Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fresh

The foreign faculty here at Sias live in two buildings. The one I live in is called Peter Hall and was constructed approximately twelve years ago. It is five-and-half stories high. Between each floor there is a balcony that opens to the outdoors. Tonight, after reading for a while, I went outside hoping for a splash of night air to revive me enough to study for another hour or so. As soon as I stepped through the white framed glass doors of the lobby a blast of wind from the west greeted me. A few more steps and I was leaning over the balcony railing and staring into the heavens. What a surprise--the sky was so clear I could not only see the stars, but could actually see them twinkle. Though off in the distant north lights of dwellings and industry seemed like they were next door.

The fresh, cool, night carried with it the spirit of a muse. Within seconds it piqued my thoughts and I began recalling the many times--in just such weather--I trudged across harvested corn fields or followed a dim moon-shadowed trail through the woods to get to a tree stand before light, or to find my way home after dark. Images stored in my memory came back as clear as the sky that surrounded me: a bobcat sunning itself on the edge of a field--unaware he was under surveillance through my scope, coyotes that met their Maker--thanks to my scope, bucks sparring and running does, a flock of turkeys scratching at the dirt under my stand, and the piece of Wrigley's gum that I spit out that landed just above the tail feathers--for the next twenty minutes one of those gobblers strutted around with that stuck to its back! I always brought a book with me when I hunted from a blind; a Louise L'Amour western. Once, while hunting with my buddy Bob, I got to reading L'Amour's Shaliko, fell asleep, and woke up in time to see a nice buck step back into the woods. Never even got my Winchester model 88, 308 cal. to my shoulder. . .

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More of this. . . less of that

Sandy,

Following months abroad of hard work and difficult living conditions we looked forward to our refuge along the Penobscot. We envisioned kayaking, biking, taking long walks, enjoying friends around a campfire, and pleasant sunsets. Little of that came to pass. Last summer you were so sick: day-after-day receiving infusions, battling physical discomfort, dragging around and IV pole, and stumbling through fatigue.

You did so quite bravely, I might add.

But you are on the mend now. Feeling better. Getting stronger. Soon, fall and winter will give way to spring, and together we will greet the arrival of summer at our cabin. Soft rays of sunlight will reach through the windows and gently nudge us awake. . . I want you to stay in bed awhile. I will bring you coffee. With camera in hand, possessed like a posse after an outlaw, I will chase down and capture colorful horizons and the beauty of the wild. As daylight gives way to dark the melody of the woodthrush will echo through the timbers. . . you will cry the first time you hear them. You always do. Nightfall will cover us with a canopy of twinking stars, and from the fire pit mesmerizing flames will leap and dance and crackle and hiss. We will nod off to the baritone lullaby of the river. . .

Enjoying the Adventure,
 Bill

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Heckuva Writer . . .

If it were not for my improper use of colons, semi-colons, hyphens, commas, homophones, spelling, verb tenses, synonyms, and homonyms, I think I would be a heckuva writer . . . 

My Walden Pond. . .

Early this evening I took a walk down to the lake on campus. Cool air moved in. Fall is upon us. Leaves drifted and fluttered like butterflies, and tumbled across the twisting pathways. Autumn's onset is so unlike my home state of Maine where almost overnight bursts of color change its forests' into a brilliant painter's palet. Here in China, the living green slowly fades to shades of death.

I sat down on the stone steps of the bridge that connects the north and south banks, got out my Nook, flipped through the electronic pages, and began reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Interesting man. Thoreau felled his own trees, built his own house, went off-grid for two years and two months--called it "simple living." Then he set about "a nine year process of composition and revision" to craft his experience into a literary classic.

As I was reading I thought. "And here I am in this densely populated part of the world where it's against the law for its people to cut down a tree, own a home or land, and civil disobedience never really caught on."



Life. . . a mixture of complexity and simplicity. Maybe I'll write a book . . .













Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Consider the lilies of the field . . .

Confiding in a friend, Emily Dickinson said, "Consider the lilies of the field" is the only commandment I have never broken." Speaking for myself, if you could roll back my skin and bones and see directly into the full content of my soul, you would know I can relate to Emily Dickinson. I wish I were lily white, but I am not. No, I haven't physically broken every letter of the Law, but in spirit I have broken more of the Ten Commandments then I have kept. When I have it has never ended well.

More and more I am aware of my need for God to forgive me of all my trespasses, and less and less aware of those who have trespassed against me.














  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Corn-struction

Farmers in Henan Province, China, are fully engaged in the Fall harvest. Shoulders of the roadways have become staging areas; squares and rectangles of golden corn and dusty peanuts are everywhere. Here, mechanized harvesting is the exception, so peasants work from dusk til dawn winnowing, shoveling, and sorting nature's bounty in like manner as countless generations before them. For some, years of  back-breaking labor has permanently bowed their frame. Even when they rise from the ground they are never upright. Their skin is blackened by the sun, and deeply etched wrinkles channel little streams of sweat to the edges of their round face. As I ride by them I always say "Nee-how" and they always greet me with a smile, and the usual nervous giggle.


Nearly every day I straddle my bike and pedal off toward the countryside to see what has changed. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that I never see the same scenery twice--it is estimated that in the country of China the equivalent of a New York City is razed or built every 12 months. Also, the bony silhouettes of 2/3 of all the construction cranes on this globe are here and backlit by the skyline.




Chinese National Holiday has begun, so we have no classes for the up-coming week. I hope to post on Enjoying the Adventure more regularly, and to regroup spiritually. I miss my Sandy, my family, my friends, and my Country. . .

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Retracing and Leaving Traces . . .


Over the next several months I will begin to retrace my journey in the archives of my blog Enjoying The Adventure. I will also leave new traces - a breadcrumb trail - for my friends who want to follow. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Get Well, Mom!


Get well, Mom . . . 

Yesterday I drove to Old Town, picked up mom, and brought her out to the cabin for much of the day. Sandy grilled a couple of ham steaks and sautéed some zucchini and this trio sat in the shade of the porch and had a healthy lunch. Today, mom was up at 4a.m. in order to sign in at Eastern Maine Medical Center by six a.m. Her left knee is being replaced. As I have mentioned before, we are so grateful that this scheduled operation was moved up fourteen days, because if all goes well, she should be ambulatory by August, and able to get out and enjoy the short, but Edenic like summer here in Maine!

After lunch we moved the rocking chair from the porch next to the fire pit, and visited. Mom is as genuinely God-centered as anyone I know. Most of her conversations begin with God, then lays bare her thoughts, and then ends with God. Never is there a sense that she lacks "Faith." Never a whine. Since my dad's passing just over a year ago, she made the difficult choice to move into Elderly housing. Necessity, led to the sensibility that she must sell the little house in Milford where she and dad spent their final years together. Their home was a bit remote, and due to its age, also expensive to maintain. Being eighty two at the time, and having lost the mate she had been with just shy of sixty five years, the change, and the absence of my father has been difficult. 

Like usual- as in all of mom's surgeries - the nurses had a difficult time finding a vein for the I V's, and inserted the port in her neck, but otherwise things proceeded without a hitch. A nurse led me back to the recovery area where post surgery patients were backed up like planes on the tarmac. I was only allowed to see her for about two minutes. She was as alert as can be, and the doctor assured her that he would have her up and walking today. He did! My two sisters, who have been wonderful care givers, my brother, and other friends and relatives were also there. It was good to gather as a family in support of mom.   

I have posted a few pictures . . . Mom and Sandy by the fire, the ducks retaking their island - now that the Penobscot has dropped to near normal depths, and our almost finished out-building, and the beautiful tiers of firewood stacked (I love splitting and stacking firewood). 

Enjoying the Adventure,



Bill

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

YaY! The Students are Returning!

SIAS became a ghost town during the winter break. Foreign staff scattered to the four winds, and a skin of dirty coal dust smothered the town in a dull grey. The heavens yielded hardly a drop of rain for a couple of months, though the skies were moody and dark and stormy.

But now the students are trickling in and bringing with them their youthful energy that completely changes the dynamic of the school and city! On Saturday and Sunday about 15,000-20,000 will drag their luggage through the gates, across the tiled courts of Italian and Russian Square, along European street, and up-and-over hundreds of stairs! The place will look like someone stirred an anthill with a stick!

This afternoon I walked the entire campus. The willows that shade the river-walk have been pruned, and the hedges of shrubs have symmetry with clean lines and curves and corners. Several of the fountains are cascading water over their rocks and runways. Deciduous trees - made bare by the change of seasons - are sprouting tiny red buds that will soon cover their bony arms and legs and restore their dignity.

Those who been here - when winter turns to spring - tell me that the rain will soon begin to fall washing away the grime and clearing the smoggy pollutants from the air. Then the sun will burn through the mist, brighten the landscape, warm our bodies, and the campus will explode with color! I probably don't need to tell you that I can hardly wait to see our new world fresh and in full bloom!

This morning I started the P90X Workout. Today it was legs and back (tomorrow it's arms and shoulders). I did the whole lot of exercises - although I didn't do a whole lot - of the whole lot - of exercises! Nevertheless, when I die I want to die healthy!

I love this place!

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Monday, February 13, 2012

Looking for the Unseen

I am writing to God’s people who are living as foreigners . . . in Asia
The Apostle Peter
A little bald man stood and spoke from one of the New Testament Gospels. His name was Silas and he was on furlough from living and working as a foreigner among the needy in India. Trust me, this guy didn’t drone on trying to impress you with, “Now the Greek stem of this word is . . . and the Hebrew root of that word is . . . and some scholars surmise that . . .” Nope. Silas Foxx had a white-knuckled grip on the wooden lectern shaking it from side-to-side and rocking it back-and-forth transforming the stage area and lectern into a Galilean fishing boat battered and blown about in a hellacious storm.
Believing they were in the very teeth of death and moments from being swallowed alive, the terrified screams of Jesus’ disciples rose above the howling tempest and pleaded with him as he slept in the stern of the boat. “Master, Master, if you don’t do something we’re going to drown!”
The Author of Life and Death killed the typhoon and saved the disciples.
Not all of Silas’ listeners were adults. In the audience was a young boy so caught-up in the dramatic telling that he yelled out, “Jesus, Wakeup!” This happened in the early 1960’s, and I was the little boy.
From that moment to the present there has always been a compelling to explore the physical and spiritual unseen world.

Enjoying the Adventure,
Bill

New Life

I am writing to God’s people who are living as foreigners . . . in Asia
The Apostle Peter

A little bald man stood and spoke from one of the New Testament Gospels. His name was Silas and he was on furlough from living and working as a foreigner among the needy in India. Trust me, this guy didn’t drone on trying to impress you with, “Now the Greek stem of this word is . . . and the Hebrew root of that word is . . . and some scholars surmise that . . .” Nope. Silas Foxx had a white-knuckled grip on the wooden lectern shaking it from side-to-side and rocking it back-and-forth transforming the stage area and lectern into a Galilean fishing boat battered and blown about in a hellacious storm.

Believing they were in the very teeth of death and moments from being swallowed alive the terrified screams of Jesus’ disciples rose above the howling tempest and pleaded with him, as he slept in the stern of the boat, “Master, Master, if you don’t do something we’re going to drown!”

The Author of Life and Death killed the typhoon and saved the disciples.
Not all of Silas’ listeners were adults. In the audience was a young boy so caught-up in the dramatic telling that he yelled out, “Jesus, Wakeup!” This happened in the early 1960’s, and I was the little boy.

From that moment to the present there has always been a compelling to explore the physical and spiritual unseen world.

Enjoying the Adventure,
Bill

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Foreigner - Going Off the Grid

God the father knew you and chose you long ago . . . now we live with great expectation. The Apostle Peter

For seven days I was alone in the city of Nanyang -- population 10.5 million. For seven days I never saw another light-skinned person, or any people group other than Chinese. For seven days I had access to one Chinese who could speak in my native tongue. For seven days I never saw English print.

Out of the bubble . . .

Though the first of many more to come my first exposure to total immersion into Asian culture was a quantum leap from the soft environment of living in Peter Hall! At SIAS foreign teachers are not required to learn to speak Chinese. We have our own compound. To a great extent we can maintain our Western lifestyle. Once instructing for the day is finished we can retreat to faculty housing. In PH you will see no more Chinese than you would if you were roaming the halls of an American university.

Peter reminds us . . .

When it’s time to go off the grid, God says, live with great expectation, and not just in the hope of the good ole' days or the sweet by-and-by, but in the present anonymity of the sketchy now-and-now! God will show up!

Enjoying the Adventure,

Bill

Monday, January 16, 2012

Foreigner - Chapter 2

God the father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter

God’s picks and chooses. A truth that has been cussed and discussed since God chose to accept Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. Since He chose to, “love Jacob and hate Esau.” Theological systems have been developed to explain the “why’s and wherefores” of election/selection. However, it’s a train of thought that is above our ability to comprehend. The baffling examples of Divine prerogative can’t be harmonized with human logic. God’s choices are unexplainable, but from my view of the deck His unbreakable commitment to stick with His choices may be the most profound!

Peter writes to people living far from home, and says (I paraphrase), “Your heavenly Father knew you and chose you for His own before you were a twinkle in your earthly daddy’s eye.”

During 2011 Dad’s health began to deteriorate rapidly. By March a series of medical complications piled up and like an avalanche swept him into the valley of the shadow of death. My sister Barb called to tell me that Dad's Dr. believed his passing was imminent. I got on a plane in Charlotte, NC and to his bedside as soon as I could.

With just God and me present Dad told me of some of his fears – confessions I have heard at least a hundred times by the faithful in their final moments. Dad was as “saved” as saved can be. He was redeemed. But he was about to enter eternity and in his mind there were “logical” reasons to doubt that God’s grace and love could cover all his sin. It was a surreal moment as we sat and talked and wept and found peace in the illogical love of God.

Perhaps you’ve heard the, “St. Peter met so and so at the pearly gates” jokes.

I smile -- when in my imagination – my father passes through the veil and is met by rough and tumble Peter! Redeemed, but still gloriously wild, he pokes my father in the shoulder and says . . .

“Burleigh! Your heavenly Father knew you and chose you for His own before you were a twinkle in your earthly daddy’s eye. Welcome home!”




Sunday, January 15, 2012

Foreigners

This letter is from peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners pontus, Galatia, cappadocia, asia, and Bithynia.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ

Screw-ups, like myself, are grateful that God chose to preserve many of the unflattering details of his Peter’s spiritual journey, yet kept him close, transformed him, and kept him on the frontline. The bodacious fisherman was presumptuous and impetuous, and his first response to nearly everything was to meet it head-on with misguided zeal and uncensored responses. God was constantly at work in Peter’s life turning up the heat so as to burn away the dross. The endgame? Peter would reflect Christ, not Simon.

I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners. Says Peter.

As I write Sandy is my muse. How is that? God brought her to the apostle’s words in the early morning hours, and as she shared with me how He was meeting her there, my own thirst sent me to the same well.

Sandy and I have stayed on the forward edge of the Kingdom’s advance as trailblazers, but I can say that the day-to-day of living abroad has caused us to look more closely into Peter’s brief letter. This is different. At the present we belong to the unique fraternity to whom Peter’s speaks in his first letter; we are foreigners.

If Chinese internet technology will cooperate I will leave a few posts for anyone interested to read.