Friday, August 31, 2007

Seventy Times Seven

What does it mean to forgive someone? What is the heart of forgiveness? I am constantly amazed by the whole concept of forgiveness. Yet, when it comes to forgiving most people would rather be on the giving than on the receiving end. To be on the receiving end of forgiveness means that we have done something wrong, something egregious, something sinful. Who wants to be in need of forgiveness? Yet, most of us are in need of just that.

The World doesn't really like to forgive either. The World would rather have revenge. Revenge is the quick and easy answer. It's result can always be seen and is usually instantaneous. It cannot, however, be undone or taken back. It is there for all the World to see and cares not for whether it was administered justly or not. It is indeed a cold dish when served.

The World mocks a forgiver. It sees forgiving as a sign of weakness, as a blight, as something not worth pursuing. Yet, to be a forgiver requires more than just words, it requires actions. It requires strength. Strength to not pursue vengeance, but rather to pursue peace and love, and compassion.

I know of a person who could easily walk that path of vengeance, a path that leads to bitterness and perhaps regret. Instead, this person chooses forgiveness, which bears a fruit that is not always seen but is sweet indeed. Why does this person choose forgiveness? This person chooses it because it is the right thing to do.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is asked about forgiveness by Peter, "21 Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' 22 Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.' "

Peter thought that he was being generous in his forgiving, doing what the Law demanded and nothing more. Yet, Christ turned that notion on it's head by stating that we should forgive seventy times seven. Seven is the number of perfection in the Hebrew culture of Jesus' day. What He does here is add to that number to the Nth degree. In other words Jesus was saying forgive as many times as it takes, don't stop forgiving, hold nothing against anybody else.

This person, reminded me in their act of forgiving that I have not been so kind. I have held grudges and wanted revenge for things that have been done to me. I re-learned a lesson that I have taught others but have forgotten. I am thankful for this persons wise decision of forgiving others because in their doing that their act of forgiveness has inspired me to let go of the hurts that I have been carrying around lately.

I choose forgiveness, for I know that I am in need of receiving it. May I be so bold as to walk this path as my friend has, is, and continues to tread. Thanks for the lesson!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pics by Zach

Taken by Zach

Pics by Abbie

Taken by Abbie

Sweet Home Chicago

My gang and me outside the Shedd Aquarium in the great city of Chicago. What a day!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"Holy Cow, I Think He's Gonna Make It!"

Upon hearing of the passing, this week, of the Hall of Famer and Yankee great, Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto my mind recalled many of his accomplishments both on and off the field of play. His feats were major, after all he was a Yankee! 1950 American League MVP, he was on seven World Series Championship teams, and he was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame 1994, though he insisted that he did not belong there. He was color commentator for the Yankees(did I mention that they are God's team? Well they are) for nearly 40 years, and that is how I was first introduced to the Scooter.

In the summer of 1977 I was re-introduced to the Scooter through one Michael Lee Aday aka MeatLoaf, to me just Meat but to you it is Mr. Loaf. The song Paradise by the Dashboard Light(a great song even to this very day) was a song about love, lust and commitment. If you know the song you undoubtedly remember the Scooter's contribution to the song in the form of his play-by-play commentary:

"OK, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here. Two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth. There's the windup, and there it is. A line shot up the middle, look at him go. This boy can really fly. He's rounding first and really turning it on now. He's not letting up at all, he's gonna try for second. The ball is bobbled out in the center. And here's the throw and what a throw. He's gonna slide in head first. Here he comes, he's out. No, wait, safe, safe at second base. This kid really makes things happen out there. Batter steps up to the plate. Here's the pitch, he's going. And what a jump he's got. He's trying for third. Here's the throw. It's in the dirt, safe a third. Holy cow, stolen base. He's taking a pretty big lead out there. Almost daring them to pick him off. The pitcher glances over, winds up and it's bunted. Bunted down the third-base line. The suicide squeeze is on. Here he comes, squeeze play, it's gonna be close. Here's the throw, here's the play at the plate. Holy cow, I think he's gonna make it!"

I love that song! It has been at the rockin' heart of many dance, party, and/or social mixer that had any worth whatsoever. I remember, with acute recall, singing it to my date, one Linda L., way back at the 1980 Sadie Hawkin's dance at Greenwich High School. She was a beauty and I am sure that she still is and I knew that "all the kids at school were wishin' they were me that night". I remember Meat coming over the speakers and looking into Linda's big beautiful eyes! What a night.

Now wait a minute! I know what you are thinking and the answer is that Linda was not that type of girl and I was not that type of boy. There was no "paradise" by any light that night, or any other night for the record. What there was, however, was a moment that we shared because of that song. I can't help but think of Linda every time I hear it. Phil Rizzuto's death set me off on a chain reaction that led to thinking about Mr. Loaf, then his song and then that night back in 1980 at a dance with Linda L. Time definitely flies.

As sappy as the song might be I admire the idea that the singer did honor his vow to stay with his lover. He never spoke of her in demeaning terms that are so rampant in Rap music. He didn't bail out on her, or harm her. He stayed with her. Sure he was in a type of hell as he was "prayin' for the end of time to hurry up and arrive..."

Yes indeed he made that hell of his own when he played with the heart of that young woman, it was indeed his own doing. It served as a cautionary tale to young lust erroneously perceived as young love. Think before you act and make sure that you think with your brain instead of thinking with something else, was what I learned from it.

I wonder, if the characters were real, where would they be now? Would they still be together? Would he have honored his vow until the end? Would he have somehow found love with that woman and have maybe made a go of a good life together? Or would he have left her long ago?

I am a romantic and always will be. I even hold out for the hope of lasting love in my life(still waiting). I would hope that the two came to a place of love and respect for each other, and in that way he would truly be a man, or at least lumbering towards manhood as it awaited for him at the plate as he rounded third and headed for home. Maybe he would hear the faint echoes of Scooter Rizzuto saying, "Holy Cow, I think he's gonna make it!"

Thanks Linda for the fond memory!

Holy Cow indeed!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Tattoo You

Tattoos, it seems, are quite the fashion statement these days. When I was younger, back in the day, the only people who sported tatts were bad azzed Harley riders, crap-kickers from the military, exotic people in some far distant land, or someone in the freak show at the circus.

Nowadays things are different. The art, and it is indeed an art, of the tattoo is a multi-million dollar a year industry. It is commonplace to see all sorts of people, both men and women, young and old wearing a tattoo. There are all types of designs and places on one's body where people plant their artwork. There are conventions where the artists go and learn about new techniques or new equipment to buy, and there are even a few TV shows that are based in tattoo parlors (parlors? Are they even called parlors anymore?).

I know quite a few people who are inked, more than once and usually in interesting locations on their person. I find the designs pretty interesting and herein lies a problem for me. I was always taught not to stare at people by my parents. I don't know why this was the rule, but it was. "Don't stare at that person it is rude!" I have had that so ingrained in me that when I see someone with an interesting looking tattoo I usually gaze at it only if that person is looking in another direction. I am afraid of being "caught" looking at their tatts, but isn't that what tattooed people want? Don't they want to show off their goods? Someone please clue me into the proper etiquette regarding tattoo viewing!

I have thought about getting marked up, but it is just a passing fancy. I can't see me ever getting one, and it is not because of the pain that it may include, that doesn't stop me. What stops me is that I know that somewhere down the road I will look at it and wonder why I even have it.

I knew a couple of people who had tattoos and regretted it later in life. My late father-in-law (or is it late ex-father-in-law? What is the proper terminology for the late father of your ex-wife? Clue me in people!) well he had a few tattoos. He told me that he wished that he never had them. I never respected him any less because of them, but I knew that he was embarrassed about one in particular. It was nothing tawdry, but what seemed funny in his youth was not something he wanted later in life. Tattoos or not he was a good guy!

Another person I knew, a next door neighbor from back East, had one removed. It had been on her ankle and I noticed the scar and discoloration on summer's day as we were standing and talking about life. I asked her if she had had an accident or something (Smooth? Not so much!) and she blushed as she said that it was a tattoo removal gone bad.

Those two individuals made me think that tattoos are not so much for me, as I am sure to regret it later on in life.

I once bought a Paula Abdul CD back in the late 1980s. At the time she was a hot new commodity on the pop charts and I liked her music (Hey it was a long time ago!). Years later, while going through my CD collection I found it and thought, "What the heck was I thinking?!" I have a feeling that getting a tattoo would be kind of the same for me. No matter what I thought was cool at the time of putting needle to skin that years down the road I would look at my tattoo and think, "What the heck was going through my mind that night?!" At least in the day and age of the iPod I can delete songs that were once cool and years (or is it days?) later are not so cool anymore (I swear that sooner or later A-Ha's Take On Me WILL be deleted-Don't even laugh at me because it is on your iPod as well Gaylord!). As for tattoos, there ain't no delete button for the removal of an unwanted tatt.

I have found that not all tattoos are visible ones. A lot of people have tattoos that are covered by clothes and that is because the person wanted a tatt but did not want the whole world to see it. Perhaps it was just for the eyes of one special person. That got me to thinking about whether or not any of our presidents have had, or have, a tattoo and if so what could it possibly be?

The only president I could see having a tattoo would be Bill Clinton. I have a feeling that he has one on his left cheek, and I don't mean the one on his face either. It would be of a cannabis leaf with words around it that said, "Didn't Inhale My Ass!" That would be funny!

Well if there isn't one now there will be a president with a tattoo one day. Maybe it will be in 2008. Who knows, but it will be interesting.

Back to my decision. Maybe when they can invent a machine that erases tattoos I will start thinking about getting one. Until that day I will go unmarked. Yet, when that day comes, look out! Ah, who am I kidding, I will never get a tattoo, it is just not me. And if you have one, and you catch me staring at you, I am just admiring your artwork, honest! Now look away so I can be rude.