Saturday, November 15, 2008

Micky's, Burgers, and Hawkeye Basketball

I had a date last night with my favorite Hawk fan, my 10-year-old son, John. It was the home-opener for the Iowa men's basketball team and I decided we should go.

He's pretty proud of the fact that every Iowa game he's attended, football or basketball, the team has won. He considers it his personal responsibility to provide his good luck and charm to the game. And, he is pretty charming.

As important as the game, is the pre-game tradition of going to Micky's Irish Pub in Iowa City. I'm old enough now that my college hang-out has a children's menu. Maybe they always did and I was just never there early enough for kids? It is a little surreal to be having burgers with my ten-year-old son in a place with entirely different memories. I do like it though.

We carry on the tradition set out by Grandpa Phil, putting a hex on the other team's players as they stand at the free-throw line. I can hear him cackling when the ball chunks off the rim and doesn't make it. I can hear him sing along to "On Iowa" and announcing on fall Saturday mornings that it's "GAME DAY!" He and Johnny would have a lot of fun together. And somewhere in whatever his heaven may be, he is enjoying this next generation of Hawk fan.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Two are better than one...for if they fall, one will lift up the other." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

This past week, I have been privileged to be a part of a series of events honoring and remembering our nation's veterans, particularly our veterans of World War II.

Over the year, I have been a part of Grinnell's Community Education Council that took on the idea of commemorating our WWII veterans this year. I was not a part of the task force that did the heavy lifting for the planning of this week of activities, but attended the activities as I could.

It was a humbling and emotional experience.

On Tuesday, another woman on the council who is a contemporary of mine and I pinned small red, white, and blue ribbons on any veteran who came to the community's annual Veteran's Day Ceremony. A small group of the high school band played patriotic music and marches as people filed in. Neither of us were prepared for the rush of emotions we felt simply asking men and women if they were veterans. To be honest, it was all I could do to choke out the question. And they were so proud of this small little token that they thanked me. They thanked me, when the whole purpose was to thank them.

One veteran in particular looked to be fifty-something. He wasn't expecting me to ask him if he was a veteran and I offered to pin the ribbon on his sweatshirt that read, "United States Marine Corps." He smiled broadly, and said he was. There was a sense that he might not have felt that kind of gratitude for what he had done before.

After the ceremony was over, and I was one of the last few out the door, the veteran was standing outside the building in the rain. And he made a point of thanking me again for what I had done for him. I said, "No, thank you for what you have done for me."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

On Friendship

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the human spirit." - Albert Schweitzer

I am so fortunate to have people like this in my life. They may or may not be the people I encounter in my daily life. They may or may not be people I know. I've been inspired by the stories of those who meet incredible challenges and help me to put my own into perspective. Or they are those individuals that beat the odds to achieve a dream.

There are those people who know me well, who sing my song to me when I have forgotten the tune. I sing with a women's a capella quartet. We get our starting note from a pitch pipe and then our leader hums our note for us up the chord. Each of us has to know our note, to sing our own part of the song for the harmony to happen. If one of us is slightly off, sharp or flat, the harmony isn't there and its not quite right. The feeling of disharmony is uncomfortable.

In order for harmony to work, we must sing different notes and sing them out to support the others. If we all sang the same tune, its a nice unison, but it isn't quite as beautiful and doesn't have the depth of each of us singing our own part of the harmony.

Isn't that interesting? In order for this incredible human sound to occur, we have to be strong in our individuality, to sing our own song.

There are many I have encountered in my life that rekindle that human spirit in me. Some are no more than passing strangers. Others are tightly woven in the daily threads of my life. And there are others who dwell in my spirit. There are those who have enriched me beyond explanation and words. Today we celebrated All Saint's Day, giving thanks and memory to those who have gone before us. I have many saints in my life and I am so very grateful for every one of them.