Autobiography Dieter Rolf Fischer Book 11
Book 11 / Ch. 7 Written / Published 13.11.12 /15.11.2012
"My voice you shall hear in the morning O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to you. And I will look up" (Psalm 5, 3)
"Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place and there He prayed." (Mark 1, 35)
7. Until the end of time
Before returning to make a final push to our destination at the mouth of the Mississippi River, may I cover God-incidentals, which involve my daily Bible reading Our Daily Bread (ODB). An unusual sequence sprung into my mind, as I looked at the drop-letters for four consecutive days - August 23 to August 26.
These drop-letters led me to the words used at the start of each commentary. The letters were O A O A. The words were One As One As. On August 23 the reading actually started with ONE DAY... (Reminds me of Mr. Romney's, unfortunately failed, campaign as presidential candidate, and the conference in San Diego, in Chapter 1).
See it for yourself:
What puzzled me was this: If four different authors, independently from each other, had created this pattern, would it not be a co-incident? If they had collaborated, or the editor of the booklet were to have assembled their daily contributions in above pattern, what was the reason? Maybe the answer is ... Off Limits?
The other ODB God-incidental co-incident, if there were such a thing, happened on October 19. I had two days prior returned from my big overseas trip - minus my Giant bicycle! (But the stolen bicycle story is for later.) I only mention it here, because this was the reason why on that day October day, I was busy fitting a new gear cable into my old mountain bike, which I now ride. I had meant to do it before leaving.
When I read the bible reading theme for October 19, it put a smile on my face: UNUSED GEARS. Julie Ackerman Link wrote about her experience with - bicycle gears. (She likened it to talents that we may need one day ...) Not only that. but my gear cable was a little thicker than the size required. The result is that I can't engage top and bottom gears, leaving me with unused gears!
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(Back to the Mississippi on the other bike)
Before leaving Memphis the weather forecast gave the maximum temperature as 99 F (38 Centigrade). Always thirsty, riding in the heat of the afternoon often, I drank so much soft drink I feared I was becoming addicted. But why drink possibly unsafe water, when 2 litres of soft drink only cost 99 cents at the Dollar General store? I was a good customer with them.
Cycling just south of Memphis on Highway 51, to my left, I spotted a church entrance. On each side, on the brick walls, was some writing in capital letters: "ENTER INTO HIS COURTS .... WITH PRAISE". The T was missing. My oxygen flooded brain read the first word backwards and wondered: Was this RE: NE.braska?
After almost five weeks pedalling my mostly faithful workhorse, the GIANT, a-cross America, I was in good shape for the final stretch to New Orleans. The pretty scenery made up for the uncomfortably hot and humid conditions. But life was not meant to be comfortable. If I wanted that, I'd buy a rocking chair, join a movie library and ... be bored watching my brain go rusty.
I pushed on. At place called Brookhaven ((Minus r = Have N Book), as I left the cool of the library building and the heat hit me, I had a WOE moment: "What On Earth ... was I doing here, far from home, battling mile after mile in this heat? Brookhaven calls itself the Homeseekers Paradise.
The 190 miles or so, between Jackson MS and New Orleans LA took only two days. Just before Ponchatoula I had to find a way without using National Highway 55. A kind man, a fellow cyclist, explained that I had to use the off-ramp of the 55 (against the traffic flow) to reach the 22 mile long, lonely, flat stretch of Frontage Road, which runs parallel to the 55. It was the only possibility to cross the bridge over Lakes Pontchartrain / Maurepas.
At the first sign of civilisation, a restaurant just before this bridge, I needed to refill my water bottles. A waitress in a restaurant kindly obliged. She was rather inquisitive what I was doing. She and a few of her colleagues marvelled as I explained my cross over America ride.
The final stretch into the big river city seemed to drag on, but the excitement of this milestone in my life, constantly thanking God for HIS wonderful work HE is doing with me and in me, kept me going.
Finally, after having covered again over 100 miles (from Percy Quin State Park, near McComb) I arrived at the big river at about 7 PM. It took another hour or so, following the cycle path on the banks of the Mississippi to reach the KOA camping ground. I shared my story once again with a couple in a camper van. They were on holidays from Brisbane.
New Orleans, Louisiana
There was no evidence in downtown NO of the devastating floods, which had hit the town in August 2005, 82 months to the day of my visit. What was evident, however, were the dubious methods nightclubs in Bourbon Street used to lure passers by into their premises, for whatever sinful activities. What I saw early that Friday evening shocked me. It made me think no one has learned any lesson in NO. But then, there are worse than Bourbon Street red-light districts, all over the world.
In front of the cathedral on Jackson Square, where a wedding was taking place, a ghost, sorry host, of fortune tellers had set up shop. Voodoo, witchcraft and psychic nonsense were still alive in this town. God will judge this town, and each individual, for what they do, be it good or bad.
God will judge the earth for their sin. Entire civilisations have been obliterated because of sin. Unless they repent, all will perish! (Luke 13, 5). But thanks be to God, there is hope in the cross of Jesus.
As I passed some buskers, still near Jackson Square, I heard them sing: "Down by the riverside..." If those, who are looking to psychics or witchdoctors for help, would trust ONE who can really help them, they would lay down their burden, at the foot of the cross and look up (Psalm 5, 3).
The lyrics of a hymn come to mind, one which speaks of a cross and a river.
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(Back to the USA)
In the planning stages of my trip I had told my relatives in Loxley, Alabama I'd be arriving at the end of June. It was exactly 7 PM on the last day of June, when I pedalled onto their property in Highway 59. The transfer from New Orleans took all day. First a three-hour bus ride along the Gulf of Mexico, followed by a late afternoon ride from Mobile AL. on Highway 90 over the Bay bridge.
I stayed four nights at my sister and her son's place. Her ex-husband, Ken, still lives on the same property. On July 4th, a big day in the States, I presented him with a pocket size (old) New Testament. Let me explain: this pocket size NT had once been his, when it was issued to him by a US Army chaplain. This was 50 years ago, when he was stationed in Nellingen, near our home town. I was a teenager then. During that time he met my sister. They married and she moved with him to the same property they still live on, in Loxley, Alabama. (For some years now the live separately, however)
Ken knew that I was going to church as a teenager. The bible was not really his forte, so he gave me that little New Testament. I had kept it all those years and decided that it should return to him, fifty years later. That's what I did, and encouraged him to read it.
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The number 560 played a magic role in my 2002 Germany trip. In a few chapters, God willing, we shall re-visit this city and, rather amazingly, this number.
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The next day after my arrival in Loxley, on July 1, I cycled to church in 'down-village' Loxley (it ain't a town just yet). I recognized some folks whom I had met during my 2007 visit. The church bulletin featured on its front page Galatians 5.13: "...through love - serve one another". The scripture reading that Sunday was Psalm 103, Verse 1-5. My numbers brain ensured it was all recorded in my diary later.
Later, how strange, the number 1351, came through in a report in the Mobile Register, Page 11 A. In the state of Colorado wildfires were burning and destroying property. (Colorado will again, God willing, feature magically in the next chapter).
Another news item found it's way into my diary during my stay in Alabama. As soon as I heard the word Holy Cross I was all ears. Had I not just completed my mission for this trip, created a Holy Cross?
The date was 7.2 (July 2nd). A well respected priest had died aged 88. He was described as a fighter for justice. His name was John Brooks of the Holy Cross College.
Writing in the Management Blog in Bloomberg Businessweek Diane Brady ends an article on the Reverend's life with this quoting a mourner: "He was a great man. He saved my life." Many others can no doubt say the same.
Makes me think, if the Reverend John Brooks was a bike rider, the world had certainly lost a perfect man!
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Unfortunately, my sister had to work during my four-day visit. I took the opportunity to explore the district on my bike at a more leisurely pace than before, and without carrying any luggage. Riding west to Fairhope, without having planned this, I came across the Church of Christ, the one that had been on the news a few days earlier (see Chapter 5).
Fairhope not only has a nice name, the place struck me for its clean streets, adorned with flowers and historic, well kept buildings. Maybe the date, July 4th, played a role in having the town look its best. Already around 11 AM, at the park on the bluff, people had set up their chairs, ready for the evening concert and fireworks. A local radio station was broadcasting from the location all day.
Fairhope - nice name, beautiful town on Mobile Bay. - July 4th 2012
Since July 4th was a rather warm day, my family did what many Americans do on that day - family get togethers at the beach, anticipating the fireworks of the year. All of America smiled at a mishap in San Diego. Their fireworks display went off all at once - in a 15 second blaze of lights. We did just that at Gulf Shores. My two nieces had a fantastic day, frolicking in the shallow surf. The fireworks over the water, with a rising moon in the background, created a rather romantic atmosphere. Oh, to be 20 again! It ended up a rather late night, traffic jams afterwards. The whole of south coast of Alabama appeared to have assembled on that same beach.
Sadly, my sister had already gone to work before I could say my good-byes. My bike went back into its box and we boarded a Greyhound bus for the long trek to Washington DC. Unfortunately, I did not see much of Atlanta, where I had to change buses late in the evening. A quick walk up from the bus depot to the nearest McDonalds was all there was time for, before boarding the next bus, which would take me to Washington.
A young man, sitting beside me for part of the trip, poured his heart out. His girlfriend had just kicked him out and only wants him back, after he finds a job. During my five months of travel, engaging with many young people on trains, buses and in hostels, time and again I sensed, how many must be living (or travelling together) in a casual relationships. What ever happened to what we used to call engagement?
Little wonder, so many young lives are damaged right from the start, having been led astray, giving in to temptation, having listened to satan's lies. Friends, what a man or woman sows that he or she will also reap.
I slept well on the overnight bus, which followed through Charlotte, Raleigh and Richmond. Arriving early in Washington there was plenty of time to take a brief look at the US capital, on the way to checking into my hostel. It was not my first visit here. 41 years ago, during our honeymoon, my wife and I travelled through, also en route to Europe.
When booking my hostel on 18th Street I must have been in a rush, not checking reviews. There was little positive about the place - not up to standard in cleanliness, the kitchen was badly equipped and doubled as a storeroom; very little breakfast, the rooms far too small for six beds. Plus, waking up in a mixed dormitory takes a little getting used to. The conditions in the place gave me a few WOE moments (What on earth ...?)
Later I realized there is a real YHA Hostel in 11th Street, which I had overlooked when booking. Somebody in New York gave a good report about it. Looking back, however, had I not stayed here in this 18th Street hostel, I may never have made the observation, which was to spook me a few weeks later. (The Colorado connection, in the next chapter).
Washington DC - July 7th, 2012
Top right: The capitol building, seat of the US Congress.
Before you read another thought that came to me early this morning, on the day of uploading Chapters 5-7 of this Book 11, I suggest you make a cup of coffee or tea, read slowly and open your mind, if there really could be something behind what appears on the surface to be foolish.
As I write, Australia's Foreign Minister is being interviewed on Radio. The discussion is about the latest, serious events in the Middle East. The reporter mentioned that a killing of a military leader in Gaza is like opening the gates of hell.
Friends, the bible says the gates of hell shall not prevail against IT. What is IT? It is God's rock, HIS church. No matter how much satan attacks, and he is doing just that, knowing his days are coming to an end - God and HIS truth will prevail.
May all trust in ONE, the PRINCE of PEACE. HE will bring peace.
Just as I was thinking how to end this chapter, the five words (below) flashed through my mind. That same nanosecond on radio the commentator spoke those words, regarding the latest middle east crisis: "... this is not the end of it."
There is a popular song titled 'Mississippi'. It ends with the lyrics ...
...until the end of time.