Friday, January 30, 2009

Do Over

Poppy, as we called him, was a man of many words.  Most of them would curl the toes of your work boots and none of them were intended for the ears of anyone under fifteen.  When we were growing up, and indeed still to this day, my mother was not one to tolerate bad language.  The mere whisper of the first letter of one of the more popular four letter words would get you at best a withering look; one eyebrow shot heavenward over a countenance bereft to understand what she had just heard, and may just as readily garner a rap to your offending lips from the back of her hand.  Just the solitary letters S, H, D were all the same as if you had marched straight to the Vatican and cursed directly into the Pope's ear in her book.  I still remember the near collision we had when I dared to utter, "Who gives an S?" as she sped down Route 7 in her white Thunderbird with pneumatic light covers and red leather-like interior.  Mind you, I uttered only the letter S.  Not the full word.  So, you can imagine that as kids we sat spellbound listening to our grandfather, whom she respected (and feared) too much to dare chastise, and we could not help but enjoy the irony of her father stringing together curse words as one would fine pearls, and to our tickled ears, these auditory gems were far more valuable.    However, in time you learn that a free tongue enslaves.

"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."  Psalm 141:3

What an amazing life gem.  More and more I come back to this, typically AFTER I have said something that I wish I could take back.  Unfortunately, there are no "do overs" in life.  You know about "do overs?"  My son and his neighborhood friends used to play four square in the driveway and if one of the individuals playing hit the ball out of bounds or if a ball whizzed right past them, they may shout "do over!" and if the group had agreed to do-overs in advance, all would nod and play would continue as if the mistake had never occurred.  I marveled the first time I watched this.  What a sweet and genuine act of mercy demonstrated by these children.  Of course, as they grew older, "do overs" became unheard of.  What a pity.

And here we are.  The sun has nestled down deep beyond the horizon for a well-deserved rest and my mind plays a fragmented film of my day - time this morning with the family, each of us rushing around; my interactions with the sea monkeys at work (also known as coworkers); the lady behind the counter at the coffee shop who looked so sad; the guy bundled up against the freezing cold standing outside at the gas station to re-set the pumps that I ignored; and I look heavenward and whisper, "do over."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For a Wednesday, One and Twenty Eight

I pour myself into a chair, grab a cup of hot tea, enjoying the warmth of it in my hands, and try to bring a close to another day that ran away from me like the fastest kid in a neighborhood game of tag.  You know the one.  The kid who is never "it" and is always looking back at you with that half smile, laughing.  Man how I wanted to be that fast kid.  Just out of reach.  Dodging, running, and laughing.  You could never quite tag him.  Never quite make him "it."  You jump through the hedge in a last ditch effort to get him, scraping your arms on the rough wooden branches and trampling flowers under foot certain he has slowed just enough that you can slap him on the back of the head, or shoulder, or arm.  Tag.  All it would take is just a simple brush of the fingers.  Just the tip of one finger.....

What kind of shoes is that kid wearing anyway?  Why is he so darn fast?  And why do his parents let him grow his hair that long?  You don't see them nagging him constantly to get it cut.  Just like Samson, his power must come from his hair.  That has to be it.  Not the sneakers. So, really it is your parents' fault.  Figures.  They never let you do anything.  

And so here you are, thirty years later after another day racing through life, all your goals running just out of reach.  Racing and running.  Turning back to look at you.   And you are never quite running fast enough.  If only you could reach out, just far enough.  If only.