Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Don't Let Their Death's Be In Vain!

Some days just go down in the annals of history as unbeatable. Unmatchable. Without peer. This ... March 28, 2007 ... is one of those days.

I drove to my wife's school where she teaches in a behavorial disorder classroom. I was taking her a gift. A mid-morning diet Dr. Pepper with Cherry. It is her favorite beverage. I was only three blocks from the school when the approach of my car, an emerald green Mustang, scared a bird into flight. It was a Cardinal. A red bird. I watched as it flew safely in front of my car only to double back (What? Did it forget it's purse?) and WHACK into my windshield. It bounced over my car and landed on the road behind me. The operative phrase here is "stone cold dead." While I was sad for the little winged creature it was totally not my fault. HE (She? We will never know.) flew into ME.

I delivered the goods to a mildly grateful wife.

Returning to my car I examined the windshield to make sure there was no damage. Those things are expensive, don't ya know. All was well with my glass and so I slipped myself behind the wheel, started the engine and began retracing my route home.

That is when the unthinkable happened.

Within a block of the site of the previous ... incident ... I spied two red birds on the road ahead of me. They were about 4 or 5 feet apart and directly in my path. Now, at this point I must honestly tell you that in my previous experience birds usually notice an oncoming car and take flight. They may be birds but they seem to instinctively understand the weight/speed ratio and have no problem issuing an immediate evacuation order. And so I do not worry too much. I have actually hit birds because I swerved into what turned out to be their escape flight path. That made me feel rather badly. And so when faced with a situation like this I have instituted a policy of ignoring the birds and let them do the fleeing. I do not think that I am over stating things when I say that an "Active Fleeing Declaration" is in order for birds dealing with these circumstances.

Obviously these two red birds did not get the memo.

I kept driving and they kept pecking at whatever was the object of their attention on the road. As I drove over the spot they were standing I assumed they had flown safely out of the way. And yet I did not seem them do so. And I did not see them hop their little bodies toward the adjacent curbing. I saw nothing. I felt nothing. I heard nothing.

And then I looked in the rear view mirror.

Two objects were lying in the road. I remember thinking, "no way." I stopped, put the car into reverse (hey, I am by nature, a kind hearted guy and I was ready to CPR the little fellows back to health) and backed up within about 10 feet of the objects. I put my car in park. I had my convertable top down and so I unbuckled my seat belt, twisted my body and got up on my knees in the seat. Clearly visable from this perch (pun intended) were two dead Cardinals. Two very flat dead Cardinals. They had been perfectly positioned so that each of my front wheels erased one bird.

I felt badly for them. They are just birds. God says he counts the birds and not one hits the ground without His knowing it and crossing them off His list. I figure that if hitting the ground gets noticed by God, pulverizing them into the ground would probably not escape His attention. I had single handedly caused God to use his eraser three times within ten minutes on three identical birds.

I drove away feeling quite melancholy. Then it hit me. It's our year. It's an omen. IT'S OUR YEAR! I consider myself the premiere Cub fan in the region and I had just terminated 3 red birds! During spring training! Within twenty miles of Busch Stadium! What are the odds of that? I'll tell you what they are. They are unbelievably A-S-T-R-O-F-R-E-A-K-E-N-O-M-I-C-A-L!

My friends. It is only March. I urge you, nay, I plead with you ... recognize this incident for what it is. 99 yeas ago the Cubs won the World Series. That was the last time. But it is very clear that the drought is ending. And I am declaring it right here. Perhaps William Shakespeare said it correctly, "I wasted time and now doth time waste me," but THIS is not a time for YOU to waste! I am declaring amnesty for all pagan cardinal lovers living on the Illinois side of St. Louis. It is time to come home. Not just any home. Sweet Home Chicago. Friends, like it or not, it is your city. YOUR city. You pay taxes to support it's parks, roads, and yes, ball parks! Amnesty is your for the taking.

From NOW until the first shout of "PLAY BALL" echoes from behind home plate on Monday, April 9, 2007 at 1:20 PM, in the beautiful confines of Wrigley Field you can come home to YOUR Chicago Cubs! This is a limited time offer and will not be repeated. There is no time to waste. Three dead red birds spilled their life blood today to get your attention. Did they die in vain?

That, my friend, is up to you.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Alfred Had It Right

It is time for a confession. When I was a kid ... I did not exactly set the world of "little league baseball" on fire. I was the first baseman for the team. As such it fell upon me to catch any ball hit my way or thrown my way. If it was thrown to me I knew there must be a guy running in my direction down the first base line. If I caught the ball and tagged the base before he ran over it he was out. If he got there first he was safe. That's a pretty important job. And this one guy always stood near me. He was known as "The Umpire." His job was to decide who got to the base first so that he could call the batter "safe" or "out." He also watched to make certain that the runner stayed in the base line during his run. If he stepped out of the prescribed area he was automatically out. So the base line was important. If you want to win you have to stay in the base line.

There is another kind of base line that is important as well. I go to my doctor for a check-up every year. He pokes me. He prods me. He puts his fingers where God never intended fingers to be put. He looks up my nose, in my ears, and deep into my eyes. He takes my temperature, checks my pulse and knocks me on the knee with a nasty little rubber mallet. He makes me pee in a cup. And then he asks me if I have eaten yet today and if I have not he sticks a needle into my arm and takes some blood. I suppose he checks the blood to make sure it's still red and wet. Or maybe he's looking for a rare disease. Probably he checks my cholesterol and stuff like that. The reason he wants to be sure I have not eaten is because food would throw off the results. You see, when you have not eaten your blood evidently assumes its natural level of ... of ... of whatever it is in your blood that levels off. And that is what is also called your baseline.

With this kind of baseline you find out what the normal level of a given situation is. That way if you check the levels later (of what ever you are checking) and it deviates from the baseline you know you have a problem.

This is where it gets good. Sit down and shut up for a minute. Turn the TV off. Maybe you will learn something. If not, just remember this web site is free. So get over it 'cause it didn't cost you anything.

Ever wonder what your baseline is with God?

They tell me I am a.d.d. That stands for "attention deficit disorder." It means I have trouble sticking with a project, focusing for long periods of time, sitting still. Geez, I don't need a special set of initials to tell me that. I've been living in this skin for a long time know. Sometimes with God I just.... don't spend as much time with Him as I should. I am an expert at having a "Power Quiet Time." You know what I mean. I can spend an hour alone with God in twelve minutes. Except that it really does not work very well. I know it. God knows it. And those who know me well can tell when I'm spending really quality time with God and when I'm cheating.

I used to be a "type a" personality. That means I was a "driven" kind of guy. I never stopped. To be awake was to be busy. To have a job was to always work. Sleep was something you could do after you die. Well that life style didn't work too well for me and I transformed myself into a solid "type b" personality. Actually I did it with the help of a nasty illness. But if you read this blog often you already know that. I'm much more laid back now. I wouldn't say I'm actually the relaxed type but I'm much closer to it than I used to be.

We all have things in our lives that are working on us. You have a certain temperament. You have passions. You have things you disdain. All of these things help to determine what your life actually "looks like." It makes you ... you. It determines your baseline.

But what about the God factor? What is your base line with God?

Much of my time serving God is spent dealing with schedules, deadlines, instructions, rules and ... guilt. Guilt because I don't always keep the schedule, meet the deadline, follow the instruction and abide by the rules. Are you with me? Can I get an "amen?"

But is that really your God baseline?

I remember a day in May 2002. I was in Minnesota to attend a "Sabbath for Youth Pastor's." I arrived early and checked into the part convent/part retreat center that it was being held at. I was one of the first to show up and there were hours before I had to be anywhere. It was a Monday. I had left home on Friday and had driven to Minneapolis to rest before the Sabbath began. I wanted to spend time with God before I was scheduled to. Turns out this was a very good idea. He honored my efforts and came and loved on me in that little hotel room. After I registered at the retreat center and moved my bags into my room I got back into my rented convertible Sebring and drove a few miles down the road. I parked on an overlook that had a panoramic view of the upper Mississippi River. Trees and water surrounded me. A sailboat was anchored in the middle of the river. The sky was the bluest of blues. The only noise came from rustling leaves and singing birds. The top of the car was down and I sat on the driver’s door with my feet dangling over the edge. Do you know why I remember that moment? Because it was the most relaxed moment I remember experiencing since becoming a full-fledged adult. God showed up on that wide spot in the road. I felt Him. It was as though His hand was on my shoulder, His heart in my chest, His Spirit sharing a special communion with mine. And I realized that I had no worries, no fears, nothing to rush to. My attention was all His. And with that realization came peace. It was the peace that the bible speaks of when it mentions the "peace that passeth all understanding." I do not think I had ever experience that before. Not in this incredibly deep form. I have, blessedly, experienced it several times since. And you know what I think?

That is my baseline with God.

The usual daily stress? The constant battle to be "good enough to please Him?" The war with sin that I too often lose? Those are things similar to the sugar or fat or caffeine that I dump into my body. They give false readings. They mess up who I am supposed to be. They are NOT my baseline. They are deceivers. Their job is to trick me into believing that I am NOT who I really AM.

I am God's kid. He takes an insane amount of joy in me. Because of that I do not have a worry in the world. He counts my hairs, guides my steps, lights my path, watches my back and ordains my days.

Because of Him I can join that old philosopher Alfred E. Neumann...

What? Me worry?