Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving, 2005

Tis’ the season to be thankful
With a couple extra tankfuls
Driving hither ‘cross the counties,
Joining with our loved ones there.

Notice now, that vacant setting
Telling of those now abetting
Freedom – let’s not be forgetting
Those who stand for what we share.

As we gather, and we ponder,
Wealth of Laughter, Love, and Peace
Sacrifices made for others
Willing hands that never cease.

Sons and Daughters, Sisters , Brothers
Spread across this fragile land.
Gratitude and yearning prayer that
Others might soon understand
That there is pride in giving others
Value owed to every Man.

Human fabric, woven ever
Thread by thread, yet ending never,
Binding loved ones closer still.
Gratitude for those who serve us
Please Lord, let the Loom grow larger,
And our hopes and dreams fulfill.

Freedom’s price it seems, must always
Hurt at times when it should not.
It’s our price to pay, however,
For these things so dearly fought.
Having done this, they would want us
Carry on as if ‘twere not.

So, to pause on this occasion
Of a Nation’s Thankfulness
To you standing far from home,
We will truly do our best.
To remember, pray, and render
Thoughts of safety and success.

Thank You.
To the day that brings you home, safe, to us.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Timely, or "Stuck in a Moment"

Juxtapose this!
Tuesday night, witnessing once again the phenomenon of "The Larry Mullen Band", all "Love and Peace", "In the Name of Love" , hootin' and hollerin' and singing with 20,ooo of my closest friends about human rights and global debt relief and lifting the seat when you pee (sorry, I made that last one up). It really was a great time. One of the things I was anxious for 8 year-old Sam to see was an arena full of people singing. He seemed kinda engaged, but really got wide-eyed when Bono asked everyone to hold up their lit cellphones. As the mighty Hewson pointed out, "a real 21st century moment." We got home from Los Angeles at about 2 a.m.
Wednesday morning. Awoke to CNN and MSNBC and FOX jumping in and out of the 2+ hours of Rosa Parks' final funeral. A modern name that correctly ranks and resonates for America with those of Attucks, Paine, Tubman, Lincoln, Malcom X, and, of course, Rev. Martin Luther King. Rev. King was her inspiration for his non-violence, Malcom X for his resolve. A quiet, positive, consistent life defined by a moment of courage that galvanized a movement and altered the course of the world. The eulogies were amazing, as they should have been. Rosa's challenge remains:
How many moments do we miss, every day, to make a difference?
Bono spoke of the efforts of ONE, what it has accomplished, in large part due to his and some other high-profile efforts. It is a unique, timely, and overdue coalition that sets aside the petty partisanship that we are so self-indulgently langushing in in this country. It's easy to follow their lead.
Rosa Parks resolve was not temporal. She had had trouble with this particular bus driver, before. Her courage was the result of her internal consistency. "The Movement" had tried bus boycotts, before. This one worked because, as one person said yesterday, they would continue to walk to work in the rain "because of Rosa."
I don't think that Rosa could have known the impact of her decision, it could have just as easily passed into the Montgomery city records without notice. It made no difference to her.
At this moment, I'm not sure if I've ever been personally presented with a moment where doing the right thing meant breaking the law - the question is, would I do so? Do I have to? Probably not. Can I then, at least, stand up for the little things? Just think, if we all could, then perhaps we could change the world.
Not a bad moment to be stuck in.


I often wish and wonder what it’s like to be in someone else’s head. Not just the occasional “What were they thinking?”, but to truly be able to witness the same thing from someone else’s completely different frame of reference, and be able to compare perceptions with my own.
I was thinking about this on Halloween, watching Emma. She really got into the “swing” of things, this year. Adorable is not the word; she stole my heart yet again when she started twirling and preening from the moment Mom put on her pink skirt with the silver stars and tiara in her hair. This was special, and she knew it. It didn’t take long for her to get the hang of going from door to door, either – soon she was going up to the door, banging on it with her fist, and calling out “Trick or Treat” - it had to be – in her own inimitable way. Her excitement was palpable, and I began to wonder many things:
Does she remember last year?
Does she have any idea what we’re doing?
Would she think that she could knock on a neighbor’s door tomorrow and get candy?
What were (are) the associations that she’s making about all of this?
What makes it all so exciting? Our encouragement? That it’s all so different?
What will she remember?
Another thing that happens when we go Trick-or-Treating is the inevitable doggy at the door. Emma has not met a dog she doesn’t adore. She welcomes them, and is more than happy to trade saliva and kisses if they are not both restrained. I, on the other hand, traumatized as a very young child by two, shall we say, “little nippers”, am uncomfortable around nearly all canines. See the analogy? - same animal, completely different reaction. My combination of personal and parental fear of her getting hurt by a dog – I am truly dreading the day, and I hope it never happens – really kicks in at these moments. Watching her unabashedly giggling and cooing with her arms around a big dog’s neck, however, makes me want to buy two of them – but that moment passes, and rather quickly, with the memory of a teenage job I had mowing the lawn of a Great Dane owner. I am jealous of her abilities, always hoping that she never has that particular joy taken from her. I know that that’s the prayer of every parent, of course.
Part of the “sweet” of “Bittersweet” is to share pure joy, purely in the moment, innocent, uncluttered, focused happiness with Emma. The rest of us struggle harder and harder for these moments as we get older. It’s a gift she gives me nearly every day.
Now, it’s easy to contemplate the differences in perception between myself and one so differently-abled as she. It often causes me to ponder the differences that “the rest of us” bring to our situations. Aside from the layer upon layer of complexity that we seem to develop as we learn to distrust even our own thinking, how the background noise that I assume most of you reading this have running in your heads (if you don’t, then I really do have a problem) colors our everyday lives. I am not particularly proud to admit that I deal too often from the deck of sarcasm, and it’s become clear to me that it’s done some damage to my relationship with my Son. Damage, in that it clouds our communication, and I know now that it hasn’t helped our ability to live together. I realized, one day, that he didn’t deserve to have his young head screwed with this way; that it was pretty unfair of me. I’m trying to do better with that, and I hope I can make it up to him, somehow. I wasn’t able to see things through his eyes. I hope to live long enough to gain his forgiveness.
It is now one of those means of defense that I’ve inadvertently passed to the next generation, as it was passed to me. I can share the blame, but not the responsibility.
Living with Diversity requires more than accommodation. It requires empathy, understanding, fueled by desires that can only be kindled by unselfishness. That’s what makes it hard. That’s what takes effort, faith, and courage.
It all makes me wonder.