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September 28, 2011

that socialization thing

The boy loves bikes. Luke constantly rides at home, rides with his brothers and cousins, his dad and uncle Tim. He tucks into bead with miniature flix tricks bikes.

Luke recognizes the uniform. He knows that skinny jeans and skate shoes are functional and not a statement of anti-athletes, as his dad once suspected. He studies bmx videos, imagines that every gangly teenager drooped over a bike spends his days flying around the globe defying physical laws of the universe with pedals and wheels. 

Luke has rode skate parks on a few occasions. The unsocialized, home educated boy has managed to find his way among what has the potential to be a pretty rough crowd. He quickly learned why and how to respect the space of both highly skilled and highly unskilled riders. He hasn't been conditioned to feel intimidated and self-conscious around older peers. Compliments roll freely off his tongue. The majority of them have been kind, and any mopey awkward attitudes smooth out when Luke asks them about their skills.

Surely the bmx community offers both positive and negative influences to a starstruck 7-year old. I had some concern about him idolizing these guys and getting caught up in the cultural riff-raff. Until last week.

Luke, his brothers, and I pedaled down a nearly empty boardwalk to meet up with Tim in the September dusk. "Bmxers!", he exclaimed, spotting several young men that appeared to be riding the skate park in Ocean City NJ. We meandered through the gate and past them, Luke with a twinkle in his eye, noting their style and tricked out bikes. We proceeded to ride, our amateur moves on the various ramps and jumps going mostly unnoticed by the bikers.

Ten minutes later Luke paused to catch his breath. "Hey Uncle Tim, did you see those bikers do any awesome tricks? Let's go ask them to do something?"

Leave it to Tim to not mince words.

"Don't think so Luke. I haven't seen them do anything except sit on their bikes, cussing and smoking cigarettes."

Luke sat on his bike stunned, watching the young men proceed to do exactly that. I rode over to him, tempted to cover his ears. Instead I subtly mocked their second-hand smoke, mentioned to Luke how you don't even need a bike or skate park to do that, and shifted his attention to the skill uncle Tim was working on.

"Let's go try some of those with uncle Tim."

Uncle Tim who doesn't act like that; doesn't talk like that, and is generally awesome, right there in front of you.

Luke is going to hear and see a lot of things in this world, much of it outside the presence of his dad. Who, what, and how will he engage? Each ride is an opportunity to show him how we roll. Every adventure out of the front door is a right-of-passage.

I'm thankful for Lukes uncle, cousins, and "big" friends. And for doing stuff...together. Such a worthy excuse for this grown boy to love bikes.

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September 09, 2011

the addition

Claire and the other kids are doing great. Amy is tired but feeling so much better after having the 9 months of nausea. 

The baby Claire experience, when she's not eating or sleeping:

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September 01, 2011

communion miracles

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And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

I sat in Lighthouse Baptist Church, staring down at the small piece of bread in my right hand, somehow oblivious to anything around me.

Where have I came from? What have I done? What am I to do with the days I've been granted? In light of the one who offered sinners grace, called us his friend, laid down his life so that we may live this life to the full? 

And we will live again.

When did I ever start buying into this impossible math? How did I begin to comprehend the story where one person offers free rescue to the whole ship of fools? 

There was the time when I decided that sitting still for 55 minutes was too much for God to ask of a 10-year old. So I signed up to be an alter boy at our little church in the woods of Chestnut Ridge. 

Ah, free to move. For God, of course.

One of my responsibilities was to help smooth out one of the most challenging priestly demands: estimating how many wafers to consecrate during the rite of communion. Too few leaves some parishioners out of luck. Too many leaves the priest with a...substantial problem. You can't just toss the transubstantiated body of Jesus out for the squirrels or hide it in the trash under random donut fragments.

With communion underway, the parishoners filed up to the priest. Another alter boy and I guarded close by to catch any wafers fumbled toward the floor. We maintained the athletic ready position, dreaming of the chance to make a diving save. Sadly, that never happened.

The alter boys and priest were always the last to receive communion. I'd rate the priests aptitude after the congregation, the ushers, the organist, and finally the small choir headed back to their seats. I often received a halved wafer and initially felt slighted when it was a measly quarter. 

I once assisted a "substitute" priest who grossly overestimated wafer requirments for the day. It was just the three of us left, looking down on about 25 wafers strewn across the gold plate. He paused, stacked around ten of them up like poker chips, smashed them together ala Dagwood Bumstead, and stashed them into my mouth.

The stack expanded, clung to everything. I worked on that stack for the remainder of mass, chiseling an index finger toward the roof of my mouf. I had just finished my communion by the time dad met me to walk to the car. He said that I should be extra holy, but I mostly felt thirsty.

Those years of up-close communion taught me some things about the math of God. I began to appreciate that it counted the same whether I was called to a quarter wafer or ten. I saw the possibility that it really is best to give and to receive no more or less than your portion. Doing something for God felt good, was good, even when it meant stuffing down communion wafers. 

These days I'm slightly better at sitting. Slightly. Instead of trying to determine the right way to do communion and exactly how the body of Jesus is involved, I'm attempting simple thankfulness for my daily quarter and 10-stacks. 

Ah, the peace. I'm finding that a miracle certainly does take place by moving in obedience and by being still, remembering in thankfulness.

"Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle." 

-Ann Voskamp

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