Daily Grat: Charles D.

My daily grat for today will be Charles D, one of our Northaven members, who had surgery today. The surgery of a church member seems like a bizarre daily gratitude. But I think it will make sense in a moment.

See, we had something really crappy happen last night. We were broken into. Somewhere between midnight, when we went to bed, and 6:30, when I got up to go to Charles’ surgery at Baylor, somebody threw a big rock through the window of our study/music room.

Several friends have asked me why/how we didn’t hear anything. Basically, the house is “ranch style” and the rooms are as far apart from each other as you can get.

Anyway, it was a mess. And a big shock. And then we realized things were missing. Specifically, my laptop and my wallet. The really creepy thing is that it was highly unlikely that anyone could have done this *prior* to last night, because there was stuff blocking the windows.

But since we’re having some work done in the rooms (new flooring…new paint…) I had moved almost everything off the desk earlier in the day. So, it was literally the first night that anybody could have smashed the window and grabbed the stuff. (The whole event was probably as quick as a “smash and grab” on your car…)

Most folks I’ve talked to today have been sorry that I lost the wallet. Actually, I could care less about that. What I’m really gonna miss is my laptop.

That thing had really become a part of my life. I used it for church. I used it for the band. I used it to record my own music.

This last one was the first thing thought of. I’ve recently multi-tracked four new songs and, yes, I failed to back up any of it. I do have *one* copy of the masters, as they stood last week. I guess that’s all there is now.

What a loss….

So, I spent the day calling pawn shops, insurance companies, credit card companies, meeting a police detective (no fingerprints…), and the glass repair guy.

It was painful, frankly.

I did get by to see Charles in the early morning, before his heart surgery; but I didn’t get back to the hospital until late in the afternoon, when he’d been transferred to a regular room.

Charles is in his early 80s. He’s a fixture of our church, and an incredibly wonderful guy. He volunteers at church once a week to answer the phones, compiles our visitor reports and puts out the visitors books each week, and does a ton of other stuff that we rely on.

Every time you ask him “how’s life?” he replies with “Better than the alternative…just happy to be here.”

And you get the sense that he really means it.

His surgery yesterday lasted several hours, and I expected to find him a bit groggy from anestesia in the afternoon. Far from it, he was chipper and animated…glad to see me and glad the surgery was over.

I asked him how he was doing/feeling about everything, and he put it all in very clear and sharp perspective. He described how he had been nervous prior to the surgery, but that he had kept reminding himself of something somebody had told him years ago.

“A friend once told me,” he said, “to always be grateful when your doctor says ‘We can operate.'”

I thought about that for a while, and what a great attitude this is to have. Hearing that you “need surgery” is something we often take as bad news. But is it? Isn’t it actually *good news* to know that, yes, you are in the care of medical professions and, yes, they think they can do something about it?

Isn’t hearing “We can operate” always “better than the alternative?”

I thought about this conceptual shift all the way home, as I mulled over our break-in from the night before.

Yes, it sucks to get my computer ripped off. Yes, it’s gonna be a pain to get everything in my wallet replaced and to gradually be reminded of the things lost off my computer.

But, yes, it’s “better than the alternatives.” We’re OK. The window is repaired.

And I can always get more stuff.

Thanks to Charles, for the daily gratitude/reminder of how sometimes how we look at things makes all the difference.

(During this year, my goal is to find something new to be thankful for every single day, and to add that thanksgiving as a blog entry, under the title “My Daily Gratitude.” I started this kick back around Thanksgiving, and it’s already resulted in a favorite new song of mine. The goal of this ongoing spiritual exercise is to see if doing such a thing might inspire even more gratitude within me, and to foster general awareness of life on a deeper level.)

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

2 thoughts on “Daily Grat: Charles D.

  1. Thanks, Eric. I can relate. A week ago, while I was in Athens, someone(s) broke into my house and took my new MacBook, a flat screen tv, all my sterling silver flatware, and a necklace that my mother had given me. True, it's just stuff, and I keep reminding myself of that, but it's stuff that meant something to me (especially the necklace, which contained the diamond from her engagement ring, which my father won in a poker game). I'm still working through all the insurance and police hassle. Insurance will replace most of the stuff. I'm grateful for my church community, which reminds me of what is important and what is stuff.Ellen

  2. Oh! So sorry, Ellen! what great stories about that necklace! And how little whomever took it will ever appreciate of what they've done. Yes, it's not really the *stuff* that matters…but the struff with meaning and memories that matters most. So sorry.What is it about Macbooks right now, huh? Jeez.I am thankful we have a house sitter this week, and Tom K. who'll be supervising the repairs. It's a little unsettling….

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