Bedtime Surprise

Wyatt, our first grader, has made the turn and dived headlong into reading. Most nights, we let him and Seth grab a book or two – and a flashlight – to take to bed. Tonight, I was pretty surprised when Wyatt pulled Holy Curiosity off the shelf. While walking back to his room, book in hand, Wyatt said, “Daddy, I like reading your books.”

A few minutes ago, I overheard Wyatt reading the dedication, out loud: To Wyatt and Seth…I pray you always have the courage to ask true questions; and I pray your heart is bold and patient to listen for God’s reply.

Hearing my six-year-old son read those words … it doesn’t get any better.

We Have a Reader

Backdrop: Wyatt’s two schools – Ravenel Elementary for kindergarten and Jackson-Via Elementary (woot jackrabbits!) for first grade – have both had these ramped-up 100 Book Challenges. Each night, the school sends home an easy-reader for Wyatt to “read.” (the quotation marks are because in the early days, it was us reading to him). Much of this has been of the “See Jane Run” variety, mind you. He’s progressed some these days, but still…

So, that is the necessary background for the following dialogue. However, when the question first came, I made no connection to these educational rituals.

seth (out of the blue): dad, have you read 100 books?
me: yeah, I think I’ve read 100 books.
wyatt: when?
me: well, just over my lifetime.
wyatt (unimpressed): hmm. I read 100 books in kindergarten.

Jump Little Children

I love my boys, these scruffy, loud, belligerent, tender, wild-eyed, questioning, always questioning, imaginative, sword-wielding, lightsaber (or lightsaver, if you’re Seth) slinging, bloody-nosed, scratched up, sweaty, pounding, breaking, crashing, spilling, creating, somersaulting, (have I already mentioned loud?) boys. I love ’em, I do.

Wyatt has entered that I-want-to-be-like-dad season. Yesterday, we gave our old cell phones to the boys, one for each of them. I thought they were perfect to serve as Star Trek communicators, but then they had no concept for anything Star Trek. My, how our public schools are failing us. Anyway, Wyatt immediately stuffed it in his pocket and said, “Dad, I’m carrying it just like you.” A couple minutes (and a couple imaginary phone calls to some fellow named Jake) later, he said, “Mom, sometimes daddy goes out on the deck to talk.” (I do, he’s right) So, Wyatt proceeded out on the deck where he stuck his left hand in his pocket, cocked his head to the right in order to scrunch the phone closer and chatted away as he paced back and forth across the deck. Who do you think he’s seen do just that? Pops.

On some recent dad-time with my youngest (the one mid-air above), Seth asked, “Dad, why don’t we see God?” His father’s son, he is. How do I explain to a five-year-old the complexity that, in one sense we can’t see God the way we see everything else – yet in another sense, God might just be the absolute plainest thing to see in all the world. God is all around us, in every conversation, in every hint of joy and passion and hope. In every hand we touch. In every star-littered sky that makes us stand, riveted, gaping and staring at the wonder surrounding us. And God is there, every time our heart breaks at injustice. God: right in front of our eyes, right at the edge of our fingers, right at the center of our heart.

Wyatt and Seth are watching me. But, truth told, I’m watching them too. Here’s what I see: Wyatt and Seth believe more than I do. They trust more than I do. They laugh and dance and sing and imagine and live more than I do. This image of my boys jumping (or in Wyatt’s case, about to jump) offers most of what I see in them. They are alive. They are hopeful. They play hard and cry hard and hope hard. They live full-throttle, leaping at life.

Jump, boys. Jump.

If you need an appropriate soundtrack to accompany this post, you may begin here.

Divine Scrutiny

Lots happening around here. All Souls begins it’s weekly gathering at our house this Sunday. I’ve missed this regular, disciplined form of community. I need it. I really need it. Wyatt and Seth received a couple new games for Christmas, and we’re learning them. I’m currently the reigning champion of Blokus.

I’m trying to figure out where I want to go next with writing. After more than 5 years, I’ve finished my gig @ Relevant – and I’ve pushed Holy Curiosity out of the nest. I have a few small projects going, but right now it’s pretty much just you guys and me, here on the ol’ blog. It has purpose to it, I’m wanting a break. But, also, I’ve felt stilted recently, tired. I’m sure it has shown. I’m eager to see my art take new shape and have fresh breath. I’m ready for some new life in the words.

Biggest of all, Miska and I are entering a new season. A few weeks back, we had a heart-to-heart where we both put voice to a feeling that was a little scary: we were both bored in our marriage. Not something you want to say. Not something you want to feel. But since that tough conversation, a spark has lit. We have turned our face toward one another again. I like where we’re going. We look at each other differently. We touch differently. We listen differently. We sit together on the couch differently.

And one more thing – I am aware of a strong longing for this year to bring deep healing in me. I want to be more free, more full of love. I want to walk with lightness and joy – and strength. I want to see those around me. I want to be a better husband, dad, friend. I want to be a better man. This is a work God must do. But I have to open myself to it. I must stop flailing about. I must open myself to God’s ravaging love, his gaze penetrating into my shadowy corners.

Last night, I read these words from Richard Foster and they won’t let me go: If certain chambers of our heart have never experienced God’s healing touch, perhaps it is because we have never welcomed the divine scrutiny.

Well, I am welcoming divine scrutiny. I probably don’t know what I’m asking for, but in faith and hope, I ask anyway. Anyone with me?

St. Nick

This week, our house has been filled with much conversation around St. Nick. Wyatt asked Miska point blank: is Santa real? Miska’s normal deft response (well, what do you think?) didn’t deflect as it has every time in the past. No, Wyatt said, I want to know for real – is he?

Unfortunately, this conversation proved fateful for a few other children. Miska told Wyatt and Seth to keep this inside information to themselves, since some kids still believed in Santa. Let’s just say our boys are not ones to keep the lid on potent info.

Tonight, I had a long talk with Seth because he had been complaining, repeatedly, that he was only getting two presents for Christmas (and I’m not even sure how he came up with that number, but given the moment, I wasn’t about to respond by telling him that he was probably landing more).

Me: Seth, you need to learn to be thankful for what you have, all the good things you are given, instead of complaining because you don’t get more.

Seth: (beginning to sob) Now, I’m going to be on the naughty list.

Back to the point, this whole Santa thing been interesting. On the one hand, I want Wyatt and Seth to know mom and dad will never lie to them. And – coming from my own hangups, I don’t want to give them any reason to someday wonder: well, if Santa Claus isn’t real, what other outrageous tales (i.e., the outrageous gospel) are bogus?

However, on the other hand, there is something about the wonder and mystery of belief in things like Santa that I very much want them to hold on to. I hope for Seth and Wyatt to have the imagination to have faith in their deep suspicion that there is something (someone?) magnificently good in this world. I want their hearts to continue to know, often against the odds, that the insanity around us (the greed and violence and selfishness) is not the way their world is meant to be. Wyatt and Seth are beginning to understand that a jolly fellow in a red suit won’t be coming down the chimney. But, if I have anything to say about it, their hearts will grow more and more alive to mystery and hope.

On Fatherhood

Have you heard me say it? I love being a dad.

Being a father touches my deepest hopes (and, truthfully, triggers some of my darkest fears). I want to love these boys with my full self, to give them all my heart, to see them and know them, to help them see their true name, to help them make their way in this screwy world.

Last week, Wyatt pulled up his courage and walked into his first grade classroom by himself (some early trauma his first week of school had made this quite an ordeal). I sat in the car, watching him trot down this sidewalk, backpack bobbing up and down – Wyatt strolling like he owned the school. I was so proud of him, and I was sad – before long he won’t want me to walk him to class (which, I guess, is a good thing – dad dropping him off in 10th grade might be odd).

Today, Seth turned 5. I love that little buddy of mine. Yesterday, I took him to the Timberlake drug store and soda fountain downtown. We went into the 1950’s style establishment and made our way to the back where you can still sit at the counter in vinyl-red covered spinning stools. Seth ordered a chocolate coke (yup) and an oatmeal cream pie. I loved sitting there, chatting with him, enjoying his wide-grin. When we were walking downtown, Seth did what he usually does – he slipped his hand in mine, easy and natural. And we just walked and talked. I hope we always walk and talk, until I am too old for either.

My Soulmate

On Saturday, Miska and I celebrated eleven wonderful, hard-fought, joyful, exasperating, full-of-life, surprising, intoxicating, mercy-laden, adventurous, soul-connected years of marriage. I’d marry her again, in a heart beat – faster than that even.

I love you, Miska. Thank you for eleven years of your heart and soul and body. I’ll take 40 more. And then some.

Being Dad

Being a dad is one of the things I love most. I’m taking one of the boys to breakfast and then hiking tomorrow. Tonight, my other son crawled up and laid on me while we finished a movie (Camp Rock – and not as bad as I expected, truth told). Those are the kind of moments that make a life.

Of the three or four things I’m desperate to do well during my days (and honestly, there are only three or four), being Wyatt and Seth’s dad is one of them. And, honestly, I want to do better. I want to see them more and give them more and love them more. So, I’m thankful whenever I run across another man who makes me want to be a better dad. John Blase is one of those guys. Read his post, Of Blood and Fairies – you’ll see why.

Hodge Podge

A few random tidbits on random arenas of thought, two from Wyatt (our 6 year old) and one from a sportswriter:

Wyatt on politics

God is like the president because the president owns the country.


Wyatt on theology

The Trinity is like root beer. There’s lots of brands, but they’re all still root beer.

a little improvement on the Nicene Creed from the mind of a first-grader.

a Sportswriter on the ACC’s horrific first week woes

Heck, this league can’t even get a pregame flyover right — the Tar Heels hired a crew to parachute in the game ball. They landed at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium, eight miles away.

I wish Clemson had stayed eight miles away.