This past weekend may wife and I were in Melbourne, FL for a state thespian competition. Our daughter and her friends were representing La Villa School of the Arts. While it is always good to experience youth, at a variety of talent levels, courageously taking the stage, it was a conversation with my sister-in-law’s husband that evening which inspired this post.
Jimmy is a pastor at Church of the Beach, which he started on his own. While his past is grounded in Baptist and Southern Baptist theology, Jim’s approach to the faith is less about hell and more about love. The audience is a beach community, easily noted by their Sunday attire.
Conversations focusing on religion are few between myself and Jim, yet he has always been respectful of my belief system, which seems to have fostered a good relationship.
Dinner happened at a wonderful German restaurant, the Cafe Coconut Cove. During our first round of beers (there were only two) I began to discuss how gleaning served to unite people ranging between theists and non-theists. With the patience of a saint, Jim listened as my extended commentary wandered into recent studies on Christians, Agnostics and “Nones”.
When I finally stopped he shared his story of community.
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How many out there follow British/English Premier League Soccer? A few years ago, at a point when the business machine of college and professional football here in the United States was beginning to disgust me, I turned my attention across the pond. While not a life long passionate soccer fan, I am a dedicated World Cup viewer. When the Summer Olympics came to Atlanta the one ticket I had to get was a men’s soccer match, and we were doubly rewarded. We were there when Nigeria defeated Brazil on their way to Olympic gold. Upon leaving the stadium the crowd was informed that tickets still remained for the women’s gold medal match between the U.S. and China: So we grabbed two and witnessed history.
Wanting something different, while knowing that British soccer is not distinct from other sports institutions, I researched teams and decided Newcastle United would be my club. It is relatively close to where my family hails from, Fulford, and the fan base is a passionate bunch with a rich history. Deciding I also wanted to cheer for an American player I added Everton to my small pantheon being that Tim Howard is their man between the pipes.
Two weekends of Derby play saw Newcastle lose to Sunderland 0-3, making this a sweep for the season in which the Magpies were shut down 0-6. Last week saw Everton lose their Derby match to Liverpool 0-4.
But it is just sports, something that is more a respite than foundation. A news story that put that in context was one the Today Show highlighted yesterday. It told the story of Sam Polk, a once greedy Wall Street success story who dropped that life because he realized it was destructive. You can read about it here.
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Last night my son was part of a two-man presentation at our local outdoor store where he works, Black Creek Outfitters. Along with Jack Stucki they spent a good two hours detailing their respective adventures on the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trail. The presentation topics included gear, food and mindset. On a personal note it was a proud moment through which I observed my son sharing his passion in a professional atmosphere.
One comment that Jack made stood out, and it greatly serves Clear Sky Friday, was inspired/taken from Zach Davis’s book Appalachian Trials. Part of Jack’s closing comments to the audience centered around why one might commit themselves to months on trail, a question Mr. Davis writes about as being elemental to answering if one is to best maximize the adventure. With my longest section hike being four days, the “why” of an extended hike had never been considered beyond the answer “I just like to hike”.
Both Jack and Evan, when speaking of memories, found that the community of hikers was a grand emotional monolith. From Trail Angels to a simple person willing to give a tired hiker a ride, the basic good you find while on trail is special. Being a hopeful cynic, this is what my “why” would be. To see the good in humanity. Yes it exists apart from trail, but the quiet of the hike along with the kindness of strangers amplifies it.
With that in mind, here is an article which reminds us that good is all around us if we just look for it. Link courtesy of Sustainable Man via Facebook.