Thursday, June 27, 2013


There are some experiences that we have in life that make us sit up and take notice.  Today was one of those days.  Something happened that brought a lot of things together for me, so I figured that because only God could do that for me, that you, my friends and family should hear about it.
You are all aware that some two years ago I decided that I would no longer shackle myself with a job outside the house.  I had just been blessed by the return of my health.  During the down time when I was thinking about a lot of things, is when I made the decision.  
Even before I was fully recovered, I began to look for work in the ethereal world of the Internet. I have shared some of my out of this world experiences with you. I have also shared the fact that through it all, I was blessed to find work doing translations for an honest company based in Europe.  It has been going on for nearly two years and I still help them and they like my work and my attitude.  That last part is because they don't "really" know me.  But they do give me good references and because of that I now have other translations from other agents and companies coming my way.  I never thought that God had any patience left in his bag, but He evidently has.  Not only that, He even gave me a little.  Now that, boys and girls, is a true miracle.  Now, today I finished a very demanding project for one of the newcomers into my life and in my down time after 4 very intense days I got to sharing my thoughts and emotions with Belle, my grace from God through the miracle of Holy Matrimony. Here's what we talked about: 
The project that sucked up so much of my life was a 35 page report from the person in charge of seeing to it that a sky train type metro ($500,000,000.00) will come to reality in Casablanca, Morocco.  What a lesson in management that is.  It is but one of the wonderful experiences that I have had over the last 20+ months.  I have gone to so many places in my mind that it is truly gratifying. It's cheaper than buying a ticket.  Heck, they even pay me to do it.   I have had to translate papers that ask the Dutch government to tighten up the standards regulating varietal cheeses.  Not just the cheese, but the labels too. Now, while we are in Holland, I have to tell you the story of the touring company that takes people for tours on the canals in Amsterdam.  I was on their boats for at least four hours.  How many of you have done that?  I will also now take bets from anyone who can prove knowledge of what the average summer temperature in the Algerian desert is.  I do!  I had to translate a "request for quote" from the Algerian government to the world to build a windmill farm to harness the energy of the winds in the desert there.  Oh, the wind there averages about 125 kilometers per hour (70 mph).  Lest I forget the average summer temperature is 45 degrees Celsius, that's around 115F.  Remember, I said average.  A few translations ago I was in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast, Africa)translating a do-gooder from Belgium who was there to teach people how to get more yield from their "back yard" victory gardens.  40 pages of this stuff...not for the people to read, for the governments of the world.  It was really nice, until the mosquitoes got the better of me, so I left.  Oh yeah, he mentioned the mosquitoes.  He had to, they kill a lot of people to whom they give malaria.  The other day I was in, of all places, Nogales, Mexico.  Some lady was emigrating from Nogales to Sweden, I think it was, and she needed her university transcript of records translated from the Nogales vernacular to English.  The agency sent it to me, figuring that if I ran into trouble I could just shout across the Rio Grande and get the answer.  Heck, I could see her house from here! I have a ton more, but one of the more interesting things I had to translate was a contract between a Belgian company that transports cattle on the hoof to places all around the Mediterranean and even to Eastern Europe and the Middle East.  Imagine, they do that for a living, and they seem to be doing very well at it...and in French to boot! Except that this time they got into a crunch and someone wanted to dispense with the French and stick with English.  I forget all the details, but they carried on quite a bit about the health of the animal at the head of the trip as against the same animal's health at the terminus.  Can you just figure out the hankie-pankie that lives in those transactions?
There is also human consolation that comes aross my pixilated reality.  There is the story of the person who got to be a medical doctor to live out her dream as a little girl.  She has a problem.  She is quite a distance away from being an "A" student.  I was able to follow her entire career from high school through final board exam.  I lived her whole educational experience through her grades and through the written evaluations that form part of the European report card.  The only reason I knew that she had not dropped out was that I had her entire file by my side...all 20 pages.  I suffered through the numbers that she was making. 
I shuddered at some of the slyly insulting comments of some of her teachers. She would come back and retake the course and pass it with a middle level grade while at the same time she was struggling somewhere else. I think, perhaps, that added to her own grit and courage came the love and dedication with which most of her teachers showered her.   Even in university she struggled although in university she never failed a course, but she kept her hours down so that she could manage her study time better. I have to admit that I shivered through the emotions that flowed through me during that project.  One night, just some 6 or 7 hours before my deadline I came across one comment on her final report for the year.  It was preceded by a passing grade at a very low percentile of the class performance as a whole. It said, "Remember that just because you are in a top notch school becoming a doctor is not guaranteed." True enough.  But I wanted to choke that person.  I was wishing I could go there and cut the handle off her brand new broom handle. I took an hour off and then got back to work. The little girl, by now a woman, got through it, came back and got what she had worked for. 

This is the life that God gives me these days.  That's my life, economics and emotions at the same time.  I thank God for it because He is giving me time to do what I love to do.  When I am not translating I'm over at His place schmoozing with His people, talking about Him, swapping stories from His book, eating from His table of Sacrifice and of course patting Mama on the back for doing such a great job.
I told you these things because I want you to know that I have not changed my mind about my first and last will and testament:  No Crying at MY Funeral!

Friday, June 14, 2013


This is a fairly long meditative reaction to a heartfelt email message that reached me today.  I decided not to send the typical short, sentimental, straight from the heart response because I did not have one.  What I had then, some eight hours ago, and still have now is what follows.  I am bold enough to place it on this blog, under this title because what I have in my heart and my brain belongs here, as far as I am concerned.  Join me, if you will.

Parents are something that we all have.  Some for a shorter time than others.  Some for a very long time.  The majority of us live with our parents for about 18 to 25 years before the separation takes place.  Some of us never get the experience of a long term separation from our parents.  
Some of us appreciate the presence and the dynamism of the relationship between us and them.  We get to try out behaviors on them and either rejoice or suffer from the consequences.  The house is a laboratory of sorts where we get socialized, spiritualized, characterized and several other "izes" that we all know about from experience.  All these things make life with our parents a rich experience...for the most part.
Parents too enjoy life in this laboratory.  They know that from about age 25 through age 55 or so, they will share their entire beings with from about 1 to 12 children, depending on religious, cultural, economical and other elements.  They also know one other thing.  The children that they bring into the world may grow old, but they will never cease to be "my little boy" or "my little girl."  That is perhaps the most difficult pill for most children to swallow.  For some, however, it turns out to be the salvation that they need to have happy and comfortable lives.  That brings me to Laurie.

Laurie is a 40 plus year old lady who still lives with her mother and father.  I know them fairly well.  I also respect them more than they have come to know.  Papa and Mama have answered the special call from God to be special parents to a special needs child.  They have accepted their vocation and the relationship that they have with Laurie deserves a higher adjective that just special...It is sacramental.  It is covenantal.  It defines the meaning of marriage and parenthood for the communion of saints who see it.  This is a family who lives in a Cathedral of Love under the wings of the Angels and in the presence of the Spirit.  
Every now and then the Blue Light Special Prayer signal goes out from the family and along with it comes the report of the last visit that was played out at Massachusetts General Hospital with regards to the physical health of the Special Laurie.  It's usually not too good.  We all hear it, say our prayers, assure Papa and Mama that we join them in heart and soul and life goes on.  It goes on for Laurie too, despite the fact that some of the news is scientifically devastating.  Papa has told me several times that the doctors still don't know how this wonderfully patient and happy person can continue to be so contented with life.  Indeed, they even wonder how she can continue living at the level of energy and health that she does.
WE know.  We know something that the doctors are not allowed to enter into the equation.  Laurie's head primary care doctor is none less than God Himself.  She, Papa and Mama talk to God every single day.  She, Papa and Mama sit and listen to what God has to tell them, every single day.  No wonder that when she walks away from a long review session with the army of doctors who know her and study her and strive to understand what keeps her going and how they can help her to continue, she must just sit there and wonder "What now?"  

Today, for instance, the long email from Mama explained that Laurie's lung function is diminishing in efficiency.  Of course, Laurie being Laurie, she throws them a curve and proves to them that her breathing is perfectly fine.  Hmmm.  I don't know the whole story, but there's something mysteriously similar to this going on with her kidneys too.  Not to fret, brothers and sisters, energetic life goes on.  But wait, what does the scientific team say about this situation with the lungs?  Let's check it out, according to Mama's version.
"Start Laurie on a drug called rapamycin..."  Not good.  Bad experience with this drug in the past.
"Get Laurie into an on-going trial for a new drug..." Not good.  What if she falls into the "placebo group?"  Hmmm.  Good question.
"Wait and see."  Yep.  Very scientific exercise.
Well, frankly, they don't call doctors practitioners for nothing.  They are professionals at practicing.  When they want a real answer, they ask your parents.  In this case, as in many others, that is the perfect place for the answer to lie.  Laurie, Papa and Mama went straight to God and to God's friends.  There's the one who knows.  He is the one who manages Laurie's kidneys.  He's also the one who keeps her breathing normally with diminishing lung capacity.  He's not willing to let her go.  He's got far too many important things for her to do.  Papa and Mama can attest to that.  Laurie can too.  Me too, but I'll die before I write some of the suggestions that I have.  Oh, I can write this one:  Laurie and her parents are going to cure everyone from wanting to cry at my funeral.  They're going to do it with the good example of what it means to be a Job family.  Or to be the family whose oil never runs out because they are caring for the prophet.  

By the way, no one ever said that this is easy.  No one ever said that being a child of God is easy.  God demands that we collaborate with Him to get things done.  So, Laurie, Papa and Mama live in a tight knit spiritually alert community collaborating with God in the job of keeping Laurie and themselves energetic in His presence.  Without God in that house, who knows what it would look like?  Two seventy year old parents with a 45 year old child and no God?  Don't even try to imagine it.  
Brothers and sisters, that's why we need parents.  That's why our children need parents, no matter how old they are.  
Remember why I put these thoughts here under this title: there is to be no crying at my funeral.  Why?  Because God has taken it easy on me for all these years.  He lets me be a grouch and get away with it.  What more can I ask for?  Don't cry for Papa and Mama of Laurie because when their job is done, God will take care of them.  Don't cry for Laurie because she is the sign of God's presence in our midst.  Let us honor her with our prayers so that she will never waver in her resolve to be a saint in God's eyes and ours.  Not just for her good, but for ours as well.  We ask this through Jesus, our Savior who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever.