Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Young Boy Boogie

Can Am Jammin

It was spring circa 1978 and I was employed by Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. My job was as assistant PR Director working for legendary promoter H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler. I will always view him as a modern day P.T. Barnum.

This particular spring we were hosting an SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) racing weekend with the feature race a stop on the Canadian American Challenge Cup. These exotic race cares were reverently referred to as Can Am's.  At best this event was considered minor league for a facility that would in a few short weeks be hosting the World 600- a part of NASCAR's figurative triple crown- where 125 thousand folks would show up to take part.

Being the "assistant" I was in charge of promoting the minor league events. We promote to attract the paying spectator and in this part of the south where love of stock car racing flows in the veins, exotic sports cars were a tough sell, so to speak. With "Humpy's" nudge we decided to couple a headline music act with the race and bill the spectacle as "Can Am Jam!"  It just so happened that an aging music legend was touring through the area and we were able to book the legendary Chuck Berry at a bargain. 

As I look back from the perspective of forty years, I remember Mr. Berry a humble gracious man who in his early fifties and past his prime was having the time of his life.  Parents had brought their children. There were lots of dads with their boys. When Mr. Berry performed his classic "Johnny B. Goode", he invited the boys to come on stage and boogie with him.  It was a grace filled scene.  One of our Speedway photographers captured the image in black and white.  It has been hanging in my home(s) forever since.  Every time I look at the smiles on those boys faces I know our Creator smiles just as wide and those boys- probably now fathers- have told their children the day they boogied on stage with the great Chuck Berry!

A few years later I went to see "Back to the  Future", a movie that ranks in my all time top 10. There is a great scene in which Chuck Berry makes an implied appearance in conjunction with Marty McFly's performance of "Johnny B. Goode."  For more on that: Back to the Future

Amen Brother Chuck RIP

Bradford Bosworth
March, 2017 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Leprechaun Promise

Break the Cycle

 There once was lonely leprechaun named Roe. He was born into a typical Irish family tucked away in the craggy hillside of the north mountains. In the years of his youth the times were difficult for his father who was struggling to make it to the level all Leprechauns of his family had striven for. It was a lofty place of fame and fortune. But Roe's father struggled with the grog which soured the disposition and many times the boy leprechaun would race to the outside to greet his father only to be cursed and rejected and sometimes beaten.

The young Leprechaun soon left home and began following the pattern of his household. Soon he had a family of his own.  The hurt he had held inside for years turned into resentment and he took to the same grog to ease the pain and followed the lead of his father.

Soon the older Roe was in demand as the Lonely Leprechaun at the big people's grog parties with fame but not much fortune. He found no pot of gold at the end of the rainbows and then the rainbows disappeared completely and he realized he was losing the love of his little boy.

One day he stumbled on a group of men meeting together to share their experience, strength and hope.  These men shared a common purpose and lived by a set of instructions and promises that they had all found in a book.  They were all living comfortably in their own skin for the first time in their lives. They did not carry their resentments any longer and brought the best of themselves to the world they lived in.

One day Roe's boy,  Loe, asked him if he could come to the school on St. Patrick's Day as a happy joyous and free Leprechaun so all the kids could see what a real Leprechaun was like.  And on this day Roe succeeded in breaking the cycle.

"As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn."
"The Big Book" How it Works pg: 63

'Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." '
"The Good Book" John 3:3

Amen Brother

Bradford Bosworth
St. Patrick's Day 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Roan Roamings

Roan Mountain Rhododendrons

I have recently been reading "Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy," a chilling yet enlightening biography of one of the 20th centuries most influential Christian figures, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The book, authored by Eric Metaxas, paints an alarming picture of how Adolf Hitler and his Nazism took hold in a largely Christian nation and spread like a cancer in Europe in the decades of the thirties and forties. Bonhoeffer played a critical role in alerting the world outside Germany of the impending doom before the point of no return was reached.

During the summer of 1934 there was a statement of opposition drawn up by a group of theologians and pastors of which Bonhoeffer was an influential member. That document became known as The Barmen Declaration.

During the lead up to the signing of this stark revelation, Bonhoeffer wrote in a letter to his grandmother about an experience he had on a field trip while in England. It is an experience in stark contrast to the dark nature of what was happening in his homeland. " I was greatly surprised to find wild rhododendrons in the woods, a whole lot of them, hundreds of bushes growing close together." This book passage immediately brought memories to this writer, memories which had been dormant for decades. They were the memories of a twelve year old boy.

In the summer of 1964 while at Camp Rockmont for Boys in Black Mountain, NC,  I was part of a small group invited to hike an 18 mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail.  We started in North Carolina and over the course of the next few days we found ourselves in Tennessee on one of the most beautiful places on this earth! As a boy who lived and grew up in south Florida the flora I was witnessing here atop Roan Mountain was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was stunning and I was awestruck. This piece of heaven on earth was my first encounter with rhododendron.  The pervasive color of purple I recall certainly delineates for me the presence of God I encountered in this special place. It was a both literal and spiritual mountaintop experience for a young boy who did not even know the meaning of those concepts.

The 12 year old boy still lives in this man and along with storied accounts of the Saints and Angels like Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds me that our Creator lives with us both in the spectacularly beautiful as well as the morosely dark places on this earth.

Amen Brother Bonhoeffer

Bradford Bosworth
January 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

Tooth Fairy Innocense

None to Blame

Is it possible that in all the travails of our existent life no one is to blame?  It is just our human nature to stumble and fall, to become self centered and through our exclusion of other in our calculations we will hurt people along the way. Though in reality we can only hurt someone else if that person allows us to. Yes there are extremes of behavior that manifest physical violence and that is never acceptable except perhaps in instances of self defense.  In nearly all cases, when we hurt someone emotionally we have hurt ourselves first. Our culture and society draws the inference that if someone is hurt there is a guilty party and therefore someone to blame.  The minute we take victimization out of the equation there becomes no need to blame and find a guilty party.  This is called innocent acceptance, a childlike quality. The great Teacher talks about this place in the good news of Luke 18:16-17.

In these first few days of the new year, with a torrential and cold downpour it becomes a natural behavior to reflect upon the past and boy there is a great tendency to find a comfortable place in guilt and self loathing about all of the missed opportunities and failed relationships strewn in the wake of one's past. At least it is a default position for this writer anyway.  So I decided to open up some boxes  that have been taped shut for about five years and I found some objects that reached inside my heart and soul, wrenched and pried open a deep reservoir of emotional memories that spilled out as if an open artery. 

These objects were crafted by the hands of my two daughters. School art projects formed by the determined effort born of pure innocent acceptance of their assignments; free from self doubt that has no home in an innocent heart and mind of a child. As I studied these pieces of art, I noticed their names signed in their own hand on each and I wanted to hold them to my heart.  I wanted to retreat to my default position of feeling guilty for not being the best father I could to them. And I remembered that I  can only be the best father I can for them NOW.

Among the objects was a Tooth Fairy Box.  And I thought to myself that there could be no greater symbol of childlike innocence than this wonderfully beautiful gift of the new year!  I believe now my new year resolution will be to ask my good good Father daily for  increased childlike innocent acceptance. When I opened the box there were baby teeth of my children neatly wrapped inside, very innocently.   As I am firmly entrenched as a senior citizen now, I have learned we loose our teeth too!
Maybe I can get one of these boxes also and instead of finding money under my pillow in the morning, I might an additional measure of innocent acceptance. Father may it be  so.

Amen my beautiful girls.

Bradford Bosworth
January, 2017

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Gratitude List

All Things Must Pass

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

As long as I  can remember I have cherished the ritual of reading the Sunday/holiday newspaper and it all started with "The Miami Herald".  There is something about the -day off/holiday- mentality that lends itself to the relaxed nature of a morning with a steaming cup of coffee, rustling of newsprint in your hands and sitting back in your favorite chair.  I always went to the sports section first and still do.

My first regular sports columnist read was Edwin Pope and did not realize until doing research for this post that he is from Athens, Georgia and like this writer a UGA graduate. I am grateful today that God continues to show me all he makes ties together in some form or fashion and were we to notice, speaks to His unmerited gift of Grace to us.

Furman Bisher's tearjerker in 2000 on losing his son.

My unbeknownst ties to Mr. Pope evolved into a short career in sports journalism where I found myself in the very same Press Boxes with columnists who captured my fancy from their sports pages on Sunday mornings.  One of those writers was a southern gentleman named Furman Bisher who applied his trade with the Atlanta Journal- Constitution. As a neophyte publicist for a NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National race team in 1978 I met Bisher for the first time at the Dixie 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Lewis Grizzard & Furman Bisher

It was not my experiences in NASCAR that are my cherished Furman Bisher memories but the time spent with him on Thanksgiving mornings over the course of two decades.  A highlight of our family's Thanksgiving ritual was reading aloud his "I'm Thankful" columns as if they were scripture from the Holy Bible. The Grace that those columns brought forth each year was sufficient to establish the spirit of the day. His kind of Journalist is hard to find these days and we lost him in 2012 along with his hallowed Thanksgiving tradition.

A Bisher Masters Memorial

I did not, however, understand the real import of a gratitude list till I got sober in 2008.  It was as if Bisher's columns resonated with that still small voice within during my straying years.  In my sober faith walk I have come to believe that self pity is a spiritual malady that is part and parcel to substance abuse and addiction.  In the 12 Step Programs of various AA fellowships it is often suggested that a recovering alcoholic routinely construct a gratitude list.  Furman Bisher over the hard years allowed me to get a leg up on this effective spiritual practice.

What I believe: If I fill myself up with gratitude, there will be no room for self pity.

My T Day Gratitude List

Two beautiful daughters whose character tell me,
I got something right!
A place to go to work 
and part of the job is riding Harleys.
A woman with strawberry blond hair named Patti,
and she likes me.
Butter Pecan Ice Cream and Golden Oreo Cookies.
A Dave Matthews' song called "So Damn Lucky"
performed by his DMB.
For God giving us Charles Schultz 
and he in turn giving us Snoopy.
Riding through the countryside on my H-D Softail Standard
and picking up the scent of sassafras in the air.
Sons of Serenity, my men's home group.
Hawks and Dragonflies because when I spot one,
I know I am presently aware.
The Truth will set you free and I can find it,
 embodied in Jesus the Christ and His teachings.

Bradford Bosworth
Thanksgiving, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Amicalola Adoration

 Love Letters

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Lodge View

I am familiar with this couple who are newly found in their love for each other. However, that is not to say they are newly found in their acquaintance with each other.  They met for the first time around six months prior at a retreat setting in the exact expression of Christian faith.  The circumstances that they might find themselves in conversation were providential and were what the man used to describe as coincidental but now is assured are means of Grace. This writer has it on good authority that when these two souls made first eye contact a spark ignited in them both divine curiosity.

So, the man tells this writer that at the first chance meeting he was in a relationship with another woman, not just any relationship but a committed relationship and one in which he had been totally invested. He did not forget the penetrating look in the hazel eyes nor the remarkable strawberry blonde hair, but he did forget the name of this strikingly beautiful woman and they lost touch as they both were absorbed again by the world.

In just a couple short months, the man's committed relationship with a no less remarkable lady began to unravel. He still does not quite comprehend how a loving relationship can fall apart for it is his belief that real deep love is forever. Alas, the man's love for the first woman will always be.  His faith tells him that our Creator has a plan and that there is a reason for everything. God places people in our lives at various times to serve His purpose. We are the clay. He is the potter.

Fast forward four months, and my friend found himself in the exact same place at another retreat and there she was, the angel with strawberry blond hair!  This time he would take nothing for granted and seek her name and begin the wooing.  He tells me that this past weekend they took a spectacular motorcycle trip to Amicalola Falls State Park.  It was there that he felt and learned a whole new meaning for the word adoration and again God is good!

Sunset Silhouette

Writer/Editor's Note: Stay tuned as there is more to come in this Love Story. Oh and Happy Birthday to my new partner in Devotion!

Bradford Bosworth
November 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Requiem Letters

Thank you Papa AL

When a twelve year boy loses his father to death the grief is numbed by an immediate survival instinct that includes an awareness that job one is to take care of Mom.  That same boy as a young man becomes relieved at first, but then more and more is gracefully blessed when it becomes apparent that there is a man to love and attend to Mom.  Oh how grateful I am that Al Hamilton came into Jeanne's life...and mine.  I witnessed a joy, peace and happiness in her life that had been missing for a long time, but most of all I had an example of what a gentleman looks like, a model to emulate and remember when my own character defects wanted to lead me astray.

Papa Al passed away this morning in Kentucky after a long rich life.  We had lost touch in the years since mom died in a 1993 car accident in which they were both involved.  After surviving an extensive ICU stint with serious head injuries he stayed in Somerset, Kentucky and eventually remarried a lovely lady, named Wanda.  I have some regrets about losing contact but our lives so often take divergent paths and really we stay in touch because of the love we have shared and will forever be.  And I have it on good authority that Jeanne along with all the angels are in welcoming reception of Alfred in the heavenly kingdom of our Father.

Also, I am assured that one day I'll be joining with you all again and oh what a joy that day will be!

Bradford Bosworth
November, 2016