It Started in 2017

by DanWolgemuth on April 12, 2024

On August 21st, 2017 Mary and I stood in an open field on the east side of Denver peering at an open sky through appropriately darkened lenses. A solar eclipse was at approximately 65% throughout the Rockies, but that was clearly enough to capture our hearts, our imagination, and our plans for 2024.

This was especially true when we realized that the cosmic highway for the total eclipse would traverse the state of Indiana, directly over the college campus where Mary and I met in 1975.

At the beginning of the year, this plan moved from our bucket-list to our calendar. And on Monday, April 8th, 2024 at 3:08pm, we entered an experience that I had grossly underestimated. For 2 minutes and 58 seconds I could look directly at the sun. No odd looking sunglasses required. During this time, the sun’s corona was on full display. NASA defines a corona like this…

The Corona is the Sun’s outer atmosphere. It is visible during total eclipses of the Sun as a pearly white crown surrounding the Sun.

Psalm 19:1 echoed my sentiments… “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

On Monday, my soul screamed a full-throated AMEN.

Only infrequently does a much anticipated event exceed lofty expectation. But on Monday, the comparison was lopsided.

The word “awesome”, misused in most situations, was woefully inadequate. God flexed His celestial biceps, and they ripped the t-shirt He was wearing.

We stood in an open field, beside a small wooded area… so we could not only see, but also hear what happens during this three minutes of totality. And during that time, while the rays of the sun were being stiff armed by the moon, two planets became visible. For 2 minutes and 58 seconds.

And, as you can tell, I’m still enthralled when I think about it.

The explanation we heard ahead of the event was helpful in describing what was about to happen, but facts were an inadequate prerequisite to what we were about to experience.

God, the cosmic artist, put on a show.

     When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
          the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
     what is man that you are mindful of him,
         and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3–4, ESV)

So for those of you who have already reached for your calendar with a pen in hand, the next solar eclipse that will impact the contiguous United States will be August 23rd, 2044 but it will only impact Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. But wait, there’s more. On August 12th, 2045 another eclipse will impact the U.S., and this time, the path of totality will include Denver. Not sure how I would look at 90 years old with eclipse glasses… or maybe I’ll be looking at the glory of God close up.

Think about it. Incredible cosmic beauty, and the predictability of the finest Swiss watch. Only our Creator. Only as a means to show off his glory.

God. Creative. Grand. Majestic. And always on time.


Another Anniversary, But Not Just Another…

by DanWolgemuth on April 5, 2024

It was 46 years ago, in Franklin, Michigan, that I caught my first wedding glimpse of Mary Christine Cargo. My bride. If I pause, I can still see that image, feel those feelings, and experience those emotions.

But a wedding is only the beginning. Cliché. Probably. But true.

What happens after “I do” is what calibrates the trajectory of a healthy, authentic, and vibrant relationship… Cliché. Probably.

So the question surfaces, at what point is a marriage at its peak? What should a married couple set their sights on as a target, an objective, a visionary goal? And furthermore, what are the years where marriages are most at risk?

A study by the Brown Family Law practice reveals the following about the risk of divorce:

• Years 1–2: Very Risky.
• Years 3–4: Mild Risk.
• Years 5–8: Very Risky.
• Years 9–15: Low Risk.
• Years 15 and over: Low to Mild Risk.

So, at year 46, I sigh a sigh of relief and move forward…


So the question really swirls around when does it become possible to put a marriage on autopilot? Put another way, when does this intensely personal relationship become routine? Habitual? Free from work? On cruise control?

The answer depends entirely on the level of satisfaction with the quality of the relationship. If the behavioral ruts are deep, and the satisfaction level is high, then at some point, the relationship moves from flourishing, to cherishing. And from cherishing to remembering. And from remembering to accommodating. And from accommodating to resignation. “This is the best it’s going to be.”

Certainly, not all bad. But it’s static. A grasp of reality, but backward facing.

Is that inevitable?

If flourishing is linked to physical and mental vibrancy, then backward momentum is inevitable. Memories are it.

But over the last year of marriage… year 46, I’ve come to realize in a fresh way, just how much I have yet to learn and know about the 21 year-old that I married. And yes, not just learn about, but learn from this woman.

In addition, I’ve come to realize that it’s easy for me, at nearly 69 years old, to whitewash over any dreams I might have about personal growth and development.

It’s like retirement… you save up for it most of your working life, and then you live off of what you saved.

Is there a relational equivalent? Should there be?

Should Hallmark produce an anniversary card for a couple married 46 years that says, I hope you liked what you had ten or fifteen or twenty years ago, because it’s been downhill from there. We’re coasting now baby!

After 46 years of marriage, my gift to Mary needs to be honest. It needs to be vulnerable. It needs to be tender. And it needs to be more!

So here you go… my Hallmark card.

Dear Mary,

Thanks for saying yes. Then and now. And thousands and thousands of times in between. At 68 years old, I promise I’m not through learning or growing. That consequently means that I’m not finished apologizing, or confessing, or making mistakes. And while I’m still prone to selfishness and stubbornness… I promise to do my best not to stay there, or to excuse that.

I promise to keep asking God to help me to know Him better and to love Him more, because that’s what allows me to love you more. And love you better.

Mary, I have a growing bald spot on the top of my head (perhaps you’ve noticed), and some forgetfulness, and some tighter fitting clothing… but the capacity of my heart to learn and love is still intact.

I promise more grace. More compassion. More tenderness. More adventure. More reflection… and yes, more flourishing. Even now.

Happy Anniversary.
Then and now. More now than then.
I love you.


Lenten Reflection – Part 5

March 29, 2024

“The look.” I remember it well. And likely more relevantly, I remember giving it. Words are superfluous. “The look” communicates disappointment, disapproval, distain… and perhaps worse. The outcome of “the look” varied, but seldom did it accomplish the intended purpose. I’m quite certain that Jesus had a look. It was a look that Peter received… […]

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Lenten Reflection – Part 4

March 22, 2024

Blame. The currency of exchange in political transactions. Perhaps you’ve noticed. Vision takes a backseat to blame. Whether it’s political ads, stump speeches, opinion columns… or just the pervasive attitude of the day. But don’t be confused, blame is not an invention of cable news, or social media, or a two-party system. We can trace […]

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Lenten Reflection – Part 3

March 8, 2024

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? …for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done […]

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Lenten Reflection – Part 2

March 4, 2024

Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he […]

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A Lenten Reflection – Part 1

February 23, 2024

Wednesday night I poured over the journal in front of me as I engaged for an hour at the “Biblical Stations of the Cross” at our church. Each Wednesday for four weeks. Fourteen stations. Fourteen reflections and passages of scripture. I’m not sure why this is something new to me. Something unexplored in my evangelical […]

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Grand Baking

February 9, 2024

In the fall of 2020 I took a Zoom bread baking class with my daughter, Alli. Our instructor was Sara Ward, from her austere kitchen at Hen Corner in West London. One class led to two, and then three… and then I was hooked. Now, I would consider bread baking my favorite hobby. I have […]

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In the Middle of the Ashes

February 6, 2024

The call flashed on an iPhone screen. A recognized name, at an unexpected time. A neighbor, and a reliable source. Questions rushed as voices connected. “Your house is on fire, and I’ve called 911.” A house that had been a renovation project for the last three years. An investment of time, money, sweat, and dreams. […]

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Casa Bonita… again!

January 19, 2024

It was March 25, 1974, when Bill Waugh opened the doors to Denver’s Casa Bonita for the first time. Waugh had opened several restaurant locations, but his Lakewood, Colorado location would become legendary. I remember hearing about it for the first time from family members who were in awe of the meal and cliff diving […]

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