Stones in Water Gordon Lightfoot

Money for Nothing

“Soon as you accumulate the ‘Fuck You’ money you’ve been working for your entire life the grandkids come along.”

From my dad, that, and ironic, or something, in at least three ways: He doesn’t have any money, and I don’t have any kids, and anyway he’s been saying ‘Fuck You’ as long as I can remember.

Once was 25 years ago when I was 14 and he was running a surf shop, and someone came in and they disagreed over price. Not for a board, but some marijuana. My dad called it “weed” like he knew what he was doing, but he didn’t. It wasn’t his shop and it wasn’t his weed and it wasn’t his price, and afterward it wasn’t his job anymore.

Another time he and this guy Rick were seeing whether they could finish their third bottle of Tequila before the sun came up — like the song, get it? — and they argued too. Wasn’t drugs, probably a woman, and Rick told my dad as sagely as one drunk can tell another, “You can be friends or you can be careful,” and as the sun rose Rick got up and as he stumbled out my dad said, “Watch your step.”

And the first time I remember was when he, believing he was Gordon Lightfoot, thought it was “alright” and that maybe she’d let him leave his duffel bag behind her couch for when he drifted on by again.

My mom tried to tell him the guy in the song (“Baby, it’s Alright” not “Sundown”) is promising to love the girl until she dies no matter what she does, and that it thus did not quite apply to their situation, and that furthermore she would not be playing the guy in this scenario either, and that furthermore he should not forget his Army duffel.

I was 12, and my dad asked did I want to go to the beach. He didn’t say “and not come back” but at that age hell I might’ve gone anyway.

After my mom said what she said I think he thought he decided he’d be the one to tell people ‘Fuck You’ from now on, but the truth is she hadn’t said that and anyway he started it and anyway when you think about it that isn’t the same thing at all.

 

This is a work of fiction.
And so I made it as true
as my talents will allow.

Ballet v Football

Pas De Duh

Is ballet a sport?

The question is asinine in at least two ways.

Of course it is, whether one is asking does it qualify as one or simply based on the assumptions implicit in the question itself.

To put it as stupidly, would a Ferrari fit in my garage? Is Rivendell a better deal than Motel 6? Can Michele make a Betty Crocker cake?

Well … yeah. Sure. But, um, that’s understating it a tad idn’t it? And when did my garage, Motel 6 and chemical moistness become of the standard of deciding such things.

Ballet is kick your ass hard. So are many sports. So it automatically is as anyone who reflects on it for 12 seconds knows. There isn’t any phony “debate” about that, as one media outlet which shall remain USA Today claimed there was.

And looking at the assumptions we see the question makes “sport” the standard. Sport. Which today rarely means the physical prowess and grace required—meaning the beauty—but rather the professional leagues, meaning money and media.

This is absolutely not to say that people who play do not possess the prowess and grace. In nearly all cases they do. You don’t get there if you don’t.

Likewise that ballerina does incredible things with her body, from her toes on up to the sky.

Which of course has exactly zero to do with her underwear, although that is the connection we are to make, in addition to the sex, which is always there.

What she can do she can do whatever she wears and she should rightly be praised for the hard work and dedication required to get here, as we may hope she is grateful for the innate talents that began the good and difficult work in her.

It cheapens it to ask the question, not to mention making an “event” out of a TV commercial. I guess we could say we’d never have known about her without the money of those trying to sell underwear.

But that is a different problem.

Dufresne Smiling

Inconvenient Truth

Near the start of The Shawshank Redemption Andy Dufresne is on the witness stand, losing a battle for his life he will ultimately win. The district attorney calls “inconvenient” the inability to find the gun used in the crime. Andy has used the gun to make a hole in the river, though not to make holes in his estranged wife, and the golf pro banging her into the wall. 

“Because I am innocent of this crime,” Dufresne replies. “I find it decidedly inconvenient.”

It is the truth.

And that’s all.

By which I mean the gun, it’s use or non-use, it’s location and locatability, and, most crucially for our perceived “prove it to me” approach to life, whether we receive (accept) any of that information, is irrelevant to what is. Andy knows he’s innocent. He will be perceived guilty for the next two decades.

But the truth will out.

So take faith.

Faith is faith in Christ and the faith of Christ, as we come to understand. Faith seeks understanding, and what is sought is found. And it is what it is, as the kids say.

Admittedly, there’s always work to be done, and always more work to be done.

Andy Dufresne, for example, must tunnel through rock, and walk through a quarter mile of sewer — a river of shit, Red calls it. The faithful must do similar work, in ways appropriate to it.

The faith of Christ is rarely convenient.

If ever: it tells us to stay when we want to go, to love when we want to stew, to shut up when we want to speak.

It tells us to forgive when we want to gnaw the marrow of resentment.

[Buechner says we’re eating ourselves, but golly we enjoy that meal.]

And the faith of Christ is the best way of the best man who’s ever lived.

One of CSL’s better known lines — stiff competition, that — has to do with believing in Christianity not so much because of what he sees in it but because of what he sees by what he sees.

And Chesterton who came before says the more one becomes convinced of something the less one is able to explain it. Like loving one’s wife, it is. It simply … is. How could one not see it?

Each of these lines — Lewis, Chesterton, and Andy Dufresne (by way of Stephen King and Frank Darabont) — works by way of indirection, which is crucial in communicating truth. For that matter, add Emily Dickinson: Tell it slant, she says. Not because it’s practical or impractical, effective or proactive — or even rebarbative, to some.

Do it because that’s the way it’s done.

Continue in it, whether anyone sees or not.

The power in Dufresne’s response to the DA is that if he’s guilty, the prosecutor is right — how convenient the gun can’t be found. But he’s innocent. And because that’s the truth, it is inconvenient, and for nearly 20 years.

But Dufresne continues to live in that truth and of the faith of it. The tunnel is his monument to that truth, the boat he begins to build his reminder, to himself, but (since he’s had 19 years to learn it) most of all to us.

Do it because that’s the way it’s done.

Continue in it, whether anyone sees or not.

That’s how the truth will out, as it always does.

The End in Mind

The End In Mind

Sometimes we imagine ourselves the star of our own personal blockbuster biopic, currently in production (it’s sometimes in development hell, but generally moving forward) and it’s all vital and crucial, Academy Award-material, two thumbs way up.

God is teaching us all this stuff, we think, even if don’t presently know what it is. And if we can figure it out, then it will all not only make sense, but also be worth it.

We want it to “mean” something, and then all of it will be alright, all the dangers and challenges and sadness, and we’ll be “OK with it.”

Not only that, but maybe … we’re not sure, because we don’t presently know what it is … maybe it’s gonna be big! And we mean BIG.

Then it will mean something.

And maybe we’ll get famous.

As if it isn’t meaningful enough for God to just want to be with us, and want us to be with Him, and want us to want what He wants. Imagine! God wants to hang with … us. He wants you. He wants me.

But do we still get to be the star in that movie deal you mentioned?

We want to know, because then, you know, it’ll be … even better!!

And I’m the star so I get to direct, because who else could, knows as much about us as we do?

At least I can be petulant in my trailer if the Writer / Director won’t pay attention to us, right?

Which is a lot weird, because the thing we just turned down was Him paying attention to us.

*

So I realize there’s no film.

So I say, “Then there is no purpose?”

If there’s no big production, what’s the point?

*

And that’s when I realize there’s also no defined end to the drama undeniably being played out in my life. It’s not a blockbuster biopic starring me, but something is going on. And here we mean when it’s not fun, because we were just looking for the meaning. And part of how there would be meaning is if I’m in charge, but if not I still want to know there’s an end, and I get the girl, find the money, and save my friends, family, town, world.

*

So bottom line, here’s my fear:

There’s apparently nothing that explains and justifies the pain,

and

There’s no foreseeable end to that pain, my fame waiting or not.

But if the first part is about being with God, why do I care when it ends?

 

Dante at Gates of Hell

Jesus All The Way Down

The other day I wrote about having no hope.

More specifically no hope in this world, more specifically because the hopes we had have been hammered against hardened sand and dirt and clay, that is, against the rocks.

That may be the basic choice in life:

Heart hardened

or

Hopes hammered

And then there will still remain: God.

The one with whom we have to do. And if our hearts have been hardened we have no hope and if our hopes have been hammered we (of course) have no hope, but we have one thing, and oddly enough it turns out to be hope.

It turns out to be Him.

As with Dante, It’s Jesus all the way down.

*

I see now that I’m breaking my semi-vow not to write about this …

This morning, a Sabbath, I saw something.

Praying from the Baillie prayer book for today there were words reminding us of Jesus’ time on earth, and the things He said and did, and thus the example He left for us, as He said He would.

[That’s a lot of He and His and Him, and that’ll be proper pretty soon … ]

His obedience unto death

not incidentally leading to

His triumph over death

and

His sympathy with others’ suffering

not incidentally coupled with

His bravery in face of His own suffering

and

His complete reliance upon Thee, His Father in heaven

[And that’s a lot more about Him, all He did and said, and He made His … ]

*

There’s a hymn that goes

My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
.

I think less should be else.

And since salvation is for life not just for death, we mean all of life, not just death.

[Which He said we will never taste, anyway.]

If we hope in Christ only in this life, we are most to be pitied.

But what if we hope in Christ only in the next life, what then?

*

This matters.

We speak a fair amount of time of complete reliance and totally trusting Jesus for everything.

For everything mind you.

We also speak a good deal more of all the ways we don’t do that. We trust anything but Him.

Sometimes it’s what we do, sometimes it’s what someone else did, sometimes it’s our reasonable belief in certain things going certain ways, such that other things will go their ways, such that ultimately, finally — we will get our way.

We go to sleep expecting to wake up.
We get on the freeway to make it to work.
We do the work and say we must then get paid.

Sometimes it’s OK to talk this way: fine in one sense; not fine in another.

Some people, including we ourselves, hear only reasons. It’s right, to a point, to offer them.

But this leads usually to difficulty in going back to complete reliance and totally trusting. Or else they get shunted aside, into the corner, where we have, by all our other beliefs and actions (beliefs lead to actions), also place Jesus himself.

Go sit in the corner.

But it’s OK, right? That chair is sturdy and will hold his weight. It’s a good chair, made in … and bought from … and costing …

We end up with a life where we sit in chairs because they are fearfully and wonderfully made, even if it’s by a mass production shop in Burma for Walmart.

*
Wait a minute.

Are you saying you sit in a chair because God holds it in his hand?

Yes, that is what I’m saying.

*

Do we want a life where we trust we won’t die driving because of the skill and care of … other drivers?

*

We should hope, live, in nothing less, nothing else, than Jesus Christ.

He shatters our hopes, anyway I think He is shattering mine, to say so.