Friday, August 6, 2010


The poor old peach tree in my backyard about killed itself bearing fruit this summer. I wonder at its generous nature. It gives because it must. Something whispers in it's branches, "Give , Give" and it obeys, even to its own peril. Something in that free abandon intrigues me, but then I must confess, I shrink back, hoping I won't be asked to give that much.

We take from the peach tree each year, and think of my father, who loved peaches, and who died before the peach tree could bear its first crop. He used to load up his car with peaches from the fruit market, and then make the rounds to our houses, dropping them off.

And now, a new generation is giving away peaches as my daughters facebook their friends to see who wants to help us eat peaches, because our fridge and pantry is still loaded with last year's peach jam!

The tree will be pruned after its picked, another seemingly painful process. But that will only enable it to bear more next year.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kindred Spirits

We walked into the room at the same time. The speaker was dreadfully boring.
After it was over we caught each others eye and with something akin to a sixth sense introduced ourselves.

Common interests, common background. Instant understanding, words were superfluous.

Something in me was validated. My existence had meaning, purpose. Another person in the wide world understood me. I was infused with a new sense of direction, of enthusiasm to be myself, because I had looked at myself through someone else's soul.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Customer Service

What constitutes great customer service?

Do you like it when a salesperson gives you eye contact? Smiles? Offers to walk with you to a particular section of the store to help you find something?

Is it me or is this a dying art?

I get the distinct impression when I walk into some places of business that I am interrupting their work day rather than being a customer who actually supports their job by giving them my business. I suppose the best thing I can do is to be that person with great customer service wherever I am. And then I got to thinking...

In our homes, what would happen if we started treating our family members with 'great customer service'?

Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SALT Burns


I wasn't expecting Angelina Jolie's performance in SALT because I have to confess I've never seen her in a movie before. Yep. My impression of the Lips is limited to magazine covers that explore (read exploit) her motherly side and her relationship with everyone's sweetheart, Brad Pitt.

Enter the kick-boxing, vengeance-ridden female of the Spyworld!

As a baby boomer, I grew up in the Soviet shadow, hiding under my desk during imaginary air raids, staring at the radioactive triangle with horror, and wondering when Russia would take over the US.

I could read between the lines and surmise that the writers and producers of SALT were right under those desks with me. Fear takes a long time to dissipate, if it ever does, and I relived a few of my childhood nightmares just contemplating the premise of the movie.

Totally surprised me though when I walked in the door of my house and the kids hadn't cleaned up the kitchen to my specifications. I became Ev on super 'Estrosterone' and got them all moving. All that sitting in terror, tensed for the next big fight had to be unleashed somewhere.

So Mommy burned off a little energy. Well having kids will do that to you, apparently!

St Francis In Modern Terms

Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

Ian Morgan Cron and others of his ilk, disillusioned post moderns among them, lead the current protestant reform back again to the roots of Catholicism. As an evangelical-raised pastor’s daughter, I follow some elements of this reform, but not all.

The American evangelicals had in the first half of the past century been fortunate enough to shape much of the culture. Taboos against illicit sex, drinking, smoking, pornography, and general carousing had held at bay a culture which in our day is bulging and bursting at the seams to let the beast out, come what may.( Indeed, keeping the beast in is held with as must disdain now as holding it back used to be!) However, they brought with them a form of religion which many interpreted as lacking in dimension, legalistic, dry, and devoid of experiential spirituality.
Cron’s story, a pursuit of St Francis of Assisi, who was a medieval Christian of legendary interest, describes him as the first postmodern. In his fictional account of a pastor who has seemingly lost his way, Cron paints an alluring picture of a spirituality grounded in history, experiential encounters with God, fueled by a universal hunger for beauty.

The tension is implicit between living a life of poverty, as did St. Francis, and the obviously leisurely life filled with good food and wine of the habit-donning clerics of the book. The disparaging remarks about real live Protestant disappointments however are not equally balanced by example of Catholic failure, except for reminders about the Crusades.

Still, judgment should begin at the house of God. Let them fall as they must.
I found myself drawn to the pageantry of the ancients and their almost superstitious faith in the gospel story in contrast to our ‘knowledge-based’ faith.
Chasing Francis is certainly on my list of favorites for its inspiring imagery, historical information, and Cron’s ability to take the reader on an enchanting, yet sobering trip to ancient and modern Italy.

Charming Memoir

August 3, 2010

Picking Dandelions by Sarah Cunningham

Reading this book was almost like reading the story of my life. It was uncanny how many experiences I’ve shared with its author. Although I’m an avid reader, this is a first for me. That’s because not very many books are written from the perspective of a pastor’s daughter, who lived in the Midwest, went to Bible College, and wasn’t rebellious. I had to decide between incredulity and envy as I read line after line from someone who truly understood me.

The envy really kicked in when I got to the part about her work in New York City after 9/11, and her job as an outreach director in a prominent church. She’d gone beyond me there.

As a writer, I’d wondered if it was possible to write about a christian’s thoughts without being insipid or overly spiritualizing things. I’d read plenty of those. But Sarah writes with such wit, and matter-of-fact everydayness that I believe her when she talks about her very normal relationship with God.
Inspiring, funny, poignant. Sarah Cunningham is one of my new favorites. Let’s hope she’s got more in store for us!