A vacation for me is having time to travel, not to places but to ideas. I go there by means of books.
The books grabbing my attention now sit on the flat arms of my recliner in the study and on the top of my nearby desk.
This morning, I started with The Thickness of Glory by John Killinger; it’s in my lap.
The New American Standard New Testament rests to my right. It will be next.
On the left is T.S. Eliot’s For Lancelot Andrewes and Denise Shekerjian’s Uncommon Genius.
In the middle of my desk is Will Durant’s The Age of Faith. And on top of it is A Game of Thrones, which is how I ended Tuesday and probably will end today.
I’m not sure why I thought to share this; maybe because it is a way of enjoying a day that seems so foreign to this time. For many of us, the best traveling occurs in our minds.
Last night I started watching a movie that included an airport scene. I found myself getting stressed just watching it. Exit. This is vacation from stress time.
I do like seeing interesting places; I just hate the getting there if it involves airports and airplanes. I do like a good road trip because there is plenty of time to think. One of the best trips of my life was driving from Texas to Vancouver with Cameron. There and back again, to quote a hobbit. Thousands of beautiful miles and precious company.
With books and ideas I like both the trip and the arriving at the end.
My perfect vacation day continues.
I remember the excitement of holding the hands of girlfriends in youth.
I remember the connection when holding the hand of the woman I came to love. Not like the others, she remained from day to day.
I remember the tenderness of holding the hands of our babies; small and soft, they grasped your finger.
I thought of hand-holding this morning when listening to a song by David Kauffman — “A Hand to Hold.”
It reminded me of another hand-holding song first heard when I was 8 in 1963 — “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” by The Beatles. The excitement of that song thrilled and laid the foundation for the excitement that would come a few years later when I held the hands of girlfriends.
But, excitement is only part of life. Kauffman’s “A Hand to Hold” points to something deeper.
“Someone asked me what I want, the question sent me spinning off in circles. I could not see. Seems like so much of my time is spent chasing what my mind invents, that my heart lost its way.
“It took stripping away every plan in me to understand the simple things I need, a hand to hold, a heart that knows, a soul that welcomes and makes a whole, a smile that warms what’s grown cold ’til I’ve become a hand to hold.”
To hold a hand is one of the great joys of life. Yes, it can be exciting, but more joyously it can become a true connection with genuine tenderness, and it’s not just about romance. To rephrase Kauffman’s words:
We all need hands to hold.
We all need hearts that know us.
We all need souls that welcome and make us whole.
We all need smiles that warm us when we’ve grown cold.
We need real love, the Jesus kind of love. The love that touches our hearts, warms our souls, makes us whole, and smiles upon our lives.
We can receive these spiritually, directly from our Creator and Sustainer, but we also need to receive these from the people God brings into our life path.
God may touch our spirits, but God knows that flesh is important and needs to be touched, as well. Jesus became flesh so he could actually touch people. What might it have been like to walk a path in Palestine holding the hand of the one who loved perfectly and would one day give that hand to be assaulted in crucifixion?
And, as Kauffman’s song says, when we have been touched and changed, we will “become a hand to hold.” We need others to hold our hands, and others need us — the power of touch.
(David Kauffman has been one of my favorite Christian songwriters for years. “A Hand to Hold” is on his album by that same name.)
When first told I had cancer, my initial thoughts were these: This could kill me. This will cost me. This is going to disrupt the lives of my family and me. I did not think of how God would bless me through the process.
One of the blessings is that I have gotten to know a bunch of great people — competent and caring. They’ve brightened my life.
Today marked the 31st day of my 38-day radiation treatment. I get to see the folks at Urology Austin’s radiation center every morning at 7 a.m. to get zapped.
Dr. Garza is the ring leader, but there’s also Isabel, Kristianne, Angela, Erick, Katherine, Que, and others. They rotate. They’ve become my friends. In the brief moments before and after they leave the room we get to share tidbits of our lives.
They know their stuff, which is critical, but they also show they care, and that is just as important for me. I’m going to miss them when this is over.
I would have preferred to forego the cancer, but I am surely thankful for the people — the blessings — I have encountered through the journey.
Trustworthiness is so important. Understanding it can help us understand why lying and deceit are so damaging.
I want to simplify a sentence from Christopher Hall, quoting Robert Wilken:
Authority sometimes refers to power, but it can refer also to trustworthiness. One way we establish trustworthiness is through “teaching with truthfulness,” which resides “in a person who by actions as well as words invites trust and confidence.” A person’s “trust is won not simply by words but also by actions, by the kind of person the teacher is—in short, by character.”
Hall and Wilken were referring to the pursuit of truth and trustworthiness in the Christian tradition. It is, I think, something that can be applied to all of life. We win the trust of others not merely by our words but also by our actions — by being a person of high character, by being trustworthy.
The paraphrase and quote come from Christopher A. Hall’s Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers (p. 28). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
Reading about others can help you see yourself better.
I was reading this morning about the differences that emerged during American slavery between house slaves and field slaves. I cannot begin to compare my heritage to the black experience, but I as I read knowing my own heritage I realized that in many ways I’m from the white field hand tradition.
One of my grandfathers was a sharecropper. Both of my grandfathers were eventually land-owning farmers (thanks, in part, to the women they married). I still see the field hand in myself. I’m not comfortable in the world of fancy; I like to dress more simply and behave more casually.
But I went and got a bunch of education, so I don’t really fit in with the field hand world either. I would rather talk about ideas than the weather.
So now I see a little better why I sometimes feel alone. I’m not alone regarding people; I’m a bit alone within myself — connected, yet disconnected from my past and in my present.
That may sound like a sad thought. It’s not, because I know there are lots of people who are like me in feeling disconnected from something old and yet connected to something new.