Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, November 10, 2017

BROKERING [F, 11-10-17]

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

Today, we ran into an old friend we hadn’t seen in 50 years. In those years he has become a wealthy and hugely successful real estate developer. He said, “I’ll never forget how you asked me to fill in preaching at that little church for two weeks, and it turned out to be two years. Those were the best years of my life.” I remembered it after he said it, but I had forgotten about it all these years.

Recently a retired man said, “I want to thank you for helping me get into graduate school. I was on academic probation, and no one would even consider admitting me, but you got me in.” He went on to a very successful career. I had followed his career with appreciation, but had forgotten about helping to get it started.

A year or so ago, the grandson of a friend, Gary, was trying to get a football scholarship. “I’ll see if I can get him a trial with IU,” I said. Gary started gently to scoff. “Pay attention,” mutual friend Paul said. “He’s been doing that sort of thing his whole life.”

Paul didn’t know me until we were in college, so for him my “whole life” of brokering started then. He was accurate on both counts, though. In many ways, my life started in college, and I have been brokering all along. And forgetting about it.

My kind of brokering is just putting together someone with a need and someone who can meet that need.

I was especially aware of doing that when I was in the cancer community, as a patient and writer and speaker and counselor. Then I put long-term survivors together with new patients. There’s no one quite as helpful to a newly diagnosed patient as someone who can say, “Hey, I’ve been there, and I’m still here.” I did a lot of that. I have forgotten almost all of it.

I’m not being humble. I’m willing to take credit for brokering. I’d like to remember more of those occasions. The truth is, though, that it just comes naturally, and it’s so regular that I can’t keep track of the occasions. I don’t try to keep a count of these deeds; they are just part of life.

You see, I don’t have many skills of my own. I am not very good at helping people directly. I can recognize helpful skills in others, though, and so I usually have a shelf somewhere in my brokering storeroom that contains someone who can help you. You need to know how to deal with a flatulent rhino? I know the gal who knows how.

The best thing to do if you’re not very good at anything is to be the guy or gal who is good at everything--a broker. I know someone who can tell you how… unless he’s forgotten…


Spoiler Alert: If you have read this column in the last 3 months, all that follows is old news:

The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] Having met and married while at IU in Bloomington, IN, we became Bloomarangs in May of 2015, moving back to where we started, closing the circle. We no longer live in the land of winter, but I am in the winter of my years, and so I am still trying to understand Christ in winter.

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