Monday, November 29, 2010

Forgiveness and Grace

If you have ever wondered about the difference between forgiveness and grace join a golf league or group.

Earlier this year we went out to play golf. There were only six of us. I had the pleasure of playing golf with Dan and Earl. Both are really great guys. Dan is in his late 60’s, Earl in his late 70’s. Both of these men have a great sense of humor which just adds to the game.

On the third hole, a par 5, Earl was getting ready to tee off. Dan and I were behind him and to his right. A tree, which I have never seen anyone hit, was twenty feet in front of him to his left. Earl took a good swing and the ball hit that tree dead center. We heard the ‘whack’ as the ball hit the tree and started its return voyage. Then we saw the ball pass in front of Earl’s face, right at eye level. It probably missed him by a good two feet but at that moment in time it looked like a matter of inches. Dan and I both ducked and the ball passed over our heads.

Earl spun around and looked at us. Then in a somewhat rattled voice he said, “Am I the only one who peed his pants?”

Dan immediately responded, “I did something in my pants.”

Me? I was still praying, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.”

We continued play but Dan and I were both keeping on a serious eye on Earl. Somewhere along the way Dan sent a text message to a person in the group ahead of us about what happened.

Finishing our round we walked into the clubhouse to join the other threesome for lunch. Mike was staring at his menu when we walked in. He looked up, made eye contact with Earl and said, “So, how was your game, Killer?” I’ve played golf with Earl a few times and to his credit I have never heard him cuss. True to form, he didn’t today either. But, he did take off his hat and throw it on the floor while saying, “So, how did you hear about that already?”

Staring at the menu Mike said, “They have been posting where you were on all the pace of play clocks on the course.”

Now Earl was mad. He picked up his hat while stuttering, “That’s not right! That is just not right!”

Mike kept staring at the menu and said, “Maybe so but the last pace of play clock I saw said ‘Resume play. Earl is off the course heading to the club house’”.

Earl turned white then everyone started laughing.

So, what’s the difference between forgiveness and grace? No one in a golf group will grant you forgiveness. For weeks anyone who played with Earl was asked if they would like a hardhat or if they had their life insurance paid up, of course, Earl was always in hearing distance. He also sported the nick name ‘head hunter’ for about a month. There is no forgiveness in golf. But grace does abound and it did the day Dan, Earl, and I played golf and the above incident took place -Earl picked up the lunch tab for Dan and I.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sunday Funnies

Following the sermon the Pastor was standing in the foyer greeting the parishioners when a little boy ran up to him yelling, “I lost my dad! I lost my dad!”

Trying to help the Pastor said, “Calm down son. What’s your Dad like?”

“Beer and women," the little boy replied.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Topics of Conversation

Yesterday I attended my first old fogies’ luncheon. Quarterly everyone who has retired from the forest service is invited to the old fogies luncheon. It’s a time when we can visit with one another and get caught up on life’s happening. It’s an informal gathering. If you can make it fine, if not we’ll see you next time. Seven of us attended yesterday’s event. Attendance was down due to hunting season.

Looking around the table I had many thoughts running through my head. I had literally trusted some of these people with my life while on forest fires and they had trust me with theirs. We had gone through a lot of good times as well as survived the bad times together. All these people had helped me throughout my career. I hope I returned the favor.

Suddenly, I started to laugh.

I remember sitting around tables with these same people 25 to 35 years ago. We drank beers while telling forest fire fighting stories, talking about the issues with raising families, talking about weekend events, and complaining about crappy pay raises.

Yesterday, we sat around the table sipping on ice tea talking about insurance premiums, medicare, and the health benefits of fish oil.

Topics of conversation do change over the years.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sign Language

One of the many problems with technology is it has taken away from previous forms of communications. It is amazing how fast young people can text yet they are confused by common everyday hand gestures. The other day it became obvious this is a growing problem in our country.

I was sitting in the turn lane waiting for the light to change. I was the first one in line and there were three cars behind me waiting to turn onto a four lane street. I was driving slower than normal and using a great deal more caution. The light turned and slowly I made the turn. Suddenly the car behind me pulled up in the other lane and the teenage driver glared at me while throwing both his hands up in the air. Having master hand gestures years ago I knew the teenage kid was frustrated by how slow I turned the corner and his hand gesture meant, “What the heck old man, drive the car or get off the road.”

I looked at him and using my index finger (it’s important to restate it was my index finger) I pointed over my shoulder then turning my hand towards him I rolled it from the left to right several time. Making a gesture some people use when implying “so so’.

The teenager had a puzzled looked on his face so I did it again. Using my index finger I pointed behind me then rolled my hand side to side several times. I looked over and it was evident he had misinterpreted my gesture. He was looking in all his mirrors then over both his shoulders convinced I had seen a police officer. He slowed down, pulled in behind me and followed me for two miles until I had to turn. I’m sure he was convinced I had kept him from getting pulled over and perhaps even a ticket.

There was no police officer. My hand gesture simply meant, ‘In the back I have a crock pot full of soup I’m taking to the nursing home. I don’t want it to slosh around’.

Kids needs to spend more time learning hand gestures and less time texting.