Sunday, December 25, 2011

Love you, Dad

So this is Christmas
And what have you done

I can’t say I was a huge Beatles fan…it was before my time and there was too much really good 70s music to keep me entertained. But this year. This year, this song played in my head.

We lost him on December 16. He was the best man I knew, the best of the full grown men I know. My boys, of course, are pretty darn good…but Dad, well Dad was the best of men.

Another year over
A new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun

He loved Christmas. The lights, the tree, the gifts, the waiting, the expectation. He loved every minute of it. Granted, he liked Halloween, too. I remember when he rigged up a fabulous sheet-ghost to a foot pedal and awfully eerie music…surprised any of the trick-or-treaters actually made it to the candy dish! But Christmas…he loved giving as much as he loved surprising.

The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
and a happy New Year
let’s hope it’s a good one
without any fear

That last line is the hard part…and the comforting part. It’s hard, because the future doesn’t quite look right without Dad. He was always there, always available to help, to answer questions, to hug and say, I love you. A future without him elicits at least a sense of fear…

And yet, I have comfort in knowing Dad is looking out for me and for us. Maybe that isn’t theologically correct or spiritually adequate but it works for me. I’m good with knowing my Dad is looking over my shoulder (most of the time) and helping me along the path. I’m good with knowing Dad will watch over my kids when I can’t and look after my Mom when I can’t be there and walk with my sister when she needs companionship.

I hope it’s a good one.

I think it will be. I learned from him how to be strong and confident and faithful. I learned how to draw from the unknown well of courage and face what comes next. I learned to trust that God will always, always be there.

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun

Love may be the point in most of our understandings of God and what it means to live as Christ…but fun has got to be up there, too. Dad knew all about having fun. If I get any legacy from him at all, let it be a legacy of fun. A legacy of confidence in who he was and who he belonged to that allowed him the joy to simply have fun.

Rest in peace, dear Daddy. I love you and I hope you have fun.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday Five: My Name Spells Gratitude

A wise person once told me to make an ABC list of things I am grateful for any time I feel sad or depressed. It is a good practice when one is feeling happier than that, too. So for this Friday Five, I suggest that you use your name or nickname of about five letters and express your gratitude about something that starts with each letter. Some people have longer names, so you decide how you will go about this! (Last names, middle names, and nicknames count!)

Oy vey! If you knew my name you might suggest something else! LOL! Oh well, here goes:

Y: youthfulness. The calendar may disagree but I am thankful for the playfulness and fun of youth that I have carried into these middle years.

V: vibrancy. It goes with the youthful can be fun and God wants us to live it to the fullest! I thoroughly enjoy the richness of life and am grateful for each and every day.

O: ornery. I can be stubborn. And sometimes, that stubborn, "orneriness" is a gift! I can dig in when I believe stongly in something and credit God with the strength to stand firm.

N: not normal. A wise person once said that "normal" was a setting on the dryer. I don't fit my image of a middle-aged clergy person ergo, I am not normal...and I'm ok with that!

N: I've got two "N's" so I'll simply refer you to the one above...

E: enthusiastic? extraordinary? eccentric? elated? Yes, elated. I am elated with the way my life has shaped up, especially after some really tough years. God is good, all the time!

I've been gone from the RevGals group for some time and am glad to be returning! Another example of God working things out in my life...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First, you need that all-important number...

I’m not always really good at being told what to do but I do have a healthy respect for authority. So, when the judge presiding over my divorce (and name change) told me to go to the Social Security Administration first in the process of changing my name everywhere, I listened. Today was the day I went to their offices in Fort Worth…

If you’ve been, you know what it’s like. If not…well, it’s an experience. First of all, there is no receptionist to guide you. Instead, you “check in” at a kiosk (very high-tech touchscreen terminal with a large poster above saying “Check In Here”). A nifty little printer spits out a receipt with your all-important number on it. At this point, you simply need to hang on to your number and find a seat among the rows of seats in the waiting area.

I have a fascination with people, so I took the opportunity to look around at folks in various stages of conversation with those who journeyed with them as well as those who wore a blank mask of boredom on their face. Luckily, someone had left the sports section out of today’s USA Today newspaper. I can’t say it’s the first section I read but it gave me something else to do while I waited for my all-important number to be called out.

I was fairly engrossed in a story about the potential first-round draft pick in the NFL when she came in. I didn’t look up until the strange noises continued…intermittent grunts, unusual utterances. She sat along the wall across from me. The noises erupted sporadically, not really words most of the time, though occasionally a word would come out, but mostly these odd noises. Her clothing was well worn and she didn’t appear to have taken time to groom her hair or adorn her face with cosmetics. She was a rather sad looking older African-American woman.

My first thought, and this is a rather embarrassing stereotype, was that she was homeless and simply looking for a comfortable place to sit. I can’t verify that but I don’t think I was too far off the mark.

It was odd, to me anyway, but two other, separate African-American women became annoyed with her. Perhaps they understood her utterances better than I did. The younger one approached her and asked if she had the ticket with the all-important number on it. The older woman became slightly agitated and said she “didn’t want to talk to no one.” Rather than take her seat and let her be, the younger woman approached one of the workers who came out to call one of the all-important numbers and pointed her out. The worker informed her that the older woman was there every day. Not satisfied, the younger woman went out into the hall to summons security (keep in mind we are in a federal building). In a few minutes, 3 security guards came in to check out the situation and the younger woman (who had moved clear across the room) pointed her out. They approached her, questioned her, and finally demanded that she get a ticket (with the all-important number on it) in order to remain in the waiting room. She did. And they left.

Meanwhile, a middle-aged African American woman, sitting halfway between me and the older woman, who had watched all of this as intently as I had, started fussing. Just a little, not real loud, not really trying to make a scene but just enough so the older woman would hear her. One of the comments she made to her was, “Jesus knows what you’re doing and it isn’t right.”

Hmmm. I wonder. I mean, I don’t doubt that Jesus knew what was happening, what was going on with that older woman as well as the rest of us. But what part wasn’t “right”? Was it that the older woman found a safe, comfortable place to sit or was it that she in some ways disturbed the other people waiting their turn? Or was it the lack of mercy shown her by those who would rather have her tossed out? Or was it me, for sitting there and watching and keeping my mouth shut and not stepping in to stand by someone who very likely counted as “the least of these.”

My all-important number was called. I got my name changed. And then I left. I’m afraid Jesus knew what I was doing and it wasn’t right…

Monday, January 17, 2011

God is in the House...and everywhere else, too

I have a confession to make. I rarely watch television. I mean, I don’t even watch the news. It’s been years since there was a series I just had to watch on tv. Somehow, my son got me hooked on House. And that was great…until it just stopped. In October.  Then, said child gleefully announced it would be back. In February. I was just…disgusted is a good word.

But, alas, the wait was shortened and House returned tonight…January 16. I could hardly wait…and that in and of itself was rather pitiful. A few minutes before 7pm, I turned on the television and tuned in, ready for Hugh Laurie to solve the strange medical case as only he could do, vicodon and all. I was not disappointed.

Part of watching a television series means you also get to watch the commercials. (I know, I can wait 8 days and watch it on hulu, almost commercial free; or dvr it, if I had a dvr, and fast forward through them). Tonight, a large chunk of the commercials were for other shows on that particular network. It got me to wondering…

Are we really that pitiful? I mean…we actually enjoy watching shows that pit people against each other (American Idol, Money Drop)? And there are certainly others that weren’t advertised on said network….the Bachelor, the Biggest Loser, Survivor, etc. What does that really say about us, who tune in week after week just to see who gets booted off the island or otherwise kicked in the teeth?

And then there’s House.  No one, and I mean no one, else can solve the mysterious medical case except House. He has a team of brilliant doctors who, week after week (except when they take breaks for months at a time) who run tests and guess but never…not even once…get it right. He’s like a god or something.

Ever think of God like that? Always dangling a carrot in front of us, sending us on wild goose chases as we frantically search for THE answer?  I can say yes to that, sometimes. I have to admit there have been times when I felt like I was running around in divine circles…or maybe they were circles I chose.

What I really like about House is both the arrogance of Hugh Laurie’s character and the fact that no matter how smart he is, he never comes up with the right solution without the help of someone else. Even if they don’t know they are helping him. Unlikely people and off-hand comments typically trigger an “aha” moment that solves everything. At least for that week.

Sometimes, I do think God allows us to chase our tails and follow our logical, reasonable ideas. And when we get so far down the rabbit hole, God sends someone to speak a word of truth…to bring us back to the situation at hand and deal with it.

So what does that say about us? I think it says we need to speak up…we never know when we might trigger the “aha” for someone else. I think it says we need to listen…we never know what might open the way for an “aha” within us. I also think it says we need to recognize and embrace that we are not alone….God is with us, even through the most unlikely people.