The Journey……Going Home

The Journey…Going Home                                          

Willie Nelson’s song “on the road again,’ seems apropos.  We left Paradise, Pennsylvania with a very warm feeling and glad it was part of our journey.  Traveling north through New Jersey and arriving in Manhattan, New York produced ‘culture shock’ and the city of Paradise grew in its beauty.  I must admit paying $12.00 to cross the George Washington Bridge which was preceded by another collective $16.50 in tolls gave me reason to want to turn and rush back to our recently acquired friends in Pennsylvania.

We entered Worcester, Massachusetts where icons such as Bill Russell, Bob Cousey, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski  invoke an immediate conversation.  Our goal in June’s home town was to walk down memory lane to visit yesteryear.  The famous quote “you can never go home,” has never been more appropriate.  Old South High School where June attended has been closed and now stands as a beautiful old building built in an era when architectural design in schools made a statement.  Equally discouraging was June’s home church, Old South Congregational, which stood as a physical monument built to honor God but now crumbling from neglect with boarded up doors and windows.

Driving through the neighborhoods where June played as a youngster became very nostalgic.  “Look! That’s Elm Park where we would go in the winter and ice skate the entire day.”  “That’s the pond where daddy brought us after dinner to fish,”“That’s where my best friend lived,” and the list goes on.  The community where June grew up as a young girl stood in stark contrast to what it was in her younger days.  Although the neighborhood is a short distant from Clark and Holy Cross Universities, two of the top Universities in the country,  the pluralism and diversity of the ethnic population lack the core values of the original homeowners,  thereby, leaving the community with a lack of responsible ownership and aesthetic  beauty.  June wept.

Our stay was highlighted by a New England ‘coming home’ dinner in honor of June.  Leaving friends, cousins, and family in the early 60’s to attend college in Georgia followed by marriage to a southern boy created a vast space between the dinner party and the time they had last seen each other.  The evening and conversations were peppered with “do you remember the time…’  Laughter, hugs and yes some tears were the highlight of the evening.  As a sidebar, where the local accent is heavy Bostonian, there was an occasional chuckle and the request “how do you say this in the south.”  A good time was had by all.

Tomorrow we leave for Cape Code, Martha’s Vineyard, Province Town, Nantucket, and some Island hopping on the east coast.

 

Cheers,

Gary and June

the spiritual person puts the care of his soul before all else.”

The Journey…….On the Farm

Aside

The Journey…………………On The Farm

The horse drawn buggy moved at a steady pace.  The trotter was a magnificent animal keeping the rhythmic pace of a thoroughbred.  Inside the  buggy was an Amish couple with their two children.   The father had a full beard which is customary when the young man marries and no longer shaves.  The lady wore a dress she had made, and a small bonnet covered her head.  The two children were dressed in similar fashion.  The children are multilingual speaking German at home and English when attending school or other situations requiring English.  Today is Sunday and they spent the morning in a home fellowship which would be analogous to church attendance in most other cultures. It also represents an afternoon of fun and festivities for the two children.  Volleyball is the sport of choice and the Amish communities have makeshift volleyball courts in pastures, yards and practically any place that will accommodate a large group.

The summer has been busy for the boys and their father who attend to large fields of crops, primarily corn and tobacco.  Most of the work is accomplished with the help of large ‘Belgium’ work horses.  There are no power tools or devices such as tractors, mowers etc.  All work is done with manual labor.  In addition to maintaining the crops the family also operates a dairy  of 60 Holstein dairy cows.  The cows are milked twice daily, in the morning at  5:30. and 4:30 in the afternoon.. (Patches of Godlight……hard work, devotion to duty, responsibility, family, Godliness.)

June and I left Daniels, West Virginia and traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia. where I wanted to visit James Madison University which has an enrollment in access of 16,000 students.  It has a very fine reputation for academics and the  professional literature frequently refers to their accomplishments.  When we arrived it was the day upper classmen were returning for the fall semester.  The campus was a beehive of activity. Additionally, it was pristine in its appearance. The architectural design makes the visitor immediately stand in awe with the beauty of the physical facilities. It was obvious from the smiles and enthusiasm of the students it was a place they wanted to be.

After a night in Harrisonburg we started our trip to Paradise, Pennsylvania where we were treated to two outstanding theatrical performances, American Icons and Sights and Sounds.   As exciting as these events were they could not exceed the joy and experience we had staying at a bed and breakfast in the Heart of the Amish Community.  A couple who operate a large dairy farm 160 acres and milked 80 cows daily, have a couple of rooms in an old farm house where we had the privilege of staying.  Yes, we did go to the birthing barn for young calves and walked (very carefully)  through the barn and witnessed the milking procedure. Having grown up in farming country this was not an entirely new experience for me but for June  it was.

Words cannot express the joy we experienced in this area of the country.  The beauty of the farms was beyond our greatest expectations.  The work ethnic, cleanliness, and the joy we experienced in visiting inside the homes of an Amish couple and discussing their lifestyle and beliefs was refreshing.  Seeing a culture that is completely self-sustaining (no medicare, or social security for the senior members. Needs are met by family and community) makes a person wonder if today’s economic progress is really progress.

On the road to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Gary and June

the most important things in life are not things.”

The Journey…….Golf In the Kingdom

Leaving Kingsport, Tennessee we traveled one of the most picturesque drives we have seen.  The lushness of the mountains provided a spectacular backdrop for the farm houses and old barns that dotted the landscape.   There is no beauty like nature……(A Patch of Godlight)

In the recent British Open Golf tourney, Tiger Woods found his golf ball lodged in the front of one of the infamous craters(sand traps) for which the tourney has become noted.  Tiger was confronted with taking a penalty for an unplayable lie or making a very unusual attempt at getting the ball out of the crater.  Tiger chose to blast the ball directly into the high wall of the crater which in turn propelled the ball backwards and a lie that was now playable.  The news commentator, in his very British accent, said;  “when you are in the kingdom (British) you must play by the rules.  WOW!  “When you are in the Kingdom, you must play by the rules.” What a statement…….Let your mind play with that thought.

Arriving at Glade Springs, a golfing community, in Daniels,  West Virginia 62 senior golfers were treated to a delightful banquet which was followed by a theatrical presentation of “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” The music throughout the presentation was taken from the 50’s and 60’s.  Don’t tell me seniors can’t  ‘rock’.

The first day of the tourney, players are chosen at random as to whom they will play.  Within my fore-some was the number one, and the number three golfer. It only took a few holes and I realized I was in for a character building seminar. I was humbled beyond what I expected. I was determined not to let my lack of golf skills destroy the camaraderie and the beauty of the mountains and superb golf courses (three). Luckily for me the second and third day players are placed into ‘flights’ which reflect the level of play of the golfers.  In flight two, where I played, golfers of equal ‘handicaps’ played together.   This greatly helped my self esteem.  In Ancient days men would beat the ground with sticks and they called it witchcraft, today they call it golf. (Will Rogers)

June and several of the ladies traveled to Beckley, West Virginia to see an authentic coal mine.  They traveled by tram into the depths of the mine and learned the nuances of extracting coal from the earth.  Can you imagined the miners with their helmets and lights peering into the darkness and seeing this tram filled with women approaching.  They would have thought they were in Glory Land….and then can you imagine the look on their faces when they realized it was a tram filled with senior women.

Tomorrow we go to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to visit James Madison University.  Saturday we will be in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and attend a musical  presentation  of “The Legends”  The following day off to Amish country where we will stay a couple of days on a 165 acre dairy farm.

Blessings,

 

Gary and June

 

 

 

The Journey—Spirituality

The Journey………..Spirituality

Today June and I actually loaded the car and began the process of traveling with our first stop in Kingsport, Tennessee.   It was quite astounding as we began the day and observed in our back yard a mother deer with her twin fawns.  It was apparent this was the first time the two had been away from the protective environment where mother had them safely placed.  Their exuberance and excitement could hardly be contained as they jumped, bounced, and gleefully ran around.  Mother was in the process of nurturing, disciplining, and feeding them as only a mother could do.  (A patch of Godlight).

All Saints Chapel—University of the South

Everybody’s Got Religion

Not everyone may frequent the CHURCH, but we each have a

place of worship.  For some, it’s the OFFICE. For others, the MIRROR.

However, to worship anything less than God robs both Him and us.

            …..Louie Giglio

 

As I watched the Olympics I was amazed at the level of accomplishments demonstrated by the athletics.  Particularly, I sat in awe of the precision divers as they came off the diving board and entered the water.  Imagine the number of times they had to practice in order to reach that accuracy.  For sure, when taking a page out of a text book concerning conditioned learning and brain function, it was not something requiring a lot of thinking on the day of the events.  It had become a pattern and the brain was on automatic pilot. 

 

Research literature is quite clear that each of us is tri-dimensional; body, mind, and spirit.  It is also conclusive the body and mind grow in direct proportion to their connection to the spiritual dimension.  Athletes are encouraged to be disciplined in their diet and workouts, but spiritual discipline is often seen as coercive, if not oppressive.

 

When June and I decided to make our trip we did not want it to be a ‘destination’ or ‘vacation’ but, rather ,a ‘spiritual journey’.  At this juncture in our life, we wanted to discipline ourselves, like the athlete and many others, to have our ‘rule of life’ firm and to establish structure and growth in Godliness.

 

To the reader we are quick to note that spiritual practice is up to the individual Christian.  While some practices hold deep meaning for one person, a different set of practices will appeal to another.  However, it is vitally important that each believer develop a “rule of life”.  Like the athlete that has spent months, days and hours making his/her actions a part of his/her routine, so it is with the Christian who lives a spirit- filled life. We hope you will join with us on our journey.

 

Gary

“I am not, but I know I AM”

The Journey……..

August 20, 2012

The Journey……..

    If you wish to live in peace and harmony with others,    You must learn to discipline yourself in many ways.

                                                                                                                Thomas A Kempis

                                                    

Two years ago June and I decided we wanted to journey across America and embarked upon a trip across the upper Midwest (the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana) and parts of Canada.  What made this adventure a journey rather than a vacation was the fact we did not have a specific destination.   Rather we wanted to enjoy the trip and the surroundings more than a specific place.  We are now ready to resume the journey to include the eastern portion of the United States.

Leaving Sewanee, Tennessee our journey has a different dynamic.  What makes it different  is our search for what Jan Karon called ‘Patches  of Godlight.’  Patches that are found in the environment, culture and  people. June and I will take a pilgrimage that includes examination of our spiritual life. We are aware Inherent in this process is the fact that old habits are hard to break, and no one is easily weaned from his own opinions.  But if you rely upon your own reasoning and ability rather than on the virtue of submission to Godliness you will seldom attain wisdom.

If you would like to follow us as we make our way across the country I will be posting, on somewhat of a frequent basis, our experiences at  http://www.dgcoker.wordpress.com    Our  first stop is in Glade Springs, West Virginia where I will be playing in the Georgia Seniors golf tournament.  Secondly we arrive in Harrisonburg, Virginia and spend time at James Madison University.  Next is Paradise, Pennsylvania and three days living on a dairy farm in the middle of Amish Country.   From Paradise we travel  to Worcester, Massachusetts to rekindle June’s childhood with relatives she has not seen or visited in many years.  We move from Worcester to Cape Cod and begin a circuitous trip down the eastern United States with stops in Providence, Rhode Island and Annapolis, Maryland where we will spend three days adjacent to the Naval Academy.  We will arrive back in Greensboro, Georgia three weeks later.