Friday, February 19, 2016

A New Moon

It was a new moon, an orange crescent smiling as it settled into an ink black flat lake.  It was the moon and a whisper from Marty that made me stop.  You should have been there.

On most nights at our lake home, after Marty has settled in bed, I go sit outside on our west facing deck to enjoy the night sounds and cool air (in the fall and winter). I almost always take my I Pad with me and let my mind check out as I play Spades or something else equally inane.

When there is not much of a moon and the lights are low in our house it is pitch dark on the porch.  You can see the lights on the docks reflecting off of the flat black water.  You can see the white, blue, orange and red lights shimmering on the bank across the lake, evidence of homes, boat docks, towers and pumps.  

This night the moon caught my eye.  It was a new moon, a crescent shape that looked like a brilliant orange and golden smile.  The moon light was cast across the smooth surface of the lake like an orange spotlight flashing from the far side of the lake to the shore on my side. 
Like I said, you really should have seen it.

Too often, much too often I have seen something notable then moved on to the next thing in my brain.  That behavior drove Marty nuts.  She would tell me, stop, look, enjoy, revel in the moment, be in the here and now and feel life at that moment.  She would say it’s okay to stop and feel content for a minute.  Mostly I didn’t listen to her.

This time I listened to my inner Marty voice (yes, it’s there, a lot), this time I put my I Pad down, I walked away from the sitting and the Spades and walked to the middle of the deck and watched the beaming crescent dipping  into the dark flat lake.  I looked up and saw the stars, the stars you can only see when you are away from city lights, the stars so far away the light you see is old.

It was cool, it was clear; it was so quiet all I could hear were the sounds God’s world makes.  An airplane made little noise as it blinked its way with passengers going from Houston to Dallas, oblivious to the moon I was watching.

Even when Marty isn’t right beside me she is still in my head, it’s really spooky sometimes. That night I could feel her saying, “It’s okay to feel content.  It’s okay to feel right with the world.”  

It’s okay to feel good.  In spite of what so many want you to believe this is an amazing world in which we live, there is beauty, light, and life all around us and we truly live in the most amazing, safest, richest time in history.  I know, I know, there are wars, rumors of war, hunger, poverty, and true tragedy all around us and we must confront all of that.  But life, today, in this era, while complicated, is incredible.

 Marty and I know a little about tragedy so I get a lot of the pessimism.  But that moon, that smiling moon the color of which I am at a loss to describe, that moment in time when Marty’s always present spirit told me to look, to feel, to breathe, to forget everything else but that moment.  

For me, moments like that shows me that a God is with us, my Christian God, your Jewish God, your Muslim God, it doesn’t matter.  It matters that in that moment that crescent moon was God smiling at all of us and saying it’s okay to feel good.

And Marty was there whispering in my ear to remember how important it was to see and feel that smile and be nowhere but in that moment.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Dichotomy (It's a Great Word)

A couple of Sundays ago Marty and I went to Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas to watch as our youngest grandchild, Lucy Jean, was baptized.  For me, for us, it is a spiritual thing.  For me, for us, infant baptism represents the best of who we are as human beings.

In our church baptism is a sacrament, a sign of God’s continuing love for God’s people.  Marty often referenced a statement from someone more eloquent than I (I can’t remember the name) that birth is a sign that God has not yet given up on humanity.  I feel that way about baptism.  I can’t think of a better way of showing love than for parents, a family, a church to promise God’s love to a child.

The baptisms of our grand children or any child touch Marty in a way she can’t express.  She doesn’t say much about it, the strokes took outward expressions from her, but I know from years of sitting beside her when other children have been baptized she feels the meaning of the sacrament.  She feels the warmth and love of the community, she always, always, as difficult as it is to make the journey, as self conscious as she feels in large gatherings, she always wants to be there and connect with that part of our life.  

I want that for her.

The following Sunday my family gathered in Fort Worth to belatedly fete my parents for their 65 year anniversary.  65 years is a long, long time to do anything, 65 years of marriage is nothing short of a miracle.  My brother John, in his toast, said that only 1% of married couples make the 65 year mark.   Personally I’ve never known anyone married for 65 years, you have to not only live a long time you have to stay in like and love with someone else for a very long time.  

It was a great celebration where Marty tried to order a beer instead of wine or the more appropriate Diet Coke (she really can’t drink either, she’s loopy enough and has to help me drive), we all paid homage to the miracle of Bettye and Larry Sr., and our entire immediate family was there.  We even got to hear a letter of congratulations to my parents written by our esteemed Senator Ted Cruz from Texas (no, not all of us in Texas like extremism).

More importantly we talked of the miracle of love, the necessity of partnership, the luck of finding your soul mate and what an amazing thing it is to still love your mate through all of the trial, tribulations and victories of 65 years.

In the span of those two weeks, with my bride, my bride of 40 years, my bride in the wheelchair, we made the treks to the Metro mess to see a beginning and a solemn promise, the next week we had the privilege to honor a solemn promise fulfilled for more than six decades.

Getting to Dallas once every now and then pulls hard at Marty’s energy reserves so I always give her a choice, “Do you want to go?”  Of course she says, “Damn straight I want to go.”  In her mind she has to be there for the baptism and my own Mother, who always loved me the most, told me not to come to their shindig without Marty.  

The dichotomy of these two events is really hard to miss.  Think of it as a contrast between a new beginning for little Lucy and a celebration of an old union that began literally decades ago in another century, a union that is ultimately responsible for giving life to little Lucy.

 Lucy was baptized into a faith community in 2016, in a completely different millennia and culture than when my parents were married, yet they are tied together, they are tied together by the miracle of genetics and more importantly they are forever connected by the very same faith and family community.

I love the connection, I love knowing that, my grandparents, my parents, Marty and I, our children and their children are part of a strong community connected through the years to each other and to a common history. 

I love knowing, as different as these celebrations were, as special and emotional as they both were, they ultimately show who we really are.  

I really love knowing Marty is still here to be a part of these acts of love and with Marty; you can’t take that presence for granted.