Stepping Out

Your Corn Is like a Factory Assembly Line - Peterson Farms Seed

Drudgery, sludgery

Continuing the same of slog

That is the life you get

As just one of the system’s cogs

Do dare step out of line

And your own song boldly sing?

Let me know how that works out

As I do the expected thing


The Challenge

USMC Lapel Pin Small | Devil Dog Headquarter

“Hey Mister, what’s that badge you have on?” the boy asked.

“It says who I am,” the elderly man replied.

“Like a name tag?” the boy prodded. “But, I don’t see any writing on it.”

“More than a name tag. A lot more, and it doesn’t need any words for those that understand its meaning.”

“Well it’s kind of pretty, anyway,” the boy observed.

“Yes I guess it is, but even if it wasn’t a shiny one it would be just as important,” the old timer responded.

“Can I have it?” the precocious child asked.

“You might be able to earn it some day,” the man said with a bit of a smile. “But only if you’re good enough.”

The child thought about it for a moment and then said, “I think I will be good enough.”

“That’s the attitude,” the man replied. “You stick with that, and it just might be yours someday.”



Tale Weaver – Badges


image: Padre’s Ramblings

Not as young as I used to be

Wiser, well just maybe

Student, Warrior, Student again

Then Professor and Teacher

In a cyclic spin

A lot greyer, and not as fit

But I’m still content with all of it





Beyond Shadows

Trees Sunrise, Shadow, Nature, Landscape, Mood, Forest


“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Abraham Lincoln


Am I what you think of me?

Just my Facebook image carefully constructed?

Shadows and silhouettes

Of profile-building I’ve conducted?


Or is by the deeds I do?

Even those not seen my men?

Of my word kept, and friends helped

And such things as them?


Let us not mere shadows be

But true humans – even with our flaws

And as we strive to better be

Let doing right be our true cause




Palenque, Table, Painting, Triplets, Costume


Well Heraclitus, it is funny that you should ask.

The “You” of which “You” speak is “Me.”

That “Me” may well be an older “Me,” a fatter “Me,” and hopefully a wiser “Me” than the “Me” I used to be.

But that “Me,” you see, is still the “Me” known by my family.

So it’s plain to see, that when it comes to “Me”, my “Me,” is an ever changing constancy.

I hope “You” will agree.




Fandango’s Provocative Question:

Is the concept of “you” continuous or does the past “you” continually fade into the present and future “you”? Considering that your body, your mind, and your memories are changing over time, what part of “you” sticks around?




Hold the Course

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

At thirteen I was taller than many of my classmates and very much stronger.   I was a shot putter on the track and field team, and was good at sport in general.  Despite my size and strength, I was often bullied, precisely because of those characteristics.  I however held the conviction instilled in me by my mother that it would be wrong for me the harm a smaller child. Therefore, I endured the bullying.

At thirteen, I had teachers who saw me as clever, and some diligently tried to convince me of my non-physical abilities.  But I, whether because of the bullying, or whether I had something to prove to myself, stayed fixedly focused on athletics.

High school was an uncomfortable turning point.  By fifteen I had stopped growing and settled in at five foot – seven.  I still competed in the shot put, but each year my ranking fell, as others first caught up to me in size and then surpassed it.  My response was to practice more, spending long hours with the weights and in the shot put ring.  I remained strong, and especially strong for my size.  My academics, however, were not a priority.  Yes I got mostly A-s, but not consistently so.  My senior year, I even took only the classes I needed to graduate.

Alas, I am no athlete.  I got a job, married, and went to community college, where I got A-s yet again.  Then I joined the forces, where academically I did well even being noted on three occasions as “honor man”  in military schools.

I left the forces, and went to uni, and then into ministry.  I eventually even did graduate study at the University of Cambridge.  I am still no athlete, but I am, as my teachers at age thirteen tried to show me – clever.

So what advice should I give a thirteen year old me?  Give up the sport, you will end up too small?  Hit the books, your future lies there?

No!  The message to the thirteen year old me is:  “Hold the Course.  The path you are on is the one that will make you – you!”


Haunted Wordsmith Nonfiction Prompt: What is something you would tell your 13-year-old self?

Who Do You Say?


Pastor Vince brought a message yesterday that was more multi-faceted than a 1970s disco ball.  Because it was so rich in content I will be addressing it in more than a single post.

He drew his text from Matthew chapter 16: 13-20,

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

For a brief account and an even briefer conversation we have a lot of names dropped: John the Baptister, Elijah, prophets, Simon Peter, Messiah, God . . . .  The key question is about identity and the recognition of it.  Jesus asked the disciples “Who do people Son of Man is?” They respond with the rumours and speculations of the day.

The Son of Man, and interesting phrase, occurring  81, in the Greek texts.  The title (name) is only used in Jesus’ teachings, and is normally in reference to Himself.  It name also is an Old Testament allusion to a fulfillment of prophesy (Daniel 7).

Jesus accepts the various popular speculations, then takes the discussion further with “Who do you say I am?”  This is asking for them to make an acknowledgement, a sort of commitment.  But there is an interesting idea that can be drawn here.  He does not tweak the core question on “who is ‘the Son of Man’?” but more directly  “Who do your say I am?”  Is this a veiled leading statement?  “Who do you say ‘I Am’?”  Jesus uses this construction in several places: “I am the bread of life (John 6:35);  I am the light of the world (John 8: 12); etc.”  

In Exodus 3:13, Moses asks God what His name is.  The response is powerful! “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you (v. 14).'”  The tetragrammaton ( יהוה ) “I Am” is the name given as God to refer to Himself.  In Judaism it is often just referred to as “the Name.”  It is an interesting point to ponder.  Jesus is “The I AM.”

It is Simon bar Jonah that plucks up the faith and courage to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, the son of “I AM.”  Jesus readily acknowledges this, and even says it is The Father who gave the knowledge. 

Simon’s own name then comes into play.  He is no longer to be called “Simon,” but “Peter.”  Simon in its simplest form means “Listener.”  This is again a wonderful point in this passage.  The disciples had “listened” to the rumours of the people concerning Jesus’ identity.  Simon Peter was not content with that. We can take this further by taking the slightly different take.  “Simon” can mean “one who hearkens.”  Simon learned Jesus’ identity from the Father, Jesus said, and hearkened to the word.  But not mere recognition, but a boldness to repeat and profess it.  He had stood firm in the truth.  Not a mere harkener, but a firm “Rock -Peter” in standing on it.  He was to be Peter!

Another take on the name Simon, though with an uncertain etymology, is “Reed:” a plant that sways in the wind. If this is another of Jesus’ word plays, it too is powerful.  Peter no longer bent by the thoughts of others has become an advocated for a truth: “Jesus is Messiah, the Son God.”  A truth and steadfastness upon which this rock I will build my church.”




0311: Pride


photo from ebay

I arrived at Camp Geiger a day early. Bravo Company had already been formed, and I was dropped off at the company street for Charlie. Here I was on what could just as well been Mars. White prefab timber buildings in the North Carolina woods. It was bright, and warm (but not as warm as the Air Force base in Mississippi, I had arrived from). I was met by a sergeant who gave me an immediate task of phone watch. There I sat, monitoring the phone, which did not ring.  I was in my still factory scented battle dress uniform, camouflage forest green, and my Navy E-2 rank hashes on my collar still shiny from the box.  Yes, I was a sailor beginning my journey in the FMF, first stop Infantry Training School.  Here I was to train as an 0311 Rifleman.

Second Platoon, C Company and with the “Elevens.” My journey began at Recruit Training Command Orlando, Florida. Here I learned the basics of being a sailor in the US Navy (something I never did do much of). I was then sent to my Rating (MOS) training in a joint service school at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. On completion I was given a choice of two duty stations: an aircraft carrier or the FMF.  One of the reasons I had gone for my rating was for the possibility of serving with the Marines, so the decision was simple.

But here I was at Camp Lejeune, literally “a squid out of water.” My rating (Religious Program Specialist) had existed for a little over two years. The job description called for RPs to serve with Navy chaplains in support of the FMF.  But this early in the RPs’ existence, there was yet to be a Navy school to train us (thus Keesler), and neither was there a dedicated training facility (which there is today) for training RPs and Chaplains in the necessary field craft and combat skills for serving with the Marines. The solution was to send the RPs to Infantry Training School (ITS).  Every Marine is a rifleman, and now a handful of sailors (with a clear acknowledgement of the Sea Bees and SEALs as being expert naval infantrymen) would become 0311 Riflemen.

Up to this point, there seems to have been a practice of sending RPs to ITS in pairs.  My fellow sailor, however, had returned from leave early and been put into Bravo. This left me to train “alone.” I was there, an E-2 sailor, and “the phone private.” As the day went on more of the company began to arrive.  We were later sorted into barracks, and classified by MOS.  There was some talk of putting me with the “31s” to become a machine gunner, but this was quickly reversed as the specification for RPs was that we were to be “11s.”

I was treated alright by the Marines I trained with.  I did everything they did, we were taught the basics of grenades, mines, the M203 launcher, and the LAW tube. We drilled, we shot, we trained, we ran, and we trained some more. The only real difference was when we were in barracks and sang the Marines’ Hymn before getting in our bunks for the night, when we got to the third verse and all of my colleagues would turn to me when they sang the words “if the Army and the Navy ever look of heaven’s scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.” I was sometimes referred to as “the Squid,” and the guys in my fire team addressed me as “Squidly,” but it was respectful, and I would hope generally affectionate.  In fact, more than once I was referred to by men in the squad and platoon more generally as “our squid.”

In the end I did earn the respect of the Marines (both the trainees and the NCOs), in the end I was even named as the platoon honor man.  I was the first “squid” to gain the title.  The meritorious mast I received from the Corps reads that I was “to only sailor” to be so recognized, while the one I later received from the Chief of Chaplains reads a more optimistic “the first sailor” to be so recognized.

While the “Atta Boys” are nice, what I am most proud of from my time at Geiger is that I earned the MOS 0311.  My DD-214 clearly notes me has having the Navy Rating Religious Program Specialist, but also the Marine Corps MOS 0311.  I am a grunt, and proud of it.



imageedit__5594902034 (1)

With Ninth Marines, Korea