Wanderings: Reflections on a Life, pt 2.

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

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!

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…

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

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?

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...