Category: Family

A Legacy, Planted

My parents came to visit the other day, and we got to talking about the history or the plants we love.

My dad brought me some hollyhocks to plant. This was at least five years ago, maybe 10. I now have little colonies of hollyhocks around our side- and back-yards that bring great joy to me when those papery blossoms shout joy from the spindly stalks 4 feet off the ground. It turns out the hollyhocks have a lineage: They come from Dad, who got them from his mom. At one point, those hollyhocks came from Bern, Switzerland, where our my Gfeller ancestors used to live. I have living history in my yard. That’s pretty special.

We also planted, way back in the ’90’s (last century kids!), some Eastern Cedar trees. Sometimes I call them Junipers. I’ve trimmed them so a person can walk under them and enjoy the shade and that sharp juniper tang. It turns out the cedars that I love so much are from the 5-acre lot across the old highway from the old Foster farm north of El Dorado on Highway 77. If you’ve driven around with my relatives, you’d know how to get there. If you haven’t, come on over and we can take a drive.

I’ve planted Columbine flowers around the yard, too. Their fragile blossoms arrive best when I’ve planted them among rocks. They don’t bloom as well without some adversity in the rising. I’ve loved columbines ever since we saw them every summer on our family camping and backpacking trips. You can only see them when you get out of the city, off the highway, and into the mountains, where, if you step away from the trail, the land has changed little in centuries.

Lastly, the plural of Iris is Iris (right?). I’ve got at least 5 whole sections of flower garden that are fecund with Iris bulbs that launch a riot of blue and purple blooms in the post-frost days of spring. We had iris plants in our own backyard when I was growing, and the neighbors had them, too. Maybe there was a Works Progress Administration project that featured Iris for a few years.

Anyway, I wanted you to know how much joy I get from looking at something so simple as a plant because it reminds me of how rich my history and heritage are.

Do you have any plants like that?A

Our Son Marries and We Gain A Daughter -A Glorious Weekend.

Picture a two pieces of driftwood, first in an ocean, then finding land. Together.  Picture two strangers growing into friends… then best friends… then into the love of each other’s life.  Surround those two with freshly-met, new family (for, indeed, EVERYone that shared this is now family) that swells the celebration with a riotous gout of joy, happiness, love, and depth of feeling.

Thus did we, Ken and Angie – the groom’s parents – find ourselves. An idyllic estate outside of Parker, CO, hosted both family and friends for the three-day weekend. Little did we know that, although we knew it would be cool, this would be a time filled with such profound emotion, abiding confidence, and an honored pride in knowing and sharing with all these people.

A lovely invitation that gives little indication of the glory and perfection to come.

Part of The Estate where Ethan and Amanda married each other.

Amanda and Ethan sharing their hopes for the weekend.

Angie and Ken (that’s us) – so proud and moved to be part of Ethan and Amanda’s joy.

Profound and total joy and commitment on their faces. Many of us weep.

Angie, Mark, June, and Ken – the pure privilege and happiness of new family.

Jacob, Cassidy, Ethan recreating a childhood picture pose. Our hearts flood.

The benediction of a sunset on the day.

I’ve never seen a happier mother or a happier groom. Dancing in the evening.

The women of the wedding all showing their team spirit. Three generations filled the party and gave us reason to stop worrying about anything; we’ll be fine. The posing of this picture, in real-time, was hilarious and joyful.

Ethan’s long-time group of friends traveled from all over the country to come and welcome Amanda into the club. What started as a rowdy group of boys playing “Risk” and chess in each other’s basements has grown into the next generation of brilliant people who will look after stuff so we don’t have to.

At the meeting in which Amanda and Ethan shared their hopes for the weekend, we all took a turn naming ourselves and sharing a favorite wedding memory. What, at first, seemed like a logistical job assignment meeting turned into a heartfelt time of generational sharing and blessing and recognition of the unique measure of the weekend. We knew we were gaining a daughter – we didn’t realize how rich the experience would be.

Remember how ‘mithril’ was a gift beyond price? Remember the packed days of summer that Calvin and Hobbes lived through? Remember your excitement at seeing seeds sprout into a perfect garden? Think of the majesty of the sequoias, the untiring determination of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the thundering roar of Niagara Falls, the whisper of a breeze through the your favorite forest. Remind yourself of the smile of grandparents, who love us always and no matter what. Remember the pride of parents when they see a kid find their path. Feel your face crackle with beauty at the rising of the sun, or the perfection of a song, or the rightness of a well-written poem.

All of that.

Ethan and Amanda gave ALL of that to us this weekend.

The Era of Milk and Laundry

I’ve been noticing lately, a change in our quantity and inventory.  A profound difference in quantities.  Normal items like milk, ground beef, laundry detergent, dryer sheets.

I remember a time when we went to the grocery store, to the dairy section, and put 2 GALLONS of milk into the cart.  No question.  We often wondered if we should just get 3 gallons so we didn’t have to come back midweek.  In our family’s heyday (not HayDay the tremendous phone game that I love to play – find that game in your app store) we would drink the crud out of milk.  2%.  Not whole, not skim.  Our kids would rush in from whatever middle or high school activity they just finished, grab the milk, and just glug.  Milk with dinner, milk before dinner, milk with cookies after dinner.  Angie and I would stand and marvel at their capacity.

Now that all three kids aren’t kids anymore, and are out of the house on their own, we find ourselves visiting the dairy section only now and then.  As a matter of fact, Ang drinks fat free 1/2 and 1/2 (fat-free half and half?  I’m not sure how to type that), and I mostly use whole milk for a cappuccino once or twice a week at home.  I USED to buy whole milk in (and here is my point about quantity) ONE QUART bottles until I had to pour over half down the drain because it spoiled in the three weeks it took me to drink it.  Now I buy ONE PINT.  And I hope that I use it before it goes bad.  Angie buys ONE PINT of “fat-free half and half” that lasts a week of morning coffee.

I know.  It’s not earth-shattering climate change data.  It’s not nearly the drastically different political change we’ve recently been experiencing.

Still.  Quantities.

Examine the change in quantities of a thing, and you can often demarcate a new era.  A new epoch.  A different time.  A season.  Of course, “for everything there is a season; there is nothing new under the sun”.

And, always, “Sunrise, Sunset”.

I trust there are still families buying milk in two-gallon trips to last them just a few days.  I’m sure the dairy industry has a steady supply of kids for whom “milk does a body good”.  I merely note that our family is now no longer leading the milk quantity consumption chart.

The other thing I am always amazed at is how little LAUNDRY we have to do.  We each do our own.  That way, we have clean what we want and when we want it.  “What do we want?? Clean Laundry!  When do we want it?? Uh, NOW, I guess!”

It used to be that, if we wanted to run a load or several of laundry, we’d have to get in line.  There was always an assembly line in front of the washer, the toilet next to it, the sink next to that, and sometimes (when we all had stuff to wash) out the door of the combo bathroom/laundry room.  5 people with either sports clothes or workout clothes plus work or school clothes – holy cow.  Go pee somewhere else cuz the door won’t shut until some more laundry is done.  Now, listen, when the kids were tiny, Ang usually ran the laundry.  But as we all grew, we each tried to do our own and take some responsibility.  It never fell to “only Mom” to get all that washing done.  We (mostly Angie) tried to get the kids to do their own, take charge, etc.  So when I say piles of laundry marching out into the hall, no one takes the blame.  It is simply a reality of QUANTITY.

Which brings me back to my point.  I can do a load of laundry literally whenever I feel like doing it.  I have two shirts I just bought that I want to wash before I wear them (and doesn’t EVERYone have to wash new clothes before you wear them??) and I may just throw them in here in a minute.  No waiting.  Plenty of laundry detergent.  Plenty of dryer sheets, too, for that matter.

It’s this kind of thing that marks the changing of the family season, even more than writing a new address for the kids in the address book (or typing a new address in their “contact”, as it were).

I love when the kids are home and I need to buy THREE pounds of ground beef for TMR (taco meat and rice).  TMR is just boring with one pound.  Oh, sure, a guy still makes it – it is just more fun when there a whole pile of people at the table (or in front of the TV watching “Big Business” or “Dumb and Dumber” for the millionth time) to eat it.

May I simply wish, then, that you enjoy the quantities that your season calls for.  Soon enough, those will change, and leave you wishing for more.

Oysters, Potatoes, and Candles

I find myself remembering, with great fondness, Mom and Dad’s tradition of potato soup and oyster stew on Christmas Eve.  We did this as early as I can remember; always after we got back from church.

The Christmas Eve service is the one where you can play with fire, even if you are a little kid.  Because you ‘Pass the Peace of Christ’, you see.  Each person gets a candle upon entering the sanctuary, which, at the end of the service, you tip towards the lighted candle to light your own wick.  It is very important NOT to tip the LIGHTED candle.  The person with the lighted candle holds the flame straight up, and the ‘new candle’ tips toward the flame.  I loved this candle business because this was before the days of Boy Scouts where we were SUPPOSED to (reSPONSibly) play with fire.  The wax that managed to drip onto my fingers, through the paper candle holder, was merely a bonus to peel off and inspect for fingerprints.

With the heady responsibility of fire stewardship successfully carried out for another year, we returned to our warm home with the promise of two different kinds of soup.   Oyster crackers, all we could eat, made an appearance with Christmas Eve soup, too.  Take a moment and remember dropping those round crackers into soup; then slowly dunking them for a swim.  Although a simple meal, I now realize that potato soup takes quite a bit of work.  Fresh potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces, are not instantly ready.

Oyster stew, even with canned oysters, also takes a lot of preparation.  I dearly hope that I said ‘thank you’ to my mom for always having this traditional meal ready soon after our return from church.  I have only eaten oyster stew on Christmas Eve at my parent’s house in the middle of Nebraska.  I truly love the memory of this meal.  I imagine it is made other places in the world, but I have not tried it.

Imagine for a moment, having the luxury of choice.  Which pot will you fill your bowl with first?

Also, we got to open ONE present on Christmas Eve.  Only one – so the torment of choice dominated my very being, WHICH ONE FOR NOW??? What if I missed the best one?  Or more dire, what if I OPENED the best one on Christmas Eve – what would I do in the morning with no ‘good’ presents left??  Of course, it never came to that.  And we never got “bad” presents.  My over-active imagination at work, I guess.  I still have a ‘delayed gratification’ mentality about many things, gift-opening specifically.  If there was a way to NEVER open a gift, but still enjoy the feeling of having it to open, I would bottle that and sell it.

Gifts, of course, are for giving and opening, not for hoarding.

I do hope, this Eve, that you have a gift.  I hope you have a warm home to share.  I hope you have food to share.  I hope that your traditions are still alive, and that you have loved ones to whom you can pass these traditions.  Now that I am older, I realize how vital the message of Christmas Eve is; Jesus, on His way to save us from ourselves.

I wish blessings on you, your family, your tribe, and your efforts to bring light, peace, life, and love to this world.

Strained, Yet Not Broken

Politicians – take the day off.  Now more than ever we need our creative genius to make sense of this.  We need painters, writers, musicians, dancers, storytellers – all artists to step forward.  Show us what we’ve done.  Tell us a story about who we are.    Court Musicians, sing us a song that binds us together and reminds us why we live next to each other.  Put a smile on our faces, give us a reason to hold another’s hand, show us how to stand tall.

This piece of music was written upon our entrance into the 2nd World War, and in homage to us, the little people.

Fanfare for the Common Man – Copland

“This was not judgement day – only morning.  Morning, excellent and fair.” William Styron, in Sophie’s Choice, a novel of the Holocaust.

This last line of the novel, as well as the last line of the movie, is spoken by Stingo, the young Southern gentleman in love with Sophie.  He had just found Sophie, the Polish immigrant, and Nathan, the Jewish manic-depressive, dead together in suicide.  And while it may have been “only morning” for the Southerner, I must point out that the other two characters in the story, an immigrant and a mental patient, did not feel safe enough to face another dawn.  THOSE two are who I want to feel safe.  We CAN do that.  WE can.  We must move forward, put down the dictionary of politics, and pick up the book that describes ‘loving others’.

We, the safe, MUST extend that safety to those in this country who are in fear today and in the coming days.   I am, through no fault of my own, one of the demographic that is least threatened by this win.  But, because I claim everyone as “my people”, MY PEOPLE need defending today.  I plead with you to rally as one group and support the Republic.  Everybody join in the circle.  Don’t cheer and don’t boo; just re-form.  Re-form so we all have a place in the circle.

It may very well be that we will only see the ‘benevolent dictator’, the ‘enlightened despot’, now that there is no longer a competition.  My hope is that the ‘king’ continues to live by our constitution rather than the whims that are so common with historical royalty. Larger than that, my hope is that we continue to value each other.  As family.

If there is a way to fix the budget, improve the trade deals, rebuild the infrastructure -WITHOUT DAMAGING people or their spirits – then I want that.  People are always more essential than things.  Lives are always more important than the checkbook.  Love is the biggest key to unity.

And a humble note of caution to my Jesus-believing friends, we have a LOT of loving to do and a LOT of judgmental gloating to stop.  Our days as servants should begin and end with grace.  There’s little need for judgment or pride or preening as a result of this election.  There is a massive need for grace, love, hope, inclusion.

My hope is that we see graciousness from every 2nd person in this country; that is, everyone who claims victory today.  That is ONE out of every TWO of us.  The OTHER of that two calls this a despairing defeat.   I also note that many who count themselves losers in this election are not ready to trust or rally or work together or believe.  That’s OK; please take the time you need.   (There will be plenty of time for political analysis – turn that off for now.)  I trust that ‘the collective we’ will hold the circle open for you.  Could we please wear our hearts on our sleeves and could we all honor that vulnerability?   Leave the next few days to hearts, minds, spirits.  Honor the tears you see on people’s faces, for that is the sign of sincerity in an age of freedom.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” Abraham Lincoln, in his First Inaugural Address.

“We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.” – Hillary Clinton, in her concession speech.

“We go forward with the presumption of good faith.  Now, we are all rooting for his success.”  President Obama, in remarks about the election.

“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together.   I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.” President-elect Trump, in his victory speech.

A word of thanks to all the Veterans who made this free election possible.  All of them have defended and will continue to defend your and my right to speak our mind and vote our conscience.  Thank you.  I have every confidence that every soldier in a uniform of the USA will defend each and every one of us.  Every single one.  Thank you.

You and I have assurances to speak – to our children, our neighbors, our detractors.  You and I have Americans to stand with – minorities, LGBTQ’s, those of other faiths, those of no faith, the poor, the rich, the well, the sick.

This is not rocket science.  At the end of the day, we stand together.



I had the pleasure of helping with Convoy of Hope this past summer, and I was inspired to do so by my very own daughter, Cassidy.  The church she attends was and still is the host church in Wichita for Convoy of Hope.  They have a strong youth group and their eagerness to pitch in is heartening.  Read Cassidy’s take right here: Cassidy’s Blog.
Convoy of Hope is a national mission that is carried out locally.  It reaches families who are preparing their children for school and need a boost.  It generally coincides with the beginning of a school year and attempts to provide school supplies, shoes, food, haircuts, job-finding assistance to both the children and the parents.  Dignity and grace suffuse the day – because everyone deserves dignity and love.  We thank THEM for coming to bless us.
In the pre-dawn hours of that day, I rode with Cassidy to the church grounds upon which the Convoy of Hope would take place.  Many pavilion-sized tents had been set up, a sound stage had been set up, bathrooms had been placed, pallets of foodstuffs had been arranged for dispersal.  It was probably at least 10 acres in use for all of this.  The organizers expected 10,000 people to visit.  What they didn’t expect was severe weather to strike right at the time they wanted to put the final touches on it all.  It all happened, it was just delayed about an hour.

The volunteer start times had already been set, though,  so it was early, around 6 am, when we arrived in a downpour.  Heavy rain lashed the tents.  Classic Great Plains thunderstorms energetically bragged right over us as we walked to the volunteer gathering spot.  We decided to walk on over to the spot rather than stay in the car to wait out the storm because the radar indicated 45 minutes or so of this level of weather.  I am still not convinced it was a smart move, but it doesn’t matter now, we turned out fine.  There was not one weather-related injury this day, for the record.  It’s very hard to say if that is coincidence or mercy.

Cassidy and I shared my umbrella as we walked.  We walked for between 5 and 10 minutes to get to the right place, and all the while lightning crackled all around us.  Heavy rain battered my “Amsterdam” umbrella (I actually bought it in Amsterdam for 10 Euros from a cart on the street – it was raining and we needed to stay dry).  Of course my shoes were immediately wet as were the bottoms of my pants.  Cassidy wore rain boots.  In order to fit under the umbrella, I put my right arm tightly over her shoulder, and clutched the umbrella in my left hand.  We walked with a determined stride, but it was peaceful; not afraid or desperate or worried.  Lightning split a tree about 400 yards away.  It sounded as if the sky ripped.  Like canvas rips – heavy.  I wonder if the temple veil sounded like that when torn in two?

Have you ever come upon a wild animal that hasn’t noticed your presence? An animal that continues to sip at a brook, or nibble at a leaf, or peck at a bush?  Think, now, of how you act in that moment of discovery.  It turns quickly into a game of ‘freeze tag’.  Don’t move, don’t inhale or exhale sharply, do NOT make eye contact.  Observe through semi-slitted eyes, open wide enough to record, but not so wide as to reflect light and startle your subject.  Your senses go into hyperdrive so as to remember everything about it; to not miss a thing.  Aerosmith, anyone?

My time with Cassidy was like that.  In fact, Angie and I catch ourselves glancing at each other more and more often as we watch our kids do the amazing things that make them special to the world and to us.  (We always chuckle later about “catching them in their natural habitat”, and say “Don’t make eye contact!!”)  I was walking right next to my daughter with my arm around her – we were bonding!  I didn’t dare say anything, lest we get self-conscious and step apart.  I pretended it was merely for the practicality of the weather that we were pulled so close.  She knew.  We both played it cool, but we knew.  We will always have that morning.

Being in the middle of that thunderstorm also helped me understand the meaning of “the aegis of God”, or the ‘cloak of protection’ He puts around us.  What the Bible says about judgment, “God dispenses or withholds His justice at His pleasure”.  We have zero say in the matter.  That day, God’s mighty lightning struck where it would, and we were merely bits of protoplasm existing within the confines of this physical earth.  I found myself comforted once I realized that I was powerless to control what happened with the lightning.  Yes, I prayed for safe passage.  Perhaps it was granted, but perhaps it was mere meteorology, too.  It is very hard to say.  The lesson was more than ‘the rain falls on the just and the unjust’, even though that truth was also on display.

As time passes, I realize more and more that the display contained both His grandeur (in the storm) and His intimate love (to pass peace to me and my little-tiny-baby-daughter-who-is-somehow-a-grown-woman-now).

Priceless moments.  Holy moments.

The Caged Finches of Perkins

Maya Angelou – “I know why the caged bird sings.”

“A small bird will drop frozen from the bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.” – D.H. Lawrence.

The other day, we went to visit my grandma and my aunt in Perkins Pavilion rest home. In the lobby, they have a glass-enclosed cage that is full of finches. Birds provide a sense of comfort and a spot of nature for the residents, many of whom rarely go outside. These finches are of several species, and they always make me think of both Darwin and captivity. When Darwin visited the Galapagos, he was more interested in geology, and had tasked another with cataloging the many bird species on the islands. At the time, cataloging meant shooting them and taking them back to England. Once back in England, an ornithologist realized they had different beaks to open the shells of the nuts they found. Different nuts for different islands, apparently. This led to sub-species that were better suited to each micro-climate.
Once I begin thinking about adjusting to micro-climates, I wonder if it is difficult. Do we not, in fact, do that all the time? Don’t we have to “read the room”, “feel the mood”, or “know your audience”? Matter of fact, instead of developing a specialized “beak” for social interaction, we have developed an “all-purpose” interface so we can get along with the greatest number of people possible.
The Finches of Perkins seem happy. They do seem upbeat. They do appear to be content. But are these not human emotions? I have a sneaking suspicion that all they care about is that there is a steady supply of food. Their swift and nimble travels between the straw nests they have built and the seed boxes placed throughout the enclosure brings joy to a watcher. Though mostly dull-colored birds, they have an unmistakable vitality.
As I consider these sweet birds, I draw a parallel to the human residents of Perkins Pavilion, a full-care retirement facility. Grandma and Aunt Rosemary live there. My dad refers to them as “the sisters”. They eat every meal together, just like when they were kids. They are happy, although they both wish for better health. I wonder if they feel trapped. I wonder if they long for the wide open farmscape of their youth, or their fertile gardens so lovingly tended, or the open road at vacation. Do they remember the sweeping pastures of the flint hills? Do they remember the stink of the hen-house? Do the dream of the chilling winters, the searing summers, or the perfection of a spring evening before the mosquitoes have hatched?
I know Grandma has said she is ready to go on to heaven. It is not that she hates living, it is just that she does not feel well, misses Grandpa, and is not having a ton of fun during her days. She appreciates her family and loves keeping up with friends, grand kids, great-grand kids. She still looks at pictures, reads cards, listens to my dad read her letters and keep up with all the news from our extended family. She still prays for all of us. She turned 100 years old last November. We celebrated both her birthday and my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary with what amounted to a family reunion. The most that had gathered in several years, in fact. Grandma not only made it to the venue, she stayed for several hours. Her clear and evident joy at seeing her people together was worth any amount of miles driven, plane tickets bought, schedules re-arranged. Her prayer at Christmas Eve dinner this year had all our eyes stung with tears – words, just a few, of humility and grace. In part, she said “we need to forgive, to love, and to care for each other”. Forgiving each other for our hurts – how we wish we could master that.
Aunt Rosemary does not remember too many specifics about all of us, or where she is living, or where she used to live. She is really happy, though, and always has a smile on her face when we go to visit. She enjoys hearing about our few chickens and can tell a story about when she cared for chickens back on the Gfeller farm. Although Rosemary does not go out (except for medical appointments), she loved hearing about the gathering for Grandma’s birthday. Even when she is not feeling well, she still smiles when she says where it hurts. Smiling through pain – how we wish we could master that.

I believe the finches daydream of wide open spaces and trees to roost in and nuts to crack and bugs to catch. I believe the sisters have a lifetime of memories to sustain them through the slower hours of their days.

I do hope the sisters – do the finches? – know what lessons we learn from them about contentment in life.

Do the sisters – and the finches – know how much joy they bring us still?

A Treehouse for Adults

We have decided, now that we are either 50 or almost 50, that we want a treehouse. I was lucky enough to have one as a kid; 3 old bedroom doors as walls, and steps cut out of old telephone poles to get up there. I don’t think Ang ever had a treehouse – she had to be happy with climbing trees all the time. It’s a collateral benefit that our daughter is still at home to enjoy it. Too bad the trees weren’t big enough to build this when the boys were still home.

We’ve made a list: “Want” and “Don’t Want” for our treehouse. So far, we DO want low walls and real wooden steps. We DO want twinkly lights, which means electricity, which means mini-fridge (and you know what THST means). We DON’T want a roof, high walls, or a rope ladder.

Isn’t it just as important to know what we don’t want is what we do want? How else will we be satisfied with the final project? And Isn’t it about time YOU built a treehouse?

I choose MORE

You may remember the concrete wall we sat on in Glenmere Park, many years ago, on which I asked you this question: “Will you be married to me?”  Even then, I used an active verb with a present tense – I think we both knew it would be forever.

I can’t help but think of all the lost opportunities I missed to make our marriage better.  I should have DAWDLED in that Belgian Chocolate Shop with you, instead of finding a European cell phone to call Ethan on.  I should have listened to the Nils Frahm music you were in love with for a while, instead of assuring you that “I’d get to it soon”.  Why did I not listen better when you said you are truly an introvert and parties with more than a few people were seriously exhausting?  I still am not sure how much art gallery time I have in me, or art museum capability I have, but I say to you now that I want to TRY IT with you.

On the other hand, I can think of many invaluable moments we HAVE SHARED that we didn’t pass up.  Remember when we opened those wall-sized windows in our canal house in Amsterdam, above the Noordemarket?  The smells of fresh bread and the sounds of that city will stay with me forever.  We were together that day; we walked the streets, watching people, watching our kids, SOAKING in that cachet.  Our time at the Eiffel Tower is well documented through all our pictures, but the sheer amazing steps into reality that we took together on that rain-splattered bridge is indelible to me.  We stood together under Niagara Falls – and grinned ear-to-ear at each other in wonder.

We’ve come to love time together, just sitting; sipping wine, spilling wine, poking at the coals in either the fireplace or the chimenea (depending on the season).  Now that our kids are taking off into the world with brave faces, we can see how precious all those days, years, moments with each child are.

Had someone told us, on that concrete wall so long ago, how much WORK this relationship would take and how much we’d have to trust and forgive and talk and listen, I don’t think we would have believed them.  As you said recently, we were just BABIES back then.  We had barely invented ourselves, let alone examined each other to see who we really were.  We loved – that was enough.

What I NOW love is that we have chosen to RE-INVENT ourselves WITH EACH OTHER as we start this phase of our lives.  This “third act”, as I guess it’s called.  This time of “get to, not have to”.  It isn’t like we’ve lived in a desert for the last 27 years, but, right now, it FEELS like we’ve just been DRENCHED in a spring rain over the desert because our growth and flowering and blossoming and RIPENING has been so completely deep and transforming.

I stand in exultant mountain pose, with my heart wide open.  You could slay me where I stand – instead you embrace me, hold me, buoy me, and cling to me.  We rescue each other, even though we’ve only come to be rescued.

On this occasion of our celebration of 27 YEARS OF MARRIAGE TO EACH OTHER…

I choose MORE.

Back in College

Recently, I travelled with my wife to her weekend intensive college course.  She is doing the work to earn a Master’s in Library Science.  I, and our daughter, went along for the ride, partly because it was our 26th wedding anniversary, partly because there was a party for her classmates the next day, and partly because we wanted to check out the mighty metropolis of Emporia, Kansas.  Believe me, you need to be RESTED when you hit Emporia, because it is ‘full speed ahead’ and a ‘no off-button’ kind of place.

Not really.

But seriously, the town does have a lot of charm and innocence.  I’m sure there’s a gritty part of Emporia, but we didn’t see it.  Maybe we’d have to drive around some more to really dig into the darker layers of that little prairie town.

I KNOW that I don’t have the focus or attention span to spend 6 semesters working on a master’s degree.  I’m doubtful that I even am interested in anything enough to find an area of concentration.  Everything I can think of seems to involve a lot of MATH, which I have sworn off of permanently.  Ever since high school, where letters took on a huge role in algebra, geometry, and algebra 2 (why isn’t it ALL algebra???), I was hopelessly lost.  Matter of fact, in college, I tried to major in chemistry – because I DO love that periodic table – but couldn’t do the math involved in any of it.

My point:  citizens of this country (which includes my wife, Angie) who voluntarily return to student status to earn a higher level degree in ANY field are mentally tougher than I.  No amount of cajoling – financial, mental, or physical- could drive me back into the halls of learning to pursue greater knowledge.

There may come a day when I am ready to face the task of dedicated, focused learning about a topic that fascinates me – but that day is not today.

Bravo to all of you who challenge the dragon of college! May your fortunes increase and your resolve never waver.