Category Archives: 250 words

Cruel Intent

jgingA friend recently told me that someone she is close with fairly regularly approaches her and says, “I’m praying that you will find God again.” When she told me this, I didn’t know what to think. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the last few days.

On one hand, and if I didn’t know the relationship between my friend and this other person, I might think that this was mostly innocent and well meaning. After all, isn’t it okay to think that someone is praying for me? And if someone tells me that they are praying for me, isn’t that sort of okay, too? It might not be a normal conversation that you hear every day but I suppose it works. I think – in some circumstances – it would be something that I wouldn’t mind hearing. It suggests that someone is thinking of me and is thinking of me enough to include me in their prayers? That’s alright, isn’t it?

On the other hand, though, and knowing the relationship that does exist between these two, I have really, really been thinking that this is one of the harshest and meanest things that could ever be said between two people who, otherwise, should be close to each other. The statement smacks of judgement and condemnation somehow, doesn’t it? Instead of trying to lovingly walk in the other person’s shoes, it kind of says “I’m looking down on you and I feel real sorry for you and your state and, boy, if only you could be like me and my god!”

I’m not sure but this seems a cruel way to tell someone to get their act together.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

Bus Stop

scpscallsBeth is going to stop the phone calls. It has been a long time now. The calls I’m talking about are the calls from Stafford County School Board. For a long time, I didn’t really want to stop the calls – automated, recorded calls about school openings, closings, events, teacher conferences, and so forth. I have been getting them for two years since… Anyway, they were a grim reminder but, somehow, I wanted to hang on to something. I’m not sure what it was.

Of course, the calls don’t come through during the summer so I wasn’t thinking much about them. But with school now starting up this Tues, the calls have been coming through these past few weeks pretty regularly. And I decided I didn’t want them anymore. They – and what they mean – is getting dimmer and dimmer to me. They hurt a bit more than help somehow. Anyway, Beth, as a teacher in the local school system, agreed to call and get them stopped. This part is over now. I’m letting it go.

It used to be incredibly important around this house to know if the hurricane or winter storm was going to cancel school. Also, the phone often rang from teacher friends, parents, and school administrators. It was pretty much what would come through – week in and week out. It is, of course, silent now. I see the school buses out now and I visited Beth’s special classroom a few days ago – life goes on. At least, that life.

Somewhere along the way, I was let off the bus.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

Surviving Snakes

Happy PartyIt was a nice birthday party. People I care for and love were all around me – they put up with me. Lots of laughs and silliness. Isn’t it interesting how important stories are to a good gathering? In fact, it seems that most of our interaction and conversation has to do with stories – real or embellished – and the memories behind the stories. I was thinking as I was watching and listening how much a party can be like an oldies concert or a radio flashback. Of course, the stories are usually about shared experiences, too, or, at least, stories that somehow will interest everyone because of who they might know or because of common experiences. Anyway, all the stories are about memories and times – the good and the not so good. It’s important, I suppose, to have some good stories for a party to be any good.

I was with some memory patients yesterday. Sitting down and talking with them is never difficult – they only have a few memories and stories. They, of course, tell them like they are new stories but they are stories I have heard many times in the past few months. The patients tell their stories with smiles, grins, and as if they were sharing something new and exciting. It’s like a small mini-party. I, of course, laugh and carry-on about their stories. It’s the right thing to do.

For me, opening up memories is like opening an unmarked brown paper bag. Will there be some goodies in it – or a snake? I tend to stay away from memories quite a bit now. It’s my way of surviving.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

Seinfeld Observations

seinfeldA good friend and I went to the Kennedy Center a few nights ago to see Jerry Seinfeld. For weeks we had worried that our expectations might be too high, what if we left feeling empty and sad, what if Jerry simply wasn’t that same live and doing stand-up. We probably were too worried and, I suppose, were probably wanting to protect ourselves from disappointment. I know that when we were finally seated, we both were a bit nervous.

I’m happy to say, though, that for 90 minutes, we laughed, chuckled, shook our heads, and generally had a good time. Jerry is the consummate entertainer. His timing, wit, and ability to tickle the funny-bone is dead on. His formula hasn’t changed over the years, and that’s what makes him special. He is the king of observations – why does the post office worry so much about raising the cost of a stamp by one cent (“Why can’t they afford full length pants instead of those blue shorts?”), why can’t we go anywhere without our cell phone and gadgets in our pockets, how come dads are not considered much more than the funny looking horse for the kids to ride on before bed, and on and on.

His stuff is new and current so no problem there. But he also added in the perfect mix of veiled references to his older TV days – “He’s the one guy. Where are the other three?” or “My favorite was George killing his fiance with a stamp.” The crowd loved it!

We did too. Thanks, Jerry, for a very excellent evening out of laughs and funny business about nothing.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

Time Spent

remiscingFor not enough hours yesterday, I spent time with friends from many years ago. The family moved away long ago – mom and dad are getting along in their retirement and their daughters are now beautiful and excellent wives and moms. It’s gratifying to be with people who continue to contribute positively to the world. We reminisced, told funny stories, caught up on places and people, and sighed together after thinking about things serious.

First, change is inevitable. For anyone who is trying to hang on to your kids, your relationships, your jobs, or anything else – it will all get away from you. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course. It just is. It is the way God’s world works.

Second, picking up with old friends from many months or years ago is not much different than picking up on a phone conversation from yesterday. It is odd how it works but there isn’t a need for any positioning, maneuvering, or manipulating. Instead, conversation almost picks up from where it left off a long time ago. It’s very special.

And third, our spiritual journeys are profoundly different, and yet, they are very much the same. I was actually moved by the differences in our short-term spiritual hopes but amazed that our long-term spiritual purposes all remain the same. Frankly and in all of the years we have been separated, we have all changed our denominational allegiances. And yet, we all continue to pursue Jesus and aspire to better understand his attitudes. It says much that we can remain loyal to Jesus while not getting all wrapped up in religious trappings.

It was a good day. It strengthened me. I love you E, M, L, M, and all of your precious little ones.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

Drip Water

dru[pI have installed and use an automatic drip watering system on my flowers and herbs. Besides being techy and mechanical so it’s fun, it also really makes a difference. Sometimes we get rain and cool days and the plants do just fine. But when we get the long stretches of heat with no moisture, it can really take a toll on the potted plants. The herbs especially do not like dry and hot weather, it seems. Anyway, it is fun to know that watering is taking place every morning and that the plants are getting their daily dose of water.

I had to experiment for awhile but it seems the plants do best with a 45 minute watering each morning around 7am before it gets too hot. The drips are placed at the base of each plant – I notice that the water doesn’t pool and run over but, rather, it slowly soaks into the soil around the base of the plant. Very little water, if any, is wasted due to pooling and runover. The soil is never sopping wet but is usually moist to the feel. Sweet!

It is kind of neat to be out when the dripping first begins – the controller does a slight clunk to open the water valve and then the system gurgles and sputters and hisses for a minute or so until all of the air is out of the piping and then the system quietly purrs for the next 45 minutes. When finished, the controller clunks shut and waits for the next day.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

Boat Reunion

bancroftI’ve never been to a reunion of any kind. Well, that’s not totally true. One time we attended a family reunion, of sorts, in New Mexico. I suppose that counts. But I’ve never attended any kind of school or professional reunion. For some reason, I was quite involved in high school politics and for about ten years after graduating, I would regularly get notices that I needed to show up for reunions in order to oversee the proceedings. For one reason or another, I either couldn’t attend or, more likely, I didn’t want to attend. I’m quite the social butterfly, as many of you know. After about fifteen years, I never heard from them again. I guess they gave up on me. I never desired to attend a college or professional reunion. Whatever.

So anyway, I have my paperwork ready to notify the organizers that I will be at next year’s USS George Bancroft (SSBN643) reunion in Norfolk. (The 643 veteran’s website is here.) The boat has had many reunions over the years but this is the first one I have decided to attend. I may or may not know anyone at the event so, again, I will fit right in as a loner (most submariners are loners). But regardless, it is the 50th anniversary of the launching of the 643 and I think it might be neat to go down and be around the discussions and people associated with the boat.

I suppose for many young people in their 20’s, there are usually life-altering and mind-bending events that set personal patterns for the future. Much of my life was affected by the early years I spent onboard the Bancroft a long time ago. Very difficult and challenging times, but special times, nevertheless. I have no regrets.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

Trying Honestly

kissonlipsTrying harder is not the goal – it’s trying with more honesty. Are you able to judge whether you are trying harder without comparing yourself to someone else? Usually not. If I don’t run fast enough and someone tells me that I need to try harder, I suppose I and others will have to compare the speed of my second run to someone else to gauge whether I am successfully trying harder or not. After all, my run speed is my run speed – why isn’t it good enough the first time unless I am not somehow matching my speed with the speed of others?

But trying honestly is not about being compared to others – it is about looking in the mirror. Am I running with honestly and integrity? Only I can answer that. There is not anyone anywhere who can look into my heart and soul and determine if I am running honestly. If I don’t run honestly, I am cheating no one but myself. I am a liar to myself. I deserve to feel bad about deceiving myself.

In my friend’s admission that she simply needs to buckle up and do better, she is learning to be honest with herself. She is tired of being compared to others and, in fact, rebels against the expectations of others. I understand her frustration at being compared to others and empathize. But when she shares her deepest feelings by saying that she needs to be honest with herself, now we are getting somewhere.

It is refreshing to hear an honest answer.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

More Books

03LEPUCKI-master675I’m about to wrap up this session of school. My first session is ending with one grade not being an A (so far, they have all been A’s!) but a nasty B. I’m a failure! I don’t know – not worth worrying about, I suppose.

Anyway, books for next session started showing up today on the porch from Amazon. Classics, every one of them. Inferno and the Iliad, among others. Guess I will be getting back into all of that again. But it’s okay – I’ve always loved these works.

Speaking of books and speaking as a fan of the Colbert Report, I broke down and purchased California by Edan Lepucki. If you aren’t a fan of Colbert, you won’t know that there has been a feud going on between Amazon and some book publishers, one of which is Colbert’s publisher. Amazon won’t sell the publishers’ books (including Colbert’s books) for the prices and margins that the publishers want their books sold for. Anyway, this prompted Colbert to start one of his infamously self-righteous faux campaigns to “bring down the Goliath in behalf of the Davids!” To make an example for Amazon, Colbert picked a book by first time novelist Lepucki (who’s publisher also isn’t carried by Amazon) and encouraged the Colbert Nation to pitch in and order Lepucki’s book from sources who carry Lepucki’s novel. Colbert’s idea was to show Amazon that people can still order books from someone other than Amazon – and they will do it en masse at Colbert’s beck and call. Read about the interesting kerfuffle that developed here. I’m not real sure what the moral to the whole story is but, regardless, it’s an interesting story.

I bought into Colbert’s gimmickry and have California sitting here with me now. A few of us, as members of the Colbert Nation, own the book now. I might start reading my book tonight, actually. Seems a bit more interesting right now than Dante or Homer.

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.

Relational Prescription

fingershealthIt takes several things to maintain a healthy relationship.

1. Listen – It is so important to listen to each other. Of course, there are times when a rant is necessary or the occasional pity party needs to be thrown, but usually, listening is key to a positive relationship. It’s odd how listening is often considered a very passive action and yet, it is one of the most important ‘actions’ that can be taken to sustain a friendship.

2. Wise Honesty – Sometimes honest truth needs to be said – but it shouldn’t for the sake of trust. Other times, honest truth is avoided and this can end up disastrous, too. The point is that honesty and truth in a relationship needs to be handled carefully like a surgeon handles a scalpel during a procedure. Neither being a total liar or a totally open person works – handling truth with discretion and love is what keeps a relationship in balance.

3. Laughing and Crying – It’s important to be able to laugh together and it’s important to be able to cry together. Too much of one and not the other ends up in a wickedly dysfunctional relationship. There is healing in both laughing and crying and a balanced combo of the two makes for a healthy relationship.

4. Not Just Doing But Saying – It’s false to believe that someone knows you love them if you never tell them. It’s sometimes opposite – saying you love them but not showing them. Horrible. But just as difficult is showing them but never saying it. It’s important to say, “I love you.”

· Leave a comment. Posted in 250 words.