Meetings and Greetings, Revisited

Oh, for the record, I like Andy. If we ever argue about politics, I’m fairly sure it will be civil, and hey, if it gets out of hand, I’ll just stick him in a headlock and give him a big noogie.

Seriously, Andy’s a funny guy. Other than his crack about fraternity and sorority people, which I was willing him not to make, I enjoyed being around him. I can see why you like him, Heather. I can also see why he’s a good friend for Amy. As if disagreeing about politics has ever stopped me from having friends…heck, aren’t Rick and I the token conservatives in the g-c Cabal? =)

The Wedding Story

Ugh. All this stuff, and still nothing about last week. It’s as if it never happened. However, it did, and since this is indeed Creative Writing 302: How to Win Friends, Influence People, and Scare Everyone in the Process here at IJSM, I guess I gotta tell the story.

Okay, okay, okay, I’m going to put together the wedding stuff tomorrow! I just have this whole apartment thing to deal with, and Kat and Sean might go with me to go looking for themselves. Having them over there would be tres cool. =)

So, let’s start at the beginning of the transition. I hug everyone goodbye, grab Quincey, and we jump in my truck. Five hours later–which flew by, mainly because I was in a trance and a hurry–we’re in Cullman. I leave Quincey with her dad and race back into town to find Sacred Heart.

Nice church, great edifice, I mutter in my mind as I walk up the steps. Got to talk to PJ’s folks and Juan, Gricelda’s brother. Predictably, PJ is late–for once, though, it’s Kris’s fault, not Jason’s. [Jason, PJ’s best man, will be late to his own funeral, probably because the hearse will get a flat tire.] We run through everything twice, still bewildered as to what will happen when.

Then there’s the drive to Huntsville and the Spacely Sprocket Center for the rehearsal dinner. PJ led the group of his family, and I was in the rear, making it easy for PJ’s crazy lane changes to be followed by his family. [Have truck, will block.] We get to the rehearsal dinner…Chris Hirstein’s running a serving line. Pure hilarity. =)

Dinner was fun; I sat with Jason and his family, as well as Deacon Dan, the guy who led PJ’s conversion class. I’ve heard so much about Deacon Dan, and I imagined him to be a smallish guy. Oops. He’s taller and bigger than me [scary], about 6-4 and probably 330. He’s an anaesthesiologist as well as a deacon. He plays twenty questions with me, and I think he figured out pretty quick I was just a nice Protestant boy. ‘Sok with me.

After dinner, we take pictures. True to form, I lead the hilarity, as five or six of us pick PJ up and start to swing him back and forth as if we’re going to toss him through a plate glass window. I thought he was going to mess his drawers, but it was hilarious for all involved. All the bridesmaids quickly figured out I was the wacky one; perhaps that’s why none of them approached me at the reception, save the married ones?

The wedding itself was really beautiful. I felt very Methodist through it all, but it was fun. Each time I filed past PJ, I had to mutter something under my breath to make him laugh. As he teared up when Gricelda walked down the aisle with her dad, Carlos, he needed to laugh pretty quickly. [So did I; I was on the verge of losing it.] As I filed out, I muttered, “Quit cryin’, ya big baby!” I got the laugh I wanted to hear as I filed out. As he teared up again later on, I got to do it as we filed in later–much to the consternation of Deacon Dan, who I’m not sure knew quite how to take my comment. Oh well. We Protestants have always caused trouble for Catholics. =)

The reception was crazy. Eat. Drink. Be merry. Toast. Drink. Toast. Dance. Drink. Drink. Dance. Mess with PJ’s car. Drink. Sit. Talk. It’s all rather a blur for me, but man, it was fun. I have the pictures to prove it.

The funniest and scariest part was when Jason’s girlfriend drunkenly [and loudly, but I repeat myself] started yelling at Jason, “Are you ready to be married?” Jason’s brother, Colin, looked at me and said, “To Geof?” Jason said, “No, Geof, I’m not going to marry you.” Realizing that I could defuse the situation, I went on a “crying jag” about it all. Blessedly, Stephanie calmed down after that, but you know, like I told Colin, I get the feeling that next summer I’m going to be in another wedding with him, this time watching his brother walk down the aisle. Colin commented, “You’re not the first person to tell me that.”

If so, great. If not, great. J, you’re my friend either way, and I ain’t going to love you any more or any less if you marry Stephanie. I like her a lot, I think she’s funny, but you’ve got to do what’s right for you. I don’t know your heart, man, but it’s your choice. You know that, but you also know that we’re with you either way. And heck, you don’t have to make me a groomsman, but no, I wouldn’t mind. =)

I got up really early to make sure PJ and Gricelda got off to the Bahamas, but Jason miraculously had gotten up and to their house. I went home and slept most of Sunday, but I still needed twelve hours of sleep Tuesday night to recover. I’m just now starting to make sense again [shaddup, you, that I never do], and so now I must chronicle these things.

Email comes in; updating to be done.

The Irony Drips…

So I find something I like, right? I check the length–it’ll fit my big neck. [18.5″, if you must know.]

I get to the car. The chain has no clasp, and it won’t get over my big head. [Size 7 3/4, if you must know.]

I got a large laugh about that, and it’s hanging on my old chain until I can find a new one. I’ll do that on the way to Amy and Jeff’s house for dinner tonight.

Yes, this makes me laugh and not cry. I realize that I’m starting, slowly to turn it around. I’ll keep turning.

Meetings, Greetings, and Beatings

Ergh. Amy, I still haven’t said more than 25 words today, and you’re right, that’s as sure a sign as any that things are not right in my world.

Today I get to mng [my old mental shorthand for meet and greet] Andy, Heather’s boyfriend that I’ve heard so much about. We’re alike, and we’re different. We both love politics, but we’re pretty near to being diametrically opposed. ‘Sok, other than the fact that we apparently both like to argue. But I’ve promised Amy and Heather that I’ll be on my best behavior.

Of course, that’s a switch for me. Normally, I’d be itching for a debate. Normally, I’d have ranted over on integrra on Sean’s post on wanting more gun control. [This reminds me: I should check my mail to see if my NRA membership card has come yet…] But I’m not.

Has losing my cross but wanting to take it up again elsewhere already started to change me? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Is the silence a sign that I’ve finally realized that I have two ears and one mouth and should use those instruments in equal ratios? Maybe yes, maybe no.

I doubt that I’ll ever stop being a talkative individual, especially as it’s something that might make me a good guy to have in a pulpit. But you know, if I’d just shut up every once in a while, I might catch on to some of the things going on around me.

For what it’s worth, “Underwater” keeps getting stuck in my head. It’s not just the lyric; it’s the totality of the music. 3D is just a very intense band–they cut loose and have ’em a good time, but man, they work at having that time. I mean, dang, it’s wild.

I looked around for James Avery Craftsman online. No luck. Cokesbury has stuff, but they don’t have it online. Looks like it’s either a trip to a local store or a trip to Nashville to the Cokesbury store there tomorrow.

I need that immediacy of contact. I need to have something to hold onto when I scratch my stubbly chin and then drop my hand a few inches down to grab hold of the chain. It was so absent-minded of me to do–I’d not realize what I was doing until I did it. So typical. And every time I do that here this morning, I miss it. It’s enough to make me want to beat my chest.

I’m tempted to say, “Hey, it’s lunch time, go get one on your lunch hour.” But am I deserving of it? Yes and no. Paul has it right: this love I have, this God I cling to in times of trouble, gives me this gift of grace freely, simply for my faith.

If only my faith would sustain me through all my days. When am I going to be finally convinced that I cannot do it alone, that I must go through this life to press on with Someone who will work with me to fill my incompletions and smooth my imperfections? I’m not perfect; I’m mortal. But I desire perfection–we all do. In Christ I can find perfection; in Christ I will find the attentiveness to retain the grace I need to be perfected. But it’s not of my doing.

I don’t deserve it, but I’m going to go get it. Time for another 3D song to fill the day: “I Deserve?” from Conspiracy No. 5. I’m going to go c-n-p this and then go shopping…

Deserve
Lyrics by Mac Powell / Music by Third Day

From the recording: Conspiracy No. 5, Track #5.

I tasted fruit that was forbidden
I murdered trust that you had given
And now I’m living in a place that’s not my home

The pain in your heart made you regret
The moment we spoke, did you forget?
Will my transgressions bring us all to our sweet end?

Maybe I’m just being too hard on myself. I don’t know
Or is it that your mercy is much more than I deserve?

Betrayed by more than just a kiss
I did much more I must admit
Instead of letting it all end you bring new hope

Copyright Information
�1997 New Spring Publishing (a div of Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) / Vandura 2500 Songs / gray dot songs, a div. of gray dot, inc. / ASCAP
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

Losing One’s Cross

Something that I considered possible but not inevitable happened last night, and it’s very, very symbolic of what’s been happening with me lately.

Simply put, I lost my cross. Since I was confirmed and became a member of the United Methodist Church, I’ve worn a small cross from James Avery. Considering all that my mother and I have gone through since that time–almost ten years–that alone is enough to make me want to curl into a big ball [I can’t curl into a small one] and sob for eight days.

Even worse, though, this loss could have been prevented. I lost it simply because I was too lazy to go get a new chain for it. The chain was as old as the cross was, but since the chain has moving parts, it necessarily wore out faster. The clasp has been coming undone at random times for about three months now, and every time I’ve picked that little bit of metal and re-strung it on the chain, I’ve said, “I’ve got to go get a new chain, or I’m going to lose this thing.”

I didn’t, and I did.

It’s pretty symbolic of my spiritual journey right now. I could do something to tie myself to my faith and my God a whole lot better, but I instead have been relying on intervention and attention to keep it together. What have I learned from that? Simply, the ageless lesson is that we humans are not only mortal but fallible. Because of sloth, inattention, and a desire to live for the moment and not plan for the future, we lose sight of the things important to us–whether they be faith-related or not–and, when it’s all over, we’re like, “Whuh? Which way did he go, George, which way did he go?”

Driving from the bowling alley to IHOP last night, I flipped in a Third Day disc of mine, Southern Tracks. The one track I hadn’t listened to on the way to the bowling alley was “Underwater”. Without permission from Mac and the crew [though I hardly think they’ll mind], I’m reprinting those lyrics below. If I could come up with something of any great level of meaning to say, I would. At this point, words are absolutely and utterly failing me, so I will let these five guys speak for me:

Underwater
From the recording: Southern Tracks, Track #4.

Now listen there’s something much better
Than what I had and what I had been told
And now one day I heard a message spoken,
Forever in my heart the words I hold

The Healer said there is only one river
The river of life, filled with faith and love
It’s flowing from the sacrifice of Jesus, and
Brings us all into the Kingdom of God.

Chorus:
So I’m going down, to drown myself today
Nothin left to live for, nothin in my way

Hold me underwater, take me even farther
Drown me down by the river today
Will you make me a believer?
Take me by my hand, hold me as I’m falling in,
Cleanse me and wash my sins

So here I am at the edge of the water
That seperates me from my death and life
and still I come here with unanswered questions
But that’s not gonna to make me change my mind

On a side note…

…I thought that I might as well announce, quietly, my return to SGA. Yes, I’ve been roped back in to help out, but it’s a good role: Judicial Council. I think the spot fits me, and I’m fairly sure that I will enjoy it. Now, as long as Leonard doesn’t give me too much work to do, we’ll be ooooookay. =)

They Also Serve Who Stand and Wait…

Today, I feel like John Milton. =)

It’s just one of those funny things where I never know what this job will have me doing from day to day. Yesterday, it was quotes on about $4M of aerospace hardware. [I made lots of vendor’s days yesterday.] Today, it’s…babysitting a couple of foreign nationals in town for a in-process design review. I get all the fun jobs, including following them to [but not into] the bathroom. Oh well, it gives me spare thinky time. That’s always nice.

Now, to go wolf down lunch and prepare for Yet Another Exciting Afternoon of Waiting.

Wedding Photos!

Heh. I just finished snitching Mary Miller’s wedding photos from this weekend. I’ll be doing my own mad captions and putting them up somewhere here on IJSM soon. If you want to order prints, you can do so from dotphoto; due to the size of the shots, Mary recommends keeping them under a 4×6. I may have to have one or two of these done myself–the photos, not the marriage. Ooooooh no, I’m in no hurry to get married, and I really don’t want a wedding this big…

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Those of you who are regular attendees of class at the Indiana Jones School of Management will remember an entry placed online about this time last week regarding our church’s youth musical. As stated before, the kids had promised to present me with a gift. They have; as soon as I can get photos of it up here, I will append them to this entry.

When I say photos, I mean the plural. They either bought or made a box [I can’t tell], titled it “Boxed Faith” [the name of our musical], and all proceeded to sign the various sides of it. Inside? Various candy [as I told them, “Like I need that, guys!”], and various shreds of paper, cut with pinking shears, with the word “faith” written upon them.

I will endeavor to get the musical text online at some point tomorrow; I only have an electronic copy at work. I’ve got to re-work it a small amount as well, mainly because it has the names of the kids in our youth group [which you don’t really need to know, dear reader, because they’re not of age and didn’t consent to be here!], as well as stage directions that would mean nothing to you if you didn’t see the work live. I will make that endeavor because, well, maybe it will mean something to one of you who reads it. -shrug-

The parable’s simple, really: a guy graduating from college, insanely busy with his life, too busy for friends, ready to move to his new place. Because of fear about losing what little faith he did have, the main character, Joe, placed his faith in a box. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? I find that many of us have done so at some point in our lives–not faith in the Christian sense, but more faith in the natural laws that seem to govern this world, whether you believe in a God or not. I know it’s especially true for me: a goodly chunk of the title character is living my life for me.

I did not realize this as I was writing it. Sure, I took some pieces of my life–notably my old backpacker guitar, whose tuners have finally given out and won’t hold anymore–and placed them willingly within the words and motions of the play. But as I saw the kids perform it the first time, I realized just how much of myself was in there: the guy too busy for his friends, determined and on a mission to nowheresville; the guy who wants to ignore the easy, Sunday School answers; the guy who has friends and roommates that will stick by him but eventually give up on trying to help him help himself; the guy who has new friends pop into his life and force him to question why he believes what he believes and does what he does.

My gaze returns to the top of my desk, where the “faith box” rests for the moment. Part of me said earlier this evening, “If the kids only knew how much of this was me.” Well, I guess I need to fix that and tell them.

IJSM is my way of working a lot of things out–reference my meta-discussion in terms of the Baconian ideals of reading, conference, and writing. Writing does make an exact man–what I say here is largely immutable. Yes, I can go back through the wonders of Greymatter and re-cast the words in a better light. At times, I am tempted to do so, because my meaning may be missed. In fact, last Sunday night’s journal entry is something I’m tempted to edit, because my frustration at my lack of recognition was petty. However, it was there, and I’m trying not to be overly-guarded in these entries. Why package the unpackageable of Life?

IJSM chronicles my life’s spiritual jouney, with roommate rants and random complaints thrown in for good measure. That’s why I do it, and that’s why you get to see some of the things you do. That’s why I want you to see the “faith box”: because it represents something I’ve done with my life. In putting my calling in a box, I put my faith in that calling right in there with it. In putting some of that faith there, I ended up placing all of it within the corrugated cardboard. For all I cared, it could have been steel. But that box is open, full of faith to be shown to the world through my actions and my musings.

The kids, as well as you, deserve to know how much Boxed Faith was autobiographical. You both mean something to me, even if you aren’t tangible, dear reader. Hopefully seeing what I’m going through will make you think about your own life. I can’t hope to make positive changes within you, because I don’t know your situation…but here’s hoping I can try.

My faith is slowly becoming unpacked. How about yours?