Friday, May 30, 2008

A Rocky Path

This picture was taken by Will (with a little bit of coaching by Grandpa --pretty good for a 4 year old!!)

I started this post almost a month ago. I’ll give the reason I choose the title a little later. It almost seems prophetic because our journey has experienced some twists and turns during the past few weeks.

On Saturday morning May 10 – the day before Mother’s day, Linda and I were awakened by the cell phone ringing. We had gone to the Anmore Campground on Friday evening and we were hoping to spend Saturday at Buntzen Lake Park with Kevin & Will (if it wasn’t raining).

However, the phone call was from Linda’s youngest sister Stephanie who was calling to say that Martha (Linda’s Mom) was back in hospital and not doing well. She was in serious distress with congestive heart failure – receiving morphine for the pain. It seemed quite possible that she would not be alive much longer.

We discussed our options and concluded that we should return home as quickly as possible. We spent the rest of the morning packing up and saying goodbye to Will & Kevin. (Sarah was working so we didn’t get to see her before we left.

We pulled away from the curb at Kevin’s around 1:00 p.m. PDT and we pulled up at our curb in Sault Ste. Marie at 3:30 EDT (12:30 PDT) -- over 2200 miles (3500 km) in 96 hours ( 4 days). We traveled to Moses Lake WA (Walmart) on Saturday – made Bozeman MT by Sunday night (Walmart again – same one we stayed at on the way out), Bismarck ND on Monday (KOA – also a repeat from the trip out) and Ashland WI Tuesday (Walmart). We were on the road (almost) dawn to dusk every day – although one of the beauties of traveling with the BBB was the ability to pull over and rest every couple of hours – and we did take a longer break around midday. Still it was a tiring -- and thankfully uneventful – trip.

After a brief stop at home - check mail, water plants, send email to say we were there, -- we continued the remaining 90 km (50 miles) to Thessalon and mostly we have been here ever since. I went home for a couple of days last week, Linda came home Friday afternoon and Saturday – I went back home Tuesday this week -- so we have gotten most of the spring cleanup of leaves out of the flower gardens and some of the other work at home. It is a little unsettling not being able to plan “what’s next” and it has been stressful for Linda working to find ways to help Martha be more comfortable. I am learning a bit of what “living one day at a time” really means.

One of the “silver linings” of this situation has been visiting with people I haven’t seen for years. I suppose it is a fact of reaching this point in our lives that many of our old high school acquaintances have parents or friends in the home for the aged and we have enjoyed getting re-acquainted. I sat for much of the afternoon visiting with Linda’s brother Terry – something I haven’t done for many years.

Well – that’s a brief slice of what’s been going on in our lives -- now back to the original post.

The title came from a walk around the seawall at Stanley Park in Vancouver. The path is fairly smooth but there are many rocks on the beach below.

I am always impressed by the “rock artist” who takes the chaos of the rock strewn beach and makes these great rock figures.

I choose the title because it seemed to be a metaphor that applied to my life. I walk mostly on a smooth path. I often see chaos around me (and sometimes it intrudes into my walk) but the question always is – “Will I just walk by or will I like the rock artist help restore – in some small way - some order from that chaos?” I pray that my eyes can be open to those opportunities to create something good from the rocks on or beside my path.

I'm including some other pictures of the walk - it was the last opportunity we had to spend a day of "R&R" with Kevin, Sarah and Will before we had to return home.

Linda & Sarah on the beach watching Kevin & Will playing

Linda looking at the flowers and sharing something with Will .

Kevin & Sarah enjoyed some time together while Grandma and Grandpa played with Will

The other motivation for mentioning the “Rocky path” is the irregular nature of my posts over the past few months.

When I started this mean of expressing myself and keeping friends and family posted on what was going on in my life –I made an effort to have something to say about each day because many of the bloggers (John Dobbs in particular) that I became familiar with and used as “mentors” seemed to post every day. However, not everyone who blogs maintains a daily schedule - some do weekly posts and some post when the “spirit moves them”.

But even those that have a schedule seldom are 100% consistent in the frequency of their posts. Many of the ones that I visit regularly often post every day. But even in those cases, I observe “dry spells”. Circumstance such as travel, illness or just lack of inspiration cause gaps in the postings.

Lately my lack of consistency in writing is matched only by my lack of consistency in going by and seeing what others have written today.

After a year or so of blogging I found that a commitment to doing a daily post was a growing source of frustration and I started thinking more in terms of once a week and the occasional special blog about some special event. Even that goal has been elusive – In 2007 I managed 34 posts – slightly less than 3/month and only 8 so far this year which is less than 2/month. Part of the slowdown this year has been a venture into using FACEBOOK. While I don’t spend a lot of time with it –it is one more thing in the “virtual” world that needs to be balanced with the rest of the journey.

So why am I boring you with yet another discussion of my failures to blog very often? (Maybe some would be thankful that I’m slowing down !!! I know Linda still thinks I spend too much time at the computer – and that may be true – finding balance between the various things available to us is a daily challenge. But I digress.)

My reason for mentioning this inconsistency in posting is that I see my reaction to that reality as a sign of how I have been changed in some small ways by the work of the Spirit over the past 4 or 5 years.

Throughout most of my life – as I have I have mentioned before-- I have had a tendency (some might say obsession) with making more commitments than I could ever possibly meet and then being frustrated and upset when my efforts to juggle things resulted in important things being ignored as I tried to keep ahead of the urgent. I lived by the credo “If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done”.

Part of the journey that I have written about in these posts has dealt with “making real” something my consulting friend Terry Miller taught me about 15 years ago – and something Jesus taught over 2000 years ago. Paraphrasing (both of them) – the lesson is

“Know what’s important; concentrate on getting those things done each day; Don’t make promises to do something unless you know you can keep it WITHOUT breaking some other promise you have already made”

In terms of pragmatic change brought about by this principle, more recently I have been trying to live by 2 mottos

– the Nike creed “Just do it!” (so when something needs to be done, don’t talk about it “just do it
– “to-day is the first (and maybe last) day of the rest of your life ”- I want to spend some time each day acting as if it was the first day of my life (what would I be doing if this situation was brand new and I was just starting) and I want to do something each day that I would do if I knew it was the last day of my life.

So now – even though I am aiming at least one post a week and I have a desire to get by and visit with a circle of perhaps 10-12 of my favorite bloggers – some daily – some weekly; I no longer feel driven to meet that aim – it isn’t a commitment (promise) that has to be met – and despite what I get from those visits that enriches my life if it doesn’t get done during the time I spend “writing and making the rounds” so be it. There are other “first things” and “last things” I need to be doing.

And I more than ever realize that the most important thing – both first and last and in between – is in that “real world” of daily interactions (some electronic) with family, friends and strangers especially those encounters that provide a better understanding of the presence and power of Jesus in this world.

God Bless

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tragedy -- John Robert Dobbs

I have been away from blogging for several weeks and I am working on a post that explains my absence but I wanted make this brief post to express my sympathies and ask for prayers for my dear friend John Dobbs, his wife Maggy and their extended family and friends.

His 18 year old son John Robert was killed in a traffic accident yesterday day 3 days before his high school graduation.

I met John in 2006 when we were in Pascagoula Mississippi doing Katrina relief. We became friends quickly and he helped me to get started with my blogging.

We also met Maggy and came to love her. We met his son John Robert a couple of times and observed him leading singing in the services but we didn't really get to know him very well.

John (JD to many) is a prolific and insightful writer and his words of encouragement and exhortation have meant so much to me in the time I have known him.

Our friendship has deepened as we kept in touch through blogs, discussion lists and email. I know he was proud of John Robert and loved him deeply.

My hart is broken for John & Maggy -- When I read about it on the Berean spirit list and went to tell Linda both of us were in tears.

John & Maggy - we love you with the love of the Lord and we pray that through this time of pain and darkness God's light and God's peace will lift you up and you will feel the comfort of his love.

A mutual "internet friend" Wendy Cayliss from Australia expressed much of what I would want to have written so I'll just point you there if you want to read more about how I feel.

John in his Hope Remains blog gives the basic information about John Robert's death.

What more can I say -- May God be with you and keep you my friends

God Bless