Ramblings from the Cove...

April 2008

By Lars Gren

While tossing to and fro in sleeplessness during the small hours of the morning one may have deep thoughts. Those "gems" seem so relevant and full of meaning yet they are not up to the standard of those that steal into the subconscious mind, which is never silent but ever grinding away even in the midst of delightful sleep. I suppose one could call those “dream thoughts. You wake up with that satisfied feeling of needing to share that revelation with friends far and wide. It must not be lost. "Where is the pen and paper? Never mind I'll remember it well in the morning." Then dawn breaks and what is there in the mind but memory about as exciting as the sand in an hour glass. But awake or asleep I should not be surprised by the lack of thoughts at all, for years ago when I came up from my basement office, in Hamilton, ten miles or so from Magnolia, I said to Elisabeth, "I have a thought." Her instance response was, "Well, hang on to it it’s in a strange place." I do not believe that she ever majored in building up a husband's self image. Perhaps on the first two but there is no way to ascertain that. Now before you jump to saying, "What an awful thing to say" I thought it was one of the best one liners that she came up with and over the years it has been told and retold by me. Oh yes, there was another good one but it was I who had the reply on that occasion, "I was trying to explain something and evidently doing a poor job of it so that at some point she said, “ You know it's clarity that we aim for.” My retort, 'Yes, but it's stupidity that we got.'" One day I said,”I think I look at things a bit skewed and I do have a sort of weird sense of humor in seeing the absurdity of taking oneself too seriously.” She did not take issue with me on that revelation. After all it is an asset to be able to laugh at oneself such as the time when there was a "poor" empty shoebox on the bedroom floor to be put into the trash and prior to my “picking” on it, some words were exchanged between us in a displeasing way and the box caught my eye whereupon in foolishness I gave it a mighty kick across the room into the wall. It was none the worse for the kick and I said "Now that was a dumb thing to do." Elisabeth was quick to agree with me and we had a good laugh. (Yes, I did say that I was sorry for such an outburst.)

But are their times when one has to laugh at the gullibility of folks or at the heights that one goes to make a statement or do one-upmanship. In February we were on a flight to Trujillo, Peru where Jim Elliot's brother Bert and Colleen, his wife, live as they continue in their 59th year as missionaries. For want of anything else I flipped through the airline magazine and came to an offer that most of you will resist but, "Fool's rush where------," hence the offer, "Dinner in the Sky." There dressed in black and white, perched on a platform, suspended by a gigantic crane 150 feet over a historic European city, sat 21 guests in revolving chairs for their eight hour session for either a meeting or just a social get together for lunch and dinner. Yes, the Belgium company supplies the chef, waiter and a host plus a photographer, light show and music may be added at a slightly higher tariff then the normal 1,500 Euros. The location is movable the only requirement is for an open air space of 500 meters. A castle lawn, golf course, or the center of a European metropolis will do. Those who have tried it, said the article, will tell you that its lots of fun you just have to let go and forget that your feet are dangling in mid-air. No it did not mention the availability of the WC. With Americans spending $15 billion on bottled water--I may have bought three bottles--small--when extra dry on a trip and never in a restaurant--one could guess that some savvy marketers or are they protégés of P.T. Barnum--would come up with a sure sale for those who equate water with purity. There is a water purported to actually make you good--think I'll go for a gallon a day--there are also 10 different Christian labels. Spiritual Water helps people to, "stay focused, believe in yourself and believe in God." There is one blessed by an Anglican or Catholic priest. Like a rosary or crucifix it is a daily reminder to be kind to one another. There is the Virgin Mary bottle with the Hail Mary prayer printed on it. Other varieties contain vibrations the gives you a positive outlook and perhaps the best of all is the one that posses an energy field that Mazursky--the bottler--makes by striking a giant gong with a Tibetan bowl in its vicinity and even better is that the producers say that fewer people will discard these bottles because they do not want to discard images of Jesus or Mary. Instead they refill the bottle and thus help save the environment. Oh, spare us such reasoning. P.T.B. was right, “There is a----born every minute.”

But to return to a day in Peru. Bert and I were running a few errands and I noticed that since our last visit there has been a building boom in the condo or apartment residences. The economy seems well enough to support the water bottle craze yet on any street where there are businesses there will be young boys that appear quickly to wipe the windows and watch your car for a small tip. Others are in the street selling candies. At another intersection while the red light stops the traffic, there is another boy doing hand springs and other quick maneuvers before working the line for a handout. A two block stretch near the house is where we get the fruit and vegetables--no not from a store—sold at a series of stalls in the space of a long narrow garage where you can also view the chickens being cut up or the beef cuts all laid on the counter that is also a landing site for flies and of course no coolers—Colleen gets hers from a normal supermarket. I guess it is best to come early in the morning before the temp climbs. Toward the end of the stands a shoe repairman has his 3 buy 5 stall there and where for $3.00 I now walk on boots with new soles and heels and well done too. Across the way a couple of ladies offered hot lunch served on dishes washed in a way that would not pass a close inspection. Seating was increased by putting a small table and chairs in the aisle but after all they were the last in the stretch of stands. But what would they say to me if I gave them the pitch for a, “Dinner in the Sky?”

On another day we had a note from Bruce Nisley—Elisabeth’s brother Jim’s son-in-law who with his family is serving with Food for the Hungry in Uganda. Here is a part of his note, “Our destination was Piswa at the foothills of Mt. Elgon—3rd highest peak in Africa at 14,000 feet—when we arrived I was both enthralled and saddened. The scenery is a beautiful rolling landscape scarred by mismanagement. The area 20 years ago was a native forest which is now clear cut for fields plowed by oxen exposing the fertile soil to lethal erosion. The view of poverty here is devastating. Children dressed in clothes that we wouldn’t even keep for rags—many are filthy because of lack of water—water has to be hauled from great distances, sometimes miles— no shoes. They sat or stood waiting for up to two hours just to get two cheesy notebooks and a pencil.” Some of the worst poverty I have seen.” Even if these children receive an education it is not a guarantee for giving them a future, writes Bruce. Many of the vendors and kiosk operators are graduates from the best universities in Africa and those who cannot find jobs try for the day labor market with a pay of 60 cents per day. When I read this I thought, “What would they say if approached by Mazursky, to purchase bottled water that could make you good or one to give you a positive outlook or make you believe in yourself?

Having read the article and later Bruce’s letter I wondered—yes while awake—“Is God, looking over the “parapet of heaven and laughing at the absurdity of some who are trying to make a “statement” while crying for those, who are not concerned for some blessed bottle of water or one which will give good vibration, but only that they have water.

Saddest, of all perhaps, is that had I not written down my thoughts while in Peru, the impact of this would have left me in a day or maybe a few days and even now, what have I offered? And that’s it from the Cove

God bless y'all,

L and E

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