Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Right Thing

In church today I found out that two families were related by marriage, and I had never made the connection before.  The person introducing them reminded the congregation, tongue-in-cheek, that you can’t talk about anyone in the church, because they are probably related to someone else. 

The truth is that whether it’s gossip or something more nefarious, you will probably be discovered.  Especially if you’re the bad guy on Monk or NCIS.  My mom used to say, “be sure your sins will find you out” (based on Numbers 32:23).  I don’t know why she knew such an obscure verse, unless it was something her mom said to her. 

I don’t know how true it is that people’s secret sins always come to light, although I know that God knows, and since He will judge all people, that’s probably enough.  I think my mom’s words were part of the reason I have a conscience that’s a little overdeveloped, if that’s possible.  If I think I have done or said something that might be perceived as offensive or unkind, I get a knot in my stomach.

So, what is the incentive to do something wrong?  It could be that you don’t realize it’s wrong.  Usually, I think it’s that the perceived personal gain outweighs the concern for the well being of others or a desire to do the right thing. 

What is the incentive to do what is right?  It could be avoiding consequences, or it could be that it’s the best thing to do.  God gives us a knot in our stomach for a reason.

Sometimes it’s not so black and white, though.  I can live a life of not breaking any rules, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve always done the right thing.  Sometimes the right thing is to reach out to someone who’s hurting, or to give even when you feel tapped out.  Sometimes it’s speaking up for someone who can’t speak up for themselves.  Sometimes it may even mean breaking the rules, when common sense and human need are more important.  Even Jesus broke the rules when it came down to showing love to people.

So, during Christmas, do what is right, or “be sure that your sin will find you out.”

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Old Treasures

I am literally blogging on the road.  Okay, technically I am sitting in a minivan that is being driven down the road.  No, I am not driving.  That would be crazy!

The stretch of US 31 that we take when driving back home from down south is pretty barren.  I’m so bored I offered to drive a little ways.

Our van is packed to the brim and it’s not even Christmas.  I am not sure how we ended up with so much more stuff than what we began with, but it seems to happen every time we visit my husband’s family in Kentucky.  Part of it is that his grandfather recently passed away, and the house is full of things collected between him and his wife over the past half century. 

We picked up a crate of old board games and puzzles that my husband used to play with when he visited his grandmother.  We also managed to make off with a box of Christmas themed stuffed animals and enough school supplies to last us through the entire year and then some.  We also have my husband’s old cub scout uniforms, and we hope our son can wear the same handkerchiefs he did. 

I’ve recently been to a tag sale of a neighbors.  It’s not the same as going through the home and belongings of someone that you knew and loved.  There was furniture that belonged to my husband’s great-grandfather, little Catholic humor books that must have made his grandmother laugh, the cuckoo clock on the wall that had been silent for some time, the now bare wall which used to be filled with pictures of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. 

Things are just things, and only worth the value we assign to them.  I’m really excited to get the bicycle that my mother-in-law is giving to my daughter.  I hope that we can fix it up, maybe even paint it.  There’s something about teaching the next generation that not everything has to be new and shiny to be valuable. 

We’ve now entered the neighboring county.  We’ll be home in the next half hour.  It’s great to visit friends and family, but it sure is nice to be back home.   

Friday, November 27, 2009

Still Thankful

Of course I’m thankful for my family, friends, church, health, job, home, and the million other blessings I have been given over the past year.

Something I think we tend to forget is the ways we’ve been blessed by being spared of potential pain and suffering.  My husband recently found possible evidence that someone had tried to break into our house earlier in the year.  I believe that something must have scared the potential intruders away, that God was watching over our house when we were unable to.

How many close calls have you had while driving?  My family and friends might joke that I’ve had more than the average person, but I maintain that sometimes God catches my attention at just the right moment to avoid a potential problem.  We saw nine deer cross the highway this morning on the way to my in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving.  Even though it was on a curvy, hilly road, we had plenty of warning and no one tailgating us.  I just wish I had the camera ready!

It seems today more than ever people are afraid of catching a potentially deadly virus or bacteria.  How do we know how many times we’ve avoided contact with something that would have made us very sick, just by Providence?  How do we know that we didn’t happen to have a strong immune system at just the right time? 

I am positive that whoever first coined the term “guardian angel” was the parent of small children.  How many potentially dangerous situations have my children avoided in their lifetimes (which is less than a decade)?  I’m not sure, especially since they are now in school and I have to lift them up in prayer every day, knowing I alone cannot protect them from evil in this world. 

It’s Thanksgiving, and I will give thanks for all the good things in my life.  I will also give thanks for God’s provision and protection, in ways that may remain unseen forever.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feel the Burn

It’s nearly Thanksgiving and I’m sure you’ve heard everywhere how thankful and filled with gratitude you should be- or at least how important it is to put together the perfect holiday meal.

I read an interesting tidbit about “Making Peace with Your Family” at www.beliefnet.com, adapted from the book, “Fitting in is Overrated” by Dr. Leonard Felder.  It was about dealing with well-meaning relatives who ask all kinds of intimidating questions like, “What do you do for a living again?” or “When are you going to get married?” 

What caught my attention was the attitude that family gatherings can be a character-building experience.  I had never thought of it that way.  It was compared to a physical workout.  When you exercise, you have to experience some pain, whether it’s a searing in the lungs, or fatigued muscles, to know that your body is growing stronger and more efficient. 

When you have to exercise grace, diplomacy, and patience, even when faced with people who don’t seem to know the meanings of those words, it’s uncomfortable, and even painful.  Just like your physical muscles, your character gets stronger when you deal with difficult situations. 

I suppose that means that next Thanksgiving or family gathering, it will get easier.  At least that’s something to look forward to.

When it comes down to it, I suppose there are plenty of opportunities for growth in the home, the workplace, the place of worship, the neighborhood…  The more I think about it, the more frustrating people I meet, the better person I will be.  Okay, perhaps I’m a little optimistic, but a rose-colored world isn’t necessarily a bad one. 

(To all my friends and family members who might read this, this is entirely hypothetical and has nothing to do with my personal experience.  I love you all.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wake Up!

Today I am wishing for Frankenstein-like ability to mess with my mind.  I am so tired!  It doesn’t seem to matter how much sleep I get, I still feel fatigued. 

For me, tiredness usually leads to laziness.  I am completely uninspired to do anything about the laundry, or my personal projects, or even brush my teeth. 

A social worker told me last week that inspire is the opposite of despair.  If you’re into etymology, you would beg to differ, since, “spire” comes from a word that means “to breathe,” and “spair” comes from a word meaning “to hope.”  I would venture to say that it is difficult to be inspired if you are without hope.

So do I need a “breath of fresh air” or do I need a spirit of hope?  Or do I just need a nice long nap? 

I wish I could find a way to electrically stimulate the part of my brain that is creative, confident, motivated, energetic, and joyful, and keep it that way all the time.  I would be so accomplished, and happy to get out of bed in the morning!  I’d probably be a lot more fun to be around, too.

I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that my mood and outlook are not entirely beyond my control.  We’ve all done things when we felt too tired or too sick or too apathetic… and managed anyway, usually because someone needed us.  While I don’t advocate running on empty, I think we tend to underestimate our abilities to do what needs to be done, and how much better it feels to push ourselves a bit rather than indulge the lazy side.

I also believe that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  When I feel overwhelmed, that means that a) I need to do it anyway since it’s my responsibility, (b) I need to ask for help and not be so independent, or (c ) I need to ask God to give me the strength and resources to do the job that’s been given.  As always, the answer is most likely, (d) all of the above. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Secret Rebel

I’m not sure why my dad uses his GPS.  He diligently sets the address of his destination.  Then he diligently ignores almost every direction the automated female voice suggests he takes.

I think that maybe, underneath the accountant, family man exterior, my dad is a rebel.  You won’t see it in his dress, or his speech, or his language, but deep down, the reason he defies the mechanical voice of authority is that he wants to go his own way.

Everyone has a bit of rebel inside them.  That’s why even the sweetest, most down to earth person has a secret attraction for the “bad boy” or “bad girl.”  That’s why many a tattoo has been created in a discreet place, so that the owner can be a secret rebel.  That’s why even the most disciplined fitness guru has a soft spot for something… whether it’s potato chips or brownies. 

We all want to go our own way.  We want to be seen as unique, different, and special, not just one of the crowd, or what other people want us to be.  Rebelling for the sake of rebelling is really kind of silly, if you think about it.  You’re still allowing the authorities to dictate your behavior, you’re just doing the opposite. 

I believe in questioning the status quo, and asking why we have rules and if they make sense.  I believe in doing the right thing even if it’s not popular or against the rules.  If I go my own way, it’s because I have determined it’s the best way, not because it’s the opposite of what I’m being persuaded to do.

I know that’s really why my dad ignored the pleas of his GPS.  He’s travelled around the state enough to know which way is shorter and which way is faster.  When he was in an unfamiliar city, however, he relied on the directions of the satellite authority to get him to his destination. 

So wisdom prevails over rebellion, because sometimes “the man” is actually right. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just Grow Up

Isn’t it odd how some things that bother us growing up don’t go away when we’re supposed to be grown up?

Even as adults we still have to deal with bullies, tattletales, gossips, and whiners.  As adults we still feel insecure at times, like we’re not good enough or we don’t belong or we might fail. 

Perhaps maturity is being secure enough to be assertive with the people who would dampen our outlook on life, and not worrying about what other people think or what the future holds.

I spend a lot of time with chronologically mature people.  Among them there are still people who are bullies, tattletales, gossips, and whiners.  There are also people who take the time to help someone down the hall, even when they’re struggling themselves.  There are people who wear knit hats and slippers because they’re comfortable, not because they make a fashion statement.  There are people who take the time to say “thank you” and “bless you” to the hard-working people who provide care.

I guess the point is that after a certain age, growing up is a choice.  Maturity is not something that happens, but something that must be sought after and grown into, for lack of a better analogy.   

Some people don’t want to “grow up.”  I think it has something to do with an old Toys R Us commercial.  Mature people still know how to play, and enjoy having fun.  They just have the wisdom to know when it’s time to play and when it’s time to be serious.  It doesn’t mean they lose the heart or wonder of a child.

I have plenty of room to grow on the maturity scale, but hopefully I’ve progressed somewhat since my school days.  Perhaps the best anyone can hope for is to progress and move forward in life, rather than dwell in the mistakes (or the glory) of the past.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just Wait

Patience is a virtue, and it’s definitely not my strongest.  I’ve learned some tricks along the way though, that help me survive in a world where nothing happens fast enough.

With my children I’ve learned to take a deep breath when I’m getting frustrated.  I’m not the best person at keeping my temper, but I’ve discovered that when I get revved up, they get even more revved up.  So I take a deep breath, and talk low and slow (kind of like John Wayne).  Then they have to be quiet to hear me, and any threats are taken a little more seriously.  

When I’m waiting in line for something and the person in front of me is taking for-ev-er to finish their business, and there’s absolutely no way to get in a different line or come back later, I’ve reminded myself that it can’t literally be forever.  Eventually, at some point in time, the elderly lady in front of me will finish counting her change to pay the cashier.  It won’t even be an hour, but probably no more than five minutes.  What’s five minutes?

Sometimes I have to occupy myself, not unlike a young child.  I try to equip myself with reading material if I can anticipate the wait.  Sometimes I have to improvise.  I know all about polarized sunglasses from my last visit to the eye doctor’s office.  I try to refrain from sliding down the banister at the dentist’s office, though.

Something that takes a little more discipline is actually allowing enough time to get from point A to point B without feeling rushed or hurried.  Then, I’m less likely to let that blind, super-slow person who pulls out in front of me when I’m the last car to reach the intersection get on my nerves.  The next person to do that on the same trip may not get the same consideration, however.

I’ve heard you should never pray for patience, because you’ll be guaranteed to need it.  I am convinced that I already have plenty of things in my life to keep my patience muscles in very good condition.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Know-It-All

Sometimes I get frustrated because I don't know it all. I realize this may be a surprise to some. I want to know why things happen and why people do what they do and what the future holds. I want to know what happened to dinosaurs, where ghosts come from, and if aliens exist.

I wonder what it would be like to know everything... how the past relates to the future, how mosquitoes fit into the ecosystem, how we get colder winters from global warming, ad
infinitum. What if there was nothing to wonder about? It seems like it would be an
incredibly boring, fatalistic way to live.

Perhaps God gave us just enough knowledge and awareness for a finite being to handle. I think he also created such incredible diversity in our interests and thinking abilities because he wanted us to work together to discover and create. I know if anyone starts talking about the theory of relativity and quantum physics, my mind is ill-equipped to process it all. But God created that science-oriented person with the ability to enjoy and examine the intricacies of His Design. Then He created very patient high school teachers to give us ordinary folk just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

The way He set it up, you can read and listen your entire life and never learn everything
there is to know in this world. In a way, that's really exciting. You never have to be
stagnant or the same. Even if your circumstances are less than ideal, you can choose to learn new things and grow into a better person, even if you live past 100 years.

I imagine I can live with some uncertainty and unknown in the present, so that some day I can meet in person the Person who really does know it all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Optimistically Speaking

I hope I don’t get kicked out of the Optimist Club for saying this, but I’m actually more of a realist than an optimist.  No, I’d say I have both optimist and realist layers- and I have a bad habit of revealing the layer that is the opposite of the person I’m talking with.  I guess I like balance. 

So when someone has a wonderful idea, I’ll ask them if they’ve thought about… x.  Or y.  I can’t help it, my brain wants to take that idea and analyze it to death. 

On the other hand, if I have an idea, and you question it, be very gentle.  Losing my ideas is like losing my hair.  It’s harmless, but it hurts if you pull too hard.  And no one wants to be bald. 

All this to say that I generally believe that every smile and every kind word you give to others has the potential to make their day, maybe even change the course of their lives (that’s the optimist).

I do not live as though this is true.  I use my smiles sparingly, for personal and professional use only.  Strangers scare me.  I also tend to keep positive comments to myself.  Today the acquaintance I sat next to in a training event had a gorgeous pumpkin colored turtle-neck sweater that was very flattering on her.  I thought it.  I could have said it.  The opportunity never arose. 

Today, though, someone said something to me that absolutely made my day.  He encouraged me, that even Ernest Hemingway was a pauper during his life.  (That really is an encouragement, even if not for my pocketbook.)  He also said that he enjoyed my writing.  Coming from a well-respected member of the community, I felt like I was ten-foot-tall.  You could have told me my puppy died and it wouldn’t have phased me (I don’t own any pets). 

So, little things do matter.  Tell that person nearest you that you appreciate them.  Smile at a stranger.  Never give up hope!  Never give up, period.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Climbing the Walls

I have decided it’s time to quit blowing smoke and complaining to my scale at get my body moving.  I managed to exercise at least 20 minutes every day for the last week.  Besides pure laziness, my biggest obstacle to a regular exercise program is boredom.

So, today I decided to do something different.  I found an indoor rock climbing wall.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’d done anything like it before, but I was confident. 

I had hoped for a little instruction, though.  Instead, I was given a release to sign and asked for my shoe size (and a ten dollar bill).  After changing into climbing shoes, I surveyed the giant room, covered from floor to ceiling with plywood walls, leaning at various angles and dotted with odd-shaped grips.

Although I’m not completely out of shape, it was hard work trying to mentally and physically figure out how to get myself from bottom to top, especially when in many spots the larger grips were at my knees and I couldn’t get started.  I also found out I can’t do anything besides a 90 degree angle. 

Thankfully, the staff was busy cleaning up from a lock-in the night before and I was on my own to huff and puff, bang my knees, and jump down before I fell several times. 

I was starting to tire, so I checked the clock.  Surely it had been about 45 minutes, maybe an hour.  It had been about 20.  So I forced myself back out.  I actually did better the second time around.  Of course, I had an audience consisting of two older, obviously more experienced men who spent more time stretching than I did climbing.  Then there were the young children who came in and were racing up the wall like little monkeys.  I left before they got their harnesses on and really started showing me up.

If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, my arms have turned to lead and I’m unable to type.  Hey, that’s what fun’s about at my age!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lost

There are different levels of loss.  They range from the loss my son feels when he loses half his cookie  on the floor to the heart-wrenching loss of a child, or a spouse of many years.

On the other hand, the feeling of loss is not necessarily connected to the monetary value of the missing item or the relationship of the person who is no longer a part of daily life.  It is completely bound up in the value we attach to the thing or person, and our ability to go forward when it is no longer a part of life.

So, people have committed suicide over money problems, not wanting to face the difficulties involved with a loss of prestige or lifestyle.  People have also emerged from debilitating injury or disease with a smile and sense of hope.  Although nothing can change the sense of grief and pain at losing something important or someone close to us, it is up to us to redeem those feelings into something of value.

After attending the funeral of a family member, I was struck with the fact that all that was left was… memories.  In fact, since he had Alzheimer’s, it had been some time since we had been able to carry on a conversation with him, and that the family had been dealing with the loss of their father, grandfather, brother, and friend for years before his body gave way. 

I was struck by the tears shed by his great-grandchildren, who could not have known the man well, but whose hearts were tender enough to feel the sense of loss in those close to them.  It is hard to see someone we love grieve.  All we can do is be there, and empathize with the feelings of loss.  Eventually, with proper care, as with physical trauma, the pain subsides, and the wounds begin to heal.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bon Apetit

I’ve rediscovered cooking.  For awhile, between classes and sports practices, I felt accomplished to get a frozen pizza in the oven for my kids.  I went to the grocery store this weekend and bought meat, and vegetables, and pasta- no frozen pizzas, hot pockets, or TV dinners.

It doesn’t take a lot more effort to brown some ground beef or chop some veggies or put some pork chops in the oven.  It takes a little more care and patience and planning (all things I tend to run short on) but the results are worth it.  My 6-year-old like my pork chops so much this week, he said he wanted me to serve it at his birthday party.  We decided kids his age would probably enjoy a “make your own pizza” activity better.

I’ve missed the creativity aspect of cooking, as well as the melding together of flavors, and the incredible smells and tastes that rival the frozen pizza or the peanut butter sandwich any day.  It also feels better to put something healthy in front of my kids, knowing exactly what is going into their bodies. 

Growing up, my mom cooked fabulous meals almost every night.  She still does!  Even when our schedules were crazy, and part of the family was eating at 9:00 at night, we could count on a homemade hot meal- from beef stroganoff, chicken divan, tuna biscuit casserole… my mouth waters just thinking about it.

Well, I’m no Julia Child, and I doubt my children will have as fond memories of dinner time as I do, but I’m willing to try.  Who knows?  Maybe it will be good for my waistline as well!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Honest Enough

I am generally an honest person.  I believe in truth and integrity.  I am also a very private person.  I believe there’s such a thing as too much honesty or transparency. 

I remember being a young associate pastor, visiting church members in the hospital.  One thing you don’t ask a hospital patient is “how are you doing?” unless you really want to know.  I was told all about people’s surgeries in graphic detail, about infections and gasterointestinal issues and other things no one except your closest family members really want to know.  I would have settled for the answer, “I’m fine,” or “still sore” or “not so good.”  I know we are supposed to be specific in our prayers, but I could never bring myself to be that specific in the hospital room.

Another area where honesty is not the best policy, as any woman can attest to, is related to appearance.  Never tell a woman that she is ugly, fat, old, or that her new hairdo is anything but stunning.  It doesn’t matter if she’s 90 years old, 600 pounds, and bald.  Although men tend not to be as sensitive about what they look like, it still isn’t nice to share your negative opinions about anyone’s appearance.

To recap, two reasons not to be completely honest is when it’s TMI (Too Much Information) or when it’s unkind to do so.  Along both those lines, it is not required to speak everything that runs through your head.  For some reason, some people seem to lack a filter from the brain to the vocal box, and the results can be anything from embarrassing to hurtful. 

Seek the truth, but think before you speak it.  The end.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day in the Life

"Why didn't I bring that puzzle book?" I asked myself, as I sat at the receptionist desk
putting in my time as weekend manager. Thankfully it had been quiet- I wasn't scrambling to
find replacements for people who called off. I thought I should figure out how to work every
non-payday weekend.

The too-loud rhythm and blues music playing from the nearest dining room was giving me a
headache, but I was too lazy to get up and find out if anyone was actually listening to it. I
missed my contemporary Christian radio station. Since I was using a loaner from my faithful
car repairman, I wasn't able to figure out how to use the sound system.

My head itched- and I tried to convince myself it wasn't from the botched up highlight job I
did that morning. I just wanted a little auburn in my hair, and it was more like a striped
purple. I thought I could save myself a little time and money. I was thinking that I might
as well dye it all to my natural color and stop trying to mess with mother nature.

I glanced at the clock. My daughter was probably on the basketball court right now, and I was
missing it. I hoped my dad would encourage her to play hard. Less than an hour to go, and I
wouldn't have to do this again for another three months. Thank goodness. It was a beautiful
day for November- sunny, with temperatures dancing around the mid-sixties. Of course, I had
no special plans, outside of a trip to the grocery store and trying to straighten up the house
a bit.

My kids had plans. Birthdays were a month away, and they were already working on the
invitations. My daughter is going to have an art-themed party; my son is planning for
pirates. I've never spent a lot of time on birthday party planning, but I figured that they
are getting old enough that they want to celebrate with their friends.

Maybe I'd find time for a cup of hot chocolate and an escape novel... although I'm not sure I
own any that haven't been read. There's always Mom's house, though. She has lots of books.
I don't think you're allowed to be a librarian if you don't.

Forty-one minutes to go. Sigh....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wishing for Time

When I was in preschool, I couldn’t wait to be old enough to ride the school bus. In first grade, I looked forward to being in fourth grade, because they performed plays for the first graders. Then I couldn’t wait to be ten, because that meant double digits, and playing school sports. But twelve was the age to go for, because then I could shave my legs and wear make up.

Of course, I couldn’t wait to be 13, and be an official teenager. As a sophomore in high school, I was already counting down the days until graduation. It seemed like a lifetime to wait until I was 16, and could date, and drive (after a couple driving tests). Then I wanted to be 18, so I could be an official adult, vote, and make my own decisions.

I hurried through college, biding my time until I could be part of the “real world.” By the time I was 21, I had married and would graduate college within weeks. I couldn’t wait to have children, though, and be a mom.

When I had children, I treasured each moment, but looked forward to weaning them, to understanding what they said, to potty-training.

Now, my children are old enough to dress themselves, feed themselves, walk home from the bus stop, even be left alone for a short time. I find myself at a tipping point between youth and age, wondering what has happened to the last decade, wanting to have accomplished so much more by this time, and worrying about the precious few years I have left when my children actually want to spend time with me.

I find myself wishing for more time to get everything done, and no longer look forward to growing older and reaching new milestones (except maybe retirement). I have to create events to look forward to, so that life isn’t just a giant treadmill. I have to get serious about setting goals and beginning new habits, because, to be completely cliche, I’m not getting any younger.

Time is a precious gift. I aim to use it more wisely… and not wish life away.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Facing Demons

I'm rereading "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. Since my first reading was half a lifetime ago, I marvel afresh at Lewis' insight into the condition of people and how easily they are swayed away from God one way or the other. For the uninitiated, "The Screwtape Letters" is a series of letters supposedly written from a senior demon to a "rookie" demon, instructing him how to win his assigned human being to the "dark side," kind of the opposite of a guardian angel.

One topic that rang true for me was this example: "The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered." I see people like this all the time. The more "rights" they believe they have, the more disgusted they are with life, because they never get what they "deserve."

Lewis goes on to elaborate how we think we own our time, and therefore get irritated or upset because someone has interrupted "my" time or caused a delay in "my" schedule. Even the demons in Lewis' allegory understand that it's all God's, "on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it."

It really makes me think. As backwards as it sounds, the people who claim to have or control the most are the most miserable, because someone is sure to infringe on their claims. On the other hand, those who hold their possessions, talents, and time loosely, as a manager instead of an owner, are less inclined to make a big deal out of an unexpected loss.

It's also interesting how the struggles people face in weighing the voices of God and themselves and the surrounding culture are timeless. Lewis' work rings true, more than 50 years after it was written.