Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, September 14, 2017


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter… ©

I did a lot of dreaming last night. There are many theories and even some evidence about where dreams come from, but mine jump around from scene to scene, and I can usually remember only bits and pieces when I wake up.

I do recall that Archie Miller, the new basketball coach at IU, was leading me through a workout, helping me to make the IU team. I needed a lot of help, but he was patient, even though we kept moving from one gym to another, some of them outside.

I’m pretty sure that dream was the result of having supper with Bob and Julie Hammel at Red Lobster. Bob is a Hall of Fame, retired sports writer, who was noted especially for his coverage of IU basketball.

Then came a church dream. I was helping out in the church kitchen. A church lady was washing dishes in one sink, and I had to get the used water out of the sink beside it, but it wouldn’t drain, so I was using a small tumbler, apparently the only thing at hand, to empty it, one glassful at a time.

At the same time, some people were complaining about the preacher not staying “Hello” to them, and I was trying to explain why preachers were sometimes so distracted before worship on Sunday morning that they could not even say hello.

Those included: It was communion Sunday and the steward had forgotten to get the elements ready. Someone had fallen and broken a hip. A strange man had entered and the ushers thought he had a gun. Two Sunday School teachers were having a fight in front of the children. A young man was having a drug-induced seizure in the vestibule. A little child had gotten locked into the elevator and was now clinging to the preacher’s leg and hiding under his robe.

Those were not just in a dream. They really happened. But I was talking about them in the dream.

Then I woke up, and strangely, it seemed to me at the time, I started thinking about Harold and Roma Peterson.

We met Harold and Roma when they were about the age we are now.

The context: In the 1920s, they were a young married couple. In the 1920s, cars were few, and most travel was by train. Even in cities, not many folks had telephones. And medicine and its practitioners were still quite primitive.

Roma became suddenly and deathly ill. Harold took her to the hospital, where the doctors could not figure out anything to do for her.

In another city, where Harold’s parents lived, his father came home, walked up onto the porch of his house, stopped, said to his wife, “Harold and Roma need me,” set down his briefcase, turned and walked to the train station, where he hopped the train to go to his son and his new wife.

Roma took up the story: “I was just about to go. I wasn’t sure where it was that I was going, but it was so beautiful. I really wanted to go there. But I looked up. There was a young man staring down at me. He looked familiar, and he seemed so worried. I thought, ‘He looks like he needs me.’ So I decided to stay.”

The red thread of the story is need. When someone you love needs you, you go to them, or you stay with them, but either way, you meet the need.

I have not been feeling much needed lately. Not much for me to do. But, I figure, since I’m here anyway, I might as well do some good.


I say “again” in the title, because I have written about Harold and Roma’s experience in this column before. But also because deciding to stay, to meet a need, is a decision we have to make more than once.

I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…

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