Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Upper Room

(Upper Room of Wilcox Chapel, A-B College)

It's just a small room in the top of the chapel
but there is something so special about it
No words can describe what happens 
when I enter and sit facing its beautiful window

The light from outside comes streaming through
casting multicolored hues across everything in the room
It is peacefully quiet
 a refuge from the noise and activity of the day

As I sit and breathe deeply in and out
I feel my body slowly relax
and a sense of calm comes over me
I barely notice the voices and music outside the room

I sense that even though I'm the only person here
still, I am not alone
There is a sweet presence that surrounds me
and it knows my every thought and my heart

Then, as if being whispered  to me
the Word of God comes pouring into my mind
"Be still and know that I am God"
"Behold I am with you always"

It is then that I realize
that today is "Pentecost" Sunday
the day that Christians remember the last great miracle
the blessed gift of the ever-present indwelling Holy Spirit 

That powerful Holy Spirit sent by God
that came rushing into that upper room
and first fell upon the people on that day
fills my heart and stirs my soul at this moment

A companion like no other, ever-present
He fills me with a joy that cannot be explained
He takes away doubts and calms my fears
He gives reassurance and peace beyond human understanding

After a time of reflection, praying and rejoicing
I take a deep cleansing breath 
and I thank God for reminding me
of the significance of this beautiful "upper room"

( © Post and photo by C.J. Taylor - please do not copy)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Let Me Be

When my time comes to leave this earth
just let me fade away
like a star that slowly disappears
just at the break of day

I want no big announcements
no fuss and no commotion
no one to feel that they must come
to pretend and feign emotion

But this I pray, dear Lord above
when I'm gone, some will say
"She left a mark upon my heart and life
that will never go away"

"Her kind words brightened my day
her smile it gave me cheer
she never made me feel 'less than'
and with her I had no fear"

I pray that when they see a star
shining brightly in the night
they'll think of me and remember
each time I shed some light

And let it be a reminder
that although they may not see
forever still there will exist
that bond between them and me

I didn't always say or do
the things I should, I know
but I'd like to be remembered 
for the love that I did show

So let me be that star that shines
and bathes them in the light
gives them hope and reassurance 
that everything will be all right

( © Post and photo by C.J. - please do not copy)

Monday, June 6, 2011

An Obsession

Why do I have this obsession with seeing every sunrise and sunset?  
When I see the sunrise, I know I've been blessed with the gift of another new day...
When I see the sunset, I know that I have survived another day no matter what circumstance or situation took place...
and I am thankful. ~ C.J.

( © Post and photos by C.J. - please do not copy)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Last Salute

The flag of our country was taken from its sealed cardboard box, unfolded, and two people from the funeral home carefully refolded it in a very specific way, with each fold having a special meaning.  It ended up being  a thick triangle of material, white stars on a field of blue facing outward, and it was carefully placed in the corner of the open casket just above his left shoulder.  As family and friends came in to pay their respects and to say goodbye, they looked on the display tables and easels at the old photos and other memorabilia and they spoke of the times they had spent with him.  But as they stood at the casket, gently touching his body, then the flag at his shoulder, they were overcome with unexplainable emotion. 

The next day, the funeral service began when everyone was seated and several veterans came filing in, one by one, going up to the casket and slowly and deliberately saluting him and the flag that remained at his shoulder.  When the tribute and service was over and everyone had passed by the casket to pay their final respects, they went to their cars to wait for the casket to be loaded into the hearse.  When the last person had left the chapel, the large spray of beautiful flowers that had adorned the top of the casket was removed by funeral home staff, the flag was again unfolded, and this time it was carefully draped so that it covered the entire casket that had been slowly and ceremonially closed.  When the flag-draped casket appeared as the pallbearers carried it from the funeral home to the hearse, there was total silence, and the sight once again prompted many tears.

The procession slowly made its way to the little country cemetery a few miles outside of town and when it arrived at its destination, at the entrance gate there stood a man in uniform, saluting the hearse as it approached.  After the vehicle came to a stop, he remained at attention and he saluted again as the casket was removed from the vehicle and the pallbearers carried it to the grave site, led by the minister and the funeral director.  A bugler in uniform, standing in the distance, also stood at attention and saluted until the casket was in place, as did another man in uniform who had been waiting near the tent that covered the open grave.

The pallbearers carefully placed the flag-draped casket on top of the supports that would hold it over the grave, the family members were seated in chairs lined up beside the casket, and remaining family and friends gathered closely around as the minister stood at the end of the casket and prepared to speak.  When the committal service and prayer had ended, the bugler played the mournful "Taps", and the soldiers began the ritual of removing the flag and folding it, saluting at the appropriate times.  During this procedure, no one had to be asked to keep quiet; it was so silent, the only sounds were the birds singing and the swish of the material as it was being crisply and deliberately folded into its final triangular shape once more.  The task was complete and one soldier saluted and then walked away.  The one left holding the flag turned sharply around to face the family sitting on the chairs beneath the tent, then he knelt down directly in front of a daughter.  As he spoke to her, expressing gratitude and appreciation for her father's service to his country, presenting the flag to her,  it was as if everyone there were holding their breath, and then there was another sudden release of tears and emotion as the woman thanked him, clutching the flag to her breast as the soldier stood up straight and gave his salute...for the last time....

Mere words are not enough to express my gratitude to all the men and women who have sacrificed and faithfully served (and continue to serve) this country to preserve the freedoms that I often take for granted. I know many of them have experiences they have shared with no one except their God - horrible visions of friends killed; the pain and guilt from having to take another human's life; personal physical and emotional pain they themselves have endured; nightmares that have no end; sometimes the heartache of being deserted by their own family and friends...many things they have carried to their own grave in silence. 

I think that is why I become so emotional every time I see that flag-draped casket, then watch as that precious symbol is folded and presented in a most solemn and dignified manner to a surviving family member...I feel as if my heart will burst because of everything that this custom and ceremonial ritual represents. 

God bless every U.S. veteran and every person currently serving...God bless their families...and God bless the USA!

( © Post and photos by C.J. - please do not copy)