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Friday, June 30, 2017

Then...God - Part 1

I’ve never been more unprepared to die than last Tuesday.

The moment I rolled into the crosswalk, I turned to see a white Lexus hurling toward me.  What happened next is a bit fuzzy.  All I remember is pressing down hard on the pedal clipped to my shoe.  Silence.  So this is how it’s going to happen?  An instant after what should have been impact I turned my head to see the car whiz by.  

I just glared at its back end.  No taillights.  Black windows so no chance to see a facial expression.  The driver never slowed down.  Did they even see me?  No.

How did it miss me?

The drivers in the other three lanes of traffic looked at me in wide-eyed shock.  They almost saw a horrific event.  Was this even real?

I must have been in shock because I clipped in my other foot and wheeled on across.  After looking back to be sure this even happened, I glanced up at the traffic light to my left.  Yes, it was red.  Yes, the WALK signal was still lit up.  A driver gazed at me and mouthed something to the effect “Are you okay?”

After a timid nod of confirmation, I resumed my evening bike ride.  For the next hour I rehashed the moment countless times.  Was it my fault?  God must have pushed me?  Maybe it wasn’t that close.  What if….?  No!  Yes, but what if….?  What about…?  Who’s going to…?  NO!

The Lexus ran the red light.  No doubt.  What were they thinking or doing?  It was careless of me not to make sure the driver of the car was stopping like the others.  I either never saw it or it was far enough away that there was no visible threat.  I can’t remember which.  And therein lies my contribution to this near-death moment.

At first I was angry with the driver.  That anger increased when I stewed about making no attempt to stop or even slow down to check on me.  Surely someone chased him down and gave them a talking to.  What a jackass!

Then…God.  I thanked God for pushing me out of the way.  There can be no other explanation.  Wow, God, why do you keep saving me?  He didn’t answer me on that.  I think that’s just his way of saying “That’s what I do.”  And so it is.

When I said I was unprepared to die, it is based on being so self-absorbed at that particular moment.  Didn’t folks realize I am extremely busy doing stuff.  Things were in motion at work that only I could handle.  How had I prepared my family for this sudden end?  I have much left to do.  The chaos that occurred with each WHAT IF scenario I conjured up in my head was crippling.

Then…God.  He wanted my mind elsewhere.  God asked me about the driver.  How do these WHAT IF’s impact him?

Anger with the driver is easy.  Had something tragic happened, that is where the blame would land and land hard.  I can hear the speculation about texting, drinking or old age being a factor.  But answer me this:  If you were that driver, how could you live as the dealer of that ending?  When it replays in the mind a decade later all you can see is tragedy and death.  

Of course the driver was completely in the wrong.  But the penance for that mistake would certainly outweigh the crime.  We all make mistakes.  I guess it just depends on how close you are to the wrong end of the mistake to deem eternal torment as just punishment.

So by the time I got home, I was thanking God for saving us both.  Saving both our families from living through something so senseless.  Something that doesn’t fade away with a good night’s sleep.

****

I’d like to say that I left all this in the past and no longer play the WHAT IF game.  With each ride comes total recall.  Vivid and real.  I try desperately to see the driver.  Do I know you?  Why can’t you see me?  I’m right here.  The white giant is once again on top of me.  Then…God.  A flash and my mind is elsewhere.  The memory leaves as quickly as it arrived.  

The other day I was running and saw a white Lexus approaching.  I peered inside and this time saw a lady starring back at me.  That’s her!  Then…God.  He tells me this innocent woman is not the driver.  But that’s not all.  He explains that I can see her because her windows aren’t tinted.  He tells me to forget about the other driver.  That it is not important.  Let it go.

And so I do.  

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Trouble & Trust

     I’m not sure why or when it started, but I find myself filled with worry.  I don’t recall this being an issue in my youth or even in my young adult life.  Then, I became a grown-up I guess.

     I went through an intense number of years not long ago when sudden job uncertainty struck and life as I had anticipated was turned upside down.  That episode lasted, in total, about five years before it became clear my career would remain on the expected path for at least a handful of years to come.

     At some point during that time I surrendered and worry all but left me.  Not just about my job, but in all areas of my life.  I like to think that I finally trusted that God would provide for me and my family.

     “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:38 NIV

     Then, less than a year ago my son got in some trouble.  Trouble that he’d been in for quite some time.  Trouble that riddles me with guilt for not seeing it sooner or being able to prevent it all together.  Trouble that in many ways I feel fully responsible for.  Where had I been?  How could I not have known this?

     I’ve since learned, and recalled all too clearly from my youth, that there are some things a parent just can’t prevent, see, or repair themselves.  It is a hard thing to grasp and accept.  There is no doubt that my parents were clueless about things I wanted them to be clueless about.  Even knowing that just doesn’t seem to make it any easier.

     So, I worry now about him and so many other things that I can’t alter by my worry.  I’ve been trying to pray about it, but those prayers just don’t seem genuine.

     It is almost as though I want to worry.  That somehow my worry removes any guilt I might feel later when something goes wrong.  I’ll be able to say “at least I didn’t have my head in the sand…I mean, I worried about it.  Well, not that specifically, but I worried about a lot of things and that was sorta like what I worried about.”

     Just writing that sounds silly.  Yes, things can get messy.  Things will get messy.  What exactly can I do about it by mentally water boarding myself?  Not a darn thing.

     So, admitting this is my attempt at letting go.  Letting myself be vulnerable to pain and disappointment.

     Today, I hope to once again put my faith in the Lord and trust him.  Each day does indeed have enough trouble of its own.

     Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Had a Waterbed

What the heck ever happened to water beds?

My wife and I purchased a new mattress several months ago and it dawned on me that not a single store had a waterbed.

So, I jotted down a note to write about it.  Then…I forgot about it.  I have dozens of raw drafts (some containing only a title as placeholder) and for some reason I fail to consider it for an blog post.  That is why I don’t post more than a handful of items a year.

But today, I felt compelled to reach in and dig out a turd and post it!

Back to waterbeds.  To fuel my rant with some actual facts, I did what most do…I Googled it!  Well what do you know.  As usual, I am late to the party.  It seems The Atlantic (2010), MentalFloss (2016) an others wrote exhaustive pieces on the matter.

I would summarize, but I don’t want to be accused of plagiarizing or something.  Actually I’m too lazy.

They are dormant for the most part, but you can still purchase them from The Waterbed Doctor.  Seriously!  Look it up.

Here is my prediction.  Waterbeds will resurface by 2021.  Hey, Americans are basically out of ideas in many areas and someone will dust off this relic and recast it as good for your cholesterol or better yet a natural abdominal/core workout while sleeping.  Brilliant!  Just remember, you heard it here first.  Ok, maybe not, but maybe?

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Why So Fancy?

It can be fun to find unusual things at Home Depot.  Just last week (early October) they were setting up their Christmas Decorations.  I should have taken a picture, but I think I did the same thing last year and do not suppose anyone would find this odd.  Plus, I don’t want to be seen taking random pictures in retail stores.  That’s creepy.

Even without a photo, I must have done something wrong because I kept getting strange looks.  I worried my pants might be unzipped or I was wearing a funny hat.  Every so often employee would come up to me and in a slow deliberate tone ask me if I needed help.  A little bit like I was a lost 8 year old.

What gives people?

After my weird shopping experience (light bulbs) I headed over to Luna Grill for lunch.  I love that place.

After I ordered, the cashier looked me in the eye and said “Why so fancy?”

Um, what was she referring to?  I froze then looked to the ground self-consciously and noticed I was wearing a tie.  You know, the ones from old-time movies.  Back when people knew what a suit and tie were.  Back when white collar meant, dress shirt, which meant, suit, which mean necktie.

I looked back up and told her that I worked for a living unlike the rest of the bums in the place.  Ok, no I didn’t.  Instead, I mumbled about meeting with clients and wanting to make sure they knew they were important.  So I dressed up.  She, in turn, gave me a blank stare and handed me my change (yes, I still pay in cash because I am a geezer).

A strange bit of paranoia seeped across me.  It seemed as though everyone in the restaurant was looking at me with bewilderment and anger.  Dead blank facial expressions that seem to say…Who is this strange man?  What country is he from?  What is that red stripped fabric noose doing around his neck?

Call me old fashioned, but I still enjoy putting on a suit and tie.  I’m a rare beast however.  Even the bankers and politicians in town have lost the tie during the summer months.  What is this world coming to?  

Not ten years ago I could go into a store and be mistaken for the general manager.  Now I’m mistaken for a wacko.  Ok, I might just be nuts, but it has zero to do with wearing a tie.  Crazy people have NEVER worn ties.

So, what will you find unusual at Home Depot in early October?  Me.  Wearing a tie and hearing over the loud speaker, “Step right up, folks, step right up.  Come see the man who has mysteriously traveled through time.  You won’t believe your eyes!”


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Going Home

When friends are going through a difficult time, we hurt.  One of my old buddies sent me the following text message a few weeks back.

“Please say a prayer for my Mum - sad to report that she has terminal cancer and only has 3-6 months!! I’m going home to spend quality time with her and to say goodbye.”

Going home.  Somehow the words bring to mind joyful holidays from the past.  Long overdue gatherings with family.  Or returning home after a semester away at school.  I can’t think of a time when the words carried such a complex range of emotions.  My immediate reaction was deep sadness.  When trying to put myself in his shoes, it was just unbearable.  How exactly does one go about saying goodbye when you know this goodbye is, well, the last one?

I found it hard imagine the thoughts going through my friend's mind on the long overseas flight as he rehearsed their meeting.  What should I say?  I need to be strong.  How much is she suffering?  How can I best be there for her?

Yet, when you get past the initial emotions things begin to look a bit different.  There will still be great joy in the simple reunion of mother and son.  The circumstances are downright awful, but the plan to “spend quality time with her” will be filled with sweet moments of tenderness and probably a decent bit of laughter.  If nothing else it will be filled with unrivaled love.

Reports from the trip to see Mum were upbeat.  He is “so glad” he went.  

Their time together made the goodbye for the last time come too soon.  Isn’t it always too soon?  When we part ways with family and friends, we assume a next time.  When someone dies suddenly we think about the last time and how we didn’t know it would be the last time.  And if we did, what might we have done or said?

By knowing this would be it, they got to say the things they might normally have assumed could be said later.  No doubt my friend gave the comforting message of eternal life through Jesus.  We can be confident of  salvation, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier.  A lady from church who recently passed told her family that she was not afraid to die, but she just love them too much to let go.  I found that to be profound.

The hardest part for me is being reminded that I one day will be doing the same.  Saying goodbye for a final time or failing to say something I thought I had plenty of time to say.  So today I pray for the opportunity and courage to say the things I would feel compelled to say at a last time moment.  That I would be bold and let my family and friends know how much I love them.  Because it might just be me getting the call heavenward and I want them to know before I have to let go.


Run in Peace, Rest in Grace