Saturday, January 24, 2009



Function: noun


The state of being in need of repair; (a building fallen into disrepair)

A couple times a month for the past 2 years I have driven past this house. It has been in a state of disrepair since the first time I saw it. Sometimes I try to envision it when it was new. This kind of damage doesn’t happen all at once. I imagine it might have begun with a loose shingle and then a leak. One thing led to another, and now it looks like a strong wind could knock it down.

As time passes, buildings fall into states of disrepair if there is no one to care for them. I find I am much like a building in that way. The events of life can destroy and erode if I am not careful. A small thing easily becomes a big one if ignored. Staying awake means being aware of the places that are easily destroyed or eroded in my own life and giving them the attention they need.

Monday, January 19, 2009



Function: adjective

Date: 14th century

1 : not likely : improbable; an unlikely outcome

2 : likely to fail : unpromising

This lovely flower growing up out of a gravel parking lot reminds me that unlikely things happen. Love springs up in relationships where there has been hurt. Wounds that had been open and raw begin to heal. Children who grow up in dysfunctional homes grow up to be fine human beings full of love and compassion. Unlikely things happen.

I see it all the time in my work with people who are grieving. Good things can come from loss, and that is perhaps one of the hard truths about grief. It is almost impossible to see the good that can come when we have been forced to let go of something that has been central to our lives. Initially all we see is emptiness. That life can come from death, or gain from loss, or light from the darkness, seems unlikely. Unlikely things happen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rumble Strips

Rumble Strips

Function: noun

Date: 1962

A strip of corrugated pavement (as along the edge of a highway) that causes rumbling and vibration when driven over.

On more than one occasion my tires have met with the rumble strips, and each time I am jarred by the noise and the vibration. They are meant to warn drivers that they have strayed from their lane. They are a reminder to get back on the road. Each time my tires meet them I find myself reflecting briefly on the possibility of being in an accident. They remind me to pay attention. Paying attention is hard work.

Often I hear people say that when someone they know dies, it is a wake up call. I have felt that way when someone close to me has died; asking deeper questions about whether I spend my time and money and energy in ways that matter, in ways that enrich my own life as well as the lives of people around me.

When I hit the rumble strips on the road I try to let it be a reminder to ask those questions, and if I find I have strayed from the road I want to be traveling, I try to get back on.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Function noun
Date: 15th century

1. The act of convincing a person of error or compelling the admission of a truth; the state of being convinced of error or compelled to admit the truth. 2. A strong persuasion of belief; the state of being convinced.

In anticipation of the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, pink and blue flags have been placed on lawns and in church yards all over rural northeast Missouri.
The people who display the flags do it out of conviction, the firm belief that their worldview is correct. The people who oppose the display of flags and defend the rights that Roe v. Wade guarantee do it out of conviction, the firm belief that their worldview is correct.

Grant ,O God, that your holy and life-giving spirit may so move every human heart (and especially the hearts of the people of this land), that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (The Book of Common Prayer)

Thursday, January 8, 2009





Etymology: Middle English, from Old English græf; akin to Old High German grab grave, Old English grafan to dig

Date: before 12th century

1: an excavation for burial of a body ; broadly : a burial place

My job requires me to spend a lot of time in funeral homes and cemeteries. The smell of a freshly dug grave has become familiar, and each time I see or smell a freshly dug grave I cannot help but remember the words from the Book of Common Prayer – “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” As I watch family and friends weep beside open graves I sometimes have fleeting images of my family and I weeping next to the graves of my parents.

I am reminded that all I know now is temporary. One day I will be earth, ash, dust, and I don’t know how long it will be before I am reduced to those elements, so I need to be awake for as much of this life as I can.



Etymology: Middle English diggen

Date:13th century

a: to break up, turn, or loosen (as earth) with an implement b: to prepare the soil 2 a: to bring to the surface by digging : unearth (dig potatoes) b: to bring to light or out of hiding (dig up facts)3: to hollow out or form by removing earth : excavate (dig a hole)