Call your folks

wood 2There’s a story in the book of Joshua where God holds back the sun so the Hebrews could have more time to fight on and subdue their enemies. 

More time.  Man, I wish.  Of course, most of us would just blow it.  But somewhere in our collective psyche where “deep calls unto deep” is that gnawing feeling that time is something we can’t grasp or control.  A cursory glimpse at even modern entertainment is informative—sci-fi time travel flicks abound, even the humor of “Ground Hog’s Day” maybe-I-can-get-it-right-this-time wistful thinking is not far below the surface for most of us. 

So somewhere thousands of feet over Midwest farmlands, I was in a jet heading home from seeing my parents for a few days at their retirement village.  Dad was recovering from a knee problem across the street from where mom was preparing for their new digs in the apartment complex. 

After sharing my dad’s breakfast table with a 93-year-old WW2 veteran, after hearing of one of their friends who skipped her chemo so she could go hiking in Colorado (“just give me a little extra medicine this time, will ya?”), and after meeting some of the other indomitable souls in their neighborhood, it kind of makes me think twice before complaining about…anything. 

We went to church together that Pentecost Sunday morning huddled around his computer at the foot of his hospital bed watching the live-stream from their Methodist Church with mom and one of their neighbors (a retired world-traveled physician who can now only see peripherally due to a degenerative eye problem—but walks everywhere anyway.)  I’m kicking myself for not providing some grape juice and flat bread for communion.  (“The good Lord knows our hearts, honey.”)

One of my parents’ good friends from W-A-Y back, (meaning my teenage years, okay, no wise-cracks necessary), is now in his 90’s and just returned home to the same complex from visiting family from the west coast.  I am informed he is of the polar-opposite political party than my father, which in this day and age could mean, well, we all know the vitriol that implies.  Evidently, they are both “old school”, which means that they can discuss politics without interference in their relationship. 

Would that we had such maturity these days.

Dad’s the one who taught me to “ask for the moon” but won’t ask for a bag of ice when he bumps his bad ankle on the wheelchair.  When I mention a plan to call for something, it’s “oh, no, don’t bother them…”  So I have dubbed myself “the wicked witch of the West” and I can imagine the nurses in report saying, “she called again.” (One of my main consolations is all the heavy lifting my local siblings do when it needs to be done.  This long distance thing STINKS.)

Dad says that as the light streams through his window in the morning, he gives thanks to the Lord for another day of life.  My folks have a perspective that my culture has largely lost, or missed altogether—gratitude.  Fortitude.  Resilience. 

Gray hair is a crown of glory;
    it is gained by living a godly life.

Now, let’s see, who shall the witch bother today?  

(Call your folks!)

Proverbs 16:31 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Let’s be offended. 

wood 2Yes, let’s.  At least, most of us would be after reading this in a letter, even from a beloved teacher: Continue reading “Let’s be offended. “

Mirror, mirror…

IMG_20150106_175751214 (2)Today, I am 57.  I’m reaching that age where you look in the mirror and think, “who is that old woman?!”  I will confess that I’m still working on this adulthood thing.  I’d say most of my grownup life I’ve been pretty responsible.  Being in charge of a 40-bed wing of a big city hospital at the sagacious age of 20 tends to bring that out in you, that is, if you (and your patients) are going to survive.  And believe me, there were times it could seem like an emotional and mental warzone.

Unfortunately, being responsible is not the same as being mature.  Maturity, I am still learning, is a matter of jurisdiction over one’s own heart, and it will Continue reading “Mirror, mirror…”

Avoiding the Red Sign

The red sign of doom
The red sign of doom

A lot of folks in my small town can relate to this sign.  Never mind that the print is too small to read from the street.  You have to pretty much get your face right up to it to get the full impact of the words.   Of course the tip-off is the searing red color, which brings to mind things like a blaring fire engine, a tornado warning on the weather map, the burning flames of,…well, you get the idea. 

It’s not a friendly sign.  But not uncivil, no, nor disrespectful.  Just matter-of-fact and to the point.  No beating around the brush (pardon the pun.)  It is from the local town government stating that your grass (to use the term lightly) is higher than the allowed limit for in-town residents.  The take home message is simply this: Cut it, or else.

Or else what?

Ah, therein lies the treasure!  Seems like the only motivator for some of us is the “or else” factor, a.k.a., consequences.  If…then.   And this is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is, many times, an uncomfortable one, which is in itself a good motivator.  I need to feel the pain if I lean up against a hot stove, or if I get irritable at my friend because I’m having a bad day.  I need to see the numbers on the scale go up if I eat donuts and ice cream every day, or the numbers in the grade book go down if I don’t study for my coursework.  Consequences teach us very important things, as well as keep us safe.

Removing reasonable (i.e. safe) consequences does the opposite.  Learning from our mistakes is harder, partly

pixabay
pixabay

because we don’t feel any different after making the mistake.   Or we don’t even know we made one, since somebody derails or blunts the consequence before it gets to us.  In a morally maturing sense, that’s “pass interference”, except that the one who pays the penalty is the person who was deprived of learning a needed lesson. 

This sets everyone else up for a Domino Effect down the road.  Someone who is not well acquainted with the consequences of their own decisions and behavior will eventually have the rest of us reaping the benefit of their vested ignorance. 

….it’s almost like they expect the city to make their signs a friendly pink and yellow.

Doesn't have quite the same pizzazz, y'know??
Doesn’t have quite the same pizzazz, y’know??