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August 17, 2009
I coulda been a contender, I said to the solitaire screen. The screen made no reply. It never does. But really: in just 139 seconds, card after card had slipped into place with alacrity, until only four were left to be uncovered. Four! In 139 seconds! I was winning as fast as my fingers could move. A remarkable victory was not only in sight: it was already in my hand. It was just waiting for my fingers to close over it.

And there it stopped. No further moves. Damn. I almost made solitaire history, and then I didn't.

It's like with jobhunting: you can come in second many times. They call you and say that the choice was really, really difficult, that all the applicants were first-rate. Thanks, you say, because you know they didn't have to call you, they could have sent a thanks-but-no-thanks letter or they could have just done nothing at all, so it was nice of them to call. But you're "first-rate." Why didn't you get the job?

Or like with love. You're a great guy, she says. So why aren't the two of you together? How great does a guy have to be?

Much of our success is due to our skill and preparation. But some of it just happens -- or doesn't happen. We can only take things so far before it becomes evident that it's not happening: at least, it's not happening here, not happening now. It's easier to see this in computer solitaire than in discernment -- solitaire tells you the game's over. Discernment just tells you you're a first-rate great guy. You need to look harder to find the "over" part in it, all the more because it's something you don't want to find.

My Italian computer solitaire game offers me the option of receiving a suggestion, for those times when I'm sure I have no moves left. I click on "suggerimento" and two cards light up -- made for each other, and I didn't see it. To focused on getting the kings in their proper places. I needed another mind beside my own to see what my situation really was. And sometimes there are no suggestions except the one that refers me to the discard pile: it'll let me try the same three cards over and over again forever, if I want to, but they'll still be the same three cards. They still won't work. Time to pack it in.

I can write a little more. Do something else. And then I can click on the solitaire icon and try again, a new game.

Please not that the eMinistry Teleclass on September 14th at 8PM EDT is on a Monday, not a Tuesday.

A Year in Italy -- What happens spiritually when one is away from home for an extended period? What do you learn, and how do you learn it? This will be a phone conversation lasting an hour -- you don't even have to leave home! Register at


Are you a fan of Barbara Crafton's Meditations on the Psalms? Do you wish it had an index so you could use it easily for the Daily Office? Freelance editor and writer Christina Caughlan is preparing one, and it will be ready very soon. Stay tuned.
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