of Kings

November 23, 2013

On this day fifty years ago, C.S.Lewis died.
Today, An old Friend of mine, lost his Father.

I’ve not seen Peter in many years but have reconnected through social media.
I’ve enjoyed watching his successes professionally and with his family, if distantly.
In many ways, I think I know him better today than I did those many years ago when we worked together in a San Francisco club.
Today, we usually disagree on just about everything when we engage but, at the very least, Peter is always very engaging, responding with timely wit and erudition. If not surprised, at least now I’ve some understanding as to how or why.
When Peter disclosed last year that his Father was ill, I recall both feeling anxiety for him and, naturally, thoughts of my own Father and his similar ordeal.
Of our Fathers, that is where any similarity ended.

As it turns out, Peter’s Father had written a book of memoirs and in Peter’s mentioning them, I was astounded to learn that his Father had been a Monk and his Mother, a Nun.
Immediately I was fascinated and just a little envious. Not that my own Father was without a pedigree of a kind but Peter’s revelation instantly made clear how Peter was Peter.

Beyond those very unique beginnings, his Father went on to become very active politically and, from what little I know, seemed have led a very rich life.
Even that simple understanding or wonder at another’s life and origins has had much more of an impact on me, personally, than John Fitzgerald Kennedy ever did.

I was well on my way when JFK was assassinated. I would make my triumphant debut three weeks later at a hospital in California and if at the onset, my disposition true, it would have been loud and fussy.
I don’t recall having thought of JFK, one way or another, as a child but I would have been reading C.S Lewis not long into it. Doing so would also have had a more significant impact on me than JFK.

One could argue, clearly, that I was certainly, personally effected by JFK, if only by his Presidency and enduring policies.
Fair enough.
Yet, I can’t say that I’ve ever been influenced in any life’s course by invoking the memory of JFK.
The same cannot be said of any author I’ve read or the simple wonder of the uniqueness of the life of a Friend, if hoping to make an impact myself and looking to others for direction and influence.

I understand why JFK’s assassination was monumental. I’m not simple.
I get that, in many ways, it was to portend the end of innocence, at least in the view of ourselves, for America.
I comprehend that JFK and his Family were emerging in a time of great accomplishment and growth, that for many, he was everything they could ever want to be. That he was somehow a representation closer to themselves, Irish, Catholic, plain spoken.
I’m not convinced that many of those thinking so had ever visited Cape Cod, Hyannis Port or Martha’s Vineyard.

Like my Friend Peter, I think JFK could be determined by his upbringing, surroundings and Family.
But with JFK, unlike my Friend Peter, there was Joseph Kennedy and Camelot.

Perhaps as they were simpler times, the undeniable facts surrounding The Kennedy’s much troubled history was not as touted. Perhaps the Country was captivated by some inherent longing for a monarchy. Jackie was elegant and graceful, their Children seemed to belong to the Nation and JFK himself was dashing and sophisticated, wealthy and accomplished.

What he was also was a notorious womanizer, deceitful both in public and private and nepotistic on a Napoleonic scale.

It’s not my intent to disparage him on this fifty year anniversary of his tragic death.
I’ve no doubt that, as a leader, he has had some lasting effects on me personally and in some way, made us a better Nation.
There was the moon, after all.
Wasn’t there?

I suppose when I am unavoidably confronted with this reminder of his death, I usually stop there…at his death.
I’d rather think, when having to recall someone for the passing of a particular day on a calendar, on their life, as I do with C.S Lewis or the rich and extraordinary life of Peter’s Father.
On this day, the twenty second of November.
Godspeed Fr. Paul, we’ll visit again next year.

of Scores

November 19, 2013


IMG_6241So, I’d be remiss, having wrote so frequently of my affection for words,¬†were I not to, on this day, pay at least some manner of home to these two hundred and seventy.
Or, if you prefer, these thirteen score and ten.
Used to great effect and prosperity, one hundred and fifty years ago today.
Beyond it’s lyrical content, the stunning ebb and flow of emotional rigging, what has always insisted to me was it’s greatest testament, was it’s economy. It’s economy in word.

Two hundred and seventy words that said more in it’s authors laconic delivery, than the two hours given on that shared stage, on that day, to his preceding confederate.

It’s author has been lauded so often and by so many, for so much. Yet, for me, in this instance, it will be for so little.
Beyond the enduring consequence of his Presidency, the author moves me afield of deeds seen to adhere or divide a Union. His words inspire me to make more and, in contrast…fewer.

On this particular day, it was this address that so captivated a Nation and bound them in a dedication. One that would address such a monumental endeavor as a war, it’s casualties, and purpose.
In three paragraphs, mind you.

There is so much in those two minutes that provoke. I can’t hope to add to the multitudes that have been touched by it’s grace and poise but I can at least mention how grateful I am to it’s author for at long last relieving me of anxiety when accosted with needing to use “that that” in a sentence of my own.image

If good enough for Abraham Lincoln…by God, it’s good enough for me!

of Regard

November 15, 2013

deliberately and ever so slowly, Ms. Chevron placed the hard bound book onto her knees.
We, her class, were completely silent, rapt. Understanding somehow the event to follow, sacred.

Looking intently, resting her gaze momentarily on one student to another, she aptly conveyed this ritual was not to be trifled with but to be given the full weight of our attention, lest even a single spoken word lost.

With the flat of her hand, she fixed to the cover and slowly, with great purpose, turned to the title page.

Hesitantly and again looking to us, as if gauging our worth and returning skeptical, she decidedly raised the book and turned it towards us. Pivoting in her chair at the front of the room as she held the book at attention, it’s illustration on display in Lazy Susan manner, so that we might all have a glimpse.

Her pinched index and thumb, obviously veterans to their work, delicately took the corner and folded it over, revealing it’s great, inestimable harvest.
Holding our collective breath and leaning forward by degrees, we were to hear her recite…
“Good Heavens” he said. “I know what this is! I’ve come to the stone at the middle of the peach!”

My life would somehow never be the same.

Love or hate the story, the gift Ms. Chevron passed to me that year, my 4th year of primary school, was not simply a fantastical tale by Roald Dahl, but in her telling, her manner and regard, she helped me give the undertaking it’s due. She instilled in me a life long reverence for the written word and the incredible companion a book would serve, beyond any other, for the duration.

In contrast, I recall very little more of that school year, save that I was to repeat it at my Fathers insistence.
It was to be the love of reading that would see me through incredibly lonely times as a child. It would fill the void left a young, troubled boy, by an equally troubled and young Mother. It would provide much needed respite from inadequacy in the hands of adults, failing the task of adulthood.
It would open doors otherwise shut to a fertile mind, begging for the nutrient in light.
In bare, institutional corners, it was to give passage on ships and planes. On caravans with nomadic tribes, wrought with danger and intrigue. From corners of retreat, I visited every other corner of the world. And was delighted.


Ms. Chevron, by her seeming niggardly ruse, had more of an impression on me than those that would hope to impress on me equally with the tattoo of a strap.
It was her and the knowing of the immense sway she could wield, in simply impressing upon us our fortune at being able and allowed to read.

Not a administrator, nor bureaucrat. Not a politician or preacher…but a Teacher.
For whom I am forever grateful.

A Teacher done that.