On Faith and Glacial Erratics

Though a glacier never reached our street, we do have some left-behind rocks.

The granite boulders, as small as microwave ovens and larger than dishwashers, are a common part of local landscaping. Like many of our neighbors, we have several in our front yard. One of them, with its sturdy, sloped top, allows me to safely gain height while trimming our ever-growing bougainvillea.

Even the smallest of these boulders will defeat an individual from relocating them. With the grunt labor of several people possessing the strength of NFL linebackers, a few could be budged. But most of the stones that decorate the yards or create borders were usually positioned by heavy equipment doing, well, heavy lifting. Continue reading →

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Why Did I Leave Church?

Once I spent 70 or so weekly hours serving in churches.

Now, 168 hours of a week hurry by like a commuter late for work and I never darken the proverbial sanctuary door.

I wonder why.

Last Friday, I cradled the hand of a dying woman and reminisced about the many hospice meetings we’d survived together. Until her illness, she volunteered at several local non-profits, including where I worked. While others in the hospice meetings were medical professionals, we were not. We shared whispered comments, occasionally rolled our eyes at the terminology, and added a little humor to the serious proceedings.

Now she’s dying.

I visited her.

Talking was not easy, but it was easy enough. She asked me, in between old and real and made-up memories from the past few years, if I still went to church.

Honesty felt the reasonable choice when Death shadows a room.

“No,” I said.

“Why not?” she asked. Continue reading →

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Bagpipes on a Hot Fresno Night

A friend asked me to help with her upcoming move.

That’s why I was driving north on Maroa, one of Fresno’s city-traversing, straight-as-a-rail boulevards on a hot (hot!) Tuesday evening.

And that’s also where I spotted the guy playing bagpipes.

It all happened in seconds.

My car was jammed with a ficus tree, barstool, surprisingly large metal pail, along with of other oddities connected to my friend’s next steps in life. (I didn’t ask about her stuff, but just loaded my car!) I was doing a Point A to Point B delivery, a process that would probably continue for more of the alphabet before her move was completed. Nervous about the precarious position of the ficus and gravity’s consequences, I drove barely thirty miles an hour on endless Maroa. Then I saw Mr. Bagpipes at the far end of a driveway.

We made eye contact.

I smiled; he did a token head nod.

He played; I kept driving.

I waved; he couldn’t. Continue reading →

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