― Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent
I recently received a signed copy of Snuff by Terry Pratchett. It’s his latest book, and I had pre-ordered it before it was released. I guess that isn’t a very big deal these days because it’s easy to get a signed book from an author if you want one. I have a modest collection of signed books. I don’t collect them intentionally, but if one is available from someone who I enjoy as a writer I pick it up. This book is special to me not because it is signed, but the circumstances under which it was signed.
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to tour Kennedy Space Center. Because the Shuttle program has ended, areas like the huge Vehicle Assembly Building which had been closed to the public for many years are now open. I had mixed emotions on the tour. While I was thrilled to be able to see inside the building where Saturn rockets and Space Shuttle stacks were assembled, I was keenly aware that I was also witnessing the end. The tour guide used the past tense throughout the tour, saying things like “there is the Orbiter Processing Facility, where we used to performance maintenance on the orbiters between flights.” The Space Shuttle Endeavour was being stored in the VAB, and looked as if it should be up on cement blocks as it is being made ready for its new home in a museum. The launch platform for the Ares rocket stands unused nearby as that program was canceled. I found myself wishing deeply that I was not witnessing the beginnings of a huge outdoor museum.
Today most people in this country remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There will be stories on the news and on the educational channels regarding his life and death and all of them for some reason showing Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.”
However, there was another man called Jack who passed away on November 22nd, 1963. He created a world inhabited by talking animals, fauns and witches. A world that could be accessed in unexpected places — like a wardrobe. A world where where great truth and beauty was clothed in a deceptively simple children’s story. He was a man who spoke the simple truth about his Christian faith, and grief at the loss of his wife. The man was, of course named Clive Staples “Jack” Lewis . Who died quietly in his home, The Kilns, on November 22nd at 5:30 p.m. one week before his 65th birthday. He was a man who spoke passionately and well to his generation and to generations that have come after. So today as you hear the tributes to our fallen president remember also the man who created Narnia…
“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day.
It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'” – Peter Maher
No one really asks me why I run. I guess they pretty much assume that they know: my cholesterol, weight loss, heart health etc. All valid reasons, and certainly ones that I would list. I guess the easiest way to talk about why I run is to describe what happens on a long run. Continue reading
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened…But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer…Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why…”
These are the words that Sam Gamgee speaks at the end of Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers. These are not words that Tolkien’s Sam speaks, they were written to tie up the end of a contemporary film. And yet I think that these words have captured something of what the Lord of the Rings has meant for me in my life.