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February 27, 2012

jumping to heaven

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With floor to ceiling trampolines, dodge balls, and foam pits, Bounce Fun Plex is heaven on earth for all kinesthetic types. Time dilates as you float through otherworldly dimensions, gravity redefined. You hardly notice the exhaustion creeping up, jumping like you're dumb, du-du-du-du-dumb.

The first steps off the trampolines are disillusion. Harsh floor boards violate your feet with shocking impact. Flat ground is so...


That's why if God chose me to write something like the book of Revelation, my symbolic description of heaven wouldn't include anything like pure precious stones. No, the angel would certainly show me a New Jerusalem with trampoline walls, trampoline streets, dodge balls (the old fashioned red kind), and various chocolate milk slides that launch you between foam pits and ice cream pits.

Is that not a vision to behold?

I'm sure many skeptical intellectual scholar types would eagerly raise questions about various flaws of this symbol in my vision, pointing out that there are some bodily locations where you never want to get hit by a dodge ball, trampolines or no trampolines, for ever. And ever. 

And they would be correct, because my vision of heaven taken in any literal or non-literal sense is quite limited. Aren't all such visions like trying to explain the concepts of art or justice or money to my dog Josie?

"Yeah, sure. That little rectangular paper can get me all the dog treats I want. Thanks, but I'm going to the garbage and look for some dirty diapers."

Because if some identifiable part of us can be with God, where He dwells eternally, shouldn't that place exists beyond the boundaries of space and time? Neither precious stones nor trampolines nor anything you can think of can even come close to describing it.

But those things are all we know.

So for the days I'm given to jump, I'll spend at least a moment of time jumping to heaven.

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February 18, 2012


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It was sunny this morning in central PA, when all of February is usually grey. The light hit my exposed hand and it felt wonderful. It was the feeling of gratitude and hope.

I wondered why it felt so good. Did I simply notice because I haven't felt much sun lately? Hell, why did it happen at all, those few photons traveling 8 minutes and 90-some million miles to land on the back of my hand? Was it because of the massive hydrogen fusion going on in our sun, itself the destructive fall-out of a more ancient star?


You say, "Why not?"

Really? You're satisfied to walk away with that answer?

Science fascinates me. But it's incomplete. It doesn't tell the why.

So I'm left here, pestering my mentors, asking my friends, hitting the books, sounding almost exactly the same as my three year old daughter. Small people we are, with childlike understanding.

Yet learning. Wondering...

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February 15, 2012

two front teeth

You'll be hard pressed to find a picture of me with a hearty laugh or toothy grin.

I was in the 4th or 5th grade when the dentist sent me to an orthodontist. The gap between my two front teeth had been obvious for years and did not appear to be changing. The orthodontist took one glance and confirmed that I would need a row of braces across the top for a complete mid-line shift.

This was terrible news. I would be teased by other kids. Adults would constantly ask me about braces. Far worse than the impending negative attention was the plain evidence that I was imperfect and therefore probably a piece of garbage.

I whined until my parents told the orthodontist that we would deal with it later. I thought that maybe there was a chance all those things weren't true after all.

I prayed sincere, childish, bargainer prayers. I pushed those teeth toward each other with my left thumb and index finger so often that it became an unconscious habit, like chewing fingernails. The movement feels familiar to this day.

The outcome, after six or eight years, was a perfectly straight row of top teeth. Did the pushing help? Probably not at all. The prayers? I seriously doubt it. But for reasons that likely have more to do with ossification of facial bones than miracles, I entered into adulthood with no braces and no gap.

And so it was all good. Until the day I cut my arm on broken glass while working in Rolling Rock Brewery. When I fainted, those teeth apparently took the entire impact of my upper body on the cement floor. 

The caps that were placed over my teeth at the age of twenty are still off color and a size too buckey. Cameras still cause me a subconscious shift, bringing out my picture smile which will deprive my kids and grand kids (and myself) of what I really looked like.

There's something sinister behind self absorption. We wear our points of fear and insecurity like giant pimples, focusing on them, prodding, making them worse. While nobody else gives a damn, we render ourselves incapable of extending the grace and gentleness and encouragement that breaks the same twisted spiral in others.

I'm pretty sure my teeth won't be changing anytime soon. And thank goodness, because the prodding and praying that I need to be doing lies much deeper. I won't say God bashed my face off the ground to teach me some lessons. But I think he hears those kind of prayers.

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