Saturday, March 28, 2009

Aldous Huxley on the passage of time...

..."well, there seems to be plenty of it." (Doors of Perception) He was utterly wrong about that. In fact, he was literally tripping on acid when he wrote it, which is the only way one could make such a nonsensical statement. Let me illustrate...

Makeup. A collaborative effort with a friend because of the occasion.

New shoes. Apparently a requirement. And powerfully uncomfortable based on the early exit polls. But still worn.

New hairdo. Also a collaborative effort with a friend. Sometimes this requires a trip to the stylist, but not today.

Dress. Frequently a new one is required. But not this time. The gorgeous one from the closet works.

Getting the nails done. Another requirement.

Flowers. On the lapel for him...on the wrist for her.

The borrowed car. A very fine corvette. Which made your humble correspondent a bit nervous...only, they were only in it for a short ride, which leads to...

The pictures. A requirement.

The limo. Several classmates sharing the limo to dinner, and after.

It was...*drum roll*...Senior PROM NIGHT! (the crowd roars & the Dads are nervous...)
Anne left a bit ago with her date. A nice young man whom I once coached when he played jv football. He looked nice in his tux.

But (in the words of Frank Zappa), Great Googly-Moogly! She looked gorgeous!! (said the totally unbiased Dad...) My cell phone pics do NOT do her justice. Again, he looked nice, but she looked beautiful. And the heck of it is this: she looks beautiful 1st thing in the morning with no makeup, hairdo, nail job, new shoes, nice dress,...(inherits this trait from her Mother) But she sure looked gorgeous all styled for Prom.

I remember a couple of proms 32 & 33 years ago. This other young lady back then also looked gorgeous; I looked well, like a beach bum hippy-wannabe burnout. We went to both jr. & sr. prom together. Jr. year as an official couple, sr. year as, well, a former couple I guess. Last I heard, she's a preacher's wife out in west TX somewhere.

Earlier, while watching them pull out of my driveway, I was struck again with the utter brevity of time and the amazing speed of its passage.

Got little girls @ your house? Who draw on the walls & play dress up & make messes & watch the same ol' Disney movies on a daily basis? Who want to "help" cook? Who sing loudly? Who nap on occasion & who don't sometimes when they're supposed to?

Enjoy them. I know it's very difficult to do so at times. I also know that it seems now & then like they'll never grow out of whatever stage they're in @ the moment. But make it a very, very high priority to enjoy them. Laugh with them, make messes with them, watch the movies, sing the songs, it all.

Because in what'll seem to you like another day or two, some dude will be pulling out of your driveway with your treasure in the right seat all dolled up for her senior prom. And you'll wonder where the time went...


p.s. - if I can figure how to make pictures go from my phone to my computer to the web, I'll add some shortly. Until then, go enjoy a moment with your little girls...

Monday, March 16, 2009

If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?
Ronnie Van Zant & Lynrd Skynrd, “Freebird”

I’ll cut to the bottom line here. I’m dang tired of hearing about high school classmates dying. Goes with the territory, I s'pose, but I don't like it.

Last week, it was Connie, who was a classmate from early elementary school all the way through HS.

This past weekend, it was Steve, who was a couple of years older than I. We weren’t close friends, but we were in jazz band together one year. Steve played guitar & sang in the coolest rock band in the area in our HS days. Everybody wanted to be part of Myriah, including me. I got the next best thing though—I got to hang out with & befriend the guys in that group. Which made my 5-foot-nothing, insignificant self feel very big & bad & cool. I was better friends with Steve’s younger brother Jeff, who is a very good bass player (also part of Myriah), and who is a USM grad (jazz band, & everything!).

A brief candle; both ends burning. An endless mile; a bus wheel turning. A friend to share the lonesome times; a handshake and a sip of wine. So say it loud and let it ring: We are all a part of everything. The future, present and the past.
Fly on proud bird, you're free at last.
Charlie Daniels, written while enroute to Ronnie Van Zant’s funeral

It’s Jeff that’s been on my mind & in my prayers yesterday & today. He’s having to say the abrupt goodbye to a much-loved brother. Jeff was great fun to play music with, because (a) he is VERY good, and (b) he is a great guy who’s a lot of fun. I still remember him leading us in setting up the parts to the end of “Blackwater” by the Doobie Brothers on a bus trip the jazz band took. By the time we got home, we had it down. He, of course, took the Tom Johnson lead vocal; none of the rest of us could pull that off like he did.

Join me in lifting up my old friend Jeff in prayer as he mourns the sudden loss of his brother Steve, won’t you?

‘Cause I must be travelling on now, there’s too many places I’ve got to see.
Ronnie Van Zant & Lynrd Skynrd, “Freebird”

As their old bandmate Alan wrote on Jeff’s facebook page after quoting Freebird, we’ll always remember Steve. Quite fondly in my case. Which draws my heart toward Jeff in his grief. As I say, please join me in praying for Jeff.

Life’s short. Too short sometimes. Makes you long for the land of the eternal hello, where there’ll be no more pain, sorrow, death, car accidents, illnesses, & such, doesn’t it? Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pacing the Cage

I have *long* loved the music & writing of Jimmy Buffett. Some great Friday-afternoon-heading-toward-the-beach music. Some *superb* front-lawn-of-the-fraternity-house music. But also, some songs that just capture a slice of one's soul. Deeply moving and very profound. (aside: if all you know of JB's songs is "Cheeseburger in Paradise" & such, you're really missing out...).

Examples of that latter genre of Jimmy B's music that grab my heart would be songs like "A Pirate Looks at 40" or even more, "He Went to Paris" or one of my favorites, "The Captain & the Kid". (tear jerker alert: he wrote that shortly after his much-loved grandpa passed away...*great* tune! Google the lyrics...and grab a hankie.).

And then there are those lyrics that are, well, poignant & sad. Such as "Pacing the Cage." I find this one deeply moving for different reasons. I know people like this. As Lisa said, these are the words of a man who has done it all and is absolutely empty inside.

So, take a look @ these lyrics. They are awesome, in the true sense of the word: to be struck with awe. I'd say "enjoy," but I really hope you don't actually.


Pacing the Cage - Jimmy Buffett
Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you've lived too long
The days drip slowly on the page
And you catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I've proved who I am so many times,
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And everyone was taken in.
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage.

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything.
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It's as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you'll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's round the bend.
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend.
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land,
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage...

Friday, March 06, 2009

He alone who owns the youth, gains the future

I'll come back later to who said this. For now, just ponder it with me as I share about my friend Andrzej. ("Ahn-zhay" more or less; "Andrew" is the gringo version).

Andrzej is a friend of mine from Poland. He was a college professor in the 80s & early 90s. (Math & Computer Science)

But an interesting thing happened. He encountered the claims of Christ for the 1st time, despite having been a church member all of his life. They revolutionized his life, as he trusted Christ fully & completely.

Andrzej eventually joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. Same group I was on staff with for 7 years. He became national director of the campus ministry, and another interesting thing happened. They invited some American professors to Poland. Another huge life change.

Andrzej now directs the faculty ministry of Poland. Let me be clear: his area of ministry responsibility is every university in the country. I've been in Poland three times on mission trips, and worked alongside Andrzej every time. God has given me a love of the country and a particular love for the people. (Aside: the old jokes utterly fail when one meets some actual Polish people and realizes, for example, the literacy rate in Poland is FAR higher than that of the U.S. Know who Copernicus was? Sure you do. Know where he lived? That'd be...Poland. [Andrzej was a professor at the university where Copernicus studied and taught, by the way] Like Chopin's music? Know where he lived & wrote? Poland. Aside from being offensive because they're terribly racist, I find the old jokes *highly* offensive because of friends I've made in Poland. *All* of whom are conversational in at least two languages; most, in three. End of rant)

How I wish you all could've been sitting @ my kitchen table a week & a half ago when Lisa & I were treated to a ministry update of what God is doing in & through Andrzej's ministry to & with professors there! My professor heart soared such that I wound up inviting myself back to Poland for one of their professor conferences in August 2010...(And Andrzej, well, pretty much accepted my self-invitation...) *smile*

Andrzej is really capturing a big vision and putting feet to it. And God is blessing. The work is *crucial* in impacting the country for Christ.

Why? That goes back to the originator of the quote I started with. Adolf Hitler.

Yep. That same Adolf Hitler, who attempted to enslave a nation and the nations in his hemisphere. And came frighteningly close to achieving that. And who created factories of death & destruction the magnitude of which--60 years later--are too horrible to contemplate. I know...I've visited them. Place in the beautiful mountains of south Poland known as Oswiciem, or Auschwitz in German. This is where Hitler started implementing his awful vision.

Now ask yourself: who really does own the youth? And thus the future? In Poland...and in America...the answer is the parents 1st, but during the hugely formative years between 18 & 24, it's college professors, at least in terms of helping shape their thinking and their values.

Join me, won't you, in praying for Andrzej. On behalf of a generation of university students too young to remember the madmen who perfected his lightning war and his death camps on/in their country. Who desperately need to know that there is truth that is real & knowable & worth pursuing & integrating into their life & their studies. And on behalf of professors throughout the country who are brilliant, successful, productive...and empty. Who wonder if another publication or promotion or presentation is really all there is.

May we never see another generation of youth lost to false, Nitschean superman/will to power/morality-free teaching in universities. Both here and in Poland.

The wisest man who ever lived once said the following. The latter part is emblazoned all over university libraries & admin buildings in this country. The first part, of course, is not seen on those same buildings. Here's the entire quote: "“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Andrzej is all about demonstrating that. And introducing professors and students to the One Who said it. Join me in praying for him and his ministry, won't you?


p.s. - Some of you should perhaps become part of Andrzej & Ella's financial support team. Want to know more about that? Hit me w/ an email; I'd be delighted to pass along how that works.