The Round Table

Fred Smith

Fred Smith


June 24, 2021

The Time is Right

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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.

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