Well, it’s late August in North Dakota, so that can mean only one thing. No, it’s not “back to school,” or one more weekend before September steps up – it’s time for the furnace to get checked. I know, I know – for many of you, like my siblings in Texas, you’ll spend this weekend with high temps over 100 degrees. But up here, where the Northern Lights glow on some clear nights, on Monday we will reach a high temp of 67 degrees. Lows will be in the low 50s, so it’s time for our thoughts to turn to heating our world, even if it is a few more weeks away before we crank up the furnace.
Last summer, we had the exciting experience of replacing both the heating and cooling systems in the house. I say exciting, because it’s not very often you get to write a check for four figures… after serving faithfully for almost 25 years, the furnace that everyone said was a great, wonderful model – until something happens to it, and then there would be no parts available to fix it – decided to take the long walk to heating system heaven, and we were left with getting a new one, so we threw in the air conditioner at the same time. Hopefully, it’ll be the only time we will need to do it. One way that will be kept from happening is the deal our furnace company made, that if we have the furnace tuned up and checked over yearly, any repairs that would be needed would be free. I love promises that last a lifetime – kind of like marriage.
So, with that mind, I called, made the date, and it’s being done today. All the work is taking place in the back storage room with the door shut, so any of the three cats will not be invited to oversee the work, nor to get into mischief among the boxes and tubs and Christmas trees. Even though there is a cost for the tune-up, I’m glad to pay it, instead of them sending me an instruction manual, and a few sundry parts to replace (whatever they may be). There is a reason God guided me into a life of ordained ministry. God knew that if I were to take on any number of those types of jobs around the house, like furnace maintenance or electric rewiring, or plumbing repair, that it would not benefit the world, nor make anywhere on our block a safer place.
So, beyond the fact that all of this is something I choose not to do, I am also aware that this is something I simply cannot do, and am happy to leave in the hands of someone skilled and trained. I’ll write an internet column instead. That’s ok. It’s ok that there are some things I won’t and can’t do – and I’m sure that the fellow taking care of the furnace has his own list of won’ts and can’ts.
I suppose when we are young, we carry with us the mistaken belief that we can do anything, as long as we have the time, some training, and enough space, and possibly one or two do-overs. This particular self-deception may have some value, in that it gives us the ability to aspire to things otherwise unheard of or experienced. I know that throughout my life, I’ve done some things one time that I know I will never do again. I climbed to tallest fire tower in the Chippewa National forest. I went snorkeling in Jamaica with small sharks swimming under me. I’ve driven through dense fog, driving rain, pounding hail and blizzards when you couldn’t see beyond the windshield wipers. I’ve eaten a hot dog with four drops of the hottest hot sauce nearly known to humans. There are lots more, but I can assure you they will not be repeated. It’s not that I am now entering a scaredy-cat life, or that I’ve given up any danger or risk, but I am more ready to create and grow in areas that I have discovered I am more suited to. For years I have heard that we all need to “move out of our comfort zone,” but I have to tell you that mindset is just dumb. Can you imagine me doing yoga? I’ll just tell you it wouldn’t be pretty. Why not instead do the best we can do within our comfort zone, and leave that other stuff to those who are suited to doing those things?
Part of maturity is learning to choose wisely, and to intentionally act in ways that helps the world to be a better place. Instead of closing my eyes and announcing that I’m going to climb Mt. Everest, maybe I can keep my eyes open, and do something incredible with the best part and talent of my life. I’m not going to run with the bulls, nor run a marathon, nor drive a semi cross country, but what I can do, I will work to do well, and sleep well as a result.
So, I thank the guy who tunes up my furnace, and the folks who take care of my car, and the company that will plow out my driveway this winter after a foot of snow falls, while I sit inside with a hot cup of coffee listening to the beautiful sound of snow drifts getting moved. I will live with an attitude of gratitude, and spend my life making excellent peanut brittle and pretty good meals, and even writing a sermon now and then, or leading a workshop – or just loving my family and friends, as a full-time retirement job.
Enjoy what you do as well. Find the feeling of satisfaction, even in not doing those things that frankly are not for you. That’s a good way to live a balanced life.
Word for the day: lagopodous. Pronounced lah-GO-puh-duss, the word has two vastly different meanings. First, since it comes from the Greek lagos, meaning “rabbit,” and pod, “foot,” the word means someone or something that has feet like a rabbit. Like, for instance, a rabbit. Long, furry – actually, our cat Hermes has lagopodous feet. The in more behavioral usage means someone who is borderline lazy – the kind of person who might sit on the couch all day in pajamas, watching television, or who takes a shower infrequently, and only wears stretch pants and t-shirts, which may or may not have food spilled on them. It describes, unfortunately, a huge part of our population that has been sequestered or quarantined! The lagopodous people – especially if they are wearing bunny slippers…
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.