Dino and Nanette are dear Navajo friends of ours and now they're Mr. and Mrs.! How we wanted to be at that wedding because these are two very special friends, two very special Native American Christian leaders. We couldn't be, but our son, who lives near where the wedding was in New Mexico, called that afternoon and described the wedding to us, as well as any man can describe a wedding. I choked up when I heard about their wedding vows. Dino made his vows to Nanette on bended knee. Nanette made her vows to Dino and then handed him a beautiful Navajo blanket. But this was not just any blanket. It had belonged to her father who died several years ago and it represented a relationship and memories that she treasures. This blanket was Nanette's father's love gift to her. And in this moment of commitment now, she was handing her new husband this most precious treasure from her most precious person. In a sense, she was handing him her heart.
Our receptionist Carol has nice flowers in her office. Well, they're sort of flowers. It looks like a beautiful bouquet. And the other day when I walked into her office, I sniffed and said, "What's that smell, Carol? Is that flowers?" It was so nice to be greeted with this wonderful, spring-like aroma. She didn't answer me. She just reached into the top drawer in her desk and pulled out this air spray. "I sprayed it on the flowers," she told me. By now you know the truth about Carol's lovely flowers. Tthey look like they're alive, they smell like they're alive, but they're not alive!
When my friends tell me they get a headache, they don't get much sympathy. I usually just tell them that pain always attacks at the weakest point. They really appreciate that! Actually, we all have our favorite headache remedy - one or two of this pill or that and we wait for the relief as those pills race through our system. I know they do - I saw it on a commercial once. But maybe you remember a twisted act of individual terrorism that happened a few years ago, it turned relief into tragedy. Someone had managed to put poison in some pain relief capsules - there was a sudden series of deaths from some people who took this particular brand. I remember reading, for example, about a flight attendant who arrived home after a trip with a serious headache. She reached for a couple pain relief capsules. I'm sure she thought they would make her feel better soon. Instead, she died from them.
If you want to make friends fast at an airport sometime, stand there with a big "welcome home" banner. Recently, we were contacted by a young woman who has been a part of our Native American work in the past - and who is going through a time of severe struggle right now. She really wants to turn things around and asked us if she could come and spend some recovery time with our Team in New Jersey. We had been praying for her, so we were wide open to her coming. Well, we scrambled to find a way to get an airplane ticket for her . . . and then decided to try and let her know we still think she's special- with a special airport welcome. We got some colorful helium balloons and a bright welcome home banner - and five of us stationed ourselves at the end of the concourse she was scheduled to come in on. It was really funny to watch the reactions of the pretty expressionless arriving passengers - they laughed, they waved, they thanked us as if this welcome party was for them. It was fun - until we saw the last flight attendant coming down the concourse with no other passengers coming behind her. The person we had come to welcome - never came.
The occasion was a city-wide art contest. They were told to paint paintings entitled "Peace." While the judges were understandably attracted to this beautiful pastural scene that a local painter had painted. It was a green pasture. It was the puffy white clouds and the beautiful blue sky and a little boy going by with a fishing pole over his shoulder and a quiet brook and some birds. That got second place. First place - well, the picture was of an angry, stormy day at the sea shore as the ocean was beating against the cliffs and the cliffs were stark and dark because of the darkness of the storm. The sky in this painting was angry and black, green and purple. You had to look twice to figure out what in world this had to do with peace. But if you looked halfway up the cliff these little baby birds were nestled underneath the wing of their mother, and they were sleeping totally oblivious to the storm that was howling all around them. Now it's the Christmas season. It's suppose to be about peace; but, if you feel the holiday pressure like I do, seems more like a storm, a stress which leads us into those birds.
I guess every athlete would like to do something immortal, something that will be remembered. Roy Riegels did - in a way. He played center in the 1929 Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, California. The game was almost over - the score was very close. Both teams knew that any score might well decide the game. Then, on one play, Roy Riegels suddenly found himself with a ball in his hands. Now centers only know what to do with the ball when they're snapping it to the quarterback - but Roy Riegels had it whether he liked it or not. Well, he started running as fast as a center can go - right for the goal line. He glanced back over his shoulder and he saw a strange sight - he was being frantically pursued by his own teammates. His instincts told him to just keep running, and he did - until he was tackled just short of the goal - by one of his own teammates. Roy Riegels was running for the other team's goal. And shortly, the other team went on to score and win the game. And as for athletic immortality? He went down in football history - as Wrong Way Riegels!
One thing I was never tempted to be was the neighborhood bully - you have to be big to be him. Now in the Chicago neighborhood where I grew up, there was a guy big enough to bully all of us - his name, believe it or not, was Boomer. If his mother named him that, it is her fault that he was a bully. Well, he was the first terrorist I ever knew - and I was one of his terrorees.
He threatened all of us little kids, he hurt us, and took our stuff. One day, I had had enough of Boomer's terrorism. So I marched down the street to his apartment building and went where no one ever went - to his back porch, to his door. Sure enough, Boomer came to the door, looking as nasty as ever. But I insisted that he give back the stuff he had taken. You say, "What a brave little guy you were." Sort of. Left out one small detail - when I went to stand up to the bully, my father went with me.
I have no official statistics on what I'm about to say - only personal impressions - but I believe the State of Pennsylvania is the roadkill capital of the Northeast - especially for dead deer. I've just seen many more deer by the side of the road there than in any state in our region - of course, there's a lot more of Pennsylvania too. But I read an article about the outraged mayor of a small town in Pennsylvania - the interstate runs through his community. The reason for his outrage? A paving crew was working on that road one day last summer - and they came upon a dead deer with much of its carcass lying on the road. Do you want to try to guess what they did next? Yes! They went right ahead and paved right over the deer!
If you've been to Disneyland or Disneyworld you've probably experienced an attraction called "Small World." You get in this little boat and you're propelled along this winding canal where you're surrounded by animated dolls from every conceivable area of the world. They're all children. Arab children, Indian children, French children, Mexican children, Eskimo children - you get the idea. These animated children are singing to you "It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small, small world." You say, Ron, those lyrics are monotonous. You should take the ride! You get to hear it about fifty times. The singing dolls are cute, and the song's okay for a little while, but by the time you hear it over and over and over, you have had enough of a small, small world!
In certain parts of the country taking out the garbage is no brainer. Not where we live in the Metropolitan New York area! We are talking pages of trash regulations including what to do with plastics, different colors of glass, aluminum cans, leaves, branches, tires. Well, my friend Craig isn't used to all these regulations because he just moved here. So he let his garbage pile up for the first few weeks in the area, with odoriferous results, shall we say? Eventually he had his own little land-fill developing by his back door. Finally he found the instructions on handling trash and Craig told me, "It wasn't that I didn't want to get rid of that garbage, I just didn't know how to."