Not Answers…

I’ve been doing some work the last few days. I’ve identified a couple of parts of me. For fun I gave them names. This is a tale of the Namer and the HyperVigilante–HV may be related to Fear itself, but, of that, I’m not completely certain.

The Namer is a long time friend. He likes to find the answers. And he’s pretty good at it. The Namer has an ability, often, to see through the muck and the mire and to arrive at conclusions that satisfy for a good while. Ha, to be honest, he’s so good, I am only now realizing, a few paragraphs in, that the driver‘s seat is his currently. The Namer likes resolution. He likes to know. Seeks control. And not in a negative way, but more so in an attempt to calm the choppy, and sometimes stormy, waves of the sea of existence. The Namer is on that persistent and perseverant quest to calm those seas. He asks along with Moses, what do I say your name is?

The reply I am that I am, Jahweh, well… that settles things for a moment, but soon the Namer is back at work trying to define Being itself.

I’m grateful to the Namer. His role in helping me to wade through complex issues of life make it easier for me in a variety of ways. Alas, the Namer is burdened.

Now the Hypervigilante–yeah he’s operating on his own it seems, but he’s working in tandem, or at least in support of, the Namer. The HV has made me who I am in so many ways. The HV, like the Namer, is very good at his part. He helps me anticipate needs. Helps me see issues as they arise, and often to anticipate a variety of scenarios in advance and then along with the Namer works to resolve many of the possibilities. This is a great help, and is in very large part, why I have been so successful as a teacher, council member, and a pretty good daddy. I’m geared up instantaneously to find the answers and solve the problems.

But the HV carries a heavy load. He’s grooved into the nervous system. Got that fight or flight figured out for sure. And that same ability to foresee and play out multiple scenarios…. well the HV can sound the alarm and rally the troops and all the other metaphors to deal with the worst cases imaginable. And, for real, immediately. Straight to the conclusions and the sympathetic nervous system high alert. And Mr. HV has been keen as of late. Hyper.

Both of these friends have been with me for a long time. And, as I said, I’m learning to be grateful for their roles in getting me here. Because they’re doing the best they can. They’re trying to help me. Trying to solve it. Solve it all. For me. Because, for whatever reason, that goal, of making sense of it all, of making all things right, the Namer and the HyperVigilante, they both want to reach that goal. For me.

And sometimes I think it’s stupid to jump to the conclusions, but it’s not stupid. I know why they do it. But what I want for the Namer and the HV to know, is that they don’t have to. They don’t have to do it. They can rest. They can lay down their burdens.

Because it’s not answers and conclusions that I need. That we need. It’s the experience of the presence of the Christ. (Nod to Buechner and Nathan Rouse for putting that idea in my head.) It’s the experience and faith in the Eternal Presence. The Eternal Goodness. I Am. The I Am.

And here’s the truth. The truth of the human experience. The human condition. On the way of Eternal Presence lies suffering. It just does. It’s the way of the Cross. The Christ. But the greatest story ever told also holds Hope. In fact it portrays the suffering leading to perseverance and to character and to hope. This is nothing new. And yet the Mercy of this way of Hope is all new always.

I’m fond of saying I don’t know. But in ways, I suspect, the Namer has worked to help me turn that I Don’t Know into its own kind of knowing. Something on which to grasp.

Thank you my two friends, for seeking the best for me, for trying to take me to Peace. But rest now. Find your balance in Peace and Hope. In the Christ that is King of my person. The Mercy Seat. Ancient language, but a fresh hearing.

Peace is. Hope is. Life is. Love is. Christ is. I am. Lay your burdens in the Eternal Presence, my weary friends, Namer and HyperVigilante. Rest and find Balance.

Pa and Dan’l

Remember records?  My mom and dad had tons of vinyl.  33s and 45s.  Meet me in Montana, Kenny Rogers, Ray Stevens, Jesus Christ Superstar, and, among other gospel albums, we had the Oak Ridge Boys.  Then there came the cassette tapes.  A lot of Saturdays growing up, we would load up in the Ford Escort and head south, just over the border to Gaffney, to visit Herman and Billie.  Granddaddy and Granny.  My dad’s folks.  Herman was a preacher at Landmark (I think that was the name) in Gaffney for years.  On the drives down when we weren’t listening to Magic 96.1, back when it was “oldies,” we would have a cassette tape in.  Maybe it was the Born on the 4th of July soundtrack–my dad liked Edie Brickell.  Could’ve been Superstar.  But more often than not… the Oak Ridge Boys.  

And my dad, he always wrote Pa when I was a kid–incidentally I was Dan’l.  My kids call him Pop, so we’ll go with that name from here on.  Pop spent a ton of time, ages, in his wood shop.  Typically making something that my mom had found in a magazine, or that someone else had requested.  And when completed and delivered to an always satisfied person, only begrudgingly taking any payment, and even then only for the cost of supplies.  It was, as they say, a labor of love for him.  Ha.  Now I’m getting all misty eyed, and i haven’t even gotten to the good part.  🙂  

But the years of sawdust, built up in mounds of labor and love, finally made its way into all of the nooks of his cassette player in his woodshop.  We finally convinced him to switch over to CDs.  He will take an arbitrary stand with the best of them, I get that trait honestly, and he didn’t want anything to do with those “plastic records.”  But finally he relented.  And he got one of the fancy multi disc changers.  He put a few in, and let ‘em ride.  Buffett, Kristofferson, Superstar probably, the Gaithers, and, of course, The Oaks!  

Have you ever seen Ratatouille?  The Pixar movie?  If not, well, you should check it out.   But there’s a scene at the end when the critic eats the Ratatoulle and it sweeps him up in a cascade of cherished memories that had been cultivated through a life and labor of love.  

Yesterday, July 4, 2021, we spent the afternoon and evening up in Belwood at my sister’s place.  She and her husband have a beautiful, wide open farm and lots of toys.  Seeing Sydney ride on the 4 wheeler made me so glad.  We had great food, lots of laughs, and a nice quiet–well except for the 5 young’ns around–time with the fam.  

Pop rode out.  He told stories.  We talked college softball, and the Tour de France–gotta emphasize the DEEE in that to say it like him–,remembered little league, and talked about the grandkids growing up and living life.  We talked about Gardner-Webb and the students returning this fall and the ways that Covid and vaccines will be handled.  And what struck me, I mean leveled me, was how he still refers to Gardner-Webb as “we”.  No matter what, GW is his people.  

His arm hurts some now.  And so after supper was over I drove Pop home in my car.  We listened to that Oak Ridge Gospel Album.  And we listened to the Lazarus song featured on the Gaithers.  And the words hit deep.  His laugh when recognizing the next song up, that he hasn’t heard in years probably, echoed down deep into my soul.  The flood of familiarity, of family, of friendship.  It seemed as if 43 years of being his boy swirled up in a Spirit that swept me into a realm of life and love that I didn’t know was out there.  I knew, but now I know.  And that Lazarus song.  I don’t know if you like old time gospel sounding stuff, but that song will elevate you.  

And then I watched him walk up the steps to his house, framed by the flag on the front porch.  He’s a servant.  He’s a teacher and a pastor.  Or whatever you want to label him.  But he’s a model of truly human being.  Not perfect.  But pressing on, despite, and perhaps because of his full awareness of his imperfections.  Showing me the way to “we”.  To the One.  

That was what freedom meant to me this Fourth.  I hope it is also with you.  

Grace and Peace.

Dan’l 

Third Life

Walking back from my sacred rock at the river, across the wooden bridge and then past the sandy beach area where I sat while the dead dog decayed for a month or so last summer… sorry for that image and smell, but it’s really what happened… like I said, walking back just past that sandy beach, there’s a half tree, and almost every single time, when it passes into my left peripheral vision I glance quickly over as though it’s a person or something. Then I laugh. At myself. I laugh at myself because I know it’s coming. It’s happened dozens of times. And it still gets me almost every single time.

My First Life I categorized as the 2 decades before Sarah, and the Second Life the 2 decades we have now spent together, so it follows that the Third Life will consist of the 2 decades on deck.

I really hope that when I’m 53 and 63 that I’ll still be flinching at that dang half tree and immediately laughing out loud at myself.

Or when my hair is turned all mostly white, I hope I am still up in the press box with a broken down air conditioner and a CD Player (I mean we have one in 2021 might as well keep the CDs going until 2041–they’ll be classic by then and poised for a comeback like the vinyl of today)…

But I hope I’m up there with Alan and Pat eating the same pregame meals (baseball and superstition belong together), and solving all the world’s problems both large and small, and my favorite thing of all, I hope that in the Third Life after a bang bang play that me and Al and Pat do a quick discussion of whether it was a hit or an error so that I can post it up on the scoreboard. I don’t know a lot, but I do know those instant calls and sometimes quick discussions are my favorite. And then if we get into talking about our own glory years, or trying to put together an all time Crest team. Yessir! And football is only a few months away and then I’ll get to be up there with Donnie and Dr. Litton and Flounder and Andy… I’ve gotta calm down.

So, yeah the Third Life. Obviously so much of looking ahead to the next 20 years is presumptive. And if we had forgotten what happens when we assume, then the last year and a half surely reminded us! So the format for this one is a bit different, and honestly has been tough to wrap my mind around which is why I was later in posting.

I mean the kids you know! Wow. The Third Life, if all goes as imagined, will see my oldest boy graduate next year followed by his sister and brither in a few short years. It will bring college visits and perhaps spouses and kids and careers. Or maybe not. But I am so excited and proud and filled up and running over to see them continue to live life. They’re good kids! And I won’t keep qualifying, but in the realest sense all of the Third Life is based on the often used phrase “Lord willin'”.

I hope in my Third Life to continue to improve my craft as a teacher. I am so grateful for the caring leadership that Holly offered during this unprecedented time for us. I told her how much it meant to me personally since combined with the pandemic I was also dealing with my dad’s health and the crap with GWU and my own health and trying to shepherd my own kids through the murky waters… and yeah Holly was a source of compassionate stability for me.

And I’m so excited for the next phase at Crest as Mr. Shields, my lifelong friend, takes the helm. His record speaks for itself, he is one of the smartest people I’ve known and he leads by example with hard work and excellence. He kept saying “what we do is too important…” at our first meeting and that has inspired and reenergized me for the coming year. And no doubt his presence will be an extra motivator for me because he knows me, and we’ve had a friendly competition, or maybe not so much competition, but collaboration through my First and Second Lives. Its wild that I only have a decade left before I can retire, but I want to be the best teacher I can be. Excellent and consistent and inspiring. And I hope to find other avenues to provide support and education for folks in addition to teaching at Crest.

And Sarah as the director of TRIO is impacting so many lives! She’s so good at what she does. She cares so deeply for people and is so intelligent and excellent and creative. I’m excited to see how her career evolves as well in the realm of education. We’re teachers. Always have been.

I’m going to try and become more of a handyman. That’s scary for Sarah and the kids because I’m kinda like Cliff Huxtable when it comes to home repair. I tend to go full sledgehammer out of the gate. LoL. But I want to learn how to be more patient and detail oriented when it comes to things like this.

I know we will experience loss and death and new life and issues with our bodies and minds that we haven’t before. Getting older is a real thing I reckon. I’ve worked hard to get into the best shape I’ve been in since early in my Second Life, but the reality is I’m 43 no matter how much I sometimes still wish I was 23.

And in that regard, I want to learn to be. To let it be. To rest in the goodness of God. To rest in the notion that Good wins. That Good has already won. Already and ongoing. But the not yet of this world, if that makes sense… the darkness and brokenness and sadness and such of this current age… it can really weigh me down. Lord I believe, “help me in my unbelief.” I hear you man from Mark 9. I hear you!

I have a blessing in that I can think a few steps ahead. It’s a blessing in that it allows me to foresee problems and issues and work towards solving them. I’m good at planning ahead and seeing a variety of possible scenarios. And it’s really fun to anticipate fun trips and events. But it’s also a burden as that same ability also, too often, leads me to playing out negative outcomes. Imagined, but in my mind all too real. Then I get into my own head and nervous system… ahhh “anxiety, why do you always get the best of me.” Not always, but those are good lyrics from Isbell. I’m rambling, but I’ll finish this paragraph with a thought I heard from the 400 meter race I watched at the college nationals. The announcer said you just gotta run and let the finish line come to you, instead of trying to get yourself to the line. You just keep running and it will come. That’s what I wanna do. Just keep running. You know… believe. and BeLive.

Maybe I’ll be mayor. If the town will have me. That would be something.

So yeah, I don’t know what’s next… I hope to continue to develop a community of folks with whom I get to live this life. Covid and the changes we’ve experienced have led us to expend most of our energy towards our own 5 plus one or two more. Church of 6. And, I’m a whole lot like my dad, who, if you know him, loves to be at the house. And I like it even more now that the mosquito folks come and spray and we don’t get bitten anymore. I think I’ve Pavlov’d myself into staying at home even more than normal. haha.

I think a lot about a lot. I love to discuss all the things. I don’t have much time for facebook comment style, canned responses that don’t consider even for a second the layers and many facets of an idea or issue, but for those, like the guys in the press box at the baseball game, who have their opinions but are willing and able to consider a different view even if they disagree with it, yeah I’m here for that. And I hope that early in my Third Life we can see a move towards respect and debate and a move away from enmity and derision. A move toward encouragement and spurring one another on towards love and good deeds. A move towards grace and humility. Grateful and Humble are two words that I cling to these days.

For now I’m just going to sit here and debate about whether I should go ahead and trim the Rose of Sharon bush or let it do its thing and get wild for a bit and then deal with the trim after the beautiful purple flowers bloom. There’s a sermon or two in there for sure.

Thanks for reading y’all. And thanks for the encouragement. It means a great deal to me. Sorry for the rambling nature of this one, but it proved difficult to try and imagine another 2 decades.

Grace and Peace.

Second Life

Did you see her!? The way she looked when she got out of that carriage? That bright eyed, full mouth smile! She was excited. Excited to see me. To be with… me. What a notion! A notion that even 20 years later I sometimes have a hard time fully believing. She loves me. Because I am. Just because I am. And we’ve learned to love each other’s existence, each other’s presence. And we know we will always learn.

My second life has consisted of 20 years being married to Sarah. In the words of the great Inigo Montoya “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

I suppose there’s no other place to start than our foundation. Our family. The wedding itself was a testimony to that solid footing. Our parents and other family members doing all the things, making cakes, putting up chairs, decorating, taking pictures, eating a slice of our wedding cheesecake early before we even cut it. Rest easy, Glenn! Dont’ spin your wheels on the driveway up there in Glory.

Seriously, it’s the fabric of who we are. Our family. We lived with them, have been fed by them–with literal and spiritual food–they’ve taken care of our kids, taken care with our kids. We have learned from their examples to be gracious and generous and selfless and forgiving. We have learned from them commitment and honesty and loyalty.

And we have worked with them to pass those things along to our own kids. My God, what a blessing in this life are Samuel, Sydney, and Isaac to us! Sarah likes to tell people that we were only married a few weeks and I was already saying I was ready to have the babies. I did learn that it was best to wait at least a few weeks after a baby was born to start talking about the next one. 🙂 Our 3 were so eager to be with us, they all arrived earlier than expected. Thank you to all of you who have impacted them and who have encouraged them. 17 and a half of our 20 years have been filled with those amazing humans. I could type books and books about them, but for those who know us, who know them, you know why. I am so proud of them and we are so blessed by them!

We’ve tried to be advocates for our kids. We’ve tried to teach them to hold loosely to money and things and to place more value on people and experiences. We’ve tried to teach them a strong work ethic, but that their value isn’t found in accomplishments or failures. They know I love them more than anything in the world, but I also remind them, or I used to, that my wife came first. If they ever disrespected her–which didn’t happen more than once or twice in all the years–they better recognize… These days they are the ones that teach me more often than not, I have to say. I am awed by their respect and love for others. All others. I am enlightened by their perspectives of patience and peace.

Sarah and I are both career teachers and pastors. Formally and informally at different stages. Sarah got her M.A. in English Lit while nursing and tending to a new born. She has taught as an adjunct prof at GWU and CCC, edited Doctoral dissertations, taught high school English, taught the best home school of all time (Broad River Academy what what?!) and now currently serves as the director of TRIO at CCC (more on that tomorrow in Third Life).

I will enter year 19 teaching next August. It defines me. Not the test scores, though I do ok with those, but the connections. The recognition of the students. What I mean by that is recognizing that they are, now, and not some commodity to be trained for the future. That their education is one of becoming more fully human as they increase perspective through studying the arts and sciences. Encouraging them through failure and hardship and celebrating with them in success and letting them know that we’re all humans seeking and searching and trying to figure this thing out together. Or something like that…

And we’ve both served as pastors and elders at our church BRCC and I was actually part time youth pastor at Sandy Run when we first started out. Shout out to Tim Hendrick!

…Those fires though! I wonder how many we’ve had. Fires in the backyard with a different cast of characters each and every time. Always the familiars, but with a new addition here and there. For years we had GWU students come to our house on Wednesdays for food and fellowship. Nothing formal, but James didn’t need formal if he was gonna get some of that lasagna. We shared our home with them. Lived our lives in front of them. And they shared back. Still in contact with so many of those folks who sat around the fires or ate in our home or sat on our couches or had tea parties with my daughter or foam sword fights with our boys. Those were good days for sure! BRCC College style with dt and Sarah and the kids. Ha. I’m smiling big as I remember that.

The part I’ve been so hesitant to try and write about, but one that was integral to who Sarah and I are… Well over half of our 20 years was dedicated to the life and community of BRCC. I’m still being shepherded by Matt O. as he leads me through the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Ha. We’re so grateful, so much better as humans because of the way he taught us about Jesus. The long game of discipleship.

The Monday Night guys’ prayer times in the basement, CDH, and moving the service to Dover Theater when the Y waxed the floors once a year, and rolling those dang blue chairs out and in and in and out, and going through myriad approaches to night time meals, because the early days with lunch after was a real thing, and music and not music and sometimes the projector works, and going through, straight through the text and not picking and choosing to suit a personal theme, and coffee and kids running amok because they’re the church of today just as much as any of us, Vacation Bible Party!… and all of it being run by volunteers. All of it. Nobody getting paid. By choice. By design. My God it was a Beautiful thing. Rich and challenging and hilarious and full of life.

But we were human after all. It wasn’t one thing. It was a tidal wave of events and changing scenarios, some benign and some not so much. People moved away. Currents of difference and distrust swelled beyond control. I don’t know. I don’t know. But if I’m going to be honest and write about our Second Life then the disintegration of BRCC as we knew it… well it leveled Sarah and me. Devastated us. We thought we were known, and yet we seemed so unknown. We did all that we could as best as we could. We did what we thought we should. We tried. We defended. Til the end. Til this day. I’m sorry for the relationships that were severed. We poured our lives into the experiment. Sarah poured her life out almost literally. Her mental and physical health were bruised and battered. We spent a lot of time grieving. I suppose, and maybe it’s obvious, we still do. When I talk about the healing and magic of Avett Brothers at Red Rocks it is in reference to this time. So hard. We really have No Hard Feelings as the song goes. It took us time to let go, but we have. Now we have the Church of 6. With satellite campuses in Matthews and Bozeman. For all that happened I am grateful and humble. Even the hard part.

And dang Gardner-Webb! Come on… what the heck? A man gives over half of his life to you and he walks in on a Monday morning to get a termination letter. Y’all know that story, but man.

And Covid. Shew. And the bitter hatred and division that marks so much of our discourse. What a time! Alas…

We are stronger now, Sarah and I, for all of it. Through all of it. Depth. Insight. Flowing together like water, as one.

We’ve lived in Statesville and freaked out about Carbon Monoxide during ice storms, eaten frog legs at my folks’ house, had a preemie in Florence, SC and one with the cord wrapped around her neck, and a third one with no drama but early nonetheless. We’ve travelled all around and loved and lost and loved again. Sarah’s been a saint of patience and grace as she’s learned to deal with my peculiarities and my tendency to be an ass sometimes. Sorry for the language, but really there’s no better way to describe it. We’ve eaten wings and cheesecake and watched tennis and sang really loud and driven with the windows down and watched the trees dance and the clouds form and reform.

We’ve just sat together quietly. Learning just… to be. To be. Two becoming One. The Mystery revealed in flashes. In us. Glimpses of the Good in each other. Despite, or maybe even because of our willingness to accept each other’s and our own flaws and failures.

It’s not a fairytale. It’s messy and difficult sometimes. It’s joyful and hilarious sometimes. Most of the time it’s just regular day to day living and loving and learning. And for all of it. For all 20 years I am Grateful and Humble.

I promise the Third Life entry will be much shorter. If you made it this far, thank you for reading and sorry for rambling. I’m a work in progress. We are. We are. Thank you to all of you who have contributed your love and support and encouragement to us over these years. And thanks for not agreeing too adamantly when I admit to being as ass. I know some of ya’ll nodded your head when I said that. 😉 😂

Grace and peace to you all.

First Life

I mean, I was cup ball king of the sand pit at the Lattimore softball field. What more is there really to say? I loved just about everything about growing up. Being coached by my dad and brother and rooted on by my mom and sister. Winning championships in Little League basketball, and in baseball we were little league, middle school, and high school champs–state champs in summer ball!

I grew up on campus at GW. Riding bikes through the campus, wiping up sweat at the basketball games. I literally grew up on the campus. About as Gardner-Webb as a person can be. Alas…

I won the Optimist Oratorical contest in 8th grade and was French student of the year in 7th or 8th–whichever one Gabe Whisnant didn’t win. I was one of two from our area selected to go to Presidential Classroom in D.C. my junior year. Junior Marshall.

Crest Crazy. Active in Young Life and FCA and Youth group. And the vaunted Nine Six–still an active cell by the way.

In other words I had it all together. At least I was really good at creating the perception of that being the case. Don’t get me wrong most all of my memories I am quite fond of. Riding along with my big bro in the Ford Escort or singing real loud and making stuff up on a cassette tape recorder with my sister. Playing Jeopardy with the family after sitting around the table and using the fondue pot to cook up some steak–I was always the orange skewers.

There were some tough times too, though. Some that still haunt me. Some that are a part of life and living. I remember sliding a picture of myself in my Granddaddy’s suit pocket while his body was lying in the casket at the funeral home–not sure what the psychology of that was other than that I hoped he would remember me… or maybe I hoped somehow I could remember him through that act. My Mawmaw died a few years later an hour or so after we left her house on a weekend afternoon.

And too much of the time back then I thought way more of myself than I should have. I wish I could take back the too many times I was an arrogant jerk. Some people say they don’t have regrets. I have plenty.

I’ve always been a seeker. A searcher. And I lost the path for a bit when I went to Davidson College. Turns out it’s important to go to class. I didn’t do much of that–especially second semester. I drifted a bit too far from the shore and had a tough time finding my way back. I’m not proud of that story, but just like Tow-Mater in Cars2 those are dents that I have that make me who I am. I always tell my students at school, that the failure I experienced in that regard–well, if it wouldn’t have happened I wouldn’t have ended up back at Gardner-Webb and I wouldn’t have been in that Philosophy class that this girl named Sarah Donaldson was in…. So yeah.

I was still swirling when I got to GW. Still seeking. Then I met her…

So there I was, long-haired and barefoot and trying to find my way. Wondering and Wandering. And the bell tower tolled 8 and the sun began to set, and then clippity-clop, she made her way in a horse drawn carriage around to find me. And the first chapter of my life, the one without her, came to a close…

(Second Life and Third Life to follow in the next few days. )

Sharing in the groove

Haven’t written much of late. Mostly been indulging in the world of Phish on my Sirius radio app.

Also reading a book called Gardens of the Moon which is the first of 10 in the series so… that will be on the mind for a spell.

Not a for real post but a few things that are developing in my mind for future exploration:

Wonder if I’m the only 43 year old man that picked up the Dove men + care shampoo this morning but then put it down and said out loud to myself, “you know, I think I’ll go with Pert this morning”…

Sharing in the groove.

Asking Sydney if she wants to come home before we go to the away tennis match and all the factors involved in that.

Encouragement.

Should one take stands? If so, what’s worth it?

Social Media etc as ‘devoid of humanity’

Third Life.

Reasons for wanting to me Mayor.

I’ll try and get back to writing more regularly. Peace.

Simple

RCL 4/11/21

My thoughts aren’t all together here, but we’ll give it a shot. I need to tell you briefly about Phish. Their lead guitarist, Trey, wrote a thing for his senior project (in college in think) called Gamehendge. It’s a fantastical world with several characters and story lines that are put to music. And many of the songs the band plays come from Gamehendge. One of the songs, or two of them, are Col. Forbin’s Ascent and Fly Famous Mockingbird. In between the two Trey usually offers up a narration… to the delight of all the hippies in the crowd. It’s usually pretty psychedelic.

Anyway, one I listened to the other day from 1995 in Hershey, PA really caught me. Trey starts out saying he’s gonna give a brief history of humanity. He says that way back in time in Ancient Greece, philosophy, science, and religion were all one concept. They hadn’t split up yet he says. Then he goes into saying there are Eastern ways of thinking and Western ways… Eastern is about being One and holistic etc, Western splits spirit and matter…

Now you know the crowd is like, daaannnngg… ‘he’s right mannnn…’ you know and all the other stoned hippy stereotypical utterings. In fact, you can hear the crowd cheer very loudly for the Eastern way of thinking–which is interesting to consider in its own right. So that’s the stage…. these Phish fans are about to have all their eyes opened as Trey explains to them how it all fits together. Remember now, they’re in Hershey.

He goes on to say that one of the major benefits of Eastern thought is the abundance of cows, which leads to an abundance of milk, and therefore an abundance of chocolate! Then he says it like Homer Simpson… ‘chocolate’!

I don’t know if that makes any sense to you. It’d be better for us to listen to it together and hash all the thoughts out. But it leveled me. And I think that’s a good word. Leveled. It made me reflect on Simplicity. They have a song called Simple actually. “We’ve got it simple, because we’ve got a band.”

And one time I was at their 2000 NYE concert in the Everglades and Trey had to give a message of peace and harmony to the TV Audience on ABC for a brief spell, and he said his message of peace and harmony was to stay in the right lane unless you’re passing…

I enjoy breaking things down. Mostly enjoy. Sometimes it causes me stress. But my mind works that way. I like to consider all the angles of life and human existence. I like to think about the parts of the whole. And I believe and assent to the value of those practices. We do have our own little idiosyncrasies and experiences. And breaking those things down can lead to healing in all the kinds of ways. Mental, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual. No doubt.

But sometimes it seems that in continuing to dismantle and highlight all of the component parts that it can become very noisy. Distracting. Trey is just having a good time talking about chocolate. Or Driving. Peace and Harmony or the division between science and religion are all very important aspects of existence, but we aren’t going to get a firm grasp on those things and sometimes it’s good to retreat back to the Simple.

Love God and Love Your Neighbor. My dad has said that’s all there is to it for many years. Often, I think I thought that was just a cop out. But now I understand better. If I Love God and Love My Neighbor I’m doing and being pretty much all I can. But how do you love god and who is your neighbor and what does it mean to say god and which god and why do they do it this way and they do it that way…. Noisy. Important perhaps. But noisy.

The Acts passage today is interesting. I’ve always liked the material possession aspect of it. This is how we treat money in our family. Birthday money or whatever all goes into the ‘box’. And we spend it as we need it. Learning balance between wants and needs and how both of those are ok at various times. And learning not to hold on too tightly for another saying from my Pop–it’s just money.

But maybe there’s more to possession than materiality. I know I have a tendency to think that a revelation I have is one that I had. (Emphasis on I)! That I now have. That now I should tell you about because if only you knew it too then we could all live happily ever after. I figured it out, just listen to me. It’s tricky because revelation by nature feels that way to the one whom it was revealed. So naturally we want to share it. But as the Avett boys sing, possession is the king of sin.

I have the tendency to try and own the truth–as I see it. And Instagram (and all the socials really) is loaded with folks letting you know what the truth is. Just be this way or just do this practice or just manifest this or lean into that or do this work…. I don’t mean to belittle. I just mean to say maybe it’s not so complicated after all. (Also I deleted Insta again… so many reasons)

The overall thrust of today’s readings is that of Unity. Again, I understand the complexities of it all. I get that generalizations have been used to crush other humans.

But despite all of our differences and identifiers and categories and labels… seems to me there is much more that we have in common than we have in uncommon. The less I have to wade through to see you are just like me, makes it that much easier to have the dew of the beard of Herman or whatever…. hahaha. It makes Unity that much more attainable I think.

So. I’m going to set my intention to Loving God and Loving My Neighbor. And I know what that means. Not easy by a long shot. Sometimes the intention of others isn’t focused on loving me. Sometimes I do tricks with my mind to think that I know the intentions of others, and then I get all out of sorts.

But my intention. I know what things I can do to love others. I know ways that I can love God. Ima try and practice doing those things. And when I don’t. Starting again the next day trying again. To be continued…

Simplify.

Friday flashback: football days

Since there’s a big ol ballgame tonight as the Chargers cross the creek and head up to KM, I thought I’d flashback to my days on the gridiron.

In elementary ball I was the QB. Mostly I would toss right or left to BK or Antron or Sonny. One time though I hit that bootleg. Faked the pitch, tucked the ball up under my wrist and went running around the corner the other way. Almost everyone was fooled, and I was off to the races.

The field was only 80 yards long and I had about a 45 yard cushion. I still almost got caught and tackled 😂. But I didn’t, and I scored a touchdown. Let’s say it was a 95 yard run (even though the field was 80 😉)

In middle school I moved to receiver. The over the middle kind, for as coach Melton told me I ran like I had a piano on my back.

That’s half my face on the left.

One time I executed the receiver reverse to perfection. I think. I only think because as soon as I took the handoff and flipped it to the guy coming around on the reverse I got laid out. Smacked. Shew. Kapow.

I did catch a TD pass on a slant. “Hit me on a slant!” BK tossed a perfect spiral to me and I hauled it in just like Jerry Rice. Can’t you see it? And I didn’t even need those sticky gloves.

But after that reverse collision against Lincolnton, getting crushed over the middle by the likes of Dellinger and Harris in practice, and those dreaded Oklahoma drills…

Yeah… I decided full contact sports weren’t my cup of tea. I did enjoy boiling those old mouthpieces and then biting down on them so they would mold to my mouth. Is that still a thing?

Though I did rack up a championship medal in the flag football event at CDH in an epic battle for glory.

These days, my football life is fulfilled by getting to be the announcer for the Chargers on Thursday and Friday nights. Hoping for a win tonight against the Time Traveler’s Mountaineers so we can get another game or two at the Sid!

Philippians 3:12-16

Today my oldest boy had to exchange and return stuff that had been acquired from a relationship ended. He wasn’t looking forward to it.

Today I played my youngest boy in tennis for the first time. Sucker took me to the limit, but I beat him 7-5. He was getting pretty frustrated at the end, and having a hard time letting go of the last point and focusing on the next point.

Losing is tough.

In both cases, I told the boys to feel what you feel. The sadness and gut knots and frustration and disappointment and all those things are ok. Feel them. They don’t need to be blocked or denied or ignored.

But after you feel them, for however long, then let go and move on.

I may run for mayor and even if I don’t, as town council person, or really as a human person, I have to follow that wisdom as well. I have real personal displeasure and anger at the college in town for how they treated my dad.

But life is too short to hold grudges. Too precious. So I’m working on letting go.

And I don’t mean to say it’s easy to let go—it really isn’t. And I don’t mean to excuse or affirm any ill behavior. But letting go and moving on is the Way. Paul says so. Forgetting what is behind and pressing on… taking hold.

There’s hope and goodness awaiting. Abounding. And thank God, even though I think it’s helpful when I am able to take hold of that Hope, thank God it isn’t dependent on my grasp. It’s already taken hold of me. In Christ. It is. Hope is. Life and Love is.

Not that I have it figured out. By no means. In fact for those who think they have it figured out… well I would say knowing you don’t have a full grasp of it all is probably the right direction.

Press on dear friends. And thank you for carrying me along when I didn’t think I could.