Thursday, October 31, 2013


It never ceases to amaze me when I see the workings and discipline of nature. I believe our Creator shows us, in many ways, how we should depend on Him rather than on ourselves. I know He gave us the ability to reason, react, and perform to help to sustain, and to make a living for ourselves. However, mankind, with its selfish nature, cannot rival the harmony and balance among earth’s living creatures.

What I’m about to show is what simple nature has so powerfully revealed to me.

To line our driveway to our house, we have growing six dogwood trees, each more than twenty years old. Two weeks ago they were loaded with seeds, covered with a bright red fleshy hull, very beautiful to look at, especially when surrounded with still green leaves. 

One morning, after the sun had risen to above the tree line, I slowly walked to get the paper from the box. A cheerful clamor of high-pitched chirps fill the air. In the tops of trees, fifty yards away, an enormous assembly of starlings had gathered, readying themselves to fly south. With the brilliant pink and pale blue morning sky behind them, they flitted, hopped, and jumped trying to occupy every available inch of exposed twigs.

I’m sure they passed along a warning to keep an eye on the dude walking in the driveway.

On my way back from the paper box, having passed the first dogwood tree, I heard a sharp increase of fluttering behind me. I turned, and  began to witness one of the marvels of nature. I continued to slowly walk backward not making any sudden moves.

A small swarm, maybe three-hundred starlings, had engulfed the first dogwood and was frantically devouring the red dogwood seeds. As if by command, no more than thirty-seconds later, they all left the tree and reunited with their bothers and sisters in the trees fifty yards away. The birds had stripped all the seeds from the dogwood to within four feet of the ground. . . . I wondered why? For safety sake I suppose; predators could be lurking!

As I slowly continued walking backward, a new swarm of starlings engulfed the second tree eagerly consuming the tree’s seeds in the same manner and timeframe as the first group. The second swarm returned to the  black mass in the fencerow trees, leaving the dogwood stripped of its red berries.

I continued to inch away, giving the birds their space.

This went on, tree after tree, until all the berries of the six trees were devoured. The massive squall of birds had perfectly divided itself into smaller groups so all could partake of the feast in a mannerly way. 

Who directed these birds? Who gave these birds the compassion and willingness to share? Would humans have behaved in like manner?

Saturday, October 19, 2013


A shorter version of this story is in my book "A TIME AND PLACE The Making of an Immigrant." I have expanded the story and it will be published as part of an e-book in the near future.

                                             NEW BOOTS
During the summer of 1955, after I started working at a printing plant and earned a few dollars, I found myself in need of a new pair of shoes. If there were any discount stores then, I sure did not know about them. The only shoe store I knew about was downtown Metuchen.
My English was very limited then. Fortunately, the words Schuh and shoe were pronounced the same way in German as in English. I had a time trying to tell the salesman that I wanted to buy work boots. Work boots would do fine in summer and winter. I wanted to buy them bigger than my fifteen-year-old feet measured. I needed boots that would last and I would eventually grow into. This request seemed totally foreign to the man. He may have thought I was a bit dense. Several times I got the impression that he wished I had never come into his store.
At long last, after many gestures, looks, and waving of the arms, I settled for a pair of hefty, leather boots. By using his fingers on both hands he showed me, the cost of the selected boots was twenty-three dollars. I, in turn, showed off my English, also with the support of my fingers, that I only had eighteen dollars. He then motioned that he would keep them in a corner until next week when I then would pay him the balance.
I gestured and stammered back at him that I wanted to take the boots with me. The hardest thing for the sales clerk to understand was that I just offered eighteen dollars––total. All the money that I had to my name. It was all I was going to pay him. He then summarized the deal on a sales ticket. He asked where I worked, jotted that down, and now was ready for me to sign on the dotted line.
When I looked, I saw that he added the five dollars difference in the deal, listing it separately as a balance due. Well, I was not born yesterday. I pointed at the amount due and shook my head; a firm “No.” Taking his pen into my hand, I motioned for him to scratch out the five bucks due and he’d have a deal. In frustration, he raised his arms, then scribbled out the five on the bill-of-sale. I dug out my eighteen dollars and laid them on the counter.
What he muttered, I do not know. He most likely told me to take the blame shoes and get on out of his store. Not waisting any more time I was out of there, shoes firmly under my arm, and debt free.

Thursday, October 3, 2013



Just imagine, you are 16 years old, you’ve just left your country of your birth, and your destination is halfway around the world. You have never been in an airport, much less on a plane. 

My son and his family have agreed to share their home with Jafar, who is from Nigeria, for  the next nine month. He will attend LCA (Liberty Christian Academy).

The young man is all smiles; a true pleasure to have around. At sixteen he is a mere 6 feet and six inches tall. He partakes in all family activities, and is all eyes and ears as this, his new experience, exposes the life in the USA.

At his first stopover in Paris, he had to change concourses at the airport. As he came off the plane he asked the first attendant how to find the predetermined gate. He was sent underground to a shuttle train. Not trusting, he asked another attendant to verify his direction. And then he asked a third. All this within a 20 minutes layover. He told my son he was frightened when the train whizzed underground to a strange new destination. He prayed he was not going downtown Paris.

After fumbling in Atlanta, then finally landing in Raleigh NC, he had spent 27 hours lost in airports and in the air. The only thing the boy ate was what was offered on the plane.

When he eventually met his new folks in America, they not knowing he hadn’t eaten a full meal, they offered him a full tube of Pringles and a Sprite, which he promptly devoured. Neither treat he had ever had before. Yum--yum!

On the way to Bedford, his new home for nine month, he was amazed by the condition of our roads. “So quiet,” he quipped, “And no one is blowing their car horns.”

The first day was all new. He, was introduced to french fries, ketchup, peanut butter, coffee, and a multitude of other American standards.

In a few more days, I will report to you of the many other new things this young man has experienced in just the first week here. My friends, we are blessed.