An Old, Old Story: Part 2 for Holy Week Tuesday, Mar 30 2010 

Here’s the second set of that 1997 blank verse composition, rendered for Easter music.

II

“Oh how marvelous, Oh how wonderful!”

How many of us know those words by heart?

“By heart,”

"He took my sin and my sorrow, He made them His very own."

did I say?  Yes, that’s the right theme

For Sunday morning church.  But do we not,

At times, lost in daily races with rats

And jobs and kids and work and play, forget

To feel our hearts? To sense the spirit pulse?

And how are we moved this Easter morning?

Does Calv’ry’s luminescent truth outshine

The brightest pastel shades of Easter dress?

Rather should arrows of dire conviction

Strike fast in our dull, dispassionate hearts,

Yet even those hardly as rusted spikes,

Formed more for us and our unworthiness,

So cruelly pierced the Saviour’s hands and feet

That grim day on lonely Golgotha’s crest.

The sanguine flow melting into the sand

There at the foot of the old rugged cross

Spelled “paid in full,” by the blood that was  shed–

Love’s truth indelible, written in red.

My Theme in Glory: Preparing for Easter ’10 Saturday, Mar 27 2010 

In ’97, I was “commissioned” to write some settings for the church’s Easter musical program.  I composed the settings in blank verse.  Browsing through the portfolio this evening, I came across these previously un-published verses in four sets.  I decided to post them day by day in the coming week of this Holy season.  Here’s Part I, written to introduce “Tell Me the Old, Old Story.”

Reflections on an Old,Old Story

March 1997

W. H. Doane, composer of the music for "Tell Me the Old, Old Story"

I

My theme in glory . . . An old, old story–

The story of man’s redemption, passed on

As the rich inheritance of God’s love

From age to age, the everlasting truth,

Steadfast and uneroded by time’s vain

Assault on the bastions of eternity.

This old, old story rises even still

In misty, magical scenes of childhood

As fresh remembrance of warm summer nights

In a white church house beside a pasture

Where a gray-haired preacher–no great

scholar,

Just an earnest country prophet he was–

Called glory down from heaven’s lofty peaks,

Exhorting lost pilgrims, including me,

To stand amazed in the presence of light

That floods the darkness of souls’ hopeless night.

The folly of beancounters: Fiscal resonsibility gone loco Wednesday, Mar 24 2010 

An official representing the Louisiana Property Assistance Agency (LPAA) showed up on campus today to conduct an “emergency meeting” to bring me and my LSU Eunice colleagues up to speed on a statewide crackdown.  LPAA, incidentally, is the government agency charged with    administering the state’s fleet vehicles, that armada of drab Tauruses and Impalas and Dodge minivans driven by petty state bureaucrats like me on official errands.

The Fleet Management Agency: Protectorate of the Taxpayer's Trust!

They reiterated the point that vehicles must be used strictly for official state business.  No picking up the kids after soccer practice, no trips to Sonic for 3:00 classified staff breaks, no detours to pick up a loaf of bread and a pound of coffee on the way back from a meeting in Baton Rouge.

No problem, right?

But then someone raised this question: “What happens if I have a medical emergency? Say, for instance, a badly cut hand or finger requiring an emergency room visit.  Can I drive myself to the nearest emergency room?”

The staid reply: “NO!  Dial 911.  If you have to go to the hospital for a personal injury, call an ambulance and leave the state car parked.”

Huh????  Yes, that’s what we were told.

Measure that against this: Later in the presentation, the state official explained what rights the employee has when traveling “away from domicile” overnight at a conference or something like that.  Say, for instance, you discover once you get to the hotel that you forgot to pack your deodorant.  “No problem!  You can use the state car to drive to the nearest Walgreen’s or WalMart to get your toiletries.”

Duh???  So if I run out of deodorant, no problem–the governor approves my errand.  But if I’m bleeding on the side of the road, even though I have the power to safely drive myself to the nearest treatment facility, I have to call an ambulance?

Do I have to explain to anyone how stupid that sounds?

Advice for Congressmen on the Eve of Historic Legislation Sunday, Mar 21 2010 

Ancient Jewish wisdom:   “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.  God is in heaven and you are on earth,  so let your words be few.”  (from Ecclesiastes)

Congress burns the midnight oil on the eve of health care reform.

After the past few hours of watching  partisan pony shows and listening to moralizing lectures  from men lacking in moral authority,  both sides claiming the authority of the voice of the American people, my heart and my ears are weary.           

 How

     much

          better

              to listen

                    than

                          to speak!

May health care reform succeed, and now may the politicians shut up!

The joys of grandparenting: “Me see!” Friday, Mar 19 2010 

Lately, we’ve started a tradition of bringing Payton to campus at LSU Eunice for lunch on those days she comes to spend with Honey.  That way, poor old Papa (who has

Payton Elizabuff insists on seeing the picture that Honey can't take because Payton won't stay in front of the camera long enough.

to work while the girls play) gets in on at least some of the fun.

Lately, taking pix or videos of Payton has become complicated, because as soon as the little squirt-flirt sees the iphone aimed at her, she exlaims, “Me see!  Me see!”  And she runs to me or Honey, or whoever is trying to take the pix, and insists that she we show her the view on the screen.  Of course, she doesn’t understand that her actions are defeating our purpose and that we can’t take any meaningful pictures of her as long as she’s on that “wrong” side of the camera.

As a measure of fighting fire with fire, when Payton pulled this stunt on Honey yesterday, I was armed and ready with my own camera.  While Payton executed “Me see!” with Honey, I got this adorable still shot of my girls.  Honey didn’t get the picture that she wanted, but Papa did!

The Lighthouse (Recycled!) Wednesday, Mar 17 2010 

I posted this piece three years ago almost to the date.  When it’s time to freshen the blog and no new inventions are evident, I raid

The Tchefuncte River Lighthouse at Lake Pontchartrain: near Madisonville, La.

the archives!

Years ago (more years than I care to recall? Like, 30 or more? Yikes!), I remember listening to the Florida Boys quartet singing “The Lighthouse” on their syndicated Southern gospel singing show Gospel Jubilee. The show came on every Sunday morning, and we’d listen/watch as we got ready for Sunday school and church. That was truly one of those Deep South, Bible belt cultural routines that we “did” in those days.

One of the Florida Boys’ signature quartet-style numbers was a song called “The Lighthouse.” The tenor solo would lead into the refrain at the end of each verse with the lyrics, “If it wasn’t for the lighthouse,” And as he paused after singing “lighthouse,” the bass boomed the interjection “Tell me,” followed by the full quartet joining in the full crescendo complement, “Where would this ship be?”

How did I get off on this subject? I was rummaging through Mypictures on the PC at work, looking for a posting idea, and I came across the photo above of the Madisonville Tchefuncte River lighthouse, a landmark that goes all the way back through my years of remembering. We fished many times for croakers and speckled trout in the shadow of that lighthouse. I thought it was a cool reminiscence, so I decided it was worth blogging. I even found an interesting link at LighthouseFriends.com online with a piece about the history of the Tchefuncte River Lighthouse.

So much for nostalgia–From the shores of Lake Pontchartain to the strains of the Happy Goodmans whose rendition I found on YouTube: just that much more from past memories.

Doc’s bad News is Enough: Alzheimer’s is worse Monday, Mar 15 2010 

What an insidious disease.

I am watching the illness rob both my Dad and my mother-in-law of their identities.  Who they were for all of their lives doesn’t amount to much in the end.  But the end comes seemingly and ever so slowly . . . Is that slowness a symptom more of the wretchedness?

God must be in control, because I sure ain’t!

The brain drain?

The joys of grandparenting: Payton and the campus water fountain Saturday, Mar 13 2010 

Splashing water tickles a little girl's fancy.

Last week when Payton “Elizabuff” came to spend the day with Honey, Papa suggested the girls come over to campus for lunch in the Acadian Center cafeteria.  He likes to show off his little granddaughter to all his students and co-workers.

After enough bites of cheesey mashed potatoes and chicken fried steak to satisfy a little girl’s hunger, Payton demanded that we go outside to see the water fountain, her favorite attraction at LSU Eunice.  So who would deny a little girl’s simple heart’s desire?  Off we went to the fountain, where I got a couple of cute pix of my little squirt/flirt.

As Payton walks around the fountain with Honey watching on, she's a diminutive model of LSU spirit with her purple hair ribbon and shirt.

Tuesday, Mar 9 2010 

Now that this blog registers several years of accumulated material, I can  recycle posts.  I looked at what I posted this same time in 2007 and found this piece I wrote sin those days.  Crossing Lake Pontchartrain (Louisiana) last week on the way to New Orleans from the North Shore recalled images in this piece I call “Among the Waters.”  This version of the verse shows some revision from the former post, suggesting again that there may be no such thing as a “final draft” of anything I write until perhaps I’m dead!

Lake Pontchartrain spreads "among the waters" with the Causeway Bridge silhouetted in the distance.

Among the Waters

(Composed March 2007, revised ever so often since)

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

Gulf’s white sand beaches,
New England’s boulder-strewn shore:
No matter,
Glory rides on wind
Swept along the face of the waters,
Tossed in noisy surf, dancing in sun and flashing by moon—
Calling to lost and darkening
Men
Seeking
The author of waters
Among the waters.

New Orleans: The Happy Days Are Here Again Saturday, Mar 6 2010 

The French Quarter is a bustling happy place on this Saturday morning.

A river boat calliope chirping out the melody “Happy Days Are Here Again” set my gait for a morning walk through the French Quarter during a break from conference business.  I’ve visited the familiar neighborhoods of the Vieux Carre as long as I can remember, but this morning, up and down the sidewalks teeming with cheerful tourists, I realized I have never seen the old City look and feel so good, pre-Katrina or post.

Maybe it was the early spring weather.  Maybe it’s the after-glow of winning the Superbowl (Lots of “Who dat” banners hanging from balconies all over the Quarter).  Maybe it’s that Ray Nagin is a lame duck mayor.

Whatever, the old Queen City of the South is feeling her oats.  I was particularly impressed with the tourists: you can bring your family here!  Young couples with broods in tow were common, some pushing baby carriages and toting diaper bags.  Lots of middle-aged Boomer and senior types, too: dapper-looking decent folks, descending on the Big Easy from all points of the compass (You can tell by the place names on the caps and sweatshirts).

The streets smelled fresh, spic and span after their early-morning pressure-washing (in spite of the extensive, into-the-night Friday  parties.  Ten years ago, the leftover litter and stench from Friday night would have appalled the senses!).  The portraitists and painters (preferable to the tawdry Tarot Card readers) have returned to Jackson Square.   The energetic crowds are back.  The place just feels re-born.

Of course, come nightfall, the raucous foolishness will recommence.  We know the party-hardy will have their sway after the sun goes down on Bourbon Street.  But I can avoid Bourbon Street.  Meanwhile,  so long as he sun shines, so does New Orleans: She’s better than ever.

Our conference hotel, the historic Monteleone, was bursting at the seems with conferees and tourists.

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