Ramblings from the Cove...

January 2012

By Lars Gren

Now that you are recovering from a most enjoyable Christmas (at least I hope it was) I hope you are celebrating the entrance into 2012. Should you bear to read this you will see that it is a bit of a recap for the year with only a few things left unsaid. You will come to the reasoning that it was quiet for the most part and no major difficulties and for that, we are thankful to God. Since this was written in December, you will please pardon the use of certain words that should by now be put in the past tense.

Yes, there are still churches doing "singing Christmas trees" during this festive season, while others are content with a lovely manger scene in front of the church. Perhaps some enjoy the annual Christmas concert along with a stable scene off on stage left or right, complete with a few bewildered sheep. But who of you have ever heard of a live walking Christmas tree? Well three cheers for that tree. No, it is not a fable neither a children’s story such as the ones that Elisabeth read on Gate Way to Joy. This walking Christmas tree happened on Christmas day, in the dark year of 2011, when the "powers to be" declared that there would be no Christmas-Kwanzaa-Hanukkah emblems, songs or what ever else might hint at some Religious celebratory day. Now you might ask what Scrooge or Christmas Grinch came up with that ban to bash the holiday spirits of those who enjoy whatever they deem the season of glad tidings to be in the name of political correctness. Ah you say, it has to be the ACLU; they are ever present peering into the affairs of men. Not so, nor was it some federal agency or a ruling by the State… but by the decision of the Staten Island Ferry board to preclude any ornaments or decorations whatsoever (along with music of the season) in its terminal. It only makes people realize that insanity reigns in trying to placate all people in all things. In the midst of this I say three cheers to the man who took umbrage at the absurdity of the ruling and scoured the rule book on proper attire for entry into the terminal or passage on the ferry. (It used to be the best water crossing for a nickel, and now, since 1997, it’s an even a better deal—absolutely free for passengers!) Finding nothing prohibiting a costume, he came aboard decked out as a living Christmas tree. (It may still be seen on the internet, and it’s worth your time to search on YouTube for “Walking Christmas tree. Funniest.”) He made the papers and he was received by other passengers in good holiday spirits; greeted as the young say with, “High Fives.” I wonder what sort of a fellow he is? Had he lived in Colonial days he would have said, “Westward Ho, we are left without individuality. “ This surely brought sadness to our thoughts of Christmas, but we were cheered as we past the hamlet of Hinkley, Ohio, where a very prominent and lovely manger scene is displayed on the property of the town hall and fire station. At least in this part of the country there seems to be some sanity and less worry about political correctness.

You may wonder why we’re in Ohio? It is our second stop on our Christmas “tour,” visiting friends. Earlier we had a delightful few days with Jane Hawthorn, (who is Jim Elliot’s sister) living in Wheaton, Illinois. She had recently returned from Peru visiting her brother Burt, and sadly he is not doing as well as he was when Elisabeth, Dani and I were there in February. That particular trip followed, by the way, the memorable event of 2011, which occurred in Jacksonville Florida—that being my accomplishment of doing a somersault to start down a flight of stairs. The bumpy ride was slowed towards the end by crashing into Dani’s leg, who had not expected me to descend in such a fashion. From that event until the present it has been rather a blur of a year with less memorable events than when Elisabeth had speaking engagements.

We did manage to see four lovely brides in white traipsing down the isle this year—two of those being granddaughters, Evangeline and Christiana. Then there was Kendalyn, who had been the first one to come and help me with Elisabeth’s care in August of 2009. (We were pleased to meet her and Dani in Chicago on this trip and have a sort of “mini reunion” of caretakers with Elisabeth also in attendance. We reminisced about odd moments and conversational interchanges with Elisabeth as well as hearing the good news that Kendalyn is to join the ranks of motherhood in May of 2012.) The fourth bride was Lauren Bell from Dallas who we have known for the past 14 years of our being involved with a program called EXCEL through the Bill Gothard organization. Neither bride nor groom had living grandparents and we were totally surprised at being listed on the program as honorary grandparents a kind and sweet memory. The weddings required individual trips to Alabama, Virginia, and two in Texas but not near enough in dates to make it a single trip. All of them went off without a hitch and nothing as exciting happened as it did one time when at a wedding some years ago I heard a crash near the altar; the best man had keeled over backwards in a dead faint! I could have understood it better had it been the groom, and wondered if perhaps the best man had been sweet on the bride and was reacting to love’s labors lost. As merely a spectator, I’ll never know.

The last Texas trip brought the past to the present when along with our friend Margaret Ashmore from Denton joined us to visit the Tex Ritter museum in Carthage, TX. Now if you get to that hamlet stop in and reminisce of the days when Roy Rogers and of course Dale Evans and Buttermilk could be seen on the silver screen. Listen to recordings of Tex Ritter and others along with memorabilia of Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, Gene Autry, Patsy Cline, (Elisabeth’s favorite country singer who she could imitate to perfection) as well as others who made a name in movies and country music. Margaret thought that it was a near perfect day even though it was a bit of a drive from Denton. For me it took me back to MS. Where on Saturdays we would leave Catahoula and head for the “metropolis” of Picayune where at times I would take in the double feature plus cartoons as well as the news all for 15 or 25 cents depending on age. It was a few hours of delving into the remains of the past and most enjoyable.

Now that you’re thoroughly bored, I’ll just add that we have only had a couple of falls in the past year with no consequences other than that when I heard the “thud” it did bring on a sudden fear of possible broken bones. Physically we’re doing pretty well. We have had no “replacement parts” and do not anticipate any in the future unless there are unforeseen circumstances. You can pray for us, that we will do daily what is “put on our plate” in the right spirit of acceptance.

At a retreat once a woman exclaimed to Elisabeth that, “It must be wonderful to be able to read your own writings!” (Referring, of course, to some of her books.) To that, I heard Elisabeth reply, “It is like chewing on stewed Kleenex.” Looking at this drivel, I feel the same way and will have mercy on you by ending with a “thank you” for your many kind greetings. May God grant you a wonderful 2012 (… along with a new resident in D.C.!) And that’s it from the Cove.

And that’s it from The Cove.

God bless y'all,

Lars

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