Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lone Shoe

Lone shoe by the side of the road
how came you to be abandoned,
crying on a paved and gravelly shoulder?
What carelessness, what tomfoolery
what rash, random act
created your solitude?

Your demise hastened by brutal summer sun
midwestern monsoons
deadening exhaust and crushing of tires.

Do you yearn to be a pair,
to dance a proper dance for two
to run at a lope and not a limp?
To hip-hop up stairs with an even gait?
To share the weight equally?

Where now travels your other half
on the highway of destiny?
Where now is your symmetrical twin?
Neither of you to ever be reunited
and worn by mirror imaged feet...

But like the steadfast tin soldier
in Anderson's tragedy
your heart a leaden lump
a lonely vigil you keep
you wait silently immobile
and weep.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Do You Pray For?

So what do you pray for?  Do you pray for healing?  Do you pray for that miracle—the kind of which seemed so prevalent in the bible?  What DO you pray for?

I have heard something awful.  That someone I know—not well, but after all we’re all members of the human race, feeling joy, pain, sorrow—someone I know has received a medical diagnosis that is most likely not favorable.  The kind of medical diagnosis that generally means a family, a group of friends is condemned to watch a loved one die.   I can think of no greater horror, no greater pain.

What is the sense of it, God?  Really?  What is Your almighty plan here?

I, who believe that everything happens for the best, for a reason. That there is always a silver lining...  And a good Christian would console me with ‘and we may not ever understand the reason….’  Oh, please.  Whatever.  What consolation is that??

When my aunt Betsy was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), I simply couldn’t believe it.  What?  If there were ever a non-Catholic candidate for sainthood, it would be her.  She was much beloved by all; she was as good a person as ever walked this earth.  And I thought that surely, surely…if all the strong Christians she knew and who knew her gathered together in one place—for wherever two or more of us are gathered in His name, there He shall be also—that if they combined their Christian energy and lifted my good, good aunt up in prayer, then surely there would be a miracle.  But it did not happen.  And she died a long, slow death that was agonizing to watch.

My good and faithful uncle—her husband—did he pray for healing?  Did he believe that his God, his Lord would heal her?  And what of his faith now?

My brother lost his only son, two years old, a drowning victim.  The horror of burying your only child and all we can do is watch.  The rest of us hug our children near to us, grateful that the hand of fate saw fit to pass us by this time.  What was the sense in that?  I would say, eight years later to the date, that my brother is leading a happier life.  He and his wife got divorced.  He’s free, and happy, and leading a great life.  But at what price?  Given the choice, would he have chosen this happiness over that?

And I’m left to wonder what to pray for.  Do we tempt God like that?  Do we test Him?  For He also said, “Ask and ye shall receive.”  I would imagine that many people ask.  Many do pray for that miracle, are praying for it right now.  And why should God listen?  Many thousands of people praying for the same thing.  What makes my person, my loved one, any more important than anyone else’s, that my prayer should be answered above theirs?

And when we don’t get what we pray for, what then?  Where does our faith go?  I would imagine that tragedy, a broken heart, that sense of god-abandonment causes a good number of us to to fall away in disappointment, despair, disbelief. 

I know another story of a principal in IPS whose teenaged son was stabbed and killed in the cafeteria of the high school he attended.  And when this man was told that his child had been killed, he fell to his knees and thanked God for the years that he was able to spend with him. 

Now that is some amazing strength.  A strong faith.  As strength that I could only hope and pray  to find inside me in such a moment.  That I would find the strength inside to rejoice in what I had received, the joy already experienced, not in what I was losing.  A tough call.  A long and arduous road to walk.  The rest of your life, an empty place at the table, empty room, photos, the flotsam and jetsam of a life lived.

And so I will not ask.  I won’t test the Lord my God, my faith with yet another prayer for the healing miracle.  Instead, I will pray for strength for that family, for their journey on the road to the abyss ahead.  I will pray that they have a strong support group around them, that they cherish their days together, and draw comfort from each other, that they find it within themselves to keep moving, keep moving as they face the challenges, the shadows, the ordeal ahead, and they are able to find some diamonds to collect along that rough, rough road, and also, a rope to climb out when they're ready.  The miracle, maybe, lies in the fact that we are forced to go on.  And we do.  And we can.  We think we can't, but we can.  And we do.  Strength.  Lord, give them strength and what comfort you can spare.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Measure of the New Maturity

So I'm listening to NPR today...a weekly (?) mental health talk show where they're talking to parents about communicating with teens. 

The first example was a mother who was getting after her daughter for sitting on the couch to spray her hairspray.  The mother was afraid the hairspray would ruin the couch and the daughter was feeling picked on and persecuted.  I don't know.  I can't see me personally getting upset about hairspray.  Papier mache on the couch, small engine repair on the couch, rolling out cookie dough on the couch, I can see.  But hairspray?  As long as you can't see it, what's the problem?

The second example however, was the best.  The psychologists and adolescent experts talked about the changes a child's brain goes through in the teenaged years, and conceded that they simply do NOT think.  They are incredibly impulsive and in many instances it is impossible to deal with them logically and rationally.  The experts stress that it is very important to stay calm, and perhaps put some distance between the offense and the imminent parent-child discussion and discipline session.  The example given was an overnight slumber party, that, on a whim and a dare, bubbled out into the yard with shaving cans and eggs good only for trussing up the exterior of the home of the cutest boy in school.  The police come, chastise the girls and send them back to their party.  The party girl's parents then deliver each girl home to be dealt with by their own parental units. 
     The experts encouraged the parents to STAY calm.  Deal with the situation in the morning when cooler heads will prevail, and the child--having come to her senses--will be shamed into enough contriteness and regret to perhaps write apology letters to the parents of the party girl, the parents of the cute boy, and perhaps the police--letters which would include an admission of guilt and regret for their rash behavior along with a statement of what each girl would choose to do if the situation arose again.

     If the situation arose again?  Are you kidding me?  I would not have missed a MINUTE of that action--running through the night town in just my skivvies, hysterically spraying shaving cream on the house, the car, the other girls, giddily lobbing eggs at the mailbox, at the dog, at the upstairs window where the boy slept, and then tossing the empty cans and egg cartons over the fence into the pool before dashing away into the darkness.  I would not have missed that fun--that glorious, irresponsible fun--for anything.  Yeah, I'd write my letter, submit to grounding for a week, but those memories will soon pass and the memory of that warm summer evening of giggly girl-ness will live on forever.     


I posted this about a year ago. Revisiting it a little on this blue Monday...

A chill as the temperature drops
I pull my sweater closer
And peer at the writing on the wall
The scratchmarks on the door
Like a rocket you're so 'outta here'
Like Jupiter's moon you want to be gone
Like an eagle erupting into flight
I wave a send-off, smiling at your elation
Can you see me from the stratosphere
Or already am I ant-sized on the surface of the earth?
Kneeling, I trace footprints in the dust
Gather a handful of feathers
And tilt my face toward the sun's warmth
Eyes closed to your brilliance
Hands move together for that familiar gesture
But when I look, you've already turned.

Chris 8.18.2008

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The 40th Year

I was digging through some old stuff of mine.  Seems I do that more and more lately....and I found this that I wrote on turning 40.

1)     Make sure that the people you love know you love them.  It’s never too late.  Make it a habit.  Don’t take their presence in your life for granted.
2)    Read—one new book a month.  Doesn’t matter what it is—just read.
3)    Watch one sunrise and one sunset—not just on your way to or from work.    Make a plan and do it.  Stop.  And watch.
4)    Buy the shoes you really want.
5)    Keep a journal.  Write it down.  Some day, memories will be all that’s left.
6)    Travel—go someplace you’ve never been--and take the kids.  You will create a memory that lasts a lifetime.
7)    Stay home and appreciate it.
8)    Go barefoot.  Remember barefoot?  Cool grass.  Warm sidewalks.  Mud.  Sand. 
9)    Be creative.  Make something.  Anything.  And put your name on it.
10)  Thank God for your 1001 reasons to be happy.

So?  From 40 to 50, how'd I do?

Monday, August 9, 2010

New Blog

I am now the creator of three separate blogs.

This one (the one one you're at now):  Better in Writing
The one dedicated to my love and involvement with theatre:  The Director's Journal
My newest one, a blog to document the music that's the soundtrack of my life:  The Message is in the Music

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Geek Love

I stopped at one point today to assess the experience.  On my left, an elegantly adorned pirate.  On my right, two middle-aged men trading Magic cards with the solemnity usually reserved for stock trading.  In my vision, a kilt-clad storm trouper, a couple wearing matching Pikachu hats and pouring over the event catalogue, little Geeklings battling with nerf swords, a giant bounce house rock climbing pyramid, a sleeping Sailor Moon in the corner, and hundreds upon thousands of gamer geeks, all--like me--happy as clams, all enjoying the experience, the fellowship, this community of geeks, gamers, sci-fi fanatics, cartoon nuts, D & D nerds, and cos-players all gathered in one place...this annual pilgrimage, the madness, the mass hysteria, the joyful celebration of difference known as GenCon.