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Rule #4 Talk to God every day - Rules for Embracing Life in the 21st Century
Talking to God was to be in conversation with Him.

We have a friend who often begins prayers with "Hey God".

Ivan Potter was the best Pray-Er I ever met. He followed no formula. He . He knew his prayers would be answered. His Christianity was that of a small child. He believed. He wasn't biblical, although he loved the big old 1760s bible he picked up in a Boston bookstore. He recalled they were using it as a doorstop. The illustrations, the antique font with fascinated him. If he absorbed any bible lessons from it, it was from paging through reading random passages.

He was a spiritual person. Not a church goer when I met him. He hadn't attended a church since his mother took him to Clinton Christian Church when he was a child.

When we met, I was a member of Bridgeport Christian Church in Franklin County. My finding Bridgeport was what might be called "a God moment". I moved to Frankfort to teach school and one morning early for work I took a detour. As I topped the last hill of winding Evergreen Road, I saw a white clapboard church. It would be my church home for many years to come.

Ivan didn't go to church with me for our first year or so together. But he became more and more interested. When I would get home, he would quiz me about the sermon. My auditory memory is not so great. Give me directions and wait a minute. It is a given that I won't remember which are the rights and which are the lefts.

He started going with me to hear for himself. He became part of that church. Bridgeport old timers have their own Ivan stories to tell. He would sit in the back row with a notebook, jotting down his thoughts throughout the service. He especially loved to hear the choir sing. He said the music inspired creative thinking.

We started attending adult Sunday School. In time, I became the teacher. It was an hour each week he loved. What he didn't love was my kicking him under the table to shut him up. He asked the most off the topic questions, leading us far from any of my lesson plans. Eventually he moved out of range of my disciplining foot.

When we moved to Clinton, we began attending Clinton First United Methodist (FUMC). Once again, Ivan took his notebook and pen and took notes from the back row. Again, the choir inspired him. The several pastors there always expected an interesting question from Ivan on his way out the door. We again have a Sunday School class, this one on Zoom. It again became a highlight of his week.

Each time he was in the hospital, I would post he was ill and where he was. Facebook friends kept up that way. I read Facebook comments to him even when I wasn't sure he was hearing them. He knew people were praying for him. He felt it in his bones. The blue prayer shawl from our church went with us to Vanderbilt Medical Center. I am convinced that the prayers and good wishes helped him heal. At right, on the phone at VMC draped in his prayer shawl.

Ivan believed all living things have spirits. He was convinced trees are more sentient than they got credit for being. Recent studies have proven what he knew in his heart. The Whispering Trees (Smithsonianmag.com)

He also believed in angels and in the powers of darkness (he never called them devils or demons - just powers). He often told the story of how his life was saved by what he called a "force of good". Many years before, driving on a boulevard in Lexington, his car was rammed. The force sent him speeding toward trees growing in the median. He remembered at the last minute he felt an intervention. His car came to rest between the trees. No injuries. No damage. He always credited angels for his survival.

I was with him when he avoided serious injury through another unexplainable intervention. We were leaving the American Booksellers Convention in Chicago. I went down the escalator first. Ivan, following, was hauling too many book bags. He lost his balance and began falling. The bags were taking him down and it was going to be bad. Just before he fell at the bottom, a giant of a man came out of nowhere, picked him up and deposited him safely.

Then the man was gone. Just gone.

Ivan credited angels for bringing us together. In August 2023, just past midnight into our 39th wedding anniversary, he typed a letter for me to find the next morning propped up on the coffee maker.

He concluded with "It is moments like this that I know for sure, that the Angels were very correct in allowing your spirit to take my spirit in your hand and together we have and will have many times again to enjoy each other in strange times and places."

Talking to God every day was not a standing up and making a big announcement. Most of the time, he would be in his favorite wing back with a cat on the footstool or on the porch loving the view. His prayer time was more a visit than intercession. His conversations with God were quiet and most of the time secret.

"What is time to God?" he began in a short essay. "There are just some questions that will never be answered" he concluded.

Whatever time is to God, Ivan believed that He had time to listen.

Rule 4 is not a fancy pray this way at this time and use these words sort of rule. To embrace life in the 21st century, our talking to God can be in music, lying in the grass, hands around a dinner table, a fervent four word sentence. It is a rule without rules.

There is no one and only correct way to talk to God.

You can just start by saying "Hey God".

Addendum: We found Ivan's Rules for Embracing Life in the 21st Century while going through the many pieces of paper he left behind. I was his editor, correcting his grammar, his creatively spelled words and his bureaucratic run on sentences. He didn't share these twelve Rules with me so I am not sure when he wrote them or even what prompted him to write them. The Rules have made me stop and think. They have pushed me to write again and to share thoughts on each rule and what I think it meant to him. And what it means to me.


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