Monday, July 29, 2013

Very Brave

God is...
Two of my grandchildren and their mother, who served as the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center (LOMC) summer camp nurse, came home last week, but not my thirteen-year-old granddaughter who stayed an extra week to tour eleven churches performing the songs and choreography she learned the previous week.  I told my granddaughter she was very brave to stay an extra week at camp by herself as we rode back home after watching and listening to her final performance. 

“You are very brave” was a favorite affirmation uttered by a friend of mine who said them with soft solemnity and a smile.  I got to know her on a trip to the Sylvania Wilderness into which she and her husband led family groups.  She spoke those words more than once and later wrote them in a letter to me after I published my memoir God Never Hurries.  I loved hearing and reading that support from her.

Listening to and watching my granddaughter’s 2013 Swing Choir performance took me back to when I traveled with my former church choir to sing in churches across Germany.  In my memoir I wrote, It was as if you could hear the voice of God within us singing.  I believe the deep bonds formed by my granddaughter’s choir over the past two weeks was because their voices lifted for peace not war, love not hate, and acceptance not rejection of the other.  It was the voice of God and is why it was so hard for these young people to part and go their separate ways after that final performance.

Ironically my granddaughter was quite sure she did not want to go to this summer camp and now can’t wait to return next year.  It is so like God, to present us with learning opportunities we would rather pass up but ultimately prove to be for the best.  What if the next time you see someone doing something courageous you tell him or her, “You are very brave,” with a smile.      

Monday, July 22, 2013


God is...

It’s been hot.  Temperatures in the mid nineties, dew points in the seventies, heat indices in the 100s—tropical.  My air conditioner ran for five consecutive days—unusual for me.  In my memoir, God Never Hurries, I wrote:  I do not like an air-conditioned home life.  I prefer being outside, even if it is only through an open window.  I do not want to go soft in the air-cooled house.  I like living more in rhythm with the weather if it’s hot, slow down, adjust my life (clean the basement).  Nevertheless, I had central air installed.  But I don’t turn it on—only when I can’t adjust my life—only when its too hot for the birds to sing—only when there’s no hope of a wind shift from the east—only when I can’t adjust my life.  I had my air conditioner installed when my aging parents came for extended visits.  It made life easier for all of us.

The biggest adjustment I made these past five days was to take my yellow-lab, Ben, to the dog park early in the morning while it was still mostly shady, and take another short walk after sundown around the neighborhood.  Once around the park and Ben was walking slowly toward the gate.  One day three black dogs waited at the gate ready to go home to their air-cooled lives while their owner tried to coax them around the park one more time.  I guess we are all going soft in our air-cooled houses.

My three grandchildren were at a summer camp this past week.  I worried about them in the extreme heat.  (People died in this last heat spell--mostly elderly.)  But I envied my grandchildren too.  They were coping and adjusting to the weather like I use to do.  And I also became very aware that I too am rapidly becoming an aging parent.

Last night when Ben and I went for our walk the dew point had dropped into the sixties, and the bright moon was growing to its soon-to-be fullness in clear, dark sky.  I thought about turning off the air when I got home even though the temperature was still 85 degrees at 9:00 p.m.  But when we returned home I was damp with perspiration and Ben was breathing heavily so I reluctantly left it on.  Waking at 5:00 a.m. and hearing the birds faintly singing, I got out of bed, opened the back door and heard their full chorus in cooled morning air.  I shut the air off and gratefully opened windows to a breeze, much less humidity, and then got in bed and let the birds sing me back to sleep.  When I woke again, I felt a new kind of energy in my body and fresh air in my lungs.  Maybe I should clean the basement the next time it gets hot.  It sure needs it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


God is...

Ever since I went to my grandson’s T-ball game last week I have been thinking about the long, very slow process we human’s go through to learn, and how great it would be if we all had patient coaches.  The primary focus of my grandson’s coaches seems to be to allow these 4 and 5 year-olds, boys and girls, enjoy the game as they find their motor skills while learning teamwork and sportsmanship.  The lack of physical coordination of these very young players is astounding.  But they are all out there working to learn their moves a little more smoothly game by game.  And those gentle men, and one woman, who look like they are herding kittens, also appear to be enjoying themselves.  Competition is not part of the equation and that is a good thing. 

What if we lived each day like a good T-ball game and were lucky enough to have gentle coaches to guide us?  What if the name of the game wasn’t competition but coordination, cooperation and learning to enjoy one another?  I do believe that is the long-term goal for the survival of our species but right now it appears the competitive spirit is leading us toward disaster.  Disasters have their function.  They wake us up to what must change, but wouldn’t it be better to employ reason, coordination and cooperation to avoid them?  Can we find good coaches for our life and can we sometimes be the good coach?

Any game has its goal and setbacks or it wouldn’t be a game and there was a setback at T-ball last week when a little player stepped up to the ball, swung with might, hitting the ball squarely and lined it right into another players face near first base.  A gasp came from the bleachers and many coaches huddled around the little one in pain.  There was a sigh of relief when this tiny player was able to stay in the game and play resumed.  Accepting help, and the capacity to rebound from setbacks, is another important T-ball lesson.  I believe many more eyes will be focused on the direction of the ball in the next game.  And can we keep our eye on the big blue ball we live on, and its inhabitants, and each do our part to avert disaster?

The human species is extremely young in terms of the rest of the earth and we still have an incredible amount of learning to do to live successfully.  In my memoire, God Never Hurries, I wrote about my vivid realization of that fact when visiting the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. and looking up at an incredibly tall timeline (at least two stories high) depicting the age of the earth, the beginning of life forms and their progression up to the present.  We first appear at the very tip of this incredibly tall visual aid and still have much to learn about living.  I believe we can all stay in the game if we find good coaches, sometimes be one, learn teamwork, good sportsmanship, have genuine compassion, and trust in the slow work of God.

Monday, July 8, 2013


God is...

Once upon a time, when I was struggling to find my courage, God sent me a cheeky little mouse.  For a mouse, it was a handsome pudgy little thing with large rounded ears, full cheeks, and had a tannish/gray coat.  Its belly and feet were white.  As I was working in the kitchen one sunny afternoon, my usual hangout, I caught a glimpse of movement along the top of the dining room drapery rod.  I looked with disbelief at a mouse running back and forth along the rod.  In broad daylight!  What to do?  So I opened the front door and then got a broom.  Returning to the dining room I said, “I’m sorry, but you can’t stay in my house,” at which point the mouse stopped, looked at me and then ran down the drape and across the dining room floor.  “Aren’t mice supposed to run along baseboards and under furniture?”  I asked myself.  I followed behind with the broom as it entered the living room, then it stopped, turned, and sat up on its back legs in the middle of the rug, looking at me as if to say, “What the hell!”  I repeated, “I am sorry, but you cannot stay in my house!”  The broom and I then moved this bold little intruder toward the front hall and open door where it stopped again, looked at me, the doorway, and then proceeded down the hall instead of out the door!  So I opened the doors to the garage and backyard and the broom and I resumed until the mouse chose the garage door.  I followed until it was out into the grass.

When I struggled with my aging parents’ care needs, I needed more nerve, audacity, and sauciness—more cheek.  But I was raised with none of that and its absence made that time of my life extra difficult.  But that difficulty also filled me with deep learning.

What if we were all taught a good balance of cheekiness along with the proper, expected, and norm?     

Monday, July 1, 2013


God is...

I recently read Gavin De Becker’s book The Gift of Fear and was struck by his brilliant descriptions of intuition.  He wrote:  Intuition connects us to the natural world and to our nature.  And.  Nature’s greatest accomplishment, the human brain, is never more efficient or invested than when its host is at risk.  Then intuition is catapulted to another level entirely, a height at which it can accurately be called graceful, even miraculous.  Intuition is the journey from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way…  And …Curiosity is, after all, the way we answer when intuition whispers, ‘There’s something there.’  De Becker also states real fear is not paralyzing but rather energizing and refers to it as coiled up energy.  Perhaps courage is another word for that energy. 

I know it all because it is what I lived to tell the tale about in my memoir, God Never Hurries.  It was as if the voice of God was speaking to me through the natural world.  The sun’s message to “Be not afraid”; a glimpse of heaven through grandmother moon; the bright blue sky and the clarity it brought; the deer that sparked my curiosity and later enlightened me; the fox that signaled caution; the raccoon that showed me evil often masquerades as good; and wilderness waters that relieved me of imposed guilt, were just some of the ways nature informed, comforted and emboldened me.  Periodically I still marvel at how I managed to hold my ground and not give into my father’s demands regarding his care.  All of the above, and more, was a long, difficult, but ultimately rewarding lesson in learning to trust in the slow work of God.  What if we all got in touch with our intuition, curiosity and courage?

Two Leo Tolstoy quotes sum it up:

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man [read men, women and children] and Nature shall not be broken.”


“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”