Tuesday, September 30, 2014

THE DINER


Fifties Diner, Leawood, KS

The young professional couple sitting across from one another in the diner’s back booth had risen every day before sunrise that week. Their work lives were on a fast track containing employee management, deadlines, performance reviews, presentations to executives and customers at all levels, travel around the country, endless late afternoon meetings, meals on the run, technical computer analysis and research, etc. They had both worked late today and had coordinated via their smart phones to meet for a quick dinner before separately driving home to remotely wrap up their work week. Their order had just arrived at their table and they were silently consuming it so that they could move on to other more pressing priorities.

The nicely dressed older couple across the aisle at the diner was sitting together in their booth and moving in quite the opposite direction and at a far less frenetic pace. In fact they had arrived thirty minutes ago and were still far from finished with their meal. The husband liked to bring his wife to this fifties diner in hopes that the brightly lit juke box and black and white floor tiles would resurrect old memories of another time far, far away. He had been a successful businessman in the area for decades. But now he devoted his entire life to caring for his wife that had stood beside him for all those years before the Alzheimer’s diagnosis months earlier. Yes, he had the means to pay for full time care and he did have a housekeeper assist with their home maintenance. His one indulgence was a weekly tee time to play golf with his nephew and a couple of his friends who made certain that this break would be cathartic. They didn’t usually play from the senior tees, but that was understood when he joined their foursome.

The young couple happened to notice the patient, caring and loving way the older gentleman was assisting his wife with her dinner. Few words were spoken by them as well, but the “language of their lives” spoke volumes. It opened the eyes of their hearts to the reality of their relationship and the model they were observing. They paused their life and quietly discussed what they wanted for themselves as well. Then they exited the booth, settled up with the cashier and left the diner.

The senior couple also slowly exited their booth twenty minutes later and the husband asked their waitress for a check. The waitress then told him that a young couple had already paid it. When he incredulously asked why, the cashier said that they had observed the two of them having dinner together. They just wanted to pay it forward and let them know that their "sincere wish was to be blessed to have attained a similar relationship when they hopefully reached their age".

Post Script: A true story related in an e-mail by an old golfing friend who had invited me to join him and his uncle a few years ago for a friendly game of golf played from the senior tees. I filled in the blanks.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

AFTER THE RAIN


After the Rain, Jamestown, NC

An early fall overnight rain renews the land that has been in full production throughout the summer. New life that has been struggling to gather strength is suddenly given a rush of energy and life giving fluids. Wilted leaves suddenly regain their vigor and form as all of nature rejoices in the reinforcement for one final act before withdrawing as the season transitions.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I AM


I Am Sunrise, Kiawah Island, SC

In the third chapter of the book of Exodus, God captures Moses’ attention by speaking to him from a non-consuming burning bush. When he directs Moses to free the Israelites from their captors in Egypt, Moses wants to know the name of the god who is sending him, as the Egyptians had many gods by many names in those days. He responds by telling Moses that “I am who I am”, meaning that he is the one powerful, eternal and unchanging God.

It’s been stated that “I am” are two of the most powerful words in the human language. Our Creator used them to describe himself and whatever we choose to add after these two words becomes our reality. The first thing we usually ask when meeting someone is what’s your name and where do you live? Work in our society is central to our status, economic well-being and our identity. Consequently, we often respond to who we are by telling someone what we do for a living. That becomes problematic once we retire.

When I began contemplating retirement, I was given some good advice up front. I was reminded that many of us who have spent our entire careers in a particular profession and possibly a limited number of companies need to be aware of losing our identity. If we haven’t prepared to transition from a life of success into a life of significance and have already began the process to other volunteer and meaningful activities, we are flying headlong into an identity crisis. Today’s future professionals should have no problem with this as it’s been predicted that many of the jobs waiting for them haven’t even been created yet. And they will have multiple careers in their lifetime as the pace of change continues to accelerate.

God has never encountered such a crisis as He is timeless and unchanging. He is the great I Am. And His work to redeem the human race would seem to be secure.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

ISLAND BUTTERFLY


Kiawah Spirit, Kiawah Island, SC


What if a woman dreams she is a butterfly?

What if a butterfly dreams she is a woman?

Are you the dream or the dreamer?

Are butterflies real or imagined?

Mortals or spirits?

If an angel can assume the appearance of a human being,

Why not that of a butterfly?


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

GROUND ZERO 2004


Ground Zero, New York, NY

I took this photo ten years ago at ground zero in New York City. Three years after radical terrorists flew into the twin World Trade Towers the area had been reduced to a gigantic hole in the ground with a lone cross fashioned out of twisted structural steel rising out of the ashes. The cab driver that took us there solemnly mentioned that she will forever hear the pings of the perished first responders’ locators that were hopelessly sounding for days afterwards. May the 3,000 innocent souls that perished on that September day in 2001 rest in peace. God must be continually asking, “When will they ever learn”?

CARRY ON


Southern Sunrise, Kiawah Island, SC

Loved ones who go before us are forever woven into the fabric of our being and forever influence who we are and how we carry on.

Of course we never forget and we are forever changed. We rebuild and are whole again but never the same. We wouldn’t expect nor want to be the same.

When life turns surreal, it's one foot ahead of the other, one day at a time, trusting in the providence of a greater power.

Monday, September 8, 2014

MILESTONES


Spartan Name Tag, Emporia, KS

Four years ago a friend suggested that I begin a blog based on e-mails that I had been sending to a short mailing list. So I decided to begin one using both photo images and short texts to describe select observations that crossed my path. This posting marks the five hundredth which I consider to be a milestone on a journey that has led me in all sorts of directions and tens of thousands of page views from all over the world.

The accompanying photo actually marks two milestones in my life. The image is a copy from my senior high yearbook. It’s fixed on a silhouette of our Spartan mascot which our class has used as name tags at all of our milestone reunions. Each of these subsequent gatherings has given us all pause to mark yet another milestone as our lives continue to unfold.

Milestones literally had their origins as stone markers that were placed along ancient roads such as the Roman Appian Way. They provided an important reference point along the road and some still exist to this day. We use milepost markers on our interstate highways to help travelers mark their progress to points of interest or to direct emergency workers to areas that need their attention.

As children, we achieved numerous developmental milestones in our growth towards adulthood. These individual successes such as understanding the word “no” and pointing to your toes, eyes and nose were celebrated by parents and tolerated by disinterested friends. One of my graduate studies involved learning techniques to develop project plans and identifying milestones along a critical path that were essential to managing resources and completion of activities. These key project milestones not only provided dates for compensation of deliverables but also trigger points to make critical decisions on the future direction of the project.

Research has shown that folks complete many of life’s major milestones before turning thirty such as graduations, marriage, children, military, launching careers, etc. But a well lived life is never finished with milestones and we should never be satisfied with making the last one the final one on the road less traveled.