Just a t-shirt

Perhaps like me, you are attracted to t-shirts. 

I wonder how many I have owned in my lifetime? 

I still have way too many in our bedroom closet and chest of drawers.

Every so often, I cull through the t-shirts, and sort out ones I haven’t worn in years. If they are in good shape, I donate them.

I still have every t-shirt that we designed and ordered for the faculty and staff at Lakeside Elementary. God bless, Rose Tanner, who was the school’s secretary, when I first started working at Lakeside. I know she thought I was crazy, but Rose figured out how we could order those t-shirts.

My wife’s incredibly gifted college roommate, Beverly Neely Bruce, was an artist. Beverly could do anything in the art world. Near the end of my senior year of college, she learned how to silk screen and print t-shirts. 

I bought a couple of t-shirts. The colors were gold and dark green. 

On the gold one, she printed the Beach Boys in concert logo. This was based on Cyrus Dallin’s statue Appeal To The Great Spirit. 

With the green t-shirt, Beverly transposed the bottle cap from a Heineken beer bottle on to the shirt.

I can’t tell you how many times people asked me where I purchased those two shirts. That’s how good Beverly was with silk screening and printing.

But today, and this is my public service announcement, the best t-shirts made in the world, that’s right I said world, are made in Burlington, North Carolina at T. S. Designs. 

My brother-in-law, Eric Henry, runs and owns the company. This innovative maker of t-shirts has quite a story. And, I’m sure as a small, independent business, they would appreciate any and all orders and purchases at this very moment. Plus, T. S. Designs has just introduced a line of handcrafted face masks to combat COVID-19.  Don’t delay, go investigate, now!

I always thought whoever figured out that a t-shirt design could also be printed on the back of the shirt was very clever. Why have a blank back of the shirt? Don’t waste the advertising space.

One summer, we were visiting our oldest daughter in Chicago. Being the early riser that I am, on several mornings I went for a run.  I would work my way from the condo over to Lake Michigan. There was the famous Lake Front Trail. The trail winds along the shore line for many miles from the north to the south. 

I saw all kinds of people out there runners, walkers, skaters, bike riders, fishermen, swimmers, photographers, park workers, and people sitting, staring out into the sunrise. 

On one of those runs, a t-shirt a fellow runner was wearing caught my eye. Printed on the front of his shirt was the following question: Have You Exercised Your Faith Today?

I have never forgotten that shirt. But, I have never been consistent in asking myself that question, much less implementing it everyday.

A few years ago, I worked to get myself in shape to run the Richmond Road Runners annual Turkey Trot. This 10K is held on Thanksgiving morning at the University of Richmond. The race sells out every year. It is a beautiful course that winds through the campus and surrounding neighborhoods in the city of Richmond and Henrico County.

But, it is one tough course.  The route consists of twisting turns, steep hills, and there are even some trail running sections. I was always thankful to reach the finish line.

Since this race was run in the fall, the Richmond Road Runners had for registered participants a long sleeve t-shirt. These were moisture wicking shirts made from any number of synthetic materials.

I still have the shirt from the 2014 Turkey Trot. The design on the front was simple, but wise.

The theme is—We are thankful for…..

A pair of running shoes are dangling from their shoe strings, and printed on the outside of the running shoes are things people are thankful for in their lives. Here are some of things the designer listed:  family, friends, good health, freedom, food, kindness, life, and every breath.

During the last few weeks, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from family and friends the word—blessed. Their point—how blessed they feel with their circumstances as they survey the challenges people are experiencing from COVID-19.

I note a story from the NBC evening news about a COVID-19 patient in New York City. This patient, who recently was released from the hospital spent 53 days in the hospital, 53 days. 

I can’t even begin to imagine what that experience was like.  And, I wonder how many times the patient felt like he might have been taking his last breath during his confinement.

Clearly, I have no reason to whine about anything I have experienced during my last 53 days. I should be grateful and thankful.

And also, it is quite clear, I need to make improvement in answering the question on that Chicago t-shirt—have I exercised my faith today? 

It seems that a first step for me in exercising my faith would be to focus on two verses from 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5:  “pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.”

That is good advice.

The next time I catch myself whining about COVID-19, I need to stop, look around, and exercise my faith.

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