“When I speak of home as the ‘Holy Land,’ I am really not being facetious; on the contrary, I am painfully serious.”
“I start every day with the [Tulsa] World in one hand and the Word [the French Bible] in the other!”
Over the almost thirty-five years of my “Oklahomian Exile” I have written many letters to a variety of people and organizations, as evidenced in some of the preceding posts on this blog. Here are a few miscellaneous letters that were either left out of or did not fit into any of the categories previously presented.
All of them are humorous, or at least tongue in cheek.
The first one is a letter I wrote to Reader’s Digest about an amusing incident that occurred when I was diagnosed with lymphoma.
The second one is a letter I wrote to the international general manager of a Christian evangelistic organization in Tulsa for which I worked in the late seventies and early eighties as a French translator and later as an editor.
The third letter, a more serious one I wrote to that same lady, deals with my continued interest in Christian missions, especially foreign missions.
I hope these are of some interest as a further indication of my love of home, memory, land, the past, missions, etc., and my sense of humor in regard to them, though they are all of serious importance to me.
A Word of Wisdom When Down in Space and Spirit
13 December 1992
Pleasantville, N.Y. 10570
As a middle-ager fighting the effects of several chronic and age-related maladies, I was already feeling the weight of my advancing years.
Imagine my reaction when, much to my shock and dismay, my latest “old-timer’s” complaint was diagnosed as lymphoma and I was summarily informed to report to a downtown medical facility for further tests to determine the nature and extent of the malignancy.
Not wishing to waste a moment in filing a claim for medical insurance benefits, my ever-dutiful wife was insistent that as I finished each exam I was to make sure I picked up official copies of all the proper forms and reports from the various doctors and labs I visited throughout the multi-storied building.
After traveling up and down the several stories from one location to the other for what seemed like an eternity, I was in a bit of a daze as I stood muttering to myself and dismally shuffling through my bristling handful of papers as I waited in front of the elevator.
Suddenly the door opened and the lady at my elbow gently nudged me awake from my mournful reverie by noting, “Here’s your elevator.” Glancing up at the bright red arrow above the door, I distractedly mumbled, “No thanks, I’m going down.”
Just then from behind me came the officious voice of the receptionist in a tone clearly reserved for patients suffering from severe short-term memory loss: “Sir, you are in the basement. If you want to get out of here, you will have to take the elevator!”
Back home I was sheepishly recounting the insult-to-injury incident to my family, when my grown son remarked brightly, “Dad, don’t feel so bad. You should take it as a sign—you’ve got no way to go but up!”
xc: Life in U.S. Editor
Now I am going through a similar but even more serious health crisis, but am not as able to keep that “up” attitude as I did twenty years ago.
Note: Sometime later Mari and I recognized that young woman from the clinic who was sitting right in front of us at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa. After the service I introduced myself to her and told her my story about her. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy it and afterwards always greeted us with a warm smile when we met at Trinity. So it turned out that she was not officious at all.
PS Speaking of Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa, here is an entry I wrote in my dreams books not long after I wrote the above letter. As you can see, it too reveals my longtime and ongoing longing for home:
“Our last nite home over Thanksgiving I dreamed I went uptown to the railroad station in [our hometown of] McGehee [Arkansas] to pick up an attractive redhead from Trinity [Episcopal Church in Tulsa] loaded down with excess baggage. Her name? DIXIE!”
—Message I had scribbled on a day calendar
for a Saturday in December 1995
Purchase of a Piece of Paradise
December 18, 2004
International General Manager
The Osborn Foundation
“I must admit that I cannot prove that God is from Arkansas, but I know for sure that He has family there. (Blessed art thou among women . . . . [for as I tell all Okies] thou art not far from the Kingdom!)”
I am glad that you have joined “God’s Family” by purchasing “a little bit o’heaven” as the Irish say, over in the “Holy Land” [Arkansas]. The only piece of that “Sacred Soil” that Mari and I own is a plot just big enough to bury us in.
Of course, our tiny “parcel of Paradise” is located down in the southeast corner of the “Celestial Country,” right next to Mount Tabor Methodist Church, which is situated halfway between two farm communities: my birthplace of Selma (where I lived in total bliss until I was ten), and Mari’s childhood home of Florence (where she lived with her mother and grandparents until age three when her father came back from World War II and saw her for the first time).
Jesse and his father Levi (for whom our grandson Levi Jesse is named), were both Methodist ministers who founded churches in North Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas. However, the members of my immediate Peacock family were “Baptists of the Baptists” because my mother was the daughter of a country Southern Baptist preacher, pastor of the Selma Baptist church, which they helped found.
So church founding runs on both sides of my family, though it had about run out by the time it got to me. All that to say that there is a reason I call home the “Holy Land.” And I am glad you have recognized its true identity and have decided to become one of its “elect.”
Note: For a later letter I wrote to this lady about foreign missions, see the next entry. To read a humorous memo I sent her about a swivel armchair I requested from her to ease my aching back, click here.
The Prophet from Arkansas
January 12, 2007
International General Manager
The Obsorn Foundation
“I moved to Babylon (Oklahoma) from the Holy Land (Arkansas) in 1977 (the year that King Elvis died, see Isaiah 6:1) to take a much-needed job in religious publishing. If ever a man put his hand to the plow looking back, it is me. I only miss home two times–night and day!”
I am sure you recognize this blatant self-quotation that I send you every year in recognition of the anniversary of my coming to Tulsa to work at OS/FO. This year I am sending it a bit early since I actually came in February 1977—thirty years ago!
One reason I am sending it early is because I have time to write now (no work today) and because in taking advantage of my break I came across an article on missions/evangelism that I thought might interest you. I discovered it while doing some background research in a sixty-year-old book on Methodism, since Mari and I recently joined the local Methodist church to be with Keiron and his family.
Given my family history of church founding, naturally the subject of Methodist missions is of interest to me. However, I was struck by the universal application of this article to all churches and believers—which made me think of your family who was responsible for my becoming a “foreign missionary,” even though a confessed reluctant one. (“Can anything good come out of Arkansas?”)
Hope the article (although sadly now outdated perhaps in regard to the Methodist Church) will be of interest to you and inspire a renewed emphasis in missions.
Note: Sadly I no longer have a copy of that article on missions. However, I do try to keep up my French by reading the French Bible every day and listening on tape and online to a French evangelist for whom I worked after I left the Osborn Foundation back in the eighties.
As much as I may regret the loss of my French, my current health situation does not allow me to pursue it as rigorously as I would like. As I say, “Since my health has become so precarious, all my joys must now be vicarious.”