Monday, April 18, 2011


Matthew called him notorious.

John referred to his as a bandit.

Mark and Luke called him a rioter.

Barabbas was an insurrectionary, a terrorist, a murderer, and an all-around nasty fellow. Barabbas, vile, smelly, the riff-raff mothers shielded their children from in public, was what my Grandma would call just low-down, dog mean.

It is likely his mother rubbed his soft hair as she suckled him, his smooth skin against her breast, and dreamed about what kind of man he would become. Would her heart leap with happiness as she watched him becoming a young man? Would he give her grandchildren? Would he care for her, providing food and shelter when she was old? Like almost every mother, she would do the best she could with him.

It probably never entered her mind that he would be the first person Jesus would die for.

There was a Jewish custom that when prisoners were sentenced, Pilate would release one, giving a pardon from death. Maybe someone who the crowd thought was innocent, or one who had family to care for. Maybe someone who had contributed much to society before they made bad decisions. Someone who was still loved by someone.

Never someone like Barabbus. History is silent about how Barabbus morphed from a little boy into the despicable person he was on that day, the history-changing day when Pilate released him from crucifixion, and put Jesus in his place.

Barabbus, with his black heart and blood-stained hands became the symbol of the ugliness of sin.

I was Barabbus. While I looked fine on the outside, clean and fashionable, well-mannered and acceptable to this society, Jesus could see the real me, the real Barabbus. When I came to His feet with my black heart and blood-stained hands, He covered me, cleansed me, changed me.

He loved me enough. Enough to suffer pain and humiliation, enough to bear stripes and scars, enough to bleed and be broken.

I can never thank Him enough.

In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:4-5

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Every year, American homeowners spend millions attempting to get rid of the dandelions growing on their perfect lawns. Why?

Dandelions have culinary and medicinal uses..the roots, blossoms, and leaves all be used to help humankind. Who decided they were a bad thing?

O DANDELION, rich and haughty, King of village flowers! Each day is coronation time, You have no humble hours. I like to see you bring a troop To beat the blue-grass spears, To scorn the lawn-mower that would be Like fate’s triumphant shears, Your yellow heads are cut away, It seems your reign is o’er. By noon you raise a sea of stars More golden than before. - Vachel Lindsay Give it up. As long as there is wind and children to blow the feathery puff ball seeds around, the dandelion will win.

And God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:11-12

Monday, April 4, 2011

Stormy Weather

This first day of school after spring break may be a bumpy one.

The weather forecasters are predicting damaging winds, isolated tornadoes, heavy storms that are supposed to arrive by mid-afternoon. Already, our neighbors to the west in Texas and Arkansas are dealing with the powerful system headed our way--a clash between a mean cold front and warm, wet air dancing off the Gulf of Mexico.

On a similar April day in the early sixties, when I was in the fourth grade, we had a major storm in Hardin County, Tennessee. It was the first time I had seen my teacher scared of anything. There was no weather channel or no Internet to give minute by minute movement of the storm. My teacher just had his eyes and those of other teachers that day, and you could see the fear in them as they looked southwest at the thunderheads blackening the noonday sky.

The storm passed over us, dumping heavy rain between the lightning flashes, but no tornado touched down in our little community. It made a mile-long path in two other sections of the county. The majority of electric wires were down, either from direct wind or trees falling on them. We had no power for several days, which didn't really make that much difference at our house. We had the wood heater to cook on and the water could still be drawn from the well just like any other day.

In the Burnt Church community on the other side of the county, some people were killed and several injured. The most tragic story involved an elderly couple whose home was completely demolished. We were told (I did not see this with my own eyes) that the woman was found dangling in the air, twisted in electric wires with chicken feathers blown into her body. The storm had blown every stitch of clothing off her body, causing her to leave this world just as she had came in--buck nekked.

My family and others talked about nothing else for several days. School closings, job closings, freezers full of spoiled food, people made homeless.....nothing seemed as tragic as that poor old woman nude in the wires. Some of the women of my family, always a modest bunch, were so traumatized that they took to wearing their girdles on stormy days. They even wore them to bed on nights that storms threatened, theorizing that not even the worst tornado could separate that latex from their bodies.

I'm off to school today in spite of a stormy forecast. I'm much better prepared than my teacher was way back then. My students were informed about storm preparations the first day of class. There is an emergency siren that goes off when a storm is spotted anywhere in the county, located right outside the science building and loud enough to wake a person from a coma. In addition, the university issues an alert that goes to every computer and most phones on campus anytime we are threatened.

It's a good thing we are prepared. I don't have a girdle to protect myself.

Friday, April 1, 2011

At last, Don Williams!

I love music, all real music.

From Bach to Bruce, Wagner to Wayland, Crawford to Campbell...they are all my favorites. My list does not include those 'musicians' who substitute volume and fireworks for talent, but that's a blog for another day.

Several weeks ago, weary from winter, I was surfing the net, looking for something exciting to do during spring break. And there it was...Don Williams at the Georgia State Fairgrounds in Hiawassee! I ordered tickets the next minute.

Don Williams has been a favorite since the first time I heard him. I wore out several cassette tapes of his poetry set to music. When he was in concert nearby, we were just never able to go. After being a fan for thirty-plus years, I finally got to see him in concert.

He didn't disappoint.

"Good Ole Boys Like Me" stirs my soul and I was so thankful when he opened with it, after a lengthy standing ovation when he walked out on the stage. It was followed by many of his well known songs that never get old. He didn't say much, but when he did, his voice was surprisingly low with a Texas drawl.

The weight of years showed on his shoulders. The 'Gentle Giant' may have some age in his eyes, but the clear baritone voice and the poet's heart have not changed, not changed one iota.

Outside, a storm was brewing. We could hear thunder during the concert. When the concert ended, after several standing ovations and an encore, we walked outside to lightning flashing and wind gusting. We got to the car just before heavy rain and hail assaulted North Georgia, a storm so fierce that it made the local tv news the next day.

Who cares about a storm when you have just seen Don Williams? I want to see him again. Soon.

..but it really doesn't matter how far I go...I can still hear the soft southern wind in the live oak trees....