Commercial flying can be a real adventure. Like the day I booked a last-minute flight to the Northwest to support some Native American friends of ours who had just lost their young son. I was supposed to fly into Spokane, Washington, but fog shut it down and we were diverted to another airport for the night. So, the airline put us up in a hotel overnight and promised us they would do their best to get us to Spokane the next morning. I knew if I didn't get to the reservation that next day, I would have missed what I was going for. I really needed the real scoop on whether or not our plane was going to get into Spokane.
Sometimes you'll hear someone called a "Renaissance man." That means he's a man of many interests, and gifts and pursuits, and skilled in many areas. Now, if there is such a thing as a "Renaissance boy," well, I used to like to think our grandson was one. Interested in a lot of things - and he was pretty good at a lot of them. To round out the other areas of his life, he got involved in a soccer league for kids his age. Which would make his mother a "soccer mom," I guess. Which means everybody wants her vote. Right, in elections? Well, our grandson didn't have the benefit of having an older sibling to learn from as some of the other members of his little team did. The soccer learning curve for him was a little steep, but he was doing well. But something really special happened in one of the last games of the season. The team's two little stars came late - players who the others tend to lean on. But they weren't there to lean on. Well, now it was clearly up to kids who were usually in the shadow of those stars, including our favorite soccer player who really stepped up. Suddenly, he was more focused, more aggressive than we'd seen him all season. And right away he scored two goals for his team. Oh, and of course, they won that night.
Okay, here is one of my un-favorite sentences: "I guess we have to go to the emergency room!" Well, I mean, I'm glad the emergency room is there, but I hate to go there. I remember one time our son had a mild stomach disorder and we knew it had to be checked out. Well, we went late at night when it really gets really busy. I guess it was rush hour for sure that day when we were there. We'd already waited for a while and finally they noticed us. They began to give some attention to our son, and then suddenly all the doctors and nurses vanished. I'll tell you why. There was a word that had been sounded across that emergency room - "STAT" - and everybody came running to an accident victim. It was a severe situation. It was life-or-death. Stat means it's time to drop everything.
They keep it under glass that seals out any air getting to it. And when it's not on display, it's kept underground in a vault - actually a bomb proof vault. It's the most important document in the history of the United States. Yep, the Declaration of Independence.
The men who signed it on that hot July 4th in Philadelphia knew it was very important, but I wonder if they could have possibly conceived what a sacred piece of paper it would become to the nation that it birthed. Here were subjects of the English king, daring to declare their independence from their king. It changed their lives forever. It changed the world forever. And once a year, every Fourth of July, America stops to remember that Independence Day.
My friend Ted was a high school football player - actually he was the starting center. But the game he remembers most is the one he didn't play in. All season, the second string center, Billy, hadn't played much. Well, actually he hadn't played very well. Until the day that Billy came to the coach and said, "Coach, I know you haven't felt I was good enough to start all season, but I want to ask you to start me this one game. Please. It means a lot, and I'm just asking for a chance." The coach agreed and Billy amazed not only his coach, but his teammates and his hometown fans. He played incredible game. No one had ever seen anything close to this kind of performance or ability from him. Needless to say, immediately after the game, the coach said, "Billy, what in the world happened? I didn't know you had it in you!" Billy's explanation was something the coach and my friend would never forget. He said, "My dad died last night, Coach. And he was blind, but not now. Tonight was the first time my father could see me play!"
Our daughter-in-law got our then-baby granddaughter off to a great start - every day. In fact, if you're in any way related to one of Snow White's seven dwarfs (Grumpy, in particular) or even negative old Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, this baby girl could have helped you. Each morning her mother would sit our little darling in her lap and say, "Honey, 'This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.'" After which she raised the baby's hands above her head and shook them as Mama said, "Ya-a-a-ay!" It was so cute. But what about that day when this little girl was throwing up about every fifteen minutes? That actually happened once when they were visiting us. It was so sad to watch it. I mean she had this troubled look on this little face, followed by a fountain of gross stuff erupting from her little mouth. Mom said, "Honey, even this day is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." And before Mom could grab baby's hands, this time she raised one hand all by herself as Mommy said, "Ya-a-a-ay!"
Shades of the '60s: angry, discontented young people, occupying public places, trying to call attention to their cause. We've seen that before and we're seeing it a lot these days.
The '60s demonstrations were about a war, and they turned more violent. Then there were the 2011 crowds. They were occupying high-profile public areas like Wall Street, for example, around the world, with a different cause - they were claiming their protest was about jobs, and corporate greed, concentrated wealth, economic injustice.
When World War II began, almost every American's life changed, including my dad's. He couldn't fight because of a medical problem, and he was working at that time in a plant that had been making some kind of industrial product. And suddenly almost overnight it was converted into a defense plant. They stopped making whatever little things they had been making, and they started to make airplane parts. Well, it was obvious what was happening. It was a war, and that plant had to be used to help win the war. During that time, not that I remember it personally (let me make that clear), people made sacrifices of gasoline, and food, and rubber tires, and money. Why? Well, because you know that everything is needed to fight the war. It was then and it still is.
I was more of a Superman and Batman fan. I never really got into Spider-Man. But when the blockbuster Spider-Man movie came out, the first one, a lot of people did get into Spider-Man. And you know what? There have been a couple more movies since then, they've got more than a couple now. I'm still not tremendously interested in this web-spinning, skyscraper-climbing, crime-fighting guy in the spider suit, but I am interested in something he said in the first movie about him. Peter Parker, yeah you probably know this as the bookish teenager who gets bitten by a radioactive spider one day. (You never know when that's going to happen to you.) And he begins to discover that he has suddenly developed some amazing spiderish capabilities. (All right, look, I'm reporting the story, I didn't write it. Okay?) Now, it dawns on him that he can't just use these abilities for himself. He has to use them to make a difference. Here's the great line. Here's what he says. I like it: "For me, living an ordinary life is no longer an option." Oh, that's good!
I have to admit that my wife and I were a little naïve sometimes in the months right after we were married. It was obvious the day this fast-talking vacuum cleaner salesman showed up at our apartment door. He showed us this high-powered machine that did everything but the laundry. He lured us with impressive demonstrations, he offered us an easy payment plan, and a deal (of course) that we had to act on immediately. Well, Mr. Newlywed here eagerly signed on the line. "All right! Hey, I am the proud owner of a high-tech vacuum cleaner! About five times more vacuum cleaner than our apartment could possibly need!" By the next day, I wanted out, but guess what? I couldn't back out then. In my enthusiasm, I had simply left out the most important ingredient in the decision.