Monday, February 24, 2014


"He hath made every thing beautiful in His time..." (from Ecclesiastes 3:11)

"The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door ..." 

Yes, that's from the famous song by The Beatles.  I thought of that song this past Sunday afternoon as I took a pleasant and familiar walk in Canton, Massachusetts.  I love to take Sunday afternoon walks.  It can be a bit difficult to do during the winter walks; frankly, I don't take walks so much during the winter, but on Sunday the temperature was in the 50s in the Boston area.  I used to love to take Sunday afternoon walks when I Webster, Massachusetts earlier in this decade.  I only lived there for a little over a year, but the beautiful Webster Lake recreation area was a mere seven minute walk from my residence.  And, the one mile walk to downtown Webster was also rather pleasant.  (Webster has probably the most beautiful and impressive Town Hall complex in all of Massachusetts!)  And, I loved my Sunday afternoon walks during the many years I lived in Framingham, Massachusetts!  I'd take various routes in Framingham.  During the final year I lived there my favorite was to walk to the old Framingham Burial Ground in the "Framingham Centre" area.  Canton, though, is extra special and extra significant.  I never thought I'd live in Canton again.  This is what I call my "third incarnation" in Canton.  It's a temporary stop.  On Sunday afternoon, I made the familiar trek from my residence at Independence and Prospect Streets to downtown Canton...almost to Bolivar Street, and then back.  Boy, what a flood of memories I experienced on this constitutional!  The main section of this walk is Sherman Street and I could rename it, "Memory Lane"!   

I may forget what I did with my car keys or my wallet, but the memories of forty, or fifty or more years ago are very vivid.  I remember the first time I walked that route on a weekday with my mother and my siblings.  It was 1959.  I was only four-years-old.  My brother Eddie was three.  Dianne was just about a year and a half old and in a stroller.  In those days, the family had only one car which my father had taken to work, but my mother did not yet drive a car that far back.  She had a few stops to make.  Mama made it an adventure.  We had to stop and look at the two "brooks".  One is located just before Pequit Street, and still looks very much as it did then.  One tiny brook was farther up the road, and today is essentially dried up and non-existent.  We stopped at the "Five and Ten" which has not existed in years.  We stopped at "Jack and Paul's Variety Store".  Mama usually bought us "Life Savers" candy.  We may have stopped at Dykeman Pharmacy.  I think we also stopped at the public library.   It was very unusual for my mother to walk downtown and not stop at the library!  To a child that small, it seemed as though I'd walked to the Land of Oz and back!  It was long and it was an exciting adventure!

There were at least two dozen times we made that walk in 1959 and 1960 before I started school in September of 1960.  Each time was similar and exciting.  I had no idea how many times in my lifetime I'd travel that route!  As a child I sometimes walked to Catholic religious classes ("C.C.D.") on certain days after school.  That seemed like a drudgery and I did not like it.  Most of my elementary school grades were at the Dean S. Luce School on Independence St., just a stone's throw from our house.  My fifth grade, however, was held at (of all places) Canton High School.  That year, the elementary schools were so overcrowded that the School Dept. took a floor of the high school's new wing and made it into a mini-elementary school.  I didn't like the walk to Canton High; Sherman Street felt long and tedious in those days, especially during the winter months.  I did the Sherman Street walk for junior high (long before the Galvin Middle School was built) and high school.  That walk became much too familiar and boring.  It seemed like anything but an adventure in those days!  The idea of a fun walk with Mama,  stopping and looking at brooks, and all that kind of thing seemed really stupid and irrelevant to a teenager!

My "second incarnation" of living at the Independence Street house was right around 1980.  It was for a couple of years.  I know today radio hosts make a lot of fun of young adults who live with their parents.  Well, I did it for a couple of years.  It was not a lot of fun.  I remember taking that Sherman Street walk many times then.  In those days, there was no leash law, and you'd have all kinds of menacing dogs trying to intimidate you.  Today, there are no menacing dogs, and the occasional dog is a passive one on a leash.   There are, however, lots of coyotes who live in the woods off Sherman Street.  They are seldom seen in the daylight hours, but I actually saw a coyote cross Sherman Street as I was driving to work around 5 a.m. one day!  Trust me, there were no coyotes in that area in the 1980s!

Every time I walk by the Roache Funeral Home (and I know it has a slightly different name today) I think of my Uncle Raymond's funeral which took place there in 1972.  Attending that funeral left me one day short of having perfect attendance for my Senior year at Canton High.  Uncle Raymond died at sixty-five.  That age seemed very old to me.  Today, at fifty-nine, it seems rather young!  I also think of my brother Eddie's funeral.  No, it was not held at that funeral home, but I remember that at the time of his death in 1983, Sherman Street was being totally reconstructed and was literally down to nothing but dirt!   I also remember lots of frantic drives up Sherman Street circa 1998 and 1999 when each of my parents were elderly and sick.  I don't like to remember those days.

Yes, there was a flood of memories as I walked up Sherman Street on Sunday.  In fact, it struck me that in walking from downtown Canton, Sherman Street from Pequit Street to Prospect Street is actually an incline!  You're walking up a slight hill.  As kids, Eddie or I might excitedly run up that stretch of road.  I thought of it as flat, never as an incline.  In fact, that brings to mind another memory.  On one of Mama's adventuresome walks, a neighbor stopped and offered us a lift.  Eddie cried and protested that his Daddy told him to never get into a car with strangers, so it ended up that the only one who got into the black '54 Chevy and accepted a ride was me!

Toward the end of my walk on Sunday, I wondered if Sherman Street will still exist in the year 2069 and what it will look like.  I'm a very serious evangelical Christian who really believes Jesus Christ's Second Coming is right on top of us and who finds it hard to believe things will still continue on as they are to 2069- but I also realize they might.  Will most of the same houses still be there?  Will the cars "drive themselves"?  Will drones be flying all over the place?  Will it still be a place that's suitable for a nice Sunday walk?

I expect that long before 2069 I'll be walking on the streets of gold in Heaven.  The long and winding road of this life is certainly past halfway for me as far as my lifespan goes.  My father was always asking, "Where does the time go?!"  After Sunday's walk, I was asking the same question.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

A few hours ago, I posted the following paragraph on Facebook:.

MINOR CAR ACCIDENT THIS MORNING! A person hurrying to get to work hit my Subaru with her SUV right in front of my daughter and son's residence. Bottom line: right now I have NO driver side door window. The "bang" was loud, fast and scary. Tempered glass was all over the street. Thank God I had only 2 minor cuts on my hand. The other driver is paying to have the window replaced. Right now I have instant winter A/C! Ironically, I was briefly stopping at my kids' place, then on the way to a Dr. appt. for a blood pressure check. Of COURSE my B.P. was up after that!! Honestly, this leaves me kind of "shaken up" but it COULD have been many times worse!.

Yes, it could have been many times worse. And, I certainly have not received horrendous news such as Curt Schilling's announcement that he has cancer. Yet, in the midst of a lot of the "stuff of life" I've been dealing with, this is one more thing. I couldn't help but think that if I'd started to open my car door about twenty seconds earlier or about fifteen seconds later, probably nothing would have happened today. I'd spent last night at my kids' apartment due to the weather. It also made a lot more sense to stay there for the night, in that I had that doctor appointment in Framingham this morning. I'm unable to park the car outside my kids' residence as it's an urban neighborhood and "parking is at a premium" as my late father used to say. I left my car at the TDBank parking lot about a mile away. (The company I work for has an agreement with TDBank and we're allowed to park in that lot.) The first couple hours of my day today frankly did not go well (prior to the car accident!). I won't go into detail, but there were a lot of inconveniences and my patience was really being tried. I will say that I remained calm which is not something I would have done twenty years ago! I guess it was vanity, but I just did not want to go to my doctor appointment wearing my big, ugly winter boots! I especially did not want to step on the scale in those things. I glanced at my watch and realized I did have enough time to drive back to the apartment, get my sneakers, and drive to the appointment. Yes, that's why I was opening my door in front of my kids' residence at five minutes before nine this morning. The instant after that happened, I felt very bad and thought, "WHY did I have to get my sneakers and WHY couldn't I just have worn my winter boots?!"

I will say, it is a great blessing that the female driver of the SUV stopped! At first, I figured she would just drive away and leave me in my predicament! It is also a great blessing that she was very nice. There was no swearing out of her, and no hostility. We exchanged information, and she immediately called her mechanic; agreeing to pay for the damages and have a new window installed. I went to his shop today and met him. He seems to be a very nice guy and he has ordered the new window. Each are Hispanic. I would never have met these folks if this accident had not happened today. A few hours after the accident I phoned the woman who'd hit me and left a message on her voicemail. I told her I'd been to her mechanic's shop, and I told her I very much appreciated that she stopped this morning and did not just drive off.

I won't go into the details, but to use my late mother's expression, I "have a pretty full plate" in life right now. Part of me wonders, "God, why did this happen?" I know better. I know that life has its ups and downs. Everybody has problems. Everybody has "bad days". Yes, I know better; but deep down in my gut there is that nagging question, "God, why did this happen?" As I wrote, I met these two nice people and maybe that is part of why.

I've learned a lot from my friend Gene Sorbo over the past couple of years. He and his family have faced many serious difficulties. Yet, he is an amazingly positive and upbeat guy. And, he's very genuine. Gene has said that the difficulties he has faced are things that, "I would not have signed up for". Yet, he recognizes that God has used each challenge in his life for good. He's a great teacher and mentor, and I think a lot of the reason he's so good at that stuff is he has the "track record" of having faced great personal difficulties and persevered in his walk with God. SO, I'm standing on Romans 8:28 today. And I'm really glad that other than a couple minor cuts on my hand, and other than the aggravation of having your driver side window instantly shatter with a loud bang (followed by all that goes with an incident like that), I'm really fine and things are going to be O.K.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalm 90:12)

"Hey! It's McFebruary!" Well, to be perfectly accurate, the person who exclaimed that pronounced the second month of the year incorrectly (as most of us do), so it came out as, "Hey, It's McFebuary!"

That exclamation was made as a group of college students were gathering for a large lecture class at the very attractive Hemenway Auditorium/Theater at Stonehill College. Most wore jeans, and jerseys or sweatshirts. A few dressed a little "nicer" or a little more conservative. It was before class, and kids were shooting the breeze happily, as nineteen-year-old college sophomores are inclined to do. I was one of those kids. (I was one of the minority who dressed a little "nicer". I've got to admit that if I were that age today, I'd probably just wear jeans and casual clothes to class!) The year was 1974. I vividly remember it as if it happened just a short time ago. The kid who exclaimed, "Hey, It's McFebuary!" got some chuckles and grins, including one from me! That year, the McDonald's chain had done a huge advertising campaign over the final couple of weeks of January. There were catchy television spots promoting the exciting month of "McFebruary" at McDonalds. It seemed like they were on constantly, but they were cheery and fun ads- not at all annoying. I still remember that there was a jingle sung, as well:

"McFebruary, that's your very special month at McDonald's; every day's a surprise holiday; Lookin' up, Cookin' up good things for you! McFebruary- that's your very special month at McDonald's!"

Each year, on February 1, I automatically think of that morning of February 1, 1974, the Hemenway Auditorium/Theater, and the happy kid who proclaimed, "Hey, It's McFebuary!" Were it not for that kid's exclamation and the humor of it which left it indelibly etched on my memory, I probably would have forgotten the whole McFebruary thing a long time ago. This year, as I thought about McFebruary, I did a quick calculation which left me somewhat jolted and shocked: This is the Fortieth Anniversary of February 1, 1974. Young people reading this may not catch the significance of what I've just written because they haven't yet realized how quickly life flies by! I look in the mirror each morning and see an overweight fifty-nine-year-old guy with graying hair and a gray mustache who looks like he'd be one of my parents' friends from, well circa 1974 or 1984, and it doesn't seem possible this guy in the mirror could be me! You see, in many ways, I still feel like that nineteen-year-old with his perfectly dark brown hair and dark brown mustache and fairly cool wire-framed glasses! Immediately after experiencing the shock of processing the fact that forty years have gone by, I did another quick calculation which indicated I will be ninety-nine in another forty years! Frankly, the actuarial tables would probably indicate it's very unlikely I'll live too much beyond eighty-one or eighty-two, but should I make it all the say to ninety-nine, I'd probably be a very frail guy living in a nursing home and needing constant care.

It's sobering, isn't it?! This week, one of my kids posted on Facebook a candid photo taken in our old Framingham residence on my youngest daughter Rachel's second birthday. It was September of 1988. Rachel's in the center, with three-year-old Amy on her left and on her right, our friend's son John who is about Amy's age. I miss that "world"- when my kids were five, three, and two years old. I was thirty-four then. Physically, I felt great. Yes, life was challenging, and it seems we always had financial problems, but outside of that, life was filled with lots of fun and zest and hope. The future seemed bright. I don't think I ever gave a thought to retirement or buying a burial plot or personal health issues, or anything like that. I did not own nor use a computer in 1988. That would not come for over four more years, and I did not go on-line until 1996. I did not own a cell phone until 1999, for that matter. It was a much simpler time. I'd go back to those days if I could, but I can't.

Last night on his "Nightside" radio program on Boston's WBZ, host Dan Rea commented that this January has been the fastest January he can ever remember. I concur with that! Each year, the weeks and months seem to go by faster and faster! Some years ago, an elderly woman in the church I was pastoring asked me if I thought God has sped up time because we are so close to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. She was alarmed by how fast her own life was speeding by and she'd come up with that theory as the reason why life was going by so fast. I think I disappointed her when I told her, "No,"- that time was going by at pretty much the same pace, but that as we get older it seems to go faster. I can remember how long a year took to go by when I was in elementary school- "forever"! It seemed like just getting from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas totally dragged along. Now, it's just the opposite. I've joked with friends and family that there are really only two seasons each year: Christmas and Summer! The whole Christmas push happens just after Labor Day, but it frankly seems like a whirlwind ride each year from Labor Day to New Year's Day. It seems like a month! Then, the next thing you know, it's April Fool's Day, and it's Memorial Day weekend followed (instantly!) by the Fourth of July! Then, it's Labor Day and it all happens all over again. And, it's 1974, and it's 1988, and it's 2014! You know that song, "100 Years" sung by "Five For Fighting"?! Well, even if you don't know it, that song is about what I'm writing here- how rapidly life goes by.

The Bible verse I opened with from Psalm 90 takes me back to my Central Bible College days, which incidentally happened a few years after my Stonehill College days. That story involves another college kid who was probably not much more than nineteen or twenty at the time: Andy Rix. Andy was blonde and dressed kind of "preppy". He tended to be the type who was always learning and quoting Bible verses. (You might think every kid at a Bible College was always learning and quoting Bible verses, but honestly that's not the case!) Andy got fixed on that verse for some reason and was going around just reciting it and reciting it and reciting it over and over and over! He told me it's a very important verse because it says we've got to make each day of our lives really count for God. I must say that at the time I thought Andy was being rather excessive. But, now as a look at that overweight fifty-nine-year-old guy in the mirror and try to accept the fact that in just a bit over ten years I'll be in my seventies, I realize how right Andy was! So many people give absolutely no thought to the fact that one day they'll stand before God and give an account for what they did with their earthly lives. Even we evangelical Christians can get very lazy about it, just thinking, "Well, Jesus saved me so I've got nothing to worry about!" The fact is, we are responsible to be stewards of our lives. I think I wasted a lot of time and opportunities during the past couple of decades of my life. Considering how (relatively) little time I probably have left, I am very concerned that I use the time and opportunities I will have ahead in my life wisely.

"Hey, It's McFebuary!" Life's flying by! Don't waste it!