Cinder

Cinder: (n) a small piece of partly burned coal or wood that has stopped giving off flames

I really did not want to complain, even though I was quite capable of doing so.

After all, I was just a kid. If you tell a kid he’s complaining, he’ll explain that you never listen to him, and he’s “sharing his feelings” as you snuff them.

Here’s my story:

One day at church camp one of the more energetic counselors decided we should take a hike through the woods. He had sought out a trail and measured it at 1.2
miles. His contention was that “anybody should be able to do that.”

I apparently had not joined the “anybody family”–not even related. I had chubby legs that moved slower, reluctant to leave space between my sole and the ground.

On top of that, we could not have been more than twenty yards into the trip when my right foot started to hurt. I apparently was grimacing in some pain, because the zealous counselor came back and told me I needed to step up the pace–otherwise there was a danger the other kids would start making fun of me, and even though he would hate for me to be bullied, he did not know what would happen once the lights went out in the cabins.

Not knowing what that meant but sufficiently alarmed, I soldiered on. Every step hurt.

When we finally arrived at camp after the 1.2 miles, I had broken out in a sweat, was ready to pee my pants and fell to the ground like a sack of rotten potatoes.

I reached down, took off my sneaker (which is what we called them back then) and a tiny pebble-like substance fell out of my shoe. Apparently the night before, when we were sitting around the campfire and I removed my shoes to warm my feet by the flames, I had acquired a cinder in my footwear.

I had walked 1.2 miles on that cinder, leaving a sore spot which upon further inspection, was bleeding.

I did not try to make anyone feel bad, but the counselor did that all on his own.

All I remember is that I was required to put my foot up on a pillow during Vespers and the counselor, who was dwelling in a wilderness of guilt, toasted all my marshmallows and brought them to me. (He got a little grumpy when I complained they were not cooked all the way through, but got over it.)

Even today I have to remind myself that people who have a crooked walk, or have difficulty being what I would consider “righteous,” may be overcoming cinders of burnt-out experiences that I can’t even imagine.

 

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Cavort

Cavort: (v) to jump or dance around excitedly.

There was a time in my life when I did not feel as if I was having fun unless I had completely lost control.

I remember being twelve years old and arriving at church camp, running into the cabin, knocking over all my friends and wrestling on the
floor as the counselor looked on in horror at the tangling, giggling mass of melee.

That’s back when I had more energy than brains.

I had more naughty ideas than I did conscience.

And I felt if every part of my body was not moving toward pleasure, I was cheating myself out of the joys of being young.

I cavorted–I really did.

And I’m not so old that I’ve forgotten the sheer random joy of the endeavor. Even in discovering my sexuality, doing it in the back seat of a Mustang made it much more dangerous and therefore, appealing. (Nowadays, I couldn’t even get into the back seat of a Mustang.)

We become better adults when we remember the joys of cavorting, recalling those times when saving our energy was not necessary… because it seemed limitless.

 

 

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Burgundy

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Burgundy: (n) a deep red color

I’ve spent much of my life wondering if I am focused or obsessive. It may be impossible to get an accurate meter from anyone else on the issue due to their prejudice. But let me let you decide.

When I was twelve years old I had a little singing group. We all ended up going to church camp together, and after several strategic “nags,” I was able to convince the counselor to allow us to sing an a capella number before vespers.

Now, the evening vespers time at this particular church camp was about a half-mile hike up a big hill.

I bring this into the conversation because I had decided that our singing group should dress up for the occasion in these new shirts we had purchased, which were deep burgundy in color, and made out of some sort of acetate that resembled velvet. They were also long-sleeved.

The day arrived for us to sing, and it was about 90 degrees outside, but by the time of vespers, it had gloriously cooled to 85.

My friends wanted to wear t-shirts and shorts, but I insisted that we maintain our plan and climb the huge hill in our burgundy, long-sleeved, unforgiving shirts.

Being the largest member of our group, I labored, I wheezed, I panted, and I perspired like a man on the gallows.

When I got to the top and it was time to sing, I spent the entire song wiping my face with my hand and dropping the moisture to the ground beneath me. (One of my buddies got so warm that he swooned. Fortunately, he was bolstered by the baritone.)

The other kids looked on with a combination of amusement and admiration. We finished our song and our tenor screamed aloud, “I can’t take it anymore!” and ripped his shirt off, casting it to the side, sitting with his naked top, much to the chagrin of a nearby counselor.

Needless to say, I received a lecture the following day, from several members of the staff, about appropriate attire for vespers.

To this day, I cannot see the color burgundy without breaking out into a cold sweat.

 

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Bugle

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Bugle: (n) a brass instrument like a small trumpet, typically without valves

The reason “silence is golden” is that talking ends up costing you so much that you can go bankrupt.

I learned this as a young boy when I went to church camp. I had just begun playing trumpet in the junior high band and had miracuDictionary Blously won first chair, so was over-confident and convinced I was some sort of great trumpet player. (I could mention names but since they’re all dead and gone, you would not remember them anyway.)

Arriving at church camp, one of the counselors pulled an old bugle out of a closet. It was once used at the facility to awaken the camp to the morning Reveille.

He thought it would be rather clever to continue the tradition, and when he asked if anyone played the bugle, my hand shot straight up in the air and I volunteered. Actually I volunteered for two separate missions: 1) being the first one to wake up in the morning, and 2) playing a horn which has no valves and therefore demands that your mouth provide the impetus for pitch.

I had never played a bugle.

So I went off to a wooded section of the camp, far from everybody, and attempted to blow it. I don’t know if it was just that the instrument was old and dented, or if bugles are secretly implements of torture, but it took everything I had to get a sound out of it, and felt like I had deposited my lung into the mechanism.

That night at vespers, the counselor announced that I would be playing bugle in the morning to wake everyone up.

And wake them up I did.

But it did not sound like the traditional tune but rather, the mating call of the Canadian goose. Let me add this detail–the Canadian goose if he had been wounded by buckshot.

The first day everyone encouraged me and said it was delightful.

The second day, no one said anything to me.

The third day, I began to get a series of frowns and a couple of nasty notes on my bunk pillow.

And amazingly, when I rose on the fourth morning, the bugle was missing.

We searched the entire campgrounds diligently–or at least it appeared we did–and the bugle was never found.

Everyone acted disappointed.

I don’t think they were.

I actually thought, on Day 3, that at one point I played a note.

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Bosom

Bosom: (n) a woman’s chest

Chuckles.Dictionary B

Yes, fond memories of giggling at church camp every time we sang the song, “Rock-a my soul in the bosom of Abraham.”

Three or four of us guys would purposely sing the word “bosom” louder–until a couple of the preachers would move to sit on our row, threatening us with some form of pending damnation.

I was so young that the mention of the word “bosom” could arouse my Southern Hemisphere. And I wasn’t even around girls who had bosoms. But I knew they were in training–bras, that is.

I also found myself staring at the full-fledged bosoms of women who were a little older, but not so old that you felt like a pervert thinking about them. I was twelve years old and I was under the spell of the bosom.

The female bosom is still a symbol of great passion, focus and exaggerated attention.

Maybe it’s because none of us were particularly ready to stop sucking on them when they stuck a bottle in our mouth.

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Ball

Ball: (n) a solid or hollow sphere or ovoid, especially one that is kicked, thrown, or hit in a game.Dictionary B

Thirteen years old is such a fussy, giggly time.

I was at church camp and one of the counselors had forgotten to bring balls for us to play.

First of all, being thirteen years of age, when the counselor announced that we didn’t have balls for us to play with, we all had to giggle uncontrollably. (You see, that’s the problem with the word “ball.” It has so many meanings that it’s nearly meaningless.)

But anyway, back to my story.

So when it was announced that we were “balless” (hee-hee) we thought that this adult standing in front of us was going to go out and acquire us … balls. (This article is doubling over with double-entendres…)

Anyway, he didn’t.

I don’t know whether he was lazy, or figured there would be some sort of other entertainment for us that wouldn’t require balls. (Oh, my God…)

So in frustration we began a great search across the campgrounds. After about an hour and a half, in a ditch outside of the cafeteria, we found an old basketball that obviously had been discarded, which was about halfway filled with air.

In other words, it was still round, but did not bounce. When we tried to bounce it, it more or less splatted.

But this became our ball for the week.

Since no other circular objects of play were afforded us, we changed the rules of every sport to use what was provided.

So our basketball game, rather than being a dribbling affair, became more like football, where one would run toward the goal, knocking people over, and then shoot it and try to rebound and catch it before it haplessly squatted to the earth.

So by the end of the week, we had discovered that the most logical way to use our hampered ball was to play game after game of kickball.

I cannot tell you how sad we were on Day Four, when the kicked and abused sphere sported a gash and lost its remaining air of life.

As important as it is to have a ball, it is much more important to have air in it.

Somewhere within, there’s a lesson for life, but since I am desperately trying to get out of this awkward column … I will let you draw your own conclusions.

 

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Antipathy

dictionary with letter A

Antipathy: (n) a deep-seated dislike or aversion.

“Let’s take a vote!”

It was the scream that rattled a van I was traveling in many years ago with a bunch of kids from a church camp. Yes, any time any subject was brought up concerning the day’s activities or where we were going to eat, the children suddenly became democratic.

I wanted to be open-minded.

I wanted to be considered one of the “cool adults.” So I gave into the notion that the kids should have a right to determine their favorite projects and preferred tasty treats.

After traveling, playing and eating like this with a bunch of pre-teens for four days, I was not only constipated from the food choices, but also completely exhausted from absolutely meaningless activity.

The only thing I achieved was getting an extra ice-cream bar given to me by the collective horde for being the coolest counselor at the camp.

But unfortunately, the other adults at the camp were not nearly as impressed with my loose leadership.

I will tell you of a certainty that this problem is not limited to younger folks who have not yet discovered the purpose of life. For please consider–there are just some things on our journey that are not up for voting or discussion.

1. Loving people.

I don’t want to hear you tell me how hard it is to do or how you’ve been cheated or how you believe that God really would like to kill some folks. Here’s the end of the discussion: God loves people, and if you want to get anywhere near God, you’d better go along with His idea.

2. “I don’t want to change.”

That is most unfortunate. Maybe when we get done changing, we can give an ear on why it frustrates you. But showing up in a world that is structures through evolution and deciding that you’re not going to change is demanding that your hard head be forcibly cracked open.

Things are going to change and the only way you gain any control is by getting ahead of it instead of having the wheels of progress roll over your ribcage.

3. “I’m busy.”

No, you’re not. And the best way to become overwhelmed is to think you’re busy because then you’ll slow up and end up procrastinating, creating more work for tomorrow, which causes you to appear completely inept.

I am astounded at how much I get done when I don’t take the time to discuss how much it is.

So those are three things that can’t be voted on by our childish whim. In other words, some things need to be left alone and pursued with all of our passion, because believe it or not…they’re just right.

 

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