How Much Pain Can You Handle?

Mark 7:24-37 – The 15th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, September 6, 2015

“Looking into heaven, Jesus sighed deeply and said, ‘Ephphatha,’ which means, ‘Open up.’” (Mark 7:34)

Anticipatory pain!
Anticipatory pain!

As an aging baby boomer, the infrequent conversations with my doctor frequently include the dreaded five-syllable “C” word.

Yes, a colonoscopy.

In my first colonoscopy oh so long ago, one or two persnickety polyps were found. Though minor red flags, the gastroenterologist said he removed them and I had nothing to worry about. Wrong. If there hadn’t been polyps, I could’ve avoided another colonoscopy for at least a decade. Frankly I’m fond of procrastination. It’s one of my favorite five-syllable words.

Unfortunately, polyps meant follow-up exams.

I had another this year. Such a joy, joy, joy down in my . . . Continue reading →

Words to Live By

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 – The 14th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 30, 2015

“You ignore God’s commandment while holding on to rules created by humans . . .” (Mark 7:8)

High school. Circa, senior year. Note the black-rimmed glasses on geek...
High school. Circa, senior year. Note the geeky black-rimmed glasses . . .

My mother saved me.

I was a geek in high school, a guy with black-rimmed glasses more comfortable reading books than relating to people. Shy. Introverted. But occasionally, because of expectations or longing or both, I attempted to escape my geekishness. Take, for example, my high school’s Senior Ball. The “big dance” was a formal affair. I’d have to buy a corsage for a date. I’d have to . . . wait! Worse! First, I had to ask someone to the Ball in order to have a date.

Still, I thought I should attend.

Question: So, Larry how many dances did you go to in high school?

Answer: 0.

Yeah, you read the last sentence correctly. The actual, factual reality of my high school dance experience (until Senior Ball) was zero, nada, none, zilch.

Did I know how to dance? Nope. Had I ever worn a tuxedo? Nope. Would I have to ask (beg, barter, plead) to use my father’s car? Yup. Could I muster the courage to ask a girl to be my date? I recall staring at the dreaded phone, rehearsing questions while my throat filled with cotton and my armpits flooded with sweat.

Call . . . don’t call. Call now . . . call later. Continue reading →

Mr. Doubt

John 6:56-69 – The 13th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, August 23, 2015

“Many of his disciples who heard this said, “This message is harsh. Who can hear it?” (John 6:60)

Self-Doubt+in+relationships+autismA hand waved from the back of the room.

Then came the question: “Do you have ‘anyone’ in the room with you when you write?”

The quotation marks hugging “anyone” are important. The questioner was referring to an imagined real person.

Ron Carlson answered with, “Oh, yes I—”

In a moment I’ll finish Carlson’s response.

A few years ago, for an August week, I lived in Squaw Valley USA, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Perched at 6,200 feet near Lake Tahoe, this Sierra slice of heaven is also many slices of commercialism. In winter, skiers flock here. Fancy restaurants, a golf course, luxury hotels, and mansion-like cabins dot the landscape. Continue reading →