16 April 2017

Prince of Peace

As this Sunday morning dawns, the sun lights the sky from the east in brilliant alternating hues of yellow, orange, white, and blue. Its warming rays slice their way through the trees that are our makeshift fence. As the sun enlivens those trees from their dormant winter sleep, there is hope that leaves will soon burst forth.

Nearly two millennia ago, when a woman returned to the tomb of a man she deeply loved and discovered that the stone sealing his resting place had been rolled back, it was not hope that she felt. Mary felt sheer terror and wanted desperately to know where Jesus's body had gone. When asked by a man whom she supposed to be the gardener why she was weeping, Mary said, "Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away." The man, in response, uttered her name, "Mary," and in that instant she knew it was him. It was Rabboni, Jesus himself. The stone sealing shut his tomb had been rightfully rolled back for he had conquered death.

For Christendom, this Sunday morning, Easter is joyously celebrated. It is a day of hope and renewal. It is a celebration of life conquering death. It is honoring the Son of God and His atoning sacrifice. It is remembering the Savior, the Prince of Peace.

I am grateful to be a part of this Easter celebration. I am grateful to know that He has atoned for me, a broken and occasionally rebellious and difficult soul. I am grateful to know that His empty tomb signified that He conquered death. I know that He lives.

He is the Prince of Peace.

14 April 2017

On Good Friday

The sun is shining brightly today.

Warmth is enveloping the air, reminding us that spring is finally here.

The tulips in our front yard have emerged triumphantly from their frozen winter prison and their brilliant yellow color enlivens our home.

There is, at least for me, a sense of hopefulness in the air. That's not been easy for me to recognize, if I'm honest. Look no further than my Twitter feed and you'll know that it's not been a walk in the park to find all things hopeful of late.

Today, though, I woke up with a sense of hope and I've pondered a bit as to the reasons why. My wife, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, and I are enjoying this "empty nest" phase of our life. As we reshape ourselves in this new chapter of our lives, it's been a lot of fun to progress together. Our children are in good, good places. The Awesomes have given us two of the greatest grandchildren on the planet and our lives are better for it. CAL is challenging herself in her career and is enjoying her Spring Break on the East Coast right now. The RM is, at heart, still The Boy and we wouldn't have it any other way. So I look around at my life and there is reason to be hopeful, even if our world is beginning to look like it may become the dystopian world we saw in "The Hunger Games" (#thanksforthatFuhrerTrump). Even in the dark, violent world she created, author Suzanne Collins wrote this about hope:

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

Hope consoles us. Hope strengthen us. Hope guides us. Hope can be found in the most difficult of circumstances. Difficult circumstances abounded nearly two millennia ago when the Son of God was crucified. Today, Good Friday, is the day that the Christian world remembers that day. It's a day of enormous import in Christendom, as the events of that day initiated a hope of redemption that burns brightly to this day.

I am grateful for this day and for He who, as I believe, died on this day. I am grateful that there is still a measure of good in this world. I am grateful for hope.

26 March 2017

Prompt 3 - A significant object

The keys to the world
In this, the third installment of 'What did I do in that writing class,' I share with you our third prompt of the day. Our instructor asked us to write about an object that had significant meaning in our lives. As soon as she uttered those words, I knew that I would be writing about my passport. I've written about what my passport means to me previously here in the Den. It has literally facilitated opening my eyes to the amazing world in which we live and I truly cherish it. Given that I'm about three more Tweets away from the Trump Regime yanking my passport, or at the very least making sure that when I come back from London in a couple of weeks that my welcome back shake down will make my colonoscopy seem like the tickle of a feather, I knew I needed to write about this little blue book. So I went with it - my passport:

In a quiet, darkened movie theater, a deep voice has the ability to transport you. "In a world," the disembodied voice somberly intones and you are instantly carried away to an adventure in a strange land, a crime spree from a time long since past, or into the agony of someone's heartache. From a young age, seeing that world that voice spoke about, that strange, faraway land, had always been a siren's call that I knew I would one day heed. A passport was going to be the lynchpin in that plan.

I have not been without a passport since my 15th birthday. Those little blue books, some bursting with colorful stamps and surly visa photos and others with just a few pages marked, have been my entry into a world far different than my own. My passport has allowed me into the home of a Turkish family in Istanbul, showing me the meaning of extending hospitality to a stranger. Through the permissions granted me by my passport, I have seen what it means to have hope in the face of nothing, watching the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India, work with those who have truly been downtrodden. My passport has introduced me to the joy that is the laughter of Filipino children as they dash through the traffic-choked streets of Manila. It has also shown me darker things, like the toxic impact of Western culture on Bangkok, Thailand.

There is so much beyond our own neighborhoods. There is so much to see and enjoy in this world. With my passport, I have seen the inherent goodness of people no matter where I've been in the world. That goodness gives me hope.

If it seems like that came to an abrupt halt, it did. Such is the nature of being given a limited amount of time to craft a brief personal essay. This is one I'd like to continue to refine as seeing this world has been one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given.

Get out there, if you can. This world is still an amazing place.

18 March 2017

Prompt 2 - First Time In Your Life

In another installment of 'What did I do in that writing class,' I'll share the second prompt and what I wrote that day. For our second prompt, we were asked to write about the first time we experienced something in our lives. I was initially tempted to write about what it's like to live under the pseudo-authoritarian regime of a thin-skinned, mysogynistic megalomaniac and Grade A pathological liar but that seemed too fantastical, too unbelievable and this was a course in non-fiction writing (and yet here we are in Trumplandia, but I digress). So I went with something I know - on becoming a dad for the first time:

I became a father for the first time 27 years ago. I was young, some would argue that we were too young to become parents. We were barely out from under our own parents' roofs. The thought of becoming a father, though, was mostly exhilarating, until the day of our daughter's birth. It suddenly became an all-consuming terror. As my wife labored to deliver our daughter that day, I was filled with an overwhelming paralyzing fear, with questions assaulting me at every moment. The pain I was feeling had to be on par with the pain that gripped my wife with each contraction. It wasn't. But doubt plagued me with each of those contractions. How could I care and provide for this little girl who was about to be born when previously one of the most pressing questions in my life had been collar up or down? How would I handle this? How was I going to care for her needs?

Once she arrived, the nurse placed my daughter into my trembling arms. I took in a long, deep breath and looked into her tiny eyes. I, for better or worse, was one of the first people she was seeing. I wanted her to know she was in good hands. As I looked into her eyes with a growing sense of awe, something in me snapped me into our new reality. I touched her little hand and said, "Hi. I'm your dad. And we're going to figure this out all together." That's been my unspoken motto as a dad ever since. 27 years later and two more children, I'd like to think I've figured a few things out about being a dad. It's still a work in progress.

I don't think I've ever been more scared of anything in my life than I was the day I became a dad for the first time. Writing about it a few weeks ago brought back a flood of feelings - fear, awe, excitement, terror, joy. The funny thing is that if I had the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.