Archive for June, 2021

June 17, 2021

Did you know my dad?

by Rod Smith

Did you know my dad? He owned the tearoom near the top of Blackburn Road next to the Dutch Reformed Church, up the road from Parkhill soccer club. You may or not have known him by name but you may have been a woman in need of milk for her baby. He would have given it to you under the counter as if defying the boss which was, of course, himself. When you tried to pay he may have whispered “take the milk my dear. No baby should go without food. Keep your money for something else the baby needs.” Or, you may have wandered into the shop and said you had no place to stay for a while and he may have said “we have plenty of room here” and given you a bed for a week, a month, even longer. Perhaps you knew him because you faced addiction to alcohol and he was your Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and he said “just for today” to you and told you he’d decided he’d no longer drink “just for today” until his pledge spanned decades of sobriety. Did you know my dad? You may not have known him by name but perhaps you went to his tearoom where he served bread, milk, kindness and good humor and wrapped the goods with the feeling that you were known, that you belonged.

June 15, 2021

Day 3

by Rod Smith

I will resist the appealing urge to mind the business of others, to spread gossip, subtle or gross, and to take on burdens that have already proven too much for people more equipped, wiser, stronger than I.

June 15, 2021

Father’s Day Gifts?

by Rod Smith

Your dad, on Father’s Day, probably wants very little from you. It’s likely he will be satisfied with a simple card, a brief note, and the words “thank you, I love you.”

The real gift you’re offering to your dad on Father’s Day is if you are living well, loving deeply, using your skills, your talents for the good of all.

That’s the gift he’s really looking for.

He’s not looking for you to give him something; he wants you to give the world something.

Offer the world about you your integrity, and you’re giving your dad a gift. Give to the poor, the lonely, comfort the mourning, put your arm over the shoulder of your own son or daughter, and you’re giving your dad an invaluable gift.

Your dad is probably not looking for what you can do for him; he’s looking at how you’re living amongst others.

That’s the real gift for Father’s Day. It’s not the cufflinks, or the new tie, or another pair of comfortable socks, as wonderful as those things might be.

Your dad is looking for how you are living your life to its full potential.

That’s the gift he really wants.

June 14, 2021

Tuesday

by Rod Smith

Day 2: I will show up but not at the expense of others. I will speak up but not silence others. I will stand up but not if it means pushing others over. There’s room and space and roles for us all. I’m designed for hard work. I will do my part.

June 14, 2021

Monday

by Rod Smith

Day 1: I am loved and capable of love. I have enough of everything I need. Generosity is in my design. I will offer grace and space to others and return to no one evil for evil. I will share even when others may want to take and dominate.

June 12, 2021

How to know you’re growing

by Rod Smith

How to know you’re growing: Old hurts, painful memories, become less powerful in their capacity to shape your life. Some members of your family say you are meddling, others call you selfish, when all you want is to occupy the driver’s seat of your life. As you have assumed appropriate responsibility for yourself you’ve experienced deeper connection with others but now it’s by choice, not obligation or guilt. You have new insights into what you can and cannot control, can and cannot change. To your surprise you have stopped thinking, feeling, speaking on behalf of other adults, all of whom do not need your help to accomplish these fundamental adult human callings. You resist the urge to tell others what they need, should or must do, think or believe. You are learning to stop asking questions of others, even of God, that you have not diligently first tried to answer. The difference between “I” and “we” and the appropriate use of each is getting clearer and clearer. You are undergoing a renaissance and you are almost fearful at the prospect of discovering the truth of what it means to be wonderfully made. Insights into who you are created to be fill you with feelings of wonder and humility.

June 10, 2021

Fundamentals

by Rod Smith

I can tell from my mail that it’s time to go back to fundamentals

  • Love and control cannot coexist in the same relationship. It’s one or the other. Choose.
  • Forgiveness is not for the other, the offender, the one who has done the hurting. It is for the one who is forgiving. Resentment and bitterness hurt the person offering them hospitality.
  • All behavior has meaning. Hurt people hurt people. There are reasons people are unkind. This does not mean you have to put up with it. It does mean that you can have some understanding and appreciate that the person who goes about hurting others is probably in greater pain than he or she is able to inflict.
  • Listening to others, hearing their stories, is usually a good idea. This is especially so if you regard others as having something valuable to teach you.
  • Important or necessary conversations between (and among) people only “take” or “work” if all parties are ready for the conversation. People are really good at looking like they are listening, even agreeing. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are being heard. Physical presence is no assurance that someone is listening.
  • If a relationship is void of respect, equality and mutuality, it is not worth pursuing. Not now, not ever.
June 9, 2021

Friends

by Rod Smith

“With him, life was routine: without him life was unbearable,” says preteen Jean Louise Finch or “Scout” in Harper Lee’s novel “To kill a Mockingbird.” Scout is describing her crush on Dill, a boy around her own age. Dill visits for summers and over several summers they form a beautiful, unusual friendship that is severely tested by unfolding events involving the Finch family.

I love Scout’s simple description of love and friendship. I share my life with several people with whom life is routine. There’s no performance required. There’s no list of unmet expectations. There’s no need to be on duty, to walk on proverbial egg-shells.

With such people I can just go about my business with them by my side, or not. Day-to-day routines gather meaning, gather greater meaning, because they are done for and often with someone who appreciates them no matter how routine the acts may be. “Friend,” I believe, is the greatest title we can offer another and the greatest role we can occupy for another. When we’re somebody’s friend we’re offering the highest privilege we can offer with our lives. May your life be filled with people with whom life is “routine.”

June 8, 2021

Acts of Love

by Rod Smith

I thought I knew what love looked like and then I saw a man’s daughters come home and, with their mother, nurse him back to health after COVID, commuting between their own families and their dad, helping him every step of the way. 

I thought I knew what love looked like and then I met a woman whose husband had, knowing he would precede his wife in death, prepared their home, doing all sorts of repairs and updates, so the house would be perfect for her for many years after his death. 

I thought I knew what community support looked like and understood it a little better when I found out that an entire town lined the streets to welcome a child back home after heart surgery. 

I thought I knew what love looked like and then I met a man who spent up to 12 hours a day nursing and feeding and caring for his wife who hadn’t recognized him for years. 

I thought I knew what love looked like and then I met siblings, one who needed a kidney and one who willingly gave so the other might live. 

What acts of great love have you seen? I’d love to know.

June 2, 2021

Painful lunch on Memorial Day

by Rod Smith

Monday was Memorial Day, a USA public holiday to recognize men and women who have lost their lives in any of many wars. There are small-town patriotic parades and, in our part of the world, it’s when the Indianapolis 500 is held.

Memorial weekend is a family weekend marking the onset of summer. Public swimming pools open for the first time in at least 6 months and there’s a general air of relaxed, patriotic celebration.

My sons and I did not have a good Memorial Day.  

To get the family together Nate (19) and I drove the hour into Indianapolis to take my other son (23) out for lunch.

I was already in a poor mood and when “the boys” began to somewhat playfully harass each other I lashed out.

Things rapidly deteriorated. Nate buried himself in his phone and shut us out. The older son went into rescue mode, trying hard to drag his family into a good time.

I immediately felt full of parent failure, and, after a period of retreating, went into verbal attack mode.

Things settled quickly once Nate and I got home. The older son has called several times.

He’s back to his old self,

I do wish I had handled myself better on Monday at lunch.

How was your weekend?