Declared a Good Day

I’m up extra early this morning doing prep work and hosting lunch for my mom and aunt. It is quiet here at Tranquility Base at 4:30 and even though it’s still dark outside, through the blinds I see a heavy fog flowing like ribbons and creating its own currents across the White River channel. We’re not in the fall season yet, but it’s coming soon, and it will be glorious out there. Autumn brings me alive.

Drinking coffee in the same chair I sit in every single morning I am overwhelmed with gratitude almost to the point of tears. I have felt the constant presence of peace and joy for a couple of years now, and am further working on learning how to rest and just be. I have an amazing family.

Thinking about Dana just yesterday I reflected back over our years together and realized that as much as anything, she just loves us being together doing things. Now, this may come as a great shock, but I’m not the easiest guy to live with. She loves me still, and us together is what she cares about most. I’m not sure what a man could want more. It’s a joy to host my mom and aunt for lunch today. Mom will be a part-time resident here at the Base soon and I’ll feel good about that. We are friends, partners, and kin. And friendship with your adult children is a further joy. I love just sitting and talking with them. Watching them maneuver this tricky world in their twenties, I am confident of their bright futures. There is no pride in legacy here. I just love them.

I get to write for a living, and I write a lot these days. Between this ongoing and aspiring book career and my small role in community journalism I’m professionally fulfilled. As we produced our weekly paper yesterday I thought how great it was to be both competent and confident at something that makes a difference.

Recently, a friend asked why I live in Arkansas. There is so much out there in the world, he said, and I completely understood his question. Honestly, I was at a rare lack for words. I can only say that in recent years, and perhaps as part of that peace and joy, I have gained an all new appreciation for all things rural. I am truly “from the country.” I love dirt, tractors, a great home-cooked meal seasoned with love, and watching the Canada geese fly in perfect formation over my property honking and honking, searching the landscape for a spot to glide in, wind over wings, and gently settle down.

I spent so much of my time as a young adolescent lying in bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering what my future life would be like. I’m not sure I’ve walked a perfectly straight path to get here. I suppose all the detours and moments of being completely lost are what add the seasoning to all the stories, and the color to a grateful life.

I declare it a good day, and I am thankful.

Ten Things I Think I Was Wrong About

  • Time alone  – Up to around age 40 I never wished to be alone. Always needed people around. I think it was part of the only-child upbringing. But since then, not only have I grown comfortable with alone time, there are seasons when it’s completely necessary. Time alone makes us better for all those around us and it reacquaints us with who we are and what we’re here for.

 

  • George W. Bush – He came during  a time when I viewed things from an Us vs. Them perspective. It’s a part of actually growing up, I think. We must always have a battle. Bush wasn’t the most intellectual president by a long stretch, but after the fact, he strikes me a decent man, flawed, imperfect, yet with a good heart. He made mistakes, but Bush had core beliefs. I think we long for leadership with core beliefs today.

 

  • Christianity – When a radio personality asked author Donald Miller to defend Christianity, he simply said no. “Stop ten people on the street and ask them what they think of when they hear the word Christianity, and they will give you ten different answers. How can I defend a term that means ten different things to ten different people?  Some of these ten will have had terrible experiences with Christianity. They may have been yelled at by a teacher in a Christian school, abused by a minister, or browbeaten by a Christian parent. To them, Christianity means something that I will not defend.” For the most part, Christianity is a contrived, evolving label. Some friends will call me a heretic at the very thought. But it’s true. I’m learning that I need not be the defender of Christianity. Jesus didn’t found Christianity. He founded the gospel because he IS the gospel and he IS the truth. The Christian label’s subversion is a big part of a modern-day problem. I’m no longer sure I need to be a Christian. I’d rather follow Jesus.

 

  • Rev. Billy Graham – It wasn’t uncommon for ABC to air Billy Graham’s massive revival events on prime time television during my youth.  My, how times have changed for ABC. Memory recalls they were generally aired live Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. and would interrupt Happy Days or Laverne & Shirley. I was just a kid. I never liked that Billy Graham took my TV time, plus his language sounded so harsh to a kid raised in a small-town Methodist Church. I grew to love Billy Graham over the years. What an extraordinary man and a life well lived.

 

  • Coffee — didn’t drink it for some forty-seven years. Now part of my daily routine.

 

  • Depression – I once believed it was a made-up excuse for the weak. People who’ve never had depression can’t understand it. Following my own experience, sharing it, and hearing from others who have also been there, I’d rank it as one of our top ten national epidemics. If you’re sitting in a room with a hundred people, 20-25 have experienced, or will experience, depression.

 

  • Being part of the least – As a kid I dreamed of becoming successful in business, owning a jet, and flying here and there to business meetings. I wanted to be somebody. Over time, as I’ve come to a greater understanding of the gospel, and honestly what fulfills me most, it is serving others. Maybe it’s cooking a big meal or helping people in time of need, or just making someone more comfortable. The great paradox of the gospel message is that the least become the opposite of how they are perceived. Greg Murtha’s Out of the Blue is a great read on this topic.

 

  • “Bird watchers” always seemed so uncool. So of course, over the years, I’ve now become an amateur birder. Birding is actually pretty cool and I’m hopeful that one year before I’m gone I can dedicate 365 days to a Big Year.

 

  • That when it comes to doors, you should always pray God will open them – This may sound weird, but over time, I’ve prayed much more frequently that God would close doors. I’m fond of the Jabez prayer that says “expand my territory,” but I also believe in prayers for closed doors.

 

  • That journalism was something I did as a fall back because writing was the only gift I had. I now realize that writing was always my calling and that the privilege of putting words before people’s eyes is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

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