Life has we have known it for all of our years has been suddenly and severely altered.
If you are working, you are vulnerable. If you are locked down at home, everything about your daily routine has been changed. We feel like we are living in a syfy novel in which a microscopic organism, a type of flu, has changed the world.
The result of this tiny bug is loss: loss of identity, independence, security (financial and health), loss of businesses, livelihood, and loss of life. When we lose something important; we need to grieve.
A couple of days ago I had to cancel our much-anticipated vacation to the southern Appalachians and the Gulf Coast of Florida. The two people I talked to were delightful and concerned for our well-being. Refunds were no problem because “we are all in this together” and we are “in uncharted territory.” As we talked for a while, happy to have someone to swap stories with, these calls that I dreaded became a source of encouragement.
So, we slog on trying to keep things as normal and as safe as possible. As we slog on, we come in contact with others who are slogging on. We hear their stories and tell them ours. We are not alone. Compassion oozes up from the candid conversations.
We care about each other.
On this Palm Sunday, we cannot deny this pandemic of disease and its resultant loss, but we can start our own pandemic, a pandemic of hope.
Response: any behavior of a living organism that results from an external or internal stimulus. What do our responses to this pandemic and our staying at home to lessen its impact tell us about ourselves? Honestly, I believe we tend to have an initial knee-jerk reaction that is more related to… Continue reading
Our lives have suddenly changed in unexpected ways and it’s been unsettling. Even though we are more separated from one another, we realize that we are all in this together. That fact has generated a spirit of compassion. People are asking one another, “How are you doing?” So, how are… Continue reading
It’s an oxymoron. How can you be social and distant? Do social media and technology finally attain a higher purpose? Perhaps, though they have so many limitations. There is no substitute for physical proximity and eye-to-eye contact. Social distancing is an odd term. Very clear and very imperative in one… Continue reading
“Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.” – ancient Chinese proverb This is the post that I have been wanting (and dreading) to write for months. It violates that age-old admonishment to avoid discussing religion and politics. If fact, they may be the two most… Continue reading
Ever notice how the cows all face the same direction in the pasture, but there is one that didn’t seem to get the memo and is separate from the herd doing his own thing? That’s me. I dislike housing tracts where the nearly identical a dwellings are crammed in close… Continue reading
A few years ago, when I was having some back pain, I got a call from my doctor’s office informing me of the results of my x-rays. The nurse who was probably not as old as some of my clothes, informed me I had osteo arthritis. I was shocked and… Continue reading
I tend to rise to the occasion for the big things, for the crises. But I get worn down by the little things, the things that drag out and go on and on. Last week little things got to me. It was cold and the snow-covered ground had officially become… Continue reading
I am back in the saddle again. I am thinking more of the old Gene Autry song than Aerosmith here. (They also had a song with that title.) It seems to be a tune about a person doing what he loves. The previous year was a year of challenges for… Continue reading
The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl last night after a fifty-year drought. But does it really matter? If I didn’t know better, I would think the NFL was enterprise invented by billionaires, lawyers, and modern-day gladiators. It is an American oddity. The world has soccer, known elsewhere as… Continue reading
The call comes.Everything changes.A flurry of activity ensues. Sunken cheeks.Is she aware?Is she there? Each breath scrutinized.Sit and watch.Was there a slight change? Nurses care.Hospice explains.We speak words of love, not knowing if they are heard. Even the aids kiss her forehead as tears roll down their faces.Our hearts melt.We love their love. Faith and… Continue reading
What does it mean when your parents die? How about when their whole generation has moved on to the next life? My Mom passed away two days before Christmas, so I am trying to figure that out. She was the last of her generation in our family as she joined… Continue reading
We miss a lot. Life is busy. Let’s be honest, it’s hard not to think about what we are going to do next, even when someone is pouring out their heart to us. We can be so agenda driven that we only think about the end goal and regard the… Continue reading
We have all heard that it is unwise to talk about religion and politics. However, when you think about their far-reaching effect, it is unwise not to talk about religion and politics. We just need to learn how to do it without hating people or concluding they are crazy. Continue reading
Note: This is a synchroblog in which several people contribute their thoughts on the same topic. This time the topic is unity, how the church can foster unity among its various factions and our divided nation. At the end of this post is a list of links to the other… Continue reading
When it’s chilly outside, but warm inside. An opportunity to reflect just before the holiday chaos descends upon us. An occasion to gather together when there has been so much driving us apart. A timeout to appreciate what we have been taking for granted. A time to take stock of… Continue reading
The more I heard of Senator McCain’s story, the starker the contrasts became between the man who tried to become president and one who is president. One was born into a family of service with a glowing history of military careers. The other was born into a life of privilege… Continue reading
The deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Charles Krauthammer may be practically forgotten and long gone from the internet’s trending topics by now. Yet, they deserve to be remembered. They were artists who, to the best of my knowledge, never painted a portrait or sculpted a bust. They used words, reasoning,… Continue reading
Just above my computer screen are the wild dunes, home to gopher tortoises, anoles, geckos, and who knows what. Many of the sea oats have reached four or five feet in height and there is even a large cactus right in front of me. Here on the patio, the crows… Continue reading
Recently, I was face-to-face with someone I thought highly of and we were in the midst of a serious disagreement about political issues. It has happened several times with several people. While I enjoy a good open discussion, I don’t enjoy these encounters. In these situations, I am usually shocked… Continue reading
When Fox News anchor Shepard Smith was asked about the opinion side of Fox News in a recent Time Magazineinterview he ruffled some feathers when he replied: “We serve different masters. We work for different reporting chains, we have different rules. They don’t really have rules on the opinion side.… Continue reading
I am going to suggest what might seem like a strange, or even heretical source of spiritual authority, but first I want to consider the usual suspects. Many people are looking for something they can hitch their wagon to. They want to be able to point somewhere and say this… Continue reading
It’s overcast, but I think there will still be a nice view of the sunset from my backyard, which is currently the Gulf of Mexico. Life is tough sitting here barefoot on the cottage deck as I write about relaxing. The beach appears from here to be nearly empty. The… Continue reading
Our nation has had only one independent president. That’s right, only one who stayed out of the partisan fray and refused to be locked into a political ideology. He certainly had his principles and stuck to them, yet he understood the value of moderation. While non-partisan, he was far from… Continue reading
Our newspaper prints a summary of the obituaries on the front page along with celebrity birthdays. As I look as the obituaries, I say to myself, “older, older, older, younger, older, younger”, etc., depending if the deceased was older or younger than me. Then I glance at the celebrity birthdays… Continue reading
On March 3, 1991, in the wee hours of the morning three friends who had spent the night watching basketball and drinking were speeding on Interstate 210 in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. A California Highway Patrol unit gave chase, but the driver refused to pull over. The… Continue reading
Brian Zahnd is a pastor in my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri, and he is about the same age as me. In his newest book, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, Brian takes on some issues that have been mysterious and troubling for me, and countless others. The… Continue reading
Something beautiful happens in ditches and dining rooms. More specifically, it happens when we dig a ditch with another laborer and share our table with another diner. Chip Gains introduced me to that concept. Chip and his wife Joanna are the stars of the hit HGTV show, Fixer Upper. Chip… Continue reading
I have been fascinated by the concept of repurposing ever since our weekend visit to Mineral Point, Wisconsin about three years ago. It was a bleak time of year, like now, in the middle of February when we made that trip. We surprisingly discovered that many of the shops and… Continue reading
“After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just… Continue reading
In this supposed golden age of television, I am having a hard time finding programs I want to watch. Having recently switched to Amazon Fire Stick and Hulu Live, I have found a few movies and series that are pleasant new discoveries, but it seems the vast majority misses… Continue reading
For about thirty years, I have thought something was wrong with the way we practice Christianity. At first, I thought the church’s methods were out of date. They were, but that was not the problem. Then, I thought the way we did church was sad proof that we didn’t… Continue reading
The market is up. Immigration is down. Some people are thrilled. Others think we are led by a scary clown. The United States isn’t. Divisions abound. Legislators are cowards. Or else they vote everything down. Congressmen and senators hold to the party line. They are such a letdown. Volatile… Continue reading
I have read and written so much about matters of faith for so many years that I finally got tired of it. I felt like that’s pretty much all I have to say on the topic. In the process, I fell in love with writing and began writing about other… Continue reading
It’s time to hang the new calendar on the wall! it’s a good time to briefly celebrate the victories, recall the blessings, forgive those who have hurt us, forgive ourselves as necessary, and move on to 2018. For the new year, I have adopted three values that I want to… Continue reading
It’s so pervasive. Songs, shopping, Santa. Sometimes we feel it. Sometimes we don’t. Warm memories fill our hearts. Sad realities replay over again in our minds. It’s fun. It’s obligatory. Rooted in faith. Embedded in culture. Yet, it is real. Though, we have made it fake. It was… Continue reading
Do you have a mantra,a frequently repeated word, formula, or phrase, often a truism? I do. It has been my personal focus for quite some time. I wrote it down and remind myself of it daily. Here it is. Peace. Love. Joy. Peace. I am at total peace with God, so I will be at peace with… Continue reading
One of my gifts as a writer is being to identify what is wrong. Unfortunately, it is a common gift. Most people need very little prompting to complain because it is vastly more difficult to suggest a positive way forward and become part of the solution. It is time for… Continue reading
My favorite breakfast place in the world is The Coffee Pot. What’s not to love? The food is fabulous, the menu interesting, the location full of character and charm, and the service is dependably friendly and efficient. So, I decided to meet with owners, Julie Zorn and Janis Barnhil to… Continue reading
Patty and I are at that time in life when the Christmas festivities have slowed down, a least, a little bit. We don’t have as many family obligations and they are for the seceding generations, rather than the preceding ones. We have also worked to pare things down. Patty… Continue reading
I was tired. Really tired! I might even have experienced heat exhaustion. Anyway, it was hot, ninety-five degrees to be exact, and I was exhausted. Moving dirt, laying sod and pushing a lawn roller filled with water is hard work even when it is not scorching. But I feel fulfilled… Continue reading
This was my column in the Kenosha News in February, but is still very relevant. We have a very energetic president who currently lives alone, doesn’t require much sleep, works weekends, and tweets before most people are awake. So, there is no telling what may have happened in the intervening… Continue reading
How did this happen? How did Donald Trump get elected? Certainly, we were presented with two historically unpopular candidates in the general election. It appeared that a good many of the votes cast for these candidates were really expressions of opposition toward the other candidate. I have lost track of how… Continue reading
It’s been a stormy one hundred days for Mr. Trump. His approval ratings have plummeted as the administration seems to bring us a new surprise every day. Two years ago, how hard would it have been to believe that Donald Trump would be President of the United States? In his… Continue reading
What is the most important thing in life? Is it how you treat others? Is it how well you love people? Is it living life to its fullest? Is it being true to yourself? Is it having no regrets? Is it preparing for the next life? Is it what you… Continue reading
I have become a bona-fide winter hater. I didn’t used to mind it much, but after weathering sixty-three of them, I have had it with winter. Short days, slippery roads, and snow blowing the driveway give me no joy. My body aches more. I eat more. I sleep more. I… Continue reading
I have thought about it many times. For over two decades, church was my life, and my employment. But I have had very little to do with the institution called “the church” for the last ten years. For most of my life, most of my friends were church friends, most… Continue reading
The view from the mayor’s office on the third floor of the municipal building is impressive. Harbor Park is on full display on one side and downtown on the other. It is just high enough to be grand, but not so high that you can’t see a lot of detail… Continue reading
How does a follower of Christ respond to a President Donald Trump? What is the role of church in the age of Trump? The evangelical leaders who endorsed Trump looked oblivious and uncaring because he so obviously violated Christian values and even common decency back when he was candidate Trump.… Continue reading
This question is probably more important than you realize, because it applies to more than novels and screenplays. It’s a question that rolls around in my mind from time to time since I have a written a novel and am writing another. Hopefully, before long I will have the courage,… Continue reading