February 21, 2010

The Thrill of Victory

Like millions of people around the world, Nancy and I are watching the Winter Olympics from Vancouver, and we are so impressed by the athleticism of the competitors.

I am especially in awe of the men who soar like eagles in the ski jump, sometimes flying nearly 500 feet before making a perfect landing.

Watching the winners and losers in the current Olympics, I am often reminded of ABCs Wide World of Sports hosted by Jim McCay which ran from 1961 until 1968. The series always began with this introduction:

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport! The thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat! The human drama of athletic competition!

In today’s Parable, I invite you to remember those moments in your life when you experienced the thrill of total exhilaration and complete joy . The uplifting memory of those events is one we should attempt to recall as often as possible.

That’s not always possible for we all have unpleasant personal memories, and we are bombarded daily by stories of war, terrorism, violence, natural disasters and other disturbing events. It is so easy to dwell on that which is disagreeable.

But we have a choice each day. We can allow the unpleasant and depressing events of life to drag us down so that we too experience the “agony of defeat.” Or we can be inspired by recalling moments of supreme joy like the “thrill of victory.”

Don’t let joy and bliss be an option in your life. Make it your choice.

February 12, 2010

The Watchmaker Story

A recent Hallmark TV show focused on an atheistic science teacher who rejected a student’s proposal to write a research paper proving the existence of God. The teacher said belief in God isn’t science.

Later, the student spoke to the director of the local planetarium who told her the story of The Watchmaker created in 1802 by English theologian William Paley. Many years ago, I heard this variation of the story.

Imagine you place in a secure safe a variety of metals, springs, wheels, cogs and paints, and you are the only person with the combination. When you open the safe again, the materials have disappeared and in their place is a beautiful watch with the correct time.

Common sense will not permit you to believe the watch made itself from the materials you placed in the safe. Someone or something created the watch.

The planetarium director suggested the perfection of the universe is far more complex than the workings of a watch. And like the watch that appeared in the safe, common sense suggests someone or something created it.

When I observe the colors of a monarch butterfly, the intricate design of a columbine flower or the perfection of the universe, I cannot believe these miracles of nature happened by chance or natural selection. I can believe, and I do believe the Hand of a Creator was involved.

February 3, 2010

On Death and Dying

On Sunday, January 31, 2010, my mother, Elizabeth Westerdahl, age 101, passed away in the Geneva General Hospital in Geneva, New York. Her death, the result of a stroke, was peaceful, and the doctors and nurses who attended to her did everything possible to make her final days comfortable.

Mother’s death prompts me to comment on her faith and her expectations following her passing.

Most of us rarely think of death or dying. It is an unrealistic attitude for we all know that someday we will die, and we betray our fear of death when we say, “Let’s not talk of dying. Let’s talk of something more pleasant.”

But what is there to fear for if we believe in the promises of Scripture, God has prepared for us, behind the curtain of death, a life of beauty, peace and love; a life of reunion with loved ones; a life without sorrow, tears or pain.

In the words of St. Paul, God has prepared for us things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining ___ all prepared by God for those who love Him.

Those of us who have listened to the thrushes' song or have taken the time to watch a sunset are more likely to view the future like Bishop Warren Chandler who, when he lay dying, was asked by a close friend, “Do you dread crossing the river of death?” The Bishop smiled and said with conviction, “Why should I be afraid? My Father owns the land on both sides of the river.”

Mother was a woman of great faith, and she believed God created this world, a world in which we are but mortal visitors. Because of her faith, I invite you to believe, as I do, that Elizabeth Westerdahl is living now in a world where everyone is immortal.