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.

Just to say hey…

I had the -oscopy this past week and, Praise the One, I got good news. I also went FB live immediately afterward and once I got home Insta live… both to the dismay of Sarah, as apparently, I was saying some pretty wild junk off camera. LOL

Now, it does make you think and wonder about consciousness. How could I be that out of it, but still somehow recognize the audience I was speaking to? And the drive that wanted to let everyone that had been praying for me and considering me that I was ok… those outweighed any of the effects from the dope I was on.

The Insta live is filled with memorable phrases. Slanted sleeping. Sarah in the background saying ok that’s enough. Me saying I was as good as I was gonna be. Profound stuff, ya know? 😉

But there’s a phrase that comes seemingly out of nowhere: I will find you. But I follow it up with a complete change in my facial expression and say it 2 more times. And then I say…

“Just to say hey… that’s all.”

And like I said earlier, consciousness is a marvel. Because of all the things I don’t remember one bit, I do remember that moment. And as I’ve watched it back many times, you can tell just a bit, that right after I say ‘just to say hey’ that I break for a second. There is a wave of emotion. That is all.

Life is short. It really is. We don’t need the reading from Job 14 from the RCL on this Holy Saturday to alert us to the fact. We all know it internally.

All those years when our kids were young and older parents would say things like ‘time goes by so fast’ or ‘they’ll be grown before you know it’ etc. And at the time, of course, we were the young parents who knew all the things. So we were gonna make sure and cherish every moment as they all go by at the same speed. And we weren’t gonna let time sneak up on us like that.

Ha.

I think we’ve done a pretty good job cherishing the moment. But time is relatively undefeated it seems. Time is short. Fleeting moments.

So we’ve got to love. We’ve got to say hey. That’s all.

I’ve been guilty of withdrawing. Circling my wagons–(is that ok to say?). Once I pulled into my friend’s yard to apologize to him, and he said that he knew we’d been rolled over, but that the way we were responding was to draw our circle tighter and tighter. He wasn’t wrong.

I don’t know about the self-care ethic. That’s not a statement of judgement. It’s a real pondering I have. I do self-care things. I know that my own mental well being is important so that I can be there for other folks. But I do wonder if the pendulum has swung too far maybe. Maybe. Do I make too many excuses about moving on from relationships that are draining or uncomfortable or whatever? Instagram says it’s ok for me to be concerned with mostly myself. Again, not judgement. Just my train of thought pre and post colonoscopy.

Here’s what I’m sure of. The texts and comments both profoundly intimate, such as ‘you’ll be fine‘ from G, or the ones that were just ‘thoughts and prayers’… they all meant so much to me. The knowing glances of gladness after hearing the good news. Those meant all the things to me.

We really are in this thing together. Life. Death. Existence. We all have questions about the mystery of it all. We all approach trying to answer those questions as best we can. And at the end of the day, I think sometimes we… or I… can make it way more complicated than it needs to be.

More and more I think we can cloud it up by seeking the mysterious spiritual remedies or solutions. And what really matters more than most anything is just showing up for each other. Just sharing in community. Communion. In the reality of being human. Shared humanity. You know…

Just saying hey… that’s all.

Friday Flashback: The Proposal

68 days until June 9… That’s when we will mark 20 years of being married up. Thought about waiting until closer to time to post this story, but then I decided to not wait. 🙂 So.. I present the story of the day I proposed to Sarah:

Scene of the proposal in watercolor

We were in some classes together, Philosophy with Dr. Carscaddon for one. In that one we formed a ‘study’ group and she pretended to be wowed by my dizzying intellect. lol. So we had known each other some, but our first time ‘together’ was at Homecoming 1999 (?). After the dance thing we went to the Waffle House in Gaffney. I was relegated to the back of the Isuzu Trooper while the other crew rode up front, but I reckon she was glad I was back there.

So we did our thing for the next year. Playing spades and driving to the mountains and listening to Les Mis and going to India… you know, regular things like that. Fast forward to Homecoming 2000.

I billed it as a celebration of our anniversary. I was going to treat her to a day in the life of the last year together.

So I came to get her at Stroup, where I had grown quite skilled at throwing a piece of bark at her 3rd story window to alert her of my presence. “He’s a suitor!” GW had rules about guys going into girls’ dorms and such.

She came down and we sat in our swing in between Stroup and the music building. And I read to her. Poetry. I’m a romantic, what can I say? We did a good amount of falling in love on that swing over the past year, so it was the only place to begin.

Following my wooing on the swing, we drove up to pick up the Livermush, egg, and cheese sandwiches I had on order to go from the Snack Shop. We took those foil wrapped delicacies with us down the Greenway where we had a morning breakfast by the river.

Then we came back up to watch and follow the homecoming parade down Main St. and Stadium Drive on our way to watch the football game. We stayed til halftime or so before we went back to my apartment on campus.

I had the rooms decorated. One was set up like this place in Boone we used to go to. We had found this cave type situation with our friends Jeremy and Joy and we spent a good amount of time hiking up that way. On our way to and from Macadoo’s of course. So I had one room set up like ‘the hole’ from Boone.

The other room was set up like we were in India. Sarah lived in India for a year after she graduated high school. She worked at an orphanage with a man named Samuel Thomas (see oldest son’s name). During our year together I had the chance to go on a trip to the orphanage and surrounding areas. It was wonderful and awful. I’ll have to write about that another time–and I would also love to have Sarah write about her experiences there for some Thursday entries here at Co6…

But I was glad to be able to experience the place that had formed her so much, so I had a room set up with Chai and I had borrowed a punjabi suit from my friend and I rocked it while we sat together and had our tea.

By then it was time to head down to the Cracker Barrel. I like a good schedule. We went down and ordered our usual–split the 6 veggies and all the biscuits and apple butter you can handle. Cheap and delicious. It was great until we met some friends down there, and they got to talking, and were dangerously close to putting a kink in my schedule. Whew. Don’t worry guys… it all worked out 😉

After supper we landed at the Dover Theater to see our friends perform in Midsummer Night’s Dream. By this point, I’m getting very nervous–you see I’ve had this ring floating around with me all day in various places. Or at least the thought of the ring was floating around.

So at the play, I was fidgety to say the least, and Sarah began to worry that I was feeling sick. Nope just my natural reaction to the stress of proposing to live my life with you girl… I said to myself of course. Then probably gave her the “smoulder“.

Those who get vaccinated together stay together

On we went then to the homecoming dance, where it all started a year before. We did the tootsie roll probably, and assuredly the electric slide, ate all the meatballs and pigs in a blanket, and then we wandered on out to Lake Hollifield by the bell tower.

I took her down to the gazebo, opened up the Jansport, lit up a dozen or so tea candles around on the rails, pulled out the boom box (you know the kind that takes 47 D batteries, placed Wynton Marsalis Midnight Blues in the CD player, and we danced in the moonlight. And I said smooth things I’m sure. I love you girl… you make me who I am girl…. this has been the best year… who was I before you… you know smooth…

After that we walked back up to the bell tower. This was before the Tucker Center was built and my fancy Stella blue escort was parked up by the tower. Sarah, thinking this was the end of a lovely anniversary, was surprised when I suggested that instead of going to the car we keep on walking down to the legendary boiling spring.

We walked down that way and I had her sit down on a bench beside the leaning tree (which was just recently removed), and I whipped out the ring, dropped down to both knees…. listen y’all I was way to nervous and unsteady to balance on one knee. I said some more romantic things and then asked her to marry me…

And she said…

“Nuh uh!!!!!”

And I was like…

But, of course, it was a totally shocked and surprised and elated “nuh uh”… which was quickly followed by a yes and probably some solid making out.

I had taken the risk of informing many of our friends, and when we walked back to my apartment they were all waiting for us to celebrate–with sparkling grape juice of course–because Gardner Webb.

It was a good day.

The Stone DMB: I will come find you…

I’ve been thinking about what it means that we’re all in this together. I’ve been thinking about our current ethic of self and how that should fit. This will be a topic I will explore more in the coming days. For today’s Thursday Thoughts though, I’ll let Dave’s words from the song The Stone carry the load.

“I was just wondering if you’d come along
To hold up my head when my head won’t hold on
I’ll do the same if the same’s what you want
If not I’ll go…”

Philippians 3:1-11

Such a rich, loaded passage. I would normally want to break this down into smaller chunks, but what is normal. 😉 Instead I mostly want to let the focus fall on the last few verses.

I know he uses the terms loss and rubbish, and I’ve read in a couple places where the word used here is very strong–even to the point of calling it the good word for poop.

I don’t think the point, though, is so much to discount the badges that he has. The successes he’s had in the flesh aren’t useless or pointless. It’s not so much that they have no value… I don’t think.

And maybe I’ll end up saying the same thing, but I think the point here is in contrast with the knowledge of Christ that these things, which in and of themselves are good as far as they go, they pale in comparison. In fact, there is no comparison.

I find my identity in a lot of things that are valuable. I am a good teacher. It defines a lot of my identity. I’m a fairly good husband and a pretty good dad. I identify with those things. I do a decent job representing the voters of Boiling Springs on town council. I try to be vulnerable and honest on FB and Insta in hopes of casting a bit of light on others who may experience similar trials. I love my kids. Yeah I know I already said that I was a good dad. But seriously, I love them so much. And Sarah. Yeah.

Those things are rubbish. Ha. Compared to the knowledge of Christ. To the sharing of his sufferings. Think on that for a lifetime! Becoming like him in his death and attaining the resurrection. Wow.

Again, I think being husband and daddy and teacher and friend are phenomenal. But the Christ. The life and work of Jesus and the path that is opened up for me, for us, due to the Humility and Grace created by him. That’s the value.

Lord let me identify in you and the identity I find in other things flow from that first. The Love and Life and Hope and Peace found in you surpasses all other things. All else will seem to fade. My health, my identities mentioned above. But the Lord reigns forever. He remains. Praise the One.

Finally, my brothers and sisters,[a] rejoice[b] in the Lord.

To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh![c] For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God[d] and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh— even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,[e] the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ[f] and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Memory Project Notes

Off the top of my head… things I remember about my folks growing up:

We used to sit around the table and cook steak in the fondue pot. I would always want the orange tipped skewers.

My dad made this wooden case that accompanied a baseball game where you had to keep scorecards with old school players…

We would sit around playing Intellivision (before Nintendo)… we would play a football game, and B-17 bomber… Then when Nintendo happened it was a lot of Zelda and Metroid.

My mom would be at all the sports games doing her special hex on the opponent among other antics. Seemed to work though–she still puts the hex on tennis opponents to this day 😉

Pop out in the shop making whatever was next, like a wrestling ring for my figures, and blaring Kingsmen, or Oak Ridge Boys, or Jesus Christ Superstar, or the Gaithers…

Playing wiffle ball in the backyard at Campus House… used an old wooded basketball backboard that had the strike zone painted on it. Home run derby was the usual game.

Me and Jodi using a tape recorder to record conversations and our stunning renditions of whatever the popular songs were: likely some Tiffany and Bangles involved. And we would hit those runs!

Mom and Dad both playing all the church softball. They were good too! I spent many days growing up at the old Lattimore softball field–I was the king of cup ball in that sand pit. And ate a thousand air heads.

One time Daddy (Pop) tore his achilles trying to stretch out a triple. He was in a full length leg cast for several weeks.

We walked to the GW swimming pool through about 8-10 inches of snow one year for my bday party.

My dad worked 3rd shift most of the time growing up. He would sleep while we were at school, but then would always be at practice. Every single one.

We would go down to Gaffney most every week to see Herman and Billie, granddaddy and granny–my dad’s folks. And we’d spend many Sundays at Mawmaw’s house in Lattimore–making sugar butter biscuits with Aunt Jewel… and likely catching up on the week’s drama from Young and the Restless.

So much time playing Little League baseball, basketball, and football.

I’m sure I could continue with a pretty long list… and I will add to these memories as I go along in an attempt to compile some type of coherent narrative as a part of my memory project. Of course, the overall support and constant advocacy from my folks is what stands out. I can name individual memories, but the No Matter What kind of love that they have always demonstrated and given to us is such an integral part of who I am.

Thanks mom and dad.