Tag Archive: Chasing after wind


Chasing After Wind Cover 2 I hope the new year is starting off well for everyone. Ours started off well and will do better when routines settle in again. My cd went on sale in the Play Store, iTunes store, Cd Baby, etc., today. There is a store on my Facebook fan page and a new store on my website.

Cyndy and I are headed to Austin this week for the Austin Songwriter Group’s Songwriter Symposium. Cyndy will work in the hotel room while I’m at the symposium during the day. She’ll attend the showcases with me at night. I’ll be playing at the open mic Wednesday night if all goes well. With the oldest son moving back home it will be nice to get away by ourselves.

Have a good week and I will be posting about songwriting while I am at the symposium. Thank you for your support.

Peace be with you.

Dan '13 I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and is looking forward to a new year. With recording, producing, and releasing a new cd, Chasing After Wind, and the busy Christmas season with church and family, little time remained to tend to other affairs such as posting on this blog. But today I am able to say that my new cd is available for order and download on my website. You can hear different versions of two of the songs on my Facebook fan page and Reverbnation page, as well as download my app, which will be updated as regularly as possible. The cd will also be available soon on iTunes, Amazon, etc. Thank you for your support.

Peace be with you.

Hotel Room 1bIn the previous post, I was talking about my sabbatical to Marshall that ended up being unlike what I had previously imagined. I checked in to the hotel late Monday night. When I entered the hotel room after checking in at the front desk, I did what I have always done since taking vacations with my parents and my younger brother. Check out every nook and cranny of the room, beginning with the desk and all drawers.

The dresser drawers never had anything in them and they still don’t. Some hotels used to put extra pillows in the bottom drawers of the dresser, but that was years ago. When the desk drawer had hotel stationary. Now the desk does not even have a drawer.

Some things are the same. The book of information about the hotel and surrounding restaurants, shops, etc. A pen, a notepad, survey card, and the usual bathroom items. And the Gideon Bible in the bedside drawer. But when I opened the drawer this time – and found the Bible – the Mormon Bible was next to it. Which was comforting to me – like I said, I was there to quit a bad habit – simply because there is strength in numbers.

But it was also intriguing, because it was a hotel in Marshall, Texas – a town of 24,000 people. As best I could ascertain, there are two Mormon churches in Marshall. I don’t think two churches could afford to supply Bibles to all of the numerous hotels in Marshall. Which raises the question of which hotels and why? But that is a question for another time.

What matters is that the hotel having both a Bible and a Mormon Bible is a step toward understanding our neighbors and living with our differences. Perhaps there will come a day when you check into a hotel and there will be several Bibles or holy books of other religions. More for people of the different faiths who may stay at the hotel than for the proselytization of those faiths. The different holy books would also be available for anyone wanting to learn about other faith traditions.

Which will be a subject we will return to in this blog. One of the main purposes of Chasing After Wind is to write about those times – simple or complicated – in which life and theology intersect. And since I am a member of a few interfaith organizations, another purpose of the blog is to promote dialogue between all religions and faith-based organizations. Join me as we look for God in everyday life, and learn about other faith traditions.

Peace be with you.

I had the misfortune a few days ago of witnessing the vehicular death of a dog. I was in the far right lane at about 9:30 p.m. A pickup truck was just barely ahead of me in the center lane. The dog suddenly bounded out of the easement between backyards, running full tilt. I’m not very good at dog breeds – particularly in headlights on a dark night – but it was a larger dog, like a Greyhound or Doberman. I had my foot on the break before the dog reached the curb. He was running so fast I barely had time to react other than slowing down. I had not even come to a full stop before he entered the center lane without breaking stride.

There seemed to be a moment when everything was deathly quiet and nothing moved – just before the contact of truck and dog. It appeared to me as if neither the dog nor the driver saw the other coming. The dog seemed to be staring straight ahead as if he were on some type of mission. I have no idea how long it actually took – it appeared in slow motion to me. I will not go into much further detail other than to say that the impact was quite loud, the dog fell quickly, and one of the truck’s tires came up off the road.

I cannot get the scene out of my head – I certainly do not want to put it into yours. I kept coasting along, not wanting to believe what I had seen. The truck kept going, but slowed down, pulling over to make a u-turn. As I continued driving I wondered if there were something I should be doing. The same thing I would feel if I had witnessed an accident between two cars.

But there was no need to be a corroborating witness. It was easy to understand what happened. I had already had a glimpse of the dog after the accident and had no desire for a closer look. Yet as the accident kept replaying in my mind, I had the insistent sense that there was something I should do. So as I continued driving with moist eyes, I prayed for the dog and his owner(s).

I had another stop that I made quickly, without looking anyone in the eye. The accident kept playing in my mind – a bizarre drive-in movie with no concession call. I am not a “real men do not cry” type of guy, yet at the same time I do my best to keep people from noticing. But by the time I walked in the door when I arrived home, I was sobbing somewhat uncontrollably. I walked straight past my suddenly confused family out the back door and paced back and forth until the sobs subsided.

I have had several dogs that died. But I did not see any of them get hit by a vehicle. Every feeling I have ever had when a pet died came rushing back in a flurry of raw emotions. Along with the inevitable flash reflections on the finality of death and our lack of control of the situation.

“For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.” Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20.

So I prayed as I paced in the backyard. Then I went inside and hugged our dog. To do otherwise would indeed have been a chasing after wind.

Peace be with you.

Have you ever bought a bag of potato chips – or other munchie (although, oddly enough, it is always potato chips with me) – and open it to find nothing but air? As if some ticked off employee who is having a bad day fiendishly plotted – complete with crooked grin and sneer – to put a hitch in my day. I always took it as a personal affront because usually it was the only cash I had at the time and I was away from the store when I opened it and would not have been able to prove it was actually empty.

The fact that it contained no salt could simply mean that I wiped it clean. Although why anyone would do that, I could not tell you. Suffice it to say, the empty bag pops up at the most inopportune time. We had one of the large variety boxes of chips. The empty bag is never discovered right away. That would be rather convenient and that is not allowed.

The empty bag, of course, was the last bag of one of our sons’ favorite chip. Which, also quite naturally, he had been saving for just that particular occasion. If you have been one of the chosen few who have never received an empty bag of chips, you can liken it to the time in college when you were settling back one evening. You get a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage, find a book you actually want to read, then go to the cabinet and your roommate has eaten your last Ding Dong (insert favorite dessert treat). Going to the store to get a replacement, while within the realm of possibility, just would not be the same thing. The moment is ruined.

As to the empty bag of chips, there is no real person to blame. I used to imagine the assembly line worker who fills the bag with chips turning to another worker. With a fiendish look on his face, he says, “I’m going to fix somebody,” as he passes the empty bag down the line. Ostensibly getting back at who knows who about who knows what. He feels bad so making someone else feel bad apparently evens things out.

It is harder to get upset at a machine having a sudden glitch and not pushing the chips into the bag which would be sealed by another machine that did not know the difference. And if you are one of the lucky people who have never bought an empty bag of chips, your time may still come. I have happened upon several myself, and each member of my family has had it happen to them at least once. I would think we have reached our quota.

“I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals.” Ecclesiastes 3:18

Am I suggesting that empty chip packages or roommates eating the last dessert treat are tests from God? Certainly not. God has considerably more important matters to attend to than a glitch in the machinery at the chip factory, the act of a disgruntled employee, or a hungry roommate. God created the world and set it in motion. Humans are the unpredictable factor in the equation – thanks to free will.

With all of our gadgets and internet connections, giving us the illusion of being in control of our lives, we still need to be reminded that we are not in control. To think that we are is surely a vanity and chasing after wind.

Peace be with you.

Time of Calamity

A couple of days ago, about 10 a.m., the bottom dropped out, weather-wise. The “sky was crying,” as Stevie Ray Vaughan would sing. It also sounded as if Mother Nature might have some serious issues. Being in the middle of a storm is a little scary, no matter who you are. You may not admit it, but even the strongest among us have their moments.

When it is storming so tremendously outside that the thunder, lightning, and rain on the house is all you hear – even over the tv, radio, or heater. The sun seems to be on sick leave and the sky just gets increasingly darker. If you are having any major life problems at all – and who is not – a serious funk can be one thunder crash away. The all-consuming gloominess that appears to surround you suddenly feels tangible – shrinking around the house like plastic wrap – closing off all exits. That’s how I imagine Qohelet felt when I read certain parts of Ecclesiastes.

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.” Eccl. 9:11, 12.

Everyone has experienced times similar to those mentioned here. But, as I discuss in the book, Qohelet did not have grace and forgiveness of sins as we have. Not to say that God did not give grace to the Israelites or grace their endeavors – the Israelites simply did not see it as grace, per se. The Israelites and people of the Old Testament viewed life in more concrete terms. If life took a bad turn – family, crops, or livestock dying, for example – they must have done something to cause it.

Unfortunately for them, Jesus Christ had not been born yet. Fortunately for us, he has. Through Christ’s life and sacrifice, we not only have God’s grace, but the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins. Looking at Ecclesiastes in that light, we can take Qohelet’s view – which is valid even today – mix in grace, the Holy Spirit, and redemption, and ascertain our actions as Christians when we have a tendency to “hate all the toil in which we have toiled under the sun.”

Join me on the journey.

Peace be with you.

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,

vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

What do people gain from all the toil

at which they toil under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes,

but the earth remains forever. Eccl. 1:2-4

During a Disciple Bible Study several years ago, when we got to Ecclesiastes, the text suggested that we read the entire book in one sitting. Always up for a challenge, I dutifully read it all the way through – and I was fascinated. Of all the books in the Bible, I have read or heard passages from Ecclesiastes the least in my lifetime as a Christian. Granted, I did not go to church all the time when I was younger.

If you take a passage of Ecclesiastes out of context, it can be downright depressing. Which is the general opinion of Ecclesiastes from what I have ascertained after hearing sermons, speakers, and talking with people. But when I read it in one sitting, not only did I see the relevance to my life, but was left with a feeling of hope. Quite the opposite of what I expected after what I had heard.

I knew then that my next Bible study would be Ecclesiastes. This is not the first full length Bible study I have written, but it will be the first one published. The previous studies are still waiting for reprint permission for passages I included. So I began my journey with Qohelet, the teacher.

Scholars generally agree that Solomon did not write Ecclesiastes. But it is not known for certain who did write the book. I prefer to look at it from the view that Qohelet, the “teacher,” or “preacher,” was the author. It seems to be more relevant to our lives today from that view.

I am currently editing the book for the last time. Feel free to join me on my dual journey – through Ecclesiastes and the editing process – which will continue as a journey through theology and our lives today.

Peace be with you.

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