Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Beauty of Stillness

'Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.


- Fr. Richard Rohr

Monday, February 6, 2012

And the Blows Keep A' Comin'

I'm dizzy, disoriented, and really shouldn't be doing this at work. I haven't blogged in almost 3 years- and I doubt anyone checks this anymore, so I'm writing in relative anonymity. I'm glad for that, because I feel like my world is falling apart.

Short and sweet- as I do have to work:

- My family is sick
- My niece was injured in a car accident
- My mother is dying
- My cat is dead

All in the space of one week. Everything is hazy, and I am numb.

Except for those moments when I want to scream so loud and so hard that my head will explode.

I'm terrified to ask 'what next?!?', because I fear there will be an answer.

Yeats' 'center' has finally collapsed in on itself, and the rough Beast has made it to Bethlehem to be born.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Invisible Hand

I am standing there, quiet as the proverbial church mouse, my body carefully positioned just up and to her right so that she cannot see me as I standing over her crib. Though I'm not so vain as to think that I am even worth waking up for (my special skill, as we've determined over the past few months, is boring our daughter to sleep), I want to remain out of her field of vision so that she does not see or sense any presence of 'other' in the room.

She is in that terrible baby 'half sleep'- not quite able to rise up to full consciousness, but stubbornly resisting the lulling tug of sleep. She is grunting and twisting, arching her back to her left, as if straining to retrieve something she left back there, just past her shoulder. It is a curious dance: arch. Contract. Left leg kick. Once, twice, grunt. A quick jerk and she is again flat on her back, letting out a whimper, and then the dance begins again.

And I am standing there, hovering over her crib, my index finger holding the tiny pink pacifier in place for her. Without it, she will whimper more, then howl, and then fully wake herself up. Despite her current spastic dance, this is calm compared to how she would be without it.

And so, I stand there. Unseen, unknown. In her half-conscious state she is not aware that I am there, nor that I have been there for 10 minutes, holding it firmly in place as she wags her head from side to side, as she arches her back like a driver checking traffic before switching lanes.

I stand there holding it in place for 10 minutes. I do this because I know that she is tired. That she needs more sleep. That she has already only slept for a few minutes, and needs more, but something in her sleep-cycle betrayed her and she became fitful. And so I become the 'man behind the curtain', quietly attending to needs she does not even know she has.

Perhaps it is of small comfort, as she moves about like a spastic animal- arms and legs moving and shooting out in aimless fashion. The whimpers, grunts, and arching of the back tells me that she is fighting both sleep and wakefulness, and I don't imagine that is pleasant for her. But the pacifier helps soothe, and soon she exhausts herself, falling into a deep slumber. And as I gently ease the pressure off the pacifier and delicately pluck it from her mouth, I think about God.

And how long He's been holding the pacifier for me. Unknown, unseen, even un-asked, standing just up and to the right of MY crib, out of MY sight, soothing me and giving me peace even when I did not know I needed it.

How often does He act on our behalf, and we don't even know it? A thousand mercies dispensed without our awareness, standing beside us but not letting His presence be known? Knowing that even as He gives, I will never be aware of it, just as my daughter will never be aware that I stood beside her crib, issuing comfort and ministering to her needs in complete anonymity?

Sorry if this post sounds an awful lot like 'Footprints', that poem of sorts that reveals that when we cannot walk, God carries us. Though it hangs in the foyer or bathroom of many a home, I have always found it to be rather treacly and indulgent. I DO believe that God walks beside us. And that there are times when He may carry us. But it's also been my experience that He sometimes also drops us on our ass and lets us fumble, crawl or curl up into a ball and whimper.

But that doesn't mean that He isn't still standing behind us, out of sight, still tendering mercy while we sit in pouting self-pity.

Right now it feels like we're thrashing, our family, living a life that is somewhere between sleep and wakefulness while we wait to see what the future brings. Arching our back to look over our shoulder to see what new losses, setbacks and tragedies might be bearing down on us. We're exhausted, living in this empty no-man's-land, and yet despite the tough times there IS still joy (I need only look at my daughter), laughter, and safety nets in the form of family.

It is hard to count those blessings when you're fighting, struggling, worrying and straining. When you don't know how far the dollar will stretch or how long your winter coat will last. But I believe God has been there with us, all along, His finger on the pacifier without our ever knowing what He's doing, protecting us from dangers we don't even know are there.

I believe it. Lord, help thou my unbelief.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


This blog is on an indefinite hiatus, due to its author's enslavement to a 2 month old.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Enemies Foreign, Domestic And... Undead?

I'm sure everyone has already seen this, but I stumbled across it today and just couldn't stop laughing...

Bush Zombie Interview

Sorry- not allowed to embed this vid...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Hates You

"I'd like to thank all the little people. For being little. And meaningless."

Actually, I don't know if he really hates you. Or even knows you, to be honest. But I must assume he does.

Let me say from the start that this is not going to be a diatribe against him, full of Oxycontin or girth jokes. I am not taking a page from Al Franken's book, nor am I even pleased that I am writing about him at all, as I do not wish to contribute in anyway to attention being directed his way. But I am concerned.

Very concerned.

With a radio audience that numbers in the millions, and 2 books that landed at number one on the New York Times bestseller list (one of which managed to stay there for 24 weeks), it's no exaggeration to say that his clout (though perhaps on the decline) is great. And yet I can't help but marvel at the fact that when on January 20th, the day Barack Obama was inaugurated as president, Rush Limbaugh publicly declared "I want him to fail", all of his fans didn't desert him en masse.

Because what's more important than everyday, blue and white collar Americans being able to work, put food on the table and a roof over their head? Well, conservatism winning, of course. That's what it's really all about.

Let's examine what a 'fail' would mean for Barack Obama:

- On Monday, almost 72,000 jobs were lost in a single day
- It was announced that some 30 states were presently in or would soon be suffering from a severe deficit
- Unemployment was expected to dip into double digits before this 'recession' was over
- New home construction was at its lowest rate since 1959
- The stock market rallied just barely enough to get back above 8000 points (Dow)
- The cost of bailing out the banks was estimated to be much higher than the original $700 billion

And this was just on Monday.

And Rush Limbaugh wants the president to fail. Now. At this moment in time when we cannot afford failure. When people's lives and livelihood are at stake: when people go to work each day with a deep, unspoken fear that today will be the day that lay-offs are announced or that the company is going bankrupt. Or open their 401K statements and read just how much of their pension they have lost. Or, like me, are trying to find a job in a market that is flooded with thousands of applicants for single positions.

Yes, it would be good for Obama to fail. For things to get even worse. Because- and make no mistake about this, folks- this is NOT a battle for survival, providing for your family, or responsibly preparing for your retirement. No. What is MOST important is conservatism winning.

Speaking frankly, my own enthusiasm since Obama's inauguration has waned a bit to something more like 'cautious optimism'. We all knew (and he even said) that there would be no quick fixes in these troubled times, but some of the decisions he has made in the past week have left me a bit puzzled:

- Appointing Tim Geithner (the guy who 'forgot' to pay his taxes) as Treasury Secretary (though on the flip-side, maybe someone who was able to bamboozle the IRS for a couple of years SHOULD be head of the IRS)
- An economic stimulus package that includes $200 million for contraceptives...?
- The closing of Guantanamo prison (yay!) without a specific plan as to what to do with its prisoners (huh?)
- Demanding that by 2010 US automakers (the ones looking for a bailout) make cars that get 35 MPG. A good idea, but they can't even get car manufacturing correct now. What's the likelihood of getting their act together by 2010?
- The bailout may go as high as $825 billion (which is okay, I suppose: I mean, what's another $125 billion?),but many of those funds will go to public works such as building roads and bridges, and are not slated to begin until as early as 18 months from now, and some not even until Obama's (possible) second term: all long after when most economists say this recession will be over

So when I take issue with Limbaugh for wanting Obama to fail, (he later amended his comments on 'The Hannity Show', saying he wants Obama's policies to fail- not necessarily the man himself- but that brings up the point: what's the difference? Obama succeeds but his policies fail? And if those policies do fail, as Limbaugh is hoping, then that takes us back to the original point: the pain that most of us are feeling right now gets even worse if the policies fail. But I digress.) It's not because I believe he is attacking 'the savior'.

Frankly, I think it's because he's attacking the American people. Or couldn't care less about them, which in this situation amounts to just about the same thing.

Limbaugh has made his millions (though they've no doubt dipped some over the past year), is worshipped by his fans, smokes expensive cigars and plays golf (with a pretty sweet set of clubs, from what I can tell). These days, I can't even afford to go to the driving range. And so I can't help but wonder: would he still feel/say the same way if he was still an underpaid, semi-starving radio announcer at the obscure KFBK radio station in Sacramento?

I hated George W. Bush.
Lordy, did I hate that man.

His administration was like an 8 year train wreck (more, if you count the aftermath), 4 of which I was able to watch from relative safety because I was living in Canada. One wonders if, when vacationing on his ranch in Texas, he deliberately stepped in every pile of cow manure that lay in his path, because he seemed to do the same thing during his tenure as president. He stammered his way from one debacle to the next, then left us with 2 wars (and a third pending- Iran- until the financial crisis), a history of bumbling maneuvers, a constitution that regressed from being the guiding document for our country to merely 'a good idea if it doesn't stand in the way of what I want', and an economy in tatters.

Yes, I hated him. But here's the thing: I never wanted him to fail.

I was even offended when an Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at him at a press conference. Not because he threw a shoe at George W. Bush, but because he threw a show at the president of the United States. My president, even though I did not cast a single vote his way in either election. Of course, now that he's a private citizen and lo longer president, if I happen to see him on the street I probably will throw a shoe at him. Or at least some soft cow manure. But despite my personal feelings towards him as a man, as a president I never wanted him to 'fail'.

Of course, he did fail, and failed miserably, which should be a good lesson for all of us (especially Rush Limbaugh): when a president fails, it hurts. ALL of us. Not just him (or her). Not just a select few. Not just a couple of lobbyists. In this case, it hurt ALL of us, even the rich, who have seen their vast assets dwindle.

So why, on God's green earth, would anyone ever want the president to fail?

Because he clashes with your ideology? Because his ideas just might better than yours, and you don't want to see that? That he might succeed where your party did not? THIS is why you want to see him fail?

On Monday (yes, that dark day mentioned earlier in this blog), Rush gleefully claimed Obama's 'frightened of me', based on a report that last week Obama warned congressional GOP leaders that they should not listen to him. Is Rush right about Obama's fear, or does he perhaps have an inflated sense of himself?

Let's examine:

- Obama, a black man in a country that still has bastions of violent racism, becomes President of the US
- He takes the helm at a time when the country is at its worst financially since the Great Depression
- He has inherited two wars
- He must try and re-establish old friendships with countries that were disregarded by Bush
- He has to try and regain respect and goodwill on the world stage
- Deal with murderous scum who strap bombs to themselves and kill civilians
- Bear the scorn and criticism when his plans and policies do not work quickly enough

To name just a few things on his plate. I would think- and this may be just me- that an individual who is willing to tackle all of these truly cushing issues (and many more) might... just might... be man enough to not be afraid of Rush Limbaugh.

In fact, I think given all of the circumstances, he might find Rush Limbaugh as simply irrelevant. Which explains much more logically why he warned the GOP not to listen to Limbaugh. When Limbaugh publicly declared he wanted Obama to fail, he officially removed himself from meaningful public discourse. There is nothing more you can say. There is nothing more you can add. That sentence said it all: you do not support your president, and you do not care if the people continue to suffer.

In your world, the only thing that matters is proving that conservatism is better than liberalism.

And Rush Limbaugh is willing to bet your lives on it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fatherhood: What I've Learned So Far

Nearly a month into this whole 'fatherhood' thing, and it's no exaggeration to say it's been as difficult as grad school.

17 years, 11 months to go. Which, coincidentally, is about as long as it took for me to get my bachelors...

I've been asked a great many questions since Auden's birth, usually along the generic lines of:
"So... how do you like fatherhood?"
"How's the baby?"
"Getting any sleep?"
"What's her social security number?"

The nice thing about these questions are that they are generally no-brainers, and can be answered in their respective order by the following answers: "Great", "Great", "No", and "Screw you".

One question I've been asked, however, is what I have learned so far as a new father, and this is a question that requires thought. I've learned so much in this past month, and it's all been a crash-course education. It's much like the time I took Intermediate Greek in seminary during a summer term: two full semesters of a dead language packed into an 8 week corpse... oops- did I say 'corpse'? I meant course.

At any rate, after pondering this question for a few days, I've been able to come up with a few nuggets I've learned, and can pass along.

- It is very difficult to hear the melody and play 'Rock Band' with true verve and accuracy if there is a baby crying. Turning the volume up doesn't help, either. She merely cries louder.

- Despite what every expert says, babies DO have a very acute sense of smell. At least when it comes to freshly laundered and/or new clothes. They will then vomit on them accordingly.

- There is a discrepency in terms of sheer volume when it comes to what goes into a baby versus what comes out.

- It is very easy to be lured into a thoroughly charmed state of bliss when your baby smiles at you. DO NOT BE DECEIVED. The baby is smiling at the fact that it will soon be gushing vomit all over you, or releasing a very toxic fart. Again, experts claim this smile is a result of gas or the workings of their digestive system. This is a lie. It is their sheer delight in knowing that in the next minute or so, you will be completely grossed-out.

- Dr. Phil even annoys babies.

- It is possible to make a pot of coffee one-handed.

- Dad will work in a clutch situation, but in the grand scheme it's mommy that really counts. She's the one with the boob(s).

- The back of a couch is the most fascinating thing in the world.

My mind is suddenly exhausted and just went blank. I don't know where I learned that one from.

Probably from that Greek class.