Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ever Been Lost?


Have you ever been physically lost?  Not just momentarily lost, but lost to the point where you threw up your hands and admitted that you did not know where you were and you did not know how to get back to where you were before you got lost?  Most men have a hard time admitting this because we believe that we are independent of others, and  we do not need other people to survive. I believe this is genetic; something we cannot help.  We will ride around for days before we will pull over and ask for directions.  But, good things have come from men getting lost.  Christopher Columbus was on his way to India, took a wrong turn and wound up in America, which was a couple of hemispheres away from his destination.  To cover up his mistake, he named the natives “Indians”, swore his crews to secrecy, and told everyone that he had discovered a new route to India; one that took hundreds of days longer, but a new route nevertheless.  And now we celebrate his mistake every year on Columbus Day, a national tribute to every man who is lost and will not admit it.

Please don’t tell anybody, but I have been hopelessly lost before.  I know that this admission will probably get me kicked out of Men’s Town and I will probably have my Man Card revoked, but there it is.  I have been lost and have dragged those who were following me down the same path to nowhere.  Most of the times that I got lost were the fault of other people, of course.  They did not tell me when to turn, or they forgot to read a road sign, or they did not read the map properly, or they …well, you get the picture.
But I have been lost a couple of times when I could blame no one but myself.  The first such rare instance was on Grandfather Mountain.  Melanie, my wife, and I were going to hike around a little bit on one of the trails leading from the top of the Mountain.  We started down the trail with a group of about a dozen people.  I, being the adventurous soul that I am, suggested to Melanie that we not walk with the crowd; that we take a different path.  She assumed that I knew what I was doing and she followed me down this different trail.  Hiking down this trail was a little steeper and a little more difficult, but I thought that it was fun being away from everyone and walking alone.  Melanie did not think so and let me know it.  After about 30 minutes, I realized that this trail was slowly getting smaller and smaller.  Eventually the trail disappeared altogether.  What looked like a trail was in reality a water path.  I told Melanie not to worry, that all we had to do was turn around and follow the trail back to where we got on it.  This did not work.  I discovered that the water path had branched in a number of different directions, and that a number of different water paths fed into the water path that we were now on.  We walked for what seemed hours, and the sun had begun to go down.  Melanie was starting to realize that I was not Daniel Boone, and this was not good.  I was reminded several times that we should have stayed on the main trail.  Finally, after a couple of hours of searching, we heard voices and turned in that direction and found our way back to the main trail.

The second time that I was hopelessly lost was in France.   We had taken the train from Paris to Rouen, and while in Rouen, I was in charge of buying train tickets to the American Cemetery in Normandy.  The Cemetery is located in a small village named St. Laurent sur Mer.  When I bought the tickets I asked for tickets to St. Laurent, not realizing that leaving off the sur Mer part was a huge mistake.  We rode the train to St. Laurent.  The train pulled to a stop and I noticed that we were the only people getting off.  No sooner had we stepped off the train than I realized that we were in the wrong place, but by that time the train had begun to move and there was no stopping it.  We watched it move down the tracks, and as it faded from view, I felt Melanie, Melanie’s mother and Melanie’s father staring at me.  We were literally standing in the middle of a field alone.  There was some sort of small, wooden building about 100 yards away, so we walked to it and entered.  It was the train station.  The woman behind the counter did not speak English, so I pulled out my dictionary and tried to ask her where we were, where the cemetery was, etc.  She patiently explained that we were, in fact, in St. Laurent, but it was approximately 100 miles from the St. Laurent sur Mer where the American cemetery was.  The train had taken us in the exact opposite direction from the place that we wanted to go.  And I was to blame.   To make matters worse, there was not another train stopping at this station for another day and there was no place to spend the night.  So, with the help of this wonderful woman we arranged for a taxi to come 50 miles from La Havre and take us back there so we could catch a train back to Paris.  We arrived at our hotel in Paris late that same evening, tired and weary.

Christopher Columbus found a new world trying to get to India.  Sometimes being lost results in something good.  Each time that I have been lost, it was the voices of other people or the kindness and patience of other people that helped me find my way back.  Getting lost helps us realize how much we need other people, whether we want to admit it or not.  It is our connection to others that keeps us on the right path; or if we happen to stray off that path, it is other people who help us get back on.  It is the kindness and patience of others, given unconditionally, that help calm our storms and help us get back to a place of safety.

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Monday, December 24, 2012

Are You Ready for Love?


It always amazes me when I am traveling to see a bridge that crosses a busy highway that has been spray painted on the side with some sort of message.  How did they do this?  Did they get a ladder and paint their message in the middle of the night when traffic is light?  Did they hang off the side of the bridge in some kind of mountain climbing “Swiss seat” and paint their message?  Did someone hold their feet while they hung upside down and painted right-side up?  What kind of message is so important that someone would risk life and limb to paint it in that spot?

One of my favorite messages was on a bridge in eastern, North Carolina (I think it was on the way to the beach).  It said, “Joanie and Johnny ready for love.”  I wonder if Joanie and Johnny painted that together?  Did Johnny hold Joanie’s feet while she painted upside down?  Did they admire their message from their car by driving under the bridge after the blood drained back down into Joanie’s body?  And what does it mean to be “ready for love”?  Are we ever “ready for love”?  Or does love always take us by surprise?
My daughter, Erin, was born on October 2, 1982, although her due date was actually in mid-September.  My wife, Melanie began having contractions 2 minutes apart on Thursday night, September 30 as we were watching Ted Knight in Too Close for Comfort (I am not too sure if this is a good testimonial for that show).  We went to the hospital, checked in, and were led to a birthing room (which consisted of a wide table with a pillow and stirrups, and a chair).  Every hour or so, a nurse would come in and do a “dilation check”.  For some reason, whatever it was that was supposed to be dilating was not cooperating.  I could not understand this, because from my vantage point and because of my advanced medical knowledge, things looked dilated.  Let’s just leave it at that.  But the nurses said that things were not dilated and they refused to defer to my opinion.  So, we accepted their judgment.

Thursday quickly turned into Friday.  Friday morning became Friday afternoon.  And Friday afternoon became Friday night.  The shift of nurses that were on duty Thursday night returned on Friday night and were surprised to find us in the same room, staring at the same walls.  Not only were the nurses surprised but they wanted us out.  A full moon was shining in the Friday night sky and all the birthing rooms plus the hallways were full of panting, screaming women.   Going to the restroom was like walking through a battlefield with husbands clutching the hands of their wives saying, “Don’t worry; we will be going home soon.”  Every bit of knowledge gained in Lamaze classes was tossed to the winds as hordes of women screamed for epidurals.  And Melanie and I waited and waited in the middle of all this carnage for the appropriate dilation to occur.
Late Friday night, things began to progress for Melanie and she finally reached the critical dilation point after hours of walking up and down hallways and stairs.  The doctor for that evening (our fourth or fifth doctor) thought the baby could be delivered naturally and so we were carted to the delivery room around 3 or 4 o’clock on Saturday morning.  We were hardly out of the doorway before they pushed another woman waiting in the hallway into the room that we had occupied since Thursday night.
The natural delivery did not go so well.  The doctor tried all the tricks in his medical book and a few that he improvised to deliver Erin, but she was having nothing to do with it.  In an act of desperation, the doctor grabbed the forceps and tried to yank her out.  He nearly pulled Melanie and me off the table.  One of the nurses asked to be excused and ran outside, where I could hear her throwing up.  With that, the doctor said, rather casually, “I guess we will have to do a Caesarean.”

We were rolled out of the delivery room and into the operating room.  It was now about 5:00 am on Saturday morning.  And there they delivered Erin.  The nurses cleaned her up and handed her to me.  I was groggy, after going 55 hours with no sleep, but Erin was beautiful, and wide-eyed, sucking her fist, not crying at all.  When I looked into her blue baby eyes, I felt a flood of love pouring out of every fiber of my being; and I held her close, knowing that I was experiencing something very special, something that I was not prepared for, something surprising, something transforming.  When I looked at Erin, I saw my child; someone that I would live and die for; someone for whom I would risk everything; someone for whom I wanted to live a better life.

Love is surprising in its power to transform us.  Because of love, people change, and become better than they were.   God’s love is a transforming love through which we can become a new creation in Christ.  God’s love is a surprising love.  We do not deserve it.  We cannot earn it.  It is freely given.  It comes at a time we least expect it.

Are you ready for love?

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Be careful! Hold the Rail.

When your children start driving, you always worry about them when they drive away from your home.  You worry that their car will break down.  You worry if their path will cross with some careless driver.  You worry if they will be careless.  And when they are late returning home, your worries begin to take form and walk the floor with you. 
When our daughter, Erin, was learning to walk down the front steps of our home by herself we would tell her to “Be careful.  Hold the rail.”  One day, my wife, Melanie, announced that she was going shopping and would be back in a few hours.  As she opened the front door of our home, Erin said, “Be careful, Mama.  Hold the rail.”  And this became a phrase that we would repeat to anyone that was leaving our home. 
Now that our children are grown, we still worry about them as they drive away, but it is a different kind of worry.  It is a worry about their general well being in a world that is often indifferent; a world that does not care if they are loved, or are happy, or are successful; a world that will crush them if they are not careful.
And so, as we watch our children drive down our driveway, we silently say to them, “Be careful.  Hold the rail.  Hold the rail of home and of family and of faith; hold the rail of who you are and how you were raised; hold the rail of love and of people who love you; hold the rail of gentleness and of happiness; hold the rail of acceptance and of humility and of encouragement; hold the rail of hope even if the whole world is against you, where loving arms will hold you, where a listening ear will always hear you; where a warm room always awaits you.  Hold all these things in the rail of your heart.” 
Be careful.  Hold the rail.  Good advice for anyone going out into the world. 

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bad Things in the Night

The evening July sky slowly turned purple, then darker, then black.  Jeremy, my son, who was 5 years old at the time, and I were going to camp in the backyard.  We had set up the dome tent that afternoon in the heat of the day.  His eyes had glowed with excitement as he watched me push the tent poles in and the tent rose from the ground like magic. 
We had cooked dinner on the ground over a real campfire behind the garage.  Now as night fell around us, our stomachs full, smelling like two smokestacks, we entered our tent.  On the floor of the tent were our sleeping bags, our pillows, a blanket, a canteen, three flashlights, four books, two stuffed animals, a walkman, a hatchet, and of course, chips and dip.
Our dog, Sugars, a 28 pound brown dog mix of two other brown dogs, was chained outside the door of our tent as our protection.  I petted her as I zipped the tent closed.  She whined and scratched the canvas.  Jeremy and I read from our books, and I read to him from the “Tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,” and then we lay back on our sleeping bags ready for sleep.  I left the cover off the roof of the tent and as I lay there I could see the stars shining above me.  The fireflies were out by the hundreds and were putting on quite a show.  The tree toads droned in the background, and I began to drift away.
“Daddy,” whispered Jeremy in a very small, quiet voice.
“What?”
“What’s that noise?” 
“I don’t hear it.  What does it sound like?”
“Like someone walking around our tent.”
I listened.  There was a sound.  A crunching sound.  A chewing sound.  I knew that sound.
“That’s just Sugars eating her food.  See?”  I pointed to the dog through the tent door.  Jeremy sat up and looked, then lay back down.
We closed our eyes and I drifted away again.  I felt a small push.  I opened my eyes.  Jeremy was staring at me from his sleeping bag. 
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“There’s somebody walking beside our tent.
“The neighbor’s porch light cast a glow against the tent.  In that glow a strange pointy-eared shadow walked by.  “Sugars.” I yelled, “Lay down.  Jeremy, it’s just Sugars.”
“Oh,” he said.
Later through the fog of sleep, I slowly became aware that I was being watched.  I opened my eyes only to stare directly into a wide pair of scared little boy eyes two inches from my own.  I jumped.
“Daddy, I keep hearing things,” said Jeremy.
“Ok, slide your sleeping bag over close to mine.  That’s good.  Now lay down.”
As he lay there I put my arms around him.  “Is that better?” I asked.
He nodded yes.
I felt him relax, warm and small against me, the rhythmic rise and fall of his breathing growing steadier.  He fell asleep with his head against my chest and his arm across me.
Lying there, I thought of him and how much I loved him and how I would gladly die to protect him from whatever was hiding in the night.  I thought of how the world could be a scary place.
I lay there thinking while Jeremy slept. 

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where is God


I have searched for the words this morning.  There is nothing I can really say about this that will help.  There are no words that will shed light.  Sometimes darkness seems like it is taking over the world.  People ask, “Why did this happen?”  “Where is God?”  And we do not know why.  And we begin to doubt that God exists.   

And then we hear about the principal and teachers who ran toward the shooting instead of away.  We read about the teachers who acted calmly and got their children out of the school; teachers who were willing to sacrifice themselves for the children in their classrooms.  We hear about the custodian who ran throughout the school warning the teachers.  We see people praying and comforting the grieving.  We see policemen and firemen and ambulance drivers rushing into chaos. 

And we know where God is.  He is in every act of love; every act of sacrifice; every unselfish gesture.  He is in every hug, every tear, every cry for help.   He is there.  At Sandy Hook.

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Friday, December 14, 2012

Enjoy the Walk

I had what I used to call a “bad run” the other day.  It was a Sunday afternoon; a beautiful fall day, full of sunshine and golden leaves.  I noticed as soon as I started running that I did not feel right.  Something was off-kilter.  I could never quite get into the rhythm of the run.  My breathing was labored and my knees hurt.  For the first mile told myself that I just needed to warm up, but when the sweat started to roll down my face and I still did not feel better, I knew something else was wrong. 
When I was younger, I used to push through those times of not feeling right.  I thought that pushing through made me a stronger runner, and I would finish the run exhausted and sometimes sick.  Most of the time after such a run, I would take the next 3 or 4 days off without running.  I don’t do this now.  I have learned to listen to my body.  My body knows better than me when I need to rest or channel back a bit.  My body never lies to me.
So, on that beautiful fall Sunday afternoon, I stopped running after 2 and a half miles and I walked through the park in which I was running.  I slowly recuperated and arrived home refreshed and looking forward to my next run instead of exhausted and sick and unable to run.
In the lives that we lead we are often required to run most of the time and when we finally reach the point that we need to slow down, we don’t do it; we push through and arrive home physically exhausted and worn out.    If we do this long enough, we begin to feel spiritually worn out as well.  Although God is at our side in all of our running, I do not believe that God intended for us to live at full throttle all of the time.  We hear God best when we slow down; in the quiet times of prayer, devotion and study.  In the Bible, we read where God spoke to Elijah not in the storm, but in the calm after the storm.  We find that Moses encountered God in the desert wilderness and on the tops of deserted mountains.  Jesus stole precious moments to be by himself to pray and meditate.  John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, began his busy days at 4:00 a.m. so that he could pray, study and meditate.  It is in our quiet times that we are refreshed, recharged and reconnected. 
We all get caught up in the running of our lives and each day we push and push a little harder.  But once in a while we need to slow down, catch our breath, and enjoy the walk.

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Christmas Tree


The tree lot was empty that night except for us.  “Find a tree,” I said rather foolishly to Jeremy and Erin.  They ran among the rows of trees.  “I want this one!” cried Erin.  “No, I want this one!” yelled Jeremy.

Erin ran to another tree.  It was a huge tree meant for a room with a vaulted ceiling, not for our den.  She stared at it longingly, but she knew it was not to be.  After a while, Erin and Jeremy ran to the same tree.

“I want this tree!” shouted Erin.

“I saw it first!” said Jeremy.

Melanie and I looked at the tree.  It was the right height and shape.  Melanie envisioned how it would look in our den.  I untied it from the stake and turned it around, and she looked at it from all angles.  She pulled her hand across the needles to see how dry the tree was. 

“It looks good,” she said.  And that was that.  We bought the tree.  I helped the salesman load the tree into the trunk of the car.  Once home, I stood the tree up in a bucket of water outside on our deck. 

Two nights later we pulled out the boxes from the storage room under the stairs that held all of the tree decorations.  Each decoration holds a memory of a Christmas past.  So, as we placed each decoration on the tree, we relived all of our Christmases together.

When we finished we stood back to look at it.  It was beautiful, not because we had done such a good job but because of all the excitement and joy of the event itself.  The tree could be nothing but beautiful, no matter what or how we had decorated it.

The children ran to the lamps and turned them off so they could see the full effect.
“Let’s go outside,” said Erin, “ so we can see what it looks like from out there.”

We bundled the kids in blankets, just as we had done since Erin was a month old, and carried them down the steps onto the front lawn.   We looked at our Christmas tree, shining through the window into the night.

“I remember when we first did this,” said 4-year-old Jeremy beneath the blankets in his mother’s arms.

“No you don’t,” yelled eight-year-old Erin, looking over my shoulder at him.  “I’m the oldest and we’ve been doing this since before you were born.  I remember when we first did this and you don’t.”

“Hey, it doesn’t matter.” I told them.  “Let’s look at the tree.”

As we stood in the dark in the front yard, the lights on the tree seemed to shimmer and dance.  “This is the beautifulest tree we ever had!” exclaimed Jeremy.  His words turned to steam as he spoke.

We all agreed.  The tree was beautiful, more beautiful than any other tree we had ever had.  But they all were, and all had been, and they all would be more beautiful than the last. 

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Deeper Meaning of Love

            Summer vacation is a much anticipated tradition in my home.  My wife and I begin planning our one week adventure in January of each year usually by me asking “Where do you want to go?”  She will usually reply, “I don’t know, where do you want to go?”  I will say, “I don’t know.  Wherever you want to go.”  And she will respond, “It doesn’t matter to me.”  This gives me the information that I need and I set out in search of the unique vacation.  One year we went to the Outer Banks of the North Carolina coast and stopped off in Elizabeth City to see the nation’s oldest grapevine.  Then we went on to Kitty Hawk where they have the largest pile of sand on the East Coast.  From there we traveled to Ocracoke Island where we saw some “wild ponies” in a pen.  Then, back up to Kitty Hawk, where we saw the original reproduction model of the original Wright Brother’s second airplane.  Another year we went to Virginia where we toured Civil War battlefields.  We walked for miles in cactus fields with no shade. I thought we would top things off by going by the nation's oldest olive tree, which is just up the path from the natural bridge, which is a big rock with a hole carved in it with a river running through the hole.  They still talk about that vacation in hushed tones.  We traveled to Washington, D.C. one year where we finally got to see the original Wright Brother’s first airplane and I got to read a lifetime supply of monuments and plaques.
            Throughout all of these travels to all of these exotic places, we have stayed at some pretty nice hotels.  At one of them my son said “This room is nicer than that other room.  There’s no hole in the bathroom wall.”
            Now that my children are grown, I can see that the most important part of our vacations were not the things we saw or the places we stayed, but the fact that we were together in our journeys, sharing the moments, the laughter, the inconviences, the good times and the bad.  It is important as we go through life to have common experiences with people who love us.  These experiences contribute to our well-being and give us a sense of belonging; a sense of place.  Through shared experiences we discover who we are, how we fit in, and where we fit in.   
            I attended a funeral the other day.  Prior to the funeral the family received visitors.  As the visitors waited to speak to the family, a slide show was being shown on one wall of the room.  The slides held shared moments in time; of family meals, of births, of birthdays, of people acting silly, of babies crying, of first rides on bicycles, of family dogs running.  These are things we can easily take for granted when they happen, but looking back we cherish them like diamonds.  And when we think of the person who is gone, we will think of these things, and we will know who that person was, and what they meant to us.  And most of all, we will know the deeper meaning of love.

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Monday, December 3, 2012

Footprints on My Briefcase


            Like everyone who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, traffic is a daily consideration.  Because I live 20 miles from where I work, traffic and how to deal with it has become an obsession with me.  I know all of the routes to work.  There are no “best routes”.  Some routes are good at certain times and others at other times, and some are no good at any time, except for emergencies.  Like NASA launching a rocket, I have a brief window of time to decide which route to take.  A few minutes past this launch window and I have to go
 to plan B.  A few minutes past this launch window and I go to plan C, etc.,. 
            One day several years ago, my alarm clock failed to alarm.  As I slowly awoke to the sun shining in the window, I gradually became aware that it was 7:30 a.m., one hour past the plan A launch window, 45 minutes past plan B, 30 minutes past plan C, and 15 minutes past plan D.  Plan E was now the only viable plan left.  Plan E, however,  was a very complicated, circuitous route, involving split-second timing, last second lane changes, and luck.
            I hurried out of the house, kissing my son, daughter, and wife on the run, coat and briefcase in hand, scraped the bottom of the car leaving the driveway, and sped out of our neighborhood, visualizing plan E in my head, going over my agenda for the day at the office, and suddenly remembering the 9:00 meeting that I was to facilitate to discuss some problems with our insurance plans with our account manager.
            Ahead of me was the stoplight that I had to make in order to make the next two stoplights.  If I missed this one, I would have to stop at the next two, causing at least a seven minute delay.  The light was changing to yellow.  I began to speed up, knowing that I could make it, if only the car in front of me would speed up just a little.  The car in front slammed on breaks, and squealed to a halt in the middle of the intersection.  I hit my brakes and barely missed rear-ending him.  I backed up to let him get out of the intersection.
            Sitting there, I began running over in my mind all the things I needed to do, all the things that had to be done, and I felt my heart begin to pound, and I could hear the sound of it in my temples.  I reached over on the passenger side of the car and pulled my briefcase off the floor onto the seat.  I was going to open it and pull out my recorder to begin recording some of my thoughts on some of my projects, when I noticed the imprint of two small feet on the leather top of the briefcase.
            These footprints stopped me.  I gazed at them.  They were my two year old son’s.  He had stood on top of my brief case.  I looked at those feet.  So small.  Every detail perfectly imprinted.  A horn behind me sounded.  The car in front of me had long since gone.   I drove to the next light and stopped.  I looked over at the footprints.  For some reason, I felt like crying.  The light changed and I drove to the next light.  It no longer bothered me that I was late and had to stop at these stoplights.  I no longer wanted to go to work.  I wanted to sit somewhere and figure out what was happening to me.  I saw a restaurant up ahead and pulled into the parking lot.  I took my briefcase and walked inside.  I lay the briefcase down on top of a table and sat down.  I ordered coffee and for the next hour  I sat, looking at those feet.
            My son’s footprints seemed to represent a great mystery that needed to be solved.  I thought of his birth and how it seemed so wonderful to have a son.  I wondered what kind of person he would grow up to be.  I wondered how he would remember me.  Was I being the kind of father that he needed?  Why was I in such a hurry to leave him every morning and why did I not run home to him at the earliest possible time in the afternoon?  What was it about this work that I did and how could it compare to the person who made these footprints?  I thought of him in my arms, with his arms around my neck and his head on my shoulder.  Nothing could be more important.
            I arrived at my office, two hours late.  My important meeting was postponed.  Things that were supposed to be done got done.  Memos were written.  Phones were answered.  And nothing I did that day seemed to matter.  In fact, I left the office a few minutes early.

Copyright ©2012 by Eric Lanier.   The right to download and store the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and the materials may not be produced or reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com