Sunday, June 15, 2014



Art glass and yard art are two of my favorite things.  A thirty year collection of cobalt glass lines a windowsill, hangs across a window top like a blue valance and dots the landscape of my home.  Hand-blown art pieces, sitting pretty, hold candy and fresh flowers except for the show-off basking in the study, proud of her curves and pedigree beginning.  A schmaltzy, whirlygig backyard has always tempted my landscaping dreams.  But to date, my only yard expression is my Francis of Assisi statue, a cobalt colored birdbath and an art glass garden stake.  Taller than me, it has a curly cue at the top with six diamond shaped blocks coming down the wrought iron pole, which pounds into the ground for secure footing.  The artist has filled each block with a thick piece of colored glass; red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, from top to bottom.  I’m not superstitious but my friend says it looks like something to ward off the "evil eye".  Growing up, I had my own personal watch, Eagle Eye, a  long-time nickname for my father.

The American Bald Eagle is the only eagle unique to North America.  One amazing feature of the eagle is its incredible eyesight.  The eagle eye is almost the size of a human eye but it can look forward and to the side at the same time.  The eagle’s visual acuity is over 4X that of a person with perfect sight.  With such clarity, the eagle can see danger and track a moving animal almost a mile away.   

My father sang in a church choir for almost all of his life - from his hometown church to a Navy chapel. Wherever he was a member, his regular place of service was standing on the back row praising God in full voice.

His reputation as Eagle Eye began when my sister and I were little.  Children's Church had not been invented.  We started out in the Cradle Roll where babies, "so fresh from God" were presented, on their first visit to the church nursery, behind a special curtained window where the church family could oh and ah over the little babies gussied up in lacy bonnets or bitty baby shoes.  A few years later, the three and four year old children would walk into church, thus beginning their education in proper sanctuary behavior.

I know I date myself but learning how to sit still during any occasion is a learned activity and obviously a lost art in many venues.  In my opinion, no matter the age, sitting with family and friends, experiencing God in all of His Awe and Wonder through music, scripture and preaching is much more of a worship experience than being sequestered in another room participating in material that has been watered down to appropriate age levels.  As an adult, I really don't mind how many dropped crayons roll down the floor or innocent questions are asked during a worship service including the entire family.

Sister and I shared the pew with our mother and our aunt and uncle.  Our only form of entertainment was a pew pencil and the church bulletin which we used to perfect pencil drawings to amuse each other.  I always drew Iron Poor Blood and Iron Rich Blood (from Geritol, a sponsor of The Lawrence Welk Show seen on Saturday night), my tale of a rich girl and a poor girl.  Once, I drew pictures of visiting family members, giving them animal characteristics. This artwork almost got me jerked out of church.  The object of the game was pain or laughter, whichever would cause an uncontrollable outburst in a church with almost 1,500 people listening intently to the sermon.  Pinching and nail gouging were also successful.  My father’s eagle eye was usually trained on our behavior and "discussed" after church.  His eyebrows were permanently raised for much of my childhood. 

From the Doxology to the Majesty and Glory, over time, my ear became trained to hear my father’s strong bass voice.  Even in a new state and church, Eagle Eye’s job was not over when we hit high school, which was good as we considered introducing a whoopee cushion to one morning service.  From his perch, Eagle Eye kept me in line with just a look.  He was always watching and knew who talked too much, sat too close or moved around too long.  Eagle Eye saw all.

With time and his age, we reversed the keen gaze, eagling in on his own actions while sitting in the choir loft. During a prayer, he would casually but with great stealth find his nail clippers and to our horror, commence an underhanded little snip here and there after the amen.  Or pause to refresh his eyelids during a long sermon.  Then we were the ones with raised eyebrows and the Sunday noon chat.   

When the bald eagle became the national symbol in 1782, there were almost 100,000 nesting eagles in the country.  In 1963, with only 487 nesting pairs of American Bald Eagles remaining, extinction was dangerously close.   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines "endangered " as a species which is considered to be close to extinction in most or all of its range.  The Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 protected the species.  By 2007, the American Bald Eagle was removed from the list and continues to increase. 

The choir loft was only a classroom for  my Daddy's discerning eye.  While his eyesight was not quite as good as the eagle, his lifelong devotion and life lessons were just as important to me as the catch of the day on the talons of father eagle swooping down to his little eaglet.  Sometimes one might think the sharp Eagle Eye type of father is endangered.  But a look around reveals Old Eagle Eye is still thriving - looking down from the choir loft, catching a child landing in a pool, applying the imaginary brake on the passenger side of the car driven by a new driver, throwing a gentle pitch into little hands, questioning "Talks too much" on a report card, kissing the forehead of a sweaty five year old, flinging a house shoe down the hall just to hear his daughters laugh.  The loving, watchful eyes of exceptional fathers. Oh, that all children could be so lucky!     



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