Thursday, March 10, 2011

Because His Face Is Gone

I have a new hobby. It's one I latched on to late last year after we appeared to have an intruder attempt to penetrate our home defenses in the dead of night. A basement alarm was going off and all I had to defend the fortress with was the equivalent of a soggy English Muffin. Honestly, it just is not a rollicking good time to go poking around a 2,100 square foot house spread over 2 floors with many doors and nooks and crannies to hide in. English Muffin in hand.

And so I began studying up and decided to get involved in the age old art of "shooting." You know. A gun. The only one I have ever owned was my father's old rifle that he got for Christmas one year when I was 10 years old. That makes the gun 45. I found out that he was about to sell it to a policemen in his retirement town for $100. Not acceptable. And so I gave him $100 and claimed a part of my inheritance early.

Somehow I missed the class where they taught you that your inheritance was suppose to INCREASE your net worth rather than DECREASE your net worth. Thanks for selling me my own heirloom dad. What a guy. But, in his defense, it came with the original bullets, cleaning kit, and scope. Somehow I don't think that firing 45 year old bullets is that great an idea. So the gun just sat all wrapped up in it's cover until I decided to try it out recently.

It jammed.

So much for inheritance. And now back to our story.

I decided to follow the advice of a good and trusted friend. I purchased a small caliber hand gun. I know, I know. Everybody tells me that it's all about "stopping power." You know, drop the intruder in his tracks. One slug from a .45 and the battles over with. But practicing with a .45 or the time proven .357 is an expensive hobby for a novice such as I. So I purchased a Ruger Mark III. It's a .22 caliber. That's considered small. One guy told me it was good for home defense if you shoot yourself in the foot and the intruder laughs himself to death. But can I tell you something? If somebody tells me they are going to poke a hole straight through me with a pencil and that the pencil is going to be moving faster than sound ... I'm going to turn and go the other way. And when was the last time a crooked crook stopped to ask what caliber bullets you were shooting after hearing the first "BANG!?" So I figure as long as I shoot first I'll probably win even if I miss and blow up the thermostat. Chances are he'll head out the door he came in. Unless he's all hopped up on Crack or PCP in which case I'm gonna tell Jesus on Him in just a couple seconds. So please pray that if a bad guy breaks into my house he's sober and not doped up. I like my burglars sane and thinking straight.

Anyway, I've been having a great time at the shooting range with the pop gun. I've learned how to tear it down, clean it, and reassemble it. For those of you who know fire arms, that is a major accomplishment with this particular hand gun. I went to the firing range this afternoon and shot at a paper target that was a shaped like a human being. The girl behind the counter asked how I had done when I was leaving. I showed her the target and she said, "he's dead." I asked her how she knew that. She said, "His face is gone and his belly button is definitely an "innie." Cool. 250 bullets and they all went through his face except for the one I used to enlarge his navel. I was proud that she had noticed.

Last week I took dad's rifle to the range. I had cleaned it up really well and learned a few tricks about it. It still jammed after about every third bullet. But what got my attention was that they told me I could only use a rifle at the range if I moved it at least 20 yards out. I said fine without really thinking about it. And today, as I was shooting with just the Ruger, I realized .... why does it matter how far out the target is? The bullet is going all the way anyhow. I mean, the paper target wouldn't stop a cork gun. Why do they care how far out I move the target? Sounded like a very good question. So I asked the young woman as I was leaving. She gave a satisfactory answer. It seems that in the rifle part of the range the floor is sloped. If the target is closer than 20 yards your bullets will hit the floor, ricochet to the ceiling and then go .... right back where it came from. She says they call that their "Duck and Cover" lanes. Hey. That's good enough for me.

Okay, boys and girls. There is no spiritual lesson to be learned from this late night writing session. So don't dig too deeply. Some days you teach a valuable nugget of wisdom. Some days you just blow stuff up. And today we just went "boom."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A Place To Land

The day began with a hard wooden bench in a church constructed of stone and mortar. A white casket in the middle aisle held a body ready to be consecrated to the winters earth. What began as pain and blood and water was now finished and would today be returning to the dust from whence it had come. But only a cold and lifeless body lay enshrouded in the pale white coffin. The soul, the spirit, has flown to its maker. The tears born from beings of clay were most surely not heard in the heavenly realms where the cries were of the joy experienced as a wandering soul returned home.

The slow, rain soaked drive to my office was punctuated by a warm soft drink and a slice of cold pizza purchased from a place that specializes in selling fuel for vehicles and not the human body. Funny how temperatures often invert at the least desirable moment.

An arrival at a desk brought my action to a crawl as phone calls were returned, emails were read, and the foundation for plans were laid pertaining to an evening meeting. I am not a man of details. Desk time is ugly time. Sometimes ugly is necessary.

Home came none too soon. A quick glance at the news, an hour of "quiet time" in my home office, and the bride of my youth and I were off for a meal of hastily prepared italian food and the aforementioned meeting. All went well.

And the day was over. My "she" went to bed early, having slept poorly last night. I turned my attention to an unwelcome and yet needed home repair, washed my hands, and allowed my heart to take over.

And so it is that I find myself at my landing spot. It is a blue chair, half reclining, half supporting. As I rest in it, it rests in the room I call my favorite. The craftsmanship is far from perfect but it was created with my own hands. The slate blue coloring of the upper walls gives way to the white wainscoting below. The hardwood floor is mainly covered with a rug that stands out and brings color to the tameness of the blue and white. And the walls. The walls are covered with items of meaning. They would bring little on the open market. And yet to me they are priceless. Autographed baseballs from childhood heroes. A classic bobble head collection of saints the likes of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the evangelist of all time, Billy Graham. I wonder if they would be proud to be so enshrined? There are rocks collected from vacation beaches and active volcano's visited in my past. My childhood first basemen's baseball glove. No, don't bend it! It will crack in half with age. And so will I if I do not land in this chair.

Yes, this is the place where my day ends. The place where the landing gear of my life is lowered and I descend from cruising altitude into this tiny corner of a room that I call my personal hanger. More rightly, my cave. It is dark, it is quiet, it is filled with history. My history. A picture of a dashing soldier in dress uniform greets me and I see the smart smile of my father, a decade removed from life now. An authentic baseball jersey bearing the number 31 of the Chicago Cubs, personally autographed with the addition of the numbers of strike-outs, career wins, and year voted into the baseball Hall of Fame. A part of Ferguson Jenkins over my left shoulder and a neon sign screaming "Cubs" glowing over my right. This room is as close to home as I get on this tumbling sphere named Earth.

A place of peace. A place of solitude. A place where I spend as much time prostrate before God on the floor as I do reclining with an open Bible in my chair. Everybody needs one of these.

A place to land.

Where I land.

These are a few of my favorite things. (Song reference not intended.)

My favorite book case containing a copy of "The Biography of Martin Luther" dated 1873.

"The Glove" and an original brick with paint intact from "Old Comiskey Park," former home of the Chicago White Sox ... where my dad use to take me to ball games.

My father's "WWII Dog Tags" and my first wedding ring (which my finger out grew. I kept the same wife and simply changed rings.)