Among the People

Browsing during my hole in the night recently, I chanced on this quote from Cardinal John Henry Neumann (1801-1890): “I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: Go down again—I dwell among the people.” Among the people! That’s where Jesus lived; and that’s where his followers must live.

My pondering triggered a story told me long ago by a pastor friend in Upper Michigan. His name was Paul.

Paul told me he was driving a country road near his church one afternoon and came on a shabby, grizzled, one-eyed hitchhiker. Sensing the old man was hungry, Paul stopped at a café.

The man called himself Scotty. Said he lost his eye in a bar fight when he was young. They chatted over coffee and Paul drove him to his shack on a dirt road, offering o pick him up for church the following Sunday morning.

Acceptance, friendship, and food turned the lonesome man into a church regular–first time in his life. The church bought him clothes and arranged weekly transportation. In time, Scotty professed faith in Christ. When offered a Bible, he admitted he could not read or write. Pastor Paul offered to teach him, working from the Scriptures.

In his latter years, Scotty had spent most of his daylight hours at the small tavern near his shack, doing odd-jobs for drinks. One day, a man from the church chanced by and spotted Scottie entering the tavern. He phoned Pastor Paul. Paul hurried to the tavern and found Scotty sitting at the bar chatting with the bartender.

Surprised, Scotty greeted him warmly. Pastor Paul said, “What are you doing here, Scotty? You promised to give up drink.” Scotty looked puzzled. “Didn’t you preach last Sunday we should tell our friends about Jesus? This is where my friends are.”

“I dwell among the people.”

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Proudly Pink

Usually it’s the other way around, but this time I’m reposting what I first shared on Facebook.

I found this pink Morning Glory and a few others proudly showing off their difference a month ago at Sandy Ridge. Among tens of millions of yellow blossoms to be one of only a handful of pink flowers would be a lonely, perhaps risky existence if flowers were like people. Oh, to be as courageous as the morning glory and as welcoming as the yellow

Young Grandpa Keith

New Trails

I wandered unfamiliar turf today. I had been there once before but with others who knew where they were going. This time I braved it alone. It wasn’t exactly wilderness so I figured I’d be fine. I was, mostly.

There was fall color, though by now some trees have lost all their leaves while others are still changing. dsc_5847-web

I walked an hour or so and came upon quite a bunch of Mallards and a few Shoveler Ducks dabbling in the algae covered shallows. As I got close and started shooting pictures they swam away. I thought I scared them off. Not so. dsc_5888-web

A mink swam quietly through the algae covered water and walked up the rocks. He wasn’t hungry, but the ducks were taking no chances. dsc_5893-web

After the duck adventure I took a fork in the trail that led into the woods. Though it was high noon the woods were dark with a golden autumn glow. I walked about 20 yards into the trees to ponder and take a picture.dsc_5905-web

I’d been pondering awhile when I was accosted by a large golden lab fleeing from a friendly woman. The spell was broken. After some friendly words we continued in opposite directions on the trail. After considerably more meandering I arrived at a parking lot, but not one I recognized. I was puzzling over which way to go when the same golden lab nuzzled my left leg. I confessed my confusion to the nice lady who walked me back up the trail to where it forked (The trail did that a lot.). She said to bear right wherever you have a choice. I wound up where I started.. On the way I took one more picture.dsc_5913-web

Young Grandpa Keith


Hold Your Rhetoric

I always enjoy time with Norma’s families—good people. During our recent Viroqua visit, Norma’s oldest son Jim asked an intriguing question: Can we choose our beliefs? This led to long cogitation. Why do I believe what I believe?  And, why can’t I always believe what others believe so deeply?  Can I make myself believe something by sheer determination?

I don’t believe in UFOs or ghosts. On the other hand, I believe Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, healed the sick, raised the dead, and stilled a tempest. I can’t prove those things; they defy natural law; yet I believe them. How come?

I once considered punching out a boyhood friend because he said the Bible was a collection of myths. The Bible was God’s very Word! That’s what my parents believed, so I believed it. Bob’s parents believed otherwise.

We are all the products of what we have been taught by people we trust; but what if they were mistaken? The deadliest posture is to assume our viewpoint to be undebatable truth. The Bible is an anthology of ancient writings. We must read it in its cultural setting. Bible meaning lies in what the first hearers understood it to mean. For us to understand literature from the late Bronze Age is no simple matter.

While our Bibles translate ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts well, there’s more to it. Learning is complex. We can’t grunt, grit our teeth, and believe something that has not been part of our learning background. Given convincing evidence, we can grasp new ideas.

A working model is the best teaching medium known to mankind. You want me to believe in Jesus? Hold your rhetoric and show me your life.

Old Grandpa Lloyd


What a Difference a Sky Makes

There is plenty of fall color to be had around me. I spent parts of two of days driving around pausing here and there to take photos. Some of them I’ve shared on Facebook. Today I returned to Caley Wildlife Refuge to see the difference a couple of rainy windy days has made. I had the whole place to myself. One gray haired gentleman out for a Sunday motorcycle ride was just leaving as I pulled in.

Last time there were dramatic clouds decorating the sky. Today the sky was deep blue and cloudless. Last time there was a stiff breeze; today, just enough movement of air to give the reflection and artistic blur.  dsc_5677-web dsc_5836-web

Young Grandpa Keith

All Worn Out

Northlander alert:  Bus to the Minneapolis IKEA and Eagan Outlet Mall leaves Family of God Church, 4097 Martin Road, Duluth, at 7:00 A.M Thursday, November 10. Cost: $32.50, paid with reservation—no refund if cancelled. Call Eileen Hagen ASAP for detail: 728-8905 or 340-1956. Space is limited. Reserve early.

Last Thursday daughter-in-law Tena drove me and Norma to Viroqua, Wisconsin for our third Grandparents’ Day at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School. Ethan, Norma’s grandson, attends grade six. His mom Nan serves on the staff.

My appreciation for Pleasant Ridge grows with each visit. This quote by Waldorf- system founder, Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925), gives the reason: “There are two motivations for stirring students to learn—fear and love. I prefer love.” We observed love between staff and students throughout a Friday morning hopping with activity. I’ll write more about Waldorf education is a later post.

Norma’s son Jim and Nan hosted us for the weekend. Friday afternoon we hit the Viroqua farmers’ market. We picked up fresh veggies for a feast at home and Amish-woven crafts: heart-shaped table basket for Norma; a rowboat wall hanger for me. Following the farmers’ market, we checked out Viroqua’s stunning new library; remarkable for a small community.

Saturday afternoon we toured Organic Valley’s brand new service center in nearby Cashton. Jim is one of 400 workers. Outside and in, the staff-friendly, farm-motif blew my mind, including a three-story silo. An ancient Co-op farm tractor had been disassembled, its parts decorating the spiral stairway.

Organic Valley has grown from a local co-op founded in the 1980s by a handful of farmers to an international company with 700 employees. Last year’s sales topped a billion.

Following the service-center tour we drove to La Cross for lunch at the HoHot Mongolian Grill–a unique experience, including marshmallow s’mores roasted at the table. Ethan loaded up on pancakes.

Jim and Nan include Ethan in practically everything they do. He’s a fun kid, easy to be around. He teamed with me on evening table games. When conversation strays from kid interest, Ethan retreats to the couch with a book.

The drive down and back was Wisconsin autumn beautiful, lifting the spirit.

Life is so good, I get all worn out.

Old Grandpa Lloyd



Fall is a pensive time. Like spring, it is a transition. Unlike spring, we don’t think of fall as the dawning of fresh start. Rather it is the last hurrah before winter’s cold dreary night. The farther north you live the “night” part of the statement takes on a more concrete reality.

How interesting that we think of old age as our autumn years, but never winter. I guess that makes winter death. That’s too bad, because winter has its charms, even if it is cold and the days are shorter. Nevertheless I admit my own pensiveness about autumn. I pause longer, wonder if I should take a picture, and consider the brevity of it all, grateful that the trees, every year, save the best for last.

Young Grandpa Keith

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No more Grandpa Lloyd this week. We’re heading for Viroqua, Wisconsin to attend Grandparent’s Day at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School. We’ll honor Norma’s sixth-grade grandson Ethan.

One teacher stays with Pleasant Ridge students grade after grade, integrating traditional studies with in-depth exploration of other cultures, letting kids learn at their own pace. Not a computer, cell phone, or other electronic gadget in sight until upper grades. The brainchild of Austrian philosopher and social reformer Rudolf Steiner (1861-1950), I questioned the system until I studied the total curriculum, watched students and faculty interact, and saw the results in borrowed grandson Ethan. Grandma Norma bursts with pride. Grandpa Lloyd enjoys his borrowed grandson; particularly since some of his great-grands have started college.

This will be our third junket to one of Wisconsin’s loveliest areas. Situated below the reach of the last glacier, the gentle hills contrast with ice-sculpted regions to the north.  My fly-fishing arm twitches each time we cross the wandering, clear-flowing Kickapoo River.

Full report when we return home.

Old Grandpa Lloyd

Fall has Arrived

I was beginning to wonder if fall would come. Summer heat lingered long into September. As intently as I looked there were scant indications of changing leaves. I wondered if they would just just shrivel up and die with winter’s first onslaught. While I had my doubts about autumn, I had no worries that winter had forgotten us.

But it’s October and, just as it is supposed to be, there is enough change to take my first fall picture. The trees will be more colorful before they will be less, but it’s a good start. This is my house in the yellowing woods.House in the Woods

Young Grandpa Keith

Another Relapse: Heading for Rehab

I’m a lover of books; hold-in-your-hand books. I tried a Kindle during Elsie’s 16 months in hospice, but I missed the in-hand-book’s feel, smell, versatility, and ease of sharing.

I confess a hopeless addiction to Amazon Prime’s buy-with-one click. An uncontrollable twitch sets in whenever Amazon Books appears on my computer. A recent film clip about Leslie Leyland Fields’ new Crossing he Waters triggered a relapse.I’m really enjoying the hangover. I fired off this review to Amazon:

“If you are hankering for a great Alaska fishing yarn, hanker no more. Leslie Leyland Fields’ Crossing the Waters will feed that hanker like few books out there. Her skilled storytelling is spot on with the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the greatest salmon fishery on the planet.  I know; I’ve been there.

“Crossing the Waters is an honest book.  It mingles Alaskan and Palestinian waters seamlessly, refreshingly free from tiresome gospel platitudes. You’ll come away with a deeper understanding of what it means to follow the Master Fisherman. You will come to know four flawed, hardy fishing partners and gather a wealth of Galilean lore.

“Not interested in theology? Read Crossing Waters anyhow. Enjoy the stories and judge for yourself whether Leslie’s different take on Christianity makes sense.  It sure does to me. I’ll be adding more of her writings to my must-read pile.”

I look for books like Crossing the Waters, books that challenge my mind.

Here’s how I approach the work of a writer unknown to me: I check the publisher and author bio. I scan the foot or end notes, index, bibliography, cover blurbs and Table of Contents. If my adrenalin isn’t pumping, I set the book aside. Crossing the Seas scored 10 in every category.

I suggest you visit and Leslie’s Facebook page. If you like what you see, order Crossing the Waters. I guarantee you’ll love it. Maybe we can launch a Hole News book club and share thoughts.

Old Grandpa Lloyd