Our friends Bruce and Cathy Harro have been in our lives for the last three years. They are an exceptional couple in so many ways, and it has been a delight to get to know them better. Somewhere in his late 40s, Bruce decided he had chosen the wrong profession, a doctor practicing general medicine, and he set his mind toward a trade. He became a credentialed and trained electrician.
Not being party to the initial decision that he was constitutionally unfitted to be a general medicine practitioner, we are not always sure we completely understand why he left a profession for which he had arduously trained, nor why he is content to trade the perks of being a doctor for that of being an electrician. We did become acquainted, however, with the part of his life where he was attempting to find employment.
After a few false starts, Bruce began working as one of many electricians in a large chocolate candy-manufacturing company in the heart of Chicago. Since at this time we were meeting weekly for Sunday brunch, Bruce regaled us with fascinating stories as far as what he was learning in his new profession. We were enthralled. Our friend is a wonderful storyteller and thinker, but his tales about what he was learning in the chocolate factory was stunningly observed through the mind of his past experience with medicine. And let’s face it—once a doctor, always a doctor.
David and I found ourselves exclaiming, “Bruce, we hope you are writing all this down. It would make a fascinating book. What about a title like Everything I Learned in the Chocolate Factory?”
Since then, Bruce has been writing down chapters, about seven so far. The readings have become so fascinating that David and I beg for him to bring his latest work and read it aloud to us. This Sunday after brunch, he read one titled, “Oops!” It was about the mistakes he had made as a novice electrician in an aging, mechanized candy factory. Whole lines were shut down, workers put out of work for a day (without pay) until things could be sorted out by the understanding and collegiality of his fellow electricians. We laughed until tears came to our eyes. It was a lighthearted, self-deprecating collation of events, with the word “Oops!” culminating in each recounting.
Then the medical voice slipped in and Bruce told about an incident out of his days as a doctor. At a church picnic, a friend had brought his father to Bruce. His father was not feeling well. Bruce took him to his office, conducted an examination, took and read an EKG, then prescribed a medication and told him he needed to make an appointment with his cardiologist without delay. The physical matter was urgent but not critical.
With tears running down his face and choking back emotion, Bruce read to us how this elderly gentleman suddenly died that night, before he could make an appointment on Monday, the next day. “I checked with a cardiologist friend who told me that I had done exactly what he would have done under the same circumstances. It was an unfortunate incident but not due to any malfeasance on my part.”
By this time our laughter had turned to empathetic emotions and we were jolted when Bruce read, “Oops! Mistakes happen all the time. That’s just part of being human. But in the chocolate factory, no one dies from them.”
Now, I know a good writer when I hear one read his own work or when I read great work. This is a book in the making with extraordinary possibilities. I’m starting to think of agents I or my friends might know.
What is interesting to me, however, as a matter of personal observation, is how thrilled I am that our instincts were right: There is an unusual story here in the making. The juxtaposition of an electrician’s experience with a deep medical knowledge makes for rare reading. And I am discovering, that in the right circumstances, I love book-coaching. I LOVE IT!
In addition, Bruce can write. He can write really well. Not only that, he spent some of our Sunday time together, after we had hurrahed and exclaimed over his chapter, helping me to diagnose what was wrong with the electrical chandelier in the dining room and offered (at my inquiry) an initial diagnosis on a heart abnormality David has been having for years. Initial diagnosis: supraventricular tachycardia.
This is a friendship for the keeping.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.