pressing on

Bloged in apprenticeship, life, seasons, time by rod Saturday December 31, 2005

I think when ’05 stole in across the back yard, I was about 32 years old. As ’06 makes its way over the eastern horizon, I’m around 55. I’m tired and aged. I feel every one of the 41 birthdays that have clicked like a metronome set at 120 bpm. Someone keeps pulling the little slider thing down, and it’s getting more difficult to keep tempo. One tends to drop more notes the faster the tempo goes.
This has no doubt been the hardest year of my life for lots of reasons. I have grown more in the past 12 months than I’ve grown in all my previous 40 years combined. There are still areas of me that are unaffected by that growth, and if you look at me I probably look quite deformed with such retarded growth set alongside such rapid growth. Maybe like a little puppy whose future size can be estimated by his oversized paws.
I remember various periods of time between about 9 years old and 12 or 13, when my legs and joints ached acutely from growth. Growth is painful. I’ve felt it this year. Growing knowledge of my weakness, boundaries, shortcomings. Growing understanding of who I am and who I should be. Growing understanding of my place in my context. Growing passion for what could or should be, growing intolerance for what is that shouldn’t be.
Who you are supposed to be is not always who people want you to be. It’s not always who YOU want to be for that matter. And becoming that person is a very difficult prospect. I set my face toward that goal with more determination than ever in ’05. I’ve done very poorly, but have a much clearer perspective on who it is and what it takes to become.
At the dawn of ’05, I embraced the new, practically challenged - begged even - for the old to burn away and to be ushered into the new, but I had no idea what great strength and perseverance would be required to survive the flames and rise from the ashes. But I am determined to rise beautiful from the ashes and to bring as many up with me as possible, dusting ourselves off as we take wing.
So an assessment of ’05 doesn’t show any arrival or attainment, only another leg of a long and grueling marathon. So tonight, as I run by the hydration table, I reach out to grab a drink, but keep moving forward, legs aching, feet burning. Pressing on toward the mark of the high calling…
To be continuing…

wow

Bloged in luna see by rod Friday December 30, 2005

Tonight we had a window of about 30 minutes of clear sky. By the time it had cleared up, Pleiades was too high to see off the balcony, so I took the telescope down to the beach. I got a really good view of The Sisters and also the Orion Nebula.
Wow. I’m hooked.

when your optimism sounds like cynicism to the status quo

Bloged in church, life by rod Friday December 30, 2005

There’s nothing wrong with me,
it’s just that I believe
things could get better.
-dcb

mom and dad on the beach

Bloged in family, love and marriage by rod Thursday December 29, 2005


today was picture day. We all donned pastels and khaki and gathered upon the beach for a family portrait. Since the photographer was me, we took 135 pictures in hopes that one would be suitable. Each family unit was decked in a different color, and I must say that 9/13 of us were very pretty.
After the picture taking we dispersed to acquire less pretty threads and Rah-rah and I went to the gym. We went to the hairband gym.
Supper was on the table when we got back. Lasagna with cheese cake for desert. Fireworks on the beach followed, a gathering around the computer to look at the photographs, and finally, Will and I went swimming for a while. No one went into the ocean.
So, sorry the vacation blog journal is a bit dry today, but a year from now, I’ll read it and know exactly what went down on Dec. 29, 2005.
I’ve posted a pic that Jack took this afternoon.

it’s not that cold, eh?

Bloged in family, random by rod Wednesday December 28, 2005

What else do you expect from a vacationing blogger? A vacation journal.
Today, I did nothing until mid-afternoon. Nearly everyone went shopping, so I had the apartment to myself. I wrote, took some pictures, read, wrote some more, took some more pictures, and read some more. At some point, I realized that Allison wasn’t going to come back in time for us to work out together, so I went to the gym by myself.
This gym was very different from the one we patronized yesterday. One can know the atmosphere of a fitness facility simply by noting what flavor of eighties music that is being played over the sound system. Yesterday, the music was of the single first name variety, Sting, Madonna, Tiffany, and the duplicate word name ilk. Duran Duran, Mister Mister, Oingo Boingo, (well I guess by inserting an extra letter into the duplicate second word, Danny Elfman was exhibiting a creative, innovative move toward a new era by breaking out of the mold). Today’s gym though, played a lot more hair band music and since the style really didn’t change into the early nineties, there was a wider time span of bands included, though it was about the same variety of styles. No variety. So, fitting with the musical style, most of the folks in today’s gym had shaved heads and mucho tattoos and lifted to the beats of Scorpions, Metallica, Guns n Roses, and Limozeen. It had a much more relaxed atmosphere without all the polo shirts and all - just black muscle shirts and the occasional camo patterned shorts. The equipment too, was much more bare-bones and I had better workout as a result.
I returned home just after the shopping tribe and found supper ready and waiting in the form of tacos.
After dinner many of us headed to the pool and three of us, Molly, Rah-rah, and I all took a dip in the ocean. Yes, it is December, and No, we’re not Candadian, but we are adventurous, awesome, and daring. At least three of us are. And Molly and I both went in twice. We’ve decided that we will try to dare others to go in tomorrow. But honestly, we’re not that influential as pressuring peers.

how was your day?

Bloged in family by rod Wednesday December 28, 2005

We had Christmas dinner today with Allison’s family. Two Stormses, four Beseckers, two Tanners, and five Lewises dining in a beach condo. We had Christmas breakfast on Sunday at 2:00pm, so this was a long time coming. The Lewises anyway, were pretty hungry.
Having gone to bed at 7:30 after the sun appeared, I slept until almost 10:00 and woke to an empty apartment. Everyone had gone for provisions, so I moseyed out of bed, consumed too many Aussie Bites, and dialed up a seven-year-itch internet connection.
Shortly, the peeps all came back and Allison and I headed off to the gym with Rah-rah and Jack in tow. We returned late enough to have missed most of the dinner preparations, but early enough to participate in its consumption.
After dinner we exchanged gifts and hung out and watched for the first person to break the after dinner fast by grabbing at the Chex Mix, or cookies or something.
Yes, it was a joyful, leisurely, fambly-filled day.
The ocean is at low-tide with calm waves wafting their calm, wavy noise in through balcony door.
It’s 1:00 o’clock and all is well.

a closer look

Bloged in family, luna see by rod Tuesday December 27, 2005


Molly and I got a shared gift from Santa this year. We got a telescope. I also got an adapter for my camera so that I can use the telescope as my camera lens and do a bit of astrophotography. Oh boy, you’re thinking, haven’ we seen enough of his moon pictures? One of the pieces of the adaptor is missing, so you’ve got a bit of time before I bombard the blog with close-ups of moon acne. I’ve already seen it though, and I’ve got to tell you, I was wrong thinking that detailed moon viewing wood cause the lunar romance to wane. She is just as mysterious as ever after being viewed so closely. I had to stay up until 4:30 Monday morning to catch glimpses through the clouds. I woke Molly and she and I stood in the driveway shivering and wondering at the amazing thing we were seeing. Hours earlier, we’d stood in the same spot and I pointed her to Venus and Molly, gazing into the eyepiece at the bright crescent, thought she was seeing the moon. Venus is but a fingernail of light, right now, and yet so bright, she shines early in the sunset.
Right now, it 4:30am and I’m sitting on a balcony looking out over the ocean watching the waning crescent moon rise out of the water. She is shimmering through the telescope. A little while ago, her coming was announced by Jupiter rising just before her and to her right. Right now, the two of them are commanding the sky over the water, until the sun comes up and steals the show. Four of Jupiter’s moons are visible through the telescope.
So I guess this post is just to say I was wrong about the night sky losing it’s romance. Now there are just more visible things to feel romantic about.
What is man that You are mindful of him?

come to the quiet

Bloged in advent, apprenticeship, worship by rod Sunday December 25, 2005

Last night, after much debate over the logistics of Christmas morning, the kids voted 2 to 1 to open gifts AFTER church. I was worried at being distracted while preparing to lead worship, and wished I could focus as usual, and the kids seemed to agree. Molly, who lost the vote, in her exhaustion, was very upset last night, but today it didn’t seem to bother her at all. The kids then, had to go to church early as usual for dad to do his deal, and then remain there for two services without the aid of Sunday school. The whole family realized that this was a great literal lesson in putting Jesus before presents on Christmas.
So sandwiched in between the excitement of Christmas eve in a house with children, and the chaos of opening gifts on Sunday afternoon, there was a quiet, reflective respite in our home and hearts. Late last night we hung chrismons on our Charlie Brown tree, explaining each one’s symbolism as we went, and we did a series of Advent and Christ Mass readings, before heading off to bed.
All afternoon I’ve been thinking of my advent thoughts concerning the pain that is stirred at Christmas time in so many people. About my theory that one can’t quite separate the pain from the joy of Christmas. That perhaps the joy is not fully known without the juxtaposed knowledge of pain and heartache. I hadn’t thought about how all that played into my most recent thoughts of Friday and Saturday. In my desire for quiet Advent and Christmas reflection and worship, I saw that Jesus came quietly in the midst of hoopla, same as I need to quiet myself inside in the midst of the hoopla. Jesus could have been born in a quiet place at a quiet time. He could have come in a big noisy way in a big noisy place. But he came quietly in a noisy place.
We’ve made Christmas to be a time of extremes. The majority completely ignore the celebration of Christ’s birth, having fallen headlong into the commercialization of the season and the social expectations of giving and receiving mandatory gifts. On the other end of the extreme are those like me – grumpy folk desiring quiet, pensive, thanksgiving and reflection.
But it occurs to me that neither of us is getting it. In my thinking that the meaning of Christmas is missed by the distraction of the distracted, I missed the meaning of Christmas. For surely as the joy of Christmas can’t be known apart from the knowledge of the sorrow, the quiet and peace of Christmas can’t be known apart from the atmosphere of chaos and distraction.
The environment is not ready made. Like the shepherds, we have to learn to drop our stuff and come to the quiet. While all around, the bustle buzzes, we have to grow quiet in the midst of it to understand. Christmas does not exist outside of the din and distraction. It was into that that Jesus came. Here is our context. I have got to stop desiring to be free of it in order to find the meaning. The meaning is that it is in this context that it is given to me. In this context I accept it.
This realization plays in all of life. I am not given to live withdrawn physically for the sake of discipleship. The context of my discipleship is in the midst of it. I am required to learn to be still internally - as the internal in a cloud of chaos.

and i, in You

Bloged in advent, worship by rod Saturday December 24, 2005

Time may be a-wasting, but it’s not too late. I suspect that even Mary and Joseph were hurried and bustling up until time was full. They had come for the census you know. Bethlehem swollen to X times its size, folks crowding the streets, standing in lines to be accounted for, IDs being checked, information gathered, pushed around, bullied, vendors accosting them as they passed. Probably a trip much like tonight. The young couple longed for rest and peace and quiet.
And when the quiet came, it was broken by the cries of the pangs of labor, the first to share in Christ’s suffering in the pain required to bring new life. Joyous sounds of cries in the night as new life takes its first breath – a breath that will be breathed upon all of humanity. A breath offered to all who will breathe it in. A warm breath I can feel tonight. A whisper in the bustling din, “receive my Spirit.”

Jesus of all who will receive you, come be born in us tonight.

penultimate night of the old world

Bloged in advent, apprenticeship by rod Friday December 23, 2005

Last night after we dropped Mom off at work, the kids and I went to the Mall to finish up last minute shopping “dad style”. I did not procrastinate this year, but true to the laws of nature (ML-167), regardless of the amount of lead time taken by a man in buying gifts for his wife, if any item is ordered it shall be out-of-stock, even if listed as in-stock, and, also, regardless of lead time, shall remain back ordered until time is full and the occasion for which the gift was purchased has sufficiently passed. This being the case yet again this year, I rose to the task, and re-ordered one item from another retailer, and set about remedying the other with “dad-style” mall shopping in “mom-style” conditions.
As we passed by the mall on the Interstate and looked down on the traffic patterns and the parking lots, Will said, “dad, you really sure about this mall excursion?” He wanted to park far away and walk to the mall. I declined.
We arrived unscathed, having driven among the scores of women bullying their way into the parking lots while talking on their cell phones and applying make-up and driving with their knees, dodging the other dad-style shoppers squealing tires, talking on their cell phones receiving instructions from their wives, and making vulgar gestures to all the teenagers, male and female, who honestly did not realize that there was anyone else within 10 blocks of them.
“Are you ready for Christmas?” each clerk said as we stepped up to the register. “I am, but it really has nothing to do with what I’m doing here.”
Christmas will come and be accomplished regardless of who’s ready and watching. We’re all running around here signing our names at counters, registering our numbers, showing our IDs, being vouched for by banks, being approved and accounted for, like we’re a part of some kind of census or something. Rushing, no room in the parking lots, bustling, indulging - while quietly, behind the scenes, back in the service corridors, a young woman, tired from the bustling and bursting with abundant life, lies down to birth the new world.
If the musak were drowned out by a million angelic voices, and an invitation was issued over the mall speaker system, “to you is born in the service corridors… you will find the babe wrapped in discarded tissue paper and lying in a shipping crate…”, I really don’t know if we would hear. If we did, would we leave our shopping bags unattended in the primary hallways, and make haste to the cluttered mall alleys? Or would we clutch our plunder and say, “I’m sorry, it’s Christmas, I haven’t time to look at a baby born in the service corridor.” Time’s a-wasting.”

to be continued…

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