Inspiration

By Charles Towne                        

If ever there was a word that might provoke confusion and fear, it is this dreaded word:

Pandemic — an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population (Merriam-Webster).

I know a little bit about confusion and fear.

When I was a boy back on the Fox River in Illinois, I saw some strange, wondrous and terrifying things… like the Blob. I will never forget the Blob!

“The Blob?!” you ask.

Yes, the BLOB!

While my memory fails me on many of the details, I remember distinctly that it was nighttime – the best time to catch turtles.

Allow me to digress a moment in case you don’t know why I’d be so keen to catch turtles at night. Turtle meat! To some folks turtle meat, especially snapping turtle meat, is quite a delicacy. These, like other individuals in various0 parts of the world, are somewhat… less discriminating… than you or I might be, and they will eat anything that wiggles, slithers, or squirms, including, among other things, bats, fat cats, rats, and snakes. So for some of these folks, eating turtle meat isn’t that strange at all. And so I was eager to catch them, clean them out, and sell the meat.

About 9:00 on one of these particular summer nights, lighting my way with a flashlight, I went out to check the hooks to see if by luck I had caught any turtles.

There was a tree that had fallen into the river, and out there at the end of the tree where it was laying in the water, I had placed a short piece of heavy fish line with a big fish hook. Baited on that big fish hook was a chunk of ripe meat to entice any hungry snapping turtles that might venture by.

Cautiously, I climbed out on the fallen tree, and… oh boy! A big old snapping turtle had taken my bait and was waiting for me. I was so excited!

I knelt on the tree and was in the process of reaching out to grasp the fish line, all of my attention on the turtle, when – SURPRISE!

Suddenly it was there!

THE BLOB!

There in the water, no more than two or three feet from me, something… some… THING, I know not what, was floating. But not just floating. It was breathing… hissing… and wheezing… like an asthmatic old man, inhaling and exhaling, in and out, in and out!

It…whatever it was… was about the size of a basketball.  A pale white, amorphous basketball-sized Blob, floating there in front of me in the darkness!

I forgot all about the turtle! I mean, for all I knew BLOBS EAT BOYS!

Completely terrified, scared of the unknown, I fled to the house, certain that the Blob was going to get me.

Confusion and fear. I know it well.

I never did figure out what the Blob was. I just knew what I didn’t know, and it was enough to have me hightailing it out of there.

Fast forward to another time on the river.

I was five or six, walking along in the shallow water, when I looked up ahead of me and saw “it”… something that surprised me mightily.

“It”, like the Blob, was like nothing I had ever seen before, and because I had never seen anything like “it” before, I decided to wade to shore and watch “it” intently… from the safety of the land.

“It” was moving!

Not only was it moving – it was fluctuating in size! Moving, changing, morphing, growing – larger one moment, and smaller the next.

It was strange! Scary and strange!

I must admit to some small concern.  Perhaps a tad more than small… but I was fascinated.

It was large… likely three or four feet across at times… and then, it would shrink… only to expand again. It was constantly changing!

Can you imagine what it was?

As I watched, a Red-Winged Blackbird flew over, casting a fleeting shadow across the “thing”… and when this happened, something quite marvelous happened. As the bird’s shadow fell on it, “it” turned into “many”, and I was able to discern the individuals that made up the whole.

What I was watching, when I finally understood “it”, it no longer posed a threat. “It” turned out to be a school of hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny, inch-long baby catfish, merging and coalescing to form a community of many.

There is usually an explanation for the strange and inexplicable in nature, just as there is in life.

As the baby catfish scattered in confusion from the shadow of the Red-Winged Blackbird, so do many of us “scatter” in our own ways when confused or fearful, exposed to something we might consider a threat or menace. We shrink back from what we don’t know.

To this day I’m not sure what the “Blob” was, but you can bet there is a rational explanation. In nature, there always is.

This pandemic, this evil dragon that is raging through our land disrupting all we hold dear and turning “normal” on its ear, will eventually run its course. And when it does, we will be better than before.

We will learn more about it so it will no longer be “novel”, strange, or scary.

With God’s grace through and with science, we will find a vaccine to overcome it.

And we will discover again, as we have through every crises, that “the greatest thing to fear is fear itself” (FDR). No matter how strange or terrifying a situation is, when we choose to stand and face it instead of shrinking back from it, we will find our way through it.

I believe this pandemic is no different.

When we choose everyday to rally side by side, and when we stand together upon our rocks of strength and hope, we will better face the unknowns swirling in the waters in front of us. Not with fear and trepidation, but with courage and solidarity.

The Rock I stand on, and invite you to try standing on too, is the same one David wrote of in Psalm 18: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold….”

When we stand together, the “Its” and “Blobs” and “Pandemics” of our world will be seen for what they are — nothing compared to strength of us, and nothing compared to the strength of us standing on the Rock and strength of God.

May you find hope and peace instead of fear this week as we continue to face the unknowns, stronger and better together.


Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.

23 COMMENTS

    • Dear Nr, my dear, sweet mama called them “happenings.” I like that. I can’t understand how so many people go through life just existing? My life has been, and continues to be a litany of “happenings,” a continual round of never ending hilarity mixed with tears, many of which are stimulated by joy, a few by grief, but all designed to thrill and bring quality to a life that would otherwise creep along on the mundane, crippled paws of mediocrity. Bless you, Chaz

  1. What an intriguing and thought provoking article! How many times have we allowed fear of the unknown to completely take over our mind and logical thinking?
    I have read that the Bible says “fear not” 365 times….amazing…
    one for each day of the year.
    But then I read that there are actually 366 times God tells us to “fear not”…one for each day,
    plus leap year. No matter which number is correct, the point is that God does not want us to live in fear. He wants us to trust Him
    and live in peace, knowing He is
    in charge. No matter what we hear, what we are told, man does not know everything that is going on, but God does! Let’s remember that what Satan means for evil, God will turn to good…some way, somehow. These times are unsure, but we can be sure of one thing…God is still in control. I love the verse in Psalms that says….
    “Be still and know that I am God”
    Thank you, Chuck, for reminding me to just trust Him!!
    God bless you!

  2. Dear CSG, Hmm? I have read that and it does give me some pause. 365 or 366, either way, if there weren’t those things in life that were fearful why would there be so many reminders to, “fear not”? But then I imagine myself, as the old song goes, “Safe in the arms of Jesus.” Bless you my dear friend, Chaz

  3. Beautiful! I had to say….I’ve seen some strange things in nature, (and we spend our fair share in the woods), and I have yet to see a BLOB of baby catfish! I am so jealous:)
    Of course….there is a much bigger message inside the story. I much more important message of TRUST. Love you my dear friend. Keep writing and sharing!

  4. Dear NH, Strange, stranger, and the strangest! I haven’t seen the strangest yet, but I am looking! Up in the clearer waters of the northern rivers, where the water is not colored dark with tannin it is not difficult to see what is here, but not seen. So much beauty, surprises around each bend in the river, red crayfish and cobalt blue, unique, mystifying, bewildering, puzzling? “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the imaginings of man, what wonders God has prepared for those that love Him.” Wow, wow WOW! Bless you dear friends and keep looking up! Chaz

  5. Loved it Charlie. The sentiment is so true. What we can all accomplish by standing together. One thing, although the pandemic in the beginning brought out the worst of those who hoarded items., it now has brought out the best in people who do not think about themselves but about others.

  6. Herbert, excellent principle and philosophy to live by, and the source of true happiness. Let it always be said of us that we invariably put others first. You take care pal, Chaz

  7. Dear sir, You are not going to leave us wondering what the “BLOB” was are you? You implied that you think you know. Please share, inquiring minds want to know! A Friend

  8. Dear A Friend, life in the wild places surrounds us with mystery! Yes, i believe I know what the blob was but if I tell you then you will know also and I will have to kill you, Chaz

  9. Excellent Charles, but then you always are. I believe that the BLOBS in my life have always managed to be understood. In the case of this virus we need but to look and discover who will benefit by it and it will be disclosed to us. To fear it is to fall into the trap. We must always remember, if God is with us, who can stand against us. Blessings

  10. Lorita, and I thank you for the kind words. We are so very fortunate that we have Him to lean on when life gets difficult. He never fails, Bless you and yours, Chaz

  11. I remember being frightened by a mud puppy – at first that’s what you were going to say, but now I surmise that it was the reflection of the light on your face mirrored in the water, ripples distorting your face. As for the pandemic, I agree with Lorita – we need but to look and discover who will benefit by it, and if that happens to be Big Pharma, eventually God will resolve the matter – since God is with us, who can stand against us?

  12. Judith, look no further than a certain group of politicians that have their greedy, fat little fingers in the delicious pandemic cure pie. Oh well… Bless you and yours, Chaz

  13. When I was much, much, younger, grade school age, we had our own pandemic, it was called polio! It would kill you or cripple you and it seemed at the time there were no way to be safe! We were scared to go outside,scared to stay inside, scared of everything all the time!
    Then came a man named Jonas Salk! Mothers and fathers dragged their kids to the doctors to get vaccinated ( we did not want to get stabbed with needles!) and slowly the fear was gone! The Lord provided! Since then, there have been many other diseases, disasters, and horrors that were supposed to kill us all and each and every time, God watched over us
    and we survived!
    On a different note, you know I was a city boy, and the only “blob” I ever knew was the movie with Steve McQueen before he was the essence of cool! Blessing to you my friend keep washing those hands!

    • Yes…I remember going to a neighborhood church basement for my polio vaccine on a sugar cube! I was so disappointed we only got one! Give me that kind of vaccine anytime! LOL! On a different note, my husband is 10 years older than me, and he contracted polio at the age of a year and a half. It paralyzed him on the right side, and with all the hard work of a mother who worked to help him walk again…many surgical procedures to repair the damage to his leg and a lot of other things he suffered, I am so thankful God brought him through it all. The vaccine was created shortly after he got polio…and he was among the last to suffer its effects. God bless those who worked hard to help find cures and prevention for so many horrible diseases over the years!

  14. Oh Richard, you bring much to my rememberer. We were told not to get too excited, not to go swimming, and stay away from people. There were a lot of people that were left crippled and on crutches, and then there was the pandemic of typhoid fever and another one that put a lot of people in “iron lungs” called “tuberculosis.” I remember one of my schoolmates getting T.B. Her name was Sandra and she was beautiful and very popular.
    I went to visit her in the hospital one time but she was wasting away, too much for me and I never went back, scared me. She died in an iron lung. Yeah, this old world is tired, worn out and tired, but it is what we have for now. And this too shall pass away. Thanks Rich, bless you and yours my friend, Chaz

  15. Well, you were braver than I would be…..never liked going out after dark! But I have to know, did you ever go back, in the daytime, to get your turtle?

  16. Yes Don, with great fear and trepidation I went back and got that turtle. As I intimated, I am pretty sure I know the identity of the blob. In retrospection there is usually an explanation for the puzzling and mysterious. Bravery had nothing to do with it, but practicality overruled caution and that turtle represented money in my pocket so greed won out that day. Bless you my friend, Chaz

  17. All I can think of reading this is the next “fear” being the murder hornets that are heading our way. We should have know they would be here eventually as they had sent their relatives the “killer bees” to warn us via Saturday Night Live oh so many years ago. Soon the TP hoarding will be replaced by honey hoarding. Good thing you didn’t tell the media about your “blob” and “it” or pandemonium would have surely resulted. Keep these stories coming Chuck – humor and faith in God will get us through anything his crazy world throws at us.

  18. Mike, me ol’ chum, aint it the wonderful truth! It reminds me of the time I grabbed hold of a “cow killer” wasp just to prove their sting isn’t as bad as claimed. As fast as I grabbed that sucker I let him go even faster! It gave new meaning to “a hands on” experience! OUCH!!! Bless you dear folks, Chaz

  19. Big Story Little Bro !!! Still reminds me my youngerhood in the farms … Many times Nature holds great surprises … But like I say, in the Youngerhood we became wilds and nuts … And we’re still here learning and discovering.
    Praise GOD Charlitos !!!

  20. Leo my friend, the wonderful thing is that papa God was always there watching over you even when you were running wild and He is still there with you today. Bless you and your my friend, bless you and give you peace, Chaz

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