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Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous

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September 2016

Light A Candle for the Maccabee Children: Pondering On the Afterlife

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Every night this week when I go to bed I get to thinking about the afterlife and then I can’t sleep. Sometimes I just lay there for hours until sleep overcomes me and then I don’t sleep well because I am troubled by weird dreams of powerless shame that I can scarcely remember the next day. Other times, I go downstairs, sit in my best thinking underwear, drink a large glass of thick milk, break into a forbidden bag of chocolate chips and get to pondering about whether there is a great beyond or if there is just one great abyss of nothing when this life is over.

When my light finally goes out do I just become a speck of floating cosmic dust traveling to and fro as part of a mostly empty universe with no floating purpose, hence no real hope? Or, when all my labors are done, when I finally stop moving and that last drop of sweat falls from the tip of my big ol’ nose and hits the ground for the final time am I going to have a rebirth and find my soul transmigrated into the body of a calico cat with feline dementia, or even worse a one of those cocky clams, as a just reward for the mediocre life I just lived?

Now I am not so sure about those visions of the afterlife. But, I can’t shake the feeling that there is something a little more to this life. A little more meaning. ‘Pears to me I’ve had somebody has been watching over my whole life despite all my tragic and sometimes comic failures, despite all my dark moods and my moments of insufferable jerkiness (there’s another word for that but I can’t cuss so I’ll leave it alone). There always seems to be an inner hope that things will get better and I know it’s got to be more than just a fool’s hope. Maybe I got me a guardian angel and if I got one of those then there has to be a Heaven ‘cuz that’s where angels live. Right?

And when I think of Heaven, I don’t think of Heaven as a place where Jimi Hendrix (not sure why everyone envisions Jimi Hendrix in heaven), John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Frank Sinatra, with a desert oasis and neon sign in the background , are all hanging out at bar alongside all the pets I’ve ever “owned” in this life (assuming I do make it, it would be great to be reunited with some of my pets Cuma? Pippin? And it would be cool if they could talk this time around… just saying).

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Where Jimi Hendrix and those other sensitive artistic souls end up, I am guessing that is not my place to say and I wouldn’t dare pass judgment, at least that kind of more permanent-like judgment on anyone, dead or alive. You will hear no curses, oaths or damnations pass my lips. I need all the good karma I can get.

And about those 72 virgins, I am not so sure about that vision either. I mean billions and billions of people have passed by on this earth and I just can’t imagine there would be that many virgins in Heaven unless there is a virgin making machine. But even then why the number 72? And why virgins? I could be off base and I could have it all wrong, but for me I’d be happiest if me, my wife, the kids, parents, siblings and other relations are all able to make it up there.

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Based on what brings us the most joy in this life, despite the mild dysfunction all families share, and what we know of families and successful communities, it makes a ton of sense that our family relations would extend into the afterlife. No offense to Jimi Hendrix. Kurt Cobain and the others, that makes the most sense to me as to what Heaven could be. Now I am sure there is more to Heaven than just family, more than what my weak reasoning and feeble faith can imagine. From what I hear God will be more just and merciful than we can ever imagine. For my sake I sure hope He is. Good night and God bless.

Music

  1. More Than Love by Los Lonely Boys
  2. Train Song by Benjamin Gibbard and Feist
  3. Havana Moon by Chuck Berry
  4. The Rocky Road to Dublin by The High Kings
  5. Fireproof by Coleman Hell

Quote

“We only become perfect ‘in Christ’ not independently of Him. Simple diligence is required of us in order to obtain mercy in the day of judgment.”

I Was A Stranger: Refuge from the Storm

Hope of Christ vs. The Hopelessness of Macbeth

cameras-kodak-57-swscan03105-copy“I’m certain there are lots of problems we could all list….Whatever the list, it’s bound to be long when we add up all the dumb things we’ve done. And my greatest fear is that you will not believe in other chances…, that on some days you will not believe in any future at all….If we cannot believe in the compassion of Christ and His redemptive love, then I think we in our own way are as hopeless as Macbeth and our view of life just as depressing.”-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

 

There by the Grace of God Go I: Adventures in Kayaking

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. It was supposed to be a fun trip. Time to get with friends and to get in some kayaking on Lake Tahoe before the summer ends. It was breezy that day, but Carson City is always windy in the afternoon so I didn’t think too much about it nor did I think too much the effect it would have on the Lake.

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The day started off with a lot of promise. The sky was blue, the Sweet Williams were in full bloom, and we had plenty of Vermont cheddar in the fridge. And, it seemed as if I had finally exorcised my kayak-loading demons. For once we were ready before we were supposed to meet up with our friends, Fergus and Eunice O’Connor. Fergus is a wholesale distributor and Eunice works the graveyard shift at the Campbell’s Soup factory, in charge of quality control on the Cream of Potato line.

Driving Out

As good as things seemed, true to form, we couldn’t get out of town without having some problems. One of our back ratchet tie downs had become unhooked from the receiver hitch. So we pulled over into the Taco Bell parking lot a spent about 10 minutes figuring out why one of the kayaks was leaning forward causing the back ratchet tie down to become unhooked. We soon figured it out and indubitably I was to blame. Earlier in the day when we had loaded up the kayaks I had discovered afterwards that I had incorrectly laid down the cam straps on the driver’s side. Instead of bugging Tammy again for more help, I took the initiative and lifted up the ends of the kayak and re-looped the straps through the racks and looped the straps through the wrong part of the rack.

Out on the Lake

Once we fixed the straps, the rest of the drive to the Sand Harbor boat dock went on without any issues. When we got out on the water the waves were unnaturally big for Lake Tahoe, but this was to our advantage going out. It was like riding a little rollercoaster out there on the waves. We were having so much fun that we went further than we had gone before, making it almost to Hidden Beach near Incline Village before deciding to turn back.

As we decided to turn back, I began to notice that I was having a hard time staying balanced in my kayak. It was taking a lot of hip motion to stay balanced and I quickly realized that it was inevitable that my kayak would flip. So I started heading to shore so I wouldn’t have to swim too far if I did plunge into the lake, which I promptly did.

Getting to Shore

I am guessing I was about 300 feet from shore when I started to swim. There was no way I was going to be able to get my big body back into the kayak giving the size and frequency of the waves that day so I started swimming and pushing the kayak in front of me. About half way to the shore, I got the brilliant idea that I should flip the kayak right side over. That was a huge mistake. The waves soon filled up the kayak with water and it started to sink. It now took much more effort to push the kayak in front of me and continue swimming, but eventually I made it to the rocky shore.

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Surveying the straight drop form the road to the shore, I knew I was not going to be able to hike back with the kayak. Feeling a little daft and punchy, I decided the only thing I could do was kayak back to Sand Harbor. Resigned to my fate, the next thing I had to do was somehow get my kayak turned over so I could prop it onto a rock and drain it. After some unmanly efforts at lifting the kayak, I was inspired to use the waves to help me flip over the kayak. Lo and behold, once I got the kayak parallel to the waves, after about the third wave, I was able to flip the kayak over and then hoist it onto a rock to drain the kayak of the remaining water.

At about the same time I was draining out the kayak, our friends had made it back to where I was. They had not realized that I had flipped over and asked if I shouted or had made any noise when I plunged into the water. In hindsight that would have been a good idea, probably bordering on a smart, having just recently taught my cub scouts to make noise when they find themselves in trouble out in Mother Nature.

Meanwhile, there was no sighting of my wife. When we had decided to turn around, Tammy had made out like a wildcat, getting out way ahead of us. As I would find out later, she wasn’t doing this to show off or be anti-social, but was doing it out of desperation. She had an acute case of motion sickness from the waves. Eventually, though she realized we were no longer in view behind her and, bless her heart, despite feeling ill she doubled back to find us.

Making it Back

Back in my kayak, the group once again headed out into the waves of Lake Tahoe. My strategy this time around was to kayak near the shore and go in a zig zag so I would hit the waves straight on instead of sideways and fill the stern with water. This strategy worked to a degree but I still managed to get water in the back of my kayak. In hindsight, I am one-hundred percent sure that I had not completely drained my kayak the first time around. Soon again I was starting to feel unbalanced so I heading for a little cove for my inevitable plunge back into Lake Tahoe.

kayak-tahoe-pic-2However, this time I was closer to the shore and I could walk the kayak to the shore. Dripping wet, pushing an upside down kayak I walked toward the little cove and as I got near the rocks, I looked up and realized I had just inadvertently walked into the background of a couple’s wedding pictures. I am sure they will cherish that picture forever.

I finally ditched the idea of trying to kayak using a kayak stroke and switched over to the canoe stroke. That seemed to work a lot better but travel was slow. Getting back to Sand Harbor without any more incidents, I noticed all the color had drained from my wife’s normally sunny face. She immediately dropped face-down onto her towel in an effort to get her world to stop moving up and down, she would later tell me she had thrown up twice waiting for me to get back into my kayak. Oy vey! Did I feel like a major putz when she told me that.

The rest of us were likewise happy to be ashore after being on the water for nearly three hours. In our ecstasy, we decided to eat are well-earned food. No sooner had we pulled out our sandwiches then were we attacked by a hoard of voracious yellow jackets. Unable to eat in peace, we finally threw in the towel and decided to just pack up and go back to the safety of our homes.

Happy to be home, I am thankful for many things after my kayaking fiasco. Simple things, like being thankful the shore wasn’t further away, being thankful that my Dad taught me to swim even if it was when I was older, and being thankful for patient friends and a patient wife. I am also thankful for good days as well as the bad days because the bad days are when we learn the most about our limitations. And lastly I am thankful that freshwater sharks in Lake Tahoe is a myth.

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