Monday, July 23, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Theology?

I'm still recovering from the longest live broadcast of my media career. I want to say "we hit the air..." but in the 21st century media world, we actually didn't. It was a live webcast, which felt exactly like an over the air broadcast, but it was internet delivered. So, we hit the net at 9:45 a.m. and signed off at 1:17 p.m.

The venue was not a stadium or ballpark, though. It was a cathedral.

The occasion was the consecration of a new bishop for the Episcopal diocese of Western Louisiana. I was asked to host/ narrate as the service went along. And went long. The procession, er, processions...there were three of them...took a full half-hour. Then, there was a full service including an uplifting and entertaining sermon that lasted about twenty minutes, communion for a full cathedral, and the consecration itself.

Dignitaries came in from all over the state and the country. This required the host to carefully prepare. I approached it just like a ball game...doing pre-event interviews, getting to know the players(?), making extensive notes, creating boards, and spreading them out in the broadcast booth.

It was made easier by the fact that I am acquainted with the new bishop and had stories to tell based on conversations with him over the last four years. I have to admit it was fun to do. But, more than that, it was an honor.

Before the webcast, I was extraordinarily nervous. This brought to mind my late father-in-law, who was an Episcopalian priest. I admitted to him one time that I rarely got butterflies before going on live radio or TV, or before speaking to a crowd. I also confessed that it surprised me a little that every time I have something to do at church, I get sweaty palms. He said "that's because you're doing God's work. If you're not nervous, then something's wrong."
Before the consecration, I actually worked up a little sweat.

And I admit to succumbing to emotion a couple of times during especially poignant parts of the service. My job was to describe to viewers what they were seeing, presuming that some of them didn't understand the meaning of many things happening. I tried to explain things as I understood them; but given the fact we were discussing several holy mysteries, I felt inadequate.

It was about the new bishop, though, not about me. One of the things we discussed in advance was the exact moment that I should stop referring to him as the "bishop elect" and start calling him "Bishop." When it came, that was one time I had to work to hold it together. I can only imagine how he felt.


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Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Tail of the Discontended Kitty

While our son is off finding himself, "manning up" in California, our assignment is to deal with what he has left behind. This means a pile of boxes containing the remnants of his apartment and, more significantly, his cat.

When he first moved out on his own, he wanted a pet. I strongly advised against it, because I knew something like this would happen. He was 19 and his life would take twists and turns he couldn't foresee, like moving far away to an environment inhospitable for a house cat. But he didn't listen to me. How could he when he saw this?

At the time, he got the tabby and his mother grabbed the calico. They're sisters and for a day or two they frolicked together at the family home.

Then, my son took his kitten into the dungeon otherwise identified as his one-bedroom apartment, where she has lived all of her life, apparently contentedly and sometimes cutely.

Now, with her Daddy far away for an extended period, the poor cat is apparently failing to adjust to her new (much better) surroundings. Despite the presence of her sister, for whom she has forgotten all affection, and another older cat, she's quietly keeping to herself. She's surrounded by her stuff: scratching post, blanket, litter box, food, some of our son's clothes; but she's staying in full feline freakout mode. She's staying under his bed at our house, hissing at anyone or anycat who comes near.

There has been the slightest progress. We did a spot check on her, as we do frequently, and found her once ON the bed instead of under it. We are bringing her treats, which she eats (but not while we're watching). We speak to her in soothing tones, say her name a lot and try to pet her. Then, she does this weird semi-meow, semi-growl thing that I've never really heard before.

Maybe she'll come around. There's a lot of fun to be had for a cat at our house. Right now, she's not really easy to love. He says she's nice. She has it inside somewhere. Just look at that cute little thing we met when she was a kitten.

As for our son, I don't think he's worried about it. The first photos I've seen of his new life involved a hot tub and girls in two-piece bathing suits. That's a way to man up.

Oh, well, his cat's not any trouble as long as she stays under the bed. Hopefully, she can adapt to her new surroundings as fast as her owner apparently has.

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Monday, July 02, 2012

The Late But Great Departure

When you have little kids, you realize that there's a really good chance they'll move away some day. Thinking about it prepares you, but when your first-born and only son packs up his car and moves half a continent away, it's not easy.

At 22, our son is long gone...relocated to a place you never heard of somewhere in California about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. We're not sure when or if he will be back. He plans to "explore the west coast," and we fully support the project. If he doesn't break away now, there's a chance he never will. Since he stayed in town for college, this is his first try at separation from home and family. He says he hopes to "man up a little" during his extended absence.

He resigned from his job, didn't renew the lease on his apartment and spent a couple of weeks on a farewell tour. He was feted by friends.

He extended invitations to many to visit him once he gets settled, and just about everyone wants to go to California; so maybe he will have company. He's situated about 45 minutes from the Pacific Coast and living in the valley of some minor mountains. Why wouldn't they come visit?

As his departure neared, there was a great outpouring of affection, declarations of love and plenty of hugs.

All of which made actually leaving a little more difficult, but he did it. While his mother was all smiles at a farewell dinner, her demeanor changed when she saw his tail lights in the distance.

I decided to go paternal and give him a speech that went something like this:

I've worked with a lot of people your age over the years, in health care and broadcasting. Most of them have similar goals. They either want to make it big in a major city or at a network; or if that doesn't work out, they want to get to their home market. At some point, almost everybody wants to go home. There's a reason the majority of people live within a hundred miles of where they were born. You need to do this, and I'm glad you are. You will get homesick. Fight through it the first and second time. But if you find you've overly romanticized all this, coming home is not a failure; it's a success. It means you tested yourself and discovered who you are. If you get there and love it, make a home for yourself and we'll come visit.

When he stuck around after high school, we expressed confidence that he would be okay. More than okay, really. I remember my wife and I saying he's so smart and such a good kid that he will be great, but maybe a little late.

It is a little unusual that even though he's two years older than his sister, we had to adjust to her departure two years before he decided to take off.

I said so long to him with an attitude something like "Here's your sword. Here's your shield. Go forth and conquer." I hope he does.

While all of that was certainly sincere, I'm still walking around with a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach. Our daughter lives three and a half hours away. This means any given morning, we could wake up and go have lunch with her or hustle to her rescue if she needs us.

There's a desert and a major mountain range between us and our son. Maybe it's what he needs.

Maybe he's not the one who needs to "man up" about it.

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