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The Tender Compassion of Our God

My second child was born with club feet in the early 1960’s. As a young, inexperienced mother, I was both fearful and tearful when told the news. But soon my family adjusted to the diagnosis and to the treatment.

Every week I drove him from Hampton, SC to the nearest pediatric orthopedist in Columbia. Most of the trip was fun. My baby would quickly fall asleep to the soothing hum of the car engine and its gentle vibration. I loved the chance to shop in a big city where there were better selections, no matter what was on my list. Once the weekly shopping was done, I quickly found some attractive place to park where I could nurse him, change diapers, and get ready for the physician’s appointment.

Unfortunately, our peace and pleasure both evaporated the second he realized he was in the doctor’s office again. As they began to process of removing last week’s leg casts and gently putting new ones on both legs from the bottom of his toes to just over his knees, he began wailing louder and louder. I’m sure the patients in the waiting room began shifting in their chairs and secretly wondering about their own upcoming appointment.

The orthopedist’s goal was to use casts to keep his legs and feet in a normal position so the bones would gradually adjust to the way they should be, rather than the current bent position that would have meant permanent disability had it not been corrected.

My job was to comfort him so the task would be easier. However, my assistance was always hampered by my own tears as I watched my baby’s pitiful attempts to fight off “the invader.” He couldn’t fathom why the whole world had suddenly turned against him. I cried because I wanted him to know that we were helping him and not wreaking vengeance. But there is just no way to explain to a young baby the absolute necessity of his current suffering.

He and I always left each appointment with tears running down our cheeks. He usually fell asleep as we left the parking lot, exhausted by the battle he’d waged against the enemies who hurt him. And I spent each return trip contemplating the eternal anguish of watching one’s beloved child suffer.

By the next morning, he would again be his cheerful, busy self, exploring every nook and cranny he could reach. Constantly wearing the plaster casts on his legs made them extra strong. Within 24 hours, he’d be clicking his heels together, delighted to make new noises all by himself.

After he began crawling in earnest, the doctor changed the casts for corrective shoes with a bar between them that kept his feet turned outward to continue the healing process. Our trips to Columbia slowed to every two weeks.

Meanwhile his legs grew even stronger because the bar and the corrective shoes weighed more that the casts did. However, for the adults in the family, changing diapers became a defensive battle against the lethal weapon of that bar wielded by a healthy baby with strong legs. Each of us carried bruises from the process for weeks.

As he developed his leg muscles, he kicked harder and harder for the sheer joy of moving. His arms grew stronger too because instead of the usual baby crawl that coordinates the right hand with the left leg and vice versa, he mostly used both arms to pull his body forward. And he quickly improvised fascinating ways to scoot across the floor.

He always resisted each change forced upon him. But after crying until he was too weary to protest any more, he would fall asleep. When he awakened again, he readily experimented with what ever movements he could accomplish.

Would that we adults could also adjust to undesirable circumstances with the same detached elan as a six-month-old. I sometimes think that the Energizer Bunny commercials were inspired by some baby who, like him, cheerfully and energetically adapted to unusual limitations forced upon him.

While my son does not remember any of the trials he endured before his first birthday, I can see how he developed unusual physical strength and a great moral determination as he conquered adversity most babies never face. His finest traits developed without pep talks from coaches, advice from adults, or participation prizes, but merely because he adapted to the situation he faced without demanding to know why it was forced upon him. As his parent, I can easily see how those struggles helped form the man he grew up to be.

When I remember those days, I gain a new appreciation of the last verses of The Canticle of Zachariah (from John 1:78-79) that we repeat with every morning prayer.

In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall

break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the

shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. 

If I can feel frustration and tender compassion because I can’t explain to my baby why we thrust his feet into painful positions and held them there forcibly, surely God also “understands” when we face difficulties. But He promises that the light will shine upon us when we’re in those dark places, even in the shadow of death. Throughout the harsh process, He guides our feet, not our understanding, into the way of peace, if only we go along with Him. Sometimes we understand later and sometimes we don’t. But we do know that He always does it for us, not to us. And we know He guides us “into the way of peace.”

 

“God wastes nothing. All of our experiences, good and bad, are part of who we are. God is continually forming us and shaping us for the purpose He has given us.”    

Deacon Lawrence Klimecki

 

What Words Describe You?

Interesting exercise just for fun on a summer day while we’re trying to stay cool – in all senses of the word.

 

Sorry to all of my followers. I was invited to reblog the word picture of a smiling face, but I see that it was taken away from my site after a day. If I had known it was just a rent-a-blog post, I would have never used it at all.

I’ll get back to my real blogging toward the end of August, as I promised. However, if I run into an honest reblog situation, I’ll probably use it.

Cheers,

Twinkletoes

Living A Beautiful Life

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Photograph by Kaye Fairweather

Sunny Wilson

aka Effie Cobb Meroney Fairweather

 

Our beloved Sunny Wilson is now in hospice care. Please pray for her and her family. There will be no more blog postings for the next three to four weeks since the blog writer, aka Twinkletoes, will be other wise involved. Updates will be posted occasionally for those who know Sunny.

If you would like a brief overview of Sunny’s life, below is a list of the recent postings about her on One Eye and Half Sense. Sunny is the daughter of  Effie Ann Cobb Meroney, the originator of the term that serves as the Blog title.

Copy the url, then paste it into the search bar to go directly to the selected site.

This Is A Beautiful Woman: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1877

This Is A Beautiful Woman, II: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1882

This Is A Beautiful Woman, III: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1893

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IV: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1907

This Is A Beautiful Woman, V: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2025

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VI: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2039

This Is A Beautiful Woman,  VII: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2046

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VIII: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2090

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IX: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2146

 

 

The Importance of Art

Bayliss, Wyke, 1835-1906; Evening, Amiens Cathedral, France

Evening, Amiens Cathedral, France by Wyke Bayliss, Atkinson Art Gallery Collection

Art is “for us all;

to refine us, to ennoble us,

to raise us from the baser pleasures,

to fill our eyes with beauty,

and our hearts with gladness,

to show us that we are not beasts

but the King’s children,

and that Beauty is His messenger.” 

The above quote, by Wyke Bayliss, is from his book “The Witness of Art.” In it, he retells the fable of Beauty and the Beast as a commentary on the manner in which our own culture tends to deprive us of the power of art and poetry in our lives. He was  a painter, writer, and poet in England. (1835–1906)

Random Thoughts about Beauty

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Although the word “ontological” is used in many disciplines, therefore having many different uses or applications, we apply it here as Jacques Maritain did when he described a thing’s depth of being, normally not knowable to the senses, but which flashes through in an experience of Beauty. Or I believe you could also say that it is that sudden inspiration of awe when you actually notice something beautiful.

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IX

IMG_2051 2Sunny and Ralph prepare to introduce top executives and spouses from several East coast manufacturers to a typical Texas Style Barbecue and Dance. The party favors were cowboy hats and bandanas (shown in background) for all. 

 

Two Beautiful Entrepreneurs

I have no idea whether most wealthy people today resemble either the fictional, tight-fisted Ebenezer Scrooge or the modern tech billionaires who seem to want to change the world to fit their own political paradigm. But I do know that the two wealthy entrepreneurs who became part of Sunny Wilson’s life were, like her, beautiful people who loved life, who loved work, and who loved generosity.

Perhaps their early struggles to survive financially forever marked them with compassion for others. Perhaps it was because they became wealthy through their own creativity and hard work. Perhaps their pattern of life is still the norm for self-made people. 

Or, perhaps the American culture was different then. After winning  wars in both Europe and Japan, seemingly unbridled opportunities appeared everywhere as the United States embraced a hard-fought peace. Perhaps that optimism provided a more buoyant outlook for more people than the world had ever known before.

At any rate, Mary and Ralph left a legacy worthy of documentation, admiration, and emulation. Neither one ever suffered from depression, drunkenness, or drug addiction because they were having too much fun just living their lives, as in the picture above.

Mary approached her work and her business from the standpoint of her Christian beliefs. After being left holding the bag with two young children, she went into overdrive, learning to place her future in her own hands instead of depending on a husband. Her first solid precept became that there should be no difference in one’s attitudes and actions whether in the church pew or in the market place. She became a beloved Bible teacher at her home church as well as a wealthy woman.

Not only was she generous at church and when rewarding her demonstrators (the women who sold her decorative items), she also gave outright gifts of money to those in need. She frequently tried to cover a specific need for a temporary setback.  For example, she had helped Sunny start her side business of selling decorative objects for the home by lending money to buy the samples, then personally tutoring her in the art of selling by the party plan that was popular at that time. Within a few months, Sunny’s side business far outstripped her salary. 

Mary was gregarious, reaching out to others to recognize their genius, even when they believed themselves to be worthless. She was a superb listener, often winnowing the words to get down to the underlying problem, then assisting them find a way out.  Since she worked primarily with women who were in a crisis of some sort, she frequently spent hours drilling into them: “You can if you think you can.”

Mary was a combination of psychotherapist, coach, and cheerleader. She helped her representatives learn to make money and thus increased her own bottom line every single year.

Ralph, on the other hand, appeared to most people in Temple to be the epitome of the hard-boiled boss. He had little patience with any hint of laziness or lack of responsibility. 

He had learned to work with plaster after leaving a small farm in Indiana and moving to California to “seek his fortune” as a young man. At that time in Los Angeles,  Fox was putting up grand movie theaters decorated to the hilt with ornamental architectural features. So he headed there to learn how to make the molds for plaster in various forms, install the finished product, and see that it was painted appropriately. He began as an apprentice, worked his way up from journeyman to foreman because he taught himself (and then others) how to do it better and faster. After becoming the straw boss with one group, he left to start his own company. 

He made a great deal of money decorating Fox Theaters, churches, and other buildings in flamboyant California. After almost three decades though, he got bored and sold his company to someone else. It was probably excellent timing  because the elaborate movie theaters soon lost their popularity. Even the churches began to accept modern architecture’s austerity. 

Part of the agreement was that he would not open up a competing business in LA or start any business within the state. So Ralph looked into Temple, Texas and decided to build a plant there producing the new melamine counter tops like the Formica brand.

Only his were called Wilson Art, with designs by his grown daughter.  Soon he developed ways to get the finished goods to the buyer with a network of regional warehouses and a secret system that implemented deliveries in less time than any competitors could match. And his business flourished beyond all expectations.

He demanded a lot from anyone who worked at the plant in any position. If someone did not perform well, he was fired. When traveling to visit the sales reps or warehouse managers, he often took them and their spouse out to a fine dinner with lots of entertaining conversation. But, if he sensed a lack of honesty or a good work ethic,  he would go into the office the next day and hand them severance pay because of what he had learned during the previous evening.

If there were a crisis at any location, the needed employees were expected to work extra hours until the problem was solved, even if that meant a week of 12-hour days. And no one ever appeared to resent that dictum.

Like Mary, he was a listener, filing away in his memory names and details of family members that he had not even met and referring to them weeks later.  This real concern was for both the shift workers and the suits in the front office. 

His charity was primarily cash to help anyone in a bind meet an unexpected need. Few recipients ever asked for help, but instead were shocked when he privately slipped two to five hundred-dollar bills into their hands.

He also insisted on paying all employees well —— actually the wage rates were higher at his plant than anywhere else in the county. The unions tried every few years to win the representation of his workers. But every attempt failed because he already provided more benefits than their collective bargaining could promise. Many of the line workers stayed with his company their entire working careers.  While all the foremen and the company officers were well-regarded, no one ever captured hearts like Mr. Ralph did.

Mary and Ralph had no delusions of grandeur, i.e., changing the world or even amassing a fortune. Each, at one time had desperately needed money to pay their own basic expenses. Each one found a way to control the amount of money coming in – that is, they looked for and chose a form of entrepreneurship. Both admired generous people and both patterned their actions after their mentors. 

Neither Mary nor Ralph gave a flip about whether their new friends at the club or the new members of their boards approved of them, their family, or the way they lived their lives. Each one just kept doing the next right thing whether it was paying for someone else’s kid go to college,  quietly buying a new transmission for an employee’s old car, or improving the distribution process for products.

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Toward the end of the party, when even the host and hostess relax because the Eastern Dudes had decided that Texas hospitality was far more entertaining and more gracious than they had ever imagined

Copyright 2018 by Kaye Fairweather

Final installment of this particular series.

This Is A Beautiful Woman: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1877

This Is A Beautiful Woman, II: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1882

This Is A Beautiful Woman, III: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1893

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IV: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1907

This Is A Beautiful Woman, V: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2025

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VI: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2039

This Is A Beautiful Woman,  VII: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2046

This Is A Beautiful Woman, VIII: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2090

This Is A Beautiful Woman, IX: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/2146