Saturday, February 21, 2009

A tribute to Bob

Once there was man who made some very bad decisions, and ended up homeless and addicted to hard drugs. He was desperate for a job and a home, so he applied to work at an apartment complex. There, he was able to earn a little bit of money holding a sign out in front of the apartments to draw people in. A few months later, the apartment complex discovered that they could no longer afford to employ him, so they decided to lay him off.

That day, he came in from his long day of sign holding, and asked to play the piano that was on display in the apartment's clubhouse. The apartment manager agreed, and went into her office, trying to figure out the best way to fire the man. Moments later, tears streamed down her face, and she sat in awe at the sound that filled her ears. She asked the man how long he had been playing piano, and he told her that he had been trained his entire life, that it was his deepest passion. With tear filled eyes, she asked him to come into her office. Then, she told him that she could no longer afford to keep him as a sign holder.....but she would love for him to be their new property maintenance man, as long as he played piano whenever she asked.

A few days later my mother in law walked into the managers office to sort things out with my brother in laws apartment. The man was playing piano, and my mother in law was in shock at his ability. She promised my husband that she would pay for music lessons a few months ago, but we hadn't found a teacher yet. So, she asked if he knew music theory well enough to teach my musical husband. He said that he most definitely did, and would only be willing to teach him if he was willing to learn music theory, not just how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

A few minutes ago, I met Bob for the first time. He is sitting in my husband's music room, carefully instructing him on D minor. He has a bright smile, and looks almost exactly how I pictured him. He and Omar have been speaking in musical tongues for several hours now, and Omar responds to him with the reverence that a young apprentice would have towards a musical genius. Which he is. I have never heard more beautiful music in my life. I have spent only minutes with Bob, and I am able to see the resilience in his eyes. It is clear that he is passionate, and patient, and grateful for the opportunity to be here. Moments ago, when I handed him his $1.00 frozen pizza that he heated up in our oven, and asked if they needed anything else, he replied, "Cheap pizza and bottled water, what else could ya possibly need?"

To Bob, the homeless musical prodigy, thank you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Celebrating life

I have been to more than 20 funerals in my 23 years of life. I have witnessed the aftermaths of the death of friends that I have loved dearly, a father who I never had the chance to meet, all of my grandparents, kids under the age of 18 who had so much life ahead of them, and almost every pet ive ever had. People who know me well, know that I speak of death oftentimes in a way that is morbidly candid. I have been there. I have felt the anguish of losing someone too soon. I have seen young bodies in caskets and obsessed over the idea that this isnt the way it is supposed to be.

Because it isnt.

And I have seen the effects of these tragedies on other people too. The countless myspace blogs, the letters, the tears, the days on end that are devoted to the memory of lost loved ones, the high school students who cant get through the day because the wound is so fresh. I have seen shattered hearts, as people try to pick up the pieces, and innumerable license plate frames and stickers, "in loving memory of...."

Death is powerful and tragic and unpredictable, and expected. We live in fragile, temporary, bodies, and someday we will all die. And it always hurts the people around us, and it is always tragic. Its funny how we take it though, its as if it isnt supposed to happen, and when it does, we panic. We pour our entire beings into honoring the dead. Scraps of paper become mementos and we wallow in the sorrow that comes with losing a loved one. The most common statement ive heard is "If I had only had more time." If we had more time with them, we would tell them this, or give them that, or apologize for this.

And yet, there are so many others around us that we take for granted, people we still have time with. People whose phone calls we forget to return. People whose emails we ignore and who we break plans with. We forgot how temporary we are, until someone dies and we freak out and overcompensate, and frankly, it breaks my heart.

What if we actually celebrated life? What if we celebrated the people around us and spent more time loving eachother and less time criticizing one another? What if, even for one day a year, we thanked God for one another, for allowing us to be alive and on earth for one more year? And what if, when our eyes filled with tears at funerals, it wasnt because we hadnt loved them well? What if you could look at the people around you and say, "If that person died tomorrow I would know in the deepest parts of my heart that I loved them well, spent quality time with them, served them wholly, and, man, I cant wait to see them in heaven?" What would the world look like if we loved eachother deliberately? What if we did this in loving memory of every person we've ever known?

You matter to me. And more importantly, you matter to God. From the moment of conception, and well after death, into all of eternity, every soul is valuable and worth it to Him.
And ultimately, the best way to love Him is to love eachother.
In honor of humans, I am going to write tributes to ordinary heroes, people, dead and alive, who have touched my life in an extraordinary way and would otherwise go unnoticed. I hope you will do the same. Lets celebrate life together.

Monday, February 16, 2009

a quarter of a century ago...

A quarter of a century ago, he was born. And, in a way, I was born too, because every moment of his life for the last 25 years, is now a part of me. Because he is a part of me. And I had no idea how to tell him how grateful I am for that, so his 24 closest friends and family members and I wrote him letters. And I put them in a book. And I gave it to him for his birthday. And his eyes teared up when he realized how significant his life has been for so many people. And it has. No other person has touched my life the way he has.

My handsome husband,

Your lifesong- the melody to which your soul dances and your feet tap along to the beat. Twenty-five days after you were conceived a rhythm began in the tiny chambers of your chest, a flutter, but a song nonetheless. Long before your heart began to beat inside your mother’s womb, the Great Composer compiled the opus that would be your life, a carefully chosen chorus of people that would be your accompaniment, and the great things you would do to serenade the world. Your gifts are bountiful and you have been blessed with an indomitable spirit and a smile that could bring peace to a hundred year war. Your life sings a song of redemption and as you continue to allow love to prevail the gospel will be preached through your life even more clearly. You are, by far, the most intelligent and captivating human being I have ever known. When God speaks through you, the world is hypnotized. You’ve chosen to play your song in the key of He who has started a good work in you, and will not relinquish until you have taken your last breath. My prayer is that you will continue to have a faith that can move mountains, and that you will continue to face trials with resilience and motivation to travel deeper into the rabbit hole. I could not possibly feel more blessed to know you, to be chosen by God to be the other half to your duet. You serenaded me with your quick wit and single dimple, and the organ that was rapidly beating out of your chest that echoed the timpanies in my own heart. You stole me in a single moment, the only man who has ever tethered my unruly heart. How did I get so lucky to be chosen to be your wife? I thank God everyday for letting me be a part of your journey. 25 years from now, your 50th birthday letter will look very different. I’ll probably talk about how you have been the most wonderful father in the world to our many children and how I’ve loved touring the world with you and seeing lives be transformed by your music and your life. But mostly I will say that you have become the person that you set out to become; the encouraging, faithful, constant, middle-aged man who is known solely by his love for God and love for people. You’ve come so far already, my love, I cant wait to see where this life takes us. Thank you for being such an adventurous, patient, skillful, high-spirited, authentic, candid, man of God… your lifesong sings in perfect harmony with the world that you were created to change. I can’t wait to see the many amazing things that God does with your life.

Happy 25th birthday Babas! I love you.