The Trip West

Entering Utah

Well, I have been back for a few days from my “Great Trip West.” As usual, you work hard trying to get ahead so you won’t be behind when you get back — only to be behind when you get back. Sometimes it almost seems it is not worth the work to take time off — but only sometimes.

My trip west was a marvelous experience. And as I expected, it was a time to rest, relax and simple let God speak to my spirit. And the things I saw…..!

Some of you may have been west. This was my first trip and although I have seen photos, movies, heard tales, and such; there is something intangible you get simply by being in a place. Some might call it a “vibe” or something. But there is a sense of scale that you cannot understand until you are physically in a place.

And WOW, what places I got to visit.

Our first stop was in St. Louis, MO. We drove into town just ahead of sunset. Got our motel room and unloaded the bikes, then we headed into downtown. We parked about 4 blocks up from the old Courthouse in sight of the Arch. We walked down a bit and had a wonderful meal of lasagna. Wow, what a portion! And our table was overlooking the courthouse and Arch.

After the meal, we waddled (did I mention that the portion was enormous?) down to the Arch. I did not know that below the Arch, underground was a whole complex of shops, theaters, and a museum. I got to view the film on the Lewis & Clark expedition and learned much. And the biggest thing I learned was what a huge undertaking it was for them to explore the west of their day.

The Gateway Arch, or Gateway to the West, is an arch that is the centerpiece of the Jefferson

Gateway Arch at Sunset

National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri. It was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States. At 630 feet (192 m), it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States,Missouri’s tallest accessible building, and the largest architectural structure designed as a weighted or flattenedcatenary arch.

Located on the west bank of the Mississippi River where the city of St. Louis was founded, the arch was designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel in 1947. Construction began on February 12, 1963, and ended on October 28, 1965,costing US$13 million at the time ($90,491,005 today). The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967.

As I looked at this awesome structure, I begin, what would continue to be, my reflection on where we as people have been, where I believe we are, and where we need to go.

This structure is an amazing feat of engineering and construction. I look at it and wonder how the folks that dreamed it, built it, and paid for it ever made it happen. And then I think about current monuments, buildings and such and how they most often pale in comparison. They are not nearly as awe-inspiring to me. And we have many more tools, skills, and resources than they ever did — and yet, they seem to have achieved more.

University of the South

Along to way to St. Louis, we passed through Sewanee, TN, home of the University of the South (who knew?). There is a wonderful chapel and other wonderful buildings there. It, too, was build long ago and causes one to be awed by its scale, its craftsmanship, and its beauty.

Along the way, we rode from Aspen, CO over Independence Pass — one of several Continental Divides. This road was narrow, rough, is often closed due to snow, and passes a settlement that was founded many years ago. I wonder about the folks that first scouted this route, who decided that a road was a good idea, and those that built, re-built, and re-built and re-built that road through this very day. Again, it is difficult for the road crews to keep it up today, but how awesome it is that in years past they did it with less.

Independence Pass

Our nation is in a bad way today. We are spending as people and as a government far more than we earn. And we don’t seem to understand that you cannot borrow your way out of debt. We argue about what we can do about it — borrow more, tax more, spend less, learn to do with less.

My family has lived this issue for years. Like most Americans, we spend more than we earned anticipating higher earnings only to not address the debt, just the interest. The day came when we faced the same situation our nations faces — borrow more or actually deal with the debt. We choose to address our debt. We quit borrowing and began paying not only our interest, but our debt down. After 5 years of doing without a number of things we used to have and do — we have managed to pay off over $50,000 in credit card debt — without any true increase in income.  And that has given us more freedom in our family budget, and a sense of relief.

I look at the St. Louis Arch, Independence Pass, Pikes Peak, the chapel at U of the South, historic homes here in Senoia and nearby Newnan and other local towns and I wonder — how is it we have so much, and yet carry out so little of substance with what we have? Those that have gone before build all these structures, amazing roads, buildings, monuments, etc. with hand tools, horse power, and the sweat of

Half way up Pikes Peak

their brow. We have power tools, heavy equipment, computer design, laser guided automated tools, an accumulation of more knowledge — and our roads don’t last as long, our buildings do not last and do not have the visual appeal nor the “larger than life” scale of days gone by.

We can do so much more — if we choose. In days past they labored to produce enough just to have food to eat. We now produce enough food for every person on earth to eat 4.3 pounds each day — and millions die each day for lack of food.

It is time for all of us to choose to be better stewards of our resources — time, talent & treasure. Let’s do more with what we have. And let’s not exceed our resources. That is why I love Stop Hunger Now and Imagine No Malaria. You can feed a child for a day for only 25 cents. And, you can save the life of more than one person by purchasing a bed net for only $10. Those are numbers almost everyone can handle. So, will you help handle these needs?

As always, I can channel your gifts to Stop Hunger Now or Imagine No Malaria — or you can give directly through their web sites. Will you?

Send your check to: Senoia UMC, P.O. Box 98,. Senoia, GA 30276.

Until the next time…..The Hog Father,

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