Freedom from Information Act

Information age. We’re in it. There’s still writing on the wall, many walls to be exact. We have real news, fake news, and real fake news. 2016 was full of it, and many chimed in to spin it to be in it.

I want out. Where’s the sand in which I can stick my head? Where is the place I can be informed, but not over-informed, spun to death as it were. Even my thoughts here are on this little platform are waiting to be picked up by a passing tech-train to the cyber-out-there.

I recently read a blog about using social media in a positive encouraging way. I get it, and I want you to come away with lighter hearts and a more encouraged outlook. I have to face it though, Facebook gets the better of me sometimes. I made a not-so-smart move and picked up my smart phone in the middle of a conversation. I thought Facebook had more to say than the person sitting across from me. What a putz.

If information pulls us away from a “now” moment, a connection in real time, then let us lay down our arms, turn the volume off, flip our phones over, and see the other. Simple.

At times we need to initiate the Freedom from Information Act and form a more perfect union with those in front of our actual faces.

#preachingtomeself

Stop. Put your screens down, and back away slowly. Happy Newer Year!

Army Men.

Attention.

Gerald the Writer

Ever since Christmas I’ve been playing with army men. On a whim, one of my daughters gave me a bag of them, and they are positioned all over my office. There is one duct-taped to the dash of my delivery truck too. Although they represent the ugly facts of war or protecting peace, I love my little green men. Yes, I am a grown man with green men. You gotta a problem with that? Actually I wondered if this fetish is problematic for this civilian who has always maintained his civility.

Maybe I am reverting back to my boyish ways. My older brother let me tag along to a backyard battlefield meticulously staged with army men, tanks, pill boxes, bridges, camouflage, foxholes, and little jeeps on top of mounds. Colonels stood calling in air strikes on fixed coordinates as they gripped their binoculars with one hand. What took probably hours…

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A Christmas Card From Above: In Cursive

And feeling her absence again, but with a smile.

Gerald the Writer

She Scotch-taped them as they arrived.

The threshold couldn’t hold them all.

Between the living room and kitchen

the Christmas cards hung open like parted lips.

Postal employees carried double heavy loads then.

Stamps were less than a dime

and tongues licked each one.

They arrived all through December.

To me it was like any collectors dream.

I used to collect beer and pop bottle caps

and keep them in an old Maxwell house coffee tin.

On occasion they fell out and stood in ordered battalions.

The cards lined up too and I thought

my mother was a curator of sorts.

She put them up for display

and passersby would thumb them open.

Beyond the Currier and Ives images,

beyond the glittered Santa beards,

beyond the bright star over the Savior

were cursive words at the bottom inside.

Greetings from around town and around the country,

hand written in indelible…

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What Dreams May Come

I know I’m in the thick of it now…Tuesday, just before I woke, I dreamt an avalanche of parcels knocked me off my feet and buried me alive. I had a ring of sweat around my neck, and I was breathing heavily. I sat on the edge of my bed staring at the pile of Target, Amazon, and Kohl’s packages that began their takeover of the alcove of our bedroom. For a few anxious minutes I couldn’t tell what was real. Was I awake?

This past Tuesday was bookended with humbling, hilarious (In hindsight), and painful circumstances.

When walking to my van for work, I hit a patch of ice, and fell flat-backed on the concrete, sending my lunch bucket flying. Then I heard the contents splay on the driveway like a drumroll. I looked over and saw the equivalent of a bag-lady’s purse. You see, I carry no lunch in the bucket, just odd junk-drawer stuffs. Maybe a book. A brush. Lip balm. Keys. A thousand delivery notices with equal portions of pens. Toothbrush. Receipts. Wallet. Eyeliner. Not a stitch of food, unless cough drops count. I managed to peel myself off the ground and scoop the stuff back into my trash-can of a lunch pail.

I won’t mention the patch of ice was from a missing downspout from the corner of my garage. It sits leaning on the inside corner of my garage waiting to be reattached. The bent tube has been waiting since spring winds amputated it from its so-called fixed position.

That was the beginning of the day…

Fast forward to Eight O Dark. On one of my last rounds (It was like a boxing match you know), I stacked the seven parcels of odd sizes in a Jenga-type tower just outside my package car on the pavement.

Do you remember, when a child, you noticed the old men cinch up their trousers before sitting down? I never understood why they did that, unless argyle socks are something to show off. When playing on the living room floor I saw colorful socks with a pinch of hairy leg attached, and thought the view from the knees down was a world of its own.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah…

My pants were sagging a bit. Not low enough to expose anything or force a duck-waddle gait. Just hanging around, you know. The packages stood like a skyline under the streetlight. I crouched down to gather the load. That’s when I heard it. It echoed around the silent night, holy night. It seemed the seams gave way as I went low like a Sumo wrestler. If it were a scene in a movie, I could see the camera panning back and back and back as the riiiiiiiiip reverbed out into the universe.

Dramatic pause. Really. I just kinda froze for a moment, and tried to recall the made up curse words of the dad in A Christmas Story. Darn. As the cool air affirmed my demise I acquiesced to the rending of my garment. I sighed, then lifted, and hoofed the load to the doorstep. I rang the bell in a sprinters stance.

That was Tuesday, woken by a dream, and humbled by circumstance. Two more full weeks to go. Never dull. Never dull.

>We Waited(Christmas memories)

This is one way of taking heart during this crazy season as a UPS delivery person.

Gerald the Writer

>

It was at the dead end of a street.  It was a small house jammed with ten kids.  My mom could barely lace up the shoe.  Yet she worked hard to make this time of year special.  My wife has a tinge of sadness when I tell her we would get clothes for Christmas and one toy.  I keep forgetting to tell her the other stuff.
Like the mistletoe hung over archway right under the plaster “Last Supper”. 
Like the strung popcorn and cranberries that twirled around the tinsel strewn tree.
Like new fireman pajamas.
Like the hand knit stockings with a jingle bell dangling in the middle…twelve of them strung across the sun porch windows…each one with a knitted name. 
Like the smell of mince meat pie.
Like the early years heading off to midnight mass.
Like hot cocoa made from real whole milk and sugar and cocoa…

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The Skylight is Falling, The Skylight is Falling.

There’s a hole in our roof. More like an aperture. In the middle of our kitchen is a skylight…an upside down crater in the ceiling. The window has fallen into disrepair, and every time I look up I see not only natural light, but mold, bubbled paint, and another opportunity to procrastinate.

So, last night, after a long and arduous day helping the heavy-set, white haired, red dressed icon from the north, I went “up on the roof” (Do you hear the song in your head? Youtube the Drifters.)

There is a big difference between channeled light and being out in the light. I was no longer simply looking through the skylight, but under the great big sky. The sun had run off to illumine another side of the earth, and I stood above the skylight and cricked my neck. I heard the melancholy moan of a train, and a drone of a plane. Clouds sporadically tip-toed by. Stars twinked at me in the gaps.

I sat for a moment.

“When this old world starts a getting you down…” (Cue the Drifters)

Well, yes and no. If the newsfeed spoon-feeds my anxious thoughts, rather than summons compassion and prayers, I get more “down.”  Just what are we to do with all this inflowmation? Then I thought of the skylight.

God is in charge of the satellite-skies as Mark Heard describes them. The square of sunshine graced to us is our piece of presence. Our little light, you know, the one that we’re gonna shine, is like the holey roof, the aperture which God’s great light can focus on a dark portion of this world.

Is there a possibility we all might be skylights? Sure, many, like mine, are in need of some repair, but hey, light still shines through. It shines in place, my place in the world.

“I am the light of the world.” Jesus

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me today to be a little light in the dark places. Shine through me. Amen

By the way, the skylight is not falling, it is filling. Filling you to spill light on your place in the world.

An Open Letter to Thanksgiving

Dear Thanksgiving,

I fell asleep on a bed of tryptophan on your night of nights. When I pulled open my eyelids Friday morn I felt numb. Then my heart reminded me the beat must go on. I remembered that stuffed house on Douglas Avenue and the menagerie of people packed and mulling around and was thankful. Now we are separated by space and time again and was wondering if you can keep us from spinning too far from one another.

Would it be okay…I mean do you have room to visit us in our separations? Would you nudge us now and again to find grateful hearts in the midst of the noise and movement of our lives. Remind us to say our prayers for one another in thankfulness. Remind us of the difference each person makes. Humble us to lay down our agendas often and honor the creatures that bear the image of God.

Help us not to react and shout and gripe about the great big world out there and be content in our own little spheres. Help us appreciate each other in palpable ways. Help us to not demand to be seen so much but to see others.

Come again next year. It was good to see you big T. Stay in touch until then.

Gratefully yours,

Gerald