It’s all downhill from here.

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I use to love to ride my bike.  I have not enjoyed that for a long time.  But there was a time.  Century rides (100 miles) in Colorado… Denver to Colorado Springs.  The Springs to the Royal Gorge.  Long, grueling rides.  And the very best part… coasting at some ridiculously dangerous speed heading down the mountain.  Tuck down low and let it all out.  It was like flying for me.

The climb was a GRIND.  But, I love going downhill.  I won’t lie to you.  I feel the wind in what little hair I have when I head downhill.  And unexpected small stings on my forehead and cheeks.  It reminds me of an old joke my Mom told me once… or several times.  “How do you tell you are talking with a happy motorcyclist?”   How?  “By the bugs in his teeth?”  I love going downhill.

I am now an urban dweller.. I don’t really ride anymore.  My life on 2 wheels has been traded in for romps around the park with 4-legged companions.  But every once in a while I return to the hills.

I arrived in front of the school this morning.  Fridays are the days I teach/advise at a high school work study program.  I am always the first to arrive on Friday.  I open the school, prepare for the student arrival… enjoy a cup of coffee.   It is coasting at a slow pace.  I nice time of the day.  Today was different.

I park my car as always,  at the curb by the front door.  Coffee in hand, I retreat to the rear of my car and pop the trunk.  I have a few items to carry in this morning.  While bending oer and head inside the trunk… there is a voice.  I look at me phone… did I butt dial someone.  Nope.  Screen is blank.  I return to retrieving my trunk treasure.  The voice from nowhere… again I check my phone.  NADA, nothing.  And again the voice.  And I do a 180 to discover a woman in a wheel chair.

“Good Morning” say I.

“Good Morning, do you know where the library is?”  I am asked.

I do, and we chat for just a moment.  I know where I am.  I know without looking, as I face her, what is now to my back for the next three blocks.  She is facing it.  I am remembering it. It is a gentle walk for someone on foot.  But it is all uphill.

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“How can I help you?”  She responded, “Can you help me up this hill?”  And so it began.  Our 3 block relationship.  We did not converse, other than for me to share with here the location of the Tulsa Downtown Library.  One block, two blocks, Three blocks, FREE.

It’s all downhill from here, farewell.

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Enjoy the wind in your face.  And the bugs in your teeth.

 

 

Are you Pro-Choice….

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could. . . .”     Robert Frost

I hear the arguments.  I feel the passion, and know the venom.  It is visceral and it is getting more intense every day.  Or so it seems to me.  It is often so ugly.  Seemingly sane people quickly become just the opposite.

I don’t think I know a person that is without a side on the question… “Are YOU pro-choice?” And I expect in this approaching election year in the United States that I will hear this question asked multiple times.  Probably Every day.  EVERY FRICKEN DAY!!

Are you pro-choice?

Someone will  preach or teach or beseech or overreach.

Someone will hate or relate or debate or instate.

Some will hide, some will chide.

Certainly someone will get hurt.

Because all too often I only want to hear or do what I want to hear or do.

So in the shadow of this questioning.  I boldly make this statement.  I am pro-choice because God is pro-choice.

I don’t mind if you don’t believe in God… that is your choice.  I do believe in Him, that is my choice.  I don’t mind if you stop reading now… that is your choice.  I will continue to write… that is my choice.

I am pro-choice because God is PRO-CHOICE.    God has always been for choices.  It is in choices that freedom flourishes.  Believers can choose to believe.  Atheists are free to say no.  I hear all the time, people exclaim “this is a free country, I can choose what I want to choose.”  Well let me say, if ever there was an argument for this country being created in the image of the glory of God, for me it is resident in that very freedom to choose.  Freedom of choice,  pro-choice, is among the most Godly and holy of my life experiences.

What I find to be the forgotten factor.  There are consequences to both good and bad choices.  People who are not necessarily believers use politically correct labels…. like Karma. But call it whatever you would like to call it… Call it nothing at all… Call it the Truth… Call it a lie… What you call it is your choice.

I can’t pretend that what I choose is not without consequences.  I have spent decades chasing and honing and narrowing down what I believe.  I have spent decades making good and bad choices.  I have made both types of choices in the past day I am certain.

Consequences are the fruit of our decisions.  Plant an apple seed, I expect an apple tree.  Plant an apple seed, will I wonder where the oranges are.    Spend your day angry…. guess what fruit you will bear.

You can call it coincidence.  You can say it is a random occurrence.  If you wonder why things are as they have become…. well just continue to wonder.  I don’t necessarily have an answer that can address a one pointed question.  I can’t explain why some things are what they have become.  “It is what it is.”  This is the harvest of my generation..  But is it really?  Could it be that it is what it is as a RESULT of a Choice?   Could my obesity be the result of my bad food and exercise choices?  Or is it what it is because of a bad gene pool?  “Damn, where did all this fat come from?”

And so I return to look at the choices I have made.  Choices made freely, most often without care, frequently without advice of friends.  Some made habitually, some learned and repeated, some learned and ignored, all are choices.  God guaranteed my my ability and right to choose.  And so it is written…..

“The Choice of Life or Death  Deuteronomy 30:18-20”
…I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Yup… you got the Power in the Choice.  Choose Blessing or curse, receive life or death.  God is so Pro-choice.  Some things with God are indeed a mystery.  What I believe he sets before me is to make choices that will bring glory and a life abundant.

God is Pro-choice!

Choose Life! So choose life in order that you may live…

The God I know is Pro-Life.

It is what it is.

 

Somewhere under the rainbow…..

Somewhere under the rainbow…..Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet….

I see them everywhere.   Rainbow colors.   They are not thought of as the marker to a pot of gold.   They are rarely connected to unicorns anymore,  They are, it seems, the new representative of the unspoken acceptance of a now “legal” lifestyle.

So many folks have washed  their Facebook profile pictures with this rainbow flag symbol.

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We are it seems, awash in the rainbow spirit.  Are you “fer it or agin it?”  Whichever side is chosen, there will be arguments.  There will be stands taken.  There will be anger.  There will be joy.  There is the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”.   There will be divisions.  It is the the world we live in.

But wait there’s more……….

Somewhere under the rainbow another battle begins on an emotional, historical, and very real issue to so many.  It’s an exorcism in the making.  I sit in awe and wonder.   I am saddened.  I am not surprised.  A reason to rise and fight is often robed in many symbols.  I do not have the energy to judge it… I just observe the battle raging.  It will get uglier.

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We are it seems, awash in the rebel spirit.  Are you “fer it or agin it?”  Whichever side is chosen, there will be arguments.  There will be stands taken.  There will be anger.  There will be joy.  There is the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”.   There will be divisions.  It is the the world we live in.

And why do we fight…

Well here is my deal.. I am created in the image of God.  Therefore His character and His characteristics reside in me.  When I recognize that, and live that, and honor that… my life is more often filled with joy, with peace, with a desire to live in unity.

Here then are my 2 takeaways from all of this flag waving.

1.   John 13:35  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  the counterpoint… live in the spirit of division and people won’t know anything about God and His purpose for those who love Him……or those He desires to be with.

2.  Symbols have power.    Symbols do represent what people believe… because God set up symbols before me… it is what God does… it is part of His character… I am in that image, so are you.. I believe..  Why else would folks fight over a flag or a color scheme? Genesis 9:13.  I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.

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May you find peace under the rainbow.  May you know the covenant Maker.

Oh, yeah…. what the heck in indigo anyway?

A step away from my cowardice

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I saw a quote last week that I must paraphrase.  “How important must a person be to elevate their murder to being an assassination”  You get the drift.

“As Charleston gradually lays to rest nine shooting victims from last week’s church massacre” The report on the AP wire read.  And I say, Truly this is/was a planned act of randomly targeted hate and cowardice.

I was at one of those hotels this morning.  You know the ones that have rooms and also include a free breakfast in the little dining area.  This morning I was at one of those places. So I grab a biscuit, a glass of juice, and a cup of coffee..  and I sit to watch the morning news.  Most folks watch some sort of TV in the morning, The Today Show, Fox and friends, CBS whatever…….   I am not one of those watchers except in unique circumstances.  I sold my TV over 2 years ago.  This morning was a unique circumstance for me.

This morning’s television topic.  The Charleston massacre and the recent burning of 3 Black churches in the South.  And I began to cry.  This all makes me so sad.  This is a continuation and it is just the beginning of the atrocities I believe.  People hating people for no good reason.  I do not expect it to get better.  Cowards are everywhere.  If they were brave, like soldiers, they would put their names on their actions… and face the consequences.  Cowards take lighter fluid to ant hills.

When I was growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, I use to burn ant hills.  As a prepubescent, I would go to our garage, find the charcoal lighter fluid, find an ant hill, spray it with fluid, drop a lit match…. the ants never knew what hit them.  They would writhe in pain and die.  It was fun to do this.. until is was fun no longer.  I couldn’t stand the action.  What was I doing?  Why did I do it?  It made no sense to me.  It was planned act of randomly targeted hate and cowardice.  I walked away from my foolishness, my ignorance, my cowardice.

So I am enjoying my biscuit and juice and coffee.  I am not enjoying the news of the morning.  People killed by a coward.  Assassinated.  I am getting sadder.  I am in public.  My eyes are tearing up.  I am disgusted.  I am appalled.  I am filled with rage.  And suddenly I remember, I am not alone.  I look over to see the couple at the next table.  My God, it is THEM.  THEY are right fricken next to me, and they have seen my tears and sadness.

Should I run.  Should I hide.  Should I pretend I just had something in my eye.  Get up and leave?  What the f@#K should I do.  They are BLACK people, a Black couple, right next to me.

So I look them directly in the eyes… I put my name on it.  I look at them, and I know that they know that I know that they are Black people.  I say, “I am so sorry.”

And they say. “thank you.”

And in this moment, I walked away from my fear.  I am NOT a coward in the moment.  I am Bob Fulton, Man of God, lover of people, griever for those who suffer.

And we talk.  And we never ask each other’s names… we are hotel lobby friends.  Passers by and passers through.  But we talk from the heart.

He is a barber at a “black barber shop”  — his words

Since the church shooting he mentioned that a white guy had come to the shop last week and needed to use the restroom.  Very odd for a white guy to be in this neighborhood.  They said yes.  However they could not help but wonder if this stranger might be assembling a gun while in the restroom and come out shooting.  Copycat, copycat.  Nothing happened.  But he could not help but wonder.

He could not help but wonder if he would be in the room when the next coward came to visit a group of Black folks.  I was saddened that though he and his wife were absolutely at peace in the skin they lived…. there are people who hated them for skin pigmentation.

We spoke for about 15 minutes.

And I shook both their hands.  It was NOT a particularly brave moment for me.  But in that moment I was a coward no more.

Three people brave enough to be who we were suppose to be.

Today I lived…. A step away from my cowardice.

Creative interruptus

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I really don’t know what happened.  I mean I’d started with all good intentions. Check that, I started, with NO intentions but to try to write things I would enjoy.  Express  thoughts that I needed to put on paper.  I never thought I would have an audience.  So in November I began by opening the blog site and writing every day.   Funny stuff serious stuff mostly observations and experiences. And the words in sentences and paragraphs flowed easily from brain to publication day after day.

I was becoming a writer.  Why I am a writer.  Word after word into sentence into pattern.  I would post, and people would read, and I would get positive feedback and the world was spinning as it should.  I AM A WRITER, and then I was not.  Because a writer needs to write.  And I need to write and tell stories.  And I just can’t.

I am neither old nor young.. well when I was young I would have thought what I am now is old.  But since I am now what I am, I am neither old nor young.  And I have seen much, and every day I say, that should be written about.  It would make people laugh, or cry, or think, or cuss.  Whatever it is it will cause people to react… or it won’t.  But the fact is I will have written. I will have created.  I will have taken a blank sheet, and cluttered it with consecutive or associated thoughts and phrases.

At the culmination… a post on Facebook and Bedlam.  And then feedback.  And then if the trend continues as it once did, the reaction will trigger in me the hallelujah chorus… yes I AM a writer.  Hallelujah, I have written, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hal-le–lu-jah. (did you sing along?) I might be good, I might be bad, but I write therefore I am.  And with each succeeding and subsequent published piece the chorus quickens.  A building of blog upon blog… like Ravel’s Bolero, phrase building upon phrase a crescendo, a climax, a “smoke” and a search for the next topic.  I must feed this new passion.

And then one day not so long ago… the words stopped.  I was surrounded still by my dogs, and cats, and friends.  And the words stopped.  The stories did not disappear.  I am surrounded by stories.  But I realized I could not write and publish what was happening in my life.  It is very personal.  Not too personal that I would not share… if the stories were only about my animals or about me.  Or if I wrote for TMZ or People.  But I am not writing for those entities, and my subjects are not Kim and Kanye.  And I realized that to publish would be a “crime.”  The world is small.  People know people.  And all of my important stories would involve people who know people and I am called to be the keeper of secrets.  And so I had to withdraw.  Creative Interruptus!

Premature.  Creative Interuptus.  Stroke after Stroke I have wanted to write.  Passion building, my head lightens, my pulse quickens, I draw near to the keyboard and my mind went limp.  There was and is no medicine to stimulate the moment until now.

I cannot artificially write and birth a story.  It is a story or it is not.  And then I caught a glimpse of a lovely little companion out of the corner of my eye.  I was a beautiful story to me.  It was hard, and I was instantly hard pressed rush to the keyboard.  It was time to Write about not writing..  I had found my topic.  Head spinning, music pounding, key stroke, key stroke…. faster, faster, can I make it last just a moment longer.  Oh my God…. faster, faster….

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And so the love affair can continue.  And hopefully will continue.  Part of the process is to refocus, to write, to publish.  I need to learn what to do when there are performance issues. When I was young it was not an issue, there were always dorm room and campfire stories to be told and shared with whomever would listen.  My moral compass had not been set.   And now that I am not old I realize that what I love involves a kinder, gentler presentation.

And so the many stories I cannot share smolder within.  Perhaps someday they can come out and play.  If not I hope that the next blog will not be about not writing.

Hallelujah.