Entries from June 2009 ↓

Is It Pride? Part Two

Bill talked to me while he fixed the door handle.  He never looked at the outside handle, inside handle, button, post, or spring.  My 86-tear-old daddy, Allen Jobe, found the spring I had spent 15 minutes on my hands and knees looking for.  He said, “It was just sitting there in the kitchen floor.”

Bill says he can do this kind of stuff without looking, because, “I don’t know how many of these I have put on.”  But it doesn’t satisfy.  How hard can it be to do the first time?  Why would it be complicated to hold four pieces of a door handle and thread two screws?  Why?  How?  I am flummoxed.  I feel adrift, like a piece of broken styrofoam floating on the surface of a pool nobody uses anymore.  I am undone, by this defeat and the multitude of others in my life.  In the process of being hired by the Greenville Unitarian Universalist Felloowship, the board talked to over 20 people who have known me.  They said nice things, but I’m sure there are more than 20 who could talk about my foibles, weaknesses, failures, crimes, sins, and failures to yield.

That phrase, “failure to yield,” has always been catchy.  When do we yield?  When do we fail to yield?  Kenny Rogers sang, “Know when to hold ’em.  Know when to fold ’em,”  Clearly these are critical pieces of information to accrue, but how, when, where does do such knowledge come from, and is there not always the danger that such knowledge will come too late, just as the train is passing, just after they drew yours and your brother’s birth numbers in the lottery.  And would we do good by that mountain of cash, anyway?

The door handle has been installed.  Bill did it without looking.  Daddy found the lost spring.

Is It Pride?


The Proverbs tell us pride goes before a fall.  I fell all over myself this afternoon.

I was so proud to have taken the door handle off the storm door at my dad’s house.  The wind or years of use, something had bent the tongue that holds the door shut.  I loosened two screws, dropped the old handle by Alexander Hardware.  The great Tom Gray, a good friend and good guy, ordered me a new door handle, and I picked it up today.

I asked Debbie, the wonderful hardware genius in Tom’s store, to come home with me and put the handle on.  I told her I wasn’t sure I could get the new handle installed.  She said, oh so sweetly, she would be delighted if she were not already obligated elsewhere.

I got to my dad’s house swollen with confidence.  The swelling soon went down.  The handle is comprised of seven parts: a spring (I immediately lost the spring,) a button on the handle, the outside handle, two screws, a post that goes from the inside handle to the outside handle, and the inside handle.  I spent about 15 minutes looking for the lost spring.

How does one lose a spring walking from the kitchen to the front door.? I stopped to turn the AC on.  My dad has a habit of turning the heat on instead of ajusting the AC to run at a higher temperature.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t do it on purpose.  He just wants the AC to stop and turning the heat on seems to work pretty well.  By the time I got back to the front door, the spring was gone.  I got down on my hands and knees in the kitchen, the hallway where the thermostat lives, and around the front door, both inside and outside on the porch.  After 15 minutes on my hands and knees there is no pride or swelling left.   Everything turns flat and desperate.

The spring was gone.  I decided to mount the handle, the button, the post and the other handle without the spring, thinking that it might make getting into the house difficult, but not getting out.  My dad rarely comes in that door, but he often leaves by that door.

In order to mount all four pieces and install two screws, I had to be able to hold all four simultaneously and thread in a screw.  The first three times I tried, I dropped all four pieces and was a tad embarrassed at how they crashed and clanged all over the front porch.  I tried maybe three or four more times.  This is the kind of thing my brother, Bill can do without thinking.  He might lock his jaw a few times in frustration, but he would not lose the spring, would not drop the four pieces three or four or five or six times, and would not conclude the entire process as I did.

I left out the button and the post and simply screwed the two handles together.  My dad can now lock his storm door, exit his storm door, and nobody on the face of the earth can enter from the outside.

If you want in, ring the doorbell.

The Air Conditioner Is Blowing

On Friday afternoons, the thermostat is supposed to be turned way up, so the office is usually hot and muggy.  We don’t work here after three on Fridays, so this is a great time to write, but usually it is too hot. This afternoon somebody forgot to adjust the AC, so I am cool.

The Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship hired me to be their new minister.  UU’s, as we call ourselves, are very unusual people.  We create together a space where Hindus and Jews can light candles and sing songs alongside Pagans, Christians, and Atheists.  Everybody gets a capital letter in this crowd. And that’s the way it should be.  No religion should presume to have its own special punctuation.  The Greenville crowd has been very welcoming.  Kind emails and words spoken after services and meetings make me feel very different from the new kid in school.  Rather they make me feel like a minister buddy did in a recent email.  I’m house sitting for him in July and he said, “Use anything you can find.”  That’s a welcome.

I wrote a Radio Free Bubba piece about the Greenville Fellowship five or six years ago.  I said if you can’t find love there, you ought to quit looking.  They are a very loving bunch, as is my home church in Spartanburg. Ours is a love born in part of finding a lot of things that weren’t love in other places.  Prejudice, hatred, the cold shoulder, the critical judgment, and other forms of psycho torture can be found in some of the churches some of us have known.  Every church I’ve attended has offered some loving people, but there are also people who let their politics, their theology, and their tomfoolery get the best of them.  They stab you in the back and smile as they watch your knees buckle.  To be treated like that drives a lot of people out of more traditional churches, and many of us landed among the UU’s, searching for genuine religious freedom.  It’s in Greenville and Spartanburg and other UU communities I have visited.  It is calming like deep breath, assuring like a generous gift, and affirming like a warm word of encouragement.  And it is so reasonable.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, a church I left to become a UU, said we should let our faith be informed by reason.  The UU’s I have found are so reasonable.  I am so grateful for them.  It’s nice to celebrate that in an air conditioned office.  Now, to go adjust the thermostat.