Untotaled: Stepping Five (May 8th, 1964)… March 8, 2014

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Her name was Cammie. (Well, actually, I assume it still is.)

She lived four doors down from me in a brick house with her mother and father–an only child.

I don’t know how I met her. I think our mothers were friends from a former time and felt it would be wonderful if we “played together.”

I was twelve, she was eleven. We had nothing in common. But once a week I walked down to her home and for an hour or so we did our best to strike up some sort of friendship.

On May 8th, 1964, I made the same journey. But this time, Cammie had a much more enthusiastic plan for our afternoon. It may have been initiated by her mother leaving us alone, as she went to the local IGA to purchase sweets and treats. Shortly after the departure of the maternal force, Cammie took me by the hand and led me to the front yard, where there were two pine trees growing by the bay windows–huge trees which had practically grown together to form one massive organism.

Pushing past the branches, she pulled me into the enclosure, completely secluded form the outside world. She lay on her side on the bed of needles and patted a space next to her, for me to join. I know it sounds silly, but I had no idea what was happening. Or maybe I did somewhere deep in my being, because I did not hesitate to comply.

As soon as I reclined, she leaned over and kissed me on the lips. I wanted to run, but of course, didn’t. She did it again and again. (Well, for the sake of brevity, it was seven times.)

In the midst of this onslaught of smooches, I noticed that my southern hemisphere suddenly came alive. My…well, my Australia pointed northwards to Indonesia. My longitude expanded without me giving latitude. I had lost control. Honest to God, at that point I wanted my Aussie to go back to looking on New Zealand.

I was terrified.

On the other hand, Cammie was curious. She came even closer, slowly reaching her hand towards my emerging continent. And then … bam! A brief eruption.

Horrified, mortified and delighted all at the same time, I stumbled to my feet, hobbled a few paces, burst through the branches and ran all the way home, the best I could.

I avoided seeing Cammie for the next three weeks. It became a religious exercise complete with my own form of repentance. When I finally asked my mother about the family, she explained that the reason I wasn’t going down to see Cammie was that her mother and father had taken a position in Lima, Peru, and they had moved.

I can’t explain the combination of relief and disappointment that flooded my being.  Time passed.

Two years later, Cammie returned to our town. She enrolled in our school.

I had grown.

Cammie, on the other hand, had grown more attractive.

We never connected again. I shall never forget her, though.

She is why I still smile when I see a kangaroo and giggle when I hear the word “eucalyptus.”

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Simplicity … February 17, 2013


GE DIGITAL CAMERAIt doesn’t happen very often.

When I first started traveling, as a young man, the invitations to go out to dinner with people after a show were much more frequent. Time moves on. Tastes change. The world shrinks in latitude while growing much more separate in attitude. But last night after I finished setting up my equipment, Handlee, Julio and Liz asked Janet and I to go out for a meal. It was weird–because my first inclination was to say no. Do you know why? I was scared.

Having not done it for some time, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle the chit-chat and the simple conversation without leaving dead spots–or making myself look like a dead spot. But I felt foolish.

Breaking bread is really what the original concept of “communion” was intended to be–people getting together, eating food and discussing their wonderful memories of life, the joy they’ve had in living and the power of their faith in Jesus.

It is one of those rare occasions when the heart, soul, mind and strength are allowed to co-exist and feed off the same experience, without starving out one of the members. The emotions are open to sharing heartfelt thoughts as the soul expresses belief, allowing for the mind to be renewed with new ideas, different perspectives or even foreign concepts. Simultaneously, the body is sitting there in ecstatic bliss, absorbing all the food and drink it desires to help maintain attention.

It is simply perfect. Because after all, perfection is simple, or it would be beyond our grasp and therefore, just a mean taunt from a nasty God. But God is not nasty. He is practical–so practical that He lived a human life just to make sure He understood and also to make sure it could be done with grace and truth.

I don’t remember a whole lot about the food. It was good enough to eat–because I did. (Of course, I’ve eaten a lot of things in my life that really weren’t good enough but still filled space in my mouth on the way down to my tummy-tomb.)

It is the definition of simplicity–a moment I almost missed because I was afraid. And fear is the great thief of joy and satisfaction.

If I could remember that, maybe I would learn to embrace occasions like tonight and even initiate them on my own. But if you don’t mind, I’m not in the mood for making promises or predictions. I just am thankful for three new friends and the opportunity to prove that we human beings are not as separated as we think we are–just absent some good conversation … while breaking bread.

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