Ponderings with Doug

There is a list of actions to avoid in the future.


Doug de Graffenried, First United Methodist

Never volunteer to lead a retreat for clergy spouses. The retreat was a disaster. Turns out the spouses of clergy did not want clergy leading their retreat. They certainly didn’t want the clergy person talking about holy humor when they were in a terrible bad mood because they were married to clergy. They did not want to hear a male opinion the joy of hanging out with church people as recreation. Usually crash and burn happens in the twenty minutes of a sermon, this was a painful slow motion disaster lasting 24 hours! The only moment of joy was when I changed the flat tire for the most vocal critic, proving that male clergy are useful! Also proving you should never give harsh reviews before checking the tire pressure of your getaway car.

Always check to make sure the circuit breaker is off before touching electrical wires. You might believe you have turned the circuit breaker off. You might believe the wires you are grabbing are not live. It would be a good idea, particularly working with 220 volt wiring to verify the assumption. Failure to check the circuit breaker led to grabbing live wires under the cabinet. The resultant shock was shocking. The more electrically inclined readership got a charge out of that hard learned lesson.

The circuit breaker wisdom also applies to the outlets in the kitchen as one is removing the excess grout from the DIY backsplash. A wet sponge is necessary in removing the excess grout. The big old sponge just nicked the outside of the duplex outlet. Nicked it mind you, it was not even a full bodied brush against it, barely touched it I’m telling you. Water on a sponge is a marvelous conductor of electricity. The vocabulary used after being shocked was shocking.

There is yet another activity to avoid. One might be unware of leading a clergy spouse retreat. After all, where would one receive such a warning? Everything to do with electricity comes with a warning about shutting the power off. The first instruction for any appliance installation is turn off the power. I believe someplace there was a warning about using a wet sponge around duplex outlets in the grouting instructions.

There are things you know because they are in your soul. You heard them somewhere but you can’t cite the source of the knowledge. Some of the sources are reliable some mythical. Some place you learned never to spit into the wind. The church version of that is when baptizing in a creek make sure the head is pointed upstream. There is a preacher book somewhere that reads, “a head pointed downstream and up the nose the water goes.” Another example of sage wisdom “never break-up a dog fight.”

Did I tell you that I was bitten on Saturday? Lizzie, the eleven year old lab bit me. She bit me because she and Dora, the youngest were having a dog pack pecking order pugilistic pow-wow. Dora had latched on to the scruff of Lizzie’s neck. I was extricating Dora from her aggressive position when Lizzie bit. She was aiming for Dora but ended up with my left hand. If you are a touch typist you know that the left hand is very valuable, even for us right handed people. The bite is such it causes discomfort with every left handed letter. I have discovered that I also turn door knobs with my left hand and I tend to put keys in my left pocket. This dog bite has turned into a major inconvenience.

The bite will leave a nice scar on the top of my left hand. I will carry that reminder of Lizzie for the rest of my life. Funny thing, she has been acting guilty around me since. It was not her fault. She was doing her dog thing and I interrupted. I knew better, at least I had the aphorism in my head, “don’t break-up a dog fight.” That aphorism has become a truth in my experience.

Here is the question for pondering for all of the Holly and Lilly folk that will be in church Sunday for their annual visit. Is the phrase “Christ is risen” an aphorism or transformational truth?