The cicada song served as a blanket
of harmony during those magical days. All the cousins played together on the
small lawn in the mild and muggy Nashville evening, the scent of the Cumberland
River hanging thick in the stagnant air. Fireflies were abundant, and we filled
tall glass bottles with as many blinking lights as we could catch until the
bottles became torches, lighting our path for wherever the summer evening
planned to take us. In the twilight, aunts, uncles and grandparents sat on the
glider and front porch steps sipping tea and gulping Double Colas, laughing at
nothing and everything, brothers and sisters happy and free in the presence of
family. As the western sky grew dim, we said our goodbyes and took the short
trip across the river to a quieter place. We never wanted to leave, much like I
have no desire to put aside the memory of such precious times as the mounting
pressures of adulthood crowd out the happy images. It all seems like a dream
now, like something from an American fable. In these trying, aging days, I am
still enchanted by the peaceful simplicity of it all.
and I went back a few days ago and stood at the gate. We could have easily
pushed it open and stepped back in time, but the former occupants who always
welcomed us with candy and open arms no longer reside there. I was tempted to
go to the door and knock, but the hour was early and we were strangers to the
new tenants. We settled for a walk around the perimeter, wandering down the
alley to get a glimpse of the back of the house that we had not visited since
1984. It had changed very little, much to our surprise. It was nice to know
that some things remain constant even as our lives continue to change, develop
and grow with passing time; time well spent and sometimes wasted. After a while
we climbed back into the car and crossed the river for the second time that
day. It seemed to me that the river served as the dividing line between
yesterday and now. There was emotion in the moment, but the promise of tomorrow
dispelled most of the sadness. The promise lies on this side of the
The children of Israel stood on the banks of the
Jordan, waiting for the command to cross over into the land prepared for them
since the beginning of time. They were to follow behind the Ark of the
Covenant, the tangible sign that God Himself would lead their journey. Joshua
told them to "clean themselves up" both physically and spiritually,
with the promise that the Lord would do amazing and wonderful things among
them. He started right away for as soon as the feet of the priests touched the
water's edge, the river parted and God's chosen walked across on dry
ground. If there were doubts in the camp, I imagine they died away quickly when
the first miraculous steps toward tomorrow were taken.
about tomorrow? Do we fear the journey? I sincerely hope not. The same God that
made good on His promise to Israel stands ready to part the waters for us as
well. We don't undertake the journey alone although we often think we can.
Reading further into the Scriptures will reveal the folly of Godless thinking.
Without God, we will surely lose our way in the darkness of independent
misdirection and free will. Do not be confused by those guided by pride and
intellect. The fact of the matter is this; we cannot succeed without the
presence of God to direct our every step. Our lives will simply unravel if we
try to go it alone. We are not bigger or smarter than God. We will never make
it across the river without Him.
Globetrotters program has Austin ARC men on the
By making a difference in the lives of men
and rebuilding positive lifestyles, the adult rehabilitation centers in Austin,
Texas, and around the world are doing the most good.
"A man may be down, but he is never out" is a slogan
Bruce F. Barton wrote while doing volunteer work for The Salvation Army during
World War I. Barton must have seen first hand how God restores men whose lives
are in shambles. At the ARC, participants are reminded daily that there is hope
for today and tomorrow.
Major Gerald Street, Howard Jones are shown with Richard Budd and Robert
Green, two of the Globetrotters participants who have logged 100 walking
miles in the program.
"Our program is designed
to treat the whole person rather than just a specific problem," said Major
Gerald Street, administrator for the Austin ARC. "The majority of men who
come to this center for assistance have problems in many areas of their lives.
Those may be social, medical, spiritual, personal, family situations and
employment. The common factor for most of these men is addiction to drugs
The Austin ARC in offers men a second
chance and an opportunity to start again. It also provides skills and
employment readiness training, individual and group counseling and other tools
for rebuilding positive lifestyles.
One of the tools used to
rebuild positive lifestyles is the Globetrotters program. "Globetrotters
was set up for the men at the ARC to log 100 miles of walking around the
perimeter of the property or within the surrounding areas," said Howard
Jones, program director. "The men are expected to keep a steady pace
within a specific period of time and log sheets turned in at 25, 50 and 75
miles." The Globetrotters program has also garnered community support. For
example, through partnership with Shoes For Austin, a local non-profit
organization that gives new athletic shoes and socks to those striving to
improve their lives, men completing 100 miles receive brand-name athletic
shoes. Since its inception this year 19% of the men at the Austin ARC have met
the 100-mile goal.
Down, you say? Richard Budd, an ARC
program participant, doesn't want to hear it. "I have been down
before, but now I'm up standing on solid ground," he said with a firm
nod. "Not only am I walking, eating and feeling better, but I even ran my
first 5K run this summer. I had no idea I had it in me!"
Houston ARC welcomes
Blackard as new member
of advisory council
Kirk Blackard (center) was presented with his member pin and
advisory council plaque at the Houston Adult Rehabilitation Center by Major
Larry DeBerry, Houston ARC administrator and Mr. Bill Sherwood, Houston ARC
Advisory Council Chairman.
Blackard is a mediator, labor arbitrator and
adjunct professor in the Communications Department at Texas A&M. He is a
board member and active volunteer in the Bridges to Life prison ministry, a
member of the Houston Kiwanis Club, the Texas Writers' Guild, and Bering
Drive Church of Christ.