The NEXT Song…

A few days ago I wrote a blog called “Dancing Until the Song is Over.” It recounted my last visit with a dear friend, and I marveled at her commitment to finishing her life with style – in essence dancing until the song ended. Yesterday morning that song ended; however, I rather imagine that this wasn’t really the case at all. Here is how I picture her last moments on earth. As the last notes of this life’s dance were playing, she began to hear another song. In fact, I think she probably began to realize that she had been dancing out on the balcony outside the main ballroom where the band played. As the doors to the room swung open, the clear, full sound of the true dance replaced the muted, soft sounds of her previous song. I am sitting now imagining her walking into the grand ballroom and immediately being partnered in her first dance by Jesus, Himself. Imagine what must have been going through her mind as she looked into His eternal eyes for the first time and saw complete, perfect, never-ending love. I can only guess that this first dance was soon followed by a second dance with her husband of many years who had entered the ballroom almost exactly a year before. The picture of David and Clara waltzing around the room in perfect health and strength is breathtaking, to say the least.

You may think that I have an overly active imagination, or perhaps that I am overstating things a bit. I would counter that I am surely significantly understating the moment. This is the best picture I can draw, but the artist of this portrait is the One who draws sunsets and rainbows. The architect of her celebration is the designer of mountain ranges and oceans; and, while my thoughts are limited to a budget of my ability to understand things, His budget has room for stars and galaxies. In the final book of the Narnia series, CS Lewis tells of the children leaving Narnia through death’s door and entering Aslan’s land. As they travel, they begin to comment that the things that they saw in their world were just shadows and hints at this real world. The muted colors of Narnia were nothing in comparison to the vivid reality of Aslan’s world. That is what we will see one day… life in vivid color! Yesterday was that day for Clara Durgin.  The Apostle Paul put it this way: “for now we see through a glass darkly, but then – face to face!”

Do you imagine that God spared any expense in creating the perfect moment for Sister Durgin’s homecoming? I know He didn’t leave out one minute detail. A lifetime of faithfulness was met by an eternity of reward Monday morning. If she could do it again, do you think she’d do it differently? I guarantee you she wouldn’t. Dance on, my dear friend!

Dedicated to Clara Durgin

From Where I Sit – Observation 4

This is a series of musings from my big leather (really broken-in – to the point of broken-down) chair.



  • When passion is paired with compassion they become a powerful combination. From a leadership standpoint, passion is enough to pique the interest of others, but compassion will win their hearts. The Bible tells of David’s son, Absalom, stealing the hearts of the people by daily sitting out at the gates and listening to their problems. Even though David was Israel’s greatest king and was beloved by the people for many years, he had lost sight of the importance of keeping the connection intact. Absalom never won a battle, never delivered Israel from a single enemy, and never made one sacrifice of which we are aware for the nation of Israel; yet, he was able to usurp David’s throne and the nation’s hearts by simply showing concern for their daily issues. David, on the other hand, never lost a battle, conquered all of Israel’s enemies, killed the giant (Goliath) that threatened their freedom, and gave them national security, pride, and financial stability. Yet, he made the cardinal mistake of losing touch with the people’s daily concerns. We have seen the same principal at work in our lifetimes. Repeatedly, the American public has proven that they will vote their pocketbooks over principal, national security, or even budget control. Does that make us, or the Israelites bad people? No. What it proves is that the public doesn’t really look at the big picture, and while the leader must see this big picture, he better not lose sight of all the little pictures that make up each individual’s daily life.

Dancing Until the Song is Over

I read an old Yiddish saying on Twitter today that said, “Old age, to the unlearned, is winter; to the learned, it’s harvest time.” That sounds really noble and I agree that is how it should be. The problem is, I just left a nursing home. I went to visit one of the most gentle, godly women I know; and I have known her for nearly my entire life. As a younger lady, she worked for the YMCA. My memories of her include retreats at Camp Ocoee and volleyball and softball games. She has raised 5 superb children who love her very much and are productive in their respective walks of life. Nobody would dispute the value of her well-lived life. The problem is today. Today, she was sitting in a chair, alone in her room. She lost her husband of many years just last year; her hearing left her a bit earlier. For the first 5 or 6 minutes I was there with her, she endured a coughing fit and couldn’t speak to me for choking. Even when that subsided, she couldn’t understand much of what I said back to her because of her hearing loss. She eats very little. In fact, when I placed my hand on her shoulder to pray with her, it felt like nothing but bones. Two or three times I choked back tears, for her, for her kids… for me. As you probably know, nursing homes bring us face to face with our futures. So how do we deal with that? My first reaction is to hate sin. Adam and Eve were created to live forever in perfect health. They were to never know what the pain of loss felt like, or the fear of aging and death. Angina and shortness of breath were terms they should have never encountered. Then sin entered their lives and with it came the unwelcome partners sickness, aging, and death. These morbid three stooges became the destinies of each of us. Our loving Father never wanted us to experience pain or death, but love can only be true when there is a freedom to choose not to return it. I began to think about how much it must make our Heavenly Father’s heart ache to see this child he loves so much have to live like this. Yet, in this winter of her life, I began to see the signs of the coming spring. First of all, she asked me to get her checkbook from her drawer so that she could pay her tithes. Then she began to smile as we talked about her kids, her sister, and our church… and I saw something in her eyes! Suddenly, this Yiddish proverb began to make sense to me. The harvest that it talked about was her harvest. The kernels of grain are ripe – and she knows it. The loving Farmer comes and checks them each day to make sure that the timing will be exactly right. In the meantime, after a lifetime of faithfulness, she is going to finish in style. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul put it this way, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” The music is reaching its climactic moments, but she won’t leave the dance floor until the last note is played. Lord, let me finish my dance with half as much style.

(This was written for Clara Durgin during her last few days on earth)

From Where I Sit – Observation 3

This is a series of musings from my big leather (really broken-in – to the point of broken-down) chair.



  • “Real artists ship.” Steve Jobs made this statement to an engineer who was holding onto a code, rather than making it available so that a product could be released. Walt Disney put it this way: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Far too often, we find ourselves waiting on the moment of inspiration, or even worse, waiting for the fully developed idea to come along before we launch out into the unknown. Occasionally, inspiration may come to the idle, but my experience is that it most often comes in the midst of the process. So, even if you only have a couple of small pieces of the puzzle, start fitting them together. Go ahead – just start. I once read a cup at Starbucks that said, “you call yourself a writer… what have you written today?” Well… um… what have you written today?

From Where I Sit – Observation 2

This is a series of musings from my big leather (really broken-in – to the point of broken-down) chair.



  • Excellence is only achieved by the passionate. No one achieves excellence in any field without being passionate about it. I think that we have assumed that being passionate was a sort of intrinsic desire that people have about one specific thing in their life (i.e. Paul McCartney with music, Leonardo DaVinci with art), and that they would have never achieved greatness without finding that one thing that stirred their passion. On the other hand, what if these artists were, by nature, passionate people and would have excelled in another area had their opportunities been different? The key to excellence is surely passion – and here’s another observation: the key to building an audience is passion. People will follow passion… even misguided passion, such as that of Adolph Hitler. Perhaps we should strive to be passionate people rather than trying to find something that fires our passions. It might seem like a subtle difference, but it could make all the difference. It would help us live out the mantra, carpe diem. This phrase is commonly translated as “seize the day,” however, a more accurate translation is “pluck the day,” as in picking fruit while it is ripe. It is actually part of a longer quote from the poet Horace, which is: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero (Pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future). In other words, go for it today, there is no guarantee of tomorrow (my translation). What if we lived each day as if it might be our last? How would you live differently?

It is important that we recognize the responsibility that comes with this approach. Since people are attracted to (and will follow) passion, it is important that we direct our passions toward worthy causes. That should be a given. Still… imagine living a life in which you attacked each new day with passion and drive to do something significant, something artistic… something great! Sure beats “living for the weekend,” huh?