Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Precursor to Spring


The body takes in and releases a long, smooth breath; with this breath, the body is set into motion, turning, stirring from its slumber. It heaves another long sigh as it fights wakefulness, but it is already awake, though its alarm has not yet sounded, and the time is not yet come.

            Then its eyes open, at first dreary, as the sleep is wiped away, but quickly those windows to the soul are wide and aware, and all the light of life can be seen in them. With every breath and stirring, its joints and limbs creak as it shakes off the lethargy of hibernation, and as you walk along in the doldrums of your Winter reverie, you look up to the trees and see the first red tips at their fingers, and realize that Spring is coming.

            And this Earth is a morning person; early to rise, it blows and rustles with great energy, and its eye, once lidded with the Winter’s pall, shines down with bright rays to drive away the lonely coldness of our grey Winter, replacing it with an extravert's most blinding cheer.

            Fitting, that this reminder of awakening should come to you now, sitting in the sunlight on your stone bench by the river, for in a few days, you will join the crowd in the Passion according to Saint Matthew as they cry “Hosanna” and again as they cry “Crucify.”

            Fitting, that all the beautiful, lively gifts foreshadowing the Spring should show themselves, even as you fail your simplest fasts of Lent, and impiously hunger after the food and drink you’ve forsworn, instead of fixing your mind to prayer.

            Fitting, not because you deserve these gifts which foreshadow the Spring, but because, as Lent enters its darkest days, as you veil your crosses, as you rehearse with the choir and the acolytes, when no Gloria is sung, you have this reminder: brace yourself, christian, Easter, Spring of souls when Christ burst his prison and from three days' sleep in death rose as the sun, is coming.

            Still, as another cold front comes past, you will kneel on your aching knees on Good Friday, your fasts again failed, and see the only Light of sinners against the noon sky; that light, though for a time shrouded in Winter’s pall, shall shine again on Easter, all Its fasts kept in perfect piety, with all merit accounted to you.

            And as the sun shines brightly down, student, cease your walk, look from the buds on the trees to see that the lilies are springing forth.

            ~C of A by the G of G

Friday, July 12, 2013

Scenes From a Memory

The darkness screame- no, not the darkness, that was just my alarm at 5:00am. I reached to turn it off and prepared to lug myself out of bed. He and I had agreed to make sure the other woke. Suddenly in the darkness, I heard feet coming up the stairs, I could not see him in the darkness but I knew My Master was there in the shadows, silently calling me to wakefulness.

I went through my morning rituals of showering, and coffee making, and eating, waiting for 6:00am. At 5:55 The Passenger arrived. With all things ready we made our departure.

Pulling onto Rudisill Blvd., the mood was set with Rise Against and lowered windows. The directions pulled up on my phone and a post made on FB; the sun hadn't yet risen as Jefferson Blvd. turned into IN-24, the trip had just begun.

In the time between leaving Fort Wayne and our adventures in misdirection, little of note happened; I changed from one CD to the next, was dazzled by the red sun rising, and just made general chitchat, all the while playing navigator for My Master.

Our trip should have only taken about two hours and ten minutes but we lost some time looking for Atlantis, and the Starbucks that--travelers note--does not exist in Logansport. This detour was frustrating; we wanted coffee. While we went out of our way, we did get something nice; the barely risen sun shining on the Wabash river as we crossed it.

After we left Logansport it was smooth sailing... except for the navigator hesitating with a direction and a five minutes detour returning to the highway.

We reached Delphi, at that point The Passenger was near collapse from starvation and My Master was crazed by the lack of coffee. We'd stopped to get gas and stretch our legs and that is when I saw it in the distance: a McDonald's sign. We stopped there for our sustenance. I had been wanting coffee, but when I saw the speedy, smiley service My Master and The Passenger were getting, I decided I could wait until later.

And so out we departed out of Delphi into the region of Lafayette. And when we had come near to that place we received directions from the honorable Lord Nimagist. The time of our arrival was then 8:45. Parking in a garage, we went out, and, behold, a multitude of youth in blue shirts was converging on a single building. Following them we quickly found Lord Nimagist before the Hall of Elliot, even as he had said. Clothed in a teal shirt, he was no ordinary youth, he was one of the High CCVs; the arduously trained elite. From that place of meeting he led us into Matins, where we met the fearsome Twin Baristas, Barista Petersen and Barista Skalicky, who were also High CCVs. It was the first prayer order of the day, and it was at that time the ninth hour.

With Matins ended, The Passenger, My Master, and I went to register for our day, we had about fifteen minutes to reach the Hall of Stewart, register, and find out where the breakways were happenin'. It all would have taken much less time, but the staff of Purdue didn't seem to think it necessary to communicate with the HT staff their intent to block off the info desk. After about five minutes, the HT staff guys realized that we were there for registration and got us fixed up right quick.

Being registered, and having T-shirts, booklets for schedules and services, meal cards and wristbands, and the knowledge that we were in group B, we were accosted by the taller of the fearsome Barista Twins, Barista Skalicky, and commanded to follow her and another of the High CCVs to assist with ice delivery. So we followed her, knowing that we were already late for the breakaways, and learned the true meaning of, "This campus is way too big for a HT conference."

So we escorted her and the other High CCV to the Hall of Lilly, and then to the far distant Hall of Hillenbrand (Not to be confused with Hildebrand.), where we learned that the cooler for the ice actually rolls, so we wouldn't need to carry it, and that they had no idea where the ice was to come from. Upon learning the latter fact, My Master, The Passenger, and I resolved to go back to the Hall of Stewart, for when we returned it would surely be near to the eleventh hour, and our plenary session.

We walked swiftly back to the Hall of Stewart and just outside the we met The Martyr, the Venerable Bishop of Rome, and His Grace's Sister. The latter two whom I had not seen for three years. I was sad to learn that they were all in group A and were headed in the opposite direction. They would go to lunch while we were in plenary, and vice-versa.

It bears note at this point that, while I had seen, and would continue to see and briefly chat with dozens of friends and fond acquaintances, I shall not note every, "Hello, friend! My, how you've grown since last we met!"

So we entered the Hall of Stewart for plenary, but before it could begin, the Lady Ostapowich gave the day's announcements. The Rev. Buetow presided at the plenary, and, while none of it was bad, I felt he leaned too much on comedy, which was not poor in its own right. He's a regular Jim Gaffigan that one.

Immediately after plenary we left the Hall of Stewart and made for the Hall of Earhart, and en route the winds began to blow, soon the weather would change, as it would many times through the day. En route we saw a good number of friends, mainly because we were outpacing group B and passing group A, which was now headed to plenary.

Lunch was sufficient. Upon entering the cafeteria we were met by the honorable Lord Nimagist who, after showing us what was what in the cafeteria, invited us to sit with him in the glorious company of the High CCVs. We ate lunch rather briefly and returned to the outside world, where we were met with a wet surprise....

RAIN! Verily, the heavens were opened and water poured forth upon the earth. Thus together, the three of us, we walked swiftly this time to the parking garage. My Master quickly changed into better attire for wetness. We deposited some of what we'd been carrying and grabbed an umbrella. (Come to think of it, we never did open that umbrella.)

We still had a lot of time on our hands before vespers and we made for the Starbucks that we heard was in the student union. The student union was right behind the Hall of Stewart, a short walk from our parking garage. We arrive there, through the wind and rain we traveled, only to not find the Starbucks. We stepped into a small shop in the union and found coffee there, which we bought and were walking out with when we found that the Starbucks was just down the hall.

The rain was falling harder when we went to the Hall of Elliot for Vespers the second prayer order of the day. Vespers began at 2:00pm and ended about thirty minutes later. We missed our dear brother, Basso Maximo, as we sang "O Love How, Deep" and "O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth."

When we left through the side door of the Hall of Elliot we were met by the blinding light of the sun. Quite shocked, I scrambled to put my shades back on. Next on the schedule, at 3:00pm, was breakaway C. We had decided to attend an Augsburg Confession sectional by that one guy who makes those ADHD friendly online videos... Worldview Everlasting or something like that. That was an excellent sectional. He speaks quickly, always to the point, and not always stopping for a joke, but still not humorless.

After the sectional, now 4:00pm, we had a lot of free time; it was an hour until group A had dinner, while they ate group A would have another hour of free time. We stood around in the classroom and spoke for a short while with The Martyr, his mother and cousin, and The Bishop of Rome. We chatted for a good fifteen minutes, after which The Martyr, The Bishop of Rome, My Master, The Passenger, and I part company with The Martyr's family and went to visit the Starbucks in the union, which we learned on arrival was closed. We went with with the Heidenreichs on some meandering adventure. My Master received a call, who from I actually don't know, hearing that some of Our Matron's good friends were back in the union somewhere. After we had parted company I only remained with the Meandering Company for about fifteen minutes, after which I decided to part their company and seek after My Master and the Looper Ladies.

With The Passenger I ran back to the union and soon found My Master outside having not yet found the Looper Ladies. We walked around to the other side of the building and found them not long after entering. It was a happy reunion, though a bit short, being only ten minutes. From them we learned of a place in the Hall of Stewart from whence we could by Caffe Verona blend. With hugs given and family greetings exchanged, we left the venerable company of the women and Pastor Kavouras.

We returned to the Hall of Stewart and got our coffee. We had about half an hour until dinner, it was only just near 5:30pm, so My Master, The Passenger, and I took a long walk, gradually working our way toward the Hall of Earhart where we would eat dinner. On our way to the building we came across the Herr Dreyer, who we had been passing in hallways an alarming amount; I am not entirely sure that we wasn't stalking us, waiting to trick us into attending the seminary.

Within the Hall of Earhart we met up with The Bishop of Rome who invited us, while we were getting our food, to sit with his group. We reached his booth and it occurred to us that the group would not fit comfortably at the table, so we shifted to one of the long tables in the separated rooms. Therein the Redeemerites, the Zionists, and the Bishop of Rome sat at table together. The Martyr joined us shortly, and it was a merry gathering.

We feasted thus merrily until it was about thirty minutes until Evening Prayer. Outside we met the family of the Bishop of Rome and (Yipes!) had His Grace's brother, Grabber, grown! We walked to the Hall of Elliot for Evening Prayer. My Master broke off from the group for some reason and we were to meet him at the Hall of Elliot, I spent the walk over speaking mainly with His Grace's Sister.

Reuniting with My Master at the Hall of Elliot we entered the third prayer order, Evening Prayer; it was then 7:15pm.

After Evening Prayer we were ambushed by the Barista Twins and charged with a noble task: Find and bring Starbucks to them while they went to serve their station at Karaoke.

And so My Master and his fearless navigator set to it.

We got to the Starbucks and the poor baristas therein, so friendly, were having mechanical difficulties with one of the espresso machines, so the service was a little slow, but we got the coffee in due time and made for the Barista Twins, and the karaoke.

We delivered the coffee and watched the karaoke. A large group had gathered to watch; it was so very jovial. My Master and I found The Bishop of Rome and we decided to sing. First we decided to sing "Bad Romance", but that was deemed inappropriate, so we signed up for "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," but, for whatever reason, we were skipped there and never sang it.

Night had come upon the sky, and darkness upon the people. The selection of groups for singing and become pretty random so we just walked up and asked to sing one song. The guy managing it said sure and, shades on, we stepped onto the karaoke stage and sang "Jesus Freak" by DC Talk.

Oh. Oh, the fun. Even after the karaoke machine malfunctioned and the music cut out, we kept singing.

After that The Bishop of Rome had to go to other things. My Master and I, we turned and went to seek out Lord Nimagist, who was overseeing the country dance in the student union. As we were on our way, we ran across the Barista Skalicky, who informed us that someone had collapsed at the dance.

We arrived and found that most of the dancers had already filed out. Lord Nimagist was standing outside. We stood out there with him for some time. We chatted with him and The Martyr until about sometime after 10:15pm, when we decided to part and start telling our goodbyes before compline. We returned to the main plaza in front of the Hall of Stewart where the karaoke was still going, but dying out; it was there that compline would be held for those groups who wanted to do it with other groups.

While waiting for the conclusion, with was still some time away, My Master went briefly away and, at 10:46pm, I climbed a tree. This I did mainly in memorial of the last HT I went to--Coram Deo, 2011--and all the time we spent in trees then.

I got down.

We passed the next twenty-rough minutes in the company of the family of The Martyr, and our friends among the numbers of the High CCVs. Then at 11:15, we had compline, the fourth and last prayer order of the day. After that we said our last goodbyes and made for the car, fully awake and ready for the ride home.

We did have to stop at a gas station on our way out because My Master's car needed oil. It was there that the final blow was dealt to my psyche of that day....

Through the entire day, from the moment we were kidnapped by the Barista Skalicky, I had been seeing a bus painted with JJ's slogans. I had also seen JJ's bike delivery guys through the day. I had only seen one piece of litter all day, and that was a discarded catering menu; I had been convinced through the day that, even should I not have to work, JJ's would never let me forget.

.... There, at the stop light outside the parking lot, was a JJ's delivery car.

We began the ride with Imagine Dragons, and if we were hesitant  in singing that morning, we were not hesitant then. We listened to "Night Visions" by Imagine Dragons and then, song with perhaps more gusto, "City of Evil" by Avenged Sevenfold. The night drive was more relaxed than the morning; we knew our way now, and we could just sing.

Looking out the car window, I saw total darkness all around us and, as if to bookend the sunrise, I saw the stars of the lightless country, and at such I looked through the drive.

Back in Fort Wayne, our adventure ended, The Passenger returned, and the hour drawing near to 2:15am, I went to sleep quickly and in good cheer.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rough Play

I like to playfully kick, punch, and spar around with my brothers. Never hard enough or rough enough that we could conceivably be hurt (My mother would say differently.) but enough that we get that male urge to hone our fierce combat techniques out of us. I also like to shoot at my male friends and they like to shoot back... with Nerf guns. Young men like to fight playfully. We like lightsabre duels, grand Nerf battles, and bokkens. If you give a little boy a palm branch it becomes a sword. Give him a barbie doll and it becomes a gun. (Straws and wrappers at restaurants? Can you say "Blowguns and poison darts?")

Young men and boys want ways that they can fight without killing one another. If they are not allowed to fight playfully while trying not to hurt each other, where will these little combative impulses be released? They can't hit each other in play, they want to hit though, be they 11 or 31. Really, think of men who like to shoot paper targets and hunt squirrels.

I, like most of my peers, like video games. I mainly prefer RPGs (Role Playing Games) and strategy games. While I like FPSs (First person shooters) but they aren't my preference. FPSs are definitely the most popular. The most common complaint I've heard against video games is that they desensitize children to killing, that they produce murderers. There is a little bit to that. When I was 9 I was a very bloodthirsty little lad and, looking back, I was probably where people get proof for video games producing murderous children.

Parents and children must always exercise discretion, both in their permitting and in their playing of video games, although this is true of all entertainment, media, and rough play. By "children" I mean "people capable of rational thought still living as dependents... like me."

Now there is always the question, why play video games when you could go shooting or fight with bokkens and Nerf guns? I would answer with the question, "Why read, watch movies, or watch TV shows?" All pleasures, whether they be books, Psych, House, Harry Potter, sports, hunting, hiking, food, coffee, music, or rough play, should be taken in moderation. You could spend your whole life exercising and only eating and drinking that which helps your body but wine was given to make glad the hearts of men so we take a moment for pleasure. (It should be noted that my heart is yet to be made glad by the fruit of the vine.) So also we do not spend the whole of our days feasting and drinking. We like it but it is not healthy.

I think video games can be a good way of telling a story. Perhaps not as good as books but I think they are comparable to movies and TV shows.

Please stop reading this if you are going to say "Grand Theft Auto." There will always be tripe in any medium, and as HBO is to television and as harlequin romances are to literature, GTA is to games. Tripe like this will always find an eager market, but it is not the norm. The most anticipated and second most played game of last year, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is a well told story based in a world with a detailed history, which is told in books and dialogue in the game. It has a good music score, fun gameplay, and good concept art, which carries into the world of the game.

There also games like the Age of Empires or Sid Meier's . These are strategy games. Some are good for historical lessons, and some are good and difficult brain exercises. They are the video game equivalents of Catan or Risk. There are FPS like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which was the most played game of last year, that are good for blowing off steam after a hard day of work or study. They are also good for when you have large groups of teenaged guys staying the night.

With this post I do not hope to make you like video games. I hope only that you would see how I view my games and that you would not complain about them as an a complete waste of my time or a bad influence on my self. They are simply my rough play when I'm tired. They are my story when I do not want to read or watch Inception again. They are my artificially created world, like a novel.

Sadly my Xbox's disc reader isn't working so I can't play anyway.

Happy Easter!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Title

Many years ago, there was a great movie called Fantasia 2000. From Donald Duck as Noah to the flying of the whales it was very important in my childhood. But the line in all of it that I ended up quoting was spoken by the great comedian Steve Martin. As the camera panned away from him he spake the great words, "Camera back on me." and for a long time that was my catch-phrase when I was five and wanted someone to pay attention to me. Now when I bring the conversation to myself it is commonly said, "Camera back on me."