357. Unexploded Ordnance

That’s an odd title, dontcha think? What exactly is ordnance, you ask? Military weapons and ammunition. Why explode it anyway?  Well, a few miles from my office is an Army depot where occasionally, on perfectly still days, engineers blow up old ammunition that dates back to World War II and the Korean War. Apparently old bombs or missiles become unstable and need to be properly disposed of like excess picnic food. And that’s what these explosionists do– blow up piles of ordnance on beautiful summer and fall days while eating chicken salad sandwiches. Thunderclap sonic booms roar across the valley and resonate off the opposite foothills range. Boom, boom, boom. Pretty simple. No one gets hurt.

However, I’m thinking of invisible unexploded psychic ordnance– old hurts and pains, guilts and shames, bones of contention, griefs, losses, heartaches, and traumas. Stuff you swallowed because you had to, long ago. Not that you drool over it like a dog over his morning puppy chow. Not like that at all. No, you’d much rather not consider any of these things. Instead you cover them with work and life’s many intense experiences. You steer inflated conversations away from these razor wire coral reefs that may shred the fragile underbelly of your soul. Yeah, and all the while these patinated brass canisters are corroding, leaking acid like old forgotten batteries inside your chrome Boy Scout flashlight.

Down under your defense mechanisms the equivalent of land mines wait for your foot’s pressure to trigger a demolition. You buried them like corpses, deep and still but still alive. Perhaps you find yourself sucked into a conversation that seemingly takes on a life of its own. Strange energies arise. Big feelings too. Verbiage flows like dammed water down a spillway. The back pressure is so great and this gushing release feels right, but it’s wrong. Kaboom, boom, boom. Your mouth outruns your cricket conscience, and you make an ass out of yourself. Your foot flies by your face and you see gum stuck to the patterned sole of your nice suede shoes. “I liked those shoes. Didn’t notice the gum.” And you walk on, limping actually, on your ragged new stump.

Since it’s all metaphorical, you feel no physical pain. Still, your guts twist like sheets in a tropical storm. How can you empty yourself of this old debris? Surely there is a psychic trash hauler who can pick up the toxic tonnage for a fee. A landfill in the next county that safely disposes of the waste. A site supervisor there who monitors the wicked gases of devolution. It would be clean, convenient, and so evolved if we had such advanced soul carpet cleaning enterprises. In lieu of such mechanisms we have the same old system of honest repentance where you lay yourself naked and humble before God and your garbage… and seek the precious balm of forgiveness. You must regurgitate the hurts and guilts and shames and claim them in your self disgust, like so many muddy catfish sliming out of your gullet. Amazed, you gag at the sinful catch in front of you.

“I did that!” you gasp. Words aren’t heavy enough, foul enough to describe your vomitus. You writhe on jelly legs. No rest, no rest comes to your hurricane beaten conscience. Flakes and splintery surfaces blow off your crusted soul. Ship wrecked, wave tossed, you just hang on. It’s a long nightmare you float through under a placid face. When will my undeserved  sunshine of forgiveness break through these awful torrents? My mind goes decades deep in memories to Pinnochio on the big silver screen. He was so cute and innocent and foolish. He wound up in Monstro’s belly. Pinnochio was not a monster, but his continuous lies and bad choices led him there. Exactly where he needed to be, turns out.

In the belly of the whale he faced his father Geppetto  and the cat Figaro he’d abandoned. They were swallowed while searching for Pinnochio. The puppet boy finally comes to the end of his foolishness and begins to take responsibility for others. He builds a fire that causes Monstro to sneeze and exhale their little raft. Pinnochio redeems himself, saves Geppetto, but appears to drown in the process. If the movie stopped there, every child would be in grief therapy on Disney’s nickel. But it continues. Geppetto takes Pinoak home and sadly lays him out. He grieves again for the boy he loved.  That night the Blue Fairy returns and transforms the water logged wooden puppet into a real, fleshy boy. He is finally worthy.

That’s where repentance ends: when we shuck off the crud of sin and humbly accept our God given worth. Narcissists over value themselves. Low self esteemers under value themselves. Most folks just ignore the question. Too deep. But that’s where the healing happens, down deep in the black crevices of our souls. Covering, endlessly covering the ordnance does not detoxify or empty it. So, Blogagogers, cough it up with me. Come clean. Let’s blow up the sunken city of  port-a-potties so that no one gets hurt. Pry open the pearl of great price and behold! As surely as sin turns you into a braying donkey, the grace of redemption returns you to the image and likeness of God.

356. For the Love of a Glove

So I bought a pair of leather gloves at Cabela’s on the way up to NYC last month. They were on sale and fit me like, well, a glove. My loving wife, who also fits me like a glove, insisted on buying them. I’ve enjoyed wearing them while I drive, which is about all they are good for since they are unlined. However, since we’ve had such a mild fall/early winter so far, I’ve been getting a lot of miles out of this structured cowhide. Now, what is the most common fate for gloves?  Divorce due to neglect. Somehow I always lose one glove in a pair. Which is what I did during my walk abouts in town. I only walk between my parking space and my office, and then from my office to the coffee shop and back. So the odds of finding one of my lost gloves are pretty good, I think.

I noticed that I was missing one last week during the rainy days as I walked by the industrial green dumpster behind the big church. “I’ll be gall durned!!” How irresponsible of me. It was a new glove. Why is it you never lose an old threadbare glove or sock? It’s always the new one. Dang it to heck!  I reproached myself for a full thirty seconds and then moved on to something else. My blessings. At least I had a glove to lose. At least it’s been warm. At least I have hands and a jacket. Focusing on the overwhelming good in one’s life can suck the air right out of whining.

My Arizona daughter and granddaughter were coming soon. Yippee Cow Yodee Oh!! Ayyeah. And my NYC daughter was coming to stay for the same week. Shoooby dooby. Who cares about a glove when you’ve got someone to love?  I got my Sam Cooke, my Otis Redding and my Nat King Cole mojo going. It’s a condition of deep satisfaction in the blood that warms your entire body, not to a sweaty mess, no. Instead it brings you to a blissful homeostasis similar to the effects of bourbon.

I still thought about Michael Jackson and his solo glove. It was weird but a signature for him. I thought about the one armed man in The Fugitive. Maybe he’d want my surviving glove. I hate to waste things, though words and time I seem to have no problem vaporizing. Maybe I could start a new look, the single glove theory, by keeping my left hand hidden at all times and only wearing my surviving right glove. Mysterious, yes. Why do we never see his left hand? We all have our darkness and secrets, don’t we?

Does everything need a pair, afterall? “Every pot has its lid”, we tell folks who are tired of the miserable dating scene. “Every goose has its gander.” But do you really want to be compared to a goose or a pot? These are not reassuring truisms. “Every fool has his folly.” “Every dog has his day.” “To each his own.”

Well, finally the daughters came home, first NYC and later Arizona with my adorable granddaughter. As we hugged in our foyer the little princess announced, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy.” I could hardly believe what I was hearing. It was a total surprise, not even a consideration as far as I knew. “Yep, 12 weeks now.” I must have beamed at her because she told me later on that mine was the biggest reaction of any, which sort of reassured her. I only know that I had that same floating feeling I experienced when I walked her down the aisle at her cathedral wedding in Atlanta six or seven years ago. Then again,I had a head full of Robitussin starships fighting a galaxy of snot monsters.

Maybe that’s how a single glove looking for its mate can even fit in alongside a precious little girl looking for a sibling playmate… under some mind altering dextromethorphan fog.  Little Leah has been calling her baby dolls her sister lately, while I’ve been calling for my lost leather glove mate in the rain. There is something in common between the two if you think long enough.

Now for creative purposes I have altered the actual sequence of events. I found my glove beside the big church I walk by daily. It was soaked and bleeding a bit of reddish stain. But there it was. I grabbed the lost glove and squeezed as much rain out as I could. Alright!! The prodigal glove came home to its father on the steps of the church no less. I realize that I am now giving an article of clothing a free will and capacities that are reserved for humans. However, in the blog business you are not held bound by regular laws of physics or logic. You simply have to make people feel like you can tell an interesting story that is equal to or greater than store brand onion dip without any garlicky aftertaste.Image result for onion dip pictures

So, the pair of gloves is re-mated for now. In six months we will see what sort of child pops out of mommy’s tummy. Will it be a boy, as seems to be the smart bet? Or will we have yet another princess in the Burrito family? It does not matter a jot. He or she will be loved and valued without having to go missing. And that is truly a tragic state of affairs, when we have to lose something before we value it– a reputation, a job, a marriage, a friendship, a home. Someone said that the average man learns from his own pain, whereas the wise man learns from others’ pain. Count me in on loving the first time around, not because I’m wise but because I have learned the hard way.