Posts Tagged ‘ Faith ’

LAVENDER ROSE SHALL NEVER DIE

Lavender Rose Shall Never Die.

By

Boots LeBaron
Husband, Father, Papa and friend to All.

 

RIP (7/10/1932-8/25/2017)  

 

Photo by Beau LeBaron May25th 2012, Rose in my Back Yard Brea CA

Lavender rose,
with the sun filterring through your frail petals,
I hate to see you go.
Bending so pitifully on that prickly stem
with your green leaves rusting yellow,
you are still worthy of great admiration.
In these last moments of existence,
you remain fragrant and memorably exquisite.
Knowing that your time has come
stings my conscience
with an indescribable melancholy.
What a void your absence will create.

 

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SOUTH AFRICAN WITCHDOCTOR KNEW HIS BONES

THE HUMAN RACE

 

MEMORIES GROWING UP AS WHITE KID WITH BLACK ZULU TRIBAL PALS

 

Copeland, a tall, raw-boned Nyasa tribesman and witch doctor, poked the fire with a stick, sending a cloud of sparks spiraling into the night sky above South Africa.

John Ormsby Lawder, 12, was the only white person in the midst of the black tribesmen squatting around the bright fire watching and listening to the incantations of the fearsome-looking, bone-rattling Copeland.

Born in Durban, a seaport city on the Indian Ocean, the youngster spoke fluent Zulu, hunted in the bush with a catapulp, palled with black kids and never could figure why they got to herd the cows while he had to go to school.

Since his father, Edward, was called into the British Royal Navy in 1939, serving as a commander until the end of World War II, his mother, Therese, whom he called “mum,” was left to raise three feisty sons and operate a 600-acre sugar farm where the only workers were black tribes people.

John, who became a physician specializing in nutrition and preventive medicine, readily admitted that the witch doctor “made a greater impact on my life than anyone else. He was like a surrogate father. I was a wild little devil. I didn’t like school. My mother relied on Copeland to discipline me and my brothers. We not only respected him, we feared him.” He laughed.

“Copeland would squat at that fire, staring into it with those blood red eyes. He wore a necklace ringed with animal teeth and bones. In a pouch, he carried a set of bones, which he’d toss on the ground. He marked his patients with charcoal. He was some sight, he was. A very important man, highly respected by different tribes.”

From the time he was a boy until he reached manhood, John watched Copeland work his tribal witchcraft, using herbs, symbols and influencing thoughts.

“He appeared to cure people,” John said. “Even as a boy, he made me more conscious that perhaps there’s another area of healing that reaches beyond the strict science of medicine as we understand it.”

Copeland, who called John “Baas John,” also impressed him with his clairvoyant abilities. “During the war, he’d toss those bones and never failed to predict when my father was coming home from convoy duty.”

John remembered many occasions when Copeland told him that “Bass John” would die in a foreign land. “He said that some day I would become a medical doctor … like he was a witch doctor. Here I was with a grade-10 education, destined to be a sugar farmer like my father. It didn’t make any sense.”

But all of the above came to pass. John arrived in Canada in 1956, got his medical degree from the University of British Columbia, had a successful practice going in Torrance, California, where, as Copeland predicted, he died  “in a foreign land.”

 John Lawder was my friend and doctor.  Sorry to say, I never met Copeland, a fearsome witch doctor who’d give some religious scholars a run for their faith.  I would have loved to have interviewed old Copeland.

     — Boots LeBaron–

HOW’S ABOUT SOME EASTER BUNNY HUMOR FOR ALL?

THE HUMAN RACE

 

BROTHER CAMPBELL’S SERMONETTES

ON THE BILLBOARD

 

     When I ran across Brother Thomas Lee Campbell, the Church of Christ minister was 74.   He had just climbed a rickety 12-foot ladder. He was standing on the ledge of a church billboard replacing one of his “sermonettes” in the City of Hawthorne, California.

     For 18 years, the former Pepperdine University professor had been climbing that ladder weekly, introducing potential parishioners to philosophic humor on his billboard.

     He gleaned his sermonettes from conversations, magazines, books and anywhere else in the universe he could find them. Here are a few, which might indicate that Brother Campbell was a guy who enjoyed life and, despite his religious convictions, had no fear of bringing a few laughs into a world where many have forgotten how to take things lightly.

     We’ll begin with his favorite sermonette:     “Need exercise? Try kneeling.”

     “Biting remarks are often the result of snap judgements.”

     “Biscuits and sermons are both improved by shortening.”

     “A weak moment with the bottle can mean several weeks in the jug.”

     “Don’t be afraid to swallow your pride — it’s non-fattening.”

     “Obesity in this country is really widespread.”

     “Anybody who says life’s a bowl of cherries is bananas!”

     “Remember: Life begins not with a kiss but with a slap!”

     “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.”

     “Cars are not the only things recalled by their maker.”

     “Being young is a fault which improves daily.”

     “Bragging: loud patter of little feats.”

     “Temper gets us into trouble; pride keeps us there.”

     “Shortest traffic sermon: Keep right!”

     “Every family tree has some sap in it!”

     “God honors no drafts where there are no deposits.”

     “Be sure the tune is worth playing before tooting your own horn.”

     “Pity the child whose dad is more concerned about his golf swing than his offspring.”

     “Kindness is the language which the deaf hear and the blind see.”

     “Taxes are staggering, but they never go down.”

     “Many things are opened by mistake — especially the mouth!”

     “If you aren’t pulling your weight, you’re probably pushing your luck.”

     “Life’s like an onion. We peel off one layer at a time and sometimes we cry.”

     “A spouse with horse sense never becomes a nag.”

     “First they thought the world was flat, then round. Now some think it’s crooked.”

     During Brother Campbell’s ministry, which at the time had reached 56 years, he had seen a “great deal of happiness and sadness.” Religion, he noted, “doesn’t take away your problems. It just simply gives you the strength to face up to them and endure them.”

     The trouble with the human race, he said, is we have a tendency to “magnify the faults of people many times over, but fail to consider their off-setting virtues. I’ve seen individuals who developed from seemingly nothing into tremendous giants of usefulness.”

     Had he ever lost faith in God?

     “No. Never in God. I’ve lost faith in myself, alright.”

     How does he look at life?

     “You can’t take people for granted. You have to look at them every day as a new person. You shouldn’t hold grudges against people you’ve known in years past because people change. They aren’t the same today as they were yesterday. That’s right, people do change! Continually.”

      HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!  HAPPY LIFE, TOO!

     — Boots LeBaron —

THIS GLADIATOR HAS BATTLED LIFE’S TRUE SCOUNDRELS

THE HUMAN RACE

FOR FOUR UNPRECEDENTED DECADES, REV. JOHN R. CALHOUN

HAS SERVED ONE CHURCH     


     My favorite gladiator isn’t Russell Crowe (Maximus), Kirk Douglas (Spartacus) or Brad Pitt (Achilles). It’s Rev. John R. Calhoun. All 5-foot-7-inches of him. The villains he’s crossed sabers with over the past half century as a minister and religious scholar, are death, degradation, greed, violence, drug addiction, loneliness, hypocrisy, racism and heartbreak.

     Let’s see Hollywood top that.

     On Sunday (March 15, 2015) he will be named minister emeritus of the Manhattan Beach Community Church where he had served as senior minister for 40 years. (He retired in 2010) During that period he married and baptized a flock of kids. Including those belonging to my wife, JoAnne, and I.

     As a religious scholar, he also coped with the risque cartoons I drew of him. (as illustrated)  So John Robinson Calhoun maintained a sense of humor about himself and the world he lives in.

     Since his battles on behalf of others are for God’s eyes only, nobody knows precisely how many knock-down-drag-outs he’s won or lost during his long tenure as the senior minister of the Manhattan Beach Community Church.  

     As one who identifies himself as spiritual, and facetiously as a heathen, I interviewed this caring son of a congregational minister from Billingham, Washington a number of years ago.

     Here are his words:

     “Life is hard. It’s difficult, complex, intricate. You have to be awful brave to get through it because there are so many disillusionments, disappointments — things that are really hurtful.

     “Tragedy comes to all of us. God doesn’t single out people to punish. When your expectations, hopes and dreams are dashed, you have to keep on keepin’ on.

     “We live in a very violent world. It would be nice if this was a kinder and gentler place without war, crime or greed. God is not responsible for the man-made problems.  

     “My heroes aren’t athletes, movie stars, politicians or corporate icons. My heroes are average people who deal with a wide variety of tough issues. I know their stories. They are the bravest.

     “You’d be surprised at the grief I’ve seen. The first rule of being a minister is to be able to share intimate thoughts, to keep a confidence, to be forgiving, not judgmental. I’ve tried to be that way.

     “In every life there are tragedies that seem to have no logical answer. Life is a mystery. It’s unpredictable. We all search for reasons for our personal problems. On this side of Heaven, we may never know the answer. Maybe on the other side more light will be shed on the subject.

     “I believe strongly in the long run; that the final outcomes belong to God. I try to take God more seriously than myself.

     “Years ago I attended a memorial service in Maine for a fundamentalist friend who had fallen into a river and drowned.  People at the service blamed his death on ‘the will of God” or said that ‘God needed him more.’

     “I think my friend was just careless.

     “There are many things that people attribute to God that aren’t attributable to God. The world is as it is. There are difficulties and adversities we can’t control.     

     “God’s agenda and our agenda sometimes don’t coincide. But if we put our shoulder to God’s agenda, good things can happen.

     “Like everyone else, I’ve experienced good times and bad times. What helps me keep the faith is I have very low expectations. I don’t think God is going to solve our problems. We are quite capable of working out most of our dilemmas.

     “When people disappoint you, it’s all right to be aggravated. You can love people but you don’t have to like everybody. Those who have aggravated me, I can see the tragedies in their lives that make them upset with life. Many times when they hurt others, they do so because they are sad and disillusioned with their own lives. If they take out their frustrations on me, I don’t take it personally. There’s an old Arab proverb: ‘The dogs may bark but the caravan continues on.’

     “I try not to be judgmental. We all fall short of our expectations. For the elderly — and I guess I now fall in that category — life becomes more harsh, more difficult to deal with.     “In spite of everything, we must maintain a sense of humor. You can’t take life too personally. Now that I’m 78 (he said recently), I’ve found that old age is highly overrated. It’s not the Promised Land.

     “You don’t need to take yourself so seriously. As a minister, I’ve always seen myself as just part of the gang. We all fall short of our expectations and must face our own woes.

     “Culture and society has changed — not all for the good. Life has become more impersonal than personal. Yet life is filled with small victories. We’re all in the same boat rowing up stream against the current.”

     Over the years, I’ve peeked into the conscious of John Calhoun. At times I’ve found pride, loneliness, humility, a liberal bent and a passion to make others laugh. He comes with a philosophic intellectualism that’s fueled by a sense of Godliness.

     It allows him to comprehend his own inadequacies as a mortal and battle relentlessly for anybody he can help.

     Yeah, active or retired, old John R. Calhoun is still my favorite gladiator.

Boots LeBaron —

HOPE MAY NOT ALWAYS SPRING ETERNAL, BUT IT’S A POSSIBILITY!

THE HUMAN RACE

NEVER SURRENDER HOPE

 

Never surrender when you’re faced

with nothing more than hope.

Don’t give up your very own impossible

dream. You own it exclusively. Whether

we understand the logic of it or not, there’s

an inner strength that exists in every mortal.

Despite the ferocity of adversity,

the pomposity of naysayers, the magnitude

of force inside you can be tapped.

Surprise yourself. Experiment

with possibility… With chance.

If you refuse to test the philosophic

muscles that are capable of giving you the

boldness to capitalize on the power

of your humanness, then you may never

reach the dignity and potential

greatness that belongs to you alone.

Never fail to probe what you’re

convinced you can accomplish in life.

Lock on to hope now, damn it!

Do it soon before the chance of triumph,

no matter how big or small, becomes

lost in the futility of self-doubt.

 

— Boots LeBaron –

 

(Boots’ book, THE HUMAN RACE, contains

interviews, essays and light poetry focusing

on the essentials of life.  Available on Kindle

 and in paperback on Amazon, it contains

philosophic people stories interspersed

with essays,  light poetry and humor)

CAPT BLOOD GAVE POPE’S BLESSING TO FELLOW FISHERMEN.

THE HUMAN RACE

 THIS FISHERMAN TOLD IT AS HE LIVED IT!

     Gerrard Fiorentino made the sign of the cross with his left hand, blessing one of his own, fisherman Turk (Flame Eater) Emirzian. After seeing action in the South Pacific as a sailor aboard a mini aircraft carrier during World War II, a clergyman aboard ship “brought me back to God,” said Gerrard, adding, “Them Japanese kamikazes helped, too!”

     When he returned to commercial fishing at the docks in San Pedro, California, he began blessing his fellow fishermen, their boats and their catches. Since then, he was known by many on the waterfront as Father Gerrard.

     Yet Gerrard would be the first to admit that he was never 100-percent saintly. Proof: As a young fisherman, he was also known on the waterfront as Captain Blood.

The last time we talked, the (at times) cantankerous, white haired mariner was pushing 80.

     “I’m not an ordained priest,” said Gerrard who was standing at a long table cluttered with paper in the office of his waterfront marine supply store. “But when I bless these guys, all kinds of fish come.”

     The husky seafarer folded a pair of powerful hands across his chest. Anchored to thick wrists and muscular forearms, the hands were heavy and calloused from pulling in a lifetime of shrimp, tuna and other fish from the sea, splicing rope and cable, mending nets as well as handling the wheel and captaining his own boat.

     “The blessings seem to work,” claimed Turk, a commercial fisherman who operated The Fortuna, a gill-net boat. “Just like the Pope, Father Gerrard gives me his blessings and I come back to port with a boat full of bonito or shark.”  

     “Don’t laugh,” Gerrard warned, pointing a threatening finger. “We were all put here for a reason. The good Lord gave me this gift. I’m very religious. I bless everybody, even the priests at St. Peter’s in San Pedro. That’s a poor man’s catholic church. I don’t go to Mary Star of the Sea because that place is for aristocrats.”

     “Fishermen are like children,” Turk explained. “We need to have faith because every time we go to sea we face the possibility of death. It’s a very tough life.” He also noted that Father Gerrard’s blessings “miss sometimes. But so do the Pope’s! “

     Gerrard recalled an incident that happened many years ago on his own boat, the Santo Antonino, off the coast of Mexico. “We had been out on the water for 45 days and couldn’t find nothing. I was alone at the wheel, feeling very depressed, while everybody was down in the galley eating.

     “I go, ‘Please God, let me find a mountain of fish.’ I no sooner say that when I see the silver in the water right under the bow. I yell to the guys, get ready, we’re going to lay out a seine (large fishing net)! We pulled in 60 tons of tuna. No joke. Now that was a miracle. Think about it!”    

     “Go ahead, ask your questions,” he snapped restlessly.

     Did you go to college?

     “I went to San Pedro High School to eat my lunch. When I was 14, they took me off the dock and I went fishing on the St. Augustine. They told me, ‘Boy, this is temporary.’ Ha!” he bellowed.  

     “Fishing is in your blood. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s born in you.   I had the pride, the talent, the desire to succeed. You got nothing if you don’t have those. They used to pay me extra money to keep me on the boat. I was an animal. I mean it.”

     He pointed to several huge black-and-white photographs covering the walls behind him.

     “My entire life’s on these walls. See there,” he pointed to a young muscular man cradling a huge Amberjack. “CAPTAIN BLOOD” was printed in bold letters at the bottom.

     “That’s me!” he said proudly, pointing a thumb at his chest. “One time we were sitting on a school of tuna off the San Pedro Channel and the fish, they were getting out of the net. In my apron and boots, I jump overboard.

     “This is true. I go down into the net, get hold of the purse lines and bring them up so no more fish can get away. I was down there so long, my brother (Lorenzo) thought I drowned in the net. When I got back on board, that’s when they started with Captain Blood. They took the name from an old Errol Flynn pirate movie.

     “When you’re young, you take chances because you don’t know no better,” he said. “In those days I could do the work of five men. That’s the truth. Even today, if I thought I could handle it physically, I’d be out there fishing, right now. That’s how much I loved it.    

     “So now I’m Father Gerrard,” he said. “I do blessings with my left hand. It don’t work with my right. Go figure. I’m an Aries. A born leader. I hate monotony and routine work. But I am a humble person. I mean it! I care about the poor. But I’m still attracted to women. ‘Course, I’m not the man I used to be.”

     He recalled an incident from the past, long before he married his first wife, Kay: “I was a wheelman aboard Matt Flamingo’s boat, The Discoverer. Matt’s still around today. We had been to sea well over a month.

     “When we put in to Costa Rica, I took on eight prostitutes in eight hours. I’m serious.

     “I don’t know about all this infidelity; all this sexual harassment people talk about. When I was married, I never cheated on my wife. I loved her. She died a long time ago and went right to heaven.  

     “But when I was single, sure, I chased women. I still chase them!” He laughed harshly, then added, “You know, prostitution and commercial fishing are the two oldest professions? That’s why I’m proud to be a fisherman. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. She became a saint! That tells me one thing: God forgives everybody. I don’t care where or how you worship. In God’s eyes, we’re all the same.”

     Gerrard believed that all fishermen go to Heaven. “When I go, Heaven will be filled with sardines. I love fishing sardines. They got more brains than some people. I used to call them my brothers. I’d kiss them whenever I’d see them. In my lifetime, I must have brailed maybe 16,000 tons of sardines… And lots of the other fish, too!”

     The sea, he said, is like a woman. “She smells good. She makes you laugh. She makes you cry. She feeds you. She humbles you. She is so beautiful, you can’t take your eyes off of her.”

   — Boots LeBaron —      

 

(THE HUMAN RACE, by Boots, is an inspirational self-help book interspersed with humor and light poetry for those who are in search of themselves. It’s available on Kindle as well as in paperback on Amazon)

 

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