Archive for November, 2016

November 25, 2016

On Wanting to Be a World Class Person

2016 by Pedalin’ Prof

If we are not to die a little bit with every headline announcing the latest inhumanity, we must resolve to make ourselves into what I call World Class Persons. By my own definition, a World Class Person is one who can go anyplace at any time and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. I must be honest with you and admit that I am not a World Class Person. I want to be. I’m making myself move in that direction. Down that road is the only place I see life.

I cannot live in a world where I fear the people I see on the street, in the paper or on my TV screen. I cannot build a fort around me to keep me safe. I’m a bridge builder. By training and by disposition. That’s who I am. And if I cannot be who I am, why do I want to live?

A bridge is of no value unless there is a road coming to it and going from it. The WCP Highway is under construction. The events on the morning of September 11, 2001 in New York City make the building of that road almost impossible. But they also make it that much more necessary.

In Man of LaMancha, Don Quixote’s friends come to him. They say to him, “Wickedness wears thick armor.” They think he is a fool. They mean to discourage him. He replies, “And for that you would have me surrender? Nay, the enchanter may confuse the outcome ten thousand times. Still must a man arise and again do battle. For the effort is sublime.”

The effort to become a World Class Person promises deliverance from the paralyzing fears that seize our minds and hearts and make us cruel. As we travel the WCP Highway we meet others who make the journey. And if we come upon one who has been wounded, we can be the Good Samaritan.

In biker parlance, we’re riding sweep. May peace, power, purpose and joy go with us every day and all the way. This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. I will travel this day on the World Class Person Highway. I will minister to those I meet along the way whose journey has been interrupted.

I’m riding sweep.

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November 22, 2016

Far from Camelot

November 22, 2016

by Ed Chasteen

Fifty-three years ago, November 22 fell on a Friday. I was stunned speechless that late November Friday, just after noon. A fellow grad student pushed open the door. Ashen-faced, he said: “The President’s been shot.” Our topic for discussion that day? The possibility of violence in America. So I dismissed my friend’s announcement as an attempt to fire up my students. Until!

The third time he said it. How I got from that room to the radio downstairs, I do not remember. The small crowd gathered round made not a sound when Walter Cronkite announced “President Kennedy died at 1 PM central time.” Wordlessly we went from that place to sit for days in front of black and white TVs and share our national mourning.

My son, Dave, was three when the president was assassinated. He was 23 when he gave me One Brief Shining Moment, William Manchester’s Remembering Kennedy. Writ large on the blank page inside the cover, Dave inscribed the book to me with these words:

I give this book about a great man

I never knew

to a great man I know well.
Love

Dave

Like neon in the night, Friday, November 22, 1963 has flashed on and off in my mind ever since Ron Parton pushed open that door and ended my world. I had not voted for JFK in 1960 but was counting the days until I could in 1964.That day never came!

Though I treasure the book about JFK that Dave gave me, I still cannot bring myself to open it past his inscription page. I avoid to this day any book or movie or television program that takes me back to that day.

I had bought Vaughn Meador’s lighthearted spoof of The First Family in 1962 and played it dozens of times. I Still have it. Cannot part with it. But have not played it since that day.

Let it never be forgot

that once there was a spot

for one brief shining moment

known as Camelot

November 5, 2016

First Watch of Another Kind

11-12-16

by Ed Chasteen

“We’ll have a dozen bicycle riders there for breakfast a little before nine o’clock,” I say to the buoyant one who answers the phone: “First Watch. How may I help you?” She says. “But I won’t be there. Steve is in charge.” I Say.

Almost never does any other love of my life take precedence over my Saturday bike to breakfast. When I became our slowest rider, I morphed into a sometimes SAG, a usually first-to-arrive-advance man by car. Always I would call our small town cafe host to tell them how many and when they might expect us. So I had planned to do this morning until that email came from Pat and Gene Holt.

On widely scattered Saturdays near the turn of this century I had driven a William Jewell College van to their home to pick up members of St. Charles Parish for day long visits to the Hindu Temple, Sikh Gudwara, Rime Buddhist Center, Masjid Ai-Inshira, Beth Torah Synagogue, Baha’i Center, Central Baptist Seminary and other places of worship just a few minutes driving time apart.

Now comes an email from Pat telling me about a gathering this Saturday morning at 9:00 AM at Holy Family Catholic Church, just 11 miles from my house. The gathering is billed as “Islam, Muslims and Mercy,” facilitated by Biagio Mazza, pastoral assistant at St. Sabina’s Catholic Church in Belton.

As I step from my car in Holy Family’s parking lot, Sister Marilyn Peot walks up to embrace me. She had been on more than one of our van visits years ago. I had asked about her when Gene and Pat and I met for breakfast a few days back to talk about today’s gathering.

As Biagio comes to talk with us, he asks a show of hands. “How many belong to this parish?” Most hands go up. “How many others?” He asks. Other Catholic parishes are mentioned. Other Christian churches. “Second Baptist in Liberty,” I say. “Islamic Center of the Northland,” says Laeeq, seated next to me.

Biagio has prepared an eight-page handout, printed front and back, explaining the basics of Islam and how Christians and Muslim might live peacefully and productively here together.

All Saturday breakfast riders sign in. No more than 40 have we ever had on a given Saturday, usually nearer 20, sometimes, when the weather is bad, only one or two. But everyone who signs in, gets an email copy of the story of our ride I always write. So do all those who have ever ridden with us in our 15 years of year-round-riding, a number now near 600

I’m guessing that at these round tables of eight, we have about a hundred here this morning to learn from Biagio the Key Themes and Concepts in Islam. As I listen, my mind goes back to the east Texas church where I grew up. Here as a junior high and high school boy I learned to fear and distrust Jews and Catholics. Such a gathering as this morning would have been unthinkable.

Next Saturday morning we ride to Excelsior Springs for breakfast at Mill Inn to celebrate my 81st birthday. Marie will prepare a birthday cake that all our riders may share with all other diners in the place. Looking around the room this morning at Holy Family, I get the impression that others in the room are not far from my age. And I take great comfort from that fact. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? And if these senior citizens entertain thoughts of improved relations between our faiths, those coming after us are now light years ahead of where we started, and where they wind up will be so near heaven on earth that it will seem to have come on Earth.

As hard as missing a bike breakfast has been for me, I might never otherwise have come to know this simple truth.