Colorful Shades Of Gray

Moths are very ugly creatures. At least that is what IAlways thought until a reliable source told meOtherwise. When I was about five or six years old, myBrother Joseph and I stayed overnight at our AuntLinda’s house, our favorite relative. She spoke to us Like adults, and she always had the best stories.Joseph was only four years old, and still afraid of the Dark, so Aunt Linda left the door open and the hall Light on when she tucked us in to bed. Joe couldn’t Sleep, so he just lay there staring at the ceiling. JustAs I dozed off to sleep, he woke me up and asked, Jennie, what are those ugly things near the light?(I had always liked that he asked me questions Because I was older and supposed to know theAnswers. I didn’t always know the answers, of course, But I could always pretend I did.) He was pointing to The moths fluttering around the hall light. They’re Just moths, go to sleep, I told him.He wasn’t content with that answer, or the moths Near his night light, so the next time my Aunt Walked by the door he asked her to make the ugly Moths go away. When she asked why, he said simply, Because they’re ugly and scary, and I don’t like Them!She just laughed, rubbed his head, and said, Joe Just because something is ugly outside doesn’t Mean it’s not beautiful inside. Do you know why Moths are brown? Joe just shook his head.Moths are the most beautiful animals in the Animal kingdom. At one time they were more Colorful than the butterflies. They have always Been helpful, kind, and generous creatures. One Day the angels up in heaven were crying. They Were sad because it was cloudy and they couldn’t Look down upon the people on earth. Their tears Fell down to the earth as rain. The sweet little Moths hated to see everyone so sad. They decided To make a rainbow. The moths figured that if they Asked their cousins, the butterflies, to help, they Could all give up just a little bit of their colors and They could make a beautiful rainbow.One of the littlest moths flew to ask the queen of The butterflies for help. The butterflies were too Vain and selfish to give up any of their colors for Neither the people nor the angels. So, the mothsDecided to try to make the rainbow themselves. They beat their wings very hard and the powder On them formed little clouds that the winds Smoothed over like glass. Unfortunately, the Rainbow wasn’t big enough so the moths kept Giving a little more and a little more until the Rainbow stretched all the way across the sky. They had given away all their color except brown, Which didn’t fit into their beautiful rainbow.Now the once colorful moths were plain and brown. The angels up in heaven saw the rainbow, and Became joyous. They smiled and the warmth of Their smiles shown down on the earth as sunshine.The warm sunshine made the people on earth Happy and they smiled, too. Now every time it Rains the baby moths, who still have their colors, Spread them across the sky to make more Rainbows.My brother sank off to sleep with that story and Hasn’t feared moths since. The story my aunt told Us had been gathering dust in the back corners of My brain for years, but recently came back to me.I have a friend named Abigail who always wears Gray clothes. She is also one of the most kind and Generous people I’ve ever met. When people ask Her why she doesn’t wear more colors she justSmiles, that smile, and says, Gray is my color. She knows herself and she doesn’t compromise That to appease other people. Some may see her As plain like a moth, but I know that underneath The gray, Abigail is every color of the rainbow.

By Jennie Gratton

The atheist

An atheist was taking a walk through the woods. What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!” he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7 foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.At that instant the Atheist cried out: “Oh my God!…” Time stopped.The bear froze. The forest was silent. As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky: “You deny my existence for all of these years, teach others I don’t exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?” The atheist looked directly into the light, “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps could you make the BEAR a Christian?” “Very well,” said the voice. The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together and bowed his head and spoke: “Lord, bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.”

A Heaven-Sent Message in His Recurring Dreams by Douglas Scott Clark

Blueprints for my next construction job were spread out on the kitchen table before me, but I couldn’t focus on them. My mind was on a different kitchen table, one I hadn’t seen in decades. “What are you thinking about?” my wife, Arbutis, asked me. She could always tell when my mind was somewhere else.

“I had that same dream again last night,” I said. “Night after night, the same dream.”

“The one about your grandmother?”

“That’s the one.” In the dream, I was sitting at Mamaw’s kitchen table. I recognized it right away. Growing up, I spent summers with Mamaw. In the dream I was alone at the table—or at least I seemed to be. I could hear Mamaw’s voice speaking to me, but she wasn’t there. It was troubling.

“Didn’t you and Mamaw used to sit together at that kitchen table at night?” Arbutis asked.

“We did,” I said. I remembered just how it started. I was seven years old, spending my first night by myself with my grandparents. Sometime after going to bed I woke up. I looked around the bedroom, lit by the soft glow of an old kerosene lamp outside the door. I heard a sound. Someone was in the kitchen.

I sat up and looked out the window at the star-filled sky. There wasn’t a hint of daylight. It must be the middle of the night, I thought.

From the kitchen, I heard someone speaking. It was Mamaw’s voice, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying. So I slipped out of bed and tiptoed to the kitchen door.

Mamaw was alone at the kitchen table, her hands folded as if in prayer. She was speaking, but when I poked my head into the kitchen, I couldn’t see anyone else there.

“Come in, child, and sit with me for a while,” Mamaw said.

I pulled up a chair and climbed into it. “Who are you talking to?”

“God,” Mamaw said, as if the answer was obvious.

“Does he listen?” I asked.

“Of course he listens. The creator will listen to all who call upon him in Jesus’ name.”

“Does he ever talk back?” I asked. I tried to imagine what Gods voice would sound like. It would probably be big and gruff, like a bear’s growl.

Mamaw gently touched the side of my face. “God doesn’t always speak in words,” she explained.

“If he doesn’t use words, how does he talk to you?” I asked.

“Sometimes his message may come in a dream or a feeling deep in your heart. That’s how he talks to me here in the kitchen.”

I looked around doubtfully. The kitchen seemed very big and dark so late at night. As if anything could be hiding, waiting to jump out and get me. Mamaw must have seen I was afraid, because she turned up the kerosene lamp to show me there was nothing there.

“Now I’m going to dim the lamp,” she said. “This can be our quiet time together.”

Mamaw lowered the flame to a soft glow, then blew it out completely. It was so dark I couldn’t see Mamaw. She might have disappeared completely. Then, out of the dark, I heard her voice. I didn’t speak Cherokee like my grandmother did, so I couldn’t make out what she was saying. But God understood all languages. The slow rhythm of her chant was like a lullaby, and I lay my head on my arms and fell asleep.

When the rooster woke me up the next morning, I was back in my room with sunlight streaming across my bed. Mamaw’s voice in the dark kitchen seemed like a dream, a wonderful dream. Had it really happened at all?

“It wasn’t a dream,” Mamaw assured me when I asked her about it. “You were with me last night during my quiet time with our creator, and then I walked you sleepily to bed.”

“If I promise that I can be still and not talk, could I share the quiet time with you again?”

“Nothing would make me happier,” she said.

For the rest of the summer, every morning before daylight Mamaw and I would sit at the kitchen table. She talked to God and I listened. Those times always filled me with peace.

But Mamaw was gone now. Gone from her prayer time at that kitchen table, gone from this world, gone from me. Maybe that’s why the dream I’d been having all week left me feeling so unsettled.

“If you really want to understand your dream,” Arbutis said as I rolled up my blueprints, “you should do what Mamaw would do. Get up before dawn and listen to God.”

Getting up before dawn wasn’t as easy these days as it was when I was a young boy. “You know what? I think I should get my rest instead of trying to talk to God,” I said.

Arbutis raised an eyebrow. “No one said you had to talk,” she said. “Just listen.”

So there I was the next morning, alone on the sun porch, darkness surrounding me like a black shroud, Venus shining brightly in the eastern sky.

“God, you know these dreams I have been having. The ones I just can’t understand. Just me alone in Mamaw’s kitchen. I hear her voice, but I’m still alone…”

I could almost see that kitchen, just the way it used to be. Mamaw should be there with me, I thought, closing my eyes. Listening.

A feeling of well-being passed through me, as gentle as a baby’s sigh. And I dreamed again, a daydream with Mamaw right there with me, dressed in white. She touched my face, just like she had all those years ago. I reached out for her, and though she faded from my vision she in no way faded “away.”

I blinked my eyes open to a bright morning sun. And deep in my heart I knew the message of my dream.

Mamaw was as close to me now as she was when we sat together praying at her kitchen table. She was still talking to God. And she wanted me to keep listening.

Refrigerator bread and butter pickles

  • 5½ cupsabout 1½ pounds thinly sliced (about ¼-inch) pickling cucumbers
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  1. Combine cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow bowl; cover and chill 1½ hours. Move cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to bowl. Add onion to the bowl and toss with the cucumbers.
  2. Combine the granulated sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and ground turmeric in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 month.

FEATHERED FIDELITY- Michael Smith

It’s a sad reality. All relationships start with love and promise, but all too often We see them weaken, crumble and finally fail. It’s too bad all relationships don’t go to the birds. I know that sounds strange, but read on. Many years ago, when I was just a young boy, a small yellow bird Hit our front door. When I looked outside, I saw its tiny, unmoving Body on our deck. I opened the door to see if it was just stunned, Or worse, dead. I was kneeling over it when my mom joined me. “Michael, I think it may be dead. I heard the bang on the Glass. It hit pretty hard.” “Mom, should we bury it?” “I’m not sure, Michael. When I first looked out I saw another Bird land beside it. It looked like it was trying to pick this one Up. I think we should let nature take care of this. Let’s put it on The roof of the car and see what happens.” We placed the unmoving, little bird on the roof of my dad’s car And went back into the house. From our living room window we watched as the bird’s mate flew To its side, carefully grip the back of the dead bird’s neck in it’s Tiny beak, and with a strength only love and devotion could provide, Lifted its mate in the air. It carried the body from the car, across the street, over the Meadow on the other side and into nearby trees. It flew only a few Feet off the ground. Sometimes it would get up to six feet high and Then the weight of its companion would pull it lower again. Its Struggle was great, but the desire not to be parted from its mate was Greater. Thirty-five years later, I stepped out of my home on a warm Summer morning. I looked toward my next door neighbor’s — we lived In attached townhouses — and noticed a single strand of a spider’s Web strung from the bush by the corner of their townhouse to the Wheel of one of their cars. I thought it was strange for a spider to Spin such a web, especially just one tiny strand. I moved closer to investigate. When I reached down to break the Web I discovered it wasn’t a web at all. It was a piece of fishing Line. I gave it a tug and saw it was tangled in the bushes, and the Other end was knotted under the car. One of the boys was sitting on the front deck of the house. I remarked, “Looks like someone booby-trapped your friend’s car.” He came closer to see what I was talking about. I gave the line A tug. It was tightly jammed under the wheel of the vehicle. “Strange, it seems to go all the way under,” I said. I walked to the back of the car and saw a robin. It fluttered To get away, but the line, which was wrapped around its tiny leg, Held it firm. The poor bird flapped around on the pavement with only A foot of line for it to move. Slowly I approached and reached to grab it. When my fingers First touched his feathers it squawked and flapped away from me. I Moved faster on the second attempt and managed to get a grip around His trembling body. It squirmed and twisted its head to snap at me, But I held tight. The boy came closer for a look, and then went for a knife. When He returned I realized he would probably break the poor bird’s leg When the knife pulled the string tight before cutting it through, so I sent him for scissors. He came back and we carefully removed the String. The bird was free, but I held him a little longer, so I could Remove one last strand of the line from his tiny leg. It made a Great effort and escaped from my grasp. He flew low across the Pavement, under a row of mailboxes, and up into a tree. It was free again. Then I noticed a second robin fly down from a nearby tree and Land next to the newly-freed robin. It had stayed close by, as its Mate struggled for freedom, and would not have left until freedom or Death ended their relationship. The birds I witnessed mated for life and the struggles that come With it. Now don’t you wish a lot more relationships would go to the Birds? I know I do.