Another Revelation

one of the most profound observations from the book, “dark star safari” was on my mind as the 84 year-old master (sensei fusaro – 9th dan) was schooling us in karate this week. he had to sit down once or twice, but no one was bellyaching about having to work too hard or being tired or being frustrated with our inability to do what he was doing–not with that guy out there, no way! gall dang inspiring!

what all older people know, what had taken me almost sixty years to learn, is that an aged face is misleading. i did not want to be the classic bore, the reminiscing geezer, yet i now knew: the old are not as frail as you think, and they are insulted to be regarded as feeble. they are full of ideas, hidden powers, even sexual energy. don’t be fooled by the thin hair and battered features and skepticism. the older traveler knows it best: in our hearts we are youthful, and we are insulted to be treated as old men and burdens, for we have come to know that the years have made us more powerful and streetwise. years are not an affliction. old age is strength.  

-paul theroux

why?

“why?” is one of those childhood sayings/questions that ranks right up there with “no” and “i don’t wanna”…and when your toddler starts wielding the word at every single, little, insignificant point throughout the day, you’ll do just what i did–beg for mercy…

just the other day, we (the family) were headed out the door to celebrate one of our cousin’s birthdays and this is what went down…

my wife: jack, put your coat on please. 

jack: why?

my wife: because we’re going to the car.

jack: why?

my wife: because we’re going to uncle bruce’s.

jack: why?

my wife: because it’s mary’s birthday.

jack: why?

my wife: because  21 years ago she was born.

jack: why?

my wife: because that’s what happened and we celebrate birthdays in our family.

jack: why?

my wife: ugh!

this went on for a little while longer until my wife put my son in a choke-hold and carried him to the car (just kiddin’)…but, we did think about it–and i get it, his brain is developing…he’s a little sponge–sucking up every little ounce of information he can…he’s also sucking the mother-lovin’ life out of us with these questions 🙂

the CIA should really look into hiring toddlers–to give suspected terrorists the ‘why treatment’…so, why are you in the u.s.?  because i’m a student; why are you a student? because i am training for a job?; why are you training for a job? because i want to make money and provide for my family?; why do you want to make money and provide for your family? so that they will have a comfortable life; why do you have all this money in your bank account if you’re a student and are training for a job to make money? forget it, i’m a terrorist! (case closed)…

and, no matter how tough you are…nobody can stand up to this treatment forever…everybody breaks, eventually

think i’m exaggerating?! take a look at this classic clip from louis ck (this bit is on the profane side of life)…

 

hot pursuit

i grew up in a lutheran family…we were church regulars (every sunday)…it was important for us, growing up…we would pray before dinner and at night before bed; we would talk about religion and faith (in addition to politics) at the dinner table…and my sister and i actively participated in “youth group” (monthly meetings for kids at church where we would do a variety of activities–some faith related and some not)…

but for me, when i was thirteen, the main reason why i got up and ready for church every sunday wasn’t for the love of Jesus–and it wasn’t to deepen my faith

it was because i thought the pastor’s daughter was ‘hot’

she was two years older than me and i had the biggest crush on her…so, every sunday…i really, really wanted to go to church–crazy, right?!  i wanted to, though, because…i hoped to catch a glimpse of her…a glimpse of beth is all i wanted…and sometimes i did see her there…when i did, my heart would start to beat a little faster and i would see (and hear) blue birds flying around and chirping (the cartoon version)…everywhere…zippity do da day…

and, i tried to get close to her and talk to her–i wasn’t subtle…

i was thirteen…

my motivations, my intentions had to be blatantly clear to everyone… including beth…in fact, anyone who saw my face on those sunday mornings knew what i was feeling, knew that i was love struck

to give you an idea of my mindset…let me take you to a prayer we used to recite at church (nearly) every sunday…the Apostle’s Creed…the opening line went like this…

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; 

my version went like this…

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and beth;

🙂

well, time went by…and beth and i became friends…nothing more, nothing less…it was an infatuation that came and went…though it took up a lot of my ‘mind time’ and focus at that point in my life…especially, on sundays…

years later, i realized that while i had been going to church…i really hadn’t ‘been there’ (fully)–at all…i had spent a lot of that time focused on the wrong things…not that relationships and romance aren’t great…they are…i am a hopeless romantic, after all…but, my heart and mind were always preoccupied…caught up in the ‘shiny object of a teenage crush’…

at the same time, i realized that as intensely as i was seeking out and pursuing beth…God was intensely seeking out and pursuing me…i was just too foolish to realize it then…still, God (through the Holy Spirit) was laying the foundation, working on me, whispering to me…and it stuck…a lot longer than what i had hoped for with beth…

but, it is a greater love, after all…

when i think back to that time, i think of an onion…and realize that, back then…when i was  at church or contemplating my faith…i was just living on the surface…enamored with the ‘surface things’ of life; the superficial and material world around me…over time, i began to see the layers, see what i was missing out on…

and, go deeper…

and, eventually, turn to and embrace the God that had been pursuing me for years…

that doesn’t mean that my gaze hasn’t faltered or my faith hasn’t wavered since that realization…it has happened, periodically, througout my life course…when it has, i find myself on surface again…apart from what’s really important…distracted by other shiny objects that come along (whether it is something from within, like my anxiety and fears…or something outside of myself, like my career, household projects, sports, media and entertainment, or other material pleasures and possessions)…

thankfully, God’s gaze does not falter, God’s faith does not waver…

God does not give up the chase, He continues the pursuit…the desire to know and love me…and the world…

i know this because it’s in these moments when He calls me ‘to go deeper’, to come back home (sometimes with a whisper, sometimes with a shout) and return to His loving embrace…

and, somehow, some way…i make my way back…

[and now, as parents, becks and i are passing on our faith to our kids…slow and steady like…because we know what that relationship means to us; how important it is in our lives…how it has and continues to transform and change the way we see and love people…and we want that for jack and grace…so maybe, just maybe…as they get older…they’ll see what’s below the surface, see the layers, see what they might be missing out on…and, go deeper…into the loving arms of God…who is relentlessly pursuing them (and has been doing so, since the day they were born)…]

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