The Time Is Right

 In Community, Family, Fred's Blog, Uncategorized, Writing

Listen to “The Time Is Right” by Fred Smith

 

A dozen years ago I was asked by a friend if I would consider sharing what I am thinking: “People are curious about why you think the way you do.”  

Whether it was false humility, fear, or an aversion to being put in a box, I declined. Two years later, I changed my mind when I remembered the old saying that you don’t know what you think until you have written it down. It was not out of a desire to share that I started writing a weekly blog but, selfishly perhaps, a desire to know for myself what I thought. Just as Thoreau went to the woods to live deliberately, I started to write deliberately to discover what I believed. That was exactly ten years ago this month.

While I had an interest in so much, I had never been disciplined about a point of view. I suppose that is why this decade of blogs has never been about a single theme but topics that have caught my attention either through my work at The Gathering, teaching Sunday School, or just general curiosity. Whether it is philanthropy, society, family, meaning and purpose, or faith, I felt an urgency about writing. Of course, it mattered if people read them but that was not the initial purpose. I did not write to influence or shape opinion. I did not write to build a platform or a following. It was not telling an audience what I thought as much as it was explaining myself to me! Annie Dillard wrote, 

“Write as if you were dying. At the same time assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?”

That first entry was about a visit to see John Muir Woods:

“We were fortunate to have picked a morning when very few people were there and with no lines or noise. If you’ve been in the redwood forest you’ll know it is like entering Notre Dame or another of the great European churches. The people are reverent in their respect for these living giants of another age. Everyone instinctively looks up into the vault above them! The realization of being in the presence of Earth’s oldest living species is overwhelming. Reaching 300 feet in height and with diameters up to 44 feet these figures of age and beauty have lived up to 2,000 years. There is no such thing as a single redwood but only a “family” of redwoods that derive their DNA from the stump in the middle of the circle. It is the source of the whole system so the trees are identical internally even though shaped differently on the outside. Redwoods don’t blow over in a storm. They outlive generations of other trees. They share – over 500 gallons of water a day for one tree. They adapt to changing circumstances together. Together they withstand fires, floods, infestations, and erosion. I think it is not an accident that a circle of redwoods is called a cathedral. It is not an accident that we are called the same. We are designed to be redwoods. We are designed to share the same DNA but having unique personalities and shapes.

That is how I see The Gathering. We share what is underneath that keeps us bound and woven together. Our common root holds us all through everything that comes. That is why we say our mission is connecting a community of givers.”

In the last ten years, I have experienced that assurance of being connected every Thursday when I receive the comments and notes from people reading the blog. This has become an extension of a community and while we do not meet in person it seems sure that we are all bound at the root.

I wanted you to know I am taking a break until September. I am working on a new book titled “The Outside Edge of the Inside” and, as well, we are planning to travel and spend time with the family. It’s not permanent – just a rest stop along the way. Yes, I will miss the weekly connection but you know where to find me after all these years.

Some of you will remember “Dancing In The Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas. Do you recall the lyric that went, “Summer’s here and the time is right…”? That’s how I feel.

Summer is here and the time is right.

Art by Jack Vettriano

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Showing 20 comments
  • Avatar
    David Clouse
    Reply

    Hey Fred, enjoy the time off… See you in September!

  • Avatar
    Walt
    Reply

    Have a Tony the Tiger Grrrreeaat Time! We will miss you, of course.

  • Avatar
    Charley Voigt
    Reply

    “Our times and seasons are in God’s hands.” My dad use to say that! As I age I am more aware of the call to my heart to reconnect with others who share our faith, to enter into the deeper rest of God. “Go here” or “Stay awhile.” Retirement has helped me to hear the inner urgings more clearly. To pack a few items as we enter the adventure of travel to new places and seeing the changes of familiar places, new faces and matured faces. Go with joy and enjoy the divine opportunities ahead. Looking forward to September and hearing your thoughts again!

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, Charley. It’s good to know I have company!

  • Avatar
    Ken Merrifield
    Reply

    Have a great break and enjoy your family!!

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, Ken. I appreciate that so much.

  • Avatar
    John Sims
    Reply

    Great to see your reflections on the very first blog. Have a great summer! Ready for another boomer song title? “See You in September!”

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      I like “ Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
      But the days grow short when you reach September”

  • Avatar
    David Galloway
    Reply

    Loved the remembrance of the Muir Woods. I get that same sense in the salt marsh of low country. It is of connection. A deep spirituality that reminds me of Teilhard, of a deep intuition, saddled with longing, of connection.
    Enjoy the pause for the cause, my band’s break line. We’ll be back in 10, or so.

  • Avatar
    Paul Niehaus
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing of yourself, Fred, and for helping me discover a great new summer song to enjoy while awaiting your return.

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      You cannot take off! Now is the time for you and all you have been working on for many years. You have been prepared for this. I’ve been having good conversations with people who would have been so reluctant in the pat to follow your way of thinking but one thing good COVID has done is reorient them a bit.

  • Avatar
    John Sims
    Reply

    Thanks, Fred. It won’t be the same without you for the next couple of months, but you deserve the time off. Also looking forward to checking out your new book. Be well, enjoy, and I will check back in September.

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thanks you, John. I appreciate your saying that.

  • Avatar
    John Thomas
    Reply

    I am going to miss the blogs. I always find them thought-provoking – I have grown as I have read your blogs. Looking forward to September and I trust that writing your book goes really well

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, John. I suspect I will miss writing them as well. Knowing that you read them has been a strong encouragement for me.

  • Avatar
    H. Collins Forman, Jr.
    Reply

    I missed your blog last week because I was away myself on holiday visiting family in Jamaica. Today my niece was doing a marketing survey about brands and asked if I listened to any podcasts. I mentioned yours, and she asked for the name, so I had to search my email to see exactly what you called it. Now I know why I hadn’t seen anything; there was nothing to see. (guess I missed this one; sometimes I think I’m too busy)
    I always enjoy your thoughtful approach to various subjects, and I am glad you are not an advocate for anything in particular but your faith and to be honest to look within yourself.
    Have a great time away! I am not a member of the Gathering, but had the privilege as local chair of the South Florida Chapter of NCF to attend the Key Biscayne Gathering a couple of years ago. I have been a friend of Stephan Tchividjian for many years, and we were some of the founding members of this local chapter, so that’s how my roots got tangled up with yours. Cheers!

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, Collins. Yes, I am taking a break for the summer and plan to be back in September. Stephan is one of my favorite people!

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