A Peaceful Place

Each of us needs to find that peaceful place in our lives. A place where the outside world doesn’t dare penetrate. Somewhere we can recharge our batteries. For me, I love my wife, nature and Autumn in particular ( depending on the situation, not necessarily in that order).

I love that time of year when I can see my breath in the early morning air.  When nature is giving me that one last display before the big death scene of winter. The crispness of autumn tingles my imagination and makes me feel more alive than any other time of the year. I’ve always said that I can put on more clothes when it gets cold but I can only take so much off when it’s hot.  So sitting on a river bank on a cool autumn morning, the fog just starting to lift as the sun peeps over the hill top. With every minute that passes, something new comes into focus. Nature starts off with the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. Downstream a bullfrog croaks out a single bellow. As the sky lightens, birds join in and by the time the fog has cleared, a concerto fills the air. That’s as close to heaven as it gets.

But I think those peaceful moments can be found pretty much anywhere. Even late at night, with my wife’s rhythmic breathing lulling me to sleep. I’m just on the verge of dozing off but not wanting to give up a single second so I just lay there in the dark, half dreaming and half asleep.

Or after all the deadlines are passed and I’m sitting alone at my writer’s chair, free to write anything that pops into my head. Just for the fun of writing. No pressure, no hassles. With my headphones playing my favorite play list. Not caring if any one likes my work, whether or not they’ll share it, or even if anyone knows it exists.

Visiting the grandchildren and having their stamina penetrate and lift my spirit. Oh how they can wear me out with their never ending energy. But each moment is a treasure.

Shoveling the snow off the driveway early on a Saturday morning. My gloves, stocking cap and scarf tucked into just enough layers to keep me warm but not overheated. The world is so silent on those mornings. Neighbors all tucked away inside their houses. Not a single car on the street. Maybe a little laughter from a few brave children with the courage to defy nature.

Walking hand in hand with my wife, down a tree lined street with no place to go and no set time to get there. Talking about anything that comes to mind. The soft breeze blowing away our worries and the days problems crumbling under our feet.

Whatever your peaceful place happens to be, take the time to visit it often. Don’t wait until your batteries run empty to recharge them.

tbyp

Duty, Honor and Commitment

“Duty then is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.”                                        Robert E Lee

Perhaps, Serving in the military myself has helped me to understand a little of the struggle that every defender of our ‘nations rights’ goes through. The vast majority of us do not wake up one morning and say, “Today, I willingly take another souls life.” It goes against the grain of all decency and morality. But, we took an oath to defend, protect and serve the people. A pledge that we would honor our duty even though it conflicts with our personal beliefs. Today, more than others, I am reminded that we must draw from the well of compassion for those who were so tormented by the choice between duty and personal philosophy.

It is the anniversary of the birth of Robert E Lee (January 19, 1807 to October 12, 1870) and we celebrate the symbol of individual commitment to duty over all else during a time of great strife in our American history. Thousands of men, young and old, had to make that choice during those years of the civil war and millions of men and women in the years that followed, So, as we celebrate Robert E. Lee Day, we are not just honoring his sense of duty, but those millions of unheard voices that faced equal moral turmoil.

In a letter from Robert E Lee to George Washington Custis in January, 1861 Lee writes, …As an American citizen, I take great pride in my country, her prosperity and institutions, and would defend any State if her rights were invaded. But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union,” so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled.

It’s easy to stand at our pulpit and look back upon our past and condemn people for the choices they made. But we should not be too quick to judge. How would you react today, if  faced with the choice of defending your state or defending your country? Even though that might mean defending your country against your brother.

 

 

 

 

 

Coon Hunting

In the Dark I stand motionless

Staring across the moonlit landscape

We are together but I am alone

My thoughts consume me

The silence and isolation comforts me

My heart quickens as the music starts

A solitary howl piercing the night air

A crisp baritone shattering the stillness

Then silence and again the night possesses me

My ears strain against the quiet

Anticipating another chord

Suddenly the symphony begins

Ecstasy fills my body as the music reaches me

Echoing from far across the countryside

At first the arrangement is slow and melancholy

Soon the tempo increases

Their opus lifts me up and

I soar over dew covered fields

Through tree tops that sway in the breeze

My imagination joins them in their chase

The harmony of their voices fills my mind

Then I am shocked back to reality

With the sound of my father’s battle cry

“Whoop…Hunt ‘em up boys.”

His companions reply in a union of voices

My blood flushes my face

Long drawn out howls begin to crescendo

Again my father assails the night

With a shout to his comrades

“Whoop…Tree ‘em boys.”

Willed by my father’s voice the hounds respond

A chorus of choppy barks pierces the blackness

My heart quickens its beat

My pace increases

Anticipation takes control of my steps

Guided by the sound of the dogs

Holding their pray at bay

 

We slip through dense underbrush

Over tree covered hills

We cross frozen streams

Through meadows of frosted brown

Our search lights penetrate the fog

Hidden in the shadow of a tree branch

Eyes twinkle like stars in the sky

A single shot rings out

A thud…

Snarls…

Rustling leaves and breaking twigs

The final gasps for life

It is done

We lead the dogs away

My heart pounding in my chest