Posted: March 2, 2008 in Ten Questions
Pelican at Inner Harbor Park in Ocean Springs, Mississippi
TEN QUESTIONS:1. Did I help make life better for anyone this week?
I’ve been privy to two death watches this week, and I hope I’ve been helpful to those poor family members in so much pain. I have learned over my years as a preacher that my profession is useful at such times, not because of any words of wisdom we provide, or any scriptural analysis we might share, but because oddly enough, we represent God in the room. Right or wrong, this is what we do.

2. Did I reach across lines that divide and meet someone new this week?
It is so easy for me to avoid people. I’m a friendly sort of guy – I’m the guy that initiates conversations in elevators and waiting rooms, but if I can avoid people, I do it every time. But I want to stop. On my way out of Inner Harbor Park, I saw two paths. On one side I saw beneath the trees the red Crocs of an old woman walking her dog. The other path was people-free. Everything in me wanted the people-free path. On Friday, I chose the path with the old lady. It was a windy day, and she had on a blue hooded sweatshirt. I chose her way, caught her eye, and said Hello. I told her the pelicans were impressive today. She asked me if they were diving, and I said Yes. She said, Oh, I always forget my camera on days when they’re diving. I had mine in tow and said I had tried my best to catch them. That was it. We went on our way. But I think I did something good. I chose the people way. Sure, the good preacher isn’t happy because I didn’t set up a Bible study, and the good businessman isn’t happy because I didn’t sell her anything. But I’m happy. I chose a path that led me to exchange words and smiles with an old lady walking her dog, and that is the way I know is best.

Oh, and I went to a bar this week. On purpose. It is hard around these parts to garner a reputation as a bar. Wal-Mart serves alcohol, as does every convenience store – and every food establishment above the level of Ronald McDonald. When Government Street Grocery opened up, it had a nice plate lunch special, and our group of preachers went there one day. Before long, however, it became known as a bar. Nominated for best bar on the Gulf Coast, actually. So since I’m a preacher I hadn’t been back to eat there – since preachers don’t go to bars. I went on Friday for lunch anyway. Since I was alone, I didn’t choose a table. I went to THE bar for lunch. The waitress wasn’t overly friendly, so I didn’t talk much, and I sat by myself for much of my meal. Eventually, two guys came in for a Corona, and two more guys came in for a Bud Light, and then four other folks who ordered unsweet tea. I sat in the middle of them all with my ice water and eating a dang good muffuletta . Once again, I didn’t change the world or anything, but I did go somewhere I wouldn’t have gone naturally, and I sat in the middle of people. Trying to ignore the lines drawn for me.

3. Did I learn anything worthwhile this week?
* Well, I learned that the mitral valve of my heart has a small leak (which is no reason to call a plumber just yet). Other than that, my heart is strong.

* I learned that a quarter of a muffeletta at the Government Street Grocery will fill up a grown man with a slightly leaky mitral valve.

* I learned at the post office that the rims on my Saturn Ion either look like or otherwise have something to do with the movie Spiderman 2. Some cool dude took a picture of one on his cell phone and actually shook my hand. Can anyone help me out with this one?!?

* And I learned (YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) that Hillary received the all-clear from the surgeon!!!

4. Did I spend time with close family and friends this week?
Jody & Hillary & I enjoyed hosting the 5th graders prayer group last Sunday night. Jody fixed burgers and ice cream sundaes for the kids, and after we prayed together, we played a couple of games of Clue. When all the kids were leaving, the Martin family dropped by to say “hi” and stayed for awhile. Alia and Jody sneaked back to talk on their own, and Steve, Hillary, and I watched part of the Oscars together.

Diann Payne is an awesome person, and possibly a better friend. After Hillary’s hospital stay where she had to go without real food for so long, Diann sent her a $50 gift certificate to the Outback Steakhouse as a gift. Hillary LOVES her some steak! Hillary, Jody, and I went to Outback in D’Iberville Thursday night and spent a couple of hours eating great food, laughing, and engaging in great conversation around three slabs of meat, tasty side dishes, and an ice cream sundae. It sure beat gathering around chicken broth in the hospital.

I had a great time driving to Hattiesburg with my good friend, Tandy Shaw, to watch Southern Miss play Memphis in basketball Saturday. It was a great game, though the heavily favored Memphis Tigers pulled away in the end, but it was even more fun getting to see Erica for a few minutes and getting to swap lots of stories with Tandy all day long.

5. Did I take the time to notice nature this week?
I went to Inner Harbor Park in Ocean Springs and chased pelicans around with my camera on Friday. It was a blue-sky day, windy, with a temperature of sixty-five degrees. Malibu Weather, I thought. Inner Harbor in Ocean Springs will always be one of my favorite places in the world, however. The boats swayed playfully on their leashes in the brisk wind. There was little sound: the occasional small plane flying overhead, the plock-plock of a friendly tennis game in the background, and the shriek squawking of the seagulls. I love watching the waterfowl. I still don’t know how to tell an egret from a heron, or vice-versa, but I love to watch them anyway. My favorites are the pelicans. I love to watch them soar low over the water, their wide wing spans resembling the airplanes that fly overhead. They are majestic in the air, soaring. Their heads do not bob up and down in flight, but remain steady like a queen on parade. I could have stayed and watched them all day long.6. Did I have fun this week?
I had a blast playing with Natalie at The Studio Tuesday night while Hillary waited to have all her dance pictures taken. For some reason, this gorgeous preschooler decided I would be her friend that night, and she crawled up on my lap with her stuffed animal and purse and began to play. We played for a good hour. And it was a good hour.

7. Did I do my best at my job this week?
Well, yeah, I guess. I did a sucky job teaching class Wednesday night on 1st Corinthians chapter eight. After class was over, I figured out the approach I should have taken: peer pressure. Too late now, but what do you do? And my Sunday morning sermon was alright, but nothing special. Always next week, right?

8. Did I engage in a discussion of things that matter this week?
I had a good talk with Christopher Gates Tuesday night. Christopher is cool. He was in show business for many years, most of them as a Houdini-style magician. Along the way he fell in love with Jesus, and since I’m a preacher we always have something to talk about. He asked about my law school search, and I told him all about Pepperdine. From show business, he knows all about that area (in a Freudian slip, he referred to Los Angeles as “Hell-A.”) But he thinks it is super cool how the stars have aligned for us in our move. In the middle of our conversation, he broke out in prayer. He does things like that from time to time.

And I had some great talks this (Sunday) morning and afternoon with new friends, Jamey and Karen Landry. It is no fair that I’m getting new friends that I’ll have to leave this summer, too!

9. Did I read or hear or see a good story this week?
I read Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, which is a pretty amazing story. What a creative way to teach that humanity has a penchant for putting ourselves in the place of God, and how learning to get out of God’s seat is sometimes a long learning process.

10. Did I feed my soul with music this week?
Crank-it-up moment of the week: Thunderstruck by AC/DC (on the drive to the cardiologist, which is probably not the best place to be listening to Thunderstruck).

I’m weak on my protest music, but I discovered Jackson Browne’s “The Rebel Jesus” as I read Brian McLaren’s book. Here are the penetrating lyrics; made better only by adding the gift of music (you can find a good version of this on YouTube):

All the streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
They’ll be gathering around the hearths and tales
Giving thanks for all gods graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

Well they call him by the prince of peace
And they call him by the savior
And they pray to him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavor
As they fill his churches with their pride and gold
And their faith in him increases
But they’ve turned the nature that I worshipped in
From a temple to a robbers den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why they are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But please forgive me if I seem
To take the tone of judgment
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
We have need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus.

  1. Danny says:

    Good questions Big Owl. You make me think- O prince of all bloggers! lol

  2. Al Sturgeon says:

    If you can’t be a king, then a prince is the next best thing.

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