The squirrels are back, and feistier than ever — unless they are a different pair. It is hard to tell, except that this pair challenges the cats more loudly and authoritatively than before. Between jays and squirrels, the garden is in more of a turmoil than it's been for a while.
A recent email called this the Age of Turmoil, referring to what's going on in the world in general. Very aptly named, I think.
When living in a world of turmoil, what can the average person do? I think we can try to keep our neighborhoods and areas of influence peaceful. We can be nice to each other, help each other out, protect each other. A Neighborhood Watch is a good thing, and good common sense can straighten out problems of all sorts.
There's another, more personal component. Sen. Joe Lieberman has recently written a book, "The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Sabbath." In discussing it with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, Lieberman said that we all go at a fast and furious pace 24/7, and it's time we took one day off to enjoy peace and quiet. He turns off his BlackBerry all day, and spends the time quietly with family and friends or enjoying nature, and, most importantly, communing with God.
Hannity thought that was a great idea, and that he was going to shut off his own BlackBerry on Sunday. I think it's a great idea, too — and I don't even have a BlackBerry to shut off.
Remember, prayer is the world's greatest wireless connection.
This leads me to another subject — churches. It seems to me the atmosphere in churches in general is less contemplative and worshipful than it used to be. They all seem to want to be DOING things all during the service. Elijah didn't hear the voice of God in various kinds of earthly turmoil. He heard it in the midst of a great silence. Maybe every church should have the words, "Be still and know that I am God" engraved on the lintel of the main entrance just to remind us Who is in charge.
Church should be a worshipful place of sanctuary, of healing, of refuge and renewal; no other place or institution really meets these needs. It also should welcome all who come seeking quiet, renewal or refuge, whether members or not. And, once renewed and strengthened, it is our responsibility to use our own spiritual revivifying to help others and show them how they, too, can find answers to their own needs.
This is another way of helping each other. The hand that is open to give is also open to receive. A closed fist achieves nothing that really matters.
There have been some very joyous occasions lately. One was the luau at the Vintage for residents and guests. Skillful music and dancing, featuring the 'Anapa Nui Polynesian Review, and very good lunch. Met some old friends I haven't seen for a long time: Esther Bender, Gloria Coffin and June Kemalyan. Esther is sort of the welcoming person, as she has been there since Vintage opened. Norma Seavey and John Spagnola from my church were also there.
Found out something that delights my soul: pets are allowed at Vintage. Of course, size and behavior are important factors!
Speaking of animal sizes, I received a poster about saving whales — a very important thing to be doing. Seems a humpback whale is 48 to 62 feet long and weighs 40 tons (80,000 pounds). In contrast, an elephant, the largest land animal, is 8 to 13 feet high at the shoulder and weighs a mere 5,000 to 14,000 pounds. The average man is about 6 feet high and weighs 180 pounds, and a clown fish weighs 1 to 2 ounces and is slightly more than 4 inches in length. Makes you think, doesn't it?
Two other events, sort of the same and yet very different. One was the Lodi Community Band's final summer concert outdoors at Hutchins Street Square; the other, the combined performances of the Yamanashi International Exchange Band and the Air Force Band of the Golden West in the auditorium.
The first was a musical ending to a lovely day, an old-fashioned community event with families sitting on the lawn, some with picnics, as the sun went down slowly enough to let the band complete its performance before running out of light. The whole thing was a harkening back to an older time when people had simpler ideas about concerts and fun.
The event following on Monday evening was far more energetic, but no less tuneful. This was the ending celebration of a three-day stay by a delegation from Kofu, Japan, one of Lodi's sister cities. The Square's Lange Auditorium was filled for the combined performances of the two bands.
Because all the Yamanshi band members could not make the trip here, several members of the AF Band filled in for them. The young ones gave their own talented performance, and then the AF Band had their turn before the bands combined for several selections. Three women's talents were highlighted: Capt. Haley Armstrong, an energetic conductor; a splendid singer; and a band member whose nimble fingers made the most of her piccolo solo.
I was pleased to see Bill Hinkle, president of the Lodi Sister City Committee, get recognized. Bill has devoted years of service to the committee and to the Lodi Japanese American Citizens League. Of course, both mayors and band directors got kudos, too.
Lest you think I forgot: The answer to last column's wit twister (What is the minimum number of players on the field in any one inning?) — the answer is 10, of course. You all knew that!