Sunday, November 19, 2017


I was reminded of this post from 2008 and Mark Galli's book Beyond Smells and Bells the other day. I remember liking that book, and it's interesting that I/we are now part of a church body who participates in weekly communion, and with real wine and bread ("real" being an interesting term, given the nature here).

I had actually served as a pastor for many years before communion had any significance to me at all. I know, that seems weird. It probably is weird. However, it came to be quite meaningful to me. I think the change might have come when I started seeing the act of communion as a means of grace. I remember reading in one of Brian McLaren's books about how he offered communion to people who did not believe - perhaps as a way of opening themselves to God. That really struck me, and I started doing it in our church (allowing non-believers to participate). That seems so odd to me now - the thought that *I* would allow or deny someone to participate - but I really do think that was when my mind/heart started to see it differently.

Anyway, I am glad to be part of a group who makes no fuss about that. Why would we want to keep someone from experiencing Christ? That's sort of rhetorical, but not entirely. It reminds me of something Andrew Jones shared on Facebook yesterday upon hearing of former AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young's passing. He noted that a friend of his had actually become a Christian while working as a member of the road crew for AC/DC's 'Highway to Hell' tour. How splendidly ironic is that!?

So, here is the aforementioned post from 2008:
On pp. 51-52 of Mark Galli's Beyond Smells and Bells he first quotes Benedictine writer Jerry Driscoll:
The word 'mystery' preserves the tension between the concrete and the divine. Something is definitely present, but what is present exceeds and overflows the limits of the concrete, even if it is present only by means of it. This is mysterious, in a way unique to Christian understanding.

Yep, I agree. Just because all we see are bread and juice (in our case), for instance, doesn't mean that is all that's there.

Later on p. 52 Galli says...

A minister says words and performs actions, but at a deeper level, it is Christ who is presiding. We share in bread and wine, but the reality is that we are taking Christ into us. It looks like this is all occurring in time and space, when in fact the boundaries of time and space are being shattered, when for a few moments "heaven and earth are full of [God's] glory."

When all is said and done, though it may look like we've done nothing more than re-enact a routine religious meal, in fact, as the concluding prayer notes, something terribly significant has occurred: "You have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the sacrament of his body and blood."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Leave me alone

I've spent the bulk of the last two days doing things I really do not like doing, yet when I am done, I'm glad I did it. Change has taken place, and things are not like they were. So much of life seems to happen this way - tedious work leading to something new.

Of course I am talking about yard work and the annual Midwest tradition of raking leaves and preparing the lawn and house for winter.

We have some big old trees in our smallish yard, and they dump a seemingly endless flow of leaves in the neighborhood. I am not really a fan of trees - I worry about them falling on the house, their branches fall and need picked up, and the leaves.... ugh.... the leaves need raked out to the curb.

So I spent two days raking and blowing leaves (with an electric blower) out to the curb in front of our house. It's probably not that bad, and it's good work both for the body and soul, but I dread it so. Following the leaf removal I then mowed off dead flowers and plants and did one final mowing of the grass for 2017. Then comes running the mower out of gas for storage, covering the air conditioner and bbq grill, and placing the patio furniture under the eaves along the south side of the house.

I worked hard for those two days. I was covered in sweat under my clothes, dust and clippings on the outside. My arms, legs and back were sore. But when it was done.... When it was done there is something about the clean simple beauty of a fall-into-winter yard. For a brief few days it is my favorite time of year. While many like springtime, I have always been a fan of the cleanliness of fall.

Well, so there's that. Today it has been raining steadily with lightning and thunder for a seasonally strange Saturday. It is mid-day and it looks like night time. So I'm looking out the window feeling glad I did what I did Thursday and Friday. Tomorrow will be Sunday. Time passes...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Art in atlanta

I mentioned yesterday how we were privileged to visit the High Museum of Art in Atlanta this past weekend. I was always under the impression most art museums didn't allow visitors to take pictures, but they had signs all over giving permission. So I took a few.

 1. Farm Yard. The first painting I took a picture of was this dandy little number. The photo simply does not do justice to the stunning throw of light. It took my breath almost as soon as I set eyes on it.

2. Hail, Mary. Perhaps the one that touched my heart but then stimulated my brain the most was this painting by Merson. As the placard on the right says, "In this deceptively simple scene, a laborer hurries home from the fields, tipping his hat to a young mother he meets along the way. Only the painting's title tells us that the woman is the Virgin Mary, who appears not as a sculpture in a roadside shrine, but as a living person..." I was quite taken with the thought of that.

3. These six portraits of Native American leaders had such an interesting story and took up an entire wall. I stood and looked at these for some time, and came back later and looked again. To think of all that happened to them, and how little we know still.

4. This beauty of New Hampshire countryside was another example of how much more is captured on canvas than a computer screen. There's nothing particularly striking about the content, but the colors and details completely captivated my attention. My eyes were stuck here for a long while.

5. The Philosopher's Corner was a combination of painting and title being connected. It also seemed like it would be good to have hanging in an office or reading room someday.

6. Moonlight. This was another exceptional show of light work that simply cannot be copied and pasted onto a screen. I am tempted to say this was perhaps one of the more magnificent pieces but... what do I know?

7. The Harmony Chair didn't have quite the flair to it as the paintings, but it seemed appropriate and spoke to me still. The ugliness of the weaponry was quite offset by the practical use of a place to sit.

8. Untitled. This giant stainless steel masterpiece by Anish Kapoor sort of freaked me out but also left me mesmerized. Not only by all the reflections (yes, that's my face in it on the right), but how it could amplify and throw your voice! If you whispered while right in front, it could be heard clear across the room. It was amazing. Here is a little of the write-up from the website:
In his remarkable body of work Turner Prize-winning artist Anish Kapoor has combined art and science into a layered, multi-sensory experience for his audience. He employs a familiar form in Untitled—the concave dish—in order to create the uncanny sense of limitlessness through the myriad fractured reflections of the viewer in its surface and the astonishing acoustic effects that its concave form produces. The surface’s triangular patterning is a result of Kapoor’s interest in fractals, wherein multiples are equivalent to the whole. Kapoor’s work invites discovery and provides an endlessly engaging experience for its audience.
118 1/8 x 118 1/8 x 24 inches

9. Finally, the last piece is from the "Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design" exhibit that's just starting. There were a lot of these large info boards in addition to art and design. This one seemed particularly poignant at this time.

And there you have it, folks. I'm sure I missed a lot of beautiful art, neglected worthwhile work, and forgot about much more, but these were the highlights of my tour of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. If there was one thing I regretted not photographing it was some of the intricate woodworking on display from days gone by. Whether piano casings, cabinets, or what, it was amazing. I knew there was no way my phone pictures would do it justice though. So, this is it. A good time was had by me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Trip to atlanta

Jane and I made a visit to son Isaac and his bride in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend. We flew down, leaving on Friday and returning yesterday (Monday).

While there we visited the High Museum of Art in downtown Atlanta. I took several pictures which I will share later (I was surprised they actually encouraged picture-taking). Other than that we pretty much just lazed around their new digs, played cards (rummy), watched a movie, and made the mistake of going to a bar to watch the Falcons/Cowboys game (Cowboys got hammered). It was a nice time.

Our flights were all pretty good. We flew from Ft. Wayne to Chicago and then to Atlanta (reversing the order on the way home). Ft. Wayne to Chicago only takes 30 minutes of air time. We had a 3-hour layover on the way there, and it turned into something like 7 or 8 by the time it was done. The plane we were supposed to take from O'Hare to Atlanta had something wrong with the landing gear. They first tried to fix it but ended up having to get a different plane. I think we changed gates 4 times. We did make good time once we got going. I think we made it down there in 1 1/2 hours, instead of the usual 2. Coming home we had the same 3-hour layover in Chicago, but it went as planned.

Isaac and Ricci are now living in a different house than when we had visited before. They are house-sitting for some people for a year. It's a huge house, and nice, and they're living there rent-free, but I think the people kind of come and "visit" quite often (overnight). It's also a little farther from where they both work, but we enjoyed having our own bedroom and bathroom while visiting. There are actually 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, plus a full finished basement. It's a pretty nice house but maybe hasn't been kept up very well. It also includes an extra dog beside the 2 they already have. Olivia was very nice though.



Olivia - the 'other' dog
The High Museum of Art was very cool. I wouldn't classify myself as an "art lover," but I can appreciate some of it. I find it amazing how some paintings can really "speak" to me - sort of just stop me in my tracks. I also like how the longer you stand and look at a painting, the more you begin to see. Anyway, I enjoyed it and will share some of the pics I took in a separate post.

One night we did go to the basement and watch a movie - otherwise they do not watch TV. We watched The Meyerowitz Stories, with Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Dustin Hoffman. It was really good and I was particularly, and pleasantly, surprised by Sandler and Stiller. I'm not a huge fan of their comedy, but I thought they were outstanding in this drama.

So, that was about the extent of the visit. Fortunately Isaac was at a place in his studies where he didn't have any work to do over the weekend, and he was able to pick us up and return us to the airport for our flights. Ricci had some work to do Sunday, which she was able to do at a Decatur coffee shop while we watched the football game at a nearby bar.

Not sure when we will return for another visit, but glad we got to go this time.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Personal trainer certification

This week I started looking into becoming a certified personal trainer. There are a million ways/places to get certified, so I asked my boss if he had any suggestions. He said anymore you might as well just do it online, and he recommended five places in particular:
  • ACE - American Council on Exercise
  • AFAA - Athletics and Fitness Association of America
  • NASM - National Academy of Sports Medicine
  • ACSM - American College of Sports Medicine
  • NSCA - National Strength and Conditioning Association
I admit, sometimes I catch myself thinking, "Geez, Dan, here we go again. Spending a bundle of money on yet another rabbit trail that you won't do anything with." I mean, I'm 55 years old; when am I going to decide what I'm going to be when I grow up?!

On the other hand, maybe this is where life has been leading me all along. I posted this bit about being a 'wellness coach' back in 2015 - before I'd even thought about being a personal trainer. This might actually be the perfect fit with my life coaching, interest in meditation, yoga, spirituality,sports  and fitness.

From the little I've been able to glean so far it appears it will take anywhere from 3-6 months, and I will probably have to spend upwards of $500-$1000. That sounds like a lot of money, but if I could actually do something with it... Well, yeah, that will be the key.

While I do have my doubts about it, I also feel pretty good that I am still interested in learning and growing at this age. I also like the idea of working somewhat on my own. Since I already work for the Y, I wouldn't need to seek out clients necessarily, nor would I need to invest in my own gym. However, I always could do those things.

So... I don't know. It's something I'm thinking about.