Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 22 – Weight Lifting

I had not idea lifting weights would feel so good. Last November my eldest son, Brian, encouraged me to join him in a sport I had never before tried. Albeit, growing up I did my fair share of throwing hay bails and sacks of grain around the family farm.

I remembered feeling very awkward and weak those first few weeks. My arms wobbled under the free weights. It felt like everyone was watching me. I lifted only 30-40% of the weight that Brian lifted, but I still pushed and pulled the weights to the right position only with intense effort. The days following that first week of lifting left my muscles stiff and sore.

Now, eight months later, I understand why he goes to the gym so faithfully. For one, he likes to look good and his finely tuned and muscular torso provides evidence. More importantly, though, is how good it feels to be in sturdier condition. I’ve regularly cycled now for over 10 years so my legs and glutes are in pretty good shape. After lifting for these months, I’ve noticed my cycling has improved as a result of a better-conditioned core and torso. I walk more confidentially and with better posture. I think our bodies were made to be active. Our legs give us mobility and our arms the ability to pick up and carry things. We bend in the middle so we can sit down, but I don’t believe that’s our most natural position. Walking suits our structure better. Our spine is more naturally curved. Our frame is sturdier. It’s harder to push over a person standing than it is if they are sitting in a chair. If people exercised more, they’d be healthier, happier and clearer minded.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 21 – Driven or Drawn

I wonder why millions have turned to The Purpose Driven Life to find meaning and "reduce stress, simplify decisions and increase satisfaction." I’m not compelled to pick up a copy because being driven by anything puts me off. I might be drawn to a “greater purpose” but to be driven by one smacks of dropping my brain at the door and falling in line. To be driven seems to be contrary to Christ’s simple directive, “follow me.”

I’d rather be “drawn to” than “driven by”. Christ presents a way to follow. His life was the prime example of love and care and commitment to people on the margin of culture, to those cast out of society. I’m drawn to follow Him. In fact, it makes good sense to do so.

On the other hand, to be “driven” is to be whipped along in front of the one doing the driving. We are not to be the whipping boy of some greater purpose conjured up in an emotionally charged moment. The only time Christ forced anyone to do anything was when he drove out the moneychangers in the temple courtyard. These culprits were driven to take advantage of an opportunity to make money at someone else’s expense. It is easy to adjust our purpose to suit ourselves and to be driven by it. It is harder to get off track when a person ahead marks the way, and all we need to do is follow.

So to be “driven” or “drawn”, which is it? Even if we say our purpose is to “follow Christ”, to be driven to follow is at best an oxymoron. We are pointedly foolish to think we are followers at the crack of a whip.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 20 – Learning in the Garden

I’ve recently run across a book, Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax, about the factors that are driving the growing “epidemic” of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men. In the book Sax sites another author, Richard Louv, who has discovered several research studies that demonstrate that when there is a profound imbalance in a child’s early experience – when outdoor play is replaced by computers or fancy indoor toys – the result is an increased risk for attention deficit disorder. One Swedish study compared children in two different day-care facilities. One facility was surrounded by tall buildings. The other was set in an orchard surrounded by woods and was adjacent to an overgrown garden. At this day-care children were encouraged to play outside in all kinds of weather. The researchers found that children who spent more time outdoors in a green garden setting had better motor coordination and more ability to concentrate.

I’ve wondered if a better location for a school would be a garden rather than a classroom. Classrooms confine and conform students to one particular type of learning. Many more options exist outside. Children can explore and move about more freely. They don’t have to sit still to learn the day’s lesson. Learning is more tactile – students can smell, hear, and touch the environment to learn about it. Math is more meaningful when applied. Students are engaged more when they do science as opposed to reading about it. Even literature or poetry is better studied when in a more natural setting. It seems that our notion of learning confines it to four walled, rectangular classrooms. Students who are able to sit still find themselves in favor with the teacher. Those that fidget or have a hard time following linear, left-brained lessons are given slow learner status. We can do better in schools to enliven the imagination and creativity of students. Getting them outdoors is a good place to start.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 19 – Strawberry Jam

Yesterday we picked strawberries for the annual jam-making event. This year the strawberries were abysmal. They were about the size of marbles and the small patches of berries that remained to be picked were spread all throughout the field. Four of us picked for an hour and our total haul was only about 15 pounds. We estimated 15 pounds was not enough so we also bought another flat of prepicked berries.

Today we made the jam. Stemming the tiny specimens took forever. We ended up with seven batches of freezer jam for a total of 35 pints. I stirred sugar into strawberry pulp for 3 ½ hours. Hopefully the supply will last for a few years. The containers are stacked on the table beside me. Having the fruit of your labor so tangible makes the work more tolerable and rewarding. Knowing how good the jam will taste next to peanut butter between two slices of bread is also a good motivator.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 18 – Music in the Park

Duke barked a rough, low bark every time a dog came into view. Sometimes his woofing was in time to the brass quintet. Carol and I listened with relaxed enjoyment to Chuck and his four friends as lyrical melodies filled the meadow on the shore of Greenlake. There was a little boy with two very large dimples in his chubby cheeks who ran tirelessly back and forth while his mother played second trumpet. His wide eyes and large smile invited a chuckle. He was very cute.

The music went on as a few more families gathered to listen. The sun was already behind the tall evergreens, but we could tell it continued to drift toward the horizon because the temperature kept dropping. By the time the concert was over we were reaching for fleece pullovers while others were rolling up in blankets. Before the end Kris came and corralled Duke to quiet and subdue him. When the last notes sounded we said our goodbyes, folded up our chairs and walked leisurely back to the car.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 17 – The Dance

Capturing the right words as they run through my mind is like snatching confetti from the air during a Sounder’s game. Out of the thousands and thousands of little slips of colored paper, only a few dozen float close enough for me to even try to grab one. Then the puff of air created in my effort to pinch a piece pushes it even further from my grasp. Words can be that way too. I think I’ve got a good one only to find myself pushing it away in the effort to create a meaningful sentence.

Yet, my eyes are drawn skyward to watch confetti dance in the breeze. Rectangular slips lift and spin. Some fall quickly to rest motionless on the ground; others fly higher still and drift up and up, out of sight. I’m drawn to words on a page too. Sometimes my reading falls flat. My concentration wanes, and I seem to have read several pages unconsciously. The words float by like confetti, and none register meaning. Or I can stare off into space, a blank page before me under my pen, and hunt for ideas. Words drift past. Wisps of meaning are there like smoke lasting only for a moment. Only with discipline will I catch a few and begin to scribble them on the vacant page. One by one they whisk by, which ones will remain do so as a mysterious dance between pen tip and page.

The 365 day writing journey is a walk down this less traveled road. No clear roadmap exists. The path lies dim and misty twisting off into the unknown. All I can do is sit in front of the blank page, grasp the pen between thumb and forefinger and let the dance begin.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 16 – Informing or Transforming Faith

I was in a workshop yesterday when the instructor asked, “How does your faith inform your teaching?” Less than a handful of people responded and since the asking, my mind has been preoccupied with finding an answer.

I’m not sure the question is quite right. I don’t think faith is an informer as much as it is a transformer. It is the flux of all human activity. We cannot help but behave out of a foundational frame of reference. Our belief system, our faith, shapes who we are and who we are becoming such that our actions align to the axle of beliefs.

We believe that if we jump off a cliff we will be smashed to bits on the rocks below. So we don’t jump unless we are driven to do so by insanity. Insanity is the wobble of an unbalanced wheel about the axle – when our faith and actions don’t line up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 15 – Late Night Writing

Waiting until 9 pm to write is not a great idea. My morning routine of reading and writing was supplanted by preparations for a workshop for which I had logistic responsibility. Making coffee took precedence over turning the pages of a good book and setting up the day’s food took priority over my early morning writing. Now I’m left with a numb mind and a groggy disposition. I’m gutting my way through the process and wonder how many times out of 365 days I’ll leave my commitment to writing until near bedtime. I don’t have a minimum requirement for the number of words. I try to write at least 15 minutes and for no longer than 31 minutes. According to the clock I’ve met my minimum so that’s it for now.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 14

“At its heart, the modern world is a decisive challenge to the authority of God . . . because our entire culture, Christians included, so relies on the gifts of the modern world that we have ‘no need of God’ in practice.” – Oz Guinness

We are deceived by the comforts that surround us. We are warm and dry in our homes; clean water flows freely from the faucet; and thousands of neatly kept rows of food in the supermarket down the street await our shopping cart. Even the term supermarket shouts our gluttonous consumption to the poor around us. We are deceived because we do not have the eyes to see the work of God in our midst nor the ears to hear His still small voice. We have no need of God because we already have everything we need.

Yet, God loves us none-the-less. When we leave home in search of the next level of success and fulfillment, we are really looking for acceptance and love. But we search were love cannot be found. According to Nouwen, the world says, “Yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much, and buy much. There are endless ‘ifs’ hidden in the world’s love. These ‘ifs’ enslave [us] . . . The world’s love is always conditional.”

So just as the prodigal son left home, we put on our finest clothes and drive away in our fancy cars to a distant land in a rebellious search for something that ironically is only found at home in the Father’s embrace. The great mystery is that the Father is always waiting with outstretched arms for our return.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 13 – Father’s Day

Today is the day when we celebrate fathers. My father died suddenly twenty-five years ago last November. Brian, our oldest son, turned one just after the memorial service. My dad died of an aortic aneurism probably caused by cigarette smoking educed emphysema. I remember it was a confusing set of circumstances because when my brother first called I thought he was talking about my uncle who had been ill and not my dad. I discovered the truth a day later while talking with my mom. Anyway, it has been twenty-five years since I celebrated my dad, although I’ve thought about him often.

However, Brian and Jonathan, with Carol’s help especially when they were little, have found various creative ways to celebrate their dad. I remember breakfasts in bed, various picnics and outings, and of late very good BBQ steak tended by Brian. Jonathan is the one that frequently comes up with just the right gift. The last two years Brian’s girlfriend, Marilyn, has joined us. She makes amazing pesto. After great food and conversation we usually, as with any special day, conclude with a game around the table. I’m very lucky to have a family that enjoys being together.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 12 – Hard Ride

Today Scott, Carol, Chris and I rode various parts of Tour de Blast. Chris and Scott finished the whole thing. Carol rode the 54 miles up to Elkhorn Ridge and back. I only rode the first 57 miles. Earlier this week on a ride up Cougar Mountain my back wheel went out of alignment very suddenly. I noticed it on the decent as the back end of my bike wagged like an excited dog. When I got home I was able to adjust a couple spokes and get most of the wobble out.

Today however about 30 miles into the ride I noticed a crack in the rear wheel. Slowly the wobble returned and gradually worsened. I made it the 42 miles to Johnston Ridge but on all the descents I had to keep it under twenty. To get back up to Elkhorn Ridge on the other side of the river I had to remove half of the rear brake to keep the wheel from rubbing the brake. I wondered why it seemed so hard to ride up the grades on the ride, but riding uphill was still much easier than going down. I decided not to attempt the ride down from Elkhorn back to Toutle and caught the shuttle. Although I’d done all the climbing in the ride, it was a bummer not to finish. This is my third time on Tour de Blast and I’ve never done the whole ride.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 12 – A Time To Stand

“Many followers of Jesus today have not begun to wrestle with the full dimensions of the truth of calling because they have not been stretched by the real challenges of today’s world and by the momentousness of the present hour. ‘A time to stand’ is a time to behave as our Lord would wish us to behave. A time to behave is a time to believe as he has taught us to believe. A time to believe is a time to move from small, cozy formulations of faith to knowing what it is to be called by him as the deepest, most stirring, and most consuming passion of our lives.” -- Oz Guinness, The Call

I’m reading The Call and The Return of the Prodigal Son simultaneously. The parallels in their themes strikes me like a hammer on iron. Today Oz Guinness recounts the story of the Spartan’s stand against the vast army of Persia in the narrow gap at Thermopylae. They were outnumbered 10,000 to 1 but the “heroic handful of Greeks,” held off the super-army for over two days until they were betrayed by a traitor, surrounded and slaughtered. They took a stand for freedom against the oppressive invasion. Two thousand years later the French philosopher Montaigne said of the battle at Thermopylae, “there are triumphant defeats that rival victories.”

Ours is not a battle of flesh and blood. At first it may seem to be so. Many cultures of the world, the U.S. included, promote war as the solution to the fear of oppression. The prodigal son painting tells a different story. The father’s stand for reconciliation was not without cost. He had every right to reject his young son because asking for and receiving his family inheritance before his father had died was as if he had slit his father’s throat, culturally killing him before his time was up. Yet his father acted with mercy and compassion and turned the table when he said in response to the older son, “your brother was dead but has come back to life, he was lost but is found.” Greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life . . . No doubt any man who has been attacked himself or has had a family member attacked, as in 9/11, has the right to seek revenge. But revenge is not the way we are to stand if we are Christ followers. Christ stood for reconciliation, love and mercy just like the father in the painting. Even in the darkest hour of his death, Christ embodied love. We are called to do likewise.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 11 – Which Am I?

As Nouwen studied the painting he wondered which of the characters was operating in his life: the younger son – full of the excitement of an explorer, leaving home in search of his true identity, and yet squandering his money on loose living and having to return in shame to his father; the older son – faithful to his father and to the family farm, yet resenting his role and longing for the welcoming touch of his father; or the father – the one who receives others with grace and love, and whose role is to embrace the lost and comfort them.

At first glance, I see I have lived this past year as the prodigal son. I’ve lived freely without the constraints of a full time job. I’ve visited far off lands and people: New York City; the Sudan, Africa; and the Toronto area of Canada. At times I am haunted by the thought that I may have squandered resources of time and money without much of a result. I’ve wandered in and out of sink with God. I remember resting in the comfort of His embrace like the younger son and other times where I stood at a distance from Him, remaining aloof, feeling detached like the older son.

A few months ago I saw a t-shirt that said, “I need Africa more than Africa needs me.” That is one truth I have learned this year from visiting that multifarious land. It is a similar truth that I am relearning about God and from which I have drifted.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 10 – The Father’s Embrace

“I have to kneel before the Father, put my ear against his chest an listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God.” - H. Nouwen

Kneeling is an act of humility. As I read Nouwen and think about Rembrandt’s painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son, full of imagery of grace and love, I wonder about my own pride. I realize I would rather be god than love God. I want to be popular not humble. I want proper notice given to my work and people to believe in my ideas.

But I realize my first calling is to follow Jesus by kneeling before the Father and by listening to his heartbeat. Like the British call, beat to quarters, God’s steady and firm heartbeat calls me – first to himself and then to do what I am for him. For Nouwen, “the painting contained the heart of the story . . . All of the gospel is there. All of my life is there. All of the lives of my friends is there. The painting has become a mysterious window through which I can step into the Kingdom of God.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 9 – The Hermitage

I’m embarrassed to say that I was not more excited to come in from a sunny, crystal blue day and into the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. We’d already been in over a dozen museums on our trip to Russia so one more seemed like one too many. I did not realize that the corridors of the Hermitage contained some of the most famous works of art and that I could get almost close enough to press my nose against the canvas.

We only had a day to visit so we were taken on a two-hour, whirlwind tour and had the afternoon to revisit our favorite galleries. I was drawn back to the room containing several Rembrandt paintings: The Return of the Prodigal Son and The Crucifixion. For the better part of two hours I stood nearly motionless, breathless really, in front of these two masterpieces as if they were whispering to me stories I thought I already knew. Great groups of people would pass through the two-story room and then disperse leaving me alone with the paintings for minutes at a time. Now, three years later, the memories are flooding back as I read of a similar experience. Henri Nouwen also spent hours in the same room gazing at the prodigal son. I’m once again drawn to this author’s ability to bring such an honest look into the mysteries of a relationship with Christ.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 8 - Free Refills, but Still No Free Lunch

Tully’s free refills make my day. Free, no-strings-attached, WIFI lure me to their Eastgate store as well. I’ve frequently located at the square table in the corner near the window for my morning coffee, reading, writing routine. A few years ago a Toyota dealer moved in to fill the half-block sized, adjacent lot.

According to Dennis, my cycling friend, Tully’s profit margin is microscopic. I wonder why since the place is always busy. Maybe it’s that they give away refills and Internet access. I hope they survive the rocky economy.

The Toyota dealership next door reminds me of the recent GM bailout. Apparently, 58% of Americans don’t like the government’s takeover of the car making giant. I’m not sure how many billions of dollars the feds are putting into the company’s survival. I’m sure they’d not give Tully’s ten cents to keep their enterprise going. I guess GM’s takeover is not without some pruning. There’s the bankruptcy, the reorganization (seems like that only took the better part of a weekend), and the demise of many models. C’est la vie Saturn but good riddance to the gas guzzling Hummer.

I’m not sure what my share of the ¾ billion plus dollar bail out fund amounts to, but I bet over a couple of years it would buy me a fairly good used GM automobile. But, unlike free refills, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Or, I suspect, a free car.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 7 - Aunt Ephie in the Rhubarb

I heard Maggie tell this story today. We were talking about cycling and flying when she brought up that she was going to learn to fly at an early age. It seems that her two older brothers had just finished building an airplane. They planned to launch it from the top of the barn and Maggie was to be the test pilot. After managing to haul it to the peak of the barn, they attached one end of a long rope to the plane and the other to the farm mule. John was to shoot the mule in the rear end, but evidently he was not a polished marksman. Instead of hitting the mule he hit Aunt Ephie in the rhubarb. There was a stunned silence among the group as we tried to figure out if that was a part of her anatomy or a patch in the garden. Either way, the plane never took off, and Maggie never learned to fly.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 6 - Spring Cleaning

After a hurried two-hour tandem ride, Carol and I took on a bit of spring cleaning. We were motivated by the promise of house guests - more specifically Marilyn, Brian's girlfriend, and Maria, Marilyn's friend percussion playing friend from Eastman. The task was formidable because the girls were to move into Jonathan's bedroom and bathroom in the basement. Both have suffered from a 23 year-old's neglect for many months. But after we worked together for almost four hours, the whole house was in a much better state.

Carol says that we probably wouldn't have even begun the chore if left only to ourselves without the promise of guests. Even if for some reason they don't show up, the time and energy to make the place a little more livable was worth the effort. I think we'll both be more relaxed in a cleaner home, but I know Carol will feel much better about life in general having cleaned and straightened the place up a bit.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 5 – A Cracked Wheat Berry Is Stuck in My Teeth

When I simply have the time or when I courageously wrestle it from a calendar packed schedule, either way, I marvel at where my mind wanders. Today I was in line for a free refill of coffee at Tully’s when I noticed that my tongue was flicking at a wheat berry stuck in one of my molars. That seemingly mundane discovery led me down a serendipitous path of musings.

It seems of late that my teeth are more susceptible to sticking to small morsels of food. Whether it is beef stuck in a gap between incisors or a raspberry seed stuck in an enameled crevice, the incidences of these phenomena seem to be increasing. I wonder if my propensity for this particular annoyance is a result of physical changes due to aging or to a greater awareness of something that has been occurring since I began to eat solid food. Either way, I wonder about what this particular type of aggravation is meant to accomplish.

Maybe I’m putting to great a point to it but one possibility seems to be that it captures my attention, slows my mind and pinpoints my thinking. As a result I’m released to wonder more freely. All too frequently these days I catch myself thinking about the next item on a long to-do list or the email I must write or the appointment that needs scheduling. The distraction of a stuck wheat berry wraps my attention holding it captive until by toothpick, floss, or matchbook cover I dislodge the particle and find relief. Here’s the kicker; the relief comes not only from physical release but also from the focus of my otherwise fragmented thinking to be single-minded. For those few refreshing moments, my mind reboots itself of the cultural clutter and, as a result, I am free to wonder more fully.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 4 – Truth Telling

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant---
Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind---Emily Dickenson

I wonder what the slant telling of the truth of Christian education sounds like. I’m sure it is not the gibberish of a balanced approach to learning nor is it the swish of the great pendulum swinging back toward center. I’m just as sure that it includes a lyrical melody of imagination and creativity, with plenty of rests for the time to reflect on its paradoxes and harmonized with logic so that the final song makes sense to the mind and to the ear.

Our ways of thinking are so acculturated that we do not see ourselves accurately. At our best of times we are looking toward a foggy mirror. Even as we look intently, moving from side to side hoping for a better viewpoint, we never quite get a clear picture. If that is the case we must hold any truth we tell lightly because it is full of the bias of our experience.

Often the best answer to the question, “What is truth?” is “The Truth is a person.” This is true enough but what does it mean, really? Again we are stuck in the mindset imposed by our culture and hold to the notion that truth is only in the telling. Living the truth is incomprehensible. We easily separate what is in our mind from that which is in our heart. We are separatists by nature and put our knowing the truth a great distance from our doing anything about it. Herein lies the greatest difficulty in a slant telling of the truth, whether it be about Christian education or any other worthy endeavor.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Day 3 – breaking the barrier of three consecutive days of writing . . .

They’re dead. The sunflower seedlings planted on Sunday shriveled in Monday’s sun and died by Tuesday morning. I tried to revive them with a spray of cool water, but I was too late. Fortunately a few seeds remain in the package, and I can try again this afternoon.

Faithful care in the early days of any new life is necessary to minimize the effects of the environment and encourage growth. Just as babies need food, warmth and love at regular intervals, seedlings need a regular dose of water. I failed in that simple task to the young shoot’s demise.

It is much the same for me when I am incorporating a new discipline, writing for instance, into my daily routine. I must guard the time with care, not leave it until the last moment of wakefulness, and nourish the burgeoning instinct like a seedling in the hot sun. Otherwise like the tender sprout, the new discipline will wither and fade away.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Day 2 Again – Routines bolster discipline. Routines also automate some of life’s menial tasks. Today I relaxed through an oatmeal breakfast so much that I had to sprint to my bike right passed the bathroom routines that include objects like a toothbrush, contact lens and deodorant. So later in the morning I ended up smelly and struggling to read.

So Routines are helpful, although I do not fully ascribe to their value life. They do take time, and time spent is never recaptured for the serendipitous moments that breathe life into monotony. If Job’s friends of the Bible were here they would commend me to prudence and balance. These lifeless attributes also smell in their own way.

So for now I’m left to writing larger than normal and to sitting outside in the breeze so the smell is carried away. None-the-less I greatly enjoyed today’s cycling, and the annoyances, that would have been avoided by following a routine, will fade away by the end of the ride.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Mulligan, Day 1 Do Over - Discipline, too easily conceived, rapidly turns into unfulfilled dreams. Friday the goal to write for 350 consecutive days fizzled to a wisp of smoke like a fuse on a dud of a firecracker. The jam packed day full of wants and needs pushed out time for writing. Now I'm left with a hollow feeling in my gut carved with the knife of a broken promise to myself.

But today is a new day for crawling back on the bike. Last Wednesday I avoided a small fall by planting my left foot firmly on the ground as my front tire squeezed into a crack on the bike trail in Renton. The near miss did not keep me from clipping in and riding on. So too, I'll move forward and write a little every day. I have to write to keep ideas moving from mind through pen to page. A part of last week's failure melts with each stroke of the pen. Word by word I regain the commitment to myself.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Main Street

Day 2 –

Main Street Bellevue, bathed in record heat, registered eighty-eight for a high today. Main Street Yabus, in the Sudan, Africa scorched by the sun day in and day out, is paved with dust. City people speed along crowded streets in air-conditioned comfort. The Sudanese walk from place to place barefoot. Too often in the U.S. when someone cuts another off, the first honks, shouts profanity or waves the finger. In Africa people have time to stop to shake your hand in a friendly greeting.

A few weeks ago I noticed a t-shirt with these words on the front, “I need Africa more than Africa needs me.” This is truth for me because during my short three weeks in that developing country I discovered people of extreme joy living in the harshest conditions. It is a struggle just to make shelter and find safe water to drink and food to eat. Yet, after fifty years of civil war, the country weakened by conflict hobbles toward unity and peace. The people have a great hope for a whole country. I learned much from Africa and still have much more to learn about joy, hope and peace.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

365 Days of Writing for 31 Minutes

Day 1 – June 3, 2009

My mind and my feet spun along easily and automatically. The zone I was in surrounded me completely. I sensed time only in the periphery of movement and ideas. Ideas floated into thought like bubbles surfacing in seltzer. Two prevailed on the surface of my memory throughout the two-hour ride. The one demanded discipline and commitment. Would it last?

Yesterday a friend emailed a short article to me about committing a short time each day to work on a big project. I’ve had a long-term goal to do some writing, but not being a writer, I seem to put of “official” writing into some future time. The article quoted T.S. Elliot, “When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its upmost–-and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”

So, I’m setting a goal, a commitment to write for 31 minutes every day for one year, 365 days! I hope the discipline improves my writing and my life. I chose 31 minutes because it is small and arbitrary, just like the article suggests.