April 23, 2020
Ever since I retired, I try to start my day with a routine. I used to get up and have breakfast, but Melissa and I have been practicing a daily sixteen hour fast since last October. I’m not sure if it has done anything for my diet but it is a good mental discipline. Instead of eating I get up, go outside, and retrieve the newspaper and the mail. Then I go through the mail (mostly junk and bills) and sit down to read my paper. Actually, reading the paper is just a prelude to what I really want to do. The last pages of the paper contain the comics and Dear Abby and then finally the crossword puzzle. I have become good at doing the crossword. I started completing crosswords to keep my mind sharp. At first, I prided myself on how fast I could complete a puzzle. Then I realized I was not getting smarter; I was just learning how to do crosswords.
As I read the comic pages today one of the strips, “Grand Ave”, hit a note. Today’s strip is about a conversation between the boy and his mother. “Check out these cool books I found in the basement. They’re called ‘Encyclopedias.’ You can search them for all sorts of useful information. So a book publisher has started copying internet search engines? Something like that.” This strip brought back memories of the encyclopedias we had when I was a child. I am sure they were not cheap, and money was not something to spend frivolously in my family, but they were an essential item for us kids. I recall many hours poring over the information these books contained. Maybe we just had them so dad did not have to answer questions. After all, whenever I asked, his first response was, “Look it up.” This was a parenting skill I passed on to my own son.
When I started preaching in the 1970’s a retired friend of mine gave me her set of Interpreter’s Bible commentaries. I took notes from these books and used them every Sunday to prepare my sermons. After I graduated from seminary, I started using study bibles to do the same thing. Taking notes is second nature for me after having spent so many years in school. I find it helps me remember. Once I had the notes, I did not want to throw them away, so I put them in a notebook. Over the years this notebook became the eight volumes that now sit on my shelf. They are my go-to when I prepare on Sunday night for next week’s sermon. If I am preaching on a new text, I again go to my commentaries and take new notes. I do admit, now I also go to the internet search engines for additional information.
THOUGHTS: During the course of this pandemic I have been forced to develop new routines. I spend a lot more time on the computer than I used to and not as much time playing games on my phone. I hunger for the contact provided by Zoom calls where before I never knew they existed. I have become purposeful in staying connected with family and friends. Now that this is my new routine, I am hopeful it will continue when I am again able to go outside. If it is possible, Stay home. Stay safe.