The End Of The First Quarter

If the Nashville Flood is a football game, the game is not over, it is not even halftime.  We have reached the end of the first quarter.

Our opponent has thrown everything it has at us – bombs, blitzes, screens trick plays – scoring a few times, but we have taken the worst and given as good as we’ve gotten.

The game has settled down, and now that the game plans have been used up, it is now a test of execution and will.

This is when we must be careful.

Now our enemy is not nature, but the voices of divisiveness.  They are not hard to find at all; they have been with us since the beginning.  Wormtongues whispering in our ear, saying they hate when people turn against one another, yet always bring up issues they feel will do just that.  “I’m just being realistic”, they say.

They begrudgingly compliment us on our unprecedented (as the Red Cross has called it) local response, yet they misread it as an acting out of grief and insist that it will fade in a few days. 

Yes, we feel grief, the weight is strong on our shoulders.  It came out in full force during Sunday Services this past week.

But grief is not what drives us. Anyone who has been at a neighborhood cleanup knows this.  From the street, one could hear the unlikely sound of laughter or singing as the labor continued.

We are not stoic internalizers here.  We have a huge percentage of emoters.  We are expressing – we cannot help ourselves.

We are expressing love for our God, for our neighbor, for our friends and family, for our city. 

It is love that brings forth tears, that springs us into action, that makes us push on through sore shoulders and tired feet.  It is love that makes us pass out sandwiches and water and give hugs and make pledges of aid.

If one visits a cleanup site, it is there to see with one’s own waking eyes – love.

We must gather our strength and carry this spirit forward.  There is much of the game left to be played.  We can see the road to victory now, but it is far from within our grasp.

There will come a day when Nashvillians will gather to watch the Titans play football; sporting events are now the only logistical way to gather the town in a major southern city.  And sometime during a break in the game, some of the heroes of the Nashville flood will be introduced, because the Titans organization always does these sort of things. Many of the Hero Stories will surface in the coming weeks.  There are, of course, too many heroes to fit on the field, but Nashvillians understand symbolism, if anything.

And on that day, in that moment, there will arise such a cheer, such a din and cry of pride and solidarity, that the cars in the parking lot will tremble.  At that moment, even the Cumberland herself will give up a wake as if in respectful salute.

And children playing in Riverfront Park on the opposite bank will see the wake, yet they will not run in terror, but will instead rush to let the River’s splashes gently kiss their cheeks, as they laugh in delight.

And then they will know, we will all know, that we have witnessed the founding of The City That Love Built.

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Trouble

If you watched last week’s incredible Open championship (that’s British Open for Americans), you most likely saw this advertisement, currently my favorite.

I don’t know, it just seems to capture the spirit of the age.  My reaction is visceral.  I love the song (“Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne), and the imagery of the dog and his unease just speaks to me.  It’s almost hard to put into words.

It’s rare that one feels he is seeing A Truth when viewing an advertisement, but, on some level I don’t understand, I know I am. 

There’s something eerily beautiful about this ad.

Feel Good Friday: Validation

This isn’t a music video, it’s a short film.  If you have 15 minutes to spare, I dare you to watch it.

Hurray For Stump!

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The Westminster Dog Show is my family’s American Idol.  Each of us has our favorite breed, and year after year, we cheer for that year’s Best in Breed winner for that breed.

As an aside, I think we are drawn to dogs who are LIKE us.  Does it surprise anyone who knows Susie, for instance, that she likes chihuahuas? 🙂

Anyone who has read this blog a while knows that my favorite is a rare breed in the US: the Sussex Spaniel.  Short and stumpy like a dacshund, but with a fat, loveable head (out of proportion to its short stature)m and floppy ears, quite hairy, with those expressive, almost-sad seeming eyes,belying a happy-go-licky disposition.  Yep, that’s me.

This year’s entry was even more compelling than normal: an old man (10-years old!) named Stump, who had almost died a few years ago, and came out of retirement for this competition only.

Imagine my suprise that Stump won the whole darned thing.

You could tell from the Sporting Group competition that Stump was a crowd favorite.  When he won Best In Show, the place went crazy.

I woke up this morning a little lighter in my step.  It’s ALMOST as fulfilling for me as when Vandy won the Music City Bowl, but not quite, because I’ve been a Vanderbilt fan even longer. 

Yes, it’s a little insane, living vicariously through a dog, much less one whose breed I could never afford.  But in these times, I’ll take whatever joy I can get, whereever I can find it.

We are all Stump now!

A Friday To-Do List

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:34

It’s Friday.  Here in Nashville, it’s slowly warming, leading to what should be a glorious weekend, weather wise.

Enjoy it.  It is a gift, and it costs nothing.

Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, whether you sit obsessing over it or not.  Your representatives have never voted differently because you went out bowling instead of watching them on CSPAN.  Trust me on this one.

Do you have someone who loves you?  Hug them.  Look into his or her eyes.  Make it your personal quest to make them laugh.  Then hug them again, and thank God for the gift that is Love.

If you don’t have someone – remember, love is an active verb.  Go find someone, just anyone on the street will do – and love them, seriously and earnestly.  You will feel your worry and pain begin to lift.  Love kicks worry’s ass, every time.

Laugh, and do so defiantly. 

Dabble in silliness.  This is the real stuff of life.  Time is short – don’t waste it with “seriousness”.  The devil invented business and politics so we would be too distracted to have pillowfights and make S’mores.

Dare.

Seek out an enemy or rival, and tell them what you admire about them.

Concentrate on being thankful for the parts of your body that are working, rather than dwelling on the ones that aren’t.

You have genius in you.  Use it and show it to the world.

Ask for help if you need it.  Then, help someone else.

There are troubles in this world, so many troubles.  Sometimes, I feel all the troubles I see like a heavy weight.  Hoewever, they were here on earth long before we arrived; they will remain when we have departed.

Whatever is going to happen today will happen.  Let it be.  Realize what you can’t control, and stop trying to control it.  Instead, work on the things you can control.

Laugh.

Love.

Strive.

Feel Wonder.

Love some more.

Feel Good Friday: Lay Down

This past Tuesday, when I saw that humongous throng standing shoulder to shoulder in Washington DC waiting to see Barack Obama’s inauguration, this song kept popping into my head:

One could not help but be moved by such a site,all those people celebrating a moment.  Even if they were a little rude at times (for my southern sensibilities, there are few sins more grievous than rudeness), nevertheless, it was a beautiful thing altogether.

And I love these words:

We were so close, there was no room, we bled inside each other’s wounds.  We had all caught the same disease.  And we all sang the songs of peace.

Some came to sing.  Some came to pray.  Some came to keep the dark away.

I celebrate the new spirit of service that Obama is ushering in.  Let’s hope it lasts.

Feel Good Friday: If I Only Knew

This should wake you up. 

I LOVE this song.  I don’t know how old Tom Jones was when he made this record; he had to be 50+ at least, and he could still BRING IT!

Tom doesn’t have a “subtle” mode, and although that trait annoys me in singers like Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, in an old dude like Tom, it just seems cool.

And you have to love the video, with the 90’s stylings and the doggie-cam.

Any of you who have seen me live know that I copy the scream in this song when I “sing scream”.

Have a good Friday!  Go Titans!