Archive for April, 2014

183 – The Gift

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

By Hetty Gray

# 183

April 17, 2014

“The Greatest Gift”

Who doesn’t like to receive a gift? Nobody I know. However, the gift of which I speak doesn’t come with ribbons and brightly colored paper. It comes with the deepest message of all, the love of a God whose boundless affection for the human condition forgives even the most hideous sin.

When sitting in a church service, I try to find something in the message that challenges me to be a better person the next week. Unable to shoulder all the burdens that life can throw at me, I must turn to a power that envelops not only one’s body but also one’s soul.

There is nothing wrong about being vulnerable. We all are in some way or another. Yet, vulnerability can be a true asset. In a world where success holds out as paramount and upward mobility takes a toll on even the most capable person, nothing is more valuable than faith.

In a world where individual power eclipses all other achievements, true worth finds itself threatened. Over the past few decades, America has witnessed unparalleled attacks on our Judeo-Christian heritage. In the name of what some call tolerance, we find ourselves at the foot of a tree losing a bit of bark every day. Chipping away at its trunk are those who seek to destroy faith because they recognize its power and fear it.

There is nothing wrong with fearing God. God represents both rules and love. Without rules, life lacks structure; and without structure, society dissolves.
America melts and most of us stand back and say nothing.
Whether Christian or Jew, the Lord has given us His Love. Whether we believe in Jesus Christ or await another Messiah, the Lord’s love does not fail. It does not end. It is, for each of us, the Greatest Gift.

We would do well not to fear acting out against our fellows but to fear not acting in the name of God. Will we stand by and see our faith assailed and removed from the public square? Will we cede tiny percentage of our population the power to mock our God and chip away at our religious freedom? It took a lot of bravery for the people of Biblical times to stand up for their values. Are we less brave than they? Think about it.

182 “Spring Memories”

Monday, April 14th, 2014

By Hetty Gray

# 182

April 10, 2014

“Spring Memories”

When the fleeting brisk winds calm and crocus peep through wisps of green grass, my memories harken back to childhood and a special pair who were instrumental in my love of the outdoors. Perhaps more than even my parents, these two remarkable people instilled in me a passion for nature and animals that only increases as I age.

William Thoms was a unique among the adults who steered my life. He and his wife Adeline lived close to Morristown and kept a cabin along Nameless Creek. My parents rented the cabin on weekends when I was a little girl. It seemed a world away from town. In truth, it was.

Snuggled among trees just south of an old iron bridge, the cabin welcomed us with that special aroma endemic to old log structures that sit unattended during the winter. The pump at the sink in the kitchen had a sound that echoed throughout the cabin, and I admit that I perfected the timing it took to properly raise and lower the handle.

There is something so special about well water drawn from a hand pump. Maybe it is because the reward of crisp, cool water comes from the effort expended to receive it.

Wending our way up the stairs to the cozy bedroom, I recall falling off to sleep with a book in my hands. Unlike the current generation, I was not glued to an electronic device that impairs individual thought and stifles imagination in favor of empty entertainment.

Snug in a bed beneath a vintage quilt, I traveled around the world and broke the boundaries of time and space to live amidst the likes of Pharaoh Ramses and Queen Victoria… Thomas Edison and King Arthur… Winston Churchill and Marie Curie…. My mind was not limited to the present and classics that Mama introduced into my reading material only fueled my enthusiasm for the future. Many of her books line my library yet today.

Thoms was my Godfather. Known as “Tubby” to all who knew him, his Indianapolis Star Column “Out in the Open” spanned many decades. His knowledge of Hoosier woodlands and meadows more than met the expectations of his readers. Animals frolicked within the stories, but not all of them were of the wild variety.

Adeline and Tubby made me feel like a member of their family. Perhaps they were drawn to children — in this case my brother and me — because they had no children of their own. No matter the genesis of their love, I basked in it and many of the lessons learned from them enriched my adult life.

Over the past twenty years, I have often wondered if some of Tubby’s writing talent actually rubbed off on me. If it did, I could not have had a better example.

He and my father inspired a love for hunting in my brother and taught us both to respect firearms. Cleaning game isn’t for the faint of heart, but it does teach one to understand the food chain.

Fishing teaches patience. The stillness along the stream allows the mind to pause and reflect. In a world so rife with noise, it seems to me that a little more fishing would be a welcome retreat to a great many people.

Hunting, on the other hand, imparts different messages. Oh, it involves patience; but, just as importantly, it forces one to fathom the intricacies of strategy. If a hunter cannot outsmart his or her quarry, the result is dismal and ends with nothing to show for all the effort.

When I see young people sitting across the table from one another and texting, I worry that the most basic form of communication — the conversation — is more than at risk, it is disappearing. Well beyond that, all the gadgets afoot in the culture rob our children of using their imaginations.

I thank Tubby and Adeline for more than I can describe in one article. Without them, I never would have appreciated country life. I was a city girl who learned at the feet of two of the most loving, talented people I have ever known. Adeline was more than a country cook, and she taught me how to see food as a gift from the kitchen. She also instilled in me the beauty of a table well set and resplendent with candles alit and napkins neatly folded. I follow that pattern when I entertain guests yet today. As far as cooking is concerned, I credit her and both of my beloved grandmothers for any culinary talent I possess.

Tubby loved animals, wild and domesticated — or nearly so. Roxie, his Beagle accompanied him everywhere but the office. Thinking back, I cannot affirm that she never went to the office. She might have. She certainly was well behaved enough to sit at her master’s side. A consummate hunting dog, her exploits peppered more than a few columns.

My husband and I camp and revel in it. You meet wonderful people at campgrounds. Linked in a love for the outdoors, folks from every economic strata and ethnic background gather around campfires and simply enjoy one another’s company. Children ride tricycles and bicycles safely on the grounds. Freedom expands among the nation’s campgrounds and worries of the city all but expire. Camping is sylvan for parents as well as children.

And so, once again, as spring comes to our fields and alongside streams close to our home, my memories fly to days along Nameless Creek and the two warm individuals who wrapped me in their love and left impressions deep within my soul.

Next to my fireplace sits a framed picture of Tubby and Roxie. If you could see it, those of you with dogs will agree that they’re both smiling.

Take a moment to savor the outdoors this year. Let spring prod you to venture into the land of our forebears. Take in our state parks. Wander along Hoosier waterways. Go buy licenses. Grab a fishing pole. Use the time on the bank or in a boat to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Look forward to fall and hunting season. Teach children and grandchildren the meaning of fending for one’s self and living off the land. Food didn’t always come from the grocery store. It came from the timeless connection between man and animal.

Many campgrounds offer Sunday services for campers, and we have witnessed more than one remarkable sermon given among the trees while sitting at picnic tables or perched in lawn chairs.

Spring is a renewal of life and of faith. For Christians, it reminds us of our own mortality — a mortality that fuels our need for someone greater than ourselves, God. Bask in spring. Ponder its value. Take in its power and its beauty.

Take time to “smell the roses.” Don’t bypass any opportunity to extend a kindness. Love. Share. Care. Live each day as if it were your last. After all, isn’t that what God asks us to do? Think about it.

180 – Coming Soon….

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

By Hetty Gray


April 5, 2014

“Coming soon”

In deference to many who opt out of their favorite activities in the midst of a medical situation, I choose to write the next two months’ columns ahead of time. A badly deteriorating shoulder initiates a rather ugly process that will require wearing a cast on my right arm (naturally, I’m right handed!) for a number of weeks. Therefore, I will stray a bit from current events and write on topics that transcend ongoing topics. I hope these editions will appeal to all ages among my readership.

If a very serious situation develops that requires immediate comment, then I will take the time to type one-handed and get a column out in a timely fashion.

Nothing is ever convenient when it comes to physical maladies, but I am lucky in that the doctor can repair the damage to my shoulder. With patience and diligent therapy, I can be back at the old Mac and in front of my sewing machine enjoying both hobbies to the hilt.

Thanks for all the replies to my columns. I receive them in high numbers, so I have not made it a habit to reply to each individually. That said, I do appreciate the support and enthusiasm.

I often quip that I am “out of warranty,” and that certainly holds true for someone approaching the seventh decade of life. In essence, every year is a gift and one that I am not about to waste.

Have a nice week. You’ll be hearing from me. Hmmmm….. I wonder if some of you hear that as a threat or a promise. Think about it.