The In Between Time

“Dead air is something we cannot tolerate, Paul.”

I was fifteen.  The man speaking to me was sitting at the board in the control room of the little Christian radio station at which I was working that summer.  The board was an amazingly confusing conglomeration of switches, meters, and knobs.  It nearly made my head spin to think about which one controlled what function.
I couldn’t wait to be the one sitting in that seat.
First, I had to learn the little secrets, the tightly held information which could only be shared with a lucky few.  So, I latched onto every word the station manager said.
“No dead air.”  I nodded my head, as if filing away an invaluable morsel of secret code.  
A week or so later, I found myself sitting in that very chair, spinning easy listening records on a Saturday evening.  That’s right, I said records.  Vinyl.  At thirty-three and one third revolutions per minute, the music squeezed its way from the grooves and through the diamond needle on its way to the amplifier and thence to the transmitter.
Beautiful music, they called it.  I even found myself caught up in the arrangement, as I lived the dream of every kid I knew.  I was a DJ!  Kind of. 
The arrangement of “Danny Boy” that the Percy Faith Orchestra was playing was beautiful.  I had another song, something from 101 Strings, cued up on turntable number two, so I allowed myself a few moments of enjoyment.  Carried away by the lush strings and beautiful brass, it took me a minute to realize that the piece was coming to an end. 
Too late, I heard the familiar tic,tic,tic of the needle circling the band in between cuts on the record.
Dead air!
I had committed the unpardonable sin in the broadcasting world!  Dead air could not be tolerated.  That’s what the man had said. 
I frantically turned up the pot for the next record and reached over to start the motor.  The belt-driven turntable started up slowly, as such devices did, and gained speed until it reached the proper number of revolutions per minute.
Wrong sequence!  
The motor was always to be started before the pot was turned up.  The sound of 101 Strings growled up from the groaning, way-too-slow intro to the full-voiced beauty of the orchestra–all in the ears of thousands of listeners out in radio-land.  Perhaps, it was only hundreds.  It didn’t matter.
I was mortified.
First, dead air.  Now, this.  
Not my proudest moment.
It was a moment, though.  
I’ve told you before that I love to collect moments–memorable occasions which are suitable for framing and hanging on the wall of my mind.  I like to take them down from time to time and examine them, remembering the emotions that filled my being at the time the moment occurred.  Moments can be happy or sad, enjoyable or painful, even disgusting.  I save them in an ever growing collection.
I don’t want to talk any more about moments today.
I want to talk about dead air.
Yes, dead air.  The space between the moments.
I was reminded again today that life goes on.  That’s the phrase, isn’t it?  We use it to encourage people going through painful circumstances that they’ll get over it.  We say it to each other when someone who has experienced such a circumstance wants to rehash it and we want to go on to something else.
Life goes on.
I think the words actually mean something else than what we use them for.  We want to communicate that you have to move on, to get to the next event, to leave the past behind.  The words don’t actually express those thoughts, do they?
Life goes on.
Life happens between the moments, too.  Sure, we remember the moments better, but between those memorable events, life goes on.  
We sit.
We cry.
We laugh.
We think.
All of them–part of life which is going on.
We even wait sometimes.  And, while we wait, life goes on.  The waiting is part of life going on, too.
Perhaps, you’ve had a moment today.  You reached your goal weight.  Your best friend moved away.  A favorite pet died.  You got that promotion you’ve worked toward for years.  You had a flat tire by the side of the freeway at rush hour.
Will that moment define the entire day?  What about all the living that happens while life goes on?
I don’t know about you, but I want to remember the text that came from my daughter with a photo of the little girl who hit her face on the bed.  I want to remember the words of my young friend who is coming to respect his wife’s priorities in their life together.  I want to remember the cup of coffee that I enjoyed in a quiet moment at work.  I want to remember standing and listening to the wind chimes ringing gently in the breeze.  
I know.  They’re just dead air to anyone else.
I write about the moments because the stories hold your interest.  What I need to recall is the in between times.  You probably don’t care much about mine.  But, if life were made up only of the moments, a lot of time would be wasted in between, wouldn’t it?
Those in between times, the dead air if you will, serve to help us keep perspective.  Life isn’t all go and all action.  Each of us needs time to think, time to calm down, time to just live.
I like the reminder the writer of the Psalms in the Old Testament gave on several occasions.  He made important and memorable statements, but instead of moving on to the next statement immediately, inserted a word that basically meant stop, sit, and consider.  Thousands of years on, it’s still good advice.
Don’t rush on from one moment to the next.  That’s not life, that’s merely commotion.
Life goes on.
Live every moment of it! 
“God’s voice is still and quiet, and easily buried under an avalanche of clamor.”
(Charles Stanley ~ American pastor/author)
“Don’t count the days.  Make the days count.”
(Muhammad Ali ~ American boxer)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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Things You Thought Were True

For over thirty years, the man believed the lie.  Thirty years.

It was a small lie.  Perhaps it wasn’t even meant as an untruth.  Perhaps, the teacher who said the words assumed they were true.  It doesn’t matter.

The man believed the lie.

It all started the spring semester of his sophomore year in high school.  Fifteen years old was the age at which a kid could start on the road to independence, the age at which emancipation was finally within his grasp.  He was certain that all he needed was a driver’s license to achieve the goal.

It didn’t matter that he had no car; that gulf would be bridged when he got to it.  First, the little plastic card with his picture had to be in his grasp.  Minor details could be attended to in due time.

Driver’s education was the pathway he chose to achieve independence.  Friends would admire him, family members would count on him, girls would line up to be his date for an evening.  What could be disappointing about that?

Plenty, it turned out.  Let’s just say that the lectures, the scare films (remember “Death on the Highway”?), the hours spent in the driving simulator, were all endured without enjoyment.  It didn’t matter.  He was going to be driving soon enough.

The day finally arrived.  Two disappointed teenagers piled into the back seat of the specially marked sedan and one of them slid triumphantly under the steering wheel.  The instructor sat in the front passenger seat, with brake pedal securely under a heavy foot.  He would use it too!

Are you still waiting for the lie?  Bear with me just a moment more.  We’ll get there.

The young lady who was first in the driver’s seat was self assured.  She had aced the practice exams, had even scored well on the simulator.  She knew this was going to be a triumph, and she would show up the boys in the back seat.

It didn’t work out quite like that.  Time and time again, the instructor’s foot hit the brake pedal and brought the car to a halt, as he barked out instructions.

“Hands at 10 and 2!”

“Watch your mirrors!”

“Signal before you turn!  Don’t turn so fast! You’ll have us in the ditch!”

Then it happened.  The young lady was driving down a straight stretch of road, seemingly doing quite nicely, when his voice, this time more strained than at any other time in the lesson, was heard again.

“You’re going over the speed limit!  And, wouldn’t you know it?  There’s a cop over there!”

Sure enough, the police cruiser was parked at the side of the road.  The officer had the familiar radar gun in hand, pointed at approaching traffic.  That happened to be the learner’s car.

It was the first crisis that afternoon at which the instructor didn’t slam on the brakes.

It didn’t matter, because the young lady did it herself.  The boys in the backseat weren’t wearing seat belts and were thrown against the backs of the front seat; the braking motion was that strong.

“Just drive!”  Another first.  This time the instructor had shouted.

His shout had the desired effect.  The poor girl took her foot off the brake and stomped on the accelerator, zooming up past the posted limit almost instantly.  This time, the exasperated instructor applied his foot to the brake, slowing the car back down to the desired speed.

About that time, they passed the parked police car and the unhappy man in the passenger seat of the vehicle shrugged and threw up his hands in resignation.  The officer smiled sympathetically and waved the car on by.  A couple of blocks later the girl, clearly shaken and visibly trembling, pulled to the curb and asked to be relieved at the wheel.

As the car filled with young wanna-be drivers sat motionless, the instructor told the lie–the one which would live on for over thirty years.  Looking each of them in the eye in turn as he delivered his pseudo-wisdom, he delivered the fateful words.

“Don’t ever hit your brakes when you know you’re on police radar.  That locks the radar on you and, even if you’re in a crowd of cars, you’ll be certain to get picked out as the perpetrator.  Never hit your brakes near a speed-trap!”

For thirty years, the boy followed that advice.

Thirty years, he sped along highways, noticing the Christmas tree of lights that resulted from the spotting of a patrolman up ahead.  Thirty years, he smugly refused to tap his brakes, opting instead to coast down to a speed which wouldn’t attract attention.

Every time he saw someone else get pulled over, he nodded his foolish head and sanctimoniously repeated the lie.

“Never hit your brakes near a speed-trap.”

Thirty years.  A lie that lived for thirty years, determining his actions, his responses.

Photo: Scott Davidson

Until that day, when he and his Lovely Lady were speeding home from a rehearsal one evening.  It was dusk, and he didn’t see the State Trooper sitting there immediately.  He did notice the brake lights ahead of him.  Smugly, he wondered aloud what those fools were doing and let his foot off the accelerator.

Smugly, he watched the trooper start his flashing lights atop the big white and blue Crown Victoria.  Smugly, he waited for the car to pass him and tag one of the drivers who had been foolish enough to hit his brakes.

Glumly, he pulled to the shoulder of the highway when the lights stayed on his tail without going around.  He was confused.  He knew, just knew, that his instructor had told him the truth all those years ago.  How could this have happened?

After the officer had given him the speech and written him a warning (thank goodness, not a ticket!), he felt that he had to ask.

“I know that hitting a vehicle’s brakes locks the radar on that car.  Why did you stop me?  I didn’t hit my brakes.”

It was the trooper’s turn to be confused.  But, only for a moment.  Suddenly, he just shook his head and laughing uproariously, turned and walked back to his car.

It was a lie.  A lie.

Thirty years he had known the truth, only to find that it was a lie.

I wonder, how many other things we believe to be true are lies?  Lies told to us for various reasons, but all resulting in the same thing.

We believe a lie.

We act on that lie.

We repeat the lie, thinking we are telling the truth.

It changes who we are, changes the people around us, even causes people to shift course because they trust us to tell the truth.

I’m not talking about insignificant untruths, like not braking for a speed trap.

I’m talking about important things.

You’re no good and will never amount to anything.

Nobody loves fat people.

You’re so dumb!

If you’re good, you’ll go to heaven.

God couldn’t love someone as evil as me.

I’m not going to burden you with all the lies I have tumbling around in my head.  There are many.  Some were planted decades ago; some have sprouted up quite recently.

Maybe you have a few echoing in your ears, too.

Lies kill.  Lies cripple.  Lies destroy.

I wonder what else I think I know that is false.  Perhaps it’s time for a little fact-checking.  I may even tell you, in the days to come, about a lie or two I’ve accepted as truth.

It can’t hurt to shed a little light on the pathway ahead.

We’ll all travel more safely for it.

And, if that light turns out to be the brake lights of the cars ahead of you, perhaps you should find the brake pedal.

It might save us all some embarrassment.

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
(John 8:32 ~ NKJV)

“But he that sows lies in the end shall not lack of a harvest, and soon he may rest from toil indeed, while other reap and sow in his stead.”
(from The Simarillon ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ English author/educator ~ 1892-1973)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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Running Water

The pond is a large one, beside a major roadway.  Each spring, the rains fill it to overflowing, the excess water siphoning over the banks and making broad rivulets down the hillside. That fortunate overflow makes its passage to the river nearby, joining with the rest of the huge torrent as it shoves its way with abandon down the waterway, to join ever wider rivers, eventually making its way inexorably down to the sea.


How could water be fortunate?  I suppose one would have to stay around for a few months to understand that point of view.

The pond, for a short time, is a beautiful sight, so much so that some optimistic folks have built park benches and even a dock from which to fish or swim by its banks.  During the rainy months, there is frequent activity for these improvements; romantic couples sitting by the water’s edge; children splashing and paddling in the clear, sparkling liquid that fills the reservoir.

But, the day comes–sooner than one might think–when no one considers even sticking a toe in this pond, much less gazing on it admiringly.  The water which was not blessed to make its way to freedom while still clear and refreshing, has turned a grotesquely green hue and is rapidly covered with a layer which defies any brave soul to violate its surface.

Presently, there are  no admirers, and the once-popular retreat is abandoned, bereft of visible activity of any kind.  The unfortunate water left behind in the rainy season is trapped in a putrid sea of green, stinky scum.

How could this happen?

What disaster has struck this beautiful body of water, to leave it so–lorn of appeal and purpose?

The answer is simple.  The rainy season has finished and the water that replenishes the pond comes sporadically, but not in a deluge as before.  When it does fall, none escapes over the side.  The new supply only goes into the depression in the ground, not out of it.  There is no flow, no moving current.  The biological eco-system produces nutrients, lots of them, upon which the algae feeds, and then it thrives in the bright sunlight.  Soon the green scum is out of control, making the pond useless for any kind of recreation.

I thought about that pond today.  A chance conversation with a customer drove my thoughts to that unattractive place.

“I’ve come to the point in my life where there are no expectations of anything from me,” he declared.

I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I prodded a bit.

He explained, “For most of my life, I’ve been engaged, and active, with other people.  I’m getting older now and I no longer have to interact with them.  I get to just enjoy the things I’ve learned and am learning.”

He expounded on his justification for this logic.  I was shocked to hear him invoke the forty years Moses spent in the wilderness, along with John on the Island of Patmos, as evidence for his right to withdraw from the mainstream.

It seems my friend believes he has earned this respite–that his God has given it to him as a reward for hard work.

I can’t help but mentally draw a parallel with the pond.  Of all the times when he should be sharing in copious quantities what he has learned, he chooses to become a hermit.  Satisfied to keep his knowledge and wisdom to himself, he will die happy.  I say his, but what I intend is that you understand clearly I don’t believe it is his in any way.

Every single thing we have is a gift; we have deserved none of it.

It not only should be shared, it must be shared.

To keep knowledge and wisdom to ourselves is to become thieves, not once, but twice.

We steal from those who are waiting downstream for the bounty to overflow.

We also steal from ourselves in that we prevent the interaction which keeps us vibrant and active.  Like the pond, what once attracted visitors now repels them.  We even suffer, as all activity moves deep under the surface.  Trapped in an eternal cycle, we regurgitate the same old things again and again, never interacting, never sharing.

Photo by Berit from Redhill/Surrey, UK


It is a word we use to describe smelly, putrid water that is trapped and still.  It is also what happens to our souls when we move ourselves prematurely out of the current and flow of life.

Give me the white water of the rapids any day!

I want to be rushing to the sea, surrounded by others who are going the same direction.

The torrent of the raging river is alive and dynamic.

The backwater of the stagnant pond is instead, defunct and listless, going nowhere.

I think I’ll keep rolling along.  There is still a bend or two to go around before I reach the ocean.

 The company along the way has been a treat, too.  I hope you’ll keep moving right along with me.  We’ve got lots more to learn together as we go.

Besides, I really don’t fancy that scum-covered green water.

I also think I agree wholeheartedly with the always funny Erma Bombeck when she penned those immortal words, “Green is not a happy color.”

“If thou would’st have that stream of hard-earn’d knowledge, of Wisdom heaven-born, remain sweet running waters, thou should’st not leave it to become a stagnant pond.”
(Sir Frances Bacon~English lawyer/philosopher~1561-1626)

“For just as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, yielding seed for the sower and bread for eating, so will my message be that goes out of my mouth–it won’t return to me empty.  Instead, it will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
(Isaiah 55:10,11~ISV)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Art Imitates

“I just want to look at your guitars for a few minutes.”

The old fellow wandered through the doorway of my music store the other day.  I looked up from my stooped over position at the work bench and nodded a greeting to him.  The owner of the guitar on my bench was standing beside me watching my progress, so I continued with the repair.

The old guy—okay, he’s actually my age—moved out of sight into the guitar section of the building, the L-shaped design of the room acting as a natural divider.  I could hear him gently plucking strings on the instruments hanging from the wall.

artimitatesIt didn’t take long.  The fellow stopped at one instrument.  I didn’t see him do it.  I could just hear that the sound of the strings being strummed had gone from varying tonality to a uniform sound.  He ran his fingers over the strings one last time while the guitar hung on the wall, and then he lifted the chosen instrument down from the midst of the other candidates.

He had made his selection.  This was the instrument upon which he would perform that day.  Right there; right then.

The concert began.  From our position around the corner, the audience listened with delight.  The owner of the patient on my bench was happy with the diversion.  A guitar set-up is not the most hypnotizing activity known to man.  I wasn’t unhappy with the distraction either.  The old guy really is a good guitarist.

He played for five minutes. 

The music was beautiful.  Every one of the six strings on the guitar was employed as he played the melody intertwined with chords and arpeggios, first moving up from the lowest, bass-y tones to the clear, bell-like trebles and then back down again.  He performed an old pop song from the Seventies, followed by a contemporary Christian piece, almost without any pause in between.

The man played for another ten minutes. 

The guitar sounded great!  I was fairly certain the old guy wasn’t buying, but it didn’t matter.  His playing might sell the guitar to somebody else.  Besides, I just like listening to good artistry.  Musical instruments are designed to make music.  They’re no good to anyone hanging on a rack.

Then it happened.  I heard it the second it occurred.  One chord was struck in such a manner that there was the tiniest buzz.

The tiniest buzz.

I sighed.  “Well, that’s it.”

I muttered the words so that the man standing beside me heard them.

“What do you mean?”  he questioned.

“He’s done.  Just wait,” I replied.  “You’ll see.”

Art imitates life. 

The idea can be traced back to Ancient Greece and further.  It is a truism, a self-evident truth which almost could be described as a duh statement.  You know what I mean.  Someone says the words and you can’t help but reply with a duh to show how silly it was to state the obvious.

The idea that art imitates life simply means that in our artistic endeavors, we tend to repeat what we see played out in everyday life.  Paintings are more realistic than not; songs describe emotions that are genuinely felt; stage productions and films depict events which are either believable, or at least could be imagined from our understanding of what life is.  There are, of course, exceptions.  I won’t argue about philosophy; it’s a conversation which would never reach a conclusion.

I’ll say it again though.   

Art imitates life.

My friend and I were about to receive a lesson in it.

We didn’t have long to wait.

The music stopped abruptly.  The guitarist’s hand returned to the errant chord.


The chord wasn’t unpleasant, but there was that slight metallic sound, as one string momentarily touched the fret above where it was fingered.  As the string vibrated, it oscillated repeatedly against the offending metal bar.  Within the chord, it was not clearly obnoxious, but I was sure of what would follow.

With a final throm of all the strings, the guitarist’s finger moved unerringly to the guilty string, holding it down in the same position.  Now the sound changed again.


The same action was repeated more times than I could count.  It was so annoying that even I ceased my work on the guitar and stood in vexation.  I willed the guitarist to stop, but he didn’t. 

Just about the time I was ready to speak up and ask him to stop, it seemed that he had come to his senses.  The music began anew.  Beautiful chords, utilizing the entire fingerboard and all six strings, rang out.  The melody was heard once again.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

Too soon!

Throm! throm! throm!  Plink! plink! plink! plink!   He had returned to the bad fret again.

Several times more, the melody was taken up.  Every single time, the result was the same.  A few seconds of music and moments of frustration.  Finally the old guitarist gave up.  We heard the sounds of him rising from the stool, sighing as he did, and hanging the instrument in its place with the others on the rack.

He walked around the corner, muttering as he came.

“You know that guitar has a high fret, don’t you?  It’s completely unplayable.”

I chuckled to myself, but verbally, I agreed with him and assured him that I would deal with the problem soon.  His face lit up again and, bidding us a good afternoon, he turned and headed out the door.

“That’s too bad,” the guitar owner consoled me.  “You can’t sell a guitar that’s unplayable.”

I looked at him with amusement.  

“Unplayable?  What do you think he was doing with the guitar for the first fifteen minutes he sat up there?”

We discussed the principle of little things and important things while I finished up his repair and then he too was on his way.

Art imitates life.

Sometimes, the artist intends to imitate life.  He draws, or writes, or acts out life events so they can’t be missed.

Frequently though, art imitates life in a way that is completely unintentional by the artist.  

My old guitarist friend had no objective of teaching a life lesson on that afternoon.  He was genuinely entranced by the sound and feel of the guitar he had selected.  It was a season of beautiful interaction between the artist and his medium, the guitar.  His audience was the beneficiary of the artistry.

Then he found it—one tiny, insignificant defect.  And, with that, he was done with the beautiful instrument with which he had interacted and with which he had fallen in love.  A single vibration ended the love affair for him.

The legalistic part of me wants to side with the old guitarist.  I want to point out that one sin makes a sinner; one speck of contamination ruins the whole meal; one act of unfaithfulness destroys all trust in a relationship.

We reject the defects every day.  We walk away from churches because of one thing we don’t like.  We ditch relationships because we have suddenly become aware of a secret we never knew before.  We reject people because they don’t live up to the advertisement. 

The legalistic part of me nods agreement. 

This guitar is unplayable.

The part of me that believes in grace screams out that there is more to it than this. 


Our Creator has always used broken media in His artistry to show us what life really is to be.  Even if you don’t want to go all the way back to the Book for examples (and there are hundreds there), all you have to do is to look around you.  Look at the most famous if you want.  You can think of more than a few. 

Look at the most common, too.  I’d even have to stand up if the question were to be asked. 

Imperfect product of His love and grace?  That’s me.  

I suspect it is any of us who have experienced that grace.

Still, beautiful music is being made every day.  Played on unplayable instruments. Instruments which are still fallible, still defective.

How about it?  Got a little plinking going on in life right now? 

Yeah.  Me too.

I remember the beautiful music I once heard.  Maybe it’s time to move on to the important things again.

God’s still working on me, too.



“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
(I Peter 4:8 ~ NLT)

“God sees us with the eyes of a father.  He sees our defects, errors, and blemishes.  But He also sees our value.”
(Max Lucado ~ American pastor/author)


© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 



Feeling Groovy

“Hello darkness, my old friend.  I’ve come to talk to you again.”

The quiet duo, almost morose in tonality, began to sing in my earphones as I walked my accustomed route late one night recently.  I almost stopped short.

Oh, it’s not a new song, the recording having been made nearly fifty years ago; it’s not even as if I haven’t heard it a thousand times or more in my lifetime.  It’s just that I heard the words in the right setting for the first time on that night.

In the dark.

In a dark mood.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel wrote and recorded “The Sound of Silence” in the years just after the assassination of President Kennedy.  It was a dark time for many in our nation and they captured the fear and angst of a generation.

“In restless dreams I walked alone,
Narrow streets of cobblestone…”

The anguish is almost palpable.

I mention the setting simply to reiterate that both the writing and the singing come out of the darkness.  Mr. Simon admits to beginning with the words quoted above as he spoke them into the darkness of his bathroom, where he often sat and wrote in his early days of performing.

My writing will never achieve the stature of his, but often it too comes out of the darkness of night.  Frequently, it proceeds from the darkness of my spirit as well.  By that, I mean that there are places in my heart where all is not gaiety and party favors.

I think it would be an error to cast this darkness as always harmful or evil.

Sadness exists, in spite of our efforts to banish it.

I think that’s as it should be.

As I read my own words written in these times, I have to admit that some of the most powerful sentiments I feel come out of that same darkness.  Many of the essays, wrenched out of my forays into the dim, uncertain night are, to my mind, the most memorable.

You may not agree and that’s fine.  There is room for a different perspective.

For, you see, from the same mind (at times) comes lightness and exuberance.  Will you allow me to follow up for just a moment with another example from the writing of the artists I mentioned above?

Perhaps one of the happiest songs to come from that same era is “The 59th Street Bridge Song.”  With the goofiness of Hello lamppost, whatcha knowin’?  I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’, we’re just …kicking down the cobblestones right along with the carefree duo.

From the pen and mouths of the same artists who lived in the intense darkness, came this joy and exhilaration for life.  It seems possible that the sentiments of both songs took place on the same route, too.  Notice the narrow streets in the lyrics of the first?

Yep.  The very same streets of cobblestone that the duo was kicking down in the second song.

I thought about that on a sunny day recently, as I rode my bicycle with a couple of old friends.  We followed a lot of the same route I often walk (and run) at night.  You might say the difference was indeed, day and night.  Spirits were light as we talked and laughed, first one person riding ahead, then another.  When the road allowed we rode three abreast to share the enjoyment.

Carefree, the miles flew by.

We want to spend all our time enjoying life.  The fact is, just as half of our life is spent in daylight and half in the night, we will all experience our share of joy and pain.  Both are valuable and essential to learning and growing.  Both come whether we will them to or not.

Will we learn from the darkness, or will we become bitter and angry because of it?  Will we carry the joy of the light into the dark of the night, or is the night doomed to be devoid of hope?

We choose.  We determine the manner in which we face the darkness and silence.  It may indeed, become our old friend.  That said, it does not have to become our destiny and our hell here on earth.

One other thought hits me as I write this:  Friends are a gift from a beneficent God, are they not?  Even the dark times are lighter when they are around us.  I’m beginning to think that perhaps old age may be less onerous with a few of these fine people around.

I think I’ve still got a few sessions of kicking down the cobblestones left in me, too.  I’m even feeling a little like that carefree duo of yesteryear.  For the time being, at least.

We’ll have to work together on keeping it going.  Twenty years from now, we may still be singing those final words.

“Feeling groovy.”


“Everything has it wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
(Helen Keller ~ American author/educator, both blind and deaf ~ 1880-1968)

“But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night…”
(from “The Return of the King” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ English educator/author ~ 1892-1973)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Not to be Trusted

The clock ticks away the seconds.  I lean back in my easy chair and listen as the pendulum swings.

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick

The speed of the mechanical noise is quite fast.  And hypnotic.  Before I know it, three minutes have passed.  But, as I sit, another sound catches my ear, running almost concurrently with the ticking of the old mantel clock in the room where I’m lounging.

I listen to the newly perceived sound, recognizing that it is actually running a bit slower than the one which lulled me into inactivity a few minutes ago.  It is the sound of the old kitchen clock out in the dining room.

That’s funny.  That clock ticks more slowly than the mantel clock, but it runs faster.  That doesn’t make sense at all.  In addition to that, I habitually move the hands of the mantel clock forward by almost half an hour a day.  It’s the only way it will ever be close to telling the true time whenever I glance at the hands.

I never trust the tale it tells.

I continue to listen.  Slowly and steadily, the sound from both clocks falls on my ear drums.  It’s still a mystery.  The ancient clock in the dining room actually seems to be going more slowly, if I go by the sound.  But, I know that it keeps proper time.  Week after week, month after month, year after year, I can look at the time indicated on that clock and set all the other clocks in the house by it.

It is a timepiece worthy of my trust.

I wind the trustworthy clock no more than once a week.  Every seven days, twenty-one twists of the key–twenty-one, no more, no less–and it is prepared to run for the week.

The clock on the mantel?  I must wind it every three or four days.  Never the same number of revolutions.  Never.  Still, if I don’t wind it, it will stop.  But when I do wind it, it runs at the wrong speed.

The question comes to mind.

Which clock do I like better?

Well?  Which one do you suppose?

Another question immediately arises in my thoughts.

Why do I even keep that troublesome old clock around?

It certainly takes more effort to keep it going.  I have to fiddle with it every day.

Every day.

And still,  I can’t trust it.  At any given time, the errant timepiece could be off by two or even twenty-two minutes.

I can’t trust it.

I haven’t answered either question, have I?

I’ll tackle the second one first.  I keep the clock around because I think it just might, one day, run at the correct speed.  I have done everything I know to insure that, but in the dark recesses of my mind, I remember someone saying if you keep moving the hands of a slow clock ahead, eventually it will run faster.  I don’t know if that’s true or not (and I hope no one is foolish enough to check the Internet and tell me it isn’t).  I’m not sure I even care if it’s true or not anymore.  I’m just going to keep trying.

Which brings me to my first question.

You will probably be surprised to find I don’t like either one better than the other.  One keeps good time, the other one doesn’t.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m going to care for both of them.

I can’t imagine ever getting rid of either one.  The one that keeps good time is a joy and a blessing.  The one that can’t be trusted needs me.  I think possibly I need it.

Somehow–I can’t quite put my finger on it–I feel a sort of kinship to that messed up old clock.

I wonder if there is any point in writing more tonight.

Tears come as the truth I couldn’t quite put my finger on a moment ago becomes evident.  (I don’t only write for the benefit of my readers, you know.)  Memories of an ill-mannered child, a rude teenager, even an arrogant young man–all the same person–spill into my consciousness.  Deeds I will not recount in public are played out on the stage in my head, and the shame is overwhelming.

I can’t be trusted.

Still, the Master of the house keeps me in full view.  Daily–hourly–yes, even moment by moment, He has to fiddle and make adjustments.  He keeps me.

I get to stay.

Someday, I hope the old clock will function as it should.  I’m not giving up on it.

He won’t give up on us either.

We get to stay.

“(Love) always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres.”
(I Corinthians 13:7 ~ NIV)

“Many that live deserve death.  And some that die deserve life.  Can you give it to them?  Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.  For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
(from “The Fellowship of the Ring” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ British author/professor ~ 1892-1973

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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I wonder if it’s time to shut down my social network page.

You know the one I mean.  New stories are added every few moments.  Anniversaries are noted, birthdays announced.  One friend is angry at the news media.  Another is fed up with evil doctors and wants to be sure I understand the value of something called essential oils.  Photos of cute kitties magically appear.  There are also awful images of abused dogs, or horses, or turtles.

And constantly, along the side of the computer display, a feed runs down the page, with little bits of information appearing magically, one right after the other.  So-and-so likes this; he posted this; she commented about this.

TMI!  I’ve learned the acronym, in days long past now.

Too much information!

My brain screams the words, even as I devour said information.  Without intent, I now know that my old friend’s son believes drug use to be acceptable and even desirable.  Another acquaintance vilifies followers of Christ and ridicules the very idea of a God, any God. It’s time to party-hearty with old school classmates.  Jokes abound, both in print and picture form.  I may or may not have contributed some of these.

And the language!  Used-to-be children that I bounced on my knee use words we once would have expected to make a sailor blush.  Now, no one blushes.

At times, my brain actually feels soiled, as if a good cleansing with Ivory soap and clean water might make it better.

I should turn it off.

Should I?

I sit and think.  Another acronym comes to mind.  It is an old, tired set of letters, once found on bumper stickers, mugs, and bracelets.  Unlike the acronym above, it is not followed by an exclamation point, but a question mark.  So overused, it has become a joke to many; still it bears another look.

It requires some contemplation.


We know the answer already, don’t we?  He spent His days and nights in the center of the population, participating in the discourse of the day.  He didn’t waste a lot of time with the nodding, gesturing clergy, but He interacted with the cursing, drinking, perverse people.  Every day.

I wonder–did His brain feel dirty from the filth and stench, too?

In the center of the Agora, the marketplace, the plan to change the world was implemented.  One by one, ten by ten, thousands by thousands, He intersected their daily lives with the truth, with love, with companionship.

The world would never be the same.

Still, I’m not excited about the route this marketplace living takes sometimes.

I’m not comfortable.

Funny.  We talked about comfortable just the other day, didn’t we?  The couch is comfortable.  Bed is comfortable.  The back deck is comfortable.  Your house shoes and pajamas are comfortable.  You just can’t accomplish anything in them.

In my mind’s eye, I look back over the path I’ve walked.  I think I’ve walked it asking to know WWJD.  A long look back focuses on the direction the steps have taken.

Did I take a sharp turn from the lane somewhere?  How did I get here, in the marketplace, virtually and actually?  The social network I want to switch off is not so far removed from the retail space in which I labor six days a week.  Oh, folks try to control their language, knowing who I claim to be, but what is hidden inside always comes out eventually.  The language, the ideas, the lifestyles can’t be disguised behind the facades forever.  Am I supposed to be here?

Again, I glance back.  No.  My footsteps have led, one weary stride after another, in the same direction.  I could not have found another route that would lead to my goal.

I walk in the marketplace.  You probably do too.

How do we act while here?  Do we hurry through, as if afraid that we’ll get dirty too?  Do we loiter in the dark corners, participating in the filth and immorality?  Would we rather avoid it altogether?

All of the sudden, I find myself wondering about comfort again.  The realization hits about my comments above.  The day I get comfortable is the day I lose sight of who I am and why I’m here in the marketplace.  The minute I think I’m home and kick my shoes off to put on my slippers is the instant I’ve stopped walking the path set out for me.

If the marketplace doesn’t make us uncomfortable, perhaps we need to lace up our walking shoes again and look ahead of us.

There is more.  People need us up and doing.   Where they are.

I’m ready.  You?

Just so you know, though, I’m not looking at your selfies of your latest visit to the dentist.  Some things really are too much information.

“I simply argue that the cross should be raised at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church.  I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town’s garbage heap; at a crossroad so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek…at the kind of a place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble.  Because that is where He died.  And that is what He died for.  And that is what He died about.  That is where church-men ought to be and what church-men ought to be about.”
(George McLeod ~ Scottish pastor ~ 1895-1991)

“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals. Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God.”
(I Corinthians 15:33,34 ~ NASB)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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Little Fish

I was angry as I ran down the steep hillside into the valley with its idyllic stream and beautiful gazebos rising from the wooded lawns.  I live in a beautiful little town, but that wasn’t what I was focused on at this particular moment.

“Right of way!  Pedestrians have the right of way!”
How could she have done that to me?  She had to have seen me!  I’m not a little man, standing just over six feet tall.  I’ll admit that after a year of frequent exercise and conscientious calorie intake, there is not as much of me to view as there once was, but I’m still not so small that she could have missed my presence as I ran toward the intersection.
None of it was my fault.  None of it!
The thoughts raced through my mind as I shook my left wrist to loosen it up.  It hurt a bit from where my hand had smacked the hood of her SUV just seconds before as I skipped out of her way.  Right into the path of the oncoming traffic.  If there had been a vehicle coming up the hill…
My brain focused on the driver once more.  How could she be so unaware?  She didn’t even pause at the stop sign!
I had the right of way! 
My run along one of the main thoroughfares in our little town had promised to be much like all the others, but before I had run a mile, the big white vehicle had interrupted my pace.  As I trotted toward that particular intersection, I had seen the auto come into view, but I didn’t even slow up.  She had a stop sign and would surely observe it.  I started across.  She rolled right through the stop, her big chrome bumper grazing my leg, as I quickly laid my hand heavily on the hood and jumped to avoid being knocked down.
“Idiot!”  The word came out before I even thought it.  
Looking up into the terror-stricken eyes of the driver, I saw that she was holding a cell phone up to her ear.  (I’m confident she would have described my eyes in the same way at that precise moment.)  Unhurt, except for the slight tingle in my wrist, I ran on down the hill without stopping.
I hear the voice of my father, as he taught a life lesson which he hoped his sons would always remember.
“Having the right of way is no protection from being hurt.  Lots of people say the words in the ambulance as they are taken to the hospital.  ‘But–I had the right of way!'”
I thought I had learned all the lessons he taught me.  
I’ll remember this one the next time.
Right now, there are a few readers who would like me to rail on cell phone use while driving.  I could do that.  I won’t.
One might even expect me to rant about drivers who are in such a hurry that they don’t observe traffic signs.  I could do that too, but I might also step on my own toes with such an object lesson.  I’ll move on from that one without a lecture either.
What I’d like to do is spend a moment speaking of my place in the world, if that’s okay.  It is the lesson I needed to learn on that day and, come to think of it, any other day I’ve ever gotten up to interact with other humans.  Like my father’s teaching, I seem to have to relearn it periodically.
There’s a good possibility that someone reading this could stand to think about it, too.  So, here’s the lesson to be learned from my interaction with the big white vehicle:  I’m not as big as I think I am.
We’re not as big as we think we are.
Profound, isn’t it?
Photo: Diliff
I remember hearing a phrase many years ago.  The man was deriding a civic leader in our little town when he said it.
“Big fish in a little pond.”
I knew there was another phrase which mirrored it.  Little fish in a big pond.  I understand the meaning of both better now.
We want to be important.  We want to be noticed.  So, we find a situation where that can happen, be it work or church, civic club or garage band.  We do whatever is necessary to become the big fish. 
Vanity soon follows such a rise.  But, as I consider it tonight, I have reached a conclusion.  It’s not such a revolutionary idea.  It’s just–there will always be bigger fish.  Always.
They will eat us for dinner.  That, or they’ll chase us back to our little pond, terrified.
All our protestations, all our arguments about our rights and our achievements will mean nothing.
Less than nothing.
I’m wondering, does that make us want to treat the other little fish differently?  It should.  There is nothing like a taste of our own medicine to open our eyes to things we’ve never seen before.  
The Apostle begged his readers to take the lesson to heart centuries ago.  His words warned that we should not think more highly of ourselves than is proper.  I think he may have gone on to say that we all swim in the same pond.  Okay, so it wasn’t quite those words, but the idea is the same.  The instructions still resonate today.
I’m ready to swim with the other fishes in the pond, no matter their size.  I hope I don’t need another practical lesson like my street corner meeting with the car anytime soon.
At the very least, I hope I’ll remember that I’m just a small fish in the huge pond of  humanity.  
I like the words that I read in a little book by Charles Swindoll a number of years ago.  I’ve quoted them before.
Nobody act big.  Nobody act small.  Everybody act medium.
I’m going to keep swimming.  
I’ll try not to run over you.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…”
(Romans 12:3 ~ NIV)
“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
(from Adagia ~ Desiderius Erasmus ~ Dutch priest/theologian ~ 1466-1536)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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Stand and Bless

Every mom aspires to be the World’s Greatest Mom, and by some crazy quirk of logic, most succeed.”*

In this week preceding the day some politician has randomly designated “Mother’s Day”, possibly driven by payoffs from the florist and greeting card lobbyists, our thoughts seem to go back in time to the days when our own mothers were the moving forces in our lives.  The images depicted by said industries in their commercials and on their product are of sentimental and unrealistic scenes of domestic bliss.  The regal women in their pretend world are always perfectly coiffed and put-together, make-up applied professionally and coordinated designer clothing clinging, wrinkle-free, to a model’s body.  
I sit here tonight and from nowhere in my dimmest memory, can I draw forth such a vision.
What I do remember is a slightly overweight woman in mule slippers and an old terry-cloth robe, standing at the bottom of the stairs and yelling, “If you don’t get out of bed and down here right now, you’ll get no breakfast, AND you’ll miss your bus!”  
The sack lunch we were given wasn’t filled with Lunchables or with Jiff peanut-butter (“Choosy mothers choose Jiff!”) and Smucker’s jelly sandwiches (unless those were on sale that week), along with an apple and a note.  Lunch was more likely to be a potted meat sandwich (bargain bread with the paste-like stuff smeared over it) with some slightly stale potato chips (from the 5 pound bargain package) tucked into a baggie inside.  By lunchtime, it would taste like a gourmet feast to the hungry urchin into whose hands it had been shoved as he ran to catch the bus.
You see, my mother never was anything like a Desperate Housewife or one of the Real Housewives of (fill-in-the-blank).  She was Mom – sometimes grumpy, sometimes doting – often harried, frequently docile –  but always loving and teaching and pushing.  There was never a time when we didn’t know that she wanted the best for her children.  Oh, we didn’t always show her respect and she didn’t always have a quiet demeanor when dealing with us, but there was no doubt she was on our side.
I learned to think on my feet from Mom, as we sat and argued for hours.  Truly, that trait of mine (the arguing) comes from her and not from my father, who hated arguments of any ilk.  But, I will always have the picture in my mind of Mom, as she stopped to think about a point her adversary had just made.  She would purse her lips, then stretch them thin, tapping her cheek with a long finger, considering carefully what had been said.  Within seconds, the answer was on her tongue and the verbal joust would resume.  
Even into her old age, she remained an able debater, leading some of her children to avoid delicate subjects, should she decide to challenge any random premise.  The skills of logic I learned in those encounters have served well in many situations.  The argumentativeness, I’ve had to work to control a bit more than I’d like to admit.
I could spend hours discussing her traits, good and bad.  The strident defense of her children when they were accused unfairly, the stubbornness of refusing to be bullied into paying fees for useless services, the tirades at us for our lack of initiative in housework – all of these and countless more, went into who the woman was and is, but only one more occurrence will I burden you with today.
I will admit that I was the strangest of her children and the hardest for her to understand.  I would cry at nothing, stomping up to my bedroom and sulking for hours over the least of slights.  I could work with tirelessness on a project that caught my fancy, but then would sit in indolence and procrastination when presented with a job which had to be accomplished, but in which I had no interest.  
I remember one particular evening, when I had once again stormed up the stairs long before bedtime and lay sobbing on my bed.  As the time to be asleep passed and my tirade continued unabated, Mom called me downstairs.  At that time of night, it was an action which usually meant only one thing; that corporal punishment was imminent.  But, this time, she led me to her chair and, sitting down in it, set me on her lap and just held me.  I was eight, and hadn’t been in this position for a number of years, but it was comforting.  Kindly, she asked what was really bothering me.  
I actually didn’t know, but the words just popped out, “I want a puppy!”  
My Dad, sitting in his recliner across the room, snorted.  But, Mom just talked with me gently about the situation, explaining quietly and lovingly that the family dog would have to do for now, since there was no way possible that each of the five kids could have their own pet.  (We weren’t licensed to be a zoo.)  I didn’t really want a puppy; it was just the first thing that came into my head.  But, the loving and tender way that Mom responded was all I needed to calm down and stop crying.  
Within a very short time, I was on my way to bed, comforted and secure.  It was one of the few times I dropped right off to sleep upon lying down.  A mother’s love can do that.
Do I have a point?  Just this: My mom didn’t fit a single one of the idealrequirements that makes up the perfect mother in the eyes of the rest of the world. That had nothing to do with her ability to do the work that God had set in front of her.  
She wasn’t a perfect person in any way, but she was exactly the mother I needed to help me grow up into a man who could think for himself, learning to love another woman who would also be a perfect mother, and becoming a father who could love and teach and support his own children.
In writing this, I mean to honor, not only my own mother who needed the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon to raise her brood, but mothers everywhere who daily do the task in front of them.  It is largely a thankless job for 364 days of the year, but it does continue for every one of those monotonous and unexceptional days, in spite of the lack of notice on our part.  
I hope you will take the time to let your mother know of your honor and love, and respect in a very real way.  Do it, not only this weekend, but also upon every opportunity which presents itself on the other days of the year and indeed, for the rest of her life.
It will only be a partial payment of a debt which is owed her. 
“If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.”
(Robert Brault~American writer)
“Her children stand and bless her…”
(Proverbs 31:28 NLT) 
* Robert Brault, “A Robert Brault Reader”, May 5, 2012

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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“Well?  What are you waiting for–an engraved invitation?”

Photo: Abhisek Sarda

The quiet young man glanced up at me, almost in embarrassment.  I was teasing, but he couldn’t be expected to know that.  Standing in front of the counter at my music store, the teenager looked almost frightened, but he asked the question anyway.

“Do you mind–would it be all right if I played it?”

He motioned toward the thousand dollar guitar hanging on the wall behind me, seemingly worried that I might refuse.  I had already told him he could take down anything he wanted to play, but this was different.  He wasn’t sure my blanket license extended to the instruments behind the counter.

I laughed.  “Of course you can play it.  I told you anything you wanted to play, didn’t I?”

Most of my customers know me well enough to see through my smart-aleck words, but this young man was new here.  He had only been in before with his dad, but on this day was on his own.  He wanted to be sure he played by the rules.

He waited for me to hand him the guitar, but I was busy with another customer and, jerking my chin in the direction of the hangers on the wall behind me, told him to get it himself.  He walked gingerly behind the counter and reached up to lift the beautiful instrument from its place in the row of better-than-average instruments back there.

Carrying the guitar as if it would fall apart in his hands, he rounded the corner to plug it into an amplifier.  I listened to the sweet chords and melodies that came from his ministrations to the pretty chunk of wood with strings attached and smiled.

This is what I live for.  Well, this and the odd bowl of ice cream once in awhile.

The young man, oblivious to the activity going on around him–a little girl swishing past, headed into her piano lesson, the postal person, toting an armful of plastic tubs to replace the ones full of packages she would haul out momentarily–sat and lovingly played that guitar for half an hour.  I still don’t understand what it is about music that carries one away like that, but, having felt the same thing myself countless times, I could only muse enviously as I went about my tasks.

He would have played longer, but his dad, a rough farmer who jumped out of an old pickup truck towing a stock trailer, stuck his head in the front door and beckoned impatiently to him.  Jerked back to reality, the boy reached down and, flicking off the switch on the amplifier, unplugged the precious instrument.  He then carried it, just as carefully as before, back to the counter.

The kid just stood there, waiting for my unspoken permission, finally given in the form of a head jerk, to go behind the counter again and replace the pricey guitar back in its accustomed spot on the wall.  Then he headed for the exit.  I told him to come back any time and he just ducked his head shyly.

A few moments later, I looked up from the job I was doing and saw him there again.  He was standing in the same spot he had occupied when I had made my smart-mouthed comment to him earlier.  As before, he waited for me to speak first.

“Well?”  I asked roughly.

“I just wanted to say thank you for letting me play your guitar, sir.”

He turned on his heel and was gone.

Did I say I lived for the moments when the guitar is played by talented hands?  I’ve changed my mind.

I live for moments like this.

We don’t talk about gratitude much, do we?  I sit now and wonder–why is that?

The answer comes back to me instantly.  Gratitude puts us in debt.  No.  It acknowledges we are in debt.  We don’t like that.  We like to think we are self sufficient.

We want to be in control in every circumstance.

Gratitude proves we are not.

I can’t consider this event without another story leaping to mind.  I’m sorry.  I spent my formative years in Sunday School.  How could I not think about it?

The Teacher was walking with His followers toward the big city, when He noticed a group of men who stood a long distance away, asking for Him to have pity on them.  It almost appears that He didn’t do anything for them Himself, as He jerked His head toward the temple and the men running it.  He told them to go and show themselves to the religious leaders.  Nothing more.  Go and ask the priest to look at them.

Every one of them went, ten in all.  As they went, their horrible skin condition was healed.

Nine of them, we never learn anything more about.  Nothing.

I wonder–were they grateful at all?  Do you suppose they gave credit to the Teacher for their recovery?  Did they brag that they had done it themselves by starting toward the place where the priest was?

I don’t know.  I do know they never said a simple thank you.  Never–at least, not directly to the One who was responsible for what happened.

Not a single thank you.  Well, there was one.  The odd man in the bunch, the shy one, the quiet one, the foreigner.  One thank you from the whole bunch.

He came back immediately and fell at the feet of Jesus, praising God.

Just one question further.  Which of those men owed a debt to the Teacher?  You know the answer.  It was more than one.

Yet, only one acknowledged his debt.

Day after day, people come through my door.  Any number of them push their way behind my counter to pull guitars off the wall.

It’s okay.  I tell them to do that.  They just never ask anymore.  One man  frequently squeezes behind me while I’m ringing up sales at the register.  When they get done, they hang the guitars back on the wall.

Almost never will any of them say thank you.  I’m okay with that.  I don’t insist on it, nor will I ever hold it against them.

But, it’s hard to keep from making the comparison, is it not?

Gratitude is a remarkable thing.  It enriches the thankful, as well as the benefactor.  I’m convinced of it.

Oh.  The boy was back two days later.  He came and stood at the counter again.  He said three words as he laid his hundred dollar bills down on the plate glass surface.

“I want it.”

I said two words to him as he walked out the store, carrying his beautiful guitar.

“Thank you.”

As the red-haired lady who raised me always said, turnabout is fair play.

It’s a debt I’ll gladly acknowledge.

Others will come to mind, I’m sure.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
(from Winnie-the-Pooh ~ by A. A. Milne ~ English author ~ 1882-1956)

“Give thanks to the Lord, because He is good.
His faithful love continues forever.”
(Psalm 136:1 ~ NIRV)

© Paul Phillips.  He’s Taken Leave.  2014.  All Rights Reserved.

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