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Thursday, May 29, 2014

111110(bin) 222(base 5)

Bob Hope
John F. Kennedy 
Annette Bening
Danny Elfman
Patrick Henry
G. K. Chesterton

Yes, those are other people born on May 29. I've always been proud to have been born on the very day that Jack Kennedy turned 35, the age he needed to be to be elected president, though it wouldn't happen for another eight years. I was obsessed with Patrick Henry as a child, and memorized his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech by the time I was in the fifth grade. I suspect I was less enamored of his political leanings at the time than that I was born on his 216th birthday. All things being equal, looking at that cast of characters across the top of the page, I feel a certain kinship with each of them, particularly Annette Bening, as we share uncommonly good looks, though if she felt about herself the way I feel about her, she'd never get out of bed. Hubba hubba.

In case you're wondering, it's been an interesting year, just like yours. But a few really high spots, like writing my first book, Change Our Hearts, and all the good buzz I got from that among my friends and colleagues around the country. One son married (Aidan, to MaLinda Zimmerman), and another (Desi) started his career in college at Nebraska, and another (Declan) got his license as a massage therapist after finishing school in Phoenix. And the process of getting music published, songs I've written over the last several years, began in earnest last summer, and is now starting to get underway with recordings and printed music. It's been a long time—nine years, actually, since that has happened, and as difficult as the process has been, it's good that it's underway. I'm really looking forward to NPM this summer, working with the amazing Paul Inwood on a weeklong composers' track, dialoguing and workshopping with other songwriters who want to get better at their craft. And I'm completely humbled and honored by the NPM's "Pastoral Musician of the Year" award — at least, they have been threatening me with it. 
Terry has to work today, being a high school teacher with grades to record and then attend the baccalaureate mass tonight, but she got up early and made us all a great breakfast of fruit salad, spinach and asparagus quiche, and baked french toast about which I can only say: pass the leftovers. Greater love than this... And she got us tickets to go see Avenue Q at the Mercury, so that is going to be a blast.
And I live in a beautiful house in a little town where I can run around without people laughing at me (until I get home), and I work in a place where I have friends and colleagues who support me through the difficult times. 
Thanks to everyone who has extended birthday wishes to me on Facebook or through any other medium. It's very sweet to be remembered by so many, most of whom are willing to hide their true feelings for one day a year. KIDDING! And thanks to everyone who drops by and reads my blog on occasion. It's a form of spiritual accountability that you read what I write, and most of you know me, so you can call bull$hit on me when I say one thing and do another. God knows i need that.
That's all I want to say today, that. Just "thank you" for the gift of life, for sharing faith, music, and love across the miles through the gracious cooperation of obedient if wildly uncontainable photons and electrons. 
I suppose you feel the same way I do about "the deal" that life is, and it's nowhere expressed better than by the "poet laureate of Iowa," Greg Brown, in his musical rumination on idealism, longing, and beauty, "Rexroth's Daughter":

she used to come & see me but she was always there & gone
even the very longest love does not last very long
she'd stand there in my doorway smoothing out her dress
& say "this life is a thump-ripe melon--so sweet and such a mess"
...what is real but compassion as we move from birth to death
i am looking for rexroth's daughter & I'm running out of breath
spring will come back i know it will & it will do its best
so useful so endangered like a lion or a breast
i think about my children when i look at any child's face
& pray that we will find a way to get with all this amazing grace
it's so cold out there tonight so stormy i can hardly see
& i'm looking for rexroth's daughter & i guess i always will be

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