What a great time Christmas is! Have you ever noticed how much more cheerful people are? Don't we wish that everyone could be that way all year long? The children percolate joy like beams of golden light in anticipation, while the adults bask in the glow. It's great to be home for Christmas!
Has not Christmas become for most of us a "Saturday Evening Post magazine," "Norman Rockwell" cover picture of what it should be? Home for Christmas! The image conjures up a beautiful living room, a well-decorated tree, gifts stacked around the base, a huge turkey, dressing, and all of the trimmings, and all of the family there. Of course, a real gift of Christmas is having the family together. Many begin planning their gifts for others even as early as August. While the Christmas consumers begin their lists, and accumulating their money, the merchants order their products, hoping that Christmas will bring gifts to their cash registers, and black ink to their bottom lines.
For many, who work in the retail system, Christmas means many hard hours of extra work, evenings and weekends. How about the convenience store clerks (the modern replacement for the old corner grocery store), who have to work all holidays? Will they be home for Christmas?
Does not loneliness walk the halls with the doctor, nurse, or hospital worker on Christmas Eve, who are not "home"? Death and disease never take a holiday on this earth, do they? And, the third part of that terrible trio, despair, keeps the therapists and psychologists busy at Christmas? A discouraging statistic, is that the suicide activity curve always takes a dramatic jump during the Holidays. How morbid, but a fact of life. Why?
The hurtling projectile, streaking through the stratosphere on Christmas Eve takes pilots, stewards, stewardesses, and passengers, in many cases to companionship at a Bar far from home, and maybe a lonely institutional meal. And, how about our citizens in the military?
Many of these will not be "home for Christmas." Consider those who have not even jobs or money to celebrate Christmas. Some do not even have a family or home in which "to be home at Christmas." Some will celebrate a hot Christmas meal at a soup kitchen, and return to their cardboard home under a bridge somewhere.
We develop this rush for belonging and family at Christmas as if it will cure all of our problems for the year, and at last bring meaning to our existence, by exhaustively networking love to our family and friends.
Of course, I think all of the Christmas "hoopla" is great fun,
and our many traditions bind us together in a very unique and marvelous
way. As I already mentioned, the children make it all
worthwhile. But, this search for our life
meaning, just more points out the poignant truth, that all mankind is
born with this huge spiritual empty spot within our being, that causes
us to develop huge psychological social systems, that let us hide from
the truth about where "home" really is!
The genuine meaning of Christmas, is about a small baby, born 1,997 years ago, which represented the awesome miracle of the Almighty God of the ages, come to earth in the form of a human, just like us, with the "good news" message - "Peace on Earth, to men of good will!!!
"When we take this message into our being, that awful "empty spot" will be filled, and wherever we are, and whoever we are with, and whatever our circumstances, we will always and forever be "home for Christmas."
Have a Blessed Christmas my friends.
The first ray of light broke the apex of the horizon casting its' brilliance on the sentries posted on the walls of the Alamo, on this ominous morning of March 6, l836. The morning mists floated on the ground. Crickets chirped, birds sang and roosters crowed. Dew had settled on the grasses. The moment between dayspring and morning lingered and then slowly but visibly succumbed to attack by the warm southern March sun.
182 "Paladins" were huddled inside the old abandoned mission, braced for the onslaught, knowing they were not to be reinforced and were to die soon. These 182, were a rag-tag bunch, with representatives from most of the U.S. states, many European nations, as well as local citizens of Mexico, of anglo and hispanic origin.
The "Napolean of the West," Santa Anna, commanded the "cream" of his battle-hardened, army, which had been acclaimed by military experts in Europe. The Mexican Emperors pride had been injured by the thrashing of his occupation force, garrisoned in San Antonio, and led by his brother-in-law General Cos'.
After the jubilant Texicans and Tejanos drove General Cos' out of San Antonio and took over his garrison and cannons, the irate Emperor set march from Mexico, calling in an estimated force of 6,000 from their various positions around Mexico. Leading his "old guard," he arrived at the Alamo and positioned this awesome arriving force of 4,000 (plus) of his most excellent guard, and was intent on crushing these vagabonds barricaded in the old mission at San Antonio, and any others, who had the audacity to oppose him. This morning Mexican trumpets blared the haunting notes of "Deguello" (no quarter). After days of siege, the "paladins" had listened to "Deguello" every day, calling its message of sure death out to them until they surely would wish to arrest it from their hearing. The sound of it must rung through their minds like a disharmonious bell, over and over. The red flag flew from a tall building in the City and was visible from the ramparts of the Alamo, signaling the "Deguello" (no quarter) of Santa Anna policy toward them. Now, they knew their fight would be to the death.
With dawn fully broken on this Providentially eventful day, Santa Anna launched in waves all 4,000 of his regulars at the 182. The English muskets used by the Mexicans, with good marksmanship could hit accurately at 100 yards. The mass of Mexican troops were shaken when they approached 300 yards, and the fingers of fire from the Alamo Kentucky and Tennessee "long rifles" reached out and wrapped around their throats.
The Tennesseans and Kentuckians, led by the former U.S. Congressman David Crockett, targeted the Mexican Officers on their horses. Silent death (silent because the crack of the flintlock and the charge of the ball was long silent before the ball struck home) gripped the officers, some 200+ yards beyond the range of their own muskets and pulled them savagely off their horses, wounded and possibly dying. Mexican history tells us that the superior officers had to threaten the replacing junior officers with their lives to get them to remount and lead the first wave. The rifle accuracy and rapid flintlock fire of these men, both local and American immigrants, was something these rugged, battle-proven Mexicans had never encountered. The Texicans also fired with precision and decimated the troops, until, by the third and final wave the soldiers had to cover ground so thick with the dead and dying bodies of their own, that they had to walk on the bodies of others in order to attack. By the time the battle was over, and these l82 were dead, the course of history was changed. One thousand, six hundred (1,600) of the cream of Santa Anna's army was dead, with another 500 wounded, to be left behind in San Antonio. The Emperor won that day, but the physical and psychological wounds to his forces would prove to be mortal. The average Mexican troop was an inducted peasant from a Mexican rural village. Generally, these simple peasants were serving next to their brothers, cousins, uncles, fathers and neighbors. The grief of this loss coupled with the shock of being forced to march into the withering fire of the long rifles must have been immediate and excruciatingly intense.
The Mexican troops expected to find 400 to 500 Texicans in the old mission. But when the dust settled and the last were executed, the Mexican troop's journals and later historical accounts show that as the impact of the realization of the devastation wrought on the mexicans by such a surprisingly small band of men, the troops went into a killing frenzy, lifting the bodies up on their fixed bayonets and stabbing and shooting them repeatedly. Their minds could not grasp that this "182" inflicted the dreadful carnage the troops had just waded through.
You see, the long rifles were firing and reloading every 90 seconds, a rate that the Mexican troops were not aware could be done. They had assumed that for every Texican on the wall there was one or two reloading the flintlocks in support.
There was a mind havoc or spiritual loss that took place among the troops. Today, our military calls it a "morale problem." Drawn from the annals of Mexican history itself is the story of the legend born that day of the legend of "Los Diablos Tejanos", the blue-eyed giants who "fought with the fury of the Devil himself and who would haunt Mexican folklore for generations (source - From Sea to Shining Sea, Peter Marshall). It was with this mind-set, on April 21, that (although Santa Anna thought he had Sam Houston trapped at San Jacinto, it was quite the opposite) when 900-1000 Texicans and Sam Houston charged at them, then only 1200-1500 (the numbers and accounts vary) strong, the Mexican's minds flashed back to only six weeks before to what the "Diablos Tejanos" had done to them at the Alamo.
As per General Houston's instructions, Deaf Smith rode in furiously to Buffalo Bayou as the men formed the line, informed the men he had blown "Vincent's Bridge." Smith screamed, "fight for your lives boys, there's no way out." Actually, the General sent Smith to blow the bridges so he could trap Santa Anna, but he told Smith to use it as psychology on his own troops.
As General Sam exhorted the men, he rode up and down the line, preparing the men's minds for battle. He told them to remember what the Mexicans did to their friends at the Alamo (no quarter, deguello), and remember the massacre of their compatriots at Goliad. Sam Houston was indestructible that day, as if anointed by Providence. Six feet four inches tall, mounted on his white charger, sword drawn, riding up and down the line, back and forth - exhorting the men. Remember the attitude of the Texicans. They knew the Emperors policy was "deguello". They knew that they were dead men unless they won. They knew their farms and homes had been burnt and destroyed by the Emperor or would be if they lost. The community in Tejas was small then and they all had someone they knew who was freshly dead because of the Emperor's actions in what they believed to be their home. They desired this fight as much as any soldier has desired a battle in history. They had nowhere to go, nowhere to run. It was their destiny at this time in history to stand and fight or die. This they knew as a certainty. The Emperor would allow no clemency.
The twin sisters (the cannon's of the Texicans) fired at near point blank range. Within 300 yards, the men charged at Houston's command, and the stunned Mexicans aroused from their siestas and returned cannon fire. General Sam's horse was shot from under him, and unharmed, he commandeered another. That horse was shot from under him also and this time his heel was shattered by a musket ball or grape shot, filling his boot with blood. Against the advice of his men, the General took a third horse and had his men lift him on it and disregarding the excruciating pain from the pressure of the stirrup on his crushed heel and blood filled boot, he continued charging the camp, sword in hand.
Now, the Mexican troops, hundreds of miles from home, tired, and in a land where they were not sure of their purpose, suddenly were now following a "fallible" leader whose military brilliance was beginning to tarnish in their eyes. They were awakened from their siesta, startled to see 900-1000 "Los Diablos Tejanos," the "Devil Texicans", a thousand yards abreast, stretching across the buffalo bayou plain, running at them, with muskets and knives in each hand, screaming blood-curdling yells, along with "remember the Alamo, and Goliad." It doesn't take much imagination to feel the terror of these Mexican soldiers, does it? Surely after such a short time of the shell shock of the battle of the Alamo, the sight of the charge brought flashbacks of the recent agony of the Alamo battle. They were not fighting for home and family. Some were fiercely loyal to the Emperor, but most were average peasants who just wanted to return home to their families. Most probably did not even care about the politics involved. They only knew that a ridiculously small group of 182 had just decimated their army, and killed many of their close friends and family members at the Alamo. There had been no battle at Goliad to speak of. It was just a surrender and slaughter of the Texicans. And now, to their horror, out of nowhere, they were confronted again by the "Devil Texicans", who were coming at them at full speed and were only a couple of hundred yards away with minimal fortifications between them.
After a brave initial resistance, they turned and fled, and this time it was the Texicans who did the massacring. When the gunsmoke cleared and the prisoners were rounded up, General Sam's report was 630 Mexican dead, and 700 prisoners taken, including Santa Anna (source - Lone Star, Fehrenbach). General Sam Houston reported only two killed and twenty-four wounded, of which six would die later.
Can you not imagine Houston, with the grapeshot and bone fragments partially removed from his foot, his boot cut off and his foot crudely wrapped, assisted by two of his men, with a makeshift crutch to survey the battlefield one last time as the huge red sun hung on the horizon. I can, because at dusk, "General Sam" history and posterity has quoted him as saying "now the bugles (Deguello) are silent. Texas is ours."
You know the rest. The proud Republic of Texas became a state in l845, which precipitated the war between U.S. and Mexico. And you know that the result of that war deeded the bulk of the Pacific West to the U.S., finalizing the "Manifest Destiny" of the United States to reign from sea to shining sea.
T.R. Fehrenbach wrote, "Although no one quite knew when the red sun went down (on that day at San Jacinto) on April 21, l836, the balance of power in Texas had turned. The American West was won." (Lone Star, Fehrenbach)
*THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION...
I really appreciate all of the folks that put their time in researching items, they felt were important, about Ann Richards as Governor. The letters were very interesting. I just love an exchange of ideas, and differences of opinion, as long as they are friendly. Iris' and Mona's letter was especially tastefully written.
Remember, I also slammed Clements and White for their failure to have the vision to avoid leaving us in the mess they did on school financing. Personally, I consider that we could have done a lot better in the Governor's job than Clements, White or Richards. Who I don't know, but I pray to God that there are better out there. John Connally was the last visionary in the governor's office, to date. And, you should know that I consider the fact that a major political party could nominate Clayton Williams for the top elected post in this state to be a real problem with our political process. I am not a happy camper concerning the quality of people in the top state political jobs, regardless of party. There are exceptions, but I lament the lack of honesty and vision at all levels. But let's keep trying. The higher we raise the level of the exchange of ideas, the better the chance for democracy to work!*IT'S NOT QUITE GOODBYE.......
In the last four years I have become involved in many things. Here are some of them. I ran for City Council and was elected. I joined the Pleasanton Noon Lions Club and work with them. I am on the MHMR Advisory Board. I helped reorganize ACT and am now an officer, once again. I revived the Cowboy Homecoming Western play with the support of ACT, and directed it last year, and will do the same this year. I am a member of Pleasanton Lodge 283. I am on the board of ACEDC, and head of the new business committee. I am an officer of "Friends of the Library". I am president of, and helped organize, the new Atascosa Com¬munity Band, and am convinced you will find the band to be a great asset to the county in the months to come. Working with David Wilkerson, I have been assisting to develop an organization (P.L.A.Y.) totally devoted to helping the youth, with programs and facilities. You will hear more from them. I am trying to be an activist Mayor - researching animal control options; going to seminars; working on airport development; encouraging a common sense approach to street renovation; appealing for and receiving a $250,000 drainage grant for the city; working for economic development; working very hard to develop a summer recreation program; developing unity among the Tri - Cities; working hard to build a community base for youth services and facilities; working to develop a subdivision ordinance for growth control; working to develop a new condemnation ordinance to clean up our town, pushing to re - energize our park board, to rename it the "River and Park Board" to research the vision we can have for our river; working to develop a commission on tourism; and - more.
Many thanks to David Wilkerson and the "Pleasanton Express" for allowing this column to run for two years. They have been a great publisher. But, it is time to stop. The weekly deadlines are really tough, with all other civic involvement.
Finally, a big thanks for listening. It has been fun! Ciao; adios; sayonara; arrivederci; aloha; and - shalom. God go with you, my friends!!!
Ascending and climbing, life's juices aflow.
High with hopes, players we all,
Dancers as one to the music enthrall.
In hope we clutch one another,
Ignoring the truth, with sweet
The tempo jumps, the figures blur,
Discordant strains peer over our shoulder.
Faster! Faster! Our senses shriek!
Touching, holding, ... no time to speak.
Whispering...turbulent thoughts unkind,
Race across the channels of the mind.
We touch, we part, we touch again,
Stop the music! Is there no end?
Our load within, such fear and vanity,
We streak along the narrow halls of sanity.
What is life for? What does - - - - it mean?
Why . . . . dance the dance if we've not seen?
Of the Light, the angels turn, watch and listen.
So young, the new father, all bright with joy,
To touch, to kiss, to feel the skin of his skin,
Turn his devotion to care, and in caring, a dope.
Silly over the children, his life renewed.
And, now the big baby boy is born,
The father is truly stunned in awe.
Then the little baby girl, so new,
They give the father life afresh.
A father's treat, each child, such a joy.
Gifts from God, a boy and a girl.
How he loved the father back, the boy,
The girl with bright eyes, loved him, too.
Each one the father loved so true.
Would give his life to, just once,
Return and hold their small hands.
To feel their love on his face once more.
My children, when you love your own children,
You will see how your father loved you.
Worried and fretting over each frown, each bruise,
Rushing to hold and kiss and soothe.
You were, open mouthed, spilling golden laughter.
Dancing lights, mirrored on sparkling teeth,
You were small packages of a fathers love,
Such you were, and so much more.
A cool breeze, a sparkling brook,
A forestal sunbeam in a cool glen,
Glinting through the boughs
Filling the room with a bright glow
So bright was the glow, it did glisten,
The old ones, they stopped to turn, watch and listen.
May 23, 2009
(Do you see me by the mausoleum's pillar, standing?)
A hasty kiss, such a delight...oh my...Such a plight!
With (the taste of) ecstasy lingering.
Every nerve tingling, my love swells at day's edge,
To care, a silent pledge.
Transcendent flight, ascending; (Do you see me flying?)
Descending, spiraling, downward; falling...falling...falling;
Into your eyes...Landing.
New found love, so sweet, with old hope does meet,
Luxuriating in (the discovery of) your being.
Exploring the spiritual caverns, Arcing from canyon to cove,
Savoring each nook and cranny, Merging with every fiber.
With unrestrained delight my love erupts as a million
Shooting stars to the very limits of the cosmos,
Each engraved with my love's name.
What? Can it be, in love forever, we?
You are my breath, my life, You inhale--I exhale,
You cry--I hurt.
For eons I have stalked the lonely corridors.
Searching from the foundation of the world.
Ending, coming to rest in you. Landing in your soul.
(Do you see me smiling?)
by Bob Hurley
Slowly comes clear...
Distant waters of hope now glint;
O'truth - hope swells, is
this our hint?
The "wise men" plant their seed...erudite folly;
Intoxicating but destructive philosophy.
In waves they send doubt - these sages; surely 'tis mad,
But you see, their great learning has made them sad.
Wait, be still!...now listen...a whisper;
what this - The Reason?
There is the One; so often.....out of season.
The One, in weakness, whose tears that fell,
Washed and made us well.
Yes, this dance of life is fraught;
The hurt, the sin.....we caught.
But now the Water radiates and lives,
A liquid fire that cleanses,
and Glory gives.
The promise is real - our spirit leaps!
We are His Glory, and if ... if you
Listen ... the Water speaks.
If being a DENOMINATIONAL Church means that we are part of the one true, Divine, Church of God then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being a NON-DENOMINATIONAL Church means that the only Church organization we recognize is the head of this local Body of believers - the Lord Jesus Christ, then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being a CATHOLIC Church means that we are part of the universal church of God, then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being a BIBLE OR FULL GOSPEL Church means that we do our very best to obey every scripture as the divinely inspired Word of God, then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being a COMMUNITY Church means that we welcome ALL who call on the Name of Jesus the Christ as Lord and Saviour to worship with us, then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being a CHARISMATIC Church means that we want to be alive, growing, and filled with the Holy Spirit -- then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being a CHRISTIAN Church means that we desire to be Christians only, then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being an EVANGELICAL Church means that we want to share the good news of our salvation with all the world--then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being a NEW TESTAMENT Church means that we try to do our very best to follow the teachings of Christ and His Apostles--then that's the kind of Church we are.
If being CHRIST'S CHURCH means that we want to be nothing more and nothing less than Christ's servants who meet here--then that's the kind of Church we are.
And, we must be a PRAYING and a WORSHIPING Church, because our prayers, praise and worship is what God wants from us.Bob Hurley
doing faraway deeds in a faraway land;
Sometimes I wish I was a politician,
exuding power from every pore;
Sometimes I wish I was a sculptor,
molding and forming a
Sometimes I wish I was a teacher,
sculpting students with
fingers of the mind;
Sometimes I wish I was a physician,
condescendingly healing the
halt and the lame;
Sometimes I wish I was a man of God,
ministering and healing the
weak in spirit;
Sometimes I wish I was God,
with the power to
make things right!
Sometimes..........I even wish I was me.
Charles Lee Hurley
Therefore always to give is no mistake.
We cannot be both silent and aware,
Not if at all we come to care.
Where is the beginning? Where is the end?
We ride the sky -- we race the silver wind.
We rearrange our souls in clouds, - poor clods...
And, failing this, we rearrange our gods.
Charles Lee Hurley
One and one are one and one,
As I am I, and you are you.
But, one and one is all alone.
One and one are never two, but one,
Except when we are two and touch;
when one and one are truly one,
Then, I am you - almost too much.
Charles Lee Hurley
Man draws between the points birth
Into the straight line love can swerve
The sharpest angle or the softest curve.
Charles Lee Hurley
But Noah's waters have subsided -
For Jesus walks where fear can toss,
And darkness rocks the heart divided.
Whose sparrow dazes half the day
Upon St Francis' bough of works?
Peter denies he knows the Way,
But one cock crows... the King of Birds.
Who breaks the holy bread of song
Which is the body of the Son?
Whose fishes feed the hungry throng -
Begging to consumed by One.
Why is it that the whale cannot
Savor the Jonah time has soured?
Where is the whale to swallow what
Cries out in vain to be devoured?
He comes once more on the midnight waves,
Sweet lost Leviathan of love;
He moves across the tossing graves,
- Now, the dead and drowned do hear his steps above.
Charles Lee Hurley
Uttering a music she had never heard.
His lips swirled gentle featherly kisses with stiffness
That made her swoon, the bright stiffness of swan.
(A gale assailed the lean peninsula
And keen high laughter leapt like hysteria
While lovers grappled apples and cried joy
Down Eden-soft dune-tunes sunbright with sand
Till dinosaurs came pounding wonder tales
Deep in the thundering seas of themselves.)
But when she thinks of the peninsula now
It squares in her memory like a great plaza,
And the east wind that sang at her wedding
Bells in her mind like a huge cathedral.
For the beach became actually the plaza, the park,
Because he sat beside her on that bench
Fumbling the various keys to love
Till, finally, finding none, he broke into
The locked sick cemetery of her soul,
Entered the gates and filled her empty tomb,
Dove-carved (Oh, did you hear them moan?) with life.
Charles Lee Hurley
But all men blessed with seeing must go blind;
What flies must fail and fall; what laughs must cry.
For gladness must come sadness to the mind,
Not that we die, but that we live alone.
Since neither death nor life is right or wrong,
Not that we love, but that our hearts are
stone walls that reverberate no joy, no song.
Old battlefields come back in lullabies,
And courage is born in beauty left behind,
God is renewed in every man with eyes,
In birdsong in green boughs - and for the blind,
In rush of wings and warmth of sun - He's there.
He is reborn in every man who dies
For back to Him earth turns, paths twist, roads wind.
There is but one death only; that's despair -
Not that we die - but that we do not care.
Charles Lee Hurley
October 24, l966
It seemed the sunlight golden sprawling
Belonged to me.
When first, I learned that trains go wailing
It seemed the whistle's far - off calling
Belonged to me.
When first, I saw success in failing
Could be found,
It seemed that light through darkness falling
Belonged to me.
Charles Lee Hurley
To face the bad, the mad, the sad insane,
To give always the best and keep the worst -
But with no fault, all virtue flies away.
To fling away the flesh for sake of soul,
Even the saint at times becomes obscene.
Against wild winds go the wild birds of Song -
In wars of will; rain and pain - tossed,
To lift with wings of melody - the day.
Charles Lee Hurley
November 25, l966
That threaded with me through the brambles, mud and
Was he my younger self, my shadow, my desire?
The stranger we encountered at the water's edge
Is not a stranger now. I have identified
His coming with my moveless shadow on the ledge.
I saw his steps come on like waves, and a wild tide
Of doubt and wonder shored on me. There at the start
Of day, there by the altar I have built, I cried,
Saying, "While yet the knife and flesh remain apart,
Call out to me, oh holy angel, 'Here am I!'
Call out and let me keep the Isaac of my heart."
But my voice found no answering cry,
And nowhere in the thicket stood the tangled ram.
There lies my shadow on the ledge, and here am I.
There lies my shadow on the ledge, and here I am.
Charles Lee Hurley