C is for . . .


I refuse to look the word up in the dictionary. I think I know what Webster might suggest, though: happenstance, two or more unrelated events that take place together, a chance meeting or moment. You supply your own Webster-inspired definitions. You’ll do fine.

I searched for “coincidence” in my hoary, heavy Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance for the King James Version, which includes every word. “Coffin” is mentioned above where “coincidence” could’ve been listed . . . and there’s a singular use of “collar” below where it’s not. No “coincidence” in the KJV. I could search further in other translations, but it would weary me.

Maybe it’s only by happenstance that we bump into another’s life. Maybe bad news or a delightful gift arrives merely by chance. Maybe life is all fate and dumb luck. (“Luck” is also not in the Bible).

I don’t think God plans the details of our days. But I’m a joyous and naïve fool and believe God somehow lures us toward Good, even when Awful has decided to room with us. Or that God compels us toward the New, even when we, with knuckles turning white, grip the Past. Sorry, I don’t but much coin in coincidence.

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I’ve been pondering nicknames after reading a slice of John’s gospel where (in the Bible I most frequently use) the disciple Philip’s last black-printed words are spoken.

To immediately digress from Philip, one of the nicknames for my Bible is a red-letter edition. All of Jesus’ statements are printed in red, whereas everything else is black. In the fourth chapter of John’s gospel—a mightily red-lettered chapter, I might add—Philip’s black words sparingly interrupt the red ink beside comments from two other disciples: Thomas and Judas.

The 5th Sunday of Easter – for May 22, 2011

“Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’”

Digression complete . . . either within the Bible or from Christian tradition, what’s Philip’s nickname? Or does he have one?

What is the disciple Thomas’ nickname? Or Judas? I’ll wager ten denarius and some leftover loaves & fishes you know Doubting Thomas and Judas the betrayer.

What’s your nickname? Is it cute, clever or a name that kindles childhood memories? I have an affectionate nickname for my wife that, as far as I know, no one else uses. No, I won’t tell you what it is! I attended high school with a guy who played professional baseball and then managed the San Francisco Giants (and currently the Cincinnati Reds) named Johnnie Baker Jr. But most call him Dusty. Is Lady Gaga a nickname? How about J-Lo or A-Rod? I’ve read Barack Obama was Barry until his college years.

I’m similar and different to President Obama, at least in the realm of nicknames. Barry is boring compared to Barack, but it’s a nickname people might better remember. I’m officially a Lawrence (and I can show you my long-form birth certificate for confirmation), but have usually gone with the mundane “Larry.” If I wanted people to respect me more, or contemplated running for President, should I urge folks to call me Lawrence?

I volunteer for a local hospice, visiting to support patients and families. When a person is under hospice care, she or he is suddenly meeting nurses, social workers, aides, etc. It’s a bit overwhelming, so all staff and volunteers wear nametags. Mine proclaims “Larry.” Accurate! But I often tell patients they can remember me as “Hairy Larry.” I’m a dude with a beard and though its thinning, I also sport unkempt hair atop my noggin. The line gets a chuckle, but it’s also a nickname people more easily recall in the supportive crowd of the hospice team. Continue reading →

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G is for . . .


Greed erects a wall—brick by brick, thing by thing—between us and God, us and the friend, us and the family, us and the earth. In the realm of greed, all we want is what we don’t have and—brick by brick, thing by thing—what we already have that most matters can no longer been seen, heard, or (after so many bricks are stacked) even remembered.

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