Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ankle Biters

It’s a blistering ninety degrees today. We are not ready for it. I was scraping ice off my windshield seven days ago. My swamp-cooler is still wrapped. Though some revel in the heat---most seem on edge.

My fathers’ life is in probate. I distrust his wife, distrust the lawyers more. I spent the morning creating PDFs of wills and trusts, attorney letters and property profiles. Picked up the daughter from school. Then drove to the pharmacy for meds and to Stater Bros. for frozen pizza and ice-cream.

The daughter, or “Dot” was on edge. The geometry teacher (she has a great brain, little compassion and should be doing research in a cold cubicle far from mankind) gave the class 100 problems for a take home test. My little over-achiever was freaking out. “If I fail this I may have to take the class over. What if I fail state testing? I’ll have to take it over. I’ll never get into college….”

Trying to calm my daughter down I told her life is full of surprises. Grades aren’t the end all, be all. She got personal. “You didn’t get good grades and you got a crummy job.” Like out of a sci-fi movie, I knew if I put on the magic sunglasses I’d see her mother peering out from my daughters face. I replied, “My crummy job has allowed me to attend every one of your school and life events. We make choices.” And still the temperature hovered around ninety degrees.

As the daughter succumbed to stress, tiredness started to overcome her. Not a pretty combination. While cutting pizza and calming daughter, her mom calls to get the data for taxes on a property we still share. Finish that and another email comes---the lawyer wants more information.

Brought “Dot” back to her mothers’ house. I told her mom that Hailey was tired and had been working on math since she’d got home. I strongly urged the ex not to push Hailey as she was tired, brain-dead, and had been working on math the entire day. And her mom said, “It’s good practice for college.”

We all have days like that. Fortunately His mercies are new every morning. For tonight though I can still open the window and let the (finally) cool desert breeze blow in as I crawl beneath the sheets.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Breathing and Boxes

"There is nothing left to cling to that can bring me sweet release I have no fear of drowning It's the breathing that's taking all this work" ---Jars of Clay

"And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."

Q: What’s green and skates?
A: Peggy Phlegm.

That’s the joke that I had rattling in my brain as I sat in urgent care. I battled the “cold’ I get every year. It starts in my throat and moves into my chest making breathing difficult. Difficult is an understatement. As a child I’d visited the emergency room six times for breathing problems. Six times I remember that my asthma was out of control---and so was I.

I like my trials in a little box, my ducks in perfect rows. God doesn’t will that our trials be neat and tidy. Rather they come at you like a boxer with well timed punches or the whirlwind whirring out of the wilderness (Job chapter 1). The writers of the epistles say they are multi-faceted. The next blow is coming but we don’t know from where.

I like breathing. I like breathing automatically. One shouldn’t have to think about breathing. I was thinking about breathing a lot. Now here’s a funny thing. Thinking about breathing is scary. When you are scared you tense up. Tensing up restricts your airway. One grows scared. There is no controlling this. Nothing works. Hence the visit to urgent care.

My mind kept thinking about the infirmity of Paul. He preaches to the Galatians with a bodily ailment so bad that he expected to be loathed and despised. The condition of his eyes was such that, “if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.” Bodily brokenness opens the door to spiritual healing---for ourselves and for others.

Victor Frankl argued that “Life is a pursuit of meaning itself, and that search for meaning provides the basis for a person's motivation. Pain then, if one could have faith in something greater than himself, might be a path to experiencing a meaning beyond the false gratification of personal comfort.”

The cold has passed and I breathe easily now. On the next wind or round the next bend will come another trial that takes breath away. The challenge is to be at peace in my weakness. My little box, my little trial, is pushing me beyond personal comfort and into the life of others and the fullness of God.

Picture from the bus at Grilled Cheese Grill

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Cibachrome Sand Storm

There was no mistaking the plumes’ trajectory. Drive through it I must to make it home. I drove right into it. Whiteout conditions---they should have closed the road. I turn on the headlights to make myself visible. Hopeless, really, as I can not see road nor auto ahead. Wind whips the sand across the highway.

The patrol car races by, colored lights bright and crystal clear; blue, red, deep colors stand out against the white cloud surrounding it. Vehicles crawl near the edge of the road afraid to go to fast, courage lacking, angst ridden they avoid the center of the lane. There it is! End of the rainbow for the cop car, no pot of gold only shattered chrome. A handful of cars spread like jacks in the other lane.

They line the side of the road like fans at a sporting event---but these are the players. One hunched over, one walking and covering mouth and face with cloth, one running- head and neck protected with shirt worn Lawrence of Arabia style. In my minds eye I see a Mideast village, the townsfolk covered, pelted by stone. Now I see them out my car window: crimson red, solid green, white tee-shirts; Cibachrome colors against a wind that whitewashes all else.

Still the wind pelts our players. They stagger in sand, averting the dust as they move toward the sound of the sirens. With wind gusts of up to seventy-two miles per hour clean up will not be easy.

The vehicles continue their crawl past the wreckage. Looking out my side-window I nearly plow into the car ahead of me. Dust and debris make normal speed unwise.
We clear the site and head on home.

Cibachrome prints are marked by stunning sharpness, intense color and clean whites. Plush reds and solid blacks leave no room for grey area and shadow. Dust may blow into our lives violently or we may invite it in. Bold colors and honorable hues are a direct result of choices we make minute by minute…solid cibachrome color or dust in the wind.