Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where in the world?

Wife and I are enjoying a few days of R and R as I write this. After 28 years of marriage, if we have learned anything, it is how to compromise. I say that because that is what this vacation is about. Wife loves the beach; I love baseball. It's really a good deal for Wife because she is a pretty big baseball fan too. I am OK looking at the ocean but I tire quickly of sand and sun and especially the combination of the two. So where are we? Near Vero Beach, FL, in a condo just steps away from the beach. We flew to Orlando late Saturday afternoon, spent the night there and caught a spring training game in nearby Kissimmee on Sunday afternoon before driving down here. Our routine until Thursday is one of my getting up for a long early morning walk while Wife sleeps in, Wife spending the morning on the beach with the sand and sun while I putter around and read out on our little deck, then both spending the afternoon at one of the nearby spring training ballparks. Late afternoon refreshments looking out on the ocean, an early evening walk for Wife (have you figured out that she's a night person and I'm a morning person?), then a nice dinner round out the day. Thursday morning we will head north a bit,catch a game near Cape Canaveral, then spend Friday and Saturday at Walt Disney World before heading home early Sunday. Yes I did say Walt Disney World and yes we are two 50-something adults who will be unaccompanied by minors. One thing we definitely have in common is that each of us is a child at heart. (I have written this on Wife's iPad which is not allowing me to make paragraphs and which is, of course, 100 percent responsible for all errors).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Learning anew

A couple of weeks ago in church I was looking at the morning program and saw a piece about a guy who was presenting a 6-week study for men on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis. As a longtime student and devotee of Lewis and his writing, I thought I should at least give it a try. I put it on my calendar.

It has been a long time since I have been to a men's group at church. Through the years I have been a part of a number of them but a few years ago I unofficially gave them up.  I say unofficially because there was no big epiphany or anything where I said, "I am done with all of this."  I was just weary of some of it and decided to exit that type of fellowship -- men's small groups, retreats, etc. -- for at least the time being. I can't even remember the last time I went to anything of that kind but I'm guessing it's been about 12 years.

The curriculum often followed by small groups for men in church has to do with "biblical manhood" or something along those lines.  What I found was that I often found myself not having a lot in common with the man that was being described.  At first it bothered me but then I decided that, as long as I was still seeking God, I didn't need to worry about it.

When I saw the little blurb about the class on C.S. Lewis, though, I was immediately interested, although with some hesitancy.

I told Wife the night before the first session that I was skeptical and if it was just a bunch of guys sitting around talking about what a particular Lewis book meant to them, or how C.S. Lewis was really the prototypical  "wild" man supposedly described in the Bible, a la the main character from Brave Heart (the script of which I believe might eventually be added to the canon and alter biblical history forever if some people have their way), I was out of there. 

In her usual infinite wisdom, she told me I had nothing to lose by going to the first meeting and seeing what it was about.

I've been to three now and it is a breath of heaven for me. The man who is leading it did graduate work on Lewis and knows his stuff. He asked us at the first meeting to choose a C.S. Lewis book and read it over the course of the next six weeks and, if we so choose, we may read something from that book to the group during the first 10-15 minutes of the class. After that, it's a lecture format, and the leader follows a handout he gives us each week.

I like it because it's real meaty stuff that we are learning and, although I appreciate the needs of others, we don't spend time sharing about our lives, feelings, prayer requests, supposedly manly movies, struggles with lust, etc. There is a time and place for that, but this is clearly a class with a teacher and students, we are singularly focused and the time is valuable.

The first week was an overview of Lewis's life; the last two have been about his conversion to Christianity.  The next three will be about the apologetics, and his views of heaven and hell.

I dusted off my old, dog-eared copy of Mere Christianity, Lewis's classic defense of the faith, many parts of which were excerpted from radio addresses he did in England back in the 1940s. I have read this book a number of times but it's been a while and I'm finding all kinds of new gold nuggets on which to ponder.

I am so glad I got over my cynicism/skepticism and decided to go to this class. I know I'll be sorry when it's over.

The following has always been my favorite passage from Mere Christianity, which is actually a paraphrase from one of Lewis's favorite writers, George McDonald. It's from the chapter titled "Counting the Cost." This is what I'll probably read to the class during one of the remaining sessions:

Imagine yourself as a living house.  God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing.  He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to?  The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of -- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.  You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.  He intends to come and live in it Himself.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Weather and Ralph update

What a day of weather we had yesterday.

Well, more accurately, what a day of weather we had all around us yesterday. Here where we live we had some wind and about five minutes of rain and that was it.

But north and south of us, and east and west of us, tornadoes, hail and high winds caused extensive damage.

Wife and I, in some ways, were right in the middle of it -- figuratively speaking.

Daughter has a wedding she is attending in Montgomery, AL today. She was scheduled to leave yesterday and had arranged to get off work a few hours early.

She got home about 1:30.  We had already had one round of storms yesterday morning and more were on the way. We had had the Weather Channel on a good part of the day.

After looking at the Weather Channel and the weather radar online, Wife said she thought there was a clear shot south for the time being and Daughter should go ahead and leave. She was meeting a friend about an hour and a half down the Interstate from here and they were going to Birmingham for the night.

In hindsight, her leaving was not a good decision. She was gone scarcely an hour before she called us and her friend had called her and told her she should probably pull over. She found an exit where there was a small hotel and the manager let her come in and wait out the latest storm.

Even though things looked good -- or we thought they did -- when she left, these "super cell" things were spawning tornadoes all around the area into which she was driving.

We kept in close contact with her. She got the "all clear" and left the little hotel where she had taken shelter, then met up with her friend. There was another round of storms and the two of them went in yet another hotel (thank you to the hotel managers of both facilities) where they waited out this round. 

Wife and I were watching it all play out on TV and were kicking ourselves for letting her go. Now granted, she is 23 years old and I can't exactly tell her what to do, but I should have looked at the situation more closely and told her emphatically that she should wait until the morning (today) to leave.

Fortunately, they made it to Birmingham last night and all was and is well, but Wife and I were quite uneasy.

In addition, Younger Son was planning to come home from Auburn for the weekend and would have been driving right through it.

I can still tell him what to do and I told him to stay put. He was not happy with my decision. I told him it could quite literally endanger his life and as much as I wanted to see him, I could not in good conscience allow or advise him to start driving north in that kind of weather.

"Wait and come home early tomorrow morning," I told him.

"No, if I'm not coming home tonight, I'm not coming at all," he said.

He got home a few minutes ago. 

Today it's beautiful and cool here in Middle Tennessee. We dodged a bullet but, as I said, areas around us did not fare as well. I have come to greatly respect storms/tornadoes. Wife and I were prepared to go to the basement yesterday but never had to make the trip down there.


We have decided to let Ralph the Dog live out his life.  We could have opted for surgery which might not have even achieved the desired result if the cancer had spread.  If he were 5 or 6, it would be different. At 14 or 15, I'm not putting him through it.

The surgeon said we'll know when the time comes to "help him along."  For now, he's right here with us, doing fine and being treated, quite appropriately, as royalty.