Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wear Cabbage for Summertime Cool

Let cabbage help you keep your cool. That’s right! Our research has shown that a cool-headed produce vendor attracts customers like. . . like fruit flies. Wear your cabbage-leaf hat with complete confidence knowing that your hat will be one-of-a-kind as well as 100% biodegradable.

And that’s not all. After the sun goes down, your versatile hat can be eaten raw as a nutritious snack or boiled, baked or stir-fried for your evening meal.

Here is our promise to you: Your cabbage-leaf hat will stay intact for 3-5 working days depending upon humidity, dew point and the ruble-to-dollar exchange rate. We suggest after each wearing, simply rinse in cool, clear water and dry your cabbage-leaf hat flat and away from heat. (Dry cleaning not recommended.) Available in classic cabbage green or vivid purple prose. One size fits most. Order your cabbage-leaf hat today while supplies last! (Recipes and nutritional information available.)

If a tree could talk...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Weathering the Storms: Farewell to a Beloved Father

One summer afternoon as a little girl here in Rittman, Ohio, I was draped across the front porch swing of our white, frame house. The sky was dark and thunder rumbled in the distance. Dad’s truck pulled up just then and he came bounding up the steps from work.

He was wearing his dark green work clothes and carrying his lunch box, heavy with a thermos. He smelled of lacquer thinner, sawdust and of honest sweat, smells of a builder. Dad eased his lanky frame down onto the swing beside me. The storm was closer now, the thunder was louder and I was nearly in tears.

Dad draped his arm around behind me. As the lightening flashed, he explained that when two clouds bump together, lightening happens. He told me that God created the clouds and that God made the thunder and the lightening.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of, Eileen, because God is in control.” Then it began to pour down rain.

I felt so safe sitting there beside Dad, watching the angry clouds churn past. Starting then, I began to appreciate thunderstorms and to marvel at the raw power of God’s heavens.

* * * * *

Forty-nine years have passed since that conversation on the front porch swing. Forty-nine Ohio winters of shoveling snow from the front walk, forty-nine summers with magnificent skies and billowing clouds. Forty-nine years of life in the work-a-day world, raising a family, paying the electric bill, launching kids, keeping gas in the car and easing into retirement.

There have been sunny days and there have been dismal days. In recent years, there have been days when all Dad could hear was the rumbling of the distant thunder, when all he could taste was the bitterness of regrets, when all he could see was the approaching storm clouds.

One dark hour in recent days, Dad may have been overwhelmed by a storm of his own, the wind whipping around his face, raindrops stinging his cheeks and thunder crashing in his ears. Or perhaps he had been scanning the horizon, fearful of what storms tomorrow would bring. Perhaps he wanted simply to control his last days and choose when and where he would leave us. Such things are known only to God.

But had I been with Dad during that midnight hour, I would have sat down beside him. I would have slipped my hand into his and recited these words from the classic hymn:

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high.
The sky is o’er shadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

Master, with anguish of spirit,
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled;
O waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul!
And I perish! I perish, dear Master;
O hasten and take control!

I would stop and look at him,
“Dad, listen to me. You think all is lost. The Prince of Darkness, the Father of Lies is whispering in your ear. Telling you that life has been hopeless and that your future will be miserable. Please Dad, look to the Master. Like you told me so long ago, God is in control. Please Dad, the song doesn’t end here. Dad, please stay for the next verse. . .

Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast,
Linger, O blessed Redeemer,
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will.
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons, or men, or whatever it be,
No water can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of oceans and earth and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, family and friends, life goes on and it will include dark moments. Storms roll across our horizon. We fear that our ship will capsize before we reach harbor. But let us look to the Master of the wind and the waves. He longs to be Lord of each of our lives. He longs to put his arm around each of us and guide us homeward.

During this dark and difficult hour, I am so thankful to have had a dad who pointed me to our Heavenly Father even, and most especially, when the storms come.