Over the Hump 09/18/2019

I was recently struck by an ad, on the television, about two guys who have started a company that cleans up the ocean. In that ad, we are shown what huge amounts of trash are in our oceans. 

As I drive through cities and see the amounts of stuff on our streets, I am reminded that people don’t seem to care if their towns and cities are not clean. I discovered as a runner when I was younger, how trashy the roadsides were, here in America. 

I ran in several towns in Germany and found to my delight that the streets were clean, no cups, no cigarette butts and it ran through my mind at the time that I could breathe better. 

For a time, I was a janitor in Chicago at O’hare airport. I could never get it how many folks could miss the trash cans with their half full cups and cigarette butts.

It all started in the beginning of our world. After the Creation of the universe and our world, God created man and woman. Adam gave the animals their names, then he and Eve were given the charge, to be stewards of creation.

I wonder if they forgot that part after being thrown out of the garden. Perhaps, if they had not, those two guys would not have to be out there picking up trash out of our oceans and there would not be the clutter that we see all around us. We might not be hearing about green deals. 

Stewardship of the globe, belongs to all of us. Our homes, yards, the creation, which we enjoy, and the places that we visit, should be left clean as part of our job of helping God.

I am reminded of a lady friend, may she rest in peace, who, when she used a restroom at a gas station, always cleaned it up for the next person to use.

So today, I want to salute those whom we count on the pick up our trash. They are the unsung heroes for whom we take for granted. Come rain or shine they are there. Don’t forget them this holiday season and thank them when you can.

Over the Hump

I am sad sometimes because we seem to be so accustomed to tragedy and death that, when things happen, we don’t give much attention to it any more.

I was in Oklahoma several years ago and visited the memorial of the bombing there. Across the street from the memorial was a giant statue of Jesus looking away from the bombing and a plaque that read “Jesus Wept”

I visited the 9/11 memorial, just recently, and as I traveled through that museum, through the devastation and made my way into the place of three walls with all 3000 pictures of those, who, when they got up that morning, did not think that they would be in heaven before the day was over. 

Those we saw jumping out of windows were sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, of all races. I wonder what they were praying about as they left this world. I did read a message left by a father which I shared a few weeks back . “I love you. from Dad”, that was found in the wreckage. As i continued through the memorial, I could feel the pain of both Jesus and God. Perhaps they were both weeping, as they watched modern people 21st century, people still dealing in violence, and war. 

I did see some people weeping, as they traveled with me, through the memorial. As I went, I felt a sense of resolve for our country, as we are healing from this tragedy. We are the ‘Comeback Kids’. 

Isaiah’s prophecy, written so long ago, has still yet to be fulfilled “they shall beat their swords into plowshare and spears into pruning hooks and man will learn war no more.“

God! I hope so, But until then lets roll them (93)


Over the Hump 09/04/2019

I am a great fan of Nikos Kazantzakis. One of the works that struck me when I read it was "The Last Temptation of Christ". In it, we can see the conflict of the human Jesus with his mission. The last temptation is in a dream where he comes down from the cross, marries Mary Magdeline and lives out a normal life life. 

As I have thought about that over the years, I have wondered, what if he had succumbed to that temptation, as so many people, that we have read about, who have been tempted and thus lost some of their integrity and high standing in their businesses, families and communities and the trust of other people. 

I also have looked back at the temptations that I, myself, have faced over the years and found that they were pretty paltry, compared to some and my regrets and sorrow of those ones that I let hinder my life of integrity. 

But as a believer, I can hope to be more graceful to withstand those which may come up as I near the end of the trek and I have the assurance of the grace of God to help me.

Over the Hump 08/28/2019

There were many kids that I started the first grade with, and we were together with, all through high school. There was one girl, I was close with, was Phyllis Jean. We were close, as we went to the same church and her family was one of four families, who were friends and spent every Christmas Eve. with them. 

It was a bit boring for us, but it was a long standing custom. Phyllis and I wondered each year which of our Dads would get drunk first and would either of them get to Christmas Eve worship with us. Most time they did not. 

After high school we were off to college, graduate school, marriage and work. Phyllis became prominent in her community, in Kansas, for her service, and she was a devout Christian and very active in her church community. 

We reconnected for our 35th and 40th class reunions where we reminisced with some of those same people we had gone to grade school with. Even in those conversations Phyllis stood out and many were eager to visit with her. 

We did not make it to the 50th reunion for Phyllis was diagnosed with cancer. Shortly before she died, I spent a couple of days with her and I watched and experienced a person dying with dignity and grace. We remembered the Christmas Eve's of the past and some of the long lasting relationships we had, with some whom we had taken naps with in Kindergarten. 

I was unable to attend her funeral, but her remains were returned to our home town. There we were able to have another service with those old friends. As we put her ashes in the ground, we said the Lord's Prayer together, and I whispered well done, good and faithful servant.

Over the Hump 08/21/2019

Back in the 70’s and as a young clergyman, my dress was a bit colorful. I had a beard, my hair was a bit long and clerical shirts of different color. I was visiting family, in Ohio, one year and while I was there I was asked to visit one of my Nieces, who was in jail. I put on a colorful clerical shirt and off to the prison I went. Upon entering, I met the jailer, and asked to see the prisoner. The jailor replied, "You are no minister, you are a hippy and I will not let you in my jail". I found another clergyman of my denomination with a book with all the names of clergy. We returned to the jail and presented the book to the jailor who reluctantly let me see my niece. It did not help me that the minister who we with me had a long beard. 

That incident was in Xenia, Ohio which was hit, by a tornado, a few years later which took a toll on the town. 

Fast forward to my state of Colorado in 1976, with a tragic flood that took 150 lives and was a major disaster. Some of my friends and I got together to start the recovery effort and were looking for some outside help who might have experience in disaster relief. I remember the tornado, in Xenia, Ohio and put in a call the their disaster relief number. When I introduced myself to the lady on the phone, she said, "I know you. You were the minister that my husband got into the jail. 

After that introduction she and her husband came, to Colorado, to help us with our program. He preached in my Church and we got to know the couple. They were a great help in our rebuilding families, homes, roads and relationships. So, now I am mindful of those I meet for I never know where a great relationship might begin and where it might lead to. Life is exciting that way.

Over the Hump 08/14/2019

As many today, as when I was in college, I was usually broke or needed what little I had to get by. 

One summer, I got a speeding ticket and did not know how I was going to get the money. I, for sure, did not want to let my Dad know. My Dads’ law partner was also the police magistrate who I would have to face in court. Then I read that he would suspend the fine if one went to driving school. The fine was $25.00, so I would be off the hook and the magistrate gave me the assurance that he would not tell my Dad. So, it went well in court. 

What I did not know at the time was the editor of the local newspaper had no use for my Dad. I don’t know what the issue was, but it went deep. Standard procedure in the court system was that material was always sent to the local paper and printed somewhere in the back pages. The next day on the front page an article entitled, “Son of Asst. District Attorney to take safe driving course to offset a speeding ticket”

Later that day I got a call from my Dad, who said, “I have to read the local paper to see what you may be up to?” 

I guess it was both justice and gotcha!

Over the Hump 08/07/2019

When I was a small boy, we lived near the Fair Grounds of the Colorado State Fair. I attended, the fair, as far back as I can remember. 

When I was 12, as a Boy Scout, I became an usher in the arena. My favorite event was the bull riding. As an usher I was very close to the action and it was very exciting. A year later, I came down with Polio. It was during the State Fair and I was devastated that I could not attend (so close and yet so far away).

Part of my treatment was not to get out of bed. This was tough for a 13 year old boy. One evening about 9:30 our house began to shake and there was a lot of noise in our small back yard. Too much for this little kid, so I got up and we looked out the back window. Much to our suprise, there was a Brahma Bull tearing up our yard. There were men with ropes trying to catch the bull with little success. As I remember, I was rooting for the bull.

The bull finally escaped the yard and headed toward the river, a short distance where he was finally captured. I continued to go the the Fair, but nothing was quite as exciting as that night, when the State Fair came to a small boy.

Over the Hump 07/31/2019

A number of years ago a new couple joined the Church in Colorado, where I served. They had come out of the Hippy culture and became deeply involved in the Church and the Community. They moved to Henderson, Nevada, there they divorced, and Barbara still lives. 

She, not too long ago, related a story which touched me very much. She told me the story of Roy, the most highly decorated special forces man in the state of Nevada. The down side of Roy was that his marriage ended, and later his ex-wife and daughter moved into the community of Jonestown, with James Jones. Roy was picked to ride the horse leading, the riderless horse in the Kennedy funeral march. 

Later, when some from Washington were murdered on the airstrip at Jonestown, Roy was sent with some others to check it out. By the time he got there everyone had drank the koolaid, and were dead. The first two people Roy saw were his ex-wife and daughter in the kitchen. 

When it was all over, he left, went home to Nevada and crawled into a bottle of scotch and remained there for a long time. Cross, depressed, angry, and in despair, until he met and got to know my friend Barbara and some of her friends. They took the time to get to know Roy, and reached out to him.

As time went by he began to trust them. As their relationship grew they encouraged him to attend a retreat at their Church. At that retreat, with the grace of God, Roy was able to connect with the God of his understanding and his life changed. From then on he used his skill to reach out and help any and all that he came into contact with.

Near the end of his days one might find him on the street handing out water in 100 degree heat in Henderson. His changed life was a great example of, “Its never too late".

Over the Hump 07/24/2019

We have not gone out of business, I have just been on vacation in the east, visiting. 

I do not know where you were on 9/11. I was watching the news while getting ready for work when the second plane hit. 

On this trip I finally got to visit the Trade Center Memorial. I was awed both by the massive destruction, and by the patriotism and hope, as I came to the end. 

I discovered some items that touched me. One that touched me most, was a note on a slate board "Dear Tana, I love you, Daddy." Even near the end of his life, he thought of his child. 

While standing in front of that artifact, I realized how powerful love can be. This helped me as I traveled through a room full of almost 3000 pictures of those who, having awakened that morning and ended the day in heaven.

"So we have faith, hope and love, the but the greatest of these is love."

Over the Hump 06/26/2019

The word forgiveness conjures up many thoughts and ideas in our heads, but each one of us, hopefully, have struggled with having to ask for forgiveness or give it when someone asks us to forgive them. That is the way it should work but it doesn't. Most of it, goes on in our head, "of course I have forgiven that person" (and the energy is still there and the other person has no idea you have forgiven him or her). 

I know God has forgiven me. How? "Of course we have patched things up, but no one has apologized." We all carry some of that un-forgiveness inside of us and either it is transformed or transmitted. We either deal with it and change or we transmit it to those around us. We take it out on our partners, children and others. Forgiveness is in the concrete, not in magic thinking, 

I observed the power of forgiveness at a Christian Conference in Kansas City many years ago. There were about 75,000 in attendance and there were workshops in the various hotels in the city. One afternoon in the Muehlbock Hotel in the basement a big crowd of Jewish Christians were gathered to hear teaching from a Rabbi. In the course of the teaching, an old man walked up the aisle and asked to say a word to the gathering. I quote, "my name is _____ and I was a Nazi officer, served at Aushwitz and killed many of your family members and I humbly ask you to forgive me. Many rose from their seats embraced the man and assured him of forgiveness. The Rabbi got a bowl of water, bent over and washed the mans' feet.

Many of us left the room that afternoon with a new understanding of the power of forgiveness, for we had felt that power of forgiveness.

Over the Hump 06/19/2019


Last week, I mentioned a boy who almost got me thrown off of my High School baseball team. He was from our rival school. He was right, in his complaint and I got lucky and was not dropped from the team. 

Needless to say I had no use for this guy. A couple of years later, in college and in a fraternity, I was told about this guy from my hometown who was a good prospect for my fraternity and they wanted me to rush him. It was that same guy and I did not want to have much to do with him, but I did a bit of getting to know him and he joined the fraternity. Over the years we became friends, roomates, and spent a good bit of time together. I graduated to seminary and he to law school. 

He worked for the State Dept. during the Watergate scandal and was called to testify. He returned to our home state in a bad state of mind. We spent time talking, he joined my denomination and over the next 45 years or so we ministered together and by now were best friends. I officiated at his marriage. He saw me through a time of a meltdown. He was a critic of the Church for he had very high expectations and at first did not understand "feet of clay". He was a gentle critic and became one of the best leaders in his church.

His life was coming to an end when he discovered he had cancer. We spent as much time as possible together since we lived apart, and I was with him the last week and day of his life. I alone, was with him when he drew his last breath. 

His name was Dick Wise, and a bit of me died that day as well. I have his picture on my desk to remind me daily of his presence in my life. I am so glad that I did not let the first impression rob me one of the greatest relationships in my life.

Over the ump 06/12/2019

Is it Luck? or Gods' Grace? 

Back in High School several of my fast pitch softball friends got together and formed a team. We called ourselves This Pueblo Businessmen Assoc. We raised money in a section of town that had many small busnesses. We raised enough to pay the entry into a mens' league and to buy tee shirts. We had a great pitcher. We did not win many, but we had fun. 

At that same time I was playing on the varsity baseball team in high school. There was a regulation, then, that one could not play but one sport in the spring and playing elsewhere was a no,no with stiff

punishment, and I think, I knew it. One night as we played a member of the other high school was there and we were scheduled to play his school the following weekend. The day of the game between the two schools, the boy started yelling there is that softball player. He yelled it several times. The coach of the other team heard him and asked about it. The boy said "Yes, I saw him playing softball the other night, The other coach told my coach, and my coach came to me. I fessed up and he immediately benched me. 

A letter had to be written to some High school people to see if I was still eligible. If I was, I could continue to play, if found guilty, no playing and we would have to forfeit every game I had played in. The letter came back and they said I was eligible but not to bright.

The only thing that saved me, the game I had been seen playing, was a practice game, a forfeit. Luck? Gods' Grace? 

We went on to win the Colorado State Baseball State Championship. I can't imagine where I might be if my team had to suffer the loss of the games I had played in. 

Next week I will tell you about the boy and why he ratted on me.

Over the Hump 06/05/2019

There have been a lot of tornados this past week and from the footage, that we have all seen, they are devastating. 

We may remember some in Oklahoma a few years back. At the time several of us were working with some of the Homeless in Dallas, in a fellowship called "The Gathering". We took about 8 or more of our members to assist in the recovery process. 

We showed up "the homeless, helping the homeless". What an experience it was for us. We walked the neighborhoods and helped where we could. I remember one of our brothers who knocked on a door and a woman answered and just asked if he could cut her lawn. Others of us picked up trash and did other little things as we could. 

We were put up in a shelter and we showered at the local L.A. Fitness Center. The looks on the faces and the tears that came into the eyes of those we helped, especially when they learned who we were, touched us all. 


Over the Hump 05/29/2019

I just received the latest email message from a man I met years ago, in Dallas, at a large Church where I worked for several years. 

In his email, he shared with his readers his visit with his wife to Disneyland, and how they enjoyed many of the activities offered. He described his trip on a rough ride "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey". "You were all over the place, on your back, on your belly", where he thought he would fall off but the chairs held him in. His name is Duncan Holmes, and he is a professional Piano player. When we met he was playing piano for worship at the Church where I worked. It was a joy to watch his fingers fly over the keys with speed and dexterity. What made him so special to all of us was the fact that he is blind and has been since birth and he has never seen a keyboard. He is a devout Christian and not afraid to share his views. When he plays concerts, he gives credit to God for his talent and I have never heard him complain about not seeing.

What an example for me, and I am privileged to call Duncan a friend. We had one thing in common on his trip to Disneyland; The "Small World Ride"

He almost fell off getting on and I cried for it was a great experience for me.

Over the Hump 05/22/2019

This weekend I will put on the old running shorts, on an old man and run the Polkafest 5K. As an ex-marathon runner, a 5k should be easy. But age does take a toll on the body. The upside of age, is that I usually win, for no one else in my age group shows up. 

Running for me is almost a spiritual experience. The race takes on a life of its own so for a time I can just enjoy the moments, and the other runners, some of whom have been a great real inspiration to me. 

I was running in Dallas and at about mile 9, I noticed three guys passing me. One was holding hands with the man in the middle and the other on the other side talking to the man in the middle. As they passed I noticed that the guy in the middle was blind, and he was running faster than I was. I picked up the pace but could not catch him. I later learned that the blind man was named Harry. He had written a book about his life and how he dealt with his blindness. 

In later races when I felt like quitting, I thought about Harry. He gave me the incentive not to quit. I never met the other man who inspired me, but I did get the story. The guy has lost his legs in Vietnam, but decided to scoot the New York marathon with his arms, and what were left of his legs.

Someone discovered him during the race, knowing is would take days to finish the race. He was put up during the night and then back on the course during the day. A week later as he entered Central Park, the finish line was set up again and he got quite an ovation when crossing the finish. I wish I had been there. 

Perhaps we should all look back and remember those who gave us the examples of courage and the incentive not to quit when the times get tough. Come to think of it, we could thank them, if they are still alive.

Over the Hump 05/15/2019

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing an older lady by the name of Gert Behenna give a talk entitled "God is not Dead" in which she shared her life story of great wealth, acute alcoholism, two failed marriages, two kids, one suicide attempt (forty seconal's on an empty stomach).

A psychiatrist suggested that she meet a couple who had had similar lives and had changed. She made sure she was drunk when she met them, but she remembered one thing they said to her. "Gert, it seems you have a lot to carry, why don't you let God help you carry it." Later at home she recalled those words, fell to her knees and said, "God if you are there, I could sure use some help."

That began a process of change in her life. Next, she was introduced to Rev. Sam Shoemaker, an Episcopal Minister, who just so happened to be the one who helped Bill Wilson and Dr. Smith write the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. So between her new found faith and her involvement in A.A. She wrote a book "The Late Liz", cut the record of her story, and traveled all over the country telling that story.

A couple examples of her humility, she said she used to complain when she used a dirty restroom somewhere and even complained to God. One day in a restroom that was not to clean she complained once to often. She heard God say, Gert, I use that bathroom too, perhaps you should clean it for the next person. (She did from then on). Another quip, "sin is like kleenex, as one puts up another follows right behind it".

I had the honor of bringing her to the town I was serving in, to share her story. She arrived late to the motel, and I was nervous for we had a crowd that would be waiting. She said, please go get me a bottle of water and a pack of cigarettes (she still did smoke) and handed me a bill to pay for the items. I told her everything was on us, but in her style, she explained. She would pay for her own defects. 

Later in the hall she touched the lives of many with her story, and I was one of them.

Over the Hump 05/08/2019

Coincidences are Gods' way of being 'anonymous'

For a time some years ago, I worked part-time for a Psychologist in Dallas in a large building with 8 floors. There was a room on one floor that served as the copy room, supply room and also the coffee room. 

From time to time, I would run into a lady from down the hall. We had what you would call a nodding relationship. As time went by, we would speak and one day we began to share a bit about where we had come from. I was raised in Colorado and so was she. We seemed to be about the same age (without my asking). We talked about high school and I finally asked here about her spiritual background. Surprise, it was the same as mine. She then mentioned she had attended a Church camp in the past which just happened to be the same one that I attended. She mentioned that she had met a boy that she liked very much who had a strange nickname, "plumber." "Thats' me." I exclaimed.

Now, for the rest of the story. That very day her oldest son was going to prison for attempted murder. That prison happened to be one that some of my friends were taking part in a ministry called KAIROS. I was able to contact my friends who were ready to welcome him to the prison when he arrived and he later took part in one of their weekends. My newly found old friend, later even adopted a another "man in white" and lives near some of the prisons here in Texas. Chance meeting? I think not!

Over the Hump 05/01/2019

We read many words today that describe and categorize people. Some are positive, but many are negative and over used. "Retards", "deplorables" "nerds" and "white trash" and some words for other ethnic persons which cannot be printed here. 

I sometimes wonder what ever happened to "born in the image of God" in our culture today?

Courtesy of a teacher's story in one of the "Chicken Soup series," sheds some light on one of those words. She writes on her first day as a teacher it was going so well and teaching would be a breeze. That is until the 7th period. As she walked to the room, she heard furniture crashing and found one boy pinning down another on the floor saying, "I don't give a _ _ _ _ about your sister". She was trying to quiet them down when another teacher stuck his head in and shouted at her students to sit down, shut up, and do what the teacher says. 

She tried to teach the lesson, and when the students were leaving she stopped the kid who had started the fight. "Lady, don't waste your time," he said, "We're the 'retards'. Then he left the room. Her day was ruined and she reconsidered the teaching bit. 

In talking to the other teacher she got a history on the class. There were 14 int he class and the other teacher said don't bother with them for they will never graduate anyway. They live in shacks, they are migratory labor, they come to school when they feel like it, just keep them busy and quiet, and if they cause any trouble, send them to me. 

She could not get the word "retard" out of her mind. Next day she returned to the class room and wrote ECINAJ on the board. "That's my first name, can anyone tell me what it is?"

"Weird," they said. She went to the board again and wrote JANICE, that was her name, and she then told the class she was dyslexic and in school she could not write her name correctly. She was labeled "retarded" and could still hear the voices and feel the shame. One of the kids asked why she became a teacher. She told the kids she hated labels, was not stupid, and loved learning. She went on to say that this class was no longer about "retards". "If you want to remain, 'retard,' then change classes, but we will never hear the word in this class, for there not any retards in this class room". Janice was serious and worked with the kids and worked them hard.

The months flew by. The kids learned to read. They became concerned about how they talked and so began grammar as well.

Summer was coming and Janice was planning a marriage and a move, and the students were agitated about her leaving, and she wondered if they were angry at her leaving. 

On the last day of school, the stern Principal greeted Janice and asked her to follow him, that there was a problem with her room. "What now," she wondered. It was amazing. There were sprays of flowers in each corner, flowers on each student desk, filing cabinets, and a huge spray on her desk. With them being poor, how had they pulled it off?

The boy who had started the fight, worked part-time in a flower shop. He had asked the florist for the "tired" flowers in the shop. Then he called the Funeral homes, explained his class needed flowers, and they agreed to give him flowers saved after each funeral. The real tribute came later when all 14 graduated and 6 earned scholarships. 

I was deeply touched by this story for I too, had some learning difficulties as a child. We also had a class in Jr. High called the Opportunity Class. It was a class of 'retards' and I was always curious as I peeked into their class for time to time. I hope they were treated well but that was a long time ago and times have changed.

Humans, if they hear labels about themselves especially negative ones come to believe them. I am constantly remind myself to use positive ones. 


Over the Hump 04/24/2019

If you visit Scarborough Fair this year, the first booth on your left as you enter the gate is the St. Thomas Brass Rubbing booth. 

The church as begun a brass rubbing program in Ennis, we are letting people do some rubbing of their own and selling some already done.

We have learned a lot of Medieval history and some amusing things as well. In those days much family bathing was done in a huge tub. The men went first, followed by the women

and lastly the children. By that time the water was very dirty and thus came the saying, "don't thrown the baby out with the the bath water." Houses had thatched roofs thick with straw piled high with no wood underneath and it was a place where the cats and dogs, and other small animals could get warm so they lived in or on the roof. When it rained it became slippery and the animals would fall. Thus the saying. "its raining cats and dogs."

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?

Over the Hump 04/17/2019

I had a hero some years ago who ran a shelter for the homeless. As I got to know his place, I wished I could stay in one, to see what it was like. 

An opportunity presented itself when my denomination had a convention in Texarkana some years ago. I dressed down, wore old clothes and checked into the shelter there. Later, as I was having dinner, a clergy friend of mine walked in with a woman from his church who wanted to share her testimony with those of us gathered there.

I signaled my friend not to blow my cover. The lady finished her talk, prayed for us and left. I spent the night on the floor and being the new person there I was assigned to mop the floor before leaving in the morning.

With that completed, I left, got my ride back to my motel to change into my clerical garb for the convention (felt a bit like superman), got the the convention, got in the coffee line and just in front of me was the lady who had spoken to us the night before. 

The look on her face when she saw me was priceless, and so was my visit to a homeless shelter. It was a great experience, and one I will never forget. I learned more that night on the floor with others and sharing with them, than taking a course in homelessness.