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Monday, September 25, 2006

10 Second Hero

Writing is very rewarding. It is also surprising. Many people asked about how I came up with the characters in Under the Lontar Palm. You have asked questions like ..."where did they come from?" and "Are they reflection of real life people?" My answer is that very few characters in Under the Lontar Palm are based on real people. Most have evolved from the story.
The following is an example of a character that evolved and lived for about 10 seconds. He was a thought or a mental role I played as I tried to transition and introduce the miners to the village. However trivial I thought the character to be, others have commented on his importance. His 10 seconds left an impression. I'll introduce the passage again and hope you enjoy recalling the story.

Mist covered the early morning ground as a lone figure took his usual position under the overhang. The sentinel stared into the jungle watching until sunrise, waiting for the return of his wife and children. He didn’t know if they were alive or dead, but held to the hope that one day he would be reunited. Dew fell, dropping on large wet leaves, a
torturous reminder of the seconds ticking by. Pretty soon the sun would be up, and he would have to go on with his business. But until then, he would watch and wait.
Suddenly in the darkness, he saw a small movement. He couldn’t see shapes; they were still obscured by the cloak of darkness. But he was sure he had seen something. Yes, there it was again. This time there was more movement and sounds of shuffling feet.
Could it be? Is my family coming back? After all these years, the jungle was surrendering them. Very cautiously, he stood, and crept slowly over to them. He took care not to startle them into fleeing. They had been gone so long, he wasn’t sure they would recognize him.
His heart pounded and the lump in his throat grew until he thought he might suffocate. Still, onward he crept. He was so close now, within ten feet. Unable to contain himself, he leapt forward as a whimper of excitement, and a longing eternal moan rose from his breast. Instead of the waiting arms of his family, the last thing the sad man saw was the grimace of an unknown white jungle demon.

I hope that you have enjoyed this reflection. If you have any questions or comments, please do so here.

I am very grateful to all of you who have read Under the Lontar Palm.

Meetings or Doings?

Successful committees, project groups, and other volunteer or lay-organizations begin with conducting good planning and effective meetings. Warning, using the following tips may result in conducting more effective meetings. Consider:
• Do you really need a meeting? Most things can be accomplished with a phone call or better one on one commutation
• Calculate Cost-Lay group meetings have intangible costs. Consider the cost of time away from family, rearranging free time, frustrations associated with weekend or evening meetings, or missed dinners
• Purpose-What do you want to accomplish? Who needs to be there?
• Prior to the meeting-publish agenda and contact members ahead of time
• During the meeting use the agenda to maintain focus and keep meeting moving. Record notes to use as minutes
• Follow-up (What Next)-Publish minutes and contact people to keep decisions alive and meet deadlines
For more Lay Leader ideas, contact the editor or visit his website @ LayMentor.