For a freelance writer accustomed to working in a basement office, moving electrons around a computer screen, the last few weeks have been most untypical.
In early September we filmed a video series on my new book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? A video crew flew out from Michigan, rented a lodge in Silverthorne, Colorado, and lined up all sorts of shooting locations: the St. Elmo ghost town, Loveland Pass, an observatory, a hike to a waterfall. In the book I talk about such places and especially what I’ve learned about prayer hiking in the mountains.
A month before a scheduled tour of South Africa, I started coughing and couldn’t stop. I coughed through the night for almost a week, and no medication had any effect. Finally my doctor did a blood test and determined that I had contracted whooping cough, or pertussis, of all things. You expect that in a five-year-old, yet I got it in my fifties, despite a recent DPT shot. Go figure. The doctor said it would linger for about 100 days, gradually fading away.
This week Janet and I will be halfway through a book tour on Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? that is taking us to 15 cities. Typically we’re gone for a week, home for three days, then off again. We have just enough time to do the laundry and get some dry cleaning done. Of course, there are always surprises. On one trip we returned to find that the grader of our dirt road had cut through a cable, leaving us with no phone service (cell phones don’t work in our canyon) or Internet. During that same trip we learned that the bear had torn up our birdfeeder again. Ah, the joys of country living. There are compensations, of course: a couple of days ago Janet saw a large bobcat strolling up our driveway in broad daylight, and we regularly have to stop on our road to let a herd of elk cross.
I spent most of this month in Germany and France. The trip began with a tour sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Institute, a quasi-government foundation named after the first Chancellor of West Germany, who had the unenviable job of restoring government to a society utterly demoralized and defeated, in a land where every large city had been bombed to rubble. Adenauer founded the Christian Democratic Union political party, and with the help of U.S. largesse in the Marshall Plan, led Germany into a new era.