Well, as hard as it is to believe, today I complete three entire months of retirement. Even though it still feels like a new reality, it is real, and has become an interesting “next life.” In celebration of three months, I thought I would look through the archives of our history and pull out some especially historic events that happened on a September 30. On this day:
In 1520, Suleiman the Magnificent became the Ottoman Sultan. He is known for the rebuilding of the Wall surrounding Jerusalem, as well really expanding the Ottoman Empire. In 1841, the stapler was patented. I wonder if they stapled the documents together… In 1659, Peter Stuyvesant forbid tennis playing during religious services (finally!) In 1927, Babe Ruth hit his 60th homer of the season. In 1955, James Dean died in a car crash.
In terms of television, in 1950, the Grand Ole Opry was broadcast for the first time. In 1960, the Howdy Doody Show ended, with Clarabelle talking for the first time, saying, “Goodbye Kids…” On the same day, The Flintstones premiered, and in 1984, Murder She Wrote also premiered.
In 1929, the very first manned rocket plane flight occurred (101 years ago!). In 1954, the USS Nautilus, first nuclear submarine, was commissioned. In 1968, the first 747 rolled out of the factory. In 1970, the New American Bible was published, particularly used in Catholic Mass in English. In 1997, Microsoft unveiled Internet Explorer 4.
Although there are plenty of other important events, like the first time, in 1864 black soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor, perhaps most important is that in 1846 – 174 years ago – anesthetic was used for the first time by a dentist.
For most of us, however, any particular September 30 will just fly by, or ooze by, or pass by in whatever form. We will wake up, get out of bed, have some coffee, see what the news is for the day, look at what we need to accomplish, and for some of us, get ready to go to work, or to school, or, in the case of the truly blessed ones – go to another day of retirement. Ah.
Let me say, however, that I’m not sure all of this is how God has planned for things to go. I’ve spoken before about the danger of giving our hearts and minds over to the numbing, hypnotic power of the routine. For many of us, we indeed may go through all sorts of action, from making breakfast to brushing our teeth, and later not even remember doing so. Minutes and hours seem to drift by, as we do what we have always done. Our three cats sleep for about 23 hours a day, awakening only to eat or use the little box, or look for a treat or a scratch behind the ear. Could it be that we do the same thing, just on a human scale?
What will be significant about today? What will we discover, or intentionally take on as a new or important “thing” before the day is over? It may not be a life or death event, and certainly there are millions and billions of events on September 30th that most of the world will never know about. But what will WE know as this day comes to a close? What important truth or insight or achievement will we do or experience that will make this day distinctive, and worth remembering when it is over? As well, what about tomorrow? And the day after?
The psalmist perhaps never knew the power of the words that he wrote when he announced to the world, “This is the day that the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it!” To recognize the significance of a day created, not by happenstance, but by the very hand and Word of God, is to set aside the numbness of routine, and claim the holy in the midst of the ordinary. If indeed, God made this day, then my life has no business in just moseying through it, half asleep, and unaware, only accidentally going through the motions of life. This day is one for me to claim, and even seize, and find the significant joy in, as I rejoice and am glad that is exists at all.
Each day of our lives carries the possibility of being a day of historic value. When we listen carefully, each day whispers in our newly awakening ear, “So – what are you going to do today? Beyond changing the oil in the car, and vacuuming, and having that peanut butter sandwich for lunch – what awaits you? How will you change the world, and how will the world change you before you sleep tonight?”
Of course, when we bother to think about it, we know that we live in a place and time of incredible possibility. Even with a pandemic, there is still much to be done and to be experienced. Perhaps – just perhaps – today will go down on a list of special September 30s, as we choose to live more fully, to love more fully, to challenge each other and comfort one another, and to intentionally make a difference in this day made by the One who made us.
So get ready – today is here, and tomorrow is coming! Don’t waste it. It’s history in the making…
Word for the Day: farraginous. fuh-RAJ-in-us. The word from Latin starts off as a very short noun: far. Not “far” as we know it, but instead, it was “spelt” – not spelled, but a type of very fiber rich grain, like wheat, that was ground and used in baking. Ok, what’s next? It then was attached as a Latin word, farrago, which means “mixture,” as it was ground and then combined with other grains. Eventually, it was seen as something disorganized or random or miscellaneous and became something that was farraginous, “like farrago.” It’s interesting that some dictionaries will define it as a hodgepodge. Of course, we know what a hodgepodge looks like, but the word is strange as well. A hodgepodge is a stew, made from all sorts of different ingredients. It means “everything in one pot,” which then relates to farrago. Hodgepodge, they suggest, comes from the Dutch words hotsen, which means “to shake,” and pot, which means.. “pot.” Shake up the pot, and you have a hodgepodge, which will look to all the world as something farraginous, if you know what that word means, which now you do.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.