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a conversation with the hanes™ guy

Bloged in life by rod Monday January 31, 2005

Very early this morning, Jack and I were playing one-on-one. That is something we rarely do because we don’t have any place to play. But at this time of the morning, you can just put a basketball goal and slap down some concrete anywhere you want, nobody really cares. So that’s what I did. Right by the back deck.
Years ago, I decided that I would never let Jack beat me in a game of basketball. That would would be one of our big connections in our relationship. He would try and try and I would refuse to let him win until one day, somewhere down the road, he would finally beat his old dad fair and square, and there would be a rite of passage. It would be a big moment that neither of us would ever forget. I guess it’s just one of those dad fantasies.
Things haven’t really turned out that way though. When he started to get big enough to actually shoot the ball above his head, I repaired the goal and backboard at the old house. Then I could never keep the boys in the hood from tearing down the goal and breaking the backboard. Nevermind that Jack could never approach the goal, because our driveway was always full of foul-mouthed teenagers with 8 inches of underpants rising from the top of their Kobe Bryant knock-off trunks. But, I thought, better that they should be here than somewhere else, so I just kept repairing the goal.
Since we’ve moved, there is really no place to play, and we both obviously have the itch. So that is what we were doing this morning while we were asleep. I was in the backyard, dunking over the poor kid, slipping the ball down the back of my shorts, pulling it out of my ear and tap dancing on his shoulders.
We were both getting pretty tired so Jack came back inside and I stayed out and sat beside the goal to cool down. About that time, Michael Jordon came by and stopped to talk. You know, the Hanes guy. He always has this sly look about him, but eventually the conversation turned reflective and serious. I was still puffing pretty hard from giving Jack such beating, and I looked at the Hanes guy and said, “don’t you just wish you could wake up some morning and be 23?”
Now he could have said, “I’ve always been 23,” or, “you wanna be me?” But he didn’t. He’s a year older than I am, and he knew exactly what I meant. “yeah,” he said.
So I’ve reached an age where I can remember the entire careers of recently retired, long-haul superstars. No doubt, that is why I was talking to the Hanes guy this morning. Here is a retired, enduring athlete, who was a peer star, with Pat Ewing, even when we were in High School. Now retired.
So as I quickly approach the changing of the jersey, and trade in my vintage Gayle Sayers for a Dirk Nowitzky, I gotta strive to be positive, ya know. I can’t dunk over Jack. I can’t even dunk over Molly. I’ve got a ruptured disk and a high-number jersey. I’m going to spend the next couple weeks talking to people with positive stories about advancing stats. Tomorrow morning after a game of run-down in the back yard, I hope to talk to Cal Ripken, Jr. about all the things that get better with age. He is 3 years older than me.

nostalgic nudge

Bloged in life, nostalgia, parenting by rod Wednesday January 26, 2005

Pause - rewind - replay
Inkslinger blogged this morning about trips to school with his dad and the music that played in the tape player.
I love that Led Zepelin II stayed in the tape player forever. I have a habit of leaving things in the CD player in my truck forever too. The kids are always asking, “dad, can we please change the CD?” But I think, you don’t go around painting the walls of the living room every day do you? Or swapping out the pictures on the wall. Nothing stays in the home stereo for very long, but the truck, that’s a different story. There, I need a solid, secure backdrop for the journey that is life. A familiar song for uncertainty of my going out and coming in.
Doesn’t everyone need their musical wallpaper? When we were in high school, each of us could be known by the old standby in the tape player. In Dwayne’s red, 1968 Mustang, we listened to Journey every single day to and from track practice. In Travis’ Honda Civic, it was “Pyromania”, and sometimes “Panorama”. (I just want to be your…) and in my green pinto, “Permanent Waves” (you don’t dare play “Pyromania” in a Ford Pinto).
From one day to the next, we may have a new zit, a new girlfriend, or even be an inch taller. Life changes overnight when you’re 17, some things appear to be consistent, but you’re really not sure yet what is trustworthy and what isn’t. Enter the eternally looping 8-track. Or the auto-reverse cassette. There is a sure thing. “Photograph” blaring at ear-numbing volumes, interacting with end-of-the-schoolday restlessness, adrenalin, hormones, and smelly track shoes.
And thus, for good and bad, Steve Perry, Def Leppard, Ric Ocasek, and Neil Peart put their nearly indelible stamp on your memories and in some cases, formation.
On the way back from Austin, I was listening to “Moving Pictures”, and was blown away by how much I’ve been influenced by Neil Peart over the years. It is not so much that I’ve been swayed by anything he had to say, but that I’ve been caused to think about things that I never would have thought of as a 17 year-old. Neil Peart caused me to observe and assess the behaviors, thought processes, and world views of those around me and to think for myself rather than unquestioningly, blindly follow the crowd.
So sorry kids, if you have to listen to the same old thing day after day in the Explorer. For me, there are layers of advantages. I picked it for you. It speaks to me. And some day, miles down the road, while that eternal CD is still is still is stil is still looping in your brain, the whole experience will be mixed up together; the dad, the music, the squeaky clutch pedal - an amalgam of memory that makes up a part of who you are.
Listen to my songs and know who I am. See where I’ve been and who I’ve become. Listen with me as I keep on becoming.
Years from now, something will occur to you from some song we shared, and you’ll say, “hmmmm… I hadn’t realized that about dad.”


Bloged in life by rod Sunday January 23, 2005

a psalm

Bloged in poems, prayers, worship by rod Saturday January 22, 2005

You, who hear prayer from a quiet heart,
to whom all men come overwhelmed,
You Who whisper to a silent soul,
speak into my quiet resolution to hear Your voice.
You, Who knows not lies
protect us from the father of lies.
The evil one has set me as his bull’s-eye
he has emptied his quiver on me.
The fiery arrows sting, but cannot penetrate because You have set Yourself before me.
You’re the great interceptor, the victor before the dawn of time.
He deceives himself to even attempt at one hidden beneath your wing,
on whose shoulders You’ve lain your feathers of comfort,
into whose heart You’ve breathed Your Spirit of peace,
into whose ear you’ve whispered Truth.

You, whose mighty hand crushes fear and caresses trust,
incubate my embryonic faith,
nudge my fledgling flight,
catch me when I fall.

mother almanac 2005

Bloged in family, life by rod Friday January 21, 2005

Today marks the birth of The Saint who gave me birth when she was 20 years and 20 days old, 40 years and 345 days ago. Must have been a scary prospect for a kid to think of raising a kid, but she had already dealt with my dad for over a year, so she must have been pretty prepared and practiced. In any case, something had prepared her for so tough a task, because she seems to have breezed through the next few decades, even though we weren’t breezy children, until one by one each of us wee ones got out of her hair and left her once again to focus solely on raising dad.
My turn to step out and find a new woman to cling to came 18 years ago, at which point The Saint had reached the ripe old age of 42, an age that seemed to me to be beyond the ability to fathom.
Since that day in August, 1986 when I loaded my goo and drove to Pennsylvania to take a wife and job, I have come nearer and nearer to the ripe old age of The Saint who, job finished, turned me loose on that fine August morning. But in some twist of the space/time continuum, some cosmic whip action caused a piece of string to loop so that it touched another piece of the string. While I neared the age that she was when I left her, she began nearing the age that I was when I left.
Imagine the awkward situation in which she now finds herself at 24, trying to raise an old geezer whose quantum loop didn’t quite make contact in the same way hers did. No doubt his has also slowed down time, but it hasn’t traveled backward like hers has.
She and dad are not the only ones who find this situation awkward. Imagine, at 40, constantly calling a 24 year old for advice. Though her receding age has not diminished her wisdom, nor impeded the acquisition of increasing wisdom normally afforded with the advancement of the years, it is a bit awkward to look to someone nearly half your age for these life-nuggets that are so desperately needed in surviving the advancement of middle age. Truthfully, she has never been where I am, and therefore hasn’t much to offer. Oh, that I could reach the middle-age threshold and then reverse the process as she has. Skip the crisis. Skip the saggy skin and crow’s feet. Skip the aching joints. Skip the red convertible. Just go straight to a good, solid, 20-something’s Rav4.
But there is an upside to a mother who grows ever younger, ever hipper. She dislikes my music less and less as the years pass and she probably won’t be nearly as devastated to find out that her 40 year-old son just got a tattoo instead of a red convertible. Actually, I’m a little more worried about my own reaction if I were to find out that she got a tattoo. Say it ain’t so.
So on this 21st day of January, 2005, I blogify my love, appreciation, and indebtedness in the form of goofy words and the obligatory MP3 of my Happy Birthday arrangement.
Though the words are all for you, mom, you’ve got to share the playing of Feliz Cumpleanos del Sur with Greg Gillmeister (happy birthday - you’re 41 before me), and a memorial hug for Uncle Roy.

hezekiah 17:3

Bloged in apprenticeship by rod Thursday January 20, 2005

Used to be that I’d have a thought that I’d think was a great realization, an Aha moment, and I’d begin to think it through, and come to realize that it directly contradicted another great Aha realization that I might have had earlier. I’d then dwell on both to try and decide which of my realizations was reality. I no longer think that there is always an either/or. I guess some people calls these discrepancies, “the exception that proves the rule.” Often, these contradicting realizations simply reveal ironic discrepancies in the consistency of our lives. We have an uncanny ability to compartmentalize, down-play our failures, seek only encouragement in our failures rather than help not to fail. We have separate values and morality to apply to most compartmentalized areas of our lives.
Christians have become notorious for this. We can have exactly the same thoughts, do exactly the same things, and feel exactly the same way as the folks whom we lambaste with hell-fire and brimstone, but consider ourselves better, removed, and above them because we go to church, or have a fish on our cars, or wear a t-shirt with a bible verse printed on it.
Truth is though, thinking we are better doesn’t really make us any happier, in fact we find ourselves less-than-happy a great deal of the time. Since we are better, it surely must be external circumstances that are causing our non-happiness. So we begin to look for ways to gain control over our circumstances. We look to conquer our finances, to learn to control our children better, and learn to appreciate others more, etc. Where better to go for this help than to the bible? So we go to the scripture for encouragement, looking to feel better about ourselves. We turn to Hezekiah 17:3.
Seems like at some point, surely Christians went to the Scriptures to be changed, transformed, renewed. At what point did we begin to use them as a “learning to love yourself” book? We want the bible to encourage us in all our junk. But the Bible wants to show us all our junk so that we can be rid of it.
The Aha irony moment came when I began to think about this attitude and measure it against our distorted, contorted, damning understanding of the Gospel. Here is a message of mercy and grace and promise and hope and deliverance. We have turned it into, “turn or burn,” and, “get right or get left.” I saw a pic of a church marquis this Christmas that read, “Think you might go to hell? Don’t come to church this Christmas and know for sure.” I was thinking that “gospel” means, “good news”. I was thinking it was good news, because it was different than the bad news, since it provided a provision for a legal code of conduct that I can’t possibly keep. So why do we present the law, call it the gospel and seek encouragement for remaining wretched.


Bloged in life, metaphor, poems by rod Saturday January 15, 2005

Sometimes the world smiles so brightly that one would never believe it is fallen. If one were willing to entertain such an idea, he wonders at the splendor before the fall. But when fallen beauty is all that’s known, it is difficult to imagine that there is anything more beautiful than has been experienced.

Sometimes the world groans so loudly that even under blue skies and colored clouds, its aching heart is felt by all but the most insular. Under gray skies and black clouds, all hope seems lost, and history is but a few days deep, and there are no other memories from which to draw solace.

Sometimes tiny black clouds hang in the royal atmosphere over tiny, gray islands in the azure sea. The world thinks all is well, and the island wonders why it is desert and forgotten and left out of the blue.

Sometimes the whole world is engulfed, save a tiny break through which crepuscular angel faces shine warmth upon a tiny, undeserving surface.

The world spins, moans.
Groans, in all its beauty, at the surpassing beauty that can’t be.
Gives thanks in all its pain at the surpassing pain from which it is spared.
Tectonic crashes.
Faults and blame.
False blame.
Clash of principalities.
Innocence punished and guilt rewarded.
How long to sing this song?
Who listens?
I’ll keep singing.
I’ll be heard.
I’ll wait.


Bloged in life by rod Friday January 14, 2005

I have gone to the gym 3 times this week. But that is not the amazing thing. Really, it’s a cause and effect thing and the gymnation is only the cause. (Actually, going to the gym probably has a cause too, but for this discussion we’ll stop there) The effect is… I’ve become awesome. Yes, in only 5 days, I’ve become awesome. Of course, I’m the only person who knows it. But that doesn’t negate my awesomeness. I have told Allison about it, and she says she believes me, but honestly, I don’t think she’d have known if I hadn’t told her. In fact, Allison is awesome too. I can see it, but she can’t. So that makes me think my awesome noticeability is a bit more developed than your average person’s. Therefore, just because mine is not noticeable…
That’s why I’m telling you now, because I don’t think you’ll notice on your own. But take my word for it, I have become awesome. Even now, I am typing these words with boxing gloves on my hands. Now you believe me don’t you?!
I don’t know if this will last. Chances are, next time you see me I won’t be awesome anymore. But it really won’t make much of a difference, because it wasn’t something that was noticeable in the first place. I don’t think you’ll be saying to yourself, “aw, that’s too bad, last week he was really awesome, now look at him.”
But I gotta tell you. There is nothing like leaving a couple of lbs at Golds and coming home with a self full of endorphins. Beats the heck out of St. John’s Wort.

a jorb done

Bloged in community, friends by rod Wednesday January 12, 2005

I don’t want to steal magic if the oak pollinator is going to continue his documentary of last week, but I do want to throw in a few words.
Of all the wonderful physical transformation that took place in parts of the Abbey, by far, the most transforming took place when the job was finished and we blessed the house and broke bread in the newly renovated kitchen. I’ll leave the telling up to Greg, but I thought I’d toss in this pic of the crew (doctored to accommodate an early departure) preparing for the blessing and the eucharist by warding off the bitter cold by the industrial strength oven/stove. Pictured from left are: Matthew (get a blog) Cavin, the Oak Grove Abbott, Inkslinger, Contented Nomad, and me.

sprouts - fragrant herbs and acorns

Bloged in apprenticeship, community, friends, seasons by rod Tuesday January 11, 2005

Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone - nothing but a seed. But if it dies, it sprouts and produces much fruit.
Isn’t it a paradox that says something must die in order to live? A volunteer death, at that. There are several oak trees around our house. This fall, the one right by my window dropped hundreds of acorns. At night, when a gentle breeze would blow through the yard, it sounded like there was hail outside. Acorns hitting branches as they fell - falling onto the deck, the A/C unit. There were so many acorns that even the squirrels lost interest. There were so many under my office window on the side of the house that you had to shuffle your feet to walk down the hill to keep from stepping on them and riding them down the hill.
A couple weeks ago, I went out there to see if I could find one that had not rotted yet. I couldn’t. But I noticed something interesting. All the acorns that had fallen in plain view, out in the open for everyone to see, had been trampled, squashed, kicked around, etc. But the ones that had fallen out of the way, in hidden corners and behind bushes, had sprouted their single root downward and grabbed at the soil. Under the window, I found dozens hidden by the A/C, all laying on top of the ground, split open and rotten. When I tried to pick them up, they didn’t move. I lifted the edge and noticed that every one of them had sent out a single, downward tentacle out of its rotten shell and into the ground. Dead acorn – living tree.
On my way to Austin last week, I thought about how exactly a year ago, to the week, we felt ourselves dropped into the hopper and broadcast. Frankly, it was painful. Flung in all directions. Landing in unfamiliar soil, alone. It is painful to lie there in the dirt, hoping not to be trampled, wondering if your sprout will take root.
Last week, driving to Texas, I felt as if I were headed off to help pile some dirt around a sprouting acorn like I’d just seen outside my window. The thoughts of this acorn made me realize the sprouts I’ve felt as this past semester came to a close on a new class I’d never taught before – new hearts I’d seen open that very morning.
Seeds are seasonal. Buds are set on trees even as the dead leaves fall. But they don’t grow until spring. It’s not only painful to die, but you also have to lie there on the ground, wondering, praying, waiting to sprout.
Then, when you think you’ve been forgotten, the seasons change and someone drops a little water, sings a song that they didn’t know before, from a place they didn’t know existed, someone stops by and paints your kitchen.
Makes you want to turn over a new leaf. Sing a new song. Lay it all down and start again. Die and be reborn. Makes you want to carve a phoenix into your bark.

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