Dividing Vultures

Monday, January 26, 2015

Preparing for my death is like preparing for Christmas.

On one level, I wonder what I am going to get. Will I get a new bike? Or will I find socks and underwear under the tree?

On another level, I ponder what to give to others. It is like making a Christmas list. I want to give something that each of my children likes, something that would be good for them, something I can afford to give. If I give Eve this, then do I need to give Jennifer something of equal value? So it is fun making a list of what I will give to divide the spoils. I anticipate their delight in getting this or that.

It is prudent to make such preparations. For instance, I bought a small burial policy. But when it is divided among six children, it doesn’t amount to very much. I have already transferred ownership of my home to my son Johnny and the title to my car to my daughter Jennifer. I have tried to make sure that each of the six get some heirloom that their grandfather made. The kids have all read m y will and they know each of them gets and what the other kid gets. They are all in harmony about how the loot will be divided. There should be no bickering or squabbling that I have seen in other families.

Unfortunately, two areas of contention have arisen. One involves my neckties. Back when I worked in an office, I prided myself in wearing a different necktie everyday. These colorful decorations expressed my personality. When I asked my three sons who wanted my box of 100 plus neckties, they looked at each other in dismay and said “Nobody wanted these things!”. One suggested that when I die, they will wind the neckties around and around me like an Egyptian mummy.

They finally decided to give my ties to Goodwill because there is nothing the poor needs more than gaudy neckties.

Another source of contention are the two rubber vultures perked on a high shelf in my living room. They add charm and sophistication to my décor. And everyone wants to inherit them.

Vultures_3

It’s good to know that my sons have inherited my innate good taste. I do not know how to divide two vultures among three people. This sounds like a problem in new math. We decided to leave the vultures where they sit until they disintegrate.

We laughed a lot about how to divide the vultures.

But when a man came to Jesus in Luke 12, the scripture records:

“And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.”

Jesus refused to get caught in the middle of dividing up stuff.

 “And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?”

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth”.

Jesus is smarter than I am.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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8,401 Miles and 16,500 Feet

Friday, January 23, 2015


Since news of my bone cancer was announced, scads of well-wishers who care about me have visited bring things for me to enjoy before I die.

My kitchen overflows with pies, cakes, cinnamon buns, apple fritters, fish sandwiches, steak sandwiches, Chinese food, oranges, and all sorts of other treats.

My friend Wes brought an 1875 concordance to the Septuagint for me to see. Patricia brought me Valentine’s candy. Katie brought the cutiest baby pictures of Cecilia. And Greg brought for my perusal a shard of Deptford Precolumbian Indian pottery—the finest I’ve ever seen.

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Greg found this shard in a shell midden in Alachua County. It may be over 2,000 years old. Notice the four nubby feet in the photo; they’d keep the pot from tipping in the fire. I’m thrilled he brought it to show me.

Here is a photo of Greg and me:

Greg Traub & Dad

Greg is not one of my children but he’s been a member of the family so long, he might as well be.

Greg’s big news is that he’d preparing for an 8,401-mile trip to Bhutan with his family to climb a Himalayan mountain to a height of 16,500 feet—or, if he holds out, all the way up to 19,000 feet.

But he wanted to check on my well-being before he goes.

I teased him that while he will only travel 8,401 miles, my journey looks to be further.

And while he will only climb up 16,500 feet, by the grace, mercy and love of Jesus, I’m headed up to a higher altitude.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Dad’s Cat Nap

TUESDAY JANUARY 20TH, 2015

Dad’s Cat Nap

Fresh from the mind of John Cowart; as retold by Patricia Pullen (Cowart) -Dad is again not feeling well enough to post

Dad woke himself up laughing like a maniac last night. He was in bed asleep, dreaming the sweetest dream- in this dream, Dad was catheterized; In this dream a large kitty was wanting petting & attention. Dad was exasperated by this and was trying to shoo the attention deprived kitty away. But the kitty decided that Dad’s piss bag tubing was the most interesting thing! Dad is shooing, the kitty is hissing…. & with claws out, swipes at the bag and SPLASH! Dream kitty covered in piss, Dad laughing hysterically…he was so tickled by this dream that he awoke himself with laughs. What an awesome, silly way to awake.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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A Glance Backwards & a Gaze Forward

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Glance Backwards & a Gaze Forward

by: Patricia L. Pullen (Cowart)

Dad is too sick to write this, so I am substituting for today’s entry:

While out walking & thinking in Mom & Dad’s garden this morning I noticed an item I have passed many times without knowing what it was. It is an aged and worn, bullet shaped cylinder of metal. It has a small hand-written post-it note taped to it; and I realized that I had not really inspected it before. I glanced at the note knowing it is Dad’s handwriting and saw that it referenced the assassination of Martin Luther King. The post-it says:

A soldier shot this tear gas cannister at me during the riots in Washington, DC, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King as I helped riot victims. This hit the church door about 6 inches from my head.”

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This is an antique tear-gas cannister that Dad collected from his days assisting during the civil rights movement in Washington, DC. Trying to avoid injury, rescuing people out of burning buildings; dealing with the havoc following the assassination of Martin Luther King. The dent in the side was caused by the force of the cannister hitting the church door inches from his head; that could of easily been his head. Dad says his reason for being there was to serve Jesus Christ.  This was his souvenir.

This is an item that has particular importance today, on a day that acknowledges the birth of Dr. King. This item has particular importance today, on a day in which my father is admitted to Hospice Care and is joyfully awaiting to see Mom.

It has importance to me, because my father was brave enough to handle the stresses and unknowns of fighting the good fight. Fighting for those in need. Serving the Lord, no matter the background, color, religion, creed, orientation, or any of that. No matter the cost to himself. Selflessly sacrificing for what is right & what needs to be done. My parents have taught me so much, though for so, so many years, I was far too stubborn & immature to listen. But through my clouds, I received their wisdom.

To fight for what I believe in, no matter the cost. To be and do what I felt was right. To believe in the good of people, no matter the naivety.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Blanketed by Love

 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The week after Ginny died, our daughters packed her clothes for the mission and gathered some of her favorite tee-shirts to save.

Under the leadership of our friend Lisa Lee –who did most of the work while the other girls giggled and gossiped—they cut and sewed these into a memory quilt.

Yesterday, Randy, Lisa’s husband, brought over the almost finished quilt over to show me.

What a delight!

What a labor of love.

Here’s a photo of Patricia and Helen holding up Ginny’s memorial quilt:

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Here is a close-up:

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This memory quilt is just one more evidence of the love surrounding me as I prepare for my own death.

Yes, my cancer has finally kicked in and I enrolled in Hospice care on Friday. Yes, looks like I have my ticket Home. What an exciting thing.

It feels like Christmas Eve when I was a kid waiting for dawn, knowing that good stuff lay ahead but not sure what. Will I get a bike? Skates? Or is that red and green package just socks and underwear?

Waiting to see is such happy anticipation.

As news spread, yesterday friends and family gathered to laugh, chat and raid the kitchen—just like at Christmas our home hums with happy activity, hugs, and happy greetings.

Donald and Helen flew in from Seattle; Patricia flew down from Chicago; Fred and John lugged in sacks of donuts, oranges and eggs.

At 6 a.m. Yesterday Jennifer called and drove over bringing me coffee. By 8 a.m. Helen came with breakfast biscuits. Helen left while Jennifer and I refreshed my will.

Faith from Hospice arrived, as she did Fred & John arrived with all of the groceries. John left for work, then Fred left, then Jennifer left, no sooner had she left, but Randy arrived with the quilt. To talk about model ships, C.S. Lewis and pipes. Then Helen arrived from the airport with Patricia, then Helen left, Randy left, Helen returned with Rachel (and Chinese food). Then Eve showed up, to inform us & glow over her adoption process. The four girls screamed, laughed and giggled. In the midst of all of this, 3 delivery men arrived. The Hospice workers came and set up the bed. Terri came over on her scooter. Then everybody went home worried that I would feel lonely!!

And the love of God over-arched all.

 

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Heart Hunger

I wrote this piece as a newspaper column back in the mid-1980s:

heartHunger

On Monday, my mail box contained a Mr. Bubble bath sponge for my little girl, a Victoria’s Secret spring lingerie catalogue for my curvaceous young wife, and a senior citizens’ newsletter for me.

Guess which one I looked at first.

You’re right!

My wife says I have reached that awkward age — Again.

All my life, both physically and spiritually, I’ve always been at an awkward age. Haven’t you?

By awkward age, I mean those times and conditions when we hunger for different, almost opposite levels of maturity — like the Christmas when one of my sons wanted both a teddy bear and a Rambo rifle, and one of my teenage daughters wanted both high heels and a skateboard.

I think we all hunger or yearn for something higher and something lower at the same time.

As a fundamentalist Christian, I believe that how we respond to our hungers and which of our desires we seek to satisfy says a lot about our eternal happiness — or lack of it.

In his Confessions the great Catholic theologian St. Augustine speaks of a God-shaped niche in the human soul where nothing less than God fits. I picture this niche as a vacuum inside us, like a black hole in space, which can be filled to capacity by the Infinite but which sucks in everything else and still remains empty.

A vacuum demands filling.

Some theologians say that our hunger for God is an indicator of His existence.

Makes sense.

You feel thirsty. That means that somewhere water exists to satisfy that thirst. It does not necessarily mean you will taste that water, some poor folks do perish of thirst, but it does mean that such a thing as water does exist.

You feel hungry; that means that somewhere food exists to satisfy that hunger.

You feel horny; that means sex does exist.

You feel cold; that means heat exists.

You feel a desire for God; that means…

Does wanting God mean that He exists?

Maybe so. Maybe no.

But wouldn’t it be odd to yearn for, to long for, to desire strongly something that does not even exist?

And we do have a heart hunger.

We do yearn for Something.

For Someone.

For I-don’t-always-know-what.

For Can’t-put-my-finger-on-it.

For Right-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue.

For God.

Even when we are little kids we feel this desire, this emptiness of the soul and we hunger to fill it. I remember laying awake at night on the sofa where I slept and thinking about GOD, big and huge (to my five year old mind there was a distinction); Sweet, so sweet as to be hugged and hugged and hugged; yet Scary too, the awesomeness of the Creator being totally foreign to all created things.

I tried to describe my feelings to my mother, she thought I was trying to talk about Billie Michelle, the little girl who lived next door.

“Puppy love,” Mama said. “Isn’t that cute. Johnny’s got puppy love”.

Gurrrr! How do you write a five-year-old boy’s snarl? No way did I love Billie Michelle. She was a GIRL, for Heaven’s sake.

If the gnawing heart hunger meant puppy love, then who needs it!

I think this same dynamic works again and again in everyone’s life.

When we were young people and sought the meaning of existence, then the world, the flesh and the devil dismissed our yearning as adolescent growing pains. We hungered for eternity and they said it was just hormones flowing. The wise voices teased that we were only hungry for sex. You need a woman; you need a man, they said.

To a young man, the wise voices whisper, you hunger for success. Advance in the company. Get trappings: lear jet, board membership, gold card. Success is what you want.

As we mature, the voice of the world, the flesh and the devil says, “What you are hungry for is security. Buy bonds. Get a home. An insurance policy is what you need. Security will make the hunger pangs go away”.

But the deep heart hunger of the soul never ceases.

When we sprout white hair, yet still know that heart-longing ache for Something — or Someone, then the devil taunts, “You silly old fool! You’re just longing for your lost youth“.

Thus many of us are tricked into never getting the one thing we want most desperately. And we die just as we lived — at an awkward age, desiring the eternal but settling for gutter glitter.

But there is hope even for such awkward folks as us.

Look at this:

King David, the slayer of giant Goliath, the sweet psalmist of Israel, a man of wealth, power and position, a man who had all this world had to offer, also understood the same heart-hunger that you and I know.

In his Psalms he talks about it again and again:

“As the hart deer panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God,” he said (Psalm 42:1).

“The Lord upholdeth all that fall and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing,” Psalm 145:14

“The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him…He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and save them,” Psalm 145: 19

“I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land, ” Psalm 143:6).

If even the king panted, hungered and thirsted, if he longed and desired and yearned for God, surely the whole thing is much too complex for such as us who merely feel vague whims toward an undefined something better now and them.

Not so.

We tend to make godly living into a complex worm’s nest of worry. That ain’t the way it works.

King David taught his readers how to focus and find joy in a way that’s simple yet profound:

He said, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart,” (Psalm 37:3)

Think of that!

The desire of your heart.

The single thing you’ve hungered for most all of your life is right at your fingertips.

How wonderful.

How utterly wonderful!

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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After The Wise Men Left For Home

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Saturday my daughter Jennifer drove over and took down my Christmas tree. She removed the wreath from the front door. She unhooked the 50-year-old angel from the tree top. She padded and packed the manger figurines.

Shepherds and wise men are back in the box and the box shelved in the closet.

The little lights are not twinkling.

My home looks as drab as it did before Christmas. It looks as drab as Bethlehem did just days after that first Christmas.

Mathew’s Gospel says that the wise men came and worshiped then went home; “They departed into their own country by another way”.

Joseph, Mary and the baby also left the scene of that first Christmas; Joseph “took the young Child and His mother by night and departed into Egypt”.

The angels left the scene of that first Christmas also. Luke’s Gospel says, “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into Heaven, the shepherds…”

Yes, the shepherds left the scene also. After they worshiped the Christ Child at the manger, “The shepherds returned glorifying ande praising God”, they went back to their village telling what they had seen and heard.

Of all the characters the Bible tells about being on the scene at that first Christmas, when things returned to normal the only one left was King Herod killing babies.

No stars. No twinkling lights. No carols. No angels. No wise men… just atrocity, taxes, politics.

Business as usual.

Christmas was over.

What difference had it made?

Except for a couple of old people who recognized the Child in the temple—Simeon who said, “Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace…for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation”—no one there noticed Jesus for another 30 years.

So, my decorations are down and my life has returned to normal. So evil tyrants still rule and war; so refugee families still flee to escape slaughter. So Christmas is over. So I face health issues in the months ahead. So Caesar collects his taxes. So the glitter is gone.

Yet, in the drab normalness of everyday life, the Spirit of the Lord Christ remains on the scene biding His time. He hasn’t gone anywhere. And He once said, “Behold, I am with you, even to the end of the world”.

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Under The Fig Leaf

 Baby New Year is not the only one around here who wears diapers; my prostate cancer dictates that I wear Depends. The difference between me and Baby New Year is that he’ll grow out of them as I grow into them.

Bummer.

This train of thought leads me to remember an entry I originally posted on March 8, 2009; Under The Fig Leaf comes from page 83 in my book A Dirty Old Man Goes To The Dogs. Hope you enjoy.

 UNDER THE FIG LEAF

On October 16, 1869, while digging a well on his farm in Cardiff, N.Y., farmer Stub Newell and a crew of hired laborers uncovered a giant stone foot.

The men’s continued digging unearthed a naked giant.

The reclining Cardiff Giant measured 10 feet, 4 ½ inches tall and weighed 2,990 pounds. As word of the discovery spread, spectators flocked to Stub Newell’s farm to see the wonder. The farmer pitched a tent over the giant and charged admission.

I learned about the Gardiff Giant last week while reading Scott Tribble’s book A Colossal Hoax: The Giant From Cardiff That Fooled America (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. N.Y. c.2009).

Speculation about the giant ran rampant as physicians, attorneys, ministers, teamsters, scientists, spiritualists, messenger boys, newspaper reporters, and society ladies viewed the wonder. News spread across the country.

The nation’s speculations fell into three broad camps: Some argued that the giant was a petrified man. Others argued that he was an ancient statue. Others called him a humbug.

Petrified man proponents claimed the giant proved the Bible, that in antediluvian times, giants roamed the earth. Statue proponents claimed thCardiff-Giant2-727913e giant showed sophistication to great to have been carved by Indians; they said he was carved in ancient times by Mound Builders, a race predating the Indians, or by Vikings, or by refugees from sunken Atlantis. Humbug people claimed he was of recent origin.

Eventually, after over a million dollars had been collected by the giant’s owners, cigar-maker George Hull, a relative and silent partner of farmer Newell, admitted that he’d quarried the gypsum stone in Fort Dodge, Iowa, hired moonlighting marble tombstone carvers in Chicago to shape the giant, shipped the statue in a crate marked machine parts, and buried it by night on Stub Newell’s farm. The giant was just a little over a year old when it was discovered.

Nevertheless, it continued to be exhibited on tour and it continued to rake in money.

But, another argument developed over the display of the giant. Some vocal citizens wanted his private member to be covered by a fig leaf lest women be incited to undue lust and passion; others wanted the giant displayed in his natural state.

Today, the Cardiff Giant is on display in the Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown , N.Y., if anyone cares to see him.

I laughed on reading Tribble’s account of the fig leaf controversy.

That reminded me of something funny that happened to me once in the early 1960s while I worked at the Library Of Congress (along with about 3,000 other employees).

It also involved a fig leaf.

This happened 50 years ago, so my memory has faded a bit.I’ll try not to embellish the incident but certain details, such as the depth of the water or how many employees bet, I just can’t remember clearly. Here’s the best I can do:

A large fountain, called King Neptune’s Court, decorates the outside of the main entrance to the Library. In a semicircular pool, two tritons blowing conch-shell trumpets flank a bronze statue of Neptune. Two bare-breasted water-nymphs ride sea horses in niches to the side. And scattered around the pool sea creatures, dolphins, turtles, sea serpents, etc. spout arcs of water.

Library-of-congress-Neptune9-708830

An unsubstantiated rumor circulated among library staff members that when the sculptor originally unveiled the statue of the sea king, Neptune came fully equipped. But protestors insisted that a bronze fig leaf be attached to the statue in a strategic location.

Everyone knows that the Library of Congress is a center of learning, a place for high intellectual pursuits, and a forum for deep philosophical debate. So naturally one day during coffee break a discussion arose among busy employees about the truth of the Neptune rumor—was the fig leaf original, or was there something under the fig leaf?

Bets were placed and a gang of us trooped outside to the fountain to resolve the issue.

It was hard to see details of Neptune’s statue.

Library-of-congress-Neptune-12-724476

I’ve heard it said that a Christian needs to be ready to preach, pray or die at a moment’s notice… I had not placed a bet. The group identified me as a Christian likely to give an honest report to resolve the bets; they designated me to investigate.

I removed my shoes and socks, slipped into the fountain, waded across, climbed the granite rock Neptune sits on, and peeked under the fig leaf.

When I announced my findings, bet winners cheered and losers groaned.

Then we all trooped back inside to the Library’s basement snack bar in a laughing, happy cluster of dedicated government workers earning out tax dollars.

Over my years as a Christian, occasionally I’ve been called upon to do a number of odd acts of charity; that day at the Library of Congress was one of the weirdest.

Now, I can not think of the Library of Congress without remembering another incident that happened in that same time frame.

This incident is neither funny nor happy, but it remains horribly vivid.

In fact, off and on I for a couple of years I’ve been writing a book about the will of God. If I ever finish the manuscript, these will be my opening words on the very first page:

Please, let me tell you about one of the times when I did not do the will of God.

Back then I worked on the religion deck at the Library of Congress, one of the most extensive libraries in the world with more than 400 miles of shelving stuffed with books on every conceivable subject.

That spring I felt in love with God. Every morning I hurried to work early so I could go to my desk before anyone else arrived and in the silence of that vast religious collection I would read my Bible and pray and sometimes even sing. I was so enamored of the love of Jesus Christ that my eyes would tear up at the thought of His exquisite perfections.

I felt that, if necessary, I could gladly die for Him.

As my workday began I rushed to meet it with a bounce in my step and love in my heart as I felt the presence of God with me in the midst of everyday duties.

One day as I walked up Capital Hill on my way for my early morning tryst with Jesus, a white-haired old lady hobbled across the street in front of me struggling with two heavy suitcases. Obviously she was laboring under the strain of her burden as she made her way toward Union Station to catch a train.

Immediately I knew that I should carry those bags for her.

Don’t ask me how I knew that God wanted me to help that old woman. I heard no voice. I saw no vision. She did not ask my help or even speak to me. But I felt a strong internal conviction that I should carry her bags to the train for her.

I had plenty of time before needing to be at work; it would take just a few minutes to walk to the station only a couple of blocks back the way I had just come.

But I knew that if I did it, I would miss my precious devotional time.

I knew I should do the will of God by carrying those bags.

“Lord, I’ll pray for her when I get to work,” I told Him.

You carry her bags, the conviction said.

“But I’ll miss my devotions,” I prayed.

Carry her bags.

This is not the voice of God, I reasoned. It’s just a resurgence of my Boy Scout training; A Scout Is Helpful. That’s a Boy Scout law not a law of God. I’m mentally conditioned to help old ladies (yes, I really said that to myself). Obviously God would not want me to skip reading the Holy Bible and praying and worshiping Him just to be a do-gooder. This old lady is a temptation not an opportunity to do God’s will.

I did not carry her bags.

I walked on to the Library. I slipped behind my desk. I opened my Bible…. and my fervent devotion turned to ashes.

The words of Scripture became dull ink on gray paper.

My prayers raddled around in my mouth.

No hymn graced my lips.

No joy touched my heart.

I had clearly known what God wanted me to do…

and I chose not to do it.

This incident happened over 50 years ago, yet to this day, when I think about the will of God, a mental picture of that old woman lugging those bags pops into my mind.

Sometimes I speculate about what would have happened if I had helped her. Maybe, those suitcases were stuffed with hundred dollar bills and she would have given me a stake which I’d have invested and become richer than Bill Gates. Maybe she was a retired missionary or pastor’s wife and she would have revealed some spiritual secret to me that would have guided me through my own spiritual journey. Maybe she had a great granddaughter waiting to meet her at the train and I would have met the love of my life… Maybe my kindness and witness would have resulted in this old woman’s conversion just hours before she launched into eternity. Maybe…

I have no idea what would have happened if I had done the will of God.

No one ever does.

I only know that here years later I regard this incident as one of the greatest spiritual turning points of my life… and I blew it.

Now, eventually the spiritual fervor I once had returned. The words and paragraphs of Scripture made sense again. Prayers sweetened. Songs came to mind again. Worship awed me. People responded to my witness and accepted Christ as Savior.

Nevertheless, I know that I had missed something, something eternally important that I will never regain.

I had missed doing the will of God….

It may seem odd to begin a book about the will of God with a personal example of not doing His will, but. that memory is the way I want to start off the book

What?

O, King Neptune’s anatomical status?

Far be it from me to reveal hidden secrets, but I’ll tell you how to find out.

Next time you’re in Washington, go to the Library of Congress, slip off your shoes, wade across the fountain’s pool, and take a look for yourself.

If the Capitol Hill Police or somebody from Homeland Security questions what you are doing in Neptune’s fountain, just tell them that John Cowart told you to peek under the fig leaf.

I’m sure they’ll understand.

 

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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The Uggliest Virgin

 This year scores of activities occupied our family time since Thanksgiving– five birthdays, an anniversary, car repairs, doctor visits, Christmas parties, etc. Then came the activities of midnight Christmas Eve services and the get-togethers of Christmas Day.

I suppose it’s this way with most families

Following is a posting from December 26, 2007; it comes from page 480 of my book A Dirty Old Man Stumbles On:

The Cowart Family Christmas celebration resulted in the usual mayhem as we exchanged valuable gifts which no one should live without: an ice-skating moose that sings, antique cameos, a skeleton on a motorcycle, a statue of Gort (the robot from The Day The Earth Stood Still) pots and pans and perfumes. — all life’s essentials.

I received some odor-eater socks wrapped in bio-hazard packaging from Patricia’s lab — Is she hinting at something?

One of our customs at such get-togethers is to have a brief devotional thought after the feast. My daughter Jennifer asked me to prepare something special for this occasion.

I chose a meditation on a single word from the Christmas narrative: Swaddled.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger”.

I told the kids that while I had to check various dictionaries to find the meaning of the word Swaddle, I had actually done this for each one of them when they were babies.

So, to illustrate what it means to swaddle a baby, I put on a one-person play in which I draped a blue scarf over my head and stared as the Virgin Mary.

Virgin 1

Some wag remarked that I was the ugliest virgin ever to appear in any nativity play anywhere.

Since I did not have a baby doll, a teddy bear played the part of Baby Jesus:

Virgin 2

To set the stage for what happened on that first Christmas, we read the ancient prophesy of Isaiah, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”.

We scanned that passage in Philippians where Jesus is referred to as, “Being in the form of God … Equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took on Himself the form of a servant…and being found in the fashion of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”.

Again, we looked at the passage in Colossians where Jesus is “The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature… For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell…”

And Hebrews, where it says that Jesus is appointed heir of all things, the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His Person”

Heavy things to be said of a baby in a manger.

We all know that a manger is an animal food trough, it’s like saying Mary swaddled him and put him in a large dog food bowl.

But what does it mean to swaddle?

That’s where things got wild.

Using an adjustable ironing board as a changing table, I demonstrated how to diaper a baby.

Not having any frankincense of myrrh handy, I used Old Spice aftershave. But I had plenty of Johnson’s Baby Powder and proceeded to cloud the air with the stuff as the baby bear kept trying to roll off the table.

Then I folded a diaper and pined it on — pricking myself only a few times.

The family rolled in the aisles laughing.

Virgin 3

Once I finally got the bear diapered, I used my blue scarf as a baby blanket (Mary may have used a feed sack), then showed how to snuggly wrap a baby so the kid can’t wiggle out and fall on his head (Something that never happened to my six kids — or at least, not very often).

Here is the bear swaddled:

Virgin 4

What are we to make of The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, Equal with God, The express Image of His Person, who yet comes as a helpless baby that needs to be changed and swaddled and nursed?

There’s a tendency to regard Jesus in either of two false ways:

We tend to see Him as a glow-in-the-dark magic charm, too divine to be approachable. Like in the old country/western song:

I don’t care if it rains or freezes
As long as I got my little plastic Jezus,
Up on the dashboard of ma car.

Or to see Him as just another guy who bugged the wrong people and got himself killed, a great teacher whose teaching live on in all good people.

Scripture allows neither heresy.

He is presented as fully God and fully human who came to earth for us and our salvation, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, who rose again on the third day and ascended back to where He came from and shall return again to judge the living and the dead.

The Lion Of The Tribe of Judah, The Alpha and Omega, The Bright and Morning Star. The Judge Of All The Earth Who does Right.

By becoming human, God raised all human activities into the realm of the sacred; whether changing a baby, changing a tire, changing a printer ribbon, changing the world, in Him we live and move and have our very being.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and The Father by Him”.

By His becoming fully human, Jesus is touched by the feeling of our infirmities; He was tempted in all points same as we are, yet without sin.

He knows from experience what we are going through.

Therefore, the Scripture says, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.

All ours.

All because He descended to became a man.

 

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Christmas In A Little Tin Box

It Came From

Here is a happy Youtube video which had gotten lost for a couple of years.

My son Donald recovered it last night.

This is my first staring roll in a major film.

I hope hackers don’t block distribution because I look to hear from the Oscar Committee next week. I wish to thank the Academy…

Brad Pitt eat your heart out!

• Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info, posted by John Cowart. Or contact John at johnwcowart (at) gmail (dot) com.

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