Monthly Archives: July 2014

My New Cousin

I’m featuring family art this week.  This is something I found recently.  It’s a piece from approximately 14 years go by my cousin’s daughter Anna.  Anna’s at K-State now doing awesome things, among them, coaching crew.   She did wrote this story in anticipation of meeting my boy Will for the first time.  In the years since they don’t get to see each other often; there is a bit of an age difference.  But when he visits Manhattan, she is very cool, introduces him to her friends, and spends time visiting with him.

anna pic

annastory2

Big Family

My records show this one comes from July of 2006.  It’s a little list-y.  But I like it.  This is still one of my favorite things.

 

Billy Graham, Martin Luther, and Mother Theresa walk into a bar.  The bartender says, “What is this, a joke?”

We’re about to take part in one of the richest of the Christian experiences.

Eucharist, Mass, holy communion, the Lord’s Supper, the breaking of the bread, the sacrament of the altar, the Divine Liturgy, the Memorial of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord.  Just the variety of names Christians have given this ritual points to the deepness and variety of meanings we find in the Eucharist.

While I would love to listen to the conversation that Billy Graham, Martin Luther and Mother Theresa would have in that bar about the meaning or meanings of the sacrament of the altar, I suspect they would discuss something more edifying, like maybe their favorite things about communion.

Here’s mine, one of my favorite things to think and pray about when I take the bread and the cup.  This is the body and blood of Christ.  In participating in communion, I am participating in his death and resurrection.  I’m reminded that I’ve died and been raised again in Christ as symbolized by my baptism.  What’s cool is that I am surrounded by my local body of believers, also all dead and raised again in Christ, who are also now experiencing holy communion themselves.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Across the street the Methodists and across town at the Assembly of God, and in all the church buildings in between, our brothers and sisters in Christ remember in the bread and the cup Christ’s death and resurrection and what that means for his Church.

And there’s my friends in St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Norfolk, Virginia, where MaryEllen’s and my faith first grew together as a couple; and my group of high school friends who helped me grow in Christ as a teenager, my brother in Kansas City, my folks in Abilene, Theresa in Springfield.  Then there’s even those who have passed away — my grandpa Vern, my father in law Ralph; and others that I haven’t met, yet — my great grand parents, C.S. Lewis, John Wesley, Flannery O’Connor, Mike Yaconelli, St. Patrick, St. Peter, and on and on.  And don’t forget Billy Graham, Martin Luther and Mother Theresa, Believers across the country and around the world, in the past and in the now, on every continent, speaking hundreds of languages, sharing communion in as many different ways.

God has blessed me in so many ways, the best way has been through my family.  One of my favorite things about communion is remembering how big and how great that family is.

Amen

Spin Art

spin3

spin4

My kids did these.  Years ago we picked up some kind of art toy at a garage sale, and my kids made some art.  As I recall it was cool at first, but a little difficult to do; the machine may have jammed a bit, and of course the paint was messy.  So after a few paintings, the kids and I were done.  We’d gotten our $1 out of it, and the machine went into our goodwill box.

The kids wanted to trash their pictures too.  But I kept them.  I saw the message.  It was up to me to share the message with the rest of the world.  So I organized them into these surreal comic strips.  Let him who has eyes see.  It’s all right there.

Stick Horse

stickhorse

How cool is this. I think this is just a little thing that she was playing around with, a bit more than a doodle, but not much, that I commented on, told the artist how cool I thought it was, and ended up with it as a gift. I wish I knew where this artist was and what she is up to, but I have no idea.  She was a pretty capable kid, so I’m sure she’s doing great things.

The Great Race

greatrace
This pin takes me back to an experience that I had almost forgotten. When the discussion comes up, I usually say, honestly, that I’ve only ever had too much to drink one time. I say that honestly because I always forget the other times but one. The Great Race in Ashland Kansas that I attended was in the summer of 1989, I think between graduating from k-state and going off to England. So it was a time of great transition in my life. The button makes me think there’s some sort of water race involved. But I don’t recall any of that. I remember drinking all day with some of my fraternity brothers, wandering down the empty streets of Ashland late at night, writing an anonymous letter about my unplanned future to a Methodist pastor, and an awkward goodbye to a girl I had pursued unsuccessfully at Kansas State. A better writer would tie this up with something deep, but you’ll have to find your own meaning in all this. I’m glad I made the long drive (Ashland is close to nowhere but the Oklahoma panhandle). And I’m glad I found this button.
Friend Matt: It was a 26 mile relay race that included canoeing, running, biking, riding a horse and a tricycle leg at the end. Mainly a way to get together and drink.

Driver Four

When I came across this I had no memory of writing it.  It would have been a few years ago when I was teaching the creative writing class.  We usually didn’t make it through the drama section of the book.  I don’t recall any of the students writing one act plays.  I do remember it being something they weren’t comfortable with.  They fussed a bit when we got to this section.  I had poetry kids and fiction kids, and occasionally autobiography kids.  But I never had a kid who was excited about writing drama.

Anyway, this little one act play shows that I maybe could have been successful writing sketch comedy . . . in the 1950’s.  It strikes me as a pretty corny one joke scene.  But I suppose if you’ve ever worked in some aspect of customer service, you might appreciate it.

 

Driver Four

(Scene: Lights up on a man or woman standing in front a big city map mounted on the wall. Next too him is a table holding a c.b. radio and stacks of papers–delivery orders.  He’s on the phone.  Other voice is heard from off stage.)

 MANAGER

 You say your food’s cold and your order’s not right.

 CUSTOMER

Yeah, it’s cold.

 MANAGER

               (checks some papers)

Looks like our driver had your food for about 25 minutes.  It shouldn’t be cold.

 CUSTOMER

And it’s wrong.

 MANAGER

What’s wrong with it, sir?

 CUSTOMER

It’s not right.

MANAGER

What did you order, sir?

 CUSTOMER

 Spaghetti and meatballs . . . and a pizza . . . and bread.

 MANAGER

 And what did you get?

 CUSTOMER

                (to someone else on his side of the line, not to MANAGER)

Hey. . . What’d we get? . . . What’d we get? . . . The food?

(to MANAGER)

We got bread.

MANAGER

 Bread.

 CUSTOMER

 Pizza.

 MANAGER

 Pizza.

 CUSTOMER

 Spaghetti.

MANAGER

 Spaghetti.

 CUSTOMER

                (to other person)

Hey. . .  Did we get any meatballs with that?  The spaghetti?  Yeah?

(to MANAGER)

And meatballs.

 MANAGER

So you got bread?

 CUSTOMER

 Yeah.

MANAGER

 Pizza?

 CUSTOMER

 Yeah.

MANAGER

Spaghetti?

 CUSTOMER

 Yeah.

MANAGER

 And meatballs?

 CUSTOMER

                (to someone on his end)

Hey. . . Did we get meatballs?  Yeah?

(to MANAGER)

Yeah.  Meatballs.

 MANAGER

                (throws papers)

So what’s the problem?

 CUSTOMER

 Oh.  Dude.  I guess we’re good.

(sound of hanging up)

 MANAGER

                (into c.b. radio mic)

Driver, you there.

(pause)

Driver Six, how did that last delivery seem to you?  They seem ok?

(phone rings. Into phone)

Food-2-You, how can I help you?

 CUSTOMER

                (similar as before)

Yeah, um, we have an order here that’s wrong.

 MANAGER

 Did you call before?

 CUSTOMER

 Uh, yeah.

 MANAGER

 I thought we had this worked out sir.  What seems to be the problem?

 CUSTOMER

 The order’s wrong.

 MANAGER

 Food’s warm?

 CUSTOMER

 Was when it got here.

 MANAGER

 It tastes ok?

 CUSTOMER

 Good?  Yeah, so far.

 MANAGER

 Driver polite?

 CUSTOMER

 Yeah, I guess.

 MANAGER

               (groping)

Did you get something that you didn’t order?

                CUSTOMER

 No, uh.  I didn’t get my drink.

 MANAGER

                (exasperated.  picks up previously thrown paper)

One moment sir.

(examines paper)

Sir, it appears that you didn’t order any drinks.

 CUSTOMER

 Yeah.  I think so.

 MANAGER

 I’m sorry sir.  I’m looking at your order, and you didn’t.  Our customer service reps are trained to ask you about drinks.  I’m sorry if the mistake was on our end.  What I’ll do is put a credit on your account so that next time you order you can use that credit.  Thanks for using Food-2-You.

(starts to hang up)

 CUSTOMER

 Yeah, no, I’d like my drink.

MANAGER

 Sir, we’re really backed up tonight, but since you didn’t order any drinks, and I’ve given you the credit, I think that’s all we can do for you.

 CUSTOMER

I can’t order a drink?

 MANAGER

 You want to place another order, just for drinks?  To do that you’ll need to meet the $25 minimum order.

 CUSTOMER

 I’m not paying $25 for a drink.  I want something to drink with my dinner!

 MANAGER

 You’ve already eaten your dinner!

 CUSTOMER

 No I haven’t!

 MANAGER

 Sir, I can connect you with one of our customer service reps so you can place another order for drinks, or you could do what everyone else does when they’re thirsty; you can walk over to you refrigerator and get a stinkin’ drink yourself!

 CUSTOMER

Look pal, I am in a wheel chair. I can’t believe you would say something like that to me!

 MANAGER

 Then have one of your friends get it for you.

CUSTOMER

What friends?

 MANAGER

 Your friends, your pals, your boys, whoever you were talking to before.

 CUSTOMER

 There’s no one here but me.

 MANAGER

 You were just talking to someone last time you called about your order.  Like five minutes ago.

 CUSTOMER

 I haven’t talked to you before.

 MANAGER

 Sir, when you called, I asked if you we’d just spoken –

 CUSTOMER

 No you didn’t.  You asked if I’d called before.  Which I have.  I call and order from you a couple times a week.  I don’t like to cook for one.

 MANAGER

 Who is this?

 CUSTOMER

This is Robert Feinman.

 MANAGER

 (looks at paper.  tosses it aside.  sorts through other papers on desk, find one)

Oh hell!

 CUSTOMER

 What!

 MANAGER

 Oh.  Hell-o Mr. Feinman.  I have your order right here.   With your drink.  I’ll get it out to you right away.  I’ll bump that credit up to a free dinner next time you call.

 CUSTOMER

 Oh. Well, thank you.

 MANAGER

 Thank you Mr. Feinman.  For your patience.  Have a nice night.

(hangs up phone.  then on radio to driver)

Driver. . .

(looks at paper)

Four, Driver Four come in.

 DRIVER

                (over radio)

This is driver four.

(loud slurping sound)

MANAGER

 Driver four, you need to get a missing drink back to your last delivery pronto!  And please tell me that’s not it you’re sucking on now.

(lights go down)

 

 

Lent and Community

I think this one comes from March of ’06.  This is back when I was playing online poker on a very regular basis.  The two prayers at the end are not mine.  My guess is they are from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, or from some site Google pointed me too.

 

Today is the first Sunday in Lent.  Lent, which originated in the very earliest days of the church is, among other things, a time of self examination leading up to Easter.  It is a time to take a look at what is important in our lives, and what’s not.  I often find when I do this, that what I would claim is important to me, isn’t getting a lot of my time and energy.   And those things that I do spend time and energy on, aren’t necessarily the things that I would brag about.

So I try to take some time this time of the year to set some things straight in my life.  I’d like scriptures to come as easily to mind as do the odds of drawing to an open ended straight.  I’d like to love the driver in front of me, instead of wanting to make him pay dearly for his traffic sins.  And I’d like my prayers to be as enthusiastic as my exclamations when I smack my knee on the corner of the desk.  Needless to say, I have some work to do.

Fortunately Christ has been there.  He knows what I’m going through.  He knows what we all go through, every day.  And remembering this helps.  Maybe that’s why Jesus said, when we sit down to communion together, he wanted us to remember him and what he did for us on the cross.  So that we could know that we’re not alone.  We have each other.  And we have Christ.

 

Almighty God,

I am not asking to overcome my weakness,

but to use it in some way to glorify you.

Let me be aware of

the many ways you reach out to help me today

and let me stand in awe of the power

that you use in such loving ways.

 

Almighty God,

your Son Jesus Christ

fasted forty days in the wilderness,

and was tempted as we are but did not sin.

Give us grace to discipline ourselves

in obedience to your Spirit;

and, as you know our weakness,

so may we know your power to save;

through Jesus Christ our Lord

Amen.

Words of Sears

wordsofsears

This one’s a bit faded from hanging on my classroom wall for the past few years.  It seems to me that this particular piece of acrostic poetry paints me as a bit of a grump.  As with just about any piece of art, there’s probably some truth to that.  Perhaps I have had this on the wall for so long to remind me of my dark side and encourage me to keep it in check.  But it’s more likely that it just made me smile.