when telling a story, establishing the setting is essential. although i often forget the content or 'message' of a story, i can always remember details about the setting. for instance, i can still see the immense, riverbed rocks that Henri collected for the abbey of genesee's new chapel. likewise i can see the misshapen roof in ted cole's squash court and can hear the wind rustling through the corn fields that framed the ball fields of the iowa baseball confederacy. all of this to say that i love our current setting. if you'll indulge me for a moment, i would like to share a few things i love about our setting.
i love living in the little, unfinished condo at the top of the hill that is judson street. i love that i cannot look around the house without seeing the handiwork of the defranza's and my father. i love that when i look out my screen door i see the ancient brick of the majestic, marquee laden cabot cinema. i love that most of my friends live within walking distance (i also love making fun of my friends when they are too lazy to walk).
i love that when a plane touches down at logan international, i feel like i'm at home. if i land at any other airport, including manchester, new hampshire but excluding tulsa, ok, i do not feel as comfortable, nor exhale a sigh of relief. there is nothing better than landing at logan in the summer. coming over the harbor, which is accented by little white sails, looking over at our unique clock tower and the pru, straining to catch a glimpse of the citgo sign...there's nothing like it.
i love that massachusetts is a book lover's paradise. from the palatial boston public library, which has a reading room that takes your breath away, to the independent booksellers like jabberwocky's in newburyport, the boston area does books right.
i love the gravity and solemnity that characterizes the new england shoreline. our beaches are the perfect setting for long walks, writing poor, melancholic poetry and engaging in trenchant, uncensored prayer. even on the hottest summer days you don't get the dirty, MTV spring break feeling when you go to the beach. there are no hordes of multi-colored beach balls, drunken, half-naked coeds of half-hearted volleyball games to be seen. our beaches are too serene, and almost too serious, to invite such trifling pursuits
i love that i live in the best baseball town in america. i'm a cardinal fan, so for a long time that truth was hard to admit, but there is nothing like following the red sox in the boston area. for instance, these fans are so passionate that while they're uncontrollably ecstatic about the sox vanquishing the yankees (which prompted a gentle edict from our management, reminding us that work is a good thing), they're still level-headed enough to realize that after the seventh-inning pedro debacle francona should be fired. i've never been surrounded by more intelligent, passionate and critical baseball fans in my life. i absolutely love it!
i am beginning to realize that if i did not live in this setting, i might have trouble understanding who i am. that's enough romantic sentiment for now. ignoring work because of blogging will not be taken as lightly as ignoring it on account of the sox.
"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
"someone has a case of the mondays”…my first running diary
9:28pm—the red sox are fighting for their lives in the tenth inning. the cardinals are knotted at zero in the fifth and most important game of the nlcs. wilco’s "i am trying to break your heart is running through my head." and tonight i inherited a demon possessed cat. i think i’m going to throw up.
9:33pm—the red sox just squandered another scoring opportunity. the longer they go without closing the deal the less likely they are to score. trust me, dude. i know from experience.
the cat, which is named pounces (a rather unfortunate name), attacks everything that moves. the latter include fingers on the keyboard, images on the television and, especially, kellie.
9:36—have they ever had a caucasian model for those dancing i-pod commercials? yeah, i didn’t think so. so why is u2 performing on the new ads? did they suddenly get some street cred?
9:42pm—did I mention that the cat has fleas? did i mention that i hate cats? did i say that the cat was as possessed as a neighborhood church in a peretti novel? not good times.
9:54pm—the cat just cut the yarn that was attached to the jingle ball that kellie bought him at the store. the little yarn and ball device has kept him occupied for 15 minutes. but no longer. he has already attacked the keyboard twice and my bowl of peanut shells once. that little bastard.
the red sox are still holding on, but with every passing inning, well, you don’t need me to tell you what I think will happen. suffice it to say that wakefield is warming up in the pen.
the cardinals have yet to get a baserunner and i am typing with one hand while fending off a demon with the other. even rick types faster than this…
10:09pm—-i just tried to imprison the cat in a laundry basket, but had no such luck. little bastard.
10:15pm—alex just got home and was subsequently attacked. screw "pounce." the cat’s new name is bastard. the cat is now officially imprisoned.
10:30—2 on, 2 out, pujols at bat. and he pops out. insert curse word here: .
that carmen electra/gym coach commercial would be a lot more horrifying if the hybrid wo-man didn’t look like one of my ex-girlfriends. of course, the latter was less attractive.
10:34pm—-pujols just made a spectacular play on beltran. consider the sin atoned for.
10:40pm—the cardinals are still knotted at zero and the sox are still playing, 5.5 hours after their official start. will someone tell me why I’m not drinking?
10:54—two out, two on, Ortiz at bat. could he possibly do it two nights in a row? holy shit! the sox are headed back to new york!
in the midst of our celebration, the bastard bit alex.
11:25pm—trying to break my heart indeed. time to put the bastard in his cage and try to get a little sleep.
this past weekend, i began to realize that the 'second generation' of sinners and saints has a perspective on the christian journey that is quite distinct from that of the first generation. the former has very little christian background. thus, they do not have to struggle to extricate 'the gospel' from the encrusted fossil bed of christian culture. they never encountered 'the gospel glove,' wet their bed after watching an end-times movie or felt the need to testify to their faith in three-minutes or less. for this reason, when the first generation excitedly discusses the beauty, goodness and truth we have discovered as we've learned to live the gospel in community, the second generation either looks at us with blank stares, or, as was the case on saturday morning, falls asleep. they were not presented with the gospel as a principle, nor have they ever been lead down the romans road. hence, the gospel has always been as much a lived experience for them as it has been a theological truth.
moreover, the second generation never grew up attending weekly 'worship services,' looking forward to dawson mcallister conferences or spinning 'passion' cds in their discmans. thus, while the first generation looks forward to the possibility of large group worship settings in which we can belt out erotic worship tunes like 'hungry' and connect with other groups of believers, the second generation couldn't care less about the lack of large group settings. for instance, last night, mikey, who is one of our newer members went with us to a joint worship service in salem. the church that hosted the evening is a quirky little emergent group known as 'the gathering.' since they come out of the charismatic tradition, it was not surprising that the beating heart of the service was musical worship. as the rest of us sang the heart of worship, vineyard standbys such as find me in the river and even a campfire tune or two, mikey couldn't sit still. one moment he was going next door to get coffee, the next he was pacing in the back of the room and, somewhere in the midst, he also found the time to field a phone call or two. at first i was a little annoyed by mikey's behavior (especially by his lack of cell phone etiquette, a topic that deserves full treatment in any postmodern catechism), but, after thinking about it for a bit, i realized that he simply doesn't connect with this style of worship. mikey doesn't know the songs in the evangelical cannon, is more accustomed to interactive than passive worship and simply wasn't designed to sit still. as a result, the actual 'service' did little for him. that isn't to say that mikey didn't worship. he took full advantage when the floor was open, went out of his way to spend what little money he had to buy a fellow worshipper a cup of decaf coffee and engaged in lengthy discussions both before and after. however, i don't think mikey will be itching to buy tickets to the sixth 'one-day' conference anytime soon.
all of this to say that i am so thankful that God is moving the church in new directions. although alex never shook the gospel glove, he is one of the most vibrant, engaging disciples i have ever met. he rarely speaks openly about his faith, but co-workers and friends are asking him if they can come to church. moreover, while mikey has never prayed the sinners prayer and has a pentagram tatooed on his shoulder, he told me last night that he is 'leaning' towards following Christ more than he follows wicca.
in this moment i realize that his mercies are indeed new every morning. now, if you'll excuse me, i have some marketing to do.
i am a thirtysomething worker bee who hails from massachusetts. by day i find jobs for individuals with significant disabilities and by night i spend time with my pixie-like wife and share life with my friends at the gathering in salem. my deepest passions are following Jesus Christ, extending God's compassion to the poor and obsessing about the Saint Louis Cardinals.