Notes from Jan

Preaching without Words

October 25, 2021

It happens. Wordless sermons like Dean Robert moving his garden chair this morning to accommodate Clemmie, the pig. She’d plopped down for a tummy scratch, but just out of reach. So the Dean of the Canterbury Cathedral put down his readings and notes for Morning Prayers and moved closer to touch Clemmie, adding, “It would be cruel not to.” And God must’ve smiled. It preached.

In a world, too mean-spirited and me-first for our own good or the rest of creation, this act of kindness touched me and my friend, Martha. It wasn’t the first time, I’ve learned from Dean Robert’s respect and appreciation for creatures from hedgehogs to thistles. Everything, each one matters.

Well, last Friday my eleven year old Prius and I had an appointment for our annual inspection and tune-up. I say “our” because we’ve bonded over the years. So, while waiting, I read for awhile, then worked a crossword puzzle. The longer I waited, the more I imagined they’d try to sell me a new car. I wasn’t buying. Besides, I’ve heard new, old and rentals are in short supply, as well as Pampers. They’re on one of those container ships in a watery queue.

After a couple of hours, a service representative (all wore jackets and titles), came into the area. Four of us sat awaiting news or next steps. He was chatty, Irish and seemed eager to talk about anything but cars, then zeroed in on my puzzle. He began telling a story about his Irish mother who loved working puzzles. She’s in assisted living, nearby. “She’s in her eighties and it helps her not lose her mind, if you know what I mean.” Then, he looked at me, as did the other three much younger folks who waited with me in this holding pen. I imagine this was group therapy for me to keep at it.

Well, to encourage them, I said, “I agree. Just the other day I read this testimonial. It may have been in AARP.”

I don’t mean to brag, but I did this puzzle in one day. On the box it said, ‘2 to 4 years.’

After a split-second, the room erupted with laughter. Like everyone was desperate for something funny, even one of my jokes, which I’m not known for. When I tell a joke in my family, they roll their eyes before I get to the punchline, if I remember it. Well, I had more in my repertoire but decided to save it. I have to come back Thursday to replace the heat shield. I left part of on a curb outside Henry’s market. They must’ve raised it between visits.

Actually, I look forward to Thursday. You never know who you’ll meet while waiting. We’re not all as obvious as Clemmie with our needs, nor as responsive as Dean Robert. But remembering how that service rep, wiped his eyes from laughing, I thought, “Maybe laughter preaches and moves our chairs just enough to touch someone.”

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  • Reply dale October 25, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Another convicting blog. I had just worked through my psychological aversion to cats when you tell me I need to embrace a pig. As someone whose early childhood was on a farm, I will spare you my pig stories. However, since humanoids and not piglets are your focus I want to thank you for encouraging kindness, since everyone needs it (more people than you know are more wounded than you think). It will be hard, but I will try to take off my headset, open my eyes, put down my book and greet the person next to me on the plane. Probably no great stories, but a good step toward recovery. 🙂 Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 25, 2021 at 8:48 pm

      Well, you are one of the great joke and story tellers, Dale. Usually, I’m more like you, head down in a book on a plane or some waiting room. I hope and pray they’ll ignore me. But last Friday”happened” and this morning’s time in Canterbury connected the dots for me. Good, not easy, to stay teachable…and hunt the laughs wherever possible. Thanks for sharing some of yours over our years of friendship.

  • Reply Sue Andringa October 25, 2021 at 7:37 pm

    A little humor breaks down all kinds of walls! I have to admit I needed a minute to “get it”. And then I laughed!
    Hugs for you!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg October 25, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    Hah! Well, you got it…and it didn’t take “2 to 4 years.” JOY to and through you, dear Sue.

  • Reply Margot Hammon October 26, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Jan, I enjoy all your posts, but particularly enjoyed this one Thanks! I read Sun. In a Harris Poll 46% of Americans reported having more aches and pain during the pandemic and 55% felt they’d aged faster than at any other time in their lives. Unfortunately, I can relate! We all need a kind touch and some humor!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 26, 2021 at 4:10 pm

      Amen to that, dear Margot! With so much bed news, misinformation and dire predictions coming at us, it’s challenging to find hope and laughter to help with the aches and pains of normal aging, much less those tied to the pandemic. I remember reading about the woman in Proverbs 31 and thinking, “Is she for real?!” When I got to, “She laughs with no fear of the future”, I thought,”Must be one of those hysterical laughs. I can relate to that.” Now that I’m older, I find there’s a link, a strong one between trust in God and the ability to laugh. It’s not all on me. Or you. Thank, God!

  • Reply Nancy Vecchio October 26, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    Laughter is such good medicine as the word goes from THE WORD OF LIFE!
    You are a sweet woman with a great godly sense of humor! I love your blogs!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 26, 2021 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks, Nancy. I’m not all that sweet, just ask my kids. But I appreciate your encouragement and miss seeing you at CBS.

  • Reply Nancy October 26, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    I also would admit to getting a bit annoyed at my cute little hamster and her need to “take walks in the hamster ball” while I clean her cage, make sure she has food and clean fresh water when “I’d rather not” and I think, “why did I let the kids talk me into getting a hamster during covid anyway??”
    Can I not take care of something so small and unable to fend for herself!
    I needed this illustration so much! Thank you Jan! And for the 2-4 years!! Lol!

  • Reply Jan Carlberg October 26, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    Hah! Well, It’s easy to write about someone else caring for the pigs in this world, than to move my chair to tend one..or clean up their sty.
    Lucky hamster.

  • Reply Shirley Dubeau October 27, 2021 at 9:37 am

    Great way to remind us to move a chairs, expand the circle and reach out with our ears.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 27, 2021 at 11:39 am

      And always great to connect with you, dear Shirley. Instead of pushing our chairs back and leaving in a huff, we need to add leaves and chairs to our tables. You get it and thanks for sharing, reminding us to “expand the circle.”

  • Reply Marge Dwyer October 29, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, Jan! Loved this story – and the joke. I’m going to have to remember that one! Miss you, my dear friend.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg October 29, 2021 at 9:47 pm

      Oh, and I miss you, dear Marge. It did my heart good to know you laughed. Be warned: I’ve got more where that came from.

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