A Weird Way To Spend the Day

I spent this afternoon lying on my couch, under a blanket, watching my hometown Falcons beat the Detroit Lions.

It was weird.

Ordinarily, I don’t get to do this. Usually I’m either light on the afternoon free time because of church responsibilities, or if I have the time to watch a game I’m competing with Ella for control of the TV. (Strangely, five year-old girls don’t like football. Who knew?)

So today, with Rachel and Ella off to a baby shower and Jon tucked in for a nap, I settled onto the couch like a red-blooded American male and vegged out. And it was nice.

It was also disconcerting. It tells me something that when the repast was over (Rachel and Ella came home, plus the Falcons game ended) I felt slightly guilty for not having done more with my afternoon. I felt somehow I had missed an opportunity to write the great American novel (not that you can do that in an afternoon, but you get the point), or perhaps frittered away a few hours in which I could’ve learned a valuable skill, like mastering cold fusion or learning Mandarin Chinese.

Essentially, I did nothing and felt wrong for it.

Now what prompts that? Certainly there are better ways to spend a few hours, but is it necessarily wrong to, as a person who seems to always be running, just crash and do nothing? What makes it seem borderline sinful to just watch a game?

I think part of it comes from the notion that we are what we do. We’re defined by our actions, by the things we accomplish in life, and when we’re not accomplishing something we feel useless. We feel as if we’re not living up to our potential.

And it’s not just football games that make us feel this way. Sometimes you spend an hour having coffee with a friend, talking to them about something that’s ripping their life apart, and yet you still leave feeling like you just goofed around for an hour instead of doing something productive.

We’re not sharks – we don’t have to keep moving in order to live. In fact, we’ve been commanded to keep a Sabbath day – a day of rest – as part of an orderly and worshipful life. Rest is part of what makes us human.

Are there better ways to rest? Certainly. I could’ve read, or napped, or prayed. But the essence of what I did – stopping – was not only right, it was needed.

Hopefully, your Sunday afternoon was the same.

Going Home

I could spend a lot of time torturing out the metaphor of “going home”, but let’s just be honest: today I get to go home and see my wife and kids for the first time in days.

Pretty soon, my grandfather could be going home too.

Both homecomings will be sweet, both will be joyous, and both will be welcomed. Right now, both seem imminent, but neither is certain, because what in life is certain until it happens?

All I know is I look forward to going home. I look forward to seeing my son, and hugging my daughter, and being able to sit down on the couch next to my wife and simply rest. I would imagine my grandfather will do similarly when he gets home; he has a son waiting for him, as well as a granddaughter, not to mention brothers and sisters and parents and friends long gone. And he will be able to rest, not for a moment, not as a temporary state – but he will truly rest. It will be final. It will not change.

He will be at peace forever.

So much going on in the old noggin today that I just needed to get that out of the system, and now I can focus on both homecomings with joy and anticipation. Today, I’m going home. For my grandfather, well, we can only say one thing:

Soon. And very soon.

Of the Truth and Pittsburgh’s Airport

Some Thoughts on the Human Race

I spent the better part of my morning seated in the Pittsburgh airport, enjoying the silent descent of snow and the pleasure of free wi-fi. It was not like any other experience I’ve ever had in an airport: peaceful, in a way that modern life rarely is anymore. There was something about the entire scene that made me feel as if I were glimpsing something transcendent, something bordering on ethereal. The collection of people, all settled and patiently waiting the arrival of our plane (delayed in Atlanta because of the cold there; it was 7 degrees and snowing in the ‘Burgh, and their airport was flinging planes out of there like Vegas blackjack dealer flings cards) were smiling and friendly and overall one might imagine the vast collection of strangers in an airport were really a troupe of friends lounging at a local ski-lodge, unwinding after a long run down a double black diamond.

When the human body is in repose, that is, when it is not slammed full of tension and noise and the hurriedness that can sometimes be modern life, it can be a wonder to behold, capable of any number of astonishing feats. I watched, absorbed, as the various people around me contorted themselves into what must have been comfortable positions for the tiny airport chairs (otherwise, why would you bend yourself silly?) and lounged away. No one angrily calling someone else to bitch about the weather. No one storming the ticketing desk to demand an explanation for our delayed flight. No one stalking back and forth on the concourse raising cain over something beyond control. It was transfixing in a way that nothing has been lately; it was an invitation to consider what life would be like if we could, on a regular basis, just have a few moments where we lose control and don’t scramble like demoniacs to find it.

I felt the strange sensation of being happy; not just amused or momentarily not irritated, but genuinely happy, despite my tiredness and the several hundred miles still to go before stepping into my home. In this little airport (Pittsburgh, for the record, has a kick-butt airport – free wi-fi, no crowds, plenty of good food and seats) that used to be a farm, I actually felt an almost pastoral serenity that the hurry-hole we call Hartsfield could never hope to match. And watching the people around me, relaxed, contorted, at peace, I felt a genuine sense of things being, for the moment, okay with the world. When we are at peace with our surroundings and ourselves, the human being can be a rather pleasant creature, myself included. It was nice to catch even a smidge of what can be in the realm of human relations. It made heaven, a reality in which I very much believe, seem that much more tangible, that much more present.

Every once in a while, it is nice to be reminded that what I believe in my heart is not a pipe dream, not some story well-told to make my days go by a little easier; it is, in point of fact, what C.S. Lewis once said: supremely True. And so all men must either accept it or reject it; but sitting in Pittsburgh at 9:30 this morning, a sometimes challenging Truth was writ large via hope in repose, waiting for a flight, perhaps not to Atlanta, but someplace truly heavenly.