Bunnies and Eggs

Easter Cupcakes

“Dad, what do eggs have to do with bunny rabbits?” my eight-year-old son asked me last week. I just chuckled, shook my head and told him, “Not a thing, buddy. Not a thing.”

His question of course, was about the trappings of Easter. He’s seen them everywhere for weeks. When I picked up him and his older sister to spend the Spring Break with me, both of them were packing chocolate rabbits tall enough to reach their knees. Micaiah’s rabbit was already missing both ears.

I haven’t told him the full Easter story yet. I’d like to tell him today. At least to bring up what Easter is really about. I’m sure he’s old enough to handle the details. He can certainly handle the blood and killing part. He is a seasoned warrior on Call of Duty. I’m just not sure how to tell him about Jesus rising again from the dead without it sounding as crazy as an Easter Bunny who goes around handing out jelly beans and chocolate.

He knows that Christmas is really to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. His mother and I didn’t do “Santa” with him or his six older siblings. So, he’s never been told that Santa exists. He thinks that whole tradition is a big joke. But believe me, he gets just as excited as any Santa-believing kid does about getting Christmas presents!  He just knows they’re from me or his mom. He’s even bright enough not to spoil the Santa story for kids he’s friends with whose families do the Santa thing.

We don’t do the Easter Bunny either, so there’s no colored eggs in baskets when he wakes up this morning. This really isn’t a knock on families who do easter baskets. I think that’s a way to keep young kids interested in what really ought to be a special, memorable holiday. But I’m stumped about how to explain the true back story and meaning of Easter, and attempt to make any connection whatsoever with the pagan fertility symbols of eggs and rabbits. He is curious and analytical. He will want to know. The Easter cruft is much tougher to sell to a kid than the Christmas cruft. It’s a tough sell to me, and I’m nearly half-a-century old. With Santa, at least gift-giving goes with the story of the Magi and Jesus’ birth.  But truly, there is no “thread” I can conceive of to connect rabbits and eggs to the resurrection of the Messiah.

The only connection he might understand is seasonal. Easter occurs in Spring, when we celebrate new life. That’s cool, but to celebrate reproduction too? And, btw, just what does the fabrication and propagation of stories about a mythical bunny who goes around distributing colored eggs and candy in baskets of plastic grass have to do with a brutal execution and an empty tomb? I mean, who conspired to come up with this bs? I probably will leave out that stuff when I tell him today about the risen Lord.

Belief in the true story comes down to a revelation from God and simple faith. There is nothing in my experience that will help me to believe that someone can live again after he’s dead. I just believe. And I believe in spite of my experience or lack thereof. Neither is there anything my senses can deliver to me to assist my belief. Bunnies and eggs don’t help me believe in a resurrected Jesus. I believe in spite of chocolate and candy and every other thing that might distract me from the amazing truth that my Lord, my Savior, is alive!

Reading the passages again in the gospels I can see that there was a lot of fantastical stuff and a lot of unbelief surrounding the first Easter narrative. There are angels in sparkling clothes, a stone rolled away mysteriously from a tomb, grave clothes folded up by themselves where a body had been placed. There’s Jesus disguised as a gardener. There’s Jesus disguised as a stranger on the road. There’s Jesus materializing into a locked room. And then, in condescension and recognition of his follower’s dependency upon their senses, there’s Jesus stretching out his hands to Thomas telling him to put his finger in the holes.

Then he says, “Now, because you have seen do you believe? More blessed are they who have not seen and still believe.”

I am hoping and praying that my little boy will one day experience that blessedness of the un-seeing and come to know Jesus for himself, and that by faith he will experience the life-changing joy of His resurrection from the dead, and that he will experience the life of Jesus within himself.

I pray that he will know there’s more going on than meets the eyes or can be felt with fingertips or be tasted with the tip of his tongue…Even if sometimes the un-seen truth feels harder to believe in than egg-laying bunny rabbit myths.

Happy 25th Birthday, Rachel

Rachel PhotoShoot - 2

Today is Rachel’s 25th birthday. I have not seen her since Jordan was being released from the hospital with a broken leg in early May of last year. It was not a pretty scene. Since that meeting, there have been one or two ugly text exchanges. It is a broken relationship. Likely beyond repair. I hope not.

Still, on her birthday, I can remember her coming into the world at 409-B Wakefield in the upstairs corner bedroom of the townhouse her mother and I moved into when we got married in 1987. I remember being splashed full in the face with the amniotic fluid as she crowned and her head emerged from Jackie’s body. I can remember how hot she felt, and how red she looked, and I remember the way she smelled. And I remember how tremendously relieved and grateful to God I felt that she and her mother were safe and sound and alive.

Rachel was born on a Saturday. So, a few minutes after her birth, I drove around the corner to the beauty shop where Jackie rented a booth and cut hair to let them know she wouldn’t be in to keep her appointments. I parallel parked along Montford in front of the shop and when a complete stranger climbed out of the car behind me, I beamed and shared the news with him that I was a father, that my wife had just given birth at home to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. If I’d had a cigar, I certainly would have offered him one.

She was absolutely perfect, even when she looked at us sideways from her tiny eye slits. Her first nickname was “Sideglance”. Perhaps she never really trusted us, even from the beginning.

Early attempts at breast-feeding her proved futile. Both she and Jackie just couldn’t get the hang of it at first. To make sure she stayed hydrated and got some nutrition, Jackie pumped milk which I fed to her using a syringe and a tube run along the tip of my index finger. Her hard little gums would clamp my finger and when she sucked, the milk would flow through that tube. I stayed awake with her in my lap in the downstairs chair the whole first night of her life, changing her wet diapers and feeding her with that finger tube when she’d wake up hungry.

I was so proud of my little girl. And I loved her as hard and as well as any father has ever loved. As I write this with tears streaming down my cheeks, I’m still not sure what happened. I don’t even know when the train left the tracks. It’s heart wrenching and almost more than I can comprehend that something that began with such grace has become something so filled with hurt and bitterness.

There’s nothing clever to say in summation. Happy 25th Birthday, Rachel. I still love you, Daddy.




The Scale and The Pendulum, or Bad Libra

So, at the moment, it feels pretty much like I am giving free rein to the “serendipity” half of the equation in my life. Since I am also engaged in high school algebra (helping my oldest son who is in the 9th grade), it occurs to me that whatever I add to one half of my “serendipitymastery” equation, I must also add to the other side to keep it balanced. In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, I am a Libra. The significance of this is only that the Libra “sign” is a set of scales. LOL! I am a BAD Libra! I don’t balance well. Not to say that I’m imbalanced in general, but in life, the day to day kind, I’m just not balanced on a daily meter.

That is likely true for most people. We function much more like the swing of a pendulum. We all vacillate between extremes. Granted, they are subjective, personal, individualistic, and therefore relative, extremes, but extremes none-the-less. I am reminded of a phrase Mal Reynolds used in the television series Firefly, “out here on the raggedy edge.” In the series, which is one of my all-time favorites, but being a strange brew of science fiction and spaghetti western, when the fearless leader Mal said it, he was usually referring to their current physical environs. It was synonymous with, “out here in no man’s land”, or, “out on the edge of the known mapped region of space”. But I like the simplified, “raggedy edge”. That is where I live internally. I’m usually near the raggedy edge of the pendulum swing of my Bad Libra’s scale. I live pretty near to one extreme of “happy-go-lucky”, “take it as you find it”, “fly by the seat of my pants” Serendipity, or the focused, driven, “conquer this right now!” mindset of my obsessive Mastery alter-ego.

An example is my recent discovery of Hazel for Mac. Hazel is a cool, no, wicked cool, app that runs as a system preference in the OS X operating system. You can find it at www.noodlesoft.com/hazel.php. I forget exactly what manner of mental foraging I was engaged in when I stumbled upon it, but once i read about its cool ass capabilities, I had to install it on my system. (The pendulum had reached the raggedy edge of Serendipity and was about to swing wildly in the direction of Mastery’s raggedy edge.) Go ahead, intrepid Mac geek, get you some! They offer a free 14 day trial. What are you waiting for?

Hazel monitors a folder in your file system and then performs actions on the files it contains or that show up there. It comes loaded with some example folder/action pairs to try out. An obvious folder is the Downloads folder where all the cruft that you and I download from the world wide web (Serendipity Nirvana) gets dumped. This folder of digital shit is like my house. Stuff just accumulates there and gets left where it sits. Enter Hazel. This app can sort all the files by type (and even create sub-folders of that type), delete the files that have been there for an amount of time I determine, move the files to appropriate other folders, etc.. Very cool indeed! But wait, that’s not all…

While grokking out on all of its basic functionality, I started looking at all of the links on the Noodlesoft “Buzz” web page (www.noodlesoft/buzz.php)  for ideas and examples of what other geek types were doing with Hazel. I found an amazing, though not exactly cheap, video tutorial by a guy with a great German accent named Andreas Zeitel. If you’re interested you can find the tutorial here: www.macosxscreencasts.com/tutorial/hazel-tutorial. Anyways, midways thru the tutorial, Andreas has shown an example action that Hazel can perform which invokes an imbedded AppleScript to grab any file with file extension .PDF living in a folder called toEvernote and auto-magically opens the Evernote desktop app and send said file to Evernote as a new note. Cool, eh? I had to do that of course because by now, I’ve…just…got …to …tackle …all…Hazel…can…possibly…do!

I’m engrossed. No, addicted! I’m like the guy that has had a jones for coke for a month and then when he finds some he can’t possibly spread it out over say, a weekend, rather, he snorts all of it, ALL of it by the end of the first damn night.

At the end of Andreas’ tutorial, he gives an example of how one can set up Hazel to automatically open web pages you’ve been browsing on your iOS device. That way, when you get home to your mothership Mac, it will be displaying the very web page(s) your were browsing while your significant other was in the dressing room at Marshalls.

It involves Dropbox (www.dropbox.com/home), and creating a “Send to Dropbox” account (https://sendtodropbox.com), and creating a new user in your AddressBook with that handle so you can email files with web page URLs to a new folder created in your Dropbox account, and finally, a wicked cool, imbedded ruby script.

Keep up with me, now. I’m comfortable with Unix. I can write some basic shell scripts. The word “metadata” doesn’t scare me. I can even bullshit my way around a conversation involving Apache, or Postgresql, or php. I’ve installed Ruby and Rails on my system, but I’m not that guy that just uses ruby every day like typing a text message. And this damn action in Hazel using the ruby script just won’t work! I’m stymied. Do I give up? Do I count my blessings? Do I thank the coding gods out there who have created such Hazel and Dropbox goodness for me to enjoy? NO! Hell to the NO! I have to FIX it!

I get so engrossed on something at the raggedy edge of Mastery (I have to keep calling it that to avoid the obvious truth that really I have major OCD tendencies) that I even dream about whatever it is I’m captivated by. So yes, I dreamed of Hazel, and /usr/bin/ruby, and folder actions, until the next morning I woke up and just emailed Andreas Zeitel to tell him how much I’d enjoyed his video tutorial and how much I’d learned, but there was the one little, bitsy problem with my ruby script, and if he would be so kind, and if he had the time, could he possibly take…a…look?

I’ll be damned. Andreas is good people! He sent two different replies detailing possible problems with my script. One involved ruby’s reluctance, er, refusal to recognize “smart quotes” in any script. When that didn’t work, he just sent me a link to a page where I could just freaking copy and paste that mother of a script into my own little Hazel action world. Joy! It all worked! And it was the seventh day, and I could rest from my labors. Ha!

On to the next discovery…the pendulum is swinging back.