Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Unless I got my dates mixed up (which I may have -- see below), today is my step-mother's birthday. I have borrowed a picture of her from my sister's blog.

Verna Mae's Birthday: May 28. Dad and Verna Mae's Anniversary: May 29. My birthday: May 30. A full week! At least, if we lived close by it would be a full week.
Anyway, Happy Birthday Verna Mae! You are a wonderful part of our family, so good for all of us!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Birthday Reflecting

One trouble with blogging is deciding what to put in so public a forum. The past six months have been among the most spiritually significant of my life, but I'm not sure that this is the right venue for what I have written about that. But my 59th birthday is approaching in just over a week, so here are some lines reflecting.

This doesn't rise to the level of poetry, but does provide me for a medium to think on paper.

Birthday Reflecting

At nine I climbed rocks
The hills of Matopo:
Into the crack between the rocks;
Up to the bell that called to us all.
School there was, with memories;
But over and under all were Rocks,
Ancient and lasting Matopo Hills.

A young man in a new school,
Fourth school in four years.
A year later I remember myself,
Nineteen, second-year student, in and out of my element.
My first girlfriend;
Lost alone in the woods;
Soccer and theatre – more play than work.
Becoming so slowly a man.

Three years of teaching; four more running a folder
(Constant clatter of machine: paper and ink gets in your blood),
Now at twenty-nine a man: back in school, and far more
Married; Wife and Friend and Lover,
Still too new to know.

Father, a role to learn and discover;
At thirty-nine two sons call me
Father, and other names.
I remember, but memories slide away,
Too shy to let me see them clearly.
What at that moment was important?
Many roles – husband, father, friend;
Pastor, teacher, print shop labourer:
What really mattered?
Memories slide around the corner
When I look at them. I remember
Anticipating forty, the angst of aging.
I remember preaching, teaching, caring,
Loving, fighting, living: memories slide.
What matters? I did them.

Forty-nine. A new country, new job;
A new life as fifty looms.
The path led back to school at forty-one,
That bend ended two years later;
Back to pastor, church in a cornfield;
And after four years in the cornfield
With trains sawing back and forth:
Again a teacher, back to the present.

I come to now.
A number.
What matters?

God. Above all, beneath all, around all, in all. God.
Family: dearest companion; children grown.
Community: sometimes at school;
In the coffee shop and living room;
On the soccer field, across the chess board.

What matters?
Family, students, colleagues, friends,
Gathered community of people,
Bound together by the search for
Truth and life.
Truth, the Good, matters:
Family, friends, colleagues, students
Relationships make life.

Fifty-nine. I remember, and
Memories slide
Leaving a trace, a shape,
A desire for more
Life, and Truth, and Good, and
What matters.

21 May 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day

I know that Mother's Day was on Sunday. I liked the blog that my sister wrote for our step-mother and aunt on Sunday. Verna Mae has been a wonderful blessing to my Dad and to our family, and Aunt Leoda is wonderful. I remember staying with Aunt Leoda in Manhattan over 30 years ago: just a few days, but memorable, and good.

But Mother's Day is also always May 12 for us. On this day in 1991 our mother died, and we don't forget. We were blessed to have her as our mother, even if her time feels as though it was cut short (as my younger sister wrote to me). Memories are clear, as they should be: mother standing on a ladder at around age 50, hanging something in the church basement, and falling off the ladder in a kind of somersault. Scared everyone around; but she was fine. Mother inviting the woman who became my wife to lunch -- before we had started dating. Mother boxing with me when I was a moody teenager: you can't stay moody when your 5 ft. tall mother starts boxing with you.

Today is Mother's Day every year, alongside the Sunday celebration. We don't forget.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Deer Strike!

Last Saturday Lois and I went in to visit Kim and S'kha, taking our Zimbabwean friend, Mike, along. Mike had taught Kim over 20 years ago. now Kim is professor of African history with a double PhD. Mike still lives in Zimbabwe, dealing with power cuts and a lack of running water. He came over for his son's college graduation, giving us a chance to visit in the city and renew old friendships.

We had a good evening, and headed home as the sun set. North of the 49th parallel, on a Spring evening (or in what passes for Spring in Manitoba) that means driving around 9:30, so that we approached our home town after dark.

Two or three miles north of home Lois suddenly yelled, "Stop!" Now she has called out surprising things sometimes, such as the other morning when she told me to get something from the car outside. Turned out she was still asleep and the request was part of her dream. Not this request, however. I hit the brakes, and a deer passed lightly in front of us. I thought we had dodged the danger, but then we saw a second deer and felt a significant thump. The sound of the impact was enough by itself to shake us all up.

I kept going. After 10, so close to home, one dead deer (I thought): why stop? At home we checked the damage, which was remarkably slight. The passenger side mirror was gone, and there was some slight scoring of the passenger side doors. The repairs come to $1,200; but the damage was less than I could have expected based on the sight and sound of the unfortunate deer.

We're glad to be home and grateful for so little harm. I hope that the deer just bounced, and went on his way a bit startled. But I'm afraid: a snapped neck seems more likely.