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Blog Your Blessings Sunday

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Those are the words that every parent fears. And for a split-second after MattieBoo uttered them in my ear this past Thursday evening, the world went dark.

He continued, “We got rear-ended on the way to the game.”

I snapped back to reality when I realized that, since he was calling me from his cell phone, he was obviously conscious and coherent.

“Are you hurt? Where are you? How are the other guys? How did it happen? How long ago?” I’m a litigator so I’m an expert at asking questions. I was rapid-firing them at the poor kid as I sought to understand what had happened, how it occurred and, most importantly, whether he was all right.

“Well, at first I told Mr. Williams I was o.k., but now my back and stomach hurt, so he canceled the game.”

That was all I needed to hear. “Put Mr. Williams on the phone.”

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I took a walk this past week: Out of the office I have occupied for the past two-and-a-half years, out of the position I have held for the past three years, and out of the organization where I have worked for the past seven years. On Monday morning, I will walk into a new workplace, be assigned to a new office and areas of responsibility, and begin getting acquainted with new colleagues.

On Monday, I will begin to walk along a different professional path.

I make it my practice not to write here about my professional pursuits and coworkers, other than to reveal that I am an attorney. That will not change, but I do feel it is appropriate to note this milestone and the new direction my life path is taking.

I was blessed to have spent the past seven year performing work that was meaningful and, I believe, important. But for many reasons, it was time to move on. Fortunately, once I made up my mind, a completely unexpected new opportunity presented itself and I jumped at the chance to make this change.

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You can’t pinpoint its exact location on a map, so you can’t get in your car and drive to it. You can’t take your dog for a walk in it. And you can’t describe it by establishing borders and confining it within those markers.

Nonetheless, be assured that the blogging community is just that. A neighborhood.

And just as in our traditional, physical neighborhoods, our blogging neighbors are frequently willing to lend a helping hand, offering support and assistance when we need it.

Today, I want to draw your attention to two of my blogosphere “good neighbors” who went out of their way to help improve the value of my property, Colloquium.

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My mother-in-law died suddenly in May 2002 at the age of 82. The sheriff showed up at the front door holding her wallet and keys, and notified BigBob that the neighbors had called 911 earlier in the day when she did not answer the phone, doorbell or open the shades.

To say that we were shocked is an understatement. The day before she had driven #1Son to school after he spent the night at her house with her.

We need some of her wishes, but not all. She had indicated a preference for cremation and no viewing, plus she had made clear that she did not want a schmaltzy organ-with-loads-of-vibrato sort of funeral service. Past that, we had to figure out how best to say our good-byes and celebrate her life. To be perfectly accurately, BigBob, as her only child, had that responsibility. Our role was to support him.

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Note: The first part of this story about the social function is totally true and happened a few years ago. The Flash Forward section is an addendum and reflection. I really don’t talk to pictures on the wall. Ahem …

He was drunk.

In the Presbyterian Church no less. You know the one. Swanky, elegant, rich old-money-in-the-middle-of-town-prestigious-kinda-church. And in the sacred basement that night?

Speed-dating. Round tables. Too much perfume. And a perky little woman with an annoying bell. I was game. After all, what could go wrong in a church?

Here are the rules: There are twelve white linened tables with burning candles and refreshments. You choose one and sit down. Male across from female. When the bell rings, you’re off! Introductions and more sweaty palms. I so hate that. The bell rings again and you rotate to the next waiting gentleman caller.

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As I mentioned previously, on July 15, 2007, I was honored to spend the day with Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway at the Master Class in Napa. The way such a class works is this: The first portion of the class is a general lecture and group warm-up. Those desiring to be “participants” submit a professional-quality recording in advance and Sir James selects four players to whom he will give instruction while the audience members — “auditors” — watch and learn.

JHSEsq attended the Master Class in Napa with Sir James Galway

Based upon the various videotapes of other classes that I have watched, as well as interviews, information posted on his website and the e-mails that Sir James sends to our discussion group, I knew that the opportunity to attend the class represented a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn from a world-class flutist who has no equal.

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Today, in conjunction with Blog Your Blessings Sunday, it is my extreme honor and delight to present the first of what I hope will be a series of articles by Guest Authors.

And it is my privilege to introduce you to my friend and first Guest Author, Robert W. Mattheis, Bishop Emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Sierra Pacific Synod.

I first met Pastor Bob, as we knew him then, in 1974 when he was called to serve as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, the congregation to which I belonged and served on the music staff for many years. In 1994, St. Paul’s loss was the Sierra Pacific Synod’s gain when Pastor Bob was elected to the office of and became Bishop Bob, overseeing 215 ELCA congregations from Porterville, California north to the Oregon border and as far east as Elko, Nevada.He retired in 2002, and continues to reside here in Lodi. He is now active in Way of Christ Community, described as “a unique and evolving community looking to live, believe, worship and learn in a new way,” which is led by his daughter and son-in-law, Pastors Amy Jo and Peter Mattheis-Holmquist.

I asked Bishop Bob to be my first Guest Author for many reasons.

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I am rooted in reality. That is a double-edged sword.

There is a certain peace, security and self-confidence that comes with understanding and accepting how, where and why your life is anchored. Becoming rooted in who you are and are not, who you were and were not, what is and is not, what will and will not be, what is and is not possible, is empowering because it is no longer necessary to engage in the soul-searching, questioning and experimenting that characterizes our lives when we are in our 20’s, 30’s and, for some of us, even our 40’s.

By the time most of us achieve the milestone I did this past December, we have survived the traumas and confusion of young adulthood — the struggles of acquisition — and become rooted in a career, home, family, hobbies and all the other things that make us who we are.

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