Yesterday, I enjoyed another evening in Ashtabula, but I am reflecting on an eventful fight between Washington DC and Cleveland. My travel plans had been flawless in preparation and timing. No traffic on the way to the airport thanks to Fay and her chauffeur skills. No waiting in the TSA line thanks to the Charleston Airport Security. No airplane delays thanks to all the airlines, their staff and the air traffic control. We had just started our decent to Cleveland while I was quietly reading “The Boys in the Boat” and then it happened; my seat mate knocked over her Diet Coke and it was heading in my direction. She yelped, I jumped, I unbuckled my seatbelt and jumped again, and we frantically searched for napkins to swab the seats. We were both somewhat flustered, but settled into a delightful chat. It turns out I was sitting with the celebrated author Joanna Connors. She will be reviewed in the New York Times this weekend for her book, ” I Will Find You”. She is currently working on a piece for National Geographic that sounds like fascinating research. I tell her sheepishly that I also write. I know, a blog is not for bragging, but I am thankful for my ten encouragers who read it and respond. We talked about our children and our travels. It felt as though I had just made friends with someone lovely that I would like to see again. How is it that we can sit with shoulders nearly touching for two hours and not build friendships? I was in a comfort zone until it became the splash zone, which reminded me to never again miss an opportunity to connect. Everyone has something exciting to share or something troubling to unload, something that may be of value to hear or helpful for them to discuss. I was inspired to hear bits about professional writing and reporting. I may have missed this moment to meet an intriguing person had I not been baptized by Cola and momentarily left the comfort I was in. She offered to pay for cleaning my cream colored pants, but I did not see any stains or reason to worry about what is washable. I spared her the lecture about the evils of soda pop and sugar content. Sharing a slice of life was so pleasant. Do I think this was divine intervention and a call to pay attention? Of course I do. Next seat mate better brace themselves for I will not waste time reading when good oral stories await. Please don’t shake your soda pop to get my attention.
Yesterday, I went for a walk in the early morning ( a good thing to do for body and soul) and was surprised by many delights. The fragrance of jasmine and gardenia that no perfume has captured, the songful birds that no instruments can mimic, and the happy greetings by a dozen dog walkers and their smiling pups with sweat demeanor made my heart sing. Then came a voice from behind. Before I had a chance to turn, a cyclist went whizzing by on my right and we nearly collided as I jumped. He most likely called out to announce that he intended to pass on my right. From now on I will make sure I walk closely to one side and stop taking up the middle. Choosing a side is important. That will be very difficult for some people this election year. No matter which side we are on, there is something compelling about the other side. Next, I found myself walking by the school yard where children were outside in mass for a kickball tournament. I wondered if they got to choose sides, or if they had to “count off”. Teachers desperately try to spare children the humiliation of being the last chosen these days. I had experienced being the last in my Junior High years during dodge ball games. I never picked up a ball to attack, but instead hung out at the back wall and dodged. I was not the person aggressive boys would pick for their team. My moment of glory arrived one day when I was the last one left on my team, with the gym teacher on the other side poised to pummel me with a speeding, certain death, stinger ball. I am sure I put out my arms to deflect the attack and somehow the ball went right in my arms for the catch. Wimp status was elevated to brave heart that day. That catch won the game to the shock of everyone and the other team had to do a loser lap with the brawny Mr. Keeley. Back to the present. I am a decisive person who likes the fast lane. Yes, I like to stay on the left side when on the highway, so don’t try to pin me in with the slow cars. I am sorry if you like to go more than ten miles over the limit. Give me a moment to move over. I am also on God’s side. When it comes to good versus evil, don’t we all want what is good? When I find myself drifting to the unfavorable side I need that warning voice from behind that urges me back to the right side. A walking buddy is also a good idea so there is someone to push us to the right side . Tomorrow, I will be the cyclist and try not to scare people on the side walk as I warn them from behind that I am approaching. Or, maybe I will tighten my helmet and take to the street. Now, should I try the shady side or the sunny side?
Yesterday, I burned my knees to a crisp. I was walking at the beach so I know I will get no sympathy. This annual faux pas seems to happen every summer to some unsuspecting part of my body. How the slather of sun block protected everything else I just don’t understand. Why would I stay outside for so long you might wonder? Well, I got an important phone call right when I was taking a picture of a kite surfer. We all know the beach is the perfect spot for sorting out business, so I remained another hour until the end of the call. I did leave right after not knowing until later that my knees were scorched. They look ridiculous of course. Like a burnt offering sacrifice ( which I just learned the righteous man, Job, performed sacrifices for purification after his children gathered to party all night). Burnt offerings are no longer required in our society, but I would gladly sacrifice my knees for the sake of my family. The two reminders from this event are: we are vulnerable to visible and invisible forces of great power, and we need protection from over exposure. Power that is around us and in us can be harnessed for positive outcomes. Overexposure is harmful and sometimes destructive. It is tricky to discern our limitations and to avoid excess especially when the power feels so invigorating. The strength of the sun depends on the time of day and the latitude. There must be a timetable established and published somewhere that offers guidance on how much sun is advisable. We do need our vitamin D after all. When we have the opportunity to use and enjoy a little power of any kind, it is extremely important to limit how we use it so that we don’t regret the effects. How can we avoid the unseen forces that are waiting for a weak moment to pounce on us and burn us? Prayer is always my first defense when seeking discernment. Being prepared with extra protection is essential. Some of the most damaging power is from the words of others and we need to be equipped with the word of God. A dose of scripture every day has protected me from the blistering words of the accuser. As I get on my knees in the morning I am humbled by the reminder to be careful of over exposure. Guard your heart, guard your thoughts, and spread a little more Coppertone on my back please.
Yesterday, I had wine with dinner. It was perfectly paired with a sumptuous dinner my friend Lise prepared. Doctors and Scientists tell us a glass of red has benefits for the heart and aids in digestion. Several glasses have been known to spark lively conversion and wild dancing. The problem, I have determined, is that only one glass of Pinot Noir is responsible for uncomfortable hot flashes. Even when it was twenty below zero last winter, I found myself peeling off layers of clothing and looking for a window to open. Wine has been a part of many family celebrations for the last forty-four years, from the time that my father and I won a bottle of Cold Duck in a three legged race, to the choice champagnes and wines that we served at the weddings of our three daughters- who chose wonderful men we now love as sons. I enjoy the nuance of flavor and aroma in fine wine, and I recognize the effects it has on all my body systems. I will never forget the exquisite seven course meal that my husband, mother, and I had at the Cellar in the Sky at the top of the World Trade Center. We had seven wines. My mother and I giggled like school girls all the way home and we were completely sluggish the whole next day. There are so many fond memories that we have where wine has accompanied the story. My hubby has collected wines to prepare for more such occasions and our daughter, Elise, has become a sommelier and distributor of exquisite French wines. We all recognize the delights and dangers of wine. The idea of giving up wine seems unthinkable, and yet I have been considering this idea as I try to choose wisely in all things that I consume. Good health takes work and sacrifice as we age. Of course my family will remind me that wine plays a big part in the life of Jesus. Water turned into wine at a wedding feast and wine served to the disciples at the last Passover meal with Jesus are favorite stories that remind us to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of our Savior. This we do often. I wish to never forget the sacrifice of Christ. So, how will I celebrate life and remember our Lord without wine? Is sparkling water enough to remember the Living Water and is fresh green juice festive enough for a celebration? I believe great conversation and dancing will still abound even without wine. Please fetch my wrap, I think the temperature just dropped below seventy!
Yesterday, Hannah and I packed up the car and set out for the South. We decided to drive half way, but earlier in the week I saw an announcement for a Beth Moore conference in Norfolk, Virginia and I bought tickets thinking that would be the perfect half way point. Well, all of you east coast folks know that traffic through Baltimore, Washington DC, and Richmond adds an hour or more to any drive any time of the day or week. We drove ten hours and arrived late to the conference even though Hannah spotted a traffic jam ( on her cell phone GPS) on route 95 and we took a detour around the other side of DC to avoid it. We agreed not to give up, or display road rage, or lay blame even though I felt the anxiety level rise on the back roads full of stop lights. It was Hannah who kept spotting the beautiful things along the way. She has reminded me for the last four months of the important things we are on this earth to do. Enjoy life, see the beauty, serve others with a smile, make friends, laugh out loud, sing everyday, and pray with thanksgiving. The conference center was packed yet we found a great parking spot and terrific seats. Beth Moore had just started speaking about the powerful word of Jesus. She reminded us that it is important to refresh and rest. After ten hours on the road eating crackers and carrots- and yes, several hands full of peanut m&m’s- we were ready to eat and sleep. Beth in her energetic and emphatic story telling made us forget about that, and instead had us thinking about “recalibration”. We are going back for part two this morning before heading to Charleston. I will be sure to write about it after I absorb all she says today. What I learned about detours and the GPS system is that I cannot live without a navigator. Whether it is someone to tell me what exit is impending, or which fork in the road to cling to; I like the advance notice and confirmation that I am on the right road. The bible does this for me as well. Reading scripture daily gives me the direction for which way to turn. It confirms that the road I am on will take me to the place I call home. Farewell Syracuse. Thank you for the rest and refuel Norfolk. Hello Charleston, are you home?