Tag Archives: prayer

Mr. Euclid

First, thank you to everyone who has continued to offer their prayers for my family following the death of my dad two months ago.  They mean so much more than you know and I pray for each of you daily.

I want to tell you all that Dad’s been quite active lately, at least in my mind.  Over the past month especially he’s been showing up in my dreams.  As I told me wife today, the dreams make absolutely no sense on one level and more sense than anything I can think of on another.

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Artist’s rendering of a shape

Last night I went to bed as normal.  At 4AM I awoke from the following dream.  My father and I were in a very ethereal setting.  I can actually still envision all of this.  It’s almost like we were on a cloud but it wasn’t that hokey.  We were looking at, really examining, an equilateral triangle that was simply floating in the air in front of us.  He was instructing me on the properties of the triangle.  His words made perfect sense to me and I never liked math.  Dad was an actuary with a savant’s knowledge of all things mathematical.  I distinctly remember him saying (in this dream) as he had many times when he tried teaching me geometry in high school “According to Mr. Euclid…” referencing the Greek father of geometry.  What are you getting at, Dad?  Triangles?  Really?  Is it the Trinity?  I already believe in the Blessed Trinity.  Remember?  You taught me the sign of the cross as a four year-old when you taught me my first prayers.  Were you trying to show me something else?  Are you popping into the dreams of other people too or is it just me?  This is so strange.

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Hairy but solid

Another thing that’s going on (and I really don’t think the dreams are related) is that my Restless Leg Syndrome has intensified.  It’s now gotten to where the muscles in both legs cramp up about halfway through the night.  I get out of bed and, like this morning, leg down to see that my toes are curled and I have to physically unbend them.  It’s painful.  But, I’m getting it looked into.  This morning I’m going for an EMG/nerve conduction test.  I’ve had several of these done before.  Read about one of my experiences with it here.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my leg.  It may be the cause of great pain right now but at least it still makes my trainer jealous as all get out.  “Your calves seem to eat everything in sight” he told me.  Trainer?  My offer still stands.  I’ll happily trade you my calves for everything above your waist.  Then again he could just be messing with me…

Two Months Later

It was two months ago today that my dad went home.

I thought of him a couple of nights ago.  My wife, kids, and I were gathered around our living room praying our nightly family rosary.  Dad was so incredibly devoted to the rosary.  I can still hear his voice as he would come to round us up each evening.  “Rosary time!”  It had a particular sing-song tonal quality to it.

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The astute observer will note the resemblance to the Garden State…  Dad would get the humor here.

And of course, today is St. Patrick’s Day.  My father was particularly fond of his Irish heritage.  I remember when I was growing up and he would go into the deli to get his morning papers after daily mass.  Seemed to me that each year on St. Patrick’s Day he’d emerge from the store with a green-colored carnation pinned to his lapel.

So on this day, in honor of Patrick, in honor of Dad, and in honor of the Blessed Mother I will ask that any of you who read this offer a rosary for the souls in Purgatory.  If you understood that sentence, you’ll know what to do.

My Dad and Auntie Mame

What a strange day in a strange week…

Broadway

Broadway!

It all started over the Christmas break when I had a bit of free time and two kids who were eager for their free time to be filled with fun stuff.  With my son, it was easy.  We built Legos together and I made incredible progress in my effort to read to him the Chronicles of Narnia.  We’ve had great fun and we’re now on the fifth book.  With my daughter it’s a little harder.  She seems to be obsessed with different things, girl things, little girl things.  As I am a full-grown man I find it harder to relate.  Do you know how hard it is to fit a 6’2″ jacked frame (had to throw that in there) into a seat at a tea party when the chair is barely off the ground?

So during one of my many trips to the library to return one Narnia book and pick up another I came across a DVD of the Lucille Ball classic movie-musical Mame.  It’s got singing.  It’s got dancing.  It’s got elegant costumes.  It’s got drinking and sauce and spice and Bea freakin’ Arthur.  I checked it out, brought it home, and made a movie night of it.  And thank God I was right.  My little girl loved it – especially Bea Arthur.  The next day she said to me: “Daddy, my favorite was Mame’s best friend, the one who talked like a man.”

In fact it was a lot of fun.  We even checked out the non-musical, earlier version starring Rosalind Russell – Auntie Mame and watched that.

The thing is that we’ve also been dealing with Dad’s death.  I don’t mean that we’ve been going through stages of grief or that we had anything to occupy our time regarding planning his funeral or calling insurance policies in.  No, we found ourselves driving from Dallas to Newark and back inside of a week.  It was in the car that we actually watched Auntie Mame.  Sure beat looking at Arkansas (although it is a remarkably pretty state).

Tonight, as a surprise to me my daughter had given me tickets for the both of us to see a concert version of Mame at the lrving Arts Center, our local playhouse.  Normally I don’t mention real names in this blog but this deserves a mention.  She was so excited.  This morning she woke up and proclaimed it “Mame Day”.  I, too, was excited.  My sweetheart has become my theater buddy.  Since I no longer live a stone’s throw from Manhattan and since my wife is more into movie theaters than Broadway houses I relish that my daughter enjoys accompanying her old man to a show here and there.  And we have lots of fun.  Usually during intermission I buy her some souvenir from the lobby and myself a drink.

And then came the downer of the day.  Sweetheart got sick.  She actually didn’t want to tell us she wasn’t feeling well for fear she’d miss the show.  We noticed, though, and called her out on it.  My well-intentioned wife asked me if the theater might be able to switch our tickets to another performance.  Knowing how these things work I knew it would be a fool’s errand but I had to at least try for my baby.  Since the box office was already closed for business I decided to drive across town.

Along the ride I thought of my dad.  He enjoyed the theater.  More importantly he would do anything for his girls.  They looked up to him and he simply adored them.  I found myself talking to him.  “Dad, help me out her…  I can’t disappoint my little girl.”

I parked, walked into the lobby, and went to the will-call window.  To the older gentleman behind the counter I said:

“My wife bought our seven year-old daughter and me tickets to tonight’s performance.  Unfortunately she’s crying her eyes out at home right now because she’s sick.  Any chance we might be able to possibly transfer these tickets to a different night?”

I said this with a bit of breathlessness because I really didn’t believe he’d do it.

Well… not only did he do it but he did it with such kindness and decency!  He even gave us better seats!

You can’t convince me my father had nothing to do with that.

I turned to the man and said “You know, in New York this NEVER would have happened.”  He looked at me.  “We do things a little different around here.  I have a daughter myself.”  And I’m glad they do.

The rest of the night may have been spent cleaning up after a sick child in a bathroom but we were pretty happy about it.  My dad came through.  My daughter thinks I’m a hero.  And for Mame Dennis, it will still be today tomorrow.

I also have some tales of working out and such but I’ll posts them soon.

Prayers Please


I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted…

In your charity would you please pray for the following people?

Ruth

Peter

Ginny

These people are in need of all the prayers they can get and I have seen the power of sharing these requests on social media. A rosary helps but then again, any prayer helps. 

Holy Mary, Mother of God, ora pro nobis!

Pizza and Prayer

Oh the things that transpire in my presence…

I’ll never fully understand it.  Is it a gift?  A curse?  I’ll enlighten you and let you make the call.  Keep in mind these things really all happen to me.  And I have no idea why.

You remember the broken toes and the boot, right?  Keep that mess in mind.

Friday afternoon I headed home from another exciting work week.  I had spent 40+ hours with the most amazing teenagers who allowed me graciously to feed off their natural energy.  Together we learned and had fun.

I was teetering on that strange precipice I find myself on from time to time – loving the job I’ve been given but never realizing the respect I think all grown men want to feel for their efforts, however meager, at supporting their families while staying true to your vocation.  Hey, it can be tough sometimes.  Then you start to feel awful at the realization of how enormous your pride is.  If no one ever recognizes me for being the best teacher in the history of teaching (or for just getting my ass out of bed at 5:45 every morning when not many years ago I didn’t know there was a second 5:45); then God sees all and knows all and hopefully I’m not letting him down too much.  He knows I’m a screw-up and he still chose me to do this job.  Glad His hand is straight because my lines are way crooked.  Listen, I got 125 of these kids to stop Snapchatting long enough to understand the basics of sacramental theology this week.

Still it is nice to get a pat on the back once in a while and when I walked in the door I got just that.  My kids, the most important people in my life, had planned out a “thank you surprise” for me.  A note by the front door in my son’s handwriting said “Daddy, we wanted to say thank you for all the work you do for us so we could have fun things like a trip to Disneyland this summer [past].  Follow the map on the back for your surprise.”

“How nice of them,” I thought.

The map, an incredibly well drawn floorplan of my house, had me go to my room and get changed.  This isn’t too hard these days since I’m already in shorts thanks to the boot.  Next step was to head to the kitchen for a surprise dinner.

Unfortunately, Mommy wasn’t quite ready with the surprise dinner.  That’s because she had only just ordered it.  But after a few minutes I was instructed to head to the porch.  Not sure why, I took the opportunity to light a smoke and take in the warmth of a Texas September evening.

And then it began.  “It” is the strange vortex that whirls into and out of my life depositing bits of crazy in its wake.  Occasionally bits of lies and falsehoods are trapped and then exposed as well.  A car pulled up and a young man of about 18 stepped up fumbling with a red oven bag.  I popped my head back inside.  “Honey, did you order pizza?” I asked.  She replied in the affirmative.  She even told me it had been paid for but that there was a bill by the door for his tip.

By the time I was fully back on the porch the pizza boy was standing in front of me.

“Looks like you’ve got a” – he paused while flipping a fistful of receipts upside down and rightside up again – “large cheese pie, a small, I mean a medium, wait looks like a 10 inch three-cheese blend and another 10 inch with mushrooms and onions.”  I was just about to correct him for his lack of an Oxford comma when he interjected “Oh, and an order of cheesy bread.”  Only in America could we possibly have come up with “cheesy bread” and not come up with a less descriptive name for it.

“Sounds good, buddy,” I said.  “Until two minutes ago I didn’t know I was having pizza so anything’s a bonus.”

I signed my receipt against the pillar supporting my porch roof, took the stack of pizzas, and handed him the paper trail.  I was turning to walk back inside when the dim bulb on my front walk blurted something out.

“Can I ask you something?” he asked.

I held my tongue from saying “Just did, dumbass.”

Can I pray for your foot?” he said pointing down at the boot.

“Oh… sure,” I said.  “That would be nice.”  I said this assuming he would return to his car and offer up a quick Hail Mary and be on his way.

Instead…

He dropped to both knees right in front of me.  Listen pal, I’ve got neighbors and this is an odd position for both of us.  But he began to pray.

Staring intently at my foot with both hands hovering over my boot he intoned: “Father, we pray that you would send your healing power to” – he looked up – “what’s your name?”

“Harvey.”  Hey, I didn’t know what else to do.

“- for Harvey.  We pray that you would bless him and heal his foot, especially all the ligaments and tendons and the muscles and bones.  Heal his ankle.  Heal his brokenness.”

I was too afraid to take a picture of Pizza Nut so I had Buddy, my Russell Terrier stand in.

This continued for another minute.  And then it got weird(er).

Clamping both of his pizza hands firmly on my boot, he began to pulse some kind of bizarre energy into my leg.  It was worse than that time I got drunk and watched Charo videos with my sister.  His voice took on a crazed tone.

“We command it in Jesus’ name!  Heal his ankle!  I command it in Jesus’ name!  Heal his ankle!”

I have no problem with his prayer at all.  I actually thought it was a very kind gesture.

What I did not have was the heart to tell him that it was just two broken toes and they’re getting better.  Not a ligament tear or tendon pull in sight and my ankles are great.  Also, I have the badass-est calves this side of the Pecos.

I didn’t even know what to say other than “Amen?”  He stood up and mumbled something about believing in the power of prayer because he’s a Christian.  Again I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that he’s a Christian because he recognizes the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth.  We stared at each other momentarily before I headed into my house with a stack of pizza and a feeling that my leg had just been exorcised by a Papa John’s pizza boy and that I, may in fact, need to have my confirmation revalidated.

How does one even top that?

What an eventful evening…  The rest of the surprise, you ask?  The kids had a movie picked out for me.  But not even Disney in all its movie magic could top my pizza prayer.

The only thing that could’ve made it gloriously perfect would have been if the order were actually correct.

Richard Strikes Again!

Last night I attempted something I have done a few times before.  Stick with me.  It has nothing to do with my infertility.

The toilet in our hallway bathroom had been “malfunctioning” over the past few months.  It was nothing major.  If you know anything about toilets and how they work; the flapper was closing too soon after the flush handle was released.  The tank was still filling but the bowl was not (at least not as much as it should be).  In fact, it was really more of an aesthetic thing.  As in: “My guests will think we’re uncivilized because the water in our toilet bowl isn’t as high as everyone else’s!”

OK, so I’ve changed toilet guts before.  I’m not what you’d call a Bob Vila.  I am what I would call “skilled enough”.  That means that from my dad I learned the basics.  I can change a light switch, fix a toilet, use a circular saw…  What I do best, though, is follow instructions.

Imagine my surprise last night when I got the new guts in place, turned on the water, and things went haywire.

It’s a messy job but it came with the mortgage…

Water was dripping at a steady stream from the bottom of the tank.  I tried my best to isolate the cause but it was a fool’s errand.  It was also late and I was tired.  I did what any of us would do.  I shut off the water, laid down some towels, and went to bed.

Went back to it this morning, fearful of having to call someone.  That would not only indicate my failure at a simple task but also earn me a strike against my man card.  I would never be able to tell anyone about this.  My trainer (remember him?) would laugh at me.  “You are weak and you can’t fix a toilet?  What kind of man are you?”  More on the trainer and my failures and successes on that front in an upcoming post.

So here’s what I did and this is also the point of the story…

I went into the bathroom and got down on my knees.  No, I wasn’t hungover.  Yes, I was praying.  I said a prayer.  I called upon my late brother Richard.  You might recall he died 8 months ago of pancreatic cancer.  Richard was the home repair guru.  He could do stuff like this with ease.  Surely he would help.  I was so worried that I had overtightened bolts and cracked the porcelain.  By the way, why do they cast toilets out of this delicate porcelain stuff anyway?  Wouldn’t a solid weld unibody design work better?  But I digress.

“Help me see what I’m missing here,” I asked him.

I sat back and noticed I was sitting on something.  Reaching behind me I pulled out a small package.  I want you to know that I REALLY follow instructions when I do a project.  Yet somehow I had missed this one and the corresponding piece.  It was an O ring.  Guess where it was supposed to be.  You got it, right over the opening where the water was leaking.

I disassembled a few things, slid the O ring in place, put it back together and the leak was gone.

Thanks, brother!  Now my guests won’t think we’re hillbillies.

Our Crosses – A Lenten Reflection

My wife is watching a movie right now.  Near as I can tell it’s a bunch of old British women taking a break from their garden club to discuss whether they want to pose naked for a calendar.

I actually threw up a little while writing that last sentence.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of taking up one’s cross.  It is Lent after all.  I suppose what’s come to me lately is that it isn’t so much about seeking one’s cross but accepting it.  God offers each of us a cross in life.  How we carry it or whether we carry it is up to us.  I am sure He carries it right along with us.  But, we still have to shoulder some of the weight.  Perhaps He’s wondering if we’ll carry it like His Son did – opening not our mouths, like a lamb lead to slaughter.  Usually I carry mine by bitching about it to anyone who’ll listen.

So what’s my cross?  I think it has a lot to do with subjugating my pride on two fronts.  I’m a teacher.  I’ll never earn a lot of money.  I’ll never see the fruits of my labor even.  My kids are long gone by the time, 20 years from now, they remember that one thing I said that has an impact on the choices they’ll make.  I have two beautiful children I didn’t deserve.  I want more, always have.

The cross, I think, for me is needing to let go of the desire to be and have more than what I am and have.  The cross comes in letting go.  I won’t lie and say it doesn’t hurt.  I guess that’s the pain that comes from carrying a cross.  I want more and that pride is weighing me down.  I want to be great, to be known for something, respected in my field, able to provide for the many children I thought I’d have.

But I suspect Our Lord is saying “Not for you.  This isn’t what I want for you.”  And there’s a lot of letting go in just trying to accept that.  Not understanding His Will but wanting to live according to it is not easy.  It’s bizarre because He seems to be saying that what I’m doing is what I’m supposed to be doing.  I just don’t get it.

Or maybe the cross today is just the thought of those naked, old Brits.  Oh God, one of them is hiding her boobs behind two cupcakes.  The imagery is straight out of a crucifixion scene.