Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Note of Consideration

This way with words that God has given me is something I do not try to flout, as humbleness is best and pride is to be tempered, which I try to limit the amount in puffing up my thoughts and my writings. As with all things, I am still learning of what amount is acceptable.

As for my generation, we do tend to have a "me" factor as is evident with the proliferation of blogs, but if used judiciously, blogs are wonderful tools to express things that matter in one's life.

At the same moment, it was a very troubling moment when the first poem came to me in my statistics class the Monday morning of October 30th. It shook me, as I had been struggling with feelings I am still wrestling over still now, but I realize now that even if the original subject of that poem has dimmed in the forefront of my thoughts the poem has the significance still on a much larger scale.

However, on that day I had to decide what to do with that piece of art that came to me. Was I to cover it with a proverbial bushel basket and hide it from the world? What of the veiled feelings I put into the writing? Should those be exposed, too? I was unsure, but throughout this experience since, I have realized that I made the right choice.

Inspiration is stated by Webster's Dictionary to be "a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation" or very simply "the act of drawing in; specifically: the drawing of air into the lungs." While these words are not sacred revelation in the least, they are thoughts inspired through the graces of God, of which I have no doubt. When the thoughts and the words coalesce as they have as if breaths of air taken in, I cannot deny this experience to be so.

Some of the words I have written and will, in time, write may be a bit more on the frivolous side but so is life at times. The mundane things in life are merely the filler to the bookends of our lives, and so filler must be there for the book to be meaningful.

Surprisingly to me, the first reading for this evening's vigil for the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist speaks directly to the gift of words and certain graces. Take a read for yourself:

In the days of King Josiah, the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

"Ah, Lord GOD!" I said,
"I know not how to speak; I am too young."
But the LORD answered me,
Say not, "I am too young."
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them,
because I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying,

See, I place my words in your mouth!
This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms,
to root up and to tear down,
to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant. --Jeremiah 1:4-10

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Bridge

It's been a month since I wrote my last poem, but I have had a great deal going on in the past month. I wrote the following poem yesterday, after starting it last week in a creative spark. This past month has been a new experience for me, much unlike my past three other summers of college. At some point in time I had either family or friends within close access. I was somewhere where I was accustom to and knew relatively well.

Austin has not been that way. I've gotten lost amid all the new-found freedom and new experiences that that this summer internship has provided. It also has exhausted me at times, but I am still ever thankful for it.

Slowly I am realizing it isn't as strange and out-of-the-ordinary as I originally thought. I am finding friends in the area in the most unexpected of places. It is through friends that you can become grounded. It is no mistake that we humans are social creatures, more apt to communicating to one another than to shun human contact. So it was a definite blessing to have found Craig on Sunday at Mass. There are reasons for all things. There are reasons even if we don't understand them at the start, but they are valid reasons nevertheless.

And so starts the third week of this grand adventure, one I am thankful for, but still I do not know where this will lead. It is unlikely I will know for certain where it will lead at the end of the summer, since there are so many wildcards in my life, but I am ready to test the waters and cross the bridge when I get there.

The Bridge

Dark clouds brood ominously overhead,
Their menacing presence awakens me to the danger ahead.
Raindrops fall at a driving pace,
Saturating the river bank without relief.

I look to the hilltops on either side;
Huge channels of water close in on me.
Their currents are strong and paths wide.
Fear of the surrounding deluge consumes me completely.

Quietly my mind begins to race:
How did I fall from His state of Grace?
What did I do to come to this selfishness?
Surely there is light to counteract against this darkness.

Before me is a narrow bridge spanning the swollen river.
Its wooden planks look oh so rickety;
Its lattice railings are overrun with water running mightily,
But the bridge throughout this onslaught does not waver.

My mind tells me this is a bridge
That I cannot and should not try to cross.
My heart calls to me as I approach the water’s edge,
Telling me this is a bridge I must cross or all would be lost.

I tell myself that I’ve fallen before,
And surely this time, too,
I will fall once more
Into the deadly river below—a tomb.

My heart cannot deny that I could fall again,
But I cannot within myself grow
Without first rising and trying again,
Thus my pride would then be made low.

So I set my right foot on the first plank,
Starting my journey over the troubled river below.
Then, in the distance, I saw a wall of water begin to grow;
I began to waver in my faith as my heart quickly sank.

Fear overcame me again
As the wave came crashing in.
I gripped the railings with all my might
As the water rushed over me, taking from me my sight.

I started to quickly choke
As my lungs took in more water with each breath,
And my soul cried out for mercy if any was left.
With my spirit beside itself, its will broke.

Throughout the surge my hands stayed gripped
With my arms outstretched in gut-wrenching pain.
As the waters overcame me, I felt the sharp pain
Of two of the railings’ nails as through my hands they ripped.

Even through this anguish so great,
I did not release my tortured hands,
For my faith refused to abate.
I released control of my will into His Hands.

The waters began to subside,
And once I breathed my next breath
I let out a mighty cry.
It was not of anguish, sadness or pain.

It was a cry of joy in the Lord,
For I had finally crossed the Bridge,
And I had done so with the Lord,
Trusting in Him through His Passion and His Pain.

For if we are to live in Him,
We must die in Him,
And if we are to come to Glory,
We must rise in His glory.

He is there at all our bridges over troubled water,
And with Faith in Him we surely will never falter.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Rest in Peace, Dr. Petersen

Dr. Lawrence Petersen (1942—2007)

It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of our colleague, educator, mentor, and friend Dr. Lawrence "Pete" Petersen. Dr. Petersen passed away this past Saturday after a courageous, year-long fight with cancer. The visitation is scheduled for Thursday, 31 May 2007 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Hillier Funeral Home in Bryan, located at 2301 East 29th Street, (979)822-1571.

Dr. Petersen joined the Department of Computer Science in the Dwight Look College of Engineering in 1989. He taught undergraduate computer science courses and, from 1993 to 2006, was the academic advisor for the Department of Computer Science (Computer Engineering Program). His courses ranged from programming (C, C++, JAVA, LISP, Pascal, and FORTRAN) to more advanced courses such as Data Structures, Analysis of Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence.

Between 1993 and 2005, Dr. Petersen was selected by students for annual teaching awards five times. He received the Former Student Association Teaching Excellence Award for the College of Engineering in 1996; and in 2004, he was one of five winners of the Texas A&M inaugural President's Award for Academic Advising.

Dr. Petersen served as a member of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate and as a College of Engineering representative to the University "W" Course Advisory Committee, Personnel and Welfare Committee, and Rules and Regulations Committee. From 1993 to 2007, he was the faculty advisor for the Texas A&M chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the International Honor Society for the Computing and Information Disciplines. He also served as the faculty advisor for the "Men of Aggieland" association, as a reader for the Honors Student Research Program, and as academic advisor for Company G-1, 2nd Bn, and Company L-1, 2nd Bn, Corps of Cadets.

We will miss him.

TAMU Department of Computer Science

Dr. Petersen was an amazing guy, an amazing teacher, and an amazing lecturer. I remember him from my earlier days in the program at A&M when I took a Java course from him. It seemed his favorite word during the course was "quibble" since he always had so many students "quibbling" about their grades that he created a "quibble form." He was a jovial fellow and someone who was definitely approachable, as I remember him from a number of advising sessions in my past four years.

It's the small things you remember anywhere you go but especially at A&M. Rest in peace, Pete. Job well done. It was good knowing you.