Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"History Lesson" by Jeff Coomer

History Lesson

By Jeff Coomer 

My grandfather left school at fourteen
to work odd jobs until he was old enough
to join his Lithuanian kin chipping
anthracite out of the Pennsylvania hills.
Nine hours a day with five hundred feet
of rock over his head, then an hour's
ride home on the company bus
to a dinner of boiled cabbage and chicken.
When the second big war broke
he headed “sout,” as he pronounced it,
for better work in the blast furnaces
churning out steel along the shores
of the Chesapeake. Thirty-two years
and half an index finger later he retired
to a brick rancher he built with his own hands
just outside the Baltimore city line.
The spring he got cancer and I got a BA
from a private college we stood under
a tree in his backyard while he copped
a smoke out of my grandmother's sight.
“Tell me, Pop,” I said, wanting to strike up
a conversation, “how did you like
working in the mills all those years?” 
He studied my neatly pressed white shirt,
took a long drag on his cigarette and spit a fleck
of tobacco near my shoes. “Like,” he said,
“didn't have a thing to do with it.”

Saturday, September 30, 2017

And here is why I made that gift .....

A few hours ago now, I bunked into a friend who had a confidential update to tell me - which included the returning of something of mine she had borrowed.  The shortest version (and the most respectful of someone else's storytime) is - I so completely surprised her by making a gift of the loan-er, she - as they say here in the deep South - 'fell about my neck' .....

People who know me well, know how deeply and emotionally sentimental and attached I become to physical objects: especially those whose history I know as intimately as I know my own!  I've dragged things halfway across the country and back again, unused, because I had such an emotional bonding with them ....

.... Sure, there have been crunch times when I had to let go of something, or God specifically told me - give X to Y, Jean.  But - more often than not - what has always, always made that easier for me to let go of something is knowing it's going to get a home.   This item, I know, is going into a building that's going to be a place of "we love each other and so we're living HERE", that is going to have - in addition to all of that! - beauty (a mutual friend referred to her gardening as 'a Garden of Eden!')  and good cooking .... loved ones all around who shall, most likely, love this item, too! .... even a beautiful kitty-cat who looks like a near relative to my Delilah and Big Mama (and yeahhh we discussed Big Mama's using this friend's bird feeder as her "takeout diner" ;- )  --

-- in other words --

a home 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

That September 23d buzz

I've become aware that there is an ongoing buzz in the Christian community, because - in there close reading of Scriptures - some are saying that September 23d (which is two days hence from when I am typing this out - a Saturday, when a good deal of people are sleeping in, from staying up late on Friday's payday) the Rapture is going to happen .... I'm going to add my two cents, from my own experience on this :

By the time I was in my early twenties, I knew one certain thing about a dear friend of mine I'll call Lauren:  that - even if our politics were sometimes as opposite as LBJ and the hippies screaming 'Hey hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today?' -- her Biblical knowledge was so deep, it rivaled someone like Jack Van Impe !  Therefore, when she called me very excited, and said it was Book-based and I needed to rearrange my life and come down and see her almost immediately, I did so --

-- Lauren sat me down and showed me -- just as she had everyone that she knew - how her Biblical studies and knowledge had revealed that X date on the calendar was going to be The Rapture.  The End for all Christians.  The Holy New Beginning!

It was 2 weeks hence.

Oh.  OH!   I not only cleaned my room and even cleaned my car - both very rare events for me, especially my poor car! -- I cleaned up my side of the street - i.e. made amends as much as I could; made sure people knew that I loved them AND while being sensitive to denominational divides, made SURE they knew that God loved them, too.  

You can say I was as fully prepped, as possible -- I even made sure I had nothing on my agenda for that day, no special place ON THIS EARTH THAT IS! I was expected to be, because - after all!  I wasn't going to be HERE ;>

X calendar day arrived.  And concluded.  And I was still in Edison, NJ, albeit with a much cleaner personal environment! but

I was so upset, so jarred, that I couldn't even call Lauren and demand to know why?!  what happened?!  (There was even a small part of me that was terrified I would call her house and no one would answer and --- yeahhhh.)  So instead I called Lauren's mother ... she was a substantial Christian!  IF she was still here - well, then!  

Then she could tell me why we were ALL STILL HERE?!!

"Jean," she said in a very calm, very reasonable voice - one that sticks with me to this very day, thirty-odd years later, especially relevant with another big X on the calendar that is supposed to be my earth school graduation///finish up here, date! ---"Jean ... look at Lauren's life"  she named some things we both knew all about "wouldn't you, too, be pining and eager to find a Godly exit from all of that?!!!!"

Indeed, indeed ...