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Saturday, February 9, 2019

REAL LIFE IN A DREAM - A POEM

It was a family meal. 
I was the eldest at the table, the head. 
During conversation, someone spoke, 
something offhand, cutting, hurtful to me. 
That was it, the proverbial last straw.  
Similar insults have occurred before. 
From the same person, flippant, rude. 
I slammed my fork down loudly striking my plate
as I rose in haste and left the dining room. 
I walked swiftly to my room, aware 
that someone was following me. 
I shut the door behind me and sat down in my armchair. 
The door opened and someone entered, 
looked at me with sorry eyes, came and sat with me. 
Sat, wedged between arm and my body, with back to me in silence. 
That gesture broke me and I cried. 
Sobbing, heaving and another person entered. 
Young, supportive, well intentioned, 
and the two exited without a word. No true resolution. 
The relationship unchanged. I was angry.
Angry with the second person for surging in, disturbing our moment. 
I yelled out loud, and the sound woke me up.
Reflectively then I wondered about the dream. 
Realized as if a light went on. The offender was me. 
The me of the dream was God. 
I was the one who repeatedly injured the Father. 
Injured is an inadequate word. Offend would work. 
Sin is more accurate. This was a teaching moment. 
How often a cohort of sorts has interfered,
diverted my attention, and pulled me from enduring repentance. 
More was expected of me, rightfully so since I am of the family. 
   
© Ron Unruh, Feb 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

DREAMING FORWARD, WISHING BACK

DREAMING FORWARD, WISHING BACK
 
Who'd want to be fifty they asked 
When I told them that's what I wanted
And I was fifteen.
Had enough of teen years,
Convinced they would not improve.
Why not skip the discomfort I thought.
At fifty success and security were assured.

Yet now I'm half again as many as fifty
I'm thinking inversely and fifteen's not bad.
I could eat what I want. Didn't put on weight.
I had hair I could style. I could run forever.
I could sleep through the night. Nothing hurts.
I want to be fifteen again.

But then I remember why fifteen sucked.
I'm still in my folks' house. I can't drive the car yet. 
I'm attracted to girls but self-conscious. 
I've got stupid school for the foreseeable future.
Oh yes, then comes finding work and grinding work
And family and mortgage and stress
And wishing for fifty plus and retirement. 

So I'm thinking it's okay where I am
I lived a good life with a good wife 
Who gave me two loving and talented children
Who gave me five adorable grandkids
And I'm settled, no dreaming forward, no wishing back
It is what it is and I'm fine.  

© Ron Unruh, February 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

HE KEPT HIS PROMISE TO HER

Not coached like me to sermonize
My father spoke the finest
Words, summoned from his life with her,
She lay unable now to answer, not needing to
He knew, and he intuited his time was short,
So aptly and prophetically he spoke his love,
His promise took our breaths away,
We, his loved ones in support
Now needing some assistance
As he kissed her still cold face and said,
"I'll see you soon sweetheart."
Six months passed and he content
With children and grandchildren
And he with life well lived and nothing more to keep him
Woke where his promise was fulfilled
And where his Maker's promise led.


© Ron Unruh, January 2019
Tina Martha Unruh died in November 2007 after 66 yrs of marriage to Edward Richard Unruh who slipped away on the 1st of May 2008.

A STORY DELIVERED BY A HUMAN VOICE

I lament for many children & youth who have not been enchanted by a piece of writing delivered by a human voice. Mine is a voice of experience, a nine-year-old voice. "I'm going to the library," I shout back to my friend who asks, "Where are you going?" It's Saturday and I'm on my bike heading to the public library. I call again, "Get your jacket and hop on your bike, I'll wait." "Next time," he shouts back. I arrive and head for the stacks. I know my way around. The staff knows me. They smile. I select adventures of several genres, westerns, space travel, sports, and biography. I sit on the floor reading. Waiting for ten o'clock. A chime sounds and I move. A librarian opens the reading room door and fifteen of us grab a chair. Eager. She reads. Doesn't matter what the story line is. We clap thanks for her and I check out my four books, treasures they are and home again. And for the week, when I'm not outside, I'm often nose in a book, glued to a plot. Television? What's that? Screen time? Internet? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

WALKING EACH OTHER HOME

Walking Each Other Home

Christine and I have stepped off seven plus decades of time while we have inhabited earth. Our cadence was distinct and independent through our first two decades of life and then we met. Immediately we found a rhythm, a shared stride while dating at college. That uniform gait breezed us effortlessly past other sidewalkers to graduation and marriage. In unison we strode our way through unfamiliar terrain illuminated by faith in One who prescribes our steps. Came work. Came babies. Came Joys. Came hardships. Mutual trust was fundamental to our ongoing unified pace. Not easy for her to walk with a flawed partner for whom perfection was imperative. Not easy for me to recognize the defects in my own march. I didn't see. Not then. I didn't see that she walked to my beat. Always. I didn't see. She was entitled to tramp her own trail. So gifted she was that her own walk could have taken her farther. I didn't see. A trail not separate from but conjoint with mine. That even so we could have trekked together. She was patient. I didn't see and my culture didn't teach me. Exceedingly patient, she. Along our dual journey it was I who received an honour here, a recognition there. And she was always glad for me. Yet she should have been applauded. She deserves such celebration still. Wondrous person, she, I have sensed for a long time, that though we walk together, it is she who sets the pace. Challenges appear as time goes on and while our pace slows down, we each are content in knowing that we are walking each other home.    

© Ron Unruh, January 2019

Monday, January 14, 2019

JAN 14TH. SHE IS 50 TODAY

She will need to forgive me for doing this. No, I’ll need her forgiveness. She doesn’t care for attention, doesn’t need it, not from me, but how else can I celebrate the experience she gave me to be a dad, her dad, and she was my first child, my parents’ first grandchild.

Why shouldn’t I be reflective today. She is 50 today. I mean she is 50 years of age as of today, and I mean my girl, my daughter. Carinne May Unruh she was named the day that she arrived. “Carinne,' because Christine and I had played with names and sounds and enjoyed this one. We anticipated that we and others would eventually call her Cari. “May”was Christine’s mother’s name, and Christine herself was Christine Frances May Langlois. It honoured Grandma Langlois that Carinne would carry her name as well.

Cari arrived after hours of Christine’s personal birthing agonies that I as a husband could not share. I mean prospective dads were not allowed to be with their wives in those years. This was Mississauga General Hospital, fairly new and one would think modern, but traditional policies carried on. I could pop in briefly to feebly commiserate with Christine from time to time, that was it. No dads in the delivery room. So I waited with other men for word that our babies had been born. It seemed that one by one, doctors arrived with a baby to show a dad. From a distance I could see babies with black hair, brown hair, auburn hair and skin tones, black, brown, and tan.  Then one by one the men left the waiting room and I remained. Christine was having a very difficult time. At last our doctor was at the door with a bundled baby in his hands to show me. He was smiling. I jumped up and came close to this small pinkish girl’s face, tiny nose and mouth with a head full of one inch high fuzzy white spiked hair. My heart said, “Of course, she is ours, look at her ... oh she’s beautiful.” And looking back at me from that lovely small face were these soft, blue eyes.” Blue eyes !! Christine has the most entrancing dark brown eyes. My eyes are hazel brown. But my mom had blue eyes, and my brother Murray, the child my mom loved most. Christine’s family enjoyed blue eyes.

A day later, my mom and dad arrived at the hospital. By this time Carinne was one of the many babies bundled in small cribs in a show room behind a large curtain. At show time, the curtain was pulled back and as a family arrived and came to the window, a nurse would wheel the related baby to the window for viewing as long as the family liked. Some babies were crying and some never stopped. Among all the bundles one was clearly distinguishable as the ‘Unruh’ baby, because only from her blanket did the soft spiky white hair protrude. She didn’t cry. My dad went to the window, and I accompanied him. Cari was brought to the window, and I remember my father’s face and his eyes filled with admiration and delight. His own life had brought him to this point, from childhood in a prairie town, to marriage, to the RCAF during WWII, and to fatherhood and hard work in a factory, and now to a moment when as a new grandfather, he was gazing at a wonder. And blues eyes stared back at him.

Cari, age 2
Cari, age 49.99999, oh 50

      Cari was two years and a bit in this pic ... and she was spending her last day as a 49 year old yesterday in this pic,










Monday, January 7, 2019

PIVOTING ON A DECISION - going to Rwanda

In mid December I was invited to consider joining a group of eight people who will travel in mid-January to Rwanda to share faith in Christ. In brief, groundwork has already been laid there for these eight people, each to have a translator and one other person accompany them to visit in family homes to share with residents how one can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that results in the forgiveness of sin and a new way of living life by faith. The purpose is multi-fold, to bring people to saving faith in Christ, to train people to share faith, to establish a followup discipleship program for respondents. This is a help, and it becomes an investment in local Rwandan churches where there is risk.

An apology was extended to me for what was short notice for me, since I was required to raise my own funds for the trip. I needed to ascertain my own interest in such a venture and to consider my age, my physical and financial resources. I needed to face my fears and concerns. I took several days to determine my choice. And although I composed a letter with which to respond to the person who invited me, I also wrote a poem to help myself through the process of coming to a decision. Here is what I wrote.


PIVOTING ON A DECISION

I tangle between fear and faith
With a decision I must make
So little time to ponder
Yet with years enough to make me wise.

At my current age, health and means, 
Enthusiasm yields to caution that's untimely
Since only days remain in which to choose
An action that may lead to life or death.

The life or death equation is not my own
But that of whomever waits a day's flight from here
To whom I might go to share good news
That leads from death to life.

Fear derives from details over which I have no control.
Faith rests in One for whom all things are possible.
Does plunging headlong into ignored truths 
Equate with faith? I ask myself. 
Must I discount age, health and means to evidence my faith? 
Or might faith inform me that I should stay,
That I should pray for those who go?
Such is the tangle of my thoughts.

Good news is appropriate for me to share 
Not only there but here.
If I choose by faith not to go, the One will still deliver
Life-giving news in that distant place, 
And those to whom I might have gone
Will meet me when One brings us home.


© Ron Unruh, Dec 16, 2018

Friday, June 8, 2018

A SIMPLE OBSERVATION - IT’S A GIFT TO BE SIMPLE

At its peak in the early 1800’s the Shaker community in the United States had 6000 believers but by 1920 there were only twelve Shakers left and as of 2008 there were only four.  Who are the Shakers you are asking.  The name ‘Shakers’ was originally an uncomplimentary term applied to this Quaker fringe group who were known for the emotional religion involving singing, trembling, dancing, shaking, speaking in tongues. The composed thousands of songs and dances. Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848 wrote the lyrics of a one verse song that had the music of a quick dance, and the song was entitled, ‘Simple Gifts.’   

'Tis the gift to be simple,
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down
where we ought to be,
and when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained
to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
to turn, turn, will be our delight
till by turning, turning we come round right.

In the course of a lifetime in our western urban society we move gradually from a simple childhood with meals, clothes and shelter provided and a few toys that we each call “mine,” to the amassing of a house full, and a garage full of possessions and a mortgage and a wish list for other belongings. Perhaps occasionally we vacation away from all of these things and we mutter “this is the good life, the simple life.” That exclamation is a confession that the accumulation of all this stuff which appears to make us happy is not really successful. We concur briefly with that Shaker composer that it actually is a gift to be simple. It’s a gift to be free. It’s a gift to come down where we ought to be. 
And if it is a second nature enticement to complicate the simplicity of life, it is equally true that we can obscure a simple faith with an excess of performance, of additional expectations, rules, and duties. This is spiritual seduction.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mother’s Day 2018


It’s 4 days past Mother’s Day. Now I am choosing to go public. Mother’s Day was a full, fun and happy day. Christine & I went to early service @CrossRidge Church, then with MX5 top down we drove to The Glades, rhododendron park to enjoy the way over 20 floral acres & then sat for a String Quartet concert. We cam home & Christine put on a dinner for eleven, our family, 6 adults & five children ages 10-17, roast beef and wines and dessert ... fantastic.

Perhaps what Christine appreciated next to having her family nearby was my written morning tribute to her. Here it is.
Mother's Day 2018
This weekend marks the tenth year that I have not purchased a Mother's Day card for my mother. She is no longer here to accept it or to read my loving and appreciative remarks.  She needs no support from her firstborn son. Having received from the LORD the affirmation given to disciples who have been faithful and have done well, she resides now in paradise. 

I can and will honour you, Christine as the mother of my two children, Cari and Jeff. Christine, you were a stay at home mom through my children's formative years, not because it was the culturally acceptable practice, but because you were committed to their best interests. You were determined to be present with them and for them. Yours was an informed and practical motherhood in the early years, reading, listening, teaching and protecting and always loving. Your appetite for God's Word has always been apparent and served as a model of how God's truth can direct the many decisions for living. You have always been an encourager to your children's aspirations and abilities. You are a disciplined follower of Christ who prays for her children and grandchildren daily, and this has been your routine in all the years we have lived together. You do all that you possibly can to nurture relationships with your five grandchildren, so they know you are always available. You have sought to build trust so they can learn from you. You have helped them whenever and however you can. They know that you care for them. Each of them has a special place in your heart. You love people and touch their lives with genuine interest both in person and through phone calls. You may pop in, or bring a baked item to enjoy, or give a hug. You love to help others. You are hospitable and enjoy the company of friends. You are wise, and speak prudently into people's lives. You honour the LORD in so many ways, not least of which is as a wonderful mother and grandmother.









Sunday, March 4, 2018

REMEMBERING MURRAY PHILLIPS

REMEMBERING MURRAY PHILLIPS
Murray, June 10/44 - Mar 1/2018 
Murray's affirmation was what I needed. Murray walked through my home, room by room, pausing for a few minutes at each of my watercolours, oils and acrylics.
When he concluded his tour of my paintings he asked me, "So what do you want from me?" I told him I wanted his opinion about my art and whether it had merit. He said, "First, let me assure you that you are an artist." That alone made my day. It was 2008 and I was 66 years old. My life was changing. I had invited Murray to my home because I was concluding a forty-year career quite unrelated to painting. I was requesting advice from a successful artist who was a man of integrity.