Thursday, May 05, 2016

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


The bridge hangs,
suspended over the gorge,
cables twanging in the rushing air.

You walk forward,
eyes trained on the other side,
carefully ignoring the yawning gap beneath you.

In the center you stop and look up:
the azure blue sky speaks a tale of peace,
the clean warmth of clouds above the spires.

And then it happens:
The high pitched snap of cables
coming undone.

And at that moment,
suspended above heaven and earth,
you realize all the support under you has vanished,
leaving only the silence of the clouds
to catch your fall.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A Place of Service

Sometimes I forget my place in my life.

I am a supporter, a believer in others, a servant.  My job, my task, is to lift others up - to help them see in themselves what they cannot see.  Often it is buried in the muck of a life where circumstances or others have buried them or not treated them well.  My goal is to clean up those dreams and skills and aspirations, recall them to what is possible, and help them to believe and then move forward.

It is a task.  It is something that I enjoy doing.  But sometimes I forget my place in life.

When this happens, I get myself too involved in the life of others (Trust me, I have done this).  I have made their happiness and their success as much about me as it is about them.  Rather than just being a supporter and second violin in the orchestra, I try to make myself a lead character and first violin.

This never goes well, of course.  The point of believing in people and lifting them up is that they will take wing and fly to new heights - not that their stories somehow entwine with mine.

The end is actually always the same, of course - they find their way up and onward (that is what I am trying to help with, of course) and I find myself feeling left behind and isolated.  No reason to feel that way of course - what I thought and what was actually going on were two very different things indeed.  Yet I always somehow am surprised at the end even though it is the same every time.

It is not that I regret what I do.  It a necessary thing, not only for those who need encouraging but for me - I need to do it.  The problem is the unrealistic baggage I bring along with it.

To serve - to truly serve - is to remember that the very best of service is the one that exists as a memory in the back of the served's mind, the sense that they really did do it without the recollection of any expectations or demands that were placed on them by the ones serving.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The Second Act of Second Marriages

I am now apparently in that phase of living (and apparently have been for several years) where many of my friends are in the "Second Marriage" stage of life.

Most of them were divorced the first time for various reasons.  I do not always know the reasons and do not always ask, of course - people share what they feel they need to share when they need to share it.  Some seem to have ended relatively pleasantly, others with a level of animosity.  Most, on the whole, have moved on to at least acceptance and moving on with their lives.

But here they are.

It is interesting because lots of them are in that "first stage" of second marriage where everything is newly wed bliss and extreme happiness. It is odd to myself, who have been married over two decades, to see and experience this.  After all, up to this point most of my acquaintances were either unmarried or had been married for a considerable time.  Odd to think that suddenly I am greatly exceeding the span of peoples' relationships.  I am used to dealing with younger people in the throes of a new relationship.  Not so much the older ones.  It is as if I have been planted into a new scene with familiar players but a plot from a previous act.

It does make one think a great deal about one's own marriage.  After all, it feels like (no statistical data) here that I am in the minority.  And those who are in the second round seem to be at a relational place I am not and have not been for years.  The simple fact of the living through a marriage with its accompanying children, finances, and events has a way of drawing everything into the "life is so ordinary for me" scenario.

Which is why I have to constantly - and forcefully - remind myself that it is not about the simple act of relationship.  It is a picture, a picture of Christ and His church.  I do not know that it is always helpful to me in the most positive of ways.  But it does keep me on the track of remembering that to fail here is not just a failure for me, it is a failure for my outward facing witness to Christ.

I can fail  myself.  I cannot fail Him.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Conundrum of Consultants

So today we had a consultant on-site.

We get consultants from time to time.  This one seemed to be a good one:  knew the material, had plenty of experience, spoke the language, had a plan.

The individual in question also went through our current program:  strengths, weaknesses, changes we will need to make.  And therein lies the issue.

After the suggestions, the "you will need to do this", the "this is what my experience indicates", there were nods around the room, agreement.  Senior Management present of course indicated that this was the course that we would need to take, immediately and with all effort.

The frustrating part, of course, is that a great deal of this has been previously suggested.  And ignored.

Suggested by internal employees of course. By us, those charged with trying implement such things a a basis.

What is it about organizations that completely value the same advice if it comes from an external person than an internal person?  Presented with the same facts, the same rationalizations, the same justifications, the one at the task day in and day out is ignored and put down, while outsider - for whom one is paying a considerably larger sum of money - is taken as almost god-like in their advice.

It eludes me, this willingness to pay more for advice and guidance that already exists.  Are companies so lacking in trust in their employees that they must validate those opinions outside?  Or is that employees are only expected to be able to X, while consultants do Y?

I am not completely sure.  But I am reminded of two things:

1)  To treat employees as if their experience is irrelevant and useless is to suggest to them they have no value where they are.

2)  To bring in consultants and see what they do and how they are treated is to suggest to employees that there may be other options.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weather Watch

So tonight we are sitting under the mother of all weather watches.

The weather today was hot.  And foolishly humid the sort of weather I call "Voodoo Weather" for no other reason than that it feels wrong and mysterious, the sort of weather in which bad things happen. The weather extended into the evening, in which the clouds were a sort of misty color lit by the sunlight in a way that I cannot fully describe and have certainly never before seen.

The wind is whipping along now (around 10 PM) blowing the humid weather through.  The expectation?  "Severe Thunderstorms, possible grapefruit sized hail, damaging winds, tornadoes (not likely for us)".   Add fun with lightening strikes and we have all the making of "fun" around 3 AM, when the first front blows through.

This is not the weather that I grew up with at all.

It is all vaguely concerning of course - the thought of hail being the most exciting (or concerning, take your pick).  Tornadoes are unlikely and, given the rain we have had of late, the chances of a lightning strike starting a fire are pretty minimal. Wind is a concern of course, but most of the big trees (maybe three) would fall away from the house; the fence would be toast (but that is an insurance item).  Hail remains the single largest danger.

I will let you know how the weather goes.