Enlightenment

It’s been less than three days since the most deadly shooting in modern U.S. history. Immediately, the Internet, television news, and social spheres were abuzz with opinions. We’ve heard it all before:  “Gun control is the answer”; “No, gun control won’t stop mass murder”; “Trump did this”; “Trump didn’t do that”; “A white male murderer gets labeled a lone wolf, but after a Muslim or black murder, a whole religion or race is vilified”; “The guy’s a sociopath, don’t lump me in with him just because I own assault weapons”. And on and on it goes.

It’s not who’s right and who’s wrong that caught my attention today. It’s something else that hummed behind the usual roar of discordant voices …

The ink dried on a host of opinions before the victim count in Las Vegas was even finalized. We have become people of instant opinions

There’s something wrong with that.

The same people were saying the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. They’ve held those exact opinions for years. Nothing had changed in the slightest.

There’s something wrong with that, too.

It seems others’ worst tragedy is another person’s opportunity, their opening to set up soapboxes uninvited, from which to bellow personal, staunch beliefs.

There’s something very, very, very wrong with that.

Do people not need time to take in transpiring events and to wait for information before broadcasting their views on this, an unprecedented, bizarre, horrible, numbing, inexplicable event?

Obviously they don’t think so. Or maybe they just don’t think to think.

Watching all this, wide-eyed, baffled at all that is happening, this occurred to me today:

Instant opinions are a sign of closed minds. 

A closed mind can’t do new things, it can’t think outside of the box, it can’t realize it may not know everything, or consider it needs to stay open so it can correct itself when needed. A closed mind can’t listen to others or absorb novel information. A closed mind can’t invent, discover, or pioneer.

So, I wondered, what are the qualities of inventors, discoverers, leading-edge thinkers, or pioneers?

This word came to mind:

Enlightenment.

Enlightenment, by definition, is:

1. having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook.
the more enlightened employers offer better terms”
2. spiritually aware.
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It’s synonyms are:  informed, well informed, aware, sophisticated, advanced, developed, open-minded, broad-minded, educated, knowledgeable, wise; civilized, refined, cultured, cultivated “enlightened people don’t punch out people who think differently”
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Pioneers, inventors, avant-garde thinkers, discoverers and others who have something helpful to offer in changing times, are enlightened.
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I suspect enlightened people are unlikely to form instant opinions.
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There’s something right about that.
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They are the people we need to hear from. They are the people who have earned a voice by virtue of their long-standing habits:  They are consistently slow to opine and quick to listen and learn. They are committed to credibility. They dig for answers, and don’t stop until an acceptable one is found. And then they make it prove itself over time — if it doesn’t hold up they go back to digging.
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Hopefully, if we will give these people an opportunity, and as listeners adopt a semblance of their patience, they will willingly share some of that wisdom they’ve labored to acquire. Because …
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We need them. 
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In this climate of abrasive noise, the same ‘ol, same ‘ol unyielding and unhelpful opinions, and shouting, back-and-forth, closed-minded voices …
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It is the enlightened voices we need to come from the background to be heard.  
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When they do, there will be something very, very, very right about it.
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Into the Unknown

 

I determined to follow him over twenty years ago, albeit fearfully, hesitantly, and somewhat erratically. The destination was not made clear — there were no road signs along the way with the exact name of where I was headed, what I would be doing, or who I would be doing it with. I remember well the misgivings and angst that accompanied my decision to follow anyway, without knowing.

I trusted him. On days I couldn’t muster up real trust, I followed because I had committed to.

In the midst of all that uncertainty was a sense of something ahead. It beckoned. It promised. It offered circumstances that would put to rest my unmet needs. It would make sense of chronically undeveloped, frustrated qualities and yearnings within me.

I can describe it only as a sense of purpose, a destiny beyond my understanding, a calling from my familiar life into an unknown one.

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For many years after my first steps into it, I had a mysterious expectancy — something better was ahead. Only in the past few years am I aware of being in it. Finally. I can’t say that I can identify what, exactly, I am in, I just know that it has finally arrived.

Or maybe it’s me who finally arrived in it.

Maybe this sense of destiny being fulfilled has to do with the writing that began in earnest five years ago. Maybe it’s the new people that came into my life unexpectedly, or the reappearance of many from my past. Maybe it’s the removal of some people. Perhaps it’s the distance I’ve gained on injustices and realizing that the “bad stuff” is not repeating. Maybe it’s due to further yielding to God’s will, of passing some kind of crucial, incremental notch on my seemingly endless cog of surrender.

Maybe it’s all of that and far more. I may remain forever unenlightened, and my understanding of it might not matter … I just know I’m in something new.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

You also have a destiny, a purpose, a calling to something new. It is good ahead for you, irresistibly good. Choose it, and be confident that God will make a way for its fulfillment.

He leads. You need only to trust him enough to follow where he leads.

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“All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.” Psalm 139:16

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 

 

 

A New Thing

Could it be that in your quest to make a difference or leave your mark on this world, you are in fact on the cusp of realizing it, yet it doesn’t seem so? It was put this way through the prophet Isaiah: “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?”

Perhaps the bigger the “new thing”, the more time needed to be able to look back and see what you were a part of.

As long as I’ve known him, my stepfather, Vern Wilson, has been casual about his seventy-five years as a musician. Actually, I doubt he’s ever called himself a musician, he just says, “I played with ___ band in this town,” as we pass through on drives, or “I never learned to read music, I only play by ear.” Only play by ear – I wish I could play an instrument by ear!

Over several sittings in the past month, I asked for details of Vern’s early years of playing and unearthed a compelling history. He gave his permission to share it, so for those who know him, or who appreciate local history, or who will recognize the lesson in his story …

Vern grew up in a musical family near New Windsor, Illinois, where he learned to play fiddle, bass, mandolin, guitar, steel guitar, piano, organ, and accordion. Around 1938, when he was only twelve, he began playing fiddle at barn dances throughout the region with “The Pleasant Valley Boys”. By his late teens, he played live radio on WOC-Davenport.

TV with image, 1946, crop for Vern's blogWith the end of World War II, broadcast television exploded to replace radio in homes across America. Someone heard Vern on WOC radio and hired him to play at the newly-aired WHBF TV-Rock Island. He played fiddle with “Buddies of the Airlanes”, who provided several live music programs per day. That’s Vern (age 24), in the photo below, second from the right.

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Here’s what they sounded like, although Vern wasn’t there when this was recorded – he played with them only for their TV program.

We were together at my dining table when I did a search and found the following article. To go from having little to no memoirs of his early band days, to finding a little something online was a nice surprise. He’s in the front in the photo.

http://www.hillbilly-music.com/groups/story/index.php?groupid=12786

From 1951 to ’54, Vern trained tank operators in the U.S. Army. By 1957, he was back at WOC, this time doing television instead of radio, and joined by his younger brother. Vern (age 31) and Ron (age 22) played a live show with the band, “Wes Holly and the Rhythm Ranchers”.

This is one of only two recordings that he has of his decades of playing. Wes Holly wrote the song on the drive to Chicago to record at a studio. Vern remembers they had a 2:30 a.m. studio slot, and slept in a YMCA after. Vern played fiddle, Ron played bass, and both sang backup. Those who know them recognize their youthful voices in the chorus. Now 89, Vern hadn’t heard this for years, so Youtube helped make Christmas day heartwarming when I played it for him and Mom.

And lastly, here they are with “Wes Holly and the Rhythm Ranchers” in a book published in 2010 about WOC AM-FM radio and television history.

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I asked Vern if he realized back then it was a big deal to be part of the birth of television. His honest reply?

“No, we just did it.”

That’s often the way it is when you’re in the midst of a new thing – it doesn’t seem all that significant in the moment. But give it time, and … Oh, it is … So. Very. Significant.

DSCN0403.jpg book cover final, WOC, Pat SundinFor I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.  –  Isaiah 43:19 – New Living Translation

Irresistible Destiny, Part Two

Destiny by definition:

1. something that is to happen or has happened to a particular person or thing; lot or fortune.

2. the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events.

From experience, I can verify the irresistible aspect of destiny. It beckons. It takes me forward despite all of my human shortcomings and fears. I do not want to resist it. I could, I know, and thereby prevent a whole chain of events from transpiring. But I don’t want to do that.

Why allow myself to be taken forward into the unknown, into a wilderness, even into a wasteland?

Because I sense something wonderful ahead. From what I’ve stumbled upon so far in this new, unfamiliar wilderness, it is good. Very, very good.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:9 NIV)

Despite the challenges and insecurities, I choose to proceed in the unknown. Why?

Because I am absolutely certain that God’s love for me is beyond my comprehension. I am convinced that his vision is infinite, flawless, and inconceivably wise, even while my view is through a tiny, mist-covered porthole. I am sure of God’s protection for me in this unfamiliar terrain — where he beckons he provides an impenetrable fortress, a complete shield and rear guard — I may hear hostile voices beyond his walls, but enemy arrows will not reach me.

I am safe in my destiny. I am secure in my destiny. I will have the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit in my destiny.

What’s true for me, is true for you.

You are safe in your destiny. You are secure in your destiny. You will have the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit in your destiny.

God beckons with a plan for your life. Will you follow?

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Destiny, Part One

I woke today with the word “destiny” on my mind. So I did a little digging, some reading, and a whole lot of listening …


“All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old” (Psalm 139:16 NCV).

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)


“You can miss God’s destiny for your life. People do it all the time. In fact, you can go through your entire life and miss God’s purpose for your life — by your own choices.

God’s will is not automatic. He allows us to make choices. Many of the things that happen to you are not God’s perfect will. We all have to choose between God’s will and our will. We often choose our will.

But you can have God’s will for your life. Even when you mess up, God can turn disaster into destiny. It’s never too late to have his perfect will in your life. Just pray, “God, I want your purpose for my life,” and you won’t miss it — no matter where you’ve been. He’ll get you in line with his purpose. He wants you to fulfill your destiny more than you do!

It’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God’s will is done perfectly in Heaven. He wants it done perfectly in your life, too.

But your destiny is your choice.” Rick Warren


So … Destiny. I chose mine almost twenty years ago, albeit fearfully, hesitantly, and somewhat erratically. I remember well the misgivings and angst that accompanied the decision. I can describe it only as a sense of purpose, a destiny beyond my understanding — a calling from my “known” life into an “unknown” one.

For many years after, I had a mysterious expectancy — something better was “ahead.” Only recently am I aware of being “in it”. Finally. I can’t say that I can identify WHAT exactly, I am in. I just know that it has finally arrived. Or maybe it’s me who finally arrived in IT.

Maybe this sense of “destiny being fulfilled” has to do with the writing that began in earnest three years ago. Maybe it’s the new people that have come into my life unexpectedly. Maybe it’s the removal of some people. Perhaps it’s the distance I’ve gained on my past and seeing that “the bad stuff” is not repeating. Maybe it’s due to further yielding to God’s will, of passing some kind of crucial, incremental notch on my seemingly-endless cog of surrender.

Maybe it’s all of that and far more. I may remain forever oblivious, and my understanding of it might not matter — I just know I’m in something new.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

You also have a destiny, a purpose, a calling to something new. It is good ahead for you, irresistibly good. Choose it, and be confident that God will make a way for its fulfillment.

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Continued in “Irresistible Destiny, Part Two”