“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future.”—Simone Weil
The snow lies crisp beneath the stars,
On roofs and on the ground;
Late footsteps crunch along the paths,
There is no other sound.
So cold it is the roadside trees
Snap in the rigid frost,
A dreadful night to think on them,
The homeless and the lost.
The dead sleep sheltered in the tomb,
The rich drink in the hall;
The Virgin and the Holy Child lie
shivering in a stall.
2 lbs. ripe currants
2 lbs. sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground closes
- Wash currants, stem and cook with sugar and vinegar for about an hour;
- Add spices and continue cooking for 30 minutes
“…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace—Isaiah 9:6
I had a dream the other night I was a salmon and I swam free towards the sea…then I reluctantly ceased to swim and slowly woke out of my dream. Awake. it didn’t take me long to realize that today was election day! With purpose, I vigorously put on my beige Dockers, my casual business shirt, took my One-A-Day man vitamin and headed off to vote with some pep in my step.
Surprisingly, there were no long lines, as predicted by the talking heads. It only took me about 10 minutes to get in and out of the community center—easy-peasy lemon-squeezy.
Feeling pretty darn good, I drove home for a quick pit stop at the house before going in to work. I parked the Mini in the driveway and ran into the house. After grabbing a mouth full of chocolate chips, I ran back outside only to find my car missing. However, it didn’t take too long to find my car. It was halfway down the cul-de-sac, having come to a rest atop my neighbor’s mailbox. Apparently, when you place a car in neutral its gets the itch to move.
My first instinct was to grab the car and drive off, but my conscience got the best of me and I chose not to flee the scene. Although this good decision-making was encouraged by a neighbor watching me like a hawk. So, I went back into the house, grabbed some more chocolate chips (to steady my nerves), and proceeded to write a note documenting my negligence. I dutifully placed the note on my neighbor’s door and took some pictures of the “crime scene” and then tore out of the neighborhood like a bat out of hell.
I figured at the most it would be a couple of hundred dollars to fix the mailbox, so I reconciled myself once more that I would just have to suck it up and take my medicine.
Regretfully, I didn’t know anything about this neighbor. Other than they had big red truck and there was a woman at the house who curiously stared at us sometimes when we were driving to and from the house. So, I did not know what to expect when I got home from work that night.
After mansplaining to my wife about the car, insurance, and the cost to repair the mailbox, I went over to the house to just get it over with. But nobody was there except a teenage girl who told me through the door that her parents weren’t home. About an hour later, I willed myself over to the house again and introduced myself as the guilty party, in my best Eeyore voice.
To my surprise my neighbor calmly told me that “sh** happens” and told me he appreciated my honesty. All he was going to ask is that I go and buy the post ($11) and from there he’d do the rest. We shook hands firmly and stoically parted ways. A win-win for both sides. A win for honesty and win for mercy. To think the Mini being put in neutral would actually be a blessing in disguise.
…Some people will never understand why I go about things the way I do, and that’s okay. But I’ll keep going on doing things the same way until it’s proven there’s a better way….And the person who taught me the most about it, and about life, is the former Orioles coach and manager—my dad, Cal Ripken Sr….
My father by nature was a hard-working man….In the winters back home in Aberdeen, Maryland, Dad worked as hard as in summer. Even now there’s not much money in minor-league baseball, and there was less when we were growing up. He managed a pharmacy, drove a delivery truck, worked at a local hardware store and lumberyard. He was out the door at dawn and then fell asleep on the couch after supper almost every night, dog-tired….
My father had his mottos and pronouncements. He’d tell his baseball players, “It’s like a bank, men. You can’t take more out than you put in.”
Another favorite saying—“Do two million little things right, and the big things take care of themselves”….
Senior was inducted into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame in 1996 season. At the banquet he was funny, direct, and foursquare in his remarks. In conclusion, he said he accepted the honor on behalf of all the equally dedicated men he had worked with in the minor leagues for all those years.
Then it was my turn. It was difficult. I wasn’t certain I could say what I wanted about my father, and what he means to me. So I told a little story about my two children, Rachel, six at the time, and Ryan, then three. They’d been bickering for weeks and I explained how one day I heard Rachel taunt Ryan, “You’re just trying to be like Daddy.”
After a few moments of indecision, I asked Rachel, “What’s wrong with trying to be like Dad?”
When I finished telling the story, I looked at my father and added, “That’s what I’ve always tried to do.”
Excerpt taken from Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan’s Soul
Bless the four corners of this house,
And be the lintel blest;
And bless the hearth, and bless the board,
And bless each place of rest;
And bless the door that opens wide
To stranger, as to kin;
And bless each crystal windowpane
That lets the starlight in;
And bless the roof overhead
And every sturdy wall
The peace of man, the peace of God,
The peace of love on all
“…And I don’t have to think I anything to be ashamed of or apologize for with respect to the what America has done for the world. We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except for ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work, where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.”–Colin Powell
Every night this week when I go to bed I get to thinking about the afterlife and then I can’t sleep. Sometimes I just lay there for hours until sleep overcomes me and then I don’t sleep well because I am troubled by weird dreams of powerless shame that I can scarcely remember the next day. Other times, I go downstairs, sit in my best thinking underwear, drink a large glass of thick milk, break into a forbidden bag of chocolate chips and get to pondering about whether there is a great beyond or if there is just one great abyss of nothing when this life is over.
When my light finally goes out do I just become a speck of floating cosmic dust traveling to and fro as part of a mostly empty universe with no floating purpose, hence no real hope? Or, when all my labors are done, when I finally stop moving and that last drop of sweat falls from the tip of my big ol’ nose and hits the ground for the final time am I going to have a rebirth and find my soul transmigrated into the body of a calico cat with feline dementia, or even worse a one of those cocky clams, as a just reward for the mediocre life I just lived?
Now I am not so sure about those visions of the afterlife. But, I can’t shake the feeling that there is something a little more to this life. A little more meaning. ‘Pears to me I’ve had somebody has been watching over my whole life despite all my tragic and sometimes comic failures, despite all my dark moods and my moments of insufferable jerkiness (there’s another word for that but I can’t cuss so I’ll leave it alone). There always seems to be an inner hope that things will get better and I know it’s got to be more than just a fool’s hope. Maybe I got me a guardian angel and if I got one of those then there has to be a Heaven ‘cuz that’s where angels live. Right?
And when I think of Heaven, I don’t think of Heaven as a place where Jimi Hendrix (not sure why everyone envisions Jimi Hendrix in heaven), John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Frank Sinatra, with a desert oasis and neon sign in the background , are all hanging out at bar alongside all the pets I’ve ever “owned” in this life (assuming I do make it, it would be great to be reunited with some of my pets Cuma? Pippin? And it would be cool if they could talk this time around… just saying).
Where Jimi Hendrix and those other sensitive artistic souls end up, I am guessing that is not my place to say and I wouldn’t dare pass judgment, at least that kind of more permanent-like judgment on anyone, dead or alive. You will hear no curses, oaths or damnations pass my lips. I need all the good karma I can get.
And about those 72 virgins, I am not so sure about that vision either. I mean billions and billions of people have passed by on this earth and I just can’t imagine there would be that many virgins in Heaven unless there is a virgin making machine. But even then why the number 72? And why virgins? I could be off base and I could have it all wrong, but for me I’d be happiest if me, my wife, the kids, parents, siblings and other relations are all able to make it up there.
Based on what brings us the most joy in this life, despite the mild dysfunction all families share, and what we know of families and successful communities, it makes a ton of sense that our family relations would extend into the afterlife. No offense to Jimi Hendrix. Kurt Cobain and the others, that makes the most sense to me as to what Heaven could be. Now I am sure there is more to Heaven than just family, more than what my weak reasoning and feeble faith can imagine. From what I hear God will be more just and merciful than we can ever imagine. For my sake I sure hope He is. Good night and God bless.
- More Than Love by Los Lonely Boys
- Train Song by Benjamin Gibbard and Feist
- Havana Moon by Chuck Berry
- The Rocky Road to Dublin by The High Kings
- Fireproof by Coleman Hell
“We only become perfect ‘in Christ’ not independently of Him. Simple diligence is required of us in order to obtain mercy in the day of judgment.”