Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the dentist

I went to the dentist this morning and had my teeth cleaned. I do that twice a year, although I have to be reminded and I don't really relish the visits.

There is something about going to the dentist that conjures up sounds of drills and threats of needles for novacaine. I suppose it is not insignificant that the rate of suicide amongst dentists is one of the highest amongst professionals. No one wants to pay that much for the pain they inflict (it really isn't that bad!) and we probably only visit when we are compelled by the undulating pain of a sore tooth that won't go away.

The dental hygenist I see is friendly and "chatty". It is obviously a one-way conversation because it is difficult to do much more than make gutteral sounds when there are cleaning utensils in your mouth. Still, she makes me confortable and extricates the unwanted contaminants from my mouth (I manage to produce a certain amount of plaque each visit) with a minimal amount of discomfort.

When she is done, she polishes my teeth and hands me a plastic bag of "goodies" including dental floss, a tooth brush of my own choosing (I always chose blue, reflective of my dental mood), and other "equipment" for insuring maximum dental care.

Today I also had x-rays and a visit with my dentist friend who reaffirmed the uncompleted work he wants to do that I have been avoiding. He reminds me of the discount he is offering me, the insurance monies I have yet to utilize this year, and smiles as he pushes me towards towards the one who schedules my next appointment.

What I took from the dental visit today--in addition to my "goody bag"--was the good news that my teeth are in great shape because I have been following the daily disciplines suggested, i.e. brushing my teeth, flossing, avoiding sugary drinks, etc.

There is much about the dental visit that seems similar to some of our spiritual disciplines.

1. They are painful.

2. They are costly.

3. They take time.

4. They demand a degree of consistency.

5. They are usually done where no one else can see us.

I confess that it is not always easy to get out of bed early every day, grab my coffee, and sit down to read my Bible. Praying coherently with my wife is also a challenge some days. Journaling about my life is another daily discipline I have chosen and there are days I cannot write a word willingly.

But, when I leave my place of study and prayer, and when I have finished my journaling--no matter how hard the task may have been--I almost always feel better...and "cleaner", because of my time with the Lord.

I am smiling today. My teeth are a bit brighter, my mouth feels clean, and I got a good report from the dentist.

And my insurance paid the bill! How can you beat that!

Friday, October 16, 2009

a wedding and a funeral

This week I have been balancing two very different events--a wedding and a funeral. The common denminator is that in both cases it involves people with whom I am intimately connected. As a result, there are alot of converging emotions to process as I prepare for both.

A wedding is a joyous event. Two people who love each other joined together for life. What a blessing!

A funeral is a joyous event. A believer and her Savior joined together for eternity. What a blessing!

I just realized that in this case--where believers are involved--these events are not that different. They are relationships built on mutual commitment to one another made to last forever.

I can celebrate both!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

wind and rain

It is a prematurely dark, cold and windy October day...welcome to fall ("hello, winter; I can see you peeking around the corner").

But I like it. I like the sound. I like the feel of the briskness. It signals the arrival of a new season. And I like the seasons.

My wife recently reminded me that in winter I cannot wait for it to be spring and in the spring I cannot wait for summer to arrive and in the summer I cannot wait for the fall and... you get the picture. It seems as if I am never satisfied.

But that is not totally true. I embrace every season when it arrives, though I like some better than the others. The crisp days of early summer and early fall are hard to beat and the red hot days of summer and blistery cold days of winter are not my favorites. But each season has its own charm and appeal, and I welcome them when they come...though I am ready for a new season when each has run its course.

There's a bit of real life in that scenario. Life certainly has its seasons--days that are crisp with excitement and anticipation and others that are hot with tension--others, cold with disappointment. But they are to be welcomed--all of them. James 1 says we are to "Consider it all joy...when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance..." When the season of testing comes we know that it brings with it something we need. The winter brings needed rain, the summer covers the earth with life-giving nurture and warmth and grows towards fall's harvest. What is produced is a good thing, just as our trials allow our endurance to be shaped and molded for the long haul.

I am buttoning uo my jacket and heading out with wind whistling at me. Rain is ready and eager to pelt my face with its cold moisture.

And I welcome it today.