Memorial stones

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College is a major life-changing, life-forming experience, especially if you go away to another area of the country and you live on campus. Your entire environment changes and you are living in a community where you have no history. No one knows anything about you. The Latin phrase, tabula rasa applies here. Your life becomes a clean slate upon which you can now write anything since you are among people with whom you have no history. And whatever is written on it going forward is new news. In such a situation you can become whatever you want, but, more often than not, because you are not consciously trying to be what you are not, you end up discovering who you are. This is why college is such a valuable experience of self-realization. It is truly starting your life over. It can be formative and exciting, but it can also be lonely and frightening.

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A whiter shade of truth

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This weekend, I will be returning to Wheaton College, a Christian college in Wheaton, Illinois, where 50 years ago I received my bachelor’s degree, and I will be celebrating that fact with a number of my classmates for our 50th reunion. It will obviously be a time of fun and nostalgia. It will be a time of shock to see how old everyone else has gotten (of course, not me). It will be a time to remember where I was when I made the decisions that have shaped my life ever since. (I took a number of midnight walks around that campus, thinking and praying, and trying to figure things out. There’s one place I want to go for sure and stand where I first felt the Holy Spirit alive in my life — the time I cried out for help because I thought I was losing my mind.)

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The Knight, the Princess, and the Dragon

“It takes a grown-up to look at the mirror directly and not run away screaming. The very point of maturity is to have no illusions about yourself.”

th_greenThe quote above is taken from the piece Marti wrote about Knights, Princesses and Dragons that I am asking you to take the time to read today by clicking on the link below.. I think you will enjoy it. You may also wonder about it. That’s okay; it’s supposed to make you wonder.

But mostly, it’s supposed to make you act, or possibly identify why you are not. Marti primarily wrote it for me. It came out of numerous attempts by me to try to explain what’s been going on lately and why we’ve missed Catches and weekend mailings to MemberPartners and PrayerPartners — things I would never imagine myself doing, yet I have done.

My attempts to explain this were full of platitudes, spiritual cliches, and making confessions without any evidence of change. If I were still writing in my pre-computer style of scribbling on a yellow legal pad, I would be surrounded by wads of crumpled up attempts to write something I could never send.

The dragons in this story all have the same last name: it’s Fear. Fear is my nemesis. Fear is debilitating. It can freeze you in your tracks. But it is also an illusion. Run away, and the fear only grows bigger. Run towards it and it diminishes. Illusions about fear need to be run through, illusions about self need to be faced as well, but in a different way.

“Maturity is to have no illusions about yourself,” Marti wrote. To have no illusions about myself is to embrace all of what I see in that mirror and not run away screaming, but face into each one, and by the power of God, do something about it.

In the final picture at the end of our story, a knight has just let an arrow fly at a massive, scaly dragon. The artist has painted the arrow in mid air. From the looks of it, the arrow is going to harmlessly glance off the dragon’s scales and he’s going to wonder what the heck that little tick was he might have felt. In reality, the little arrow is going to pierce him through, and not only will he fall, he will disappear, because dragons represent fear, and fear dissipates when you walk into it.

So enough said. Read on and let me know if this reaches you in any way. Does it help you? Does it hinder you? What else would you like to explore? And please forgive me for taking so long to get here, and for missing you along the way.

I have much to do today so I am moving on. I’m out to slay some dragons.

The Knight, The Princess, and The Dragon

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Pushing back the darkness

“The heroism is standing up to evil, standing up to darkness. We can’t just be bystanders, we need to be activists and get out there and be heroes. Light pushes away darkness.”       – Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Poway, California

In Marti’s story for Jocelyn, our granddaughter, The Pigeon and the Ruby Collar (see yesterday’s Catch), I can see myself repeatedly in the life of the young prince, and I find Marti often in the activities and the magic of the young princess.

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The Pigeon with the Ruby Collar

by Marti Fischer

As an expert on the human psyche, my wife has long held that the most popular and recurring fairy tales are universal statements of human interaction that mirror the roles common to all of us as human beings.

Fairy tales might have a purpose in entertaining the children, but they also hold deep insights into adults and their interactions with each other. The story of Peter Pan for instance holds enough psychological information about the male psyche to fill a bookcase with books. Not to mention as well the fertile ground of insights built into the characters of Wendy and Mrs. Darling in that same story. And you can do the same thing with the characters in the story of the original works of Cinderella, and, indeed, all fairy tales, because they have to be grounded in truth about the way we interact in the real world.

So today I want us to think about the universal story set in medieval times about the damsel in distress, trapped in the tower by a fire-breathing dragon, and waiting for her knight in shining armor on a white horse who will come to slay the dragon and rescue her.

For today’s Catch, we will look a different version of that story that will actually help us debunk some of it and come to some new conclusions. This is a lovely story written for our granddaughter Jocelyn Anne Fischer by Marti. So open up the pdf file, sit back and enjoy.

Jocelyn Anne’s story. Final copy 2 (1)

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What’s going on next door?

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In bringing about a community act of human love and compassion, we helped our neighbors take part in a genuine move of kindness that prevented the imminent homelessness of a single woman in our neighborhood.

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Hospital encounter

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I owe you a Catch.

Marti had a relapse yesterday and we ended up in the hospital last night armed with two pages of descriptions and drug recommendations from our daughter, who is an ER trauma doctor in Hawaii. It was great to be able to just say “here,” and hand them the papers whenever a new nurse or doctor questioned us about anything. We watched them smile as they read things like: “What I would do if you came to my ER (other than be excited that you were in Hawaii) …” Anne covered everything. It was as if they opened their mouth to ask Marti a question and closed it in the next second as they read the answer to the question Anne had already anticipated.

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Guaranteed gold

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Most of you know that Marti is, shall we say, “under the weather” right now. Yesterday I said she had a sinus infection; that was before the doctor said the more accurate diagnosis would be pneumonia. Last night she was feeling a lot better, however, but I now think that was more a factor of the medicine the doctor recommended that for some reason really kicked in around ten o’clock, than any vast improvement. The reason I know this is that she was actually excited about watching the end of an extra-inning Angels game versus the New York Yankees. When she wanted to know why they couldn’t put Mike Trout back up again instead of the lesser talented guy who was up there, I knew something was wrong. She was showering me with questions about what was happening on the field, and when I wanted to shut the game off after 13 innings she went, “Not on your life.” For someone who thinks watching baseball is like watching paint dry, this was surely suspicious behavior.

Unfortunately, her mind continued to keep her up all night long and she finally fell asleep this morning. My comment yesterday about slipping out Catches without her input was entirely facetious, and the only way I can get this one out to you without her OK is because she wrote it. It’s really directed at all of us about what it takes to get out of those comfort zones with which we seek to pamper ourselves.

by Marti Fischer

One of the more important messages for us today as believers can be found in the words of Jesus to the seven churches that take up the first few chapters of the book of Revelation. They are words of warning and instruction.

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