Interdependence Day

Independence Day was fun.  I loved a mind-blowing encounter when Will Smith claws out of his jettisoned fighter jet seat in the desert to stomp, smash talk over to an alien craft to reach the craft and hit the alien in the “face?”, light up his cigar and unload the swag.

All by himself.  Alone, out in the desert.

We love this American Ideal in the first pathfinders, mountain men, cowboys, and single moms making a go against overwhelming odds.

Happy Fourth of July.  Independence Day!

Except, the original Independence Day was a frightening set of promises given by men to each other.  They amazingly displayed interdependence by charting the course of a not-yet-birthed country with ideals binding us together even now.  Some died.  Many lost everything.  They made themselves targets.

What would become These United States declared its independence from England and a tyrannical king.  That is the independence, and some of that swag belongs to each and every American.

But the “swag” that keeps us winning, growing, failing and learning together is that interdependence.  We do so together.

Shivering men sneaked up on Hessian Mercenaries on a freezing Christmas Night, some barefooted, almost none with sufficient clothing depended on each other crossing the Delaware.

Each fought for the man next to him.

No other American said it better than Martin Luther King, We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Alabama 1963.  

Will Smith ejected from a fighter built by tens of thousands, bankrolled by hundreds of millions, after he was trained for more than a million dollars by thousands, and backed by thousands of people helping him track the alien.  Interdependence is still how we do it.

Do not miss this.  We stand independent, not under any king’s or tyrant’s thumb.  Independence.

But we will continue, we hand this dream to our children, we flourish as we admit and hold up our interdependence, our faith that together we overcome.  I would add, with a profound dependence on God and His enduring Providence.

When Will pulled out the cigar and lit up, we all together, celebrated that silly moment because we learned to celebrate together, Yorktown, Appomattox, The Battle of Midway impossible without the courageous sacrifice of torpedo bombers, and 130,000 others resting deep beneath white crosses and stars of David in ten countries … who all died not knowing the outcome of the battles where they gave their lives, for the man or woman next to them.  Then for you.  For me.

Interdependence fuels our Independence, or we vanish from the face of this earth as lesser civilizations did.

It is raining, hailing, storming

We have a pond in wet years, and a deep depression in dry years.  On three occasions in fifteen years, we went from mud hole or dry depression to full to overflowing in a few days.  This time, unlike the other two, we have had three feet of water flowing over the dam off and on for five days.

It has some unexpected benefits.  The pond below us was covered in duckweed a week ago, and now every bit of green has been washed over that dam by turbid brown water.

I only mention that because we have been glued to storm watch channels with a bag packed to go down into the basement for three of the last seven nights.  I only mention that because, to this moment, we have gotten off terribly fortunate.  We have watched on the news as houses slid into roaring rivers, tornadoes have ripped apart homes and lives, hail has destroyed cars and roofs, and — we breathed sighs of relief.  It was not us.

There is something terribly, amazingly human there.

In WW2, the Germans bombed London.  They rained down water line busting bombs, and then rained down incendiary bombs.  They calculated to the millions how London would be a demoralized wasteland for years.  Malcolm Gladwell chronicled the profoundly different effect that they reaped.  Many, many more people “survived” the bombings, lived through “near misses”, and were so surprised at their resilience, that they fought fires, volunteered to rebuild and defend in countless ways.

The bombings enraged London, but did not defeat them.  The bombings stiffened their resolve.

Countless people face terrible flooding and worse tonight, and I have a small prayer.  That those who survive, that those who come through, that those who are terribly close to near misses are surprised by their resilience.  There may be no one to be angry at, except God, but there will be many who wake up bone weary tomorrow — yet, undefeated.  A strange, unasked for gift.

The “B” Team

I am a Yankees fan.  Since age four.  My mom’s mother was terribly concerned about my eternal salvation and about my allegiances on this side of the Jordan River, before I “crossed over” at the end of this life.

She fell in love with Marris and DiMaggio and company.  She passed that love on to me.  Cheering for the Yankees has unexpected benefits.  People who cheer for a plethora of other teams automatically hate you.  Those same people seek you out to remind you when the Yankees are adrift, sinking, battered and washing up on shore.  It is a little like breaking a leg and people rejoicing for you.

Then you must grimace as the big Red machine to the north wins a zillion games in the season, and the pennant, and the Big One.  It only hurts.

This year started out like many others.  A huge set of salaries bought by evil genius/dumbest man in baseball Cashman, are injured.  Thirteen on IL is half of a roster of 26.  Half.  Tie your hitting/fielding arm behind your back and play.  And that is where the biggest funny in a long time is playing out for us all to watch.  No, it is not September, and no, there is no pennant anywhere close, but all the “B” team guys brought up from within the organization are, uh, winning.  They are beating up on other AL East contenders.  They lead the AL East, the toughest playground in the MLB.

So now Boone and Cashman have the sort of dilemma others only dream about.  Do you let the upstarts continue to win, and insure the millionaires are healthy and only have to play, say, three-quarters of the season?  Do you start bringing back the millionaires?

Only Yankees fans get to savor such craziness.

I am in a hotel

And last night I was in another hotel.

No, I was teaching until 9:30.  Wait, that was the other two nights.  Oh, all three.

Was I in a hotel last night?  No, that was two weeks ago.  St. Petersburg.  No, Austin.

Spring break was last week, right?  Oh, yes, grandkids, allergies arriving to tell me my allergy shots are not working quite that well.

Did I remove that fallen tree in the front of the cabin?  I think so, yes.  The unfinished one is on the back of our property.  Yes, I got the one in front.

I talked to my brother Buck and his  beloved Carole, into the night, tore myself away in the morning to go to SXSW.  Three weeks, no, two Fridays ago.

Beau has a solid idea, the financing for Tokata seems almost doable, Brandon might get this job he wants, Kourtney has overcome her last huge setback, Fred and Frieda may get past his infidelity, Pat may close this round of funding, Jill’s artwork is getting helps from unexpected places, and yes, I still enjoy teaching.

Maybe, just maybe I do not shirk from hotels, because if I turn off the phone…..

The swirls diminish just a tiny bit, leaving the possibility of silence, just the possibility.

On Bowing Down

We got to keep Duke (“6 almost 7″) and Veda (4, “Shouldn’t you already know that?”) for two weekends.  Jill charted two endurance courses: meals, swimming, shopping, splash pad #1, playground, Monsters Inc. twice since they transformed Life.Church for At The Movies on that theme, maybe sleeping, church, coffee shops, splash pad #2, naps and home.

I think I love having them until I compare myself to Mimi, who is juiced beyond belief.  I make funny games, listen to them gossip, pontificate on arcane minutiae, and become self-aware.   Twice Duke replayed the “You are not allowed to touch my privates” speech.  Then, maybe ten minutes later, he called me to the restroom to wipe his bottom after going #2.

Tempted to replay that I should not touch him, Mimi’s look-of-death froze the thought in inaction.  True self-awareness awaits further work.

Somewhere in a blur of making blueberry pancakes (thirteen grain); Duke asked, “When did you bow down to Mimi?”

He caught my blank face.

Duke, “You DID bow down to Mimi, right?”

I now looked at Mimi, my wife and girlfriend, and she realized Duke had seen photos in our little digital photo frame over by the toys, and in those photos, a somewhat grainy Colt knelt before Claire one night at the Botanical Gardens.  He was asking her to marry him.

She said “Yes”, ergo Duke, Nova and Veda.

So I told him I bowed down to Mimi at the North Pole on the map of the world in the old Dallas Love Terminal, and she said “Yes”.  Yes.  I bowed down to her.

I thought later I should add, “And when she met my family and still kept me, and when your dad was born, and when her first horse died and we lost a baby between the boys, and when I served in ministry and we always had more month than money.”

Then I thought to add, “And this morning because she loves you, worked two days to prepare this weekend, enriches my life, keeps up with a zillion people, paints beautifully, cares for animals, and is funny, witty and reads.”

Now I have to wait until he returns with his mom and dad, and I should bow down more often, and say so.

 

The Yankees Owe the Red Sox

The Yankees owe the Red Sox a lot.  Not just for the Babe, that is an obvious gift.  They owe the Red Sox on a much deeper level that we easily take for granted.

The Red Sox are the exceptional nemesis.  Not only that, they are the exceptional nemesis at the most inopportune times.  Take this year.

You can write reams about the Yankees farm system and player development paying off unbelievably.  You can write about the astonishing group that together is killing the home run total for a team…other teams have one or two bombers, the Yankees’ bat boy seems to be contributing to the total.  You can write about a struggling bullpen and starting rotation based on any one game, but not a season.

You can write about the best or near best record in baseball.  You can write about the pace for a gazillion wins.

And the Red Sox are right there with them — keeping up.  They breathe down the necks of the Yanks or the Yanks, if they slouch for a game, will chase the Red Sox.  No one else in the league has a nemesis breathing down their neck, staring them in the face, rejoicing every time they stumble because a half game is the season — facing that one game playoff.  Every time either team plays in the other’s house, it is a parachute drop into hell.  Not every park knows and already hates your name.

If the Yanks achieve greatness in the World Series, they will all need to sit down and write personal thank yous to — the Red Sox.  Or, they can sit and watch the Sox in the Series, and wait for THEIR thank yous.

They owe the Sox — a lot.

hearse thief

Medical schools starting two centuries ago faced a continuing need: corpses.  They needed recently healthy corpses.  They needed the pregnant, children, old or diseased and mostly: fresh corpses.

Dying as a pauper in London or New York made a fair wager — your corpse passed to a dissection class before a grave.  Medical schools harvested no corpses. Needing plausible deniability, there arose a trade providing corpses, and these men were bizarrely titled Resurrection Men, spitting on Christians’ hope of resurrection.

If caught, they faced grave robbing charges.  Or worse, if police suspected he hurried anyone from this life to help doctors-in-training learn surgery — he faced death — and of course, a final turn ‘through’ medical school.

Grave robbers.  Hearse thieves.  Everyone — murderers, thieves, prostitutes — looked down on them and feared, desperately feared passing through their hands.

Christians were offended at such a title for these men.  This ‘resurrection’ horrifically twisted hope in Christ.

But God has, if anything, a profound sense of humor, and a deep, deep sense of irony.

So Jesus hiked from the north country through valleys southward.  At evening, He climbed up from the road to tiny Nain.  Maybe Nain was built on Shunem’s ruins or nearby.  And in tiny Nain where birth and death were bookends for few surprises, everyone could recite a time when God let a town woman push the great Prophet Elisha to attempt, to ask the impossible.  All these centuries later, every child and agnostic knew the story.  Elisha promised her a son.  She bore him, and on a hot day in harvest he died.  She rode hellbent for leather straight to Mt. Carmel where prophets commune with God.

And she answered the Prophet’s servant pointedly asking, “Is all well with you?”

“Yes!”

“Is all well with your husband?”

“Yes.”

“Is all well with your child?”

And she lied, or she believed more than a cooling corpse waiting in the Prophet’s room she built for him.  “All is well!”

It shook him.  Such faith.  Such hope.  Elisha rushed from the mountain to spend an afternoon begging God to relent and resurrect the child.  God gave him back.

Centuries ago.  Where legends live.

So, Jesus walking into Shunem/Nain stopped a funeral for an only son: a widow’s final hope.  And disregarding all civility Jesus touched the hearse to talk to — the dead boy.

Who responded.  Jesus helped him from the hearse, gave him back to his mother, and everyone paraded back into town, leaving a bewildered hearse driver scratching his head.  The first victim of The Hearse Thief, doing a dress rehearsal for Himself soon enough, and all of us soon enough.

If Jesus wept at a later funeral, He surely smiled at this one, and God, as usual, had a laugh on any who call hearse thieves by such an exalted, holy title as Resurrection Man.