Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 15: Robot Grandchild, Classic Saint Marty, Confessions of Saint Marty

My Christmas tree is up and fully decorated.  It is fifty degrees outside, and the lawns are still green.  Tonight, when I get home, I will turn on the tree lights, sit on my couch, and relax for the first time this weekend.  Then I will start grading papers and making lesson plans. Work never ends.

In about an hour, I will be going to a dance show in which my daughter is performing.  She's not very excited about it, but my wife and I will enjoy it.  Something different from the routine.  My daughter is simply tired.

My daughter has been watching a "robot" baby all weekend.  It's for her Child Development class.  This baby cries when it's hungry or needs to be changed.  It coos when it's happy.  Sometimes it simply wants to be held and rocked.  And it does this at all hours of the day and night.  Last night, she was up at least three times to feed, burp, and change the baby.  So she's pretty beat.

Plus, she had a friend over for most of the weekend.  This friend happened to be a boy.  A good kid whom she met at Bible camp this summer.  Last night, he slept over.  On the living room floor.  With two rooms, two parents, and a robot baby in between them.  I like this kid a lot.  He's funny and polite, and he goes to church.

Tonight, I am thankful for my robot grandchild, one of the greatest forms of birth control I know for a teenage girl and boy.

Tonight's episode of Classic Saint Marty first aired a year ago on this date.  So much has changed since then, but so much has also stayed the same.

November 15, 2014:  My Masterpiece, Christmas Essay, Maya Angelou, "On the Pulse of Morning"

"I'll tell you in the morning," [Charlotte] said.  "When the first light comes into the sky and the sparrows stir and the cows rattle their chains, when the rooster crows and the stars fade, when early cars whisper along the highway, you look up here and I'll show you something.  I will show you my masterpiece."

Charlotte does some pretty amazing things.  She creates webs that sparkle with dew and mystify human beings.  Single-handedly, she saves her friend's life.  And, in the end, she chooses to die alone, content with the knowledge that she has made a huge difference in the world.  Her masterpiece?  An egg sac, containing 514 eggs.  Her lasting legacy.

It is the time of year where I once again must write my Christmas essay for the local National Public Radio station.  I know my subject.  I've even done the necessary research.  I know what I want to say.  It's a matter now of figuring out how I want to say it.  And I sort of have that figured out, as well.  Now comes the fun part:  writing it.  That's what I'm going to be doing this evening.

I'm not sure I'm working on my masterpiece.  Every time I sit down to write something--a blog post, poem, short story, essay--I always have this feeling that it's going to be the last thing I'm ever going to write.  It's crazy.  I wait to see if I've hit the bottom of my well.  I fully expect to send down my bucket one day and come up dry.  Not tonight, though.

My favorite Maya Angelou poem--her masterpiece among lots of masterpieces--is the poem she read at President Clinton's first inauguration.  I was a grad student at the time, and I remember crowding around a TV screen in the basement of the university library, watching and listening to Dr. Angelou read her poem.  Some of the people standing next to me were crying.  Some of the people on the television were crying.  It was an incredible moment.  We were all united.  Part of something huge.  A fellow traveler on a road of hope.  I will never forget it.  When she was done reading, I actually thought to myself, "I will do that some day."

Of course, that's like me thinking, "I will win the Nobel Prize in Literature" or "I will suddenly grow wings and fly to Crete."  A dream.  A hope.  That's what writing is about.  Every time I sit down to put my thoughts on paper, it's an act of hope.  For something better.

And Saint Marty is full of hope tonight.

On the Pulse of Morning

by:  Maya Angelou

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers- desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours- your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

Confessions of Saint Marty

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