Thursday, November 29, 2012

Friendship defined by Buechner

When I read the November 30 thought by Frederick Buechner in Listening to Your Life I was moved by his description of friendship:

I remember an especially dark time in my life.  One of my children was sick, and in my anxiety for her I was in my own way as sick as she was. Then one day the phone rang, and it was a man I didn't know very well then though he has become a great friend since, a minister from Charlotte, North Carolina, which is about 800 miles or so from where I live in Vermont.  I assumed he was calling from home and asked him how things were going down there only to hear him say that no, he wasn't in Charlotte.  He was at an inn about twenty minutes away from my house.  He'd known I was having troubles, he said, and he thought maybe it would be handy to have an extra friend around for a day or two.  The reason he didn't tell me in advance that he was coming must have been that he knew I would tell him for Heaven's sake not to do anything so crazy, so for Heaven's sake he did something crazier still which was to come those 800 miles without telling me he was coming so that for all he knew I might not even have been there.  But as luck had it, I was there, and for a day or two he was there with me.  He was there for me.  I don't think anything we found to say to each other amounted to very much or had anything particularly religious about it. I don't remember even spending much time talking about my troubles with him.  We just took a couple of walks, had a meal or two together and smoked our pipes, drove around to see some of the countryside, and that was about it.

I have never forgotten how he came all that distance just for that, and I'm sure he has never forgotten it either.  I also believe that although as far as I can remember we never so much as mentioned the name of Christ, Christ was as much in the air we breathed those few days as the smoke of our pipes was in the air, or the dappled light of the woods we walked through.  I believed that for a little time we both of us touched the hem of Christ's garment, were both of us, for a little time anyway, healed.

Reading Buechner's story reminded me of the great cloud of witnesses who have driven 800 miles for me.  One particular Saturday morning breakfast comes to mind today.  

I am grateful.  God's gift of friendship in Christ is a blessing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Check it out: I got a library card!

I got a library card this evening!  What joy.  I'd been looking forward to a library visit and yes--checking it out for the last couple of weeks.  I was overdue for a visit.  And guess what?  The library was fine.  And now I'm done with puns. (Until someone can make a microfiche pun.  I would love that.)

Today I finished a book on cassette (yes tape!) so to the library I went. I checked out two books and put Les Miserables (on CD) on hold.  It's time for French history, Jean Val Jean and Katie to get acquainted.

I guess it's nerdy to be so excited for a library card but I am.  Isn't the library a great place?  As a girl I would go for story time at the library. A gentle soul would read a book and use puppets to make the story come alive.  As a student I would nearly always study at the library.  I love the quiet and discipline (and the occasional shenanigans the library seems to bring out in people).  And best of all?  The library is free and open to all.  Any person can walk through the door and open their minds to an adventure.  Think of all the wonderful places books have taken you.  And what's better than an adventure?

Library love runs in my family on both sides.  My Granny (dad's mom) is a voracious reader so much so the local librarian knows her taste!  She selects books for Granny, Mom picks them up and Granny devours them.  On my mom's side I'm a library legacy.  Grammy (mom's mom) was a librarian.  Gram worked for the St. Louis Public Library and retired from the Shawnee Public Library in 1982.  When she retired they gave her a quilt with a hand-sewn square from each friend.  My favorite square says "Any Time.  Any Place.  Any Book."  My second favorite is a picture of a cheeseburger, so I feel certain Gram and I would be good friends.  Any person honored by a quilted cheeseburger is my kind of person.

It makes me smile when I look at it.

I'm grateful for the bibliophiles who paved the way for this library-lover.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


There was a serious lack of bingo at Truett Seminary in the mid 2000s. Happily an ally was gained in Student Services (props) and a Bingo Night was put on the calendar.

I can't remember now why the lack of bingo (excuse me:  serious lack of bingo) was troubling to Kathryn and me, but it was.  Kathryn and I worked together as Teaching Assistants for Dr. Betty Talbert.  It took roughly .5 seconds for us to become pals.  

I thought I was excited about Bingo Night having successfully convinced Student Services I could sell a 48 pack of visors (how can you play bingo without visors?); but then Kathryn strolled in to the Great Hall wearing a wind suit, enormous sunglasses (pre-popularity) and a wig.  There she was starting eyeglass trends and being awesome. Don't you love people who really give themselves to a themed party?  I do.

LaVerne and Shirley.  Yes we did give ourselves fake names.

Earlier this week I had the great pleasure of meeting Kathryn for brunch. Kathryn works for Wycliffe Bible Translators in western Africa and is home catching her breath.  I loved hearing about her day-to-day life.  I loved hearing and remembering her passion for linguistics.  I loved thinking about her sassy self sharing Jesus.  When I think about who Kathryn is and what she does I am so very grateful.  Thanks Kathryn.

I also remembered Kathryn raises all her own support.  If you don't know about Wycliffe please check them out:  If you would like to support Kathryn please get in touch with me.

I 4 1 (get it? bingo post) am grateful for Kathryn's friendship and ministry.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Can you hear me now?

Yesterday I visited with a veteran pastor who reflected on Baptist days gone by.  We were discussing divisiveness within denominations when he recalled something shocking (to me!).  Long ago at a denominational meeting Adrian Rogers and John Claypool spoke on the same evening from the same pulpit.  I almost fell out of my seat.  Two very different people were heard by the same audience!  Imagine that.

Would this happen today within any denomination/movement?

Sometimes I wonder if we're losing our ability to hear because we only listen to people who are exactly like us.  Our ability to reason lessens. We watch news which affirms our beliefs and don't listen to the other. In the end we shout at people with whom we don't agree. 

We are a country of folks trying to hear one another.  If we aren't heard we shout louder; it's like screaming into a cellphone without a signal.  "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?"

Just because we shout doesn't mean we'll be heard.  And call me crazy but we don't have to agree with someone to learn from them.  I still have a hard time listening to some people, but I want to be better at it.

Adrian Rogers and John Claypool spoke on the same evening from the same pulpit.  Would this happen today anywhere?