Thirty Years Ago

Thirty years ago, we had no children.

Our last childless night changed when Jill knew her contractions were coming closer together.  We grabbed already-packed bags and drove to Miami’s Baptist Hospital: maybe a little faster than needed, hoping this was the one night an officer pulled us over and I could point to my wife in labor.  No such luck.

Two things from labor and the hospital stand out.  My wife amazed me with composure, tears, complete red-face effort, and her humor. She cited most of Bill Cosby’s lines from his monologue about his wife’s birthing(s).

Colt inherited the humor.

The second thing was the hospital nursery.  As people visited and asked which in the nursery was Colt, we only responded, “the blonde”.  Walking down to the glass to view a room crammed with babies in bassinets and nurses hovering over a sea of future hopes, they saw only one towhead in the room.  His standing out like that continues.

We moved to Austin to work on my advanced degree.  We settled on the east side to a great little house close to campus and great public schools.  Colt attended his first birthday party, where I worked in the kitchen with other parents and we all laughed.  He ran yelling and shrieking, oblivious to being the only white kid playing games in the Austin summer sizzle.  The blond.

He was blessed to have older guys be big brothers: Aaron Stern and Josh Taylor.  He took up their mantle for kids in the Stillwater hood.  He skied fearlessly and drew on a quiet confidence.  I saw that confidence as I conducted leader training in Virginia for college students and brought Colt along — the eighth grader.

Two guys led worship (not so great) and one caught something in Colt’s face to ask, “Hey, you want to try?”  Colt silently nodded, “Yes,” calling his bluff.  All stopped.  The student walked across and handed the guitar to Colt and things improved dramatically.  They adopted him for the rest of the weekend.

In college, he thought Claire was stuck up when they both performed in Freshmen Follies and we sat in front of her parents.  Oddly, she thought the same, and four years later they were halfway out of the sanctuary after exchanging vows before 800 friends and family caught on that Clarie’s organ teacher was playing the Theme from Star Wars and

Four years ago we had no grandchildren, but then one night Claire told Colt her contractions were coming closer together.

I have waded far enough into life to drink deeply and watch large life cycles wash over us.  I am wealthy, blessed, overwhelmed, happy.  And I pray he is when Duke turns 30.



We have an artist in residence

Jill’s brother, Steve is staying with us while he does a commissioned painting. 

He has lived his art on Britain’s coast, studied the Masters by leaving college to walk the museums of Europe, obtained recognition from some of the world’s most respected judging boards, and camped and lived in some of the most gorgeous spots on earth.

He lost tallest man in the family this Christmas to one of his nephews, Bjorn; and goes a few rounds with Jill every day about the changing world of art and e-commerce.  Their conversations range from the technical to profound. 

Two things mark our most profound differences.  I am a believer in Christ, and he is not, but he joins in the rhythms of our home and joins hands and is respectfully quiet while others pray.  The more interesting one may be that I have spent much of my life accessible to up to hundreds of people. 

He has spent most of his life privately, guardedly even.

It makes most of our conversations exploratory, tentative, and interesting.  He sees the world in terms of color, light / lighting, mood, composition.  I have never heard him use the word: beautiful.  But make no mistake, he can take up brush and color and capture beauty on a painting almost as much as someone could describe its beauty and convey a feeling about the scene. 

I spent most of my life describing beauty and life to others, making it accessible to them. 

He has caused me to consider again, if I am able some times to pass a beauty through my eyes and writing to others, a reality, a loveliness for someone else to be moved by it — while failing to be as moved as the one to whom I made it accessible. 

I can only hope that Peter Jackson enjoyed the Lord of the Rings a fraction of how much I was moved to tears and cheering, having already enjoyed Tolkien’s descriptions and action like drinking deeply of a innebriating wine. 

So to you and to me, do you enjoy the world you are passing on to your children, again, maybe for the first time?  Are you touched by the Hand of God who moves you to touch others in His Name?  Mother Teresa was bereft of her visions and intimacies which had sustained her when she moved to Calcutta.

Yet she stayed. 

Yet she stayed and milions were moved because of her.  Even while the silence inside dried her soul. 

This is a simple prayer.  May you get to enjoy at least some of the beauty passing through you to others.  If you know how to enlarge that beauty to yourself, share with the rest of us.