated by a "stamp" that left an impression of many of the animals involved We then, discussed and distributed literature regarding the purposes and practices of Heifer International. It was heart warming to hear from many that they were well aware of the program and were or, had been involved in the past.
With my "shift" was over I had the opportunity of further examining the others. It was difficult to believe there might be other nations the organizers had missed. I came across a distinctive display from Iran and I stood by listening to the conversation. Here was a bright young man talking about his home in terms that had nothing to do with the headlines we read in the reports of our media, far too often. I was moved to take the young man's hand and vowed to him that my prayers were with him and would continue so that there would be peace between our two great nations. I turned around and there was a display from Japan. I approached one of those talking about their nation and told him of the four years I had been stationed near Fukuoka and his eyes lit up. I explained the fact that it was his people who taught me how to love one another and to care for the respect we have held for one another, even though at one time we were the bitterest of enemies. I walked on, chatting with a few as I passed by and headed for home.
Not before I re-visited two of the booths I had noticed on the way in. The first was one devoted to re-cycling our waste products and explained how I had discovered and was using a private company, operated by students on a part-time basis, who took the "work" out of my efforts. He knew of them and he seemed almost excited to discover and advocate to his cause. I encouraged him to keep doing what he had been doing and he will be rewarded for his efforts. The next booth was entitled "Grow Cookeville" and promoted the expansion of "home grown" vegetation in the lands adjacent to our city. What a great idea. Having been raised on a farm, I am very disappointed at the hundreds of acres of land that lies dormant in what we call the Upper Cumberland area - most of which could be devoted to the growth and distribution of products that would not only serve, but contribute to the well being of our own.
As I headed to my car, I spotted a place to sit down and as I did, the tears came pouring out of my eyes.
I had seen the future as envisioned by our young and obviously endorsed by the University.
Oh, that others could see the possibilities that were every where, people, from everywhere on the globe we call home, visionaries perhaps, but why are do we seem to be reluctant to encourage them on a 24/7 basis rather than just once every so often?
There they were, gathered together, in a place I never thought I would ever see again.
If it is only a dream, please don't waste your time trying to waken me.