Gerald McGrew

“Yes… that’s what I’d do,” said young Gerald McGrew.

“I’d make a few changes If I ran the zoo.” (If I Ran the Zoo, by Dr. Seuss)

Tonight I read a bunch of stories by the master of children’s writing, Dr. Seuss. Yep, I went to the bookstore, sat in the kid’s section and read children’s books. Don’t laugh. Everyone should try it sometime. The funny thing is that I was there around 11:00 p.m. and a little girl was there with her Dad. She was probably five or six, but I don’t understand how she was still going that late at night. She read books out loud to herself and talked to herself, totally enthralled by all the books. Too bad her Dad was engrossed in his newspaper. It was kind of an odd sight. You don’t expect to share the children’s section of a bookstore with a little kid at 11:00 p.m. She must be getting ready for college a little early.

Anyway, I was rather impressed by young Gerald. He had quite an imagination. But more than that, he had a vision. He had a dream. He knew what he would do to that boring old zoo. If only Gerald was given a chance. How many of us have dreams like that? I wish I did. Can you dream of dreams? I suppose it comes to my mind so readily because I’m at a spot in life where you either chase your dreams, or spend your life wishing you had. It seems like only young people think they can change the world and still have the guts to try. I guess I’m one of those people, and I’m still waiting to see if I have the guts.

On a totally unrelated tangent (or is it?), I heard these words in a song today, and they really resonated with me:

“But tonight I’m so lonely / Just put your arms around me / And tell me that you love me so much / I’m tired of seeking slowly / Lately I’ve been crazy / Maybe I’m just getting out of touch / Now I’m holding on / ‘Till the night is gone” (Put Your Arms Around Me, by All Star United)

Birthplace of Apathy

Have you ever had one of those days where you look back and it doesn’t seem like it happened? Nothing important stands out and the day just kind of washes together as a big nothing. The morning feels like last month and the afternoon feels like last week. It wasn’t necessarily a long day, just a rather odd day. At least it’s Friday, I can now sleep the oddness away. I think I’ve found the birthplace of apathy.

Prayer is a Conversation with a Friend

High above a nearly full moon lights up the night sky, a round white ball in the middle of the emptiness. As I stand there and wait, things begin to slow down and I can actually see. My eyes watch as the gray puffs of clouds roll across the black tapestry. Frowning, I see that they’re about to block my view of the moon. But as they slowly move past, the glowing orb isn’t lost in a cloudy haze. It shines on, despite the foggy covering. It glows just as brightly as it did before. I look again, thinking my eyes deceive me and that the moon is below the clouds. But the clouds are passing in front of the moon, and its silvery glow is shining through as if the clouds weren’t even there.

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Going for a Walk

Have you ever had something so immense to deal with that you just don’t know what to do? Your fingers are trembling, your stomach feels twisted in knots, and there’s a large lump in your throat that can only be your heart. You don’t know what to do, what to think, what to say, or how to react in any way. You just want to run out the door and out into the street and scream. You want to do something so bizarre, as if you were in a movie. Just go out the door and take a walk, even if it’s midnight, and walk until the sun rises. Do something odd, bizarre, and totally out of character because you’ve just undergone such a shock that you don’t know what to do.

Yeah, well I’m going for a walk.

(for those worried about my psychological state, don’t worry, I’ll be fine)

Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

seuss.gifToday is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. He’d be turning 95 if he were still alive today. Throughout my life I don’t think Dr. Seuss has really played any kind of big role at all. I don’t remember reading a ton of his books as a kid and I don’t think he had any profound impact on me. Although I do remember reading “If I Ran the Zoo” in kindergarten and I loved it. But a certain friend of mine who happens to be an Elementary Education major has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss. The old doctor has said some amazingly profound things. The best part is that all of it is said in the wonderful language of children. It’s wacky rhymes and silly made up words that only kids could love. You don’t have to have a doctorate to understand it. So knowing that, I present a few quotes from the good doctor:

“Marvin K. Mooney! Don’t you know the time has come to go, Go, GO!” (Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now)

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” (The Lorax)

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” (Horton Hears a Who)

“Left foot. Right foot. Feet, feet, feet. Oh how many, many feet you meet.” (The Foot Book)

He even provides some wise advice, “You must not hop on Pop.” (Hop on Pop)

“If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.” (?)

Unfortunately, that little sampling fails to even touch on the amazing world of Dr. Seuss. Do your self a favor and go find one of his books and read it. It won’t take you very long, and you won’t have to think very hard. Remember being a kid again, and gaze at the cool pictures (I heard an old man say “cool” today. I couldn’t help but smile.). If you can, I highly suggest you read a Seuss book to a child. But if a child can’t be found, your immediate friends will do.

“Adults are just obsolete children.” (Dr. Seuss)

Dealing with Death

How does a man remain so resilient in the face of death? I met him at the church I’ve been attending recently, and since I met him his mother has been battling cancer. She died a week ago Wednesday, on Ash Wednesday. He was back in church this week, and seemed to be doing surprisingly well, all things considered. He somehow looked fragile. He looked visibly shaken, and you could hear his voice wavering, but he was there. He looked like he could break down crying at any moment. This from a smiling Native American man in his thirties or forties who’s usually leading the church in songs with his guitar.

Him and a friend sang a song of thanksgiving today. It was a Native American song, and the lyrics were something along the lines of, “thank you God.” Hard to believe that a man could thank God after something like this. After the message he lead the circle (or “congregation,” for you conventional types) in a few songs about life and God breathing life into us. He talked about watching his mother breath her last breath, and knowing that she was now with her Maker.

The last time I saw Jim he handed me two cocoa seeds. This was a few weeks before his mother passed away. I can’t remember all of what he said, he always puts it so poetically, but he was marveling at how life is wrapped up in a such a tiny seed. The seeds still sit on my desk.

How can a man deal with such heartache? Jesus Christ. That’s the only answer I can possibly come up with, and I’m sure that Jim would agree with me.

Talking to a Brick Wall

Ever feel like you’re talking to a brick wall? I talk about my day, and they don’t seem to care. I talk about how I feel, and they just ignore me. Maybe they didn’t hear me. Hello? I ask a question and they don’t answer. So I ask again, and they don’t answer. I ask a third time and no answer. Why am I being ignored? You’re not supposed to be a brick wall. When someone puts their heart on the line, at the least you acknowledge it. You don’t ignore it. I can only hope I’m not being heard, because I just don’t understand. Have I done something wrong? Or is this just the way things are going? I certainly hope not, because my heart is growing bitter, building its own brick wall. And that’s the last thing I want to do. Ever feel like you’re talking to a brick wall? It hurts.

The Imagination of Children

“I used to believe in things when I was a kid.” – Homer Simpson

Why is it that as we grow older we quickly lose our ability to believe in things. Our imaginations shrivel up and die, we no longer feel justified in believing something a little bit different. Little kids believe in all sorts of crazy stuff, and they don’t feel ashamed. Yet as we grow older we feel the need to assimilate and be just like everyone else. It’s kind of silly really. Is it just because kids have less at stake? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The Sacrifice of the Hmong People

In one of my classes we’ve been reading a book about a Hmong family (The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman) and their clash with American culture through the illness of their daughter. Even though it’s one of those obnoxious books you have to read for a class, it’s been rather eye opening. We have to do a service learning project with some Hmong people in the Twin Cities, so there are actually practical applications to this. What amazes me the most is how little people know about the Hmong. For example, I’m typing this in Word 97, and the spell checker doesn’t recognize “Hmong” as a word.

Continue reading The Sacrifice of the Hmong People

A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.