Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Forty Year Reunion

In the spring of 1975 I graduated from Scott County High School in Georgetown, KY. That was 40 years ago. They held a big reunion this past week end but I did not go. I have not been to any other of my reunions either so I am certain my absence was not a surprise to anyone. With the exception of one person I have not really kept any contacts with my high school friends. It has been much too long to make any real connectivity now. Besides I work every weekend and I live a lon...g way away. So the time and expense would be much too great for a rendezvous with people I barely know. Besides I am not that good at parties. I had lots of good excuses. So I ignored the invitations and pleas to come to the reunion and decided to let high school remain a distant experience from the past. In recent years however I have re-connected with a few of my classmates via facebook and somehow I got added to a group called Scott County High School Class 1975. The morning after the reunion people started posting pictures and I got curious. I did not recognize some of them. Of the ones I did recognize I was a bit relieved to discover that I had survived the 40 years as well as most of them had. There were 152 of us in that graduating class. I was saddened to discover that 16 of those have died. Surely in this age of modern medicine that is way too many. I mean I am only 58. That is not old is it?

That got me to thinking about the brevity of life. Indeed I have way more years behind me than I can expect to have in front of me. When this life is over there will be a glad reunion in heaven and I plan to attend that one. Indeed God has put eternity in the hearts of mankind. But since life is brief I want to live well and do something of significance while I am here. The British missionary C. T. Studd wrote a famous oft quoted two line poem: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Reynold's Family Cemetery

On Thanksgiving Day, 1950, my Great-Grandfather John Cloyd died. The ground was muddy and it would have been difficult to make the trip to the Cloyd Cemetery. So my grandfather went in search of a closer place to bury his father. He went first to the Farris family who owned the farm next to him. They understood the predicament but told him that they wanted their cemetery to remain just a family plot. My grandfather said thank you and walked a little further to the next neighbor, the Reynolds family, who agreed to let our family bury in their family cemetery. I was not there but knowing my grandfather as I did I expect his response was something like “much obliged” accompanied with a promise to do “our part” in the upkeep and expenses of the cemetery. So on a cold November day our family made the procession from the family farm and home to the Reynolds Cemetery where we buried my Great-Grandfather. Come spring, in keeping with his promise, my grandfather bore the expense and labor of building a fence around the cemetery. Nearly three years later the family made the same trip for my Great-Grandmother Sally Cloyd. Then on Mother’s Day, 1957 my first cousin Vicky Lynn Cloyd, born just 3 months before me, died when I was but six weeks old. In June of 1964 my Uncle John Bowyer, who was married to my Grandfather’s sister Flo was buried in this place. The following year McKinley Cloyd my Grandfather’s half-brother was buried there. Then in June of 1967, Aunt Flo was laid to rest beside her husband. By this time the Cloyd family had carved out a section of the cemetery. It would be nineteen years before we took one of our loved ones to this place again. But on a cold February day in 1986 I gave the eulogy and led the procession as we buried my Grandfather, Charlie Cloyd. Sixteen years later, in 2002, I did the same for my Grandmother, Ada Cloyd. Six days shy of a year later I did it again for my Uncle Thurman. This week our family gathered at this place for the 10th time. This time we buried my cousin, John Charles Cloyd. That makes five generations of Cloyd’s that are buried in this plot of borrowed land. The stones around us witnessed the names of two others who will someday join them.

So for us the Reynold’s cemetery is hallowed ground. The name above the gate does not bear our name and it does not belong to us. But we have kept my grandfather’s bargain and we have done our part and thus lay claim to a corner of it.  It is precious soil. For now ten times we have disturbed this clay and laid the bodies of our loved ones in it and then closed up the earth again. The Cloyd family treasures this spot. Here we have grieved as our tears have watered this patch of earth.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Memories and Melodies

My mother was a woman who cherished memories. She took notes, treasured family gatherings, and always had her camera clicking. But at much too young of an age Alzheimer’s began to steal her memories. Her alertness to the world around her slowly faded to a blank stare and incoherent gaze. She has not known me for years. Nevertheless, I sometimes drive the distance to see her. On one of those occasions, about 20 months ago I found her in a state of chatter. I spoke to her and though I knew I would not be successful I tried to interact with her. But she stared blankly ahead oblivious to my presence and chattered away. I decided just to listen and did so for about an hour. Most of what she said made no sense but every now and then she would string 6 or 8 words together in a sentence. As I listened it occurred to me that there was something like a reel to reel tape playing her mind of events that occurred 50 plus years ago. In her demented state she was interacting with those events. I listened closely and discovered that I was on the reel to reel tape that she was interacting with. She would say “You know I have these two kids”. And if there were only two kids then one of them would have been me and that would have dated the event around 54 or 55 years ago. Once a brief smile came across her face as she said to one of those kids “Look at you, you are so cute” (I am quite certain she was probably referring to me). I realized something about my mother that day that I guess I already knew – The melody of her life was her children. That day she gave me a gift of listening as she recited the melody. Alzheimer’s had robbed her mind of the verses her life had written, but she was maintaining a feeble grasp on the melody.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Being an Hilarious Giver

My autistic son Brock likes to go to a small lake not far from our house and feed the ducks. So this afternoon we grabbed a sack of old hot dog buns and head to the park. Ducks must have good eyes because when we get out of the truck they start swimming toward the shore. They are always anxious to see Brock and enjoy the stale fare he has brought them. We walk to the shore. I hand Brock the buns and he breaks them apart and tosses the pieces in the water and the ducks scurry to retrieve them. Today Brock is in a giggly mood. With each piece he throws he lets out a chuckle. How many times do we laugh when we give something away? But today I got a gentle reminder that God loves a hilarious giver.

Laid Out in a Straight Row

Brock and I just got back from a walk in the cemetery. I noted that the graves were all lined up in a straight row. Maybe that is why the heart monitor shows a straight line when a heart stops beating. It occurs to me that I am destined to lain out, flat and still, in a straight row. That is death. Some people suggest we live that way. And some folks do. But since I will have forever to lay flat and still in a straight row I prefer to live with a few zigs and zags and curves and swirls. I choose to do a few things contrary to the norm and explore things out of the ordinary. I want to take a few risks and sometimes just land wherever the wind takes me. I might die sideways or upside down. But so what? There will be someone there to pick me up and lay me out in a straight row.

What is Love

What is Love?
                                                                   Brent Cloyd 2015

Love is a kiss
            A prelude to the dreams we hum
            A postlude of what has become

Love is a wine
            Intoxicating heart and soul
            Over the mind it gains control            

Love is a song
            A melody to remember
            Forever a burning ember

Love is a light
            Dispelling darkness in the night
            Keeping hope of morning in sight

Love is an ointment
            Soothing discomfort through the years
            Healing our wounds, calming our fears

 Love is a nourishment
            A meal giving comfort and strength
            Encouragement for the day’s length

Love is a refreshment
            An oasis along the way
            A cool drink at the end of day

Love is a Faith
            Bearing hope in the worst of times
            Always waiting to hear the chimes

Love is a Jewell
            A dangling necklace of fine gold
            Staying the same as it gets old

 Love is a perfume
            A fragrance seeking our favor
            An aroma we can savor

 Love is a curtain
            Protecting our secrets and pride
            A shadow where we can confide
Love is a banquet
            An emotion to celebrate
            A good reason to Decorate

 Love is a banner
            Appreciating our worth
            Expressing our value on earth

Love is a flower
            A lily growing from the pond
            Beauty that expresses our bond
Love is a voice
            A call to the places we roam
            An invitation to come home 

Love is a guardian
            Protecting us from things that spoil
            Watching over the fruits of our toil

 Love is a rock
            In whose cleft we obtain refuge
            Granting us strength for battles huge             

Love is a covering
            A quilt hand pieced with perfection
            Stitched with peace, hope, and affection         

Love is a garden
            A soil where our lives can take root
            A fertile place producing fruit         

Love is a spice
            Amending the ordinary
            Bringing taste to the contrary

Love is a tree
            A gentle breeze providing shade
            A place for the stories we’ve made
Love is a seal
            A room that captures and confines
            A lock that holds us and refines

 Love is a comfort
            A shelter from the wind and cold
            A blanket when sick and old

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Let's Go to Bethlehem and See

Recently I traveled to Israel. I had the opportunity to visit Bethlehem. In preparing for this event and because of this event I wrote the following poem.

Let’s Go to Bethlehem and See

By Brent Cloyd, 2014

Come travel to the town of Bethlehem with me
Let’s observe the venue, reflect upon what we see

 I see a place where politics is harsh and shrewd
Where feeling forgotten, people have a vile mood

I see an Emperor who made a great decree
Go home take the census; you owe taxes to me

I see a young man, responsible, able, and proud
Who complied with the order, did not complain loud

I see significance in his ancestral line
The connection must be claimed, they could not decline

I see a young woman, greatly pregnant with child
Her time would come soon; the journey would not be mild

I see a man and woman, tested but in love
Confused, yet convinced of their mission from above

I see a crowded town without a lodging place
For poor strangers there was little mercy or grace

I see the pain of labor, loneliness, and stress
With groans, desire, and effort; a birth did progress

I see a happy face, immaculate with joy
Overflowing with love for a her baby boy

I see a stable, filled with the stench of manure
No place for a new born, vulnerable and pure

I see a child lying on a mattress of hay
Who humbly had arrived in the natural way

I see a baby wrapped securely in strips of cloth
One sent from heaven resting in a feeding trough
I see a proud mother gazing at her first born
Unaware that others will stare at him with scorn

I see a town that ignorantly missed the sign
Thus ignored the presence of this infant divine

I see shepherds on guard in the dark of the field
Keeping watch over their flocks with protecting shield

I see night interrupted by an angels face
As the glory of the Lord was shone in that place

I see heavenly beings with great news to proclaim
The joy of one who surpasses every name

I see a choir of angels as their voices ring
Glory to God in the highest heaven they sing

I see them praising God in sounds of sweet release
God sends His favor, in Messiah there is peace

I see shepherds, curious, gazing, with minds stunned
Leaving their flocks at night to see what had been done

I see action, let’s go to town right now and see
This savior the angels sang about with such glee
I see a young family, a man and his wife
Loving and guarding their child, in a world of strife

I see shepherds, with amazing joy in their eyes
Who left telling a story of this great surprise

I see a mother treasuring the day’s events
Pondering her involvement in God’s great intents

I see myself, a sinner, as part of the story
Praise Jesus my savior, to God be the glory.




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