Thursday, April 3, 2014

Will return in May

Catherina of Siena
I'm not blogging during Lent (it's been pointed out that I should share that information. I'm of two minds on that idea, but there ya go ... ) We're traveling soon, my heart is filled with awe and gratitude at the way God pulls us toward His graces.

The Catholic Church is the best "thing" that ever happened to me. This much I know.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dear Larry

On Thursday a friendship of twenty-plus years came to an end when my mom called with the difficult news of death. My first pen pal (besides Lil and the foreign kids from the back of Archie comics), my first professional boss, and the first gift sobriety gave me: Larry King.

Do you ever picture a certain friend or relative, and just sense they'll never be an ailing 97 year old in a nursing home? This friend was like that, and I'm relieved he is no longer constrained by his earthly body. Larry was somehow ageless: eternally 55 or so, but in many ways a carefree 17-year old guy. He personified the gratitude a recovering addict carries with them --- to be aware of a generous universe, our rightful place in it, and the immutable hand of a loving Creator. And he was a good counselor. Maybe that's why he stayed in the chemical dependency field when he could've chosen a half dozen careers with relative ease and acclaim: music, activism, educational guru, and so on. But he remained a counselor, walking with lost souls trudging towards clarity --- witnessing all the pain and madness without being swallowed by it. He was a real shit disturber where it mattered, and a voice of perfect trust in God when life seemed too much.

Among the things he illuminated for me was an absolute riddance of self-pity and fear. As a clinical director he was patient, meticulous, and funny. As a friend he was endlessly comforting without losing his own serenity. He let me bring my dog to the office every day, wryly declaring her a therapeutic presence. He spoke highly of both of my parents, and had great stories from the 1970s and 80s about many people in our town. I think now about his monk-like existence, the confidences he took to his grave ~ he instilled in me the sacred trust (not to mention a near-holy fear of federal privacy mandates) of receiving another's pain or joy, which is especially vital in an isolated community.

Larry intentionally lived by the ocean, nesting and creating stability wherever he roamed. He was somewhat itinerant in his mission -- knowing when to move on, but fully immersed while he lived in a place. He really was the kind of personality that helps knit a small town together. His physical presence was fixed, immovable: keys jangling, quips exchanged, tie dye and denim blazing through. Spiritually, things settled a bit when he asked questions. The world slowed to a pace of wonder and hope.

He was alternately known as Easy Eddie and the Frog King, both nods to personas and passions. On any topic, he had a joke you saw coming but didn't hurry along to its conclusion, since conversation was an art in which he delighted and excelled. The currency he traded in was profound, sincere, and exacting of truth in himself and others. There was no pretension in Larry. To say he "looked for the best" in people would be trite, since I think his skill was a deliberate routing of the best in a person, inviting them to live better and do better in a most unselfish way.

While I reflect on the magnitude of his service, the tenderness of our bond, and the role he played in so many lives, I trust that my grief will subside while his impact will remain. My life has been fortified by a thousand tiny points of light that Larry delivered, always allowing me to claim the discovery as my own. It's sobering to learn of the hundreds of people who felt precisely the same way about him. May God grant eternal peace and majesty to his soul.

Monday, March 3, 2014

It's like Tori Amos came to a different conclusion...

Audrey Assad (who's fairly new to me, but a welcome surprise!)

So, while I have a moment to write ~ this past week has been amazing in weather & busy-ness, and I've tried to keep a stable if random pattern of posting. I no longer find blogging cathartic, but am committed to a few other projects and like breaking the pace a little. Even just snippets are fun ... thanks for continuing to read. I've read a half dozen or so 'new' bloggers, and that's been enjoyable.

It's tricky for me to look around and believe that the shift of seasons will bring a lighter schedule, although Spring tends to do just that. Many tender spots lately have reinforced God's omnipotence, and our family looks toward Lent with immense gratitude. I stand by the first piece of poetry I ever taught a child to recite. That would be teensy Viva, teetering up the cathedral steps to the newly ordained priests with, "TOWANTISTOSUFFER//ITSATENETOFBUDDHISM". I think she also drew me a picture of Boo Dzim, like she figured it was a guy.  : )

I shall not want.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Look at our school's high school newspaper!

A Childhood Idyll, Wm. Bouguereau
And along that vein, there are a few things I can't restrain my hysterical sentimentalism about. The best of which is the Class of 1996 ~ feeling thankful that our kids have their own crew scattered around Anchorage and the Valley, growing together in a similarly poignant way.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oldies but Goodies

The photo on the bottom is part of my computer's picture drive that plays a slideshow, and I like seeing it occasionally. A great source of perspective with politicians comes when I hear my kids pray for a few by name. It reminds me that Jesus seeks the heart of the individual, not en masse, as well as the bracing paradoxes that draw us towards his love: surrender to win, least of these, those willing to lose their lives, and so on. Kids tend to see the humanity of a president, rather than the dazzle of an office, more clearly than adults. And I'm going to get some new pearls ASAP.

from the dedication of the GWB Prezzy Library, April 2013

Norwegian Robert Sorlie's Return, 2014 Iditarod

Read more here, Team Elkonor is formidable this year!  Allen Moore described visiting these guys in Norway in the past year, and named them among the 20-22 teams he & Aliy see as contenders.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Handy Anchorage Radio Guide

Begin the day with a friendly voice
A companion, unobtrusive
Plays the song that's so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood
Off on your way, hit the open road
There is magic at your fingers
For the spirit ever lingers
Undemanding contact in your happy solitude
Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle with the energy
Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free
KLEF 98.1 FM
Best time to listen: anytime -- Don't forget Sacred Concert Sunday mornings from 6 to 9 and Classics for Kids story hour on Sunday nights
Best place to listen: anywhere

KSKA 91.1 FM
Highlights: Alaska news and NPR features
Best time to listen: early mornings, weekend mornings
Best place to listen: alarm clock
Guilty pleasure: Encounters

KNBA 90.3 FM
Highlight: beautiful music
Best time to listen: evenings
Best place to listen: your kitchen ~ flamenco and fado for all!

Best time to listen: midday Dennis Miller
Best place to listen: while commuting or cooking alone
Guilty pleasure: Dave Stieren

89.9 KATB
Perks: Christian vibe
Best time to listen: mid-afternoon
Best place to listen: from the car

I think I have a contender for sacrifice over Lent. : )

--- (lyrics from RUSH, The Spirit of Radio)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why Can't We Have Nice Things: Cardinal Virtues: Temperance

It surprised me to learn that studiousness is ordered to Temperance --- doesn't it seem more naturally aligned with Fortitude? If you have an interest, work with this in the background --- you won't regret it --- even better if you have time for the visual zen that is Ven. Fulton Sheen.

Watching this is like being with my grandparents. And I realize how much his thoughtful and comparably slower (than like Twitter, or Conan O'Brien or whatever) speaking style makes me itch. Which is enough proof for me of his argument here.

Okay, I have many babies to chase and snuggle. They get faster and bigger every day. Turn around and they're four years old, in high heels, opining about their daily schedule and favorite animals. I love raising little girls. *But boys are effortless, I must say! In my vast two years of experience there. : )

Conversion Diary is hosting Seven Posts in Seven Days.