Every month I write a short message for a couple of Lutheran church newsletters (Mount Calvary in Excelsior and Faith in Waconia, two of my partner churches). It’s called “A Spiritual Fitness Exercise”, intended to give readers a simple tool for exercising their spirit and their soul. Since there isn’t a lot of crossover between readership of the newsletter and this blog, I thought I’d start sharing them here as well. (And I’ll also start posting past exercises in future blogs too)
As I sit and write this month’s spiritual fitness exercise, I’m fairly consumed with yesterday’s events. Yesterday there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon. By the time you read this there may be an abundance of new information available regarding the event, but today we only know the “what, where and when.” What we don’t know, is “the who and the why.”
So, how to respond? What I want to give you here isn’t an exercise as much as it is a discipline. It is a way to deliberately and intentionally react (when you are not directly involved) to a critical incident like the bombing. “Selah”. It is a word found in some of the Psalms of the Old Testament. I first noticed it in one of my favorites, Psalm 46. There have been many debates and studies about what the word means, but the general consensus is that the word is not directly translatable and doesn’t have a clear definition. (For extra credit, do some research on the Internet or at the library and check out some of the research). But one generally accepted idea is that the word indicates a “pause” in the verse, a time of instruction possibly saying, “hear this”.
This has been my advice to many people these last two days, and a strong piece of advice to my action oriented self. Pause and listen. We just don’t do enough of that in these often chaotic times. We seem to have two speeds: Go Fast – Stop Fast. This is a good time to take the time to pause, to pause and consider what you just heard. Then press “play” again and move forward, but hopefully with a little more peace and a little more understanding.
Take Care, Pastor Dan.
Public Safety Ministries is dedicated to serving all of the public safety professions; police, fire and EMS. We are also engaged with our military partners through a variety of formal and informal relationships. However, due to my background and the professional relationships I’ve established over the past 30 years, the majority of my time is spent with the law enforcement community. Recently I was asked to consider establishing a more formal relationship with a fire service organization, The Minnesota Fire Service Foundation (MFSF). I’ll not go into detail today about that organization since I am in the process of learning about the different fire organizations and associations. In some ways they are different from the law enforcement groups I work with, but I’m learning that the similarities are more common than the differences.
That being said, I was approached by the foundation requesting some information about my perspective on public safety retiree funerals. We had a good exchange of information and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations. Through this process I learned of the death of the retired Marshall MN Fire Chief, David Marks. I have been associated with quite a few funerals since I started this ministry, but not so many related to the fire service. I have a couple of connections to folks in Marshall so I thought this would be a good opportunity to hit the road and gain some first hand insights. Since I wasn’t involved in the planning (which is always very involved and more extensive than you can imagine) I’m not going to comment on anything more than what I experienced as an attending member of the public. And my review – it was a wonderful experience! Funerals are tough, all involved struggle with finding that balance between celebrating life and the realities of grieving our losses. Those who coordinated the service: the funeral home, the church, the families (both personal and professional) put on a really nice event. I met some very good people through this experience and I look forward to furthering those relationships!
One of the pleasures I have in the work I do is that I get to go on the road and experience Minnesota. I am a city kid. Born and raised and educated into my adulthood in Minneapolis. I moved to the country for work and housing as an adult (ok, Eden Prairie and Excelsior may not be the “country”, but they had corn and critters so that was rural to me). Here are a few photos of the Marshall MN road trip. It was an enjoyable journey as well as a destination. Here are a few visuals of my trip…
The sunrise was amazing! It went great with my coffee and donut.
I followed this truck for quite awhile. For hauling critters?
More morning sun. Over a field of ???
A nice fire service turnout for the funeral
This EMS facility caught my eye.
And this one too. Lots of dedicated public safety professionals everywhere you go!
A very enjoyable day On The Road! Marshall MN
Take Care, Pr. Dan
This is my view this morning as I have my coffee and do some recreational reading.
In case you didn’t notice, it’s still winter outside…
And also if you didn’t notice, my reading has nothing to do with winter…
I’m not complaining, but I am ready for spring, not the one that already happened on the calendar, but the one where I can get outside on grass and water not snow and ice.
I’m not what you would call an avid fisherman. But when I was younger I had a nice boat and did get out on the lakes with some frequency. But now the boat is gone and I’ve got out of that routine. After I retired from the PD I went right into the pursuit of my clergy career and the fishing part of my life continued to stay dormant. But last year I decided I needed to practice what I preach and work towards that “good mix” of Work, Play and Rest. So I set up my canoe for some on the water fishing (as opposed to off the dock fishing) and did a pretty good job of working my way back into a casual fishing fishing routine.
It even took me out of state to Lake Hartwell in South Caroline (where my daughter now lives and teaches) and where I caught my first ever Kentucky Spotted Bass! (Now I kinda know my MN fish, but I am open to a second opinion on the above fish. I’m taking the word of a local guy who told me what it was. But you know fisherman and their fish stories!)
Since I like to tell stories about about spiritual health, and I’ve always known that being outside on the water is good for my soul, I’ve added a new blog category – Fishin’ .
Well, that’s all for now, gotta get back to my reading…
Take Care, Dan
I often think of myself a a “Circuit Preacher.” I’m not sure if I meet any official definition of the term, but I do travel a pretty defined circuit around the state as I spend my time “Teaching, Preaching and Reaching” (to borrow a often used cliche of the roles of a pastor.) Over the past few weeks I’ve had over a dozen appearances of “pastoring” in one the above categories. Recently I’ve been doing a little more “preaching”. The preaching environments I work are a little less traditional than those of parish based pastors. I’m frequently invited to speak at breakfasts for church men’s groups like the one I did this past Saturday in Mahtomedi (as well as one in Minneapolis and one in Chanhassen a couple weeks ago).
Saturday was a energizing experience for me. It gave me a chance to revisit the St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church men’s group where a good friend of mine serves as a pastor. I’ve known Pastor John Straiton for more than 40 years. His official title in my world is “Coach”. (And to him I am “Chief”. Not for the obvious reason but in reference to a character in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) He was my Young Life youth leader as a kid and my 10th grade hockey coach. Coach also co-officiated at my wedding and helped me roof my garage the day before my wedding. We’ve backpacked Montana, fished and hunted Minnesota, supported each other in hard times and celebrated in the good times. But most of all we laugh. He is one of the two guys in my life that makes me laugh just by thinking about him. So Saturday was a fun and refreshing day for me.
Pastor “Coach” John Straiton
The Men of St. Andrew’s – Engaged and Engaging. Of course the front pew (table) was vacant since these are Lutherans.
and Pastor “Chief” Dan
I do quite a bit of reading. And I do quite a bit of thinking. And I do quite a bit of talking and writing about what I’m thinking and what I’m thinking is greatly impacted by what I’m reading and… well you get the picture. So I thought I’d share some stories about the books I read as I’m reading them. That’s what Off The Bookshelf references, books that are off the shelf and I’m currently reading. (Stay tuned for On The Bookshelf)
My current read is ”Vanishing Act” by Thomas Perry.
It’s a fiction/mystery series about a woman who helps people disappear from their former lives. As I was reading today I was struck by a comment by Jane (the main character who guides people into their new lives) as she talked with the man she was helping. “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” A question she asks when trying to create her client’s new identity. She then goes through a series of steps that helps her guide the person in a direction to an identity that “fits” them.
I was struck by this comment because I frequently use the same question when talking to cops who are in the retirement transition process (and it really is a significant process). I ask myself the question almost daily as well. So as I was reading today, I figured this is a great exercise for the spiritual health of your soul. Ask yourself: “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” And don’t forget to spend some time answering the question (because that’s when the heavy lifting begins!)
Take Care! Pr. Dan