The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

August 16, 2015

Protected: I Am Luke

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May 8, 2012

A Golden Afternoon

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Imagine plump blackberries as big as the end of your thumb, their natural sweetness and flavor oozing forth with an unsurpassed richness, and the sensational aroma causes your mouth to water with anticipation.  This was what I remembered one golden afternoon at age eight.  My dad had come home from work and we went outside to play around for awhile.  In the lane just behind our house dad noticed some blackberry bushes loaded down with huge berries.

He turned and kneeled down to me, “Hey, want to make a blackberry pie?  I bet we can make the best pie ever!  What do you think?”

Of course, I was ready to just eat those blackberries right then and there, forget the pie man!  However, I wanted to help dad and be close to him more than I wanted to eat those berries so we began to pick them for the pie. By the time we picked all those blackberries I was sick with hunger.   They were so plump, wonderful, and tempting as we cleaned them carefully with running cold water.

A few times I would surreptitiously pluck one in my mouth thinking I had fooled dad. But to my amazement he had done the same thing!

In the kitchen we prepared the dough, working with our hands, rolling it out on baking sheets sprinkled with flour. Next we carefully formed the dough around the pie pan.  We then prepared the blackberries with a mixture of sugar and other ingredients I cannot (won’t) name and threw that mix in the pan. Finally, we used the remaining dough for a topping then using a fork we made two imprints in the middle so that the pie could breath.

Dad placed the pie in the preheated oven and we waited.

I never knew baking could be such torture.  The wait was excruciating!  Once the aroma filled our little home (no air-condition until I was thirteen years old) I was besieged with pangs of hunger.  I had to leave the house and climb my favorite tree just to get some relief.  Finally dad announced that the pie was done but that another fifteen minutes of cool down time was necessary.

Oh the bitter agony.  What abuse!

Then the moment of truth arrived.  Dad had remodeled a round wooden pedestal table and that was where we sat to eat our blackberry pie.  He placed a piece of the pie for me and one for him.  Then we gave thanks.  Thank goodness his prayer was short and sweet.  I don’t think I could have resisted the aroma any longer. Oh, the blackberry pie was magical, heavenly, and unbelievably good.

It was in every way a masterpiece.

My dad had bet that we could make the best pie ever but what we experienced in the process went far beyond the makings of an awesome dessert. Here we were as father and son offering up a sacrifice of sorts- a sacrifice of time, of togetherness, of tenderness, and of love.  The aroma of this sacrifice reached well beyond the natural senses and to the very depth of our souls.  The bond of love between us was strengthened. By faith I believe that this unique connection was orchestrated by God. A golden afternoon with enormous eternal consequences and one forever treasured in my heart.

Always value the time spent with your loved one.  It is never too late. A golden afternoon awaits you today.

Yours, Bruce

October 7, 2011

“The Strange Case of the Beetle” An Unaccountable Happening

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“It was chance meeting you here.”  We’ve all experienced the feeling.  You know- fate verses coincidence, destiny verses fortune, or providence verses happen-chance. Merriam Webster has a darling definition of chance: “The assumed impersonal purposeless determiner of unaccountable happenings.”  Old Webster took the words right out of my mouth.  I dig the “unaccountable happenings” because, as you know, I’ve experienced many unusual and bizarre moments.  But “assumed impersonal purposeless determiner” called chance?  I just can’t see it.  Here is a real story of ‘unaccountable happenings’ called The Strange Case of the Beetle.   You decide whether it was chance, providence or perhaps both?

“I was 18 and boy was I pumped.  My first car!  Cool as grits baby.  Life couldn’t get any better than this.  Dad had decided to help me get into a new, well, actually, used vehicle.  I had graduated from High School (much to his amazement I’m sure) and found a decent job, so, here we were.  The day had been spent searching all over Savannah, GA stopping by every conceivable car lot.  I was about ready to give up when we came upon a lot that had this really groovy 1969 VW Beetle.  It was nifty yellow with a sweet custom designed shift knob and an even sweeter stereo radio with super-sweet speakers!  She was, shall I say, sweet.  Nothing else was as interesting to me at the time as a great sound system and being able to peel out in first gear, out-of-site and sound of course from dad.  She purred so sweet- for about three months, then, little things started to unravel and go wrong.  The peel was coming off the lemon, quick.

The first thing that needed repair was the exhaust system.  If you’ve ever tried to work on a foreign vehicle especially a VW then you will remember that the engine sits in the back and getting to the exhaust system was extra difficult.  Before long, I was ready to blow a gasket, literally.  One cold rainy aggravating afternoon I was so tired and overwhelmed that dad came out and gave me a huge hug.  Said, I needed it.  I did!  Finally, I accomplished that irritating task.  At the same time this was going on there was a new rage called CB Radio.  I wanted to join my buddies and decided to put one in my car. So, one sunny afternoon, I decided where I was going to position the radio inside my car and drilled two very nice holes. No problem, right? Wrong! I drilled right into the gas tank.  I forgot that the gas tank was positioned in the front! Gas spewed every where!  I’m surprised I didn’t go up in flames.  I finally repaired that monumental mess but could never get the gas smell out of the car. Instead of smelling sweet she smelt like gassy rags placed behind the seat.  Well, at least it was tolerable. Until…

Until the steering stabilizer arm went out.  Doesn’t sound all that bad?  Imagine driving your car and at some point the road starts to curve to the right. You slowly turn the steering wheel to the right and when the turn is complete you straighten out the car and move on.  But, in a VW with a bad stabilizing arm, as you turn and bank to the right your entire front section begins to shimmy and shake violently!  Trust me on this.  I repaired that arm twice but nothing seemed to work. Every time I banked to the right she shook and shimmied.  It hurt my pride terribly.  In fact, at that time in my life, I enjoyed Disco and periodically went dancing.  Yes, I had my own platform shoes among other things.  But, here’s the deal. There was this absolutely gorgeous girl I wanted to really impress.  So, I schemed and devised a route plan that would avoid making sweeping turns to the right.  Yes, I was a genius! I was the Albert Einstein of Disco. With my mathematical plans in place I set out happily on the date.  From the beginning we hit it off. Man, the music was groovin, conversation alluring, windows down, hair flying in the wind, and laughter filled the car.  Yes, we were living the dream until the car banked to the right.  I had been so excited about my date that I forgot the plan!  We were in a major right curve heading onto the Interstate. The whole car began to shake violently.  No wonder Einstein’s hair was so frizzled. My date became alarmed and cried out “What’s wrong with your car!  Are we going to die?” I did.  I died of total embrassement.  The next day I sold the VW Beetle.

A few months later I began to regain my pride back and forgot all about that horrible lemony evil Beetle.  I began to date another girl from Savannah and life was enjoyable once again.  Several weeks into our relationship she calls me one night very excited announcing,

“Hey, I just purchased a car!” 

“Great, what kind of car?”

“A VW!  It’s yellow.”

Something stirred in my belly. “Uh, a yellow VW?”

“It’s a Beetle!”

I thought of Einstein.

“So, a VW Beetle.  Are you sure?”

“What do you mean? Sure I’m sure.  I can see that it is yellow, a VW, a Beetle, I’m not an idiot.”

Hmmm, I decided silence was golden at this point.

“I’m coming over so you can see it.”

Before I could answer she hung up.  I had that déjà vu nightmarish feeling but put it aside and waited for her to arrive.  Not long she pulled in. I went out to see her “new car” and, well, there was that yellow lemon gas smelling VW Beetle parked in my driveway.  Here was the Beetle alive and kicking.  I could sense the thing grinning with malice intent. I wanted it dead. The image running through my mind was watching it sail off a cliff.  Guess I should have dated a different girl.

Ok friends; was this a case of chance, providence or both? I believe God was working mightily hard to get my attention. What say you? 

Solomon said this in Eccl.9:11, “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.”  Amazingly we have an additional element to life as conveyed by Paul in Ro.8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Both of these passages reveal an important truth about life, providence, and chance.  You see everyone is on a journey called life.  In this life everyone is affected by time and chance.  The really good news is that God uses both time and chance to work providentially.  Sometimes we feel absolutely certain that God’s hand was involved other times we are less than certain.  That is just fine because we can always be assured that God is never uncertain nor is He unaware of coincidences or unaccountable happenings.  Any moment, time, or chance is used or not used by God.  He alone knows when to get our attention and what is essential. Such is our wonderful life.

Bruce Kessler, pastor South Canadian Valley Church of Christ, Norman, OK

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