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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

XVI

i thought i knew what it was to have a sixteen year old son. i figured it was pretty much the same as having a teenager only with complications. Sort of like Hemorrhoids and a case of poison oak. Then Happ (the fashionable son) went and passed his drivers' permit test. i knew the Ballyhoo gang had to celebrate this rite of passage of it's most fashionable member in true Ballyhoo fashion. So i collected Rascal and we plotted to greet Happ in a manner befitting the occasion as soon as the conquering hero emerged from his motor chariot. As we prepared our arsenal of snowballs we fleshed out our plans. "After he yells at us for messing up his new clothes we can all go out to dinner!"

"Yeah!"

The vision of a break in the holiday madness with a family night together danced in my head as my cell phone rang. Mynnie, (the pretty one) informed me that she would be dropping off our new driver at the restaurant where he and his buddies get Cheesesteaks every Tuesday.

Oh. Of course. He wishes to celebrate with his friends. Perfectly understandable. i hung up the phone and my dream of a family celebration and a traditional Ballyhoo Snowball Huzzah with an audible click. That's when i decided that now i knew what it was like to have a sixteen year old. It wasn't Hemorrhoids and rashes. It's more like dreaming of a steak dinner and getting a steak dinner. A Salisbury steak in a TV dinner.

Broken dreams and eight inches of snow don't mix so Rascal and i took our sleds and re-inflated our spirits in Carcass Basin. The hill is perfectly groomed and the pond frozen and disappointment cannot survive in the harsh glee of high speed runs across a frozen pond.

Time slurps on into the future, it is time to pick up Happ, so i venture out in Mynnievan to fetch him. He, not unexpectedly but not anticipated with delightedly, asks if he can drive home. To his surprise, i unexpectedly but received with much delightedly say, "sure."

Riding home. Trying to unclench my hands and keep my voice calm with the sensation of sitting in the dentist's chair with the needles, knives and skewers all laid in plain sight, i chuckle softly to myself, "no dummy, NOW you know what it means to have a sixteen year old son."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Just like every year since year 34.

In path of the Nor'Easter, the soon to be trampled discussed their doom...

"So they're going to decide tomorrow whether or not they will have to cancel church," informed the Informed.

"Cancel Christmas? Wow!" remarked the cynic.

"A year without Santa?" questioned the incredulous.

"No no," soothed the cynic, "it will just be a year without Jesus."

"Oh," sighed the much relieved, "that's okay then."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Hunting

The Plains of Sabbath. The wide open spaces between the thickly, prickly forests of Necessity, the foggy Deserts of Dream, the stormy Seas of Calamity and the hyper-bustling Cities of Man that make up the rest of the hunting range. Here a hunter can ease down in the tall grass, test the wind and relax a little, knowing that his quarry cannot pass by unnoticed. Like a lion surveying the savanna, all the herds must pass a nervous day under his eye, predator and prey in full sight of each other. There is nowhere to hide until you reach the other side.

Thanksgiving Valley is this plain's name. And it marks the mouth of the Advent Race. A peaceful stream that flows through this fruitful field gathers speed and power as it pours over the precipice at the end of the vale. From there it's down, down, down the mountains in a tumbling, pell-mell fury of thunder and chaos until it finally bursts over Christmas Falls and into the Pool where some drown and others bathe and finally it slips out the other side and the quarry will be gone, never to return. Another Year gone, another Yearling straining at the gates in agonizingly youthful exuberance ready for its hunt. Its chance to run the gauntlet.

But the hunter is still thinking about the last hunt and all the hunts before. How to capture a year? How to hold on to that powerful beast? How to best use every bit of the members he managed to pull down? What did he learn? What worked, what didn't?

For this hunter, this valley, this morning of Thanksgiving has been a good place to slow the critter down. It's the last good grazing spot before it's dash down Christmas Ravine. Here i can walk among the herd, even run my fingers through their wooly manes. It's a sacred spot. A place to count blessings.
  • Such as homes given...to us, to Clan Bubba, to the Cats.
  • The departing of a Shepherd and a partner, hopefully both to happier hunting grounds.
  • The arrival of a new partner and all the adjustments that means.
  • For a camping trip, a beach trip, a reunion with my brother's family.
  • For seasons of growth in the Ballyhoo.
  • For more proof that God will provide, even in recessions, democratic presidencies and swine flu pandemics.
  • Reconnecting with family, some i wasn't aware i had.
  • For sins forgiven.
  • For a few more sign in my larger hunt for joy and contentment.
And for knowing when to end a post that has buried itself in poetic metaphor without a single joke, laugh or snicker. Happy Thanksgiving to All and to All a good Hunt!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Jeremiad.

Two days ago, at work in a basement, stuffing puddy into a thousand thousand little nail holes, i had at least six ideas for art work, nine for a story and three for a post here on the Coop. Here i sit in front of a laptop and there's more action on the static screen than in the oblong pumpkin. (Calling it the squash would convey it's lumpy irregularity more efficiently but then i don't think folk would get that i'm talking about my head.)

i've been thinking about change lately. As in: Can people change? Specifically for the better. For you see, in my experience, people don't. Change for the better that is. Once they reach some semblance of something we can label cynically as "maturity," they're personalities are fixed. The ingredients of traits, quirks and habits that make them able to be differentiated from the other primates in the herd have settled into the shape that they will only harden around as they age. From there on until the Big Chemical Breakdown, they will take that palette of colors and let them dry and darken with age. The most change i can say i've witnessed is when one of the colors, usually a particularly dark one to begin with, starts to take over. But this isn't change, this is just a natural progression of possession. We sell our souls to something and sooner or later or in most folk, gradually, it takes more and more of that real estate. Until all that's left is the slave and the master. The fearful person becomes the shut-in, the party animal burns out, the cynical philosopher becomes a grumpy blogger. Slaves to their sinful addictions.

Now my problem with this is this: i believe in the God of change. The Father so loved the world (euphemism for all of the little yellow, brown, red, black and pink idi-ants running around on it) that He gave His only begotten son. That whosoever, (or who ever wants to) believe in Him, shall not perish (die a worthless life and then spend an even more tragic eternity) but have everlasting life (life here should be capitalized. Life. Not the life that we suffer through here and is but a pale shadow of truly Living as it was meant to be, fully in God and He in us. No questions about purpose. No coping mechanisms. No incessant search for love and fulfillment. No lies.) That God has told me that He came to free people from their sins. Those that believe are no longer slaves, they are truly free. One of the evidences of this is that they shall live differently, different from how they lived before and different from all of those who have chosen not to believe. They shall truly change! This is my hope. Or i hope to make this my hope. Being a cynic, hope would be a change. This is what i pray for everyday. For myself and for others.

So how come i'm not seeing it happen?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A country for cur-mudgeons.

There was a man. He took a trip to a far off country and there he settled for a short while. While he was there he found a puppy. The puppy was starving, badly beaten, diseased and living on the streets. The man sought out the puppy's owner and stated his intentions to buy the dog. The owner demanded a high price and without batting an eye the man paid it, even though it was far more than the puppy was worth.

The man nursed the puppy back to health. He found him a home where the puppy would be looked after and gave him a name and a tag so everyone would know who the puppy belonged to. One day he took the puppy for a walk, told him how much he loved him, told him he was going away for a while and that when he came back, he would take the puppy to his new home where they would always be together. He told him that while he was gone, he wanted the puppy to be a good dog.

And then he left.

The puppy waited. And waited. And waited. After about an hour, the puppy realized that this was going to be a long wait. Puppy's have no real hard ideas about time. The puppy grew up. He did his best to be a good dog. He got along all right with the other dogs. He worked hard for the people who took care of him. He enjoyed walks and hunts and riding in cars with the windows open. He even settled down with another dog who had a tag as well and they had puppies of their own who he told about the master and country that they would all go to someday. And life went on.

But every now and then, the puppy would catch a scent of his true master. It might be on another person or another dog. It might be on something like a tree or wooded path. It might even be on the wind at sunset, as if carried there from some far country. The master's country. His country. At first the puppy would be excited. He would jump up and look, expecting any moment to see the master. And he would wait. And wait. And wag his tail. And wait. And sniff around trying to find more. And wait. And after about five minutes he would realize that this wasn't the time. The master wasn't coming. Again.

Then the puppy grew sullen. The puppy would retreat to dark corners and lie there. As he grew older, he grew less patient. No longer would he jump up. He would test the scent and if nothing changed he would go back to what he was doing. He still tried to be a good dog, but something had changed. His caretakers did not know what to do. His mate did not understand him. His own pups avoided him when they saw that familiar set of his jowls.

The other dogs made where ever they were at, their country. They dug holes and spread around smelly things. They lived in houses and acted like children instead of dogs. They chased their tails and bit whoever they pleased and barked and barked and barked. But the puppy thought they were all fools. He knew where he belonged and who he belonged with and this wasn't it.

Now is about the time in most stories that the Master should come or the puppy should take matters into his own paws and start off to find the Master or become a bad dog. But that didn't happen so i can't say that. The puppy is still working hard for the people who take care of him, he is still teaching his puppies about the Master, still trying to be a good dog. In short, he is still waiting.

Lately, he's been trying to wait in a more puppy like fashion. 'Cause puppies believe!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Teach your children well.

Does the Holy God have specific plans for us or does Jesus not care what we do as long as we do it all for the glory of the Father?

i have two sons, the Ballyhoo, Happ and Rascal. They are both creators.

Happ is a philosopher. He has ideas that swirl on currents of emotion, they are ephemeral; solid in the moment and then fading before the strength of the next minute's passion. He is a drummer and it seems to me that music fits his building style. He has much to say, too much for static mediums. Paper lacks the acreage to contain his spiritual pilgrimage. Too many borders, too many boundaries. He is the cowboy and only the wind can encompass his art. And so i think he will most likely build with the wind and on the wind and the wind will take his creations to the world.

Rascal is an architect. Rascal builds ideas upon ideas. Carefully selecting the next stone, the next brick from among the pile. Then shaping it, knocking off sharp corners or fitting it into the construct. Rascal aspires to perfection and permanence BUT only what is perfect must gain permanence. All failed attempts must be learned from and wiped away. Only what is good, what is solid, what has obeyed and fit the design in his dream can be seen through and then seen by the world. Rascal is young, blocks are the mode for now but blocks are the foundation of the man he will become. It seems to me that he is methodically choosing and learning and experimenting with what will become the building blocks of his own soul, his own direction, his life.

As their father, i love seeing them grow like this. i love answering their questions and seeing what they choose to do with the things they learn. Do i care what they do with their lives? Hell yeah! i'm going to be a lot more proud of them if they truly follow their dreams whatever those dreams may be. i'm going to be a lot more proud of a musician and an engineer than a male prostitute and the front end loader operator down at the dump. They don't have to be famous or particularly successful. i just want to look down the table at Thanksgiving someday and see two guys who are living, not just surviving. Two guys who are pursuing something, not running from something. Two guys who are investing their time here and not burying their talents so as not to lose them.

But that's me, what does the Almighty Maker of the Universe think?




Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Black Sheep Rebellion (or What the Flock?)

"....and on the pastoral front, bloody fighting has again erupted in Cooper Nation. For more on that story we take you to our correspondent on the ground, Don Noemutch. What's the situation where you are Don?"
"It's becoming known as the Black Sheep Rebellion, Steve and up until this morning there was hope of a lasting truce, maybe even a return to the negotiating tables. But that dream of peace ended sometime last night when the shelling began and folks around here woke up to the war in earnest ..again.
Every year, many of the sheep in this wide flung flock gather here, in the traditional fold of the Cooper Nation to picnic, embarrass themselves at softball and horseshoes and do their patriotic part to deplete the local beer surplus. But it is not a complete gathering. Many of the flock could not make the annual pilgrimage. Scattered abroad, with young lambs being apprenticed to local shepherds, the diaspora quietly suffered alone. That is until the invention of the Easternet.
The information superhighway has brought millions of sheep together and that togetherness has brought something else... civil war.
Through a series of misinterpretations, hurt feelings and sidelong insults over the computer, a war erupted over the summer between the Cooper Nation sheep that remained in the fold and the many smaller, pocket flocks that lived in the surrounding hill country. These separate groups banded together and called themselves the Black Sheep due to the color of their wool. They rallied to the cause of having their own gathering in a place of their own choosing and had even formed a secret society to plan that new pilgrimage and it's meeting place. When the unexpected happened.
The shooting stopped. The two parties agreed, tenuously at first, to cease fire and start working through diplomacy on their mutual disagreement. This baby step was seen as a giant step forward and a welcome leap away from violence."
"What happened to renew the hostilities Don?"
"We can't be sure exactly but it seems, Steve, that the Nation sheep in the fold found out about the secret Black Sheep meetings taking place. Now the Black Sheep maintain that they had adjusted their plans to include the Fold Sheep since the truce but be that as it may, the shooting has started again anyway."
"Let us hope for another miracle truce, Don. Especially since I hear there's a bit of irony involving the name, "Black Sheep." Isn't that so?"
"It is Steve. The name Black Sheep is particularly an odd choice since All the sheep of the Cooper Nation are black."
"Haha. Will those sheep ever learn?"
"Only time will tell. Until then, there is very little co-operation in Cooper Nation. I'm Don Noemutch reporting from No-Sheeps-land. Back to you Steve."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor day strike



Labor day. How aptly named thou art.
So much to do, don't know where to start.
There's wood to stain and walls to finish,
A mess to move that just won't diminish,
A staircase to build and bedrooms to paint,
A bathroom that would make a sewer rat faint,
Floors to patch, windows to mend,
A honeydoo list that never will end,
So much to do that i sit here not doin'
Cause i ain't doin' squat till the coffee's done brewin'!


Monday, August 24, 2009

This is the Promised Land???


"You seem like you're in a really good place..."

My friend Panzer said that to me the other day.

Me. Good place.

If i was in the Hundred Acre Wood, Eor would tell me to lighten up. If i was one of the seven dwarves, the other six would trigger a cave-in and bury me alive and Grumpy would lead them. B.A. Baracus thinks i have a bad attitude. But enough about me.

Let's talk about Abraham.

Abraham got the direct word from God Almighty to up and move. "Go to the land I will show you." Not, go north on i 58 to the Mesopotamian Turnpike, hang a louie and head West until you see the sea, then bang South again on Egypt 501 through Palestine, Canaan and Assyria. Take the Mount Moriah exit and you're there! Just go. I'll tell you when we get there. Jesus would echo these words centuries later with, "you there, in the boat, follow me."

And Abraham went. And he got there... eventually but i'll bet there were times when he wanted to ask, "am I nuts?" And you know Sarah gave him crap every gosh darn day about listening to strange voices and uprooting the family and all and what were they going to eat and where would they live and how long would they live in a tent and did you just do this to get away from my mother and i'm tired of smelling like camel, when are we going to stop somewhere with proper facilities? And if Lot asked him one more time, "Are we there yet?" I kid you not! The boy is Lion chow! I will bury him up to his neck and cover his face with honey just to see what comes to lick his skin off!

Fourteen million bathroom breaks later, they arrived... dah-dah-da-dah-dah-da-DAH...big Charleton Heston voice over...which works even better cause he's dead...The Promised Land! Brass ensemble blows fanfare! Followed by kazoo solo. See, there were already people living there and it turned out to be sort of a future inheritance kind of deal. And the folk there weren't really Abraham's kind of folk. They were a touch sleazy. And then there were droughts and famine and they were still living in tents and there were well disputes and Sarah was barren and there was all the regular work involved in moving an army of sheep and shepherds from place to place. Oh, and then there was the little issue after Sarah finally did have a son, of God telling him to take him to a mountain, slash his throat and burn him, psyche. Get to know God, He's got a wicked sense of humor. You think following God means no troubles? Look at His Son Jesus. The guy was a homeless carpenter who willingly allowed himself to be tortured and executed. You think that if things aren't going slick as snot then you must be missing your divine cues? You better think another think, my buddly bud. God's replanting Eden. And all those fruit trees and jalapeño plants and flowers need soil that has all of its rocks dug out, its weeds ripped from it, its surface ground up, tilled, plowed over, rained on and guess what? We're not just the workers, we're the dirt.

"Lord?"
"Yello."
"Um, we're here."
"Yep."
"Um, here in the Promised Land."
"Yep, all of this, I give to you."
"Yeah, bout that, bit of a fixer upper, huh? Kind of a handyman's special."
"You should see it from my point of view."
"Yeah, did you happen to notice Sodom and Gomorrah right smack dab in the middle?"
"Yep."
"Right. You saw that. It's just that, there's a lot of work to do here."
"Why did you think I sent you here?"
"Well, i dunno, i just sort of thought .. that.. you know..."
"What?"
"That i was being rewarded or something."
"Rewarded?"
"Yeah, for being good."
"You should see you from my point of view."
"Right, touché. It's just that, i thought this would be a good place."
"It is a good place."
"How so? i mean, look around. It's falling apart. The taxes are horrible. There's mold, bugs, vermin and the neighbors smell of Rottweiler dung. The village wasn't happy with one idiot so they all applied for the job. There's poverty, lousy weather, over population, drunkenness, noise, pollution, wretched depravity, corruption, reality television. It's a flippin' mess! There's more work here than one man can do in two lifetimes! How, by any stretch of the imagination is this a good place???"
"I'm here. Here take this hoe, we got some work to do."

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The story of the station

July 4th, 1998-- The frickens move into Elwood Station. A sixty year old former summer cottage. Having gutted the upstairs, they are sleeping in the utility room. Mama Mynk gets the only bed as she is eight months pregnant with Rascal. Churchmouse and Papa camp out on floor. Their first house, delirious joy is evident.

July 4th, 1999-- Deliriousness still evident, joy, not so much. The frickens come to the conclusion that the cottage is in no shape to survive raising another family in. Papa and his pal Ballisticat take shovels and picks and begin digging foundation for a new Station. Aspirations are high. So are naiveté levels.

Thanksgiving, many years later (i forget how many but i have the post around here somewhere and can prove that it was many years later if i have to)-- Frickens finally get upstairs of old station fixed up enough to use as bedrooms. New station is a skeleton getting soaked in the rain. Aspirations aren't so high anymore but weekend work parties are thriving and consume much beer at end of each Saturn's day.

Thanksgiving, 2007-- The frickens move into the bedrooms on new side of station. Not whole house, rest of house is bare studs and insulation, but they have bedrooms. Joy returns, work parties-not so much.

Christmas, 2008-- Drywall throughout! Papa frick has finally shook delirium. Hires outside contractors to finish new station. Station starting to look like house, plans are made for kitchen. Aspirations are high again. End may be in sight. Plans to raze old station to ground before it melts into it are formed.

By Labor Day, 2009-- Frickens' friend Bubba and three Bubbakins will need home. Emergency plans are made to convert Elwood Station into twin. Tobasco the Cat, possibly in anticipation begins hiding in banana box. Despite insurmountable piles of detritus still in old station, Summer windows (Sum are fuctional and sum are falling out) and a severe lack of kitchen in new station, Papa frick's faith and aspirations are high.

Or has Delirium returned???


Sunday, July 26, 2009

When did i grow a beard???

i've been staring at the computer or "nothing box" (Mark Gungor, look him up, it's worth it.) as i will henceforth call it, for so long that when i looked up, everything around me was so bright and clear that i thought it was fake. That's what happens when you join facebook. You sign up one night in a moment of weakness, just curious to see what it's all about and two years later you wake up in a cesspool of your own filth sloshing around the sweats you now live in and clinging to your two hundred extra pounds you've put on by eating every snack food, condiment and end table in your house while you answered comments, looked at photos, posted photos, tagged photos, commented on photos, scrolled through lists looking for people you didn't really know but remember the names of to friend-request, confirm friend requests, do research on folks you don't remember but are friend-requesting you, answer chat balloons that pop up while you're checking your inbox, your wall, your profile, your homepage, your friend's homepage, wall, profile, all the while wondering what a HUG is, what Farmville is, why your friends are milking cows on it, why it needs to be able to see your friendlist, your profile, your bank account, your friends bank accounts and your closet all while trying to figure out how to poke, post and publish the minutia of your life and worrying over how much detail is too much and how much is too little.

Whatever happened to the good ol' days when there was nothing to do on the interwebs but surf for smut?

Monday, July 20, 2009

A muse moment.

A dark, hairy, gnarled, gnomish runt of a curmudgeon showed up last night. He nearly walked through the screen, he was so drunk. "Oh, you've come back," i remarked. He made a rude noise followed by a downright inappropriate gesture and then laid out his case in language that would offend a a particularly affable rock.

"Look, you (expletive deleted)! I give you idea after (colorful metaphor) golden idea and what do you do? You (completely impossible sex act with a mollusk) it up! You are so (hyperbolic reference to mental deficiency based upon location of cranium) that you (unhygienic practice yourself) no matter what I do for you, you (very, very, very stupid person)! So you know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to give it to you. The (fantasy night with famous celebrity) idea of all (nearly impossible sex acts with famous celebrities) of ideas. This is it! You (anatomical region specific to males nurse sharks) this up and I'm through! You understand, you (unwanted relative of a member of the bovine order)? This is it! Last (sex act between a non-consenting primate and toaster) chance you (rare spinal disorder contracted from inbreeding). You (...um, not sure..?) this up and I quit being your (i'd rather not say) muse! Got it? Hey, where are you goin', you (superfluous member of a large factory device)? I offer you fame, a chance to get out of your (fairly accurate description of my) rut and you walk away???"

"i'm gonna go see what my kids are doing." Feeling smug in my sense of values, i descended the stairs to find my family...

...watching teevee. Little (unclaimed orphan) couldn't have got far on such stubby legs, maybe i can still get that idea.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh, cause you're the mayor.

The breeze blows gentle in the trees. The charcoal is alight and better than any incense save the prayers of the saints. The wicker could use a cushion and the teenager could use a place-putting-punt-to-the-posterior and a cold shower. i am sitting in aforementioned wicker and waxing nostalgic about a scene out of the weekend last.

There too the breeze and i enjoyed the long rays of the sun. Though it were more the time of anticipation than reflection. There too, i sat. There too, there were teenagers in need of place-putting-punts. And that brings us to our story...

Lacrosse, like most sports, Carlin be wherever he's at, it is a sport and as such, is played by the young. And though the modern world seems to think them passé, the young often have fathers, for good or ill. Fathers who often, God bless 'em, think that their progeny, most of whom are walking upright, potty trained and old enough to shave, could not successfully make themselves a glass of chocolate milk without their fathers bellowing at them from the sidelines if it were to be accomplished on a playing field. You've heard these men. Everyone within a five mile radius hears these men. Berating their beloved sons in a spray of spittle laced fury like the slave drivers in Roman galleys during a losing battle.

There i and the breeze and everyone within a five mile radius sat, unwilling audience to a master slave driver practicing his craft. For fully thirty minutes of a thirty-five minute game he paced the sidelines as if he were the reincarnation of Vince Lombardi himself, telling every boy on the field where they should be, how they should play and asking in his best pleading martyr voice, why, o why were they not listening to him and trying to win the game??? So fanatical was he, i began to watch in the morbid fascination that he would soon have a massive coronary right there on the field and never having seen such a thing and being ambivalent to the outcome, i thought it might prove more entertaining than the game. Maybe now would be an opportune time to say that my son was not playing in this game so i had no personal stake. Insert joke about my own massive coronary here. i don't mind. i am not one of these fathers.

i save my wrath for the refs but that is another story and we're not talking about me.

We're talking about this guy... and the guy twenty foot down the line. The guy who looked like a retired teamster. Who talked like a retired teamster who did strong arm work for the Union back in the day. Who had apparently had his fill of the slave driver's vitriol.
"Hey (we'll call him Creo Sonitus, Soni for short) Hey Soni! Why don't you shuttup!" says, retired teamster knee breaker.
"I'm oveh heeya, (helpfully points to where he's standing) i'm not botherin' you!"
"You're bodderin' all of us! You're making us all nauseous!"
"And you're de mayor."
"You're out of control, you're makin' us all sick!"
"Oh and you're so loved!"
There followed after this exchange, five minutes of blessed, if somewhat strained silence as the game wound to it's inevitable conclusion and kneebreaker's and Soni's sons' defeat. And that would have been the end of it. There would have been no story except for the origin of why i will now refer to anyone who tells me what to do as, "the mayor."

Except that's when the real story began. For at that point, kneebreaker came over. He shook Soni's hand and gave him a one armed man hug. They made up and apologized and were both gracious in defeat. Now, for all i know, they do this every game. It could be ritual for them. But that one act of restoration and forgiveness, that picture of redemption, that holy moment almost made up for the fact that i had to drive to blinkin' Jersey three days in a row to watch my son's coach snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory five times in a friggin' row.

Almost.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Two Rules extrapolated.

Y’see, the problem isn’t that I don’t have good ideas. I have great ideas. I just ignore them.

Wayward and I were in high school when the amazing, binary switch moment came. (I like that phrase, ‘binary switch moment.’ Got it from a book about robotics scientists. I’ll have to look up the guy to give credit where credit is due. Though it’s probably anecdotal in Geek.) Wayward and I were two of a kind. That kind being the kind of kid no one cares where and what they’re doing as long as they’re not in trouble. It had been that way more or less all our lives. Or at least since we had been able to change our own diapers. But the moment came when we realized that that not only applied to the few hours after school but it could be extended out over an entire weekend. Couple this epiphany with the fact that we had cars and like teenage boys had since Noah’s boys blew off the Ark, Ararat and Authority figures, we rediscovered the Road Trip. Oh yeah, we were flippin' geniuses.

Now, despite meticulous planning and packing Rachel, my Ford Bronco up to the windows (two kitchen sinks, just in case the first one broke) we soon learned that the quest to escape all rules, rites and regulations came with a few rules, rites and regulations of its own. You never, apparently escape societal constraints; you merely trade one culture’s for another’s. We learned this in less than thirty miles. At our first rest stop to replenish the coffee tanks and pump the bilges we returned to my lil’ mule to find that I had locked the keys in the ignition. After acquiring an expert in all things automotive with a slim jim and giving him a half an hour, I took the implement and opened the door myself. It was a pan of life’s mud that when sifted gave up a priceless nugget of experiential wisdom. And thus the two rules were born.

Rule one: When traveling, everyone has a key to the car.

Rule number two: When traveling, EVERYONE HAS A KEY TO THE FRIGGIN’ CAR!!!

Now it wasn’t learned right away. It was created right away but it wasn’t driven home until my lovely fiancée and I and again Wayward went to see Bad Company and Damn Yankees down in the city one night and it happened again. This time costing ninety dollars and a chunk of my evening to the nice locksmith. After THAT time we started making sure that Everyone Has A Key To The Car.

Now maybe it was the point that my son Happ doesn’t drive. And maybe it was because i’m no longer in the habit of locking cars. But for whatever reason, Happs or habits, I found myself in Piscataway, New Jersey this weekend, (yeah, I know, New Jersey.) peering through the windshield of my Chevy, looking at my key in the middle console. It was only then that I considered the two key fobs that I don’t use that were also locked safely away in the console. It took longer for the nice locksmith to verify my credit than it did to break into my truckette. You may think that hyperbole. And you’d be grossly mistaken, my cynical friend. The fobs went into Happ’s lacrosse bag and the knob went into my sleeping bag to wonder again at the fact that I carry around this heavy old brain that I never use. I wonder what they’re fetching on the black market these days. If I trade mine for a motorcycle I’ll never have to worry about being locked out again.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

the two rules

the first law of travel is...

everyone has a key to the car.

the second rule of travel is...

EVERYONE HAS A KEY TO THE FRIGGIN' CAR!!!

Nomadittidy


Pick up my spirit as i pick up my pack
i get lighter as it goes on my back

Slip the shadows as i slip my roof
Climb out of my rut and onto the hoof

Wastes of Jersey, wilds of the West
My native place is the perpetual guest

Earthbound, waterborne, Heaven sent
Motion is my element

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My, how things change

The man strode through the garden taking in the particular beauty of it all.  He had never been here before and the animals came to him to introduce themselves and see what he would call them.  The small chattering gray ones made him laugh.  Their furry tails were ticklish as they climbed his naked legs to perch on his shoulder and soon he was covered in them and not just grays he saw.  Black and red cousins had joined them and the man found himself tickled all over until he could stand no longer.  He fell over and the furry living coat leaped and bounced around him as he tumbled down the springy slope to rest in a warm, sunny glade.  The sleek black birds that he had named a few weeks ago followed and joined their laughter to his.  These were funny little creatures.  The Father told him much of them.  How they would help the trees to propagate by hiding their seeds and forgetting where they hid them.  The man chuckled and told the Father that only He would think to make a creature useful predominantly for it's silliness.  They spoke of many other things, the man thanked his Father for the sleek black birds that had kept him company that week.  The sun was warm and his skin still felt alive with tiny toenails as the plants caressed his bare backside and soon without a care in the world, the man was asleep.

The man trudged up the hillside, having to pull himself much of the way with roots and small branches.  His boots slid on the slick leaves and he plunged his gloved hands into the mud to find a rock or purchase to keep from slipping all the way back down to the river below.  Torn by thorns, cut and bleeding he crawled the last few yards of incline to a natural bench filled with golden weeds of some sort.  He rolled over and propped himself up on a rotting deadfall.  A few feet from him, his buddy plopped right down in the leaves and stared.  They were exhausted.  It had taken two days of constant paddling, battling the current to get this far and they had no strength to go any further.  A lost paddle had decided this stop and both of them had walked away from the canoe as if it were some tormenting devil.  He sat there trying to catch his breath in the pollen soaked air that burned his nose.  The forest was as still as a tomb, nothing moved.  There was not even a breeze to stir the skeletal trees.  Somewhere far across the valley a crow cawed it's mocking laugh and he cursed it right back.  His back hurt, his arms hurt and he eased himself back until he lay right down in the moss and goldenrod.  His long underwear was sweated through and he would probably catch his death of chill but the sun seemed to promise otherwise.  He was warm for the first time that day and he closed his eyes, he didn't even have the strength to move the rock poking him in the back.  He just thanked God for chance to come out here where he didn't have a care in the world and fell asleep.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fur-furty

"Why do you wake up at four fifteen?"
A mumbled something that sounds like bricks or sick or i like to listen to Styx.
"What time do you have to leave?"
Fy-furty.
"If I had to leave at five-forty, I would wake up at five."
Ahdon waykup n' shtrt rummim.
"What?"
Ah kann jesh waykup ang moof.
"I can't hear you."
Ah suk.
"Well, I guess I just think sleep is more important."

Funny thing about the importance of sleep is that the really important part must happen in the morning before we wake up.  People guard this half an hour jealously.  The two or three hours we should have been in bed the night before but were watching teevee, doing laundry, chasing kids down, staring at computers or picking our nose are apparently optional.

It was an accidental typing class, taken to fill out requirements for graduation, where i discovered my love of the typeset word.  Sure, i'd written before but there were two problems with longhand: 1. i write slow, thought outstrips deed to the point that i'm writing the beginning of thought one and the end of thought two down in the same babbling sentence.  Sort of like...

It was an accidental problem with long hand: write slow babblung shetensh (dammit! scribble, scribble)

And 2. when i write longhand, my artistic side wants to make the letters pretty and illuminate the borders and illustrate the thought and pretty soon the writing is a second class citizen in its own country.

But typing, typing keeps up.  There is no prettiness outside of an illegible font and my mind is constrained to make it's pictures with words.  Since that discovery, and the addition of computers, email and blogs, i have sought out writing time.  Waking up earlier and earlier, strip mining sleep mountains for quiet time to focus.  And four-thirty used to do it.  

Then the world caught up or on, i'm not sure which.  It's like someone was watching and realized that i was up and said, "well, sheeeooot.  If that boy's got so much energy he should be here at work building my dreams and not wasting time on his!  Yoder!  Move the start time up to six."  "Yes, boss."

Which reminds me.  It's now five oh five, i gotta go.  
Sigh.

Three thirty is gonna suk.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

To be a jalapeño or fishflakes?

The problem that i see with bludgeoning someone with a point is that there comes a moment when you have driven the point home perfectly, they get it, no further shillelagh work is necessary, message received, please stop.  But unless the subject cries "uncle," or "aunt" or "mom" or "total stranger who i just met at random due to a Google search!"  The point maker is likely to continue the battering well past this all critical moment and with each subsequent blow actually degrade their pupil's ability to retain knowledge.  It's a philosophical conundrum, that's for sure.

So, as i look around for my tomahawk, if your skull's feeling a bit like a brown banana you might want to duck into some LOLcats or iTunes or something.  Or better yet, try some reality television, that stuff is guaranteed to calcify the interior of the old brainbox.  Sort of your noodle's natural defenses taking over.

i have spent a large portion of my life wondering what i'm for.  Since i have no trouble believing that there is a God, He loves me and has a purpose for my life as well as everything He does, it seemed an appropriate use of my time and energy.  The problem is, it isn't.

All that time thinking about my purpose became time thinking about me.  i became the focus.  In short, because i wasn't doing something i wanted to do, i assumed i was doing something wrong.  And i was, but the wrong thing i was doing wrong wasn't the right thing.  You see?  Why do you look all bruised and mushy?  As i've chronicled here ad nauseum, i was waiting for a change in circumstances.  A change in environment to lift me out of the malaise i was in and transport me to some higher ground and some Fricken shaped niche that i was designed to fill and i would suddenly blossom like Baryshnikov discovering ballet, into who i was meant to be.  And more importantly, start enjoying this life i'd been given.  

Well, if you take that thought and plant some peppers, frijoles and corn with it, you should get some real good chimichangas by fall.  God has planted you, my hot little jalapeños, in exactly the garden he wanted you in, all we have to do is stop spewing fertilizer and bask in His light and soak up His Living Water.  'fore you can say, "yo quiero Taco Bell," you'll be spicing up whatever batch of chili life whips up.  i guaran-fricken-tee it.  How can i be so sure?  One word:

Jonah.

It's a familiar story, even pagans can summarize it.  But in case there aren't any pagan's around to explain it to you, i'll sum it up real quick.  

God said, "Go here, do this," to Jonah.
Jonah said, "blow it out your ear."  Then he went down dockside, found a boat going to edge of the known universe and he was out of there.  Along comes a storm.  Now the sailors in this boat, they knew how to handle this situation.  They threw everything overboard to lighten the ship, did all their sailor-y stuff, battened some hatches, furl't the mains'l and all that.  When that didn't work and it became obvious the ship was in danger they started praying to their gods, the gods of their own understanding.  No atheists in foxholes or foundering ships apparently.  When that failed to appease Triton they searched the ship and found Jonah sleeping.  "Dude!  Wake up!  Pray to your god, maybe he's got some pull with the mountains of water trying to bury us!"  They drag Jonah up on deck and they determine that someone has truly teed the gods off.  So they cast lots, draw straws, roll dice, flip a coin, play a quick game of hackey-death and surprise, surprise, hello Jonah.

Jo 'fesses up.  The sailors ask, "alright, cool, what do we do to make this stop?"
"Simple, throw me in."
Now, i dunno about you but i chalk being swallowed up by the sea right up there with falling backwards off the slide, being caught in a bear trap in bear country and slowly being compressed into a jello cube on my least favorite ways to check out list.  i don't think Jo would have gotten past the word "throw" before he was practicing his doggie paddle had i been there.  But these sailors were actually pretty human dudes.  Even after he told them this they went back to trying to muscle their way out of the storm to shore.  As we know, it doesn't work, the sailors reluctantly toss him overboard and Jonah gets to be grouper chow.  The storm stops and the sailors convert to Judaism on the spot, offering sacrifices and vows to the God of the Hebrews.

So the Moral of the Story is…do what God tells you to do or He’ll kick your butt.  Yeah, maybe.  But recently he gave me something else to chew on.  He told me that He loved a bunch of scruffy sailors.  And that he used Jonah to present the Gospel to those sailors.  He showed them that they needed to be saved.  He showed them that their gods couldn’t do that saving.  He told them that someone had to die for them to be saved.  Still they tried to do it on their own, well-intentioned works!  "No God, killing is wrong!  We can try harder!  We’ll get it right this time!"  But in the end, someone had to die.  Someone willing and those sailors got it.  And He got all that done, not with some great champion of the faith who lived a blameless life, but with a grumbly, disobedient, self-centered jerk who didn't want to go where God put him and do what God told him to do.  And I find that very encouraging.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Upon this Rock

The temperature was dropping into the single digits.  The wind was howling white.  The stars and their crescent queen shone weakly through a slash in the clouds.  There appeared to be more light coming from the glowing snow than the frozen sky.  For anyone fool enough to be out, exposed skin burned, eyes watered, breath froze.

i was in my element.  i stood at the highest peak of carcass basin and flabbergasped.  i had ascended to the edge of the precipice to test my courage against another drop into the basin itself.  Each descent was a near death experience.  A falling sensation, numbness, all going white, then there was a thump, temporal pain and fear followed by an out of body moment.  It was as if one was rising above the earth, weightless, a spirit free from both the mundane and the profane.  Then tumbling, smashing, crashing down again and there you are, in your sore, battered body again, gasping for air.  Not a run to be taken lightly.

That's what i had climbed here to do but before i could throw sled and body over the edge.  The wind took me.  It came blasting across the snow shrouded wastes, broken only by huddled and shivering houses.  Which is to say, laughing at man's foolishness.  It struck me and roared on and i was inside it and there was nothing to do but laugh with it.  It brought my head up to see the stars which seemed to have come closer, it pulled my head down to view Elwood station in it's entirety.  From fricken coop to mailbox and all trees in between.  Lit up like some ship in the dark sea, alight but only seeming to emphasize it's frailty before the infinite.  Beautiful, yet ridiculous.  All my earthly labor lay before me and i was not proud.  My mind and eyes ran to my sons.  One seeking shelter within my earthly labor, shunning our mad company and the other struggling to join me atop the hill.  i saw their differences.  i saw how one made my job easier by seeking me and the other made me seek him.  And yet deeper was my wife who was not even foolish enough to attempt our idea of fun.  What must i do to reach her?  How can i express this mad joy?  Not at the falling but at the elements forcing me to admit that i am not the center of the universe and yet i am a cherished member of it: a son who sometimes seeks and sometimes must be sought.  This glimpse of both my proper perspective before God and How he must see me at times.  In this momentary revelation i wondered at tomorrow.  Should i call another snow day and stay home or go to work?  Believe it or not, that was a hard decision that had been left utterly to me.  Mundane, Profane, Insane and Sacred all swirled in that wind.

Happ finally crested the hill and asked me what i was doing still standing there.  So i told him all the things that i had thought of, alas without the poetry of recollection.  

"That's a lot to think about in five minutes,"  He remarked.

"When you're an adult you have to do your thinking when you get the chance.  Cause most of the time people will be telling you what to think."  He merely hummed at this.  i don't know if he was thinking that adulthood sucks or that i'm terribly cynical.  "Most of all," i added, "i thought that the stars looked so close that i felt closer to God and then i remembered that He's not up there, He's here... with us.  And He wants to go for another run."  And i threw body and sled over the precipice.

Now i'm sure that the rock had lay under the snow there all along.  Yet somehow, despite our tracks being all around it, we had yet to uncover it's lurking dorsal ridge.  On this run however, my near death experience came a little nearer and i found myself, abruptly halted mid run, holding the sled by it's one remaining handle, the other being torn out by the impact and laying on my back, listening to the wind overhead and the snickering stars.

"Perhaps i heard wrong.  i think He may want to go inside and see what Mom and Rascal are up to."


Sunday, March 01, 2009

"Praise God in the great congregation."

So here's what happens...

Sunday morning i wake up a little before seven.  Now i'm not a spring from bed at full throttle kind of guy.  i'm more of an ooze downstairs, osmosip half a coffee pot while reading blogs till i'm ready to ease her up to all ahead half-full.  So, somewhere around seven thirty i realize i've goofed off too long and now it's all ahead full or we won't make it as a family to church by nine-fifteen.

That's when the discouragement hits.  No one wants to get up for church.  i pretty much have to drag three quarters of my family, of which i represent a quarter, to congregate with fellow believers.  As the spiritual head of my household i see this as my duty.  But since it's been this way for so long, i begin to wonder if maybe i'm doing something wrong.  Church isn't a duty, it's a gift.  It's a reunion.  It's a redirecting of our priorities which have a tendency to reset to factory standard, that being our own lovely image in the slot labeled, "Most important person in the universe."  Now if no one in my family is getting this, if they see church as a drag and a burden then i'm not leading, i'm driving.  And while i might be a somewhat successful mule driver, wouldn't it be great if i could get the team to pull for once?

Told you i was a frustrated idealist.

And then there's the practical.  My wife, Mynnie, works six days a week.  Her body is habitually wracked with pain.  She would really, REALLY appreciate a day to sleep in.  So, do i just take the Ballyhoo Gang and let her rest?  Think of all the writing i could get done.  Heck, i just wrote this blog in the time i was supposed to be in the shower.  i have to write next week's service.  There's the irony.  The worship leader for next week is skipping this week's service in order to have time and rest to write next week's service.  Shouldn't entering into the presence of God the Almighty with my brothers and sisters give me rest and inspiration?

Guilt is the wrong reason to go to church.  The desire to be washed free of guilt is a great reason to go to church.  Sloth is a lousy reason not to go to church.  To be encouraged is a great reason to go to church.  These are things i learned in church.

But it sure is hard to get up.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Whole lotta hurtin'


The more people i know, the more i get to know them,

the longer my prayers get.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

To all the souls i've loved before

She was eighty-five years old and she had no children of her own.  She did have thirty-five nieces and nephews.  And at one time, she and her husband had thought this might fill the void.

Only one stayed in touch.  Only one came to visit.  Only one could she call if she needed something.  

Now for all i know this woman is the bride of Frankenzilla herself when not in public.  Many people keep a face in a jar by the door but my wife told me about this customer of hers and i didn't think that.  Well, i did think that but only for a really, really brief moment.  My main thought was, "i don't keep in touch with any of my aunts and uncles."

And as i went to bed, in the forty-five seconds between becoming horizontal and the onset of catatonia, my mind started making a list.  A lovely list.  An adorable little list of all the people my mind, who apparently had been paying attention to these things even thought i thought i'd been ignoring...

  • My grandmas, one of which is developing alzheimer's like symptoms.
  • My father, who asked me to call him.
  • My sister, who's undergoing psychiatric evaluations these days while her two remaining children hang with...
  • My folks, who asked me to do a couple of favors for them that i keep forgetting.
  • My brother, who just moved his family across the country and i never visited while he was in Washington, a state i really wanted to visit.
  • My sister's other two kids who now live with their fathers.
  • My old partner, Duke, who called me out of the blue yesterday and has been out of work for a couple of months.
  • My best man, who i realized last night i never sent his family's Christmas gifts to.
  • Panzer, who, like my partner Duke, calls me out of the blue every now and then.
  • El Oso, who sent me a very nice Christmas gift himself.
  • The Mighty and Glorious Garrett Jaxx, who, wrapped in golden chains, i had been meaning to see even before the king died and made it more of an imperative.
  • Gosh, i'm glad this is not a numbered list.
  • The aunt and uncle that leant Mynk and i their cabin for our honeymoon.
  • The only aunt and uncle that stay in touch on my patri-side.
  • Either of the two cousins i have on my matri-side.
  • Any of full regiment of cousins from the other side, one of which adored me as she was growing up and had a baby who's name i can't remember.
  • Moffatt, my brother in worship who moved on to another outpost of the realm.
  • The Hawk, my brother in music who i've made several sad attempts to form a band with.
  • Add to this the innumerable friends and relations i see once a week and act like that's enough.  Or the guys i see at work everyday but hardly speak to.  So many lives i rub up against.
  • The homeless that i took blankets to once last year and haven't been back.
If you see yourself on this list, know that i haven't forgotten you but that to be remembered by me is little more than a line in my prayers.  If you don't see yourself on this list, then... damn.  Sorry.  Who were you again?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Will you tree my valentine?

There are a lot of trees here at the coop.  And i like them all.  It was really what i fell in love with that first time winding up the drive.  A little patch of forest struggling to survive in a suburban desert.  Take away the trees, like they did next door, and you uncover the ugliness of the two legged stink bugs living underneath.  Like peeling the bark back and exposing a colony of the six legged variety.  Just nasty.  Now, as much as i love this wood and these trees, i don't do anything to maintain them.  To me, God's system for forests seems to work best the less we interfere.  Death, fire, rot are not things to be fought, they're part of the system.  Like digestion, fever and excrement.  They're not pretty but without them we'd be poorer... and probably explode at a very young age.  Ewww.

So the trees i have are the ones that grow.  i love them.  i don't hug them.

Except for two.

There's a holly on the property.  So verdant, lush, green, vibrant at all times yet with berries of opposing hue adding such a splash of crimson that you know this is no one dimensional tree.  It may be a member of the forest, doing all the usual tree stuff: providing shade and cover and protection from the wind but it also knows how to party, it retains something, some secret that it only hints at with these scarlet sparkles.  This tree, i love.  This tree i want to see not just survive, but flourish!  i love to watch it grow.  i love how it hints of Christmas.  i love to just look at it.  

The problem comes when i try to get closer.  Hollies hurt.  They are fierce defenders of themselves.  Reminiscent of rose bushes.  They scratch and tear but i can't let go.  This is the tree i love.  Not an oak or a hickory or a cedar.  This tree, this holly has my heart.  

i've tried pruning back some of the sharper branches but i'm not an arboriculturist or even a topiarist.  i'm more of a ...not quite a lumberjack... um, what's the word, what's the word?  Butcher?  No, too artistic.  Barber?  Enh.  Too scientific.

Ah!  Axe Murderer!  That's it.  The poor critter just looks wounded for weeks till the bare spots fill back in.  While i fret that this time i killed it for sure.  God is gracious though and repairs the damage but... there we are.  Back to square one.  Tree and frick, unable to get closer.  Unable to be apart.  What's a poor hollylover to do?

Go to the other tree i love.  There are only four trees around the coop that i planted myself.  Three are dead, one, George, survives.  But it's not George i go to.  And it's not one of the other two Christmas trees i killed.  This tree i go to was dead when i planted it.  Yet it's the only one that can bring life.




Monday, February 09, 2009

Zwölf, Zwölf, Zwölf!

So here's the thing, no, here's a couple of things, but i'll start off with just one thing, otherwise my sentence structure will be more incomprehensibly convoluted than it already is.  And you, me and the two other people reading this don't want that.

Thingummy numero eins:  i stand accused of mopeyness.  Yeah, i know.  Hard for me to believe too.  But there it is.  Two out of my four comments prove it.  So what's a frick to do?  i'll tell ya.  Some serious drinking.  That's what.  And THEN he starts working on his life.  Analyzing it from every angle.  Getting outside opinions.  Self-help books.  Gurus.  Little old ladies with paisley scarfs on their heads and fake Bulgarian accents.  i mean, mopeyness.  This is serious.  This can't be allowed to fester into melancholy.  Next thing you know, i'd be writing poetry and wearing too much mascara.  

Though a little nail polish might make my crushed finger look less disturbing.  Anyway, that'll all have to wait as i'm still in the drinking stage.  

All dour solemnity aside.  There's two very good reasons why i'm accused of mopeyness.  Thingummy numero eins-point-one: i am mopey.  i don't really mean to be, it just sort of happens to happen.  Not that it's not my fault but here's the thing... thingummy-numero-eins-point-one-A: (you might want to make some sort of outline on a separate piece of paper) i have high hopes for life.  At the heart of every cynic is a disappointed idealist.  Which brings me to...

Thingummy numero eins-point-two: life sucks.  No really.  It's a raw deal.  You're handed a handful of puzzle pieces at the beginning and before you even know what to do with them, your family, guardians, friends and teachers are cutting them, scraping off the images, drawing on them, painting over them and basically making it impossible to tell what to do with them and then they shove you out of the boat and tell you to swim.  i'm not mixing metaphors, that's what really happens.  Nobody mentions swimming until you are out of the boat!  You would think that would come up, but maybe they are all just bitter about being shoved out of the boat themselves.  Or maybe its because of...

Thingummy numero zwei:  i just like saying "zwei."  The only thing better than saying "zwei" is writing zwei.  And the only thing better than writing zwei is saying "zwölf" and the only thing better than saying and writing "zwölf" is that i just now figured out how to put umlauts over the "o!"  You would think someone as easily amused as i am would be less mopey.  But i'm not and maybe that's because of ...

Thingummy numero drei: Which is that the world is messed up.  No, i mean it this time.  It wasn't supposed to be like this.  This is a really, really screwed up counterfeit of what it was supposed to be.  And when we're most clear is when we see it for what it is.  When we're "being all we can be" as an "army of one" and "just doing it" and being "driven" or "living life to the fullest" or " the extreme," we're just buying the lie.  Kidding ourselves.  And trust me, Satan's laughing.  We weren't meant to be wage slaves, that's part of the curse.  Work was supposed to be play.  We sinned, now it's work.  We weren't meant to seek identity, we were given it by God.  We weren't meant to seek validation and worth through relationships.  Relationships can't bear that!  They're with other people for cryin'owtlowd!  Those poor saps are at least as screwed up as you if not more so!  And they're just using you to fix them!  i can't even tell you what a true relationship was supposed to be because i'm so soaked in the muck of the mess that it is like trying to envision eternity, or the vastness of the universe or why peanut oil is more valuable than canola oil and so peanut butter doesn't have peanut oil in it.  Some things are just beyond us.  

So what happens is, i'll be there, worshiping God and it will be so clear.  Why Jesus came, why He said all those weird things and then died.  Why God raised Him.  Why we have to wait for Him to fix it and what we're supposed to live like now and that nagging little idealist in me starts thinking, "yeah!  This time it's going to be different.  I was blind, but now I see!  Life will still be life but armed with this good news, this gospel, I'll be able to truly live as follower of Christ, a person who knows his hope, lives!  This is something to be shared.  It's not babble, it's not theology, it's not religion, it's a love letter from God!  I can sell all I own and give it to the poor!  I can visit the sick, the prisoner, the outcast.  How can I not?"  

And that might last into Trusty the little, green saturn.  It may even make it up the driveway.  But then it runs right into the picture window of life, gets stepped on by negativity, chained back up to the millstone and made to pull for who knows what.  And i suddenly understand monks and nuns.  Who wouldn't want to stay there?  That's the party, the reunion, the kegger.  That's a taste of what's to come but that's not what this life is about.  And for my next trick i'm going to sum up all of what life and this horrendously convoluted post is about with...

Thingummy Numero Vier:  God's throwing a party, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe Dec 21, 2012.  Doesn't matter.  It's coming.  And a couple of our sisters and brothers haven't responded to the invitation yet.  Would somebody please conk them over the head and drag them in?  In love, of course.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Faith behind the lines.

This morning i was in the throne room of God Almighty.  Now i'm shouldering the debris of my life out of the way to find enough room to sit down.

This morning i was leading God's children in songs of praise.  Now i'm a refugee fleeing the television's blare.

This morning i knew my place, i had a home, i fit.  Now i'm stranger in a strange land.

This morning i knew my hope.  Now i'm staring down the barrel of another week and wondering how i'll make it through.

This morning i was in a family of believers.  Now doubters and mockers will be my constant companions.

This morning my purpose was clear.  Now doubt even creeps into me.

This morning the world made sense.  Now it's dark.

Belief isn't the problem.  Living the belief is.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Prick of pride by a proud prick

Pride.

Strange how one man's can so easily wound another's.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The temple of Goomu

The demon sandbox says "2." The one in Mynnie's car said, "6" and the analog one up on the back deck puts the temperature at ten. There's a paltry peppering of snow on the frozen face of the world and i lit the fire off the glowing memories of yestereve's blaze. Now i'm kicking back with a hefty mug o' joe and Buffett's Juicy Fruit on the iJukes. It's good for your soul.

Pointless homespun intros out of the way... Tuesday is inauguration day. The world's chosen messiah takes the reins. On Sunday, at the "kickoff" celebration, V. Gene Robinson will give the invocation. He might possibly use the same phrase he tried out on the host of NPR's All Things Considered the other day: "The god of our many understandings." If he was running it up the flagpole, she not only saluted, she blushed, stood coquettishly and murmured something about having no plans for dinner. A bit of a wasted effort on the bishop but my point is clear. They started using this phrase liberally throughout the rest of the interview. They latched onto it like any fool drowning in his own sin gloms to a semi-logical argument as to why it's not his fault.

And why not? It sounds so reasonable, doesn't it? The god of our many understandings. So open. So fair and equitable. So tolerant. It's inclusive. It allows all people to come and not have to conform. It tells no one they're wrong. It asks nothing of the listener. No inconvenient truths. Just blissful acceptance of all. Harmonious. Peace, love, you dope.

Here's the issue i take with it. Forget it being about God for a second. What if it were the Obama of our many understandings. The George Bush of our many understandings. Putin. Mao Tse Tung. Frank J. Applebottom. Adolf. There are empty headed, hate-mongers out there who think that the entire holocaust thing was fiction. They've convinced themselves that Hitler was maligned. That he was really a great leader who wanted more for his people and order for the world. You know, Hitler was after world peace too. Once every nation was under his shiny black boots, there'd be no more wars to fight. Harmony. Once all the malcontents were lime slathered ashes at the bottom of an abattoir's waste hole then there would be universal Freide, Lieben, du Rauscher!

There are six billion people in the world. That's six billion "understandings" of who Hitler was. And none of it changes the truth of who Hitler was. He was exactly the sum of his thoughts and deeds. There are six billion "understandings" of who Barack Obama is, from messiah to anti-christ. And only time will tell which are right. The point is, someone's going to be right and someone's going to be wrong.

V. Gene Robinson may or may not invoke his god of many understandings tomorrow but he did state clearly that he will not invoke Jesus Christ. His understanding tells him that is the right thing to do. He does not wish to exclude anyone from the festivities. He wants to throw this time, this event, this moment in history open to all Americans and indeed, to all the world.

Jesus accepted all who came to him. He forbade none: hookers, widows, children, lepers, the insane, criminals, tax cheats, rich, poor, heck, though it doesn't mention any specifically, i'd be willing to bet at least one homosexual approached him. He welcomed them all but made it fairly clear that no one comes to the Father except through him. No hoops to jump through, no laws to keep righteously, no baths to take first, nothing you have to do because nothing you could do would work. That's why He did it. All he asks is that you just believe. That's the Bible's understanding.

V. Gene's god doesn't sound like mine. There's no fair middle ground between them. One of us is right, the other is wrong. But which is which? i'm guessing you have your own understanding of that. Here's the kicker. It won't change the Truth.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sins of the father

My eldest son, Happ, confessed to me last night that he has no idea what he wants to do with his life.  He's only fifteen and in ninth grade but i couldn't help but be worried.  

i try not to project my frailty onto my children.  i want the things i pass on to them, the lessons they learn from me to be God given, scripture based, Spirit breathed.  Too often i can see where others have given me "wisdom" or advice that was based more on mistakes they had made and personal prejudices they had developed from living here in the broken bracken of Adam's curse than from deep searches of the scripture and time spent with the Giver of Wisdom.

Yeah right.  i'm still a part of the brokenness.  F'rinstance, i didn't know that brokenness had two "n's."  Still looks wrong to me.  

i'm still broked.  i have extremely limited control over what my boys learn from me.  And that got me wondering...  y'see, Happ's confession sounded a lot like me when i was his age.  i didn't know what i liked doing.  i didn't do much.  i envied people who had their lives planned and a hobby/interest/passion to pursue.  As a result i survived high school.  Married a wonderful girl, had Happ and started making decisions based on semi-panicked expediency.  It hasn't been a bad life, despite what my whines and rants may convey but it hasn't exactly been, and this pertains mostly to career choices (i have to add that or my lovely wife starts getting upset, love you shnookums!), it hasn't been something i ached to jump out of bed in the morning to get started each day.  No, no it hasn't.  It's been more of the fall into bed with a sigh of thank-God-its-over-relief beaten together with (expletive)-it-begins-again-in-less-than-six-hours-dread.  This i would spare my sons if i could.

But now i wonder if i can?  Did i unwittingly raise my boy to be just like me or was he doomed to that particular ponderment anyhoo?  Is drifting aimlessly through life a genetic condition?  Geez i hope so, cause otherwise i'm going to feel really guilty.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

God has a nosering

Naw, really, it's true.  i saw it.  A tiny little stud on the right nostril.  Coupled with the dimples and bored eyes it gave His smile a wryness that made me wonder what the joke was.

i saw Him a lot yesterday.  He was off-loading a truck and He looked disgusted with life while he smoked his cigarette.

He had a trusting, naive voice that might explain why His last contractor took advantage of Him.

He had red hair and looked really tired.

He was sitting in a tree on my way home and i have no idea why.

He was asian.

He drove a little red car.

He was putting out cones around His truck.

He was a pastor on the ipod reminding me that how i treat people is how i treat Him.  i wonder what He's doing today?