Unknowable Visions and Unsearchable Questions

The oldest question man continually asks: Where did we come from and where are we going? It’s a reasonable question. There are many answers that are sort of reasonable as well. Some of them are rather humorous and some of the really old ones are much better than new musings and mutterings from the landed authorities. Gator gets puzzled by philosophers that haughtily pronounce we came from the expansive struggle of lessor forms of life. Over billions of years, a microbe of impossible life decided to move into a nice condo and developed that dream. It’s natural they say, after all we developed intelligence from nothing to stupendous heights. More towers of babel perhaps. A hearkening to go where no man has gone before, Intelligent awareness. At warp 10, passing the aptly named black hole library where those sorts of books can be found.

All sarcasm aside, the question still stands and the only studies that go beyond our foolishness fall into the category of theology. It is sometimes referred to as philosophy of the old thinkers: Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. The deep ones we dismiss because they’re dead. After all, we have advanced scientific thought to heights that no man has achieved…oops, back to Star Trek again. We know nothing about origins and intelligence as it comes from our worship of the god of mankind. It’s us, it’s me. Easy to worship myself. Don’t even have to think about it.

Good and honest conversation about these things is refreshing and a good use of time. Perhaps at a conversation ‘pit’ at a local library. A perfect place to speak and converse about anything in print or even a popular debate in the newspaper. Jack enjoys eating his breakfast with a book on his left or perhaps the latest issue of a newspaper. What an archaic communication device, a newspaper. Yet, left with reading the news on a 3” wide screen which seems akin to reading an old letter that is faded and yellow and needs close scrutiny. We all do it, gazing down at that little window of information to see if there is any good news or gossip to share. Copy and paste and send it on. Before newspapers, and that was not really long ago, there were the coffee and tea shops where people went. They read their own writing to one another and then invited comments. This is a quote from a man who did that sort of thing:

Genuine controversy, fair cut and thrust before a common audience, has become in our special epoch very rare. For the sincere controversialist is above all things a good listener. The really burning enthusiast never interrupts; he listens to the enemy’s arguments as eagerly as a spy would listen to the enemy’s arrangements. If you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will find that no medium is admitted between violence and evasion. You will have no answer except slanging or silence.”…G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936),

A wise man and very ‘up to date’ with his thoughts. Perhaps you, dear reader, have experienced what Mr. Chesterton is describing. Polite and respectful listening and conversation is delightful and also, at times, stimulating. Different viewpoints and feelings are opened and thought begins. Civility and respect are not things of the past. Listen well and speak as you are led. It’s pretty good, Jack Gator

Game Plan

Jack has been studying a lot lately. It seems as though taking a College correspondence course is right in time with the strange times we are in, the whole world is in. Distance work, computer work now made possible with fast internet and social acceptance. There are great benefits to working at home. Good coffee for one. No ground coffee in the cans for Jack. Pleasant contact with family, mostly. Casual clothing too. Just sit at the keyboard in his Wall-Mart shopping pajamas and start working with the bean grinder and French press nearby.

A game plan that satisfies. After Jack passed his philosophy finals, he found something pleasing. He kept studying historical philosophy for more insight. To be more aware of his own thoughts and philosophic views.

A poem by Frederick Nietzsche, translated from German, hit Jack profoundly: “Oh man, take heed of what the dark midnight says: I slept, I slept—and from deep dreams I awoke: The world is deep—and more profound than day would have thought. Profound in her pain—Pleasure more profound than pain of heart, Woe speaks; pass on. But all pleasure seeks eternity—a deep and profound eternity”

Nietzsche, without trust in an infinite and personal God, went insane in beautiful Switzerland. We now realize without that trust we develop what we refer to a ‘Game Plans’ We shut ourselves up in the structure of a plan and do not look beyond it. Perhaps a plan of a secure retirement investment, shaving two seconds off of a 50 yard breaststroke or getting that hole in one. Once the game plan actually comes to fruition, another one is created that keeps us in that focus on our immediate pleasure. Only ourselves in mind, others get in the way a lot.

For the professing Christian, the game plan can work against him. It can set aside the complete and absolute surrender to the living personal God. Only complete surrender to our Lord can make our game plans world toys, suddenly unimportant. Many times Jack has been told to do things, say things perhaps or just go somewhere and quite a few times Jack argues with the Living God. The Lord is gentle with him but very insistent. Patient.

Jack’s worldly game plan was high gas mileage! Until that goal of adding several tenths of a mile was revealed as absurd, he kept to it. Resenting other motorists for being foolish for rushing stop signs and tail gating he began to understand how selfish and isolating he was being. Now Jack can see anxious people in many different circumstances. Driving, shopping, manning a public help desk, many other places where Jack has contact and influence to help. To understand the game he was playing was dominating every thing he did. His obsession with efficiency now has been replaced. Now it’s how he can make life easier for other people, most of them strangers. A life long game plan that will have eternal pleasure generating the immediate joy now and forever.

He still makes plans, but they are short and usually simple. Shopping or writing. With the often gentle presence of the Lord, the plan is given. Jack feels the difference when it’s Jesus’ plan.

It’s a real ‘game changer’. Going to the bank the other day was rewarding. There was a young woman taking all the attention of the two tellers. It was a drama of passwords and ex boyfriends. Complicated. With complete ease, Jack began looking about and found a table with a sporting magazine collection. Sitting in a very comfortable chair he began to read about the expansion of copper in firing chambers.

Once the problem at the teller window was solved, Jack was called up. Profuse apologies were given and Jack made sure that he was very comfortable and not in any hurry. “It’s OK, I found a good magazine over there, I kind of wanted to take it home!” Jack wanted to make sure of their comfort. As a bonus, there was a random survey on Jack’s computer about the transaction. Five stars all the way. I wonder if they hit a button to see if everything was OK and sent the message. No problem. It’s a new game plan. Firm affirmation. Jack’s new focus is on his Creator that shows him these small things. Taking chances when told to instead of retreating. Knowing what to say occasionally after a delightful quick chat with an absolute stranger, “you’re a Christian aren’t you” Sometimes Jack is then asked “how do you know?” “Because it shows” he answers. It’s pretty good. Jack

From Awe to Awful

While reading at breakfast, Jack was astonished and admonished by a simple small book, a gift froma relative really. A great gift that the relative didn’t even know they had given to Jack. The book started an hiatus in breakfast that actually took his attention away from the table to the bookshelf to look up a word. ‘Awful’ was the common word we all use but is derived from ‘Awe’. It is a transitive verb which means it is describing an object not an action.

The author of the book Jack was munching on as he munched his toast was attempting to describe the impossible attributes of God. Jack’s mind began to tumble and bumble as the short paragraph started to strike deep into breakfast. THE question that atheists and devout worshipers both stumble upon when thinking actually takes place. ‘If all things I see, feel and hear are created things (I.E. the sky, our bodies, water and food) what can an un created thing be?’ Of course to stir great confusion, a thing that is eternal and always existed is the unavoidable question. The usual questions that arise during breakfast are a bit easier to answer. Mostly. ‘what to do with my day? Why did my friend say that hurtful thing to me yesterday?’ The usual undigested flummery we all ruminate upon.

As we have asked since time began, If the universe is eternal, where did it come from? And if there is a God that created this universe, where did He come from? It’s the most basic of all theology and a question that begs an answer that cannot be found in science. Jack’s mind, odd as it is, has not the slightest clue on how to begin this quest either. He is comforted by the company of some of the great theologians. They don’t know either although there are many ‘interesting’ speculations. A lot of these books are found on a shelf in the second-hand stores. “Eternity for Dummies” is one of them.

The origin of an eternal God is an oxymoron. There is none because eternal forbids an origin. The vision of eternity begs a different mind that Jack has. He has always seen life unfold and then turn along a time line. No time line, no time, no sunset or a sunset that never ends..ever. His choice. It has been speculated that God has eternity to guide Jack writing this. Also to you to read it. It really is impossible. Everyone, every nice event or disaster can be seen and experienced forever.

So, what does the result of all this searching generate within us? At first it’s a great ‘time waster’ and then the awe of Jack’s vision turns rapidly into ‘awful’. It’s fear generated along with the awe that turns quickly into awful. There are also no words except the ones written about 700 years ago by Julian of Norwich which do pretty well: “For of all things, the beholding and the loving of his maker, makes the soul seem less in our sight. It fills this seeker with reverent dread and true meekness…” Reverent dread is a good description of Awe that does a quick turn to awful.

Seeking the creator of everything that is and was and will be…everything..and then be told by pretty reliable sources that this awesome Person (God ) is very interested in you. He wants to have a nice chat and tell you things. It makes Jack tremble when a little bit of this truth gets in deep.

How about you? If you have an answer, Jack would definitely like to hear it or read it. It’s pretty good.

Jack Gator

Open Windows II

As goes a saying, especially in a novel by George MacDonald (At the back of the North Wind), the window in our hearts has to be open for change to enter. Of course, the change has to be done by Adonni. The man of no reputation, the healer and the Abba Father. More on that later.

Jack used to think that the window was the focus, as could be interpreted in the novel. After all, the North Wind says it isn’t A window, it was Her window. The Holy Spirit’s window.

If the cleanliness of the window was the issue, it would not be good. My heart especially. If you have read a few of these columns over the last few years, you know a bit of my life. Not very sociable is a light term. Speaking of which, another column more recently addressed that issue. Especially church attenders and faithful ones too. (Open Windows 1 was printed in the Leader on August 25th 2021)

This column is dedicated to the folks that have been attending ‘church’ for some time, some even since childhood. Deacons, leaders and elders too, attentive and a lot of times, complimenting the Pastor/speaker on their talk. Just say ‘thanks, I needed that’. It’s good, don’t misunderstand Jack. As had been said by Jack’s very closest friend, his wife, “don’t take condemnation but..” pay attention to what Jack is saying without judgment please. It works to think beyond our image of ourselves. Growing up is better and preferred. Of course, it’s hard and often embarrassing. We all need to grow, constantly. It’s why we are listening after all.

So, all this illuminating about scripture can be rather distracting if we are not paying attention to the complete conviction and the very passionate person standing in front of you,saying these important things. It’s not a college lecture on philosophy or metaphysics. It’s not the old Greek style of a famous orator. Taking notes is very good, Jack does that too. The notes are not the passion. They are to be read now and then. After all , you wrote them for that reason. Just as in school you wrote crib notes for the coming exams. Jack will talk about those later.

‘Watch, look and listen’ just as at a railroad crossing is good advice. If we don’t, it’s easy to get distracted by the speeding train in our minds. “I wonder what’s for lunch?” “That gal I saw in the lobby certainly caught my eye till I remembered God’s word on that!” the worst one is “I wonder when church will be over, I’ve got to get some shopping done before our relatives show up for dinner!” We must open our hearts to what is being said, don’t concern yourself about schedules and perhaps about the dirt on your ‘window’. Throw up the sash and let that cool breeze into your heart. When you start to weep, that is the first sign of successful communication and often, astonishment. Those besides you may ask, “What’s wrong!” The correct answer is ‘me’ It’s OK. Jack knows.

A word of caution! Don’t wipe your eyes, just get the run off. Tears are good for you. The Lord says he treasures them for grief and this grief is real. It’s conviction and real grief for how short our arrows fall when we think we are making a bulls eye with our life. The voice you hear goes way beyond the speaker in front of you.

Let the transformation begin when our dirty window is even slightly open. It isn’t a window per se, It’s just our guard we have developed to protect our damage and disappointments. Filthy windows, and hard to see into as well. We know the dirt and smudges and they mean nothing to who we are. We are created as one of a kind, a miracle of incredible complexity and unique potential. Throw open the sash and indeed, the tears will flow when truth is heard. We don’t usually hear truth about ourselves supernaturally. Not that it isn’t said to us, just that we don’t listen. Truth presented with the beauty of it. It’s pretty good. Very good. Jack Gator

Puzzling Things in Scripture

Jack has been faithful somewhat in reading the scriptures in his New King James Bible. I know, some folks will only accept the 1611 manuscript while others want something a bit more modern. They all have their strengths.

The 1611 has many words not used today in conversational or even written English. Thous, and shalt. Thee and delivereth and sayeth. And so forth. Phrases that take a LOT of thought to understand.

There is also a lot of things to do and not to do that confuse the present day Christian as the instructions to us seem to be simple but very hard. Things to keep in the ‘forefront’ of out minds day and night. The last two instructions by the Son of God, The word, The Lamb of God, the Alpha and the Omega. Him. Jesus.

He says: “Love the Lord your God with all your soul, strength, mind and spirit. Love your neighbor as yourself.” He mentioned that all scriptures were summed up in those two sentences.

Repentance, ‘Be Saved’ Be holy. The Big Ten written in Stone. The Hebrew Shulchan Aruch (1563), and of course, multiple doctrinal stances by various faith streams. Duplicates of course, but a lot of rules. That seems somewhat intimidating to an inquirer. “Do I have to do all that, not do all that and tell someone they are doomed if they even think about doing ‘That”? Keep reading. There is a light showing through all those thin pages.

There has to be a starting point to understand the scriptures. So much war, plotting, betrayal, wanton lust, murder and downright nastiness abounds. It is somewhat easy to understand if we let go of the delusion that we, ourselves, are not so bad. We don’t do a lot of those things I just mentioned and even toss a few dollar bills at the offering! So, look inside. Go ahead, I won’t peek. Thoughts of revenge are hidden but available for a few minutes entertainment ( The Gator Identity or The Gator Supremacy) better than the movie! How about that glance out the side window? David on a rooftop again. ‘Bathsheba, the irresistible one’ Playing now in your frontal lobe. Might have to get some popcorn, long movie! That money in the wallet you found (hey, I turned that wallet into the store manager,….well I kept the money) the list is long and no one is good. Starting point 1. The great delusion and why am I here anyway if I am just as bad as everyone else?

The great Rabbit hole that so many of us have been unable to see from the inside. Take the red pill (the matrix blue and red pills) and open your eyes to reality. There is no escape from the wrath of God. Ouch. Gator had to teach that to prisoners a while back. What! Impossible to do. Not really. Love freely given and with only one requirement: Love in return.

The infinite God is capable of infinite love and begat Jesus to do so. Love requires a loved one. The the Holy Spirit is the result of that incredible love. A messenger to us. The band leader. The dancer. You decide the best description. Jack has put forth a few thoughts on that. Talk to Jack and tell him your illuminations.

Love is romance. We have an echo of that here. Love ignored or shunned is contempt. That’s where we come into the story. Contempt for the creator of the universe and all of us is not recommended. Look at HIM!

We think we are better than ‘that guy’ and when we realize the mess we are in there is fear. What did Jesus tell us about these things? What does it mean to be ‘saved’ ? Saved from what? It’s really obvious. Saved from His Father’s wrath. Tell Him, go ahead and tell Him about your life, the real one, not the one you tell when someone asks; “how are ya doing Gator?” “Oh, I’m good” No you’re not, no one is. Only one person is good and the impossible part is that He paid your bail, plead your case AND served your sentence. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Assisted Living

It seems intriguing, to be assisted in your life. Not that it hasn’t happened to myself for most of my life. After all, there are so many things, necessary things, that I just cannot do alone. I cannot cut my hair (well, I could but I would not be presentable till it grew out again) How about waking me up when I am snoring, It isn’t good to keep snoring as your oxygen levels go down a bit. An elbow at 3am will do just fine.

Lawn mowing, stacking hay bales in the barn, fixing the cantankerous old tractor. A lot of things I could do but would rather not as I am not as good at it as my family is. They are younger and more fit and quite talented enough to do those things. I did similar things for over half of my life and now it is good that the farm has great family to do those things. There are many such ‘chores’ that I still do but, many of them require the ability to press 60 lb or more. Repeatedly. I have family around the place and it is such a blessing to me. The way it was meant to be. Maple syrup time is a teamwork affair. I get the firewood and help cook. Teamwork with coffee made from maple sap that exceeds any coffee ever drunk before. Perfect around the steam of the cooker.

I muse on times less than a century ago. The family homestead with the original founders relaxing at times in the swing on the porch or the bench in the middle of the garden. A lot of mental pictures as well as the ones on the walls come to mind with those images. My early childhood, pulling weeds in Grandma’s garden and things like that. Family farms are a blessing.

Now big farms have GPS tractors and such huge machinery which cannot be maintained easily by an older man. That sort of life is more demanding and labor intensive than the usual farm. Those big farms are almost exclusively crop farms. Corn, soybeans and occasionally sunflowers.

Small farms are now called ‘hobby farms’. To have your own grown food. Wheat and hay along with big gardens. However, being able to pay the taxes and usual life expenses usually requires an outside job. Of course, an on site business is ideal for that money. The only drawback is someone who shows up with a broken something Sunday Morning! A something that is a pivotal part of that customer’s life.

Cars, trucks, tractors or appliances,plumbing and things of that sort. Usually a neighbor is ready to help when needed in other areas. A bit awkward for timing at times but it pays the bills that show up down the driveway at the big mailbox. Our neighbors are good friends, as it should be. We fix the combine and he plants the wheat.

Eggs, raspberries, tomatoes, snow peas and such are grown in quantities to store and share. A beef steer in the horse pasture looks pretty good too.

The kids Grandfather is hundreds of miles away and lives in a assisted living facility. It’s hard to visit and it’s hard to see so many older people just hungry for family, friends and a front porch with a swing. A bit of knitting for Grandma and advice from Grandpa on various things. Sometimes he is right and with a chuckle he knows he is perhaps out of his league with computers and cell phones. It’s a life that is good. The family Bible gets read a lot and it tells everyone how to live well. They pray a lot too. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

It Who or What do We Trust?

There is a common saying around the world that means much more than the two words it says. It is about acceptance and it can be very misleading to some of us. Accepting a gift is pleasant as it also is getting a package from the brown truck. They could be one in the same as well! You must, of course open the door and let the package into your home. If you are not at home, the gift will be left on your doorstep. Maybe.

The thing I am referring to is the common phrase, Accepting Christ. It is usually a cause for celebration by both the recipient and family. But what does the phrase imply? Is it just like opening your door to have a package of renown given to you? It would seem the phrase would indicate that someone finally made up their mind to indeed open their door and receive a Man. It seems so simple, but what does it really mean to us?

Jack likes the phrase, ‘Accepting the Word’ It means so much more and it doesn’t mean an instantaneous change and a new person that almost glows. Of course, there is an immediate change often, but at times nothing really changes. It can be world shaking as it was for Jack! He had been seeking some answers to questions he had. The big ones. “Who made the universe and why? Why do I look a bit different and why am I a bit happier than I was? Why do I think and do things that even I know are wrong?”

Answers that we all ponder and pontificate on. We all have ideas to answer those queries as well. As was said by one of the wisest men known: “ Those who are given over to preconceived ideas are forced to defend what they cannot prove” Cicero 36 BC. We cannot prove those big answers but some try with science and theory. Evolution is one of the greatest children’s stories ever expounded upon. It has entertaining value, much akin to science fiction classics. We evolved a brain with more synapses than there are stars in the Milky Way? Ben Carson pointed to that absurdity.

We have all heard them from some pretty smart guys. They are brilliant scientists and tell us that a big firecracker exploded a few millennia ago (the big bang) and all we know and see came of it. The new question which has not been answered is where did the firecracker come from and who lit the fuse?

All those questions can be answered within the pages of one very old book. You most likely have heard of it and probably have one. It starts “In the beginning” which indicates that time started then which is incomprehensible to us but we read on, and it starts to make sense. A lot of sense. It states that at that exact time, God created the building blocks of the universe. Then He made us to enjoy Him and His incredible creation Further into the book it states: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and Word was God. All the scholars and teachers that Jack has met agree on the description of Jesus as ‘the Word’ That makes sense after a while of study. A lot of reading starts with the above questions.

The Triune God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All of the three God and separate as well. Jack knows what you are thinking. If you are anything else than a Christian, then it doesn’t make sense. If you are a Christian it doesn’t make sense at times either. Ask someone in your circle of believers to talk about it with you. Dig and keep asking questions. Be unrelenting in your pursuit of God and knowledge of Him.

Read and then study in ‘the word’ (Bible) coupled with some pretty savvy authors. Jack’s all time favorite for the tough questions is C.S.Lewis and his seminal magnum opus, ‘Mere Christianity’ You might have read or seen the movie, Chronicles of Narnia. (That work is a wonderful primer for Mere Christianity.) Read Mere Christianity a few times and then put it down for a while and then read it again. And later, when looking for some light reading, read it again anyway. There was a group of scholars from Beroa (modern day Greece) that studied like Jack is asking you to do. So perhaps another way of saying the tremendous realization of ‘accepting Christ’, would be following Him or studying Him.

The best way is to talk to Christ. Right now. He is delighted to talk with you. He is eternal and can be your intimate best friend for life. The description Jack likes is ‘Became best friends with Jesus’ It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

The Double and Triple Rendezvous

The recommendation from a medical facility in a city suburb. A chiropractor that knows his craft well and his front desk advised a nearby cafe’ for breakfast. Jack decided to make a go of it. After a year or two of ‘you gotta try it!, Jack decided to go. A delightful drive through a condo development of duplex and triplex, the restaurant’s parking lot hove into view. Still stunned by the actual beauty of the neighborhood, Jack walked up to the front door and an older couple held the door for him. They were as friendly as the wait staff and a brief chat gave Jack the hometown cafe’ feeling. They were from Hudson.

Triple stack of cakes, thick sliced bacon and sides of raspberry jam and real maple syrup. An elongated plate that promissed and delivered. After the astounding meal (how many big city restaraunts make their own maple syrup?), Jack asked for a shot of expresso with a bit of sugar. Mas certo (Italian for of course) The thought of a two dollar tip ramped up to a five dollar bill. Extraordinary. The predominant rendezvous’ of diners seemed to be older couples. Muted and delightful converstaions of wise seniors. Most of them were married Jack assumed.

“Five stars!” with a thumbs up to the front desk as Jack left. Jack had introduced himself at that entrance desk that he was ‘A columnist’ What paper was not asked and as the actor Jack is, with his leather bound journal, a reasonable assumption would be the Tribune or the Press. The service was exemplary as was the meal and it didn’t have anything to do with Jack’s supposed review. Ask Jack where it is and it’s name, and he will be glad to fill you in. It’s worth the drive. This is the review. 1 1/2 hour away, tops.

So, being in the big city, Jack decided to meet a friend that was at an assisted living facility about half an hour further into the metropolis. The friendly Google lady was blue toothed into the radio and the drive was freeway fast, but effortless. Jack drove yellow cab decades ago and those skills help him a little bit with traffic. His newer car with side cameras and warning beeps helps too. Arriving at his friends facility, Jack met security measures that reminded him of the Spanish jail in which he spent a lovely summer at hard labor. This facility was multi layered with passcodes to elevators up and down. Badges. Id’s and forms to submit. No stairs to be used without triggering an alarm.

After figuring out the code procedures in and out and getting past the doors that were labeled : Elopement area. At first glance it seemed an odd place to put future giggling spouses to be waiting for a ladder. Close description. In this case it means an area where someone should not leave due to medical conditions.

The visit with a fellow veteran was hard. He did not know who Jack was and so Jack listened a lot and responded in the military way of truth accompanied with a bit of call and response. “He was a real Jerk that CO” Yah, well so are you” sort of thing. Jack also told him he was getting fat. “The food is good” Yah, I can see that! Is that shrimp on top of the rice? Jack’s friend was talking of his father and other relatives as they had just passed away. Jack always managed to bring it back to the special forces and his friends Halo jumps. It worked a bit. Then the screaming began in the eating area and yelling from someone that his back hurt. A bit distracting. Finally, Jack had to leave and after patting his old friend on the back, it was time to go in reverse with the elevator codes and sign out protocols. Both the restaurant and the visit were highlights of the day. Different food adventures and both a rendezvous’. The drive home with the usual insane drivers passing on curves with double yellows and turning a half a mile ahead. No bother, Jack had his mind elsewhere. A good place. Digesting the adventures and focusing on the bright spots and the expressions of love given and received. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Any one in the room Feeling Despair?

It was right there all along. It’s been right there since the beginning of time. An undeniable feeling that there is nothing to life and in the end, obliteration to the grave. A lot of atheists, even pantheists are trapped in that despair. But, despair can be engendered by many experiences, not just feeling hopeless and without a meaning. Betrayal is one of the worst as it gives a strong emotion of destruction and the end of a trust that turned out pretty bad. Often, a feeling of being considered worthless by a friend.

This attitude of despair is tragic and is a ‘constrained’ view. A viable example is a quote from Kant. “From the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made” This view is that we are hopelessly flawed. This is in direct contrast to an ‘unconstrained’ view. There are no limits to human achievement. With reason and will power we can manage war and poverty and solve them entirely. A quote from Rousseau: “man is born free but is in chains” We are in chains but are worthy to be loved by our rescuer that has loved us since we were formed in the womb. This is reality for all of us. All the flawed things of ours and all of our pride in our power can be healed by the only perfect man that ever lived and is alive within us. It’s perfect love. Talk to Him. Sing to Him.

Jack was reading his journal from a few years back and remembered when the Gator family had been betrayed. They lost a place of great import to them. A place where they put a huge amount of work rehabbing, building, painting and equipping a full house of prayer. A place where the whole family would sing and pray to the man, the one who is with God and is God. Jesus.

It was a place of no reputation and a gift from the owner. Then after a few years, a possible buyer of the building guaranteed Jack’s family that if God allowed the sale they could continue singing and worshipping there. Within a few weeks of owning the building, the new owner told them to pack up and leave. Despair and betrayal of a man’s word given. It was hard and it looked at from the constrained philosophical view an inevitable event. After all, it was too good to last as the saying goes. More crooked timber revealed. Fear for the new owners final encounter with the betrayal of God.

After a while the family learned that neither view of our world was correct. The loss was not unseen and a lesson for them to not hold anything too tight as their right. Neither hopelessness nor bootstrap lifting was any sort of answer. After all, trust in the creator and sustainer of all things was available right at hand. Crying out to Him and giving all their angst and disappointment to Him.

After the very last two hours of an incredible set of music and deep sung prayers, it was over. Time to leave and put it all away. The scrollwork on the walls. New walls too that they painted well. The drum cage and all the sound equipment, instruments and beauty created by them. Standing stunned by the intense worship and the finality, Jack looked at the clock they could see from their platform. It read twenty after seven. The same time they had started that last set. It had stopped and indeed, time stood still as they just stood there weeping in their saviors presence.

Another chapter and book of excitement and training for the whole family. What was next for them? Ministering to people. Writing and encouraging folks often never met. Speaking truth when it was asked of them and above all of that, still worshipping and also listening to others worship, occasionally involved in other places that they could use their steadied and visible faith. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

The arrogance of Perceived Power

A quote from John Bunyan to begin: “It came burning hot into my mind, whatever he said and however he flattered, when he got me home to his house, he would sell me as a slave.a. Indeed, power over other men is one of, perhaps in our world, the only game in town. Played out on the world’s stage locally or world wide, it is always the same attempt. You will do as I say.

A local battle has many fronts, much akin to warfare as well. After all, the front line is where the action is. Often, dangerous action which may have unpleasant consequences for the combatants who win or perhaps loose together. Many such battles have resulted in the unpleasantness of destruction of peoples and lands they live upon. The conquest of nature (small N please and not mother nature either) has shown us how we can shrink the world with aircraft or cell phones but also how we can wound, or outright kill a generation to come by choosing to conquer our world with our desires for gain and power.

Several examples come to mind. The attempt of several world powers to change the name of a country to benefit them or their partners. Jack was in the six day war some 57 years ago. He saw those powers at work, killing, and in Jack’s case, the good guys won with help from above (not just the aircraft of our ‘side’). Liberating a whole nation.

Jack has been involved with a local bid for power. It comes from a powerful moneyed group of lobbyists and propagandists using us and our neighbors for their own ends. Always power and control as Bunyan’s quote.

The propaganda is craftily created and repeated to amplify the importance of the controllers and to disparage the opposition. The ‘playbook’ is carefully followed and on the surface, is made to intimidate and disarm any opponents. The subtlety of painting the power attempt is to make the aggressors the victims. An effective tactic. This goes back to childhood when a child declares ‘unfair’ and threatens to withhold the ball of play unless acquiescence. A bit of name calling and pouting goes with.

An out of state corporation has been using this playground tactic quite successfully in dividing people in our country. They propose the use of natural resources a right. Their army is given a convincing argument to augment this stance. Instead of neighborly discussions, there is created animosity. It moves things along with a sprinkle of bribery and legal obfuscation. Frustrating to those few who bother to find out what the problem is and try logic and research to provide clarity. One side believes the propaganda offered and the other side sees it for what it is. “Men of power have no time to read; yet the men who do not read are unfit for powerB

Divisive and destructive for both sides of the battle! Jack is referring to a local battle, now a legal battle among some farmers and their perceived enemy, neighbors. Jack is using the family prayer cabin to speak to the Lord on how he can love his neighbor when the neighbor sees Jack and his family as enemies. In this case, reading the scripture must be the time to read and not condemn. Rejecting anger and confusion. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

a. Pilgrims progress John Bunyan b. Michael Foot

Railroad Wreckage

Jack lost half his seniority with the railroad but it was worth it to transfer up to NW Wisconsin. Commuting to his job on the Dinky Town railroad section was getting a little dreary when Jack first moved ‘up north’ to a small house with 30 acres. Driving every morning with his 1947 Ford to Minneapolis was the cost of the veteran’s loan approval. Of course, getting the loan in the beginning was harder than the drive to pay it off.

The paperwork alone helped heat his new house in the wood stove that Jack had little experience to run. The better words would be ‘no experience.’ Jack bought a chain saw, a bicycle and a splitting maul from his old friends hardware store on the West Bank in Minneapolis. Jack also got an old GM pickup to haul the firewood from the state forest about 15 miles north of his new digs.

Of course, at that early time there was not much commuter traffic as the concept of commuting had not taken hold. That was a good thing as Led headlights had not taken hold nor been invented yet. Being blinded by a new pickup these days with lights that illuminate about twenty miles of road is now somewhat of a hindrance to that long drive. Dreary and dangerous too as Jack had to keep a wing window open for fresh air to keep the CO gas out. Tiring it was to drive a long way with an exhaust leak. It seems white tailed deer had not been invented yet either, at least the ones that commuted across highways. However, back then, cars weighed a lot and had real bumpers. Sometimes you knew when you hit one. Jack’s job was on the section at DinkyTown, right across the river from his old neighborhood.

So, pulling into the section yard and sometimes being called to do some ‘back breaking’ jobs outside of the section. Derailments, road crossings and laying ribbon rail were some outside jobs. The section would survive a few days without continuous maintenance. Jack and big Leroy were called out to put in the dome spikes on crossings. They were about two feet long and had to be pounded through the crossing planks down into the heavy black ties beneath. Swinging those 16 pound malls was a young man’s task. The spikes would rotate going down and had teeth that would engage the plank at the last swing. The deterioration to L4 and L5 began then. Leroy was well over six foot seven and weighed around 250 or so.

When Jack transferred up to the ‘farm’ with it’s pump jack well and log barn he was green to the isolated and rural life. A few new friends made at the local watering holes helped him adapt. To wood burning stoves and chimney rebuilding it was made doable with these other young men who grew up working the farms. It was quiet and the only link to the outside world was the black wall phone by the sink and a new princess phone next to the wall in Jack’s bedroom. The phone was out of reach unless Jack was in bed.

Jack got transferred to a section gang closer by over in Minnesota and gained respect with his strength and accuracy of work. The road master would call for Jack to put the pin into a switch actuator while the man held the pin at the two holes. “Get Jack up here” Jack never missed with the spike mall, never. That back damage was still lurking but not complaining much yet. It was good work and respected by the locals. They knew strength from farm work.In spite of all the good camaraderie with his new crew, Jack was transferred to another section, closer to home.

When Jack showed up, the foreman immediately insulted Jack and gave him a job in the yard that was hard, demeaning and unpleasant. It involved jumping from a ladder into grain cars to sweep them our of grain dust.

This was the last straw for Jack’s back. Back at home after work, Jack suddenly could not get up from a sitting position and collapsed in agony on the floor. He could crawl but standing was impossible. Also impossible to call for help. “The first day and night was the worst. The second day and night was the worst too. After that and no water, Jack began to go into a bit of a decline”.1. The cat water bowl helped a little and suddenly, Jack figured a way out of death.

He pulled all his clothes out of the lowest drawers and the bed sheets and blankets and made a ramp he could roll up into the bed. Grabbing the phone then and calling for help Jack does not recall any more than waking at the hospital and being somewhat free of pain. Drugs. He remembered the addiction he had and was a bit concerned about this but the lack of pain was OK. The usual hot and cold packs, traction and hospital food (motivator) did it’s work and Jack could walk again and his railroad days were over. It was then pretty good . Not luck, something extraordinary as when Jack was out in California. Jack thanks his Lord for the saving of his life. Again. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator.

1. Douglass Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

House Concerts

Decades ago, there was a connection and an area wide idea. House concerts with well known folk artists who played acoustically. Mostly these concerts were actually in homes of people who listen to those types of things. Many, if not most of these singer/songwriters were well known from the popular radio show, ‘The prairie Home Companion’. This radio show was hosted by local personality and writer, Garrison Keillor.

Jack knew these performers from his immersion in the folk music scene back in the early 70’s. Jack toured with a few of them and they all played at the New Riverside Café in Minneapolis. It was pretty good music and an outgrowth of the beat generation ( Jerry Garcia, Joan Baez, Carolyn Hester, Utah Phillips and Woody Guthrie to name a few) It was the musical time of the singer-songwriters and very popular when Jack was in the Navy overseas. He even ordered a classy Martin D12-20 to be mailed overseas to his ship. Never arrived. “Lost in transit” as so many of us were as well. Middle sixties, lots of war everywhere.

Jack went to Junior college and transferred to another after a short stint in his parents basement after discharge. A common experience for vets at that time. Focus is a common experience for vets. You miss all your buddies but you don’t miss the rest of it. Authority rebellion occurred with Jack as well. He tuned in and dropped out as the saying went. Long hair and the attitude of hippies and old beatniks.

After a year in basement, Jack moved into an upstairs apartment in a somewhat unfashionable part of town and met his lifelong friend, Bruce, at the yellow cab stand at the airport. They became roommates at the crummy apartment. It worked. Jack practiced his painting on the walls of the apartment doing reproductions of art work on the Beetles yellow submarine album.

After a short time with Bruce he and jack began playing country blues together. Advertised as 16 string blues, they went under the stage name of ‘Actual Mexicans’ Before Jack and Bruce met, Bruce spent half a year on China Beach after getting blown up in a PSY OPS truck. When he and Jack met, Jack thought he was a black man. After a month or so, Bruce’s skin got lighter. “I thought you were a black guy!” Bruce then replied, after his distinctive laugh, ” Heck no, I’m a dark Norwegian” It became the subject of many humorous conversations. He is gone now and Jack misses him a lot. You know how it is. We grieve.

The two vets got a bit antsy and Bruce knew some people who lived in Berkeley. Why not ditch this joint, get some cool English motorcycles, strap our guitars on the back of them, and go west? A long story in the archives here under ‘ motorcycle pilgrimage 1-6. Jack and Bruce came back to Minneapolis and Jack wound up on the west bank and got involved at the New Riverside Café. Music, Jack and Bruce’s real life focus’ became the catalyst for the next few years. Jack joined the Riverside staff and Bruce drove Yellow Cab for a while and married one of the café women and then moved north to Trade Lake.

It was glorious to be playing on the stage where famous musicians and poets came. Jack never got paid to perform and neither did any of the others either. Record contacts helped a bit and Jack had a good friend at KQRS radio that did some recording of Jack and Bruce. Alan Stone was his radio name by the way.

Remember records? They never made one although they did some reel to reel stuff at the radio station. Tony Glover worked there as a DJ at those times too. Tony was already well known from recordings of Koerner Ray and Glover. (Gator just had contact with John Koerner late last year for a funeral for one of Jack’s good friends, another 12 string folk artist, Charlie Jirousek. Charlie also had a distinctive laugh.) How many times friends and their laughs are remembered!

Jack, finally tiring of the poverty of the café, started track labor with the railroad. Upon urging from Bruce, Jack moved up to Trade Lake too. That was in 1976. Bruce lived just down the road from Jack’s 30 acre home. It was a good introduction to the rural life. Frozen pipes, racoons, gigs with country western bands and lots of new friends. Wood heat. Chain saws and splitting mauls. The railroad work got Jack fit enough to endure the northern life. It felt right and the air was clean and the noise of the freeways gone.

Through Bruce and Jack’s music connections, they continued to visit the West Bank. It was grand times and upon meeting Garrison Keillor at a party, Jack and Gary got loaded on some of Jack’s homemade wine. First and last time they ever got together. Jack dropped the name of his good friend, Mary Dushane to get in the door. She was the fiddler for the Powder Milk Biscuit Band.

Jack was still friends with a lot of the West Bank performers from the café days. They were pretty broke and Jack offered ‘House Concerts’ up north of Highway 8 in Wisconsin for them. Actual money was made, not much, but gas and housing guaranteed. Advertising of those concerts found it’s way into the St.Paul Pioneer Press. Turn outs were large enough to get a scramble for usable chairs, baked treats and rug cleaner. It was grand for a time and Jack and his friends became a rumor and a quaint source of amusement for the locals. Most of them were Home Companion fans. Old hippies that had graduated to organic gardeners and old ford 8N tractors. Those times are gone now. Radio shows are passé with U tube, CD,s Television and the internet. Television is actually now supplanted with Netflix and other streaming computer web sites.

We are not the better for this transition. It is not nostalgia but the loss of good fellowship and neighborly entertainment. Except for a very occasional pricey large venue concert, there is little to replace this loss.

There is one platform where some of these musicians still play however. It is not billed as entertainment however. Some of these ‘old timers’ can still be seen and heard locally too. It’s in the churches and it abounds. Old hymns, gospel and up tempo current worship songs can be heard and felt. The music just starts getting in the groove of a team vouting off one another and it’s over. Older pickers, strummers and such lament the shortness of the playing but it is still very worthy to play there. It’s called worship music.

One of the greatest fiddlers Jack heard, quit the stage and it’s acclimation and applause. We all thought it was a tragedy for us. At the time, it did not make sense. Later, much later, Jack discovered why that man went on to play for Jesus. The applause from Jack’s new Friend moves more than Jack’s ego, it moves his spirit and the joy is stunning. It often causes the band to stop playing and just stand, overwhelmed with the Joy from Jesus. Jesus loves the worship. After all, the man after God’s own heart was a musician. He loved to dance for Him too. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Mail Call

Catching attention is that announcement over the 1MC (That is the speaker system throughout a Navy Ship)

Mail call! Overseas, it was a light moment, usually news from home. Packages of cookies and such were obvious and demanded attention from one’s division. Hopefully a large box. After doing a few tours in a war zone, it was a welcome diversion. Mail was found aft, at the Mess deck by the ship’s Gedunk.

Being on watch 24 hours with 12 hours to sleep was a bit uncomfortable. The mail call was a pleasant relief besides Folgers coffee or Mid rats on the mess deck. We all do it, walking out now to the box at the end of the driveway to see what’s there. On Tuesdays when the trash is also in it’s container there, it’s an easier job to not have to clutch the rolling trash can and the mail at the same time. You can tell what to toss in the empty can. Sometimes, it’s the whole days mail with all the ‘Special offer just for you!’

Every one on a rural route knows the drill with the flag up to signal there is outgoing mail in the box. Country folk nowadays usually skip doing that flag thing. It used to be convenient, but now there are a very small minority who have a calling to inspect boxes late at night with flags up.

There is almost a romance with the mail. It is something our government really got right to establish the Postal Service. Our language has responded with phrases and words particular to our mail. Special Delivery, Tracking, Return to Sender, Postage Due, Return address’, Zip codes and the inevitable, Junk Mail (spam for Gmail)

There was a rumor afoot that messenger and email type communication would completely eliminate mail. At first, paper mail was called ‘snail mail’ but electronic mail is easily lost and addresses are tricky too.

A few years back, Jack was told to walk a bicycle trail and then cross the highway to find a treasure. It was old mail in the ditch. Dozens of envelopes mailed in the fifties, mailed from a distant war to home to ask about the crops and the harvesting. Touching base from a soldier overseas. It was, indeed a treasure. It was accompanied by a small, broken cedar box. Thrown in the ditch by thieves that thought it was worthless booty. It was then returned, bundled with a sturdy rubber band to the man’s granddaughter who was easy to locate. Local name.

Personal mail, ah, that is the treasure at our mailboxes! It even surpasses envelopes with checks to cash. A real letter that shows a friend that cares enough to gather ink and pen and encourage us immediately when we gather it up and see the return address. We all get Email and that has no impact as a folded piece of promised love from an old friend. Jack gets those letters often when he needs them.

So, what have we always had that is faster and never has any junk mail or spam with it? We have a passel of love letters from a very dear friend which bear re-reading and we have the incredible permission to answer those letters with just..thoughts. Spoken alone or with friends or just found behind our eyes. The only requirement to receive those letters is to understand them and if needed, ask for clarification with our response. To hear and read and feel our hearts move to get closer to the writer and speaker to our very core.

By the way, there are no mail slots or boxes on tombstones. No more love letters written or read then.

It’s time now to read and understand and respond to the best correspondent that is and always will be. You know his address. Jesus. He’s waiting for you to read his letters. Pay attention, it is very important that we do so. Think seriously about a special letter from your best friend and devour it with joy. Send a response with all your heart, mind, soul and spirit. He is delighted to hear from us, especially you.

It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

The Lost Ring and the Saved Soul

It was a restless night for Jack. He discovered the morning before that he had lost his wedding ring. He had worn it since 1992 and it meant a lot to him. It has an inscription inside with his wedding date. There is another one too in italics: “Through headwinds and tailwinds” Jack and Julie met on bicycles under very strange and beautiful circumstances. Unbelievable ones. That is a story for certain. It involves a Lutheran Pastor, a bartender in Washington state, A camp cook and the bartenders grandparents. It’s been written and published already, ‘A bicycle built for two’ Jack will send you a copy if you are curious! You can find it at Gatorsgracenotes.com too.

So, back to the ring. The whole Gator clan began looking for the ring. Could be it was stripped off Jack’s finger when he removed his gloves outside? (It’s happened several times) Search the garden, the wood shed, the garden tool shed, the glove box in the house and car. You get the idea. Jack felt it was perhaps thrown off his hand in the night when he shook off a carpel tunnel cramp. The only way to search the room’s carpet was to move the bed. An awful lot of dust and the usual vacuum cleaner task. Incredible mess. After the bed was moved 90 degrees and the cleaning began in earnest, a dusty journal of Jack’s emerged. In it were Details of Jack’s ministering to his old navy best friend that was in hospice in Maryland. The journal Hadn’t been seen for sixteen years. No ring was found. They left the bed turned ninety degrees and cleaned a lot. Their thorough cleaning was very thorough and they had been thinking about vacuuming there anyway.

Driving alone to an early prayer meeting, Jack began haranguing his Lord about the ring. The usual rant we all when things are difficult and not making sense. “Where is my ring? You know where it is Lord!” The answer was, of course, immediate and kind. Jack was reminded that his gold ring would not follow him into eternity. Neither would his 18th century viola nor the 100 year old Gibson Mandolin. The story of Jack gently responding to his best friend Chuck’s dying request will go with Jack. He answered Chuck’s question “So what’s the good news?” Indeed, there is very good news about forgiveness, redemption and the romance of Heaven. A lot of you know exactly what It is about. It’s fact, not fiction. Impossible it would seem, that the God of the universe would die for me! Jack asked Chuck to meet him when it was his time to die. Chuck cried when their parting embrace ended. They both knew that living at the hospice is not usually a long term situation.

Not long after Jack told Chuck about the good news, Jack saw Chuck entering paradise. Chuck said five words that Jack will never forget: “It’s better than you said!” Chucks wife left a phone message that Chuck had died in Maryland. Jack called back and told her that was the same the time he appeared to Jack. What a gift it was/is and the best good news anyone could hear. Mary Lou, Chucks wife, was astonished and obviously, greatly encouraged by this. In Navy terms, Chuck had ‘crossed the bar’ and was home.

So, Jack surrendered his angst about his wedding ring of gold and realized that the journal with the details was only found when they looked for the ring. It was Still missing after five days. Gone for good, impossible to search through leaves and grass around the farm. Sad, but resolute in surrender, Jack went for his usual lap swim at a high school pool about 20 miles away. Early morning, around six am. Jack began swimming in the lane next to the wall lane and on the third lap, looked over into the deepest part of the pool under that lap lane and saw a round object that was dark. It looked like an O ring that was perfectly round. Could it be? That is where Jack was doing his Backstroke five days earlier. He asked the gal that was swimming in the lane if she dives. She said “sure” and Jack asked her to dive down 10 feet and bring up that round object. She did and popped up with Jack’s wedding ring. Not so shinny after five days in chlorine and bromine, but it was Jack’s ring. The inscription said so.

Wonderful release of the sad loss, Jack held on tight to the ring and did a short swim and texted a picture home of the ring. Impossibly that it was still there in plain sight. pool Not vacuumed, not in the drain close by. Go deep jack. By the way, Jack has never seen that young swimmer since then.

Jack’s surrender after the discovery of the journal was perhaps the key? “How has God been working in your life this week?” Jack’s good friend, his pastor, asks that every Thursday morning at the men’s Bible study. This Thursday Jack has got something to share with the men. An encouragement of choosing the best thing. The good news indeed..It’s pretty good, Jack Gator

The Variant Rag

C’mon all you big strong men,

Uncle Joe needs your help again

Fauci’s in a terrible jam,

Way down yonder in old Wuhan

So put on your mask, your business is done

We’re gonna’ have a whole lot of fun.

And it’s one two three

What are we Hording for?

Don’t ask , I don’t give a damn

Next stop is old Wuhan

And it’s five six seven eight, open up those pearly gates

Get all your shots and don’t try to fly

Whoopie, we’re all going to die!

Many thanks to Country Joe and the fish

In Who or What do you Trust? II

It used to be a little easier, back in the days of solid thinking and awareness of who and what we are. Those days were the times when all men had a grounding of basics. The three ‘Rs’ of education. You know them. Righteousness, Reason and Reality.

The first destruction of these three was back in the fifteenth century. A revelation of correct science removed reality and replaced it with a lot of hopelessness. “Trust the science” as a most recent clarion call we hear. What does that ‘trust’ involve in our world view?

It is indeed odd that at that time, all of mankind believed that our world was the center of the Universe. The sun and the planets and all visible things we could see in the skies above revolved around us. Our lives were the center of creation at that time. Then N icky Copernicus discovered the scientific set up of our Galaxy for starters and no longer were we at the center of the show. Interestingly, we are the center of creation because life is unique to our world. All the radio ‘telescopes’ and the super strong observatories in orbit and headed out of the solar system say the same thing. The universe is incredible. Beautiful almost beyond description. And void of life. Searching vainly for microbial signs from our neighbors and watching the shadows of planets orbiting star systems for any signs of life akin to our own. Trust the science, nothing has been found and obviously, as clever as we are, it seems we are alone. Orbital mechanics are fascinating of course. All true. Random? Of course not. It was easier when we saw majesty in the sky. Now it’s just a big clock that’s winding down.

The second destruction came a bit more recently in the nineteenth century. Another scientist made an audacious claim. He claimed that all life just happened from random occurrences about Megalithic ages ago. You know the guy, Chuck Darwin. Trust the science. Evolution became the backbone of atheism and our centrist existence was tossed on the scrap heap. A big firecracker went off a bit of a distance away and all things evolved out of that one event. No one has yet theorized who lit the fuse. All this from the beak of birds changing shape.

The third ‘nail in the coffin arrived a few thousand years ago from Plato and Socrates all the way up to David Hume and Karl Marx and Chris Hitchins and other humanists that logically decided since we evolved from amoebas and upwards to complex animals, we were animals. Tooth and claw, survival of the fittest and our basic selves were just products of our ‘wiring’. Nothing special about us, just evolved into the highest form of animals.

Trust the science. Right and wrong, emotions and belief in a creator finally proved just a construct by ourselves. Drive over the old woman on the side of the road or stop and help her with her packages. No difference, just a product of our upbringing and philosophic view of life.

There, we have it, in our brilliance we have removed the creator of all life. With our minds and a bit of ink and paper. Carl Sagan voiced it very poetically. “All there is and all there ever will be” Logic and our willingness to believe the science as it were, has reduced us to nothing special. Just a bunch of limpets on rocks catching a few rays and food from the local Algae-mart or Barnacle Bills take out. Evolving into deans of philosophy perhaps?

Science does not show us the reality of who and what we are. It shows us impossible evolution’s such as DNA, eyes and ears and mind. Science does not show us our soul either. There is only one way to know our soul and that is not scientific analysis with wave-forms and electron microscopes. We have been given life, amazing life by a living God. Life begets life. Jesus taught us this way of looking deep within and seeing him as the whole reason we are here. Alive. In need of reality that makes sense without the ‘science’ of it. The knowledge of who we are and why we are and what is the purpose of our lives. Righteousness, rebirth and reality. It’s pretty Good Jack Gator

Credit to Og Mandino’s ‘The greatest Miracle in the World’

I’m Good to Go, it’s on my Facebook page!

How many times has Gator asked friends and new acquaintances the common question we all ask, “How are you doing!” Mostly as a conversation opener when we don’t really care and perhaps don’t even remember their name. It’s clean fill talking and we all do it. The answer is usually just as insipid and often, depression on a deeper level. “Doing fine” or just “fine” The answer lately Gator has heard really started him thinking: “better than I deserve!” Instantly, Gator shudders and recently has thought; You have no idea what you deserve. These four words are a double edged sword in our lives. Everything we have ever done is not a novel or a movie that moves on a timeline to a usual glorious and ‘deserved’ end of the epic story we all have. ‘Finally, I have attained an understanding that God loves me and everything I do now and have done badly is forgiven and I am a new man!’ Really? What does the word ‘new’ mean? New and improved like toothpaste? Or is it death of self and re-birth?

There is a very common club that we many have joined up,( like a Holy Rotisserie club) that meets once a week at a convenient building and has a speaker that tells us again about our salvation from sin and the promise of meeting all our loved ones after our earth death. Comforting like a really good Lazy-Boy that sits awaiting us when we are weary and needing rest from ourselves. The concept of being reunited with people we have loved really appeals to Gator. However, what are we to do for eternity with those relatives and their friends? All speculations given seem absurd to Gator. Visiting the interior of a giant red star sounds good for a starter. Moving through eternity with a focus on the creation would be nice, Or being at the rocky shore of Malta while Paul gets shipwrecked. An action packed vacation that lasts…forever. Snacks available at the Kings table.

Gator’s problem is that still seeing in the temporal sight doesn’t add up to vision in the eternal. In concept it feels like examining a collectible postage stamp for decades or sitting in a lawn chair forever watching a tree grow. An image that speaks boredom, buried alive in that Lazy-boy for an eternity with nothing to do. “Rest in Peace” Right. Sleeping forever, encased in a steel box inside of a cement box. Similar to Egyptian rulers we have found after centuries ‘sleeping’ inside of huge pyramids. They look a little worse for wear and not really sleeping or peaceful. Temporal. As a squirrel hit on the township road is resting in peace as the eagle flaps away when we draw near.

Boot hill with chiseled granite for an address with no mail slot and sort of tipping a bit after a while from frost heaves. Gator is trespassing on strong memories of loved ones and that is not the intent at all. He just has a strange mind that challenges concepts and precepts taken as reality seen by the world. The reality of the invention of a way to kill many men quicker with a machine gun or the casual acceptance of a shop that sells photos of other people unclothed. Akin to a country that is so fascinated with food that has strip tease shows of cuts of steaks on a platter on a stage that are completely unclothed just as the curtain is closed. 1.

Obsessions. Facebook (ourselves featured as the main event) selfies and selfie sticks.”Hey, could you take my picture!” Or Mini mansions on lakes, visible near the shore to generate awe and lust. “Nice house! Too bad it’s not closer to the road so everyone can see it” This was Said to Jack by a friendly new neighbor visiting for the first time.

We are fascinated with ourselves from baby photos to death masks. Leave something behind, show something now too, validate and elevate ourselves to overcome inevitable death. Eternity which makes quantum physics two plus two. Gator welcomes ideas. He likes to visualize music that never stops building crescendos with stunning beauty as he gazes upon his Lord. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

1. C.S .Lewis

In Who or What do We Trust? 1

Each of us is wired in a very complex way. It’s a common saying about people, but what does it mean to you? We are beautifully brained. Ben Carson says he could ask someone at a conference to step on stage, blindfolded and have them look at the audience for one second and turn and leave. Fifty years later, he could open their skull cap, insert a stimulating probe in that memory area, and they would know the name and face of everyone in that audience. And what they were wearing. Our minds are beyond our comprehension. Ben Carson by the way, is the world’s most renowned brain surgeon.

It could mean a lot of things to each of us and that is a small indication that we are indeed, ‘wired’ differently from one another. Completely and utterly different. In many, if not all. Things are what make us different as well. We either have many things or we have not enough of them. We will get to that soon enough, but first of all the parable of the wiring complexity. How often have we noticed that people we know well or people we have just met don’t think or do things as ourselves? How many times have we stated, “Wow, I could never do that!” And it’s true, we couldn’t. Complex and reassuring that, indeed, the same goes for all of us. Even observable in simple ways, that’s why we can be easily identified by our signatures. Our DNA is an indicator in some ways of that difference. Or, “You’ve got a real talent there, you should use it” Our DNA is different from everyone else. We have more synaptic nodes in our brain than there are stars in our Galaxy ( the Milky Way as it is named) We are in the unfashionable western spiral arm by the way. a. A Perfect place of course. Made for us.

There are observable ways that complexity can be revealed. When Jack was at the Minneapolis School of Art, he glanced over at a pencil drawing the class was asked to do. It was a drawing by the young man sitting to Jack’s right. Jack’s drawing looked like a cartoon. The young man’s appeared as though having been done by Michelangelo. A bit different. Jack made an ‘installation’ of different sized and colored cubes in a room and when you touched them, they gave off a musical tone. Chords could be made. Jack’s instructor wisely told Jack, “you really should go into music” Jack quit the School and did so. Jack still does cartoons of a sort when greeting cards or posters are needed. Jack still uses a little bit of calligraphy to write with too. But he knows that is not his forte. A small gift next to weeping over music. Jack’s signature drawing was done by a good friend, Jesse. He did it overnight just on a simple whim. A gift, and a gift within his very soul. How did those gifts, easily seen by Jack, been given?

What do we want to do with everything we have been given is a question. We often ask for other things to possess in this fashion. We also ask for things we emphatically should not wish to possess. Things seem to be a big problem with me and us. I have many things or I don’t and usually I desire to acquire more things or be rid of the ones I don’t want. Of course, things also include abilities to do what we think we should be doing or holding tight. An old saying for us that have much: “I don’t want all the land, I just want the land that is next to mine!” Perhaps poverty is another situation that is a problem as well. “Just a loaf of bread would be nice to have” Surprisingly, another thing. Who decides what is given and what is not? Is there someone who decides what is good and what is not good for us?

A quote from a wiser man than I, illuminates this seeming dilemma. “Do you not, then, know that, when God denies anything a child of His values, it is to give him something He values?” and, “ If you are not willing that God would have His way with you, then, in the name of God, be miserable—till your misery drive you to the arms of the fatherb.

We have all been gifted and created to be in love with our creator and what he made us to be. There is no other way to solve the have or have not. Prayer is the path of comfort for this dilemma. Not our will but yours Father. After all, Father knows best. Embrace the beauty and that life of yours. Talk to Him and ask for this. After all, Jesus did the same thing at the garden of Olives. “Not my will but yours” After all, “trust in the living God, His will is your life!” 1. Ask Him and he will reveal your gifts from Him. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

a. Douglas Adams ‘Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy’

b.. Quotes from George MacDonald. ‘Creation in Christ, unspoken Sermons’ 1870

An Actor gets another Role

Jack has always been an actor. It’s his nature to behave as though he were someone else. More clever, Experienced, or perhaps just dangerous. More akin to a chameleon. Whatever the surroundings demanded,

Jack could make use of it. Often, just for fun. Very seldom, to save his life. Jack’s son, in the photo, acts too. He picked up the habit from Jack. Acting as a well dressed English man at a hotel in Kansas, just for laughs at his son’s wedding just next door. We all act really. As it is said, some of us are very badly rehearsed

There were several times that Jack had to be someone else to survive. That time in Oakland when he was playing outside a Safeway grocery with his guitar case open for spare change. A passable country blues player by this time, Jack made enough money for food and fuel for his house in a truck bed. There was a bit of change and even a couple bills in the case when a large man approached face on to Jack and declared: “What you gonna do if I take that guitar?” Menacing. Big, especially if you are sitting on the sidewalk looking up at him. The guitar was a fairly new Martin D28 which Jack had purchased right after his two tours in the Mediterranean. $400. Jack casually replied: “well, I’ll just fight you for it till one of us dies” Staring into each other, eyeballs to eyeballs for an interminable time. The would be thief was not used to this calm behavior from a potential victim. Jack could tell that. Jack also meant it. The guitar was his life line to a can of Dinty Moore stew and a bridge toll to get to the ocean. Not to mention gas for the truck. No one moved, no one sweated. The big guy finally said, “ That’s cool” and spun around and walked away. Another acting role success for Jack.

The would be thieves across the street from Jack’s house, coming out the window seeing Jack, standing with that Luger, calmly. They left. Jack was not going to shoot them of course, the pistol wasn’t even loaded. Murder However,according to scripture. Not Jack’s proudest moment. They were just looking for their forgotten keys.

In Italy Jack confronted a policeman as street kid (wasn’t too hard for the costume department as he had been living on the street for a month) Jack knew the cops were looking for him, so he approached the  Carabinieri and in his best street urchin from Naples dialect, asked directions to Trevi Fountain. Jack knew it was a half a block away. Not fitting nor smelling like an escaped top secret military man, the cop gave Jack simple directions. After a brief “Grazie” (dropping the last vowel) the cop said disdainfully’ “Napolitan” Whew, that was close! Joining the other urchins in a sub basement catacomb, they all pitched in their begging money and gave it to Pino for his birthday and Pino ran out and returned with pizza’s and wine. He spent all of the money for a party for us. Jack never forgot that. Brotherhood of the lowest of the low.

The toughest acting was when Jack had to tell a plausible lie to evade arrest by a Federal agency when he was mistaken for a man he used to work for. It was awkward and is a long story. It came out ok and it was a ‘think fast’ Jack situation. They went away and Jack left that person’s house shortly thereafter. It was a setup from the man Jack knew and Jack turned the tables on him. It was a good thing the house was not searched and that’s another story as well.

There were other times Jack had to act to save his life. It was second nature by now, Jack was and is a pretty good actor. The time he and another vet bluffed some bullies down in Kansas with two tent poles held underarm as ‘shotguns’ Stuff like that. Jack even acted at the Frederic log cabin as an old warrior, now retired as an inn keeper. It was a film set in the middle ages for a Russian film maker. Acting, it’s natural and scary at the same time. Jack thanks his Savior for that skill that has saved his life so many times so Jack could write about Him. Jesus. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

The Cocoon and Rebirth

It seems so long ago that the Re-birth occurred for Jack. An epiphany is a good description or perhaps a sudden awareness of being (that one sounds a bit new age perhaps) This event was sudden but had many events and a ‘cocoon’ before it occurred. Jack wrote about it in the column, ‘Consuming Fire Fan into Flame”, published on December 21st of 2021.

The back story was an escape from hibernation, a cocoon that Jack did not see nor notice. He was swaddled up sort of comfy in his life of sorts before the re-birth. Perhaps you have read some of those stories as well. They are all true. There is one thing about a cocoon that is necessary, growth and strength acquisition. It is common and Jack saw it last spring, it was hanging beneath a milk weed leaf. A place where a Monarch butterfly was taking shape.

Dangling from that leaf, built by a worm that crawled up and used it’s spit to anchor itself. It spun the chrysalis (another name for cocoon) somehow. It’s called metamorphosis and the study can be described as such. Perhaps a good word would be a scientific focused study on the metamorphic process’? One such study answered the question: “Is it painful for the butterfly?” Through extensive electric wave analysis on an oscilloscope, it was determined that it was not painful. Go ahead and chuckle at that one. Same folks that track the emotions of carrots that know you are coming to yank it out of the ground. I don’t even want to know what that would see in me. More later on that. Jack’s growth was very painful but also necessary. Don’t need an oscilloscope to see that.

To get on with the epiphany Jack experienced, just thinking about that monarch’s life was stunning enough.

Why was it designed that way? And the pivotal evidence seen, was the gold ring around the very top of the chrysalis Small gold dots, perfectly spaced and a very strong message indeed is there, if we choose to look at it.

First off, what do we usually associate with gold rings? Marriage and crowns for honor. A king or a Queen perhaps. Soon enough, the chrysalis splits open and the Monarch begins to emerge. Can you even imagine what sort of process this is? The wings fully developed and folded up like a plane in the hanger of an aircraft carrier, just waiting for the freedom of flight.

How does this miracle of transformation apply to us? Jack has found himself just trying out those wings he was given not too long ago. Wings that not only speak freedom but purpose and direction. A flight path, a sudden internal gyro that stabilizes his glide or flapping through his short life he has been given. It seems short when many decades cruise by with the longing for something more. We have been built and created for that something more. We hunger for it. We do everything in our power and wisdom to live as long as possible, but it is only vanity to grasp the wind. As we grasp at the wind, the astonishing thing is an answer to that hunger for more. A meaning and purpose and beauty that we, in our chrysalis have been waiting for. Eternity to wear that gold crown and hang out with the creator of all and gaze upon His glorious splendor as he grasps us and gives us the crown, as we gaze upon the beauty of real treasure. The story and promise of crowned beauty beyond description. If we desire this transformation with all our heart, soul, and spirit, the treasure will be ours forever. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Quotes That Allow Jack to Write The Truth

I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills, and morality pills, and flush them all down the drain. The church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship to God. What preachers need to do is force it to go cold turkey with nothing but the word of the cross—and then be brave enough to stick around while it goes through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms. … Robert Farrar Capon (1925-2013),

Genuine controversy, fair cut and thrust before a common audience, has become in our special epoch very rare. For the sincere controversialist is above all things a good listener. The really burning enthusiast never interrupts; he listens to the enemy’s arguments as eagerly as a spy would listen to the enemy’s arrangements. If you attempt an actual argument with a modern paper of opposite politics, you will find that no medium is admitted between violence and evasion. You will have no answer except slanging or silence. …G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936), 

Was there a moment known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped for joy?

…Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)

o be calm and quiet all by yourself is hardly the same as sleeping. In fact, it means being fully awake and following with close attention every move going on inside you. It involves a self-discipline where the urge to get up and go is recognized as a temptation to look elsewhere for what is really close at hand. It is the freedom to stroll in your own yard, to rake up the leaves and clear the paths so you can easily find your way.

…Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996)

 Here is my examination at the beginning of Advent, at the beginning of a new year. Lack of charity, criticism of superiors, of neighbors, of friends and enemies. Idle talk, impatience, lack of self-control and mortification towards self, and of love towards others. Pride and presumption. (It is good to have visitors – one’s faults stand out in the company of others.) Self-will, desire not to be corrected, to have one’s own way. The desire in turn to correct others, impatience in thought and speech.The remedy is recollection and silence Dorothy Day (1897-1980),

Everything is made to center upon the initial act of “accepting” Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him. This is set before us as the last word in orthodoxy, and it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise.. A. W. Tozer (1879-1963)

It must be admitted that a few clergymen glory in the contrast between their status and that of ordinary Christians. They accept obeisance as a natural right; they monopolize public praying; they learn how to keep themselves in the limelight. There is something about the pastoral office which makes the temptation to egocentricity especially powerful. This is partly because the successful preacher is regularly praised to his face.His mood seems a far cry from that of Christ when He girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of His followers.

… Elton Trueblood (1900-1994)

You have to be holy in your position as you are, and I have to be holy in the position that God has put me. So it is nothing extraordinary to be holy. Holiness is not the luxury of the few. Holiness is a simple duty for you and for me. We have been created for that.

… Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) (1910-1997)

By faith we know God without seeing Him. By hope we possess God without feeling His presence. If we hope in God, by hope we already possess Him, since hope is a confidence which He creates in our soul as secret evidence that He has taken possession of us. So the soul that hopes in God already belongs to Him, and to belong to Him is the same as to possess Him, since He gives Himself completely to those who give themselves to Him.

… Thomas Merton (1915-1968), No Man is an Island, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1955 p 15

Spirituality is about seeing. It’s not about earning or achieving. It’s about relationship rather than results or requirements. Once you see, the rest follows.  You don’t need to push the river, because you are in it. The life is lived within us, and we learn how to say yes to that life.  

…Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs, New York: Crossroad, 1999 p 31

It is much easier to belong to a group than it is to know that you belong to God. Those who firm up their own edges and identity too quickly without finding their center in God and in themselves will normally be the enemies of ecumenism, forgiveness, vulnerability, and basic human dialog. Their identity is too insecure to allow any movement in or out. Their “Christ” tends to be very small, tribal, and “just like them.” If your prayer is not enticing you outside your comfort zones, if your Christ is not an occasional “threat,” you probably need to do some growing up and learning to love.

…Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs, New York: Crossroad, 1999 p 22-23

Again Jesus used the image of a child to teach “beginner’s mind.” A child was one without ego identity to prove, project, or protect.  Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. Little children are not protecting identity yet. They know kinesthetically and respond to what it is, not what should be or might be. That’s why they cry and squeal with pleasure so much. It drives parents crazy, I’m sure. But that’s also why there can be immediate delight… If only we could receive reality so immediately and so spontaneously, without our judgments and calculations.

…Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs, New York: Crossroad, 1999 p 74

How do you make a day holy? By stopping work—that is, by stopping all the pursuits we engage in for necessity not for pleasure, all our struggles with the world conceived as an enemy that is trying to starve us to death. By looking at that world and seeing that it is good. By entering into all its good and friendly and loving activities, and rejoicing in them. And, above all, by looking beyond the world to the Love that sustains it.      

… Joy Davidman (1915-1960)

Another Day in Small Town America

A trip to town, only about 7 miles on a good highway. A bit hilly with the usual landmarks seen and spoken of a lot. Around the lake just over the hill from the farm, the small village out on the ice, fishing for panfish. Dozens of trucks and fishing shacks (wimps, we just sat on upside down white buckets ‘back in the days) No tip ups seen from this distance of over ¼ mile. Up the hill and there’s the old brick church with red crosses on the doors and a beautiful brick chimney for the coal furnace. Stoked in the past by Walter Wilson every Sunday morning. Good worker and farmer.

Onward past the old auto yard of Nelson Motors which was the home of Doctor X, wrestler extraordinaire on TV. It was pro wrestling back in the days of cathode ray tubes and rabbit ears. The Crusher was a big draw too.

Jack’s dad watched every Sunday while the family went off to the ‘Mother Church’ downtown. Jack would have liked to stay with Dad but most likely the cigar would not be shared. It was alone time for Dad, everyone needs it now and then. Jack’s dad made a mean pot of Chow Mein then which was waiting for our return. With noodles.

Memories flood Jack as he drives the twisty highway now past the old resort where he and his Dad rented a boat for their last fishing expedition at the mouth of the local river. The resort is gone and so is Dad, but the memory is clear even with color. Up the hill now, passing the old schoolhouse which was a pretty swell antique store at one time. Around the corner where a memorial used to stand by the ditch where a exchange student from Russia was killed in a rollover accident. His hockey stick which leaned on the cross was still there. Jack weeps internally every time to town and back at the loss and the thoughts of the kid’s parents back in the old country.

There are many road markers for Jack, Einer’s mountain (long climb for a bicycle) the Amish farms and town. You can make it all the way to the post office if you put it in neutral at the top of the hill. A few errands are done and the snow and ice and drifts are a challenge to get to the library. Suddenly, a lone maple leaf blows by in the snowy ditch. Jack picked it up as a sign or signal of some sort. Maybe spring is coming soon? A visit with Jack’s old friend at the newspaper publishing building and his friend, the editor, gives Jack 15 bucks to pick up some strawberry/rhubarb pie mix in the bigger town down a ways. Jack meets someone new by the library and a conversation ensues about the man’s forefathers coming over in the 1600’s from England. They meet at an older building that Jack’s family had a prayer room in. Drum cage, singer mics, Jack’s instruments and a keyboard. The Gator’s worshiped Jesus with songs and sung prayers a few times a week. There was even good WiFi from the bar next door, right through the brick walls and with permission and the password. Four years of memories there. Now it’s a second hand store and the scroll work scripture is gone too. It’s an average short trip to town in many ways and it’s time to head back home.

It’s slushy and cold and the recent snow fall has made the roads slick here and there. Jack’s newer car has automatic stability control and antilock brakes to go with it. A few jiggles on the curves and it’s home to check the mailbox at the end of the 1/8th mile driveway. Oops, the wind turned it 90 degrees (or was it the plow?) No mail today. Many trips to towns nearby and the roads not traveled 30 miles away do not hold quite as much nostalgia. Turn up the worship music on the CD player and sing along sometimes. Today Jack was trying to sing acapella the Patsy Cline song ‘Crazy’ he loves the octave jump back at the first line. Doesn’t everyone have days like this? If you share them, people either think you fit the Patsy Cline song name or they share their road with you. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Pontiac Woody and the Minerva Chain

Jack and his dad came up north (way north of 8) to build a cabin in the middle of the last century. Dad had a really neat station wagon that had a tail light that swiveled when you opened the tailgate. It always pointed straight back. It was a mechanical marvel to Jack. A usual car to begin driving lessons on when you are around 10 or so. Three on the tree and the high/low switch was pushed with the toe of your left foot. Dad had wise advice when to dim the headlights: “Just when the oncoming car’s lights can be seen as two lights, then switch em’ to low”

The cabin was east of Danbury on Gull Lake. Young Jack handed tools up to dad as the roof rafters formed up. The end of the ridge pole was cut off and the chunk fell right on Jack’s head. He yelled up “I’m OK” and the work continued. It was a pretty small piece and surprising too when it arrived. It was exciting to be right there when the dream cabin was actually forming up. Dad was a city fireman and used to ladders. He built cabinets on his off times in the big city. Grandpa was a fireman too but he was a bit too old and cranky to come up and help. Besides, Gramps didn’t like to fish like Jack and Dad did.

There was one other family on the lake and they owned a small resort next door. Since it was Jack’s first time ‘up north’, this seemed a good place to be. At that time, a small rowboat was at the dock and it was Jack’s to use morning and night. He didn’t have to go beyond sight of the resort when the lily pads were waiting for him. A fly rod with floating line and a small popper was Jack’s choice of tools to entrance the fish just under the pads.

It was easy pickings and the sound of the swirl and the tug are still vivid in memory. A dozen bluegills and paper mouths in the bottom of the boat and it was time to row back in to the dock. Sometimes Jack put them on a stringer but those pesky and poky fins were a bit of a challenge when the fish were several pounds and his hands not quite big enough to pull the fins back.

Dad would scale and gut and lunch was served with the resort owners sharing in the bounty. Every decent day, morning and night was Jack’s job to row out and harvest those white fleshed and fried in butter morsels. There was a camper that Jack stayed in while the two men went into town at night and they stayed pretty late. They were still in bed when the time to row out and fish so Jack waited until someone awoke. He could swim pretty well but the rule was, don’t go out where I can’t see you. Dad’s eyes were closed for a while on those mornings. Jack fished for a big lunch on those days.

It was grand and now and then, Jack and Dad would get the motor running and troll for bass on the link between Gull and Minerva. Jack thought they tasted pretty good too but it seemed a lot of effort to get them.

They had to get the ‘big’ V hull boat loaded up and then start the motor. Dad always used artificial jigs and spoons, so no bait was needed. It was always exciting to motor up the channel between Gull and Minerva. There was no one around there. No other cabins, no other boats seen. After trolling for a while(with Jack at the helm) the motor was shut off and the waves it made could be heard on the banks. Ten years later, it was big Navy fleet ships that made splashing noises too. Waves slapping the hull from the battle fleet but the sounds were similar. Jack was back in that small channel just like that. Sounds do that for Jack. They are music and that’s pretty OK with him. Music will move Jack like nothing else will do.

Jack liked the sound of the small motor at the transom too and especially the smell of mix gas. There were his dad’s smiles to remember when things got tough later on. In those early years, Jack, who thought a lot about those things, wondered where the fish came from and why it was so good to catch and eat them. He wondered why Dad smiled when they were together. Dad didn’t smile much back in the cities. Over five decades later Jack got some answers to his questions from his friend who created Jack and his Dad.

It became clear why Dad wanted his ashes put in a trout stream, way up north. It was fishing that bonded Jack and his Father, and it was thoughts of fishing at the very end. After all, Jesus had a lot to say to his close friends about fishing. He still does. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Recreation or Re-Creation?

The same word, turned into a world view when seen as what it really means. Jack realized, not very long ago that he was, indeed, a bad man and still is in many ways. As though he had changed from what he was, into a nicer and more pleasant reptile. He was now not so inclined to slither around and gaze upon his neighbors, often good friends, with a sly thought that someday a tasty morsel would be available to him. And so, Jack’s recent change in personality was really shallow and as we say, ‘skin deep’. He was really trying to be nice and pleasant but when pushed by his real nature, he would then become what he always was. A fearsome and unpleasant creature. The real Jack deep down and capable of bad words and action. Pleasant enough most times but more interested in his own recreation.

Jack was not at all interested in being re-created into what he really could and should be. There were, lucid moments when Jacks’ family would remind him of his true nature. Irritated by this, usually Jack would dismiss these accusations as another family member being insensitive to his needs.

It usually did not work and Jack’s immediate thoughts were to get away from these unpleasant relatives and sulk and say to himself how unfair it all was. After a shorter time than usual, Jack would come to his ‘senses’ and slither back home and actually be humble and repentant of his bad behavior. What was going on with him? How could he, a bit later, realize a bit of truth and see himself as a bad person and reluctantly, afraid of everyone? The Gator family was used to Jack’s outbursts. Somehow they were also encouraged by the way he would turn and actually see, deep within himself, he was changing. but slowly getting ‘healed’. Jack was actually becoming a bit gentler and saddened by his bad behavior.

One may ask, if being nasty and bad tempered was his nature, how could he see this and want to be rid of that flaw? There really was only one explanation and that was that Jack was being changed. After counseling and firm but somewhat gentle reminders from his family it still didn’t seem possible. Someone, a person respected and absolutely perfect, was talking to Jack. Powerful and gentle talking convincingly to him. A person that Jack recently had become friends with, and Jack accepted what that person said to him. This new friend had been with Jack all of his life and even had saved Jack’s life!

Astonishingly, Jack did not see him nor even let Him into his home when He would come calling. Jack’s new friend was unbelievably persistent and would not leave him alone. finally Jack opened his door and shook hands with his old/new friend. Jack’s door was always closed and could have easily been opened by his friend. Amazing. But Jack’s friend would only cross the doorway if invited in. All of Jack’s life, this wonderful friend was eager to get closer, but even though powerful, He waited patiently until Jack finally opened his door and welcomed this man into his life. It was a good idea.

Slowly, but with obvious progress, Jack began listening to his friend. That was the biggest and best decision Jack ever made. A change had been started deep within Jack and he began desiring better and good things instead of what he usually wanted. Jack thought before he was really a good Gator. Deep down Jack knew he was not however. Now his new friend told him what was really in him all along. His new friend actually knew Jack before he was born and began telling him what he was made for and began helping him to do this. Jack’s friend is Jesus. It now is clear to Jack there was no way he could change without his best Friend’s help. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Ticker Tape and Calvin Coolidge

The 30th President of the United States would stay there on occasions of relaxation. There was a ticker tape machine in the lodge that would announce the local train arrival time at the nearby town. Back in the days before the tracks got torn up. The roadbed is still there, traffic on it is a bit lighter. It’s a bicycle/snowmobile trail now.

A very small, ‘jerkwater’ town is still there too. The pronoun was used in the old steam days when a town did not have a water tower to feed the steam locomotives. The water had to be passed up to the engine with buckets and thus the term Jerkwater was used to describe a small town. This one is really small, but back in the days of the steam locomotives, it was a special place. It’s still small but has the prerequisite of a Wisconsin town. Two bars.

Jack’s band used to play there and it was a pretty lively place. Country western music. Jack played fiddle and the band did quite a few Bob Wills tunes. Friendly small town folks, out on Saturday night. Still is that way,

Jack and Julie used to work at the lodge as hosts. A classy place. The evening meal was fried fresh caught trout, braised carrots and a side of hot baked bread. It was cooked by the resident manager/fly fisherman, Ed. He caught the trout in the stream that was close by. (It was the only meal he knew how to cook.) It was cheating a bit as a big trout hatchery was Just down stream. Escapees headed up stream.

Filled with precious antiques, the lodge was an expensive destination. The Gators got married there 30 years ago and it was quite the deal. Big name fiddlers joined Jack to play a waltz as they surrounded Julie. The fiddler from the Powder Milk Biscuit band was one of them. Four fiddlers playing an old Swedish waltz. The wedding registry was a Santana tandem bicycle and all the food was pot luck. There was a wedding dance about seven miles away and Jack played with his square dance band. He should have danced but you know musicians, loyalty to the band and their ego.

The wedding night was in the old ‘stream house’ that straddled the trout stream. Jack remembers the gurgling water all night enticing him to make several trips downstairs. Alas, that special cabin burned down later, never to be replaced. Most likely an issue of antique building techniques or zoning. It was a beauty of a house.

It all was one of a kind and the Gator’s strongly remember it. It has now been ‘developed’ as was the Methodist camp that Julie worked at when Jack and her met. Another glorious landmark succumbs to classy homes. Nice homes and nice people, but still felt as a loss. History bought and sold as it is done to this day. It was an incredible treasure and an honor to work and marry there. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Return to Sender

Lurking just below the surface of his thoughts, Jack knew, once again he was betrayed. Expected and embraced, the loss was as devastating as the first time. Like all trauma, it results with anger and knowing that it is always the outcome of trust. Embracing early childhood trauma that came suddenly and without escape. Year after year, decades of expectation that love would be returned. The loss of the love as a letter that coldly declares, Return to Sender.

As a child of four, Jack was suddenly dropped off at a strange house by his mother. He was ushered into the back yard and shown a really nice tin toy. That complex toy was sitting right next to a chain link fence and listening to his mother’s laughter as she climbed back into the car, Jack looked for a rock. The toy was reduced to scrap in a fit of rage. That incident is permanently established in Jack’s emotional storehouse. Love given will always result in loss and betrayal. Sooner or later the laugh will return along with the rage. Once again Jack will run away as fast as he can, leaving that fence behind as the anger overcomes all logic. The four year old is now able to run and get away from the enclosed and broken heart. The rock now comes down upon Jack.

Only recently was Jack shown the operating system within him has actually been a mirage. Many events can put Jack back at that fence, trapped in a jail of his emotional life. Once Jack was actually in a jail in southern Spain, betrayed by his best friends addiction to methadrine. Hard labor, shoveling sand blast in a dry dock, bent over under ships and barges as the sand poured out of holes cut. The interior of the bilge, now clean above Jack’s head as he shoveled the pile to another pile and eventually into a crane bucket. Summer in Spain, but at least there was shade. ‘This is what you get, this is what you deserve’ They all do that, get used to it.

An engagement, soon after his Navy life was perhaps an escape from his mother’s new basement. A made up room to welcome Jack back to the states. The upstairs with the step father and grandfather that also betrayed Jack’s young heart. One with nakedness and the other with death of Jack’s beloved pet. An inconvenient cat.

So, in his need, he proposed to a new girlfriend he met while he played guitar and sang ballads at the YMCA youth group. She accepted the ring. Not long after she ran off with an actor where she worked and the ring eventually was returned to sender. She could not be found in the big city. Suddenly disappeared and Jack was the crushed cigarette beneath her feet. Imagined laughter as Jack was unable to see he was back at the fence.

Betrayed by his cousin that stole Jack’s inheritance when his father died out west. Only finding about his dad at the mailbox with an official post card from California. Pick up the rock Jack, there is nothing to smash but your own self now. Decades of expected affection and love to be lost. It was better to live alone on the small farm, way up north. No one could betray him now as there was no one there but him. It didn’t change anything, not really. Emotion was fixed and the trauma was just a part of usual life now. Hidden deep within him. Like a moray eel, under a rock, waiting to strike.

Decades later, healing began and still goes on. The reaction was seen by a counselor and exposed as trauma. Only a week ago, Jack named the rock. Betrayal. With a visible jolt in church, Jack saw betrayal given to the only perfect man that now lives within him. Betrayed to death with a kiss but forgiving His betrayer. It’s more than pretty good. Drop the rock Jack. Give me your heart now, I will never leave you. Jack Gator

Stuck in the Sandbox of Astrophysics

It’s a common play yard device, the sandbox. Castles and moats and endless small buckets packed full. Gators curiosity found him wandering about the internet, seeking wisdom on the makeup of the sun. Stepping out of the sandbox a little and wondering what some of the other reptiles have to say.

Plasma and sunspots and coronas oh my! Probes abound on the moon and mars, sending information on the astounding makeup of our cosmos. Thus far, no intelligent life or traces of it found. The inevitable myth of billions of years pops up in the geographic now and then. It’s a comfort to some that there is no meaning to life, just random miracles of nonsense. The images of humanities desperate attempt to make god in our own image come to mind. The great god Hercules, drunk in an alley behind a bar in Pompeii’s suburb taking a leak. It’s a real sculpture, look it up. Great image of majesty.

Gator admits the science of construction is sound. Speculative origins and reasons for origins are a bit dicey in science. Somehow publications such as the Geographic come up with huge Megaloptic eons to form our planet. My favorite explanation takes less than a week. The most popular one these days is the ‘Big Bang’. You know the one. A big firecracker went off somewhere and all the see-able universe came out of that explosion. Carl Sagan and his billions and billions of years. A cosmic lay-away plan for evolution.

“I think, therefore I am an intellectual” So many voices vying us, telling us how old, how far, and yet, how unknowable. Always from as far as we have historical writings. I am, of course, assuming that up until fairly recently in the billion years the earth was created that the impossible microbial and double helix ‘came into being’. It would seem that carved stones and historical records were just not up to snuff to survive those millennia as we evolved from Reptiles (Gator gets on board with that one) but amazingly, the bees and the flowers evolved at exactly the same time so both could continue to exist.

There has been found ancient beeswax (not the old candles in our kitchen drawers either) All speculation on the thinnest evidence for eons. Atheist writers such as Darwin, Wallace, Origin and Dawkins believed adamantly in their cleverness and intellect seeing things themselves that any thinking man (if they were as clever as they were) would doubtless agree with. We can add Steven Hawking to that group as well. Of course, all dead, they now know the truth as must we when our time comes.

I prefer the wager that Pascal wrote. Simple bet, really. If I believe in the Lord when I have lived, then when my life is over, I spend eternity with Him. . If I do not believe in God, when I die I spend eternity without Him . If He does not exist then nothing happens. A recent acquaintance said to me: “Worm food. That’s what happens” A rather dismal image. We are overbuilt for this world alone.

Not much of a bet for the unbeliever. Death means either way. It’s where we spend it that counts.

It has been an ‘interesting’ time here on earth for us and lately, it has actually gotten worse on a global scale. We are desperately wicked and we are getting used to it as the frog, slowly boiling, relaxes in the comfy hot tub. The evidence is clear. As Jack’s favorite author stated: “ There are many myths about a god dying and coming back to life. Baldr, Odysseus, Persephone, Osiris, Queztalcaltl for a few. Even Jung stated that these things are trans-personal symbolism’s of the collective unconscious, and the only one that is historically recorded is the resurrection of Jesus.

Why not just have our sun go nova and wipe out the whole mess of us and start over? After all, we deserve it for our ways of worshiping ourselves instead of the obvious creator of all things. Time and again. Remember Baal? That false god demanded children be burned alive to appease him. Now we still kill them, but have added a profit of selling their body parts. 68.1 million so far, planned non-parenthood. All those clever philosophers now know the truth. They have met their creator.

He made us and all we see with a thought. I am glad He is merciful as well as wrathful. What is the tipping point for us? Pharaoh could not raise his son from death, I know someone who did. Jack Gator

Day 1095

It was getting a bit dicey and worrisome for everyone. The vaccinations were not working so the news said the death toll was from non-vaccinated people. The news-room personalities were reading off of the same script given to them by the ‘experts’ running the show. There was news that came in ‘under the wire’ that the only people seriously affected were elderly and/or people with mitigating health issues. No one knew whom to believe anymore. The mask mandates for rural people was a good source for humor. The masks recommended by ‘authorities’ varied more than the weather. It was referred to as medical theater by some. National and local news mostly followed the bad news script.

Grocery stores had empty shelves, but that was all right because the parking lots were empty too. Gasoline was up over six dollars a gallon. Pleasant driving if you wanted to risk it. Roadblocks and interstate driving enforced with the national guard. No one moved unless you had paperwork displayed on the plates, fore and aft. The bridges were secured. The cities were a battle zone with daily shooting. The stores and restaurants would only admit people that had proof of vaccination. Most people could have cared less about that. It seemed no one could dodge the disease. Natural immunity from having had it worked the best. No authorities mentioned that aspect however, It didn’t fit the script. The drug companies were making billions and they had a well placed ‘expert’ touting their solution.

It resembled East Berlin in a way. No matter what you did or said, you were guilty of some sort of crime to humanity or the government. The vaccine resembled a bad turbocharger. There just wasn’t enough power so you needed another booster. It went on for years until the nation literally fell apart. Gasoline and Grocery prices went so high that even the commuter traffic on the rural roads began to dwindle. After all, why pay more money to commute than the job paid? Dig in at home and start eating all the food in the freezers and root cellars. At least we weren’t boiling up our leather shoes. Most of the rural population were set pretty well. They knew where food came from. Farmers began growing food you could eat and that your milk cows and cattle could eat. Subsidies disappeared from USDA too.

The phones still worked and the power was pretty good. Amazingly, there were still areas where the optic fiber carried the internet but the load on that pipeline was enormous. Many reliable and local updates on where latest food and scavengers were moving and advice on security measures. Very little panic. Neighborhoods or townships were unifying and assistance grew within them. Rural areas were mostly quite safe. The wrong cars were watched.

Medical triage and field medic people were in big demand and local connections worked pretty well. The locals began to see something they had not seen before. Compassion and a love for their fellow man, almost impossible to understand. When asked about this, the the calm neighbors would smile and reply with an understandable Gospel. Before it all, the immediate response to a faith message was “great, they’re going to tell me how I can be just like them if only I follow the rules” Now there was a serious response to the joy found in seeking the Lord. There was dialogue and questions. Then we began to reveal how much we thought and felt about this similar ‘bad’ behavior in ourselves. Certainly not saints but somehow happy and …well, free. No rules given, just paying attention to the hunger for human contact everyone was experiencing. You could see it in the eyes. Love your neighbor, it was written somewhere important. Jesus was the only reliable expert to listen to. He told the truth, every time.

The somewhat simple explanation from these volunteers was easily understood. Many times there was a request to have them visit again if possible. It was was new and stunning. No suits and ties, no endorsements of local church connections. No tracts or phony glad handing. Real missionaries. The calmness and strength of these people was what everyone needed. The usual isolation and fear of each other was being replaced with community and trust. Civilization began anew and the world began looking brighter.

After a short while, safe housing was set up for the desperate people and civilization came back to stay. There was no doubt that Jesus had done a miracle and there was great hope and strength spreading throughout the land. We knew who was in charge of everything and wasn’t us and it wasn’t government either. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Your Incredible Worth

There is a value that was known to be true on an old guitar that Jack owns. He figured it was worth at least what he paid for it, perhaps even more due to inflation. He bought it fresh out of the Navy after another one, just like it, was lost in shipping to him. It was being shipped to his duty station overseas, not too complicated. A little too tempting to someone in the Mediterranean post office Jack thought. As far as anyone knows, it was never found. Well, it was found by someone. Finders keepers.

After discharge, Jack went to Schmidt music in downtown Minneapolis where he had it shipped from and they offered a replacement! “I’ll take that one there on display” He’s had it since 1967 and recently wondered what it was worth. Jack paid four hundred dollars for it. Now it is worth fifteen thousand or more. Not for sale. It sounds quite nice and powerful. It’s a big Martin D-28, made of Brazilian Rosewood which wood is illegal to possess if you come back into customs. Playing overseas might be a bit dicey.

So, a pleasant surprise for Jack’s insurance agent. Jack does not wish to sell it as it sounds and plays pretty good and it has a lot of history for him and the family. Even down to the small ash burn on the face from decades ago. It needed a little work, but the Martin company warranties it for life to the original owner. Nice feature. The bridge was warped and coming up and the pick guard was warping as well. Free fix. Labor and parts. New strings of course (plus tax) a little over ten bucks total.

Not long ago, another thing was always seen by Jack as almost worthless and recently he found it was worth more than he could even imagine. He then sold it to his new best friend and incredibly, was told he may use it as long as Jack wished! Not only that, but Jack was paid a price that was more than he could even bear to think about or understand fully.

His new friend had been killed a while back and left this purchase as a memento to Jack to remind him of it’s worth. It is in writing and clear as the night sky on a moonlit and cloudless evening. Oh yes, Jack’s friend is still around. He was dead for three days and came back to life. Amazing, impossible, but true! A miracle. you may know whom I am writing about if you have had the guarantee offered to you. Take Him up on it, it’s never too late.

The ‘object’ discovered by Jack that suddenly was revealed to him as precious and warrantied forever is himself. The only stipulation to the warranty is that Jack is required to give himself to his friend, all of him even Jack’s thoughts and actions. All of them. Past and present. A lot of bad ones. Debts to his friend’s Father. His friend’s Dad keeps track of those things and His son (Jack’s new friend) offers to pay if we ask Him to.

All of Jack given freely, and in a similar way his wonderful friend did the same thing before Jack met him. Impossible, and yet true. Hundreds of people saw that happen. He gave it all away. Just for me and you. Jack’s soul is a bit warped too and can be repaired as the builder gives a lifetime warranty It is written in a book that Jack reads over and over to learn more about his friend that did not have anything to be forgiven by his Father. A perfect Son that offered his life for ours. Sort of a ransom type of thing.

In that book, the contract, the blood covenant to Jack is clearly revealed. What a warranty and testament! So even Jack will see his friend again when Jack dies and his friend brings him to live with Him, forever. It’s an incredible warranty! Perhaps you don’t know who this friend is. Jack will introduce you to Him if you wish. If you already know Him, Jack would really like to chat with you. Or if you don’t know Him, same offer. Always a choice of ours to make friends and love Him and his perfect ‘repairs’ . Most likely Jack will get to play and sing with a ‘big band’ of other musicians on a dance floor made of flaming glass! It’s pretty good.

Jack Gator

….The Lord called Adam and said “Where are You?”

drawing by Jesse Selin

Adam and Eve were on their new iphones and could not hear the Lord because they had their ‘ear buds’ on. The invention of distraction and non productive gazing had already been given to them. “Not now Lord, we are gazing upon some pictures of people like us that are naked. We are attracted to them and now realize we are also naked.”

Who told you that you were naked?” Our browser told us and we were on line with someone in the garden who told us intriguing things. The apple iPad has shown us the difference between good and evil and it is indeed the evil that excites and tantalizes us. Please be patient with us Lord as we are playing a game that rewards us in bite coins.

Suddenly the garden’s WiFi stopped working and the router was located over by the gate to the garden. Adam and Eve walked over to the gate and the electrical worker there brandished a very high voltage sword-like wire and told them their lease was up, the WiFi now was locked with a password and they had to leave.

The login word was ‘Jesus’ and the password was ‘ TheCross’ It took Megaloptic ages for the login and password to be seen by their descendants and there was great hope that the garden was available to everyone that, like their ancestors, knew the difference between good and evil and knew it was impossible to be totally good.

The login has been known for thousands of years and the password is visible to everyone, but many did not think about the garden or the tree or the promise now offered to them for freedom and a life in the garden forever.

It’s not too late to log in and be set free. Ask and it will be revealed to you. Look upon Jesus and see His nail pierced hands, put yours in His wounded side, give Him all your Heart because He’s given you His for all time.a

Jack saw his best friend pass that gate into the garden and beyond. His friend looked back upon Jack and said five words: “It’s better than you said!” It was a gift from God to see that and all Jack did was love his friend and give him the log in and password. He knew Jack and he were bad men and also knew there was hope for them both. Jack was astonished and is still stunned by the beauty of that gift. Jack’s eyes were closed when he was given this gift, sitting in a church pew. It was appropriate and It’s pretty good. Jack Gator a. Jon Thurlow

Are you Experienced? Have you ever been Experienced? a.

If perhaps, you have read some of Gator’s columns, you may have noticed a familiar ‘ring’ to most of them. It could be described as being experienced [sic]. There is an astonishment and puzzlement when Gator has one of these ‘experiences’ and remembers them even with accents and vocal tones.

The time at a wonderful, thoroughly scholarly Bible study for example. It was early in the morning at the study and there was a mention of a prison sentence for one of our brothers. Of course, Gator had to bring up the fact that he had spent a ‘bit of time’ in a prison in southern Spain. Before Gator surrendered this experience to the large table of solid and mature men, he asked: “has anyone here ever been in Jail?” Silence. “Just for an hour perhaps as a mistake in a traffic violation?” All eyes on Gator now. Another claw in the mouth moment.

An alligator death roll of himself as it were. Oh well, no use prevaricating about it.

So Gator explained how it goes with guards and camaraderie in the ‘bull pen’. It was only six months at hard labor (summer in southern Spain gets a bit hot) but it felt awkward in the telling. As if I was tainted somehow OR more holy because I was a worse sinner than they were. Awkward because Gator was one of them that now embraces the Truth and Beauty too. I envy them a bit but not too much. Envy is not nice either.

The stories of Peter and Saul come to mind. They claimed they were the worst of sinners and Gator feels he is in good company with those ‘giants of the faith’ Aren’t we all? There is an admission that eases the pain of being such a bad person. All the guns and drugs and the things polite people don’t talk about when military men seek entertainment. Sinful things. The easy sins to recognize. The so called ‘small sins’ of omission or even thoughts of enjoyable bad behavior are just as bad. Lust and greed are easy traps for us. There is a rescue in this story.

Someone that stole money from Gator’s wallet that was lost at Tractor Supply. At least they turned in the wallet! But that doesn’t change any judgment of the theft does it? Half way efforts are pitiful. Cursing that old driver that is going too slow instead of ramming them doesn’t change the mistake. Gator is working on that one, having pretty good success too. It only takes a few seconds to repent the words or even the thoughts. It still takes time.

Living a holy life seems impossible and the good news is that it is impossible. Gator is doing much better for certain. He is not trying to kill someone and has not done too much of his old life stuff. A little bit perhaps which in the eyes of the judge is the same as all the rest of us. “Thank God I am not like that Tax collector over there!” An old quote of judging another. Same deal. We are all bad even though we think in degrees of badness.

Yes, Gator is a bad person. But the best part is knowing it! Not the I’m better now thought but the thoughts of being directed more and more to listen to our Lord and live the life He has for us. Small things that are actually good! Someone we all know did live a perfect life and gave his perfect life up for me! Saved from judgment! All my sin? How can this be? God dying for me. I was drowning and a hand reached down and pulled me out. All I had to do was yell for help and mean it.

This week Jack got in the pool a bit early and by the time a new acquaintance showed up, all the lap lanes were full. That quiet and undeniable voice told Jack to surrender his lane to this man. Three times (an old number of denial) Jack shrugged it off and finally at the shallow end of the pool, Jack stopped and asked the man if he would like to use his lane. “that’s OK, I can wait!” was the reply. Three or four minutes later a lane opened up. The important part was the surrender. It felt right. It was simple really. It wasn’t easy though. It was enough obedience to expand the relationship between them too. It delighted Jack that he could actually do that and mean it. One small step and the feeling that freedom can be found in Jesus. It’s pretty good.. Jack Gator a. Jimi Hendrix

Gulag Archipelago

Michael Rectenwald. The chief academic officer for American Scholars. He has a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, an M.A. from Case Western Reserve University, and a Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University. He has taught at New York University, Duke University, North Carolina Central University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of numerous books, including Nineteenth-Century British Secularism: Science, Religion, and LiteratureGoogle ArchipelagoBeyond Woke; and Thought Criminal.

In May 2018, the WEF collaborated with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security to conduct “CLADE X,” a simulation of a national pandemic response. Specifically, the exercise simulated the outbreak of a novel strain of a human para influenza virus, with genetic elements of the Nipah virus, called CLADE X. The simulation ended with a news report stating that in the face of CLADE X, without effective vaccines, “experts tell us that we could eventually see 30 to 40 million deaths in the U.S. and more than 900 million around the world—twelve percent of the global population.” Clearly, preparation for a global pandemic was in order.

The CLADE X and Event 201 simulations anticipated almost every eventuality of the actual COVID crisis, most notably the responses by governments, health agencies, the media, tech companies, and elements of the public. The responses and their effects included worldwide lock downs, the collapse of businesses and industries, the adoption of biometric surveillance technologies, an emphasis on social media censorship to combat “misinformation,” the flooding of social and legacy media with “authoritative sources,” widespread riots, and mass unemployment. Extreme pressure to ‘get vaccinated’ (but obviously it does not work)

The draconian lock down measures employed by Western governments managed to accomplish goals of which corporate socialists in the WEF could only dream—above all, the destruction of small businesses, eliminating competitors for corporate monopolists favored by the state. In the U.S. alone, according to the Foundation for Economic Education, millions of small businesses closed their doors due to the lock downs. Yelp data indicates that 60 percent of those closures are now permanent. Meanwhile companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google enjoyed record gains. 

Other developments that advance the Great Reset agenda have included unfettered immigration, travel restrictions for otherwise legal border crossing, the Federal Reserve’s unrestrained printing of money and the subsequent inflation, increased taxation, increased dependence on the state, broken supply chains, the restrictions and job losses due to vaccine mandates, and the prospect of personal carbon allowances. 

There’s more, much more and as far as the generation of conspiracy theories, this puts them all in their places. You decide. This is the first paste and copy that Gator has ever done.

Made up stuff whereas the boni fides and academics are all in favor of this writer. Woke push, destruction of capitalism, government removal of constitutional rights and liberties, it’s right in our lives, daily.

GET VACCINATED! Shun, and soon, report neighbors that won’t comply. Wear the right mask, everywhere. Socially distancing enforced. We become mentally unstable. Riots, shots fired, carjacking’s and mass robbery. The only hope is federal intervention of interstate and intra country travel with vaccine passports. We all know it’s happening and are seemingly, we are helpless to stop our country from becoming socialist and government controlled.

(China has done the same but in reverse. Socialism first and then shareholder capitalism afterwards.)The only cure is trust in the designer of all things, all power and creator of everything that was and is made. Nothing else will do. Look to the Lord and rely on His guidance. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Painful Changes

An analogy, inspired by an author that Gator owes a greater debt than anyone for language. Imagine that there is an automobile that is sentient. With it’s own thoughts, desires and purpose. Then you own this automobile and are constantly tinkering with it: Redoing the paint and finish. Taking out critical things and making them better and more powerful. Putting the engine right with better pistons and timing components. Literally ripping out the seat coverings and replacing them with better fabric and even airflow types. Better mirrors to see what is behind and clear glass to see what is ahead. The basic model now being turned into a high performance one that is seen as needing these things. Not things the car wants to be done to it, but things the engineer knows will bring it closer to the ultimate car.

What would that tearing apart and scraping and stripping be like for an automobile that is aware of itself? The first thought would be “I could do all that is needed before! I could get from place to place in a reasonable fashion. Why make me go through all this painful change?”

And so it is with us. Our Lord and builder and designer of us has plans to improve us now that we have the ability to do our own modifications which are part of His plan. The changes are only powerful and go deep if we connect with Him and then begin the process within us. Gator goes to a church meeting at least twice a week. It’s as if a man, desiring physical healing, went to a lecture about medicine. Great teaching and preaching for sure but it is a window into truth for me. I must act on this revelation again. It is up to my will to go deep and open my heart to the Lord. My pastor is showing me the door and the doorbell. It is a door locked from my side and I have the key to open it.

All the good intentions we have are just that, thoughts. Our inner core cannot be changed by good intentions. Cannot be changed by a good friend telling us what is wrong. Worse yet, the good friend will usually tell us to ‘just stop doing that!’ As though a leaking faucet can be fixed by giving it good advice to stop dripping. The faucet needs a good plumber and I need our Creator. The one that knows me and would love me to change. The change cannot be done by reading the instructions I am given by loved ones.

The change comes by me opening my heart to the only one that can actually change me. I can change if I finally realize I need to. The creator of all things and us, could fix me in an instant if He wished. He knows these things but I must discover how to find Him and ask Him for help. There is no other way, no other path, no alternative treatment, no two for the price of one, no spiritual duct tape that will do the job. I must die to my raging, often wounded, basic core and ask for the warranty that is offered for my spirit man, my heart, my soul. Whatever phrase works for you.

I must answer the gentle knock on my door and accept the life offered. He could blow down the door if He wished, but the change must come from my desire, my surrender, giving up my love for the wrong things I have thought were right and the way I accomplished them.

My Creator knows me and desires me to know Him more. I talk to Him as often as I am able to. The way He showed me how to talk to the Father. A good way to start is to sing to him. Works for me. Singing scripture another form of prayer. Worship with the Word it’s called and it’s pretty good. Jack Gator

A Friend and a Commission

It was Gator’s birthday and right in the beginning of supper, an old friend just happened to call. A short scramble to get the phone away from it’s USB umbilical and phone in hand, Jack’s friend from over a decade ago began to sing happy birthday. Stunning timing and it was during communion that Jack had to quickly ring off with a quick promise to call right back. It felt abrupt to Jack to put off this man that became a strong friend years ago.

There was still some leftover confusion on Jack’s mind from the day before. Leftover anguish and hurt that was still strongly present. That’s what happens to a lot of us when we mull and stew yesterdays problem over and over. You know the one that comes up. It was during morning the day before that Jack got wounded in spirit.

A surprise comment, even a glance or grimace that sticks. Partly dealt with but, still lingering with Jack.

He thought he would not be fit to call his old friend back. When Jack called back, the conversation was cut short and his friend said HE had to go. It felt so much like Jack’s anticipated rejection. His old friend was not answering messages and text and Jack thought he had offended his old friend somehow. It was a bit disconcerting. That did not settle well and seemed as if Jack had blown it. Again.

There was nothing to be done and then, the next day came a phone call from the old friend. Everything was fine and explanations were in order for Jacks shortness that Jack thought was very offensive. It was offensive but only to Jack. His old friend began to sooth him with another person on the line helping it work. Jack had to reveal the wound and where he had acquired it. Sharing failure and foolishness with his good friend.

Jack’s beloved old friend understood as only those friends can do and he began to sing to Jack. He sang soothing and healing from prompting from the other person in the conversation, a person Jack and his dear friend actually sing to themselves. The singer of singers, a man of no reputation who sings life into creation. Jesus.

The commission mentioned in the title of this column as a training that Jack and his old friend went through.

The training bonded them well with many circumstances that helped them surrender their personal agenda’s and listen and see who each other was. Astonishing acceptance and love between new friends. Jack even surrendered a valuable parking spot when the two of them met. Jack didn’t want to do it and he was brought up short by the commission they were there for. Training to be worship warriors. Learning Worship for the living God Jesus.

It felt right, again. The anguish was gone and now seen as an old wound that needed to be exposed to become healing and quick delight. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Telestati

The downtown Minneapolis square block window show is coming back. It was at Dayton’s store and will be again. Jack and his family would walk around the huge building, viewing every window’s offering to the story of the world’s Christmas. Fashion, appliances,gifts of all sorts. The window that Jack really looked forward to was the one with the electric trains. A young boys fancy and dream. Who could have predicted that when Jack was barely a reasonable man, he would be building those train tracks for the railroad. Not as much fun as the models.

Decades later, Jack found the real Christmas story. Not the story of the manger and the shepherds and the three wealthy astrologers from the East. The most amazing story. The little boy Jesus, asleep on the hay, coming to make a trade with his Father, by dying one day. There really should be a Roman cross over the manger scene.

Does this offend some of you? I know I was shocked when I heard the Greek word Tetelestai and found it’s meaning in the Bible. The word means completed, finished, paid and done. A debt satisfied completely.

This is why Jesus was born, this was the mission he accomplished. He was to pay off a debt owed to his Father. A debt so monumental that it is still impossible to comprehend the size of it.

Jesus did not come to us to teach us social justice. He did not preach salvaging the poor. He did use the phrase “Poor in Spirit” but this has nothing to do with wealth. It means those of us that know we are lacking in connection with the Father and pray for wisdom. He did not come to us to teach about feeding lots of people or being really nice. It was foretold by many of the prophets in the Bible as to what he came for.

Jesus came to give Himself to be the perfect, unblemished sacrifice for a sinful world. Us. That is why he was born. Not to preach love and peace and care for the poor. God told Mary and Joseph that..”Mary will give birth to a son, and you will give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sin” John the Baptist points to Jesus and declares: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” For centuries the Jewish religion demanded sacrifices of animals and food to atone for their sin. It made everyone feel a lot better as we go on sinning in spite of our tremendous offerings. God, giving Himself to death is the only cure.

Jack knows a bit about sin, he should, he considers himself the be the chief of sinners at times. The key is not bragging about how bad you were and are, It’s the thing that is true for every one who has, is, or will be living.

You know it even though we all think we will ‘make the cut’ because we’re not so very bad and we even go to church and give to the poor!’ An illusion we all embrace at some time or another. That’s in scripture too by the way. Talk to Jesus and listen to what He says. There are moments that give us incredible joy when we are delivered from a sinful behavior. It makes life easier for us and our loved ones. However, we still sin, and have sinned. The debt we owe to the judge of all things cannot be paid by us. We are to be holy and we are not.

That debt is the reason Jesus was born. He taught and loved and healed and showed us His perfect life. The only perfect sacrifice for us. A spotless Lamb which was a usual Temple sacrifice. But now, a lamb of God. Given to death for all , once and forever. Tetelesti. There is so much more, there isn’t room in this short column. It is indeed the Good News that we are ransomed from the righteous wrath of His Father. We deserve death, “He made me alive, when I was dead and He raised me up and seated me with Christ. It’s by his Grace, that I am saved and it’s though faith, the very gift of God” Oh yes, Jesus is alive. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator.

With many thanks to Gregory Koukl

A Vision of Forever and Ever

It’s always been there and it always will be. Described by a man thousands of years ago when he was on an island in the Mediterranean (Patmos). Eternal joy. Gator was given a two second glimpse of that years ago. It was pretty good. Ask him about it, Gator loves to share these things.

Gator’s family has been given some of those enticing and wondrous glimpses into that joy too. What a gift it is. I am certain that quite a few of you reading this have experienced the curtain of eternity pulled aside briefly. We wait behind that curtain for our part in the play and it is irresistible to peek.

There is something, there is everything, there is wonder and amazement just so close to us. Often, without even knowing it, we are given a sneak preview of that grand production. Another gift. Gator has written about these things as long as he has been writing. Most of it falls short. After all, if Gator was able to write perfectly, he wouldn’t have to keep trying to get it right. It’s close sometimes but always in need of a sequel to flesh it out again. Like this one. Perhaps this time he will get a bit closer and capture even his own attention. That’s the best way.

There is that writing that Gator mentioned in the first sentence. It was written by a man named John. He saw what we all yearn for. Meaning to life. Gator, a musician, really resonates with this vision as it has a lot of music in it. Can you even imagine a breath taking song that you could listen to…well.. forever, and never tire of it’s beauty? Never ending as the slow breath of a perfect song.. The music of the spheres at night that are the innumerable stars, all singing, just for you because of love. Things like that.

Music that sings of that beauty. About that beauty and sung to the author and creator of the song of beauty. It is an eternal song that never grows weary and is always fresh and stunning again and again as it reaches farther than the small galaxy that sings along. Gator and his family once sang a song echoing that. They sang a prayer that went on for a few hours and when it was done, they saw that the clock in that room had stopped running at the precise time they had begun. Appropriate. It was the last song sung in that prayer room. The new owner of the building did not know about these things. For the family it was another glimpse and kiss from our Creator.

There is a place that sings these things and has been doing it for over twenty years. Non stop. Every two hours, another team steps up and continues the worship. It is a delightful way to connect heart to Heart. Gator turns on his computer and puts on the headphones early, and listens and watches for a bit. A cup of coffee and worship is a good way to start the day. Different people taking the yoke of beauty in a room of worship that never stops. In a very small way, echoing that vision given thousands of years ago on that little island in the Mediterranean sea that Gator has sailed on. No time has passed, no ceasing needed. Beauty forever to the creator of beauty

It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Consuming Fire, Fan into Flames

There came a moment in Jack’s life of a spark of a fire landing inside of him. A man was speaking while all around the man, people were singing. There was fire in the man and in his eyes. Jack was astonished as the words the man was speaking were indeed flames that had hot sparks flashing like meteorites towards Jack.

The sparks landed on dry tinder that was aching as kindling for the fire that was coming to it. A fire being fanned into a burning flame that would never cease. An eternal fire. Jack did not know what was happening to him at first. It felt good and right. It was right up the hill from home, a Christmas Cantata. Jack was not interested. Another Christmas celebration did not interest him. Reluctantly Jack went with his family to the church.

There were many questions inside of Jack, questions that everyone asks. Why am I here? In this case, right here, right now. Jack was transfixed by the fiery eyes and the beam of light bringing the glowing sparks to him. The astonishment of a life time of wonder being fulfilled. Am I dying? That kind of astonishment.

The complete and perfect source was being downloaded and the fire became hot. The spark, cast out from the eyes of fire had indeed done well. It was worth every moment in that man’s life to ignite Jack’s dry and tender life. The warmth began to settle into Jack’s deepest well. That place again of eternity. ‘YES! More, I have been waiting a long time for this. Jack was transfixed. The man was talking directly to Jack.

The man’s face was lit by a spotlight from the balcony. The light came straight to Jack. The man was telling well known secrets. “Mary, did you know that the tiny hands you hold were the hands that flung the stars into the sky? “ Yes, of course was the only answer Jack had. Of course, someone had to do it! Again another truth: “Mary, did you know that the lips you kissed are the lips that blew life into the world?”

Same answer. I don’t believe in something from nothing. It went on and on. Truth, undeniable truth that explained so many things that Jack could not explain. No one could explain those things that Jack talked about and the things we all talk about. A few people had tried to talk about truth of life to Jack but it was as though Jack did not want to hear them. I can figure this out. These people talk like old mumbling preachers or the ones who come to the door that are overdressed. Jack has always tuned out people that know more than he does. Even his calculus class in college. Jack,arrogant and selfish. The usual conclusions of the withdrawn and frightened.

This experience was unexpected and unmistakable. Music too was a direct pathway to Jack’s inner man. Singing and playing most of his life helped Jack to always listen to different music until he got bored. Not this time.

It was the concert of a lifetime of concerts. Played and listened too. Answers to all the songs Jack had ever been involved in. “Mary did you know that those eyes can see who you are” Yes! I have been longing to be known, understood and loved for all those parts of my being that I have held within me.

The music swelled up again, the spotlight beam widened to the choir as Jack began to weep, the cry with the beautiful one he had just met. “It’s all true” Jack began saying over and over. He had looked into the eyes of the creator of all things great and small. Galaxies and red giant stars. DNA and microbes within Jack. Jesus told Jack why and who and when. Never to be forgotten again. Jack’s wife knows now the impossible had happened.

Jack began to see truly love. He knew that he was loved and embraced by the eternal creator. It was time and that is a birth within Jack. Let the flame burn so it can be seen by others and tell them about me. Love with all your heart, spirit, strength and soul.

Since Jack was 11 years old he was on his ham radio tapping out the letters over and over again; CQ CQ (anybody out there?) I seek you I seek you. It was the best Christmas present that Jack has ever received. Unexpected and beautiful beyond description. It’s pretty good, Jack Gator

From Odin to Sinterklass and Beyond

It’s quite a journey for Jack to track down myths, fables and reality all in the same search. Worldwide.

It started simply enough with the word Noel which derives from French. Christmas. It is also a woman’s name that means ‘born on Christmas’ German Langenscheidt or Das Weihnacten also translate to Christmas eve.

Searching some more brought up the actual celebration of Christ’s birth in Rome of 336 AD which turned into a festival until the 9th century. There is some strong evidence of the Dutch putting their oar in the water in 1773 to celebrate His birth.

So where does this Santa Claus myth begin? Perhaps we can go back to 2 BC and and the myth of Odin who was a bearded, cloaked man that traveled through the sky? Sounds like a precursor. Then we have the name of a real saint, St. Nicholas, a 4th century Christian Greek Bishop from Myra (Turkey). In the celebration of him in Europe, children got gifts on December 5th and opened them on December 6th .

So, the nations of Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and North France celebrated ‘SinterKlass who had a long white beard and wore a red cape and judged children about the naughty/nice thing. He became Santa in 1773, merging St. Nicholas, Sinterklass and the English, Father Christmas. Finally in 1823 ‘ A visit from St. Nicholas‘ turned into ‘Twas the night before Christmas‘. He was plump, jolly and dressed in a red suit and rode in a sled pulled by a reindeer. He slid down chimneys to deliver toys to well behaved children. There, that was easy now wasn’t it?

That’s the secular mixed with religion in festivals. How the naughty or nice thing started goes away back to philosophers and People who thought a lot about the who, what and why of existence. Not just to children though. We all seem to know somehow what the definition of being naughty or nice is don’t we? Except for hard core existentialists that believe whatever they say are those things. They are Rather naughty to put it lightly.

So with all of this preamble, how does this apply to us here and now? The Holy days, or some say holidays, are a time of celebration for all of us. How we celebrate is wonderful because we live free to do so. The lights, the tinsel and the socks on the mantle are pretty swell. The best part for Gator is the definition of ‘nice’ in his favorite history book. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” That sums up all the law and the being nice part quite thoroughly. Can we do it perfectly? Of course not. But we must try with all those things we have been given. Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind. It’s life 101. Simple and impossible it seems. One man did it right. He showed us how to live and how to love. You know him. Christ, the reason we celebrate. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Prison Camps in Plain View

There is an experience that Jack had about 50 years ago that applies to life these days. He was locked up in a small prison for six months, in Southern Spain. He ran away from someone trying to kill him and the company he worked for decided Jack was the bad guy. Military stuff. Top Secret. It turned out Ok, and Jack was exonerated of all Charges. By then, it was too late to go back to work with the military. It felt good however to be pardoned for trying to save his life. Security clearance gone though.

Jack began realizing that the whole world is in a prison camp, a camp that can be fairly comfortable for some. Other camps are miserable. All of them have the same set of rules however. Be ‘nice’ and don’t make waves. The fairly ‘well off ‘ hard working family doesn’t know they are in jail although at times it feels that way.

One day, one week, one year after another with no chance of escape. Work hard and provide for your family and suddenly, something happens that opens our eyes to the razor wire and gates. A nice place in the ‘burbs’ with a two car garage, dog house and a basement seems safe enough. Often however, Tragedy, loss of life perhaps, foreclosure or lingering illness’. No rhyme or reason, just the luck of the draw, bad luck, payback for sin or just the way the world is. Why? What is the purpose of life if all there is to it is pain in the end? “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” Epicurus 341 BC

On the way to the ‘hill’ in St. Croix, Jack was overcome by grief. He was at a funeral years ago for a young man that lived nearby. Jack can still see into that coffin with the beautiful face, closed eyes and the soft silk under his head. They wheeled him down the aisle to the hearse and Jack reached out from the pew and lightly touched that smooth shaped edge as it passed. The tears still come forth years later at the loss. The senseless loss. The thought of bearing this as if it was Jack’s son brought another flood. What kind of world is this?

The Christmas brag letter, sometimes with a few photos too. “Here we all are and boy, is it swell down here!” A beautiful home and several brand new vehicles in the pics. Laughing and smiling while on the ride of their life. Literally. We all do it. We think we have finally arrived at the ideal life style. Well, some of us do. “There’s got to be someway out of this, says the joker to the thief” 1. Late at night we all dream. It’s healthy to do so. Rem sleep. Gator remembers some of the dreams. Suspense, being lost is a common theme. Is the cure for our Prison life possible? Is it really a lifetime that promises to be carefree and success that promises to make me happy? Or a platform where everybody knows my name. 2.

There is a permanent prison break and Jack won’t stop seeking it, it’s the one thing that our hearts won’t stop yearning for. Jack finally has been shown the love that is better than the world he lives in. A lifetime promise that our prison sentence will end with our death but then a trial with a public defender that never looses ( if we want him to represent us.) We can be our own lawyer but that is a really bad idea. Our chosen lawyer tells the judge that we love Him and want Him to be with us after we get out of prison. His father, the judge, always accepts that declaration. Our own defense, when we indeed defend ourselves is that we are ‘not so bad’ does not go over too well. Back to prison for a ‘life’ sentence. Forever.

Advice: Have a sit down with Jesus. He is Your confidant and intercessor. Open your heart to him. He will indeed set you free. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

1. Jimmy Hendrix 2. Jon Thurlow

Hello..Hello..Is Anybody There?

The world has packed the phone booths and no one knows the number of another one. “Operator? I need to be connected. Can you do this for me? No, I do not know the number But I need to talk to them” Dial tone.

What is the question? What pushes us into that isolated phone booth? Who do we need to connect with?

It seems safe in the old fashioned phone booth. Sure, it’s glass and anyone can see me, but the door closes and maybe the people I fear will respect my need to be alone.

Perhaps I don’t need to talk to someone about this transparent loneliness I need to embrace. I need to be alone and yet, I know I need someone desperately to understand. No phone booth will take a message and help me call back. Someone took the phone book and all that is left is the chain. I wrap it around my hand to calm me.

Maybe later I’ll put on my mask and stroll into a shopping place and look around for something I need. There must be something I have forgotten that I really need to get. I cannot see very well as this mask fogs my glasses. I cannot see if anyone is smiling or not and I assume they feel the same way. Just assume they are as afraid of me as much as I am of them. Fear, my nemesis and my excuse for bad behavior.

Our nation, our country does not trust anymore. We don’t trust the government. We don’t trust our police force. We don’t trust the news we stream in daily. It’s no wonder that there are flash mob thefts, car jacking, drive by shootings and the like. We don’t trust ourselves and the things we were perhaps taught about trust.

There seems to be a shadow malevolent power that somehow is broadcasting destruction to us. There are a lot of exposes’ on the media of course. The shadow power is never named, never mentioned. Too risky. No doubt at all if named, the namer will be censured and dismissed as a conspiracy kook. Another schulb that spends their time hacking web sites with cold pizza and Dr,Pepper close at hand.

What’s the cure for all this destruction? It threatens our very country and our founding principles in the Declaration and the Bill of Rights. It will be exposed and defeated by one method only. Prayer. The Creator Himself sees these things and wants us to talk to Him. Earnestly. It’s not that He will change everything to suit our fancy and relief. He will talk with us as we talk to Him. Calming and assuring that this terrible destruction we see and feel is not what it appears to be. “Trouble, You’re gonna have trouble. But when the Bad is good. Then the good is not bad”a. Don’t be surprised by this and pray hard for His Love to flood us. To hold us and give us trust as His very gift. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

a. Clifton Chenier and his Louisiana red hots

Authentic Christian Truth Seen

here is a worldwide pandemic of…Fear. There is also, accompanying this Fear, a host of issues that come out of the Fear pandemic. Riots, Thefts of cars and looting stores. There is rage and violence citizen to citizen.

Anyone reading this doesn’t need these things pointed out and named.

There is an underlying result of this pandemic. Isolation and what is referred to as ‘existential methodology’

Big words, big meaning. As long as our own religious activities, evangelism and lives are not disturbed, we will be OK with an authoritarian government. Referred to as personal peace and prosperity 1. A serious inflation combined with an economic breakdown can cause anyone to panic and worry about their life-style of pleasure and no troubles. “We got trouble and that starts with T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pandemic.

All of this, whatever viewpoint you have, is ameliorated by truth. It’s difficult to discern with the news, Facebook, Twitter and Bitter and the like. As the front of my favorite T shirt says: “The back of this shirt is false.” The back says “the front of this shirt is true”

Everyone, I mean everyone, has an opinion and there are, of course, opinions about opinions. We are fearful of making a mistake, offending someone about our decisions. Mask Up! Mask Off! Mandates, Passports for the ‘right thinkers’ Even the government seems as confused as we are. The Fear acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real. It works. The song ‘Fixin’ to die rag’ by country Joe and the Fish seems appropriate at this time. The song was about the draft. Gator got drafted when he was at Recruit Depot in San Diego. Timing was important back in those ‘good old days.

One of the refrains of that old song ends this way “..Ain’t no time to wonder why, whoopee we’re all going to die!” It’s ironic for Jack. Now you have to get shot to survive. And of course, if you don’t want to get shot, you are scorned and called names. Fear again. Fear of the government and fear of your neighbor. How can we get rid of this national fear? The same way the early Christians did. Trust and give it all, not just part, but the whole heart to the Lion of Judah, Christ. It seems simple but was the hardest thing for Jack to do (mentioned a LOT in previous columns).

Then this Truth (another word for Faith) will become our focus rather than the world’s fear and anxieties. We find ourselves calmer. Boldness with the romance of the Risen Lord going before us. We find ourselves moving about in the world and seeing the light in other people of the way. Back in the early days there was a lot of danger in that recognition. If you were wrong, you might get arrested and killed. Perhaps those days are returning? We will know our brothers by their love. If you look with the eyes of fire you will see that in other eyes as well. Focus on Him and Him alone in all facets of your life and it will happen. There are no measures that anyone can do than that without the eternal intimacy within.

It is so much fun to look at a stranger and tell them that they are a Christian by the way they act. We can see it if we are open. We can feel that connection if that empty part our Lord built into us is filled now by Him. Anything can happen when our whole heart (not part, but all) is surrendered. Personal peace yes, but not by might, not by a platform where everyone knows our name. Not by fortune, and not by those little straps on your boots. You may ask as C.S.Lewis put it: “Is he safe? No, He’s a Lion, of course He’s not safe! But He’s good!” Love the giveaway, it’s the formula for eternal joy. (It’s found in Acts.) It’s pretty good! Jack Gator

1. Gregory Koukl

A Drifter from North Dakota

It was an easy task on the way back home. Early in the morning. Jack was passing through the closest small town to eye up the crowd at the corner cafe and drop off a book and a few DVD’s at the town library. There was a car parked near the library entrance. It looked a bit ‘rough. Paint faded almost to a gray primer color. Drivers door slightly ajar. The signs of travel on the budget plan. Living in the car type of thing. A jumble of belongings and a few empty white Styrofoam civilian ‘mre’s’ on the seat.

Gator knows the signs. He lived in a pickup truck out in the bay area about 40 years ago. He had built a wooden camper in the bed and it even had Plexiglas skylights, french doors on the back and a few shelves with ‘fiddles’ to keep things on them. Pretty exotic for a street person. There was a small propane one burner ‘stove’ to heat up Jack’s favorite meal. Dinty Moore beef stew. He liked it. The family grimaces at the image. It was cheap too. Playing on the street with his Martin Guitar for spare change. There was enough change for the can of stew and gasoline to get across the bay bridge and park overlooking the ocean. Open up the doors, cook up the stew and enjoy the view and the breeze. There were no bridge tolls at that time, just on the Golden Gate. It was a life of sorts. Homeless.

So, inside the library vestibule is the drop-off chutes for books and dvd’s. There is also a bench with free magazines opposite. This time, sitting on the bench was a man that appeared to be a perfect match with the gray car parked outside. Thin, needed a shave and very friendly. Jack asked if he was from the Dakota’s. Somewhat taken aback the man answered in the affirmative. “cold up there too” Jack replied. It was around ten outside just then. A polite conversation ensued and the drifter mentioned that the town had a lot of traffic in the bars quite close by. “After all, it is Wisconsin” replied Jack.

Book and dvd’s deposited, Jack walked across the street to his newer auto with good paint and tires. The doors and heater worked and Jack buckled in. Suddenly, that still, small voice told Jack to part with one of his Andrew Jackson bills (Jack had two of them). Not too hesitantly, Jack unbuckled and tucked the twenty in his right hand and walked back to the library.

As mentioned, Jack knew the signs. He knew the score. The man had most likely spent the night in the somewhat warm vestibule as a refuge from the rough looking car. Jack walked back in and held out the twenty and told the man: “It appears that you are up against it. Go get yourself some breakfast.” Surprised at the gesture, Jack was thanked and Jack left across the street to his warm car.

Twenty bucks that was well spent. Maybe on refreshment at the bar next door, maybe down the street at the cafe filled with men in hunting orange. It didn’t matter to Jack. There was no evidence of sleeping off an overdose of aliphatic ketones from the two dispensaries nearby.

A mystery and a gesture from a stranger that has Kingdom consequence. Someone noticed. The perfect someone that had an emphatic reaction to circumstance. Perfect timing.

Obedience to that still, small voice that Jack hears now and then. Almost always inconvenient and costly. After all, Jack’s family had a prayer room right next door for years and the ‘odor’ of hearts praising the Lord prevails on that street. It felt good to Jack. Useful. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

The Mission Field

The missionary, out in ‘the field’, we have all heard the term and some of us have been one. There are so many ‘fields’ in the world. Gator had an image of this field as wading through a jungle or trudging about a very different terrain overseas. It seems everyone that has been asked, suggested to about this field, thinks of deepest, darkest Africa. Complete with Indiana Jones types and indigenous people that can kill you in many various ways if you make a social faux pas. The favorite one seems to usually be a blowgun dart or a bent tree branch with spikes. Too many movies about adventure for gain. The mission field has gain of a different sort. Eternal.

The foreign country field often involves flying on the frayed cuff. Sometimes sleeping in various airport or bus terminals in various positions. Pulling chairs together or dreaming of a quarter activated padded storage locker that slides out about six feet. Those dreams can come unexpectedly while sagging between those chairs. There are also predators in the terminals which could sweet talk a Chicago cop. The world needs those missionaries in many locales, but not just in far away places. Right in one’s own neighborhood perhaps.

The Gator family created a mission in their area of the world that gave families a bounty of food for ten bucks.

There are professional food gleaners that acquire food from distributors. Food that is out of date or about to be out of date. Some foods too that just don’t move as fast as thought. Pickled eels, fresh Beetle juice (two stars for that one), Dried mushroom flour, things like that. Gator has a ‘best by date’ that indicates he is prime for sale as well. About ten years ago. The food in reality is good fruit, veggies, breads and often meats as well. Several times huge cardboard containers of watermelons. It was always a surprise and usually delightful.

The best part of the ‘Feed my sheep’ mission was the two Gators (Mrs and Mr) that held a meeting before the food was set out on tables. In another room with chairs, filled with people with shopping bags, carts and cardboard boxes. Eager, at times, to hear what these intriguing reptiles had to say, they listened. There was nothing else they could do. Sort of a standby terminal for flying into the next room and getting your ten bucks worth of good stuff. Quite a few of them were Christians and taking care of the brethren is scriptural too.

So, the Gators talked to the room about how the food was obtained and why the volunteers showed up to help. Even carrying out the bounty to trunks and back seats parked nearby. Skycaps from a different sky locale.

Mr and Mrs Gator earnestly talked about the King who was nearby and had talked them into starting the mission and how the roomful of people could talk to this King themselves. He even touched some of them who had various physical and social ills. Some felt the romance of Jesus calling them to Him. Grace that led to faith, the very gift of God. A judge of all of us, but firm in His desire for all men to repent and Be filled with joy as they saw reality and the world with His eyes and heart. The gentle way of the Christian leaders among them was the catalyst that Jesus was using to talk to everyone in that room. It wasn’t easy many times, but worth it.

Often some people would be astonishingly healed of their ills. Returning recipients of the bounty had good stories to tell and it enhanced the expectation of something good. It also brought the King into sharp focus and reality. Truth. There were, of course, many of the public that were agnostic or even Pagans that ‘endured’ this.

A mission field right in the same county the Gators lived in! Only ten clicks away from their modest ranch and it felt good and right. They even got some of that good food too. So, you see, the mission field can be across the planet or in your own neighborhood. The key is to be available when the King lets you know of an mission that requires some one just like you. A special person that is perfect for the job. You. Completely unique, one of a kind and the mission can involve hundreds, thousands of people or just one. You. It seems the King is not interested in numbers of served or servants. His standards are just and true, just for you. He loves it when the ones he whispers to or writes love letters to, answer Him with an eager ‘Yes!’

Listen for His voice. He speaks softly and at times speaks right into your soul, unmistakable, and exciting. You can say no of course, but the task is suited for you and the rewards are simply the Beloved Kings to give. The best gift of all is His presence. There were folks at this ministry that were attendees at local Christian worship services that had never seen this type of prayer, of talking to Jesus as he was present in the room. He is the King and He promised The Holy Spirit to guide and be a helper to us. It never stops and the echos continue. You begin to recognize believers by their countenance. Telling them you see this is another mission field. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

The Traditions of Thanksgiving

The story always starts the same way. A ship, the Mayflower leaves Europe and sails for religious freedom (not to be confused with freedom from religion which came almost 400 years later)

The ship carried 102 passengers and it took over two months to make the crossing. Bad weather and the usual oceanic thrills and danger. They missed their destination at Plymouth (Not Belvedere as has been put forth) They had to sail across Massachusetts bay from Cape Cod a month later. Those pilgrims consisted of Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Quakers, Presbyterians, Protestants and a few Jews.

There was a genuine deliverance, providential and we are sure, astonishing. Many of the ‘Pilgrims’ as they began to known, died in that first year and in 1621 the first feast began with about 90 of the Wampanoag natives with fish, venison (Five deer) Eels, shellfish, stews, veggies and beer. They fired guns, and drank liquor to seal the treaty of peace.

The treaty lasted till King Phillips war (1675 -1676) when a lot of colonists and natives lost their lives. About 54 years of peace. It was a war between the colonists and indigenous peoples. America’s bloodiest war as 30% of the colonists were killed (2500) and a dozen towns destroyed. About 5000 Wampanoag’s were killed. The head of the natives was Metacong known as Prince Phillip!

The colonists, of course, continued to pray and thank God for provision.

When the American Constitution was enacted in 1798, (221 years ago) Congress left celebrating to the states. Finally on October 3, 1863 President Lincoln proclaimed Thursday November 26th. In 1942 president Roosevelt declared the 3rd Thursday in November to give an extra boost to the merchants for another week of Christmas shopping! The Thanksgiving holiday 130 years ago had feasts coupled with the Yale vs Princeton football game (1876) In 1920 costumed revelers and Gimbals department store had a parade with Santa Claus. In 1924 the Macy’s parade, also in NYC had huge balloons.

Now the celebration is focused on Intercultural peace, immigrants and home and family.

Canada has their Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday in October. It began in 1578 for the thank fullness of Sir Milton Frobisher’s crew surviving. It was on November 6th from 1879 and changed in 1957 to the 2nd Monday in October. 442 years ago. Also thanking God for survival,They celebrated with salt beef and mushy peas. (This was 43 years before the Mayflower arrived.)

Alexander Hamilton, a founding father and Washington’s companion declared “No citizen of the U.S. Shall refrain from Turkey on Thanksgiving day” So, now we consume 45 to 46 million on Thanksgiving. Hamilton was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr. The usual Thanksgiving meal at this time was turtle soup, pigeon pie, hogs ears and stewed eels. Turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie seems a more pleasant menu. Jack’s sense of taste has not been the same since he had the Wuhan flu. He just could not do justice to the eels.

The turkey is odd, the first presidential ‘pardon’ of a turkey destined for the table was made by President Bush in 1989. It was remanded to a farm to live out it’s life there. Ostensibly uncooked.

Who knows how it turns out for a turkey that has a presidential pardon? Which would taste better? A Republican or Democratic turkey? The tradition of President Washington continues today. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

Chosin Reservoir

It was sort of unexpected. The usual surprise when the phone call came. The funeral was up north where he lived. The smiling in-law and survivor of war and crime was being ‘put to rest’ next week and “could you come?”

His pain is gone, but the ‘rest’ part seems a bit ambiguous to Gator. As though death was a train station you just sacked out in, waiting for the eternity express to rumble in. Sort of like the one in the movie ‘Matrix’ for those of you that have wondered about that place. What’s on the ticket you have in your hand? They always say ‘Judgment seat, last stop’. The ticket also says ‘payment pending’ Better get on the train and get a good seat. Might be a slight delay at the Judgment station. The conductor says there is a bit of a crowd there. He also says ‘today’ with a slight smile. If you know what is coming, it gives you a bit of a sharp uncertainty, everyone does it the conductor says. Open mouth and realization that the truth was told to you. “Did I make the cut?”

So with this imagery in mind, Gator softly walked into the church building and took a pew seat towards the front. The front rows had the soldier’s sons and the family, and us of course. It was a different ceremony, a different faith stream but with the same feeling. Gator did not know the drill, so he just read and reread a passage in his NKJ Bible. Matthew 22: 32..”God is not the God of the dead but the God of the living” This was a passage of those that will live forever. I had no doubt that this rough and tumble Marine was going to be with his Savior. We had talked with him earlier in the year. There was certainty about him being saved from condemnation by his faith in Jesus.

At the end of communion, the Priest requested the eulogy to be given. The sons looked at each other and then turned and looked at us. I took my Bible and ascended to the pulpit. I read, almost from memory the few lines of scripture I had read over and over. I finished the short reading and then began to honor the fallen Korean war vet.

I could see the VFW guys in full dress and the colonel and the bagpiper nearby. Solemn but focused. On me.And the casket

I thought about the time when we asked him to turn down the TV for our young sons sitting with us. He replied in no uncertain terms that we were in his house and would do what he pleased. A little rough language tossed in for emphasis. Then afterwards we all went the Post and played pool. Young Gator made a pretty good bank shot and Dad-in-law offered a fireball shot of whiskey to him. Young Gator was about 15.

Those images were set aside as Gator eulogized about the fallen Marine as a man of bravery and honor. A Chosin reservoir survivor in the Korean war, followed by decades of police business in Milwaukee. It felt right to bring those things to light. His buddies at the VFW knew him well. His license plate read: ‘Ill buy one’ His other car read: ‘Stop 4 one’ Cops knew him and they also know about survivors and trauma. They made sure he got home from the post.

We followed the casket behind the Piper and experienced the seven men shoot blanks three times. I thanked the Colonel and then went in for the lunch. The Priest was walking next to me and I said: “Father, thank you for speaking of our savior” He turned to me and said: “Yes! It’s all about Jesus!” Gator will never forget that.

There was a proposal by his sons to give the VFW a budget of a thousand dollars for that days bar tab. We said OK. Soon afterwards it came time to go back up north and figure out what to do with the estate. Mrs. Gator’s brother handled the record keeping and we all spoke up for what we wanted. The sons wanted the vehicles and Gator wanted the man’s sidearm, an Ithaca 1911 .45. The Grip handles were well worn and there was some cleaning to do. It appeared to have been used somewhat.

Other things were attended to and it was pretty equitable between the six of us.

The house was cleaned and Gator got some Pendleton shirts and some slippers. The freezers were emptied and there was quite a bit of steaks and roasts to be salvaged. Gator also spoke up for the powerful garden tractor that was top of the line. Stuff like that, most of us know what it is like. Left behind has a different meaning.

We have all been through this and Gator thinks what it will be like when his unneeded precious instruments and other stuff is given to the family and friends. None of it will pay that ticket we all get when we get on that train for the Judgment station. We will tremble and yet look forward to our friend that has spoken to us many times in different ways. There are some tickets that cannot be paid and then there are the rest that will say ‘paid in full’ The next stop is eternal joy but the unpaid tickets will have to go on for the Perdition station. ‘End of the line!’ Lets talk about that ticket payment sometime, it’s pretty good. Jack Gator

The Lost Ring and the Saved Soul

It was a restless night for Jack. He discovered the morning before that he had lost his wedding ring. He had worn it since 1992 and it meant a lot to him. It has an inscription inside with his wedding date. There is another one too in italics: “Through headwinds and tailwinds” Jack and his bride met on bicycles under very strange and beautiful circumstances. Unbelievable ones. That is a story for certain. It involves a Lutheran Pastor, a bartender in Washington state, A camp cook and the bartenders grandparents. It’s been written and published already, ‘A bicycle built for two’ Jack will send you a copy if you are curious! You can find it at Gatorsgracenotes.com as well.

So, back to the ring. The whole Gator clan began looking for the ring. Could be it was stripped off Jack’s finger when he removed his gloves outside? (It’s happened several times) Search the garden, the wood shed, the garden tool shed, the glove box in the house and car. You get the idea. Jack felt it was perhaps thrown off his hand in the night when he shook off a carpel tunnel cramp. The only way to search the room’s carpet was to move the bed. An awful lot of dust and the usual vacuum cleaner task. Incredible mess. After the bed was moved 90 degrees and the cleaning began in earnest, a dusty journal of Jack’s emerged. Details of Jack’s ministering to his old navy best friend that was in hospice in Maryland. Hadn’t been seen for sixteen years. No ring was found. They left the bed turned ninety degrees and cleaned a lot. It worked very good and had been thinking about it anyway.

Driving alone to an early prayer meeting, Jack began haranguing his Lord about the ring. The usual rant we all when things are difficult and not making sense. “Where is my ring? You know where it is Lord!” The answer was, of course, immediate and kind. Jack was reminded that his gold ring would not follow him into eternity. Neither his 18th century viola nor the 100 year old Gibson Mandolin. The story of Jack gently responding to his best friend Chuck’s dying request will go with Jack. He answered Chuck’s question “So what’s the good news?” Indeed, there is very good news about forgiveness, redemption and the romance of Heaven. A lot of you know exactly what It is about. It’s fact, not fiction. Impossible it would seem that the God of the universe would die for me. Jack asked Chuck to meet him when it was his time to die. Chuck cried when their parting embrace ended.

Soon after Jack had flown home, Chuck called and wanted to talk. He asked Jack what are the words? There aren’t any ‘words Jack said. Let’s just talk with the Lord Jesus and show him our hearts. Let’s tell him how we feel about the mistakes and victories we have experienced. Ask him to forgive the mistakes and bad decisions.

After about a half and hour went by and Chuck said, “Is that it?” Pretty much sailor, how do you feel now?

Chuck said he felt pretty good about the truthful talk. That was very good news as the phone conversation was a ‘party line’ with Chuck’s new friend listening in. “See you upstairs!” Those were the last words Jack said at the hospice. Several weeks later, Chucks wife rang up and said Chuck wanted to be baptized. Seemed appropriate. She said Chuck was getting close.

Praying in the front pew at Church with his eyes closed, suddenly Jack saw Chuck entering paradise. Chuck was walking away and turned and pointed at jack over his shoulder and said five words that Jack will never forget: “It’s better than you said!” There was a bit of commotion in the pews. People were concerned about the odd things Jack was trying to say. “I saw Chuck! He…just left” The Gators went home.

They found that Chuck’s wife left a phone message that Chuck had died in Maryland at the same time Chuck appeared to Jack. A phone call to Chuck’s wife telling her what had just happened to Jack was a great encouragement to her. What a gift it was/is and is still the best good news that Jack shares. A gift from God. He doesn’t know how it works but it was pretty swell to experience.

So, Jack surrendered his angst about his wedding ring of gold and realized the journal with the details was only found when they looked for the ring.

Still missing after five days. Gone for good, impossible to search through leaves and grass around the farm. Sad, but resolute in surrender, Jack went for his usual lap swim at a high school pool about 20 miles away. Early morning, around six am. Jack began swimming in the lane next to the wall lane and on the third lap looked over into the deepest part of the pool under the lap lane and saw a round object that was dark. Looked like an O ring but perfectly round. Could it be? That is where Jack was doing his Backstroke five days earlier. He asked the gal that was swimming in the lane if she dives. She said “sure” and Jack asked her to dive down 10 feet and bring up that round object. She did and popped up with Jack’s wedding ring. Not so shinny after five days in chlorine and bromine, but it was Jack’s ring. The inscription said so.

Wonderful release of his sad loss, Jack held on tight to the ring and did a short swim and texted a picture home of the ring. Impossible it was still there in plain sight. Not vacuumed, not in the drain close by. Go deep jack. The surrender of the lost ring after the discovery of the journal was perhaps the key? “How has God been working in your life this week?” Jack’s good friend, his pastor asks that every Thursday morning at the men’s Bible study. This Thursday Jack has got something to share with the men. An encouragement of choosing the best thing. The good news indeed..It’s pretty good, Jack Gator

Chief Cornerstone Communication

It was early afternoon, it was below zero and Jack was headed down to the wood shed with the empty wheelbarrow for yet another load of ‘all nighters’ if he could find some among the rank.

Suddenly, Jack felt Hispresence again. Unexpected, not a result of praying or listening or reading particularly. Jack thought just for a moment something was going to happen to him, perhaps unpleasant and God was about ready to soften the event with a bit of a heads up. Jack really thought it was the end perhaps. Jack began silently singing cornerstone where I am firm with no scheme of man could pluck me from His hand. Gator was shaky but ready Lord. Very clearly Jesus asked: “Who is condemning you?”

He just began talking to Jack and showing clearly that the anger and fear were totally his own doing. Simply put to Jack that he did not have to condemn himself for his failures with relationship. With All the family. All of them along with close friends

Listen, ask questions and above all, don’t retreat into yourself feeling once again everyone, is pointing their finger at you” They love you, I love you, I love how you write about me. Reveal your heart as I am teaching you to do so in your writing. Now it is time to open that door you have been longing to have swing open. Let them in so you can really see them the way I do!” 1.

I am worthy! they are worthy! The only one who can do any condemnation is me! Why do I do that?

An old habit, decision, who knows. Jack’s life has been filled with decisions made to protect himself from the world and in doing so, the glass door that leads into his heart has the sign ‘Closed’ visible from out side. Protection that Jack thought he needed. Not needed now. Open heart indeed! Many betrayals is the worst feeling of all. “How can I make this right?” this is the way to begin. Ask a good, heartfelt question.

Betrayed or the betrayer. To be dealt with in a similar fashion. Pursuing rectitude in all directions. The really hard stuff we know is our lot in the world. Always lurking around corners for all of us. The sudden intake of breath and the surprise heartbeat increase. Realization of a boatload of bad decisions and coming to a conclusion that there is no end to it and nothing that can be done about it. Beyond depressing. Your last meal of love already finished and all that needs doing is a little washing up. Stack the cups of anger and defeat so they can be used once more. Open the cupboard of your heart once again that is stacked with these cups of wrath.

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” 2. The blues from the one who knew these things.

Upon finishing up the wood stacking on the porch, Jack came inside and Mrs. Gator handed Jack a short post on Valentines day with a beautiful healing message on healing the fear of rejection. It had come into her computer in-box when Jack was out, doing the wood and being waylaid by the Lord. Jack was ready for that. Perhaps the first time in his life. Eager to learn, eager to heal and be healed. It’s pretty good.

Jack Gator

1. Chief Cornerstone 2. Louis Armstrong

Grace Notes and Alligators

Perhaps a little history is in order after several years of columns. The alligator part is convoluted but interesting non-the-less, it’s true as is most of the personal stories that have appeared here.

There was a fiddle contest and Jack did not have any ‘glossies’ to show off his incredible countenance and poise.

Searching shutter stock type photos for something appropriate for a cartoon like fiddler, one showed promise more than any other. It’s hard to find an exact match, but you get the idea. A good friend sketched the above logo to replace the cartoon. Very good friend. The complete sketch has an alligator lounging on a riverbank holding a fishing rod with a zebco real. pretty cool.

Grace notes. They are the little trills added in musical scores. Too rapidly played to notate but can be done with the musical note you see on the above logo…It’s the eighth note right next to Gator. An alternative and enhanced version of the term will come a bit later in this column. Play three of them quick and it’s pretty good to hear.

So there you have most of it explained, somewhat clearly. The fiddle contests were like any other sort of talent contest you have been in or watched live. As a contestant you dredge up your best stuff. The most beautiful waltz, the most furious and clever fast tune(s) Rehearse weeks before and on the spot of the contest. In the outdoor ones the parking lot is usually safe. An accompanist is a great help, guitar is the best if such a thing is allowed. Playing solo is revealing to the contestant. Nervous? Unsure? It happens all the time. Then there are Issac Stern fiddlers that have graduate degrees in music. They usually are half your age and their technique is flawless. Beyond third position of course (that’s way up in the stratosphere and neck stuff) It sounds gorgeous and often wins. A few times however, old Uncle Zeke shows up and with a little stagecraft and stunning old time fiddle technique, pulls off first place.

Time to rosin up your bow and check your zipper and stuff in your shirt. The judges are up front and sometimes appear like Robespierre who lost his contest in 1794 in France. Serious folks often. You don’t know who they are and sometimes they know nothing about music at all. Sort of like American Idol. If it makes you cry it might be OK. So serious. It helps to do a little jig and a joke, entertainment. It gets the crowd in a good mood.

Make sure the sound technician is on your side too. A serious nod of your head and an impressed comment on their four channel mixer from Radio Shack helps. Bring your own mic and such stuff. It helps calm you. Just don’t hit the mic with your bow. It’s a real stage fright moment. Set the mic far enough away from you.

Don’t pay too much attention to your competitors, you’ll get nervous..again. Look into that heart of yours and play the notes and slurs and fun jazzy stuff on the fly that you are gifted with. Jack isn’t very articulate on the fingerboard and compared to a lot of very good players, Jack is in the Yellow Cab metaphor. The old ones with the continental 4 banger under the hood. A little slow off the line but sturdy. Somewhat heavy in his frame too. One of his mentors, Judy Larsen told Jack once: “it must be nice to be on all the time” Jack realized it was the notes in his head that always had a little ‘twink’. Adding something to someone else playing. Of course, solo is a bit trickier. Pay attention to that small still voice that speaks to you. He will tell you what to play, note by note if you listen closely. Play for Him that loves it when you do. It will put joy in your heart and a smile on your face.

It’s nothing fancy I am mentioning. It’s listening to the man that has always loved your playing and wants to give you the rhythm that pleases, the impossible harmonics and flatted notes that shouldn’t be there. “Just surround those out of place notes with friendly ones and do it again. It will sound like jazz” Judy again.

Gator loves to play when his favorite mentor is his focus. He shows up a lot when you want Him there and that is the other explanation of Grace Notes. He is filled with grace and you will note it. It’s Jesus. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

A life Hidden but seen

It was several years ago when the whole Gator family went to Washington D.C. They even took a friend with them. It was her first flight and she did the usual casual cool luggage rack and seat location.

When the Delta flight began it’s roll out she was a little nervous at the turbine noise and the acceleration. Like every first time flier, when the gear came up with it’s thumping and noise, she reached over and grasped Gators hand tightly. Every time it happens. Always. When they arrived at the airport in Maryland, they rented a van and the best driver of the family took the wheel. If you hesitate for more than ¼ of a second off the line when the light turns green, you get the horn in back. Every time. Stijn, the oldest of the sons drove well and knows where the horn is on every make and model.

They found their rental apartment in an average city block which all their acquaintances who had been in D.C. Said was a neighborhood to avoid. Their host was very gracious, the stainless steel appliances were first rate and the first time they went to the national mall, a neighbor knew somehow where they were going and told them where to get off to catch the subway/metro. Nice neighbors in spite of the need for bulletproof glass at the local cafe. They had two tables and we sat at one. There were five of us. One of the cooks came out with an extra chair for Gator. Very aware folks in that neighborhood. It was pleasant.

Their apartment was downstairs with a separate entrance. Jack could lean on the short chain link fence and chat with the sidewalk passers by. One gal from next door kept trying to bum a cigarette. Tempting to buy a pack across the street at the check cashing store, but their new friend on the bus said we would be out of cigarettes soon. None of them smoke. That lady was focused. She lived next door and was a neighborhood regular.

The Gators were there to protest abortion in a very unusual way. Each state had a tent on the national mall and there was 24 hour worship and prayer for our country and the unborn children. It was hot, it was crowded and it was wonderful. They Got to see the original stars and stripes at the Smithsonian and there was the actual Apollo 1 capsule among Saturn booster engines and the like. Pretty cool.

After a while at home, the Gators went to visit Grandma and Grandpa about 5 hours drive to the southeast. After a scrumptious meal, Jack went into the living room and relaxed to the point of a bit of sleeping. A dream/vision swept over him. A young, pretty girl with dark hair ran up to him and grasped Gator in a strong hug with her head on his shoulder. She was about the same height as Mrs. Gator. It was a very vivid dream, she was wearing a thick wool coat, it was tan and her hair was dark. Suddenly Gator heard a voice: “This is your child Greta who was miscarried. She is with me now. She just wanted to touch you and tell you it was OK. She is with Me now”

Startled awake, Gator went back into the kitchen and sat down at his place at the table and told the dream immediately. He believes he saw a glint of a tear in Grandpa’s eye. It was stunning really, the older man did not show emotion, ever. All conversation was covered with a salesmen’s chuckle and laughter as though life was some sort of running comedy. Not this time.

Gator loves to tell this story as it means a lot to him and Mrs.Gator and it plants the flag of stopping abortion clinics firmly and unmovable in his heart. There is life after death, we are ‘overbuilt’ for life as it seems. There must be more than this short life, it’s hard wired into us to wonder about, dream about and even write about. Why do some folks rail against these things? Denial of Spirit is hard to do. We yearn for meaning to life.

Gator loves to quote writing and songs in his writing. He likes this one. “There’s something going on and you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr.Jones”1. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

1. Bob Dylan

A Life Hidden But Seen

It was several years ago when the whole Gator family went to Washington D.C. They even took a friend with them. It was her first flight and she did the usual casual cool luggage rack and seat location.

When the Delta flight began it’s roll out she was a little nervous at the turbine noise and the acceleration. Like every first time flier, when the gear came up with it’s thumping and noise, she reached over and grasped Gators hand tightly. Every time it happens. Always. When they arrived at the airport in Maryland, they rented a van and the best driver of the family took the wheel. If you hesitate for more than ¼ of a second off the line when the light turns green, you get the horn in back. Every time. Stijn, the oldest of the sons drove well and knows where the horn is on every make and model.

They found their rental apartment in an average city block which all their acquaintances who had been in D.C. Said was a neighborhood to avoid. Their host was very gracious, the stainless steel appliances were first rate and the first time they went to the national mall, a neighbor knew somehow where they were going and told them where to get off to catch the subway/metro. Nice neighbors in spite of the need for bulletproof glass at the local take out cafe’

The Gators were there to protest abortion in a very unusual way. Each state had a tent on the national mall and there was 24 hour worship and prayer for our country and the unborn children. It was hot, it was crowded and it was wonderful. Got to see the original stars and stripes at the Smithsonian and there was the actual Apollo 1 capsule among Saturn booster engines and the like. Pretty cool.

After a while at home, the Gators went to visit Grandma and Grandpa about 5 hours drive to the southeast. After a scrumptious meal, Jack went into the living room and relaxed to the point of a bit of sleeping. A dream/vision swept over him. A young, pretty girl with dark hair ran up to him and grasped Gator in a strong hug with her head on his shoulder. She was about the same height as Mrs. Gator. It was a very Vivid dream. she was wearing a thick wool coat, it was tan and her hair was dark. Suddenly Gator heard a voice: “This is your child Greta who was miscarried. She is with me now. She just wanted to touch you and tell you it was OK. She is with Me now”

Startled awake, Gator went back into the kitchen and sat down at his place at the table and told the dream immediately. He believes he saw a glint of a tear in Grandpa’s eye. It was stunning really, the older man did not show emotion, ever. All conversation was covered with a salesmen’s chuckle and laughter as though life was some sort of running comedy. Not this time.

Gator loves to tell this story as it means a lot to him and Mrs.Gator and it plants the flag of stopping abortion clinics firmly and unmovable in his heart. There is life after death, we are ‘overbuilt’ for life as it seems. There must be more than this short life, it’s hard wired into us to wonder about, dream about and even write about. Why do some folks rail against these things? Denial of Spirit is hard to do.

Gator loves to quote writing and songs in his columns. He likes this one. “There’s something going on and you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr.Jones?” 1. Indeed. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

1. Bob Dylan