When you least expect them.
A simple query
Yields big answers.
No more ambiguity.
It’s all black and white.
No more guesses.
No longer in the dark.
Yes and no.
But, I’d rather know
And then move on.
Life has brought me
To another fork in the road.
I think I’ll take it
And not look back.
Where would I meet you?
In a crowded coffee shop.
Or, a retro burger joint.
In a quiet café.
Or a peaceful church.
Would I stand still
Like a statue in the park?
Would I muster a smile?
Or cry a river of tears
Of gratitude and happiness.
Would we embrace like old friends?
Let me search for treasures
For my mental snap shot.
Of sights and sounds.
Of music and laughter.
Of peace and solitude.
From the moment we met.
Would my words come out right?
Would my voice fall silent?
Could I find the right words
To utter in a moment like this?
Can mere words describe the moment
When I meet you?
Patiently I await for that moment.
Searching my heart and mind
Wondering if it will ever happen.
Praying for the right time and place.
Digging deep within me to discover
A moment like this.
Fond memories drift to mind
Take me back to my childhood.
To summertime in June and Bible school.
To green grass and that big old maple tree.
To the Methodist Church in Port Royal.
Let me get back in line to march inside the church.
Following the banners of country and the cross,
Singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers”.
Opening each day with songs and a prayer.
Help me to listen to the teacher,
Teaching me stories from God’s Holy Word.
Let me work on a craft once again
To illustrate the stories from His Word.
I want to drink the Kool-Aid and eat the cookies once again
And to see Rose’s smile as she serves us.
Let me jump and play upon the church yard grass.
Dare me again in the game of Red Rover.
Leave me beneath the old maple tree
To listen to laughter and the birds singing.
‘Deep and Wide’, ‘The B-I-B-L-E’, ‘This Little Lamp of Mine’, and ‘Give Me Oil in My Lamp’.
Sing them over and over again.
Let me linger awhile in those precious memories.
With a thankful heart I do remember
The dedication of those saints from my childhood
To touch me with the love of Jesus.
In memory of Linda Sanders, Nancy Hayden, Pearl Hawkins, Rose Bruce, Wilma Suter, and so many more saints from my childhood.
I made some pumpkin spice cake muffins this afternoon. Nothing special about that, right? But, it was only when I lifted the beaters out of the batter that I became like an anxious little boy. I was reminded of the memories of my mom baking cakes and such when I was young. We would gather around to get a lick off the beaters when she was done with the batter. Ah, such fond memories of simpler times.
Then, I had to think of children today and wonder how many of them ever get to experience the simple thrill of licking the beaters. Whether it be their mother, an aunt, or their grandmother. Oh, and I guess I should include male cooks, too. Yes, the batter tastes good. But, what is important is the time spent between the child and the loved ones in their life. These are times when stories are told and laughter is shared. Memories are made and you remember your roots and where you came from.
We live in a world now where the food we eat is already made and all you do is get it out of the package, box, can, or sack and heat it up or consume it on the spot. I make no criticism of this habit. But, sometime make the time for the little ones you love and have them come and watch you make some yummies. Share the laughter and the good times. Then, they can lick the beaters and clean the bowl out, too. Slow down and share the simple times. You’ll be richer for it.
Yesterday I watched ‘The Bucket List’ movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. I enjoyed the movie very much. As I sit here in my living room I reflect on the movie. I identify with Carter (Morgan Freeman) in the movie. Like him I haven’t seen much financial success in my life, yet. I have been loyal to one job for a substantial portion of my life (19 1/2 years). Carter turned wrenches for 45 years in the movie. He talked about how his work had provided for his family.
I am thankful that I have my job. It has kept a roof over my head and food on the table. It has kept my late wife and I clothed and warm. My job has kept my cats fed all these years. What has my job done for me? I don’t know. Some might call me a stable family man. My dad would have said that’s the way things work. “You live, work, pay the bills, and die.” I want more than that in life.
I find myself longing for something more out of life. I want to have some kind of purposeful work that does more than just pay the bills. To win the lottery and not have to work again is what many people aspire to do. Yes, it would be nice to win the lottery. But, I want to have some type of purposeful work that is congruent with my personality whether I win the lottery or not.
My work is so easy it’s like falling off a log. I can make most any tile floor shine like a new penny. It’s so easy and yet there is not much challenge to it anymore. Perhaps I need to build challenge into a purposeful line of work.
I know that my work has the aspect of structure to it. I work pre-set hours. I know the process of refinishing floors from beginning to end. I work best with the discipline of structure in work.
What is my purpose at work? Hospitals should be clean environments. My work is a part of the task of provision of a clean environment. My work is appreciated by fellow employees, management, and visitors. I like the compliments that I get. But, there are certainly times when I wonder, “Is this all there is to this job?”
Watching this movie doesn’t inspire me to rush into making my own bucket list. It has caused me to reflect on what I can do to create purposeful work in my life. The results of this reflection should do more than just pay the bills. My work should be challenging me. It should have the discipline of structure. Most of all purpose should be interwoven throughout my work. My bucket list? Continue my journey toward purposeful work.
A year ago today I was getting ready for church and my cell phone rang. It was Bonnie’s good friend, Tiffany. Tiffany put Bonnie on the phone. I could barely make out what she said, but I knew she told me, “Happy Birthday”. Nine days later Bonnie left this world behind dead from breast cancer. I will always treasure that phone call. The memory will never leave me.
What do have I to say as I sit here one year later? Grief has had its way. Sometimes I wished it would go away. I tried to block it and it didn’t work. Grief still came back as my constant companion. Grief comes and goes now.
I have been able to get rid of most of her clothes. Bonnie was a bit of a pack rat. She liked the bargains. Her bargains will eventually be passed on to someone else. I do have the intent of passing on some of her bargains to the Methodist Children’s Home in Versailles. I have donated lots of things for our church’s effort for Operation Christmas Child. I still have lots more things to donate for that worthy cause.
I did my year-end assessment of myself. I know that I need to broaden my social and family network. I took a step last night to come to the church’s Bible study. The primary goal right now is the social connection. The spiritual benefits will come in time.
Yes, it’s been a long road from this time last year. I don’t see how I could have gotten here without God’s help. He must have been quite busy with all of my bungling and clumsiness in my life. I know that in time I shall see how it all fits together. I just have to take things one step at a time and trust God with the rest.
There’s one less place set at the table
One less gift under the tree
And a brand new way to take their place inside of me
I’m unwrapping all these memories
Fighting back the tears
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year.
(from Mark Scultz, ‘Different Kind of Christmas’)
What do I say about Christmas this year? Actually yesterday went along well. I read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth. I prayed. I had my morning coffee. I listened to Christmas music. I had bacon, eggs, and toast for breakfast. I called my best friend in Florida and talked awhile. I cooked a small ham, French-cut green beans, steamed carrots, and a couple of dinner rolls. Everything went well.
Yet, today it’s all hitting me head on. I know I could have went somewhere yesterday. I don’t blame anyone else for that. I’m a stubborn loner. But, I’ve always had somewhere to go for Christmas and someone to spend it with. Now with the loss of the three most significant women in my life (mother-in-law, mother, and wife) I feel like a lost puppy. My third shift work tends to keep me from developing relationships outside of my work. Sometimes I can even feel alone in my house of worship. I tend to forge deeper relationships with others based on some common interest.
I know this feeling won’t last for long. Life moves on. The pain will ease. New traditions will take their place. I will meet new people. I will embrace and cherish relationships more closely. I will make new memories. Yes, it was a different kind of Christmas this year.