Believing the Best

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Good early morning,

It is 3:29 a.m. and I have been awake for a bit . This past week has been a whirlwind. I am supposed to be in Kentucky right now, but that took a back seat to other more pressing things. Hurricanes disrupted travel, and delayed connections meant sleeping in an airport before I would ever get to a conference. Tuesday I realized I had a basement full of water and Thursday it was discovered that what was thought to be a dead former sewer line was actually still being used. So sump pumps, dryers, Roto Rooter,  and dehumidifier are the companions for the week. It is raining steadily and I can hear the wind as it rattles my windows like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I did not end up with so much of a blockage that things backed up, thank goodness, but if my contractor who happened to come into the house had not given me a text, I would have not realized the impending problem until it was a much more unfortunate situation.

This is the second time this past week I have been awake or up at this time. This time I woke up, but earlier this week I was just going to sleep after a long conversation. That conversation took personal turns I could’ve never imagined. It was an important conversation, which I believe was prompted by a series of times of talking, listening, and wondering that have occurred for more than eight years. It always amazes me that I have a degree in communication, but sometimes I communicate very ineffectively; sometimes in my humanity I make choices that cause me pause. When what I have done causes another to hurt or question, I genuinely hurt in those times or occasions when I am party to that hurt or confusion. In this instance I’ve created confusion for myself also. I am genuine, or try to be such, but when I feel that I have been less than or I have damaged my own reputation through my actions, it is terrifically difficult for me. I am often too willing to offer my hand, especially when I care deeply, without considering consequence. As is always the case, time will tell exactly where it all stands. . . .  it is later in the morning and I am now in my office working. I had hoped in spite of the craziness to get to the OSCLG Conference this weekend, but the weather created enough delays and difficulties that I would have not gotten there until today. Somehow going for barely 24 hours and what that would do to my body made me reconsider. That reconsidering is even a step in the right direction because I generally just go and do whatever it takes and suffer the consequences later. As I once told someone, I am not a consequentialist when it comes to my ethical stance.

As I sit in my office, it is still raining and this morning earlier I was listening to the news and seeing the eerie parallels between the cargo vessel missing in the Bahamas because of Hurricane Joaquin and the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It was forty years ago next month that the great iron ore carrier broke up and sank in Lake Superior. The haunting phrase of that song that keeps playing through my head is “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours” (Lightfoot)? I also thought of the movie, The Perfect Storm.  In fact, in honor of those from both the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Andrea Gail, I offer these videos from YouTube. The first is in honor of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which ironically was the name of a restaurant where I worked while at MTU:

And a second video of what it would be like to be in a fishing boat out in an actual storm. Rather frightening . . . where is the love of God at moments like this? (As an update, they are pretty sure the El Faro has sunk.)

Again, we want to believe the best. We want to trust and sometimes that trust puts us in situations we do not expect, situations where we are outside our comfort zone and we do not know exactly how to navigate the waves or the storm. . . . Those storms can overwhelm and frustrate us. Over the weekend one of my fraternity brothers, Major Justin Fitch, US Army (ret.) lost his long battle with colon cancer. This hits particularly close for me, for a variety of reasons. He is (or now was) the age I was when I began my significant fight against Crohns which has taken me down numerous paths. Why is it I am still fighting and someone,  who dedicated himself to others in ways I can only hope,  has lost his battle much too soon? His strength and perseverance, his willingness to see beyond himself, and the example he is set for others, is unparalleled. It is the third time, that I am aware of, that the Michigan chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon has lost a brother too soon to cancer. Here is a little of his story:

http://activeheroes.org/2015/10/remembering-justin-fitch-active-heroes-board-member/

While I am unable to go back to Wisconsin this week for his service to all the brothers and family who will gather there, you are in my prayers. I remember being there with brothers when the chapter lost the DeCleene brothers. Those bonds were and are strong as I see people from around the world remember Justin. Too often we hear only the negative things about Greek organizations, but there is so much more. I saw that at MTU and I still see it now. I remember the words and care in particular of my brother A.J. Lee. To this day, he is one of the people I most admire. Both he and Justin are people in whom you can believe and witness the best. So much to do this week and to try to finish up. I have student conferences today for a Bible as Literature course and my Foundations students are working on peer reviews. Last night I had class, but also had the opportunity to listen to a reading and meet Phil Klay, the 2014 National Book Award winner, as he presented excepts from his book, Redeployment. It was quite phenomenal and the insight he gave about writing was wonderful. He is an United States Marine (retired) and as such I had great appreciation for him on a variety of levels. A nice contingent of my students were there and I think they heard some important things about writing and the importance of reading. Mr. Klay gave credibility to many of the things I say in class.

It is hard to believe we are half of the way through the semester and while there is much accomplished, there is still so much to do. I have another paper to present this coming weekend. There seems to be little down time before the next thing is upon me. The yard project continues and I am just wishing it could be completed. I do think some significant work will be done this week. It has kept me running up and down the street more than I would like. Weather has begun to change and it certainly seems more like Fall. The evenings and mornings are crisp, but the afternoons have been delightful. We did get significant rain last weekend from the low and the hurricane, but nothing like South Carolina. I think they are struggling with what we did four years ago. As I noted earlier in this post, the weather is certainly powerful. I remember when I was in graduate school in the Upper Peninsula. The power of Lake Superior is actually awe-inspiring. To this day, I love the season and the beauty of that peninsula. From the amazing almost continuous light of the mid-summer to the harsh reality of 270+ inches of snow in the winter, they are equally beautiful and breathtaking. The colors of the fall along the portage and the tapestry of the rural-scapes can only be created by something more amazing than any human touch (the picture above is from that portage.). Spring does not really exist much, so it is a sort of three season place. If I could bring that lake here, I would. On the other hand, the beauty of this state is also quite astounding. The hills, trees, and the sort of mountains (certainly much more elevationally diverse than the Midwest) are quite inspiring.

Well . . . the writing has once again cleared my head. I am ready to face the plethora of things that are facing me for the day.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Martin

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