The band (a small group of very talented, humble musicians) was playing, the stained glass windows colored the light as it came through; it all had a beauty to it. To make it beautifuller I was sitting next to Karlee, at 5 years-old, our oldest grand-girl.

The words to the song the band was singing were projected on a screen at the front of the church. One of those words was “beautiful”. Karlee pointed out to her Mimi that she knew that word. Then she took an offering envelope and a little pencil from the pew rack and wrote the word to prove it.

She wrote the word again and then added an “ler” to the end of it. She explained to me, “See, Pops, normally you would say, ‘more beautiful’ but I wrote ‘beautiful-ler’, so it has my last name ‘Fuller’ in it.”

She went on to add a little cloud and rainbow as if to give us a visual reference for “beautifuller”.

From the 5 year-old hand of Karlee Fuller

From the 5 year-old hand of Karlee Fuller

Now I won’t insult your intelligence by trying to convince you that this post is largely about anything but an opportunity to brag about my granddaughter, but there is more to it. Indulge me.

The thing about kids is that they see more beautifuller than we do. There is still a wonder and curiosity stirring in them that causes them to be fully alert, asking, “Why, Pops; Why?”

Take the beauty of the colors that nature is offering us right now. I’ve seen autumn sixty-four times now—I get it. The theme song of the bored and cynical should be: “Been There, Done That”.

I have a certificate in a box of treasures my mom gave me that says I was enrolled in the “Cradle Roll” of the Brookside Baptist Church of Tulsa, Oklahoma, when I was just weeks old. Last Sunday morning I sat in what could have been church service number ten-thousand-plus for me. (64 years times 52 weeks times three, for two service on Sundays and one on Wednesday, not counting revivals, camps and vacation Bible school.) I’m not complaining, bragging or expecting a medal of some kind; I’m just saying…

Some times it takes a 5 year-old, to say, “Look Pops! It’s Beautifuller.” And when I do look—she’s right!

I just finished a wonderful book by Wendell Berry, “Jayber Crow”. I highly recommend it. Maybe you won’t read it but at least read this excerpt. This is written in Jayber’s voice. He is the bachelor barber and church janitor in a small town in Kentucky: 

     In general, I weathered even the worst sermons pretty well. They had the great virtue of causing my mind to wander. Some of the best things I have ever thought of I have thought of during bad sermons. Or I would look out the windows. In winter, when the windows were closed, the church seemed to admit the light strictly on its own terms, as if uneasy about the frank sunshine of this benighted world. In summer, when the sashes were raised, I watched with a great, eager pleasure the town and the fields beyond, the clouds, the trees, the movements of the air—but then the sermons would seem more improbable. I have always loved a window, especially an open one.
     What I liked least about the service itself was the prayers; what I liked far better was the singing. Not all of the hymns could move me. I never liked “Onward Christian Soldiers” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Jesus’ military career has never compelled my belief. I liked the sound of the people singing together, whatever they sang, but some of the hymns reached inside me, all the way to the bone: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Rock of Ages,” “Amazing Grace,” “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” I loved the different voices all singing one song.
     I thought that some of the hymns bespoke the true religion of the place. The people didn’t really want to be saints of self-deprivation and hatred of the world. They knew that the world would sooner or later deprive them of all it had given them, but still they liked it. What they came together for was to acknowledge, just by coming, their losses and failures and sorrows, their need for comfort, their faith always needing to be greater, their wish (in spite of all words and acts to the contrary) to love one another and forgive and be forgiven, their need for one another’s help and company and divine gifts, their hope (and experience) of love surpassing death, their gratitude. I loved hearing them sing “The Unclouded Day” and “Sweet By and By”.
     And in times of sorrow when they sang “Abide with Me,” I could not raise my head.

Thank you Karlee. You have made your old Pops see beautifuller.

"The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives."  —Albert Einstein

May I Be Serious

A RELATION OF MINE TOOK THIS PHOTO OF GRAIN ELEVATORS IN WESTERN OKLAHOMA. As soon as I saw it, I thought, "if that were my photo, I would use at as the background for a poem or quote: something from a guy like Wendell Berry. Then this one came to mind from his book called: The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays.

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.
― Wendell Berry

Photo by Corey Lee Fuller. Used without his permission.

Photo by Corey Lee Fuller. Used without his permission.

This quote came to mind for me again this morning as we had communion at church. Of course, Wendell Berry is speaking in an agricultural sense, but his use of the metaphor is clear.

But I began to ponder this idea of breaking of body and shedding of blood in the context of humanity as a collective "body". No doubt there have been times when we as the human race have justified breaking the bodies and shedding the blood of our own kind. And some of it may have been necessary; maybe.

I also know however, that our human story, which we call history, is full of unjustifiable, senseless breaking and shedding. But dang it... It is everywhere these days: from Ukraine, to Afghanistan to Ferguson, Missouri, to our hometowns where drug-addled "baby daddies" are beating their own infants to death.

In the sermon this morning following communion the speaker suggested that when Jesus lead his disciples through that first, Last Supper, and said, "Do this; and when you do, remember me," He was giving us a center point, a true north, a way to find our way.

We need that, right? Maybe it just old-age coming on me, but we seemed to have lost our way. To borrow a line from the old catcher of the New York Yankees: 

If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. -- Yogi Berra