I miss the family dinners we had as three boys growing up in a suburb of Chicago. All five of us catching up on the day and watching highlights of the Cubs game because there were no lights at Wrigley field yet. My mom actually cooking peas in a whatchamacallit? A pan full of boiling water sitting perched like a proud bald eagle on the open flame stove top. My dad barbequing steaks on the grill with open fire charcoal briquets staring at his watch like he had money on that horse race (disclaimer, my father never gambled and neither do I). The days before microwave ovens and natural gas grills. My brothers and I were playing knee hockey on our thick red, like a medium rare New York strip steak, extra plush carpet in our all dark wood paneled family room, using our coveted nerf ball as a hockey puck. I had my trusted Bobby Hull #9 jersey on—which, by the way, I still have. Those were the good ole days, even though fifty percent of the time someone ended up in tears from a fight, we were boys playing fake hockey, or in a time-out (never me though). LOL!
I miss standing in the record store flipping through the albums looking for a good deal on the latest release from REO Speedwagon or Led Zeppelin. I heard albums were making a comeback until I saw that the world’s number one vinyl coating factory burned to a crisp last week in SoCal. So much for the come-back. We had to wait a loooong time for the Cubs to win the World Series again.
I miss little league baseball games on Saturday and Sunday with an occasional mid-week game. The Sunday morning games started at noon so that everyone could go to church before reporting to the diamond. And I mean everyone. All I need is a hot dog and a piece of apple pie because we did drive to the ballpark in a Chevy station wagon with no wood feature upgrade on the side (couldn’t afford it). Forest green if I recall.
I miss the days when the mail came in a real mailbox that was located on the street and it wasn’t locked either. Nowadays there is email, voicemail, text messages and depending on how deep into social media one happens to be, all of those applications have private messaging services as well as iMessages and TikTok making a run for the game. Our physical mailboxes are all locked now as are our digital messaging services with two-step authentication, which makes my head turn inside-out because I am still trying to figure out how it works in the first place, let alone two-step verification that is sent to my iPhone via a text message and it rarely is delivered. Another 60 minute sidetrack. Geesh.
I miss having the three network television stations, the local WGN channel, public television and UHF at the most. We were too far away from the city for the rabbit ears to get us the one worthy UHF channel. We had five television channels. Nowadays I get a headache trying to find the 24 hour a day golf channel. I can still whistle the theme song for Gilligan’s Island, the Beverly Hillbillies, the Love Boat and Hawaii Five-O. Yuuup, the good ole days.
I miss my mom’s coffee maker and an occasional Sunday morning cup of sugar-milk with about one tablespoon of coffee mixed in. Nowadays we sit in the local coffee shop turned postmodern church sanctuary, sipping on my half coffee and “half hibiscus Al Pacino ($5 bux)” (Thanks Chris Erskine-columnist for the LA Times and formerly the Chicago Tribune until digital media took over the paper print).
It seems we have traded in much in the name of progress and a stress-free lifestyle, thanks information and technology which is a synonym for if-we-can-do-it-we-must-despite-the ethical-sociological-neurological-spiritual-ramifications era.
The good news is that there is medication for all of this stress and change. Just watch television for the latest big pharma release, laugh at the possible side effects, which are longer than the commercial itself, and then call your doctor. It seems that we may have given up much in the dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now call it simply, “living the dream.” Who wrote all of these rules?
What does all of this have to do with our faith life together? Lent is a season when we are commonly asked this primal question, “What are you giving up for Lent this year?” It has me thinking slant. Perhaps we have already given up much in life. There are many who have lost hope in the future, have given up on a dream, have been handed a diagnosis, have given up a loved one tragically, experienced a relationship fractured or owns a portfolio that is less than expected for a lifetime of our labors. We are giving up on cable. When we cut the cable for streaming services, that oftentimes costs more than our original cable providers. I have not given up. I. Have. Not. Lost. HOPE.
Perhaps this Lent it is not about giving something up as much as it is embracing something that restores hope, vision, faith, dreams; something that brings life.
God died in Christ so that we could have life. Get a life. Live a life. Have a great ...
So, this Lent instead of giving something up, I give you permission to embrace something, or preferably someone again (God), a bucket list hobby, dream, hope, aspiration and go do it. After all, Lent is about leaning into the God of all hope. This God pulls us forward kicking and screaming into a hopeful today and tomorrow. It is about living into a new life, in God.
God is still here.
God has never left. Perhaps we have moved. While you are doing your newfound activity, practice the presence of God in all things, including what you are embracing and learn to have a great life again. You know that you want to. So, I say, go for it!
As for me, I am going to sit on a park bench and play with my granddaughter, feel the winter sun on my face, listen to the birds Hum a Gregorian chant that reminds me God is here, and giggle with my two-year-old Yoda-like spiritual mentor I call my grand-daughter, sipping on a homemade cup of coffee from my one-push-button-thirty-second-cup-of-fresh-brew-perfect-temperature-hot-Keurig coffee maker. Sorry Mom. Some things really ARE better than the good ole days.
Here’s to a great LIFE,
Kudos to Chris Erskine, columnist of the LA Times who is a graduate from the same High School that I went to, for the big idea and a line presented here. Go Barrington Broncos! He is a master of the one-liners.