The Idle American: A most unusual day

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, May 23, 2018

THE IDLE AMERICAN: A most unusual day

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


The day was picture perfect–A+ in every way. It was the kind prayed for by brides planning garden weddings, and dreamed of by photographers challenged to shoot pictures for world class chamber of commerce brochures.

It may have been the kind of day that inspired the psalmist David–beholding his God and His almighty power–to write the 23rd Psalm more than 3,000 years ago.

For the 34 senior adults from our church who toured Dallas’ fabulous Arboretum and Botanical Garden, it was a memorable day that “the Lord had made.” We rejoiced and were glad in it.

The absolute perfection of floral beauty, grand landscaping and an enthusiastic staff made time stand still–or at least slow down greatly. The 66-acre tract, with White Rock Lake as a backdrop, is a recognized respite from a fearful, fractured world that surrounds–but fails to suffocate–and is not allowed inside.

Everything about the Arboretum is inviting, and more than a million folks from all 50 states visited during each of the past two years. It is a place of “do’s,” and almost no “don’ts.” Want to walk on the lawn? That’s fine; bring a picnic spread if you’d like. Inhale nature. Be on the lookout for summer concerts and special events.

The staff genuinely appreciates guests. Maybe it’s because staffers likewise feel appreciated. Just a few days earlier, volunteers heard Arboretum leaders praise them for their toil, indicating that if their annual work had been done by hires, it would have cost in excess of $2 million. There are more than 2,500 volunteers, including about 500 who serve regularly throughout the year. The remarkable attraction is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with only closures on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Adding to the delight of our visit were several 15-year-old Hispanic young ladies decked out in flowing formals. Their Quinceaῇera celebrations at hand, they posed for photographs throughout the park.

Another unexpected participant was a runner, maybe 20-something. Actually, he was jogging, clutching three tennis balls as he passed.

On the next lap, he was juggling the tennis balls as he jogged.

Someone asked what he was doing. “Practicing for ‘joggling’ competition,” he answered, “I’m a joggler.”

I listened, wondering if there truly is “joggling competition,” and also fearing the bombardment of too much information.

Later investigation via Google revealed that “joggling” is the real deal, with numerous events around the country. One Boston “joggler” recently covered a one-mile course in four minutes and 32 seconds, juggling all the way. Nothing much surprises anymore. One wouldn’t expect to learn of a “Big Mac” lover downing a minimum of two of the burgers daily since 1972. A few days ago, he reached the 30,000 figure, and his cholesterol numbers are every bit as impressive.

At day’s end, the 23rd Psalm came to mind. We were led beside still waters, our souls were restored. Goodness and mercy were claimed.

Thoughts of rods and staffs comforted as we jostled with others inn traffic jams on Interstate 30.

I glanced at my wife, who had taken many notes. She was eager to take on our flower beds; a green glow lit up her thumbs.

I also was okay with reaching home, where one distinction is shared with the DeGolyer mansion, a 21,000-square-foot structure built in 1939. It was one of the first air-conditioned homes in the nation. Our home has AC, too, but is about the size of the DeGolyer home library.

Nearby is a giant Bois D’Arc tree that is more than 200 years old. It offered massive shade during hot summers more than a century before air-conditioning was dreamed of.

Poet Joyce Kilmer credited God with making trees, and surely this is one of the Almighty’s best. Had Kilmer ever seen this tree, the poem for which he is known might have had verses without end.


Dr. Newbury is a former educator who “commits speeches” round about. Comments/inquiries to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury.