Welcome Jonah Lange, guest writer, back to the fire. Jonah is a graduate student at University of Iowa studying school counseling. He enjoys running, board games and exploring the world in which he lives.
A man was being led away by a squad of soldiers. He didn’t seem like a violent man, so the soldiers seemed rather unnecessary. They led him into the temple. I didn’t see him for a while after that. I heard what some were saying about him. Some said he deserved death, while others swore that he had only done good. Spurred on by my curiosity of what I’d heard, I decided to go and see it when he was going to be crucified. Apparently, they must’ve found out something bad about him.
I got there when they first put him on the cross. They’d put a crown of thorns on his head along with an inscription on his cross saying that he was the king of the Jews.
I didn’t know how long I’d stick around. Sometimes, it’d be days before a crucified criminal would die; however, from the start, something seemed different about this. For one, it got dark fast. Expecting a storm to break out, I almost just left. My house was far off anyway and I figured I’d get just as wet either way. So I stayed. Much to my surprise, it didn’t rain.
At one point he asked for a drink and at another he called out to God. Then, all of a sudden, a lot of things started happening. Rocks started splitting and the earth shook. It looked like the man on the cross had died, but it would’ve been much earlier than normal. I ran pretty quickly.
The next day, I heard that some people had taken his body down and put it in a tomb. The man must have really been dead. I tried to go see the tomb for myself but seeing that it was being guarded by Roman soldiers, I chose not to approach. The question of who the man was still rang through my mind. No one had really seen his followers around since the day he died.
A few days later, I was walking around and thought I saw the man going around with his disciples. At first, I thought it may have just been someone who looked like him. I wouldn’t have been surprised considering that I’d been thinking about him quite a bit recently. However, when I saw the holes in his hands, I knew it had to be him. I immediately dropped what I was doing and went to see where he was going. I continued in my curiosity, until I saw him speaking with his main followers and then, all of a sudden, float into the air and disappear. Seeing that and hearing what his disciples said afterwards made me more than convinced that he was someone special. Perhaps the son of God.
We grew up in the same town and graduated from the same high school.
We agreed that Mr. Falan was the best history teacher.
He worked at the Big Boy where my friends and I would gather late at night for hot fudge ice cream cake.
I worked down the street at Dairy Queen.
He had lived on Island Lake and I had lived down the street from Hope Lake. Two of the many lakes in our little Michigan town.
I still miss the water and evergreens that dotted the landscape of my drive to my high school, the same one my friend attended.
My friend, … that lived in the same town I did during high school. The one that had the same favorite teacher, worked at a popular stomping ground,
The friend I hadn’t seen in such a long time….
actually I hadn’t ever seen him.,,
because we met for the first time last week,
at 30,000 feet.
You discover funny things in life… when you’re paying attention.
At the beginning of July a book was placed in my hands.
The giver, my wise nephew, encouraged me to read it with no strings attached. He did not want me to feel pressured to embrace the beliefs of the author but believed he had some ideas worth considering.
I respect and trust my 27 year old nephew so I dove in. I devoured the book that stretched me, challenged me, comforted me, inspired me. I told my husband about it, kids about it …..
actually anyone that would listen.
I have to believe that it is the book, the one from my wise nephew… that was instrumental in heightening my awareness to the events occurring in my everyday life… the things that I noticed when I looked around me, in front of me, beside me. The things that were in my physical space that walked right by me. The book helped me grow my awareness to the humans I encounter everyday, the humans I work with and worship with and recreate with and…
You know…. the ones closest and most important to me.
And my new friend, the one who graduated from the same High school as I did and loved the same history teacher and worked at my favorite late night hang out…
that I met last week for the first time…
at 30,000 feet.
Please allow me to pause here in the middle of my story ( hate to leave you hanging since we floating at 30,000 feet and all)…
If you were to list the top three things you value most in life… what would they be?
Go ahead… what are they? Say them out loud. If you know me and have my number…. shoot me a text.
This list, my top 3, is where I chose to put my focus at the beginning of July – you know, when my nephew gave me the book….
Looking through the lense of my top 3 – I took 30 days to evaluate …. everything.
Every minute of how I spend my time was filtered through the question….
“Does this support my top 3?”
This is not easy- creating a clear head space to objectively evaluate time spent. So there was one small task the author of the book required ( if we wanted an accurate view of our lives) …
Stop all forms of technology that aren’t necessary…. for 30 days.
No social media.
No for fun apps.
No blogs, podcasts….
Friends, the above list had become my oxygen and I decided to disconnect the tank.
I chose to do this during a month where my highlight reel would be strong.
A visit from my parents for the first time in 4 years.
A golf getaway with Tom.
A family gathering with all of my children.
An in person seminar where my team and I would be recognized for our best year in business ….
In 19 years.
No posts, no scrolling, no filling my mind with constant chatter of my favorite podcasters while traveling. No story scrolling on Insta…
And here I sit… at my favorite coffee shop.. telling you the story of a life of 30 days of fighting to stay in the moment, not escape the uncomfortable and open my eyes to all around me.
Have I mentioned my friend? The one that graduated from the same High school I did? The one that had the same favorite teacher? The one that worked at Big Boy?
The one I met last week… because I was…..
As I made my way to the back of the plane, my eyes were searching for my friend. She had boarded before me and saved me a seat. ( Southwest – no assigned seats)
I spotted her engaged in conversation with a friendly looking gentlemen. She had the window seat, he had the aisle and I would get the middle. Its the price you pay for downloading your boarding pass too late when flying Southwest.
He was traveling from Guatemala where he had recently been assigned by his church to serve a mission. From his thoughtful tone to the simple priestly robe he wore, we knew he was passionate about his calling and his life’s purpose. If I learned nothing more about Father Zach I would have considered our interaction as positive and encouraging.
But I did learn more….. and I’m so glad I was paying attention. I am so glad that I met him at the end of my 30 day technology detox… my senses were clear and I had practiced being present.
In the course of our conversation I mentioned I had lived in Michigan. He remarked that he was familiar with the area I spent my childhood and high school years. When I inquired about why, he answered….
“I grew up at Chicago and Evergreen.” ( for non- Michigan Readers those are crossroads in Detroit.)
“Really!” I replied. And for God only knows why, I asked… “So where did you go to high school.”
And it was that moment, at 30,000 feet, that I thanked God I was there… really there. Present. Focused. Watching.
“Well, I was kind of a handful in high school so my mom had me go live with my dad…. in Brighton – I graduated from Brighton High school.”
Friends – Did I mention that I was on a flight from Dallas TX, to Kansas City, MO? Did you know that is no where close to Brighton, Michigan?? Did I tell you it was 10:30 pm at night and I was exhausted after a fantastic week with my business team??
Did I tell you I grew up in Brighton? That I graduated from Brighton High School??
The same place this man, that had previously practiced law in California and felt the call to serve God as a Catholic priest at age 32, that was sitting to my left, en route to Kansas city….
Had graduated from the same high school I had.
He was the class of ’79.
I was ’88.
And yes – we did have the same History teacher and we both agreed that he was the best.
And there we were….
On a 55 minute flight from Dallas to Kansas City – meeting for the very first time.
I’ll probably never see him again.
But I’m pretty sure I am forever changed.
I am changed because my nephew handed me a book.
I am changed because I took the challenge to list my top 3.
I am changed because I created space by disconnecting for 30 days, a space that opened up room for new friends, from old stomping grounds.
I’m changed because when I turned down some of the voices in my world…. God’s voice got louder.
And boy do I need that in my life……
the sound, the direction, the wisdom, the clarity that comes when I hear HIS voice and see the ways he shows up in my everyday life.
Now… more than ever.
The author of the book is not a proponent of disconnecting from everything forever. Not even close.
But he is convinced that there is power in …
Taking 30 days to look through the lense of your top 3 values so you can decide what best serves them.
He believes (and now I do too) that we live in a world that welcomes any and all distractions without ever considering how they are impacting ourselves, our most important relationships, our very lives.
So….. here I sit…. in the midst of some decisions…what I’ll return too, at what level I’ll engage.
One thing is for sure….. I never want to miss the beautiful surprises in life that I see when I am living in the moment…
especially those at 30,000 feet.
And what is that book ? you ask…”Digital Minimalism” By Cal Newport.
Forever grateful for my nephew Ted – who put this book in my hands.