On Passing Notes and Other Reflections

Communication is something close to my heart. Even prior to kindergarten, conversing with others was enjoyable. Anyone remember report card “citizenship” grades? At Sierra Madre Elementary School, citizenship grades were a big deal and never slipped through the cracks. My teachers persistently marked my report cards with a “C” or “C-” in citizenship for talking during class when I was supposed to be quiet. All that did was encourage me to go underground by passing notes to classmates!

Trying to suppress a talkative person is, in some ways, like trying to tame the mighty Mississippi River. On one memorable November afternoon in 2011, while Jon and I stood on a bluff in Natchez, Mississippi, overlooking the Mississippi River, we met a keen man in his mid to late 80s. From birth, he had lived in a very big, yellow, wood frame house situated directly behind us on the bluff. He eagerly shared his insights about the River, including recurrent extensive efforts by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to redirect the river at specific bends. Based on his broad knowledge, he was convinced the River outsmarts even the most ingenious engineers . . . deliberately choosing its own path. But the engineers haven’t given up—they keep trying to force the River to comply with their will.

Voices are intriguing. Each voice is unique and links identity to the speaker. Even as we mature, our voices retain that engaging essence of familiarity. Just over a year ago when my voice was more clear, I phoned a woman who lives in Oregon with her husband. We hadn’t spoken in many years; but having grown up in Sierra Madre with their three children, we were very well acquainted. Even though she was in her early 90s, her voice still retained the same distinctive elements—the moment she answered the phone with “hello,” it was obvious I’d called the right number!

Taken from my November 14 post “Counting your many blessings . . .”—

“. . . thieves come in many forms. Such uninvited pirates may show up at any time of the day or night to rob, bit by bit, our . . . health.”

Add to that . . . VOICE. Unfathomable! The fact that ALS is looting my speech is, to me, an unforgivable offense. In responding to a blog comment—receiving a diagnosis of ALS is almost like being hit from behind by a silent train. If you’re about to be mown down by a powerful locomotive, the least it could do is announce its approach by sounding its horn. But no—ALS is not thoughtful, considerate, nor polite. Its ultimate goal is total destruction of its victim!

Just as my elementary school teachers diligently tried to suppress my talking, this disease is determined to quench my verbal communication . . . but, so far, I can still type my thoughts. Fortunate you! 😉

When verbal communication was still possible, here are things you would have never heard me say—

Knock on wood
Let me check my horoscope
That was such a coincidence
The stars are all aligned in your favor
What a stroke of luck

Why not? Because the very personal God I have learned to trust does not do random things. Random can be defined as . . .

Lacking a definite plan or purpose, or
An action that happens without order or without reason

None of God’s actions are spur-of-the-moment nor happenstance. Everything God does is the result of meticulous planning . . . purpose driven. He even shared His intentions with hand-picked prophets to warn us in advance about coming significant events that He alone crafts and puts in motion at the times of His choosing. Nothing even slightly arbitrary.

One of my favorite photographs was captured by my good friend, Jody Langford, on October 14, 2019, at 7:00 a.m. It is a moonset on Mount Tom, Eastern Sierra in the John Muir Wilderness. Per Wikipedia: “The mountain is named for Thomas Clark, a resident of the pioneer town of Owensville, who is credited with being the first to ascend the peak in the 1860s.”

It reminds me of my Father’s grandeur—
only He could have designed such majestic wonder and beauty!

Moonset on Mt. Tom

Jody Langford Photography

10 Replies to “On Passing Notes and Other Reflections”

  1. Your words are filled with so much meaning. The way you write introduces you to people who do not know you but they can know you through your words. Listening to people and letting them talk when that is what they need to do is so important and can be a blessing to both involved. I want to print out all of your posts so I don’t lose them. I hope I can. God has blessed you with the expression of words—thank you for sharing. Love ya

    1. Thank you for sharing that, Sharon. I first learned to type in my mandatory 7th grade typing class. Playing the piano from the age of eight probably set me up for success in typing. Later, with the advent of personal computers, typing morphed into a whole new realm. Especially now, it is such a blessing to still be able to communicate through typing out my thoughts. ❤️

  2. I thoroughly agree with “the things you have never heard me say.” The people tell me “good luck” I respond with “luck had nothing to do with it.”
    I also got C’s and C- in citizenship…but not sneaky enough to pass notes. I would get caught. Other circumstances silenced me.
    It truly would be good to have a “heads-up” with ALS but not sure if we would have done anything differently. God is ALWAYS in control.
    Ned and I are reading a devotional that is really inspiring to us. It’s called “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn. We are reading 1 a day and because of the unknown of ALS, not sure we’ll finish it together. Part of yesterday’s page said “A pleasant road may lead to a cliff, and a hard and rocky road may lead to the Holy City. A pleasant way may lead to hell, and a hard way may lead to blessing and eternal life. Always look to the end of your course, to where it’s taking you. If you’re on the right road, don’t get discouraged by the terrain. Never give up. Keep pressing forward to your destination. Because it is the end that matters most. And your road, and the journey of your life, will not be known by its terrain, but by the place to which it brought you.” We know we’ll see each other after it’s all over and recognize each other’s voices!

    1. Oh Bonnie, thank you so much for sharing the selected words from “The Book of Mysteries.” What first comes to mind is Hebrews 12:1-2 (Phillips):

      Surrounded then as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin which dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith.

      I’ve always loved those words . . . FIXING our eyes on Jesus. So essential. Everything else pales when we’re focused on Him❣️

  3. Thank you, Leslie and Bonnie, too, in reminding us of the journey´s end, not the terrain, as the measure of our life. You are both walking the terrain with that focus, and reminding us, who get distracted. I am glad you both got your share of talking in, and not sure who wrote the definition of universal good citizenship. Perhaps the new form of talking, namely texting, removes awareness of delight in the voice and its unique quality. Writing does give voice to the author, and yes, your writing will endure, Leslie.

    I have heard that our voices´ utterances do not disappear, but remain in the cosmos, and even Jesus’ vocal expression is out there. May our utterances be like the fabled gold coins, and not frogs, (although I love the South American wooden frogs that when stroked with a device, do speak to us in their own charming manner). Gratefully, Genevieve

    1. Thank you, dear Genevieve, for your continuing voice of encouragement. Your words provide more than a little fuel to help propel me along this unfamiliar road. ❤️

  4. I so agree with Sharon and could not express it better. Your strength, faith, and creativity are so inspiring. I remember you coming to the hospital when Robert was having surgery for a lung issue many years ago, Leslie. You were so encouraging. I hope I thanked you.❤

    1. Thank you, Kathrene. We, too, have experienced the apprehension, concern, and exhaustion of having our children hospitalized. I remember when you and John came to USC University Hospital when our Liz was hospitalized in February 2000 for pancreatic surgery. Your unanticipated visit was a real encouragement. If I haven’t thanked you for your visit . . . thank you so much!

  5. Leslie,
    As with reading a story for me, characters take on their own voices. However, when I read this, because I’ve known you so long, I hear your voice speaking and your laugh when it calls for a little joke you’ve made. Keep writing I hear your voice. Love you, Linda

    1. Oh Linda, I’ve tried three times to get through your comment without tearing up. No can do. Thank you for touching me so deeply with your heartfelt message. ❤️

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