Wednesday, April 30, 2008

40 Word Photo Challenge-Okay, I'll Play

Great Giver of Souls,
How boring to live perfectly balanced,
Ever poised atop this ball,
No chance of slipping,
No opportunity to run through these lush gardens.
Oh, that I were of flesh and blood,
Moving, living, breathing; taking chances.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

16 Years and 82 Days

I noticed that I play with it a lot. I find myself using my thumb to twist the empty space where it formerly dwelt. Sixteen years and 82 days
that I’ve continuously worn this ring. Thursday, at the signing of the divorce documents, it will have been roughly 2 full days that I’ve gone without it on my finger. In an earlier post, I framed my thinking; perhaps I would wear the ring until the ink on the document was dry. But for all that, there seems little point in wearing it one or two more days for ritual’s sake. I had grandiose visions of pulling it off with a flourish at the signing of the document. Being as it will only be myself and my attorney, this seems rather ridiculous. The bottom line, I suppose, is that there is no expectation for reparation of the marriage. Kristina has signed her first name, and, oddly, my surname, to the document of dissolution. What remains is my signature, and the final court filing on May 12.
A dear friend advised that I keep a journal close by to chart the spectrum of emotion I go through as I walk take these final steps in the process. I expected more elation, currently though, melancholy. I expect that will turn to elation shortly, as word gets out and the women line up at my door. But I digress.
There remain significant questions. On the one hand, God has been ever present throughout and has wrought great things in the midst of this. In contrast, I still question God’s handling of the entire situation. I take solace with the Psalmist;

“But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant, As I saw the prosperity of the wicked…Pride is their necklace, The garment of violence covers them.
My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…..But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.”

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Alzheimers or Cursing the Darkness

As the routine goes, when I’m heading out to The Valley on business, I stop in and visit one of the parents. By whatever random criteria I use, I’d determined it was time to visit Dad and Ethel. This particular visit came one day after a pipe had blown in their kitchen, destroying the flooring throughout the entire house.

Ethel and dad are now eighty years old. And Ethel had done most of the clean-up on the house; primarily because my dad has bad knees and bad balance, and when he does walk, he uses a walker.

Even though I was stopping by late in the day, they (meaning Ethel) had determined that we would go out “to get a bite to eat.” Somewhere along the way, Ethel had told me that my dad was being belligerent. As of late he went on rants refusing to take his pills. Now, the insurance people had told them that they’d have to move out for a couple of days so that work could be done on the house. My dad was refusing to allow them to move him out of his bedroom. In his mind, it had reached equality with the battle for the Alamo.

So, out to Chili’s we go. As the service was terrible, it gave us plenty of time to sit and talk. I was having the usual conversation with my dad, which went something like this, “Dad, you really need to cooperate with Ethel. She’s having a hard enough time dealing with all of this without you cussing, throwing things and threatening her. She didn’t want this to happen. It isn’t her fault.” At this point, my dad’s eyes narrowed, an evil grin appeared on his face, and he said, “Perhaps you ought to hide the knives.”

When Kristina and I were going through pre-marriage counseling, we had to fill out a family history questionnaire. One of the questions was something along the lines of; ‘Did you ever see your parents exercise violence towards each other? If so, describe.’ Kristina put something like, “My dad called my mom a pooh-pooh head.” I put down, “My father held a knife up to my mother’s throat.” My dad has always had a violent streak. The reasons for it are understandable. Choosing to exercise it though; inexcusable.

I said good-bye to Dad and Ethel at their door, and reiterated the fact that I could not stop by again the following day. Hailey had a performance that night, and there was nothing that was going to keep me from being there.

After work the following day, I received an urgent message on my voice mail. “You have to stop by the house. Dad is throwing things, and won’t let the workmen into the house (Remember the Alamo!).” I fly down the freeway and to the house. Stopping in, I find the workmen are already inside the house. Seemingly, dad has simmered down. I go inside and talk to my dad. Again. Same discussion. Same response. (Side note: If your dad is feeling his age, and simultaneously living in pride and arrogance, don’t even jokingly tell him to straighten up or you’ll beat him up.) Dad said he understands and will behave.

Some have asked me if this was the result of the Alzheimers. Although there may be some overlay, at the end of the day; if you are a violent, angry, sarcastic man, you will grow into the same as an old man. My dad never took steps to deal with his inner demons. Now, there remains little or no opportunity to do so. I recall this story about a friends’ mom in her old age. They had taken her to visit one of her friends, and when she got back home, she said to them, “One of these days, I must go visit dear _____.” When they told her that she had just seen that old friend, she responded by saying, “Did I have a good time?”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How Dull It Is To Rust Unburnished

In one of my latest posts, my friend Robert wrote in the comments section, “And if I hear your right, the cycling is great for meditation” I’d like to clarify. What I meant was, I want to bleed. I want to be poured out in battle, to be all consumed by life. I remember even as a teen having the desire to push life, to live radically so that I could feel it. For instance, one of my favorite backpacking memories is a long trek over rocky cliffs in a cold and biting rain. Why? Because it pitted me against the wilderness, pushed me hard; made me feel, made me taste, made me fight.

As a teenager, I had a poster up in my room which quoted Ulysses, “…And drink delight of battle with my peers, far on the ringing plains of windy Troy,” “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breathe were life…”

On occasion, the push for fight, the arousal for adventure is combined with a hunger, anger and drivenness that most have never seen in me. Perhaps its because I’m “Wild at Heart.” Perhaps there are deep longings which I want satisfied, but of which I can only glimpse here.

Whatever the cause, I remain drawn to such movies as The Princess Bride (“My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”), Tombstone (I’m coming, and Hell is coming with me”), Gladiator (“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”). You get the picture.

This deep longing and intensity manifests itself throughout my life. The way I drive (when alone), the way I run the coffee shop, the way I relate to people, the wine I like (red-Syrah), the beer I drink (can’t stand all those wimpy ones….Bud, Michelob, Miller). Quoting Ulysses again, “I will drink life to the lees."

So, no, bicycling is not a place for meditation. Bicycling is a place to push hard…..pit myself against the elements…and bleed a little.
“I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart….”

Friday, April 04, 2008

Some Photography Etiquette

You learn as you go, I guess. As long as you still have your camera, your teeth and your money at the end of the lesson, then it was well worth it.

My friend Robert recently learned that you are not supposed to shoot pictures on a pier (as in Santa Monica), on a tripod without a permit.

I just found out that Carnival workers don't like you taking pictures of the teddy bears on their booths without permission. I was informed that it is proper etiquette to ask. At which point, the Carny, whose picture may be hanging in post offices throughout these United States, and whose foot is furiosly working to get the player at seat #3 the big teddy bear, can either approve or decline your request.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Waiting On The Prophet

The story goes like this: The prophet Samuel tells the newly anointed king Saul, “Go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.” So, Saul waits seven days; and still no Samuel. The people around Saul are getting antsy. Trouble’s brewing in the camp; and they’re getting a little bored with the Saul show.

So Saul starts the barbeque early. Could have waited a little longer; but noooooo, he was losing his fan club. The text says, “As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came…”

I was supposed to be signing the divorce documents today. My attorney can’t show up in court Monday, so the spouse and her attorney decided there’s no hurry to finish the paperwork on their end. Great. Now I find myself disappointed. Dissapointed, angry and frustrated. I really want closure on this thing.

So what does that have to do with King Saul? Apparently, the king forgot who is running the show. He was looking to his timeline, not that of God. Not being faithful in that one little thing cost him the kingdom. So it is I’m learning to trust God’s timing in this thing; though so far I’m not doing a great job of it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

There's A Race of Men That Don't Fit In

“He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.”-Jim Elliot

“The wind is wild. I’ve never felt such blowing. Just returned from the flying bridge where I was able to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time-literally lean on the wind.”

“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”-The Prophet Isaiah


Face set like flint, face to the wind. Not the way I feel lately. I’ve been praying a lot for vision and direction. I feel like I’m floundering---when what I want is something that grips my vision; grasps hold of me and pulls me forward.

Hundreds of different thoughts race through my mind. I lack discipline. I need to be soaking up scripture. Piper says he’s read through the letters of Paul hundreds of times. I’m not even close to that. Being saturated in scripture would help. Hell, spending a consistent 5 minutes a day in scripture would help.

Feeling as though there is a huge chasm fixed between what I want to be and who I am. A chasm larger than the one between Lazarus and the beggar. Huge.
I think that is where the cycling fits in. And Robert Service.
“If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: ‘Could I find my proper groove, What a deep mark I would make!’
So they chop and change, and each fresh move, is only a fresh mistake.”

Today I’m thinking I need to make more time for thinking, praying, soaking and saturating, from that will flow vision and direction.

“ Give me the scorn of the stars and a peak defiant;
Wail of the pines and a wind with the shout of a giant;
Night and a trail unknown and a heart reliant.

Give me to live and love in the old, bold fashion;
A soldier’s billet at night and a soldier’s ration;
A heart that leaps to the fight with a soldier’s passion.”

Wordless Wednesday: Rust Never Sleeps