Saturday, November 16, 2019

Happy Birthday, Mom

You're 64 today. I'll bet you thought those kind of ages were never reached, when you were a kid! Well, anyway.

I am your proud and thankful oldest son. To be honest, some things we'd have been better not living through, or so it seems. Then again, who are we, to argue with God? I'm thankful for little things from you. I love books and words because of you. I pay attention--to a healthy extent--to what's going on in the world because of you.

I'm sensitive and funny because of you. I could be wrong, of course, but I think that was you. You sacrificed all this time and energy so that we could have every advantage. You work as hard as anyone I have ever seen. And the thing I love most that you taught us is that enjoying life is about recognizing the moment, and being thankful.

Honestly, this will sound a little weird, but I love that we are friends. I'll always be your son, but you also trust me with things that are important to you. That makes a son who has become a man feel strong and valued.

I don't know what we're going to do when Daniel Craig retires from acting. And remember: George Clooney can be usually counted on at the movies, but not when there are goats involved! There's a solid chance I'll be seeing that Top Gun sequel at least twice. Alyse beat you to it, but we'll definitely go.

Also...VEGAS, BABY!!! So fun seeing Garth Brooks there, too. Even if we stayed in the Trump Hotel. (sorry not sorry)

Anyway, try not to work too hard, Mom. You've earned a break all these years. And say hi to the puppies for me! I love you!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

I Love This Bloody Song ("Wait For Me," Again)

Apparently, my destiny in free moments is to scour among the stones with our friends at YouTube, listening to "Wait For Me" by Daryl Hall & John Oates in as many different versions as possible. Old Daryl, Young Daryl, Daryl With The Band, Just Daryl, '70s Daryl, Today Daryl, etc. It's probably my Official Favorite Song now.

I sing it all the time. I guess there are worse obsessions. Dare I say, it means something to me now. I'm going to record this song, mark my words. Even if it's just friends goofing off, it's going to happen at some point. Provided, of course, the Lord doesn't call me home a bit early.

"I'm not even a good singer!" I thought. And then I realize--having been a performer of a different kind many times--that talent is only part of the equation. Does the audience believe me? That's what matters the most.

Daryl and John are the kind of guys that don't just write a song for the sport of it. There's something of them in every single one.

Pete's sake, I know I can sing it at least as well as Todd Rundgren did, and I love that one! (No offense, Mr. Rundgren.)

Monday, November 11, 2019

He Took Away My Security In A Moment

I didn't expect to be utterly taken apart. Certainly not by one sentence. And maybe I expected fireworks from arguably America's best living theologian, who also has a penchant for public vulgarity. Yet I didn't think the fireworks would go off inside me. Let me pause the story to tell you another one.

One day, I went to a trivia night to benefit L'Arche, a Catholic community made up of "normals" and those with intellectual disabilities. Most often, it's Down Syndrome. Mr. Vanier (founder of L'Arche)--in plain, undramatic terms--wanted us all to see Jesus in each other, even if some of us are pushed to the margins. And so it goes.

Anyway, I had a few odd interactions on the way into the trivia, and my friend says, "Sorry some folks treat you like you live at L'Arche." Now, without doubt, I am a proud man. I'm proud of my mind, my words, my degrees. But in a sudden attack of good sense, I said, "Who am I to think I'm better than someone who does?"

I had this in my mind when America's best living theologian began to talk about his 25 years living and working with L'Arche. I was not inclined to radically separate myself from the people he'd met. We have enough ground for solidarity that I figured any talk about disability, and living with one as a person would be highly pertinent. How right I was, though I couldn't have known how much beforehand.

The man said, "People with disabilities are unable to camouflage their need for love." Aptly, I nearly lost a grip on my emotions in that moment. I was seen, as I'd never been before. And I gave to myself a gift of self-acceptance--dare I say, self-love--by the grace of those words.

Draw the conclusion with me: If this cross of physical infirmity takes away my hiding place, if I cannot pretend to be tough, strong, and independent, then where else do I foolishly try? And if this is truly so, I'm not sensitive, or womanly, or weak--as if any of those are bad--I am gifted with an opportunity for the humility and vulnerability that admits me and all of us into the Kingdom.

That was in itself worth a word of thanks to the speaker, and so I gave it to him later. Infirmity of whatever kind is not a gift, as such. But the opportunity to draw close to others via my own need, and in that, to extend mercy for living, absolutely is such a gift. Who am I to refuse to give it?

If I Governed A State

I would be an executive, which means I would attempt to let the legislature be the legislature. You're not allowed to do this today. You're supposed to have legislative priorities and victories. When did this happen?

I generally would want to administrate well, to keep my head down, and avoid embarrassing the people of my state.

On the other hand, if you give me the power of commutation and clemency, I'll use it, and boldly. I take very seriously the idea that the last person who can show mercy in light of justice would be me. If I don't have a Board of Clemency and Pardons on board with my vision, I'll replace every single person until I do.

I generally have a socially conservative vision, which doesn't mean I can't tolerate anything else, but it means that we don't have to make anything and everything normative. We don't change everything we've known, just to make some small group of people happy. Depending upon what it is, it might be bad indeed, to chase some people's version of "happiness."

If I firmly believe in something, and it is of sufficient importance, you can expect me to fight for it. My morality is absolute and unchanging. Don't expect "evolution" on something I tell you is most crucial. There is no "center" in the bright lines of ethics. People often say they want a politician who fights; trouble is, we support those who fight for the wrong things, or those who in themselves have no right to be leaders or exemplars for others.

I want to be so good that the people of my state don't think about me, until it's time to vote again. I'll show up and say positive things about the people of my state, smile, and get out of the way.