comments offered on my parents 50th wedding anniversary

So I didn’t realize that I was going to have to make a speech during today’s festivities. It was actually on thursday that I said to my parents – so what’s the program for the open house on Saturday. My mom said, well there will be this and that, and then you’ll make a speech. And I said: “What, a speech? When was that decided?” My mom replied that it was decided at the family meeting back in February.

In our family, we didn’t usually have family meetings – until February of this year. At that February meeting we talked about this celebration of my parents’ 50th anniversary. It was so official that there were even minutes taken. So I went back and checked my email and the minutes from the meeting. Becky took the minutes, so I couldn’t complain about them. And there it was, in black and white: “Roland – Speech”. So, here we go – and just a warning, I’m a preacher – and that will be obvious here…

IMG_0019As I thought about mom and dad’s 50 years together – and about what I might say this afternoon – I first came around to that rather commonplace realization that we live in the rhythms of time. The only life we have as individuals is life in a particular span of years. The only life we have with others is in a particular span of time – whether it’s days we have with them or months or years or decades. So we live in this present moment with all of its possibilities and its decisions and its challenges. We look back on a past that has shaped us and has made us who we are. We look forward to a future that is, in a fundamental sense, unknown to us. To be human is to have our life in time.

Of course not every human culture has accepted our temporal existence as good news. Some cultures and religions have seen our life in time as constraint and limitation and restriction – those culture and religions have aspired to an escape from time – into the eternal – into a place away from the waiting and the growing and the persevering and the struggling that are a necessary part of life in time. Continue reading

toxin or tonic?

The spoken word – what can it accomplish? 

With the spoken word we can call the children in late in the afternoon” “Suppertime – put your bikes away in the garage.”

With the spoken word we can we can explain a problem to the plumber: “Well, when I drain the kitchen sink, water comes up in the bathroom sink.”

With the spoken word we are able to teach a class of history students: “During the war of 1812, British forces burned down the White House in Washington D.C.”

With the spoken word we can communicate information in a pretty straightforward way. Of course there’s a lot happening in the background as we speak – in some ways speaking is hardly a straightforward thing. In the background our minds are composing sentences according to grammatical rules – then breath passes over vocal cords and past the tongue, with sound waves emanating from our mouths. We don’t pay much attention to the mechanics or neurology of the thing – we just speak. Day in and day out we speak to our kids, or to the plumber or to a classroom full of students – often just communicating basic, non-controversial stuff. Continue reading