Friday, May 25, 2012

Goodbye to Good Fridays

At the beginning of 2007 in the middle of what Texas calls winter, I was working as a park ranger for Cameron Park.  Lindsay was 7 months pregnant with Roy and there was no shortage of unsolicited advice on what to expect with our first child.  My friend and park-rangering-coworker Lanny managed to catch my ear with his qualifier, “I know everyone is giving you advice, so I’ll just say this,” and then his advice, “enjoy it, because it goes fast man.” Lanny was speaking from experience.  He was then, a father of a 19-year-old son and so had witnessed time’s expeditious sprint into the future. 

Because I’m an enneagram type 3, I have trouble connecting to my emotions.  For this reason it takes me a good deal of time to figure out what I appreciate.  Ask me how a movie or a vacation was and I’ll tell you to check back in with me in three months.  Once I commit emotionally I become incredibly nostalgic.  My parents are selling the house I grew up in after living there for 27 years.  My siblings didn’t bat an eye.  I created liturgy and demanded we have a goodbye ceremony.  When I watched Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris I was confronted by my own condition. 

Last night Lindsay spoke a truth that I didn’t think much of in the moment, “tomorrow is your last Friday with Roy.” 

Here are the facts that make sense of that statement.

1.     Friday is the one day I am at home with the kids and Lindsay is at work.

2.     This is Lindsay’s last Friday of work for the 2011-2012 academic year.

3.     When she returns to work in the fall, Roy will be in kindergarten.

      Today was my last Friday with Roy.  I’ve tried to do something different with the kids on Fridays since my super-mom-wife exhausts Waco’s good parenting options throughout the rest of the week (library timethe zoothe museumPinwheel Kids, etc.). Consequently I’ve elected to make Fridays doughnut and Barnes and Noble day. 

(Our last Barnes and Noble trip together)

(our last doughnut trip together.  If you were astute enough to notice the wardrobe change it's because a trip to the gym interrupted our routine)

There are only a few things I love more than Christmas, and to celebrate my love for the holiday I’ve begun collecting Kohl’s St. Nicholas Square Christmas Village.  This year the kid’s Christmas gift to me was The Doughnut Shop.  The gift immortalized our experience.  It made me realize how sacred Fridays had become.  I had a peculiar response when I opened my gift.  I envisioned myself at 55, getting the Christmas decorations out of the attic and seeing that box.  The box would remind me of those precious days when life was so simple, the kids were that perfect age, and that on every Friday we used to go to the doughnut shop and Barnes and Noble together.  (I know, some of you just went here).

I didn’t hear what Lindsay said last night, but I did this morning when I woke up at 5:18.  I began doing what I do well … remembering.  Remembering when Roy was born, when he fell off his changing table at six months old, when he ate an entire pear at seven months, long nights fighting croup, his first day of mother’s day out, his first birthday, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and the million moments that make life so incredibly meaningful. 

My local readers will know this well, but the rest you won’t so it’s worth retelling.  In 2005 I was part of a congregation that witnessed the tragic death of our friend and pastor Kyle Lake.  An electric wire improperly grounded was feeding electricity into a baptismal.  When Kyle, standing in water, grabbed a metal microphone stand the circuit was completed and his life was taken. 

We gathered two days later to say goodbye.  Kyle’s funeral officiated by Burt Burleson who had the wits to read through Kyle’s last sermon that was prepared, but remained undelivered on that Sunday morning he died.  In that sermon Burt found Kyle’s conclusion, which Burt read at the funeral.  Kyle’s healing words from the grave.  Last words from a pastor to his flock:

Live. And Live Well.
BREATHE. Breathe in and Breathe deeply.
Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.
On a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and
FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth ofthe sun.
If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool Autumn day to
FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE.
Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time.
If you bike, pedal HARDER and if you crash then crash well.
Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well done-a paper well-written, a project
thoroughly completed, a play well-performed.
If you must wipe the snot from your
3-year old's nose, don't be disgusted if the Kleenex didn't catch it all because soon he'll be wiping his own.
If you've recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And Grieve well.
At the table with friends and family, LAUGH.
If you're eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke.
And if you eat, then SMELL.
The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on
the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven.
Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life.

Surreal.  That’s how I remember feeling when those words were being read.  Almost like Burt had made that up.  They were so perfect that it seemed like Kyle had been told he was going to die and was given a chance to share last words with the congregation. 

Those words have formed UBC and we all revisit them as we rediscover their  continuing relevancy. 

As I say goodbye to Good Fridays, I put on two sentences from Kyle’s last sermon.  No longer good words, but now the experience I wear, my heart yet again recognizes the need to:

Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.

& also

If you must wipe the snot from your
3-year old's nose, don't be disgusted if the Kleenex didn't catch it all because soon he'll be wiping his own.

So now let me be that parent offering soon-to-be parents advice and echo my friend Lanny.  It goes fast, so be present to the million moments that continuously make up the precious now.  

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