Smoke

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I recently finished the book Vicious by V.E. Schwab. She has a razor’s touch and style that carries you into a world of heroes, villains, shifting allegiances and every role in between. There are great lines in the book itself but one, an aside of descriptive observation, lives in my head.

A character is waiting for his girlfriend on their college campus.  She writes,

“Eli was waiting on the building steps in the late afternoon with a cup of coffee in each hand. The dusk smelled like dead leaves and far-off fires; his breath escaped in small clouds as he held one of the coffees out to her, and she took it and slipped her arm through his again.”

Writing is powerful and these few sentences put me right there on the steps.  The time, smell, breath and taste pulled me into the past.  How many of you read that paragraph and were immersed in sensory feedback?  I could smell the smoke and taste the coffee.

Fall puts me in the past, in the midst of slate skies and Friday Night Lights. The sound of the school band echoing down the streets of our home town, the nights where pumpkins and candles just start to wink through the darkness.

Time is a double-edged sword. It is that fire that never stops consuming our memories and expectations.  It has a unique talent to absorb the past and future. I look at my sons and realize they’ll be looking back at me one day as teenagers, men, husbands and fathers. I look at Val and realize one day we’ll be holding hands as our grandchildren play in the yard.  I look in the mirror and wonder what happened to that kid staring back.  No debt, no regrets, no missed opportunities.  Just chance and an open road of time.

And almost four decades later, here I am. God, that sentence scares me.

The smoke from far-off fires reminds us. Everything changes.  Everything will burn and emerge a new creation. We will raise our boys until one day they’ll step out into this world on their own.  We will keep on our path as it grows and changes.

In a way, things are the same. Yeah the weight of life is heavy.  The choices we’ve made, good and bad, have shaped our story. Our love and mistakes as parents have helped to shape two boys into growing kids.

We are still that couple walking home from high school holding hands. We still stand at the edge of opportunity.  Some days dusk seems closer than others.

And the sun still rises.

Every day is a chance for something more.

We Could be Heroes Just For One Day

The term hero is thrown around way too much.  We pin it to idols, to sports stars and celebrities. We value those who spend their careers on the stage and in the spotlight.

We think they are different from us.

It is a huge mistake.

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I know two things are true.

First: you are called out. Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth. We read that the lukewarm churches are spit out in the book of Revelations. Jesus said to follow him, to take up our cross and start walking. This means we leave things behind. We move away from the old stuff pulling us under the surface and start to soar.

Second: you will have your time. God puts moments in our lives. You’ll know when it happens, when you stand at a crossroads. All eyes will be on you waiting for a response.  The stage can be large or small, a living room or a conference room.  Your dreams and passions will see fruition. Yes we will all account for our lives when they are over but I’ll say this, you’ll get many chances at a preview.

When your child asks you what to do about a bully.

When your work wants you for a specific project that could make or break your career.

When you have a chance to stand up for someone suffering financially, personally, or spiritually.

Heroes make the most of every single breath. Embrace your calling, step out and don’t be afraid to fly.

~Matt

 

Feel Good Friday- 10/24/2014

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This week we watched the aftermath of the shooting in Ottawa, Canada. A young man shot and killed Cpt. Nathan Cirillo, a soldier guarding the War Memorial, before running to Parliament.  He was confronted by a guard at Parliament, shot the guard in the foot after a struggle, and almost made it to the rooms housing the politicians.  Kevin Vickers, Sergeant at Arms, retrieved a pistol from a lock box in his office and exchanged fire with the man, killing him in the end.

The comic above was drawn by Bruce MacKinnon and published in the Chronicle Herald.  It shows the soldiers from the memorial comforting Cirillo and pulling him up to join them. You can find an article about it here. Every time I see the image, it gives me chills.  You can also find the clip online of Vickers entering the House of Commons the day after the shooting and receiving a five-minute standing ovation.

In moments of horror, we can find heroes.  Many men like Cirillo died serving their country and many others like Vickers stepped up to fight the carnage.  Both are heroes and should be recognized for their actions. Images carry power and this comic is a fine example of one.

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