To my fellow toastmasters and friends, here is a snapshot of my life seen through the lens of my work, faith and love of the coast of Maine.
The constant rhythm of footsteps from out of the house to the curb of the bus and then on through several curbs and greetings. A constant pattern of day to day. From dances of umbrellas and jackets.
I awoke one of those mornings. I headed out the door with my bag fully organized and ready to tackle various unresolved pieces to the puzzle of my work with Karen, my interim boss. I went about that morning with my ordinary routine of going to the warehouse for the customer returns and opening up my red and yellow lipton tea bag and pouring the heated water and the sugar packets into it. I began to process the dozen credits and laid them on their backs to print them shortly thereafter.
Suddenly I was summoned into my boss's office to be handed the news that my 20 years were over on that bright June Monday morning on the eve of my 47th birthday. I only had ten minutes to retrieve what I regarded as important and say my final farewells from a distance and place the piles of organized work back on my desk never to see them again.
Then I was ushered back home in a yellow New Haven Cab only a mere 3 hours from when I departed my apartment to take the 3 bus commute to work.
That moment has taken me on quite a journey that I am beginning to appreciate. At first, the reaction to this new journey is how could this have happened to me after so many years of faithful service.
I lost the box of my 500 piece puzzle that I was fairly close to solving. For the picture was becoming a little clearer. I was getting used to solving those pieces and had begun to develop a rythymn in doing so. So I rode in reverse in the cab with the taste of the tepid tea in my mouth and the memories and views becoming distant in the rearview mirror of my time at Schrier and Bunzl.
These were somehow the puzzle pieces that guided my life. Pieces that came unglued when I was called into the inner sanctum of control that morning to receive the brusque news. News that wounded me and made it very hard to take the next steps for quite a while. For that mission was aborted and a new one was to begin immediately.
But as I look back over the past 10 months , I see a new view emerging from the rearview window as the hand of God has been in the middle of it. I have gained the equivalent of two decks of cards of contact information that I can begin to unfold and deal forth to myself and others at different times of life. These are not like the gin cards that my dad and I played throughout life. They are a snapshot of the history of my new networking contacts .
For it has been a challenge to maintain a sense of order in this open classroom of life. In which the boundaries of the 60 hours of my routine being yanked out from under me. Yet very frustrating and perplexing at times. As I began to discuss the following Sunday morning at church with Mary, she told me to regard this as a trial retirement and I am regarding this as a well-earned sabbatical that I longed to have. Being able to sleep and wake at whatever schedule I desire and then the times I focus intently on the search itself. But the day trips that I have gone on to meet the new network of contacts have been deeply rewarding.
Besides my work, I am defined by how God sees me. For this came into clearer focus when I was a student at Fairfield University and began to learn how the world of faith intersected one's life in a personal sense. Many times were spent this first year of college sitting in the mess hall and sometimes I had lengthy discussions with my friend Jim Greenwood that I outlined key points discussed on a 3x4 inch white medicine packet. Somewhat scribbly but it kept me focused as I assimilated key elements of faith into my mind. For I continued to learn how this puzzle piece of faith would impact my life and then about two years later I became immersed in the waters and the life of my church as a member and went on journeys through the snow, sun and rain on retreats. In the woods and on rivers throughout Connecticut and Massachussetts. Then fast forwarding to that of today where I am on the third class at my local seminary finding that a very rewarding experience-providing a secondary purpose to this sabbatical.
Another important puzzle piece in my life is that of my having challenges in my life through my handicaps. For others have defined me through them. For I had missing the connections in 1/4 of my brain that had to be rewired and connected in different ways. Moving through the early years in a puzzle mode. Learning how language is built upon the building blocks of phonetic sound and pictures. Yet, the beauty of my growing up through this lens is that I appreciate the value and honor of love and extend it to others as a result. And learning how to take those first crawls and steps and leaps throughout life.
A final element of the puzzle of life is my love for Maine in that holds all of my life together. It is the one place to where I can be renewed after a long period of drought and a place where I can see and sense and hear the gulls of nature coo and sing to one another=melding into the occassional cry of a crow. An orchestra that God has created with the movement of the bows of their flight and sound. I fondly remember how the gulls can flap frantically and then settle down with a whoosh onto the rocks. Something to be listened to carefully, a movement within that orchestra of Heaven.
It has been those times on the rocks of the Pemaquid coast or the Shepscot Bay or the Portland Harbor that bring back fond memories -of traveling through the tidal pools and crevices of rocks. Of seeing the surf crash against the shore and the repetitive motion of the tides washing up and over the beach and shore.
Thus, I am thankful for the opportunity to share with you how I have been shaped by the love of my work, the love of my God and the love of the nautical world of Maine. Now as I continue to meld the new puzzle picture into my life to make it once again a new cohesive whole. But being better prepared to rework it if the pieces become reversed once again.