Tag Archives: Illinois

Sleepy Son Sunday!

Yay! He’s back. After a day in a diner and Burlington Public Library, and finally getting on the bus at 4  or 4:30, and then the train, and home after midnight. Yes, he is at a state school, and they are quite serious about kicking everyone out of the dorms, and closing down for the break. But when you are 18, it’s not a big deal.

Having packed no food at all for the journey, he was very happy to have grilled cheese and green smoothie and SleepyTime tea at 1:30 am last night (or this morning.) SleepyTime tea? What was I thinking?! Once I was properly hugged, and the food was downed, he was off with friends. He is not the one we call “Thumper,” and manages to tiptoe upstairs, and into bed without bothering me, so I have no idea what time the reunion celebration ended.

Dad made pancakes for breakfast. He was the one who discovered the best pancakes ever: we add pears (when we have them at home, but I bought some nice ones a few days ago, with return of son in mind) as well as bananas. Banana pear pancakes are a recipe I recommend. Not a sweet eater, even though maple syrup is a flavor I love, and we have Vermont maple syrup from a summer’s farmer’s market, I eat my pancakes out of hand. And I’m not sure I didn’t eat more than my share.

When I lived in California, and would come back East to visit, my dad would (so helpfully, he thought?) wake me up in the morning so I could “get on a good schedule.” I never did, and never really have been, so that always annoyed me. Never able to fall asleep before 4am after sitting in a plane all day, and then coping with a three-hour time difference, I didn’t appreciate the effort. Now I can consider that maybe he just wanted to see me. But I think he was just acting on misguided principle. I kind of think so. It bothered him that I should be sleeping at the “wrong” time. So no matter how much I may want to see the young man upstairs, I am going to “let it ride.” Nor am I going to tell him “You can’t go out at 2am!” To the contrary: he did, and probably had a very good time.

We had an amusing exchange before he left: Somehow the name of an old friend, who turned out to have briefly been a girlfriend during middle school years, came up. One of the people he went out with last night was “Ian,” his best friend since seventh grade. K then mentioned that ‘Jane” had dated “Ian” longer than he had. (What he meant to say was that Ian had dated Jane longer than  he had.) I retorted that this was not true. You, I said, have been going out with Ian longer than anyone! He laughed and agreed.

Lest anyone misread the tiniest hint of gay bashing into our conversation, there was none. We have a family rich with family members all over the sexuality spectrum. It reflects the human species pretty well that way. K’s college room mate is gay. When moving out of a miserable dorm room situation a straight, but preppie and annoying room mate, K, who happens to be straight, chose his room mate because they are friends, old camp friends. So LGBTQA friends: You are very welcome to my blog. LGBT objectors: This will probably not be a comfortable space for you. In this family, we celebrate the recent decision out of Illinois to allow gay marriage. If all the guys in the Bible had multiple wives–or were (supposedly) celibate, and we believe that, of course?–what is all the fuss about? The Bible most emphatically does not present marriage as between one man and one woman. People should neither be exclusively defined by, nor in any way punished for their sexual orientation. There is so much more to all of us.

I confess, I did not read the presumably pathetic email from some organization that pumps out pablum for parents of college students returning home for the first time. (Very pathetically middle class mush.) I’m sure I will make mistakes, but my plan is simple: provide food, be flexible, hope he has fun, and hope we are included in some of the fun.

There is creaking in the staircase 🙂

So I thought. Instead there is young man adjusting and enjoying himself in his own way, in his own time: first drumming and now keys serenade. I am content. But isn’t he hungry? If he hadn’t gone fourteen hours straight without food yesterday, I would think so, but I am going to trust that hunger will bring him down eventually. And that if he was in the mood for talking, he would. It must be glorious to be alone after so much forced togetherness!

Acts of God?

Wikimedia Commons Moore, OK Tornado

Wikimedia Commons Moore, OK Tornado

Why are natural disasters called “Acts of God”? Because they, like God, are beyond human comprehension and beyond human ability to effect. This phrase is not suggest that God is evil, but rather that God is the unfathomable everything of the world and universe.

This “God language” does not exclude agnostics or atheists, who stand equally helpless in the face of tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, and volcanic eruptions. This language reflects that there is no one who does not experience or look upon the destruction of the unfathomably fearsome tornado that yesterday struck an elementary school and cut a path 20 miles long and remain unshaken.

We humans are small and fragile. There are actions we can take to avoid tsunamis and other disasters, but there is little warning. Seismologists cannot predict when tectonic plates will shift, and where old or new faults will break open, splitting the earth as we might break an orange into sections.

Above the howling winds and rushing waters, the voice of goodness, or of God, may be heard. The phrase “God is good” also means that God is the essence of goodness. There is no philosophical strain in this parent and writer who sees good in death and destruction. But above the howling, all-consuming ravaging, “a still, small voice” may, at times, be heard.

The voice I remember best from the tsunami 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is the voice of a young woman. This 25-year-old woman who remained in her watchtower, ceaselessly broadcasting her warnings that people around her move to higher ground immediately. She kept on broadcasting her urgent message, knowing that she herself was unlikely to survive. That is the voice of god or good.

There was in Japan, and will also be in Oklahoma, anger directed at the government, and even victims, for decisions made under duress and in minutes. There could always be higher tsunami walls and stronger bunkers. Complacency is not the answer, as warning systems work well when there is time to respond, but that time is not always given to us.

Another day, I will write about my father’s childhood in Illinois. My father, born in 1930, believed that tornadoes were increasing in force and frequency due to the leveling of the landscape for farming. He held this belief long before most recognized the human impact on storms and weather. Whether or not he was correct is the subject of great debate.

This is not a day to be righteous and correct, but a time to recognize that we are all shaken, to mourn, and for some highly trained individuals, to rescue survivors. Will our donation of blood or money help? Or do we mean these donations as gesture of empathy and solidarity, as we stand, helpless and empty-handed.