Will You Drive-Thru My Funeral?

“You ever been to a drive-thru funeral?”
I looked up with a quizzical expression as Lil’ Jon crept up behind my right ear: “What!!?!”
You never heard of a drive-thru funeral?”
Turning Lil’ Jon’s volume down, I managed a befuddled “What!?”
“Let me explain: You drive into a viewing room, it’s private, you can be drunk, high, whatever; the curtain comes up, you get three minutes to say goodbye, the curtain drops and you go home.”
I simply stared… even Lil’ Jon was quiet.
In the day or so since that conversation, I thought about what funerals mean – to our society and to me as an individual. I never cared for funerals as a young person, and studiously avoided any that I could. As I grew older I began to understand the importance of community and ritual, even funerals.
Generally, I find funerals to be a reminder of not only physical mortality but also that of memory and the importance of a legacy. Funerals provide a space where for a brief moment the individual is subordinate to the family; everyone is expected to share in the pain and support as they can. For a time, a community forms and where bonds are frayed or missing, loss is a bonding agent. The slights and grievances of the individual give way to communal grief.
The drive-thru funeral ruins it all. Well okay, to be fair, it’s probably just a logical continuation of our society’s current trajectory. However, I feel like a line has been crossed. The drive-thru funeral…doesn’t anyone feel like that is impersonal and commercial? Three minutes to pay your respects to a person you loved? I hope you got started crying beforehand; there won’t be much time for waterworks once you’ve arrived. I wonder if tissues are complimentary?
It seems to me that that other than privacy in grieving, convenience is the most attractive factor. To be honest, I don’t enjoy having to spend hours (and always the most inconvenient ones at that) in such a dreary way. But…it can be cathartic; maybe even comforting to know that you aren’t alone in your pain and gratifying to know that others loved this person just as you did. Despite the inconvenience, the time spent is important. This act of solidarity is the beginning of community, setting aside your needs or wants for a short time to be part of a family.
I realize that some may find this development attractive; there must be some who would rather grieve in private. I still feel like this is a step backward.  Funerals have always been about the family’s loss. Now the individual’s suffering is pitted against communal grief instead of joining it. A big part of a funeral is recognizing that it’s not all about you. There are others who have lost as well; facing their grief in the midst of your own provides a bit of perspective and (under optimal conditions) a support system. This focus on the individual comfort undermines family cohesiveness, by having one less outlet for family solidarity.
All this being said, perhaps I’m making too big a deal of this. Surely family can arrange some other time for commiseration and shows of solidarity. Everyone will still show up for dinner won’t they? In the back of my mind there’s a nagging thought: If you can’t be inconvenienced for a funeral, if three minutes are all you have; why bother at all? Maybe we should just YouTube the wake and watch the spreading of the ashes.

Prayer of Resignation

God help me to be quiet.

I know I have asked before for help

being a better father, husband and a better man.

But these concepts are too broad, to far-reaching

to be parsed in a moment of frustration.

Help me, instead, to hold my tongue.

 

Help me to see the effort of those in front of me

before I see their weakness.

Allow me to understand that my weakness

far outweighs my effort.

 

God help me to be still, until I am certain

that you have prepared the way.

Guide me to act, in silence, according to your will.

Impress me to speak only after I have done all I can.

Help me, please, to be quiet.

Pin My Hopes on You

The sight of you obscures vision

and drowns the world in a blurry haze.

My chest swells with pride;

I know perfection when I see it.

My dreams for you are beyond words.

My love is absolute.

The world you enter won’t feel the same,

but we will make them see.

The task set before me, Herculean;

I tend to it with joy.

In your eyes, are my wings

and the shores where I drown.

11/13/2016 12:29am baby Ava enters the world

The Art of Expression

If a robot could paint what it “saw,” would that be art?
If my phone painted what I pointed its camera at, would that be art?
I read a review of an app called Prisma, it adds a “filter” to  pictures. This “filter,” however is more than a tint or a sticker added to your photo. It is an amalgamation of the original photo and a particular style; Van Gogh meets my unmade bed, perhaps.
At any rate the reviewer seemed to question whether this use of technology could qualify as art. I ask what is art?
Google defines art as: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. Often, the discussion of art centers around skill or mastery; but it is just as much about expression and imagination. Expression and imagination have no skill requirement. Perhaps all that is needed is the serendipity of capturing a different perspective on life.
Has the time come where the media and art are one?
With these thoughts in mind, I present my contribution:
“5 O’clock Shadows at Noon: Shoe gazing”.
shoegazing

3rd Street Revival

3rd Street Revival

 

I found God
on the corner of Third and Washington.
I spread my arms
to take in the infinite.
“Where you been?!”
“Waiting…here, for you.”
We talked for hours,
in loud voices and whispers,
ignoring passers by.
I laughed; He laughed with me.
I cried; He cried for me.
At length, we ran out of words.
I raised my right hand,
He his left.
Palm in palm, we swore:
to erase the past,
to forget the future.
“Let’s just start over right now.”
I leaned forward,
my forehead touching His.
For all the fire in His eyes,
His brow was cool as glass.

Cycles

Cycles

The flare of youth sets just beyond the horizon
(Where time’s curvature seals mistakes in perpetuity).
Gazing upon the shadow of the past, I realize…

I was distracted by “freedom.”
Drawn; like darkness to light.

Was that living?
Would I do it again?

True progress hindered,
by desperate grasps at a tomorrow that never came.

The sun rises generously on the time ahead,
hinting at freedoms still to be had.

I turn my back on sunsets of the past
and face the rising sun.

Why? (in case they ever ask)

Why? (in case they ever ask)

Because youth is forever;
not mine, but ours, collectively.
Youth reminds us of life’s meaning.
There is still time left to live.

Because it doesn’t matter that you’re not together.
Remember the beauty you saw in those eyes.
Was it a wish or a dream?
If there is love, I am proof.

Because, I know you’ve lived through hell;
time and life taking their toll.
Look at me to see how far you’ve come;
a reminder of your youthful energy.

I am here because of you,
nurturing hope of my own.
There is still time,
and so much good to be done.

Agency

Agency

I love learning, enjoy creating, and dream about pushing the limits. I fancy myself a teacher, an intellectual, a communicator. Strangely enough, the inability to teach; to transmit my experience, is what defines my limits. It is understood that I can’t change a person, but somehow, communication isn’t enough. I want to transform, both myself and others. Yet, I am afraid. Success as a teacher, as an agent of change, depends on so much that I don’t control. There is so much I don’t understand, so much room for failure. I am out of my depth.

Faith suggests that I lean fully on God and not my understanding. I’m not sure I understand how to let go. The idea sounds simple enough, but the reflex to control is inborn. How does one release their own nature? Furthermore, if I succeed in “letting go and letting God,” what is left for me to do?

A word comes, unbidden, “obey.” Arguments and counter-arguments go round in my head. I guess the choice is simple; choose to believe, submit to the process. After all, I have already tried it my way. Perhaps I can still be the teacher I always dreamed of.

Alpenglow

Alpenglow

When we met, the world was new.
I indulged in your beauty; blind to your weakness.
You were perfect as you were.

The evening blush reflected on your cheeks.
And in the afterglow of newness;
we promised.

With time, expectation usurped promise.
Familiarity waxed while novelty waned.
Criticism eclipsed beauty.

Perfect as you were,
it wasn’t enough.
Where did we cross the line?

Memories of the Future

I understand now,
why grandma always called the “wrong” names.
She wasn’t losing it, her memory was fine.
The impulse was uncontrollable; recognition of the future to come.
She saw traits in her grandchildren,
the pattern of her children.
The same obstinance, strong-headedness;
dealt with the same way too – nothing new.
“Bob-, Rickey, Jas-, Brian… don’t stand there like you don’t hear me!”
She knew who we were, down to the DNA, names never mattered.
Her memories were always of the future.