Meditations Category


Enemies

Enemies

Once precious Polly and I return from our morning walk, I make us breakfast. While I am eating my breakfast, I read a daily devotional from The Word in Season, published by Augsburg Fortress.

Each day’s entry consists of one main Bible scripture, followed by a short homily, a prayer, a prayer concern, and two or three additional related scriptures.

Today’s scripture was Psalm 23 with particular attention to verse 5:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Pastor Jennifer M. Ginn wrote:

Imagine a lavish table set just for you, with gleaming dinnerware and luscious food. You feel blessed! But wait, you’ve got company! Your enemies have watched this table being prepared. Before you pick up your fork, you look them in the face, remembering how dangerous it can be to turn your back on enemies. Psalm 23, beloved across the church, has always comforted but never before challenged me. Now it does, as I am reminded every day that my table is set by the Lord.

Little did I know how relevant this would be to me when I signed onto Facebook later in the morning.

I came across a meme on a friend’s page that stated the following:

If it (pro-life) was about babies, we’d have excellent and free universal maternal care. You wouldn’t be charged a cent to give birth, no matter how complicated your delivery was. If it was about babies, we’d have months and months of parental leave, for everyone.

If it was about babies, we’d have free lactation consultants, free diapers, free formula. If it was about babies, we’d have free and excellent childcare from newborns on. If it was about babies, we’d have universal preschool and pre-k and guaranteed after school placements. (Posted by Leila Cohan @leilachoan)

On another day, I had seen this post while scrolling through my newsfeed but had some second thoughts about sharing it on my FB page.

This time I added my heart emoji to the collection of ‘likes’ and ‘loves’ it had already received. As I scrolled down the short list of comments, I came across the following:

“It’s about babies getting a chance at life. Period.”

Seconds turned into minutes as I sat staring at that comment … heart pounding.

Is this what Pastor Ginn meant? Is this person my enemy? I do not even know the commentor. Up to this point, all I know of this person is that we share a mutual friend on FB. Do I respond? If so, how? What could I possibly say that would make an impression, let alone change this person’s mind and/or heart?

While doing some research for another blog I was going to write, I came across an Insider article with the headline: Homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the United States, a new study found

… a very startling article to read!

You guessed it … I copied and pasted the link to the article as my reply to this person.

And this person’s response: “I’m sorry, your point is?”

WOW …

… was almost my response. I confess I did get a little snarky and replied: “You just made it.” To which this person stated: “so clever.”

With Pastor Ginn’s devotional percolating in my spirit and soul, I wrote the following to my “enemy:”

“If I have offended you with my words or my pro-choice beliefs, I sincerely apologize. For me Pro-life should mean to be pro-Love and I just don’t see legislating away the autonomy a woman has over her own body as a loving action–which I believe is part–or possibly the whole–point of the posted meme and my response–both article and above comment. And I’m sure you don’t see abortion as a loving action. On this issue, we will have to agree to disagree.”

Here’s the thing, I doubt there is anything I could say that would change this person’s rigid, hard-line beliefs, but is this person really my enemy? As a pro-choice advocate myself, are pro-life proponents my enemy? As a progressive socialist democrat, are MAGA republicans my enemy? Since I am a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman, are the BLM and/or LGBTQIA folks my enemy? Who is my enemy?  Or am I the enemy?

Perhaps this is the point of Psalm 23 verse five, that when we look at anyone as “other,” we become the enemy. Getting stuck in the mire of otherness is to believe in the belief of separation—that any one of us is separate from God or each other. There is no ‘other’ because there is no separation from the Divine.

This wonderfully diverse universe–everyone and everything–is woven together with and in God’s truth, beauty and love which, much like the net that held the 153 fish (see John 21), cannot be torn.

Lastly, you may think a post-menopausal woman has no stake in the abortion issue. You would be wrong!

As of this writing, I have three beautiful granddaughters and I cannot even begin to imagine the trauma they would endure if they were forced to give birth to an unwanted child, especially if the pregnancy had been due to rape and/or would endanger their health in any way.

“Your mother. Your daughter. Your sister. Her choice.” (“Grandfathers for Yes” campaign of Ireland)

To that end, I offer the following unsolicited wisdom to my grandchildren:

My dear grandsons, when a woman says no, she means NO! Take a cold shower!

My dear granddaughters, if a man will not take NO for an answer, kick him in the fucking* nuts!

 

*If my use of profanity has offended you, then you obviously do not know the sweet contextual ecstasy of using expletives correctly.

Love, Of Course

Love, Of Course

For the longest time a house just down the block and around the corner had a “Let’s Go Brandon” banner hanging from the eaves of their porch roof—it has since been removed. A couple of other houses in the neighborhood have equally offensive pennants draped near the entrances of their homes.

At one point in time, I felt quite angry about these objectionable displays of ignorance and imagined a midnight mission of mangling said malevolent manifestations. Thankfully, I did not follow through.

Now?

Some anger, still, mixed with sorrow and a healthy dose of not knowing.

Not knowing what to say, not knowing what to do, simply not knowing.

On an early morning walk as I rounded the block with my congenial canine companion, Polly girl, a young man of early to mid 20’s was exiting the house where once the streamer hung. Dressed in fatigues, army or national guard—I know not, I greeted him with a cheerful ‘Good Morning’ which he returned in kind. Respectfully, I then said, “Thank you for your service.” He replied, “Thank you, I really appreciate it.”

Neither of us stopped, it was a brief interlude on the move, yet I could tell by the tone of his response that he was sincerely touched by my words of regard.

I know nothing about his household or the reason for the decision to hang the banner and its withdrawal. He knows nothing about me either. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time we ever had any kind of interaction.

That’s the thing, isn’t it?

We never know what is just around the corner.

Two things I read every morning are Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation and Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters From An American. I subscribe to both online and devour them on my iPad, sometimes before my feet even hit the floor, much to my Polly Ann’s chagrin.

Professor Heather Cox Richardson is an author and “political historian who uses facts and history to put the news in context.” She has a B.A. and PhD from Harvard and “teaches nineteenth-century American history at both the undergraduate and the graduate level” at Boston College.

Father Richard Rohr is “American Franciscan priest and writer on spirituality.”

Recently, in discussing the radicalization of the Republican party, Professor Richardson said:

“Democracy is a moral position. Defending the right of human beings to control their own lives is a moral position. Treating everyone equally before the law is a moral position. Insisting that everyone has a right to have a say in their government is a moral position.” HCR

On the same morning Father Rohr wrote this:

“Love is the lesson, and God’s love is so great that God will finally teach it to all of us. We’ll finally surrender, and God will win in the end. That will be God’s “justice,” which will swallow up our lesser versions. God—Love—does not lose!” RR

I have no idea in what direction HCR’s faith compass points, nor am I aware of RR’s political affiliations, yet these two profound statements seem to synchronize perfectly.

One idea both quotes highlight is the concept of free will or what Martin Luther called “free choice.”

Free will is the capacity of agents to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded. Wikipedia

Back in the garden, when Eve and Adam ate the fruit from the tree of “knowledge of good and evil,” they exercised their free choice which had been given to them from their birth.

A Bible I was given as a child has an illustration of the scene where God “drives” them out of the Eden. In the picture, God looks REALLY angry!

There were times when I was raising my three sons that they did things which I felt angry about, but my true underlying feeling was disappointment. Because I loved them so much, I was disappointed that they would choose to do something that potentially could have been harmful to themselves or someone else; or chose to disobey because they did not trust me.

This is what is so glaringly obvious within our current culture. We seem to have taken extreme sides over free choice and how to control the way choices are made.

Wearing a mask takes away one’s freedom, but banning abortion does not? Social media sites have been abuzz with all sorts of memes and opinions comparing and contrasting these two issues.

What is THE determining factor when “defending the right of human beings to control their own lives?”

LOVE!

He said to him (a lawyer), “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

While neither political party is perfect, the truth of this Love and its awareness is what is most clearly coming through the current Democratic party into our culture and world at large. People are surrendering to the knowledge that “Love is the lesson, and God’s love is so great that God will finally teach it to all of us.”

NO, I am NOT saying God loves Democrats more than Republicans. NO, I am NOT saying God is a Democrat.

I am saying God is Love and God will use whatever means necessary to bring forth the awareness of Love.

I had a choice when I encountered the young man the other morning. I could have judged him based on the banner that once hung on his house, or I could have acted in and through Love.

Thankfully, I chose the latter.

Who knows what the effects of that choice will be down the road and around the corner.

DEAD

DEAD

DEAD … is not dead!

“The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Alternatively, some sum it up as “the conservation of energy.” Ultimately, the First Law of Thermodynamics is a statement that energy can be transferred between the system and the surroundings through the transfer of heat (q) or by the performance of mechanical work (w). ΔE = q + w

Energy doesn’t simply materialize or disappear. Any gain in energy by the system will correspond to a loss in energy by the surroundings, or any loss in energy by the system will correspond to a gain in energy by the surroundings.”

I took a chemistry class in high school and again in college and loved both. Whereas many of my fellow students, particularly in high school, thought the subject matter was boring, I marveled at its’ elegance. I especially enjoyed balancing chemical equations. I loved the beautiful symmetry of this exercise!

“Matter can change form through physical and chemical changes, but through any of these changes, matter is conserved. The same amount of matter exists before and after the change—none is created or destroyed. This concept is called the Law of Conservation of Mass.”

These two laws of science perfectly explain the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly! So obvious yet sophisticated and ultimately perfect!

And doesn’t “Energy doesn’t simply materialize or disappear” remind you of the following verse?

I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Revelation 22:13

God, energy, The Divine, The Universe—whichever you prefer–has been, is and always will be.

Dead … is not DEAD!

The last three months have been very challenging health-wise for me. I thought I was making progress adjusting to the synthetic form of the levothyroxine hormone my body needs to continue to function, since my thyroid was removed due to cancer. Little did I know a perfect storm was brewing that would cause severe diarrhea, a urinary tract infection and acute hyperthyroid symptoms all at the same time.

I felt like sh**!

Have you ever been sick to that point where you wondered if you were ever going to get well again?

My hope was fading fast.

One night when I finally managed to drift off to sleep, my mother came to me. She has been away from earthly form for almost six years. She was standing in a hugely immense tunnel—it was not dark, but it was not wholly light—it was kind of like being in a tunnel of gigantic clouds. I ran to her and we embraced. She held me tight as I wept in her arms. No words were spoken, just the knowing of love and hope shared when I most needed it. I woke up crying.

Some of you may find that hard to believe. You may think, “oh that was just a dream.”

My mother was as alive to me then, in that moment, as she was when she was here in form.

Dead … is NOT dead!

Sunday morning, I went for a walk as I always do with my four-legged cohort, precious Polly, and instead of reveling in the quiet of the dawn, I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs HAPPY EASTER! I did not shout out loud, but my heart and soul were fervently cheering, HAPPY EASTER, HAPPY EASTER, HAPPY EASTER! I did start humming and quietly singing one of my most favorite hymns …

Low in the grave He lay
Jesus my Savior!
Waiting the coming day
Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign
He arose! (He arose)
He arose! (He arose)
Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Robert Lowry

Our response in grief to a person’s death, depending upon who the person was and our relationship with him or her, can sometimes leave one feeling angry and bitter.  This is not a good place to be because one can end up believing the illusion that dead is dead.

This earthly shell that I currently inhabit will fade, will dissolve, will die, but I will not because …

DEAD … is NOT … DEAD!

There is only transition and transformation.

I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

Or perhaps this …

“I’m not afraid of death because I don’t believe in it. It’s just getting out of one car, and into another.” John Lennon

Hope Too

Hope Too

I had almost given up hope …

I am not a morning person, never have been. When I was a preteen, I was gifted a night shirt which was embossed with an image of the Disney dwarf, Grumpy, along with the words, “I don’t like mornings,” or some such phrase.

Because I am a slow riser, I do not like to do anything that breaks the morning stillness and quiet, like talking. I do, however, enjoy the sounds of nature as I arise and begin my day.

Ever since Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of six more weeks of winter this year—2022—I have been eagerly anticipating the returning birds’ tweets, twitters, and chirps.

I was really concerned that the avifauna population had taken a hit due to dining on pesticide poisoned cicadas last year. When Polly and I took our morning walks, the bird song chorus did not seem as robust as in past years.

This morning, that changed.

Dawn was just breaking and the full moon was setting as we set out. Immediately I could tell the difference. The air was reverberant with the sing-song chorus of birds galore and I was overjoyed to experience their choral performance.

Have you been feeling overwhelmed lately? I have.

I had my thyroid removed in January due to cancer and have been enduring some long-term detrimental side effects of the antibiotics I was given during and after surgery. My gut health, or lack thereof, is wreaking havoc with my bodily functions. Between that and my body’s response to processing the synthetic thyroid hormones, I am not sure what ‘normal’ is anymore.

Not only is my body under assault but so is my mind and heart when I watch the news and see the images coming out of Ukraine, or read about the Republicans’ eleven-point plan to rescue America. Both are equally despicable!

The Republican party appears to desire the United States to return to pre-WWI isolationism by denying that we are an interconnected, interdependent world where isolationism simply will not work without detrimental results to its citizens – i.e. China, Russia.

They glorify the misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic Americana of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s where might was white, women “knew their place,” and no one other than white, cisgender, heterosexual males had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

They promote a religion that has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus and propagate policies that stand in direct contrast to the God they claim to love.

They idolize the man who thinks Putin is smart and savvy, as well as Putin himself.

Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy … Tucker Carlson’s lies … Ted Cruz’s infantile egomania …

Repugnant!

But I digress …

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow nor reap nor store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

In the context of the Sermon on the Mount from which this verse is taken, Jesus is talking about worrying. He continues by telling his listeners to “see how the flowers of the field grow.”

Worrying aside, I love that Jesus tells us to look at the birds and to see the flowers. Many of his stories and parables include examples of nature. It is like he is saying the earth itself is where we should turn whenever we are overwhelmed with cares and trauma. The feminine incarnate grounds us and sets us aright.

“Have you not seen
that God
created the heavens and Earth
in truth?
He created all things through His
omnipotence,
adorned them through His knowledge,
and governed them
through His wisdom.
Thus, the one who contemplates
the Creator
through the creation,
the wonders of the creation
will become apparent.
But to the one
who contemplates the creation
through the Creator,
the traces of His omnipotence,
the lights of His wisdom
and the extent and profundity
of His workmanship
… will be unveiled. “
– Sahl al- Tustari

By marveling at creation, we can take comfort in the knowledge that everything serves a greater purpose.

 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” John 16:33

What Do You Think God Looks Like

What Do You Think God Looks Like

In fact, the personal name of God, Yahweh, which is revealed to Moses in Exodus 3, is a remarkable combination of both female and male grammatical endings. The first part of God’s name in Hebrew, “Yah,” is feminine, and the last part, “weh,” is masculine.
theconversation.com

What do you think God looks like?

He has brown hair and green eyes. What do you think God looks like?

I think God looks like love.

What does love look like?

That’s a good question. There are different kinds of love like the romantic love between your parents. There is the love a Nana has for her grandchildren. There is the love between siblings and the love between friends.

I think love looks like rainbows.

Good one.

I think God has rainbow hair and rainbow eyes.

Cool! Is God male or female?

I think God is transgendered.

Wow, I think that’s amazing.

When my sons were young, I found the best place to have conversations with them was in the car because they were a captive audience. Our talks weren’t always serious; there was a mixture of fun shenanigans such as burping contests, making artificial fart noises with their arm pits and deciding whose song was playing on the radio as well as discussions ranging from sex to religion to … anything. Our minivan was a conversational confab group on wheels.

Seems this holds true now with my grandchildren as the above repartee between me and my granddaughter demonstrates. Her astute insight was cut short by our arriving at our destination. I did not get to ask her, for example, if she knows the meaning of the word transgendered.

Having taken a page out of his mother’s book, my son and daughter-in-law have been open in sharing about the topic of sex with her—age appropriately of course—so it is quite possible she knows exactly what she means. Either way, her acute evaluation of God’s gender identity shows a sharper awareness of God beyond the labels that many adults impose upon God. This will come in handy for her now and into adulthood as she navigates loving others the way Jesus teaches us to love.

Having been a follower of Jesus for most of my life, I have often wondered about his physical appearance. I use to believe that I needed to know what he looked like in order to fulfill a deep longing for an intimate and loving relationship with him as his follower.

In the Jewish Bible, Isaiah describes him as having “no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” The author of Hebrews from the Christian New Testament says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature …”

Clearly his character is far more important than his features.

I would still like to know what he looked like when he was here in form, yet I am content to seek and see his temperament, disposition, uprightness—God’s Christ consciousness–within my fellow human beings.

I was waiting on a client to bring her car around to load her groceries from the food pantry. The sun was in my eyes and I guess it must have looked like I was scowling. David—himself a client/volunteer–asked if there was a smile under my mask. Seeing Christ in his eyes and peace in his countenance, I removed my mask and smiled, thankful for the reminder.

Not feeling particularly happy with what I was wearing one morning as I entered JCCM, an older gentleman client told me I looked nice. Seated on a bench outside the building, his appearance was disheveled and gaunt yet with an inward strength of Presence. Christ was in his eyes as well and I knew his out-of-the-blue compliment was not a come on, but a sincere, encouraging word. I thanked him and complimented him on the lovely cross hanging from his neck.

Debra, with bedraggled clothing and rumpled hair, helped me unload a cart of free breads and pastries onto a table in the front of JCCM. I do not remember what we talked about as we worked together, all I know is I felt a calm reassurance emanating from her as we did.

I was recently diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma, and I am just so grateful. Do not misunderstand me, I am not grateful for the cancer, but for the ways I have seen and am seeing Christ …

… in the care and concern of my doctors,
… in the love and affection of my family and friends,
… in the joy and playfulness of my dog, Polly,
… in the beauty of nature,
… in the serenity of mundane tasks,
… in acts of compassion and mercy and kindness of strangers …

Have you ever felt so grateful that you simply cry? I have. I do. I am now.

Christ is everywhere in everyone and everything. In Christ we—all of us, each and every human being ever and always–live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

We are here to help each other heal as St. Francis of Assisi makes clear in his “Peace Prayer.”

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Being awakened to Christ is to die now because eternal life is being an instrument of Peace now!

I think this is what Indian poet and mystic, Kabir Das meant when he wrote the following:

” I have
learned
from Him how
to walk
without feet,
to see
without eyes,
to hear
without ears,
to drink
without mouth,
to fly
without wings;
I have
brought my love
and my
meditation into
the land
where there is
no sun and moon
and without
eating,
I have tasted
of the sweetness
of nectar;
and without water,
I have quenched
… my thirst. ” …

( from: Songs of Kabir )

In peace and gratitude …

Ode

Ode

What follows is an ode to my dad.

My father has fulfilled many roles in his lifetime.

Third son born to William Henry and Hazel Taylor Fridinger on July 17, 1928, he was sibling to brothers Jack and Bill and later his closest sibling, a younger sister, Jeanne. Upon graduating from high school, he joined the Navy at the age of 17 and eventually became a Fireman 1st class. Taking advantage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, he graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

As a mechanical engineer for the Naval Ordinance Laboratory, later known as the Naval Surface Weapons Center, in White Oak, Maryland, he received many awards including the US Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1963.

In 1954, in what he calls his “best move,” he married his “West Virginia girl,” and became husband to Josephine Virginia Miller. Five years later, he became a father to his only child, a daughter.

He became a grandfather in 1984—Granddad or Gdad as he is known to Christopher, Matthew and Michael and in 2001 a great grandfather—also known as GGDad to Taylor, Ryder, Brooks, Annalise, and Hazel.

At Memorial United Methodist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, and New Street United Methodist Church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, he held every office imaginable except for Finance Chair.

He retired at the age of 55, but this did not stop him from accepting other roles.

He and Josephine joined the National Association of Retired Federal Employees in 1984 and became Life Members in 1987. He held nearly all offices in the local chapter and held every office in the State Federation of Chapters except Treasurer. He was president for three years. He started a new chapter in Charles Town when he was 1st VP and Membership Chair and four more Chapters (Pt Pleasant, Berkeley Springs, Keyser, and Elkins) when he was president. He served on the Berkeley County Council of Aging (now known as Berkeley Senior Services) for many years and was President for three and half years while the New Center was being designed, contracted and built. He was a sub chair for the senior sector fundraising. He received the “Bob Jackson Advocate for Seniors Award” in 2000 from Berkley Senior Services.

He was also an active member and office holder in the Charles Town, West Virginia chapter of AARP.

He is a self-espoused Socialist Democrat, Ford owner and United Methodist–for most of his adult life.

As the result of an upsetting incident between his parents that he witnessed as a child, he is extremely uncomfortable with confrontations. Having been raised in a patriarchal authoritarian household further contributed to his quiet, reserved nature.

Yet, it was Great Depression that was one of his saving graces—in his own words:

The depression was hard on the family. Dad was laid off from H.L. Mills and had no regular work until 1936. During those years we moved to Frederick – and back to Hagerstown – and lived mostly on money borrowed on the home that was acquired during better times. That money soon ran out; the home was lost; and we moved into an old log house in the country and along the Conococheague Creek. The house had belonged to my father’s cousin and had been empty a loooong time. The move to a house without electricity, running water and indoor plumbing was traumatic to my mother, but we boys thought it was the best and longest camping trip ever. Dad got work in a local lumber yard and gradually fixed up the house, built some boats and developed a “swimming hole” that was used by people all over the area. It was called Nickel Hole.

We learned to swim (it was mandatory), boat, and fish. We lived for a while with an Ice Box for food and a gas lantern for light. He organized the neighbors to lobby for electricity and it was brought to the area by the Rural Electrification Program – one of the depression projects. He then bought one of the first Fluorescent Lights for the dining area “for the kids to do their homework”. It took about ten seconds before it stopped blinking. We eventually got a phone – an eight-home party line – and our ring was four shorts. Good luck at making a private call! Summer baths in the creek and winter baths (occasionally) in the galvanized tub. We never got indoor plumbing or running water until we moved back to a town in 1946 after WW2.

He had first-hand experience with how instrumental government can be in improving people’s lives. FDR and the New Deal impressed upon my father the idea of service in helping others. This also explains why he has voted for every Democratic Presidential candidate since 1948. To this day he finds Ronald Regan’s quote, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem” repugnant—to say the least.

He was sixteen when he became an uncle for the first time to John Morris Fridinger, son of his eldest brother, Jack. Other nieces and nephews were born in the following years. Eleven years later he was the last of his siblings to marry, something his grandmother worried would not happen.

When he enlisted in the Navy, he fully expected to drive a landing craft onto Japanese beaches. However, the atomic bomb and later Japanese surrender changed that and he spent the next 18 months aboard the USS Sitkin, cleaning up leftover ammunition from both World Wars, and transferring ammunition at sea in preparation for the next war. In his words, “It was not a happy ship.”

When I was a child, he fixed all my broken toys. In fact, he had a workbench in the basement that I thought of as magical. I could place anything on that counter and within a day or two, it was repaired. Cars, lawn mowers, TV sets, bicycles … you name it, he can fix it; although computer technology has made some repairs more difficult in these latter years.

He is intrigued with how things work which is why he was patient answering all my questions when I was growing up. Like, “why do car tires look like they are spinning backwards, when a car is moving forward” or “why does it look like there is water in the road on a hot, summer day?” The way he responded to my many inquiries may be partially responsible for why I really enjoyed teaching Middle School science—particularly physics.

Even now, whether it is fixing football helmets to prevent head injuries or solutions to global warming and climate change, he can be heard saying to the TV news anchor, “that would be so easy to fix,” while outlining how it could be accomplished.

As an adult, I know he did not always approve of my life choices, but he was and still is extremely generous, not only financially but also graciously. He has always had my back even when I failed to realize it or take him for granted.

Unwilling to complain, he is stoic during the midst of the most difficult and trying circumstances and discerning in all of his choices throughout his life. He has said he has never met anyone that he hates and he believes in the innate goodness of ALL people.

This resume, if you will, may give you the impression of a mainstream, straight, middle class, active pillar of his community. This is true of course. However, because he lives his life through gratitude, abundance and grace, he shows a profound willingness to be inclusive of diversity more than a whole lot of people maybe even know.

This is because my father has a very simple and humble faith.

He believes in knowing Jesus and doing his best to follow His example.

Mission accomplished!