Notes from Jan

To Life: Hot, Humid and Holy!

June 21, 2024

Well, it’s another hot, humid and holy day. Like many of you, we’re in the middle of a heat wave where I live. It’s been pushing one hundred, even in places like Caribou, Maine. Now, don’t tell me there’s no such thing as Global Warming. It’s HOT and it’s here!

But that’s not my focus. It’s just a soapbox I tripped over on the way to deciding if I wanted to add ice to my coffee. I did add a little half and half cream, however. But not before I took a whiff. I bought it two weeks ago, because friends were coming over, and then it was too hot to serve coffee. But the cream reminded me of a card someone sent me for my birthday. “Lets just say, you’re so old, that if you were milk, I’d sniff you first.”

So what’s on my mind? You. Me. Elections. Immigration. Wildfires, Gaza.Palestinians. Ukraine.Social Media. Israel. Sudan. Terrorists. Haiti, Kim -Putin, for starters. It would be easier to ask what isn’t on my mind and heart. These are tough times. But tough and crazy stuff isn’t new. It helps to know some world and Biblical history. And about the God who shows up. Or doesn’t seem to come when called. Or so we think.

Which takes me to last Saturday when our Bible study group saw Fiddler on the Roof at the North Shore Music Theater. Stunning to watch this in the context of what’s currently happening in our world. And afterwards to enjoy dinner together and talk about the power of story and traditions. Dr. Marv Wilson is part of our group and has seen the musical or film many times. As an Old Testament scholar, we were eager to hear his thoughts.

Marv reminded us of the struggle to keep traditions, and the need to stay teachable. Thesis, antithesis and synthesis were words he used. For example, Paul writes in Romans 13:10 in the NIV, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” There were those back then and now, like the Pharisees, who understand laws but not love. Then Jesus shook things up when asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He answered the question in Matthew 22:36-40, NIV.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ “ Jesus said,” All the Law.”

But then Jesus gets very specific with his disciples, back then and for those who follow Jesus today.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35, NIV

But sometimes, we get sidetracked and trip over a soapbox. We think if we decree that The Ten Commandments be WRIT LARGE and placed on classroom walls, we’re doing God’s work. Easy to assume. But grandstanding comes naturally, so do best intentions or attempts to please others. But God’s love to and through us, comes supernaturally. We need outside help to love our enemies, and sometimes those closest to us, even ourselves. Jesus set the example.

So, back to Fiddler on the Roof. I found myself wiping tears as I listened to the plaintive duet between Tevye and Golde. Tevye asks his wife, Golde,” Do you love me?

Golde responds, “Do I what?”

And Tevye asks again,”Do you love me?”

Golde,”You’re a fool.”

Tevye, “I know. But do you love me?” (An aside: Who couldn’t laugh and identify with Tevye at this point?!)

Golde, “Do I love you? For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house. Given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”

Tevye: “The first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared.”

Golde: “I was shy.”

Tevye:” I was nervous.”

Golde: “So was I.”

Tevye: “But my father and my mother said we’d learn to love each other. And now I’m asking, Golde, ‘Do you love me?'”

Golde:”I’m your wife.”

Tevye, “I know. But do you love me?”

Golde: “Do I love him?

Tevye: “Well?”

Golde: “For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. Twenty-five years my bed is his, if that’s not love, what is?”

Tevye: “Then you love me?”

Golde: “I suppose I do.”

Tevye: “And I suppose I love you,too.”

Then both sing, “It doesn’t change a thing, But even so, after twenty-five years, it’s nice to know.”

That song gets me every time, even as I write it. It’s love WRIT LARGE in small actions moment by moment. Words matter and it’s good to say them, while we can. But even more, Love acts. And love makes the impossible, possible. And God’s Love LIVED LARGE is the Rx: most needed to begin healing our families, churches, nation, hurting world and planet. We don’t need more words on our walls. We need more radical lovers. Day after every hot, humid and holy day.

L’ Chaim!

To Life!

To Radical Lovers!

I want to be one.

You, too?

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  • Reply Jennifer Dickinson (Niffy) June 21, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Jan,
    “Loved lived LARGE!” I need a t-shirt with that on it! Maybe I should print some up and sell them! Loved your blog today! I can’t believe we are cooler than you all in NE. I was hoping for a reprieve when I head to Maine at the end of July, but guess that’s not going to happen. Do you and the kids have any plans to make it to NC this summer or anytime this year? I would to see you all!
    Love- Niffy

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 21, 2024 at 5:11 pm

      Oh, Niffy, how I’d love to see you. There are no BIG family plans to get to North Carolina this summer, but I hope to come in late summer or early fall. I need my Carolina fix and time with my southern family. I love seeing your name pop-up and your idea of T-shirts with LOVE LIVED LARGE. Can’t believe how hot it’s been here. Hopefully, by the time you head to Maine it will be less steamy. For sure, it helps if the nights cool off, which they haven’t been doing to any great degree.Please hug your Mama for me. And when I get to North Carolina, I’ll be sure to make contact with you and your mom.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe June 21, 2024 at 12:24 pm

    You are a radical lover, Jan, and yes I want to be one too. Thank you for reminding us of those wonderful lyrics from Fiddler. When I first heard them, a couple married for 25 years seemed old. No longer! (no need to “sniff” youngsters like that.) I smiled when I saw that Marv Wilson is in your Bible study group. I went to Israel in ’96 and ’97 on trips co-sponsored by Gordon and EANE, and they were led by Marv Wilson and Roger Greene and their wives Polly and Karen. What a fantastic experience! (And since I’m tripping over that same soapbox, I’ll stand on it a moment to say that anyone doubting the reality of Global Warming need only visit Norway, where the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. Having seen one (and walked to the edge from the parking lot 3/4 of a mile from where the glacier used to be), I’ve witnessed this firsthand. Speaking of glaciers, stay cool today! Sending you a virtual lemonade.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 21, 2024 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks for your virtual lemonade, My Norsk sister. Well, Roger and Karen Green, and Polly Wilson are also in the group. And Jud and I went to Israel with them, as well. The group is a wise and winsome bunch of former Gordon faculty and spouses. As to the melting glacier in Norway, I want to weep but don’t want to add to the run-off.

  • Reply Mark Taylor June 21, 2024 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks, Jan. I tear up every time I see Fiddler on the Roof. Both because of that tender interchange about love, but also because of the pogrom. And it’s painful to see the antisemitism being played out here in our country today.

    Stay cool!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 21, 2024 at 5:33 pm

      It’s a great musical. So much to ponder. At the end when they’re loading up their carts, gathering their few belongings to head to “havens” like Warsaw, Krakow and Chicago, I began to weep. I saw them as Jews, Palestinians and refugees from all over this world. People for whom Christ died and God loves WRIT LARGE And, dear Mark, the increased antisemitism you referred to is deeply troubling, as is the hatred for others that lurks just below the surface of so many of us. Lord, have mercy.

  • Reply Sue Andringa June 21, 2024 at 2:26 pm

    So sweet, Jan. And yes, even though we know, words matter. About 8 or 9 years ago we attended a memorial service for a young woman who died of cancer at 26. Her husband shared in his eulogy that they always told one another first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening that they loved one another. When she was in hospice, he slept by her hospital bed and one morning before going to work, he didn’t want to awaken her as she had a fitful night. She called him at work crying, saying “you didn’t tell me you love me!” He said, crying himself, “ never underestimate the power of words and what a simple ‘ I love you ‘ means”.
    Well after Bob and I dried our tears, we have made it a daily practice to tell one another first thing in the morning and last thing at night, “ I love you” and we wouldn’t miss it for the world.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 21, 2024 at 5:39 pm

      Oh, Sweet Sue, Jud and I did that, too. It is a way to gift wrap each day. But, knowing both of you, I’m confident that in between those spoken words were acts of love. We need both. Wondering if you and Bob headed to the hills to keep cooler. Arizona has us beat in terms of HIGH temperatures. Thanks for adding to the blog with your comments.

  • Reply Radina Welton June 21, 2024 at 6:30 pm

    Yes. Me too!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 21, 2024 at 9:40 pm

      Good to have your company, dear Radina, as we journey share God’s radical love in a world that needs to know such love.
      Can’t imagine it’s this hot in Oregon!

  • Reply Gordon Candy June 22, 2024 at 8:19 am

    You’ve got it! My Mark played Tevye his Sr. Year of HS- a long bit ago- but I have always loved the examples through out! You’re the best Jan

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 22, 2024 at 1:01 pm

      And what a role that was for Mark or any gifted actor! It’s such a rich musical in theme and lyrics. And like, great literature, it’s not dated in its application and inspiration. Thanks, Candy, for joining the growing number of radical lovers in a time that has too much hate for its or our own good. You know how to encourage folks. Count me twice.

  • Reply Wendy June 25, 2024 at 12:53 pm

    Oh my goodness – so fabulous!
    Fiddler on the Roof – such a classic! I first saw it at Gordon and have seen it several times since
    Dr Wilson – double classic!! One of my absolute favorite professors and Bible teachers of the OT!
    Jan Carlberg – triple classic! 🙂 Love ACTS! God’s love lived LARGE – yes!!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 26, 2024 at 10:43 am

      And I love you, dear Wendy. You and Steve know a lot about LOVE LIVED LARGE. The next time I see Dr.Wilson, I’ll tell him you are another one of his gazillion fans! He continues to teach me and the rest of us in the Bible study group. Can you imagine being in a group with a group of professors and their bright spouses: Wilsons Greens, Stouts, Russ Bishop. And before they moved west, the Gaedes. Then there’s Alice Stebbings and me. Every group needs an artist/radical and a fan of hers and the rest of the group.

      • Reply Wendy June 28, 2024 at 4:07 pm

        I think I might be intimidated by that group – except I know their hearts are all beautiful!! Of course including yours. <3

        • Reply Jan Carlberg June 29, 2024 at 10:33 am

          They are a fun and loving group. I’m so grateful to be part of their lives. For sure, I think more than twice before I offer an opinion on something from the Bible! Especially, when Marv was part of the translation team for the NIV!!

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