Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nine Siblings...

February nine I will celebrate sixty-eight years of married life. During that time, I have enjoyed many positive life-adventures and enduring a few negative encounters. A frequent subject of our current conversations focuses on the fact that my spouse is now the last surviving member of nine siblings who loved and accepted me as one of them. 

What was once a hustling, bustling community of kids in the rural  Oklahoma, under the tutelage of Doc and Mary, became a global-wide network of devoted siblings washing about in every direction by the tossing tides of history.They could be found anywhere: an aircraft repair shop at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City; leading a squadron of WWII destruction en route to a strange  and unknown South Pacific island; an anonymous site behind Japanese enemy lines during World War Two; the Geneva Conference of 1964 Switzerland; searching-and-rescuing in the Oklahoma City bombing, or working in a Shell office in Midland, TX when young George was born.

From their Oklahoma-Texas base, the world of these boys and girls became a global adventure. I have observed them befriending family and friends , working with international foreign figures, assessing situations with Washington beltway politicians, and administering the grace of God in the humblest of mission hovels.Telling the stories would be encyclopedic; it might even conclude, as one Biblical writer said; of the writing of books there is no end. Life goes on and a new generation-or-two has taken charge. 

Only one of Doc and Mary’s originals is left and I share her loneliness when she describes what she feels and experiences as the last living survivor. She continues to live life with zest, but hers is an experience common to life of us, except some of us were not so blessed as to belong to such a large clan—still the cornerstone of our culture, as it ought always to be.

From her vast reservoir of human experiences comes this short story. It originates with a figure of past history. This lady of global dimension lived with both sophistication and faith, enjoying the lap of luxury at the top of her culture. For whatever that is all worth, I find her story of significance and lasting value in terms of what I have come to believe in my eight decades of living in more humble circumstances.

Most recent to leave us was the last living sibling of my spouse--her next older sister, her dearest friend. Sister Awana, pictured above, was the one for whom my spouse would most gladly have surrendered her own life. They were like inseparable twins! She loved to lavish her love on her younger sister. I knew her as  Awana, or Jam/Jammy. Being in the U. S. Foreign Service, Awana shared intimately and visited often in the home of China’s one time Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek. One day Madame Chiang related this favorite story to her American friend.

This ordinary farmer became an extraordinary hero. He lived on high land and one day saw a frightening scene. He looked down in the valley toward the shoreline and saw that an earth quake was causing the ocean to pile up--a tsunami. He realized that soon a tidal wave would wash over the lowland and flood his neighbors living down in the valley. They would all perish, unless he called them to the hilltop immediately!

Quickly, lighting a torch, the farmer touched his torch to his dry rice barn and vigorously rang the fire gong. Down in the valley, the people looked higher up the mountain and saw the rising smoke. Quickly, they rushed up the hill to help their neighbor fight the fire and save his crop. Before they could reach his burning barn, the waves roared in behind them and covered the fields they had just left. Immediately, they recognized that the farmer had just burned all his possessions to save their lives.

When nineteenth century hymn writer-preacher Phillips Brooks died, his oldest brother confided to Dr. McVicker: “Phillips might have saved himself, and so prolonged his life. Others do; but he was always giving himself to any one who wanted him.”
Dr. McVicker replied, “Yes indeed! He might have saved himself, but in doing so, he would not have been Phillips Brooks. The glory of his life was that he did not save himself.”

Lent will begin before long and soon Easter will re-tell the stories of Jesus. As recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, each reminds us that Jesus came as the Son of Man. He came to seek and to save the lost (Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10). Easter is that very special time for Christians when we will once more celebrate our Lord’s caring love.

We will celebrate what is called the glory of Easter and a new way for the world to live-
-that Jesus chose to save others rather than himself!
From Warner’s World,
(pictured is Bible of MLK)

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