For me the most poignant images I will retain from this brief but intriguing trip to Pennsylvania for family business  will be a couple of images, like that of my stepfather and three of his sisters sitting on two benches, divided into their customary factions, all grimly looking at the honor guard provided by the Navy for their father, to discuss his heroism and to praise his willingness to sacrifice himself for his country and his family. The other poignant image was one that was less expected, as it was a very rare sight: on the way back from services in Little Washington (as it is called by locals), in a rough part of town near the location of church services, on a road cratered by pot holes, just past a rusted-out steel truss railroad bridge, three young deer, one buck and two does, crossed the street in an urban setting that reminded me of the spectacular and bizarre beauty one finds among the ruins of post-industrial Western Pennsylvania, and perhaps life in general.
For me, visits to Pennsylvania are at best bittersweet. On the positive side, there is always joy to be found in reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. A young man I met was but a very small child of about a year of age when I remember seeing him last when my brother graduated high school. Now he is learning how to drive, and one of only a few teens in the remnants of a congregation decimated by faction and schism. Another friend of mine was talking about his studies as a graduate student in prosthetics and encouraging a young lady who I had seen before in social media and in videos for ABC, but had never met before, whose father happened to be a local elder whom we met in the parking lot, about her interview for a job not unlike mine as a data analyst for a health insurance company, that the will of God would be done for her about her work, considering her ambitions to be certified in actuarial studies. So, that is the good side of my visits to Pennsylvania, keeping in touch, albeit infrequently, with people face to face, many of whom have known me and my family for a long time.
There is, however, nearly always a negative side to visiting Pennsylvania, and this visit had its own stark examples of such difficulties. A young man of some awkwardness and geekiness whom I happen to know, and whose father has been a longtime friend of the family, managed to continually harp on two areas of great personal irritation and discomfort, and it seemed impossible to deter him from both of these areas. On the one side, he continually wanted to remind me, as if it was not the subject of much painful reflection, that I was ever more closely resembling my father, whom he regarded as a particularly unattractive person physically, seeming to imply that my resemblance to him and my resulting general homeliness was responsible for my continuing singlehood, which is a matter of great personal frustration. Despite my chilly restraint, he seemed not to take the hints that his line of personal commentary was not acceptable to me, even if he realized that had he told it to my brother that he views no two (presumably non-twin) siblings looking more alike than the two of us and like our father that my brother would hit him. Perhaps he should have appreciated my lack of physical aggression as a sign of my own extreme restraint and not as a disagreement with my brother that a hit would be warranted for such a hostile and mutually unflattering comment for both of us. When temporarily deterred from continually bringing up my father, my looks, and my resemblance to my father, he would discuss conspiracy views reminiscent of David Icke in terms of chemtrails, skepticism about 9/11 being what it was seen to be, ISIS being the creature and creation of the CIA, and Abraham Lincoln being the descendant of the Rothchild clan, and therefore involved in various Illuminati schemes. At best, I listen to such racist and ridiculous views with a grim and stony silence, not liking to insult people or get into ferocious and ugly discussions face-to-face, and so despite the fact that this young fellow seemed to be observant about the young people, especially the young women, of the congregation, he seemed entirely unable to find any subject to sustain conversation on that was not deeply unpleasant to me.
Aside from the mixed content of many of the conversations, some of which were pleasant and others which were not, the messages themselves, one of which focused on the times of refreshing and what needed to be restored at the return of Jesus Christ, are worthy of a more lengthy treatment than I can supply here. I would like to at least comment that the messages were excellent, and fit together well with minimal overlap between them, each individual emphasis nevertheless blending into a worthwhile tapestry. All things considered, it was good to be able to spend time with my stepfamily and to reflect on the ubiquitous importance of resurrection (and therefore, by implication, matters of death and life) to the discussions and messages during the course of the past couple of days. The fact that Our Father does not let death and ruin be the fate of mankind is something that ought to fill us with great hope, for we will not be left barren and wilderness forever.
 See, for example: