16 June, 2015

"Trust me. It builds character."

A man and his noble hound
My father, with the silver hair and the voice that makes willing captives of any audience.  The mocha-rich, “they don’t make them like they used to” kind of voice that chooses words for their sonorous quality just as much as for their functionality.  An instinct for eloquence that enriches the conveyance of information.  

One of his knees is decorated with a long stuttering scar, a 4-inch white flag of surrender to the injury that ended his college football career and with it his days as a Virginia prep demi-god. Sometimes in my parents’ attic I look backwards on grainy 35mm Chuck with the blinding smile and a jersey for every sport.  Chuck before the knee held together by titanium and a spirit tamed by Aslan.  Chuck whose injuries built a training ground for life with a broken earthsuit.

God does not promise us easy but He promises reward, right standing, a good end.  This was the approach taken by my earthly father, too.  Through chore charts and sibling buddy systems and strict TV times he taught us that there are many things in life that are not easy but are worth doing because of their eventual sure reward.  You will pick all the ripe tomatoes before you can go play, and you will apologize and ask your brother’s forgiveness for hurting him, and you will only watch this much television per day.  And instead of scarcity you will find in these things a good life, a life of joy and service and hard work and pleasures more deeply enjoyed because you worked and waited for them.  

My father, the repudiator of the doctrine of instant gratification.  He taught his children to work and wait in faith, and he leads by example as he now endures an assignment whose end date is unknown.  I look at his shoes that will never again be creased from walking and I see a man learning to wait for the restoration of the body that is guaranteed by the deliverance of the soul. 

I am thankful for a father who teaches me to value the rewards of waiting -- the qualities of character formed by doing the best that you can and leaning on others when you can’t; the wisdom of perspective that says, “My life is one plot line of a bigger story written by an author I have learned to trust”; and the true rejoicing in victory that looks more like humility than ego.  Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.

14 April, 2015

State of Normalcy: Freedom from Fear

The night I dreamed that I had an epic street fight with Halle Berry in the parking lot of a 7-11, after which she stole my car just as a chemical-biological terrorist attack rolled in to wipe out me and every other person in sight, I realized that I might have just the slightest fear issues.  (I currently have no issues with Halle Berry.  She would never want my dented Volkswagen, anyway.)

The really bizarre thing, though, is that chemical-biological terrorism is a very real possibility in this place I've come to call home.  So are bomb threats, shootings, political scandal, and blue collar crime.  They're so possible that we've adopted some level of fear as normal, like a background song called "National Paranoia" that has played for so long that you've stopped noticing it.

07 April, 2015

State of Normalcy: Freedom of Acronymed Speech

Something struck me recently as I caught up with an old college friend whom I hadn't seen in three years. It was almost an out-of-body experience; I heard myself describing my job, my commute, and the general experience of life and work in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area with such matter-of-factness. I realized how many things I have come to accept as normal after living and working here for nearly seven years, but that mean nothing to visitors or newcomers. How many words and acronyms have become part of my vocabulary, how many expectations I have adopted about time and systems and resources, how many particular articles of clothing or accessories I'm "supposed" to have in my wardrobe...Some aspects of this adopted normalcy are admirable qualities of DC and its inhabitants/commuters. Some of them are truly ridiculous and could withstand some gentle mocking. So this is where we're headed next on the blog: an exploration of this somewhat precious, somewhat cringe-inducing State of Normalcy.

05 April, 2015

Beggars at the Feast

We come forward to receive something only You could give:
Wine that never sours, a crust that is a feast.
In the pouring out, the tearing up, the falling to our knees
we know that surely as we taste and see,
we have been set free.

We come forward to receive what we do not understand:
a homeless king of heaven serves beggars at the feast.
A final breath ignites a life that never will expire,
a broken body paves our path, and
Your bondage sets us free.