The blog of Greg DeLoach

Roswell Georgia

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life, Pt. 6

“The Grace of Doing Nothing” I am not very good at doing “nothing.” I am easily distracted; fidgety; and deep down carry the deceptive belief that I should always be “productive.” Productivity is a lie we tell ourselves so that we may feel valuable. Nevertheless, I struggle with this lie and have spent too much of my life shouldering this onerous burden with busyness. Family vacations have taught me a different path; a path of passive resistance. I did not grow up with a family that took regular vacations. It was a luxury of time we did not have on a dairy farm that operates with milkings twice a day, every day. I can remember going on four distinct vacations with members of my family. When I was 8 years old we took a vacation to Disney World. The park had just opened a couple of years earlier and it is still one of my favorite childhood memories. A few years later my grandparents took us to the Smoky Mountains for a few days. Those mountains still have a hold on me. The first time I remember seeing the ocean was on a quick trip to Daytona Beach. Another time I went to Destin Beach with my maternal grandparents. The ocean holds its own kind of mystery and I never tire in hearing the tide come in. These four vacations all occurred within the first twelve years of my life, and I am grateful for each one. After that, if we wanted to see the mountains or go to the beach we had to find a way on our...

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life Pt 5

“Friends” When I was a child, friendships came easily. All I had to do was “play nice,” and just like that, friendships were formed. I remember swinging with Harold on the playground. We talked about what we wanted to be when we grew up and how we would be friends forever, maybe even live in the same neighborhood. Harold was African-American. Back then I did not know about issues of race or the divisions of class distinctions. I just knew that Harold was my friend.   But as I grew older friendships became more complicated. Cars, clothes and relationships were sources of competition. As such, my circle of friendships grew smaller. No longer was it a matter of swinging on the playground during recess. It was more of an issue of popularity, and as such friendships were  like commodities to be used and traded.   Entering college I left behind my childish ways, as well as most of my friends. It was not so much a rejection of my childhood friends as it was geography. I was 180 miles away from my hometown. When I moved to seminary it was nearly 500 miles away. Nevertheless more than thirty years later there are many of my friends from childhood that I have not seen since the day I received my High School diploma. Harold, along with a few others, has since passed away.   College, and later seminary, brought new friends, but, as with my childhood, life’s progressions like graduation, family and career would eventually leave many – most – of my friends behind in a nostalgic wake of memory.   I...

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life pt. 4

“You Are Not Your Own”   I grew up with a family where church was simply a part of life together. It was, and still is, a small church embedded in a rural county, surrounded by thickets of pines and pastures of hay. A portrait of Jesus hanging on the wall stared at me every Sunday as we recited the Apostle’s Creed. From the little, brown and slightly tattered Cokesbury hymnal our mighty congregation of about 30 would sing “Dwelling in Beulah Land,” although no one in particular was in a hurry to go there any time soon.   Since my beginning, and I am certain at my very beginning, it was impressed upon me that my life was not my own and that I am a part of something much bigger than my solitary life. I stopped being the center of my universe many years ago, although my own orbit still tugs against the hidden gravity keeping me from being fully consumed with self-centeredness.   I suppose you are expecting me to write about all the certainties I have unearthed along the way about faith. I will save those sermons for other pulpits. I am content enough to saunter deeper into mystery. It is enough for me to know that I am but a part of the Great Mystery’s work.   My mentor, Thomas Merton, who died two years after I was born, wrote: …if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic...

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life, pt 3

I have decided that for my 50th birthday I am going to write 50 articles this summer reflecting on my wanderings. These are not “pearls of wisdom” by any stretch of the imagination. Truthfully I have accumulated very little wisdom in all of my days. I simply want to reflect “out loud” as an active bystander of this life. I am grateful to share it with you.   Mentors, Pastors, Coaches and other Companions Along the Road   I am learning – and it has taken me 50 years and counting – that you cannot make it through this world alone. The notion of “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” is misleading at best, a lie at worst. Everyone needs someone to guide them along the way.   For me, it has taken a long time for me to acknowledge that I need help.   When I was a teenager and well into my adult years I had too much pride and rarely asked for help. Maybe I did not want to appear weak, or ignorant, or helpless. I wanted to demonstrate that I was smart enough and what I did not know I could figure out.   Well that is just dumb thinking.   I am slowly learning the truth than I cannot do anything, really, all by myself. As my hair continues to grey (and retreat) I am recovering the importance of connecting with those who have gone before me and who will help show me a better way.   For eight years I played football. Throughout that time I worked with coaches who inspired me, cajoled me,...

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life, pt 2.

June 21, 2016   Every moment and every event of everyman’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. – Thomas Merton, “New Seeds of Contemplation”   Meaningful work. I count it a grace that most of my life has been filled with meaningful work to do. I am grateful for health that allows me to sweat over tilling a garden, or splitting a pile of firewood, or sprinting down a corridor in a hospital to visit a loved one. I am grateful for a mind still sharp enough (but not that sharp) to articulate a thought into action and a dream into a plan.   Work that means something is meaningful work whether it is repairing a car, stitching up a patient, or cleaning a house, or helping feed a friend.   In my teens I remember many days standing on the wet, concrete floor of the dairy barn looking out to the pastures as the morning sun began to warm the sky with color and light. I gazed longingly and hopefully for something more.   Growing up on a dairy farm there was always work to do, and to be candid, I rarely appreciated it. Everyone knows that cows have to be milked twice a day, every day, but there are so many other chores. There were endless miles of barbwire fences that needed to be repaired or replaced, leaving hands and arms nicked and...

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life

June 20, 2016   I have decided that for my 50th birthday I am going to write 50 articles reflection on my wanderings. These are not “pearls of wisdom” by any stretch of the imagination. Truthfully I have accumulated very little wisdom in all of my days. I simply want to reflect “out loud” as an active bystander of this life. I am grateful to share it with you.   Today is my birthday. I am 50. On the one hand, it is just a number. Nothing happened this morning that was particularly different. My alarm rang at 4:59 AM; I shuffled downstairs and groggily made a cup of coffee; I read for a while; and left for my morning commute to the office. But today I am 50, and it feels as though it should mean something.   It does mean that I have traversed this good earth for half of a century. It does mean that I do not have the body, looks, reflexes or mental acuity of a teenager. It does mean, according to actuarial tables, that I have lived over half of my life. Someone asked me over lunch if I felt different. Well, not really. I feel like I should be twenty-five, but the mirror and my driver’s license does not lie.   For my birthday I want to share with you about a hike I made a couple of weeks ago.   I had just wrapped up a 14 mile trek that began near the top of Newfound Gap and descended to Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Although the...

The Big 50!

On June 20 I will mark a half-century traversing this good earth, and I want you to celebrate with me. I know this may sound self-serving, but hear me out.   Instead of the usual cards, well-wishes, and so on, I would like for you to give me a gift. That’s right; I am brash enough to ask directly for a gift, but not just any gift. I am asking for all of my friends to make a donation to an organization that I care deeply about because it serves people I care deeply about: Developmental Disabilities Ministries (DDM).   According to Facebook I have more than 2100 friends (and I hope many more that are not on Facebook). If each of my friends gave as little as $25, together we could raise over $50,000 that will go directly to serving persons with developmental disabilities. I know that for some $25 is too much – then all I ask is make a donation you can afford. For others $25 is not much at all – I ask that you choose to give generously.   Serving persons with developmental disabilities is a privilege because it allows me to be with people who are often ignored, neglected, or, worse, forgotten.   Not only would help me celebrate my birthday, but your generosity would allow us to celebrate with others. No one wants to celebrate a birthday alone!   A half-century is not nearly enough time to celebrate life. It would honor me greatly if you would help me celebrate my 50th by raising $50,000. Together we can do this!   You...

Send Me a Text…

According to my extensive and laborious research on the internet (and if it is on the internet, it must be true, right?) texting has been around for 24 years. For the DeLoaches, it has only been around for ten or so years – not exactly early adopters. Love it or loathe it, texting is here to stay. It seems everybody is texting these days and they are texting everywhere: in church, in cars, in meetings, in the check-out line, and even in funerals (yep, I have witnessed this more than once).   For my children, it is the primary form of communication. For me, it often substitutes for an email. For my marriage, we will use texts as reminders, and every-so-often as a “love note.”   Whenever I receive a text “out of thin air” if you will, I am most often warmed with gratitude that someone, somewhere, thought of me. It may be something silly, or provocative, or somber, but to know I was remembered and “texted” is in itself a gift.   To be thought of, to be remembered, to call to mind…it means that we matter. Our existence matters. Our place in the world matters. What we do, or not do, matters. You matter.   “What are human beings that you are mindful of them? Yet you have made them a little lower than the angels.” (Psalm 8:4,5) God calls us to mind because we matter to God. We are in a real and tangible way an idea of God.   Maybe, just maybe our very purpose in life is to remember one another. We are...

This is Not What I Ordered

Some like it hot…But not that hot. It all started when my son, his girlfriend, my wife and I sat down at a table in a half-full (or half-empty depending on your perspective) restaurant. I have eaten here before and was looking forward to my usual order of chicken wings, specifically the ones on the menu listed as “Hot Buffalo Wings.” For the uninformed, no buffalos are harmed or used in this product. As for the chickens, well, that is another matter entirely. While the wings I ordered on the menu are described as hot, there are four other categories of wings that are spicier; much spicier; as in “melt your lips off and leave you hallucinating” spicier. Surely you can guess where I am going in this story. After not one, or two, but five of the ten wings I ordered, my lips were melting and my nose was running and my eyes were blurring from the heat. I could take it no more. Pushing aside the remaining basket of hellish poultry parts, I asked our server, “Um, maybe my order was mixed up.” She looked at it, and said, “Yeah, I just found out in the kitchen that your order was accidentally replaced with “Slow Burn.” For the record, there was nothing slow about the burn I was feeling. It is the restaurant’s hottest and spiciest wing offering made with the demonic-sounding “Trinidad scorpion peppers.” I think the good folks of Trinidad grow those peppers as a joke for their neighbors across the hemisphere. This is not what I ordered. I get the feeling I was set...

What Are You Worth?

Everything, and I mean everything, has a price or a value. Today, as of this writing, a barrel of oil is just under $37; gasoline is worth about $2.09 a gallon; milk is $3.52 a gallon; and the average sale price of a home in Atlanta is just under $290,000. What are you worth? What price do you place on your family, your friends, or your spouse? I suppose that is not particularly fair, since it is impossible to put a monetary value on a relationship. Still, you can appreciate that everything has a worth. One of the core values at the organization I serve – Developmental Disabilities of Georgia – is dignity. It means self-respect; pride; and worthiness. Deep down we all want dignity, that is, to be treated with respect, to be valued, to feel as though we have worth in this world. It is also a value to be shared, because everyone needs to be reminded of their sacred inheritance. Dignity is sharing a smile with another, instead of avoiding eye contact or pretending someone is not there. Dignity is laughing with someone, instead of laughing at them, or worse, sarcasm. Dignity is offering words of encouragement, especially when someone is discouraged, instead of quickly pointing out their faults or short-comings. Dignity is recognizing that everyone wants deep down to be loved, instead of labeling others with words that stereotype or belittle. Dignity is forgiving someone for their wrongs, instead of keeping scoring and holding grudges. Dignity is taking time to look, listen, and care when someone needs to be heard, instead of being in a hurry...

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