Last Sunday we headed off to the beach at Grand Bend after church, with most of the family. It was a great day, feeling like a taste of summer. The water was pretty cold but Alison and Rachel both went in for a quick dip or two. Frisbee and reading on the beach, napping on a towel in the sand - nice! We went over to Sharon (Beth's sister) and Ted's and they had just returned home so offered us a nice barbecued supper (including yummy fries from Denny's).
On Tuesday evening we had our friend Jean over for a meal and visit. We got to know Jean and Ed and their family when he was called to be the pastor of Evangel back in 2000. Beth and I had served on the Search Committee and were quite pleased when they agreed to come - he was a great preacher with a kind heart. Tragically, Ed was killed in a motorcycle accident the next year (even though he was the most careful rider I've ever seen - I've never been a fan of motorcycles, especially since working at the hospital in the early 80's and seeing the results from those accidents up close). That was a very difficult time for us - I had lots of questions for God (and not too many answers, it seemed). I ended up leading a study on grief in the next year. I think others found it helpful, I know I sure did. I kind of adapted Walter Wangerin's stages of grief in his "Mourning Into Dancing" - Shock, Struggle, Sadness, and Surrender. Jean has shown great strength in carrying on, parenting their 4 (now adult) children on her own. We now only seem to connect every year or 2 but it's always great to share some time with her [yet, tinged with sadness as I can't not think of Pastor Ed when we're together - I think it's time to relisten to some of the mp3s I made of his messages].
On Thursday I learned that a former colleague - kindergarten teacher - who has been struggling with brain cancer since January (the principal took her to the hospital right from school when her speech and arm movements became erratic) had entered into her final stages of the battle. This was pretty shocking as I thought there had been more hopeful signs of late. The very next day I found out that she had passed away peacefully in the early morning hours. Nellie had a strong faith and was very gifted musically, serving/leading the children at her church. I didn't know her well but this has hit me hard - the tragic loss of a vibrant young woman. I hate death.
Actually increased my voracious reading pace this week. I don't seem to be sleeping as well so have awoken early and been unable to fall back asleep, so I end up reading from 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning. I think I've decided I usually read about 500 pages a week, but the past one was abnormal (more like 750):
1. The Prince of Darkness by P.C. Doherty. It was recommended online but I didn't find it to be that great. Interesting enough plot though - set in 1300 or so, dealing with Edward I and II and some murders at a convent.
2. Jesus, My Father, and the CIA, however was a fantastic book. It's a memoir of Ian Morgan Cron (author of Chasing Francis), growing up with a pretty mean, neglectful alcoholic father who also was a sometimes CIA agent. It was hard to put down and I gobbled it up in a couple of days. The second last chapter about diving from rocks at a quarry with his children is one of the best things I've ever read. I look forward to hearing him speak at the Wild Goose Festival in a couple of weeks.
3. The Wednesday Wars was another awesome read. We discovered Gary D. Schmidt at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing back in 2008. This is an older book of his told from the perspective of a grade 7 student during the 1967/68 school year. It is so well written and funny and touching that I found it very hard to put down.
Went to see X-Men: Origins this week - do like walking to Frederick Cinemas. It was an all right movie, never a dull moment - Josh says it was too cheesy but I don't seem to be as sensitive to that kind of stuff I guess, or else I go in with pretty low expectations when flicks are based on comic books.
Phil Keaggy's "The Song Within" and his collaboration with Jeff Johnson "Frio Suite" were my accompaniment for completing report cards this week. Other listening included Mumford and Sons' wonderful "Sigh No More," John Mark MacMillan's "The Medicine" (it's growing on me), Ken Medema's 1980 "Kingdom in the Streets" (excellent, biting lyrics), Gungor's beautiful "Beautiful Things" and Chuck Girard's "Written on the Wind" (some of his great songs kept echoing through my mind all week long).