Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The men of Thanksgiving.

My Best Friends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Wall

Deep down into the soul it went. My prayer. Into the depths. Way in there, comfortable as a feather bed,where the water is still and the light is so dark it hurts your eyes. That's where it was.

The wall.

The Jews believe, I am told, that God's spirit dwells in a special way in what remains of the Temple as the Western Wall. God used to dwell in the Holy of holies in the form of his Shekina, spirit. The only times when God refused to dwell there were times when some political occupant set up an idol. And now of course, finally, the Muslims have done the most unthinkable, built their own architectural idol on the sacred place. I have been there, but I missed it. The Presence went right past me.

When I was in the hospital, Fr. Christopher went there and put his head against the wall, knowing full well that God dwelt there in a special way. He felt the cold hard stone and thumped his forehead against it as though God's immovable breast were in front of him. He did it on my behalf. As though I were standing there with him. While I lay nearly dead, my dear friend was trying to be absorbed by the Holy Spirit, hard as rock.

Now I'm there. In the deepest, down-filled womb of the quietest of places with God. And the wall is there. Rising up. Up. I can't see the top. Only the sky on this side of it. The wall goes all the way to the sky. There is no other side of the Western Wall as I stand there, palms open on the stone with the note-filled cracks under my fingertips, and the imprint of cold rock on my forehead.

In that place, there is no room for graven images. Only the glory of God, shining brightly dark.

Friday, November 17, 2006


When Blaise was Danny, we traveled together to China to complete the Mei An adoption. Since I traveled a lot, he was always interested in wherever I went and knew I would come home with cool stuff. It was rarely stuff that you'd buy in a gift shop. It was usually some haggled piece of used thing or other. It is the story that goes along with the gift that makes it special.

One of the most gratifying things for me is when Blaise travels to foreign soil, he returns with objects that have stories, not usually from a gift shop, but a haggled thing. When we were together in China, he bought locally produced music on CD's that must have been burned one at a time. Things like that.

I've had the fortune of traveling with a camera and could come home with more than memories of those places. In fact, the faces most often of the children there seem to stick with me most. I have cut together some of the children who got me most and uploaded it to YouTube. Some of the footage was captured by other producers from Fresh Air Media in Auburn, CA. The video is one of my favorite things.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Second Pictures...

I'm astounded that Dusty turns 16 this week. Wow. I stand and look at him nearly eye to eye and marvel at the gentleman he has become. My gaze is not complete before the bubble pops and I hear him being snide to his brother, or kicking the little ones out of his room. Same guy. Polite and a young gentleman, tugging against the webbing of his escape velocity.

How hard it is to remember being that age. What ramblings in my mind about girls and parties. We can't ever escape our own gravity as it happens. Both gentleman and cretan. So Dusty is balanced I think. He has more to say than most kids his age, and his opinions are so often couched in empathy. He states them often as questions. Like this one: "Really? Don't you think that's gross?" And then he laughs his head off.

When he was twelve months old, he could laugh himself into falling over. How was that possible that a one year old got the humor of a situation? He hasn't changed in that way in 15 years. He can still laugh his head off, and often when he doesn't know it's him that's funny.

Somehow he has the ability to see what's material and at the same time, aparently, see something else from a memory or an idea, just as real as the material. Once he was frustrated by my inability to understand what he was talking about, and said, "you know, like I'm looking at that glass of water there, but can see a tree that's just as real?" That's when I knew I'd met my imagination's match. We dubbed the phenomenon, "second pictures."

Dusty's greatest inventions to date are the many names he came up with when he was just starting to talk. Hugliss Poombey, Hordo and Bookey Honk all became names of characters in a story or two. And of course his famous insult delivered to his older brother, " felly blat snapper!" As mad as he was, he laughed so hard that his four year old body was soon prostrate on the floor.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Brave Tynan

Today Tynan said to me, "I jumped off the rock." He was remembering last summer's trips to the Yuba River and how Dusty showed him how to jump off the "jumping rock".

I told him, "Tynan, you're so handsome..." and he added, "and brave because I jumped off the rock". Then I said, "you're brave, yes, but I'm not thinking it's because you jumped off the rock. I think you're brave because you were in Taiwan and had to work hard just to get along there, and when we came and got you and brought you home, you had to be very brave. It was all new to you, and you are brave because of that."

He said. "Yup and because of the rock". Well, there's just no arguing with a hero. When you know you've got something special, you just can't shake it. And that's how it is with Tynan. His insecurity that has made him obsessively loyal is changing into die-hard courage. He is bound to this once foreign family in a commitment that ignores common sense.

Courage. I don't think it's as much about charging ahead, hell or high water, as much as it is about acceptance. Once I'm assured that the other end of my actions is frought with resolution, I can move forward without fear.

May Tynan's adult life be filled with complete acceptance.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I Don’t Die This Way.
My job used to take me out of the country a lot. I never got to go to the yuppie latitudes… you know, safe places. For some reason, they always sent me to places where there was a lot of unrest. I mean, ever since I sent that “my job sucks” email by accident to my boss, it was always, “hey, we need to send someone to Beirut…” and I’d get there and think, “wow, does everyplace in the world decorate with bullet holes?”

I was sent there to do documentary style videos for Christian organizations. That really means flying all night and eating airline food, then landing in a place that smells like smoke and burnt bacon, the famous “third-world smell” and settling into a two hour drive over potholes and zig-zagging through domestic animals being herded by an 8 year old kid with a stick just to find out that the guy you were going to interview didn't show up. But hey, I’m not complaining, sleeping on a missionary’s tile floor can be good for your back.

Once when we were flying out of Mongolia, we got on this Russian prop plane that was used for supply drops to soviet troops in the 60’s. The emergency instructions were really helpful, “Blatunda freepnotch specibont Seeech Belp. Crando chontoski bellaruse BOOM candrand bango. OXYGEN fellinto crapnski pooldo.” You ever notice how some words are the same no matter where you are? Like Spanish radio, “Hasta grande cabesa COLGATE!!!”

So I looked out the window, and there’s this black liquid coming out of the CRACK in the side of the engine. I nudged Todd, my co-producer, and gestured out the window. We couldn’t talk because it was so loud in there, our earplugs kept us from hearing anything. He looked out the window, closed his eyes and laid his head back as if to say, “I don’t want to know…” I nudged him again and yelled to him… “IT’S OK, YOU’RE SAFE…I DON’T DIE THIS WAY”

I say this every time I travel. Later, as we got on the United Airlines 747, safe and sound, Todd asked me, “so how do you die?” I said, “I don’t know, I just know it wasn’t like that…”

Once in Africa we stood by the fence along the airstrip with two bush pilots we had video taped all week. They were laughing at the 727 that took off and called it the vomit comet. Then they looked at me and said, that’s the plane you’re flying on tomorrow.

I turned to Ron, the co-producer and said “don’t worry, I don’t die that way…”

Then came January 22, 2006. The peaceful walk through the woods with two kids and my wife. Traveling thoussands of miles to war torn countries is nothing to a little walk across a 12' long log weighing about a half ton. That's another story that nearly ended with, "oh, so this is how I die."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Devon's Far

These many miles between me and my boy, Devon make me ache a little.

He has always walked on air. His feet, even when they do touch the ground, only touch for an instant at a time. Devon has an intensity these days that endears me to him. "Dad, look at this ship" he says, the minute Legos in his dextrous, strong fingers. "This panel folds back in case there's space ice and a laser comes out this hole, pffew pffew pffew, and blasts the ice. It falls behind the ship and makes a shield..." Now he's lost in his imaginary orbit around Galacticon 5.

Too often, my responses to him are farther away than I am tonite in Salisbury Church in Eastern Illinois. And for that I am sorry. I can't change those bland "uh-huh's" of the past. I want to nuzzle in again and stick my nose in Devon's neck.

I want to sit side by side with him and watch him build the next ship from scratch. The noise that is his digging through the Legos. Thousands of bizzarre shaped plastic blocks, all at once tapping together, like the sound of the sea foam as the wave recedes and the millions of bubbles pop in a bacon-frying sizzle. Devon can see the tiniest detail and recognizes potential in each block as it relates to his latest creation. I want to watch, and listen.

"Next time", I tell myself. I must do it before he turns 12 and enters the wash and tumble of puberty. I must remember. I must remember the promise fulfilled. Devon the miracle. The boy who lived. I must remember he needs me. Now more than ever.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mei An

This thing. This terrible, lovely thing that walks into and out of the room. She is terrible, because her black hair shrouds her cool, deep eyes. She is fierce. She shoots only a fleeting look at me. And I wonder why I can't actually see into her. I can see into others, why not her?

Her mighty arms move up and down, flapping - a bird maybe, or more likely a space ship in orbit around an enemy planet. She disappears.

I can hear her, so I go to where the giggling is. She is crouched behind the big urn in the bedroom. "Are you my princess?" I ask her. My voice is not as demanding as I think she heard it to be.

"No," she says. "I don't want to be a pwincess." I am taken aback by her forcefulness. "I am a dwagon."

"Well, what about a Chinese warrior princess?" I ask her. She thinks about it. Her mind is wandering, and so is mine. One of those martial arts films with Lucy Liu, that's what I'm picturing. Powerful. Beautiful. Terrible, fierce. A sword flying around her head and attackers dropping to the ground in pain. Her expression, cold and determined.

Mei An's words bring me back instantly to the moment. "Does the pwincess say, 'wooo hooo hooo?'" I'm laughing because of all the things a warrior princess would say at that moment, I don't think it would be "wooo hooo hooo". I'm laughing because the cold Lucy Liu gaze that I had in my mind is shattered by Mei An's wide eyes and mocking head tilting back and forth and the pucker her mouth makes.

And while I'm laughing, she runs away in pursuit of another airborn fantasy. Now I see it. What I thought was a bird or spaceship in orbit around the enemy planet a few minutes a Chinese dragon, terrible and fierce and beautiful. I can't take my eyes off it as it flaps it's chaotic cadence down the hall and into the kitchen, and beyond, in search of a princess it can devour.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wondering about the fall

It's a long way down
Long way
And when I look, it's my knees that do the talking
Also that space there to the right of my navel
And up just a few inches

That's where I feel the fall
Even if it doesn't happen

On a ride at Disneyland
I once felt the fall
I expected it and still my knees cried out
As did that place near my navel
Did I scream because I thought:
"This is it, the ride that breaks and everyone dies?"
I could even see the headlines in the paper

That's where I see my life end
Even if it doesn't happen...quite that way

But the thrill of the possibilities
Keeps us alive
And reassures our knees that we're still breathing
From that place near that place near our navels
And up a few more inches
A few steps back from the ledge
Or at the bottom looking up

That's where I'll be once again
Watching to see what happens

Monday, September 11, 2006


"It's non-fiction," she said. "It helps me understand." That reality was a dose, for sure. She was non-fiction, all of her, and he was reading stories and poetry at the time. The mistress that is his own imagination was begging for something tangible and knowing all along that the other side of the nexus, where material ends and the unseen begins, was the only place he ever touched the truth. The comment took him by surprise, he expected something quite different from his imagination. She was too often reasonable and he thought he knew what made her tick. "If you want to understand, you might want to find a good story," he said.

He wondered why it was that non-fiction kept him so far from the truth. "I have a lot of non-fiction in my life," he thought. "Every minute of the day, I think is non-fiction, I need more fiction to make sense of it all".

He stood in the sanctuary looking at the icon of the Trinity. The three beings, God, all of them, tilted their heads to each other. Spirit and Son to the Father, and Father to the two of them. He stood, his hands and arms limp at his sides. Up above him there was light, purple all of it mixed up, every color otherwise individual from the stained glass, but together purple. Purple light above, the Trinity straight across, and there was the back of the priest's head in front of him. That's when he knelt down, feeling ficticious. Part of a story. He was a character in this drama, but only a bit player. He was there to remember how the story ended.

"That's the thing," he thought. "That's the thing that keeps me coming back here. I can't escape the back of that priest's head, nor his face, anymore than I can escape the fact that I was preserved for some reason." He was not thinking it, but he was present in the midst of a restless grace. It was later when he wrote it down, '...restless grace'. "Hmmm, that's it." he thought, "restless grace is how God is. On the other side of the priest, that's what was there in the Trinity icon, grace that doesn't sleep." The remembering began.

He felt better, lighter when he stood up in the end. His non-fiction imagination still with him, waiting quietly for a time when she could tap him on the shoulder, "May I ask you something?" He would rather she didn't. But when she did, he was comforted to know that she also felt lighter. So he nodded. "Where," she asked, "can I get a copy of what you're reading?" She had come along too. It wasn't until later that he asked her how she had decided to read with him. "I couldn't help it," she paused, "...I found a story."

Some perspective

Steven Write stuff from another blog:

-Some people are afriad of heights. I'm afraid of widths.

- Can you cry under water?

- How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

- Since bread is square, why is sandwich meat round?

- Why do you have to 'put your 2 cents in'...but it's only a 'penny for your thoughts? Where's that extra penny going?

- Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

- What did cured ham actually have?

- How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

- Why is it that people say they 'slept like a baby' when babies wake up like every 3 hours?

- If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing? (kinda stupid)

- If you drink Pepsi at work in the Coke factory, will they fire you?

- Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON tv?

- Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

- How come we choose from just 2 people for President and fifty for Miss America?

- Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

- If a 911 operator has a heart attack, whom does he/she call?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Heartsent Adoptions

When Heartsent Adoptions became our agency of choice, we started to work closely with them to promote their services. Our first effort was to create a video of our family's experience. Then I edited this piece as a gift to the agency.