A Snapshot of Bill Beeler

(Written in Spring 1997, updated Spring of 2021)

My name is William P. Beeler. My Mother, my employer, and the taxman are just about the only ones who call me that much more than once. I see myself as Bill Beeler. As you read these essays – it’s important that you have a feeling for who I am, and the basis for my conclusions. As you follow my search, you must make your own decisions. Is what I’m saying logical? Full of crap? You decide.

I was born into a Roman Catholic family on the 28th of December 1943. We were always active in the church. Mother was a pragmatic Catholic and zealous mother. Dad was a somber soul who saw himself as the provider and guardian of his family. Mother willingly dominated him. Dad faithfully followed and supported her in everything for fifty-five years. We never knew how much he loved to talk until Mother passed on, then he rarely stopped talking.

Getting back to me, I was a late Christmas present – three days late. The baby of the family. Sue beat me by 6 years and Lucia by 3 years. I probably would have been a junior. With three years between Sue and Lucia and ongoing uterus problems, Mother & Dad decided Lucia would probably be the last – so she was the junior. Dad’s name was Lucian, her name was Lucia. That is how I got all my grandparents in my name. William Patrick Henry got them all (William Henry Telker and Patrick Henry Beeler). Maybe that is why I enjoy family history so much.

I attended Parochial schools through junior College. Elementary school in St Joseph’s was a terrible experience. High School at St Joseph Prep wasn’t bad as long as I stayed on the edge and out of sight. I enjoyed the brothers and the male environment. St. Catherine was a non-experience that I knew I had to escape. I’ve never been religious in the traditional sense. When the Priest said, “The Mass is ended, Let us go in Peace,” everybody answered “Thanks be to God.” I always thought we were thanking God that mass was over and we could get the hell out of there. I still feel that way sometimes.

Sounds kind’a dumb that I, bi-sexual, rough-around-the-edges trainer of Soldiers should be sharing with others my search for God. What I am saying in these essays sounds at least suspect, if not down right heretical. Maybe I am a heretic at heart. I won’t try to convince you of the truth or validity of anything. I’ve been honest. I’m no prophet. I don’t pretend to be anything but me. You have to open your heart and make your own decisions. As I open my heart, I find that conversing with God is very simple. Believing is the hard part.

Albert North Whitehead, a noted Theologist, gave us good advice when he said that our effort to understand the philosophical is puny at best. The minute we start bringing in the idea of dogmatic certainty, then we are talking pure folly.

I was married to a really great woman for 49 1/2 years. We had three children. John David died soon after birth. That leaves two grown children with three grand children. Vennie and I had a good marriage. We lived in central Kentucky. We were members of a small country church where my father was raised – St Ignatius Catholic Church in Harcourt area of Hardin County. We have finally put down roots – Vennie and I have purchased a family plot of eight lots in the St. Ignatius cemetery. I am related to about half of the graves there.

Teaching and counseling has always been my first love and main activity over the past 30 years. As an Instructional Systems Specialist for the Army at Ft Knox, I taught teachers to teach and training developers to develop training. As Dr Jackson, the assistant commandant of the Armor School use to say, “I teach people how to teach other people how to kill large numbers of the enemy efficiently”. I loved my work.

I gave numerous workshops & seminars each year. My hobbies included Toastmasters International, computers, fishing, and writing. I enjoy watching sports from a distance.

Presently Things are different. I am obviously retired. My hobbies are computers, reading, and learning to be a better cook. Vennie and I separated in 2016 and divorced in 2018. She divorced me so that I could live the life I have always wanted to live. It was a friendly divorce and I am happy to say we are still friends.

As you read the posts labeled “Bill’s Musings” You will lean more about me, so I’ll stop here.

My Young Years

 
 Only the Troubled are Saved
 by Bill Beeler
  
 I started out proud and glad.
 I was good, I was loved.
 This I knew, they told me so.
 Mother loved me.  This I knew, she told me so.
 God loved me.  This I knew, Mrs. Walls told me so.
  
 I met people who were going to save me.
 I was bad, I wasn't loved.
 This I knew, They told me so.
 Only then would I appreciate their effort to save me.
 Please God, don't let anybody else decide to save me. 

=======

My first real awareness of God as something awesome seemed to be from, or through, school. Strange, I know we prayed at home. My Father got down on his knees beside his bed every night. Mother must have said prayers with us, but I don’t remember.

We talked about God at home. Not in a formal way, but casually, like you would talk about anything else. God was there. You knew he was there and watched out for you. No big deal, just an accepted fact.

One Advent or Lent, Mother and Dad tried to get a thing started where we said the Rosary together each evening. It must have been out of the blue. I don’t remember the details. I was probably about eight. That would mean my sisters, Lucia and Sue, were about eleven and fourteen. We all threw a fit at having to stop everything and pray. It didn’t go over very well. They abandoned the idea pretty quickly.

At the same time Mother was always talking of prayer. She approached God, Jesus, Mary, and the saints in the same matter-of-fact way that she discussed what was for supper and how you dressed to go to a party. It was all very normal. It was just something you took for granted as fact. She would talk about religious topics when they were in context. That was the way she taught us everything else about life.

If she lost something, she said a quick prayer to St. Jude and just assumed it would be found. When starting out on a trip, there was a short prayer to St. Christopher. No doubt, she just accepted that he was there in the car with us. She encouraged us to pray as we went about our lives. Mother kept a number of rosaries and holy cards. Going to Catholic schools and Mass every Sunday and Holy Day was important. After her death, I found many written passages about God, his goodness, wisdom, and mercy. These were written on the borders of calendars, in notebooks, and tucked in her nursing books. She always took a large rosary to bed with her.

Dad was in the background. He was the strong silent type. When he spoke, you listened, but he did not speak very often. Dad and Mother were very traditional, yet not. He worked hard and long hours as Manager of the Kroger store in Bardstown. At home, he took care of the house, stoked the furnace, maintained the car, yard, and things like that.

Mother was in charge of the home front. She managed the money, wrote letters, planned social events, and raised the children. Propriety and Amy Van Buren’s Book of Etiquette were made for her. She was the hugger, supporter, talker. There was nothing that she could not or would not talk about. She was also the adventurer who loved to try new things. She insisted that they ride the mules down the Grand Canyon when they were in their late sixties.

Dad was not a hugger. He was terribly embarrassed by any open expressions of emotion. Even the mention of pregnancy, and especially S-E-X, would make him cringe and lose his appetite. At the same time, he thought it was funny the first time I got crabs. In junior college. I’m sure he thought I had a girlfriend somehow that they did not know about.

He refused to fuss at me and could not keep a straight face when mother was fussing at me for my indiscretions. She finely told him that if he thought it was so funny, he should just go into the other room and read the paper. He did. I think he was proud of what he perceived as a symbolic “coming of age” type thing. I tried to bring up the subject to him a few days later, but he was just too embarrassed. Or – maybe he really didn’t want to know the details.

On the morning of my wedding day, Dad was embarrassed, but told me the only risqué joke that I ever heard from him. It was a prelude to telling me that I should have a little jar of Vaseline handy in case things were a little tight. That is also the only sex related advice he ever gave me. Don’t misunderstand. Dad gave me a lot of other advice and support over the years, but not about sex.

Obviously, I don’t remember much about kindergarten. I remember that Mrs. Walls and Mrs. Pash were nice people. I liked to draw. We would sit in a circle and sing songs. I especially remember singing “Jesus Loves Me”. I love that song. Even at fifty-one, I still sing it sometimes.

I can still picture Sr. Reperata. She was my first grade teacher. I was almost as tall as she was. When we prayed, I would keep my eyes open. That way she would come by and place her hand over them. It was wonderful. I do not know why those hands were unique, but I can still feel the cool specialness touching my eyes.

I do not remember Sr. Reperata teaching anything in a formal class type situation, but she probably did. She always seemed to be at her desk or standing between two towering novices. Remember, I was only six. They must have been teacher aids or teachers in training. They use to work with us in reading groups. Sometimes we were called over to Sr. Repartee’s desk. She would look over our work and talk to us. It was special.

That first grade room at Bethlehem Academy opened onto a large porch which overlooked the playground. There was a big clock on the wall. I am not sure whether I could tell time of not. After prayers we would sit at our desk and do our papers. I would pretend that I was a riverboat captain. The clock had a key part in my daydream, but I’m not sure just how. The people around me were my crew. This did not help my schoolwork, but it made the time pass. I would pretend that we were on a cruise until the next recess or lunch. When the ship landed, we would go out onto the deck (porch) and down the gangplank (stairway).

This was where I got my first taste of classification. I was a blackbird. Yes, you guessed it. The reading groups were the Bluebirds, Redbirds, and the blackbirds. Visual problems, hyperactivity, and a very short attention span made reading difficult and earned me blackbird status.

I have always associated Sr. Reperata with the almost holy experience of that year and the novices with the grouping. Even at that age, we all knew the significance of the groups. As a teacher, I realize that the “birdy” style grouping was an accepted practice in the fifties. A twenty-five year high school reunion showed that those groups were not very predictive in the long run, but they were a burden at the time.

When I was the teacher, I remembered this labeling experience and use rotating numbers for my groups. I changed the numbers every week or so. The good ole blackbirds might be the first group this time, second next time, and third the time after that. Just a little thing, but nobody had to say that they were a blackbird.

My second grade teacher was a big woman. She had at least one novice also. I do not remember a lot about that year, except that they discovered that I was terribly near sighted. It was such a shock to see the detail in life. Now I understood what people were talking about in the distance. I could see the ball coming. I couldn’t catch it, but I could see it coming. My school work improved too. I do not recall getting into trouble at school those first two years.

I assume that she was a sincere and understanding teacher. I must have had a good two years. Human nature forgets the good things, the comfortable memories. We remember the trauma, the sadness, the pain. Even when we forget the little details, we remember the events.

Third grade was a turning point. That is when I found out that I was bad. There are a number of incidents that stand out in my mind. I will share some of the most representative.

I was always full of imagination and action. As a Nurse, Mother recognized that I was hyperactive. This often drove her up a wall, but I was never made to feel unloved or unappreciated because of that hyperactivity. She worked to teach me to redirect my energies. Looking back, I think I inherited my Hyperactivity from Mother, just as my son, Marc, got it from me.

Even today, the worse thing you can do to me is expect me to sit and relax for an hour, would you believe a half hour? That is why I love the computer. It gives me something creative and useful that I can run with while staying in one place with my family.

Mother encouraged my reading, projects and role-playing. One Saturday, during the third grade, I watched a spy movie about China. Mother and I looked into Chinese writing. I made about twenty pages of “Chinese” writing with brush and paint. They were pages of secret scrolls.

Against Mother’s advice, I took them to school. I was proud of them and played with one during recess. Shared it and my game with Stanley. He was not amused. Typical third grader, he told the Sister. I do not remember her name.

She sat the class down after recess and had me bring her my bookbag. I sat there while she took every piece of paper out of the bag. Each scroll was unrolled, held up for all to see as an example of my wasting paper, wasting time, doing foolish things.

“Just what I would expect of you, Billy Pat. “What would your Mother say?”

“She said I could.”

“well, she couldn’t have meant for you to waste all this paper and paint…”

It went on and on, every last sheet had to be displayed and commented upon.

When I got home I told Mother. She called the Nun. The papers were thrown away … need to set example … maintain discipline … he should have told me. You know how talks with teachers tend to go. She never did apologize.

She would fuss at me. I would look directly at her while she talked. Then I got into more trouble for being defiant and disrespectful. No problem, I started looking at her bosom. After all she was always fiddling with something under her little cape (a top piece of her habit that was suppose to hide her figure). She was well endowed, so it did not do a very good job, especially with her hands up there.

Then I really got into double trouble. I could not understand why I was being “dirty”. Seems like she would not want to keep me after school if I was dirty, but I was and she did. Finally she called Mother about my dirty mind. Something had to be done.

I remember that talk very well. I get in trouble for doing something wrong. Sister fusses at me. I get in trouble for disrespect if I look around the room while she is talking. Looking right at her, like we normally do when somebody talks to us, and I get in trouble for being defiant and disrespectful. No problem, I look at her bosom, watch her fiddle with something. Mother found out she fiddled with her pocket watch because I made her nervous. Now I get in trouble for leering. Can a third grader leer? Mother and I decided that I did not dare look at the rosary in her belt. The only safe place was her shoes while uttering an occasional “sorry” or “yes Sister” as appropriate.

Whenever we were bad, whatever that means, she would spank the palms of our hands with a three sided ruler. Three to ten licks, depending upon the offense. I got lots of licks. This was the year I learned that I was bad. I had to stay after school a lot. Writing lines and working arithmetic problems were the most common punishment. My crimes were talking, not paying attention, and being disrespectful. I was not the only one, just the most frequent.

That was the year we learned to use the dictionary. I was not good there either. Our parents provided dictionaries for their children. Mother got me a child oriented dictionary. It was colorful and had lots of pictures. Every time I went to look up a word, I got sidetracked. I would see a new picture and stop to read about it.

Sister made me leave that one at home and use one she got somewhere with no color and few pictures. My time to find a word improved, but it was not as much fun. I still get sidetracked looking up something on Google.

We made our First Confession and our First Communion in the third grade. We had to really study the Baltimore Catechism to get ready. To be worthy. That is when I first became aware of sin. At home and in the earlier grades I had learned that there were good and bad actions. They were passing things, actions, that were to be done or avoided.

Sin being inherent and the soul being dead was foreign to me. At that point, I never questioned the love or justice of a God who punished every living soul for a single act of indiscretion committed millions of years before. Sister and the Baltimore Catechism made sure that I knew that my soul was dead because it had sin on it.

My God

Written December 1996

I’ve come to realize that God, by whatever name I wish to use, is a being, an entity, a consciousness that loves and accepts me. This Divine entity is within all of us. We are within it. We are one with each other. We are one with God. An envelope that encompasses all creatures great and small. My God is a friend. A friend who loves me because I am me – not in spite of me.

My body is a physical thing. I should take care of it, since it’s the only one I’m going to get. At the same time, I can choose to do with it as I wish.

My Soul is a part of the Divine. God in the broadest sense. God encompasses not only all living beings – but all beings. Those who are – those who ever were – those who ever will be. Each of us is a piece of God. It is this soul that links me with my God.

God is in many ways like a parent, a Mother/Father. I am like a child. I struggle to be on my own. My parents are always there to support me if I allow them to do so. I can snuggle up to my God and know that I am loved, protected, and warmed — no matter what.

My God feels my guilt, my despair, and my joy. God feels the depression of my failure and the exhilaration of my success. She shares the warmth of my inclusion and the cold of my exclusion.

Like a friend, God perceives my feelings and decisions and responds to them. He calls me to pull from those experiences whatever good I can find. I can then move in future directions that will present a greater good.1

Like a mother, my God knows even my most secret thoughts, words, and actions. Still, she is there to hold me as I shed the tears I would hide from the world.

My soul, the souls of those who were, and those who will be, are within God. We are like the leaves on the vine that John talks about.2 Our souls are a dynamic, interactive part of God. My soul is within my body. It will remain there until released at my death. Those souls who are without bodies are the angels of God.3 The souls without bodies are the messengers of God that we find throughout history.

The term “Angel” comes from the Greek word for messenger.4 Maybe Angels are the direct interaction with God through souls with whom we can relate. “Eyeball-to-eyeball” contact with God is scary. Maybe Angels are the physical links between those who are and God. It doesn’t make much difference. The relationship is the important part, whatever the details.

A Theologian from Belermine College reviewed my first draft. He taught me several new words. He tells me that this perception of God is known as PANENTHEISM. I was pleased to know it had a name. That I was not the only person thinking this way. I looked up Pantheism and Panentheism. They will help us understand the basis for much of what I an talking about.

Pantheism is the belief that God is the universe. Everything in the universe is God. God is the eminent force or soul. This is sometimes called absolute pantheism. If we ARE God, if God IS US, then there is no free will, no choice. We simply are divine. What ever God does is “Godly (?)”, Perfect by our definition of God. Therefore we are committed to being perfect. We cannot do otherwise.5

Panentheism is the belief that the universe, or its animating force are a part of God, who is also transcendent. There is a subtle, but very important difference. From a Panentheistic point of view, God is within us. Our soul is a direct connection to God. At the same time, we are a unique entity from which God is transcendent.6

Even the most conservative Christian definition states that God is transcendent. God is an unclassifiable entity. God is beyond the limits of experience and knowledge. God is beyond what we can perceive with our senses.

You may already be blowing off this whole idea. I’m saying. That’s your choice, but Ephesians says One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.7 Corinthians tells us “Now Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.8

The Baltimore Catechism told us that God is all present, that he is everywhere.9

Paul Tillich, a 20th century theologian and philosopher, stated that “God” refers to the source and ground of all being and that all other statements about him are symbolic. The picture of God constructed by men participates in the ultimate reality but is not in itself ultimate.

1 Mesle. Pg. 15.
2 (KJV) John 15:5.
3 Baltimore Catachism, Saint Joseph Edition, 1964. #19.
4 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1966.
5 Encyclopedia Britannica, 1994.
6 Encyclopedia Britannica 1994.
7 (KJV) Ephesians 4:6.
8 (KJV) 1 Corinthians 12:27.
9 Baltimore Catachism #11.

Mother’s Passing

Alfreda T. Beeler, my Mother, died on July 16, 1991. She was suffering from Alzheimer’s, a broken hip, collapsed lung, and a cracked rib. I thought she was gone. Maybe I would see her when I too passed on.

We moved her and Dad to our home and made our living room into a hospital room with the help of Hospice. Several times she’d tell Vennie to look at the light. The beautiful light. There was no special light that we could see. The first time, Mother was amazed. The other times it was more enjoying an expected beauty.

Vennie would reassure her. Tell her it was OK to go toward the light if she wanted. Vennie would ask what she saw.

Once she answered, “a man, a woman, and a little child, waiting there in the light”. She either didn’t know or couldn’t say who they were. Maybe they were her Mother and Father with John Javid, the son we lost at just after birth. The inevitable happened and she passed peacefully.

Over the next few months, Mother made her presence known. I kept finding the aspirin bottle top loose. I’m the only one who uses the aspirin. Everybody else uses Tylenol, Advil, and other stuff. I close the safety cap all the way. Mother hated safety caps. She’d leave them open. The top just sitting on the bottle. Was she trying to make her presence known as we let the dead sleep within our hearts?

Vennie kept finding the front door open. It should have been closed and locked. No one was opening it. Mother?

Vennie saw what appeared to be a movement. A person in the hall several times. It must have been a shadow. No one was there. Mother?

These things kept happening over the next six or so months after her passing. We’ve even joked about it. Was she still here since she had died in our living room?

One week , Vennie was in Muleshoe, Texas visiting her family. Muleshoe is 18 miles from Earth. Earth, Texas that is. Anyway, I was Doing the domestic thing at home with our son, Marc and daughter, Elaine.

I decided to cook a roast. There were two in the freezer. About 2 inches thick 6 inches by 10 inches. Frozen like rocks. Why not cook both of them.

Use the corning ware. Easier to clean. Won’t fit. I used the good old Ginsu knife to saw them in half. Took over an hour. Instead of deciding there had to be a better way, I got stubborn. Wasn’t about to stop sawing, except to thaw my hands. Success.

All four pieces went into the Corning ware like four slices of toast. Tight squeeze. Hard as a rock. By this time it’s 10:00 at night. Set the oven on 250 degrees. Don’t want to burn them. Half cup of water in the bottom of the pan to keep them moist. Little salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, and Cayenne for good luck.

10:30 and the roasts are in. Opps, I’ve got to get up tomorrow at 5:50. Workday, you know. Can’t stop now. We’ll see how they look at bedtime.

Come midnight and I can’t stand it. I’ve got to get to bed. What’ll I do. Too hot to put in refrigerator. Can’t leave out all night. Too tired to care. Almost jokingly I called on Mother.

“Well Mother, I need your help. Let’s cook this together, cause I’ve got to go to bed. Don’t let it be too bad by morning.”

I went to bed. 12:15 AM.

1:00 AM. I’m wide awake. I know I have to check on the roast. My “toast slices” are fully thawed. Dark brown for the top two inches. Bloody red from there on down. Not much room around the meat. Juice less then two inches from the top. This won’t work. Get out a flat Corning ware casserole with top. Everything fits. Add half inch of the juice. Cover and put in oven. Back into bed without a thought. No idea what time it is.

3:00 AM. Fully awake again. Know I have to check on the roast. Looks perfect. Put on counter. Two pot holders to protect the counter top. Slice the two thickest in the middle. Nice, brown, tender, and juicy. Put top back on to keep the cat out. Back to bed.

5:00 AM. Wide awake again. Got to check on the roast. Cool enough to put in the refrigerator on two holders. Don’t want to crack the glass shelf. Back to bed.

5:50 AM. Alarm goes off. I’m as groggy as usual. Stagger to the bathroom.

6:00AM. While sitting on the pot, I suddenly remember the roast. Then I remember the cooking events. Finish on the pot, wash my hands, then check on the roast. Perfect. I looked up with a smile. WE did it. Suddenly the warmest feeling came over me. You know that feeling you get as a kid when your Mama gives you a great big hug? Mother and I had actually cooked the roast together. Just like the time we baked cookies.

=====================

The Mexican Wedding Cookies had been one of the few times Mother and I cooked together. It was on a Saturday morning. It was my first cooking lesson. She tried to teach me how to cook. My sister Lucia would refuse to eat anything if I helped with the cooking of that meal. I learned how to cook in Boy Scouts and when I was a bachelor after college.

Now I know that Mother’s with me. So’s Dad. And other released souls with whom I’ve bonded. I know Dad will always be in the background. Silently supporting. Mother will be in the front. She was always so outspoken. Sometimes to a fault. I assume there are no more secrets between Mother and Dad about me. Maybe there never were. Each just played their perceived roles.

Mary Grace’s Last Visit

What happens when we die? I think we rot, burn, recycle. But I also think we continue on in spirit. Don’t ask me for details, but I have had some experiences. This is the one and only time my God mother, Mary Grace came to visit me.

We were all paying attention to the priest. Deacon Jay intoned, “Let us turn now to those around us and exchange a sign of peace.” Vennie and I kissed , turned and began shaking hands with those around us. I turned, to greet the person behind me. I caught my breath as we shook hands in peace. I was amazed at how much she looked like Mary Grace, my Godmother who had recently died of a heart attack. She gazed into my eyes, smiled took my hand while telling me to be at peace. Returning from communion, Vennie leaned over and asked me if I had noticed how the woman behind us at the sign of peice was the spitting image of Mary Grace. We looked back, she was nowhere to be seen. I asked the lady who was there if she had seen where the lady in the trench coat had gone. The lady did not remember seeing a lady in a trench coat.

Mary Grace knew that I felt bad about not keeping in touch over the years. She wanted to reassure me that we were indeed still in touch. Her body may still be in the casket, but not her soul.

Intercession Offered – Intercession Refused

By Bill Beeler

God was there even when I didn’t listen to his messenger.

Sticking my head through the lace like frame that use to be my passenger side window, I was struck more with curiosity than shock. The cab of my two week old pickup was radiant in the morning sun. Sparking diamonds highlighted every nook and cranny. Glasses, maps, registration papers and star mints flowed from the glove box like fruit from a cornucopia. Morning dew clung to the rest of the windows forming a hazy frame like you see in some old tintypes. For a minute, I was struck by the beauty of the setting.

Reality took hold of my consciousness. Stomach spasms sent bile to the back of my mouth. My heart raced. “We’ve been robbed!” Some punk has messed up our vacation for a lark, for pocket money! That reality made everything look very different, very real.

The window framing my head was a useless, gaping hole. Hundreds of glass chunks swarmed over the seat waiting to ravage cloth seats, bare legs and thin clothes. Once neatly stored goodies were scattered without thought of their importance. Glasses critical for driving tossed carelessly. Insurance and ownership papers crumpled and scattered. Candy littered the floor.

My gait was a little unsteady as I went back to the room to tell my wife, Vennie, and call the police. The police ask me what was taken, only them did I think about what might be missing. In all of my fifty-two years, I have never had to endure a car burglary. You know how it is, the OTHER guy gets broken into. Well, this time it was me. Almost everything taken had more then monetary value.

While waiting for the police, I began to realize that we were blessed.

Blessed?

Yes, blessed in spite of refusing to heed my guardian’s warning.

Yesterday had been an exciting day first day for our trip.

Tired, we decided to find a nice place to stop. Just then, we saw a Best Western sign. They are usually nice, so we decided to pull off. Good, It had a restaurant. We didn’t care for the lounge, but they had all night security. We decided to stay. It was our lucky night, we got their last room.

With the pick-up unloaded and Vennie settled in the room, I went to park. Pulling into an overflow lot, I noticed that I was one of only three vehicles in the lot. My new truck and two older cars. To the front of me was the end wall of the motel. Behind me was some major thoroughfare. There were two security lights. One was not working, but the other was okay.

Turning off the engine, a rather deep male voice said, “Don’t park here.”

“Why not?” I asked aloud. Then I realized that I was in a closed pick-up cab by myself with the radio and air conditioner running. Laughing, I thought it must have been a part of the song. I just misunderstood the words.

Dismissing that nonsense, I secured everything. Camera, glasses, and extra tapes in the glove box. CB, and Vennie’s jacket in the back. Lock all the doors. With one last check, I placed my confidence in the guard on duty.

The Newport police officer explained just how lucky I was. There were probably three thieves, one in the back, one in the front, and one driving their vehicle.

New pick-ups in that area are usually stolen. It is much easier for the thief to steal the vehicle and then take it to a quiet place for a careful search and stripping. My truck was simply burglarized in the lot.

One thief worked the back. He popped open the topper by hand instead of using a pry bar which would have damaged the topper and tailgate. A bent latch bar costing $3.98 was the only damage. He was a big man according to the smudge mark his knee left in the dust on the tailgate. Reaching in, he grabbed my tool box, the plug-in CB, and Vennie’s wind breaker.

A second thief probably worked the front. He hit the window with something heavy, like a tire iron. The officer pointed out that kids or amateurs would have thrown a rock. It would still be inside. He hit the window hard enough to scatter glass all over the cab, but there was no damage to the window frame.

He took four cassette tapes, flashlight, and 35 mm camera from the glove box, but left four more cassettes in the organizer on the seat. He did not try to remove the stereo system and left my gold framed driving glasses.

The officer and insurance adjuster were surprised at the small amount of damage. I’m not. We were blessed. I think intercession was offered. I refused the offer. Maybe my Guardian Angel or Saint Christopher was there to whisper in the thieves’ ear that the cops were coming just at the right moment to minimize the damage.

There may be a blessing for the thieves too. The main event of that first day was visiting a little Baptist church just outside of Knoxville, TN. Beautiful crosses can be seen in the plain, frosted windows during the day. After dark, those crosses really glow. Our camera had almost a full roll of pictures of the church and crosses glowing in the windows. Maybe the person who has the camera got them developed. Maybe the crosses will have a message for him too.

One thing Vennie and I have learned, we are not traveling alone. The next time we hear a voice, we’ll listen.

Fighting Over God’s Love

This occurred in Albuquerque, New Mexico while I sold real estate for Falls Land and Development Co. 1970-71

Audie was a handsome, neatly tailored conservative Baptist turned Mormon. Hard working and easy going., he pored over the newspaper to improve his reading skills. Customers never realized that Audy’s sons helped him memorize the contracts. He asked customers to fill in the unique personal data on the contracts to make sure the data was correct. Actually, he did not trust his spelling. You would never guess He was anywhere near his forty-five years.

Tom was a rotund Seventh Day Adventist. He killed time reading magazines or watching the game on TV. There was no problem working on Sunday morning. Everybody should know that the Lord’s day was yesterday. Looking down his beak nose, he griped and moaned to anybody within earshot about the terrible state of the world and moral corruption. Tom was sure his sixty years and strong religious convictions gave him the right to issue moral rulings on almost any subject.

Waiting for Sunday morning customers in search of investment property to wander into the real estate office, we got bored. Like whittlers around the stove, we chewed on just about any subject. The Sunday paper often sparked righteous discussions between Audie and Tom. I was one of the group when it came to sales. They respected my salesman-of-the-month trophies. In these conversations though, I was considered a hopeless outsider. Each referred to himself as a “saint” and tried to enlighten the other about how the other was following a misguided faith.

They were God’s artillery corps hurling verse after verse from one to the other. Never was there a calm discussion of logic or fact. Only verses to be stated from memory and used as absolute proof of the other’s ignorance. I was not even welcome in these discussions because I tried to reason and be logical. That was heresy indeed. The one thing they agreed upon was the fact that I, a Catholic, was only a slight notch above an atheist. I worshipped statues and a Pope in Rome. They even quoted the same scriptural verses to show that I was a damned sinner beyond hope.

I hate to admit it, but their barrages made me wonder, to doubt even more my long questioned worthiness to be with God. They seemed so sure. I have always been so unsure.

Communication between My God and Me

Over the years I have talked to a number of Charismatics and Pentecostals who say that God talks to them on a regular basis. They aren’t Catholics. Most Catholics I know do not really buy this “God Talk” stuff. Most Catholics I know feel that God talks to us through the Church the Pope, the Priest.

A Pentecostal friend says that he actually hears his God. He talks to God, usually while kneeling in prayer by his bed. He often hears God.

“Got to be careful though,” he warns me, “because the Devil will get in there and try to mislead me.”

“How do you know when it’s the Devil talking instead of God?”

“What the Devil tells me doesn’t track with the Holy Scripture, God’s word does. If what I’m hearing contradicts the Holy Scripture, it has to be from the Devil. The Bible is God’s absolute word. If I’m not sure, or don’t understand what’s being said, I talk to my minister.”

Could it be that he has missed some of the best conversations with God? I have come to realize that there is a lot of truth in what a little Trappist Monk explained during a retreat at Gethsemani, KY. The monks are silent. They have a sign language that they use among themselves. I asked him why. He explained in a gentle voice that God talks to us all the time. If we are busy talking or we are bombarded by a lot of unnecessary noise, we will not hear him.

The Baltimore Catechism said prayer was a lifting of our hearts and minds to God.1 The Seeker’s Catechism describes prayer as a loving conversation with God.2

I’ve learned to hear my God, at least sometimes. Hopefully you have too. Rest assured that God is talking to you. Open up your heart and listen, trust. Trust the ear in your h-ear-t.

It was a shock when I realized that I, a closeted sinner, have been talking to God for much of my life. He was answering me. I just never really recognized him. He didn’t fit the mold the Nuns said he should fit. Of course I never fit the mold they said I should fit. I’ve seen the movies and heard the stories about Jesus and Mary appearing lots of places. They always dress like the pictures in church. Mary is always dressed like a Jewish matron of 2000 years ago. Jesus appears dressed like a Jewish traveler of 2000 years ago. That doesn’t make sense. The Bible describes Divine Appearances. What does God really look like? Through history, it’s recorded that Gods come to their people looking like, and dressed like, the people with whom they are visiting. The Bible describes God as contemporary. Therefore if God comes to visit us today, he’s logically still contemporary. He would dress like us, look like us, talk like us, and he would act like us. He would demonstrate his Divinity through his actions, not his dress.

It doesn’t make sense that God would be contemporary two or three thousand years ago – but not today. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? God? The Nuns? The publishers? The film makers? Whatever the answer, I don’t think it’s God’s error. Kind of makes me think of the TV series where Michael Landon played an Angel. How would people have responded to him if he wore robes and wings? They would have locked the sucker up in a flash and filled him with mind altering drugs.

Could it be that we have the opportunity to talk to God whenever we wish. Most of our lives we don’t. Even when we do, we don’t believe. It’s taken me fifty years to believe, and even then mine is a questioning belief. Over those years, The Divine and I have communicated in many ways. Petitions were the most common. Requests for guidance came later, during the dark years. Now I know that dreams or visions and personal interventions have played a large part as well. I’ll talk more about prayer later.

A little black prayer book I found in the sharing rack at the back of church in Page Arizona shed some light on opening ourselves to God’s words. “. . .Lord, teach me how to pray. Show me that the test lies not in my feelings of devotion or in my knowledge of a technique but in my perseverance and my generosity. The test of the artist and the linguist is this: what happens when emotion, suffering, and excitement intervene? So to with me in prayer. . .”.3

1 Baltimore Catachism # 207.

2 Pennock, Michael Francis, The Seeker’s Catachism: The Basics of Catholocism, Ave Maria Press, Notra Dame, IN. 1994. Pg 106.

3 Zeller, Dom Hubert van, A Book of Privatr Prayer. Templegate Publishers, Springfield, IL. 1960. Pg,143.

A Study of Languages

Note. This study that started out as one long poem exploring the many languages you and I speak in different situations. It evolved into a number of shorter poems, each looking one or more aspects of our daily languages.
Speaking Daddy
by Bill Beeler (August 1995)

Sitting in the den, I speak daddy with family.
 A language ruled by the myth,
of what should be said, not what I feel.
Long term pacts and love shape what is real.
Words and actions are seeds in fertile soil.
Every damn one will grow for good or spoil.
Planter has no control, only request.
Cast forever - no one knows the harvest.
Please God, let those wayward words grow
 into rich values that teach them what they must do.
Tender tilling that makes one give a hoot
so their feeling of self worth is not moot..

Note. This poem was entered in the Illiad Press Quarterly Poem & Essay Contest for 1st Qtr 1996. Entry mailed 3/11/96. Won an honorable mention.

Speaking Church
by Bill Beeler ( August 1995)

Sitting in the pew,
I speak church with congregation.
A language ruled by fear and hope for the future.
God loves us more than the church down the street.
Thanks for the job you kept ten other souls from getting.
Thanks for keeping my house from burning.
Your blessing saved my child from harm.
That sinner died because you struck him down.
God, They credit you with the vilest of villainy
and ask you to make their hate holy.
you must cry every night that your
children would rate your love so poorly.

Speaking Job
By Bill Beeler (August 1995)

Sitting in the office, I speak job with co-workers.
A language ruled by self service and gossip.
Punch the clock, be on time, keep up, pace the others.
If I have it, the customer needs it; make the sale.
We all know how that last raise was earned, don’t we.
Rating time is near, hope I look better than you.
Does it have to be this way?
Surely there must be a better way.
Couldn’t we all just give a little and take a little?
Lord, has it ever been that way?

Speaking Macho
By Bill Beeler (August 1995)

Sitting in the bar, I speak macho with customers. 
A language ruled by dogma and image.
Butt hangs over the stool, arm rests on the bar.
Eyes peer into the beer or blank mirror on the wall.
Forbidden are our hopes, dreams, and love, too sissy.
Hate, bias and condemnation are fair, a strong facade.

Speaking Poetry
By Bill Beeler (August 1995)

Sitting all alone, I speak poetry with God.
A language ruled by the spirit and truth.
I address the conflicts within                                                                        
my life at home, at work, and at church.
Poetry lets me look within my soul
and speak my personal reality.
Limited only by the acceptance
of those with whom I choose to share.
Even then - it was only a metaphor.

Note. Submitted to SPLEEN 8 April 96. Not accepted.

We Try To Communicate
By Bill Beeler (March 1996)

Life’s communication is feelings, words
and postures. Motives are often hidden
and meanings obscure.
The language of family is words with
love planted in fertile soil. Grown by the
receiver, the harvest unknown.
The language of religion is passage,
proverb, and prayer. Never question
contradictions. Have faith.
The language of co-workers is self
service, rumor, and gossip. Rating time
is near, hope I look better than you.
The language of drinking buddies is
prejudice and narrow-mindedness.
Let’s condemn the weak and different.
The language of poetry is ideals,
tenderness, and spirituality -
Limited only by thoughts that I share.

Note. This was an abbreviated version of “Languages I Speak” I was attempting to shorten the original poem to less than 200 words for a contest sponsored by Hawley-Cooke Booksellers in November 1995. I like original version best.

The Language of Life
By Bill Beeler (August 1995)

The language of life is
sentiments, conversations, and curses.
Motives are often hidden and meanings obscure.
The language of animals is
moves, looks, noises, and gifts.
Motives are not questioned.
The language of family is
words and love planted in fertile soil.
Cultivated by the receiver, the harvest unknown.
The language of religion is
passages, proverbs, and prayers.
Never question contradictions, have faith.
The language of co-workers is
self service, rumors, and gossip.
Rating time is near, hope I look better than you.
The language of drinking buddies is
prejudice, sexism, and narrow-mindedness.
Let’s condemn the weak, the different.
The language of poetry is
idealism, tenderness, and spirituality.
They are limited only by those with whom I share.
Even then -- it was only a metaphor.

A New Desk

A New Desk
By Bill Beeler (October ‘95)

Hey, I need a new desk.

There are many things I need to do.
Count our money and pay all our bills.
Record our ancestors and write our book.
Write to our family and to our friends.
Why not just use the kitchen table?

The new desk is made of oak,
course the old one was too.

The new desk has lots of work space,
course the old one had almost as much.

The new desk is easier to move,
course the old one had more wood in it.

The new desk has lots of promise,
course the old one had character.

The new desk has three extra drawers,
course they don’t hold much more

Hey, I want a new desk.