Kinfolk: Is there a stranger in the house? Wednesday, Nov 28 2007 

 

I rummage through the pages of the Louisiana Baptist Message that comes in the mail. Quite often, the only thing I find really worth reading in the weekly denominational news rag is Pastor Bob Adams’ insightful devotional vignettes that the Message prints on each issue’s front page.easter-61.jpg

But when the November 22 edition of the Message came to the house, I really paused at the title: “Kinfolk: We all got ’em.”

I paused since “kinfolk” is a lable that applies to me and my beloved in relation to the good pastor from Bogalusa, so I read on with interest, suspecting that this message might be more personal than not.

Sure enough, Pastor Adams got nearer to the thesis of his piece by posing this rhetorical question: “How do you respond when ‘strange characters’ slide a chair up to your beautiful Thanksgiving dinner table because they are part of the family?”

You know what immediately came to my mind?

My family, including me, were guests at that “beautiful Thanksgiving dinner table” in Bogalusa a year ago!

Was I “strange?” Or my wife or my daughter?

But after reasoning, my fretting soon passed. I calculated that, with last week’s Thanksgiving so recently past, the Pastor’s remarks must have surely applied to family who attended this year’s Thanksgiving celebration in Bogalusa.

So Sarah and I and Ann are off the hook!

But for the rest of those who were there last week, . . . “Who was the ‘strange character’ in the Adams house who serves as the good Pastor’s unspecified example?

Nominations are in order!

Glory in the Highest: The Show Must Go On! Sunday, Nov 25 2007 

choir-practice.jpgTonight begins the week choir/cast members love to hate: The every-night-of-the-week rehearsals preparing for opening night of the church drama/musical, “Glory in the Highest,” on Saturday. For this one week of the year, our hearts and souls belong to the church and the choir and the cast.

Lucky me, I’m losing my voice tonight after fighting off what I have decided to call the “Times Square Appezutix,” an upper-respiratory bug I seem to have contracted since returning from New York a week ago. Not being able to sing left me free at practice this evening to take a phone-shot of the choir and cast-at-large rehearsing the finale. That’s Sarah at the mike, part of the drama cast in the foreground, the supporting choir/cast arranged across the stage. Come next Saturday night, we’ll all look like biblical characters, wearing costumes of the period.

Actually, we’ve been working on this schedled three-night performance since August This is just the week to polish and perfect. I pray that my laryngitis will be healed in time, but even more, I pray that the soprano at the mike in the picture, with whom I share a bedroom and everything personal at home, does not contract that same Times Square Appezutix that has left me speechless. If I am ill, the show will go on, for I am a mere “barrentone” in the choir. If she is ill, . . . well, that’s serious!

Wacky Terbacky? Thursday, Nov 22 2007 

asparagus-cig.jpg

Is my son smoking a green cigar, or nibbling a piece of Thanksgiving asparagus? And what does his pregnant wife think of all this foolishness as she does her best to ignore the antics?

A Country Boy Can Survive: The Manhattan Chapter Monday, Nov 19 2007 

As one steeped in the manners of my native rural Deep South, I should have known better when I visited Manhattan last week. But, wooed by the seductive allures of “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” I had to learn my lesson. Thank God it ended OK, but not until I came to my “Country boy can survive” senses. Here’s what happened.crowne-plaza.jpg

When we arrived in the city, we had to check our bags with the bell captain at the Crown Plaza Hotel on Broadway because we arrived a little early for check-in. We took a stroll around the neighborhood to get a feel for the surroundings (that’s another country boy tendency, by the way: to analyze surroundings, especially in unfamiliar environments.) When check-in time came, we reported back to the bell captain, clutching our claim tickets to gather our bags to head to the room. But the bell captain gruffly rebuffed us, asking what room we were in. “Go on to your room. We weel bring dem up,” he ordered.

I didn’t really feel good about that, but I figured, “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” so we caught the elevator and occupied our room. A few moments later, the bell hop knocked and delivered our bags. Of course, we tipped him generously. (Isn’t that what one does “When in Rome?”)

OK, New York, I’m playing your game your way. It worked out OK, but I still didn’t feel right about letting someone else do what I could so easily have done for myself.

The real test came the next day when I had to claim the LCD projector I had Fed Ex’ed to the hotel in advance so I wouldn’t have to drag that extra baggage through the airports. This projector was a vital piece of equipment, for I was on the program the next afternoon with a colleague from Mississippi, and we were depending on that projector for showing our PowerPoint presentation on “Strengthening State Networks.”presentation-marriott.jpg

I went downstairs to the Business Center and things started off well enough. The attendant there looked on the FedEx receipt log and found my package had arrived the preceding Friday. He made a phone call and told me I could go on up to my room, for the package with my projector would be delivered shortly.

So up I went and waited. After a short time, “Knock, knock.” The bell hop held out a package and asked, “Ees dis yours?”

I looked at the label on the package: “David Pighetti.”

“No, buddy, that’s not me,” I replied, as I explained how me and this Pighetti were both named after a famous Hebrew king, but we spell my last names differently. He left, declaring he’d be back with the right package shortly.

I sighed and went back into the room. A few moments later, the phone rang.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Meester Pulling, we find your package. Eet weel be in de room where you are going to give your pree-sentation.”

“Uh oh,” I stated. “My presentation is not in this hotel. It’s at the Marriot two blocks down the street. So you really need to tell me where my projector is.”

I really don’t know if the fellow understood half of what I said. He was English handicapped, fairly obviously. Now mind you, I don’t object to accents and second languages. I can manage fairly well in French and even hold my own in Spanish, and I admire anyone who can speak a second language. But at this point in this situation, the linguistics were not working in my favor.

Sounding kind of lost, the fellow told me he was transferring me to Banquet Services. I was quite at a loss as to why, but I allowed the phone to ring and ring and ring at Banquet Services. When the Banquet Services voice mail recording picked up, the Country Boy in me came to life.

I deposited the phone receiver on its cradle and looked at my colleague, who was marveling all the while at this unfolding saga.

“Doggone it,” I declared, “I was raised under the teaching that if you have a job to get done and you have the power to do it yourself, you should just take the bull by the horns and do it!”

So off I charged to the elevator. I descended to the Business Center where this escapade began, related the string of mishaps to the attendant there, and before long was received by the manager of Banquet Services who led me to a room on the 15th floor where I found my package.

Did I suggest he call someone to bring it to my room? Did I ask for any help at all?

Of course not. A country boy can survive! I gathered that box up in my arms and took it upstairs to the room. The projector worked admirably for our presentation the next day, and all ended well.

I did have the option of returning the projector to Louisiana by FedEx so again I wouldn’t have to lug it around the airport. But when I heard someone tell how the FedEx shipping line at the hotel was thirty minutes long, I kicked myself and remembered: “I can do this job myself!” So I packed the projector with my bags and brought it back to Louisiana under my own power.

For, you see, a country boy can survive! (And he can also carry his own bags!)

From Times Square to the Cajun Prairie . . . Saturday, Nov 17 2007 

A day of transition: I  began this Saturday pounding the sidewalks of Broadway on a souvenir-hunting expedition for the girls back home, and ended the day driving the rural Acadiana backroads leading home.  As I compared the congestion of Manhatten’s clogged thoroughfares to the wide open spaces I encountered on the secondary backroads of the Cajun Prairie, I wondered wtimes-square.jpghy anybody would want to live (and drive) in Manhattan.

Who’s weird?  Those city folks, or me?

We’ll explore answers to that question (and others) in the days to come, as my Manhatten sojourn has provided some fodder for rejuvenating the “Country Boy Can Survive” discusions from a year ago.

Stay tuned!

Manhattan Journal, Entry 1 Thursday, Nov 15 2007 

I never would have thought I would compare Bourbon Street to anyplace else on earth, but I am tempted to make such a comparison to Broadway. As for noise and cacophony, Broadway gets the edge on a day in and out basis (Bourbon St. at Mardi Gras holds its own, but so probably does Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

As for disgusting, Bourbon St. deserves the edge just because of the sleeze and unbeidled iniquity, but you see plenty of disgusting sights up and down Broadway and Times Square just the same.

As for vehicle traffic, of course, Broadway is peerless for noise,volume, and congestion.

The bottom line is that neither place is my kind of place. People shouldn’t act the way they do in places like that. But that’s one country fellow’s opinion on the subject. Small town life rules!

The Country Boy Can Survive, Part III? Sunday, Nov 11 2007 

The “Country Boy Can Survive” entries from 2006 are among my favorite blogs of all time. That year’s memoirs of the conference trips to Los Angeles and Nashville provided fun fodder for this blog.

This year, I traveled so far to Roanoke, Virginia,, for the conference counterpart to Los Angeles a year ago. The “A Country Boy Can Survive” theme is kind of purposeless in that quaint, small-mountain-folk-metropolis-kind-of-venue, because the “country boy” feels right at home munching cheddar grits and peanut soup in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains with the First Baptist Church right across the road from the conference hotel. Gollee, Western Virginia is “Country Boy’s” country!

But later this week, New York City is the conference destination.250px-top_of_rock_cropped.jpg

Manhattan. Times Square. Broadway. Central Park.

Will the “Country Boy” from Louisiana find poetical inspiration in the concrete jungles of the Big Apple?

Stay tuned!!

Among the Waters . . . Wednesday, Nov 7 2007 

I’m pretty sure I posted this once before, but I stumbled across it in the portfolio trying to find an idea to freshen up the blog until I have a chance to invent something. Since Pastor Tim is teaching us through Genesis on Sunday evenings in this season, I thought such a poetical expression might be appropriate. Compare this piece, incidentally, to “I Heard God’s Word Along the Sea.” I never thought of the similarity until I read this piece, which I wrote a few mnths before the latter. Must be a theme with me.   I wasn’t even conscious that some of my stuff sounds so much alike.

Among the Waters
By David Pulling
March 2005, 2007
And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.
Genesis 1:6-7

rgt-moonlitsurf.jpgThe Gulf’s white sand beaches,
New England’s boulder-strewn shore.
No matter,
Glory rides on wind
Swept over the face of the waters
Like sun
Shining,
Glancing,
Glistening,
Shimmering,
Or waves rolling
In noisy moonlit surf—
Calling to lost and darkening
Men. Seeking the author of waters among the waters.

The Wayfarer, the Cross, and Home Thursday, Nov 1 2007 

mountains.jpgSunday night in Roanoke, Virginia. I’m leaving the Hotel Roanoke to cross the street for a reception for my continuing education administrators’ conference. Dozens and dozens of fellow conference goers were crossing the street at the same time. We looked forward to a live string quartet playing spry classical music, to fancy h’ors d’oerves (or however you spell “orderves”), and to a good time meeting and re-meeting folks we had never met as well as others whom we hadn’t seen since a year ago.

I’d been up since 3:30 a.m. Louisiana time, so I wasn’t in the best humor. But as I crossed the street, here came those bells, chiming from a church building across the way, a familiar air: I paused to listen.

Yep, sure enough, one of those cozy tunes from the past: “The Way of the Cross Leads Home.” We haven’t sung that one in church in quite a while. In fact, I haven’t heard the melody or contemplated the lyrics in years. But the familiarity and the charm all came back right away.

I changed direction to walk toward the bell tower half a block away from which emanated the tune. Some of my fellow conferenciers cried out, “You’re going the wrong way,” as if they thought I was lost.

But I corrected them: “No, I want to hear this hymn.” They moved on toward the reception, and I tarried to indulge myself in the softness of the moment.jessie-pounds.jpg

As hymn lyrics go, to tell the truth, Jessie Pounds’ lyrics for “The Way of the Cross Leads Home” may not be the grandest poetry in hymnody. But at the same time, it’s hardly bad poetry, as poetry goes.

But this evening, it wasn’t so much abour “great” poetry. The context made all the difference.

First, this was a Sunday, and I had missed my usual church service to catch a 6:00 a.m. flight, so something was already missing from one of the most fixed routines in my life; and in addition, the mingled images of “cross” and “home” borne on the sentimental air of the chimes, falling on the ears of this sleep-deprived, half-homesick wayfarer 800 miles from home, called out like exotic sirens, drawing me nearer to the cross, nearer to home, nearer to rest.

After a moment, curious, I walked into the middle of the streefbcroanoke.jpgt in the fading daylight to read the name of the church whose chimes I heard: “First Baptist Church” appeared on the sign on the front lawn. I want those folks at FBC-Roanoke to know their bells blessed a pilgrim’s heart.