Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fred Jarvill’s death is another reminder of the passing of time. I’m guessing he and my dad have been friends for 60 years. The families a generation before had connection and now my youngest daughter and two of Fred’s great-grandchildren are good friends.

I’m wondering if “ordinary” is an accurate description for anybodies life. I’m thinking that ordinary guys like Fred are actually very special—perhaps exceptional.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I was in Idaho this past weekend. The ratio between travel time and amount of time spent there was not great, but it’s the way it had to be. And it allowed for four meals with my dad and step-mother, two nights of sleep in their home, and one of those meals included my sister and brother-in-law. Both nights my dad stayed up past his normal bed time as we sat and visited. We just talked about the things that came to mind since neither of us really knows what father and son are supposed to talk about at this stage of life. In our own way we each tried to let the other know our love and concern for the other.

Once again I got to see the labor of love my step-mother gives to my dad as she provides the assistance he requires due to his limited mobility. I went to church with them and saw the people and the ministry that is such an important part of their world. In the evening I went to a gathering of people from the Friends churches in southern Idaho. For me it was such an interesting mix of old and new. The place and some of the people were familiar to me from days long ago. Others were new and fresh. My inner self was fed by both the old and the new.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I’ve been doing a workshop about communication at some Friends Church area gatherings and just this week a friend gave me a line I should have been using from the beginning. It’s a Francis of Assisi quote: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Whether verbal or written, words are a form of communication that often need to be fleshed out (verified by the life of the speaker/writer) in order to be credible.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I’d be interested in seeing a comparison of average household income between those displaced by Katrina and the people who have lost their homes to fire in Southern California. I’m thinking a comparison even more significant than dollars would be the level at which people felt disenfranchised even before disaster hit.

If the federal government is able to respond to the needs in Southern California, it still won’t convince me they have learned to respond to needs other places.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Looking at my e-mails I’ve got to say it’s been a good day. I’ve had communication to and/or from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Washington, DC; Caldwell, Idaho; Spring Arbor, Michigan; Winchester, Indiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Vancouver, BC; Santa Barbara, California; Seattle, Washington; Klamath Falls, Oregon; and Lake Arrowhead, California. A couple of days ago I was listening to comments about how impersonal internet communication is. I figure it's a lot less impersonal than no communication.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. As the portion of the service called “open worship” begins, I try to think of the others gathered in the room. This is a time for quiet reflection. It’s a time that recognizes that God can speak to each of us individually. A little bit ago we sang “Cry of My Heart” and I’m now wondering what inner cries exist in this room. My mind takes one of those unpredicted jumps to a movie I saw Friday night. A main male character hears the audio of women’s thoughts after an encounter with the bathtub full of water and his hair dryer. How wild would it be to hear the thoughts of people during open worship? How embarrassing if someone heard my thoughts!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

“Do you wanna be heard?” is the title of a workshop I’ve led at some area gatherings of Friends churches in the Northwest. I was thinking this morning about a couple of communications killers. The one that came up in the discussion last Sunday was judgment. A judgmental attitude is a definite communication stopper. The other one that came to mind this morning is self centeredness. There are a lot of nonverbal ways to say “I’m more important than you” and as soon as that signal has been sent, communication hits a wall.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I was with Friends in Spokane on Sunday. Some I had met before; some it was the first time. Combining the two categories, the mixture includes:

- the man who has found a comfortable home among Christian Friends after years of work and worship with “liberal” (his word) Friends,

- the young woman who with her cousin, my son, and me built a paddle-wheel raft one weekend,

- the young man whose grandfather first hired me to work at Barclay Press,

- the woman who surprised me with her knowledge of the terms and theology of the Holy Spirit that are at the center of the book we are soon releasing,

- the pastor whose sojourn among Quakers began in a Texas Friends community and includes time in Washington, D.C.; Indiana; and North Carolina,

- the woman who is the sister of a couple of cherished friends,

and there are more.

On Sunday afternoon as we talked about effective communication at the area gathering of Friends one of these people pointed out the importance of relationship.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Last night C-SPAN took me to Mack’s Apple Orchard in New Hampshire. Barack Obama was talking with a group standing on green grass in a semicircle. It didn’t have the same feel as most campaign reporting. The candidate was talking to people instead of talking to the camera. It didn’t sound like orchestrated sound bites designer to compete for space on the evening news. The questions were from local citizens and had not been screened. The answers were candid and complete. It was strangely relaxing to not feel the tension that often accompanies the presidential campaign.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I have a long list of people and tasks that so easily slip quickly from out of sight to out of mind. Even the visible can turn invisible through familiarity. It’s a dangerous dynamic. I take things for granted. I let important things drop into the shadows. Limited time and energy becomes both an excuse and a reason, but I don’t know how to calculate which it is in any given situation.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I wonder if Columbus Day has enough significance to close the post office, banks, and government offices. I don’t know that much about Christopher Columbus. But he must have taken a wrong turn somewhere to be banned from setting foot again on an island he discovered and where he established a colony. It seems he was strong on courage and short on character. His brutal treatment of both natives and colonists barred him from returning to Hispaniola and excludes him from greatness.

Friday, October 05, 2007

It was a week ago last Tuesday that I wrote about three reminders of death never being far away. My son-in-law’s dad was not one of the three mentioned. His dad had seen an oncologist the day before. Stage IV esophageal cancer was the diagnosis.

We attended his funeral yesterday afternoon.

The prognosis had been bad, but everyone was looking at months instead of days. A week ago from last evening, following a surgical procedure to install a feeding tube, he suffered a pulmonary embolism and did not survive.

I’m reminded again that life is fragile and precious.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I’ve had very little contact with Jim and Debbie since I left Jackson, Mississippi, in 1981. It was a year and a half ago that I was last in touch. They were doing development work in Myanmar. Their graduate degrees in business, economics, and public policy are being put to good use.

Lord, You know where Jim and Debbie are. Please keep them safe. I should say keep them protected since following you isn't exactly safe. Amen.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Clarence Thomas has not captured my respect. Sixteen years ago I thought Anita Hill was more credible than Thomas during the congressional hearings that eventually led to him being approved to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. I’ve not seen anything that has changed my mind. And I don’t understand why a Supreme Court justice would write a book that makes him look defensive and recreates a cloud over his character.