I Hate Baseball !!

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I hate baseball.  My favorite team is, and always has been, the Orioles, but I cannot tell you one player’s name on the roster.  I take that back….if you let me go back 50 years, I can almost name their starting line up – Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Mark Belanger, Paul Blair, Davey Johnson, Jim Palmer….

A gift from Andy – A cap signed by Boog Powell. The world needs more guys named – Boog

Baseball is a plodding sport with way more down time than ball-in-play time.  The time the ball is in motion in an average 3 1/2 hour major league ball game is between 15-17 minutes.  The rest of time is chocked full of exciting practice swings, conferences at the pitcher’s mound, running on the field and off the field and spitting.  Lots and Lots of spitting. There are 162 games in the season!!  162!!!  That’s grueling!!  The success rate in the sport is abysmal.  A good hitter might get a hit 3 out 10 times at bat and the division leading teams have just over a 55% winning percentage.

Maybe I don’t hate baseball, though.

My son, Andy, who is a Baltimore resident, took us to an Orioles game at Camden Yards a few years ago.  It was glorious!!  The smell of the hot dogs, the grass, popcorn and sunblock were intoxicating.  The crack of the bat, the play at the plate and the 7th inning stretch while singing Take Me Back to the Ball Game brought me back to a 10 years old version of myself,  who would sit within 3 feet of the old black and white tv and watch his heroes play.

So we sat there that day in Camden Yards sharing stories with each other and trying to make each other laugh and talking about our plans for the future.  Side note – If you can only go to one Major League Ball Park in your life; make it Camden Yards.  It reset the standard for parks across the nation and it is gorgeous!!

My favorite movies are baseball movies – Field of Dreams and The Natural.  I literally go into a trance-like state when I watch both of those movies.  I have to sneak watch them when they’re on for fear Lynn will give me the business for watching them for the 100th time.

Yesterday, Lynn and I took off for a noon game at The Diamond to watch the double AA team – The Flying Squirrels.  I sprung for the the good seats – second row, field level at the end of the Squirrels dugout.  For the past two weeks the heat and humidity have been oppressive, but the day before, a storm system blew thru the mid-Atlantic and scrubbed it clean.  Mid 80’s, almost no humidity and sunny.  It was Day Care day at The Diamond so there were thousands of kids there and dozens upon dozens of vans and buses (I’m not gonna lie.  The fact that there were thousands of kids there was one of the main reasons I bought the better seats.  We love kids, but time-served.)

The guy in front of us was what you might call a baseball aficionado.  He knew all about the players, stats and was fun to have around.  We talked about UVA basketball (he had a UVA cap), the old Parker Field and life in general.  I told Lynn some stories and we laughed and had a relaxing fun time.  So zen.  The Squirrel’s lost horribly.  They’d be pretty good if they could hit and field.  We didn’t care.  It was a sunny day and we were together.  So what’s to hate about baseball then?  A sunny day, the smells of the ballpark all experienced with your best gal. You know..I think I love baseball.

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Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots. – Forrest Gump

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Serendipity and Reflection

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The darkness in the pre-dawn hours along Coalfield Road is simultaneously comforting and foreboding.  The occasional car coming from the opposite direction is on its way to the Y across the street from my townhouse.  The Y must be giving away worms.

The 2 1/2 mile, out-and-back walk I take, 4-5 times a week, is lit by antique-looking street lamps along a generous sidewalk for most of the journey.  I wave at a sporadic runner or cyclist, but otherwise the sojourn is mine and mine alone.  Plenty of time for reflection or more importantly “no-thinking.”  The Buddhists call it “no-mind.”

The deeper I get along the route, the more my overweight body hurts.  The back stiffens and the ankles and knees ache.  I stop at the turnaround point  and re-tie my shoes.  When I bend over, I can hear my vertebrae snap back into alignment and I stand upright and feel better.  I walk because at this point in my life, I have to in order to get back on the bike and into life.

Friday morning, on my walk, my mind focused on planning for the weekend.  I realized that it was Father’s Day. If you are a teacher in Central Virginia, Father’s Day is almost a high, holy day.  Father’s Day means you made it through the school year and are finally on summer vacation.  Oh yeah, and it means Dads are awesome.

I thought about all those “holy days” and realized this Friday will be the five year anniversary of my retirement from teaching.  FIVE YEARS!!  Where has the time gone?!!

The realization that it had been five years made me immediately melancholy.  Partly because I missed teaching, but mostly because I felt like I had squandered most of those five years.  I more or less took a sabbatical from life.  I made attempts to come out of my hermitage and even wrote a blog along those lines but….

The bike accident I had 6 years ago, where I  broke ribs and suffered a head injury, greatly changed my outlook on life.  I taught one more year and retired.  I decided life was too short to feel guilty about what I was putting our children through and I was REALLY, REALLY tired of talking.  I know that sounds weird, but imagine a job where you are talking almost non-stop the whole time.

I fully realize the irony in that I quit teaching because I thought life was too short and now I sit here writing about throwing away five years of my life.

It was nice and cool this past Friday on my walk; so much so that I had to wear a hoodie.  I was deep in thought; thinking about the past five years and making plans to change it all.  I saw a car coming from the opposite direction and it started to veer in my direction on the sidewalk.  It was weird because the headlights seemed to be moving independent of each other.  It was then I realized it wasn’t car at all but my two friends and biking buddies Robert and Steven.  They were both excited to see me out and moving around.  They had both said how awesome it would be if I could start biking with them (I’m a few pounds away from feeling comfortable on a bike).  Steven (who taught with me for 9 years) was excited that it was the last day of school for him AND he would be moving to a different school next year.  We chatted a few minutes and slapped each other on the back and headed our separate ways.

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Serendipity is a fickle mistress.  I was in the midst of making a significant shift in my approach to life and God sent two “angels” to encourage me along the way.

On Thursday, Lynn and I bought some furniture and paintings and set up a writing nook in my study. The study is where I work and watch sports in the old recliner Lynn let me keep from our move a year ago.  I’m now committed writing and finishing the book I started.

I’m committed to walk until I can bike.  I’m committed to getting back in touch with friends and getting out more.  I’m committed to living once again.  No more lost years.  No more excuses.  It’s in writing.



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It was their hands I always stared at with fascination.  They were huge, rough hands with large cracked fingers.  Fingers who had worked on so many cars, tractors and logging equipment that they were permanently webbed with the black lines left by their intended.

Those hands had worked the fields of Virginia and fought on the shores of lands far away.  Lands that were a universe from the rolling, green hills of the Virginia Piedmont and the warm embrace of their sweethearts.

Every Sunday morning, at Bethany Christian,  I would shake those grizzled paws that would envelope my soft unmarked hands.  I would watch as those rough hands tenderly leaf through the onion-skin pages of their well-worn King James Bibles.

They were honest as a game of checkers and loved their family, community and the Lord.  They even had honest straightforward names – Billy, Nathan, Warren, Joe and Leland.

These men worked hard, fought hard and worshiped God with a passion.  They were all elders and deacons on our church board.  They had earned that right and carried the responsibility on shoulders stooped by the life they had lived.

As a youngster, I would work in their hay fields and sawmills.  They seemed to respect me for my willingness to work hard and not complain.  They didn’t need to pull me aside, put their arms around my shoulder and give me advice.  They didn’t criticize me at the drop of a hat or yell at me if I did something wrong.  They would just look at me with their piercing eyes and smile.  The smile seemed to say “He gets it.  It won’t ever happen again.” It was those piercing eyes that had seen so much.  Death of fellow soldiers, sun-killed crops and illness.  Yet those eyes along with their ears always had the time to listen to an oafish, youngster who thought he knew it all.

They’re all gone now; gone to be with their beloved God.  When I go back to visit, I can still feel their presence.  As I drive by their farms, garages and church, I can see the influence their hands had on the community.

Their wives taught me how to love the Scripture and lean on the Lord.  They taught me how to be a man.

The impact they had on my on life (and so many others) cannot be overstated.  Any patience, kindness, listening and empathy I have were “given” to me by their example. When I lay down to sleep at night, I rewind the day’s events.   Their warm, loving faces appear and are used as the yardstick by which I measure my day’s successes and failures.

“We are standing on the shoulders of giants” is a phrase that has been often used but is no more apt than in this case.




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Sweet Sorrows


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I, Will, take you, Lynn, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.

The old joke goes….”What do you get when you play a country music song in reverse?  You get your hunting dog back, your find your favorite pocketknife, you don’t get  divorced and your truck doesn’t break down.”  2018 has been that kind of year for us.  While Lenny wasn’t exactly a “huntin” dog, he was loved and we lost him in February.  In July, after a protracted illness and 2 1/2 year decline, we lost Lynn’s dad, Jim.  In July we said goodbye to a home we lived in for 31 years.  Two weeks ago we lost Lynn’s mother, Theresa, who had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for  a while.  It’s been quite the year.

For the past 3 years Lynn was on-call to take care of her parents.  Her brothers and sisters were there as well and believe you me, it took all of them.  I could go on and on about the countless doctors appointments, hospital visits and late night calls that Lynn had to respond to at a minutes notice.  The road from our house to Morningside Assisted Living was well-worn.  I’m sure her brothers and sisters could say the same.

If I feel bad, I know Lynn feels double bad.  Lenny was her dog and it was her parents that passed.  Yet as I sit here tapping on the computer and listening to Christmas songs, she is 6 feet away from me preparing a delicious potato soup while dancing and singing along with music.  The resiliency of the human spirit personified,

After Lynn’s mom passed, we went to Morningside to clear out her room.  Nurses and LPN’s dropped by to express their condolences; but it was more than that.  You could see the respect and admiration they had for Lynn and her siblings.  It was as if they were paying homage to their dedication and love for their parents.

Leaving our house on Camrose Road actually took place just before her father passing.  It was not something we had planned on doing but the real estate “iron” was hot, so with the help of my friend, Dave, we did it.  As you most know it was a tough thing to leave that house and the history we had there.  It would have been a tough thing to do on normal terms , but to do it while Lynn’ parents were fading increased the degree of difficulty to a whole new level.

So here we sit with the passing of loved ones and moving in our rear view mirror.  Lynn’s now singing along with Alan Parson’s “Eye in the Sky” while tapping on her phone.

In our 2018 rear view mirror there is also a trip to Hawaii to see Andy and a new house. You see in between the sorrow there were moments of joy.

In a few weeks, on December 23rd, Lynn and I will celebrate forty one years of marriage. In the good times and the bad.  Yet even within the “bad,” I saw the best that humanity has to offer in my wife, Lynn.  The patience and dedication she had towards her parents was nothing short of remarkable.  I truly married up.

I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.  


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The inside of the house on Camrose Road seems sterile and soul-less.  It smells of new carpet, silicone caulk and emptiness.  Most of the furniture is gone, the pictures taken down and all signs of occupation have been diminished. We’ve scrubbed and sanitized our life out of its essence.

We have lived on Camrose for 31 years.  That’s 31 years of memories, most of which have been bubble wrapped and stored in a locker for the past month. We decided to downsize and move into a town home about ten weeks ago. I didn’t think it would be this emotional.  Tomorrow ( if the lawyers dot the i’s and cross the t’s), I will lock the door, jump into the moving van and drive away for the last time.

Lynn and I had been thinking about moving a year from now. We knew we had to fix some things to make it look more appealing, but didn’t know where to draw the line in terms of whether we would get that money back.  I contacted a biking buddy, Dave, who is a realtor and asked if he could come over and offer us some advice.

We asked him about replacing the windows, replacing the ceiling in the den, and all the flooring.  He agreed that all of it should be done and said it would definitely make the house more appealing.  He then suggested we sell as quick as we can.  The market was hot and there was a shortage of affordable houses that have that number of beds/bathrooms in this part of town.  We did the research and called Dave. That was 10 weeks ago.


Since that decision, we have had the flooring and windows replaced, had the den ceiling re-sheet rocked and had some electrical work done.  We’ve painted, fixed, mulched, caulked and cleaned, as well as rented a locker to store most of our stuff.  In the middle of it all we even went on an 8 day trip to Hawaii to see my son !!!  We’ve been to the dump six times and had a yard sale. We’ve donated and sold stuff non-stop.  All within the last 10 weeks.  We’re exhausted!!

The house is a far cry from the house we bought in 1986.  It’s seen upgrades, renovations and two new roofs.  It’s been painted inside and out multiple times, so much so that we look back at some of our choices and cringe.

The house on Camrose Road is steeped with the souls of its five occupants and their friends.  It was here we raised three beautiful, smart, kind kids. It was on Camrose we endured cancer and the aftermath of an accident.  Camrose has seen poker games, cookouts, birthdays, hurricanes, sleepovers, derechos and vegetable gardens. We’ve loved, cried, laughed and grown old on Camrose Road.

When you look back through our photos, you’ll see the little, white house bearing witness to our lives; first days of school (parents and kids), a new dog, anniversaries, snowfalls, prom dates, graduations, and Christmas’.

Most of all, Camrose has seen love.  Lots and lots of love along with a dusting of life’s allotted sorrows.

How many times have I cut the grass, laid my head down to sleep, eaten dinner or kissed my wife in that house?  How many times have I backed out that concrete driveway to go to work at my job as a machinist, millwright, estimator and finally teacher. It seems that the total of the stars would not equal it.

I don’t know the young feller that bought our house.  I hope he experiences all the joy AND sorrow that life provides; both have made us better people and grateful humans.  The house on Camrose Road can attest to it.   There are some things scrubbing and painting cannot erase.



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Lenny: A Very Good Guy

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“I guess I’ll have to eat ALL my fries now,” I blurted/cried out.  We were sitting in the small emergency veterinarian’s examine room waiting for the nice vet to come back with the syringes that would ease our pup’s transition to the next realm.  Lynn and I sat there, both crying, and waiting for the inevitable to happen.

“Our” terrier, Lenny, had aged out of his mortal coil on Sunday and we had to take him to the clinic.  I say “our” because Lenny was, in no uncertain terms, Lynn’s dog.  For eight years the sun rose and set ONLY on Lynn, as far as Lenny was concerned.

We got Lenny from a rescue organization called BARK.  His original owner, in Culpeper, had fallen on hard times and could no longer afford him.  We were told he was about 6-8 years old at the time.  His foster mom doted on him hand and foot.  She cooked him meals of chicken and vegetables; that’s right I said cooked.  When we got him, he seemed indignant that we would would pour dry food into the bowl and expect him to eat it….well….like a dog.  He got used to it.

We had him in a crate for about a minute because that was how long Lynn could stand it.  Eventually, he took over several spots in the house, his favorite of which was the large club chair in the living room.  It was there he could spy Lynn pulling up in the driveway and start yowling in puppy-like anticipation.

I lied.  His actual favorite spot was next to Lynn in her oversized leather recliner.  He would stuff himself next to her, take one “harumph” and go to sleep.


He tolerated me only when I would share what I had at dinner.  When fast food and french fries were available, he was outright pesky, so I always gave into him.

In the morning when I was reading and having coffee, he would stand next to me so I could pat him and scratch his always-itchy ears.  It was like our daily check-in to make sure we were cool.

He never bit anyone and hardly barked at all.  He was a pacifist to the core and a lover of all things “Lynn.”  In the morning I could hear Lynn chatting non-stop with him.  He was a pretty good listener.

For the past few weeks he seemed listless and sad.  Gone were the excited yowls when Lynn returned home from somewhere.  His back legs seemed weak and draggy.  We had the talk about how old he was and this might be something; trying to realistic about where he was.  Around Friday or so we decided to take him to his normal vet on Monday to get some idea where he was and whether or not this was the end.

Sunday morning I was on my fifth day of having a fever, but I felt like it was getting better.  I dragged myself to the kitchen table and had coffee and the newspaper.  As usual Lenny came by to check-in, but he wouldn’t leave.  He just stood there next me and wanted me to pat him non-stop.  At one point he laid down and put his head on my foot.  “Something’s up with your dog,” I told Lynn.

Around noontime we settled in to watch the football playoffs with Lenny, who needed to be picked up and put on the recliner with Lynn.

At half-time, I went to get an orange and had just peeled it when Lynn yelled for help.  I went into the den to see Lynn clutching onto to Lenny who was having seizure and foaming at the mouth.  This went on for a minute or two, stopped, and went on for another minute.

After an hour at the emergency vet, we were escorted to the aforementioned small room and awaited the diagnosis.  The vet was very nice and also very empathetic.  He had much going on internally and a lot of unknowns at his age as to whether he would survive each step necessary to uncover the next. It was a lot to ask of a small dog for what we considered to be a selfish reason at this point.  So we talked with the vet about all of this and she fully supported our decision,

Lenny was brought back to us for some alone time.  Lynn tried to hold him in her lap but gave up.  He just wanted to sit on the padded bench between us and put his head on my leg.  We stroked him and told him we loved him and thanked him for being our dog.  The vet came in with syringes and we watched Lenny leave us.

We sure did love that dog; everybody loved Lenny.  Other dogs even loved him.  When we would take him out, even if other dogs were aggressive with him, he would just turn and ignore them.  He was that chill.

He slept like 20 hours a day on his club chair and was more like a cat in that sense.  When I texted my son, Jack, about Lenny’s passing he texted back – “He was a good dog and a great cat.”

The worst was telling our daughter, Catherine, about itwhen she came home.  She was distraught but understood.  She adored Lenny and if I’m being honest; if Lynn was number one then it was Catherine who was number two, not me.

However, even old number three will miss him.  I think if (I know I shouldn’t) have french fries from now on, I’ll always leave a few for Lenny.






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When Words Fail

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This Saturday morning I’ll wake up and do the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life.  I’ll quietly get up and creep downstairs, turn on the Christmas tree and let the dog out.  I’ll put a coffee pod in the Keurig and check to see if the newspaper has been delivered.  I’ll let the dog back in and sit down with my coffee and a greeting card with pen in hand.  I’ll then attempt to write via the the greeting card something that lets the woman I have been married to for forty years know just how much she means to me on our anniversary.

I’m pretty adept at communicating via the English language.  I’m a passable writer and my verbal skills are fair to middling.  I just don’t know how in the world I’m going to tell this amazing woman how much she means to me.

When I was growing up and coming into the age of reason, my greatest hope was that some day at some point and for some length of time, someone might possibly love me.  I guess I didn’t have the best self-esteem back then.

What do you say to someone who has loved you unconditionally for those years?  Do you thank her for being there when you were sick, sad, confused and beaten down by life?  Do you let her know that she’s beautiful and so very kind?  Do you tell her that after 40 years there is no one in the world you’d rather have as your friend and wife?

I’ve said all these things and more over the years, so to say them now seems weak and unimaginative. I’ve written and erased what I was going to write a dozen or so times already because the words weren’t up to the task.

I love words.  I love using the perfect word in the perfect situation to convey the exact intent.  I acquired jobs with my words, passed exams with words (when I didn’t know what the real answer was), made friends with words and changed kids’ lives with words.  When it comes to how I feel about Lynn, my ability to communicate becomes mute.

So all of you who may read these please wish me luck and pray that this Saturday, December the 23rd, I find the right words to let this angel on Earth know just how much she means to me.

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“What’s happening to us?  Why are we so mean and hateful to each other?  Why are we so selfish and have so much hate in our heart?” she said.  The “she” in this case was “Linda” the nurse who was in the exam room at my doctor’s office with me.  She and I have become close over the years. I was the next to the last appointment for the day and the last patient had cancelled.  The nurse practitioner was running a bit late, so we took some time to catch up.

It’s been a crazy year to say the least.  Politics, sexual harassment, mass murders, terrorism, misogyny and racism flood the news daily.  It’s so bad, that I hate to watch the news or even open my Facebook page.

I had thought, as a a species, we would be better by now, but it doesn’t seem so.  We were supposed be kinder, smarter and more unified than we are, but it just hasn’t happened.  As the days pass by, we seem to be on the downhill side of our zenith as a civilization;  at least that’s what I had thought.

I looked into Linda’s warm, brown eyes and told her very gently she was wrong.  I told her that what we read and hear is not who we really are.  I told her that there are just as many, if not more more, compassionate humans in the world that there have ever been.  People who feed the hungry, provide aid to the oppressed, medicine to the sick, say “thank you” and “please” or just hold the door for an old, bald man.

Her eyes started to water and she looked at me somewhat ashamed and begin to tell the story of the family who supported her when she came here from Ghana.  It was an amazing story of unconditional love.  We sat there and I listened to it and the world with it’s fading sunlight stopped around us.  It was the best medicine I got that day.

In my part time job, I’ve had to speak with thousands of customers who may not be having the best day or just need some questions answered.   However, I can count on one hand the ones I remember who were rude or angry.  The people I speak with are kind, polite and grateful.

We want our world to be a duality.  It’s easier that way. Hot and cold, dry and wet, good and evil, Republican and Democrat, them and us, etc..  This duality may be playing out to the nth degree to our detriment, but it is not truly who we are.

My head is not in the sand and the glass is not always half full for me.  I just know there is something that is bigger than us and is us.  I know It unites us and cannot be diminished.  I know It’s light cannot be hidden and that It shines through the darkness.  I know It is not terrorism, murder, sexual harassment or the hate we think is prevalent.  I know It will overcome all of those things and make all right again in due time.

I know it’s a woman from Ghana and a man from Bumpass who know we’re better than we’re being portrayed and revel in that knowledge.

Peace in Christ





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The Shoes of a Fisherman

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He would sit there every Sunday – frozen.  Two socks on, one shoe on and the right shoe in his right hand.  Just staring – frozen and looking out in space for five to ten minutes.  Eventually he would snap out of it and put his right shoe on and finish getting dressed for Sunday school and church service.

This was my father’s routine every Sunday.  He would take out his J.C. Penney suit and his Florsheim wing-tip shoes.  He would then get partially dressed and retrieve this rickety wooden shoe shine box packed with its assortment of Kiwi polishes and rags.  The task of polishing his shoes was automatic; years in the Army during World War II had taught him the importance of well-cared for footwear.  His application of the polish was meted and purposeful as were his brush stroke and the finishing snaps of the rag as he applied the spit shine on his beloved wing tips.

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He then re-packed all the polishes, brushes and rags into the old wooden kit and placed it back in the closet.  A seat was taken on the sofa in the living room where this all took place and the left shoe was put on then the right shoe was picked up and the trance began.

I was nine when I noticed the routine.  I would watch him around the corner of the door; not daring to interrupt.  Even at the age of nine, I had some sense that what he was doing was sacred, needed and important.  I didn’t know the “why” but I DID know it was necessary.

He did the same thing when he went fishing.  I never could comprehend why he would go fishing after a long day of work and make cast after cast while staring out into the pond.  You could see it, though, with every cast.  The fishing had become automatic and his mind was performing a very important task that could not be interrupted by the loud splashes of a boy throwing rock after rock into the water.

Fifty years later, on a recent Sunday, I believe I found the answer to the question – “why.”  I, too, was putting on my shoes to go for a walk and found myself frozen in time with my right shoe in my hand. I have written about my dad’s routine before but something was different and revealing on this particular Sunday.  When I finally snapped out of it after five minutes or so I had a sense of what my dad, at around age 59 was experiencing and what I, also at age 59 was experiencing.  It was the examination and filing of those life events into some sort of order within your brain.  It felt like my mind was putting everything back in the right file folders and placing them in the correct position in my “file cabinet” so I could move forward.

My dad’s files were World War II, the tobacco fields, the Great Depression, working as a logger and raising two sons and they all had to be unpacked, examined and re-filed so he could move forward that week.  My “files” seem to pale in comparison to my dad’s but they were mine and needed to be sorted. I have more or less placed this sorting on hold for the last three years. That needs to change and my dad once again showed me the way that recent Sunday morning.

At the age of nine,  I never understood why my dad went into a trance while putting on his shoes or fishing.    It seemed insanely boring.  Now I understand.  Now I need to move forward sharing his legacy of kindness and compassion; one right shoe, one long walk and one long bike ride at a time.

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Thoughts in the Still of the Morning


This story from the surgeon and writer Richard Seltzer in his book, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery, about a young woman with a tumor in her cheek.

Dr. Seltzer writes of his visit to her hospital room after the surgery.

I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of her facial nerve, the one to the muscles in her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. As a surgeon, I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

 Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. “Who are they,” I ask myself, “he with this wry mouth who gaze and touch each other so generously?”

 The woman speaks:

 “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks.

 “Yes,” I say. “It is because the nerve was cut.”

 She nods, is silent. But the young man smiles.

“I like it,” he says. “It’s kind of cute.

 All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful of my presence, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I’m so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate hers, to show her that their kiss still works.

I remember that the gods appeared in ancient Greece as mortals, and I hold my breath and let the wonder in.

I’ve often looked for God yet could not find him.  I’ve searched in vain, down on my knees pleading for Him to reveal himself, yet I could not find Him.  If only I did enough good deeds or donated enough money; would He show Himself then?

Yet could it be that Heaven and God are hiding in plain sight?  Every once in awhile, if I’m very still and can quiet my mind, I catch a glimpse of Him.  I see Him within the courage of my wife as she deals patiently and so tenderly with her aging parents.  I see Him in many of the teachers I taught with who compassionately cared for their students.  I see Him in the faith of my brother, the beauty of a cardinal in the snow, the laugh of my daughter and the smile of the Pakistani clerk at the the convenience store.

If I really quiet my mind and let go of the past and stop worrying about tomorrow, then Heaven and God open up before me.  The glimpses expand and the words become sentences.

All my life I thought I was so smart.  I thought I could use my brain and my cleverness to find God.  In truth all I really needed to do was stop thinking and be still.



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