Head First: June 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

These are the days...

As a parent, I've never wanted my kids to think they deserve a parade for, say, pooping in the toilet, where they're supposed to. I love whipping out that passage from Luke 17:

"Does the servant get special thanks for doing what's expected of him? It's the same with you. When you've done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, 'The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.'"
In fact, the idea of a kindergarten graduation sends me into a fire-spitting fit. So, naturally, when number one daughter was finishing up 8th grade, I resisted making a bigger deal out of it than I thought was necessary (Of course, that was the cue for everyone else in my family to pull out all the stops.).

Nevertheless, as I thought about my little girl (now taller than her mother), leaving friends she's been with since Pre-K, I found myself drawn into the emotion of the event. All I talk about is the importance of relationship, and here she is, faced with being pulled from the people she thinks of as brothers and sisters to go to a huge high school where she knows almost no one. Although I know it's part of life and of growing up, my heart aches for her a little. For about a week after she finished, she cried herself to sleep almost every night. I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for MySpace and Verizon's unlimited text plans.

During the graduation ceremony, the students had prepared some remarks about their time together. Catherine and her friend, Alyssa stood and talked about how much they fight with one another (I can attest to this). Yet, no matter how bitter the battle, the love they have for one another always compels them to find a way back to peace (usually through Rebecca, the peacemaker of the group). It was a lesson for most of the adults in the room. How do we go about losing that kind of deep commitment to each other? Did we ever have it? I don't remember, but I want it back. Thanks, Ambassador Christian Academy 8th graders, for the reminder of how Jesus intends us to be. Good stuff.

So anyway, while I do not want to make a bigger deal out of this than it is, I want to say congratulations to my little girl, the now-9th grader. I love you, sweetheart.

Please pay your cell phone bill.

This is the video I put together for the graduation ceremony. It might come across as a little cheesy if you don't know the kids, but I tried to capture the bond that they share. Its really remarkable to observe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Letter to a friend...

Y'know, when I think about the last couple years, I think the most painful part about the whole experience is that of being misunderstood by people who I thought would "get it." Yeah, the slander, the misrepresentations of my remarks, they angered me plenty. But they were just diversions perpetrated by guys who needed to cover their self-serving asses and cling to control, their idea of strength. I guess they didn't have much choice, other than own up to character flaws they could not even perceive in themselves. What's the old saying? Something about self-righteousness being like body odor... everyone knows who has it except the one who has it. I'd laugh, but then I'd wonder how badly I smell. Heh.

Thing is, I thought you would understand. I really thought you would see how those sinister circumstances propelled me to a place where the questions I've always asked could be explored. It wasn't comfortable--still isn't--but there's little denying that a great deal of good has come from it. The farther I get from it, the more I see it. My friendships with the kids are more meaningful, our bond more substantive because of the voluntary nature of our fellowship. It's not a job anymore. I'm favored to have them around.

But when I hear the people for whom I care deeply reduce the road I travel to the result of a petty argument, it pains me thoroughly. The fight was probably inevitable. If not about this, then something else. Two people cannot believe such vastly different things so dogmatically without coming to blows, eventually. I've had to repent of my dogmatism. It was hurtful, and I admitted as much, but compromise wasn't in the cards. But to hear it all reduced to, "Well, you're both just stubborn," really cuts to the quick. I like to think I have more integrity than that. I thought you thought so, too. But you talk to me (and about me) as if this is a phase I'm going through. Well, I can't say that it's not. But you seem so sure that it is.

And, now that the cast of this drama is poised to change, you seem to think that we can put everything back to normal, as if my difficulty will be resolved by swapping out one insecure autocrat for another. I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but it's not just the man that's broken. The system that a man devised is broken, too. I just don't think it's enough, and that's why I have little confidence that putting a fresh coat of paint on Egypt will make it profitable to return there. It's still bondage, just under new management.

I'm not angry anymore. A number of people have observed that I'm far less stressed and a great deal more peaceful out here in the sunshine and fresh air. You've said it, too. I do miss seeing people regularly, and church offered the venue for that contact, even if it was sometimes fleeting. But sometimes an encouraging word only takes a second to offer, and I do miss the easy opportunity to offer it. Now, it just takes a little more effort. Fancy that.

I'm not sure what I hoped to accomplish by saying these things to you. I still love you, my friend. That won't change. But maybe that's why it hurts when you talk about the "new thing" that I'm into, as if it's some sort of fad. Would it kill you to consider that there might be some merit to the idea that we don't have to fit all of life into a box, or that the certainty we cling to might just be holding closed the door to deeper truths? Sure, it can be scary. That's why God ordained that we do it together. That's why the enemy (whoever that is) prefers that we go it alone. Here, take my hand. Come and see.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's not all turnpike and tenements.

I occasionally speak of the "still gardeny part of the Garden State." Well here's a taste (my favorite taste, too). Climbing a tree in the back part of the orchard is like being somewhere else entirely. Good therapy. I'm not saying this is what keeps me here, but this is one of the things that make it tolerable (well that and the fact that the woman I sleep with lives here).

The ones they grow over by the landfill have arms. Pretty trippy, if you're not used to it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wake up, genius.

Sometimes, you have to just stop daydreaming about your next blog topic and remember that's a chain saw in your hand.