Starting a New Streak…

Photo: Joestpierrephoto.com via Flickr

It’s now been more than two weeks since my everyday blogging streak ended. That didn’t take   long, did it? Time to start a new streak. Not because I have anything particularly interesting to say, and not because I have to follow some rule. But maybe it’s because when I was consciously writing something in this space every day, it gave a sense of purpose to the early mornings. It helped me feel more on-target. And I enjoyed the practice of writing.

Maybe the practice is the most important part.

Anyway, let’s begin again, shall we? A great place to start a new streak would be to unpack those links I began saving here in anticipation of having a daily store of prompts. In a way, the very collecting of the links for later reminds me of how some animals start hoarding food for the long winter ahead, as Bradley Birzer reminds us in this paean to October:

Understood properly, October purges us of our follies and reminds us that death hovers just in front of us. It reminds us that we always stand in time, but at the very edge of eternity. Sometimes, we peer over the edge into the abyss, and sometimes we glimpse the glories of the heavenly realm. But, we always stand on the precipice of eternity, moments and steps away from true reality. Any moment and any step can lead to eternal glory or eternal damnation.

Take a break, idiot.

I know the cure: work less! Take a break! Stop doing things and do even fewer things than you think you ought to! Take a week! Take two! Stop all forms of work, go exercise and write, go learn how to do something entirely else. But each time I forget my own advice until I’m at this point, where I am now: basically useless.

Who needs fairy tales? 

Don’t be fooled about who needs fairy tales: every adult who has forgotten what real things are like, who has been a tad snappish lately, who has felt faith slip. Every one of them needs fairy tales—I do, certainly.

Hobgoblins of the extreme left: On “climate change”, “racism”…the whole lot.

It’s all part of the rich comedy of American political life, to be sure, but when the media, instead of reporting on that comedy, lends itself to the propaganda effort of the state by exaggerating the dangers that only the state is supposed to be able to save us from, we are well on our way to a much more serious danger than anything that either the climate or viruses can throw at us: that of a tyrannical one-party state.

Seven fears that kill your joy.

Sunday Night Unwind, 10.02.22…

Welcome to the first Sunday Night Unwind in a looooooooooonnnnnnnng time! For both of you dear readers out there who may have forgotten, the Sunday Night Unwind used to be a regular feature in this space. It was usually tapped or scribbled out after our evening services at church (when those were a thing!) and usually included random lists o’ links.

This Sunday evening, I’m thinking of things that are neat about my perfectly imperfect, extraordinary ordinary life. In no particular order…

  • Turning 62. It’s not 39, but it’s not as bad as they’d have you to believe. Especially since a whole lot of folks don’t get to make it this far.
  • The lovely and gracious MrsCharphar.
  • The Boy and The Girl.
  • Grandsons.
  • And great-nephews.
  • My best and favorite big brother.
  • Homemade peanut butter.
  • Good coffee.
  • Darjeeling tea.
  • C.S. Lewis.
  • Pencils, pens, and good notebooks.
  • New friends from strangers.
  • Old friends who’ve stuck around.
  • Christmas music after Labor Day. Irish Christmas music, even!
  • October.
  • October baseball that matters.
  • Naps, planned and otherwise.
  • The uncanny ability God has to forgive even though I have the uncanny bent toward justifying my own sin and failure.
  • Clean cold water.
  • King of Pops orange cream.
  • Quiet afternoons.
  • Real books.
  • Birthday buddies, near and far, famous and not-so-much.

That’s only a smattering of October goodies for which I’m grateful on this first Sunday of my 62nd trip around the sun. Peace and to all a good night.

Oh is for October…

OK, OK…I celebrated too much today to put a whole lot of thought into posting. But lucky for me, I had already dropped a couple of links into the editor. So here’s to keeping the streak alive.

And thanks to my favorite big brother for a good birthday!

Under the wire, and on track.

 

Friday Free for All…

Happy Friday, y’all! And happy October Eve. Some of you may be getting back on track after a hurricane, and some of you may be hunkering down, waiting for it to hit land again. Either way, if that’s you, prayers going up for you right now.

Let’s dive into the Friday Free for All, shall we? Here’s a couple of things I found on the way to somewhere else this week…

  • We learned from the erudite ornithologist, Barney Fife, that songbirds speak their own language and that their songs are really intricate communication tools. Did you know woodpeckers drum to their own song? The incessant hammering on the side of my house? It’s not just random banging away, looking for insects or whatever.
  • It’s no secret to the both of you that I’m right in the middle of a C.S. Lewis jag. So I’m noticing stuff about Jack all over the place. Hillsdale College is offering a free course about C.S. Lewis. It’s online and it’s free. You can’t beat free, right?
  • Did you ever want to do something, wish you could do something…but struggle to move into action? Leo Baubata gives us some tips on moving from desire to action.
  • Don’t worry, be happy? No, don’t worry…be thankful!
  • Finally, with National  Coffee Day yesterday, and International Coffee Day tomorrow, Lifehacker asks, “How Many Cups of Coffee You Should Drink Per Day, According to ‘Science’?” The real answer, of course, is four! Why four? Because four cups of coffee is an effective vaccine against Ebola and Covid-19. How do I know that? Because for as long as I can remember, I’ve averaged four cups of coffee per day, and there was no Ebola in sight back  in the day. The same has held true in the age of Covid, so far, at least. “Science” has the answer for every important question, right?

Happy weekend. Do something fun!

 

Thursday Is for Thinking…

Hello, Thursday! And hello to all of my devoted readers out there—all both of you!

Somebody said today is National Coffee Day. Now that’s one of those made up holidays I can get behind! Oh, and the International celebration is only two days away. What a coincidence for your humble writer! But, alas…I digress. A day set aside to honor coffee and those who love it is like a day set aside to honor…well…breathing! Might as well go ahead and call it Thursday. For the record, I’m starting the celebration off with a large mug of locally-roasted, locally-purchased Organic Whirling Dervish from Dancing Goats Coffee.

But, now, on to why you came today…

  • Most of us, myself included, probably yap a whole lot more than we should about all kinds of stuff. Sometimes I think the best course would be to just shut up. Maybe  listen a little bit more. Maybe ponder a bit more. Maybe think on some things. Here are 115 pretty good quotes about silence to help us do just that.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately. (See a couple of recent posts for reference.) I continue to believe we are created for community, and to neglect community is to deny and deprive ourselves of an essential part that makes us truly human. One of my daily follows  in my Reeder feed is Greg Morris. I think he’s a Brit, but we won’t hold that against him. Here’s his recent post on Being Lonely.
  • Speaking of coffee, sometimes you just need a good vessel to keep your good coffee hot and available. I used to have a no-name bullet thermos that kept my coffee hot (not just warm!) for a couple of days. But it bit the dust a long time ago and I don’t even remember where I got it. But have no fear: Bean Ground reviews some of the best Thermoses available today.
  • If you use and love all things Mac, you’re probably familiar with the great David Sparks, AKA MacSparky. I discovered his excellent Mac Power Users podcast when we made the switch to Apple machines almost ten years ago. Anyway, I don’t think it’s overstating to say that Mr. Sparks is a pretty influential voice in the Apple environment. How influential? Well, the Original Mac Guy pointed to MacSparky’s One Question that changed his morning journaling routine for the better. I think it’s worth including if you have a daily routine. Maybe we should start one?
  • Finally this morning, as a person of faith, I look around at our culture and think we’re done. Finished. Over. Beyond hope. But then I remember the Lord is still the Lord and He is still in business. Stephen McAlpine reminds us today that Jesus is still at work even in a secular age.

Thanks for stopping by today. Here’s hoping your Thursday is filled up with good books, good work, good coffee, and good friends. See you tomorrow!

My Friend Tina and a Couple of Other Assorted Things…

The best part about today, by far, was hanging out a bit with my pal, Tina at the Y. She’s one of the most interesting people I know, and I totally mean that in a great way! We talked about grandkids and books and art and artists and artistic bypasses at birth (mine!) and vacations and soccer matches and the Golden Mean and the patterns in the windows and typography and…well…you get the idea! We share a love of great books. I adore her family. And she’s one of the most winsome and caring people in the world. She always goes out of her way to encourage someone and to point them toward the grace of God. She’s immensely creative, talented, and skilled. And any day I get to see her is a pretty awesome day in my book.

The dark and early predawn jaunt was powered by Jonathan Rogers’s podcast The Habit. It’s a podcast about writers and writing. This week’s guest was Katelyn Beaty, who was talking about celebrity and fame. The conversation focused on how we really need to be a part of an “embodied community,” not chasers of celebrity. At one point, the host recommended an essay called “Nebraska,” and he said something like, “In this small town in Nebraska, everyone is known and necessary.” That line resonated with me today, since I’ve been pondering what it means to be a part of a community.

I gave away a book today. One of my other buddies at the Y, whom I’ll call “Lloyd,” because his name is actually Lloyd, saw my copy of The Magician’s Nephew by my computer. he picked it up and we had a conversation about C.S. Lewis. Lloyd said he’s never read Mere Christianity, and that maybe he should get a copy and read it. I reached into my bag, pulled out my tattered and dog-eared copy (circa 1979) and handed it to him. “You don’t have any excuse now,” I said. “Here’s a copy right here.”

The last several days at work have felt a lot like drawing up an empty bucket from a well. I keep putting it down and pulling it up but there’s never anything in the bucket. I know in my head and in my heart I need to refill and recharge. But knowing it and doing it are two different things entirely.

Finally, I’ve shared my love of pencils in this space on more than one occasion. I’m fond right now of the Tennessee Red Cedars from Musgrave Pencils. The aroma of Tennessee cedar, freshly sharpened, is a delight. But today, I pondered this: Without sharpening, a pencil is a stick. To use it, it has to be subjected to the sharpener. That sculpting away of wood and creation of a fine graphite point transforms the stick into a beautiful, elegant, and useful tool. Used in the right hands, that tool produces beauty and inspiration and encouragement in turn. But it has to be sharpened first. Oh, and that glorious cedar aroma? It goes away when the pencil grows dull. Resharpening it disturbs the surface and the core, and produces an essence that is unmatched. That essence infuses everything it touches. And I’m certain there is something to be learned from that in our everyday walk with God in this place He’s put us.

Here endeth the lesson.