Friday, April 19, 2013

Books From The Backseat or Mysteries Begun

We have always tried to have something for the boys to do in the back seat of my truck, something that's always there.  At first it was MagnaDoodles, I think they are called, and since those I have tried a variety of things.  White boards and dry-erase markers - the boards get stained and the sun and cold dry out the markers; grease pencils - melt; crayons - don't do it, what a mess in the heat.  Finally, I got them colored pencils and a couple of of those four-color-switchy-pens (that's what they're called).  Here's a glimpse into the backseat:

Why, yes, yes those are bi-colored pencils, artist quality, why?  Because my boys deserve the best, oh, and, good colored pencils don't very often break and last much longer than cheopo Crayola ones -  Crayola = Crayon, 'nuff said.  Anyway, I don't often look into them except when I clean out the toxic waste that accumulates back there.  (I did mention them once before in this post.)

Now Zack likes to draw cars and trucks and the like.  I like this one although, for obvious reasons I'll not be writing out the name of this one, suffice to say 'triple letter Destroir.'

And then there is this jewel, the truck car vehicle is hard to make out but the name is decidedly unforgettable:

Yep, "Optomisom."  I can't imagine a better misspelling.

Zack sometimes works on elaborate, inexplicable instructions, you know, those no language ones like LEGO does:

Nick, on the other side of the backseat, tends toward more character-oriented drawings, like these two happy dudes (drawn on pages that have fallen out of the book):

I like this blockhead guy, it's fun to see the progression from sketch to finished dude:

I love that acorn top hat, with a swirl.  I also think he was a rifle there in his wing.  Odd...

Even when Nick tries to draw a thing, you know, an object or a vehicle, they tend to look more like cartoon characters with real personalities.  Case in point:

I am uncertain what that top thing is, but, it talks.  And, there at the bottom... "bus       man."  The seventies called, they want their bus back.

So, that's what I found out there, in the little books, in the backseat.

I'm stalling...

I'm stalling because, for one thing, as usual, I don't have a very good segue from the above to what I want to talk about now.  I am also stalling because I don't want to put anyone off my blog here.  But, as you may know, I can't always make this good for everyone so, I am going to forge ahead.

The boys have First Communion this Sunday, they are excited about it, honestly, so am I.  I am the first to admit that I don't fully understand the Catholic sacrament of Holy Communion, I do not participate because I was raised a Presbyterian, which is fine with me, and I have a difficult time coming to terms with "real body and blood."  It is important to note that this is hardly the fault of religious teachings on either side, but, it is a failure of my own intellect in fostering the deep relationship with Jesus I admire in so many.

What I do know is that this is an important moment for them, not as Catholic boys, not as Christian boys, not as God-fearing boys, but, as human boys.  Moral Law and Divine Law will always be debated, however, the power and essence of morality and divinity are undeniable.  I need, and I feel, we need, to present our children with the moral foundations that the teachings of Christ imbue.  Love thy neighbor, sacrifice, charity, acceptance, all are essential to our coexistence with those around us.  I think it is simple, others don't think so.

I also think there is a primal impulse in all humans to search for God.  Of course this is not news to social anthropologists and historians and, well, everyone, but, it is of deep significance.  I have known that draw all of my life; I hear it in the questions my boys ask; I see it in the look in their eyes as they witness beauty and ugliness; I sense it in their hearts as they reach out in understanding to those in need; I understand that it is written on the template of their souls - insert God here.

On Friday mornings, at 6:03, you can find me with a group of about three dozen or so dads, at the church.  We discuss kids and our relationship with our families.  It's called Father's Team and, although it is never perfect, it has been a positive experience for all of us, I'd think, considering it has being going strong now for a couple of years.

I wish I'd have had a camera this morning.  I wish I could draw a picture or recreate it in Photoshop, but, alas, all I have are mere words to describe what I saw.

My memory is always present tense.

The meeting comes to an end and the thirty or so guys shuffle forward, left hands extended, right hand reaching for the shoulder of the man to their right.  The hands in the center do not all pile on to one another like a cheer before a game, there are too many of them so, palms downward, they form a tight circle hovering above a chair, an empty chair, draped with a simple purple cloth, representing Christ among us.

Some of the hands are well-manicured, smooth, with cuff-linked wrists and suit jacketed sleeves.  Some of the hands are rough and grease-stained, a sweatshirt instead covers the wrists.  Wedding rings, gold and silver, spark in the light.  They form a powerful image; a sacred, timeless image of unity and purpose.

The opposite hands rest warm and easy on the shoulders of their fellows.  A gentle pressure, a knowing, a feeling of strength on your own shoulder, a sense of place in this circle of men; the simple, elegant power of the scene is moving.

If you could but fly above this circle, and look down through the ring of hands, onto the chair, you'd see two simple hand-knotted rosaries, both blue, one lighter than the other, draped over the purple robe of the ever-present Christ.  The early morning light is diffused, the hands lay quiet shadows over the simple corded necklaces and yet, they radiate.

Add now the sound of voices, men's voices, some deep, confident; others quiet, hopeful.  Listen now, you know the words," Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name."  A chant, an incantation, a prayer, a hope, a miracle.  Brotherhood.  Humanity.  Mankind.  Masculinity.  Sacred, essential goodness.  The words, lost perhaps in their hopelessness to describe the indescribable, echo in the high ceiling, and come back to the men reassuring, comforting, eternal.

"And the Fathers said to the Fathers, Amen."  The group says finally.

 A blessing, said over a chair, over these two simple knotted strings, will remain with me until the moment I can no longer love, forever, in other words.  Thank you, gentle men, gentle souls, gentle sons of gentle fathers.  Thank you.

Marci made these, or rather, facilitated the making of these.  Each knot was tied by her or me or by family members, teachers, priests, friends and loved ones.  Each knot a prayer of hope, a gift of grace, a promise of peace and love everlasting.  We will give them these before their Mass on Sunday accompanied by a note explaining them and a list of those who participated in their making lovingly crafted by Marci.  I hope they have them forever, I know I will.

Thanks for stopping by and, throw some good vibes our way this weekend, if you feel so inclined...


  1. I still have my rosary from my communion. :) Youngest and I (finally) left the house today for our run (which ended up being more of a walk because of the rain) and we discussed the topic of religion for almost the entire 3 miles.

    I do not conform to a specific religion, but I teach the ideas of Christianity, a bit of Buddha, and the concept of Karma. When they are old enough to understand the idea of organized religion, they can then chose for themselves what suits them best.

    I'm glad you found unity with your father's group. I am still searching for what works for me.

  2. Gloria filiorum patres. Well put, brother.