Friday, June 4, 2021



I do not claim to be a country boy in the strictest sense. At the same time, I am not really a city boy either. To be perfectly honest, I would have to say I am more suburbanite in my upbringing. Still, when I reflect on my childhood and youth, I am thankful for the more rural things that were part of my life. Living in the South, there are just some things you absorb by a type of osmosis. For example, I chose to listen to the local rock radio station and yet I know all the country songs and artists from back then.

I am feeling nostalgic for simpler times as we emerge from this pandemic.  I fondly recall not only the smell of honeysuckle, but also the taste from pulling off the flowers and sucking out the nectar. I became a master catcher of crawdads from under countless rocks in numerous creeks. I spent sunny afternoons playing “catch and release” with grasshoppers and cool evenings putting lightning bugs in jars. I have flown June bugs in circles with a string attached to a hind leg. I was the guy everyone called if there was any snake wrangling that needed to happen. The same applied to lizards and frogs.

Helping my father with various projects introduced me to some tools I imagine would be foreign to many kids today. Besides the common push mowers and weedeaters, rakes, shovels and hoes, I broke plenty of sweat with posthole diggers, brush axes, scythes, tillers, mattocks and pruners. I hauled a little hay and cut a little tobacco. When I took a break I would cool down by drinking water from a hose and dousing my head with it as well. I even became familiar with a lathe though I never finished my dream project of a homemade baseball bat.

Along the way, I learned to bait a hook whether with corn or a worm. I never graduated to big game hunting, but bagged a few squirrels and rabbits and ate them as well.  I’ve pulled countless ticks off of every part of my body. I spent enough time in the woods that its unique scent is the best aromatherapy I know. The night sounds of crickets, whippoorwills and spring peepers calm my soul. I feel right at home with my hands in the soil either planting seeds or pulling weeds.

I do not have much of a purpose for this rambling reminiscing other than perhaps triggering some of your own fond recollections. Thank God I am sort of a country boy.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Gentle Whisper


The stress of the last year of dealing with the coronavirus has led me to a somewhat strange fascination with a certain type of video on Youtube. While I am reading or otherwise working at my desk, I will often pull up a soothing clip to play on a loop. In the summer, it was waves repeatedly cresting on an exotic beach. In the fall, it was leaves falling into a softly rolling river. This winter I pulled up several versions of a crackling fireplace while it snows outside a window.

My youngest daughter pointed out these videos are classified as ASMR. That acronym stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. I looked this up on Wikipedia and found, “ASMR signifies the subjective experience of low-grade euphoria characterized by a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin. It is most commonly triggered by specific auditory or visual stimuli.”

I cannot say that I have felt euphoric or even tingly, but the videos I described are definitely calming for me. They are like a mini mind vacation where I can imagine sitting on a beach instead of being cooped up at home. Some common ASMR clips involve sounds such as someone whispering. As I learned about this phenomenon, it reminded me of Elijah’s mountaintop vision in 1 Kings 19 wherein he witnessed a rock shattering wind, an earthquake and then fire. But the Lord was not in any of these. Then he heard the still small voice (or gentle whisper) of God. This is the most common way prayer is answered today and what is more calming or peaceful than the voice and presence of the Lord? Or as Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6-8, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”