Sunday, September 27, 2009

Harps In Heaven

O.K. Needler, this is for you.

Larry Martens has been a fishing friend of mine for a few years now. He was our pastor at North Fresno Mennonite Brethren Church and I first got to know him in that capacity. I liked him as a pastor, but I like him even better now that he is retired. You know, for us sinners there can be a little strain when you're fishing with your pastor.

Last weekend Larry accompanied his wife, Kathleen, to Huntington Lake. Kathleen attended Margaret Hudson's annual art retreat at Camp Keola, and Larry and I fished. The fishing was really lousy, but the company was good. In the course of the day Larry told me about a dinner he had recently attended where the speaker was a man named Don Piper. Piper had written a bestselling book about his experience of being dead for 90 minutes and then coming back to life. While he was dead, Piper recalls spending time in heaven. The book is titled "90 Minutes In Heaven." I haven't read the book yet, but based on Larry's description of Piper's story, I definitely will read it. I do believe in heaven, I just am not sure where it is or what to expect when I get there.

Susan and I returned to San Francisco on Friday for a follow-up appointment with Dr. Wolf. Her numbers were good, she was mentally present and alert, and Dr. Wolf thinks she is recoving nicely. Friday was day plus-24. Dr. Wolf says she'll be about back to normal at plus-60, i.e. in about another month. Dr. Wolf is predicting Sue won't be seeing heaven for years. Note: The title of this blog is "Harps In Heaven" -- not "Harpers In Heaven."

On the subject of harpers in heaven, while we were in San Francisco we took a gift basket of appreciation to the staff of 11 Long. When we walked into the main lobby of the hospital, there was a harpist playing who plays in the lobby regularly. I intended to blog about her when Sue was in the hospital up there, but it never worked out. One time Dotty Warkentin, my favorite harpist, called me after I had spent some time listening to this hospital harpist, and I told her the hospital harping had caused me to think of her. (Actually Dotty called for Susan, but I answered the phone. Nonetheless, she seemed pleased to know I'd thought of her.)

Anyway, while Sue and I sat in the hospital lobby listening to the harpist play Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind" on Friday I thought, "you know, this is risky playing harp music in the lobby of a hospital." Harps, it seems to me, are the official instrument of heaven -- well, besides trumpets. It brought back a memory of a time when Valerie was quite young, possibly three years old, and we were passing a grave yard on our way to church, and Valerie piped up and said, "Hey, there's heaven!" Upon exploring this with her a little, it turned out that she'd added up that (some) people go to heaven when they die, and we'd told her that Grandma Freeman had gone to heaven, and she knew Grandma Freeman was buried in a graveyard, so she figured that graveyard we'd just passed must be heaven (or at least part of it). It all made perfect sense.

We made a quick turn-around on Friday and then on Saturday morning we headed up to our small corner of heaven on earth at Huntington Lake. Sue felt pretty good all weekend and walked around a bit, visited a bit, napped a bit. Here she is inspecting the stump of one of the five trees we had professionally felled last week. This tree quite possibly will not be going to heaven. It literally has a black hole in it's heart. Maybe that's why the tree was weeping constantly. (Really, there was a constant stream of water weeping out of the tree.)

It's sad to lose a big tree like this. We're going to have it milled into lumber and, among other things, we'll be making picnic tables from the lumber to serve the guests of our cabins. You know, in some ways it's like this with people. Life sort of saws you off at the knees and you have to make adjustments to continue to be useful in some other way than you were before. It's either that or just give up and join the Harpers.

Postscript trivia: What is the difference between a "harper" and a "harpist?"


  1. Postscript - a "Harper" says and does what they want, when ever and where ever. a "Harpist" makes sweet music when they pluck the strings which means the Harp only does what the Harpist wants.

    As Always
    Your Friend

  2. If someone who harps is a harper then I suspect the sound he makes is not exactly sweet music. A harpist (assuming some degree of proficiency)makes sounds others enjoy hearing (sweet music). I know people from both camps. You happen to be a harpist who is named Harper. - Lotti D

  3. Thanks, I've been waiting for a while. Sue said you weren't sure people were reading. We are out here in cyberspace waiting for you to fill our boring lifes with your witty wisdom.

    You are a harper, Mom is a harpist.