Posts Tagged ‘mom

15
May
21

Homecoming

Where is your place?

Come take a SPIN!

Whenever I discuss the important places in my life, I usually list four: 

  • Columbus, Ohio – the place where I was born.
  • Seattle, Washington – the place to which our family moved in 1969 (and still the region where my four siblings and stepmom live)
  • Kansas City, MO metro area – the place I lived for 44 years, and
  • Fort Collins, CO – the place I live right now.

The fact of the matter is, I sat down the other day and made a list of every house I have lived in since infancy and came up with the staggering total of 27. 

27!

That means I have only lived – on average – 2.55 years in each of those places. 

Doesn’t that make me sound like a restless vagabond, constantly in search of that elusive IDEAL PLACE? I certainly think so.

And it kind of begs the question: “Is there such a thing as The Ideal Place?” 

In my life I have known people who believe in the existence of The Ideal Place and are engaged in a restless, lifelong search for it. 

They want the Ideal Climate

They want the Ideal Topography and Geography

They want the Ideal Quantity (and Quality) of Cultural Amenities

They want the Ideal Cost of Living.

They want a place with the Ideal Reputation.

And of course, they want to make sure this Ideal Place is populated by the Ideal Type of Person. You know… the type that is friendly, but not too friendly. Diverse, but not too diverse. Educated, but not too educated. And so on…

The sad outcome of this quest is that each place they live in somehow falls short on one or more of these critical criteria. 

And so, convinced that the next stop will be the answer, they pack up and move there… and start the process all over again.

I have to say, with the notable exception of the seedy place in Tacoma where Jeff, Marcus, and I lived, and probably my one-bedroom apartment on McGee Street in Kansas City, I have really LOVED every one of the 27 different places I have lived. 

Some I chose willingly, while other places were forced on me by the circumstance. But in every case, I knew it was not going to be the WHERE that made the difference… it was going to be the WHAT, as in “What kind of person are you going to be here in this new environment?” 

Because, as Buckaroo Banzai said in the 1984 cult classic film, “No matter where you go, there you are!” 

The truth is, God sees us – and KNOWS us – wherever we are. God knows us inside and out, whether we’re wearing the plaid flannel of Colorado, the flip-flops of Miami Beach, or the grungy, torn blue jeans of Seattle. As the psalmist once said, “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance…” (Psalm 139:15-16, NRSV).

The scene can change, but unless we change too, we will find ourselves facing the same problems all over again in the next place we go. 

Today I live in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is a nice, friendly, attractive, stimulating place with awesome vistas and lots of indoor and outdoor stuff to do. And yet, despite all its sterling qualities, I REALLY still miss the people and places of the Kansas City area. 

But you know what? I’ve made up my mind that here, with God and the love of my life by my side, is where I am going to call HOME

Abundant blessings;

16
Jul
19

Picnic Power

Picnic picYes, “hot weather,” “swimming pools,” “no school,” “sunscreen,” and “baseball” are all worthy candidates, but I’m afraid none of them say SUMMER quite as well or convincingly as the word “picnic.”

We went with some friends recently to see a Theater in the Park production of Meredith Wilson’s Music Man and decided to pack along a picnic dinner.

I was certainly prepared to dig in and enjoy the delicious fried chicken Joan made, with a little Waldorf salad on the side. What I WASN’T prepared for was the wave of nostalgia that was also served up.

Apparently, it has been a long time since I have picnicked. (And no, I don’t think brats and a beer at the baseball game really count.)

It reminded me of the days when my mother used to pack up a big cooler full of food for she and dad and us five kids and we would drive to a favorite spot down by the Scioto River outside of Columbus, Ohio.

It was kind of magical to watch her open the cooler and reach in to distribute the waxed paper-wrapped sandwiches to each of us.

With five kids there was no tailoring of the meat or condiments, you understand. Everyone got the same thing, smeared with the same yellow, red, or white goo. And when my brother Douglas complained about what was on his sandwich (as he inevitably did), we got to hear the well-worn refrain, “Well, Douglas, you are free to either scrape it off or go hungry. It’s up to you,” spoken by either mom or dad.

It was always kind of an adventure to find just the right table… the one with a little bit of shade, located close enough to the recreation area and not too far from the public restrooms.

We had some good, basic picnic gear; the cooler for the food, a large plastic tablecloth to spread out, paper plates, but our own set of plastic cups from home, a large drink dispenser, and disposable plastic cutlery.

I seem to remember picnics as always being messier affairs than a family meal around the dining room table. Out there at the picnic site, you felt free to wipe your mouth on the back of your hand (even if you did have a napkin), drop food on the ground, or even burp. Because hey! You were eating OUTDOORS! None of the standard indoor eating rules applied!

And often at our picnics – especially those that fell on a big national holiday such as Memorial Day or the Fourth of July – the event was not complete without some spirited Frisbee tossing and the appearance of the hand-crank ice cream freezer.

There is no doubt in my mind at all; picnics made our family closer. They were a kind of approachable adventure in which everyone played a part. They exposed us to The Great Outdoors, they nudged us to play and laugh together.

Picnics regularly gave us the chance to do a little impromptu problem-solving… such as when someone fell and hurt themselves, or when a sudden summer storm appeared, or when SOMEBODY forgot to pack plates.

Next week my siblings and I will be convening for a somewhat solemn purpose. We will be getting together and visiting the eastern half of the five locations my dad requested for the scattering of his ashes.

While I am not entirely sure I would recommend this practice for all families, I think this is going to be healing and cathartic for us. And of course, one of the locations is going to be there outside of Columbus, Ohio down by the river… right next to one of the places the family used to go for picnics.

Mom died in 1970 and dad in 2017, so it will just be the five sibs and my wife Joan on this particular “picnic.” But I have no doubt whatsoever that it will be warm and wonderful and will draw our circle in more tightly.

And as we pray and tear up a little, and remember, and scatter, and celebrate, we will also probably have a sandwich and glass of Kool-Aid and remember the power of the picnic.




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