Sunday, March 22, 2015

Giving to the Nine

Another Bible story has been rolling around my head for the last few weeks.  In the 17th chapter of Luke Jesus encounters 10 lepers, they ask to be healed, they are told to go see the priest (they are healed on their way), one of the 10 realizes that they were healed and returns to thank Jesus.

Moral of the story: give thanks to God.

But there is more.  I have been thinking about how Jesus gave these men an unconditional gift.  He did not judge the men.  He did not ask for loyalty, discipleship, or fame.  He gave.  He could have healed the single man he knew would show gratitude, but he chose to give to all that asked.

Fast forward to NYC 2015.

I want to be a better person.  In NYC there are plenty of opportunities to give, but I quickly shut them down.  In fact, I have perfected the snub and can keep the beggar at bay with just a glance.  I judge a person before they even open their mouth to ask for help.  I see the cup and know that the jingling coins will fuel an addiction and not a recovery.  I navigate this city knowing that anyone who asks me for help will not find me a fool.

While I secretly like the curmudgeon I've become, I miss being a nice guy.  In an attempt to emulate the master teacher, I decided to be a good giver and share with those who ask for help.  I may not have a lot to give, but I certainly have enough to share.  A few coins from my dresser does not constitute a fortune, but I thought it was a good start.

My goal was to keep 4 quarters in my pocket and give them to the first person who asks for help each day.  With renewed zest for life, I set out in hopes of finding my inner nice guy.  It turns out that I wasn't asked for help as much as I thought I was.  The first day no one asked me for help.  The "regulars" I saw on a daily basis weren't in their regular places.  Turns out that the the same thing happened on the second day too.  I was really confused.  I had a dollar in my pocket and no one was asking for it!  Finally on the third day I saw a man holding a cup by the entrance to the subway.  As I approached him, I reached into my pocket.  When I was pulling the dollar out, I noticed that the man was sitting on a new jazzy chair and smoking a cigarette.  No way.  Not going to happen.  I was giving this money to someone who needs it, not another hustler...  I put the dollar back in my pocket and marched down the stairs.

Goal Fail.

During the ride home I had a long talk with myself, and I came to this conclusion: If I refuse to help the people that don't deserve it, how will I be ready to help the people who do?

It is not my place to judge.  It is not my role to decide who is worthy of help. All I can do is try to be a better person today than I was yesterday.  This change starts by giving to the nine.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lucky

I have a good life. Actually, it is a fantastic life. I would like to think that I earned this state happiness through some random rubric of pain and suffering, but I don't think that's the case. I just got lucky.

Lucky to have great friends near and far.

Lucky to have a beautiful wife with a gentle soul.

Lucky to have a precocious son with a forgiving heart.

Lucky to have roof over my head and food on my table.

Call it fortune; call it blessings. Today, I call it luck.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

NYC: MoMA

One of the advantages to living in overpriced, cramped quarters is that we have access to some of the most incredible museums in the United States.  Many of them are affordable/free, but some of them are still quite expensive.  The Museum of Modern Art is one of the expensive ones; except on Friday nights when it is FREE!

We decided to have a Friday night adventure:

It started with a trip on the LIRR from Gabe's school in Bayside back to Manhattan.

We stopped at St Patrick's Cathedral

Took a cool picture with the photosphere feature on my phone

Went to the Lego store at Rockefeller Center and saw a Lego Rockefeller Center

It was big

Lego man made a Lego man

The batmobile... because it was a Lego batmobile...

Got some Ben and Jerry's in the Concourse while waiting for mom. (Tonight Dough! Amazing!!!)

And played several hands of Go Fish, War, and Pyramid

Rode a super skinny escalator

Arrived at the MoMA and got our sophistication on

"This is art."

You all know what this is... the lady on the left never moved, and it was a very crowded space.

Naked!

He liked this one and was convinced that there was a no parking sign on the top.

"This is also art."

Monet... I still don't get it...

Selfie with a statue.

He was really interested in this exhibit about making letters with eye motions.  It's art.

Minecraft Art

Bjork had her electronic harp on display (It really made music).

"Hello NYC!"

The train ride back to Harlem

Too tired to cook?  One word: Popeye's!

The end.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A Very Happy Dream

For the most part, I never remember my dreams.  I wake up in the morning and have just a few seconds of memory from my nocturnal adventure.  I like it that way.

Last week there was something different.  I dreamt that our small family moved into a small house off a small road near a small town.  We didn't need much space due to our New York life, so we invited some friends to live with us.  As friends and family moved to our home, we found more rooms and secret hallways.  Some rooms were small and simple.  Some rooms were large and elegant   Each room was perfect for the family that needed it.  We had a house full of kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.  We laughed together.  We cried together.  We lived together.

Our little family was no longer so little.

That was my dream.

It was a very happy dream.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Pigment

God is not pigment.

God is light.

Think about that.


God is not found by excluding the world around us; the divine is found through our experience.  The more joy, pain, happiness, and loss we encounter, the more we understand God.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

NYC: Bears!


Last week we went to the zoo.  Not the big, fancy, over-priced one in the Bronx, we went to the small, fancy, over-priced one in Central Park (yes, there really is a zoo in Central Park).  We have been several times, and it is always a fun place to explore.  What made this visit extraordinary was the new addition--Grizzly Bears!!!



I really like bears.  A lot.  I know a ton of things about bears: they are big, they eat honey, they like to cuddle, they all want to be my friend.  The two bears are older ladies named Betty and Veronica!  How awesome is that?

We saw some other animals.  Seals, birds, monkeys, snow leopards, and various reptiles were all on display.  Of course my favorite thing is just hanging out with the family (and the bears).


Zoo Crew Making the Rounds

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Trouble With Talents

I like Jesus.  He has some pretty cool stories.  I like the ones about helping people and the ones about forgiving.  Of course, his parables are open to interpretation, and that is when the trouble starts.  One parable that has troubled me most of my life is the parable of the talents.  This post is not intended to be a Sunday School lesson, so I will not get into the details.  If you have questions about the parable, Google it.

The trouble I have with this parable is the definition of a talent.  As a younger man and through most of my adulthood, I sat through the same classes that echoed the importance of talents from the parable as modern talents (like dancing, singing, and playing the damned piano).  I don't have many fancy talents; I don't dance, sing, or play the piano, so I often felt this lesson didn't apply to me.  I always felt bad for the last guy.  He only got one talent (cooking maybe) and didn't want to lose it, so he just focused on the one talent and kept it safe.  Why should he get in trouble when he kept his talent?  Makes.  No.  Sense.

Unfortunately, when something doesn't make sense to me, it keeps percolating through my brain until it finally rings true.  My answer: A talent was an extremely large sum of money--enough to take care of a household for several years.  Talent=Great Worth.  Something of great worth in a spiritual story is a Truth.  Talent=Truth.

Now tell yourself the story using truth for talents.  Three people are given huge amounts of truth and knowledge.  Two of them use those truths to build up their understanding of the cosmos and explore their world (art, poetry, chemistry, biology, history, philosophy, astronomy, architecture, religion) --adding to their initial truths (good for them).  The third person is also given a tremendous gift of truth, but chooses to ignore the rest of the world around him.  He sticks to what he knows because he believes learning anything else might take away from what he was given (not advisable).

The thing about Truth is it's everywhere.  Don't limit yourself to just one book, church, country, philosophy, religion, god, dance, song, or piano.  We all start out with the basics.  What do you do with yours?