Sunlight

Man, it’s bright today… blindingly bright. With all the snow on the ground, reflecting the sun, it’s ridiculous how much light there is out there today.

I got up today and thought, “look how nice it is out there! Maybe I ought to open the blinds and let in some of that glorious sunlight. Upon doing so, I was immediately aware of how dirty my house is.

Ever notice that? Sunlight exposes things that you wish you never saw. Suddenly I’m aware of cat hair on the couches; tiny dust particles floating in the room that I’m now certain that I’m breathing in; every speck on a glass surface is now glowing.

As I sat, staring at this phenomena, marveling at how incredible the sunlight is, three thoughts came to mind:

1.) No matter how much man tries to reproduce the power and potency of the sun, we will never be able to come close to reproducing its effects. Every feeble attempt merely illustrates how woefully inadequate and pathetic we are. Our efforts will always pale in comparison. This humbling experience slightly resembles our existence to God’s.

2.) Every speck of dust, no matter how small, not only is visible, but shines in the glory of the sun… but the sunlight is constantly moving across the room. Even as I sit here writing, it’s now in a completely different part of the room. Only those things that are within the center of the light shine. As the light moves, whatever doesn’t move with it or is left outside of its path is no longer visible and returns to insignificance.

3.) I’m disgusted with the condition of my surroundings when I let the light in. My first inclination is to shut out the light and remain in darkness so I don’t have to see the filth around me. I didn’t see it before and I was comfortable with that, but now that I’m aware of it, can I really shut out the light and pretend that it doesn’t exist? The light makes me uncomfortable and aware of things that I now either have to deal with or continually lie to myself in an attempt to convince myself they don’t exist or that there’s nothing wrong with it. I suppose the third option might be to run from the light, seeking another room that doesn’t look as dirty and just spend time there, living my life avoiding places where light is present.
Focusing on my third thought, I’m now saddled with a choice: do I shut it out and continue my life as I see fit or do I make the decision to accept the light and the things it has revealed as well as the responsibility to do something about it?

Now, in all fairness, it should be said that Natalie always keeps the house in marvelous shape and that the couches were JUST vacuumed a day ago and the house dusted.  In fact, I could wash down the table right now and the sun would still show that it was dusty.  Does that mean that I would not bother trying?  I think Paul responds to that question best in Romans 6 when he says, “by no means!”

But for real… I gotta wipe this thing down.

Fire up the FTL

My family really enjoys the Sci-Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica series. Every week, we eagerly check the ReplayTV lineup to see if a new episode has been recorded. We love the action, we love the story, we love the robots and the shooting and the edge-of-your-seat suspense. Everything is just so well-done in the series.

Like any science fiction show, Battlestar assumes you have some prior knowledge about science fiction. They assume you’ve seen Star Wars and Star Trek and know about light-speed. They assume you know about artificial intelligence in robots and cybornetic beings. They assume you know something about weaponry and the effect it has in outer space or on the human physiology.

Battlestar is no exception. They use a technology called “jumping,” which has something to do with “firing up the FTL drives” which enables their ships to create and hop through worm-holes in space (another assumed element of science fiction).

The first couple of times I heard the term “FTL drive” it took my brain a moment or two to figure out what they were talking about. While I love science fiction, I’m not such an avid fanboy that those kinds of terms automatically register. I actually have to figure them out. Today I realized that I was mistaken in my assumption of what FTL stood for.

Sometimes things come to you at the most odd times. As I was sittin’ on the pot, pinchin’ one off, I noticed the elastic band around my ankles with three little letters printed all around it …and it suddenly came to me: “Fire up the Fruit of the Loom drive.” THAT’S what they’ve been talking about all this time. I should have known.

Can we just talk?

The other day, my wife and I were in the car on our way to the movie theater to watch some flash-in-the-pan flick for our date-night. I was closing up some business on my phone as we drove down the road and reached over to start up some tunes on my iPod.

Not too long afterward, I noticed Natalie’s face looked a little sour as she spoke up and asked, “can’t we just talk?”

Not unlike an Indiana Jones moment, I turned off the music and said, “ok, sure… what do you want to talk about?”

After a long pause, she said in a disappointed voice, “I can’t think of anything.”

Fortunately, I had enough wit about me to know better than to turn the music back on, as we rode in silence to the theater… but it brought to mind the difference in how I spend time with my male friends vs how I spend time with my wife and how I observe that she spends time with her friends.

This is not the first time my wife has asked me to turn off the [electrical device] and spend some time talking with her, only to find that she has nothing to say; simply that she wanted to plug in and spend some quality time together.

Now, take a step back and let’s look at how men and women spend time together differently:

I’m going to my friend’s house for a visit. It’s embarrassing to say, “going over to play,” but in reality, that’s really what it is. I’ve got my Xbox in a bag or maybe my laptop with me… if we’re really planning to have some fun, I’m packin’ both. I get there, we greet one another, maybe grab a quick drink and within minutes, we’re hooked up and shooting at each other on his TV, giggling and yelling at the screen. That goes on for maybe four hours or more. When I leave, we feel connected and excited to see one another again.

Now, observe the women: she goes to a friend’s house for a visit. Now, unless I come with, you can be pretty sure there will be little or no “playing” involved. It’s going to be the kind of visit that I, as a kid, used to run to my room to hide from. People, sitting in the living room, drinking coffee and talking.

Ever see a cross-over? Good times. Put a man in the middle of women talking. I’ve been there. I can adapt, but it feels slow… there’s nothing to fix, nothing to analyze and sarcastic humor is most likely unwelcome.

Put a woman in the middle of men playing a game. She can most likely adapt as well, but for her, it feels… male. Yelling, loud laughter, jumping around, animated gestures and probably swearing. Put her in the middle of men talking and she’ll probably be bored to tears by all of the details. We’re fixing and analyzing problems in a flurry of solutions and suggestions.

Of course there are exceptions to all of these. My sister is one of them. Frequently, you’ll find her with the men, telling them how to refill their headlamp fluid and elbow grease… and every so often, you’ll find me running away from sports-talk with the men, in the kitchen with the women talking about color palettes or discussing theology. It’s rare, but it happens… especially if the men start talking sports.

All that to say this: I’ve observed that our culture continually moves away from community and revolves around self. Men tend to be the ones who are quick to embrace this shift in culture. Think about what’s popular: cell phones, iPods, video games, movies, SUV’s, laptops… it seems that the smaller the gadget and the more it requires you to disconnect from community, the more popular it is. SUV’s are the exception. They’re BIG… and getting bigger. I usually see them on the road with one person in them, if I can even see the person at all through the tinted windows. Even my little VW has tinted windows. So I guess, what we’re saying is, “if I have to be out, I want to be alone and I don’t want to be seen.”

Taking a step back to just observe, it doesn’t seem like that’s what God had in mind when He made people. We’re made for relationship; with Him and with one another. That’s our purpose. Of course, I say all of this with a bluetooth headset plugged directly into my skull so I can quickly disconnect from whomever I’m with as quickly and conveniently as possible, making myself available to anyone else except the person who is with me and wants my attention the most, namely my wife and my family… hang on one sec… it’s ringing… I have to take this.

I’ve gotta go. I have a 12:30. Maybe we can pick this up later.

The dust settles

Happy New Year!  So, now that the holidays are finally over, the decorations are pretty much put away, visiting family is over, we’re all about 15 lbs heavier, our wallets are thinner and we’ve just about caught back up on all the sleep we’ve lost from traveling and staying up late, how have you all recovered and what kind of cool loot did y’all get?

I got an electric piano, a video iPod and some really nice sets of cuff-links, along with various articles of clothing and fun little toys, including a Dwight bobble-head from “The Office” and a cape-wearing Curious George that screams when you fling him across the room.

Leave comments and let me know how your holiday went and what kind of fun toys y’all got.