Love With A Capital L

A journey towards living an inspired life of love in the modern world

I Was There — August 3, 2021

I Was There

Yesterday we watched Cars 3. Everyone loved the first and nobody loved the 2nd. That’s interesting, right? How can the same creative team make a beautifully beloved movie AND an overstuffed misguided mess (albeit with some very nice moments)? They must’ve asked themselves the same question, and as an answer/apology, produced the 3rd installment to give a proper end to this story & these characters. It was really great. Lightning McQueen passes the mantle to newcomer Cruz Ramirez and becomes her coach in much the same way Doc Hudson became his 2 movies earlier.

Baseball season is over, and here’s how it was. Saturday, the all star team I help to coach won the state championship. During the regular season, the team I head coach didn’t win any sort of championship. I have played many years of baseball, 8 years old through college, and coached for many more, and if I was forced to choose, this year (championship and not) was my favorite.

These 2 things are related in presence and presence alone. So many times, we live sometime other than now, somewhere other than here. I remember my dad, who had so much trouble making the transition into new here’s and now’s, always remembering & mourning what had been, when he was, what he should’ve been. He’s certainly not alone, right?

It’s the unholy mosh pit of regret (past) and worry (future) stomping violently on today. These cartoons – or I guess we should call them animated features, that sounds fancy and pretentious – use colors and fantasy (cherry red cars that talk and have more expressive eyes than most people) to illustrate and invite us into authentic emotions we might otherwise be too distracted to notice. They ask us questions we might otherwise avoid. McQueen is angry and grasping to the good old days and doesn’t know how to move forward gracefully until he does, and then he learns, as Doc did, that there was shockingly more joy, purpose and fulfillment involved in leading another to victory (in life and on the racetrack… and the field;). He learned to leave his past glory where it is and allow tomorrow to breathe up ahead while he pulled his parking brake on now, an anchor to the significance of this moment.

I maybe didn’t do much to lead those 15&16 year-olds to the crown (I’ll leave that for them to decide), but what I do know is that I was allowed to watch these young men from the dugout, as close as you can get to excellence. I was allowed to coach with a brother, who continually surprised me with his smooth, easy, absolute greatness. And I was there. Not thinking about how I wish it was me playing and winning, nostalgic for my own ‘glory days,’ or if we’ll go back next year. I can’t imagine a place I would have rather been. I love those boys, am so grateful I was allowed to tag along to their march to 1st place.

I get so many things wrong, make so many mistakes, see the overwhelming gifts and blessings in the rear view mirror rather than as they are holding me in life and love. I say too many things like, “next year” or “when I was…”

But not this year, sister. You know what I can say about this year, the most important thing I can say about this year? That I was there and it was spectacular.

Blind Spots — July 20, 2021

Blind Spots

We all have blind spots, right? That is something we can all agree on. I know that sounds like I’m an insane person. I’m not, as far as I can tell. (But would I know if I was?) I live and breathe, so it’s as obvious to me as everybody else that we can’t all agree on anything, except maybe that ‘we’ are 100% right and ‘they’ are 100% wrong. And that we’re hyper-sensitive, which makes us easily offendable.

Anyway, blind spots.

2 quick, great examples of this: I see people extinguish their cigarettes just before they enter the gym. On the one hand, they’re very conscious of building a healthy lifestyle, and on the other, they’re tearing it down. And Saturday mornings I go to a convenience store and buy an energy drink (again, for someone who is concerned with taking care of themselves, perhaps energy drinks aren’t the best. But wait, it gets worse…), careful to choose the option with NO SUGAR. Then I go to the donut shop because Saturday is donut day. Maybe having a “donut day” isn’t the worst, but the no sugar/sugar dichotomy invites questions of consistency.

The Bible talks about judgment and hypocrisy often. Hypocrisy is closely linked to stage acting, when we are one thing in one place and a different thing in another. The point is that we are who we are all the time, that there’s no image-making, no pretense. Bringing all of who we are under the same umbrella. Another way to say this is consistency. My dad was an alcoholic and I never ever knew which dad I was going to find, sober and awesome or drunk and awful. This isn’t exactly hypocrisy, but perfectly illustrates the importance of consistency inside and out.

As far as judgment, it’s possible that when we are extra judgy towards others, we are instead advertising our own hypocrisy and glaring inconsistencies. And when we talk about judgment and hypocrisy, social media is their breeding ground.

I’m convinced the reason we have absolutely no idea who is telling the truth in politics is because political discourse is rooted in sand, bereft of the anchors of principle, self-awareness, and consistency.

Now. This COVID crisis has drawn battle lines from the beginning: masks, quarantines, vaccines, on and on. And just like everything else, if you disagree with me, you are uninformed and/or ignorant and/or heartless. It is utterly impossible that you would be intelligent, well-read, compassionate AND come to a different conclusion.

For many years, there has been a certain debate among us that has the core of “it’s my body, and you can’t tell me what to do with my body.” One side says yes I can, especially when it comes to protecting others, and the other says no. And now there’s a vaccine with the same core, but what’s interesting is that the sides have crossed the aisle and taken each other’s talking points. And no matter what position we choose, there are exceptions that make this totally natural for a smart, thinking person.

We could talk about this all day, but my point is that maybe the Bible is right about judgment. Maybe we shouldn’t do it at all. Maybe our easy snap generalizations and categories don’t fit because they were never supposed to. We’re complex and nuanced, full of a wide range of experiences. And sure, Facebook is a wonderful place to spew vitriol, but maybe more violence towards each other just isn’t helping.

We feel the disconnect between each other, our communities, our environment, and ourselves. Of course we do.

There’s a song by Todd Snider called “The Ballad of The Kingsmen,” and it ends “Now brothers and sisters I am only one guy. And I don’t even know the words to that song Louie, Louie.” Today is heavy here, for me, and I don’t know much about anything, but maybe it’s not all that surprising that we’re separated when we’ve built concrete walls where bridges are supposed to be.

I’m really tired of being separated.

Black Widow — July 14, 2021

Black Widow

Last weekend I saw Black Widow…in the theater!! I wonder how many times I’ll have to go before that loses it’s excitement and new-ness. I know the answer is more than 2 (I saw Godzilla vs Kong in March), because I had butterflies like the Angel & I were on an early date night. It wasn’t a first date, because those butterflies were large birds with talons and teeth, and lots and lots of energy. More like a date in the 3rd or 4th month, when the nerves were invigorating and pleasant.

When I was a kid, a trip to the movie theater used to be an adventure we looked forward to for days. That novelty wore off (except for BIG releases like Fight Club or Endgame) and it was just another option in an ocean of choices. I’m thrilled that feeling has returned.

I’ll tell you if the answer is 3 in September when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings comes out.

You know, I used to go to quite a lot of live music shows. Once I got to a certain age they lost most of their draw – too many people, too loud, too expensive…well, I guess it was simply too many “too’s” for me. I wonder if I’d like to go back now.

COVID took so much from us for the past year and a half, I wonder if we’ll be surprised to find there are gifts to be enjoyed as well. Sometimes things are so familiar, so common they lose the wonder they hold, like kissing your wife, hugging your boy, driving your boys to basketball practice, sitting in air conditioning on a scorching hot day, pushups, deadlifts, spaghetti, fast dancing to music in the house with your sister, singing along to a song on the radio, those shoes, and on and on and on. When the scales fall, giving us the ability to see them again with new eyes, it’s overwhelming. Of all the people in the world, do you mean I’m the one who gets to actually kiss her??? Has the world really become a place where I can sit and watch these boys play baseball??

I recognize that lives have been lost, anxiety has ravaged our psyches, relationships have been damaged beyond the point of rescue, some of us still have trouble breathing, much less sleeping, the fear of What Could Never Happen (But Did) is oppressive, and going to a movie theater is way too trivial a thing on which to focus, even embarrassingly so. But sometimes it’s the trivial and seemingly insignificant that give us hope. That give us the strength to take one more step. That give us the beautiful notion that the world will continue and we might be ok, sometime down the road in the future, however long it takes.

We had a flood once that drowned our house and everything we owned. Our spirits were crushed under the weight of starting over from scratch, not to mention the looming fight we were inexplicably destined to lose with the insurance company, and the enduring emotional fallout. And in the middle of all of this, my wife’s best friend Laura gave me a book – one of my favorites: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – that I had gifted to her years before. It was her way of saying “I know it’s the kind of dark and awful that feels like it might never not be dark and awful, but this is something lovely.” It was just a book, but it was so much more than a book. It was the promise of life wrapped in her sweet heart. That horrible flood ended up having a million gifts like that, where human beings were exposed as kind, caring, and generous. Most people don’t get to experience that sort of avalanche of love, and I wish they could. It was a book about a record store, and it changed me forever.

It might have been the best movie I ever saw or it might be ok. I can’t give it a proper review because it’s impossible to detach the art from the context, and I don’t want to try. To me it was perfect.

It’s The End Of Youth Sports As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) — July 6, 2021

It’s The End Of Youth Sports As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

The baseball season is over. When anything ends, there is always that familiar maelstrom of (often conflicting) emotions. I’m happy to get my evenings back, family dinners, and rejoin the groups where I have been absent. It’s awesome to not have to call to report scores, or line the field before games. It’s not as awesome, on the other hand, to be inside on this hot, sunny day and not on a ball field. I already miss the crack of the bat or the sound of a nice fastball hitting the glove. And I’m heartbroken that I don’t get to see the players and coaches every day anymore.

After the last game (a loss), I gave a game ball to one of the players I had coached for several years and would never again. He was 1 of 3 of in that category. They are 3 of the finest young men you’ve ever had the pleasure to know. So that’s hard. It was also the last game where I would be my oldest son’s coach. That’s way too much to sit with for too long, but that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? If we don’t spend that time, it stays kind of hidden in the corner of our hearts until…right? Who knows what it takes or when, but it simply has to be addressed. That’s what I did. I sat with that box of memories and I cried and cried, and then I laughed and thanked God that I had the opportunity for so long and that it may be the last for us together, but it is not the last for him. And it’s not the last for me.

Here’s another thing: The umpires quit before the season was over! They resigned because of the behavior they were forced to endure night after night. I wouldn’t consider myself one of their biggest fans as officials, but I am generally a fan of human beings and am always a fan of interacting with respect and love. This puts me and the team I coach squarely in the minority. Apparently, the online culture of aggression and arrogance has left the screens and stormed the fields.

Now, I am not pretending that bad behavior didn’t exist, but like everything else in 2020 (and now -21), the pandemic and it’s partner isolation turned up the volume on the loneliness, anxiety and fear that breeds this selfish nastiness and lack of self-control. Nearly every night, there were new stories. I probably would’ve quit, too.

I know the root of the aggression and arrogance is inadequacy and insecurity. We find our identity in wins and losses, as if youth sports were the Great Arbiter of Truth. Youth sports is a lot of things, but distributor of worth isn’t one. Yet we keep asking it to do what it can’t. Of course, the kids sometimes act like monsters (because they sometimes are monsters), but they’re teenagers. They’re looking to the coaches to expect more from them. I’m not sure we’re not desperately looking for someone to tell us we’re so much better than these embarrassingly low standards we’ve accepted. And the coaches are acting like monsters (because they’re looking, too) and it’s a snowball that is rolling down a steep hill into the garbage dump of history.

I happen to be one of those lucky few that is very rarely tied to “how it used to be,” and especially in this case, if this is how it used to be, I say let it die and let’s start fresh. We can and should forget where it has mutated. Instead, let’s keep the amazing parts and trash the rest, and make something new and awesome in it’s place.

We can still call it youth sports, if you want to.

The DMV — June 25, 2021

The DMV

RIGHT NOW, my son is at the DMV in line waiting to take his learner’s permit written test. This is not possible. He was just born yesterday. I remember pulling my work truck onto the shoulder to deal with the reality of the words I had just heard: “I’m pregnant.” Or rather, “Positive,” because we had decided to wait until I returned home from work but I simply could not and begged her to take the test with me on the phone.

This was a pretty poor choice, as it turns out. I would have loved to hold her tightly while we cried on the floor of the bathroom like in the commercials. But the way it happened I remember like it’s seared into my mind and that’s cool to remember something so significant so clearly, so I guess it wasn’t that poor of a decision. And I did get to hold her and cry soon enough in celebration and joy and gratitude.

Anyway, that was last night and now he’s 16 and as big and strong as I am and is hopefully about to get enough questions right to pass his test.

It’s moments like this that allow us to focus on where we are and from where we’ve come. Sometimes we miss it, you know? We wake up and wonder what happened, how did we get this old and how in the world is he driving?!!!!???

There’s a familiar story in the Bible about Moses and a burning bush. Now, bushes burn all the time but what was interesting about this one was that it wasn’t being consumed, like every single other thing that burns. I wonder how many walked right on by, head down getting to the next meeting or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow, distracted by anything, what my hair looks like, if I’m too fat, what they thought of me, if my shirt was the right color, whatever. And the bush burns and the invitation goes unnoticed.

My dad died 16 years ago (the same year the prospective driver was born) very suddenly. I wished for 1 more day, 1 more conversation, 1 more chance to make everything right. Then the story about that bush was no longer was a story about thousands of years ago, it was a story about me and my dad and God trying to get my attention to here and now, instead of then, there, should have, and what if.

That was the greatest lesson my dad taught me, and if you like me even a little, that’s probably what you like most. I wrote earlier that the Angel was pregnant ‘last night,’ but that’s not true. It was almost 17 wonderful years of laughter, church services, tears, angry fights, wrestling on the floor, board games, movies, dentist appointments, basketball games, Impractical Jokers episodes, hugs (sooo many hugs), kisses, fevers, doctor appointments, and countless ice cream cones ago and I’m sure I’ve missed a few moments but for the most part, the point my dad unknowingly made stuck me like a knife in the hardest parts of my heart, changing me forever. Now those parts are super soft and squishy and keep me fully present. What I can tell you is that I’ve loved him with my whole heart and all of my being for every day of his life.

Which has now become a life that has PASSED A DRIVERS TEST!!!!!!

WW84 & Luca21 — June 23, 2021

WW84 & Luca21

Last weekend, as a little bit of an act of aggression towards my son who had gone with a friend (who was NOT ME!!!!) to the beach for 4 days (4 DAYS!!!!), I watched Wonder Woman 1984. We had not yet seen it and this is usually the type of movie we watch for the first time together. But he was away and it was available on a free trial of HBO, so… In case you haven’t seen it, if you Google it, the first result is the question “Is Wonder Woman 1984 the worst movie ever?” Ha! It wasn’t great, but it started me on a path that leads me here, with you.

But first, let me tell you we also watched Luca, a Pixar film on Disney+. This one was tremendous and my favorite part in a movie of favorite parts was Luca’s wide eyes.

Before we tie WW84 and Luca’s eyes into a tidy bow, there’s a song called ‘Roses’ by the Band Camino and here are some of the lyrics:

“Why you wanna be a sad boy, waste your time?/Lookin’ for something that was right here all along/I think we’re gettin’ it wrongIt’s too bad/When did it get cool to be so sad?/We’re spinnin’ backwards, did we all go mad?/Yeah, we’re only human but wе’ve got hands and hearts and noses/So stop and smеll the — roses.”

There’s a young man I coach who is so similar to me, he drives me crazy. He hated the Wonder Woman sequel, but he happens to be that certain wonderful age and disposition where every single thing is just horrible. I know the age well, hyper-critical, painted with elitism, sarcasm and a deep grouchiness.

The younger me thought it was super cool to be bored, jaded, sad and dismissive of most art, most everything actually, because I was so far above it all. It was awesome to make fun and pick apart anything. I was sooooo funny and disaffected. And I was totally miserable.

Luca left the water for land and was overwhelmed with wonder. There wasn’t anxiety or routine or a mountain of inadequacy. There wasn’t a hierarchy of people or things he ‘should’ like or not, no such thing as a “guilty pleasure” – just pleasure. Just beauty. Just roses.

Of course he would have to deal with the thorns, like we all do, but unlike many of us, he chose to not be overcome with those sharp points. There was the local bully and antagonist Ercole Visconti (there always is) but there was also the lovely Guilia. Luca had the same choice we do. Which one do we allow to color our experiences? To which do we give the keys to our heart? Which one gets to chose our perspective?

Wonder Woman probably wasn’t a great film, but so what? Not every film has to be Fight Club or Pulp Fiction.

Has there ever been a circumstance where tearing something down led to the teeniest bit of our own growth?

Another ‘Roses’ line goes, “Maybe you’re the person that you always wanted to be,” and after a lot of thought, the truth is, the person I want to be is one who likes stuff, who can see beauty wherever I look. I want to live a life of wonder and joy, so I do (mostly), and I think if we did more of that…

Well, you know how it is when you get a new car and it seems like those are the only cars on the road? Maybe it’s like that with love and wonder and Luca and positive energy. Maybe it’s like an electricity that each of us feel and absorb.

So, yes, I think if we did more of that, there would be more of that. We’ve got hands and hearts and noses, so let’s just try to stop and smell the — roses.

Our Why — June 14, 2021

Our Why

As you are probably very well aware, I care for youth sports a great deal and coach when I am qualified (which meant soccer and basketball when the kids were young and needed more of a babysitter than a coach and means only baseball now.) Every year there is a shortage of volunteers and that’s sometimes depressing even if it is predictable. The truth is, if I had an ounce of good sense, I wouldn’t do it either.

The most common guess is that nobody does it because of the time commitment, but that’s not true. Like everything else, we make time for what we value. If she says she doesn’t have time to call you back, it’s not because she doesn’t have time, it’s because she doesn’t have time to call you. Most parents who “don’t have time” are at all the games and always have time to write nasty texts about their future major leaguer’s playing time.

Having said that, parents are usually the biggest obstacle. As a parent of 2 athletes, I am comfortable saying that we are the absolute worst. We think our kids are the most talented, sweetest, hardest working people who have ever graced a field or laced up a pair of sneakers. Sure, we’re wrong, but that hardly matters. It only matters when you are the coach, like I am, and you’re honest that your son will get all of the preferential treatment possible.

Players are next in line. I find myself saying “nowadays,” “when I was young,” and “we used to ___” more than I ever thought I could. Yes, kids are different, probably because of the last paragraph, but they’re not monsters. They’re not all monsters.

You should know that I’m writing because, late last week, all of the coaches got an email detailing the myriad of ways we were misbehaving and the consequences we would face if we were to continue acting like petulant babies overflowing with insecurity and bad judgment. At that moment it became obvious that coaching wasn’t the most thankless position, it’s league president. Now why would anybody want to do that???

But I know why. And I know why I continue to choose to ignore my own good sense. It’s precisely because of all of the reasons not to engage. 

We give our time to kids who need someone to trust, to count on, who will look at them, see them and to trust them back. To the kids who need fresh words and new stories believed and spoken about them. That is a far superior use of our moments than Netflix or scrolling through social media or even more hours of overtime. By giving our most valuable resource, these kids see that time isn’t our most valuable resource after all, they are.

We serve the parents (or the coaches serve us) because more people loving our children is muuuuch better than less. 

But it’s the kids that give us our real why. I see a boy in my weight room who comes in every day. I ask everyone to do 7 sets of everything because it’s the number of completion, of wholeness. 7 because of Genesis 1. I sometimes ask him to do 8, because in John’s gospel, he gives 7 “signs” and then continues with an 8th (which is the resurrection of Jesus), signifying a new week (!!!!) and a new creation. I ask him to do 8 because he’s becoming a new person. He listens, or pretends to. And today after the 7th, he looks me in the eye and says, “I’m doing 8.” He is why we do any of it.

It’s how we love and it’s how, in whatever small or gigantic way we can, tell stories of a whole new world, one practice at a time.

I have nothing to say about the miserable behavior in the email. There’s always one or two, isn’t there? 😉

What If You Do? — June 8, 2021

What If You Do?

At a baseball game last night, we lost. That’s ok. I don’t ever mind wins and losses. (Well, I do a little…sometimes more than a little.) What I do mind is the how. How did we play? How did we compete? How did we show up? How did we carry ourselves? How was our mindset? How how how.

So last night our how was rough. I saw it in their eyes, their countenance, their posture, and just as a positive how elicits a favorable result (not always a win, but always something good), our loss was a direct translation of our how. It’s probably mostly that way in our careers, marriages, homes, our lives, right? We often sleep-walk through the ruts & routines of our days. We’re tired, uninspired, listless, frustrated, passive and the tapes in our head keep us firmly stuck in that loop. Maybe it’s settling for less, or maybe it’s just a lack of vision. Maybe it’s just that our eyes are closed to the opportunities, the beauty, the glory of God crackling all around us desperately trying to jar us from our despair.

In an weekly email I subscribe to, Caitlin Winkley writes, “Are your thoughts contributing to the type of woman you want to be, the type of life you’d like to live and how you want to feel?

Or, are your thoughts fueling your old story, leading you to feel worry, doubt, unsurety, powerless and fearful?”

(I don’t know why she assumes everyone on her email list is a woman, but I really don’t care. She’s awesome and this is wisdom for everybody, regardless of any demographic category. This might be a very good time to discuss the things that offend us, but we’re discussing other things today…I DID read once that we get offended by small things when we don’t have big things to think/care about and give our energies to, so that’s all we’ll say about that here, now.)

Do we need a renewal of the mind? Did each of my players last night live into a picture of the “type of woman” he wants to be? Did they give what they had to give and feel how they want to feel? Did I?

Are we doing that today at work or school or home or wherever?

OR are we feeling doubt, worry, unsurety, powerlessness? Are we overrun by fear?

Unsure is the perfect word, isn’t it? Because those adjectives she uses are paralyzing, making our feet heavy and still, holding us tightly to the ground when we have always been meant to fly. And then the tapes: Really??? Are you really meant to fly? You??? What if you fall? What if you are wrong? What if you don’t have what it takes?

What I have learned, even as I too often listen to those familiar tapes in my head, is that those questions aren’t that far removed from, “Did God really tell you…” from Genesis 3. They were lies then and they are lies now.

What if you swing and miss? What if you don’t catch it? What if you make a bad throw? What if you give all you have and still lose? What if you fall? What if you’re wrong?

What if if you don’t have what it takes?

To paraphrase a famous parable, “Oh but my darling, what if you do?”

Sports might not always be the perfect metaphor for everything (I guess), but they are very close.

Outside Of A Hotel Dance Club — May 25, 2021

Outside Of A Hotel Dance Club

I read this book last year called Misericorde, by Cynthia Morgan. It’s part of The Mercy Series (part 2 is out, called Clandestine, and now we impatiently wait for book 3 & 4). I’ve referenced it several times before because it contains this peach: “May we show our thankfulness through kindness and appreciate our blessings through generosity,” and as far as vision statements for life go, it’s terrific.

Last year, the author (who happens to be a good friend) asked me to do what she called a “Reverse Book Review,” where she asked questions, I’d respond, and that interview would become the review. It’s a great idea and of course it is, she’s brilliant.

One of the questions was “Who was your favorite/least favorite character and why?” I answered: “My least favorite is easy: Sauvage. In a space that is forgetting any resemblance of gentleness or care, his absolute lack of humanity is repulsive. My favorite has been Chevalier or Levesque for the same reason. As I raged at their apathy and unwillingness to DO SOMETHING, I knew why they didn’t (or couldn’t.) They did for the same reason we stand idly by while the least of us are utterly taken advantage of and great violence is inflicted. Morgan couldn’t have known the specific political/social landscape when she wrote it, but this story is perfect for us, now. I guess it’s perfect for any time, because we are too often Chevalier or Levesque and not enough Tzadkiel and Lourdes. (As it turns out, why I love them is that they DID finally DO SOMETHING and I am proud of them, and it gives me hope for us, for me.)”

You don’t need to know who Tzadkiel or Levesque or Sauvage are to know who they are, right? They are you & me. Sometimes we are the wounded, sometimes we’re the one who delivers the pain, and perhaps most disturbingly, sometimes we are those that stand on the sidewalk while the damage is done. When my often-overwhelming passivity pulls the strings on my decision making process, it leaves me crushed and discouraged. Why didn’t I just (whatever)? Why couldn’t I have just…?

And I know why here, too.

Once when I was in college, I witnessed a guy hit the woman he was with with a bottle outside of a hotel dance club. My friends were in the bathroom and I was watching the whole thing happen from the window. Sick and outraged, I waited for the guy to leave and my friends to come back, then we ran outside like heroes. Only I knew I wasn’t.

25 years ago and this still haunts me. Of course it does, how can it not? I can see him do it and I can see her face. I sure hope she didn’t then get in his car, but I’m pretty sure she did.

It’s interesting what will shape each of us into the collage that we are at any point on the timeline. Or, in this case, the mosaic that I am now. Watching such a despicable happen and choosing to bend to my fear broke me forever in ways I couldn’t understand through that hotel window. But it’s the repair, isn’t it? The beauty of a mosaic lies in the reorganization of the cracked and broken pieces.

I used to ask, anytime kindness, civility or common sense broke down, “how can they do that???” I don’t ask that anymore. I know, I know. I understand Chevalier and Levesque because they are a mirror of what we can become and an invitation to become something more of what we were created to be. I wrote that I was proud of them, that they gave me hope. And I guess what I really meant was if their story wasn’t over, mine isn’t either.

The Stairs — May 13, 2021

The Stairs

I haven’t written for a minute because I’ve been sick with the COVID. Mine is a very mild case, but it does carry with it an unpredictability. Every morning I wonder if today will be a good day, if I’ll have energy, a headache, a stuffy head, or just how severe my chest tightness will be. This, of course, isn’t awesome, but over the last 2 weeks I watched a loooong documentary that I had been meaning to catch. It’s called The Staircase and details the death of a woman and the murder trial of her husband, who happens to be famous author Michael Peterson.

I suppose it’s actually about the justice system in this country, with these people, their families and communities as the backdrop.

The Staircase is 13 episodes – 8 original with the next 5 added over the last 20 years of this ridiculous saga. So, I watched every one and have no idea how this woman died. Maybe she fell, maybe she was beaten, maybe an owl (no kidding, an owl!) attacked her. Who knows? I don’t know if everyone is telling the truth or if no one is, if they’re all just doing the best with the limited information they have.

Not everyone was telling the truth. There was a crooked investigator in North Carolina named Duane Deaver who we can all be quite certain was a villain in this story. Maybe he’s not anymore, maybe in being found out, he was forced to look in the mirror and his soul and changed his life. I often dream like this. Just because we are one way today doesn’t mean we have to stay that way. The boxes inside which we put ourselves and each other are really just tape on the floor that we can easily escape…or they should be. There’s an honest discernment involved. Obviously, we don’t want this guy anywhere near evidence or in any position of authority where he can steal any more years of any more lives, but there must not be a period where a comma should be.

I did not like The Staircase. I didn’t really like any of the characters too much, especially Michael Peterson. His arrogance was gross, his pontificating was inane and endless, I even found the tone of his voice grating by the 3rd or 4th episode. I just wanted it over. I cared about the owl more than anything else.

Afterwards, I looked up on Google to find out why anybody liked it. And guess what I found? One of the women on the documentary crew named Sophie ended up in a relationship with Peterson, who was first found guilty by a jury and then finally ended up pleading guilty to the murder of his wife. This love connection sounds awfully strange, but it’s an excellent illustration of my tape on the floor description, isn’t it? She didn’t label him or classify him as anything. She simply saw him as a human being, and I like that more than I can tell you. I can’t imagine what she saw in him, but Sophie is easily my favorite person in The Staircase and the one I’ll take with me long after I forget every last minute of this American tragedy.