Archive for December, 2009

What a man.
What a life.
What a story.
Unbelievable but true.

From the New York Times
December 27, 2009
Kim Peek, Inspiration for ‘Rain Man,’ Dies at 58

In 1988, the film “Rain Man,” about an autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman, shed a humane light on the travails of autism while revealing the extraordinary powers of memory that a small number of otherwise mentally disabled people possess, ostensibly as a side effect of their disability.

The film won four Oscars, including best picture, best actor and, for Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass, best original screenplay. But it never would have been made if Mr. Morrow had not had a chance meeting with Kim Peek, who inspired him to write the film.

Mr. Peek was not autistic — not all savants are autistic and not all autistics are savants — but he was born with severe brain abnormalities that impaired his physical coordination and made ordinary reasoning difficult. He could not dress himself or brush his teeth without help. He found metaphoric language incomprehensible and conceptualization baffling.

But with an astonishing skill that allowed him to read facing pages of a book at once — one with each eye — he read as many as 12,000 volumes. Even more remarkable, he could remember what he had read.

Indeed, Mr. Peek, who died Dec. 19 at home in Salt Lake City, had perhaps the world’s most capacious memory for facts. He was 58. The cause was a heart attack, said his father, Fran Peek.

Almost all documented savants — people with an extraordinary depth of knowledge and the ability to recall it — have been restricted in their expertise to specific fields like mathematics, chess, art or music. But Mr. Peek had a wide range of interests and could instantly answer the most arcane questions on subjects as diverse as history, sports, music, geography and movies.

“He was the Mount Everest of memory,” Dr. Darold A. Treffert, an expert on savants who knew Mr. Peek for 20 years, said in an interview.

Mr. Peek had memorized so many Shakespearean plays and musical compositions and was such a stickler for accuracy, his father said, that they had to stop attending performances because he would stand up and correct the actors or the musicians.

“He’d stand up and say: ‘Wait a minute! The trombone is two notes off,’ ” Fran Peek said.

Mr. Peek had an uncanny facility with the calendar.

“When an interviewer offered that he had been born on March 31, 1956, Peek noted, in less than a second, that it was a Saturday on Easter weekend,” Dr. Treffert and Dr. Daniel D. Christensen wrote about Mr. Peek in Scientific American in 2006.

They added: “He knows all the area codes and ZIP codes in the U.S., together with the television stations serving those locales. He learns the maps in the front of phone books and can provide MapQuest-like travel directions within any major U.S. city or between any pair of them. He can identify hundreds of classical compositions, tell when and where each was composed and first performed, give the name of the composer and many biographical details, and even discuss the formal and tonal components of the music. Most intriguing of all, he appears to be developing a new skill in middle life. Whereas before he could merely talk about music, for the past two years he has been learning to play it.”

Mr. Peek, who was dismissed as mentally retarded as a child and later misdiagnosed as autistic, led a sheltered life, with few people outside his family aware of his remarkable gifts. Then, in 1984, he met Mr. Morrow at a meeting of the Association of Retarded Citizens in Arlington, Tex. Mr. Peek’s father was chairman of the group’s communications committee, and Mr. Morrow had helped create two television movies about a retarded man named Bill (played by Mickey Rooney).

After Mr. Peek displayed his memory skills in a conversation with him, Mr. Morrow set about concocting a story around someone like Kim Peek. “I was absolutely flabbergasted that such a human being existed,” Mr. Morrow said in a 2006 documentary about Mr. Peek.

In “Rain Man,” the autistic character, Raymond Babbitt, has been institutionalized since he was very young but is reunited with a cynical younger brother, Charlie (played by Tom Cruise), who had forgotten about his brother’s existence. (The title comes from Raymond’s recollection of the infant Charlie’s name for him.) The two men take a cross-country trip, and fraternal reconciliation ensues.

The movie, a critical and box office success, was not based on Mr. Peek’s life, but in preparing for the role, Mr. Hoffman visited with Mr. Peek and incorporated many of his characteristics — a shambling gait, peculiar hand movements and occasional blunt utterances — into the character of Raymond.

When Mr. Hoffman won an Oscar for best actor for the performance, he thanked Mr. Peek in his acceptance speech. Mr. Morrow went even further: he gave his own Oscar statuette to Mr. Peek, who carried it with him to public appearances for the next 21 years.

In the wake of “Rain Man,” Mr. Peek became something of a celebrity, emerging from his shell to travel around the country giving demonstrations of his talent and advocating tolerance for the disabled. Fran Peek estimated that some 400,000 people have hugged Mr. Morrow’s statuette.

“We called it the world’s best-loved Oscar,” he said.

Laurence Kim Peek was born on Nov. 11, 1951. (He was named for his mother’s favorite actor, Laurence Olivier, and the title character of Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim”; Kipling was his father’s favorite author.) Kim’s head was enlarged, his cerebellum was malformed and, perhaps most crucial, he was missing the corpus callosum, the sheaf of nerve tissue that connects the brain’s hemispheres. It has been theorized that this disruption of normal communication between the brain’s left and right halves resulted in a kind of jury-rigged rewiring.

“Perhaps the resulting structures allow the two hemispheres to function, in certain respects, as one giant hemisphere, putting normally separate functions under the same roof, as it were,” Drs. Treffert and Christensen wrote. “If so, then Peek may owe some of his talents to this particular abnormality.”

When Kim was 9 months old, a doctor said that he was so severely retarded that he would never walk or talk and that he should be institutionalized. When Kim was 6, another doctor recommended a lobotomy. By then, however, Kim had read and memorized the first eight volumes of a set of family encyclopedias, his father said. He received part-time tutoring from the age of 7 and completed a high school curriculum by 14. He spent great swaths of time absorbing volumes in the Salt Lake City Public Library. He never used computers, his father said.

“How he learned to read, I just don’t know,” Mr. Peek said.

Kim Peek’s parents divorced in 1981, and his father cared for him alone until his son’s death. Besides his father, Mr. Peek is survived by his mother, Jeanne Willey Peek Buchi; a brother, Brian; and a sister, Alison, all of Salt Lake City.

“Rain Man” changed Mr. Peek’s life. In the documentary, he confessed that before the film, he never looked anyone in the face.

“Barry influenced me more than any other person,” he said of Mr. Morrow. “He made me ‘Rain Man.’ ”

Though his social skills never fully developed, he grew to be outwardly engaging. He enjoyed being among people in his travels and became comfortable as something of a showman. He began developing mental skills he had never had before, like making puns; his coordination slowly improved, to the extent that he could play the piano. He became more self-aware, even displaying a certain social agility.

During a presentation Mr. Peek gave at Oxford University in England, after he fielded students’ questions about the Lusitania and about British monarchs, a young woman stood and asked him, “Kim, are you happy?”

“I’m happy just to look at you,” Mr. Peek said.

(Photo: Barton Glasser/Deseret News, via Associated Press)

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L'Engle: Author of one of the best of all children's books, but so much more

From the late and the great writer and always plainspoken and outspoken Madeleine L’Engle–truer words were never spoken:

I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.”
And from Frugalfun.com–this interview with Lady Madeleine who wrote another 20-plus books after this 1991 interview . . . .

Madeleine L’Engle: Faith During Adversity
Interview with Madeleine L’Engle, prize-winning author, ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ and over 40 other books.

by Shel Horowitz
Madeleine L’Engle’s rambling eight room apartment on Manhattan’s noisy Upper West Side is an oasis. Nine stories up and facing the Hudson River, it’s so quiet it feels almost like church.

Except when the phone or the doorbell is ringing, which is often. “I don’t get enough solitude. But I don’t think there’s a happy medium. You’re either alone or you don’t have quite enough time alone, and I’ll take what I’ve got. Usually there’s so much going on I just have to grab time” to write.

L’Engle has lived in this apartment since 1960. “I’m grateful for this space. Having physical space helps one to have philosophical elbow room, too.” Almost every corner is filled with floor-to-ceiling bookcases jammed with dusty hardcovers. Flat surfaces, and some of the walls, are filled with photos: mostly of family, but also of L’Engle and her late husband with Kennedy, Johnson, and other dignitaries. “The ones of [former Indian Prime Minister] Nehru didn’t come back,” she notes. Other residents include three cats, Terrible, Tatiana, and Kelly, as well as a huge dog known as Tino, or Teensy Weensy, who barks when the doorbell rings, if he doesn’t recognize the visitor’s smell. Various children, grandchildren and friends pass through, but the apartment is big enough to swallow it all.

Despite constant interruptions, L’Engle has managed to publish over 40 books‹she’s not sure of the exact number. A Wrinkle In Time, which won her a Newbery Award in the early 60’s, is still delighting new readers almost 40 years after it was written. But even though she had already published six books before Wrinkle, L’Engle hit a wall. She spent 2-1/2 years trying to sell the book. “I knew it was a good book when I finished it, I was very excited by it. I knew it was the best thing I’d ever done. It’s very frustrating when you’ve had six books published to get the printed form rejection slips. It was sent through an accredited literary agent, but it obviously went to the lowest readers. I can’t tell you how many publishers have said ‘oh I wish I’d gotten my hands on that book’ and I say ‘you did.’ One publisher didn’t believe me until I sent him a copy of the rejection slip.”

Wrinkle was rejected by virtually every major publisher. “I got a few queries saying ‘who is the book for?’ I said it’s for people; I don’t write for an age group, I write for people. If I’m writing about a 12 or 14 year old, I’ve got to be myself at that age. There isn’t any difference except the age of the protagonist.”

She never stopped writing, but neither Wrinkle nor any of her other books sold during those years. Finally, a friend introduced her to John Farrar of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, who bought it. After so much frustration, L’Engle reflects on its long-term success. “Since it was the book nobody wanted, it feels kind of nice. The thing that’s really very exciting is to know that it’s not limited to the time I wrote it, it has a more universal quality. You can never know that when you write something.”

Wrinkle centers on travel through time and space simultaneously, using a shortcut called a tesseract. Meg, the protagonist, and her friends wage war on the ultimate authoritarian evil, through love and refusal to conform. Meg appears in several later books also: “I like to find out what happens to people. She had a life before and after. And I don’t always find things out about her in chronological order‹we’re much too hung up on chronology.”

The science behind tessering, L’Engle says, is solid. Decades later, L’Engle is still exploring the physical realm. She describes Albert Einstein as “St. Albert‹my favorite theologian. Einstein was my entrance into the world of astrophysics and quantum mechanics‹it’s my theology. I was asking myself all the big questions about life and the universe and not finding the answers. Then I picked up a book of Einstein’s and he said anyone who is not lost in rapture at the power of the mind behind the universe ‘is as good as a burned out candle.'”

Her recent reading includes John Gribbin, Gary Zukav (Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics), Fritjov Kapra (The Tao of Physics), and Freeman Dyson. “These are people who are dealing with the nature of being. The world of quantum mechanics and astrophysics is to me a world that was created with benevolent purpose. There are so many seeming coincidences in the evolution of sentient beings that there must be a purpose. John Wheeler says humans are to ‘observe and contemplate.'”

Although it’s easy to see religious images in L’Engle’s books, she dislikes the term. “The words ‘religion’ and ‘Christianity’ are so encrusted with horrible meanings, and I suspect it’s part of that encrustation that permitted Hitler and the concentration camps. I don’t know how we’re going to get rid of all that stuff, to a view that all human beings matter. And particle physics says nothing is without a purpose, everything has an impact.”

As might be expected, L’Engle’s works are starkly antiauthoritarian, full of questions. “Patterns are constantly emerging out of chaos. I have fought with establishments all my life.” And L’Engle makes a crucial distinction between “fact” and “truth.” “Facts are limited. It is a fact that we’re sitting here, but whether any truth comes out of this meeting is something else again. We don’t always know [truth]. I write stories because that’s how I look for truth. I was looking for truth when I was writing Wrinkle. We live in a world where it’s very difficult for people to understand that a story can be truthful and not factual.

“Nothing that’s worth anything as far as living our lives is concerned is in the realm of fact‹it’s all in the realm of truth. Jesus was talking about a man with a plank of wood in his eye. It’s a true story, it’s not factual‹it’s about people who are slow to recognize their own faults and too quick to point out others’ flaws.”

L’Engle notes that similar stories can be found in all major religious traditions. “But we’re told to outgrow stories‹they’re only for kids. That’s one of the most terrible things that has happened to us as a people‹we’ve been impaled upon literalism‹it’s a great crippler.

“In one of my books I tell of walking down the stairs without touching them. We lose that‹we have that as kids. As we grow up in the world of provable facts, they get lost. There’s an incredible resistance to the idea that kids can handle concepts‹but it’s their parents and grandparents who can’t handle concepts.”

Like Meg, L’Engle had a lonely and difficult childhood, without much support from either her peers or her teachers. She found out very early about the dangers of authority, when one of her teachers lied to her parents in order to protect herself. The teacher refused L’Engle’s desperate requests to use the bathroom, and then denied there had ever been a request. Another teacher accused her of plagiarism when she won honors for a piece of writing‹and L’Engle had to show the mountain of work she’d been secretly creating in order to show that yes, she certainly could have written it.

As far back as her days in that English boarding school, L’Engle rejected conformity. At that school, students were called by their numbers, and even when her peers used her name, they mispronounced it. The experience left her with “an intense passion to be known by name, not number. You take away a name, you take away a person’s reality.”

L’Engle, now 72, wrote her first story at five years old. “It wasn’t a very good story, but it was an attempt to find out what life was all about.” She attempted her first novel in fifth grade. Her first published novel was written in fits and snatches backstage, while working as a Broadway actress in the early 1940’s. She was drawn to escape into the story because the pre-World War II “world of provable fact and moral virtue was letting us down.”

For L’Engle, telling the story is central‹whether in a novel or a journal entry. “One of the things a storyteller really has to know how to do is to make you find out what is going to happen next‹make you want to turn the page. Every one of Shakespeare’s plays starts with an attention getter‹otherwise, the audience would throw rotten fruit. I get my own attention first. If it doesn’t grab me it’s not going to grab the reader. With Wrinkle, I started with the deliberate old chestnut of the dark and stormy night. In Wind in the Door, there are dragons in the twins’ vegetable garden.

“Truth transcends facts. If I don’t believe it, it isn’t true. I’m going to stay on the side of truth no matter how much it hurts. Facts end; stories are infinite. Stories have a richness that goes way beyond fact. My writing knows more than I know. What a writer must do is listen to her book. It might take you where you don’t expect to go. That’s what happens when you write stories. You listen and you say ‘a ha,’ and you write it down. A lot of it is not planned, not conscious; it happens while you’re doing it. You know more about it after you’re done.

“Someone said my nonfiction is still telling a story. Journals are also not like writing an article‹it’s more stream of consciousness, tapping into the intuitive. When you write an article, you really do have to think. I don’t talk to me in my journal. I don’t know who I’m talking to, I’m just talking. The only time I talk to myself is when I’m in airports and my plane is postponed for the fifth time.”

Although her own work is very accessible, maintaining the richness of language is a constant concern. “We are a vocabulary-deprived society. We think because we have words, not the other way around. In the 60’s, something very immoral happened, and that was called ‘limited vocabulary’‹if kids didn’t learn to read at home, they didn’t learn to read.” She urges writers to “read the 16th and 17th century poets, make a list of the words we no longer use, and try to put them back in the language by using them. The fewer words we have, the less able are we to think conceptually.”

Ultimately, she believes, limited vocabulary can lead to totalitarianism, as people lose the ability to express concepts, and thus lose the capacity for independent thought. She is scared, for instance, by the suggestion that people who questioned the Persian Gulf war were unpatriotic‹and equally bothered by the suggestion that those who agreed with the war were fascistic. Wrinkle was written in the 1950’s, and Meg’s faith in her government was strong. If she were writing the book today, L’Engle acklowledges that Meg would be less naive; her family would certainly have discussed the war, for instance.

Wrinklewas written while L’Engle and her family were living in a very rural area in western Connecticut. “Oh, the beauty of the mountains, the loveliness of no city lights, no noises at night. It was a very safe place to start off raising our kids. We were outside of Goshen, a dairy farm village with about 200 people. It’s a gentle view, old mountains that were worn down by time and rain and wind, gentle mountains.”

In spite of the natural beauty, the Connecticut years were hard for L’Engle. “I went for years without publishing. It happened to be the ten years when my husband had left the theater. It was a bad decade. We came back to the city with kids 1, 7, and 10. I think we got back just in time.”

In New York, “there’s somebody to talk to all the time who knows more than I do. If I need an expert I can get one.” L’Engle hosts frequent salons for some of New York’s intelligentsia. A recent dinner party included Elaine Pagels (of Gnostic Gospels fame), Eli Wallach, and the bishop of New York, among others. “You had good conversation. It was nice because no one got stuck. Everyone went from group to group,”

Excitement in living seems a part of L’Engle’s core. She is passionate about the need to feel all emotions‹grief as well as love. She is exotic in her appearance, combining the stark severity of a Barnabas Collins haircut with flashy, colorful shirts and flamboyant jewelry.

And she is fervent in her work. When posing at her word processor for photos, she turned to the keyboard and started editing. “You can’t sit me down here and expect me not to write.” She revises constantly. “The more I know the more I revise. I’m on the fifth MAJOR revision of a novel at this point. It started out to be a novel about King David’s 8 wives. But I realized I could not put myself back 3000 years in time. I had to have a 20th century point of view. So I had an 87 year old dying actor who had 8 wives, as did King David. He makes a lot of the similarities between their lives. King David is a role he’s always wanted to play. The play never gets finished for a variety of reasons. I move from 3000 years ago to the 40’s to the 60’s before Vietnam. So I’ve got a real technical challenge.”

Her definition of success: “If I have enough laughter, if I go to bed contented with myself and my life. I don’t think the world’s standards of success are that valid. I’m happy that after that long period of not selling books that people are buying them, but Wrinkle was just as good a book when it was being rejected as when it was published.”

(1991. An excerpt appeared in Writer’s Digest, 1992)

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This was published last week in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and naturally caught this hospital chaplain’s eye.

Forget the sterile surroundings, drafty gowns and anxiety-provoking silence that often goes with medical tests.

How about a massage, relaxing music and embarrassment-proof exam gowns for that mammogram?

To attract patients, area hospitals are finding ways to take some of the stress out of women’s medical care.

When Felicia Crutchfield had a procedure performed at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine, she was surprised by the calm surroundings. As she lay on the exam table covered in plush linens, images of clouds danced over her head.

“It almost feels like you’re at a hotel,” said Crutchfield, of Keller. “It just does not look like a hospital, and it certainly doesn’t smell like one, either.”

This year, the Grapevine hospital began offering Spa Saturdays, with massages, refreshments and gifts such as manicure kits and pink umbrellas.

The atmosphere was casual, not clinical, said Maureen Aschman, nurse coordinator for breast care services at the hospital.

“Women were chit-chatting and enjoying the spa treatment,” she said.

Mammography parties are catching on around the country. Some hospitals pick women up in limos, while others such as the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano combine screenings with makeup consultations, gourmet lunches and chair massages.

Such extras are a way to meet the community’s demand for a higher level of service, said Dee Dee Ogrin, director of marketing for Baylor Regional.

“There are so many options out there and we want to stand out,” she said. “A mammogram is not the most fun thing to do, but if we can make the experience more tolerable by offering a spalike environment, we might be able to get more women to want to do it.”

The effort to make mammograms more pleasant comes as the number of women getting the screening has declined slightly and a government-appointed task force called for women in their 40s to forgo the screening.

To reach more working women, hospitals are offering Saturday appointments for bone density tests, mammograms and other screenings.

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth offered massages with mammograms but found a greater demand for convenient parking, quick appointments and minimal pain, said Whitney Jodry, spokeswoman for the facility. To address concerns about pain, the hospital began providing MammoPads, which provide a cushion during the exam. Custom-designed mammography gowns make modesty a priority, Jodry said.

The perks aren’t limited to mammograms.

Texas Health Harris Methodist offers aromatherapy and closed-circuit television showing relaxing scenery.

At Andrews Women’s Hospital at Baylor All Saints Medical Center, iPods are provided so patients can listen to soothing music before surgery, said Janice Whitmire, hospital administrator.

Focus groups helped the hospital determine what women wanted.

“Every woman wants quality healthcare,” Whitmire said. “But they also want to control the temperature and lighting in their room.”

In the ambient interventional radiology room at Baylor Regional, patients can choose from overhead images such as clouds and palm trees. They can also control lighting and listen to their choice of sounds.

When the experience is more calming, studies have found that patients require less medication, Ogrin said.

As relaxing as the environment was, Crutchfield said she wondered whether it would cost extra. She was relieved to learn that it did not.

They’re just part of the hospital experience, Whitmire said.

Crutchfield said the extras make a difference.

“It gets your mind off of what’s going on,” she said. “They might not take all the anxiety away, but at least you feel more relaxed.”

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From the Daily Office, Book of Common Prayer:
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Psalm 126
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, *
then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, *
and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, *
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us, *
and we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, *
like the watercourses of the Negev.
Those who sowed with tears *
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, *
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18
If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
Almighty Savior, who at noonday called your servant Saint Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles: We pray you to illumine the world with the radiance of your glory, that all nations may come and worship you; for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.———————-
The Conversion on the Road to Damascus

In 1600, Caravaggio was commissioned to paint two pictures of Rome’s Patron Saints (Peter and Paul) for the newly redecorated Santa Maria del Popolo. Of the two the more remarkable is the representation of the moment of St Paul’s conversion. According to the Acts of the Apostles, on the way to Damascus Saul the Pharisee fell to the ground when he heard the voice of Christ saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ and temporarily lost his sight. It was reasonable to assume that Saul had fallen from a horse.
Caravaggio is close to the Bible. The horse is there and, to hold him, a groom, but the drama is internalized within the mind of Saul. He lies on the ground stunned, his eyes closed as if dazzled by the brightness of God’s light that streams down the white part of the skewbald horse, but that the light is heavenly is clear only to the believer, for Saul has no halo. In the spirit of Luke,Caravaggio makes religious experience look natural.
Technically the picture has defects. The horse looks hemmed in, there is too much happening at the composition’s base, too many feet cramped together, let alone Saul’s splayed hands and discarded sword. Although some critics somplain that unlike his other treatment of the subject, this version lacks action. Yet, Caravaggio respects stillness.

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Hindu novelist, essayist and poet Tagore pictured with his friend and contemporary Gandhi, 1941, and with Einstein in New York, 1930.

Poetry from the 1913 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Rabindranath Tagore. He described faith as “the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”

Give Me Strength
This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.

Face To Face
Day after day, O lord of my life,
shall I stand before thee face to face.
With folded hands, O lord of all worlds,
shall I stand before thee face to face.

Under thy great sky in solitude and silence,
with humble heart shall I stand before thee face to face.

In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with toil
and with struggle, among hurrying crowds
shall I stand before thee face to face.

And when my work shall be done in this world,
O King of kings, alone and speechless
shall I stand before thee face to face.
Pluck this little flower and take it, delay not! I fear lest it
droop and drop into the dust.

I may not find a place in thy garland, but honour it with a touch of
pain from thy hand and pluck it. I fear lest the day end before I am
aware, and the time of offering go by.

Though its colour be not deep and its smell be faint, use this flower
in thy service and pluck it while there is time.
Brink Of Eternity
In desperate hope I go and search for her
in all the corners of my room;
I find her not.

My house is small
and what once has gone from it can never be regained.

But infinite is thy mansion, my lord,
and seeking her I have to come to thy door.

I stand under the golden canopy of thine evening sky
and I lift my eager eyes to thy face.

I have come to the brink of eternity from which nothing can vanish
—no hope, no happiness, no vision of a face seen through tears.

Oh, dip my emptied life into that ocean,
plunge it into the deepest fullness.
Let me for once feel that lost sweet touch
in the allness of the universe.

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Cows Head Coach and Owner Jerry Jones's 3-D Glasses Coach Jerry Wore in a Unique Loss

Yes ladies and germs, you’ve come to the right place once again for incisive football analysis and another fearless prediction from Jitterman, and let’s just get right to it.
We predict the mighty Coach Jerry Jones’s Cows will handily defeat the lowly Redskins of Washington D.C., who’ve only won four games this year and thus are total dawgs.
We predict the Cows will defeat them by a score of 267 to 7. This will not be a shutout, as Washington will manage to score.
Of course, the Cows could lose and stink up the field in Washington D.C. tonight and they have certainly shown themselves capable of stinking up football stadiums as when they lost in 3D a few short weeks ago, going down in National Football League history by losing in such an original way.
But then, coach Jerry and his brain trust, comprising the great Bum Phillips’s*** son Wade Phillips and Assistant Coach Wade’s staff of (sometimes) capable coaches stay up nights, under Coach Jerry’s tutelage, looking for ways to humiliate the city of Dallas, not to mention Arlington.
Therefore, we reserve the right to wiggle out of our bold prediction if the game turns South for the Cows and they get knocked so far south by the Skins that they’ll need their passports to get back to Gov. Rick Perry’s Republic of Texas from Mexico.
It could happen.
In fact, with these Cows, anything can happen.
Like a train wreck on the football field.
Meanwhile, we’re sticking by our bold prediction that the Cows will win handily tonight.
Cows 267
Skins 7
Remember you read it here first at jitterbuggingforjesus.com, the blog site that alienates Cows fans worldwide sometimes.
(***FOOTNOTE: Bum Phillips was coach of one of the best Houston Oilers teams of all times and for his losing one crummy playoff game he was canned by his very stoopid Oilers owner Bud Adams who now owns the Tennessee Titans up in Nashville where Adams remains so stoopid he makes obscene finger gestures to opposing fans and draws fines that are like fleas to him, he who still has a kazillion dollars as all sports team owners do. Bud Adams can afford to make finger gestures to fans till the End Times.)
(And by the way, if the Cows lose tonight, we will know the End Times are near.).
Still, Bud Adams is clearly a RACA?**
(*** FOOTNOTE 2: Raca is a word our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ once used to describe knuckleheads. Raca roughly translates, in English, to that. Knucklehead. Jitterbugger knows this because he’s been to seminary, you know, and did not spend all his time in Hebrew and Greek classes dozing.)
Anyhoo, come back here often, sports fans, because you won’t get this kind of in-depth football analysis on the teevee or from the newspapers, not to mention such courageous predictions.
Let’s close with a cheer:

RED HOT . . . COAL BLACK . . .
COME ON COWS! . . . . . PUSH ‘EM BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

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First Sunday after Christmas Day

Behold, the dwelling of God is with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them, and be their God. Revelation 21:3

Lord, open our lips,
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.

Psalm 95:1-7
Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving;
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God;
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth;
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down and bend the knee,
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

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Pictured: The Apple of God’s Eye Church on Railroad Street. This edifice, before it was born again and converted into a church, it was the most dangerous blues joint in the world for about a hunnerd years.
Also pictured, “Blues Alley,” home of the annual Blues Fest. This building is now a blues museum with lots of authentic stuff from blues master Mance Lipscomb.
(Yes, Jitterbugger grew up in serious blues country. And you wonder why he can’t stop his jitterbug feet from constant jittering?
Now you know.)
Also pictured: Air view of The Sangster House, one of the town’s many fine restored old houses.
More info on the town below the pix.
(also check out http://www.navasotabluesfest.org)

Yes, Jitterbugger’s hometown is a most historic and beautiful Texas hamlet with lots of tourist attractions–it’s got a lot more than a blues museum and a beer joint turned church. Here’s more from Wiki and other Web sources:

Navasota is a city in Grimes County, Texas, United States. The population was 6,789 at the 2000 census. In 2005, the Texas Legislature named the city “The Blues Capital of Texas,” in honor of the late Mance Lipscomb, a Navasota native and blues musician.

Navasota is located on a bend of the Navasota River, near its junction with the Brazos River at the intersections of Highway 105 and Farm Roads 3090 and 1227. It sits approximately 25 miles south of Bryan-College Station. It is connected to those cities, as well as Waco and Houston, by State Highway 6.
Navasota has many shops & artisans in its picturesque historic downtown district, typified by antique and gift shops housed in classic stone and brick structures, restaurants, live plays at the Sunny Furman Theatre, and first-run movies at Miller’s Theater. Blues Alley is in the heart of the downtown district, and offers music lovers an in-depth study of the local blues music heritage. Blues memorabilia, museum exhibits, art, vintage music and radios, and much more can be enjoyed in this budding cultural center. Free Live Music by Texas’ best songwriters and musicians is always just around the corner, each Friday and Saturday night at local restaurants such as the Corner Cafe.

Those inclined to golf will love the highly acclaimed Pecan Lakes Golf Club, numerous parks throughout the city, and close proximity to Bluebonnet Country Golf Club near Stoneham. Thousands of Cub Scouts learn about nature and camping at Bovay Scout Ranch, and travelers from all over the world love to visit the cradle of Texas independence at Washington on the Brazos State Park, and the Star of the Republic Museum there. Stagecoach rides are often available at the Fanthorp Inn in nearby Anderson. The George Bush Library is less than a half -hour away in College Station. Several wineries dot the county, including the new Retreat Hill Winery near Whitehall.

Navasota is relatively famous for its historic Victorian homes. Numerous grand, two story mansions line Washington Avenue, the main residential and commercial thoroughfare through town. Another historic edifice is Brule Field, a Great Depression era WPA project (Works Progress Administration) built into a natural amphitheater out of native stone. It served as the primary grid for the local high school football team, The Navasota Rattlers, until the new stadium was constructed in 2006. Several native stone churches near downtown are also excellent examples of pioneer Victorian architecture. The original downtown district is a colorful and classic piece of living history, built in the old shotgun style, with old Victorian fronts facing one another as they line Washington Ave.

The Horlock History Center is the flagship of Navasota history, and offers visitors a chance to experience the grandeur of Victorian lifestyle and craftsmanship. This 1892 Eastlake cottage was built by Robert A. Horlock for his wife and ten children. Exhibits inside display the life and work of these industrious Texas entrepreneurs. Open by appointment, tours can be specially fitted to each group’s interest, and are arranged by the City Tourism Director.

The city is also home to two LaSalle Statues, including a bronze monument, dedicated in 1936 by the DAR, to celebrate the explorations of the famous French explorer. The second is a stone bust placed behind downtown, on Cedar creek, which was donated to the City by the French government in 1978. Supposedly, La Salle was murdered by one of his men somewhere near present day Navasota, while looking for the Mississippi Valley and the way back to French held lands near the Great Lakes. After numerous voyages, explorations of the Mississippi valley, trading ventures and several mutinies, La Salle’s bones are believed to have found their resting place in the Navasota Valley.

Spring: Navasota once advertised itself as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas. Visitors flock to the area each spring to view the famous Texas Bluebonnets. A modern hybrid planted by the State is always in abundant supply along local highways. And in the surrounding countryside, two different native species of Bluebonnet blanket the pastures, along with Indian Paintbrushes, Primrose, and many other Texas wildflowers, beginning in mid-March. There is also a rare wildflower that grows nearby known as Navasota Ladies’ Tresses.

Summer: For fourteen years, the city has hosted the wildly successful Navasota Bluesfest, a gathering every August of blues musicians and enthusiasts which honors the memory of internationally recognized blues man Mance Lipscomb, who recorded numerous albums and lived in Navasota all of his life. The celebration raises money for college scholarships for local students.

Fall: For decades, throngs of revelers have converged near Plantersville at the famous Texas Renaissance Festival, which dominates the southern end of the county every October and November. Many deer and hog hunters come to the area as well during deer season.

Winter: A popular new Christmas tradition has sprouted just a few miles north of town, where Santa’s Wonderland entertains thousands during the Christmas season. Carload after carload cruise through an explosion of acres and acres of fantastic Christmas light displays.

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For Amy & Jorgie, of course, and all the other DMB Trippin’ Billies everywhere:

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