Recently my daughter, Beth, spent a week in the hospital. She was admitted on an emergency basis following a visit to the doctor's office for abdominal pain and vomiting. While in "emergency" her white cell count was discovered to be 26; antibiotics and fluids were administered immediately. The picture above was taken as she was being released. As you can see she is smiling; but this return to health came only after five days of treatment, tests, scans, and a considerable amount of anxiety and worry....
It is always good to see "old friends." Every year my wife, daughter, and I enjoy visiting the Tulsa state fair. We don't go to ride rides; we mostly enjoy seeing various exhibits and shows. But every year one of our highlights is visiting the petting zoo. For the past several years I have shared attention with one particular llama. Over the years we have sort of become friends. Honestly, I doubt, from year to year, that he actually remembers me; but I remember him and always enjoy saying, "Hi," and petting him for a while. Friendships can be meaningful in so many ways....
When our grey Honda Odysee reached 250,000 miles we decided it was time to buy a new one and we gave the old car to our son and his family. My son and daughter-in-law have two small children and we thought this would be a good "run around" back up vehicle for them. To my surprise they used this vehicle a great deal and kept it for several years. They also continued my practice of regular oil changes and regular preventative maintenance. Well, this approach apparently paid off. The other day my son sent me a picture of the odometer: the car had just reached 400,000 miles. These miles were all achieved with the original engine. Although there are no guarantees, preventative maintenance seems to be a strategy, in many cases, that works.
Recently my wife got a splinter in her hand. It was very small (difficult to see) and impossible for her to extract on her own. Still, this small object caused her some pain and great annoyance. She finally summoned my help to do some "surgery." Once we got it out she said, "I can't believe how much this small splinter has disrupted my day!" Her experience, however, confirms a principle that proves true in many areas of life.
While at the circus recently, I watched in amazement as 5 motorcycle riders zoomed around inside a cage doom. While the performance was going on I texted my son (along with a picture) and said, "these guys are crazy!" Obviously timing was essential. Each rider had to make his way around the doom at exactly the right time. I later asked someone, "how do they practice this?" I never got an answer to that question but one thing is clear: whether it is motorcycle doom riding or life in general, timing is important.
I recently attended the circus with my wife, daughter, and two grandchildren. I love the circus and enjoy watching the many displays of courage, talent, and skill. In most of the "acts" it was human talent that was on display, but several of them featured the skills of various animals. As I watched a giant elephant sit "gracefully" on a stool with a young lady riding on it's back, I wandered to myself, "How did they teach him (I guess it was a him) to do that?
Finding balance is essential to almost every area of life. I heard someone once say, "It is easy to go off on a tangent, but finding balance is truly a challenge." This is true in many areas of life...
Spiritual disciplines, and the practice of spiritual formation in general, is a very personal thing. The types of spiritual exercises that benefit one are not necessarily the ones that nurture another. I have even found that in different seasons of my life different approaches to devotion and piety are often required. Still, there is an aspect of "ancient wisdom" that I keep coming back to: it is the "sandwiching" of my day between a time of morning and evening prayer.
I was in a state of panic the other day; I had just awakened from a nap and was preparing to take my daughter to work when I realized I couldn't find my wallet. I looked everywhere: living room table, stand next to the TV, reclining chair, couch, the car, desk drawer. It was no where to be found. About two hours earlier I had made a purchase at the Quick Trip in Broken Arrow. I was dialing their number to see if I had left it there when my wife exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! Your wallet is in the kitchen garbage pale." She had opened it to see if it was ready to empty and noticed the wallet setting on top of the rest of the trash. We have no idea how it got there but concluded that I must have inadvertently scooped up my wallet along with some papers I had picked up from the table and unknowingly thrown it away. The wallet contained a good deal of money (I had just gone to the bank that morning), a credit card, a number of debit cards, drivers license, and health insurance card. These were things that all could eventually have been replaced, but not without a lot of effort and grief. Still, they were on the verge of being thrown away with the trash.
Father's Day is always a little bit different since my dad passed away. He died 19 years ago but I still miss him (especially on holidays such as Father's Day.) He passed away in October and at the time I felt that I was coping with the loss fairly well. His death was expected and followed a three battle with cancer. I knew I had to be strong as my mother would need comfort and encouragement. But as Father's Day rolled around that next year I realized I was beginning to feel a bit ill. After eight months his loss was all beginning to "sink in." Father's Day, that year, marked the beginning of about 5 months of depression for me. It wasn't until I approached the anniversary of his death that I felt the depression beginning to lift. That whole experience was a new lesson for me in the process of grief.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.