Sunday, January 30, 2005

Graceful Tripping

Some stories are more difficult to tell.

Recently, it involved childhood friends, a wedding, and a few story threads that have dangled, sparking like downed powerlines on a country road.

I think it revolved around this idea of being right. That has to be at the root. Giving everyone a reason to keep us in the lifeboat, as a friend said. Trying to legitimize our place. The buying into and the hastily selling of the law. There was a time when we bought it, and did our best to compartmentalize our lives into a)what we could pull off successfully, and b)what we could let no one know about. Otherwise named, failures. Sometimes to one's own knowledge, sometimes in front of many viewers.

Well, weddings are public things, and lots of people were viewing a lot this weekend.

This part is old stock, but continues true - wanting to pull one's own weight, and bury the old man - always to a "run-out-of-gas" tragic end. Well, this involved somebody's old man, literally. The difficult part about this father job is, they are more than a father. It's some quiet context to understand God the father. Or authority in our lives. Well, it's that "rules without relationship brings rebellion" idea which follows in this case.

I'm being veiled about this story in some silly ways. I wonder if it's even worth finishing this.

I never want to see my disappointment about my life or my friends or my family to allow me to get written out of their story. Or to write them out of my story. Even for a small amount of time. I saw the effects of that on certain people this weekend, and it reminded me in my own relationships, how I've experienced parts of that kind of sadness/anger.

I wished the best for the bride and groom, and hope that they'll collapse graciously towards each other in the different seasons. Sometimes each other is all they will have. As a new husband, new father, and new example of love, I hope that he'd pursue remaining in their child's story, even as his son one day will most assuredly fall on them. I hope he provides for his new son a safe place to fail well, a place he didn't have growing up.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Simple associations of the English.

There was a lot of energy at the dinner table last night. Antsy bottoms half-seated on chairs. Lots of new uses for silverware. Lots of negotiations about bath-time, bed-time, and in between.

The air was thick with a curry smell, as we enjoyed some Indian food. It was one of those evenings where I wanted to retreat, though. Lots of things spinning in the head. My son applied some reductive thinking that quite cheered my heart in the midst.

He said,”Our friend Jude is from England.” Well, yes.

There’s a pause.

He continues loudly in that I’ll burst if I don’t say this voice,”The PILGRIMS are from England.” Yes, they did come from England. More pause. Thought and formula are working overtime. I can almost hear the clicking and whirring in his head. More pause.

“Is Jude a pilgrim?”

Monday, January 17, 2005

The labor of self-criticism and self-correction.

Quite a fight.

Everyone at some point wants a life changed or improved. Probably a bad part. Sometimes, it’s making a good part better. It’s that thing about me that I want to change most, but fear acknowledging. The elephant in my room; more likely, my closet.

There’s something to that. Be it good, bad, or indifferent. My life continues. However, in taking on a self-criticism, I’m experiencing a different kind of living these days. What used to be a patterned response is no longer, in this season. What takes it’s place these days, for me, is an overwhelming sense of just how many hours are in a day, and how many opportunities I have to respond to and nurture my soul.

When God is seen gracious and this self-criticism is held to the truth, good things happen. It doesn’t lead to anger, self-pity and entitlement.

Don’t let that sound mightier than it is – this is only done in the context of community and love of others. I can’t do it.

When I’m not bound by my fear, my shame, my addictive nature, a veil of self-loathing, I experience freedom to be the friend I’ve always wanted to be. I’m an adult. I look longer. I have different vision. I’m thinking less about how others perceive me, and more about loving those around me well.

And the experience of change brings with it a desire to change further. Seems a bit cyclical. Thanks to God for the gift of desire, and the help to spend it well.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sushi story...

I have a few friends I could call at any moment. One lives in Ohio, but we met here in Nashville, about 10 years ago. He comes back to Nashville every Christmas, or sometime thereafter, and we have developed a tradition. I'm beginning to believe that relationships and traditions are part of the sweetness we enjoy on earth. It keeps us looking forward to the next time, and the moments together are full of great stories and that's what I love about life these days.

Well, we ate at "Shogun" a japanese steakhouse complete with the shrimp throwing and the knife juggling. This was an improvised plan, as our usual sushi place wasn't open on Sunday. After a pretty decent sushi experience there, we were off to my house for a brief stop, and then to a frat bar for a pint, and the more intense story telling. That concluded, and we headed back to "Shogun" to pick up my buddy's car. He had left it there in the parking lot, and rode with me, as to maximize our time together.

We can talk, the two of us. Lots of catching up, lots having happened in 2004. We stayed there in the lot and chatted for another 30 minutes. It's now 10:30pm, and I see two fellows leave the restaurant. There aren't many other cars, so I assume this is the owner/chef/employee leaving. In fact it is, and he's drunk off his ass. His friend gets in the car. He stumbles over to us. Asking us what the F@#% we're doing in the parking lot. Of course, I happily tell him we ate there this evening, and are leaving. He proceeds to tell me he's "kidding," like that punk-ass bully in high school that you knew wasn't kidding. He starts in again, and I remind him I gave my $50 tonight, and don't want to be bothered.

In a drunken stupor, he turns around and tells me all those restaurants in Cool Springs are his, he makes 2 million dollars a year, and doesn't need my F%$*ing $50. Fine, I smile. I need to make sure all my good friends know what good people own the "Shogun" restaurant in Cool Springs. In a final moment of triumph, he kicked my friend's car.

So, we have a new sushi tradition. Spread the good word.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

So this IS the new year....really.

This new year has been much like the road I live on. Lots of crotch rocket motorcycles screeching by, old cars with lots of bass buzzing, and pickup trucks with no mufflers. Lots of rattling the windows.

I have time off from work, but feel a bit like it's blowing by me. I've found a few moments to go running, get sick, read, and do some writing as well. Quite a noisy life, currently.

School has started again, and the energy here at the house has slowly picked up to a fury.

I have two new books I'm digging into - the english standard version of the Bible, and the Citizenship Papers, by Wendell Berry. Here's a few quotes:

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth."

"It is understandable that we should have reacted to the attacks of September 11, 2001, by curtailment of civil rights, by defiance of laws, and by resort to overwhelming force, for those actions are the ready products of fear and hasty thought. But they cannot protect us against the destruction of our own land by ourselves. They cannot protect us against the selfishness, wastefulness, and greed that we have legitimized here as economic virtues, and have taught to the world."

Much for me to consider. Immediately, I've been confronted with the fact that I have lots of spiritual catchphrases, and ways of sounding tapped in, but I do not read the Bible, nor pray as I should be drawn to...the desire giving by God to want relationship vs. isolation.

That, and I live most of my life out of fear. Not wanting the windows rattled. Oh for courage to change.