become who you are

Bloged in apprenticeship, life by rod Thursday May 20, 2010

Our culture for quite some time has told us that we can become anything we want to become. These days, in our product-oriented world, the same concept is expressed by “you can buy anything you want to buy.” Perhaps for some time, these were merely two side-by-side attitudes. But I truly believe that today we’ve melded the two concepts.
Once upon a time, people educated themselves by sitting under the teaching, and being around people who knew what they wanted to know, who understood what they wanted to understand. We gathered knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and set about assimilating it ourselves. These days, we buy a product, a program, a fake transformation at a university, and expect - regardless of what the product is - that upon payment, we will become the result of the product.

You cannot become anything you want to be. There are things that are unavailable to you. You can become what you are supposed to be. But that is going to take a lot of commitment, devotion, hard work, and perseverance. No, you cannot buy commitment, devotion, hard work, and perseverance. Yes, it would be much easier to buy what you can’t become.
Don’t be fooled.
You will not be convinced that you’ve become what you’ve bought. Unconvinced, you’ll be burdened with the extra effort required to pretend like you’re convinced you are what you bought.
You’ll be burdened with the extra effort required to convince others that you’re what you bought.
You’ll be burdened by the extra effort required to deal with the knowledge that neither you, nor anyone else is truly convinced that you are what you bought.

Why would you want all those burdens? Why not simply become what you’re supposed to be? And gird your loins, because it’s a lot of hard work.

carpe diem

Bloged in life, metaphor, time by rod Friday May 18, 2007

decay

Time takes its toll
and the past is a tolling bell, “come and remember.”
The future whispers, “enter cautiously,
for you can never go back.”

I stand and grieve for the rotting timbers,
and ask why I didn’t listen to the subtle voice of tomorrow
before plunging headlong into the whitewater rapids
and racing from the past.

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will rise up and call you blessed

Bloged in family, life by rod Thursday May 17, 2007

As the semester ends and grades are completed and I try to find it in myself to relax, I’ve had many thoughts born of the elusive mental quiet. Truth is, there is no place where the responsibility actually ends. I’ve been wanting to take a bit of a trip on the windhorse. But even away, alone, I’ve still the responsibility to get back again.
pawpawContemplating Mother as Mother’s Day approached, and dealing with homesickness that tends to escalate at annual times such as these, new thoughts occurred to me. When I go “home” I experience a state of relaxation that I rarely feel. A few times stand out in my memory. I felt it at cousin Cheryl’s wedding reception - wonderful party in a field with hamburgers and hotdogs and mountain music, green grass, trees, and misty dusk. It is an evening I’ll never forget. I felt it on my Grandmother’s patio. Just the two of us sitting there catching up, remembering, telling stories – and then we just got quiet for a while and watched the sun play in the leaves and cast shadows on the grass. I felt it last summer for an hour on Jodi’s new patio. The night descending and stars appearing in the dark, country sky, the invisible trees waving their invisible limbs overhead exhumed memories years buried and allowed a relaxation that only a child can feel.
There is a commonality to all these scenarios. My parents. Of course, the ability to go home and just relax into their care is the obvious ingredient, but I’ve realized that there is something bigger.
I promise that I would never feel that my kids are stress inducers. Honest. (probably). But the responsibility that goes with them is definitely a source of stress. The sharing of those responsibilities with Allison is only partly helpful, because when either of us is stressed, so is the other. Also, stresses that can be shared and traded are only everyday busyness. There are more encompassing responsibilities that span the entire childhood. Raising children is an extremely important work. Who will this kid be, and what role will I have played, good or bad?
It occurs to me that when I go home with my kids, I very much entrust my parents with their care. This may annoy my parents, I don’t know, and I don’t think I’ve ever realized I do it. But who better to receive my weary emotions than them? They have always done it without a word of complaint, and I always know that only good can come from my parents’ interaction with my kids. My children adore my parents. They become giddy with joy at thought of being with them. I know better than anyone what my parents have to offer to children, and I go home begging for it as their child, and for my children as a parent.

So anyway, I’ll stop rambling, but not before I say thanks to Mom and Dad for being a source of ever-growing comfort for 43 years. I’m watching and feeling and studying you trying to learn how to do it myself.

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day of mothers

Bloged in family, life, parenting by rod Sunday May 13, 2007

Back in October, on the plane home from Dallas, I began thinking. Actually, I’d already been thinking, and don’t remember precisely what stream of consciousness led me to the particular thought to which I’m about to refer, but something did, and I wrote about it then.
Despite all the years I lived with my parents, it was not until I’d moved away and had children of my own that I ever felt like I gave anything to them. I’ll not ramble on about that, because if you like, you can hit the link and go back and read it.
from whence I've comeThat’s where my mind has been lately as Mother’s Day has approached. Everyone is thinking of gifts of appreciation for their mothers, and deep inside we know that nothing even approaches an expression of what we realize we’ve been given. But I feel that the closest I, personally, could ever come is follow in the path that brought me here and bring another generation into the world.
None of this is to say that children who’ve not born children haven’t given to their parents. It’s just that it is the closest I’ve ever come to having felt like I’d given them anything of worth.
While I was thinking all this through this week, I thought of a wonderful poem by Billy Collins that illustrates these thoughts so wonderfully. So I think I’ll shut up here, wish Mom a happy Mother’s Day, and link you to the Collins poem.
So here it is, please go read it.

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memento mori

Bloged in life, time by rod Thursday May 3, 2007

Today, while I gave the final exam to my Theory 4 students, a party was happening just outside the door. It was a bittersweet party as a farewell to sole music faculty peer. When I’d got my students started on the exam, I escaped the room, sneaked through the maze of well-wishers and holed up in my office to try to tie up some loose ends of end of semester stuff. The party, however, expanded into my office like suds from an overflowing washing machine as students, stuck their heads in to say hi.
Finally, I made my way out to join in the “official” wordsmithing speeches. After I’d said my heartfelt piece, a student came up to me and asked what was my favorite passage in the Bible. I jokingly snatched at a few out-of-context thoughts, but he didn’t think it was funny. He was serious. So I pacified him with one that means a lot to me.
He told me he’d been watching “Dead Poets Society” for class, and that he’d been thinking about the concept of seizing the day. How does one go about it? He said that he’d been trying to think of bible verses that spoke to this idea but was coming up void. Well I spouted off about a dozen, before he interrupted me and a huge smile came across his face. “Wow, I hadn’t thought about how that is saying the same thing,” and, “wow, that is connected.” Once again, I thought about how narrowly and compartmentally we read the scriptures.
handful of life
When I was driving home this evening I was thinking about this, and about how it was related to Allison’s blog from earlier this week. A stream of consciousness began. Allison was writing about busyness, and being overwhelmed. She wrote of noticing my approach to the chaos that has reached record proportions this spring. I’ve deliberately slowed down. I’ve quit blogging for the past several weeks, perhaps I’ve stopped trying to interpret the chaos that I live in. Instead, I’ve picked up the camera and merely passed on images of what I’m seeing. Perhaps equivalent to recording a foreign language and playing it back as it is. I don’t know. But I’ve photographed things instead of using words. I’ve attempted to freeze beautiful moments forever, to expose ugliness. To make people look up, to look closer, deeper, peer past the surface. Contemplate the hidden. Take a deep breath. This moment will never come again.
I’d talked with the student about that just an hour earlier. We are called to the moment. But we live in the past and the future. The things we can’t change and the things we know nothing about. Who, worrying about what’s past can go back and make anything different than it was? Who, by worrying about the future can add a single moment to his life?
Life is a vapor, a wisp. It quickly dissipates and vanishes. It is sand through our fingers, soap bubbles blown and burst. forever youngAll we have is now, we are promised nothing else.

So I thought about my intentional slowing. My photos. I thought about my ride under the full flower moon the other night. I thought about shooting pictures at 65 mph on my bike. That had raised some eyebrows. “You’d better be careful!”
But I was careful. I was being safe. Just as I was being on my drive home today, snugly buckled in, relaxing behind the airbag and the side curtains. I was being alert when the 18-wheel chemical tanker immediately in front of me blew his back tire and shredded rubber and steel belt shrapnel pelted my windshield and three lanes of traffic all around me punched the breaks. The truck driver was being careful too.
But we’re only promised now. And we weren’t even promised now five minutes ago. Each moment is a gift, undeserved and unearned. This evening has been an unpromised, free gift. I’m grabbing each moment. I’ll try to take a picture for you.

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a thousand thoughts

Bloged in life by rod Thursday April 26, 2007

send me off forever, but I ask you pleaseWell, it’s Thursday, as it was when last we met. I’ve blogged a bunch of stuff in my head all week long, but when I found a moment to sit down to the computer and type my thoughts, they just seemed not to matter anymore. Unimportant, hopeless, too personal, irrelevant, blather. I know, that’s never stopped me before, but something seemed different this week and it wasn’t just busyness.
Indeed, free moments haven’t come until late at night, as I’ve been at work until very late every evening. Students are panicked about the semester coming to a close before they’re finished. But mostly, I think, my thoughts have just been about processing, observing and pondering. It hasn’t really seemed expressible. I’ve needed to take in the moment, feel my context and environment and just think on it.
I’ve carried my camera everywhere I’ve been lately. Some folks have even teased me about it. But it has been a bit of metaphor for the clichés of seizing the moment, smelling the roses, and to look outside one’s self. It has also provided a record of the process.
So I’ve posted a bunch of photos on my flickr page that seem to speak more clearly to what I’ve been thinking lately than my malformed sentences can do. I have a lot more photos that speak more deeply from my thoughts, but as in my ramblings, I’ve reserved them for the time being.
You may be interested to take a look at thoughts I haven’t written. If so, you’ll find them here.

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lachrymose

Bloged in community, life, prayers by rod Wednesday April 18, 2007

Yesterday afternoon, when I drove to get Jack from track practice, I heard of the shootings at Virginia Tech. At the time there were still many questions and few details. Some details are becoming known, but there will never be answers. There can never be answers.
My love for Wisteria is known to any who’ve read these pages, but those who read closely know why. It is the purple tears of the melancholy blossom that speak to my soul. This flow of pensive and prayerful color that wells up from the earth tones.

lagrima

The brilliant pallet of spring brings joy and feels it with us, but the empathic tears of wisteria remind us that even creation moans with us in our struggles.
There are no words to bring comfort midst such devastating loss. Mourners needn’t empty words, but friends whose falling tears and lifting prayers water seeds of love and hope.

Kyrie Eleison
Christe Eleison
Kyrie Eleison

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tax day

Bloged in life by rod Tuesday April 17, 2007

So I waited until the EXTREME last minute this year. I actually did everything except one income item on Thursday, with five days to spare. I didn’t finish that night because I couldn’t report dividend income from some stocks we inadvertently were awarded a couple years ago. Yes, it seems that Al and I were duped into a stinky college savings plan when Jack was a baby. A major financial corp tracked us down and talked us into being responsible, forward-thinking ‘rents, so we began to save via a method that as it turns out, wasn’t the wisest thing we could’ve done. But really we’d have a hard time knowing that because we can’t begin to read the pages they send to us periodically. Such was the case with mailing that evidently was different than the others, but we couldn’t know that. This particular one apparently was to inform us that we’d been awarded shares in a class action lawsuit against said major financial corp. We weren’t aware of this until we began receiving checks and called the check writers for info on why we were getting them.
Lo and behold, the company is now in Canada, so every year, we report dividends from Canada and pay Canadian income tax. It’s not a huge deal, except that this year, we didn’t seem to get a 1099 from them.
Ok, that was quite a digression, but tonight I finally got the needed info, and after a few fun-filled hours at go cart heaven, I quickly added it to my tax return forms and set out to E-file them to the IRS.

**sorry, the filing center is too busy now, please try back in one to two hours**

Wha? I will have missed the deadline! So I sat at my computer and continually pressed (“mashed” is the correct South Carolina term) the transmit button until I caught an open window and they went through with minutes to spare.

Things I’ve learned during this tax year:

The older one gets, what with kids and motorcycles and such, the more tax mail needed to file will be mailed to his residence in a trickle-in fashion occurring between January 1, and April 10. Therefore, when the last item arrives, cancel all previously scheduled items and abandon to-do lists, and immediately file taxes. Trying to find a bandwidth window at 11:30 on tax day is not good for the old ticker.

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110 things

Bloged in life, random by rod Wednesday March 21, 2007

Quite honestly, though I’m usually curious enough to read them, I’ve never really understood the whole “meme” phenom in blogland. Perhaps because they’re usually curricular and pre-packaged, fill-in-the-blanks type things. Do I really want to know what were the last 3 desserts you ate? Do I really want to know whom you’d choose between Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt, and Cesar Chavez? Or blue, yellow, or pumpkin? How about your favorite number? 9, 3, or 19?
So I’ve never been tempted to participate in any such goofiness, even if I were to get “tagged” (which I haven’t). I’m much too serious a blogger to waste time on such nonsense.
That is, until one of my favorite blogs set off a firestorm of such goofiness. And not only was it cool, it was terribly interesting. And amusing.
Ok, so maybe I could learn a bit about myself by doing a sort of “rod synopsis”, but I certainly can’t be as amusing as my inspiration. Nor as interesting.
But I can ponder things about myself that pop into my head. Learn from some mistakes perhaps. Count some blessings. Remember to avoid some things next time, and to do some things again.
I don’t know. Maybe you should stop here, do an outclick, and go on about your day. But I think I’ll stick around and ponder my past and present, and ponder if it tells me anything about me.
Childish and uncool? I make no apologies.
A lot of this stuff has been spilled in more depth on actual blog posts from the archives. I’ll spare you the links to those.

here goes:

1. I started playing guitar because Johnny Cash played guitar. I begged for a guitar for a long time, then after I got one, begged for lessons.

2. I bought my first “good” acoustic guitar when I was 11 with money I’d earned cutting grass around the neighborhood.

3. My Dad built a new house in front of our old tiny house in which my brother, sister, and I all slept in the same bedroom. The house took him almost 3 years to complete, and was almost completely paid for when he finished. I was 12 when it was finished.
This is one of the major events of my life, and I think it shaped me as much as any other thing that I witnessed or experienced.

4. I moved into the new house before it was finished, and while the rest of the family still lived in the old house.

5. I have issues with artificial things that attempt to pass themselves off as the real thing. Often, these things have perfectly wonderful uses as something original, but they may never find them because they masquerade as something else.
(i.e.: synthesizers and silicone)

6. I was 28 when my first child was born. I’ve been 28 for the past 15 years. I will always be 28.

7. Although I’m 28, I’ve been married for 20 years. (to the same woman, thank you very much)

8. My wife’s been married to the same man for over 20 years.

9. I’ve attended ballgames at Three River Stadium, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, Olympic Stadium, Montreal.

10. I sung the National Anthem at Three River Stadium

11. I am a very shy, introverted person. I can’t make small talk, but if even a stranger hits my button, I can (and have) ramble for hours about a passionate issue.

12. Ironically, my annoying off-the-rail rambles have actually gotten me invited to dinner by guests at gigs I’ve played.

13. I absolutely hate it when people use the article a before the word myriad.

14. I was interrogated at 2:00am in a police station concerning a robbery in which the thief was already known.

15. There was a warrant for my arrest recently when Wal-mart cashed a check that had been stolen from my wife’s purse after the account had been closed and were torqued because they couldn’t collect their $14.

16. A colleague challenged me publicly with a paper that another colleague had published, but which the challenger had not read.

17. I am absolutely elated, moved, and overjoyed by Dove’s “campaign for real beauty,” and “Pro-aging” campaign. But I am very jealous of handsome guys, and I will in no way age gracefully.

18. I believe that John Rutter’s “Requiem” is the perfect piece of music.

19. If I were not a Christian, I’d probably worship fire. I may already have a problem with that.

20. If I were a fire worshipper, I’d have an idolatry problem with the moon.

21. I bought my first computer in 1988. It was a Mac. Mac is all I’ve ever owned.

22. I have a bunch of guitars.

23. I just bought a purple guitar. It is supposed to arrive today by UPS.

24. “Erace”, by the gotee bros. is one of my absolute favorite albums.

25. Neil Peart had a huge influence on the development of my observation and thought processes.
He’s probably also responsible for my steering wheel drumming habits.

26. Whenever “Tom Sawyer” gets to that part where Neil does the half-note triplet bass drum and tom roll, I always have to go back and hear it again. Usually several times.

27. I had an email address before most of my current students were born.

28. In 1998, I used online materials for all my classes, but had to stop because most of my students didn’t have computers or internet access.

29. My blood type is A+, but my grades usually weren’t.

30. I’m 6’3” tall.

31. In the Spring of ’05, I lost 47 pounds. I bought new clothes at the bottom of that loss at 180 lbs. Now I weigh 211 lbs, but I’m still wearing the same size pants.

32. It’s true

33. I bet if today’s laws and government were like 1520s Europe, reformation Christians would still be killing one another.

34. I shook hands with President Carter in 1980 during a whistle stop just before the election. Friends and I skipped school and drove to the airport. I had on my letter jacket so we told them we were with the school newspaper. They put us at the front of the press line.

35. I have a ruptured S1 disk in my back.

36. My left arm is terribly crooked from a break of both the Ulna and Radius when I was in Junior High.

37. I’ve also broken my collarbone, my right pinky, my big toe, and a rib. All sports injuries.

38. I’ve always heard testimonies of how God got peoples’ attention by allowing terrible circumstances in their lives. But God has always jerked me back through undeniable, blatant warm blessings. He’s always saved the terrible circumstances for when I was firmly and confidently rooted in him.

39. Once, when I was gigging with a famous singer/songwriter, I received an email of charts for the gig, including a chart (in my handwriting) that I’d written 10 years earlier for one of my students during a lesson.

40. In High School, 3 teammates and I set a state record in the 4X400 during the state meet.

41. I lifeguarded for 6 summers and taught swimming lessons.

42. I taught high school my first two years out of college.

43. I coached two years of track, and a year of Girls varsity Basketball.

44. I experience timbre as two-dimensional shapes with sustained tones like an extrusion. Think of extruding playdough and you’ll have a rough idea of what I hear.

45. Once, I wired up a 220v junction box in the attic, and when I went to turn the circuit on, I realized it was on already.

46. Once, I removed my alternator, but didn’t disconnect the battery. With a wrench, I grounded my wedding ring to the engine block just as I hit the live alternator wire with the other side of the ring. Sparks flew from my fingertips as I gold-plated the wrench and alternator wire connector. I have a permanent wedding ring brand now.

47. My diet consists primarily of cereal, milk, diet Mountain Dew® and cookies.

48. I had braces on my legs to correct the outward direction my feet pointed when I was elementary school.

49. I had braces on my teeth when I was in 8th grade.

50. I can fix broken things. A lot of the time. One of the reasons I’ve always driven old decrepit vehicles is that I can keep them going far past when most people would have set fire to them.

51. When I was a kid, at the first sign of malfunction, I would take the malfunctioning object apart. I don’t remember what my success rate was back then, but I did learn about what things looked like inside.

52. I am the ultimate Popeye fan.

53. I married the Homecoming Queen.

54. I also married Antigone and Guinevere.

55. I’m colorblind.

56. The colors on the driving test viewer are not the same colors as on the signal lights (which I have no problem distinguishing)

57. Until they started using LCD lights. Now the red and green can only be determined by its position on the tree.

58. This is sometimes a problem when driving in the Southwest.

59. My senior year in high school, I was voted “most musical” and “biggest flirt.”

60. I bought my first car for $200.

61. After I drove it for 7 years, my Dad sold it for $100 dollars.

62. The buyer took the engine and junked the car, which my Dad chopped for parts and set on fire with the cutting torch.

63. My children have musical tastes ranging as widely as mine do. I’m extremely proud of that.

64. When I look out at the congregation on Sunday morning and see my son worshipping, my feet lift off the ground like John Mayer’s in the “bigger than my body” video. Just about 9 inches or so.

65. I think some folks have noticed it.

66. I have no tolerance for artificial people.

67. It took me years to realize that there is a difference between artificial people and people who don’t know who they are.

68. I have no tolerance for stupid songs. I believe that stupid songs are written by people to whom songs don’t matter. If their songs don’t matter to them as songs, then I don’t feel guilty being intolerant of them.

69. I think about the Kingdom of God ALL the time.

70. I don’t believe the importance of the story justifies shoddy story telling. Rather, the story is disrespected by shoddy story telling.

71. Everything I learn has at least two or three contextual applications because I operate under the belief that everything is a metaphor for everything else.

72. I really only understand one thing, but through it process everything else.

73. When the “seen” ceases to explain the “unseen”, I believe we should re-evaluate what we know about the “seen” based on what we don’t know about the “unseen.”

74. I am NOT ADD. I just like to chase rabbits, and mental hyperlinks.

75. I grew up in a world of experience and testimony. I never heard an apologetic until I went to college. A biblical description of my childhood context would be, “…I can see and feel the effects of the wind. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

76. I am a symbol person. Symbols are inordinately meaningful and important to me. They express me, remind me, encourage me, open doors for me, facilitate, and speak volumes of words. I wear them, carry them, decorate with them…

77. I prefer poetry over bullet points and outlines.

78. I believe that without an emotional connection, no amount of facts and information that I disseminate will make a bit of difference to anyone.

79. I prefer to be shaped rather than taught.

80. I once got stranded in Budapest with a pocket full of USD, but not a Forint to my name. I walked for 5 hours in the general direction I thought would take me to the Hotel. I arrived, exchanged coin with the concierge and went to Pizza Hut, by train.

81. I’ve done 3 short-term mission trips to Chisinau, Moldova.

82. Once, when I was leaning against a tree with my feet propped against a stump, a Great Horned Owl, landed on the stump where my feet were. He stood there, 4 feet tall at arms length for at least a minute before spreading his wings and flying away. I felt like I’d been invited into the spirit world for a moment.

83. I ran over my first iPod with my truck. Allison had replaced it by the next afternoon. What a woman.

84. Our first purchase as a couple was a stereo system several months before we were married.

85. Our first CD was “nightfly” by Donald Fagen. Man I love that CD.

86. I’ve never missed a Rush concert tour since Moving Pictures in 1981. I’ve been to their concerts in Pittsburgh, Charleston WV, Greenville and Columbia SC, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Irvine.

87. I saw Charles Dutoit conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony in Pittsburgh and the Montreal Symphony in Montreal in the same year.

88. I went to two proms in the same weekend.

89. When I was first married, my baby sister came to visit us in PA. I took her down to Baltimore to see John Mellencamp. We bought scalper tickets and sat front row center. That’s the only time I ever bought scalped tickets.

90. I’ve had three too-close encounters with bears. Once, we surprised each other in such close proximity, I could feel his breath on my face.

91. My Dad bought me a shotgun for my 7th birthday.

92. I once witnessed a friend eject all the cartridges from his rifle without firing a shot, and then wonder at how he’d missed the deer.

93. I once shot an arrow into a stump between a deer’s legs. He had to step over my arrow to continue walking in the same direction he was going. That’s the only time I ever shot at a deer in my life.

94. A deer took a shot at me and did $2800 damage to the side of the truck I’d bought only 4 hours early. He never even stopped to say sorry.
95. besides my own kids, Winston and Xavier are among my faves. They make me happy the way mine do, and I remember the way my dad used to act annoyed by some kids and light up around others.

96. I am totally in love with my students. I have been for a few years now. This hasn’t always been the case.

97. Last night I was lying in the silent living room on the floor staring at the ceiling and Will asked me what I was thinking about. I answered, “nothing” because I felt strange admitting I was listening to music.

98. When I was in Junior High, I played Johnny B. Goode at a talent show in a Church basement and scandalized my Mom. I think that’s the only thing that I ever did that upset mom that beyond feeling bad for upsetting her, I felt no shame or regret.

99. In the past couple years, I’ve played and sung U2, John Mellencamp, John Mayer, and James Taylor in church on Sunday morning.

100. We don’t have TV at our house. We have a set for DVDs and Vid games, but it doesn’t pick up any stations.

101. I have every episode of “The Office” on my iPod.

102. There are some socially unacceptable/swear/vulgar words that don’t bother me at all. In fact, there are some that I’d much rather hear than the acceptable replacements that everyone uses. But there are some words that were off limits when I was young that everyone uses now as if they never meant anything. I understand that to them, they don’t mean anything, but I’d appreciate some consideration that for me, they still mean what they meant 25 years ago. I don’t just wince, I shudder at a few common, everyday expressions that I’ve actually heard in the pulpit.

103. I love being around people, but it takes a tremendous amount of alone time to fuel for it.

104. I believe that the Church properly operates as the gathering of smaller intimate communities, rather than the community and intimacy being fostered by breaking the church into smaller bits.

105. I’ve witnessed the messy miracle of childbirth three times and cut the umbilical cords to receive the three greatest gifts of my life.

106. My children are three of the most fascinating people I’ve ever known.

107. When Jack says, “I love you,” I feel like God has caused time to stand still and postponed the inevitable.

108. When Will says, “I love you,” I feel like he’s responding to my thoughts.

109. When Molly says, “I love you,” I feel like the most important person in the world.

110. When Allison says, “I love you,” I feel like all is right with the world.

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growing young

Bloged in life, love and marriage, metaphor, time by rod Monday March 19, 2007

So Allison turned 43 today.
Rounded off to the nearest year, we’re the same age again. I really don’t enjoy those 37 days during which she is a year younger than I am. I’m always afraid she’ll think I’m too old for her and run off with a younger man. But, now I’m safe for another year, we’re the same age again.
Allison worked last night. In fact, she worked an extra 12-hour night shift this weekend. So on the morning of her birthday, she could have done what you and I would have done after a night’s work. Instead, she came home, changed shoes and ran 50 miles. Well, somewhere between 5 and 50. But still. Right? After a night shift, and at 43? Sheesh.

I’m really proud to be able to say I’m married to a 43 year-old woman because in all honesty, no one believes it. In some ways, she is like my own mom, whose age peaked at some point, and she has since been getting younger. Allison’s age peaked a couple years ago, and while I believe she has grown more in these two years than perhaps all of life before, she has grown younger at an equal rate.
Her increasing youth is manifest in growing dependence on all those around us. She is becoming less afraid to need and is regaining the ability to be vulnerable – a trait that is stolen away as we age and lose innocence and naiveté.
It seems like a paradox that the more we grow, the younger we get. A mystery. But it’s real. We’re told that unless we come as children, we won’t get it. The whole world pressures us to grow up, be rational, reason and understand. But they don’t get. Children can imagine what doesn’t seem possible and believe what can’t be explained. Once we convince ourselves to do what we desperately want to do, to believe what we desperately want to believe, we begin to grow younger. What is too good to be real becomes commonplace.
Rich Mullins wrote, “we are children no more, we have sinned and grown old, but our Father still waits and he watches down the road… growing young…”

Of course, those of you who have seen her lately know that not all her increasing youth is in the form of heart and spirit. There are physical manifestations too, if I may say so.
I’ve known her since we were 18, and in my heart of hearts, I’d choose body, soul, and spirit, March 19, 2007’s Allison over any other day’s Allison since August 1982.
I know that the normal gender expression of aging is that women fight it and men seem not to care (as long as they get a sports car in their early 50s). But we are definitely reversed, Allison and I. She beautifully and gracefully gathers the days and months and years. She joyfully grasps the wisdom those years are bringing. She smiles at the sprigs of gray sprouting in both our manes.
I’m learning from her that there may be some possibility that the results of these dog years are not all decay. I look at the beautiful laugh lines forming at the corner of her eyes and I realize that the older you get the less effective the façade at covering the spirit that lies within.
I too want to learn to carry myself in such a way that the wind and the years form a surface that is indicative of what lies beneath. I want to grow on the inside so that the patina reflects the wisdom and experience found within.
Thank you, Allison, for being pro-aging. Thank you for growing. I pray that we continue to learn to nourish and tend to one another through the rest of our growing season.

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