Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Holiday Weekend in July

My wife Beth and I spent this holiday weekend dealing with jet lag. In June, Beth had business in Athens and Geneva, so we spent six and three days respectively in those cities. Then we flew to Tokyo to visit our daughter Emily who is studying there for a year. We were six days in Tokyo. Back since Thursday, we began experiencing jet lag in earnest on Saturday. A nice problem to have, as they say, considering the wonderful trip.

So here I am, awake and up at 3 AM, beginning to catch up on a few things. After I catch up on some school-related things, I'll write more about our trip, which had some wonderfully spiritual dimensions. Neither Beth nor I took our MacBooks along, but we both had a few projects still in process. Mine was putting the final touches on a poetry manuscript that was accepted for publication---my second chapbook, yay.

The early morning is a wonderful time, although I seldom see it, earlier than 5 AM anyway. My father got up at 1 or 2 AM for his truck-driving duties and, after retirement, still rose early, although 4 or 4:30 became his normal time. I wonder now if he, like me, simply appreciated the alone time.

We went to bed last night with the burst of fireworks, both local and individual celebrations. I guess we're not big fans of fireworks. They're fun to watch if you're already at an event that features them; we always stayed home for the big Thunder Over Louisville event when we lived in that city. Twenty-nine years ago yesterday, Beth and I first visited Flagstaff, AZ, the place to which we'd soon move for our first academic teaching jobs. There was supposed to be a big fireworks event that evening, and the next day we heard on local news that a kid had been burned from some mishap at the event.

July 4th is a precious holiday, of course. After I first read Frederick Douglass' famous 1852 essay about the Fourth, I couldn't un-think the problems of justice and equality with which we still deal in this country; an African American colleague wrote on Facebook yesterday that she feels like Juneteenth is a more personal kind of independence day for her.

I am listening to Bach's cantatas for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity, which was day-before-yesterday. One of the two, “Es ist das Heil uns kommen her” (BWV 9, “Salvation has come to us”) is a lovely cantata that provides a "narrative thread" of sin and grace, renewal and salvation: the ordo salutis that is a real part of our lives but which we easily forget amid the stresses and busyness of life. God's grace is always with us amid life's injustices, accidents, and times of readjustment, as well as the happy times and celebrations. Gaining a deeper sense of that ever-present grace is one of life's great joys.

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