Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, July 23, 2012


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a place of winter For the Years of Winter…
Walt Wagener called a month or so ago. He does that every once in a while, when there is some special baseball achievement to discuss. Since we were on the subject of achievements anyway, we talked about our careers, what we had achieved and not achieved. Old people do that, trying to assure ourselves that our lives mattered.
Walt and I were roommates at Garrett Theological Seminary [at Northwestern U]. Not for very long, but we were the only Garrett roommates either of us ever had. In fact, I was the only roommate Walt ever had. He lived at home to attend U of WI at Milwaukee, and then was married during Garrett years.
He graduated Garrett in 1962, and was appointed part-time as campus minister at the Wesley Foundation at Whitewater State and part-time as pastor of the Methodist Church in Milford, WI, which meant he had two full-time jobs. However, he was one course short at the 1962 commencement and had to return for a four-week summer session to make his diploma stick to the wall. I normally commuted, four to six hours a day, from Cedar Lake, IN, 30 miles south of Gary, to Evanston. That worked alright for courses that were a whole semester long. But I was a transfer from Perkins School of Theology at SMU, and so there were courses I needed at Garrett that I could get only in the summer. With a four-week summer course, there wasn’t time to study at all if I commuted daily, so I stayed at Garrett during the week.
Walt and I, being the two oddballs who were in the dorm for only one summer course, were assigned to the same room in Loder Hall. We actually were in residence together only about 15 days, since we both went home for extended weekends, but from that chance assignment to the same room came a life-long friendship. We have visited in each other’s homes in at least five states. Most recently I got to visit with his son, another John Robert, while he was becoming a fellow colon cancer survivor.
So Walt and I talked baseball and careers for an hour or so, and I felt better about my life, as I always do when I’ve talked to Walt. But when the phone rang the very next day, and Walt’s name appeared on the caller ID, I feared that something bad had happened. But, no, it was just Walt reminding me of something I omitted when we had talked of our career achievements. “I got to thinking about it,” he said.  “You didn’t mention that you wrote books. Good books!”
Being baseball friends, Walt and I watched the Hall of Fame inductions this weekend, of course. In a snippet from his induction speech in 1999, George Brett said, “We live with our friends, not with our achievements.”
You know you’ve had a good life when you don’t even need to keep track of your achievements because you have friends who do it for you.
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where life is defined by winter even in the summer!
You are always welcome to Forward or Repost or Reprint. It’s okay to acknowledge the source, unless it embarrasses you too much. It is okay to refer the link to folks you know or to print it in a church newsletter or bulletin, or make it into a movie or TV series.
{I also write the fictional “Periwinkle Chronicles” blog. One needs a rather strange sense of humor to enjoy it, but occasionally it is slightly funny. It is at}

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