Cumberland Times-News


August 31, 2013

Here’s a good way to spend the afternoon

My thoughts as I wrote my name on the raffle ticket were these: “I’ll probably win this, because I have absolutely no use for it.”


A lady who goes to my church — Trinity Lutheran — was at the Keyser High Swingin’ Sixties reunion when they called my name.

She told me her thoughts were the same as mine, except that she added this idea: “I think I know where that’s going to wind up.”

Mine was: “I think I know where to find a good home for this.”

It was what they call a cornhole game. A beanbag toss, that is. This one was home-made by a friend of mine and painted with the Old Gold and Blue of the West Virginia Mountaineers.

It barely fit into my car, and that’s where it stayed until I drove to church the next day and dropped it off in our Sunday school room.

Some of the young’uns and a couple of older folks put it to good use for the first time at our church picnic last Sunday.

A number of young people attend our church regularly, which is a good thing, and we make them part of what we do.

They put on faith-oriented skits as part of our service, some of them help to serve Communion, and there are other activities they take on with great enthusiasm.

One of my buddies is a skilled carpenter who has made a fort and other props for them ... including Jonah’s whale.

I’ve told friends who grew up in that church when I did that if it involved youngsters like this when we were kids, I probably wouldn’t have stayed away for 30 years.

That said, if my mindset had been different back then, I might never have left. (Goldy’s Rule 148: When you blame other people for your problems, you’re failing to assign any of the fault to the person who’s probably most responsible — yourself.)

About 80 people of all ages showed up for our picnic, some from Trinity, some from our sister parish — Mount Calvary in Westernport.

Two fellows who come to Trinity from Romney showed up, after a more-or-less frantic e-mail exchange on Sunday morning asking for directions to our pavilion at Dan’s Mountain State Park.

This is a beautiful park, and the pavilion we occupy sits near the top of the hill, where you have a panoramic view that’s just amazing ... what the bureaucrats and other buzzword-speakers would call a “viewshed.”

However, finding it can be a challenge if you haven’t been there before. There’s a road to the park off U.S Route 220 near Rawlings, but it doesn’t go all the way to the pavilion.

The way I take, off State Route 36 in Lonaconing, can be just as confusing. There are all sorts of side roads and ... well, just go straight up the hill past the cemetery and turn right at the swimming pool sign.

Some of those who go to our church and attend the picnic are among my closest friends, and that’s the way it should be.

The way we look at it, the church is not the building in which we worship. The church consists of the people who gather in the building or, for that matter, a pavilion in a state park or anywhere else.

As Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 (NRSV): “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” My feeling is that even if there is only one of you, He is there, too, especially at the times when you are feeling the most alone.

Church, wherever it is, is a time for fellowship as well as worship. You sit and talk, learn about each other and share what we call our “joys and concerns.”

One family has a new puppy, four months old, a cross between a Pit Bull and nobody knows what else. She may have some Golden Retriever blood, and her muzzle puts you in mind of a German Shepherd Dog.

She is a rescue, and the mildest, most even-tempered puppy you’d want — even tolerating the ear-tugging and a tiny hand that a little girl wanted to keep putting in her mouth.

“She’s a bit shy,” said her mistress. I said that’s something she’ll get over eventually, considering all the affection that will be directed her way.

Rescued dogs that are exposed to kindness and love usually turn out to be the best of all (the same can be said of rescued people), and our two little churches are good places to find such things.

We had hot dogs and hamburgers, fixed on the grill by a man and his son I call “Brother,” and the other folks brought all sorts of good things.

Another brother at my picnic table asked if I had tried his wife’s salsa. He gave me a sample of it, loaded into a small corn-chip cup.

“This is the worst stuff I ever put in my mouth,” I told him. “Tell you what: I’ll take half of it home, and you take the other half. That way nobody else will have to eat it.” He laughed and said that was a good idea.

It was fresh, juicy and tasty, so good that I had two helpings of it, six cuplets at a time, eating the last one after I’d had my dessert.

Some men are fortunate: They marry women who are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside — women who love children and become wonderful mothers, and on top of that ... THEY CAN COOK.

I have told this one she reminds me of my own mother, in a lot of ways. She loved my mother, and this knocks her out.

One of these days, I’m going to tell her husband (of whom I am equally fond) that I’ve known her a lot longer than he has, and it’s just a good thing for him that I was the same age as her parents and have been friends with them for decades.

He’ll know I’m saying that in the same tone I used to describe his wife’s salsa  ... which I probably am.

We sang a couple of hymns while another of my brothers played the acoustic guitar.

Pastor Sally gave us a good message that was inspired by the Gospel and what she saw in the movie “Elysium” (an elite few live in luxurious orbit in the future around an overpopulated, overpolluted and impoverished planet Earth ... a condition it’s not far from today).

I spent some time talking with old friends and getting to know other folks I now consider new friends.

There may be better ways to pass a Sunday, but right now I cannot think of them.

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