My cousin, Jean, passed a couple of weeks ago. She was 88. To say she had a dry sense of humor would be an understatement. To say she had deep theological thoughts wouldn't do her justice. Here's an essay she wrote back in 1988. An Essay of Heaven
I don’t know that I want to go to heaven. I guess I’d have to listen to all those old songs I don’t like - might even have to sing’ em. Sometimes they say we’ll recognize our loved ones. If we do, do you reckon my Mama will want me to sit by her side and be a good girl again? On the other hand, they say we’ll have a different form and no earthly relationship will remain. If that’s the case, it’ll be like being lonely in a crowd and I don’t like that.
Too, some people who are sure they are going to heaven are not among my favorites down here. If we don’t know each other, that’s no problem. But if we do, I’d sure hate to have to put up with them through eternity. Down in hell, I am told, will be a lot of my fun friends. I’d about rather laugh and stew with them than than try to please these “good” folks.
I’d love to see Jesus and have him put his hand on my head or whatever facsimile I have - and to see him smile and hear his voice. I wouldn’t even mind if he fussed at me a little. Because, you see, I’m not very good. But I love Jesus and he loves me. He loves us all.
Wonder if he’d be willing to meet me somewhere else because I’m still not sure I want to go to heaven.
The parson pulled his hands from the soapy water of the sink, where he was washing dishes, and, while wiping his hands on a drying cloth, made his way to the door.
“What’s up?” he asked the teenage boy form across the street.
“Parson, can you help us?” asked the young man with obvious distress in his voice. “Mom was coming home from shopping and the puppy (their newly acquired ten-week-old rescue ) ran out to meet her. She didn’t see him. She ran over him. She’s really upset. And the dog’s really hurting.”
The parson headed across the street to his neighbor’s house. She was in a ball crying. Newly divorced, on her own, trying to make it by working two jobs and supporting a teenage son, the puppy was her one indulgence, a warm body to curl up in her lap when she came home, a living being that offered love with no conditions.
Now the puppy lay in the shrubbery beside the driveway, yelping in pain, so much pain that when the familiar hand of the parson reached down he tried to bite. The parson covered his head with a cloth and looked at the injuries. Both back legs were broken, obviously. There was swelling in the lower portion of his underbelly.
The neighbor, as is the case with so many single mothers, was on a limited budget. The nearest twenty-four hour emergency facility was forty-five miles away, and, the parson knew, the charges were outrageous.
The parson called a staff member of a local vet clinic to get the number of the emergency facility and ask for advice. He explained the woman’s limited financial abilities. He was referred to a local vet who offered twenty-four hour calls for emergencies. The parson called. The charges were $99 to come to the home and examine the animal. After that the vet would determine future charges.
The parson made arrangements to bring the puppy to the vet’s local clinic. The parson knew what was the only outcome.
Arriving at the clinic, the neighbor let the vet examine her puppy in the back seat of the car. The vet, with care of lifting a newborn child, held the puppy to his chest, carried him into the clinic and began the examination.
Both back legs were broken. The left one was broken in several places. The puppy’s bladder had most likely ruptured. There was internal bleeding. The blood pressure was dangerously low.
The doctor, call him Dr. Jay, with a compassion that is so lacking in so many of his profession looked at the parson’s neighbor and gently, lovingly, told her the truth.
Five minutes later, Dr. Jay, after asking the neighbor to pet and talk to her puppy as he did what he had to do, injected the drug into the puppy’s system.
Little Charlie, named after Charlie Brown, the parson’s faithful canine companion, closed his eyes and fell asleep. He was in pain no more.
Little Charlie’s mother is a single parent trying to make ends meet. The parson pulled out the church’s credit card, handed it to the vet and said, "Charge the expenses on this."
The parson’s neighbor will be mourning for a while. She’ll miss Little Charlie. And she’ll feel guilty.
The parson will talk to her, comfort her, and rejoice. The parson will rejoice that he pastors a church that allows him to unconditionally provide for the expenses of those in need. And he will rejoice that this community is the home of Dr. Jay, a vet who is willing to get up in the middle of the night to care for the puppies in need.
You keep talking about how much money you have. And, listen, I’m impressed. I’ve been to Trump Towers, even eaten lunch there – great service, tremendous food, I’ll have to put you in the top percentage of approval for that adventure; tremendous, really above average; and I noticed that only the beautiful people, including me, were there. Wow! A tremendous Trump experience. I’m also impressed with some of the Trump apartment/condo high rise buildings I’ve visited. Again, tremendous, truly impressive. Something like those enterprises could only have been constructed by a person who is really rich, on top of things, and above average. I have to give it to you: When you build something you do it well.
I, on the other hand, have no buildings with my name on them. My daddy wasn’t able to give me that kind of kick-start. But, now keeping in mind that Dizzy Dean said if it was true it wasn’t bragging, I, I’m happy to tell you, like you, am a tremendously successful entrepreneur. Frankly, some of the things I’ve done are nothing short of amazing.
While I don’t have any great buildings bearing my name, nor a plane, or a helicopter, I do participate in a far-flung empire of which I am a major investor. For instance, I have recently invested in the higher education of Karen and Elizabeth in Paraguay. Alfonso and I partner in a grocery store in Honduras. Narciso runs a cattle farm I helped him establish down in Nicaragua. Well, I don’t want to keep listing the accomplishments, but my lack of humility demands I mention the Clothing Store in Honduras and the – wait, let me bow my head humbly a moment lest you think I’m special – well, there’s the medical clinic I helped get running in Nepal. Hold on, I don’t think I mentioned the fabric store run by Mehrikhow in Tajikistan or Corazon’s grocery store in the Philippines. Sorry, sometimes I just can’t help letting people know how wonderful I am.
To tell you the truth, a full day of programming on Fox News wouldn’t be enough time to list my accomplishments in international investments. The endeavors listed above are just a smidgen of the wealth I spread around. I’m sorry, I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty special. In fact, I’m down right awesome. I’m so awesome my girlfriend is not a 10; she’s a 12.
I’m sure by now you’re wondering how an insignificant, retired, country parson could so completely diminish a man of your billions in the international investment world. It’s simple. I’m a member of a vast financial empire called Kiva. People like me, with no buildings named after us, no helicopters, no planes, no weird hairdos, no – well, I won’t go there because, in truth, I do have a small beer belly - combine our resources to change the world.
You see, Mr. Trump, even though I’m on a fixed income; even though I’m retired with limited resources, I can give a small micro loan to people trying to climb out of poverty. I can lift their esteem by letting them know there’s a tired old American, blessed beyond measure by God, up in the old US of A, who wants them to succeed. And I can give one of them, each month, a small amount of $25 as a micro loan to start a business or go to school. And here, Mr. Trump, is the reason that I, despite your billions, are richer beyond measure than are you:
When I loan Alfonsa that $25 for his grocery store in Honduras, he’ll pay it back. But instead of taking the payback and putting it in my pocket, I’ll loan it to someone else through this vast international financial empire called Kiva. So, if every month I loan someone a new $25 and I re-loan whatever has been repaid to me that month, it compounds. (I’m sure that a man of your wealth understands the concept of compounding.). And if I do that every month for fifteen years …. Well, get your accountant to do the math.
On top of me doing that, there are a lot of my friends doing the same thing. Just recently my friend Teri Petersen, in Chicago, made an investment in Honduras. Another friend, Amy Arrowood Lin, in Raleigh, N. C., made an investment in Jordan. And Mary Beth Butler, another friend out in Texas, made an investment in Pakistan. (Please note that these investors are scattered throughout the entire country. And, I'm fairly sure they vote.) I don’t know how much of an investment they made in the individual projects they selected, but I know they’ve been doing it for a long time and their investments have been compounding and compounding and compounding for the last decade.
And forgive me, but I must make a further comment. I have better hair than do you. That picture of your hair blowing in the wind just will not quit haunting my mind. Terrible. Unacceptable. Inexcusable. How could a person running for public office do that to themselves? On the other hand, I’m bald. Baldness is always neat. Sorry, I just am heights above you in this category.
So, listen up, Mr. Trump. Get real. You’re not as successful as you think you are. You see, you have invested in real estate. There are a lot of us much, much richer than you. We are the ones who, through Kiva, choose not to invest in inanimate objects like buildings and walls, but, instead, we invest in humankind. And that's what makes America great, still.
Please feel free to call me, or one of my investor friends, when you need investment advice.
Hold on! - Okay, just checked in the mirror. I'm right.
In the early 80s my daughter tried out for the boy's high school soccer team. Sh got cut. BUT in a team meeting some of the players said, "Coach, she's better than any others." The coach responded, "I know, but she's a girl."
The next week I met with the assistant superintendent of the school system. I said, pointing to the gentleman sitting next to me, " This is my attorney. I going to tell you what the coach said in front of a couple of dozen witnesses, and then you can tell me who you want to talk to, me or my attorney. I will say that I need you to consider the ramifications of Title Nine."
He listened. Within a year girls's soccer was on par with boy's soccer.
I thought of this as I came across this documentary:
The debate over the Planned Parenthood undercover videos has fascinated me over the last few days. Never mind the issue of whether the videos were edited in a way to embarrass the Planed Parenthood organization. Never mind the issue or whether Planned Parenthood would be donating embryo tissue for research. Here's where it rests with me:
I have lost three grandchildren who did not make it to term. I remember the day I stood in a room at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, with my son. He held the unborn fetus of his son, whom he and his wife named Lyndon. It was a small, small, representation of human life, maybe six inches long. The women who formed the society that supported the families of such children had knitted a little shirt and a cap to adorn that unborn child's body. We wept. We wept.
And a few days later we gathered at a cemetery in Sandy Springs, Georgia, in a section called "Baby Land." I presided over the ceremony from the United Methodist Book of Worship titled, "Service of Death and Resurrection for a Stillborn Child." That child was laid to rest in a scared place with all the ceremonies of a Christian burial. It was a sad day. It was a tearful day. It was a joyful day.
The greatest frustration of my ministry, here in the county where I've served as a "retired elder" for going on twelve years, is that I have been unable to get anyone interested in a place for such burials here. I so desperately want to establish a place where stillborn children can be buried with the dignity and sacred blessing that is due all children.
Here's my frustration resulting from my personal experience and the news of the seemingly set-up of the Planned Parenthood doctors. The people who want to discredit those doctors because they are, in their view, not respecting the dignity of the human life, never, in my experience, give support to efforts to provide a place where the stillborn can be buried with dignity, with Christian love, and with acknowledgement of the wonder of life.
I'm still dreaming and working for the establishment of a cemetery called "Baby Land" in the county where I live.
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