I have had a very busy week with work and only now can sit down to write an article for the weekly chaplain newsletter for which I have received many compliments. Drawing a blank, also called “writer’s block”, I thought to share a story I heard that a man related to his father. Here is how it goes.
It is the story of a man who spent most of his money on his drinking. His children started to dread their future economic situation so they planned an intervention. One night that he was drunk, they tied their father up, brought him to a cemetery and left him there on the ground. They were hoping that when he would wake up from his drunkenness, their father would be so scared that he would never drink again. Little did they expect that that very night a wine carriage passed though the cemetery. The wine merchant was attacked and as he hurried the horses forward, a wine barrel fell off, rolled toward the drunk tied up man, and landed beside him with the faucet right next to his mouth. The man thanked Providence and kept drinking right there in the cemetery.
In a letter to his father, the man commented on this story saying, "We see from this that Providence leads a person in the way he wants to go. "
I found it to be quite a statement. We may think that we are victims of our environment, of the influences that have surrounded us all our lives, but in reality, WE are the sum total of OUR own decisions. This should make us think about our personal situations. We really have made these choices and good or bad, we have to live with them.
There is another side to the coin in this story. The man wrote to his father, “If “Providence” leads a man in the way he wants to go when he wants to do something improper, it is all the more true when the person has a strong will to do what is good.”
Patrick G. Lumbroso
Estacada Rural Fire District No. 69
Station Phone: 503.630.7712
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I’m going to a party with friends tonight (03/21). It’s a party to celebrate the theme of the Book of Esther in the Bible.
The Book of Esther tells how over 2500 years ago, Haman, a Persian dignitary, tricked Ahasuerus, his Persian Emperor into making a decree to kill all the Jews. Little did Haman know that unbeknownst to the Emperor himself, his queen was a secret Jewess. Hidden not for long, because at an opportune time she exposed the perfidy of Haman, and so Ahasuerus who could not reverse a royal decree, gave permission to the Jews to defend themselves. Until this day, every year Jews worldwide celebrate this major victory over that threat of annihilation. How do they celebrate it?
For one thing the idea is to dress-up. Why dress-up? When we dress-up we conceal our identity and pretend to be someone or something else. Though she didn’t know it at the time, in order to save her people, Esther first hid her true identity from the Emperor. The name Esther is actually a hebrew/Aramaic word which means to “conceal.” Also, all throughout the Book of Esther, there is not one single mention of God. Everything seems to happen “coincidentally.” Coincidentally? Really? In my view, though God seems to often conceal Himself from us, boy is He ever so present to orchestrate things!
There is another Purim tradition among the Jewish people. It is to bake and eat a small 3-cornered jam filled cooky which is called :Hamantashen, which refers to “Haman’s ears.” One day a German soldier was taking an old rabbi to the firing squad. The old rabbi started to snicker. “You arhe co-eing to tdie soon. Vhy do you snikkerh!” “Well,” said the rabbi, “About 2500 years ago, not unlike your Fuhrer, another head of state decided that they were going to kill us all. Today we celebrate his demise by eating a little cookie called after his name. I was snickering because I was musing on how we will call the cookies we will eat after you; Adolphtashens?”
On another note, there a very eery event from the Nuremberg trials that relates the story of the hanging of Haman’s sons to the Nuremberg trials. Follow the link below if you want to know!
You have all probably heard about the “Gilets Jaunes” uprising in France. It all started because of ‘another’ tax---a tax concerning gas. From a protest about the new tax it developed into a an “everything-that’s-wrong-with-the government” protest. I have been following the whole thing on the news through the Internet but my recent trip to France allowed me to talk with some people about it. The crisis resulted in what they called in France, “Le grand Debat”, or The Great Discussion.” The government sent questionnaires to every town hall. People come, get a copy and answer the questions. This way they have a way of communicating their complaints to the government.
All problems between legislators and legislated seem to stem from the same issue: COMMUNICATION. We are reading a book in our Leadership Enhancement class at the station, The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink.
The last chapter we looked at (chapter 8) was very interesting. It was about the managers of a company not getting their field people to comply with certain company requirements such as the filling of paperwork, paperwork which could contribute to the company being more effective.
No matter what incentive they set out, nothing would work. The management was getting very frustrated and so were the people who felt they could never come up to the required standards. What to do?
Jocko went out to examine the problem in its usual methodical way. After talking with both sides, he realised that the problem stemmed from a breakdown of communication. They had communication, but it was more like people saying things and the other doing lip-service (or ear-service) of listening but not really assimilating information in a way that it affected policy changes.
After his discovery, Jocko acted as a communication bridge and everybody discovered things they didn’t know about each other. The field people discovered that compliance could increase their bottom-line, and the managers discovered that they needed to change some of their M.O. so the field people could comply.
Really in conclusion, in any association, society, family, group, troop, or any unit comprised of several people, it is amazing what a little honest communication can do!
Nature teaches us that while life and death may seem opposite and paradoxal, they work together as partners for the grand purpose of existence. Everything that exists does so because of something else that died in order to give it birth. For something to come to life something else must die. The Bible says it best when it quotes a very Jewish/talmudic understanding of resurrection saying,that, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (Joh 12:24)
I just spent the last two weeks in Paris, France caring for my dying father. When I arrived along with some of my siblings my father was still semi lucid , but his situation rapidly deteriorated. We knew that the end was imminent and it did come four days later on a late Saturday afternoon. We spent the few days that followed organising the funeral with the rest of the family before everybody had to go back where they came from, including me returning to Estacada, OR.
The passing of my father provided an occasion for the reunion of many people who hadn’t seen each other for a long time. My siblings and I, who hadn’t really communicated for decades spent many a long hour talking together, reminiscing, sharing notes and feelings about things. It was actually something beautiful and precious that wouldn’t have happened without my father, as the “grain of wheat,” fell into the earth and died.
It seems that through my father’s passing was born a whole new dimension of life that didn’t exist before, or if it did, it needed the fertilisation that only the death of a “grain of wheat” can bring. In a sense, what dies lives again in the things to which it gives life. A beautiful example of resurrection.
There are some other things that are common to life and death. They both come at God’s pleasure, they are messy, and the process, though bearing life, can be painful.
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"