When Seth Mooney was born a healthy beautiful boy his parents thanked the doctors and nurses who performed the delivery, the attendant who pushed Mom’s wheelchair to the waiting car, and almost every neighbor who stopped by the next week to give their congratulations. They thanked the Pharmacist, their grocer, the nice lady at Target who sold them diapers, wipes, lotion and a dozen other necessities for young Seth. They even thanked the mailman who delivered the letter and packages from family and friends across the country. But they didn’t thank God for the most amazing miracle ever to happen to their young family. The Mooney’s are not unbelievers; they’ve been to church. No the Mooney’s are part of the growing minority of people who thank their friends for a miracle from God.
We are over half way through the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas have passed; but football playoffs, the Superbowl, and New Year’s Eve and Day are waiting to pounce on us like Mardi Gras on an unsuspecting tourist. The stress of having to watch all the bowl games, NFL playoffs, go to the many celebrations, and eat and drink beyond sanity is too much to bear for some. Adding salt to a wound, many of our employers expect us to function at work as if nothing else was happening outside the grey walls of industrial servitude. What are we to do? Give up; stay inside and watch reruns? Buy a gross of antacids and hope for the best? No! Giving up is not in our DNA and hope is not a plan (unless you are in the Federal Government). I have tested four strategies which will help you to survive the holiday season and escape to the doldrums of January physically unscathed and mentally neutral.
Have you noticed that the single most important driving force in some people’s life is to leave a legacy of “amazing” accomplishments for future generations to acknowledge or debate? The need for recognition of a life well lived is not detrimental, it is, given the human need for acceptance and love, highly understandable. However, if the preoccupation with shaping the future opinion of people whom you have never met overwhelms the responsibility of caring for those whom you should love today, then a review of your priorities is in order.
The term “Road Trip” immediately injects a vision of excitement and fun into an undertaking that often morphs into a mundane act of getting from here to there. When driving, we usually focus on where we were or where we are going. In the morning while driving to work we think about the challenges of today or about the family we left at home. When driving to Disneyland, we focus on Mickey Mouse and the Matterhorn; we are concerned with the destination (as we should be), the method to get there is generally unimportant. Although a road trip must have a starting and ending point (often the same place), the reason we get excited is because of the journey; it is the “getting to” part, not the here or there that produces a broad smile, and unleashes our inner world-explorer self. A road trip is about having fun with where we are at that moment in time, and less concerned about where we have been and where we will be. Often on a road trip there is not an established timetable, or schedule; you float from place to place absent the worry of being late.
The group of thirty people, mostly men, a few women, and one lone boy standing off by himself, shuffled their feet to hold back the morning cold while they gathered at the base of the trail leading up the mountain. From their vantage point, everything in existence appeared to be up, and in reality, they were right. The mountain ahead was not significantly steep, but the trail was narrow and held many twists and turns, so getting lost was a real danger. The air was crisp, and the beauty of the mountain was stunning; striking rock formations of red and beige surrounded by dark green trees of massive proportions, interrupted by an occasional deep blue twisting line. It should have been a painting; maybe it was.
The apple fell to earth as the couple ran from the garden, landing with a small bounce allowing a lone seed to loosen from its fleshy white home and touch the fertile soil. Now free, the seed burrowed deep into the earth, past topsoil and roots which might compete for life giving nutrients, toward the safety of rock and clay. Here, in the moist and cold darkness of life’s foundation, the seed waited for the renewal of light into its world.
Joe met this morning just like every other one during the last three years; he had a job to do, no one else could do it, so he will embrace today with power, excitement and enthusiasm. First though, Joe would have two cups of strong coffee – enthusiasm flowed much better with caffeine on board. There was a slight breeze this morning, gently moving his brown hair that just touched the sculptured shoulders of the foremost brick layer of his time. Of any time. He wore simple leather sandals, and a smock drawn tightly around his waist with a leather belt. Joe’s six foot two inch frame stood slowly; the coffee and dried meat nourishing the muscles for the day ahead, but the joints feeling the ache of a man much older than his thirty-three years. It was time for work; there were bricks to be set and a building to complete. Maybe today would be the end; he was never sure.
This story is the prototype of my next book, a year long weekly devotional featuring short stories that kindle long thoughts about God. Fifty-two stories, hundreds of new ways to think about your relationship with God, and hopefully in an interesting and engaging way. Let me know what you think.
Outside my window on the fourth row, the runway raced underneath faster and faster until the nose of the jet lifted, dragging the rest of the 737 with it. The two powerful engines overpowered gravity for the moment; but eventually gravity would win the battle, it always did. So our pilot’s most important objective became choosing where and when the aircraft would submit to gravity and return to earth. Everyone on board flight 765 that day preferred the surrender be accomplished gently, on a runway at the Denver airport.
This year we vacationed in Oregon and Washington, anxious to experience the perfection of the Cascade Mountains, the unmatched beauty of the many rivers and lakes, and the grandeur of the Puget Sound. It would be a road trip for just my wife and me. We had purposely planned to be unplanned, granting ourselves the unusual gift of freedom to stop when we wanted, to wander off course as the urge prompted, and to be free from the chains of a schedule. When we left our home heading north the sunroof was open, the music was loud and our smiles were broad. We were on vacation.
Since the dawn of time, or since I was a little boy- whichever is longer, I can remember being told that too much of a good thing would be bad for me. I could not understand if something was good, how then could too much good be bad? Of course, my early onset selective memory conveniently misplaced the upset stomach that resulted from a solo attack on a quart of chocolate ice cream; or the burned back and shoulders suffered from not slathering on DP 45 sunscreen at the beach. Still, how could anyone have too many Legos, too many marbles, or enough video games? Our backyard pool could have been bigger, my bedroom was certainly not roomy, and my closet was just too small to be clean.