Category Archives: daily goings on

Restless Passage

rustlyeeA gentleman friend that some of us were working with this past week passed late last night. I was with him a few nights ago and was scheduled to be with him tonight (Thurs) and tomorrow night. I received word a few moments ago that I did not need to go over to the care facility. One of my companions was with him last evening until around 9pm and noticed some of the last signs. It was a few hours later that he left us.

We never met this man when he was awake and alert. We only knew him in his twilight sleep – mumbling, gurgling, and trying to reach for something or get out of bed. All of us noticed how restless he was in his disturbed sleep.

The social worker said he was “spiritually restless.” I asked her what she meant. She told me that quite often individuals, like our friend, who do not have a religious or spiritual background worry about dying. Just before our friend had lost his ability to communicate several days ago, he told our social worker that he didn’t want to be left alone. He didn’t have family or friends to be with him. That is when we were called in – to sit with him and read poetry, talk, or, as I often do, read Bible. I’ll say again – these places are sacred.

Anyway, my companion noticed last evening before she left that he had calmed down considerably. She put the nursing staff on alert and, sure enough, a few hours later he was gone.

I hope he found some kind of peace at the very end. God will sort it all out. I mourn the loss this morning.

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Nick STD

The “guy on my left” (referred to in photo) surreptitiously sent me this picture of Nick’s office door placard. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


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Snow Quiet


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Coca-Cola Diversity

From PRRI.

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Apples Books

Perhaps you have seen this presentation which was delivered on Tues, Feb 4. I wish I knew a bit more about how it came to be and what compelled the two debaters to take on the onerous task of defending their respective positions. I have a few opinions that I would like to share. Of course, you are entitled to your opinions, as well.

1. Trying to compare the scientific method with creation science is like comparing an apple to a book. While there may be a few, minor similarities, the majority of comparisons are premised on two entirely different sets of understanding. As one speaker declared, this debate was not about science as much as it was about discussing opposing worldviews.

2. Who had what to gain and lose in this debate? It seemed the Science Guy had little to gain but little to lose, either. He predictably espoused the mechanics of the well-accepted scientific method. Was he trying to crush an ant with a sledge hammer? The Creation Man, I opine, had everything to gain – national exposure, credence from the presence of a national news network moderator, being observed in-house by over sixty national and international news organizations, and, of course, over two hours of publicity for his museum. I question the integrity of the motives for either debater. It’s been said that even negative publicity is good publicity.

3. I fully understand that some consider this a matter of good versus evil and truth versus non-truth. Good people faithfully take the position that when truth is under attack, good people better stand up and, if need be, give their all for principle regardless of the outcome. But is this topic the line in the sand between good versus evil? Could we discuss with equal amounts of passion and fervor, for example, racism, sex trafficking, addictions, societal inequalities, domestic abuse, gender discrimination, and so forth? Would it be possible to find two well-meaning and educated individuals who would take on one of these topics and be able to secure a two or three hour slot of Internet time to discuss the topic? What is it about scientific method versus creation science? I don’t get it.

4. What if the answer to this question is, “Both!” Could we live with an answer like this? Or are we dead-set on having it our way?

5. Is science somehow more or less something if the Bible doesn’t necessarily support scientific conclusions? Likewise, is Scripture somehow more or less valid is science doesn’t support Scripture? What is the outcome of this?

6. I can say with some confidence that science isn’t going to prove the existence of God and Scripture makes it clear that faith in God wouldn’t be faith if we could empirically see, touch, smell, or taste God (Heb 11:1). Taking this a step further, it’s faith that tells us that the universe was created (Heb 11:3). For those of Scriptural faith, it wasn’t, isn’t, and will not ever be science that proves that God created the universe. Scripture is quite clear about this.

7. My conclusion? Arguing for or against creation science is a ruse. What we really are arguing is, “Is God real?” Now we are talking about something serious. If there is a God, we are all accountable and we are all beholden to a greater, spiritual being. If there isn’t a God, we can do whatever we want to do, there are few responsibilities that bind me to any kind of standard, and, frankly, I can be whoever I want to be, however I want be, and whenever I want to be.

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Deep Goat

gutThere is this really deep, dark hole. It’s big and it’s so deep, you can’t see the bottom of it. Sitting next to the hole is a large, black anvil.

Two guys walk by and see the hole and the anvil. One says to the other, “Let’s throw the anvil in the hole and see how deep the hole is. We’ll listen for the thump or splash, okay?” His friend nods so they throw the anvil in the hole.

Whoosh goes the anvil ¬†as it falls deeper and deeper into the black hole. But nothing. Not one sound from the anvil hitting the bottom. “Wow, that must be a deep hole. I never heard it hit.” The two fellows peer down into the bottomless hole with wonder.

All of a sudden and from behind them, the two see and then hear a goat that is moving toward them at a very, very high speed. This goat is traveling! All the while, it is howling and baying. It’s coming straight at the two guys. With eyes as big as pancakes and head down, the goat is headed at them full-force.

Well, not wanting to get butted into the deep, black hole, the two guys wait, wait, wait then quickly jump to the side as the goat gets right at them so the goat will miss hitting them. “Phew, that was close,” says one of the guys to the other.

Not only does the goat miss the two old boys, it rockets right past them and sails, screaming and bellowing, down into the hole.

“What was with that poor goat?” one guy says to the other.

Then, and again from behind, someone who appears to be a farmer is running toward the two guys. He’s waving his arms. As he approaches, he yells, “Hey, have you two guys seen my goat?” He stops and looks around. “Wait a minute. And have you seen my anvil that used to be sitting right here?” He scratches his head.

“Well, yes, actually. We saw this dark hole and we saw the anvil so we decided to throw the anvil in the hole to see how deep the hole is. Man, it must be deep because we never heard the anvil hit bottom. Anyway, then a goat charged us but ended up jumping in the hole. Behind the anvil.”

The farmer peered in the hole as he itched his chin. “Well, boys, no wonder. My goat was tied up to that anvil.”

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Every Sunday

medium_5626316429He is 94 years old and is living with her in assisted living. He gently pats his wife on the arm. She is sitting next to him in her wheelchair.

He says, “My girl is ninety-one years old. She married an older man.” He laughs.

“How long have you been married?” I ask loudly and slowly as I lean in. He is very hard of hearing.

“Seventy-one years. We’ve had our hard times but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We met in high school, you know? I knew she was the one and only when I met her.”

“What’s the secret?”

“Not taking anything too serious and going to church every Sunday. We went right over here, you know, for sixty years.” He gestures toward the window. “There were times we didn’t talk to each other for a day or so but we never had the energy to stay mad at each other for very long.”

She suffers from a debilitating brain disease and isn’t able to speak. She doesn’t have long. She can smile occasionally but other than that, she is pretty much propped up in her wheelchair and listens. Her eyes are gray, she has a disformed and distended mouth, she can’t move on her own, and she is leaning over and out in her chair. I help her get seated a bit straighter.

“She raised a fine family. She did it all.” He looks at her and pictures on the wall. “The kids are her joy.”

We talked about the Super Bowl. He isn’t able to find it on the TV. I knew it wasn’t on for another week but I helped him check the channels anyway.

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One Year

It was Thurs, Jan 31, 2013. (Read about it here.) I wrapped up over 36 years of federal government service. Things are different for me a year later. I’ve mostly moved on. I’m glad that I’m not one of those who pine for the old work days. Honestly, I do not miss anything about the last three or four years of my career. It was awkward, difficult, and emotional. No regrets. I also am not missing at all the pushing and shoving, planning and trashing, and crazy characters who exist (I believe!) solely to make life difficult for hard-working, well-meaning, dedicated employees. I do not miss the commute, the constant-on Blackberry, or the amazingly repetitive and rambling staff meetings.


I do miss Ally, Nehal, Russ, Alan, and John. You guys were awesome to work with and thanks for staying in touch and having an occasional lunch with an old-timer like me. And thanks for putting up with my story, too. You were always there. I hope your futures are bright. You are the best people I ever worked with. We were able to do great things until…

One year ago. Hard to believe. But so right.

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Test Taking

medium_3582053931Taking tests is something I am actually pretty good at. I’m doing quite well in school, thank you. I told Nick recently about my accomplishments and he said, “Oh, you are one of those people!” Hmm. Thanks. I think.

Anyway, I enjoy my studying and, I’ll admit, I am able to study and absorb the content probably more than some because I don’t have anything else of huge significance to be doing while studying, writing, and thinking during the week. It’s a blessing to be able to do what I am doing. It’s more than just pursuing a degree – it’s about keeping the cobwebs out of my head and it’s about trying to run toward a horizon different than I would have ever imagined in all of my life. It’s healing for me, it’s therapeutic, and it’s satisfying.

But about the tests. While I take tests quite well, they are, for me, as much about emotion as they are knowledge. Some of the tests are quite long, quite detailed, and are timed. Pressure pressure pressure! After taking one and while I wait the few moments it takes to have it graded, I literally tremble. It’s not anxiety as much as it is an acute awareness of what I am doing and what it means in my life’s story. I tremble from the possibilities. And, yes, I get emotional.

Last Sat evening was this way. It was a hard test but I did very well on it. Rather than jumping and pumping, however, I had to sit with head down and breathe for a minute or two. I’m not a wuss or medicated or something. Rather, it is about new accomplishments. I can’t believe I am doing what I am doing. Each day has new possibilities. I’ve never traveled down this road and it’s exciting but it’s daunting, too. And sometimes, after a long study week, I have to let it all out.

I’m so thankful for these opportunities. I truly and sincerely hope that God is preparing me for something that will let me help others in ways I have never dreamed.

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Being Heard

interviewHe was nervous, had a stack of papers, and was fidgeting. He refilled his coffee – black – several times while we sat in the cold waiting room. Filing a claim with the VA is difficult. Despite the VA’s stated intent to help our veterans, it can be a long process. It’s not a long process because of the good veterans who need attention, but, rather, it’s because of those who abuse and try to cheat the system. Every submittal has to be double-checked. Every fact has to scrutinized. Every circumstance has to eyeballed for completeness. Too bad for those who make what should be a decent process into something that is burdensome for those who truly need the benefit.

Anyway, he was obviously nervous. There wasn’t anyone with him, like the rest of us, who could talk with him. He kept glancing at the clock. He was next, he knew.

His name was called. He went in.

We saw him leave about an hour later. He seemed slightly agitated but was it because of the application interview or did he always look agitated? He put his coat on, checked his papers and belongings, and headed out into the cold. We were next.

She was helpful and wanted to assist us in any way that she could. She did say in passing, however, that the last gentleman really had just wanted to tell his story. “Twenty years back or more,” she said. She explained to him that she simply needed information to fill in the blanks, she appreciated his contextualizing, but she really needed to do nothing more than to get the application properly filled out. But he insisted on telling his long and complicated story.

She said to us, “He needed a friend. He was lonely. He wanted to be heard.”

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