The blog of Greg DeLoach

Roswell Georgia

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life, pt 3

I have decided that for my 50th birthday I am going to write 50 articles this summer reflecting on my wanderings. These are not “pearls of wisdom” by any stretch of the imagination. Truthfully I have accumulated very little wisdom in all of my days. I simply want to reflect “out loud” as an active bystander of this life. I am grateful to share it with you.   Mentors, Pastors, Coaches and other Companions Along the Road   I am learning – and it has taken me 50 years and counting – that you cannot make it through this world alone. The notion of “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” is misleading at best, a lie at worst. Everyone needs someone to guide them along the way.   For me, it has taken a long time for me to acknowledge that I need help.   When I was a teenager and well into my adult years I had too much pride and rarely asked for help. Maybe I did not want to appear weak, or ignorant, or helpless. I wanted to demonstrate that I was smart enough and what I did not know I could figure out.   Well that is just dumb thinking.   I am slowly learning the truth than I cannot do anything, really, all by myself. As my hair continues to grey (and retreat) I am recovering the importance of connecting with those who have gone before me and who will help show me a better way.   For eight years I played football. Throughout that time I worked with coaches who inspired me, cajoled me,...

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life, pt 2.

June 21, 2016   Every moment and every event of everyman’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. – Thomas Merton, “New Seeds of Contemplation”   Meaningful work. I count it a grace that most of my life has been filled with meaningful work to do. I am grateful for health that allows me to sweat over tilling a garden, or splitting a pile of firewood, or sprinting down a corridor in a hospital to visit a loved one. I am grateful for a mind still sharp enough (but not that sharp) to articulate a thought into action and a dream into a plan.   Work that means something is meaningful work whether it is repairing a car, stitching up a patient, or cleaning a house, or helping feed a friend.   In my teens I remember many days standing on the wet, concrete floor of the dairy barn looking out to the pastures as the morning sun began to warm the sky with color and light. I gazed longingly and hopefully for something more.   Growing up on a dairy farm there was always work to do, and to be candid, I rarely appreciated it. Everyone knows that cows have to be milked twice a day, every day, but there are so many other chores. There were endless miles of barbwire fences that needed to be repaired or replaced, leaving hands and arms nicked and...

Wanderings: Reflections on a Life

June 20, 2016   I have decided that for my 50th birthday I am going to write 50 articles reflection on my wanderings. These are not “pearls of wisdom” by any stretch of the imagination. Truthfully I have accumulated very little wisdom in all of my days. I simply want to reflect “out loud” as an active bystander of this life. I am grateful to share it with you.   Today is my birthday. I am 50. On the one hand, it is just a number. Nothing happened this morning that was particularly different. My alarm rang at 4:59 AM; I shuffled downstairs and groggily made a cup of coffee; I read for a while; and left for my morning commute to the office. But today I am 50, and it feels as though it should mean something.   It does mean that I have traversed this good earth for half of a century. It does mean that I do not have the body, looks, reflexes or mental acuity of a teenager. It does mean, according to actuarial tables, that I have lived over half of my life. Someone asked me over lunch if I felt different. Well, not really. I feel like I should be twenty-five, but the mirror and my driver’s license does not lie.   For my birthday I want to share with you about a hike I made a couple of weeks ago.   I had just wrapped up a 14 mile trek that began near the top of Newfound Gap and descended to Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Although the...

The Big 50!

On June 20 I will mark a half-century traversing this good earth, and I want you to celebrate with me. I know this may sound self-serving, but hear me out.   Instead of the usual cards, well-wishes, and so on, I would like for you to give me a gift. That’s right; I am brash enough to ask directly for a gift, but not just any gift. I am asking for all of my friends to make a donation to an organization that I care deeply about because it serves people I care deeply about: Developmental Disabilities Ministries (DDM).   According to Facebook I have more than 2100 friends (and I hope many more that are not on Facebook). If each of my friends gave as little as $25, together we could raise over $50,000 that will go directly to serving persons with developmental disabilities. I know that for some $25 is too much – then all I ask is make a donation you can afford. For others $25 is not much at all – I ask that you choose to give generously.   Serving persons with developmental disabilities is a privilege because it allows me to be with people who are often ignored, neglected, or, worse, forgotten.   Not only would help me celebrate my birthday, but your generosity would allow us to celebrate with others. No one wants to celebrate a birthday alone!   A half-century is not nearly enough time to celebrate life. It would honor me greatly if you would help me celebrate my 50th by raising $50,000. Together we can do this!   You...

Send Me a Text…

According to my extensive and laborious research on the internet (and if it is on the internet, it must be true, right?) texting has been around for 24 years. For the DeLoaches, it has only been around for ten or so years – not exactly early adopters. Love it or loathe it, texting is here to stay. It seems everybody is texting these days and they are texting everywhere: in church, in cars, in meetings, in the check-out line, and even in funerals (yep, I have witnessed this more than once).   For my children, it is the primary form of communication. For me, it often substitutes for an email. For my marriage, we will use texts as reminders, and every-so-often as a “love note.”   Whenever I receive a text “out of thin air” if you will, I am most often warmed with gratitude that someone, somewhere, thought of me. It may be something silly, or provocative, or somber, but to know I was remembered and “texted” is in itself a gift.   To be thought of, to be remembered, to call to mind…it means that we matter. Our existence matters. Our place in the world matters. What we do, or not do, matters. You matter.   “What are human beings that you are mindful of them? Yet you have made them a little lower than the angels.” (Psalm 8:4,5) God calls us to mind because we matter to God. We are in a real and tangible way an idea of God.   Maybe, just maybe our very purpose in life is to remember one another. We are...

This is Not What I Ordered

Some like it hot…But not that hot. It all started when my son, his girlfriend, my wife and I sat down at a table in a half-full (or half-empty depending on your perspective) restaurant. I have eaten here before and was looking forward to my usual order of chicken wings, specifically the ones on the menu listed as “Hot Buffalo Wings.” For the uninformed, no buffalos are harmed or used in this product. As for the chickens, well, that is another matter entirely. While the wings I ordered on the menu are described as hot, there are four other categories of wings that are spicier; much spicier; as in “melt your lips off and leave you hallucinating” spicier. Surely you can guess where I am going in this story. After not one, or two, but five of the ten wings I ordered, my lips were melting and my nose was running and my eyes were blurring from the heat. I could take it no more. Pushing aside the remaining basket of hellish poultry parts, I asked our server, “Um, maybe my order was mixed up.” She looked at it, and said, “Yeah, I just found out in the kitchen that your order was accidentally replaced with “Slow Burn.” For the record, there was nothing slow about the burn I was feeling. It is the restaurant’s hottest and spiciest wing offering made with the demonic-sounding “Trinidad scorpion peppers.” I think the good folks of Trinidad grow those peppers as a joke for their neighbors across the hemisphere. This is not what I ordered. I get the feeling I was set...

What Are You Worth?

Everything, and I mean everything, has a price or a value. Today, as of this writing, a barrel of oil is just under $37; gasoline is worth about $2.09 a gallon; milk is $3.52 a gallon; and the average sale price of a home in Atlanta is just under $290,000. What are you worth? What price do you place on your family, your friends, or your spouse? I suppose that is not particularly fair, since it is impossible to put a monetary value on a relationship. Still, you can appreciate that everything has a worth. One of the core values at the organization I serve – Developmental Disabilities of Georgia – is dignity. It means self-respect; pride; and worthiness. Deep down we all want dignity, that is, to be treated with respect, to be valued, to feel as though we have worth in this world. It is also a value to be shared, because everyone needs to be reminded of their sacred inheritance. Dignity is sharing a smile with another, instead of avoiding eye contact or pretending someone is not there. Dignity is laughing with someone, instead of laughing at them, or worse, sarcasm. Dignity is offering words of encouragement, especially when someone is discouraged, instead of quickly pointing out their faults or short-comings. Dignity is recognizing that everyone wants deep down to be loved, instead of labeling others with words that stereotype or belittle. Dignity is forgiving someone for their wrongs, instead of keeping scoring and holding grudges. Dignity is taking time to look, listen, and care when someone needs to be heard, instead of being in a hurry...

Giving Away My Pulpit

My parish has changed, which means I have traded pulpits so to speak, and now walk alongside persons with developmental disabilities and their families. On a recent visit to a home where four men and staff members live, I was joined with my wife and a friend of ours. I wanted to show off this house filled with men full of smiles and love and hope.   To be greeted with uninhibited enthusiasm and embraces of welcome is a beautiful gift of hospitality that is good for both the heart and soul. One of the residents, Al (not his real name), was eager to show us around his house and especially his room. For the most part Al’s room is just like any other bedroom among the many houses our organization supports: the wall was decorated with snapshots of visits to parks, sporting events, and family and friends; there were posters of athletes and teams that were his favorites; and on his bulletin board he had proudly tacked up and displayed medals from his years of participating with Special Olympics. Lined up along Al’s bureau were several bird houses he had painted. As he was proudly showing off the bird houses, and we were remarking how beautiful they all were, Al picked one up, thrusted into the hands of my friend and said, “Here, this is yours.” Of course my friend was overwhelmed at the gesture, but tried to say, “No, that is not necessary, this is too generous”, etc. But he was insistent. We all made quick glances at the residential host, who nodded that it was okay,...

The Beloved Belonging

Not so long ago Amy and I slipped away for a few days to go camping in the Smoky Mountains. The trees were still stark and bare, which hold their own kind of beauty. Although we had intermittent rain, we also tromped around in some snow while hiking. We love the mountains even though we did not grow up in the mountains. We both hail from Middle Georgia environs surrounded by gentle, rolling hills where the closest thing to a mountain was a fire-ant mound. Yet each time we return and lose ourselves “up there in the hills” huddling around a campfire we feel a certain re-connection with our past. Many of Amy’s best childhood memories are of family camping trips. My grandparents rarely left the dairy, but the two or so times I remember them traveling away from cows and kin, it was to head to the mountains. One time it included taking my brothers, sister and me to see those mountains for the first time. Every time we are up in mountain territory – in a tent, on a trail, a hotel room, or just riding along the winding highway – we feel a reconnection, a belonging as if we have always been there. Deep within every one of us is the need to belong. Young children take pride in belonging to their parents; adolescents carve out new identities and belong to their friends; emerging into adulthood there is the need to belong to independent ideas and convictions; and it is not uncommon that as we grow older and age we seek out our past recovering what...

Broken Down and Rusted Out

First Week of Lent 2016 Out hiking on a trail, I have encountered a few surprises over the years. Deer, snakes, skunks and elk live in the woods, so I do not know why I should be surprised whenever I see them in their home. Several years ago I was quite a few miles into a day hike on a mountain trail when I became disconcerted and not a little bit disturbed by an unpleasant odor of what I assumed was a bear. As I was running through my mental list of “what to do when you encounter a bear in the woods,” I realized that the bear smell was me! Recently, I was out hiking with a friend (if you are going to encounter a bear it is good to have a friend, preferably one who is slower than you). We were deep in conversation when we rounded a wooded corner, and there to the side of the trail was a beat-up, rusted out old car. Trees were growing around it, indicating it had been there for quite a few years. In fact, outside of the narrow walking trail, there was no other sign of a road. It was as if the heavens opened and placed this old car alongside the trail. I suppose someone decades ago ran out of gas, or maybe had a flat, or simply blew the motor, and just parked it. Broken down, rusted out, and discarded. This happens to people too. Someone ceases to be useful and gets “parked” or discarded or forgotten. It happens to the elderly, to the disabled, to the...

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