Archive for January, 2016

Facebook foibles

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

In the last week or so, I have posted links almost daily links to this blog on Facebook. 

I wanted to increase the audience, even though that may not increase the readership (a blog for another day).

This morning I checked with my wife.  She had not seen any of the posts. 

I rushed to my computer and took a look.  All the posts were there.

I proceeded back to my wife and asked her to check again.  The status updates were not there. 

I rushed back to my computer (I’m starting to get winded by now!).  I looked all over the screen.

How could this be?

Of course, it was just one small button.  In the right hand corner.  Set to a default from a number of posts ago.  The people who could view my status were on a “custom list”.  A small “custom list”.  Without my wife’s name.

I pushed the button to make the status public, and low and behold my wife yelled out to me, “It’s there”. 

I guess life is all about one button at a time!

A humble village

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

“The other day” – a great way to start a story.  Much better than “once upon a time”.

Oops, got sidetracked – is that ADHD or just having too much in my brain I can’t slow down to write this blog.  I vote for the latter!

Anyways, the other day someone asked me why I hadn’t made more of my life.  A little context here:  He was a new acquaintance.  I was giving him my bio and explaining who I am.

When you are in  your sixties you learn two ways to storytell your life experiences. 

The first is the long version, which usually adds a few embellishments and hopefully keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.  The length is irrelevant to the impact that you hope to have on your hearers.

The second is the abbreviated version, learned over years of having to say the same thing over and over.  Your hope is to cover your lifespan in sixty seconds.

I had given the abbreviated version, including such things as finishing two masters degrees, serving in administration in a post-secondary education facility, and being a pastor.

Somehow this person envisioned someone with my background as having gone somewhere, done something, been someone.  None of which seemed to be contained in my short resume.

Well, I have done all those things.  Just not the way he expected.

I’m back  home.  Retired in a small town.  Content to let the world go by while I focus on an area of service I think is important. 

I’m more convinced than ever that God has a wonderful plan for the rest of my life, and death is part of it. 

So getting grandiose ideas of our worth is a colossal waste of time.  Hang out with your creator, hang in with your fellow man (in the generic sense), and do what you like! 

Then you’ll rather enjoy ending up with your creator when you die, you’ll still get to hang out with people, and I understand the destination brochure for heaven resides on the same shelf as party-time excursions.

And so, hopefully, I will be content to know that I have a little taste of heaven, here and now, in this humble village I call home.

Writing

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

We all want to be published.

Of course, you have to understand the word “published.”

In a very simple way, the meaning relates to making something public.

For some of us this is scary.  The end result of aversion to being published is becoming a recluse and a hermit.  As I have learned recently, from stories of neighbours and friends, this can lead to dying without friends – anyone checking on you to be sure you are alive.  That story sends chills down my spine, and then back up!

For others of us, being published is a wish come true.  You’ve all met the person who lives, quite literally, off the breath and excitement of being surrounded by their public.  Without that contact they wither and become the walking dead.

And somewhere in between . . . Well, I hope I fall there.  Not dependent on whether people like me or not.  But desiring to be public to serve others.  Or as one famous personage of years past said, “Love your neighbour.”

So, I’m off to write.  I’ve garnered a few local outlets – places I can write a column of print.  My hope is that, in making the words public, there will be a benefit to people.  I’ll let you know where you can find those words – once they get “published.”

Conversations

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Yesterday was a talk day!

As I look back to my younger days – look way back! – I was one who did not find conversing an easy thing. 

I’ve had it explained to me that I tend to start conversations 17 steps past where my fellow traveller is entering the conversation path.  The advice I have received over the years is to assume that people know nothing of where my conversations are headed, and start back at the beginning.

Not bad advice!

Now, I know that certain people are part of shared conversations with me over the years.  They have background and vocabulary that allow me to enter into a depth of conversation that is otherwise unwise.

Yesterday was a combination of styles of conversation.  A very good friend and I were headed on a four hour road trip – along with some scheduled stops.  The conversation went immediately to our lives, how those lives are shaping up, and some dreams for the future.

Later in the evening I was essentially introducing myself to a new acquaintance.  That conversation included some thoughts on what we were about in the conversation and also some general personal histories.  I did not expect to be sharing intimate thoughts or directions in my life.  I did plan on sharing enough that we could progress in our shared conversation.

Wherever we enter the conversation path, though, one  thing is sure.  We are here on this planet surrounded by people.  We’d better get used to finding ways to share our journey together.

Conversation is a good starter.

Three funerals and a Christmas

Monday, January 18th, 2016

The funeral season is well known to funeral directors and pastors. 

Usually the time frame for an unusual amount of deaths is over the Christmas season and into the first few months of the new year.

Perhaps, in northern climates, this deals with the dismal season called winter.  Perhaps, during the Christmas season, this deals with depression and suicide.  Perhaps people just run out of breath.

Because that is really what happens.  I was with a dear friend of mine who passed away as the year was finishing.  As she drew her last breath, there was a completion of life, and then she was gone.  When there is no breath, there is be no life.

This Christmas I was a part of three funerals, all held in a week’s time.  Two of them were ones in which I was the officiant.  The other I sang at and was also in on the planning.  All three were related to my parent’s past.  One was my uncle, another a friend from his childhood, and another double-dated with my parents.

Oh the fun!  And I say that with all seriousness.  I enjoy being a part of funerals where there is a strong witness to the life that Jesus Christ gives. 

With this as a background to get me going, I’m starting to write a novel.  The idea of writing a book has been on my heart for a few decades.

The main character is a funeral director.  Out of his character I’m hoping to express the joy of dying, the tensions of serving as a “friend to death”, and a realization of the phrase, “God has a wonderful plan for the rest of your life, and death is part of it.”

I’m calling the book – “THE DIRECTOR”.

And so, the writing has begun.  My mom had a great phrase when things didn’t seem to be getting done as fast as they might have been – “as slow as molasses in January”. 

Well, it is January . . . I’ll keep you informed on my progress.

Rituals for our neighbours

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

In the last few weeks I have become particularly aware of a cultural shift.

An atheistic or agnostic society has adopted church type rituals. 

There is now an athiest church.  Celebrations of life at someone’s death.  Midwifery can become a ceremony in itself.  Even destination marriages.

None of these require God.  And all of these contain elements of ritual for which the church is truly suited.

I think we need to be aware of our society’s rituals.  At the same time, is there a way in which our rituals are welcoming for a society lost without God? 

Lost because our pathway ends up going nowhere without God – we live and die . . . and that is it?  What if our society had greater hope than that, and their rituals were from birth to grave and then beyond?

Sounds like the church has all those rituals in place already!

Maybe we just need to tap into the needs of our society and see how we can be of service to them.

Things: why do we have them?

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

These past few months I have been silent on this site. 

  • Part of that is moving into retirement – and giving myself space to “do nothing.”  Well, time is up!! 
  • Another part is a desire to start writing on a grander scale than just blogging.  That has started to happen. 
  • But, I miss the short, pithy pages that outline my life and some of my off the wall thoughts.

So, I’m back.  With a posting on an interesting thought:  “Why do we have things: “

1. Cash – they are a trade commodity. We gain greater (or lose more) money depending on the current value of the commodity. Cash is expected to provide a better life – or at least the option of purchasing better or more enjoyable things.

2. Comfort – there are many aids to our lives which make them easier – drugs, household appliances, paint to highlight walls, desks for writing, beds for sleeping and homes for shelter. At the least these things help us to enjoy our lives by not requiring us to sacrifice or overdo ourselves.

3. Collection – Good art and unusual things are often collected for the sake of cash or comfort. This category goes a bit further, in that aesthetics (the love of the beautiful) plays a part in a collection that does not necessarily provide money or comfort. A collector has a desire to gather around themselves that which is pleasing to them (and perhaps themselves alone!).

4. Creation – Some love to create things that flow from their innermost being. In this case, there is not a particular desire to make money, or to provide a comfortable living situation, or even to keep that which is created (in fact, this may be a point at which the desire is to give to others).