I Cannot Compete with in iPhone

I cannot compete with an iPhone. 

I mean, I am funny sometimes, but I cannot pull up twenty comedians out of my vault, living and dead, and do their funniest gigs for you.  An iPhone can do that on YouTube for days.  Days. 

I enjoy talking — for awhile, but I can’t compete with chatrooms, tweets, and texting that go nonstop on every imaginable topic under the sun. 

I enjoy games on most days for a little while, but I cannot compete with people who will play Words With Friends all day, and all night, and on weekends, and with people I don’t even know. 

I know many constellations, but I can’t point my finger like I point my iPhone at any cluster and have it image the constellation, name it, and ask if I want to know more about it.

I know lots of people, but my Facebook keeps up with them to the minute round the clock and their newest images and comments and likes.  My Facebook is better at it than I am. 

I have used email from the days when it was on DOS (children, ask your parents or their parents) and now that is not enough if you can tweet and IM. 

So, let’s put the phones in a pile on the table.  First one to look at his or her phone picks up the tab for coffee or lunch. 

Let’s play like we are funny, without showing some $#$**# thing on the phone.  Let’s talk and look at each other and listen with our eyes and our ears as if there is more conversation in that interaction than in a text. 

Actually, I might just send you a letter and doodle in the margins, if you are really rich to me. 

You can’t compete with an iPhone, either.  Work at the old things, listening, talking, being there, taking time for a long, langorious conversation. 

— Don’t call.  I am out of reach for a day.  My phone needs extra time to charge. 

Continental and Service and Death

I noticed that Continental merged with another entity which caused me to wonder about one particular agent, and how she is faring. 

Twelve years ago she was the manager of Continental’s presence at Beaumont, Jefferson County Airport.  

And she was at the desk when I walked up and placed my ticket before her.  

Thirty minutes before I had knelt beside the bed of my father which we had set up in the living room.  For the last ten days my two sisters and I had ridden the roller coaster of emotions up and down, far and wide as my father was finishing his walk through this world.  

Each of us had last conversations with dad before he descended into unconsciousness.  I watched him a few nights before as he lay in bed, obviously walking through a room somewhere else pointing, gesturing, hugging not a few people — my older sister BJ and I rapt in attention.  Invisible to him where ever he was.  

And thirty minutes before placing my ticket before her I had prayed with dad, releasing him from duty, thanking him for courage, Christ, working it as well as he did for us.  And telling him he could go Home now.  Then I hugged my sisters, walked out to the car, and mom drove me to the airport.  It was Friday, and I would need to preach on Sunday.  

So this twenty something woman took my ticket as they called my name over the Public Address system.  I told her I was Tom Westbrook.  She quickly put a phone up for me and my younger sister, Mitzi, was on the other end weeping and telling me dad had passed.

i asked Mitzi, “How long ago did he die?”

While Mitz told me, “Five minutes after you prayed,” the Continental woman took back my ticket, and whispered, “Same flight tomorrow?”  

I nodded “yes” as Mitzi told me the particulars.  

My ticket slid back under my elbow of the hand holding the phone, and the Continental woman was sprinting out to catch the luggage cart before it got to the plane.  She wrestled my bag off in a heartbeat and lugged it back in and pushed it across to me —

All before my Mom walked up from hearing the page outside as she got back in her car after hugging me good bye.  She then hurried up to me to find out —

I was able to scoop up my ticket and bag and Mom while she wept and get her back to the car so we would be able sense Dad as he made a last pass by the airport he loved to fly out of so very, very much when he was at the controls.  But that is another story.

We held each other back at the house, called the funeral home and police and we knew all of them and they were so helpful.  

She was not there the next day.  When I walked up to the ticket counter and asked for her, she was off for the weekend, but they had her business card.  I had to settle for writing her story to Continental and insuring it went in her file.  

No one can train people that well, but one can be smart enough to hire that sort of soul and put her where she can serve other people with a genius and intuition so powerful, you feel as if God put that person in your path at your most vulnerable and broken moment — as a great kindness. 

I still have a soft spot for Continental and whoever they have become, and that would be called loyalty.  If only for one three minutes of service at a critical moment of my life.  

The flight out the next day was stunning as the sun broke through for the first time in days as we climbed out toward Daisetta Hull Omni radio beacon.  I knew that from flying with dad.  

I was on the flight because she was that fast and that good and that kind.  May we all be that for someone at some time when they need us to be so.  

Always Winter and Never Christmas

In the first installment of CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, one of the creatures suffering from the grip of forever winter from the witch who rules Narnia bemoans their reality, “It is always winter and never Christmas” here. 

First of all the quote is dead-on.  One might think, “It is always winter and never spring,” would be better.  Spring ends winter!  Ending winter is better than something nice, a small reprieve from the depths of winter, right?

Read the children’s book.  It is literate, wonderful fun, and should be read to someone before his or her bedtime.  Spoiler Alert.  In the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Father Christmas finally does come, spring and even more hope than that (Aslan is returning!) are on the way. 

Christmas comes in the shortest days, in the coldest months, ushering in a much deeper hope than warmer weather.  Christmas was when all of Heaven held its breath for the tiny child who must grow to die for our sins, and then return from the dead to certify what God was saying through Him. 

Always winter with no Christmas hope in the middle of it — bleak indeed.  I know no place where I desperately need hope than in the middle of life’s numbing cold or seemingly eternaly darkness. 

Which is why I ‘enjoyed’ Jon Wiese’s funeral this past Saturday.  I witnessed hundreds of people from both coasts and many states inbetween.  Past students had to be there in thanks for Jon’s investment in them.  His son and brother spoke for him, and cracked us up and made us cry. 

All on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, when we hold our breath after thanking God for dying for us in Christ, and waiting for Sunday morning, when we celebrate Christ’s rebirth from the dead. 

We live a lot of live on Saturday.  On Friday we trust that Christ wasn’t lying when He said He was God’s Son of Man or that he really forgave the people (me) for crucifying Him.  We thank God for dying for our sins, giving us a second chance, and extending us a love that is stronger than death. 

On Sunday, we pass from this world into the next, finally praying the Paul prayer, “I want to know You (God, Jesus) in the power of Your resurrection.”   That Sunday is when we finally, absolutely know. 

Until then, we spend a lot of Saturday(s) “in-between”.  We are in-between the great change that happened in us on Friday wherever we were, while we are not yet in that final, radical moment of dying and being translated into God’s presence.  

Saturday.  So now see Lewis’ metaphor another way.  Alwalys winter and never Christmas is the same thing as always Saturday, with no hope from Good Friday in my life, ambushing my pity parties, stopping my cratering, or vanquishing my depression.  Think about it.  When the first cool winds come, even before a tree has changed one leaf, children begin to look forward to — ta-da — Christmas. 

So is my hope on the long Saturday of my life, or sitting in the funeral for a great guy like Jon.  So is my hope every time a close friend passes through to Easter for himself or herself. 

So is my hope for you.