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in a strange land

Bloged in family, life by rod Monday October 31, 2005

Insights are endless and thoughts are exploding,
dear God, I’m so lonesome and I don’t know why.

I sometimes (often?) wake with a lyric in my mind that seems to come out of nowhere. Usually it doesn’t come out of nowhere, because there is a connection to something, but the connection doesn’t always fit my mood, or frame of mind. Often I’m given the lyric before I realize that it will help me when I discover what my frame of mind is, or that I need it to face something that is not yet.
This morning’s frame of mind was one of contemplation of a reluctant return to normalcy, the abandonment of which I so eagerly embraced as Al and I boarded the plane to Dallas on Friday, U2 tics in hand. Though reluctant to return, I began to think about the morning traffic to the airport in a strange and sprawling city, the return of the rental car, the hopping shuttles to terminals, the check-in, security, etc., and quietly wished I could just blink my eyes like J.R.’s bottled companion used to do before he moved to Dallas, and find myself back at home.
As it turns out, everything I was responsible for this morning went down without a hitch. I got us to the airport, returned the car, secured our boarding passes, checked our bag, strode through security, secured a cup of Sumatra and relaxed to await our flight. But no sooner had we reached the shelter of the terminal, than a mighty storm attacked D/FW, and relentlessly pummeled the area until they had to close the airport for a while. First the flight was delayed by 50 minutes, then an hour, then… The gate was changed 5 times before they actually changed the terminal so that we had to hurry onto the skylink train to find the other terminal, just in time to wait yet another hour to board. All the while, this morning’s lyric is ringing in my head, and becoming more fully formed throughout the day as more lines find their way from the recesses of my memory.
We did finally board at 3:00pm, 4 hours after our plane was to have taken off, and 30 minutes after we were to have landed in Charlotte. By now, we’re all exhausted, and ready to relax on the plane for the ride home. But once we boarded, we learned that since the whole airport had been closed, the fuelers were backed up and we’d have to wait to be fueled. Once fueled, we had to wait some time for a push back, and once pushed back, we taxied out to wait in a four-lane, mile-long line of planes waiting to take off. Though the weather had left the area, it had gone ahead to where we were heading, and all the planes would have to be spaced so as to follow the few routes open through the storms. So, we waited 2 and a half hours on the tarmac to actually take off.
Originally thinking we’d be home by 4:00pm, we had no plans for the care of the kids for the evening and actually had some evening responsibilities of our own. So Allison worked frantically to contact friends to help us with our kids as they came home from school, and prepared to survive the evening. All from a thousand miles away. I am now well aware that when I go to Texas, dreadful things happen upon the return.
The lyric played loudly in my head, “I can’t get back home again.”
As we sat on the plane on the tarmac, my brother called to tell me that he’d just left the hospital and that my uncle Bill was not expected to make it through the day. My heart sank, as I sat totally captive and helpless, a stranger in a strange land, if you’ll pardon the serious reference. Unable to care for my children, alone, a thousands miles away, unable to comfort my people a thousand different miles away. Suddenly I no longer knew where home was, only that I was not there.
Eventually, by predetermined plans, we arrived in Charlotte, and made our way toward Columbia. I talked to Jack one last time before he retired, and Al and I stopped at Waffle House for the first food since a muffin 13 hours ago. Allison reminisced that the first time she’d eaten at Waffle House was 17 years ago as we made our way from Pennsylvania toward Columbia. “Can you believe it’s been 17 years?” That’s nearly as long as either of us has lived in one place. Allison said that it’s beginning to feel like home. I said, “until someone is dying.” There was a tremendous confusion of place.
At that moment, I knew that I would not make it home tonight.

connecting some more

Bloged in community, friends by rod Sunday October 30, 2005

We had all day to anything or nothing, whichever won the battle of “whatya wanna do?” “I dunno, whatchoo wanna do?”.
I woke quite a while before Allison and decided to let her sleep, so I alternated between roaming about the room and climbing back in bed. When she finally woke up, we couldn’t figure out which of the clocks were right, but eventually were delighted to realize that the earlier time was correct.
We decided to take a trek down to Austin for a short visit to the Abbey and hello to soul friends, and the possibility for the Elvis Fried Chicken. We were greeted with extremely sad and disturbing and frankly, anger inducing news that Kyle Lake, the pastor at UBC, Waco had been electrocuted a few hours earlier while performing a baptism.
After the Elvis chicken, we participated in some of the Sunday evening Abbey activity, in a rather emotionally disrupted atmosphere, and said our goodbyes, for the drive back to Dallas.
On the way home, we entirely unintentionally stopped at the same two exits we’d visited on the way down – something we always seem to do, no matter where we’re going or from whence we’ve come.

yet another set list

Bloged in music by rod Saturday October 29, 2005

City of Blinding Lights
Electric Co.
The Ocean
I Still Haven’t Found
Beautiful Day
Miracle Drug
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
Love and Peace or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky
Miss Sarajevo

Pride in the Name of Love
Where the Streets have no Name

The First Time
Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
Angel Of Harlem
With or Without You
(old man river)

All Because of You


Bloged in community, friends by rod Saturday October 29, 2005

This morning, I looked at a map and figured we couldn’t be more than ten minutes from the Margraves, (gypsy traveler, and Bruce, the Bruce), so we called Chris to see if he knew what they were up to. Chris called them to make sure they were home and then kept them on the phone so they’d not run off while we make our way to their house. Bruce answered the door because famil was talking to Chris on the phone. They seemed aptly impressed that Chris could talk about nonsense for long enough for us to get there, but that’s really not that impressive if you’ve ever read Chris’s blog. They took us out for Indian, and we spent the next 2.5 hours relaxed in conversation.
Allison and I found a mall, bought some new skinny clothes for her, and headed to the American Airlines Center.

city of blinding lights

Bloged in family, life by rod Thursday October 27, 2005

I’m in the air again, this time with Allison beside me. She’s asleep, of course. She did stay awake all the way to the airport though, which is no small task considering it was a 90 minute drive. We’re descending from 32,000 feet preparing to land at DFW. The lighted excited below is sprawling.
This trip is for entirely different noble reasons than my last trip. This is a selfish getaway to be with Allison without all the cares of normal life. Nothing will be normal this weekend. No meals to prepare. No taxi service to friends’ houses. No Saturday night labor, Sunday morning delivery, or post-partum depression.
We land at 9:00pm, and until noon on Monday, we’re free from responsibility, except to each other. Tomorrow we’ll sleep LATE and be lazy all afternoon. We’ll eat some supper at Chuy’s and head to the American Airlines Arena to see U2. Please make your jealous remarks in the comment box.
We’ve been planning this trip for a long, long time, and you wouldn’t believe the obstacles that have been tossed in our path to keep it from happening. But we’re airborne, and for now, that feels promising.
Yesterday was a panic to secure a logistical nightmare of collapsed childcare plans and try to see that our progeny were cared for and didn’t feel abandoned. Last night was a mad dash to try to make the house look like hurricane gamma hadn’t come through. Today at work, my students tried to distract me by singing every U2 song you can imagine under their breath or blatantly out loud.
But we’re almost there. Still gotta get a car, find our hotel and get giddy about the concert.

One red and one white

Bloged in culture, life by rod Thursday October 27, 2005

I’m sure that I’ve talked about this in the past, but I grew up in NL territory, and I’ve lived most of my life in NL territory. The only exception would be the first two years I was married and lived 70 miles from Baltimore. But even then, I was equidistant between Pittsburgh and Philly. So all that it is to say that I’ve always been a fan of NL teams. Cincinnati when I was a kid and Pittsburgh when I was in college. I’ve had AL players as heroes along the way, as my students can attest to the Brooks Robinson shrine in my office, complete with autographed photo to “Mr. Lewis”.
Anyway, besides geographic proximity, and thus, probability of seeing live games, my NL preference is strengthened by the DH. I am not a fan of the DH.
All that it is to say that it is quite unfair that in my adult years, the AL seems to have nearly monopolized the world series. That is mainly a problem when your own team has won the pennant. But in general, it is just sad for the NL.
There are always exceptions to the sadness though. So break out the only two AL ball caps I’ve ever owned. Back in the early nineties I decided that in order to have any October happiness, one just might have at least to be fond of an AL team. I sensed a bleached bright future for the White Sox and so got myself a cap. My BoSox cap came a few years later. The thought that either of these was the choice of a fan desiring a winning team was laughable. But not anymore.
Back in 1917, the winning sox were white, in 1918, they were red, complete with Babe Ruth pitching game 7. In 2004 and 05, the order is reversed, but what are the chances of that? Oh, I guess it’s no big deal. I’m always looking for silly connections like that. So how about this: Cubs haven’t won since 1908. How about next year? Then we could bring it back to the NL.

unbloggable ramblation

Bloged in apprenticeship, cognition, culture by rod Wednesday October 26, 2005

The pressure is just too great SP!
Actually, in the heat of preparation for huge events this week, my mind has been camped in a couple of specific areas. I’m really not sure if these thoughts as I am thinking them, are bloggable. However, the immediate huge event is that I’ve been consumed with being ready for this morning’s chapel, and in my consumption, my mind has been wrapped around the story I’d planned to tell with that chapel. It occurs to me that my concept for chapel was also unchapelable. But maybe I pulled it off.
I wonder if preachers’ sermons are born of giant concepts that arrive without form, but with clear understanding in his mind? I wonder if the greatest challenge is finding language to put to the concept that will allow those with ears to hear and be invited into the thinking of the concept.
Today, when I got back to my office, someone said to me, “I think I might have understood most of what you were saying.” Of course, I took this to mean that I still haven’t quite learned to communicate the point of what I’m saying. So I replied, “if you were made to contemplate what you weren’t sure about, then you understood exactly what I was saying.”
My point is to send people away having found themselves in a new context that requires contemplation. I want to make people ask themselves questions. I want us to realize that we haven’t figured out all that we thought we’ve figured out. I want folks to go away thinking, “I’m not really sure what he wanted me to think about that.” Go away thinking about it. I’ll bet you’ll arrive at what you’re supposed to be thinking about.
My main thought point for today’s chapel is not to find parallels, and types in the old testament as precursors to new testament realizations, but to see the whole as a story that is being told in time. The same story, not one that is symbolized BC, and told AD. I want to consider that the story is still being told and that I am a player in it. And as the story is being told, it has very different endings depending on perspectives of the many players. This is a concept that fascinates me.
So didn’t I warn you at the beginning of this post that my thoughts were unbloggable? You have no more from me than you had before I started writing. Sorry. So I’ll leave you with a thought that expresses how the same story could sound so different to two different people. It is a thought that Molly reminded me of early this summer. Paul refers to it when he says that we are the fragrance of Christ and it smells like death to some people and life to others. I used a passage in Exodus today that expresses the same paradox. When Israel was backed up to the Red Sea and Egypt was closing in, the pillar of fire moved in between Israel and Egypt’s advance and held them off. The passage states that all night long, the pillar shined light on Israel and cast darkness on Egypt. It is similar to Paul’s warning’s about participating in the Lord’s Supper. If it doesn’t symbolize life to you, it represents death. But it is more than simply stating that death and life are opposites, it is that the very thing that gives life, if not taken, causes death.
Anyway, I told you it was unbloggable. Maybe in the comments, you can say it better than I did.

winds of change

Bloged in apprenticeship, life by rod Monday October 24, 2005

It was about 67 degrees when I took my purple bike ride on Saturday night. During the night, it got rather cold and Sunday morning the air was brisk, but by the time we left church around noon, it was pretty warm again. I heard someone complaining and saying that they couldn’t remember the last time it had stayed so warm for so long. It has been downright hot ’round here.
This morning I had a lot of work to do for Chapel prep for Wednesday, so I stayed home, made a pot of Sperl, put on a sweatshirt and repaired to the deck to get down to business. I was still out there working when Allison got up at 2:00pm and walked out to say hi. She thought it was getting a bit chilly. I walked through the house to see her off, and never went back outside. I stopped off in the kitchen, open my computer and got back to work at the table.
Out the window, I watched the trees become more active and the branches bend and the leaves wave. The clouds came and went and came and went. After about an hour, the kids began to arrive home, and when Molly came to kiss me, I thought she’d freeze my cheek. I went back outside to find the temperature had dropped sharply. Suddenly, it was late October, something that I’d never have been convinced of an hour earlier.
For the first time all year, the windows have been shut to block out the cold rather than the heat. We’ve been sleeping with the windows open for a couple months now. Not tonight.
An hour of wind and the season changes. Now it is World Series weather. I’m praying the Sox don’t go cold.
So I started thinking about a comment I read this summer that said, back in the day, people thought that the wind caused the trees to wave their branches. But now everyone knows its the trees waving that causes the wind. We’ve become so much wiser. I wondered if the winds had brought in the change of temp, or if the change of temp had stirred up the winds. I wondered if I should sit there on the deck and wait for the wind to move me, or if I should get up and stir the air a bit and feel the winds begin.
Then I realized, if I stop waiting and get up with the intent to stir the wind, it is because the wind has stirred me.


Bloged in cognition, culture by rod Sunday October 23, 2005

It used to be a blog post. There used to be fence posts, door posts, Washington Post, Saturday Evening Post, goal post, high post, low post. Then it all started when I was in high school, at either high post or low post, I had to post-up. Do you see the subtle change? Now everything is post-something. The last shall be first.
Just this week, in class, I had to refer to the late 19th century as Post-Romanticism. If I had a nickel for every Post-something I’ve said, referred to, or heard in the past week, I would be post -retirement. First, I had to submit committee notes, post-haste through the Post Office for Monday’s faculty meeting. The entire week, was one in which, back in the day, I’d have felt like I was tied to the whipping post, but these days, it feels more like Post-traumatic stress.
I searched on-line for updates on hurricane Wilma, and found articles in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I read articles on Post-modernism, Post-Christian America, and even Post-evangelicalism, and heard an NPR spot on Post-Colonialism. Then, just this morning, after eating my Post Toasties (which, btw, used to be called, “Elijah’s Manna”, and we all know that Elijah could call down fire), on the way to church, a promo on NPR about a show this week called something like, “Our Posthuman Future.” We will have microchips implanted in our brains that allow us to communicate with our spouses telepathically. Wifi for your head, I guess. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when,” said the soothing, but certain voice. Will lost himself in laughter when he heard it. “Dad, did you hear that? POST-HUMAN!!” ha ha ha ha…
I did a google search and found a book.
So if I couple this realization with the fact that I’ve been talking to a lot of people about my methodology/context concept rants, realize that the blog-post may not be around forever. Could we be on the brink of a post-blog society? Some might say it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. I shudder to think about it. I suppose we would adapt and survive, but it is a terrifying prospect. I thought I might not survive Post Cereal. I like cereal. But I’ve held my ground and continued to live as though I’m in a Cereal Society. I supposed I will just ignore the culture and keep on blog posting.

a splash of color

Bloged in life, luna see by rod Saturday October 22, 2005

Purple on gray. That’s what I was tonight. I guess that’s what I always am. Tonight it was on the surface though. Gray suit with a purple boutonniere. It shed a whole different timbre to my guitar playing.
When I got home and changed and tried to relax, I decided to take a ride and watch the moon come up. I put on a long sleeved t-shirt and a gray sweatshirt and pinned the purple boutonniere onto the sweatshirt, and rode off into the cool, October darkness. I don’t know if tattoos and boutonnieres will become the new fashion statement for bikers, but it sure felt right tonight. Nobody could see me anyway, it was too dark, and I was going way too fast.
I hit highway 6 and wound through the gears into the black horizon until I reached a clearing and could see the moon coming up. She peeped HUGE and orange against the black sky. I felt like we were going on a date. She, all orange on black, and me, all purple on gray. Wind all around. I wondered if she could see me.
I watched her until she started to fade into white as she rose higher in the sky, and I turned back toward home, banking and cranking along the white lines and riding way too fast with a purple vapor trail in the October night.

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