Friday, May 25, 2007


I just finished Richard North Patterson's book, Exile. It was a fascinating read set in current time exploring the relationship between Israel and Palestine and the other relationship in the Middle East, including the US relationship with the Middle East. It is a raw depiction of the hate and pain on both sides and how it has affected multiple generations, continuing today without cease. A Jewish man and a Palestinian woman fall in love in college. But they cannot be together due to their cultural backgrounds. He is not a religious Jew, but still shaped by the Jewish destiny. She feels an inescapable draw to her family, her cultural upbringing, which he can not understand as he is more American than Jewish. Most Americans do not have that undying connection to their families, to their history. They try to shape their own destinies, not adapt to a destiny that was shaped for them by others. Most do not understand sacrificing your own desires to fulfill someone else's, to meet your obligations to your family and your village.

After 13 years, they meet again. This time she is accused of murdering the Israeli Prime Minister, an act of terrorism. He defends her, losing his fiance, his political career and most of the life he had built since college. In his search for a defense, he goes to the Middle East and sees the pain and the hatred first hand.

I have read much of the history of the Middle East. I get daily emails from the Christian Peacemaker Teams, but the depiction of the current existence shown through the eyes of two lovers who cannot be together made it seem more real. My mother who gave me the book hadn't realized the way it is. She couldn't believe that a woman in labor could wait for hours to pass through a border crossing even if it meant that she or her baby would die in the car waiting for permission.

There is so much hatred and wrong done by both sides. Will we ever find peace and acceptance?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Back from NJ

I was in NJ last week for work. Long meetings all day, entertaining at night, and no internet in the hotel. Got back Friday night and spent the weekend working on the yard - cutting grass, putting soil around the foundation of the house and then spreading mulch. Ran out of mulch and have about 5' left to go.

My daughter had her Prom Saturday night. The girls were ready around 3 and weren't supposed to leave until 5. So they went out for ice cream. Limo and their dates arrived around 5 along with all the family members for a photo shoot in my backyard. She was beautiful and her boyfriend also looked very dapper. They had a very good time.

Update on the bird's nest: Only one egg remains and Momma bird has apparently flown the coop. Haven't seen her for a while, so we think something attacked the nest.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ruth Hart

Ruth Hart died on Wednesday. I didn't know Ruth very well. I learned more about her in her obituary than I did from her in person. She didn't talk about herself, but showed her love for people through her actions.

I met Ruth when teaching a fifth-grade Sunday School class. Ruth ran the food bank at our church. I arranged for my class to meet Ruth. She told them about the food bank, how it was organized and who used the food bank. She explained to them how bags of food were provided to people or families who needed food, how much and what types of food were put into the bags, and explained how she distributed food based on her knowledge of the family. For example, based on the number of children, she might put extra fruit or juice in the bags. My class conducted a food drive for the food bank.

After that, whenever I saw Ruth, she greeted me with a hug and told me how happy she was to see me. She told me in words and actions that she thought I was special.

The Saturday before she died, I ran into her at a local restaurant. Again, she gave me a hug and told me how happy she was to see me. She told my date how much she enjoyed seeing my smiling face at church and how special I was. I didn't see her at church the next day although I'm told she was there. She must have come to the later service. I thought about her many times that week for some reason.

This morning at our Homeless Breakfast, I learned the news that she had died earlier in the week. We all talked about how much she had done for people. After the breakfast, I came home and looked for her obituary. I had missed it in the paper. I learned in her obituary that she was a nurse, married for 51 years before becoming a widow, had lost an infant son, and had a surviving son, several grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. She worked in public health and also was a long-term volunteer in serving the underprivileged. Her work with the Food Bank was only one of the many things that she did.

I've been thinking about Ruth and other people like her a lot today. While Ruth did many things for people, one of the things that she did most was make people feel special. When she saw you, she was happy to see you. She hugged you and focused her conversation on you.

There are other people I've felt that way about. Jim, one of my former managers, was like that. When you walked into his office, no matter what he was doing, he made you feel like he had been waiting there just for you and was so happy to see you. This guy goes on vacations and makes life-long friends while on vacation. He has traveled with these new friends, gone to visit them at their homes on future vacations, and stays in touch with them.

Monica, also from church, welcomes people into her home all the time. She collects strays, mostly teenagers, but sometimes adults, and takes them under her wing until they are able to stand on their own. She represents Mother Earth to me - stable, understanding, comforting, nurturing - a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend.

I think about how I interact with other people. I do a lot of community service, but do I really touch other people like these people do? Do I make them feel special and show them that I am happy to see them? Do I talk about them or do I talk about me in our conversations? Do I focus more on my list of to-do items rather than enjoying my time with these people?

Thank you, Ruth, for making me feel special. I will miss you.