Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In or Of the World?

Grace in Small Things

Costa Rica's Blue Morpho Butterfly

This past week I found myself moving through a tropical rain forest in various modes of transportation. The diverse media included: zip line, horseback, two feet and four wheels. The most pulsating was hanging over majestic gorges through rain clouds in the soft falling rain with the Pacific ocean looming in the distance. 

"Look at eleven o'clock" suggested our guide Donald, who also pointed out his last name was not Trump!

My friend Patti and Donald

In his book "The Ragamuffin Gospel" Brennan Manning quotes a Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel from his death bed, "Never once in my life did I ever ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder and He gave it to me."

I am grateful that I often experience wonder in my everyday comings and goings. The screech of a red tail hawk flying overhead, a fleeting appearance of a dragonfly with no water near by, a night owl lighting under a street lamp or the sweet sound of "good night" over the phone from my girlfriend Patti.

The freshness that comes with travel to a new locale always heightens one's sense of wonder. Although, being raised in tropical Miami, Florida, some things in Costa Rica were not so new for me. I have lived in and among palm trees, seagulls, hibiscus plants, orange trees, waves breaking on the beach and of course the swim up pool bar. I quit that pool bar activity a few years back.

The Park

What was most wonderful to this man was watching the little creatures. On our first day Patti and I decided to count butterflies and dragonflies. Within hours we abandoned this effort. There were too many to count even on the grounds of our resort. When we traveled to the Rincon del a Vieja park and in the rain forest our sense of wonder bordered on infinite.

The rain forest is a busy place! There is much coming and going, God's grand central station if you will.The most notable traveler had to be the ever present and largest of the prolific butterflies. It's name is the Blue Morpho. One of our guides pointed out that it's likeness is on their currency. Either I or this beautiful creature were never still long enough for me to get a picture. The ones in my memory will suffice.

While on this vacation, a friend and I were engaged in a deep spiritual conversation over a game of chess. We were talking of being in the world  as opposed to being of the world.  The name morpho brings with it meaning changed or modified. When we are in the world, we have the opportunity to change the world. We can ask for and receive the wonder of God's creation; His Grace in the littlest things. When we are of the world, we are subject to the world changing us. We often miss His little details and the wonders of Creation.

"He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much."
Luke 16:10 (NKJV)
This Gospel scripture has always spoken to me: Unless you can see and appreciate His Grace in the smallest things you will never truly appreciate the wonder of it on the grander scale.

Father may I be more in the world than of the world so I might receive the wonder of your Grace. Amen.

Bradford Bosworth
August 8, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Falling into Enmity

Forego Foraging Forbidden Fruit

I know a guy who found himself in a financial morass a few years back; a foreclosure and a subsequent divorce and his living conditions changed dramatically. He lost most all of his material possessions. It happen so quick that he did not have the option of obsessing over what turned out to be only dispensable stuff that we can't take with us when we leave this life anyway. In a matter of a couple years he went from being the association president in an upscale neighborhood to a resident in a high turnover community he refers to as "the hood." The transition landed him into a small low rent house in a neighborhood where he could not distinguish between fireworks and gunshots, especially on the 4th of July! He speaks of hearing regularly all kinds of new sounds from disturbingly loud expletive laden domestic arguments and the whine of police sirens, to the more pleasing sound of children's music broadcasting through the loudspeakers on an ice cream truck.

My friend often speaks of the humbling effect of his relocation experience. He has come to believe our Creator prunes us back from time to time so we might bear richer fruit in His Kingdom. Were my friend to have viewed his current abode and neighborhood from the lofty illusion of his former home, he would have judged them homely. Now he can sit on his back porch and see a bit of heaven on earth.

The Garden

It is amazing what we observe when we open our eyes and see from a humbled point of perspective. One day a year ago what typically he would characterize as the mundane or maybe even drab view of the neighborhood from the back deck changed dramatically See: The Split in the Garden.  His view  has never been the same.
Recently while he was washing dishes, the man now retired, was peering out the window above the kitchen sink into the back yard. He noticed that where the big oak had split from the powerful lighting strike, a strange but familiar branch was protruding from another tree behind and it looked like a giant snake.
Sink Window

One of the effects of this man's humbling is a faith that instructs "Take nothing for granted!"  Our Creator speaks to us in so many ways and expressions, at all times.  If we are seeking His presence, we will be amazed at our enlightenment. From every angle my friend watches out for the serpent in his garden daily.

Our faith requires a diligent practice of obedience to our Creator so we might grow continually in our relationship with Him. For this friend of mine, it is a daily back yard reminder to forego the foraging of forbidden fruit. Be in the world not of the world.

The Fall, Genesis 3:1(NIV)
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals
the Lord God had made..........."

Amen Brother

Bradford Bosworth
July, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The View from Prodigal Point

Which Brother am I?

(Writer's Note: The final -6th- in a Series)

"But he was angry and he  would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him."
Luke 15:28 (NKJV)

This writer is compelled to complete this series of personal family reflections in a bow to Father's Day. It all begins with our Father. It all ends with our Father.  Our recent journey of two brothers which included visiting the graves of fathers, mothers and aunts who would be sisters, also involved stories of  "Dads" who stood in for and in place of fallen and passed fathers. And a brother who filled in as father from time to time.

I believe we all have afflictions in one form or another. We are all in recovery from a tendency to turn in on ourselves. The reader might recognize the response, "No thanks, I got this."  We are either the prodigal son or his brother; either Mary or sister Martha (Luke 10:38-42). We all need release. I pray daily, "Release me Father".

On this trip we visited the home of a close relative.  We were not sure that she would receive us. For she had spent her life trying to put distance between herself and her birth father. It had been around fifty years since I had seen her last as an infant. Perhaps the depth and  pervasiveness of a pain born of abandonment would dissipate.  Thankfully this accomplished business woman opened up and we got to visit with her! She showed us two distinct keepsakes which spoke of her life. giving me a special insight: my view from the Prodigal Point:

My new friend then proceeded to describe the first item, "This is my baby chair. I sat in this chair waiting for my father to come home! For years I sat in this chair and looked out the window for my father. He never came home."

Hal and I had been in conversation with her mother the evening before our visit. We learned that a step father, the man who would marry her mother, was a prince of a man. This step father would become "Dad" and a rich, deep and everlasting love would blossom between "Dad" and daughter.  And then the wounded lady told us about her "Dad" in a glowing dissertation of adoration. This man who would be "Dad" passed in 2015. He also left behind for family a vast and panoramic legacy. And then the lady took us to see the second item, explaining that "Dad" was an artist. We stood in awe gazing at the mural hanging above the stairway landing.
A gift from our Father

My brothers' and my father Harold died in 1964. As baby of the family, I was twelve and did not really get to know him well. Through others' eyes I know he was revered and respected.  Our mom Jeanne, over a decade later, would marry a man named Alfred. (See: Requiem Letters: 11/18/16)  We knew him as  "Papa Al" and he was, as well, a prince of a man!
Jeanne and Harold meet Leonard Bernstein
Jeanne and Papa Al
Here is what I believe:  We are all in recovery from our afflictions and need release from them. Our Creator- Father God- places people in our path of life. They are our angels along the Way. Some fallen or falling serve to bring us pain. Some risen or rising serve to lift us up.  Some are the prodigal son, some the brother; some Martha, some Mary.  All serve to bring us to the Father's purpose.  As well, so are we here to serve our Father's purpose!

"for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
Matthew 10:20

Amen Dad and Papa Al

Bradford Bosworth
June, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Reflections on the Portage Path

A Vast and Panoramic Legacy

(Writer's note: fifth in a series)

"Nothing is hidden that won't be exposed. Nor is anything concealed that won't be made known and brought to the light." 
 Luke 8:17 (CEB)

Etna was a small turn of the century Steel Mill Town across the river from Pittsburgh. It contained a sizable and proud German population in which Grand Pa Martin Metzger was a town elder, an alderman type leader in the community.  When he and his wife Catherine learned that unwed daughter Henrietta had become pregnant, the pressures of their standing in the community led them to conceal the fact.  You see, they found themselves in a off-kilter culture that would despicably label a child of an unwed mother "illegitimate".  So Martin and Catherine did what they had to and created a story line that it was Catherine who was in a bedridden pregnancy and Henrietta who would stay at home to attend to her. The child who would be born behind this veil of secrecy was our Mom Jeanne.
Small Street of Secrets

The first time  I remember my mother breaking down in sobs was the day she told me of how she learned the truth.  She had spent her first ten or so years viewing Martin and Catherine as her parents and her mom Henrietta, aunts Betty and Tirzah as her sisters. The one lesson my mother preached and taught to me was: "Tell the truth!"  She first heard the truth from some mean spirited kids on the play ground.
Precious Jeanne

Here is the truth I have discerned as a result of this past week's travels with my brother. The cruel depression era vestiges of the small blue collar town that is Etna, Pa. remain today like in a time warp,  The miracle is that Jeanne strove to escape the confines of that little town and put herself into position to meet a man: Harold B Bosworth. A man who would love her away from the past that society would shame her and the family for.  Oh how far her odyssey took her away from her beginnings.  The distance between that small town Pennsylvania playground and the places where her grand children and great grandchildren play is a vast an panoramic legacy!
The Metzger/Bosworth Clan

Post Script: My first introduction to the Broadway musical genre was as a pre-teen. West Side Story blew me away, still does. The following pictures: the first (album soundtrack autographed to me by Mr. Bernstein) of which hangs in my home and second (hangs in Hal's home) with Leonard Bernstein himself, show glimpses of the distance Mom put in her life from where it all began.

"Every Good Wish to Brad Bosworth"
Leonard Bernstein
Jeanne, Harold, Leonard Bernstein

Amen Mom and Dad

Bradford Bosworth
June, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Looking Up To Big Brother

Our Father's Namesake
(Writer's note: Fourth in a series.)

When your father is gone the boys in a family most often will figuratively circle the wagons around mom and the other women of the house.  This duty is most certainly an instinct, a primal call for the male of our species.  I know it happened with me at twelve years of age. I felt it so suddenly I don't think I had time to process nor truly grieve for my father's sudden death. And so it was subsequently pointed out in numerous counseling and psychotherapy sessions during my early adulthood.  Another thing that happens is we younger children begin looking for father figure substitutes. For me, the baby of the family, the first person I set my sights on was the most logical- though not consciously logical- immediate and convenient source, my older brother Hal.  The next oldest brother by eight years was Marty. Being that I was already twelve, he was off to college.

I also noticed that my next oldest brother happen to have the same name as my recently departed father, Harold B. Bosworth, except with a following Jr. attached. What this did for Hal, in a somewhat unfair way, was heap on him some added pressure from our mom. She would not let him forget that he was walking in tall shoes. Hal had a lot to live up to for Mom and a lot to live down to for baby brother Brad.  Have you ever heard about unrealistic expectations?

Best Man

These unrealistic expectations projected on my big brother have led to arguments, scuffles and periods of outright estrangement; all of which, of course, did not serve to bolster our mother's serenity. One of the biggest by-products of my getting sober eight years ago was making amends to Harold Jr. The program started a reconciliation process that reached a pinnacle this past week when he and I took a journey through our past to our very roots (See: Back to Beginings, 6/3/17).  I have reflected on one of the biggest events of my life, a Mid-South Wrestling semifinal match with Kurt Robinson that- by a Miracle- I won. If you look at the picture in our senior yearbook there is Hal in the background at the edge of the mat cheering me on. He drove from Athens, Ga. to Chattanooga to see it. What more could a baby brother ask for?

The phone call came around two o’clock in the afternoon on August 12, 1993. I remember the time because as a route salesman for a Atlanta beverage distributor I was up against a deadline for getting customer orders in for next day delivery. I was paged to go to my boss Jeff Evert’s office.  Jeff asked me to sit down, handed me the phone and promptly left me alone closing the office door behind him.

When I answered the phone, it was my brother Hal on the other end of the line.  It was not until this week that I ever stopped to consider a different context of the devastating news he would deliver to me. For the past twenty four years I have been processing his words, “Hey Bro. Mom and Al have had a bad  car accident. Al is in the Hospital ICU and Mom didn’t make it. They are telling us she was killed instantly. She didn’t suffer.”  I have always viewed this traumatic life event through a self-centered lens that framed the distress and pain that I experienced.  I never tried to understand or wondered what it must have taken for him to place that call and deliver that news to his little brother.  It was this past week, miles and hours in a car visiting historic family monuments and landmarks including the graves of the two people in the mangled car.  I don’t know if the tables were turned if I could have placed that call.

In the flow of a baby brother’s natural instinct to place unrealistic expectations on his big brother or to judge his brother’s judgmental nature, I now have an alternative view that shifts my thinking and once again I am grateful for the big brother I can look up to.

The home where mom was born and raised.

Amen Big Brother

Bradford Bosworth
June, 2016

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Binds that Tie

A Graceful Kibitzing

(Writers note: third in a series)

When embarking on this journey (See: "Back to the  Beginnings" 6/3/17), I was thinking that the grave-site resting places I would stand over would all be blood relative family. My brother Hal apparently had other ideas. He was determined to pay homage to someone we literally owe our lives to- Dr. Alvin Weil- a well respected OB/GYN that delivered Hal and I into this world three years apart; and me, for God's sake, at 3:39 in the morning at the City Hospital of Akron! To this end Hal had located contact information for the late Doctor's son Harvey also an OB/GYN now retired. A Saturday stop at the Jewish Section of Rose Hill Cemetery became part of our itinerary.

Hal had placed a cold call to Dr. Weil, the son, earlier in the day and had a remarkable conversation. When my brother had mentioned visiting his father's grave site, Harvey was deeply moved. Consider that Hal had just explained how important Harvey's father was to our mother Jeanne. You see, she had gone through somewhere in the neighborhood of five miscarriages- all boys- when Dr. Weil Sr. took over. Hal had heard the story over and over how much Mom revered this man. And then there came Harold Jr (Hal) and yours truly three years later. So two boys, now senior citizens, in some respects owe our lives to this fine Jewish Doctor.

Harvey was so impressed that we would take time to contact him and visit his father's resting place, he came to see us at our hotel the next morning. He brought pictures and stories as we all kibitzed. The most amazing small world occurrence (see: "If by Chance" 6/9/17) was when he pulled out a picture of his father, mother Jeannette and Eleanor Roosevelt at a Bonds for Israel fund raiser.  Guess what? There is a picture that I have seen many years and hangs in Hal's home; a picture of our father with Eleanor Roosevelt at a Greater Miami Jewish Federation Bonds for Israel fundraiser!
Dr. Alvin Weil, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jeannette Weil
Harold Bosworth Sr., Elanor Roosevelt

Our father being a well known fashion merchant, a senior executive for Allied Department Stores in Miami, Florida, had deep and lasting friendships in the Jewish community. That same community named an annual award: The Harold B. Bosworth Memorial Mercantile Award, after he died in 1964.
I am grateful to have the foundation of this upbringing.  Our family is Christian. A fine Jewish Doctor delivered two boys of Christian heritage into this world against tough odds. The Hebrew custom is to place stones on the graves family and friends as a gesture of permanent remembrance. My brother and I had the privilege of that gesture at Dr. Alvin Weil's place of rest. Being Christian I believe I am forever bound to the people and land of Israel, just as my brother and I are forever bound to The Alvin Weil family. The Hebrew word for pebble is tz'ror which translates to bond. Often at the grave site, the Jewish people will pray and ask that the deceased be "tz'ror haHayyim"- bound up in the bond of life.
Brad, Harvey, Hal

Shalom Brother Weil.

Bradford Bosworth
June 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

If By Chance

Take Nothing for Granted

(Writer's note: Second in a series.)

My brother Hal and I have embarked on our "Back to the Beginnings" odyssey. We had originally planned to swing through Delhi, New York first and visit our mother's grave-site.  But Hal and his wife Patti got a surprise visit from their daughter Kate and we adjusted our plans so Hal could spend more time with her on the back end of the trip. We moved Pittsburgh (Etna) to the front end of our journey.

Our first day was all driving: 9 hours, 568 miles.  Hal started out driving and never relinquished the wheel in spite of my protestations. Some dynamics never change in a big brother- little brother relationship. All is good though as we had a first day that was full of what I used to view as coincidences but now believe are graceful messages from the Creator and the relative angels serving as our lives' constant guides. The message this day seemed to be, "You both are on the right healing path that aligns with God's will."

Events have aligned for me this past year that have put in my path a person who has become immensely dear to me. She is special in ways that defy description. Her name is Patti and we have become and continue to grow close in each moment we are together. And we are together when we are apart. Well my brother Hal's bride of 37 years, also a special woman, is also named Patti, spelled in that same unique way.

Someone needs to teach these folks in
Connecticut how to spell.

A couple hours into the trip the two seniors had an urgent need to make a pit stop!  We also happened to be getting hungry. By impulse or inspiration we decided, "Lets pull off here at this exit." Just as we turn from the exit there is this quaint looking place appearing as a home offering all our needs. Where I use to say by chance the store was named "Patty's Pantry"; now I know these coincidences are small miracles.  As if it was not enough, while we were enjoying our grinders at a picnic table outside, a guy on a 2017 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic road up and parked right in front of us.  Maybe not such a big deal but his license was from Chatham County, Georgia! He was on his way to the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Parkway so he could ride it back to the southern tip.

We hopped back on the Penn Turnpike and headed west. As the sun was setting, I was lobbying for us to make it all the  way to steel town and suggested I could drive the last 2 hour leg. Hal was having nothing of it. He wanted to stop for the night.  I  finally surrendered and spotted a Hampton Inn on a distant hill and we pulled off at the next exit. After checking in we asked the gal at the front desk where we might find a good place to eat.
When we realized the town we were in
 was Somerset!

We lost our mom Jeanne in a car accident (more about that in another post) 24 years ago in the town of Somerset, Kentucky, where she lived with our step father Alfred Hamilton.  Alfred passed away there just a few short months ago.  We will be visiting their resting place in just a few short days. Take nothing for granted.

Amen Momma Jeanne and Papa Al.

Bradford Bosworth
June 2017