Sunday, July 31, 2011

the little things...

My wife, Shirley, had a brainstorm recently.  She decided that it would be smart to add a water faucet on the outside of our house next to our garage.  Most of the flowers and plants that need watering are on that side and she has been filling buckets repeatedly to meet that need.  But, with the help of our friendly neighborhood plumber, we were able to install the faucet by running a new pipe in our basement and drilling a hole through the foundation to add the valve.  After the project was complete and I saw the benefit of being able to wash my car in the driveway I finally saw the brilliance of the idea.  It seems like a good idea just grows and grows in its benefits.  When Shirley came home and saw the addition she exclaimed that life was better now that we had the new water supply.  We both acknowledged that "it's the little things" in life that often make the difference.  Little things that solve problems can become the source of a big gratitude.  Little things add up to big things.   Maybe one secret to successful living is to making the little changes that can lead to a big difference!

Zechariah 4:10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel's hand."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

compound growth

One of the fascinating aspects of money is compound interest or compound growth.  With compound interest or growth, you earn interest on savings and then the interest becomes part of the savings.  Future interest is based on the original savings plus interest already earned.  Spiritual growth can be like that.  As we invest our trust and active belief in God, He shows interest in us and deposits wisdom.  Future growth builds on top of this.  With our financial savings, compound interest allows us to build a nest egg for retirement or large purchases.  In our spiritual lives, God's compound interest allows us to build growth even from the crises and difficult times.  In a way, He is using all of our experiences to fashion us and grow us and our lives continue to grow with compound interest from the one who is continually interested in us.  Just as the rings of a tree represent growth on top of growth, so the challenges of living represent rings of growth on top of earlier growth.

James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the world in motion

This morning I wanted to walk but the wooded areas were so infested with biting flies that I headed down to my local pond.  The pond has a scenic view but only a short stretch of roadway for walking (perhaps 200 yards).  But I decided to walk that short path over and over, like a loop.  I found the pond presenting a more interesting view "set into motion" by walking.  I was reminded of the simple beauty of the curved edge of the water and of the trees and plants growing right to the edge, as if they were drinking directly from the pond.  I passed the spill water dam that carries the pond's overflow and enjoyed the sparkling flow of the sheet of water running over the concrete spill-way to the overflow pond and creek beyond.  This was a treat for the eye and the ear and, sitting back in the corner of the overflow pond was a great blue heron who extended his rope-like neck every time I passed, but felt safe enough to remain standing in place.  I realized that putting myself in motion caused the world around me to display a more fascinating view.  I suppose that life can be like that too.  Sometimes we have been waiting, motionless, too long.  Life seems stale and motionless and the view unchanging.  Perhaps it can change by putting some change into our life...maybe we just need to start moving sometimes to begin to experience the change we need.

Psalm 116:8 He has saved me from death,
      my eyes from tears,
      my feet from stumbling.
 9 And so I walk in the Lord's presence
      as I live here on earth!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

our response

What is our response...
To this glorious day.

The storm came last night,
and washed us in rain.

So clean is the sky
and fresh is the air

That we are renewed
to look up and say

Thank you, dear Lord
for all you have made

For each day of this life
and the day we were saved

To walk with you here
and know you forever

Inspires us  this day
to give our full measure.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Living in the third person

As Christians we are constantly encouraged and challenged by the reality of the Trinity.  God exists in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  One in identity and purpose and three in manifestation and expression, the Trinity speaks to us about the "full purpose" God whom we have come to know.  As Creator He made us.  As Son He saved us.  As Spirit He helps us.  He is absolutely for us.  And as we grasp His reality, we find that we are absolutely His.

We live in a world that believes in the power of the person.  We're made to think that It's all about what I can do and you can do and what we can do together.  The message we hear is that it's all about personal achievement and personal failure and the conflicts and crises of nations who rise and fall on the collective achievements and shortcomings of the people, by themselves.

But, just as God has three dimensions, so does life.  There is the human dimension and then there is a heavenly dimension of Good and a spiritual dimension of Evil.  Life is not a flat battle like they used to fight back in the days of the American Revolution.  It is a three dimensional fight, more like World War II, where the battle also came from the air.  

We err when we take full credit for our success as we err when we take full responsibility for our shortcomings.  The forces of Good and Evil rage through and across the generations of our brief human lives as the real God rules and the real Devil wrestles for influence.  

The reality of the Trinity reminds us of our real need for the God who is beyond our control or complete comprehension....our dependence on Him as our life-giver, restorer and healer.  Because of His reality we know that we are living in the third person.  There is I.  There is you.  There are others.  But above and below and beyond the people in the picture there is an epic conflict raging with mighty forces far beyond human in strength and cunning.  The picture is much bigger than any news service can film, social media can banter, or reality show can simulate.  

We live in the third person.

Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Road Construction

They are starting work on a new hospital close to where I work.  Part of the process involves improving the roads and access lanes to the new building.  One lane is closed on the busy highway where the improvements are being made.  I thought about the road construction crew.  Their only protection was the line of orange rubber cones that separated them from the line of traffic, moving about 50 m.p.h.  They were operating equipment and physically digging just a few feet from lethal impact, if a car were to lose control.  It occurred to me that this is the nature of road improvement and road construction.  It is dangerous by definition.  But it is necessary to build roads to carry us to work and to the doctor and to the store and (certainly for summer vacation!)  Every day thousands of individuals work inches from disaster to build the roads we need to walk through the routines of life.  There is another road that is being constructed...the road that leads to life in Heaven.  This is a road of service...of character and integrity...of sharing the Gospel in word and reinforcing actions.  This road construction is dangerous.  It takes place right next to the busy highways of the world, where people are flying through the busy days of their lives.  The road builders of Heaven are willing to sweat and dig in these danger zones because they know that people need to access the road to eternity from the road of this natural life.  They are building a limited access highway and the only exit runs through Jesus.  Some will be injured as construction proceeds but, ultimately it will be worth the price to make a clear and well marked route for others to move from a highway to the Higher Way.

Isaiah 62:10 Go out through the gates!
      Prepare the highway for my people to return!
   Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders;
      raise a flag for all the nations to see.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

people in the picture

Beautiful photographs are enjoyable to view.  As summer unfolds we are hearing about vacation trips to Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons as well as trips to Europe and Central America.  Folks return with colorful and dramatic scenes of our gorgeous and diverse world.  But, somehow, it's the people in the pictures that always capture my interest most.  When I look through pictures I always am attracted to those with people in them first...and if I am one of the people in the picture I vainly check out my appearance first!  I think we are most fascinated by each other and a photograph stops the action and allows us to look closer.   Perhaps the only thing more stunning than a picture of Mount Everest is a picture of a mountain climber clinging to the side of Mount Everest.  Every person is a living story and a photograph provides a moment in time preserved from that story.  And each of us is living out our personal stories as well.  When we see people in pictures we instantly connect and attempt to relate to the similarities and differences we perceive between their experience and our experience.  Every day we are stepping into new pages and chapters of living that we haven't touched before and we look for connections with others who share the adventure.  We live in the midst of a wonderful Creation and we share the drama of this life with a world of brothers and sisters, old and young.  

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground."
 27 So God created human beings in his own image.
      In the image of God he created them;
      male and female he created them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

the old man

Saturday afternoon was a perfect time to visit one of my favorite places: the Northern Neck.  In Tidewater Virginia the land gets its name from the water.  We live on the Peninsula (between the James and York Rivers).  Then there is the Middle Peninsula (between the York and Rappahannock).  But the Northern Neck lies between the Rappahannock and the Potomac.  So it's two rivers away..but only an hour or so of driving time.  It's the kind of place that oozes history and you can feel it as soon as you cross the two lane, two mile Norris bridge and land on the pine forest shore.  The Northern Neck is where George Washington (and his parents before him) were born and it retains a charm that comes from the mix of water, farms and villages blending.  I stopped at a local sandwich shop for lunch and, as I was eating, a family came in (two kids, a Mom, and an elderly gentleman).  I was fascinated to watch the old man negotiate his way from the car, to the sidewalk, through the door and to his seat.  He apparently suffers from severe arthritis, or hip degeneration...or possibly is a stroke victim.  It must have taken 10 minutes for him to negotiate the trip from car to seat, while his daughter assisted with the doors.  He looked to be at least 90 years old.  But his countenance was full of peace and a small smile set the tone for his expression.  As he waited patiently for his family to return with their sandwich orders I thought about his life and wondered about the story behind all the years that were wrapped within that feeble frame.  Every life is a book and his life-book is nearly complete.  He cannot rush or be has become a painfully slow process for him and his joy comes from being around those who love him.  There are no more mountains to climb, dragons to slay, or fortunes to be made.  He lives in the reflecting pool of life and takes joy and contentment from the family who will carry on...and they find peace just being with him.  When it is that painful to move, you must learn to take your satisfaction more from being than from doing and you grow in contentment or in frustration.  It was wonderful to be near one who is satisfied, despite the pain...his cup is still full.  Yes the Northern Neck is a surprising place where the old joins the new like the Rappahannock joins the Chesapeake.

Job 42:16 Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. 17 Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

holding you

Who is there to catch you
When you begin to fall...
What will be your landing place
When you stumble, trip and stall?

When all the busy-ness does pause
And swirling winds are calm
Will you also be at peace
Will quiet cause alarm?

What platform do you walk upon
What stage supports your strut
Does floor beneath your feet give way
Or humbly hold you up?

What pillow soft gives rest in sleep
What mattress holds your spine
When you're asleep Who watches you
When you go off the line?

Who is there to catch you
As headlong you do fall...
How will you spot a landing place
When you stumble, trip and stall?

Who holds you now 
When all is well
And straight's your walk and talk?

He is there now and will be then
That's why He is your Rock!

Psalm 37:24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
      for the Lord holds them by the hand.


Friday, July 15, 2011

under fish scale skies

I don't think you could design a more beautiful summer morning...65 degrees...low humidity and a sky that draws your eyes upward to drink in its blue elixir.  A special treat was the array of fish scale clouds that adorned the sky as I enjoyed the top down on my little convertible.  The thought that moves through my mind is that these are the days to practice our worship because the day is coming when worship will be our routine.  A day is coming when we move past science and solutions and all the serious issues that seem to surround us and we move to an eternity drenched in song.   The conflicts and uncertainties...the fears and unknowns...will all be overcome by the One who reigns forever and we will be in His presence.  We will move from war to  worship and from wondering and wandering to wonder in oneness with our Maker.
Revelation 4:2 And instantly I was in the Spirit,[a] and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

friends and shoes

We had supper last night with old friends.  The great thing about old friends is that you can instantly pick up the thread of the personal rapport you have with them despite not seeing them or speaking with them for a long time.  It's almost like discovering a comfortable pair of shoes that somehow got lost in the back of your closet.  You slip them on and remember why you always enjoyed them.  Old friends are great because you have some history together...shared memories and shared support for challenges of living.  It's especially great to have friends about the same age who have kids about the same age as yours.  You have had similar experiences with job changes and the transitions of kids to adulthood.  Just walking through life alongside good friends is like walking through the day with that pair of comfortable shoes.  I suppose this is because friends and shoes both provide support that lets you move forward, without constantly reminding you of their presence.

Proverbs 27:9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend
      is as sweet as perfume and incense.
 10 Never abandon a friend—
      either yours or your father's.
   When disaster strikes, you won't have to ask your brother for assistance.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Several years ago a slogan became popular in the Christian world: "What Would Jesus Do?"  It was accompanied by "W W J D" bracelets that became ubiquitous.  Really a great concept, it framed the importance of attitudes that seek actions compatible and congruent with those demonstrated by the Savior.  The expression flowed from an 1896 book, "In His Steps", by Charles Sheldon which was based on a series of messages he'd delivered to his Congregationalist church and intended to encourage a Christian lifestyle that put substance into the claims of faith.  I have a suggestion for another bracelet: "W W Y D F J", or "What Would You Do for Jesus?"  If Jesus walked through your door at work, what would your attitude be?  If Jesus stood at the cash register to ring up your purchases how would you act?  If Jesus lived next door what kind of neighbor might you be?  In a sense Jesus is present in each of our interactions.  He has said that the measure of our relationship to Him, whom we can't see, is the way we treat others, whom we can.  

Matthew 25: 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

keep right

This past weekend we drove up the I95 corridor, through Washington, D.C. and Baltimore and around Wilmington and Philadelphia to spend time with our daughter and her fiance.  We relied on my smart phone to get us to our destination.  All I had to do was enter the address and, in a matter of moments, the phone computed the navigation and initiated verbal directions for every turn.  I especially appreciated the guidance about the "next turn" or next exit  and distance to the next change.  And I marveled at the accuracy, where even the exact names on the exit signs were quoted (with a few interesting pronunciations of streets and towns).  I was a little surprised when the phone took us directly through Washington, D.C. instead of around the beltway but we decided to trust the "little black box" and it seemed to work just fine.  The analogy I'm thinking of is the navigation that is initiated when we enter Heaven as the destination to our personal "Life Phone".  The Holy Spirit becomes the voice and the "turn by turn" directions to our destination begin to flow.  We don't get the number of miles, or years, to the next turn but we can be confident that we will be directed (and sometimes pushed) when we need to make a course change.  And we can be confident that we will arrive.  By the way, you enter the address of Heaven by first acknowledging that you are lost and need directions.  And make sure that you make a right turn at the Cross.

Luke 1:78 Because of God's tender mercy,
      the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
      and to guide us to the path of peace."

Monday, July 11, 2011

progressive appreciation

It occurred to me the other day that we worship an unchanging God while we are constantly changing.  God's love for us is rock-solid and our bridge to Him is the Cross and the faithfulness of Jesus to pay the price for our sins.  Those truths are absolute and established and when we have walked across that bridge through the wonder of faith and acceptance we are forever restored and pardoned.....Yet...our appreciation for Him is not a one-time thing.  As we go through the rest of our lives and face the ups and downs of experience we find a growing appreciation for what He has done for us.  Life can be like one of those mazes that you solve as a child where there are many false paths to the treasure, but only one that succeeds.  Even after we have put the weight of our trust on Jesus we may try to solve the maze of our lives with our own strength and wisdom, apart from Him.  Inevitably we run into walls and stumble.  But when we look to the Lord for help, He lifts us up to look down on the maze and we see the path clearly.  Perhaps that is why our love in an unchanging God is one of progressive and growing appreciation.  We are coming nearer to meeting Him face to face in time and growing nearer to Him in our daily experience.  He has never been far but we are progressively coming nearer.

Psalm 65:4 What joy for those you choose to bring near,
      those who live in your holy courts.
   What festivities await us
      inside your holy Temple.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

the preposition proposition

"In, of, for, by, from, to..."   These are all prepositions...words that connect other words to show relationship.  Yesterday it occurred to me that, in Christ, all my prepositions intersect.  Jesus is the source of life and He is the destination and purpose for life.  The proposition is that Jesus become the preposition destination for all who come to Him...who bow before Him...who find life in Him and who go for Him.  When our prepositions intersect at the foot of the Cross our paths intersect properly with each other as well.  And so our prepositions will position us properly.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

take time to smell the flowers

I've been intrigued by natural solutions for healing lately...looking into herbs, etc.  I think that is why when we are at a flower nursery yesterday a novel idea struck me.  I wondered if simply smelling flowers might be good for our health.  A little poking around on the internet shows that some studies have been done that suggest that being around flowers lifts spirits from color, touch and fragrance.  There are actually chemicals carried by certain flowers that can assist with alleviating depression and improving memory.  Apparently the tradition of giving flowers to those who are sick or lonely is more than a kind gesture.  Sometimes I think that the answers of life are all found in the garden or near the pond.  Perhaps we are all working our way back to Eden.  Certainly it is good to take time to smell the flowers, where beauty and health may coexist.

2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

Friday, July 8, 2011

the restoration

We live near Colonial Williamsburg.  It was the capital of Virginia back in pre-revolutionary days...a center of politics, culture and education... but the town fell into disrepair over the century following our independence from Britain and the relocation of Virginia's capital to Richmond.  Just prior to the Great Depression in the late 1920's, a local Episcopal rector (Dr. W. Goodwin)developed a vision to see the town restored to its colonial appearance as a living museum that would help Americans remember their roots and appreciate their progress.  He convinced John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to provide the financial backing and, over time, 85% of theoriginal town was restored and a foundation created to maintain the restoration and provide educational interpretation for the benefit of future generations.   Now we can enjoy the sensation of traveling back in time with a stroll down Duke of Gloucester Street.  There is one beauty of creation and there is another of restoration.  Our Creator fashioned a beautiful and complex world and populated it with people like you and me.  We were unable to fully appreciate all we had in the original design and coveted more.  This led to a separation from our Creator.  But He would not permit His work to continue in disrepair and deterioration.  He had a vision for a restored Creation and threw the resources of Heaven into the project, sending His Son to ensure the restoration was complete.  Now we can enjoy a restored relationship with our Maker when we walk through our days with our trust restored to longer depending on our own limited and short-sighted frames.  There is one beauty of Creation and another beauty of Restoration.  I hope that you have experienced both!

2 Chronicles 7:14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

the illusion of a season

Here in Virginia we are approaching the middle of summer.  We have had a classic mix of intense heat, humidity and thunder showers over the past few weeks and the days have settled into expectations of similar weather.   The trees are clothed in mature green leaves and the water of the local pond is warm and characterized by life, as fish jump to break the surface and herons guard the perimeter.  One day seems like the next and there is no hint that summer will ever be replaced by fall or winter.  In the middle of a season the changes that move us from one season to the next are not obvious.  Many of us recall when we were in the summer of our lives.  In those days we were full of vitality and lacking in wisdom.  We could not picture a time when we would not be young, despite the older generations who shared our lives.  When we were in the middle of that season we could not see the coming of autumn to our days.   The illusion of a season is the mask it wears to cover the changes that inexorably nudge us on to the next season.  The freedom of a season allows us to enjoy the benefits of summer without being preoccupied with concerns for the cold of winter.  As we have now moved through many cycles of the seasons we have learned to enjoy the summer despite the certainty of winter.  It is unfortunate for people who cling to this life like the young do to summer.  Just as summer will ultimately be transformed into a very different season, so our lives will move from the summer of the natural existence to a new season in the eternal dimension.  Each day may seem the same as the previous one, but change is always on the way.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season,

      A time for every purpose under heaven:
       2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
      A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


We experience the natural world through our five senses.  One of these is the sense of touch.  It turns out that there are several different kinds of nerve cells that act as "touch agents".  Some nerve cells act quickly to detect change in surfaces...some nerve cells react more slowly but  provide more information about the nature of the surface being touched...some nerve cells detect hot temperatures (skin temperature over 86 degrees) and some detect cold temperatures (skin temperature below 77 degrees)...some cells detect pain.  In fact there are over 3 million nerve cells to sense pain throughout the body...muscles, bone, skin to detect bruises, cuts, burns or chemical pain (bee sting).  We have a need to process our interaction with the outer world and the inner world of the body.  I suspect that we have spiritual nerve cells too.  Our spiritual nerves may sense the inner cares of a bruised or joyful heart, the pain of emotional hurt and the exaltation of a Heavenly revelation.  Our spiritual nerves may sense the outer world of a friend's suffering or a child's excitement.  We need these invisible sensors to process the invisible sensations that give life its depth.  We need our sense of touch to negotiate the physical challenges within our bodies and within our world and we need our spiritual nerves to connect us with the issues of life and ultimately with the Source of Life.  His hand has fashioned our frame that we might know His touch and that we might effectively sense and touch our world.

Matthew 9:21 for she thought, "If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed."


Monday, July 4, 2011

eagles and vultures

There is a tall, but dead, tree that stands next to my favorite pond.  Most mornings it is bare, but sometimes I will spy a large bird at the top.  I spot either a bald eagle or a turkey vulture perched in the tree on some visits.  This morning it was the red-headed vulture who occupied the post.  Both the eagle and the vulture are graceful as they soar in the sky, though we see far more vultures than eagles overhead.  Both birds have impressive physical characteristics, with wingspans of about 6 feet and the ability to fly at great heights and for long distances.  Some vultures actually migrate from Canada to South America.  But the eagle is stunningly handsome and the vulture is as repugnant as its name.  Of course the eagle has that striking physical appearance, with snowy white head, golden bill and authoritative stare.  The vulture's truly bald red head seems too small for it's body and doesn't have the nobility of the eagle.  But the vulture is a successful species and lives over most of North and South America.  He has few natural's almost as if all of nature appreciates the nasty cleanup function that he performs as dead animals are his food.  If I judge on appearance the eagle wins every time, but if I judge on survival I have to acknowledge the turkey vulture.  He has found a way to survive and thrive in a way that benefits the ecosystem.  He may be ugly but he is successful.  His role is distasteful but necessary.   Sometimes we need to look a little longer and think a little deeper to recognize the handiwork of the Creator.  Every necessary operation and chore has been factored into the design of life and there is beauty in that completeness.

Genesis 1:21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

a brief stay

I now have a granddaughter that I will not meet until I reach Heaven.  Baby Margaret was forming within my daughter, Meredith, but the Lord chose to take the tiny girl home before she would experience life under direct sunlight and before she'd breathe this air.  I thought about Margaret and about the nature of life.  I remembered that God is the author of life.  He has designed all of life and He permits us the high honor of participating directly in the process of life entering the world.  But baby Margaret's short life has underscored His absolute ownership of life.  We do not form children and we do not own children and we do not hold the deed or the title to anyone's life.  Baby Margaret was conceived by loving parents who were fully prepared and committed to raise her in the warm nest of their family, alongside her sister and brothers...but...for reasons we do not understand the Lord took her directly Home.  Margaret has a personality just as she has life and one day we will meet and become acquainted.  For now she has gone ahead...she has beaten all of us to Heaven and is now basking in the direct presence of Father and Son in a place where the light doesn't come from the sun and the atmosphere has a different quality.  Perhaps she will be one of the first to greet us when we reach eternity's shore...perhaps she will run to us as we reach the great gate...with eagerness she may say, "Welcome, I have been so eager to meet family.... You weren't able to show me what earth was like but I am so excited to introduce you to your home here in Heaven."  And we will instantly know that we are in the same family...with the same Father...with the same home...united with the designer of Life.

2 Samuel 12:23 But now he (she) is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him (her) back again? I shall go to him (her), but he (she) shall not return to me."