Monday, April 23, 2018-DEATH
My niece, Anne, died suddenly of heart failure the second week of Lent. Anne did not have an easy childhood, diagnosed as bi-polar at 18 but with many of the characteristics of that illness manifesting at a younger age. David and I were very close to Anne as both of her parents were dead and we tried to help her navigate limited finances and health issues. Her death brought up many family memories, some of them not so good, as our family deal...t with the sadness and also the guilt some felt for not doing enough for her. But appropriate to the season, with death comes resurrection. And Anne would be so happy to see the family relations that have been resurrected as a result of cousins reaching out to each other offering condolences. In some cases family that haven’t spoken in 18 years have reestablished contact, promising to stay in touch because life is short, family is important and sometimes it takes death to remind us of that.
Anne had very little, but shared what she had with many people, helping out friends with money (that she didn’t really have!) a place to stay, and enlisting David and me to help in a few cases. Some of the reflections that follow come from Anne’s death and the very real experience of resurrection. Rest in peace, Annie, in the glory of heaven where your generous spirit will continue to fulfill God’s will.
Sunday, April 22, 2018-Competition!
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom came on TV when I was young right before Walt Disney on Sunday nights. It was great to see a kind of nature that I had no connection to…the jungles, the Amazon, the desert… I grew up in the woods, literally. I saw firsthand the beauty, mystery and competitiveness of nature: In Wild Kingdom, we saw the lion chasing and killing the weakened zebra, while in the forest I saw the seedlings that withered and d...ied because they got no light under the tall canopy of the forest, the field mice being lunch, or breakfast for birds of prey or the creatures of the plains.
Those experiences of nature together with the fact that I grew up male in the 1970s - a time when sport and competition were a way of life for young boys - I gained an appreciation for the good that competition can provide. Our teammates amazed each other, when following the discipline and teaching of a wonderful (and Christian) football coach, we came to realize that we could do so much more than we could have imagined. It was in the crucible of competition, that the months of discipline and training came to fruition. As an adult, I still value competition. I have certainly seen the ugly side of it in sports and in business. But I have also come to truly appreciate that it is in facing the test - the competition - that we can learn and grow. As Paul says in the second letter to Timothy (4:7) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. You go St. Paul!