Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

29 February, 2012

SCIENCE SURVEY SKEWED ON TRUST QUESTION

The Science and Scientific American Magazines group has produced a rather alarming report on a survey of the public's trust of authority figures.  On a scale of one to five, with five being the most trustworthy, people were asked who would provide accurate information on a range of scientific issues. Surprisingly (maybe not too surprisingly), the results showed that scientists are highly regarded, while religious authorities are deeply distrusted.

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Before getting too carried away with the results of the survey, however, it has to be understood that it was taken from readers of Nature and Scientific America.  This type of sampling bias is rather suspect.  It would have been more telling if the general public had been asked for views on the authorities in question, since science fans would certainly tend to rate scientists most highly.  One reviewer suggested that it was rather like posting a poll about the greatest musician of the age on a Justin Bieber fan site.

The evolution debate has been a hot topic for more than a century, however, and it is not all that surprising that "informed" people are comfortable with the views of pro-evolution scientists.  The rest of the report discussed more details of international views on various issues, and mostly they are positive.  Just keep in mind that these data are from a well-educated and science-friendly audience, and probably are not representative of citizens as a whole.

I cannot leave this post without posing the question: Does evolution really contradict creationism?  There are two parts to creationism.  Evolution, specifically common descent, tells us how life came to where it is today, but does not say why.  If the question is whether evolution disproves the basic theme of the biblical Genesis, that God created the world and the life in it, the answer is no.

Evolution cannot say exactly why common descent chose the paths that it did.  If the question is whether evolution contradicts a literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis as an exact historical account, then it does.  This is the main, and for the most part only, point of conflict between those who believe in evolution and those who put their faith in creation.

The scientist-slanted survey did a disservice to "religious authorities" in unfairly tarring them with the distrust brush.

26 February, 2012

IT'S HARD TO BE HUMBLE WHEN I'M THE BEST ME

As I contemplated my navel this morning (actually I was shaving and looking in the bathroom mirror), for some reason or other I wondered how it would feel to know that I was the world's best at something -- anything.  I really do not know who decides such things other than media commentators or, in some cases, the Guinness World Book of Records; but the title "World's Best" must carry with it a hauntingly mixed bag of emotions such as pride, satisfaction, pressure to maintain excellence, inevitability of someone in the wings poised to overtake you and the stress of meeting public expectations.

I have often thought that it would be nice to just once be "the best" at something -- a writer (Ernest Hemingway), an actor (Clark Gable), an athlete (Joe DiMaggio) or a singer (Frank Sinatra).  Oh I know, being the best is not always what it is cracked up to be and that it is lonely being at the top, but wouldn't it be comforting to just for a day look down at those on the bottom?  When you are the world's best, I'm sure that it is hard to be humble but golly, given periodic states of smugness, I'm sure that I would be up to the task.

I think that we all have had times when we fantasized about excelling at something and for many of us, that may be a good thing in that it can serve as motivation to keep striving to be the best that we can be.  Some wise "unkownymous" once said it best:  "Why compare yourself with others?  No one in the entire world can do a better job of being yourself than you."

You can take all the Ernest Hemingways, Clark Gables, Joe DiMaggios and Frank Sinatras in the world, but none of them can be a better Dick Wright.  God gave me a corner on the market.

Now finally, I realize that there is something I can be very good at, maybe even the best in the world.  If there is anyone out there who can be a better me than me, let he/she step forward.  I dare you!

As far as I am concerned, even with all my warts, wrinkles and borderline abilities, I am the supreme me.

Now that I think about it, it feels kind of good up here too, looking down as I do.  One problem though.  I don't see any other me's down there.  Guess that makes me unique -- and it doesn't get any better than that!.

24 February, 2012

WRITER HEAL THYSELF AS YOU WOULD OTHERS

I am a great one for giving advice through my writing on Wrights Lane.  Sometimes I think that I should concentrate more on giving advice to myself.  But, then again, maybe much of the time I am doing exactly that, albeit indirectly.

I know that opening salvo requires some explanation.

There have been countless times when I have been stressed or down in the dumps for some reason.  Just recently for instance, I have been struggling with a feeling of helplessness as I await a diagnosis on a prolonged, debilitating hip problem that I have been enduring.  Will I require surgery?  Will I be laid up for an extended period of time? In view of Rosanne's disability, who will provide required assistance during recuperation?  After so many years as a care-giver, will the role now be reversed for me?

Most of us, I'm sure, have days when we feel alone and exasperated, overloaded and unappreciated; when the many balls that we keep in the air aren't noticed, let alone rewarded; when dragging ourselves out of bed in the morning requires the determination of Hercules.  It is at times like this when any health problems tend to be magnified.

As I think about it now, sharing with others reminds me that I'm not experiencing life in a vacuum.  That other people have problems.  Other people have feelings.  Other people do not have all the answers either.  It reminds me that I am human and that we are all trying to buoy each other where ever possible.  That we are supporting one another while working through our "stuff".  It reminds me that I do not have to be perfect before I can help others because, instead it is my imperfection that bonds me to others.

I am reminded too that I am not supposed to weather storms all on my own, and sharing how I feel always lessens my emotional load.  Expressing it to someone else who may be undergoing the same thing, makes it seem less weighty.  That is exactly the concept behind "misery enjoys company."  It is my experience that misery is not the only emotion that covets company -- they all do in one way or another.

The force that guides the stars also guides each and every one of us because we are, or will, go through similar experiences.  Being able to share in this way is a beautiful thing.  Only trouble is that many times we choose to keep it bottled up inside.

I am of the opinion that we should be more expressive.  We should not be alone  in our experiences.  We need to understand that we are never alone or helpless -- even when we have hip problems and the future is a bit cloudy.

19 February, 2012

TAKE CONTROL OF INNER POWERS YOUNG GUYS

I have written about this before, but in my earlier years (between the ages 14 and 24) I was under the naive and mistaken impression that life was pretty much predestined.  I thought that all you had to do was just wait for things to happen and for opportunities to almost magically present themselves.  What did I know?  No one ever told me otherwise.

Quite honestly, I spent the first quarter of my life living in some kind of dream land, not understanding that I was wasting the most important and formative period of my life on fantasies -- a time when I should have been focusing on, and preparing for, the direction in which I wanted to go.  Oh sure, I knew that I wanted a good job and the wherewithal to nurture and to support a wife and family.  There was just one big problem...I had no idea of how to go about it.

Looking back, I don't think that I believed in myself all that much and failed to get serious about what I wanted to do vocationally until it was almost too little too late.  No one ever suggested that from the very beginning I had the ability to take control of my inner powers to direct my subconscious mind.  At no time did it dawn on me that I could eliminate negative thoughts with positive beliefs and that I could tell my inner powers exactly what I wanted.

I am thinking here especially of my two grandsons, one who is just completing high school and another who is several years removed from it and still considering his options.  I want them, and other young men their age, to know what I have learned the hard way -- that inner powers are always working for them, always creating and shaping their lives.  These powers simply respond to instructions and, given the right directions, they will most assuredly get exactly what they want.  It's all about attitude, setting goals and preparing for the future with drive and dedication.

As you think about dreams and what's important in moving toward an ideal lifestyle, you might realize that we all are either moving toward or away from dreams and ambitions.  If we procrastinate, we are putting off dreams; in some cases for a few years or maybe forever.  When we delay dreams, we miss out on life.

The ideal is to live dreams NOW before is is too late.  It is important to take some action each and every day, no matter how big or small, as dreams are pursued.  It is a valuable exercise to see yourself actually achieving your goal and then tracing the steps that you took to attain success.

Here's the bottom line:  If you are not living the life you want, if you have yet to attain the success yearn for, if you are not in the relationship you want, if you are not as healthy as you want to be, then you are not sending the right messages to your subconscious mind and your inner powers.  When you doubt yourself and lose confidence, you are conditioning yourself to struggle.  You get used to it, doubts continue and things progressively get worse.

No one ever attained instant success or received a lucky break without working for it.  Breaks are self-created, make no mistake about it.

Do your research, young fellows (girls too, for that matter).  Study the traits of successful people.  Don't be shy in talking to those who are already in the field(s) or discipline(s) you are considering.  You will be surprised at how much they respect your interest and they will be flattered by the fact that you sought them out for information.  The bonus?...The more you network in this way, the more doors will  open for you down the road.

Don't be like the frog laying on a rock in a stream with its mouth open in the hope that a bug will sooner or later fly into it.  Be the aggressor.  Turn things around by taking charge of your destiny.  Consider well your thoughts, beliefs and attitude so that they are focused on what you want and not on what you don't want.  Leave doubt and insecurity to the losers.

Also, don't be afraid to start out in a menial job as a means toward an end, if that is what it takes -- and it usually is.  It was a rite of passage experienced by your father and your grandfathers before him.  You have to start somewhere and the sooner you begin picking up your own tab the better.  Gain all the education, training and experience you can along the way.  It cannot help but result in dividends in the long run.  Understand that in the business world, cream is recognized as such and always rises to the top.

Shed complacency about your future.  Get busy and stay busy.  Be the best of what you can be as you work toward a desired goal; even extending yourself if and when needed.

By all means, make time for a social life and any hobbies that you might have, but not at the expense of achieving your goals.  It's all about priorities and the focus to stick to them.  We all need healthy balance in our lives and we learn as we grow older to juggle a job, family responsibilities, special interest activities and spiritual needs.  Self-fulfillment  is a must for all of us, as is fun in all things.  That's what we call life as it is meant to be.

Don't be like me in 50 years and say:  "if only I'd known then what I know now..."  I want to save you from all that guys!

In conclusion, I would say good luck, but it has been my experience that you make your own luck too.

15 February, 2012

ACT NOW TO GIVE LIGHT TO YOUR DARKNESS

I was thinking the other day about dual meanings of words.  In this instance the simple four-letter word "dark" was foremost in my mind.

We use "dark" in reference to a color or shade -- "her dress was a dark brown" or "it is very dark out this morning."  The word  "Dark" can also be used to describe a mood or frame of mind, i.e. depressed, bitter, angry, down in the dumps.  Then again, "dark" takes on a slightly different twist when we do not understand something or we are in doubt about a certain issue; for instance: "I am completely in the dark when it comes to installing electrical wiring."

The later reminds me of my old friend, Humphrey, who was a highly illumined man and one who as a consequence was never in the dark about anything.  "Whenever you are in doubt as to the course you should pursue, after you have turned to every outward means of guidance," he once counselled, "let the inward eye see, let the inward ear hear, and allow this simple, natural, beautiful process to go unimpeded by questions or doubts."

He went on to emphasize that in all dark hours and times of perplexity, we need to follow one simple direction, found, as all needed directions can be found, in "the dear old gospel which so many read but so few interpret."  Without hesitation he quoted the line from the bible: "Enter into thine chamber and shut the door," and suggested that there is no spot on earth and no conceivable situation in which any of us may be placed where we cannot follow that direction without delay.  What he was saying was that it was not necessary to escape literally to a private closet with a key in the door.

To emphasize his point, Old Humph  more than once told the story of a man of intuition who worked at a desk in a bustling, and often noisy, business office.  Entirely undisturbed by the many voices and sounds around him, the man would, in any moment of perplexity, draw the curtains of privacy so completely about him that he would be fully enclosed in his own psychic aura, and thereby as effectively removed from all distractions as though he were alone in some primeval woods.

Taking his difficulty with him into the mystic silence in the form of a direct question to which he expected a certain answer, he would remain utterly passive until the reply came, and never once through many years experience did he find himself disappointed or misled.

Indeed, intuitive perceptions of truth are the daily bread to satisfy our hunger, coming like manna in the desert.  The key, of course, is to act instantly on intuition because the more we delay, the more we invite erroneous impressions and conflicting moral fantasies to complicate matters for us.

Bottom line: Give light to your darkness, dear friends.  Follow Old Humphrey's final words on the subject:  "Listen to and be guided by the voice of your own soul, the voice of your higher self!"

12 February, 2012

THE NEED FOR SELF-EXPRESSION

From virtually the day we are born we are encouraged to express ourselves.  Because of shyness and a lack of confidence, self-expression did not come easily for me as a youngster.  I am still conscious of my ability (or lack of same) to communicate effectively when what I say is met with blank expression, or what I write drifts off into the nether lands.

Still, for some unknown reason, I am driven to to use the written word to express myself.  Good or bad, reasoned or pointless, editorially solid or a piece of fluff, writing fills a need within me.

Self-expression is about being able to say what you mean or want to say -- what is truly on your mind.  It is about expressing yourself in words, music, painting or any activity that allows inner expression or emotion to come out.

Some people like me find it easier to write something than to verbalize exactly what is being felt.  Others express themselves through creating materially, i.e. painting, building, inventing; still others need an audience to preach to.

Early in my career as a newspaper reporter and then a public relations practitioner, I read a lot and networked a lot, generally repeating bits and pieces of what I read, heard or observed -- sneaking an opinion into my copy here and there that may, or may not, have survived the swipe of an editor's pencil.  Most of the time I was either summarizing or emphasizing rather than creating something original.  Writers-for-hire conform to the style of the publication or corporation that employs them.  This experience, however, helped me in the end to adopt a style of my own and an appreciation for the freedom and satisfaction derived from bonafide self-expression, influenced only by what is on my mind and in my heart.

I am intuitive enough to know that there are people (particularly those who knew me in my formative years) who question my motivation in talking about religious matters on this site or to philosophize on life in general, as I am wont to do on occasion.  "He wasn't the brightest light academically."  "What all of a sudden qualifies him to speak on such matters?"  Behind-my-back snickers and sneers in the past have also not gone unnoticed.  Criticism, likewise, has come with the territory.

I even recall an incident several years ago when I was being congratulated for a church sermon I had delivered as a lay preacher.  "You missed your calling, Dick," the nice lady commented.  "Oh no he didn't!" a long-time friend interjected, "I knew him when...!"  That one continues to smart just a little.  It may have been spoken in jest but the insensitivity of the comment robbed me of a rare opportunity to bask in the compliment of the moment.

My only response to questions and situations of that nature, is to say that human kind's greatest gift is the privilege of speaking our minds, hence the freedom of speech and religion, two of our inalienable rights.  In my advanced stage of life I resist the impulse to hold back.  If I have something to offer, I give it in the hope that what I write somehow strikes a chord and fills a need for someone, somewhere.

For the life of me, I cannot excuse myself for having exercised my creativity through writing, albeit ever so humble.  Every so often it has enabled me to turn something mundane into something magical.  The bonus comes when, unconsciously, I have opened a new window to the world through which fresh air can enter.  That is always my fondest hope.

Creativity through self-expression is a precious force that pervades every aspect of existence and can bring its influence to bear on every part of our world.  It has potential to change everything for the better.

I am not sure how much time I have left to adequately craft into words what is in my heart.  Creative fulfillment is always just beyond my reach.  Time is fleeting.  Bear with me, friends old and new, as I attempt to express myself with the best of intentions and motivation for as long as I am able and when conditions allow.  It's what I do when my heart moves me, regardless of how I may be perceived.  In suppressing the gift of self-expression, I miss a calling!

07 February, 2012

WHAT'S IN A NAME? A NICKNAME OF COURSE!

I have often wondered about certain names in the English language that have no apparent correlation with standard nicknames assigned to them.  Take my own first name for instance -- Richard.  I was christened Richard and my birth certificate clearly shows "Richard", yet from the word go I was called "Dick".

For others, two first names may be a bit confusing.  I have found, however, that there can be an upside to having both a birth name and one of the many standard associated nicknames.  For me it is a matter of mood.  If I am feeling particularly "uppedy" or professional, I tend to use the more distinguished and formal name Richard.  If, on the other hand, I am feeling...well, feeling just plain common ordinary Dick, I use the name Dick.  Regardless, I always have to think twice when introducing myself or signing my name.  What, or who, do I feel like at the moment is the modus operandi.

As the proverbial fellow once said:  "Call me anything you want, just don't call me late for supper!"

A recent virtual history group discussion about the name of a former mayor of my home town, sparked my curiosity this morning.  A photo (circa 1940) of this particular individual is apparently labelled "Donald" Thomson yet one member of the group has suggested that he may have been known as "Dan".  I suggested that both names have every possibility of being correct, as strange as it may seem.  I know one other Donald who was better known as Dan, several Jacks who were Johns, Williams who were Bills, Eds who were Teds and Margarets who were Peggys, just to list a few.

On the surface this makes absolutely no sense at all, but a little research has cast some light on the subject for me.  Carol Wilkens, a communications professor who dabbles in writing and research, has taken it upon herself to study how certain standard nicknames came about and it is fascinating how far back in history many of them go.  Here is a sample of some of the names she has explored.

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*I should clarify at this point that "standard" nicknames are not to be confused with with nicknames arbitrarily applied to individuals on the basis of physical characteristics, family connections, fondness, habits, sports, jobs or vocations.
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John-Jack


One of the most famous bearers of this name, John F. Kennedy, was known to friends and family as "Jack." But I wonder if he knew how much history that name had? John is a name with history stretching back far into Biblical times. However, during medieval times, the name John was altered slightly in the Germanic tongues to Jankin or Jackin. Out of that, we get the nickname Jack.
Richard-Dick
Just as with the previous name, medieval times brought about Dick as a nickname for Richard. The Normans, descendents of Vikings who resided in northern France, had a unique way of trilling their "r" sounds. When the English attempted to pronounce Richard as the Normans did, it was reported that they could not quite do it correctly and the "r" came off sounding like a "d". Thus Dick became a pet name for Richard.
Henry-Hank
Just as with John, Hank was derived from Hankin, a form of Jankin. Originally Hank was a nickname for John but over time it became closely associated with Henry.
Henry-Harry
Harry was the Medieval English form of the Germanic name, Heimiric or Henry.
James-Jim, Jimmy
The medieval pet form of James was Jim. Many of the names in medieval Europe were altered like this because of the conflicts in languages. In England for a time, there were contradictory Romance languages of the Norman French and the harsher, guttural languages of the Germanic tribes: the Danes, the Saxons, and the Celts. When one couldn't pronounce the name exactly, a new name was born. But the original name never went away completely. This is also how you get Molly as a nickname for Mary.
Margaret-Megan, Meg, Peggy
Margaret was derived from a Romance language (Latin) so it did not translate easily into Welsh (a Germanic-derived language.) Megan was the form the Welsh used and Meg/Peg/Peggy were nicknames for Megan. Today, most use Megan as a formal name but some do use it as a nickname for Margaret.
Sarah-Sadie, Sally
Sadie most likely came about as a nickname for Sarah based on the medieval English attempt to pronounce the Norman trilled "r". (See Richard-Dick) The "r" came off as a "d" sound in English. Sally probably came about due to similar circumstances. Some Germanic languages may have attempted the trilled "r" and it came off as an "l" sound.
Edward-Ted, Teddy
Again, Edward was derived from the Norman French and English/Germanic speakers interpreted it as Ted or Teddy.
Susannah-Sukie
Susannah is also a Romance language name and Sukie was the closest pronunciation the Germanic tribes could associate.
The list is extensive and most can be traced back to the conflict in the Romance languages versus the Germanic tongues. So if you are curious about a name and nickname pairing, check to see what language they are derived from. And most likely, you will have found your answer.

05 February, 2012

WHAT KIND OF "GIVER" ARE YOU?

Presbyterian churches across Canada held special services this Sunday highlighting ongoing support for people around the world affected by poverty, emergencies and injustice.  In the post that follows, I take liberties by extracting portions from a text that was prepared for delivery from local pulpits on "Presbyterian World Service & Development Sunday".  I feel that the message effectively puts the gift of "love" today into proper perspective.   


“Love” is a very popular word in our society and people spend much of their lives in search of it. But as we all know, this often goes unfulfilled, is often misunderstood and is more than often misused. The latest search on Amazon.com reveals some interesting results: when you type in the word “money”, it lists over 90,000 book titles, “sex” has nearly 90,000, “heaven” has over 27,000, “God” has over 170,000, and for “love” there are over 240,000 book titles listed.

If you Google the word “love” you will get over 4.2 billion hits with some websites called, ilovedogs.com, ilovecheese.com and ilovelucy.com. If you’re looking for a partner there is trueromancedatingservice.com, lovetest.com and matchmaker.com. There’s even a website called, thelovecalculator.com, which claims to give you the odds of your relationship lasting!

The common element in these sites is that love is seen as something that arises exclusively out of human desire and belonging, solely within the realm of human gratification. It is created by humanity for humanity. This seems to be the way that many people see it.

One man wrote to the popular columnist with a problem: “Dear Abby, I am in love and I am having an affair with two different women other than my wife. I love my wife but I love these other women too. Please tell me what to do, but don’t give me any of that morality stuff.” He signed it, Too much love for only one. Abby’s reply was classic. She wrote:  “Dear Too much love for only one. The only difference between humans and animals is morality. Please write to a veterinarian.”

The Scriptures reveal to us a love that is more than something entangled with mere feelings and emotions. They proclaim a love that is real, genuine and beyond superficial human fancies. We are invited to embrace this love...

Several years ago a psychologist named three types of Christmas gift-givers and the characteristics of each. One is the Duty-Gift Giver. This person feels an obligation to buy a gift; it really doesn’t matter what it is, and not a lot of thought goes into it. Anything will do.

The second is the Traditional Gift Giver. This person always chooses something appropriate, like a book for the coffee table. It’s always an acceptable choice but maybe not a really personal gift. It’s nice, sends the right message and it never goes over budget.

The third type of giver is called the Passionate Giver. This person enthusiastically looks for just the right gift for the right person. The giver knows the right colour, the right size, and doesn’t mind going over budget if need be. The gift fits the need or desire of the recipient regardless of budget. The giver is simply happy to give it. Such a gift, naturally, is deeply appreciated by the recipient and elicits the most genuine and heartfelt thanks.

...At the very heart of who we are as Christians, this Passionate Giver concept of love is what defines us...Love is the foundation of the fruit of the Spirit: joy is love that sings; peace is love that rests; patience is love that endures; kindness is love’s touch; goodness is love’s character; faithfulness is love’s habit; self-control is love holding the reins. It is this love that has the power to transform us and change lives one by one.

The trouble sometimes with receiving something wonderful is that we can easily take it for granted and eventually come to expect only good things. This is the “entitlement mindset” that has permeated both our society and the our churches today. We have been blessed to live in a land of plenty, and as a result we have become complacent. Many times we are completely unwilling to give thanks to anyone for anything.

The Gospel message tells us that love’s power is in the fact that it was expressed to the world in a concrete way and that it was given with utmost passion. It isn’t connected with the whims of our emotions or gratifications. When our lives are characterized by the awareness of this gift and profound gratitude this gift causes, then we become committed to living out that same passionate love in our world as  agents of change for The One who first gives passionately to us.

Presbyterian World Service & Development unites partners overseas and congregations here at home to address the root causes of poverty and make positive changes in our global village.  The relief agency works to restore human dignity, ease the pain of want, promote self-help and encourage community co-operation.  Financial contributions from local churches help make this world-wide ministerial mission possible. 

03 February, 2012

"OLD EDDIE" NEVER FORGOT

1st Lieutenant Eddie Rickenbacker was one of the most effective American pilots in World War I. The former race car driver shot down 26 enemy planes during the war. He posed for this photograph beside his plane in 1918 near Rembercart, France.
After serious consideration, and for the record, I feel that clarification is needed for the Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker story related by my father Ken Wright some 63 years ago and reproduced in an earlier post, "Bread of Life...".

Rickenbacker's plane was not "downed" in the Pacific Ocean during World War 1.  The incident, in fact, actually took place a number of years later, in 1942, while the former WW1 flying "ace" and Medal of Honor recipient was on a special Pacific tour assigned to him as a volunteer for the U. S. government.  His findings ultimately went to the U.S. War Secretary and subsequently Gen. Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Pacific Rim during World War 2.  The four-engine B-17 bomber in which he was a passenger, went off course and ran out of fuel causing it to crash into the ocean where the crew and Rickenbacker were afloat for an agonizing 24 days before being miraculously rescued.

After his military service, Rickenbacker went on to be a race car driver, an aviation consultant of note and a respected Eastern Air Lines executive.


By means of follow up and elaboration, my dad's reference to the plane crash and the unexpected role played by a seagull in Rickenbacker's ocean rescue, was reinforced by popular minister and inspirational author Max Lucado in his book titled "In they Eye of the Storm," published six years ago.  Here is an extremely interesting and touching excerpt from the book.


OLD EDDIE

"It happens every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembles a giant orange and is starting to dip into the blue ocean.  Old Ed comes strolling along the beach to his favorite pier.  Clutched in his bony hand is a bucket of shrimp.


"Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself.  The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now.  Every body's gone, except for a few joggers on he beach.  Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts...and his bucket of shrimp.  In a few short minutes the bucket is empty.  But Ed doesn't leave.  He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place.  Invariably, one of the gulls land s on his sea-bleached, weather-beaten hat -- an old military hat he's been wearing for years.


"When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away.  Old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.


"If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like a funny old duck, as my dad used to say; or a guy that is a sandwich shy of a picnic, as my kids used to say.  To onlookers, he's just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket of shrimp.  Most would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida.


"That's too bad.  They'd do well to know him better,  His full name was Eddie Rickenbacker  He was a famous hero back in World War 1.  On one of his (volunteer) flying missions (1942) he and the plane's seven-member crew went down.  Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a raft.  Captain Rickenbacker and the crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific.  They fought the sun.  They fought sharks.  Most of all they fought hunger.


"By the eighth day their rations ran out.  No food.  No water.  They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were.  They needed a miracle.  That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for that miracle.  Then they tried to nap.  Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose.  All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft


"Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap.  It was a seagull. 


"Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move.  With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck.  He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal of it -- a very slight meal for eight men.  Then they used the intestines for bait.  With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait -- and the cycle continued.  With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the ocean until they were found and rescued.


"Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that lifesaving seagull.  And he never stopped saying 'thank you.'  That's why almost every Friday night he would walk out to the end of the pier with a bucket of shrimp, and feed the seagulls with a heart full of gratitude...

Museum display of Old Eddie's belongings
collected after his ocean rescue.  Note the
military cap that served as a landing pad
for a seagull.
"This is another case of the power of prayer, especially when all involved in a situation pray en mass.  Whether it's the power of prayer of a few thousand aboard a carrier or eight men in life rafts.  God will hear those prayers and answer accordingly.  He lifted the fog that day and He put the seagull on Eddie's head.

"Never underestimate the power of prayer!"

My dad would have enjoyed George Konig's book and his reference to the seagull story.  I am sure, also, that he would applaud my follow up to his "Bread of Life" column in the Chatham Daily News 63 years ago (see below).

The message lives on!

Edward Vernon Rickenbacker died in 1973, thirty years after his miraculous ocean rescue.