Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life From a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter…

Helen has spent money in many places, including a motel in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Except not exactly.

Helen is not a careful woman, in the sense of being fearful, and she assumes the best in people, which can make one gullible and vulnerable, but she is smart—and she also taught high school for many years--so it’s unusual for her to get fooled.

But the guy who called our room at 9:30 at night, with us already in our night clothes, had a nice rich baritone with a slight southern drawl, and he was sorry to bother us but he didn’t need much, just the number of the credit card she had used when we checked in, because they’d had a computer glitch and lost all the information. His drawl didn’t sound like the person we had checked in with, but that was because he had just come on to do the night shift, and he was the one who had to clean up the computer mess, and for being so cooperative, we’d get a 20% discount when we checked out in the morning.

The problem was, the guy at the desk when we checked out didn’t know of any computer glitch, and said if a local computer crashed, they’d never need to ask a guest for that info because it was all stored on the great computer in the sky at Best Western--or wherever—headquarters, and their night clerk was named Suzanne.

As soon as we got into the car and on our way, Helen called Visa. The helpful young Visa operative looked at our account and asked if she had recently purchased something at the inmate canteen in the Michigan state prison.   

Helen has gotten fooled only twice. Once when a prison inmate asked for her credit card number in a motel. Once when a young preacher asked for her hand in marriage. Today is her birthday. I agree with Professor Harold Hill in Meredith Willson’s great The Music Man—“A sadder but a wiser girl for me.” At least as far as the inmate canteen goes.


When we lived in Mason City, Iowa, the first of the 3 places we lived to follow the grandchildren, Meredith Willson’s hometown, in which The Music Man is set, I preached several times in his home church, First Christian, where his mother taught Sunday School. She always ended her class by saying, “May the good Lord bless and keep you.” Later, Willson set that to music.

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