Monday, December 29, 2008

Last rant for '08

As you can tell, no xmas post. If you follow my tweets [cause I'm so ridiculously important] you knew I was at my in-laws who live so far out in south Virginia country even the cable company won't go there. It's about the one place Verizon isn't reliable, and I wasn't going to wrestle with her dial-up connection. Love blogging and all but it took my wife an hour to buy tix online 'cause the page kept timing out [I swear it was two tins cans and string technology]. But it was good family time. Lots of table-top foosball with Joy [I shoulda done the Dad thing and let her win every time but what's so character building about that?] and I made out like a bandit with the gifts. [Click here for my fav-thanks hon] Then it was back to the never-ending unboxing of the house that's still not done. But after a week I'm feeling blog-withdrawal, so here I am, the junkie getting his fix. 

It occurred to me as I was unpacking that I never vented about the wonderful chaos the Mayflower company referred to as my moving experience. Let me uncharacteristically start on a good note: nothing was lost. Every last bit of everything we owned made it safely halfway across the country. Well everything except some shelf they have on their list that no-one can remember or misses right now. But considering how it all got here, that in itself is a pretty freakin' HUGE xmas miracle. 

It started with a tragic underestimation of how many treasures [read:crap] we had crammed into our little split level in Kansas City. We aren't pack-rats by any stretch of the imagination, but we know how to cram. So when the moving truck showed up, there was only enough space for about 90% of our treasures [again:crap]. The driver was all full of swagger and bravado when he first walked in:"Oh yeah, we'll get it all on. Not a problem." Well it became a problem when his truck was bursting at the seams and there was still half a garage to pack. Driver with a lot less swagger: "Seems like you had more boxes than I thought you would." 

And here was problem number two: the lovely ladies who boxed up our treasures [you-know-what by now]. I knew I should've been worried when they huddled in their truck with the heater on for a smoke break every couple hours, but I try not to judge [I said I try...nobody's perfect]. A friend of mine told me if I don't want it packed either get it out of the house or sit on it. They weren't kidding. These gals packed EVERYTHING! Even the stuff they said they couldn't pack, like cleaning fluids. Even the empty broken trash can. Even the empty [and evidently precious] beer bottle sitting by the back door found its way back to me. I wouldn't have been so flabbergasted if the day hadn't started with a walk-through and a "tell us what you don't want packed." Obviously a wasted moment as I gingerly unpacked my slightly mouldy loofa sponge [now who's judging?] which I said to leave because I planned to shower the next day [soap got packed too!]. And they really wondered why they had so many boxes? Did they really believe I had a strong emotional attachment to three empty plastic bags?

Then I became intimately acquainted with the 'overflow routine': a second smaller truck; a trip to the warehouse for an undetermined length of time; a hunt for a new driver with room heading in the same direction; maybe a thrid-party shipper. Again I sing a small hymn of praise: this costed us nothing extra since it was their fuster-cluck to begin with. Five days later and against all odds [what with it being xmas] the second truck arrives with the rest of our boxes to fill the space we had just cleared [...*sigh*].

Unboxing has been qutie the adventure in itself. Unwrapping memories I forgot I had saved was sweet. Disagreeing on where to put things not so much. It's been contributing to the re-entry process Jen and I go through when we've been apart for a while. Even though we spoke every day, and even though we saw each other via the techie wonder of Google Video Chat [Skype sucks on Vista] almost every day, we still had to do our Space Shuttle routine: we enjoyed our time in space, there's no place like home, but those first few minutes in the atmosphere are bumpy and hot-things have to be approached at exactly the right angle or KABLOOM!! No more shuttle. The last couple weeks have been constant adjustments. But after a singed wing-tip or two, it looks like there'll be a safe landing.

Jen announced what I thought was an ambitious goal of a house-warming party in six weeks. I'm certain we'll be unpacking well into April, but by February the house should be in decent enough shape to entertain. One thing is absolutely clear: all things considered, we're never packing a u-haul ourselves again.

Monday, December 22, 2008


[Spoiler alert: this is gonna be a sappy post.]

Over the last four days I encountered the kind of love that simply tore my heart a new one. They had nothing to do with Christmas [thankfully...I'm already burning out] yet couldn't have turned up in my life at a better time.

The first came on the form of a novel: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I downloaded the audiobook [plug:emusic.com] for the road-trip here and was not disappointed by this Pulitzer prize winner. If you read only one book next year, let this be the one. The author Junot Diaz weaves a story of three generations, which takes a while so hang in there-I think it's so worth it. The depth of pure love and heartbreak he ascribes to the main characters was almost too much to handle while driving. And as the title suggests, it wasn't about happy endings. Love often isn't about happy endings.

Last night I had the honor of being invited to the 50th anniversary and re-commitment celebration of Al & Edith Henderson. They are an elder couple here at the church in Raleigh and they , Al especially, have taken a liking to Jennifer. Al was just the dapper romantic: reading poetry to his new-again bride, pulling out her chair, soft guiding touches. I had thought it strange the Edith seemed a little underwhelmed by the event until Jen told me that a few years ago she had a massive stroke and was in a coma. The doctors had been pessimistic. Her very existence was somewhat of a miracle. Al took care of her through it all. I'm about to hit the 10 year mark and it's wigging me out a little [ok...a lot, don't ask me why...working on it]. I can't begin to wrap my mind around what it would take to make a relationship last that long. That level of commitment and compromise seems beyond me right now [to be clear, I can see myself with Jen forever, I'm just not able to quantify what I'll need to do to get there]. They left us with some clues. My favorite: "Yesterday ended at midnight."

And if that wasn't enough, we left the party to go see Seven Pounds. We were forewarned [so heed the warning] that this was a heavy movie. Critics said it was too heavy for the holidays, but I disagree. Granted, I had to engage in a round of deep breathing to control my heart which felt like it jump out of my chest and go save the world. This was a story about love, loss, redemption, and giving on a level reserved for those who are emotionally imbalanced to unspeakable degrees. Perfect for the season! And on a side note, Rosario Dawson, even in that sickly pallor, never looked hotter. Wow is all I gotta say [to the movie...and to Rosario too].

I acknowledge that two of the three examples were fictional. Yet the fact that such levels of love can exist at the very least in someone's mind gives me the hope and inspiration that they can exist in reality. And they do. People make unfathomable sacrifices for others every minute in every corner of the world. The economy may be causing some of us to lament about the smaller piles under the tree this year. But the best gifts are usually not the material ones. Just give of your heart.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's not how big you are...

I'm here in Raleigh, NC now, reunited with my wife and daughter, and all the joys and drama family brings...wouldn't have it any other way. On the drive from Kansas City I promised myself I wouldn't make any unwarranted detours because I was in a time crunch. I was only slightly amused when I saw the sign METROPOLIS 20 MILES. How cute... only in the good old USA would the name of a fictional city be lifted from the pages of a comic book and plastered onto a real town [or is it the other way around? will hit up wikipedia after this]. But when I saw the GIANT SUPERMAN STATUE NEXT EXIT sign about 15 miles later... no detours be damned-I'm going to Metropolis. And sure enough, in front of the court house in a town more resembling Smallville....

And with a Santa hat to boot! I was suddenly eleven years old again thinking this was freakin' awesome! The Official Superman Museum on the opposite corner was cool too. Any and every Superman relic had a home there. There were at least eight of us awed and befuddled tourists snapping pics and no doubt revisiting our childhood. But this little town apparently had a thing for big men and on my way out I found the true hero to errand-running housewives in this southern tip of Illinois...

It was BIG JACK the giant grocery-toting mascot. I'm not often at a loss for words [not a good place to be for a blogger] but I was fairly silenced by Big Jack. Seriously... what can you say when you see this?

I'm thinking this town holds the record for giant statues per square mile. A worthy detour indeed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thank Ye!!

It's moving day. It's the first time we're using a moving company. We've come to the point where I'm huddled in the "safe corner" with things that won't be packed, trying not to get packed myself. I'm clearly in the way and these guys haulin' ass trying to do in one day what they had scheduled for two. The driver said something about wanting to be back in time for Xmas but I was busy thinking that under no circumstances am I ever moving myself again. This is friggin' great!

So since I got nothing to do right now, I want to take this opportunity to thank the three (3) [tres] [now four 4 cuatro since first posting] wonderful souls brave enough to admit they read this drivel through subscribing. Their only reward, besides my perplexed and humbled gratitude [and more drivel] is to be proudly displayed in the side-bar. Now I know more people read this thing. They've started conversations with things like, "Hey, I saw on your blog the other day..." or "I liked your last post about..." or "Do you know anything about blogging?" [I think maybe the last group might not be actually reading my blog].

So here's my invitation: if you read this or any of the other fine blogs I have listed [most of which are funnier and more insightful than this drivel] please subscribe. Why? 'Cause my ego says so! No seriously, as I discover how far down the rabbit hole the blog world goes, I realize I'm still at ground level. We could all use the support as we honor whatever inexplicable reason draws us to do this. Plus, if you subscribe, my eloquently verbose postings will be delivered straight to a reader of your choice or your inbox [I think-ground level, remember?] saving you the few precious seconds it would take to pull up this page. What you do with those seconds is up to you [I recommned coming back to post a comment but that just destroyed my time-saving rationale-oh well]. That reminds me... post a comment! If subscribing isn't your thing, posting comments are a great way to let bloggers know their efforts aren't for nil.

I've rambled on enough about this. Read. Subsribe. Comment.

And once again, a big THANK YE!! to my three (3) [tres] [four 4 ...you get the idea] subscribers [ok...all my closet readers too] for taking a few seconds out of your life [which you're not getting back by the way...sorry] to check in on mine.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Play it again Sam

We decided to give our piano to family friends who've always wanted one. They've got a six-year-old who is the 2nd [duh!] most amazingly adorable little girl I've ever met and they have visions of piano lessons and Christmas sing-alongs. I didn't have the heart to tell them that it's a pipe dream...it's good to have something to grasp onto no matter how fleeting.

My friend showed up with movers and the piano is gone...and I'm sad.

We made some good memories with that cheap never-stayed-in-tune studio upright. I wrote some great music on that thing. We did have our share of sing-alongs with family and friends. It's gotten me laid quite a lot 'cause the wife loves it when I play & sing to her, especially original stuff. I've used it for venting, processing, sorting out my thoughts, catharting, meditating. There'd be times when I was in some kind of mental or emotional vortex and couldn't see a way out. I'd sit, play the first chords that came to me, next thing I know an hour's disappeared and all's right with the world again.

So why are we, two music-therapists-turned-ministers and still occasional song-writers getting rid of it? Simple. We're tired of hauling that thing around the country. Pianos are friggin' heavy! Ten years, four houses, two states, and one child later, we're just tired of hauling it around. It was gifted to us by our former [and pretty much still present] minister who hauled it to Virginia from the mid-west. We hauled it back here to Missouri and figured it didn't need an east coast sequel.

Yes, I used the word 'haul' in some form repeatedly because it is a haul; there ain't nothing easy about moving a piano. Unles you're professional movers who strap it on a dolly which they strap to themselves and lift it down icy steps in under 5 minutes. I don't feel they suffered enough to have hauled off a bunch of my favorite memories.

I guess I still got the memories.

I just don't have a piano.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's a Crying Shame

So I read two articles about guilt that had me stupified with disbelief. Wait...Stupify is a Harry Potter spell isn't it? Damn! I've been using that word in real life! Thanks a lot J. K. Rowling-stupid-words-into-our-vocabulary. But I digress. I was reading about Tivo Guilt and Luxury Shame.

Tivo Guilt is the phenomenon of feeling bad about all the TV shows you've got piled up on your DVR that you know you won't find the time to watch but can't bring yourself to erase because you have some strange attachment to having them on your DVR. What?! Anybody else old enough to remember when the VCR came out and the fact you could actually watch something other than what was on TV anytime you wanted was the greatest technological miracle EVER!! And now we're feeling guilty because we can horde retarded programming at the lazy touch of a button? C'mon folks....IT'S JUST TV! ENTER-FRIGGIN'-TAINMENT!! NOT REAL LIFE!!!! And don't get me wrong, I'm a big TV fan-boy myself (was bawling my eyes out today at this week's Private Practice...yes, I'm a sensitive guy, love me anyways), and I looooooove my DVR, but if I miss something, it's ok. If I can't find time to watch it, it's ok. My standing rule is this: If it's a series I'm dedicated to (Grey's, Private Practice, Eli Stone, Terminator:SCC, Daily show, Colbert Report, Sunny in Philly) I'll hold an episode for up to 3 weeks. If I haven't watched it by then, it proobably ain't gonna happen. Learn to let go...make room for something better (Chocolate News anyone?).

But Luxury Shame really had me at a loss. Apparently some richer-than-God folks feel bad about spending their money on useless crap-as-usual because us poor folk aren't doing so well. How messed up is that?! I don't want your pity. You feel bad? Buy me some crap-as-usual and we'll all feel better! The irony here is, as I best understand it (which ain't saying much), lack of spending is one of the biggest reasons the economy is in the toilet. And the rich folk are feeling bad and not spending because I can't? Don't they get they're actually making things worse! GIVE YOUR MONEY AWAY IF YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT HAVING IT ALREADY!!!!! I got a mortgage you could take care of, and some credit card bills, and my daughter's only 8 but next thing you know it's college time.

I can guarantee you that I will never feel shame when I have too much money to spend. Why? Because I'mgoing to give away BOATLOADS of it. I believe in the principle of flow; give and receive; universal reciprocity, if you will. I believe Bill Gates continues to be one of richest men in the world because of how much he gives away through his foundation. Yeah, Microsoft can suck it (love my Zune tho!) but his foundation has done worlds of good.

The only thing I'm ashamed about right now is eating waaaay too much sausage for breakfast.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Try a little harder...PLEASE!!

Despite if the word RANT in my blog title, I don't complain a lot (do I?). But I gotta vent a little here. Let me start by saying that I have all kind of sympathies for people who work in the food service industry...my parents owned a restaurant (read free child labor) and I even did a stint as a Starbucks Barista (not coffee maker if you please!). None of the folks who work in fast food chains look happy to be there, and I can't say I blame them, but I think they can put in a little more effort.

So I had a hankering for some yummy Orange Chicken from our favorite fast-food-disguised-as-gourmet Chinese joint Panda Express. I wanted some noodles but there were only a few scraps in the pan. The cute server asked if I was willing to wait a couple minutes for a fresh update. I was going to downgrade to the rice but a saw the chef (and trust me when I say I'm using the title 'chef' sparingly and generously) stirring a wok as big as my SUV with fresh steamy noodles and thought 'What the heck...no rush'

I was literally drooling when they brought up the fresh noodles and fresh Orange Chicken too!! Oh baby! Then my joy turned to horror as not-cute-anymore server scraped the old crusty noodles on top of the fresh batch! And to add insult to injury she scooped up those scraps and dumped them onto my plate!

HELLS NO!! I had to say something to avoid misery dinner. "Excuse me, but you asked me to wait then give me the same old noodles? At least stir 'em up a bit!" She looked at me as though I was at Burger King trying to have it my way, and then asked for a second opinion from one of her workmates. At least that woman had the good sense not to care to make it an issue and gave me fresh noodles from the bottom. Dinner saved.

So what's my point? We all find ourselves in situations we may not want be in. We sometimes gotta do what we gotta do. But I say do it to the best of your abilities and do it in excellence. Why bother? 'Cause everyone involved will feel better. Customers will feel honored and workers will feel that coming back to them.

No one wants a slacker on duty...and I've done some slacker time, so I'm not taking a holier-than-thou position...just a been-there-done-that position.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Big "M"

So I got this friend who's generally not keen on the idea of marriage. The other day she asked me what's so special about signing that piece of paper? The question threw me for a minute; not because I don't have wonderful reasons to support marriage, but because signing the piece of paper was about the last reason I had for doing it. I don't think it even made the list.

Yes, that piece of paper is important in the legal context of marriage, but that's not what it's about. To be clear, I'm not using this to contradict my support for gay marriage...denying one group of people a right afforded to another group is discrimination, plain and simple. Even if that right is the intricately complex gift called marriage.

I can only speak for myself (and in part Jen but I've learned NOT to do that without prior agreement...did I mention the intricate complexities?), but something happens when you make a pledge of commitment in front of others and before God, however you understand God to be. It's like you're saying I'm going to make the effort and sacrifices to make this relationship work because I love this person standing across from me and who I am when I am with them. And marriage is work...any relationship is work if you want it to last. And, yes, you make can those promises to any significant other without 'signing a piece of paper' but again...something different happens when you do.

The best analogy (and y'all know you love my analogies!) I can come up with is this: Dating is like getting a bachelor's degree, and marriage is like getting a Doctorate! It takes a higher (and deeper) level of commitment, maturity, flexibility, sacrifice, connection, surrender, willingness. To play devil's advocate (and I do so love to play the part) perhaps I can make the case that this is an argument for lifetime commitment, and the best we have right now as a legal and religious 'catch-all' is the institution of marriage.

Could Jen & I have chosen to spend our lives together without getting married? Sure.

But trust me on this one...something deeper happened when we did.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How do you wake up?

One of my favorite spiritual teachers told me that the intention with which we start our day tends to dictate how that day goes. Problem is many of us start with fear & deception. We scare ourselves awake with loud blaring alarms then hit snooze, essentially lying to ourselves about wanting to start our day.

I usuallly wake up too dazed to even remember my name so I let music set help me start the day right.

Here's what I wake up to:

1. GOOD MORNING (INTRO) - John Legend - Birds chirping, yawning, strings, soft crooning

2. GOOD MORNING - John Legend - "Before we start the day I'm whispering in your ear...Good morning." Wake up love song. It's a new additiong to the list & Jen hasn't heard it yet but ikm thinking it'll lead to some morning suga.

3. GOOD MORNING - Lenny Kravitz - "Good morning, nice to see you, how ya been, the beginning of another lovely day." Mellow Lenny walks us through morning routine including cold shower. It is nice to see the family first thing.

4. RAINBOW - G. Love - "I woke up this morning rainbow filled the sky...that was God telling me everything's goona be alright." Nuf said.

5. THREE LITTLE BIRDS - Bob Marley - "Don't worry about a thing cause every little thing's gonna be alright." I believe I always see the glass-half-full because I grew up embedding songs like this into my consciousness.

6. I SAW GOD - Victor Wooten - "I saw God the other day...she looked like you...he looked like me." On the latest solo album (Palmystery) from Bela Fleck's bassist. It ain't easy seeing the divinity in some folks so it helps to start with a daily reminder.

7. YOU ARE THE UNIVERSE - The Brand New Heavies - "You are the universe, and there ain't nothing you can't do...you're a driver not a passenger in life" A fun affirmation song by my favorite British imports.

8. CITIZEN OF THE PLANET - Alanis Morrissette - "I am a Citizen of the Planet...my laws are of attraction...my favorite pastime is stretching." I don't need to go on again about my big love for AM. This song humbly reminds me that it ain't all about me...most of the time ;)

9. ENERGY - The Apples In Stereo - "And the world is made of energy...and the world is synchronicity...and the world is possibility" Fun pop romp just in case I'm actually still in bed at this point.

10. ALLE-ALLELUIA - Rickie Byars Beckwith - "Surrounded by the Presence...the source of all creation all creation allows my heart to sing again." Just in case the day before sucked, I got another chance to sing & smile. This song actually starts with annoying old-school alarm bell ringing so it's last onthe list.

So my early holiday gift to all of you who might be reading this: go to http://www.box.net/shared/hegnx86g07 and download the tracks. No cost to you but I no guarantees they'll all play since not all are in mp3 format.

So reply and tell me...HOW DO YOU WAKE UP?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why is this prop 8 issue important to me?

(Me, Joy, our friend Jenny)

I was surprised by my own interest and call to action on this issue. It may not seem like much, but for me to go protest in 30-degree weather is a BIG DEAL for the man from de islands! I think it was my first protest ever, which says something about my aptitude for civil unrest. But I felt compelled to act for a variety of reasons.

There was a time I would've been the one on the other side of the street holding a sign about 'Salvation' and 'Homosexuality is a Sin.' But in college I became good friends with people who were gay, and I learned that not only were they no different than me, some of them were actually BETTER PEOPLE than me! I was jealous of anyone who was so clear about who they were and could stand in that clarity.

I was also somewhat empathetic to the discrimination they suffered. Coming from a country where blacks are the majority, I did not feel the sting of racial discrimination until I lived in small town Virginia. The same state which until 1967 enforced the 'Racial Integity Act'-a law that made interracial (specifically whites and non-whites) marriages illegal...talk about a misnomer-where's the integrity in that? Not only am I in an interracial marriage, but Jen (not Jenny in pics!) and I lived and were married in Virgina. It was inconceivable to us that there was a time we would have been imprisoned for an act of love.

That insipid law was overturned by the Supreme Court in landmark civil rights case Loving v. Virginia (1967). In its decision the court wrote, "Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival...." Yet today many of us would deny that right from others because we have accepted a certain theological interpretation as universal truth. I am in school to be an ordained minister, and I was appalled by the contributions from various religious movements supporting Proposition 8 (I always maintained that separation of church and state was a sham, but there wasn't even an attempt at subterfuge here!) If being called a Christian associates me with that kind of bigotry, I want to renounce the label. But instead, and even better, I will demonstrate with my life the true Christian compassion that Jesus modeled.

One of my favorite wedding memories occurred two nights before our wedding. Jen's best friend from college was delayed so we went to the Lincoln memorial to wait for her flight. We sat on the steps with a high-school civics class as their teacher played Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech from a boom-box held high above his head (a la John Cusack in 'Say Anything'). We appreciated fully in that instant the immense sacrifices that were made so that we could sanctify or love through marriage.

I was proud have my daughter at my side, teaching her that love has no limits...not color, not gender, not anything. I know that there will be an end to bigotry. The walls continue to crumble. I know that our protesting knocked a few more bricks out of this one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Couldn't have said it better...

Kudos to Keith Olberman for this:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So Glad She's Not A Pyromaniac!

I had a neglectful parenting moment the other day. I was exhausted and fell asleep for an hour. Fortunately, my child's not the type who likes to set fire to things when left unattended...like I was. I woke up and found her under the tree in the front yard... drawing. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have Joy as my daughter. So much so that I simultaneously want to have more and let her be an only child. As absurd as it sounds, I don't want to run the risk that number two doesn't turn out as well. Is that crazy?
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My Daughter the Negotiator

I walked into the kitchen this morning to find a note from my sweet 8-yr-old scribbled on a napkin and clipped to a bag of potato chips. It read: "These are not for Daddy! respond? Love, Joy."

There are many nuances not to be missed. First, the implied declaration of ownership. She didn't write "These are mine" or "For Joy only". There's only two of us here right now, so if the chips aren't for me, by process of elimination...

Second, she actually gave me the opportunity to respond! In writing-there was a pen there too. I wasn't sure how to respond-there didn't seem to be room for a response; there wasn't even a question, but a declaration. So I asked her how I should respond. She said, "I don't know, but have fun with it!"

Third, she's claiming the chips, not planning on being affected by my response, but doing it all in Love.

Proud to be her Dad!
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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Joshua Generation

More insights on race and Obama:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gains and Losses aka Life101 - Part.2

As the euphoria of Obama's victory and the country's awakening begins to settle, we witness another sign that indeed the road is steep.
We witness another sign that bigotry and ignorance still exist in a country that claims to be the greatest country in the world.
Proposition 8 was passed in California effectively restoring the ban on same-sex marriage.

C'mon America...SERIOUSLY?!
Don't you get that we're among the last of those still making this an issue?
Don't you get that we're still allowing religious zealots to manipulate the constitution?
Don't you get that if two men or two women get married your life WILL NOT CHANGE?
Why do some of us still cling to antiquated ideas stemming from misunderstanding?
Why do some of us resist change with every last fiber of our being?

Well as the election so vividly demonstrated, CHANGE IS COMING!
And it can't be stopped.
It might be stalled, postponed, resisted, refuted.
But it can't be stopped, and we're not going back.

Two steps forward and one step back is still forward motion.
I hardly dared to believe that I would see a black president in my lifetime.
I do believe we will see same-sex marriage legalized for good in my lifetime.
I believe love will conquer over hate.
I believe.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gains and Losses aka Life101 - Part.1

The dream is realized, and as Obama reminded us in his inspiring acceptance speech, life goes on and the road ahead is steep.
I was sadly reminded of that by a jolting phone call that brought me back from my post-election-celebration high.
One of our closest family friends called to tell us her father had passed away after a long battle with lung cancer that developed from exposure to asbestos.
Dementia had begun to also take its toll and our friend was his full-time care-giver.
So although no surprise it was no less painful.

I'm writing this from the Lyceum at Unity Village.
Bishop John Shelby Spong reminded of the beautiful gift and responsibility and sometimes burden of being arguably the only conscious species on the planet.
As a result of this gift we spend our lives questioning.
We question our very existence; the meaning of it and our purpose.
We also question the end of it, and the after of it.

But in the moment of loss we can simply be with it.
In our culture we tend to rush our grief.
But true process can never be hastened.
We cannot rush wholeness.
Feeling loss and sadness and deep profound grief are important steps to wholeness.

So in the midst of this historic global moment I'm taking the time to feel my sadness for my friend and her loss.
How much time? As much as she needs.

zune tag: nugo74

Friday, October 31, 2008

Alanis Live (aka My Night of Bliss)

I said I would scream and I did...Alanis rocked!
My admiration...ok, obsession, begins with the fact that we share the same birth date. Not just the same date, but the exact same day. Sure...I might be making too much of that tiny fact but it's the music too. I've loved her music from day one. It reflects the complexity that I am: a perfect blend of anger, pain, love, hope, healing, gratitude, spirituality, surrender, and some great rock.

I was genuinely surprised by the intergenerational representation at the concert. There were folks in their late 50's if not 60's, and it was a sweet moment when the musicians handed some their paraphernalia (sticks, picks, playlist [playlist...?]) to what looked like an eleven year old at the edge of the stage. I look forward to the time when I am the designated 'concert parent'... yes, I actually want to take Joy (and no doubt a car full of squealing tweens) to her first concerts. I'll have to pack the earplugs 'cause my dear child is not a fan of loud (that she gets from her mother) and Alanis was L O U D. The exquisitely classic midland theater held the sound perfectly and drove it straight to the heart bypassing the ears. I had forgotten how sweet it is to feel the music before I hear it.

This was a tour promoting the new album FLAVORS OF ENTANGLEMENT. Some of my favs from the album were covered: Moratorium, Versions of Violence, and the achingly beautiful break-up ballad Not As We. But she also indulged her fans with favorites spanning as far back as JAGGED LITTLE PILL: You Oughta Know, Hand In My Pocket, Head Over Feet, and Ironic. Favorite crowd moment: changing lyric in Ironic as follows-"...it's meeting the man of my dreams, and the meeting his beautiful husband!" That brought the house down. And it was pretty brave in the conservative mid-west.

But was it brave enough? My only disappointment all night was that she didn't perform the lead track of the new album: Citizen Of The Planet (see video in side-bar). I waited (enjoyed) through two encores but no Citizen. Jen's theory is that the song is too political for performance. Political? The song is actually anti-political and really what we need now in a time of political over-saturation. I'd prefer to think the absence of Citizen from the playlist was for musical reasons. That's the story I'm sticking to.

And yes...I bought a t-shirt.

I am a Citizen of The Planet.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama vs Webkinz

So I said I'd wait til next week to update but this bit of madness had to be vented now.

We continue to ignore the simple fact that our world is not going to change if we continue to model evidence of our ignorant insanity for our children. I say 'we' so I don't offend 'them' but I'm pretty clear I'm not one of 'them'...yes, I know we're One and all that but indulge me on this one.

Joy came home quite disturbed because one of her friends told her (as told by her friend's parents) if Obama became president he would shut down the Webkinz website! WTF?! WTF?! I know there's a lot Obama stands for and against, but I hardly think he's taken issue with hairy/furry stuffed animals and their online likeness (which often turns out more appealing than the actual toys...but I digress). Then another neighbor kid comes over to play and stomps on our Obama sign! Another hearty WTF?!

What are we telling our kids?! Now a bit of backstory: Joy's school held a mock election a few days ago. In her school McCain edged out Obama; Obama won among all the elementary schools combined. Do ya think some parents might have had a hand in making sure their kids cast their vote a certain way?

To be fair, I'm sure it's coming from both sides. Joy knows we are Obama supporters and we've tried to communicate what his presidency would mean historically without McCain bashing (which wasn't hard til he picked Tina Fey...I mean Sarah Palin as his running mate). Kids (at least younger elementary age) will tend to emulate their parents. But do we really need to start the fear-mongering before the kid can write cursive?

It's bad enough to lie to your kids, but using Webkinz as leverage is an all-time dispicable LOW BLOW!!

C'mon folks.... we can do better than this.

Our children deserve better than this.


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Still here...

It's been crazy lately...we've been doing a lot of sorting and purging, packing up Jen to get her moving tomorrow, extra family time, and there're still those pesky class assignments. So if you're one of the few besides myself following this thing, have a little more patience with me. I'll have a bunch of time next week to do some posting. Look for more political ranting and my Alanis Morissette concert experience (voice halfway back from the screaming).
Thanks a bunch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Win or Lose

Obama's being modest, but with a 10-pt. lead 2 weeks before the election, let's have the fat lady warm up.
Which brings me to a another post-election concern: The OFF-DA-CHARTS PARTAY that will break out after his victory.
There's probably going to be:
1. People yelling and screaming
2. Things getting smashed
3. People getting hammered
4. Hammered people yelling and smashing things.
Come to think of it...it's probably the same reaction we're going to get if he loses!
Apparently jubilation and outrage look alarmingly similar.
Either way...lock your doors.
Election night's going to be one for the history books!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welcome To My Yard - Part.2

No fear...the new yard signs haven't disappeared.
But I heard a pretty amazing story last night...

As in my case, an Obama sign was stolen and the culprits left the wire frame/stake behind.
This obviously evolved individual put a white card on the frame and simply wrote:

I admit I was instantly jealous when I heard this...why didn't I think of that?
My petty human response to my theft was anger, and now another petty response...jealousy.
But the jealousy quickly graduated to its light-side-of-the-force counterpart: Admiration.
Admiration for the ability make, I think, an even more powerful statement.
It is a statement that reflects the better part of us, that part to make a stand yet not give over to chaos when things aren't going our way.
For all the faults of the democratic and electoral process in this country, things to deteriorate to bedlam.
Granted, the McCain-Palin rallies have been getting a little crazy, yet no matter who becomes our next president, I'm sure there won't be violence.
(There may be some outta-this-world celebrating when...I mean if...Obama wins, but that's another story)
I'm holding firm that the better part of us will emerge triumphant.
We owe it to ourselves.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obama's Moment

Sent to you by Ogun via Google Reader:

via Rolling Stone: Features on 10/14/08
Photo The Democratic nominee for president talks about how George W. Bush screwed up, why John McCain turned ugly and what he's learned from Bill Clinton.

It's the morning after the vice presidential debate, and Barack Obama strides onto the football field at Abington Senior High School in suburban Philadelphia as Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" rings out over the loudspeakers. The bleachers on both sides of the field are packed with cheering students and their parents, and the crowd has spread out onto the lawns beyond the goal posts. Abington is one of the swing districts where the presidential race will be decided on November 4th. It's...

Things you can do from here:

Friday, October 17, 2008


so it took me a while to come up with a response to the presidential debate on wednesday.
it's an overwhelming IS IT OVER YET?!
i'm pretty much done...cooked...fully saturated...can't hold another drop.
i love obama and his ability to not get ruflled - last thing we need is a short-fuse on the mythical button.
yet in some ways he's sounding more and more like the politican he purports not be.
and mccain...well he just looked like he was having petite seizures all night.

we expect obama to perform a miracle.
truth is the country is in a hole so deep neither candidate can probably get us out in four years.
i believe obama's direction is the right one and so does the rest of the world (jump to http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/global-poll-how-the-world-sees-the-2008-election/article102257.html to see what i mean).

i truly believe obama will win in the next agonizingly long 3 weeks.
then it's up to us.
let's not forget what he is inspiring us to realize that we, not he, have to make the responsible changes on an individual level.
let's not forget things often get worse before they get better.
let's not ask how much worse things can get.
i don't believe in fate but let's not tempt it just to be on the safe side.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Welcome to my yard

Last week our Obama yard sign was stolen. I was honestly surprised, then pissed, then surprised I let myself get pissed by the actions of some moron who thought stealing a sign might somehow affect anyone's voting decision. So today I went to my local Obama hq and bought not one, but two new signs. There was a woman also buying new signs because her's were also stolen. The guy in charge said over 200 Obama signs were stolen from Lee's Summit. 200?! Couldn't even wrap my mind around that one! I get the country's divided (thankfully leaning towards Obama now) and some deluded soul will actually vote for McCain, but do we have to resort to petty theft?

I guess some folks out there choose to resort to petty theft to avert the sense of powerlessness they might feel in face of the approaching tidal wave of change. We all sense it. Obama represents our chance to catch up with the rest of the evolved world who have released the attachment to leaders looking the way they've always looked and thinking the way they've always thought. But admittedly many fear change. Even after we've experienced change and come out better for it. Well change can't be stopped. The question is how little resistance will we put up to make this an easy and graceful transition.

So go ahead...steal my yards signs...I've got more. And when they've all been stolen, change will still happen.

Welcome to my yard.
I gave a 3-min talk in my Homeletics class today centered around our camping experience. I griped enough about comping before, but I admit I had a great time this weekend. So while a 3-min talk (2:40 to be precise) doesn't quite encapsulate the experience, it's a pretty good relfection on what I came away with. Plus, I'm just to lazy right now to type a whole new thing about it.

(Disclaimer: The talk had to follow a particular format, so if it seems rote and repititious and non-spontaneous [i.e. so NOT me!] it's not my fault...i promise)

During the summer of 2006 I had a camping experience I would just as soon forget. I was part of a wilderness adventure in the Wind River Range outside Lander, WY. After trudging through mosquito infested woods and mud for 4 days with 9 strangers at 10,000 ft while carrying a 40lb backpack, I developed High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (or fluid on my lungs), and I had to be evacuated and hospitalized. So when my wife said we were going camping I thought my objections were well justified.
But after my camping experience this past weekend, I realize that camping is an invaluable family experience.
You see, camping creates unbreakable bonds.
Camping creates unbreakable bonds in two ways: first, it creates opportunities for cooperation, and second, it promotes a sense of belonging.
Many aspects of camping call for cooperation: assembling the tent, gathering firewood, building a fire, cooking, and cleaning up. These tasks are accomplished with greater ease and speed when done together, leaving more time for another valuable cooperation opportunity: fun & games.
I say again, camping creates unbreakable bonds.
Camping promotes a sense of belonging through the working, playing, and sharing together as a team. As she sat on my lap during share-time around the campfire, my 8-year-old daughter made me feel like father of the year when she said, and I quote, “I feel appreciated here…like I belong.”
Through camping, your family can experience cooperation and a sense of belonging that will remain long after the trip.
Because, camping creates unbreakable bonds.
So make some time to go camping. It just takes one weekend.
I may want to forget my Wyoming experience, but I can’t wait to make more camping memories with my family.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The ministerial student's experience includes times of internal transformation. These times have been affectionally referred to as THE HIDDEN CURRICULUM. It's what helps to define us and our ministry, and perhaps we on the path of spiritual exploration all go through it. It's more of a concentrated event in school as we unpack, examine, throw out, replace, repack our Selves and meet ourselves again for the first time...and maybe a second and third time too.

My major piece of unpacking & examining is around my belief in God. I think I've released the last vestiges of God being anything other than myself (and you too) and haven't decided what, if anything, to replace it with. There's both an empty-grief feeling and completeness all at the same time.

I just finished reading (listening actually) A YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY by A.J.Jacobs. Jewish by birth, agnostic by choice, he lived the laws of the bible for one year-literally lived them; the obvious easy ones (not killing) to the inexplicable (not wearing clothes with mixed fibers). I highly reccomend it...the book, not the mixed fibers thing-that would put a serious dent in anyone's wardrobe. At the end of the year, he didn't believe there was a God, but that there was something sacred and neccesary about religion and spirituality and custom. He called himself a REVEREND AGNOSTIC.

I liked the idea, but not the terminology. It seemed minister & agnostic didn't go hand in hand. Yet that is where I am-not able to prove or disprove God's existence yet still believing. In what? Maybe nothing. Maybe it's just faith in our inherent divinity contrary to all earthly appearances. Perhaps Divine Nature is the God I can believe in now, but where is that divinity is those who commit the acts of unspeakable horror? Buried so deep that it's never seen the light of day? Perhaps the balance between divine inspiration and human psyche shifted too far over on the spectrum. But I digress...that's another rant for another day.

REVEREND AGNOSTIC...I'll try it on for a while see if it fits.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

after today's funeral i am all the more grateful for every moment with joy.
i'm going to be saying YES a lot more now.
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don't ask god why: insights from a funeral

i'm still shaken by the funeral today
a 4-yr-old accidentally shooting herself in the head
the gun belonged to a family friend
it was in her purse
forgive my innocence, but is kansas city the kind of place we need to walk around with guns in our purses?
is any city that kind of place?

how does anyone explain the senselessness?
how can anyone still demand the right to bear arms?
they say people, not guns, kill people
guess what?
sometimes it's the guns

we ask why does god allow this to happen?
it's the wrong question
god has nothing to do with this
this was tragic human stupidity and carelessness
this was the cycle of fear and violence claiming innocence

why is a pointless question
what do we do now is maybe a better one
will that friend still carry a gun in her purse?
i don't know
will joe schmoe still be able to walk into a store and buy a gun?
when will we truly learn from our mistakes

my heart breaks for that family
i imagined my joy in that coffin and i was paralyzed

what do we do now?
what will we do to break the cycle of violence?
what will we model for our children?
more violence through yelling and hitting?
when will we model forgiveness and patience and love?
when will we treat children with the dignity and respect every life deserves?
when will we stop hurting our future by hurting our children?

why does god allow this to happen?!
gimme a break
why do WE allow this to happen?

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

believing in believers

one of my friends who applied to ministerial school was redirected.
that's their way of saying 'you're not ready'
it think maybe there's a little of them not being ready too
this friend of mine is here enrolled in classes at the institute-stepping out in faith
a risky and admirable move all at once-i did the same
what makes a person ready for anything?
can someone else really decide that for them?
the further i get in this program the less ready i feel yet someone thought i was ready enough to be hear
i got another friend about to give up on her singing dream
hurts me 'cause she's got magic pipes, but she doesn't think she's good enough
those who push on in the face of adversity succeed, even when the biggest enemy is themselves
it's how i get through the day
i stop listening to myself
i trust others are right about me
i believe in my believers
hopefully one day i'll catch up to them
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Sunday, September 28, 2008

beyond death...LOVE

today jen & i provided music for uteva power's memorial service
uteva was the living embodiment of saying YES to life
she was eighty-seven and still active in mind and body
her accomplishment during her adult life reflected a spirit of adventure i can only hope to emulate
yet she feared the ultimate adventure...death
i think she feared what lay beyond death more than the dying itself
they say we don't know for sure what happens after we die
i say we know...'they' just haven't proven it yet
beyond death is LOVE...pure LOVE
it is so pure our physical bodies cannot go
only that which is pure...SPIRIT...can return to LOVE
i do not fear death
at the moment of death i will be happy because
i have done what was mine to do
i fear a life unfulfilled
a life not seized by the horns and ridden for all it's worth
i fear stagnation
yet the possibilities of my potential paralyze me
uteva didn't teach us anything about dying
uteva showed us how to live

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Some notes from Arun Ghandi

Anger managment core of MG non-violent philosophy

We need to channel anger (like electricity) for good use; anger journal is a tool

We must understand our own levels of violence (active/physical & passive) before we can change

Passive violence generates anger in victim who seeks justice via active violence

A friendly study of all religions is our sacred duty

MG prayer services were interfaith

Punishing children sends first messages of violence

Arun's parents did penance (e.g. fasting) when he made mistakes; his sympathy (positve guilt) for their suffering made him change his behavior

MG conceded we might minimum violence for protection not excess violence for destruction
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Ghandi Legacy lives on

My classmates and I had the priviledge to have an audience with Arun Ghandi this morning. Arun is the grand-son of Mohandas (aka the Mahatma) and he is continuing his Grandfather's legacy of the Interfaith message.

He rightly believes that only through full appreciation and understanding of each other's religious and spiritual beliefs can we begin to heal the scars of intolerence and violence that continue to plague humanity.

My favorite admission from Arun: he thought Unity was some kind of interfaith denomination where he would find aspects of all faiths. He was disappointed to learn we were just another Christian interpretation. He urged us to live up to our name. :)

Healing & Peace through Understanding.

An aspiration for us all.
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Monday, September 15, 2008

Reflections from a Silent Retreat

I had to write a reflection paper about my silent retreat experience.
Rather than providing excerpts, the entire paper follows:

            "No, thank you." These were the only words I uttered during the twenty-four hours that would comprise my silent retreat. When I began the retreat, I had resolved that I would not break the silence by the comfort of my own voice. Unfortunately, I bumped into the custodial staff on the way out for my walk in the rain, and they asked if I needed service in the cottage that day. I couldn't think of a clever non-verbal response fast enough, so I spoke. Only six hours had passed since I last spoke, and, surprisingly, my voice sounded foreign to me.

            I began my silent retreat around eight o'clock in the morning on September 12. Although I had some anxiety about doing the retreat so late in the term, in retrospect I could not have chosen a better time. It was the day after World Day of Prayer at Unity Village. I had been to two prayer services and read names at the Silent Unity Chapel. That night was also choir practice for the Unity Southeast Chorale, of which I am director. There's a saying that those who sing pray twice, so I considered that more prayer time. I also saw a performance of "Les Miserables" at the Starlight Theater that night. My favorite line in the musical: "To love someone is to see the face of God." So I considered myself prayed up. My timing was perfect for another reason: it had been raining for two days and today promised more. I was staying the Harmony House cottage at Unity Village so I practically had the grounds to myself since the rain kept virtually everyone indoors.

            I was also anxious about the retreat because this was the first retreat I vowed to honor the silence completely. I did not take any books, only my journal for jotting down any insights that should come. There was no TV or computer. The biggest stretch was not taking my Zune (ipod-like digital music player) that contained my collection of almost 7,500 songs. I usually never leave home without it, and I usually always have music playing in the house or in the car except during sleeping and some meditation times. Music feeds me in ways I cannot describe other than to say I feel empty in its absence, whether I'm listening or creating. I did take my other piece of electronic comfort: my BlackBerry. Under the guise of being a 'responsible parent' I rationalized that I needed to have it, but that gave me access to emails, text messages, and the internet. I reluctantly admitted I needed to go without it so I locked it in my car, trusting that all would be well without me for at least one day – talk about an ego trip! Besides, if there really was some emergency my wife Jen knew where I was and could get a message to me.

            By ten o'clock I sat to meditate in the too comfortable recliner with only the patter of raindrops as accompaniment, and woke up three hours later (note to self: no more meditating in the too comfortable recliner). I evidently could not deny the exhaustion I was feeling, and succumbed to rest the first chance I gave myself. I woke up rested and hungry, and after eating lunch in silence I decided to try a walking meditation. Aside from breaking the silence with the custodial staff, the walk was a source of insights. I preface these insights by stating my own belief that nothing of itself has meaning except that which we give it. "What does this mean?" and "Why did this happen?" are, in my opinion, cruel and unnecessary questions. I believe it is of greater value to ask, "What does this mean for me?" or "What is mine to do?" or even "What is mine to give or love?"

            As I explored the grounds of Unity Village in the lightly falling rain, I realized I could divide them into three sections. The first section comprised professionally manicured areas (golf course, campus) that obviously got attention on a regular basis. The second section was the natural woods where the wildlife (deer, turkeys, bobcats, who knows what else) live and seldom visited by humans. The third section was made up of separate areas that looked like ruins or dumping grounds. I drew a parallel between the grounds and my Self. The manicured sections reminded me of the areas of my life and Self I am actively working to improve, such as my spirituality, physical well-being, and intellect. The woods reminded me of the untapped spiritual potential that I access from time to time and is home to the true wonders of who I am. Then the ruins: those scars of past hurts or my personal failings that I want to ignore until hopefully there are overrun by the natural forest growth. And like the actual village grounds, those areas were partially overrun with growth and wild flowers bloomed, just as divine love shines light into those dark corners of my soul. Yet remnants of what was originally there will remain until real work is done on them.

            During the walk I kept running into spider webs. This happened most often when I was off the walking path and exploring the woods. I was initially frustrated by the repeated icky feeling of the webs on my face and arms, but then I realized this was a lesson in awareness. When I took the time to look, there were signs that I was about to walk into a web: small leaves floating in mid-air, suspended water droplets, thin branches bent against gravity's pull. In life, especially in unfamiliar situations, I don't have to be a victim of the unknown. I can increase my level of awareness and look for the signs that can guide me to right choices.

            Another interesting lesson came to my attention during my walk in the rain and it was thanks to my raincoat. The humidity was so thick my walk was really a swim, and as perspired, it became unbearably hot and sticky under the coat. At the time the rain was just a light drizzle, yet I was becoming soaked from the inside. The very thing that was intended to keep my dry was having the opposite effect by trapping my perspiration and soon I was dripping with sweat. I weighed my options and took off the jacket, betting that I wouldn't be as wet from the drizzle as from myself, and sure enough I started to cool off and dry off a little even though it was still drizzling. It made me realize how often I think things (namely having more money) will grant me safety and security yet are the source of great worry and anxiety. Sometimes it's god to have a raincoat, but only if it's doing what it's supposed to, otherwise time to let it go.

            I did eventually settle into times of sitting meditation later that evening and the following morning. I became acutely aware of how much noise and busyness are in my life, and I need to cut back on both. I survived one day without the music to keep me company; perhaps I should have a no-music day at least once a week so I can hear what else there is to hear. The retreat also made me aware that my prayer practice is not currently a daily one and it needs to be. Today is Monday and so far I have met the goal of daily prayer, although I'm admittedly playing music while I type. Rome wasn't built in a day, and my day of silence will come later this week.

            I have realized the value in the Silent Retreat and will take at least one, if not two, each term. Doing it during the last week of term (aka 'Crunch time') helped to ground me during a time I have usually grown more stressed, and I am grateful.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

angry after all?

so i might be angry about the move. i'm angry about something and yesterday chose to take it out on jen. which was reeeeal low on my part, seeing as she was sick for almost a week. it's been a while since we fought like we did, but fortunately we reconnected before real damage was done. she reminded me that i might be stressed from a six week stretch of here being gone, my mother here, both she and joy sick, and term papers due (although as far as the term papers go, i'm doing pretty good for a recovering procrstinator: only two and half with two weeks left).

she might be right, and maybe these things just triggered anger that was swirling around underneath. i honestly don't know if i'm angry about the move. i'll admit that it does throw a wrench in an expeditious conclusion to the program, but it's about the journey, not the destination, right? i'm actually ooking forward to being bicoastal-well more like bilocational-with one place providing breaks from all that goes slong with the other.

maybe it's the hidden curriculum at work, continually wringing out any vestiges of who i thought i was coming onto this program. maybe it's my fraud complex and self-doubt doing a number on me. maybe i just need a break. i've got a one day silent retreat scheduled for friday...right in the midst of crunch time (again, i'm more ahead of the curve than usual so not so much crunch this time). i'm hoping it'll provide the breather i need and give me some insight into what's going on for me.

i think i'm becoming too complex for even me to handle!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Me Update

So in Call to Ministry EJ & Fish recommended we journal about our experience
in ministerial school.

They said it would be helpful as we process and develop our Credo.

Well we all know my history with journaling...I finally cleaned up the
office and found 3 different journals.

I'm just not disciplined with it, and the blogging hasn't been that great

But enough on the pity party already...I got some things to say now.

We're moving...AGAIN!!

Jen's accepted the job in Raleigh, NC and we're off to the next
adventure...sort of.

I actually put my foot down for the BOTH/AND which we've never done to this

I said I won't give up school...it's mine to do...I'm clear, but that didn't
mean she had to stay at UCOP (Unity Church Of Purgatory!).

She will probably leave for Raleigh in October, and I will stay here with
Joy and finish the term.

Then we'll join her and I'll continue school online and travelling.

It took her a while to get clear.

It took me a while to admit that I didn't feel worthy as asking here to stay
at UCOP for 2 more years so I could finish.

It took me a while to admit that I was angry about the idea of moving just
when I was starting to be happy...it only took me about 4 years to get to a
happy place!

But I realize this move gets to be different for me.

Sure all the cool people (Ned, Nneka, Rachel, etc) are looking to be here
next year...but now I'm slowed up a bit it'll probably mean more time with
them as I come back for my terms.

Sure I just started to create new friendships (James, Jess1, Jess2, Kevin,
Anita, Jenny)...but this time I get to sustain them, and make new ones when
I move...I'll be rooted in 2 cities.

Sure I'm investing myself in a new spiritual community (USE)...I can do that

I realize I never made DC my home...I just lived there.

I have my own co-dependency to blame, my inability to demand balance between
friends & family.

So I'm not angry about moving, but I am beginning to feel the impending
sadness of separation.

Which is pretty new for me, Mr. After-the-fact-guy.

And the Universe is rushing in to support us.

Two days after both Jen & I got clear and honest about this, the house
behind Curt & Cindy went up for sale.

They had been toying with the idea of buying it as investment property, but
once again their generosity to us took on a new level.

They bought it and will rent it to us for what we're paying for our house
here...a steal beyond steals.

And the elementary school is a language immersion magnet, with IB middle &
high school programs.

I don't believe in God-out-there or predestination, but DAMN!!

I do believe that the desires of our heart set the Universe in motion, and
it responded in ways we could not have contemplated.


So I'm here and present, enjoying life, being happy, being me.

And I'll be there and present, enjoying life, being happy, being me.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The beginning of belief is doubt

Not really doubt, but rather disbelief

Disbelief causes questioning

Questioning causes re-examining

Re-eaxmining causes a paradigm shift

In the moment that shift occurs there is emptiness as we have let go our previously held belief

We replace it with a new, hopefully deeper, more open idea which we hold for some time

At some time we begin to disbelieve

I am beginning to disbelieve God

Not really God itself, but what I have believed about God

Yes...maybe God itself

This a wonderfully depressing park bench on which to set for a spell, all things considered

Namely, I have just began my studies as a minister-in-training

Dare I disbelieve what is and will be my vocation

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I am in bliss alone
Reading by thunderstorm
Urgently gentle strains of strings and piano with the fragile voice of A FINE FRENZY
Noisily peaceful solitude
In bliss
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Monday, April 21, 2008

RE: AIDS Memorial

Thank you for sharing this with me:)

Rev. Jennifer Holder
Associate Minister / Service Ministry
Unity Church of Overland Park
(913) 649-1750 x3025

"We are divine in creation, and limitless in potentiality."
-----Original Message-----
From: ogunholder@gmail.com [mailto:ogunholder@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2008 10:00 PM
Subject: AIDS Memorial

Earlier tonight I had the humbling experience of playing piano at KC's 20th
Annual Aids Memorial Service.

It was good to be playing in service again. I accompanied Jen & Teri Wilder,
and improved with a drummer who created a heartbeat rhythm that propelled me
inward to a place I can't remember ever being.

The stories massaged my heart unlike anything I've experienced. I've not
been touched by AIDS on a personal level...not like these folks. From every
walk of life they shared. Some losses were recent. Some almost two decades
ago. All equally sad and profound. The survivors are still grieving.

I could feel some anger still behind the grief. Anger for the disease. Anger
with God? Time and forgiveness work slowly, but effectively.

I know the answer, yet I still ask why...why do we have to bear the pain of

To make us better lovers, I believe.
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Sunday, April 20, 2008

AIDS Memorial

Earlier tonight I had the humbling experience of playing piano at KC's 20th Annual Aids Memorial Service.

It was good to be playing in service again. I accompanied Jen & Teri Wilder, and improved with a drummer who created a heartbeat rhythm that propelled me inward to a place I can't remember ever being.

The stories massaged my heart unlike anything I've experienced. I've not been touched by AIDS on a personal level...not like these folks. From every walk of life they shared. Some losses were recent. Some almost two decades ago. All equally sad and profound. The survivors are still grieving.

I could feel some anger still behind the grief. Anger for the disease. Anger with God? Time and forgiveness work slowly, but effectively.

I know the answer, yet I still ask why...why do we have to bear the pain of loss?

To make us better lovers, I believe.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

So the last posting was inspired by the movie AUGUST RUSH. Yes, a touching, drippy, sweet, tear-jerker; a go-to for movie date night.

But the one line that stuck like toffee to the roof of my mouth was the contradiction of the unsincere declaration of happiness by the female lead (played by dazed-but-still-hot Keri Russell): "You can't be happy-You're a musican (or was it music teacher) who doesn't play!"
In 10 years I have gone from to late-night impromptu jams in college to...honestly...nothing. I no longer enjoy making music with my students who have a depressing distaste for anything non-urban. I no longer play at church, and my composer spirit seems lost in the ethers.

As always, there is hope. I still listen. Every free moment is filled with music. It is my narcotic of choice...my zune: my needle for swift injection. On Sunday I rediscovered Debussy. Something about the classical moderness of his works; almost jazzy with a loose unpredictability and chords you want to play just to feel their sweet complexity. I played a few pieces in college and I dug up the book.

I'm not a fan of relearning, but it's time to play again.

It's time to play...just to play.
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Saturday, April 5, 2008

I am a musician who doesn't make music.
I hear it constantly.
I can't not have it in my life.
I'm scared to fall in love with making it again.
I am sad.
I am a musician who doesn't make music.
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back to work

Return to work
Return to long days
And short nights
Return to leaving home with only the thought of returning
Missing family
To be in a passionless existence
There are lessons to learn

The challenge to carve time for life's joys is ever-present

The question of what is important always being asked

Happiness is paramount

Love matters
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Sunday, January 6, 2008


the discipline of daily writing
is a difficult practice to master
four days have passed in the blink of an eye
i have done little work on the novel
and no entries here
i have been living life
i have been honoring my resolution
to cultivate and sustain friendships
i have been spending time with new friends
sharing a laugh over salads and sandwiches
getting to know each other
i have connected with old friends
i group of men that helped me find my way
when i was lost in my own disillusionment
the biggest obstacle in my way of writing
is that i would rather read a good book
and isn't all life about balance?
do i believe there is time for it all?
monday i return to a job that
i am doing my best to leave
soon i will leave

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

shall we dance?

marriage is a dance
of infinite complexity
full of grace and allure
a sumptuous feast of sensuality
to be coveted by those who watch on the sidelines

yet unseen within the dance
am i leading
are you leading
watch the toes
what shall we dance today
is this a new dance
are we doing this dance again
let's keep dancing
my feet hurt
my back hurts

let the music play

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

pure joy

today i witnessed pure joy
today i saw an adult meet her inner child
and they briefly enjoyed their time together
i watched with amusement as a plump must-be-near-60-year-old woman discover that
gravity can be her her friend on the water slide
she emerged from her first trip down with a look of sheer delight
and squealed (yes, squealed) to the also amused teen-aged lifeguard
"that was fun! i'm doing it again!"
and she almost ran to do it again
she emerged from her second trip down with only a look of content
her inner child and her inner adult parted ways
the child was visible no more
but i know she will be back