Whoa man!

In August 1994, in my previous life, my sister MessCat joined our family on vacation. We stayed in the little park home at the “campground” in Florida. It was called a campground, but everyone stayed in some kind of mobile/modular home on a little plot of grass across from the canal. Many had boats docked right across from their lot and most were year round residents. My in-laws who owned it were seasonal. We went down for a week each year, usually in August.

We had a great week, filled with cheese grits and fish, boating and gator tail, manatee watching and swimming in the gulf. There were late night UNO games on the screened porch and sleeping in and lots of sun exhaustion-induced afternoon naps. Shampoo and sunscreen were the perfume of the days. I can still smell that and the scent of the canal…..and listening to the sound of boat motors and frogs singing after dark.

On that trip MessCat told me about how college was going for her. It was her last year. She’d come across some interesting information and had been testing it out. Apparently, something she had heard or read said, if you repeat one thing over and over–an exclamation of sorts–others will start repeating it as well. She was well on her way to having, “That’s crunchy!” spoken by half of her campus. She expected the saying to be used by nearly all by the time she returned from vacation. All because one person repeated it over and over. And it stuck.

We decided to try it. She reminded me today that the line came from the poem from “So I Married An Axe Murderer.” (Woman…..Whoa man) We started saying “whoa man” about all kinds of things. Something surprising (whoa man, did you see that?), something good (whoa man, this sandwich is good), something that hurt (whoa man!), when we wanted someone to stop (whoa man *hand up*)…..and so on. If we could find a way, we did. My 8 year old little Bud was an amused observer, I think. MessCat might tell me differently, but I don’t think he ever blinked about it. The other adult though, it was sinking into his brain without him even knowing it. Until one evening, as MessCat, my Bud, and I were Reversing and Skipping Turns and changing colors, he came in from the canal, walked across the porch, and nearly fell off the two steps going into the house. “Whoa man!” he said, as he struggled to regain his balance.

We promptly lost it. MessCat and I nearly fell off our seats laughing so hard. Even my Bud joined in, though I’m not sure if he knew what was so funny or not. Or maybe two adults rolling around with laughing tears is funny enough on its own.

What occurred to me in the wee hours while I was asleep last night, was that this is happening right now. People keep saying things over and over. And then others start to repeat it. And others and still others. More and more. Until everyone is saying it, and very few–as evidenced by my need to call MessCat this morning to ask about the origin of the exclamation–really remember why.

It is not lost on me that the child was the last one to join in with the catchphrase, but eventually he did. Becuase he was hearing it from all of the adults in his life.

It’s odd, isn’t it? I haven’t thought about that trip or that incident in a long, long time. But for some reason it crawled back out last night from where it has been tucked away, interrupted my sleep, and demanded to be revisited and told.

We–me, you, all of us–need to be cautious about what we are speaking and giving life to. Someone is bound to repeat it. For whatever reason. And if that someone is a child…..

we have to be more careful. We…..I…..need to be more focused on speaking light into life. And love. And beauty and joy. And of course, laughter.

And if darkness tries to come creeping in…..

WHOA, MAN.

Love and light to all.

thinking about what we are saying /// watching for who’s listening

Not Today

On days when you say, more than once, “I can’t do this anymore” and consider putting an ad out there for an adult to come and take over because making one more decision does not sound like anything you are going to be doing this day, here is what I know is good:

*Children (young and grown) dancing to the Gummy Bear song.

*Walks in the finally not freezing cold weather.

*Stepping away from the things that are sapping your energy and time–if only for a few minutes.  Just walk away.  It’ll still be there.  That I can promise.

*Laughing over a parody watched with people you love.

*Chocolate.  Always.

*Cold coffee.  (Or you know, hot, if you prefer it that way)

*Watching Elton John singing karaoke to his own songs.  (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”  I.  Am. DONE.)

*Finishing up a major undertaking and giving yourself a high five.

*Knowing it’s almost bedtime and tomorrow is another day.  Another chance for things to right themselves.  Well, with a little help.  But yeah.  Mercies anew in the morning.

Here’s hoping that one of these things brings you a smile and brightens your day.  Or better yet, here’s hoping your day has been so brilliant that your spirits don’t need lifting. But here’s what I hope you take away from this tonight.

If you are having “a day,”  you are not alone.  You can hang with me.  And the rest of us for whom some days are hard.  We can help each other through it.  Or at least laugh a lot trying.  This journey isn’t meant to be done alone.

Love to all.

proof of angels

for days and weeks and then months

so many spoke of “after the war is over”

and finally, when the months turned into years,

those words were spoken less and less

and the haze that hung over the city

and the dark curtains over the windows

were no longer distinguishable from what we remembered

from before

which seemed like a dream

 

there were even those for whom life without war,

without doling out what we had carefully,

had never been

 

and when the thoughts of the fighting,

the eternal fighting and hatred and fear,

were all we had

besides the occasional rumor that came along

to cause hope to flutter in our chests

if ever so briefly

 

and no one talked of it ever being over anymore,

I looked out the window one day, peeking around the curtain

before dawn

and I saw proof of angels–

of kindness

of caring for others

that was so natural for those who did,

it embodied who they were

 

and so it was that each day that began in darkness

the sun rose

and so did those who cared,

those who might no longer speak of peace

but who rose up from dreams of it

and shared what they could

 

the only weapons they carried were love

and a thermos of coffee

 

and both were more powerful than ever thought possible

 

 

If you are cold, they are cold–who’s bringing them inside?

My oldest’s favorite song over the holidays was “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”  Yes, it’s a disconcerting song when you really listen to the words.  But if you listen to the Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page version (my favorite) of it from 1949, you soon realize that the woman who voiced “Big Mama” from “The Fox and the Hound” is really the one in charge.

But I digress.

My point is, baby, it’s cold outside.

Or it will be.  Lows in the teens Monday and Tuesday nights.

It’s going to be bad y’all.  We are just not equipped to handle weather like this down here in Georgia.  I haven’t gone to the grocery store, but I’m guessing the bread and milk is almost gone.  That’s what our people do, stock up on bread and milk and other essentials when even the hint of bad weather comes along.

So many very caring people in social media have been posting pictures and warnings to remind people to bring the animals in from outside.

pic of bring pets in

I know they are well-intentioned, but…..

For the love.

I have yet to see one asking us to take care of our brothers and sisters who are out in this horrible cold.

Why is that, do you think?

It breaks my heart.

Since hearing the weather alerts, I haven’t heard of any extra shelter being provided for my friends who have no home to stay safe from the elements in.  I don’t know what most of them will do.  With a low of 13 and windchill much below that, how will they manage to make it through the night?  And what will it take for us to call on each other to help a person in need?  To share a picture over and over on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, calling us not to forget the two-legged creatures, the human beings, out in the weather?

I don’t have the answers.  I know people in need, and I know some of the resources.  Shoot, I have a warm house myself.  But I don’t know what the solution is.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do in the midst of this.  But I do know that I used to love a few days of really cold weather each winter, and now it turns my stomach, just the thought of it.  And right now, doing nothing is not an option for me.  I just can’t let this go.

How many fellow human beings will we have to lose, how many have to die, literally freezing to death, before we start working a little harder to make an effort to change things?

Tonight I looked on the local news website–the one where they are making children happy (or not) by listing the school closings.  I looked to see if there was any news about churches opening their fellowship halls or allowing folks to sleep in their pews the next couple of nights.  I found nothing about emergency shelter of any sort.  So the few shelters in the areas that are already filled to capacity are all that there are, I guess.  I am frustrated, and I am mad.  Why aren’t the churches turning up the heat and opening their doors?  Wasn’t the one whom many claim to follow also without “a place to lay his head?”  (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58, the Good Book)  In my opinion, if they can’t open their doors to those in need Monday through Saturday, then why bother on Sunday?  In extreme cases like this–with emergency shelter needed so badly–how can they make any other choice?  And why wasn’t a game plan discussed and made last summer, before it was needed?  Why aren’t we being more proactive for people in need?

Y’all, the message of “If you are cold, they are cold” applies to human beings too.

Tonight at Evening Prayer we talked about our concerns and what is and is not available for our friends and those we don’t know who are without shelter.  As we talked about the posts in favor of folks bringing their pets in, we wondered if there was one recognizing the inhumanity of people sleeping out in the elements.  Thanks to my friend who designed this and sent it this evening.  It cuts to the heart of the matter.

Thanks to my friend for creating and sharing this.

Thanks to my friend for creating and sharing this.

The thing is each one of these people once belonged to someone, maybe still do.  They have names and stories, feelings and dreams, and they matter.  Each and every one.  No matter the choices that may or may not have led to them living as they do, they deserve another chance just as much as you or I.  And each one deserves to be in out of the horrible cold we are facing.  In a safe, warm place.

That song–Aub’s favorite?  The reason that this version is my favorite is because Hot Lips Page sounds an awful lot like my friend Robert.  Same voice, same intonations–it’s almost eerie, except it always makes me smile.  I haven’t heard his voice or had one of his bear hugs in real life in a while.  And now, well, I don’t know what his situation is–whether he’s still in a boarding house or back living on the streets.  All I know is, I’m sure hoping and praying he’s okay, wherever he is.  And I really, really miss him.

A few nights ago the temperature dipped pretty low.  The next morning my phone rang and it was the number from Daybreak, the day shelter in Macon.  It was Mac calling me to let me know he was all right.  I was so thankful to get that call.  The last time I saw him, just before Christmas, he was in a wet overcoat and his clothes were pretty damp too.  His temper and pride kept him from getting them clean and dry before he wandered back across and down a little known path to his camp for the time being.  I was worried.  Wet and cold and do not bode well, especially this time of year when so many are coming down with all kinds of illnesses.  So yes, the phone call meant a lot.  He hurt himself at the New Year’s Eve festivities downtown last Tuesday night, so getting around is more difficult than usual for him.  We talked for a few minutes, and then he said, “Well I just wanted you to know I’m all right.  I made it.  And I love ya, sister.”

I love you too, brother.

I am fearful of the day when that call might not come.

Something has to change.