Now Here It Is

Now Here It Is (1,255)

August 31st, 2011

Everybody is rich, if by rich you mean accumulating a bunch of stuff to deposit in one place. Yes, we all have favorite acquisitions, and certainly there is a storage building inside the human compartment for placing these similar items until they reach a point we dub “abundance.” And any abundance eventually is assumed to be our “treasure”—and that which we treasure most in our lives, whatever it is, gains the favor of our heart, and the heart, being the center of the emotions, and the human race being an emotionally-energized group of people, causes us to want to tout the essence of our treasure, which becomes the source of most of our dialogue and daily “speak.” It is at this point that other folks enter our realm, hear our words and decide whether we are justified in their eyes, or unfortunately, condemned. Now there’s the process.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” and “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It’s why you can take someone to see a great movie filled with plot twists and tremendous emotion, and that person can walk out yammering on about their medications and how they hope their chiropractor will be able to adjust their fourth disc.

The predominance of our abundance creates our treasure. I have been in church services where the obvious presence of God was nearly staggering to my mind, spirit and heart—and strolled into a lobby where I found people grabbing their cell phones to text friends about something completely unrelated to what they just encountered. I don’t say this critically. It’s just an obvious fact that what we decide to become collectors of in our hearts becomes our treasure and spills into our daily conversation.

From that conversation, we are judged by the fellows around us for our intelligence, our passion, our depth, our caring and our general awareness of the world. From that judgment comes our placement and even our social and financial status. Isn’t that amazing?

So what can we do about the abundance of our heart? Can we change our interests without becoming phony or pretentious? Can we actually begin to absorb more enlightened truths and goals which will eventually lead to being more astute and erudite? Of course we can—as long as we avoid hypocrisy.

Spiritual transformation is taking an inventory of our abundance and deciding whether we should keep it or give it over to Good Will. What I have discovered is that most of my faults are stuck in my emotional closet behind a bunch of crap that keeps me from seeing, up close and personal, what is plaguing my progress. Yes, sometimes you have to clean out the closet to discover that you actually do have enough hangers.

So if we decide we want to rearrange our abundance—the wealth of our human emotions—and produce a different treasure, what should we do?

1. I ask people every once in a while what they think I talk about the most. I may not even know. I may be completely oblivious about what words permeate my verbiage. But believe me, those around me have a much better pulse on it.

2. Decide for yourself if what you are accumulating is really treasure or just over-valued junk. It’s simple—just as with clothing and possessions, ideas should be used within the first three months of their hatching. If you haven’t worn a shirt for three months, you can probably afford to get rid of it, and if you have goals you have not pursued for three months, they probably are not really your dreams, but merely your habits.

3. And by the way, I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a good habit. Once you begin to repeat something over and over again, it becomes less passionate, repetitious, or tainted. But what is powerful are fresh habits which we try out to see if they enhance our journey.

4. Since your abundance is your treasure, do you feel like you’re hauling gold around? Or just rocks? The Bible says “he who the Son (Jesus) has set free is free indeed.” If your thoughts and emotions are making you feel leaden and burdened, you are probably due for a transplant in your heart. Happiness always involves lightening your load.

5. And finally, everything is awkward until it becomes normal. If you start thinking, feeling, pursuing and learning something new—to make it your new abundance—be prepared to feel stupid, out of sorts and a little bit wacky. It takes time to accumulate anything. Give yourself a chance to transform.

The thing I like about the gospel of Jesus is that it is the perfect linking between the spiritual world and the physical world. The bridge between the two? The human emotions. And the emotions are triggered by what we decide to accumulate in our beings. This determines the next thing we will say. So a bigot will eventually spout prejudice, a poet will artistically devise a grocery list and a frustrated person will unveil a slew of angry words.

Check out your abundance. It’s right there inside you, marked Treasure—not far from your heart and ready to be turned into a soliloquy of ideas which you will inevitably spiel, identifying who you really are.

Published in: on August 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Frownies (1,254)

August 30th, 2011

Harriet loved to hate. Or maybe it was that she hated to love. Well, perhaps both of those are erroneous. Maybe it’s that Harriet knew who and what she loved—and hated everything else.

My mother and father made me call her “aunt,” even though she was actually no relation to us. She lived on the main street of our town in a lovely home, secure in the finance of a pension and peered out of her windows at passing life, scrutinizing and separating the “good apples from the bad apples.” She occasionally emerged to walk the streets with her cane, bestowing her presence and wisdom.

Harriet didn’t like me. I broke all of Harriet’s rules—and when I did, she frowned at me. I know it may sound a bit silly, but a frown may be one of the most vicious expressions of both disapproval and rejection that one human being can impart to another. Not only is a frown a facial presentation, but it also connotes that there is great anguish, sadness and dissatisfaction lying beneath. Yes, a frown is the tip of the iceberg of even greater chilliness.

Harriet frowned at me a lot.

I was too loud—and she thought loud was bad.

My hair actually touched my ears—which, in her assessment, was just short of the abomination of desolation.

I went to Columbus and interacted with black people—which she found inappropriate. (Matter of face, Harriet frowned at a black man and a white woman who were dating in our community. This was obviously bad for two reasons: the races shouldn’t mix and, in Harriet’s world, sex was bad.)

For a season I even tried to learn Harriet’s commandments so that I might avoid her scathing glance. But it seemed to me that the litany of taboos was ever-increasing, and try as I might, I could never get her approval. So I began to avoid her—but seemed to run into her at least once a week. Looking back now, I realize that she was actually seeking me out because she knew that her opinion of value to me, and therefore she wielded some power in my life.

Harriet just loved to frown. There were a lot of frownies in my hometown when I was growing up. They were so sure they were right. It seemed they would gossip about most everything under the sun—until one of their own children or grandchildren sprouted that particular iniquity. Then the problem, rather than being sinful, became either a condition or a disease. For instance, Harriet had a grandson who ended up being gay, so her mindset changed from believing that the homosexual was human kindling for the fires of hell to “Little Richie has a different lifestyle—and he’s working on it.”

I never knew what that meant. Why? Because Harriet didn’t know what it meant. It was just a safe way to internally frown while externally contending that her grandson was not a freak.

Frownies—they’re everywhere. I see them on Sunday mornings in churches. I wonder why these people have actually taken the time to dress up and spray some Right Guard under their arm pits, to show up at a place that actually makes them miserable. I see frownies in department stores when people of different sizes, shapes and colors walk by. They scrunch their faces to let everyone know that something abhorrent has transpired.

I occasionally even catch myself, in moments of deliberation, accidentally re-creating that expression on my own countenance, and I lurch back in horror at the fear that someone may actually have observed it. I don’t ever want to frown at you, my friend. You deserve better. Even if I’m afflicted by a passing flu, a common cold, an aching head or an upset stomach, it’s best for me to escape into my cave of recovery and not subject you to my crinkled brow.

Human beings deserve better than frowns. Frownies are children who never grew up, who express their inadequacies over their own abilities by trying to devastate the confidence of others.

My journey has allowed me to stand in front of tens of thousands of high school students, hundreds of thousands of people in church congregations, and even share my life in the presence of murderers and rapists in prisons. Here’s what I know: a frown is useless. No one required one—not even those who are frowners themselves.

So I am always cautious when I feel a bit of self-righteousness trying to sneak into my soul—to blink three times, allowing my eyes to soften and my gaze to lower, which amazingly enough, causes the corners of my mouth to naturally curl up instead of down.

It’s true, you know—you should try it. The next time you behold someone or something that rattles your cage, simply blink three times to soften your peepers and your mouth will follow suit by producing a more neutral expression instead of a notorious frown.

Harriet died. Until today, I have never thought about her, wondered about her or remembered anything of significance concerning her time on earth. I realize I can only share about this woman as a bad example—an object lesson. I hope wherever she is, she is not offended by these words, but rather, understands that it is a necessary tale to be told—to warn others of the dangers of frowning.


Not nearly as sweet as brownies—but equally as dangerous to the human heart.

Published in: on August 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Irene, 2 — Me, 0

Irene, 2—Me, 0 (1,253)

August 29th, 2011

Eastern Pennsylvania—it is where I have perched myself for the time being, traveling, writing and sharing with the citizenry. The folks who live here are delightful, if a bit stoic, though certainly able to be disconcerted if you pronounce “Amish” with a hard “a.” So you can imagine that it became particularly frightening to these Quaker ancestors when, within seven days, the earth did quake and the sea belched forth its venom.

Yes, in the tradition of Paul Revere—“one by land and two by sea.”

Honestly, the earthquake didn’t move me much—literally. And Irene, the Hurricane, was really just a lot of gray sky and rain. But not so with the populace.

So let me continue my story by telling you that ten days ago, a dear young friend of ours from Nashville, Tennessee, contacted us by phone, telling us that a check had arrived at our old mailbox and she wondered what to do with it. I had no idea what the source of this money way, but as she talked to me I realized that it was an old account I had forgotten, which had been liquidated and sent our way on March 13th of this year. I still do not know where the check had been all these months, but this dear lady had discovered it and wondered what to do with it. I was overjoyed. For you see, extra money afforded to a traveling artist may be the true definition of the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” So I gave her our address and didn’t think much more about it.

Meanwhile, back to Irene.

We had three shows scheduled for Sunday—two in Tannersville and one in Berwick. Much to my delight, the Tannersville church did decide to hold services, which was really nice—except for the fact that almost the entire congregation selected to stay home in deference to the pending doom attacking from the ocean. Yes, it was the smallest crowd I have ever performed in front of on a Sunday morning.

So Irene scored her first point against me.

Candidly, the folks who did show up were also a bit preoccupied by the storminess around them, but to their credit, they escaped the drippiness of their attitudes and the weather outside and became enlivened with Spirit. I enjoyed them thoroughly.

Now the Sunday night booking was a different story. Arriving in Berwick, having driven through the dreary and the drizzle, we discovered that this particular church had canceled their morning services and the dear pastor feared that no one was going to show up for the evening concert.

The storm had truly passed, but, as is often the case in the mindset of the human race, the trauma that follows is always much worse than the actual event. So we did something that we have never done before—we decided, along with the pastor, to cancel the appearance (what you might truly call a disappearance.)

Irene scored her second point.

So the score update was Irene, 2 and me—seemingly—0.

I was driving back to my lodging from the Berwick abandonment when it suddenly occurred to me that some ten days earlier money had arrived into my life that I was completely unaware had existed. Yes, that dear girl had sent me a check two days earlier, which not only covered the financial need of our weekly budget, but also gave us a sweet little nest egg to sit upon.

Is it possible that God knew back on March 13th that we would need finance at this exact hour for this specific purpose—to cover a need not of our making? Mind boggling, don’t you think?

I guess that’s what they mean by omniscient. It doesn’t mean God uses His all-knowing power most of the time. I believe He’s a gentleman and chooses to walk this earthly experience with us instead of running ahead removing obstacles and constructing road signs. But every once in a while, He chooses to step into the role of Father instead of just Creator, and extends His grace, changing the outcome to benefit his children.

So I sit here this morning, having easily survived both quaking earth and stirring sea, enriched by meeting beautiful people in Tannersville and coming into the acquaintance of one fine lady in Berwick—and also having no need to worry about my daily bread.

Because God baked it months ago.

I like this. May I point out to you that I never take it for granted—matter of fact, I am reluctant to even speak of God’s grace for fear that it might disappear like dew in the morning sun. But when do you experience the massive intelligence of the universe at work in your own puny surroundings, it is only righteous to blow the trumpet in Zion.

So I guess I will have to revise my title. It should read: Irene, 2—Me, 0—God, 3. You see, it is the personification of:

His grace is sufficient for me.

Published in: on August 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Two Wrongs Can Make a Right

Two Wrongs Can Make a Right (1,252)

August 28th, 2011

It happened again. I screwed up and I immediately tried to figure out devious ways to screw it back down before anyone noticed I had unscrewed it. It’s such a waste of time. The energy that each one of us expends, plotting our excuses and escaping responsibility, probably shortens our lives by twenty years.

Yet it seems difficult to comprehend the importance of the phrase, “Own it.” The fact of the matter is, much less time would be spent in incrimination if we told the truth than is sapped by others pummeling us with criticism when they discover we have lied. What causes this? Is it that we want to escape responsibility, appear perfect or avoid all critique? Or, in some bizarre fashion, is deception exhilarating?

I’m not sure. But I know this—as I have made it my mission in life to become more transparent, I have had less conflict, less fussiness and less intervention from others into my space. So there is a “wrong” that happens in our journey that is obvious even to us. When it is obvious to us, the best path is to quickly take ownership of the moment, get it over with and start moving towards restitution and reconciliation instead of repudiation and retribution.

But behold, there is a second “wrong.” This one often escapes the common man’s review. Because there are things we do that are not obvious to us—but are obvious to others because they cause offense. And these offended individuals will let us know that we have breached their comfort zone and they require some retraction.

Now, this is where most of us go haywire—because our first instinct is to accuse the offended individuals of being too sensitive, or maybe telling them that they have “misunderstood” us. Whatever turf we gained by grasping the concept of “owning” our faults is quickly lost as we once again exercise our pernicious attitude of making excuses.

At times we even become abusive towards the bruised souls and see them as “attacking” us because they don’t like our approach to the matter. I will go so far as to suggest that most relationships do not break up over blatant sinful actions, but rather, over trivial disagreements that escalate into huge storms of complete misunderstanding.

Here’s the truth: if someone says that I have offended them—I did.

Whether I meant to or not is irrelevant. The only response to anyone who claims they have been offended is, “I’m sorry. And now that I understand your heart in this matter, I will be much more careful to be sensitive to your need.”

That’s it. Now—if you find that the offended person continues to be touchy, you have a second choice. Avoid him.

Some of my best friendships with folks have occurred as I’ve lessened my personal contact. It has sweetened the time we do have to be together, and it’s taught me that when I am around them that certain subjects are taboo. Yes, I’ve been shown it. People will show you where you have intruded into their person psyche.

If you’re going to become a person who discovers true righteousness, you will recognize the potential for both of these wrongs—one of them of your own making, which you need to own, and one that is the offense of others, which you are often shown.

You can’t find what’s right if you don’t understand the wrongs. Simply stated, it’s “I did it” and “I’m sorry I offended you.”

Anything else added onto these two phrases is not only useless and boring, but just continues to frustrate the situation with meaningless chatter. If you learn how to handle these two wrongs, you can create a right. So two wrongs can make a right. If you don’t, you will spend all of your time thinking up ways to defend yourself or excuse yourself—entirely too many hours discussing instead of living. It’s just not worth it for four-and-a-half seconds of prideful satisfaction.

So make up your mind. The two wrongs are inevitable because of our humanity. We will err and if we are willing to admit it quickly, it will pass just the same way. We will offend—and if we love people enough to allow them to have their own feelings without clearing them through us, we can apologize, learn and even avoid too much contact, which may cause further offense.

For after all, being a “good person” is not always agreeing with everybody else. Being a good person is taking honest self-assessment—and making sure you allow your neighbor the same courtesy as you grant yourself.

Published in: on August 28, 2011 at 10:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wrinkled Children

Wrinkled Children (1,251)

August 27th, 2011

Upon returning to my lodging last night after an absolutely delightful encounter with a smattering of folks at CountrysideCommunityUnitedMethodistChurch in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, I was greeted with a phone call. It was my son, Jerrod, from Miami, wanting to talk to me about an upcoming teaching he was going to be presenting to his twenty-something class at Christ the RockChurch. Jerrod is a dynamic gentleman with a great thirst for knowledge and sufficient ambition to have a mission to provide practical truth for some young folks who need it.

What did he desire from me? To be his fifty-nine-year-old dad who has traveled the country for forty years, singing and sharing, still possessing optimism and humor about life, while also stockpiling a treasure chest of knowledge and experience. What he did not need was for me to be tired, grumpy or dull—and he was hoping I would be aware enough of present-day society that my answers could be related to those students of the gospel he was about to encounter in his lesson format. I was happy to oblige.

Let me explain. When I get around three-year-old children, I have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to be—balls of energy with very little sense. If I expect less from them I am doggedly barking up the wrong tree. When I get around a sixteen-year-old, I fully understand that their interests lie somewhere among popularity, texting and raging sexual hormones. The possibility of deep discussions on the political environment in our world or a passage of scripture is unlikely. Likewise, when I get around people in their twenties, I am dealing with shell-shocked individuals who have discovered that being adult has more to do with paying monthly bills than pursuing life-long dreams. Likewise, young parents in their thirties are often convinced they invented procreation and are the first humans on earth to actually hatch a child, whom they must raise from the primordial ooze.

But when I get around people who are over fifty years of age, who have sprouted a few wrinkles, I do expect more. I think we have allowed our aging population to languish in a combination of perpetual adolescence and gnawing self-pity. At a point in our lives when we should be escaping the vanity of appearance, wearing our aging faces nobly and sporting a bit of humor about taking life too seriously, we instead seem to be nursing our wounds like a retreating army—en route to the infirmary instead of marching to the battlefield.

After all, there’s nothing worse than wrinkled children. As nasty and bratty as young folks can be, to add wrinkles to their faces makes it downright macabre.

While the church laments that the body of believers is growing older and grayer, I insist that without mobilizing this particular infantry of intellect, we have no way of motivating our younger folks to higher ideals.

Let me put it to you plainly—the baby boomers ended up having more baby in them than boom.

How unfortunate.

So if you happen to be over fifty years of age and have read to this point without becoming infuriated, let me make four suggestions on how to assist Planet Earth to achieve equilibrium instead of contributing to the general disarray:

1. Laugh at yourself. And again I say—laugh at yourself. Nothing is sexier and more attractive than someone who is fully aware of his or her limitations but has developed balanced thinking on those weaknesses, inserting good cheer from their hearts. Young people have too much angst. The fact of the matter is, if we’re going to have a lot of birthdays and high blood pressure, we should have the good sense to lower the other pressures.

2. Teach younger people that slowing down is not a matter of aging, but rather, an exercise in wisdom. Speed is the enemy of great decisions. “Fast” is what causes us to believe that we’re already smart—without the pursuit of outside sources of information. So make sure that when you choose to be slow, the end result is brilliance (and not forgetfulness.)

3. Offer your services to interact with young people. One of the best ways the church could flip our social structure and create newness of life is to have some hip sixty-year-old teach the teenage class and some emerging, brilliant twenty-year-old instruct the over-55’ers. It is this inter-mingling of generations that creates the awareness of what is necessary to produce human growth. Volunteer for the next pizza party at your youth group. Drop into a PTA meeting—even though you don’t have children. Force yourself to watch MTV or listen to the radio every once in a while. And stop being such a stick-in-the-mud. Lad Gaga is just this generation’s Madonna, who was a former generation’s Beatles, who was Elvis Presley before that and was embodied in Frank Sinatra in Great-Grandma’s time. All the parents hated all of them—which made the young people love them even more. Nothing scares a young human more than someone older who is hip to today’s culture. It stops them in their tracks.

4. And finally, admit to yourself that Christianity is a young movement, birthed by a young man named Jesus, whose disciples were probably all under the age of thirty—with a philosophy demanding the young mind-set of “loving your neighbor as yourself.” Nothing gives you the right to turn the gospel into a geriatric version. It is meant to be young and is for those who are still young in spirit and heart.

By the way, I finished my delightful conversation last night with my son feeling that there was no barrier between us, even though we are twenty-six years different in age. He reached into my world to be a little more astute because I reached into his world to be a bit more aware.

Beware wrinkled children—because they still pout, complain and are bratty—but are not nearly as cute.

Published in: on August 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Backwards or Forwards?

Backwards or Forwards? (1,250)

August 26th, 2011


It is fascinating to me that the word “progress” has gone from being a noble virtue, seemingly birthed in the notion of American quality, to a word viewed with mixed emotions—sometimes even with obtuse suspicion. Some people, it seems, don’t want progress because they would like to go backwards in time—to acquire a nostalgic sensation of simplicity. Other folks insist that the only way to gain progress is to move forward, accepting the daily “blue plate special” of new choices—whether we like them or not.

Honestly, I think progress has nothing to do with going backwards or forwards. It has to do with one simple word: excellence. I have found in my life that sometimes going backwards is an excellent choice. And certainly moving forward has had redeemable qualities as well. Progress, rather than being an issue of liberal and conservative, backwards or forwards, nostalgic or innovative, is actually an issue of finding excellence, and either returning to it or establishing it.

Now, “excellence” is so poorly-comprehended that to simply state that “we need to have it” is to baffle human existence into total bewilderment. What is excellence? What actually does move human beings up the ladder from the monkeys? What is true progress?

Stop pouting.

Really—it’s that simple. Pouting is the water that douses the fires of human energy. It three main forms: (1) “I was surprised that things turned out the way they did.” (2) “It’s not fair.” (3) “With God as my witness, that will never happen again.”

If you find yourself uttering any of these phrases, you are literally spitting into the wind of life as we know it on this planet called earth. To say that we’re “surprised” is to admit that we expected something as opposed to anticipating all the potential realities. Now, there may be a scenario we might not be able to think of, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the other fifteen. To proclaim that something is “not fair” is to put forth the theory that Mother Nature has favorites or, on the other hand, that God thinks you’re “the cutest on the block.” Not so. There is a system in place. Learn it or be burned by it. And finally, to have the audacity to insist that our frailty is a one-time event is to invite the cursing cousins of difficulty to come our way just to mock us.

Excellence is achieved by human beings when they cease to pout about inevitable conditions and begin to anticipate possibilities instead of expecting results.

They stop decrying the ways of God and nature as mean-spirited and humbly admit they have a weakness in a particular area—and with cautious optimism, proceed to try to do it better. I see no difference between liberals and conservatives in their productivity. Conservatives pout because “life is going to hell in a hand basket” and liberals pout over how slowly change is being made in our society. Pouters always fail—because they are busy licking their wounds when the next opportunity presents itself.

Progress is not decided by going backwards or forwards. Progress comes from knowing that three things will never change:

1. Free will. Anything you do to stand in the way of human free will is a futile task, and you will find yourself fighting the heavens.

2. Nature will have its way. If it’s happened before it will happen again, and the only thing you can do is prepare for it.

3. God doesn’t have favorites. The Bible makes it clear that God looks on the heart. His Spirit moves towards those who have emotional clarity and cleanness—because they’re not pouting about their paltry portion.

When you remove all the dialogue about backwards and forwards, conservative and liberal, or evil and good, what you end up with is the pursuit of excellence. That particular quest is achieved by those who decide to refrain from pouting—because just like little children, when we pout, God has only three choices—give us a time out, ignore us or spank us.

Published in: on August 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Roam-mantic (1,249)

August 25th, 2011

“You ask me if there’ll come a time when I won’t require you…”

Lyrics from The Association.

I woke this morning to the fifty-ninth birthday of my wife of forty-one years, Elizabeth Gill Ristine. Most folks know her as “Dollie,” which was the handle given by her father early on in describing her appearance—at least through his eyes. It is on occasions of birthdays and anniversaries that we contemplate the height and depth of our appreciation of another person. The two common words that come to mind during these times are “need” and “want.” In other words: I need you. I want you.

Candidly, after forty-one years of relationship, need is just flat-out too needy. If you really believe that someone is necessary to make your life complete, then the brief moments when you celebrate that lack which is fulfilled in their presence is overwhelmed by the number of times that you resent being so dependent. Neediness is never sexy. Neediness is never particularly intelligent. Neediness is not sufficient to maintain the integrity of a daily, ongoing friendship with someone you plan on being with for a long time.

On the other hand, wanting someone is a spark—a breeze that blows across your bow to temporarily fill your sails with the wind of eroticism. Passion is wonderful. Without it, the human race would probably never procreate. But honestly, no one always wants to be with someone else. Not only is that philosophy unrealistic, but if we begin to believe that the absence of “want” is the presence of “dislike,” we soon will separate.

So as I look at my forty-one-year journey with Elizabeth Gill Ristine, I realize that it truly revolves around the word “require.” Because the minute we fail to put ourselves in a vulnerable position, launching on a roam-mantic journey to view life together, we cease to feel the responsibility to require one another in order to generate the energy to propel our talents and abilities.

Honestly, when Elizabeth and I were not working together—requiring one another’s efforts to bring about a common good—we naturally drifted apart. At that point you begin to wonder if you even like each other. Foolish.

When we got together in the fall of 1970, it was “us against the world.” Nobody thought we had a chance. Her parents were against us and my mother was very willing to join their mood. The town gossips were weighing in on their particular rendition of our story and we became alienated from the community that had given us birth and residence. We required each other—for sustenance, faith, talent and direction.

Over the years at various times, that requirement has waned. But when all of our children grew up, we sold our house and set out to roam across America, to once again find the true state of being roam-mantic—requiring one another. She schedules me, runs errands, helps tear down my equipment, and I go do the bookings that she has provided, trying to turn them into blessing and benefit. It has re-kindled a deeper interest in one another. It has also lit some fiery arguments. Because you see, requiring one another does ignite the flames of frustration and concern.

But I can tell you that on this fifty-ninth birthday, she is required. It is not as sappy as being “needed” nor as fleeting as being “wanted.” It is required—included while also factoring in just enough dependence to keep it precarious and nerve-wracking. It is open to the potential of sharing a common victory—and defeat. Most marriages fail because the romance that launched them turns into the finance and boredom which sinks them.

If you want to be successful in a relationship, you must require one another. You must make sure that whatever project or potential you are pursuing has as much equality of danger and responsibility for both of you as humanly possible. The myth of the bread-winner is the destruction of blissful male and female interaction. For after all, in the Garden of Eden, Adam did not till the ground while Eve cooked the meals. They did all the work together.

Work together to get the bread. The more often you succeed in doing this, the more positive your results will be.

So I say “happy birthday” to a woman I’ve been with for forty-one years, yet in this last passage of the twelve months, she has once again joined me in a “roam-mantic” odyssey—to live out the original dream of that young, teen-aged 1970s couple who made a stand against their world.

“You ask me if there’ll come a time when I won’t require you …

Never, my love.”

Published in: on August 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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