Monday, November 18, 2013

Gladys Kravitz and The Dueling Banjos

Several years ago I was riding with a state trooper to deliver an emergency message to a Family.   We were in the sticks. I mean we were well off the beaten path.  In fact it was a little eerie late at night.  I made the following comment to my 20 something trooper: "I can hear the dueling banjos in the background."  He just gave me a quizzical look...I told him to forget it. But I was clearly reminded that every generation shares its own experiences in the realm of pop culture. 

A few months ago I was assisting several young police officers at a location where an unexpected death had occurred.  We were attempting to be as discreet as possible in order to preserve the deceased persons dignity.  But as usual there were nosy onlookers. One neighbor in particular stood on the sidewalk two doors down and stared. I told the officers that I should pull away and go speak with Gladys Kravitz regarding her invasive neighborliness.  Their response:  "Oh, you know her?" I told them to forget it. And I was reminded once again that every generation shares its own experiences in the realm of pop culture. 

I think people of all ages can work well together. I think we can play and laugh together too. I even think we can worship together.  But it takes some effort. There is plenty of room for communication breakdowns.  Life experiences during the formative years is very different for each generation.  I want to learn about the life experiences from people significantly older and younger than me. I want to have good friends from every adult generation. 

Should I encourage my young trooper to watch Deliverance? Hmm...maybe not.  Should I describe the beloved Bewitched character known as Gladys Kravitz to them? Maybe so... Whatever I choose it will be a cross pop cultural experience. 
And furthermore there will no references to The Brady Bunch in subsequent conversations with 20 something's. I did not watch that show at 7:00 every Friday night. And I most certainly did not have a love interest in Marcia Brady.  Those experiences with pop culture can remain in 1972 as far as I am concerned.. I

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Storage Shed of Regret

Occasionally I will hear someone state that they have no regrets. I have even heard people facing death convey with conviction that have no regrets.  I have no doubts regarding their sincerity.  But I always walk away from those encounters scratching my head. I wonder what is wrong with me.

I do have regrets. When I was younger, arrogance coupled with a sharp tongue hurt people. It has only been in recent years that I have learned what it means to value relationships with family and friends alike. I would like to go back and raise my children again. I made quite an array of mistakes as a father. I am pretty eager to apologize to them at this stage in parenting. As I get older, my awareness of the accumulation of bad judgment calls grows.

I do have regrets. Why don't others?  The truth is: they had regrets too....How did their regrets get placed in the past tense? Something must have changed. Here is what happened.... Their disappointments in themselves were put in their proper place. They took their accumulation of bad judgment calls and locked it up in a storage shed of forgiveness. The shed can be likened to The Hotel California. The said accumulation can check in, but can never check out. Why do most of us fail to dump the junk from our past in that shed?

I do have regrets.  What is holding up my trip to the shed? I actually know what has happened. I have erroneously concluded on my dark days that forgiveness is for everyone but me. That is faulty thinking. It is scary. It is crippling.  And it does not help me to serve fellow travelers on their journey to release what has accumulated in their heart.

I do have regrets. But I am making regular trips to the shed these days. I affirm that those excursions are not made alone.  I believe an all powerful Creator and Sustainer continues to provide forgiveness. He locks the shed up and blocks access once we dump our junk.

One day I will tell someone that I have no regrets.  And they may very well scratch their head. They may wonder why they are dragging so much accumulated baggage. I will speak of The Hotel California...And they will look at me like I am crazy. I will still be as crazy as always, but I will have no regrets.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Sticker Says it All: Thank You Texas EMS

You are our chaplain. You serve our agency exclusively. In my early years as a law enforcement chaplain, that thought was never verbalized. But it was always an unspoken rule. I am so thankful I serve a community now where that mindset has never been implied. 

I officially serve the Granbury Police Department and The Texas Department of Public Safety. But over the years countless opportunities have arisen to serve The Hood County Sheriffs Office and The lake rangers affiliated with The Brazos River Authority.  Another interesting development has occurred during the course of the past couple of years. 

Several opportunities to partner serve medics with Texas EMS have arisen. I am learning about a new world. The challenges they face are unique to their particular calling. I had no clue what all was involved in their field. I have taken back by the mounds of paperwork they are required to maintain. 

New and exciting opportunities to serve open every day because there is a mentality of cooperation in the community I serve. It is not that we are not capable of being territorial. We can be in a heartbeat. And there is not an absence of conflict or huge egos. We struggle with both.  But nevertheless there all of the agencies play well together. 

Key leaders affiliated with the agencies I serve have set a tone of mutual respect and teamwork. I am grateful for each of them. This week that attitude was symbolized in a manner that will touch hearts for a long time. A sticker that was created as a visual memorial to Sgt. Lance McClean was placed on the back of every ambulance in use by Texas EMS.  When I saw the new decals placed on these vehicles, one thought came to mind. The sticker says it all...The placement of them on these emergency vehicles symbolizes the respect and love that all first responders in our county have for each other. 

You serve all agencies in this county...That has never been verbalized to me. But it has always been implied. I hope to learn more from my medics during the upcoming year. I continue to learn from those that play well together. As I spend more time with them, I will be reminded that the sticker says it all...

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Actually Went to Church...

Believe it or not I actually went to church yesterday. I should explain. I don't serve a hipster church. We have too many gray heads sitting out there on Sunday. And I don't serve a retiree church either. We have too many kids running around. We have representatives from all five adult generations.

I have police officers and convicted felons worshipping under one roof. Yesterday a young couple that recently married were sitting close to a man who recently lost his wife of 63 years. Our racial composition is diverse. We have people with such varied life stories...

Quite frankly our diversity can be messy at times. The expectations and needs of a 70 year old are different from that of a 25 year old. The worldview of a 60 year is not the same as a 20 year old college student. My older folks love traditional hymns and my 45 year olds would prefer something they heard on a contemporary Christian radio station. And the 20 something's might prefer a chant that a  monk wrote in the 4th century. There are days I would like to retreat to a monastery and hang out with some 21st century monks.

But yesterday was a notable exception. Yesterday we honored our veterans. All of our veterans... We asked them to stand, so we could acknowledge their service. I looked around and saw men that served in the jungles of Vietnam. And I saw others that predated the Vietnam era.  But there were two people in particular that caught my attention.

Larry is a World War II vet who rescued downed pilots out of the Pacific Ocean. His story is compelling. Sitting in the same section down from Larry was a young lady that just completed basic training in the United States Marine Corps. She is about 18 years old. She came to services in uniform yesterday.  She is scheduled to begin combat training in the next few days. Yesterday we were able to honor both of them, because we are diverse generationally.

I don't serve a hipster church. Larry uses a cane now. And somehow we are figuring out a way to serve young marines too.  It will continue to be messy at times. But I felt like I actually went to church yesterday, because church is supposed to be diverse. That is why I was actually able to go to church. It was the real thing.  As long as they keep a  bearded, graying guy around, I think I will keep coming to church.