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A Gathering to Remember

by Timothy W. Tron, Nov. 2020

As the coming holidays approach, Thanksgiving and Christmas, there seems to be a sense of melancholy that has begun to permeate through the din of the incessant roar of this tumult our society has become. In my mind, there is a desire to reach back in my memories and dwell upon a time when life was simpler when the so-called advances in technology had yet to be developed. Because of the threat of lockdowns restricting these beloved reunions, those distant memories have become even more cherished. One such date that comes to mind coincides with a memory that our family holds dear to their heart.

It was the late 1960’s. Back then, we survived without non-stop news coverage, without updates from our social media accounts, and without the fear of dying from a virus, let alone anything else that existed at the time. It’s not to say there wasn’t death nor dying, for there had yet to be the advances we have today in the fields of heart disease and cancer. Both of these maladies took many lives before their time, and still do today, but not nearly as severely as in those days. No, we feared not because we had a faith that was the bedrock of our existence.

That faith was taught to us through our elders, passed down from one generation to the next – a thread of belief that was built upon an unending truth – Christ is indeed the Savior of the world. So, it is in this vein that once more my heart reaches for a well-worn story that is based on an actual event whose legacy has lasted for many years in our family. It is like the cup of an instant drink, void of the liquid to make it real – once the hot water is added, the story being recalled becomes the sustenance that warms our being. Like that beverage, the Spirit enters into our soul, and we are warmed from within to that which is without. Herein lies the beauty.

Looking back through the shadowy fog of time, those distant memories are like the passing clouds overhead. They are here but for a moment, and then cross over the mountaintops before we realize they are gone. As we near the season of holidays and family gatherings, it seems that those ancient days of yesteryear are ever more treasured. Like the value of a tattered cloth that once was held in the dying grasp of a loved one, its price to most would be nothing, but to those who knew its connection to the soul of the other – it becomes a priceless object.

That year when the snow fell around Christmas would become one such moment in time for me.

The classic event which unfolded is still known to this day, by all that attended, as the Sled Hill Christmas. Of all my childhood holiday experiences, it will forever be the most memorable in my mind. To read the entirety of the original story, you can find it online at https://timothywtron.dreamhosters.com/sled-hill-life-more-abundantly/ But this article looks at that event from a different perspective; one of how the warmth of a loving family and faith carried us through what may have been considered just another dark winter.

Like a revival, a truly epic event can only unfold when it is least expected. So it was that overcast December day so many decades ago. Several of us grandkids were staying at Grandpa and Grandma Tron’s house, there on the outskirts of New Harmony, Indiana. The town itself was in the season of slumber. Farming was still the driving industry, and the fields were now silent in their winter sleep. The hay had all been stored in the barns and the silos were filled to capacity with grains and silage to last until the next growing season began.  A feeling of hibernation overtook one’s soul, making those opportunities to warm by the woodstove or to huddle close around a cup of hot chocolate all the more permanent upon the creature within. Gathering with others was the only natural thing to do in a time such as this – it was who we were, it was what we were. In those precious slices of time, we fellowshipped without knowing that’s what it was called. Visiting with others when the work in the fields slowed was just as natural as splitting your firewood by hand – we all did it.

Tron House, New Harmony, Indiana.

When those first few snowflakes began falling the night before what would become the day to remember, we went to bed not expecting anything more than just a typical Midwest December dusting. When we awoke the next morning to the sounds of someone rattling around downstairs in the kitchen, it was as if Christmas had come early. Jumping from underneath the multiple layers of quilts, which weighed nearly as much as another cousin, we raced down the icy narrow stairs from the unheated upstairs bedrooms down to the kitchen where the pot-belly woodstove in Grandma’s kitchen was already red hot. We shivered and shook the remnants of chill from our bones, as our bare feet fought to find the warmth emanating from the scant linoleum floor by the stove. Excitedly, we peeked through the threadbare kitchen curtains that hung over the sink. The window faced grandma’s kitchen garden. Outside, the world was no longer the muddled gray of winter, but instead, was a brilliant whiteness, even in the pre-dawn, early morning hours.

About the time we had settled down around the table, after getting out of our bedclothes, Grandpa came in from the morning milking. We could hear the creaky old porch door slam behind him as he walked down the long back porch, from the barn end, up to the door of the kitchen, where he paused and took off his boots. The confines of that narrow passage clothed in clear plastic, a feeble attempt to thwart the cold winds of winter. The repurposed material was clouded with age, giving off a soft sheer grayness within the tomb of the veranda’s confines. The oft sound of rippling plastic slapping the screen made thoughts of warm summer nights, fresh tomatoes, and fireflies come to mind. Needless to say, those were but a distant rumor as the snow continued to fall.

With all eyes upon his entry, the vacuum of anticipation cut the air, like the cold wind that followed him inside. Snowflakes fell off his outer coat confirming what we already knew. Before he had time to take note of his unexpected audience, the questions began to roll off our lips.

“How deep is it grandpa?”

“Does it look like more’s coming?

“Where are the sleds?”

“Were the cows cold?”

He turned and smiled, looking toward grandma. Victor Tron never was a man of many words, So, when he replied with, “It looks like it’s gonna be good,” rest assured, that was all we needed to know. Grandma already had his breakfast ready, along with ours, and we sat down for an unusually early start of our day. We all instantly grew silent when grandpa bowed his head and reached his hand over to grandma. She grabbed his outstretched weathered hand with hers and we all joined hands and bowed our heads as grandpa said the blessing for the breakfast meal. In my mind, I can still hear that strained voice, barely above a whisper, thank God for what grandpa said was an abundance of blessings. Before us was a meager meal by worldly standards, but to us, it was Heaven sent. For we knew, even as children that every bit of it was from those two pair of withered hands that grasped one another in a love that never ended, even upon their death.

Victor Tron Sr.

 Grandpa’s first milking was at 3:00 AM and he usually finished up around 5:00 AM. His second milking was at 3:00 PM, every day of his life. He never took a vacation that I could remember. Usually exhausted from rising early, he would routinely drift off to sleep no matter where he sat, so finding time to talk with him was rare. He milked the cows until that night he died peacefully in his sleep, never to milk again. What we didn’t know as children, was how precious those few moments were with him when we were able to visit, especially that snowy morning on a cold December day so many years ago.

As soon as we were able to clear the table and bundle up, we were headed out the door. Eventually, someone asked if we could check out sled hill. An okay was given and like a herd of young calves heading for new pasture, we bolted out the back gate. Past the woodpile where grandpa’s ax and splitting log were shrouded in snow we raced. Heading for the opening to the lane, we quickly found ourselves wading through the knee-deep snow toward the iconic destination; Sled Hill. Past the milking barn, the bullpen, and Ms. Wolf’s house we trudged. Each one of these structures held a plethora of memories and stories that one could sit for hours and share. Like a life of living, their collections, like the holdings of stockpiled hay for the winter, waiting for one to return and use for the giving.

The bushes along the Labyrinth were blanketed in a sweet frosting of white. Our panted breaths billowed before us and were quickly whisked away in the falling snow.  In our rush to find out how well the sledding was going to be, we didn’t realize how hard the snow was continuing to fall. Nor did we realize how deep the snow had already gotten since sunrise. In the overcast grayness of the day, it all seemed like a dream, even when it was live.

Labyrinth, New Harmony, Indiana

As the story, “Sled Hill: Life More Abundantly,” conveys, the rest of the day was a multitude of adventures and excitement. With each passing moment, the tempo of the day’s delight reached a fevered pitch. The enthusiasm of the children soon bubbled over into those of the adults, igniting in them the feelings of youth. Gone were the aches and pains of age. The adrenaline of living purged those boundaries of limitations that had kept them hostage. Soon, parents, Aunts, and Uncles were joining in the merriment of sliding down the hill so aptly named.

As the sky began to darken as night approached, the thrill of the day and the feeling of being one with something greater than ourselves overwhelmed us. Fearing that it would end in darkness, the men created torches on the fly from used old tin cans (which we also used as drinking vessels), nailing them to poles and placing them along the sled run, all the way to the top of the hill. What started out as child’s play quickly turned into a major production. In essence, a cow pasture had turned into our own ski-slope far removed from any mountaintop.

When the last vestiges of daylight gave way to darkness, there along the sled run was a perfect row of home-made flaming lights shedding an ambient glow of warmth. Off to the side, a pile of wood was set afire and a massive bonfire became the gathering spot between runs down the hill. There we regained strength to carry on from food and drink the family had brought in at a moment’s notice. There, the entire family that was able to make it collected. The sentinel image that remains with me to this day was seeing both grandpa and grandma’s faces glowing in the reflection of the firelight. To know that grandpa had a milking coming at 03:00 AM, and yet, he was here foregoing precious sleep, standing alongside us kids around the bonfire said something more that than words could fathom. Even then, the whispers of the children could be heard, “Look, even grandpa and grandma are here.” The statement was a confirmation of the significance of that moment in time, one that made a profound statement on all that were present.

That night, once our bodies had been worn to a frazzle. There was barely enough strength to make it back to the house. As we pulled off our wet, nearly frozen clothing and briefly warmed by the fire, a numbness of exhaustion began to overtake us. The enormous featherbed never looked so welcoming. Shortly thereafter, after our bedtime prayers were said, there was little more than the sweet, “Goodnight children,” from grandma as she tucked us under the pile of quilts before we fell asleep.

For once in a lifetime, there was no sweeter sleep.

As the snow continued to fall outside that night, there was a warmth within that was more than physical – a love that transcends all understanding. There was something created that day that would last forever in the hearts of those who had been privileged to experience it. It became an inexplicable thread of life that would weave its way into our souls which would become part of who we were. The similarity of a feeling such as this can only compare to that of Christ’s disciples.

Like those followers of Jesus who had walked and talked with Christ after his resurrection, they too had a story to share. One that was so inexplicable, so earth-shattering that they would live the rest of their lives pursuing the mission to share it with all that would hear, even unto the point of death. It was who they were.

As we go forward in this holiday season, let us come together as a family, and may the hope of Christ, and Christmas be with you, until the end of time. May it someday become who you are as well.

Thanks be to God.

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Changed by the Storms of Life

And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”-2 Cor. 1:6

The morning brought about overcast skies; something that hadn’t been part of yesterday’s plan. Contemplations of getting up and finding new subjects to capture to use for future inspirational messages were quickly shrouded over by the gray skies above. From my vantage point, sitting on the picnic table at the Collettsville General store, I sat in humble submission to all that God was trying to reveal to my simple mind. Even knowing what I know about my walk in the Lord, it was evident, His plans were not my own, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”-Isa. 55:8

Blueridge Mountains, Collettsville, NC.

The clouds loomed so closely that one might have perceived it to be dusk; the birds flitting to and fro cared little. Cars going by, crossing the bridge, had their headlights on. For late June, it was a pleasantly cool morning. The John’s River flowing past echoed a constant gentle whisper. Its voice was the blank canvas for all other voices, bemoaning a solitude to any that might listen; a respite from the worldly nature of mankind. If only one could sit each waking hour by such a place, how much more complete would their earthly life be? If the curse had not been placed upon the world, how much more awe-inspiring would this appear?

While contemplating all that was before me, the thought of how much more this might mean to one that had known struggles, darkness, and sorrow came to mind. Many of my friends, colleagues, and even myself included are facing all manner of persecution and trials. To this end, my thoughts began to reflect upon how much I wish each of them were here with me to see what I can see. But even in our afflictions, we must keep mindful of how our Savior is using this to mold us, make us stronger in our faith. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

Like a soldier having survived the atrocities of war, perhaps even death by his own hands, to then return into the normal society; he cannot help but be changed, forever altered in his perception of the fine line between civility and cruelty. For a moment he can be in the real world, and a split second later, he’s back in the hell from whence his world was forever altered; blood, gore, and mayhem the likes many of us may never know, nor shall we want too. Likewise, a person can return from the depths of struggle and despair so great, that once they do, they too are forever changed, never to look again upon a normal life without understanding how many divine circumstances have attributed to that fragile thread of what is deemed normalcy. Each one of us is so close to the edge of the abyss of having nothing; ever so close to losing it all, yet we doubtfully are aware. Those who comprehend this perilous precipice have the perception of both edges of the double sword. They are keenly aware and feel the sense of urgency unbeknownst to those around them. This difference makes them often seem either distant – when they choose to remain silent for fear of distancing those with whom they wished to be with – or that they appear overzealous in their beliefs to the point they unintentionally ostracize those they love. In essence, they push away those very people who they seek to reach.

When we accept Christ into our lives, when we turn away from the old ways and take on the new, we are also forever changed. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”-2 Cor. 5:17 All of those things in the past are forgotten; those old ways of sin, those old habits of which kept us in bondage are gone. We are set free. At that moment, in that embrace of total immersion into following Christ, we too can become separated from those around us who either never realized our change, or who have yet to come to know Him as we have come to know Him. Either way, we become a different person, one in which we have died to our former selves, and being such, we no longer rely on the old ways.

In that moment, when we are saved, we become a new being. When we do, we face the same circumstances as those who have either lived through traumatic life events or circumstances. We must be mindful of our presence among those non-believers or even those who think they are Christian but are not.

It is a precarious path we walk when we are changed.

Not only that, but our perception of this fallen world changes as well. The world around us takes on a new light. Things once unseen for the sake of chasing after the natural things of this world are now visible. Our senses are like that of a babe, freshly receiving inputs from old receptors but are now seen through new eyes. Gone are those filters of addiction and worldly influences. We are cleansed by His blood, washed white as snow.

Wherefore, he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”-Eph.5:14 When we awaken from that death, we open the door as if to a freshly fallen snowscape; pristine as it had been from the beginning. In our sin, we were too lost to see what was before us all along.

Lastly, when we become one with our Father, we no longer have to question our ability to speak with Him. We know that he listens to all that we lift up in prayer.  Even in our weakness, God will intercede for us in prayer, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”-Rom.8:26-28

We understand that even on the darkest of days, those in which thunder clouds are looming on the horizon, there is still even reason to rejoice. Even when those countless prayers we have lifted up go unanswered, we still know that He is listening. “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”-Ps. 27:13-14

In the waiting, there is learning…and always hope.

When we feel downtrodden in that waiting, take heed and remember, He sends us his helper, the Comforter, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”-Jn 15:26

Yes, even on those days when you expected sunshine and God sends showers, rejoice in all that is given. We only have one earthly life to live. Let us not waste this time in despair, but rather, share the gift of salvation to all those who will hear. Be mindful of your audience and be not anxious. Some are meant to plant while others will reap; often will we see both. The fields are ripe for harvest. Now is the time.

Let your light shine for all to see.

Thanks be to God.

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The Last Dragon

Here in the woods, the pain seems distant.

All around are the sounds of the gentle hush of raindrops falling on the multitude of leaves. Each tiny patter whispers a secret to its hearer. It is as if God is soothing the recent sharp edges of life that have cut to my very soul; tween bone and marrow. Only He knows the passionate struggles with which the past months had presented themselves. It is not lightly nor without conviction that these memories now torment the heart of one who gave his all to hold onto the belief that this was his calling.

There were choices; there always are.

Like the tale of two roads diverging in the yellow wood, as Frost would write, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

There is not one day, no not one – even those that made you wonder why you ever chose to teach- that I would give back. Their pain made the creases in our soul; etchings of love emblazoned upon our inner being, never gone, never forgotten.

Yes, it is only from the heart that I write this story.

Each day that we walk in faith, we know not where the path will lead. That first day that those keys turned the lock in the door, it felt as if I had entered the den of a sleeping dragon. There was the overwhelming feeling of a darkness present. As the door opened, the emptiness of room 3212 would echo silent cries; a foreboding of things to come. Eventually, that room would become the classroom from which many stories would unfold, both good and bad. I could never imagine how it would have ended. As we are only human, we can never fully comprehend what God has in store for us. When we walk in that journey in which He hath prepared, we are refined by the fires of trials and tribulations. When the love that we share is genuine, it becomes even more painful when a door closes.

The sound of the swollen creek reverberates the feeling of how my cup had runneth over these past few weeks; the culmination of seeds planted long ago had come to fruition; some still waiting; some may never grow; yet, in all, the thoughts of the students left behind return. The image of the expansive whiteboard in room 3212 returns. On it, in its entirety, drawn with dry-erase markers, from one end to the other, is the picture of a red dragon breathing fire on a sword inscribed with one word, “Mathematics.”

It will be the last dragon.

Each semester, from the first to this one, God gave me the message of sharing my gifts through the telling my students of the parallels of the dragon and their fear of Math, the class that I would be called to teach. The first few days of each semester would find the dragon begin, always with the eye. From there, the image would slowly, during the course of the entire semester, grow into the final piece of artwork. To think of this as simply the entirety of this story would diminish the truth from all that there is to convey. It is more than just a picture, but a story of heartache, struggle, and a multitude of life’s blessings to which one may never fully know.

Behind the scenes, Satan would attack, lying in wait ready to strike another blow. When it seemed there couldn’t be any more things that could pummel my life further into the ground, there would be another twist that would sink my life into deeper darkness. Each time, from my knees, my cries would resonate to heaven; each time, God would give me renewed strength to carry on. Each time I drew closer to Him.

Just as I told my students not to fear Math (the dragon), so must we not fear the devil; for whom shall we fear if we have God? Yet, we should not be ignorant of his power and deceitful nature. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”-Eph. 5:12

Whenever there was doubt about the effectiveness of the light within, God would send a confirmation. These would be the moments that will be cherished.

One of the many beautiful memories was when one of my students finished his end of semester review package we called, Dragon Flippers. The purpose was to tie in all the units of the semester into a flip-review package and to also allow students who might not have been as mathematically inclined to shine through their artwork, which was required on the cover. It was part of our end of semester review. Before the student handed his in, he pulled me aside to tell me something that will forever be with me. He told of how he had struggled with his own demons, and that through the light God had allowed to shine through me, he found a new purpose, a new reason to live. If you had known this young man, you would have never guessed that he would have such inner turmoil. He was the model student; always on time with his work, an “A” student, and as gracious as they come.

He then handed me his project. As I fought to regain my composure, I looked upon the picture of a young man facing a mirror. In the reflection was an angry dragon looking back. Inside the package, he showed a pictorial description of Ephesians 6:14-17, and how he had used the armor of God to battle this demon. He then continued. He said that he would not be returning to High School but would finish his studies at home since his family felt the public school environment was not healthy for his wellbeing. He went on to share how he had read many of my devotionals and that because of those writings, he knew that God wanted him to do in life. “Mr. Tron, I want to thank you for helping me to see the demon within me and to show me how to defeat him. You have been the best teacher I have ever known.” The flood gates opened as I watched him leave room 3212 through tear stained eyes, never to return.

The reason God sent me to Watauga High School would never leave my thoughts. Each day, after the pledge of allegiance, I would pray to God for guidance, strength, and wisdom. Behind me, a legion of His angels was there to protect and comfort me. For if it were not true, I would have never made it. Today, as the rains fall all around, it is as if those same angels were crying, knowing that the place to which I had been called has found a way to push me out. In their mourning, my soul is once again warmed; their compassion, a representation of God’s unending love, soothes the rough edges of my broken heart. No longer will I be able to stand before all those troubled teens to convey to them God’s love, through my own, by trying to help them in their life’s journey.

Early before school began during the last week of school when the morning sky had yet to awaken, another touching moment occurred. One of our EC teachers pulled me aside and shared what one of my students had said to her when he had heard the news of my leaving Watauga. In his words, she said, he couldn’t understand why they would be getting rid of Mr. Tron, when I was the only reason, he (the student) made it through Math 2. She continued to tell me that the young man was considering dropping out of school. But once he began to do well in Math, he realized that if he could do that, then he could handle anything else that was required to graduate. She then said what touched her the most, when he said, “We need more teachers like Mr. Tron,” he told her in a very solemn tone. Once more, the tears began to flow as my heart knew the struggles the young man had faced, both in the classroom and at home.

Stories like this one and the countless others made the door closing all the more painful. We are but of the flesh, and with that, we are weak. To know that our Savior has prepared for us a new path is comforting, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. When a door slams on your finger, the momentary pain is almost blinding; when a door slams on your heart, it bemoans your spirit to the core, driving you to your knees. It is from there, kneeling on the floor that we must seek Him most.

Like those dry-erase markers with which the dragon had been drawn, the image could have easily been erased. So too are we here for a short time, as a mere wisp of smoke, here for a moment in time and then gone. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”-James 4:14. To those we encounter we have but one chance to share with them the purpose for which we are called. Many times, we are unaware of the role or the effect we’ve had, as God is working through us, such that on the rare occasion we are told of these influences, then we too know of how much we are needed in this dark world.

Another heart-wrenching moment was when the students were saying goodbye after I had shared with them the rest of the story behind the dragon; how that I was sent there by God and that God was now leading me on. The young man told of how he had been in a deep dark pit, and because of what I had said to him, beyond the limitations of the state’s standards for Math, he had been saved. Quickly I reminded him that it wasn’t me, but rather, God speaking through me.

I remember the day of which he spoke vividly.

He was one of those students who had extreme anxiety for courses in which he struggled; Math was the worst. On one of the days in which not only was Math causing him to question himself, he had also been going through a spiritual battle. When my co-teacher came to the room and beckoned me to the hallway, I was more than a little concerned. She then shared with me how he had called for me and how he had told her he was lost without hope. As my footsteps carried me to the room where he lay, I prayed to God to give me the words to speak; there was no manual, there was no guidance for this sort of thing; yet, all I could think was simply to rely on God, His Holy Word, and that He would speak through me. As those prayers were lifted, a surge of what felt like electrical energy pulsated from my head to my toes.

Looking back, I know in my heart that the Holy Spirit was with us that day.

When I opened the door, the young man was lying in the fetal position. His cheeks were stained from tears. As I walked in, he slowly sat up and thanked me for coming. I don’t remember the words that were said, I don’t know all that God had worked through me, all I know is that from that day forward, there was an obvious change in the young man’s demeanor in my classroom. From that day forward, it was as if he had been born again.

It was just one of many stories that transpired over the past three years.

One cannot look back and move forward.

In the end, the dragon stood for more than a parallel to Math. As we learn in Revelations 12, the red dragon represents Satan, who chases the woman (the church), who has a child (Jesus). The dragon tried to kill the woman and her child, but the earth protected her. God becomes our protector in all things should we choose to believe. “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”-Rev. 12:13-17

For many of my students, they realized that the dragon also stood for their ability to conquer any fear, including that of Satan. Their belief or unbelief was never questioned, rather, the light was present for all to see. In our walk, we can either to simply follow the law, or we can provide more than being the shell of a being living in a world of flesh; we can choose to be the light.

So it is, with this journey upon which I trod, answering His call to march onward, seeking that new shore. Yes, this may be the last dragon, but the story doesn’t end. When this path began nearly five years ago, those fateful words continue to ring in my ears today, “Wherever you say to go, Lord, I will follow.”

When it is your time to answer the call, choose your words carefully, for God will surely lead you to places you never dreamed and because of Him working through you, you will achieve things you never imagine. It will not be easy. There will be moments of incomprehensible pain, just as there will be times of unspeakable joy.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things unseen,” and in that, we will always find comfort.

Let us not dwell on things of the past any more than with which to inspire us toward a better path in the future.

Keep all those in prayer who have had their journey’s door close and now are awaiting the next one to open; for in the waiting, there will be learning and hope.

Thanks be to God. riority

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Hope and Wait…

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”-Romans 8:25-27

Through the lush vegetation, he pushed. Behind him, darkness and danger had pursued him like demons from another realm. There had been many near misses; moments when it felt as if the very life had been sucked from his lungs. As he neared the edge of the jungle, the light from beyond beckoned, like a welcoming host waving their guest home.

He was so close.

Each day as he had neared the edge of the dark realm, he could feel the grip of death lessen. Each new day, there was an increased hope, like that of a child expectant of the excitement of opening their gifts on Christmas morning. At first, the feeling was barely noticeable, but as the sound of release from beyond the infirmaries of bondage slipped away, he could feel a growing anticipation of eagerness stir within his blood.

Yet, he could not see what was to come.

He thought back to the verse which echoed in his mind like the raptor’s call off the nearby canyon walls, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” A chill passed through his bones as its meaning resonated with his soul.

Evil had stalked him like a dark predator, walking in the shadow of each footstep. The multitude of workload and stress it placed upon his life was nearly to the point of an unbearable burden. Yet, he pushed on; praying for strength, guidance, and wisdom every waking moment. There were times when his foot would slip on the path, and the weight of those shackles would throw him to the ground. Each time he would moan under his breath, gritting his teeth, as he pushed upward, looking for what little ray of hope that flickered through the somber canopy above. Questions clouded his mind as Satan attempted to confuse him, trying to distract him long enough to make him lose his way and give up. When the roar of tumult would overwhelm him, he would pause, bending over and holding his knees as he sought air to breathe, like the fighter pausing between rounds; then he would drag his weary frame back into the fray.

Each time he gained momentum, as if the clouds overhead had parted and a slimmer of light would escape to the forest floor, the darkness would slam him once more, like a mule kicking him in the stomach. Nauseating helplessness would momentarily overwhelm his spirit as he would stumble backward; dazed, confused, and humiliated by what all was said of his inescapable ineptitudes as Satan tried to make him lose courage. The taunts would cut him to the core, as if the prince of darkness knew what mattered most, and would use those words to slice his soul to the very marrow of his existence. As he lay upon the sod, barely breathing, the darkness would leave, feeling accomplished for what it had done. Behind it, the man closed his eyes and prayed in a whispered breath, “God, I need you like never before. If this is the path you want me to take, then show me the way. If this is not, then show me the door to take, for I cannot do this, nor have I ever done this without you.”

As the man’s face looked up from the earth, overhead a fluorescent butterfly lit upon a branch of forest fern nearby. Amongst the deep recess of the darkness, its radiance lifted his spirit momentarily, like the wings of that insect, fluttering upward, then gently floating away. He could feel his on soul rise upon the occasion and a temporary moment of repose warmed his being. He closed his eyes and pressed it into his memory, for it was the only reprieve from the oppression he had known it some time.

The days would turn into months.

Each new month brought the repeated episode of the man being beaten down, again and again, until his health began to deteriorate. It seemed as the darkness was winning. But the man had not lost faith, and in his faith, there was eternal hope; a strength greater than the darkness could compete, for the gates of hell could not prevail against it. Each day, his journey brought him closer to the end, and each day, victory was nearer than before.

Satan knew he had won, but as he watched in earnest, he could not stop the man from continuing to move onward, never stopping, never giving up. He used every means possible to stop his progress, but nothing seemed to dissuade the man from his point of focus. It was if he had another life within that the darkness could not penetrate; a light within.

As the pathway neared the end, the man felt his spirit begin to soar. Each new day, each new breath, the life he once thought had gone was now returning, but unlike ever before; more clear, more vivid, more alive than ever before. It was as if he had died and was born again.

Death had lost its grip, and his victory was with God, through Christ Jesus.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the edge of the deep wood opened, and there before him lay the vastness of eternity. The glory, in all its splendor, was more than his mind could grasp. Tears filled his eyes as the expanse of beauty flooded through his eyes, warming his soul from without, to within. The marrow of his being had been infused with something greater than any feeling he had previously known, as if an agape love, charity for which no expression could be summoned, touched an inner precept that he had not known until now.

The words flooded his soul like the voices of a thousand waterfalls, whispering a roar into his being, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The man sat and wept as God welcomed him into the fold, for his heart was now healed.

We may never know the journey someone is on in this life, nor the tribulations through which they are struggling. We can each in our own way be a ray of hope, a brilliant butterfly to their being with nothing more than a smile, a warm welcome, or just simply a kind hello.

Seek to empathize with your neighbor, colleague, or family member. Remember, “. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Smile, and be patient, for, in the end, hope will guide you.

We may not see the next door, but with hope, and faith, we will know that when it opens, it will be the will of God.

And most importantly,

Thanks be to God.

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Who will Rise Up for Me…

By Timothy W. Tron

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?”-Psalm 94:16

(Dedicated to all those who lost their lives in Sutherland Springs, Texas.)

We heard the loud bang in the vestibule, but we didn’t give it a second thought, at least not until the doors that separated us from the outer room became ajar. From where I sat, I could see the guard’s leg lying on the floor. His foot had pushed the door barely open; it was then I realized something was dreadfully wrong. Before the words could come from my mouth, a madman burst in the door of the sanctuary opposite from where we sat. He was screaming obscenities while waving his AR-15 back and forth at faces frozen in fear as he marched toward the pulpit yelling, “Where was the mother f*!@*!er that had been f*!*!g his wife?” My heartbeat in my ears as I peaked over the pew from where our row had taken cover. From there I began looking for an angle from where I could take him out. He was moving too quickly for me to get a clear shot. Before we knew it, another one of our security team had done the job, taking out the active shooter from behind a column before he could advance any further and begin firing.

Fortunately, this had only been a drill.

We were taking part in a seminar on how to prepare for one of the most unfortunate events of our times; church shootings.

Each day we seem to awaken to more and more darkness in our world.

Before we began the program, we met in a separate room where our facilitator for the day was introduced. The mood was solemn. Before the presenter spoke, our host, quoted Psalm 94:16, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” He briefly discussed the reason we were there, which we all were very aware. The most recent mass shootings at the church in Texas had awakened many to the need to begin, or further strengthen their worship service security measures. Our facilitator was then introduced, and he gave some background references that made the hair stand up on the back of your neck; this was the real deal. Having had some military training, one would understand, for those that have also been there, that you know when someone is capable of walking the walk, not just talking the talk, and so it was with our teacher this day.

My mind thought of those ancient primitive church leaders who were persecuted for preserving the Word of God. After seeing thousands of their own slaughtered in one massacre after another, they realized that to survive to carry on their legacy and to continue the true faith, they must do as the Word says in many places; the faithful must use what God hath given them; the knowledge, the ability, and the power to persevere. Their decision was based on their full understanding of the Word. In a time when it was a matter of life or death, once again, the Word of God spoke to them; time after time. For instance, we can find in Psalm 144:1, “Of David. Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;” Then again in the New Testament, Romans 13:4, “For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

Several times in between the days of the Apostles, until the great awakening began in Europe, men like Joshua Janavel would take a stand and protect the Word with their lives using the sword. The persecutions of these primitive churches would increase as mankind passed the first millennium. By time Janavel came along, there had already been two-hundred years of slaughter and resistance. Janavel would become known as one of the greatest military leaders to come out of the Waldensian Valleys in the 17th century. He would lead his people against insurmountable odds, again and again, simply because he knew if God was with them, then who could stand against them. Their adversary, or rather, persecutor, was the Church of Rome. The church-state wanted full control of mankind’s soul and would stop at nothing to annihilate anyone who stood in their way, including those few renegade heretics in their country’s northern valleys who had received the Word directly from the Apostles.

Many during Janavel’s time and centuries before had succumbed to believing in taking the passivist role, and for that, they died. Had they all done the same, we might have never had the Word in its pure form that we have today. But because Janavel knew his Bible as well as he knew those valleys, he would go on to lead a tiny guerilla force against entire armies and survive. He would write of his methods and share them with other Waldenses, who also would overcome unthinkable odds. To this day, his tactics are still shared with Cadets in our own military, at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Janavel also believed that by fighting, he was doing God’s will. If one of his men cursed, he would force them to attend a Council of War, whereby they would be warned, that if it happened again, they could be put to death. This was the extreme belief Janavel held, in that God was using him and his people as vessels through which they were to do His will, not their own. So, before each battle, he would have his forces kneel in prayer, to ask for forgiveness of the lives they would take, but to also ask that God watch over them and protect them if it be His will. Because of Janavel and men like him, we can share the true Word and faith of Jesus Christ, without any adulterations, or misguided interpretations as the Church of Rome would have it.

Once more, we find ourselves on the verge of facing persecutions like in times of old. Around the world, this has already begun, and unfortunately, with time it will begin here as well. Our enemies are many, but we have been given the ability to protect our flocks, and a such, we should do all we can.

From that point forward in the lecture, my mind was back in Basic Training mode. The instruction was purely from a militaristic point of view, as it needed to be. To provide some insight as to the seriousness of the program, we were first all asked to unarm ourselves before beginning the exercise. The leader said that when we began, the simulation might become so real, that there would be some that might revert to their former training. He had known people to black out, allowing that trained instinct to take over, and as such, we needed to take the precaution to remove all live fire from the exercise; save for one person who was selected to be the guard, just in case.

For the remainder of the morning, we practiced one scenario after another, talked of tactics to take, and discussed options when using deadly force. In all, it was very surreal. As we were wrapping up, the facilitator said something that really hit home when he was describing the security team members you would need. He said, “You want to be sure you pick people who are true Christians, people that know where they are going, and those that are willing to give their lives to save others.” It was then that the cross and Jesus came back to the moment. When we step into our faith and honestly believe, we should no longer fear death; which was the teacher’s intent. “Those who fear dying, you do not want protecting your congregation,” he reminded us.

Once more, the solemnness overwhelmed us. Many sat staring off into the distance once the exercises had completed. Their minds reflecting on all that we heard and saw, but what was more disturbing, what was to come. Yet, when we walk in faith, we know that as times continue to the end of days, we already know what to expect, as scripture says in Mark 13:7, “And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.”

When my son and I signed up for the program, we didn’t realize we were actually taking part in a live exercise. We were not disappointed. However, we gained valuable insight as to what to expect and what we must try to anticipate in a world that is increasingly falling away from organization into chaos. We must continue to be the light in a dark world, no matter the cost.

In the end, if we know He is with us, who can be against us.

Thanks be to God.

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The Lamp of the Body…

img_20160229_185127The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.” – Matthew 6:22

The laser lowered closer to the eye, all the while, the doctor reassuring his patient everything was going well. “You’re doing great,” he calmly spoke in a second thought sort of tone, obviously focusing on the surgery at hand. Closer the beam of the green light came until there was contact, a brilliant light, and then complete, utter darkness.

Nothing but black, coal, nothingness.

In that moment of doubt, a world of questions flowed through that portal into the unknown abyss. Patterns danced about as my mind raced to understand how and why. It was as if the light in my soul had been extinguished, so permeating was the blackness before me. Streams of energy passed through the channel as I silently prayed. Scenes of childhood, patterns of imagery, and all manner of beautiful images played out before me as the void enveloped everything.

I prayed for calmness and the steady hand of the surgeon to do his work.

Then it was done.

The light re-emerged, fractured and confused.

“Close your eyes now and rest,” were the next words the doctor spoke. “We’re all done. You did great.”

“Amen,” I whispered.

For months, my right eye had nearly been blind, except for the blur of figures that I could discern through its milky covering. The vision was like looking through waxed paper. Driving in the dark was the hardest, as glare would blanket my eyesight, often causing me to whence with pain. The cataract had grown quickly; too quickly. Our previous Market Place Insurance premium was so high there was no way we could have afforded the surgery. In fact, that was why we had waited as long as we did; we just couldn’t afford it. But Jesus told us, “Ask and you shall receive, knock, and the door will be opened.” So I prayed, again and again.

Our prayers are often answered, but never in the manner in which he had imagined.

From one door closing to the next one opening, there was no thought as to where it would all end. The only guiding principal was that the Lord was leading us, and where He willed us, we would follow. Never understanding, even now, as to why He was leading us where He did, we kept following. Eventually, that next door found us in a place where the medical benefits would finally pay enough to allow us to afford the eye surgery.

Another prayer answered.

After weeks of waiting, preparation and scheduling, the day had come. After what seemed a lifetime, my surgery was complete. The worse of the two eyes was now repaired. There would be no immediate satisfaction. Knowing just how good the changes were would have to wait until the next day when the swelling and incision had time to heal. There was no lingering pain or side effects, only the question was, “How big a change would I experience?”

Exhausted and spent, I went to bed early that night. Although I was wearing an eye shield, sleep came easily and soundly.

The next morning, gray shades of the dawn began to creep into our bedroom. Unthinking, I arose from bed and dressed, making my way to the bathroom. I had forgotten to pick up my glasses. As I neared the light, something twinkled in my eye. I started to go back to retrieve my glasses to see better but stopped. There was something clearer that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Nearing the nightlight, I looked and could see bursts of clarity that took my breath. Suddenly, I felt like a child on Christmas morning, rising before the dawn to find the presents under the tree. My heart raced as I neared the mirror, slowly peeking at the shield. Underneath, my eye blinked and cleared away the sleep. I stared in disbelief at myself, looking through gauze and plastic, at a much clearer picture than before. Careful, according to the doctor’s orders, I removed the shield, inserted the prescribed drops and timidly made my way to the kitchen. Outside, the sunlight was just beginning to warm the treetops in the forest behind our home. The brilliant glow sparkled like a thousand stars. Up above, the sky formed a brilliant blue that seemed to leap from the air into my soul.

I pushed the button to start the coffee brewing then stepped into my house slippers and opened the front door. Like a newborn walking for the first time, I slowly stepped out into the vibrant world of colors that I had nearly forgotten. Everywhere I looked, things sparkled and shone like ripples on the surface of the water. There was no comparison. It was as if my eye was as clear and crisp as the morning air. Emotion began to overwhelm me when I thought about how we had come to this place and that now, God had once more answered prayer.

Again, and again, the impossible had been made possible.

Tears welled up in both my eyes and I looked toward the heavens. There up above, the most beautiful full moon still shone, in glorious detail. The light from within had once more found the light from without, and the two were one once more.

“Thanks be to God,” I breathed out loud, my breath emitting a fog in the frigid dawn, taking on a shimmering orange glow from the coming sunrise.

As I looked skyward, it was as if God filled my cup to overflowing, as tears began to flow down my cheeks.

There is no more greater gift than that of sight. For we were once blind, but now we see, that when we receive His glory, we can have eternal life.

If only we see.

Yes, the eye is the lamp of the body, and through it, we may seek Him. For to receive Christ into our lives, is to receive the light, and through the lamp, so doth the light flow.

Prayers were lifted, prayers were answered, and once more, the Glory of God shines for all to see.

Thanks be to God!

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Finding the Light…

Subdued tones of gray, black and white surround us today as we walked in the woods.20160124_133944~2

Snow blanketed the quiet world around our pathway creating shapes and images that haunted your vision and questioned your motives.

My life takes on a similar quality as the work turns inward. My research into the antiquity of truth, the search for connections in time that have been obscured by men’s aspiration for their own truth, often foregoing the sanctity of their positions in order to gain an edge over their perceived adversary, only failing those who will follow centuries later. Some divisions are over such seemingly minor articles that from a distance they seem harmless, yet beneath the surface lurks a dark force that seeks to destroy all that surfaces toward the light.

There is but one Truth, the Word of God.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light,” echoes Paul in his letter to Ephesians.

The distractions of everyday life can cause us to falter, lose our way and be swayed away from the truth, the light.

As we learned in Art Appreciation 101 during my days in the pursuit of becoming a Commercial Artist, the color black was the absorption of all light such that nothing could escape; the emptiness of color so to speak. White, on the other hand, was the reflection of all colors. Stage lighting professionals know that the brilliant white light used in theater productions is the result of multiple colors shining at once on the same object.

Light, in another sense, is everything coming at you at once. Thus, in the gospels, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. The Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things made were made through Him. In Him was the life and the life was the light of man. The light shone in the darkness but the darkness comprehendeth it not.”

The light was God in the flesh, everything coming at us at one time. It was so incomprehensible that our meager minds could not handle it at one time. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, not in these exact words, “If man could but understand an iota of what God knew, our heads would explode.”

Imagine Jesus walking up to you and asking you to throw down your net, your hammer, your laptop and follow him. Could you? Would you?

It should be no surprise that even though we may share the gospel with the world around us, many cannot fathom the meaning of the Word, nor feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when it comes upon them. Their world is bleak and filled with shadowy objects; demons lurk behind every turn waiting to destroy the shallow world they have built their lives upon. Each day they struggle to make meaning of why they crawl out of bed to face the world. Each day, they walk without Christ, they become more lost in the darkness, lost in the woods of life.

Today as we followed the trail of brilliant white all around us, the glory of the Father shone brightly and we rejoiced, for we know that He is within as well as without. Our shadows are only because of the light that shines before us, allowing us to see the obstacles in our path before we hit them head on. Without our guiding light, we would become lost and stumble.

This week, find a way to become the spark to light the way for someone in your path. Share the Word of God and become the lamp unto thy feet, sharing the multitude of all that is, and just maybe, just maybe one more soul may find the light within, saved by His grace.

Go ahead, light that match.

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Zen Miles…

webThis morning I ran ten miles, which in German would be “zehn” miles. It made me think of the Eastern philosophy of “Zen” and how my exercise had a lot to do with the “Zen” of life. I thought of this homonym on the return route, since my zehn miles is an out-and-back course.  A colleague at work and I had discussed this past week how running seemed to cleanse our minds from the stress and chaos from work; thus the Zen.  I didn’t initially plan to run ten, but rather eight miles. As I went along, I eventually found myself willing and able to continue farther with a memory that would spur me to go the extra two miles I hadn’t planned; but that part I will unfold later. The first few yards of my run each day take me down a gravel road through a deep wood, where this morning I happened to pick up several spider webs that had miraculously stretched across the roadway during the night. I could feel these nearly invisible strands of fiber trailing behind me, like the tail of a kite and with the thought of Zen, they became as memories in life that I recall on my run, often invoked by an image or sound along the way as they floated behind.raincrow

This morning my first recollection was of a sound; a Rain Crow.

The rain crow is actually a “Yellow Billed Cuckoo” native to this area but according to an old wives tale,  its call often signifies the prediction of rain by the next day. I first heard of this while visiting the gathering that use to occur at Reno Sharpe’s Store, down the road from where we live. In those days, mostly old men would gather and sit on the porch when weather would allow, sipping on bottles of coca-cola or spitting chew off the porch while sharing the news of the day. It was here I leasharpestorerned of the rain crow and its ability to foretell the weather among many other things in life that are passed down orally; history told in a manner in which it comes alive.

The prediction of rain made me think about the day before when I had just disked up the garden plot, so today would be the day to get the seeds planted. My daughter, Mary and I, would most likely be the ones to do this later this day. We shared in our endeavor to raise a garden. Bringing in the fresh produce was a rewarding to us as anything, especially when it enriched our dietary pallets. This reminded me of the days we would go to my paternal grandmother’s house on Sunday. They were Seventh Day Adventist, so their Sabbath was on Saturday. So when Sunday rolled around in late summer, we would go and help her set out the fall garden, preparing for the hearty plants that would last well into the cold winters of southern Indiana. It would be a family event, one that would get us all out working in the dirt with our hands, then returning to the front porch to drink cold water from the old tin cups she had saved and sharing stories. Telling tales and passing down family history was something we had always known. The trips to the local store only made North Carolina seem more like home.

A trail of web dropped off as I plodded along, the sun rising behind me as I headed westward.

The cool mist of the morning was heavy in the lower valleys today, opening another chapter of life. There was a day when I was a very competitive runner and ten miles was merely medium distance in my training, unlike today wherefog it was definitely my long run. I remembered running on the back roads of Ocala Florida under wide Oaks with drapes of Spanish moss hanging down where misty mornings were common. On those runs along the Turkey Bridge road, a hilly section near my house, I could literally run down into a fog bank so thick the ridge behind me would disappear and the temperature would drop ten degrees. It was an eerie feeling to run up and down this hills that were like islands in the sky separated by white lakes of floating mists.

One more web loosened itself as I rounded the next bend in the road.

My morning Bible study at been all of 2nd Peter. It was written telling people the faults of following false prophets and how retaining hate in your life was unhealthy. The image of all the media and the threat of war in Syria came to mind. People fed a daily ration of hate, people stockpiling weapons, fear growing of government invasion of personal privacy; all of it compounding upon what 2nd Peter foretold of a nation that lost their way and became ignorant of their faith. But here I was flushing this vileness from my mind, not retaining it, so I took in a deep breath of the pure country air and let it go, relishing in the beautiful morning before me as I could hear a flock of crows calling off to my right, another thought another memory I left with them.

I passed the mailbox of Clyde McClaurin; I happened to be running on McClaurin road, which had been named after Clyde’s family many years before. Clyde passed away over ten years ago, so his name on the mailbox stands as somewhat of a memorial to him. The name on the box also reminded me of a time gone by when people weren’t afraid to put their names on their mailboxes. Today, in the world of instant communication and Google Earth, I find people hiding more and more behind numbers and false names in order to hide their true identity, thus allowing them to continue the conversation of hate which I alluded to earlier.

Wanting to stray back to the moment and get away from the world in which we live, I focused once more on the open road ahead.

Not far away I passed a mailbox numbered 1805 and thought of how it might be interesting to write a story about someone that went for a run and how each mailbox number became a date So, as they ran along a road with decreasing numbers, they would find themselves going back in time. I thought of this mailbox next to the barbed wire fence and how it was likely that there wasn’t any barbed wire in 1805, something I’d have to look up before writing that story. I knew from my experiences visiting historic sites in that time frame that split rail fences or rock walls were common, so it was that it was very likely I’d find myself running along old rock walls if I had been transported to the early 1800s. Thankfully the barbed wire fence continued as did my run.

As is often, I thought of the sequel to my book that I was writing and where I might go with it. I’d fixate on the image of each twist and turn and before I realized it, I’d be a mile or two down the road. This mental writing while running is something new to me but its quite rewarding to be able to write and run without worrying about pain or discomfort. I know when I first started back running last summer this was not at all possible because the pain was too great. Thankfully a year later I’m able to run nearly pain free for all of ten miles.

Then it dawned on me, I hadn’t run ten miles since before my mother passed away last December.

darknessThe flood of memories with her death and the visits beforehand came rushing back. I remember the day of her funeral, I went out to run, to try to leave it all for just a few minutes, but it would go away. Her passing was the finality in my life that I knew would eventually occur. Her release from her battle with cancer was a relief in itself, but just knowing there wouldn’t be another time I could hear her voice on the phone; those would be the times that would be missed. That day I ran ten miles and felt like I was in a cloud, but it was a dark one. There had been a dangerous flu going around, one I would eventually become ill with. I wouldn’t be free of the sickness for a couple months; thus the reason my running stopped that winter, and my long runs. It was a dark time and without a way to shed the pain, the months crept along. Today was my chance to put it behind, physically and mentally; ten miles it will be I decided, Lord willing.

One by one, mile after mile,  I left the strands of web behind like the memories along the run until I wasuphillrun approaching that last final hill, the one leading to my house; here to the present. My daughter wanted to run a couple miles with me this morning in order to train for her cross-country at school. This was something I enjoyed and would endure no matter how tired I had become from my long run. Our children are our future. This was the here and now, as the last final cob web fell to the side of the road; this was the creation of new memories that I would reach back for someday.

My mind clear, my soul refreshed and zehn miles under my belt; once more, I was home.

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A Flightful Vision…

My first memory of thought was the climatic change.

I could feel the coolness on the back of my neck go from a dry, high altitude feeling to that of a humid-moist climate; sailingshipyet the temperature remained the same. What I saw before me was a loading ramp, reaching out to a dock, upon which the boat we were on had just docked. The boat itself was an old sailing ship with dark timbers for a hull. I was in the middle of a pack of mules, large Percheron types with blonde colored bodies and dark manes. We rode out of the hold of the ship in a thundering stampede, immediately reaching the outskirts of the city in which we had made port. As we ran west, the sunrise was to our backs, ahead the mist of the rising morning dew. There were others riding in our cavalcade but I could not see them; I could only sense that they were riding behind me. As we passed through the countryside, there were fields of pastures on both sides of the road, lined with fences and separated by occasional rows of trees. The road we ran upon was not paved but packed dirt; an ancient thoroughfare worn smooth from countless hoof prints.

wildhorsesThe farther we ran into the landscape the more the mules became horse-like, until they eventually turned into a graceful herd of horses, all thoroughbreds. I was still riding the same animal I began with, the wind blasting past me as we now increased speed as the agility of the animal was became altered. The farther we ran; the closer the fencerows came toward us until the wide open road became a lane. Ahead of me was a wide open pasture that had large towering trees on its backside, up a tall hill. There, sitting on the edge of the pasture, just inside the trees was an old home; weathered and gray.

The roar of hooves shook the ground as we left the lane and ran across the tall green grasses of the pasture toward the darkforesthouse, up the field of swaying green grass to the dark tree line ahead.

Darkness began to fall as twilight began to ebb.

I suddenly began to get concerned for our safety for fear the horses would not slow down and we would be torn to shreds as the panic stricken animals would race through the forest, maiming themselves and us in the process. I looked around and still could not see anyone, but continued to feel as if there were others following. Ahead of me was only rider-less horses, running in unison, their manes flowing in billowing wave behind as they flew across the solemn ground.

I reached down to my horse’s side, touching its shoulder and felt the fear within. My thoughts of calmness sought to speak to the animal as it continued its mad gallop toward the old homestead that was fast approaching. I searched deep within the beast until I was able to grab its attention, speaking to it letting it know there was no need to flee. The calming affect began to ripple like waves from my mount to the other surrounding horses who too now began to slow their pace. The tension from the moment began to release from their nearly expired muscles until they all began to walk cautiously into the dark woods, up the hill, past the old house.

abandonedhouseAs we passed by the old homestead I could see there was nobody there; the windows long ago knocked out, doors missing. The roof was still intact, yet there was no life still inhabiting the home. There was a whinny of a horse nearby I turned to see, but then when I turned back toward the house, it was alive and well with lamplights lit, glowing an amber light into the ebony night beyond; inside were people still making it their home. Confused, I blinked and tried to refocus, but we were now beginning to get far enough into the woods that the trees would block my view off and on; each time the house would change from alive to dead.

Then I noticed the riders coming behind; then ones I had sensed all along. They carried torches and were moving in adarkrider2 very determined manner. The horsemen carried swords at their sides. Those without torches had already drawn their sabers and rode with them raised high, ready to attack. Shadows covered their faces, but their bodies spoke anger as their horses, lathered and tired from the chase, ran with weary hooves, I realized we were in danger and called to the others to run once again; for now I understood the initial flight. I jumped free of my mount and slapped its flank, encouraging it to join the others as they all raced off into the distance, up the mountain and out of sight, beyond the forest in which I now stood. Into the darkness I dove, seeking shelter from the oncoming horde of evil that advanced up the hillside below.

Then nothing…

Quiet stillness…

A glimpse of hiding and the fear of being found as heavy footsteps drew near…

Then I awoke.

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