Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thumbing Your Nose @ Death

When I was a teenager, my girlfriend and I would stick out our tongues every time we drove by a cemetery - I suppose our way of stickin' it to death. I'm not really sure why we did this, but it did elicit some kind of risque feeling, maybe like we were mooning the preacher when he wasn't looking. Of course, now I'm the preacher...

At some point, something happened that made me think I shouldn't be doing that. Somehow I got this feeling that death was somehow going to stick it to me if I didn't watch myself.

Every day since we've moved, I drive by this very large cemetery on the way to the church building. Somehow Nancy and I got on the subject of how we wanted to be buried and what we wanted to have happen to our bodies. Do you ever have those conversations, and then are a little freaked out by them? I don't know why it bothers me to talk about it - I'm not really all that worried about dying myself. But for some reason I don't even like saying the word "dead". I much prefer the euphemisms such as "passed away", "no longer with us", "moved on". I've grown out of liking phrases such as "kicked the bucket" (what in the world does that mean, anyway?).

My dual feelings on this perplexes me. I'm really not worried about my own death, as long as I feel like I'm giving it all I got. Maybe it is just a more healthy understanding that our time here is so short. What bothers me more is that the time that I do have is slipping so rapidly between my fingers. The time with the kids, laughing and playing. The time with my wife, most everything we do, except maybe when she is being annoying like hanging over my shoulder when I'm cooking, except even those times are good. And the memories are fading. Jonathan as a baby. I can barely remember holding Autumn when she was little like she was my doll and I was never letting her go, and her just kind of barely hanging on like she was independent, but still wanted that touch (even at two). Friends. Moments to myself. Memories.

Death Be Not Proud
by John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.


Digg this

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Writing Blogs

I've been out for a bit, but I think I have a good excuse this time. My wife left the kids and I in Pennsylvania and headed back to Texas to finish packing. I know it had to be done, but it still wasn't very nice of her but I'm sure I'll forgive her the moment she walks in the door.

So I've been playing the single dad for the past 11 days, and it has been tough. I've loved the time that I've gotten to spend with the kids, but my schedule is pretty whacky - get computer time for emails and calls, 8:00-9:30a; breakfast and chores, 9:00-10:00a; playtime, plan day, 9:30-10:00a; work at the church, go to a park, eat, run errands, 9:30a-5:00p; try to finish off something whether it's play or work or eat, 3:00-10:00p; actually put together my public speaking stuff, 10:00p- ;worry that I'm missing something, 2:00a-8:00a.

The kids have been great. They have been swapping days to see who works on the kitchen, trash, and laundry (Autumn actually folds the clothes, us boys are lucky to put them in the right room). But so far I consider my job as a the single father a success. Here is my criteria:

House not lit on fire
Underwear not hanging on living room furniture
Color check the fridge - get rid of anything green once a week
House not flooded

We've even set up a system to water the plants - put the brownest one outside until it rains, then wait till another starts to turn brown. The magic to our wonderful system!

Anyway, we will try to keep our sanity until she gets back by


Digg this

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Prayer for our own Freedom

Holy God – in this precious hour, we pause and gather to hear your word– to do so, we break from our work responsibilities and from our play fantasies; we move from our fears that overwhelm and from our ambitions that are too strong,

Free us in these moments from every distraction, that we may focus to listen, that we may hear, that we may change. Amen

--Walter Brueggemann
From Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003 p. 61)


Digg this

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

More Journeys

So now I am in Pittsburgh, PA! For all my southern friends, it was about 75 degrees yesterday; don't worry, I hear it may get all the way up to 90 at some point.

If you've never ridden across the country with your family, everyone should do it at some point. Not only because you get to see some different scenery - such as the flatlands, the hills, the people who populate the gas stations off of highways - and not only because you get to experience new thrills - such as sitting inside what feels like a dryer to get to the top of the arch in St Louis (thanks for the image, Rory) - but you get to experience your family.

There is nothing like all day and night in close quarters with your family for a few days. There are great moments and there are low moments, and no running from either. Nancy and I were driving separate vehicles and at one point I had convinced her that all 3 kids needed to be together for a while, which conveniently left me by myself for a short time. That is, until Nancy called on the cell and said, "You are taking one of the kids and I don't care which one."

There were moments I hope to treasure, such as my five year old telling me how to drive and pass other cars, singing with my daughter (which shows her great love that she even enjoyed it), and talking about books with my ten year old. Holding hands with my wife under the arch and walking next to the Mississippi river.

Even the conflicts were teachable, at least in retrospect. We need to be able to live together and the knowledge that these people I am with are valuable and worth crossing barriers for gets you through. And we do need each other, especially for those moments when I am not acting as valuable as God sees me.


Digg this