29 June 2009

What Do You Do to Reach Enlightenment and Then Afterward?

Alonzo E. Lyon in about 1905 at age 25. He did not become my grandfather until age 80.

From Denny: I've always liked this quote. What's interesting is that my Christian Grand Dad from Kentucky, who had never heard of Zen, taught me the same concept through his wisdom AND his attitude AND his actions - something completely lost on his own son and other grandchildren, even arrogantly dismissed and ignored.

I was the only kid who liked to literally sit at his feet and listen to his tales of his youth, his farming and other business adventures and finally the wisdom of what he had learned in this life. He was one of those rare individuals who read the Bible literally every day as he found great Joy in doing so - yet he never was a finger-in-your-face kind of man. Grand Dad really understood the true messages from Jesus, unlike so many of his time period.

Fred M.Supreme Court Chief Justice Frederick Vinson Image via Wikipedia

As I was doing some family genealogy I found out many things about my grandfather he never publicized. During his time he felt God blessed him with wealth and, therefore, it was his job to be responsible with that wealth and do a lot in the community. He didn't do that on a flashy basis with his name on a million buildings and show off at public events. He did it one person at a time - just like Jesus.

Basically, he functioned in the office of Apostle as he helped so many people from so many walks of life when they experienced hard times. Then those people went out and passed it forward to help others too.

He was a childhood best friend of a Supreme Court Chief Justice (Vinson) who was deciding about civil rights and segregation. That Justice used to come home to Kentucky and go fishing with Grand Dad (Alonzo Lyon). I know my grandfather; he would not let any moment pass to press for the civil rights of African-Americans. He was horrified and disgusted at the treatment of returning WWII black veterans.

Grand Dad also pressed for women's rights as he considered women " the best of mankind." What a unique attitude for his time! He was the parent - and the inspiration - my father never chose to be. Grand Dad often called him down on his bad attitude, especially toward women, "there was no call for that, not even with children."

Women loved his company. Children flocked to him as I often strolled with him around the neighborhood every summer to share him with the other kids who had grandparents who were indifferent to children. Every summer he was like the local celebrity!

Well into his late 80's he made friends with the local five-year-olds. When questioned about that practice he would reply, "I've outlived my wife, my friends and most of my family including my twin. Besides, you make friends with every generation." With a huge knowing smile and a wink in his eye, "It won't be that long before this little boy will be a young man and we can go fishing together!"


"Before enlightenment - chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water." ~ Zen Buddhist Proverb

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