— 1 —
“No great wisdom can be reached without sacrifice.”
The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Two weeks ago I “rediscovered” my 7-volume set of The Chronicles of Narnia atop our piano when we moved it in order to repaint the room’s walls. After dusting them off I decided I was ready to make a return trip to Narnia as my last journey there was over five years ago. Setting weightier subject matters aside I began with Digory, Polly and Fledge; once more learning of how the lamppost came to be in Narnia. It would be the same lamppost near where Lucy was to meet Mr. Tumnus much later. For as the title of the final chapter in The Magician’s Nephew says this is “the End of This Story and the Beginning of All the Others.”
— 2 —
Where are all the dreamers that I used know?
We used to linger beneath street lamps in the halos and the smoke
The wing and the wheel came to carry them away
Now they all live out in the suburbs where their dreams
Are in their children at play
The Wing and The Wheel by Nanci Griffith
I was able to spend a few hours yesterday having lunch and catching up with one of my oldest friends. When my family moved across our small Nebraska town to D Street I was in junior high. Across the as yet unpaved, gravel street was a 4th grader named Bill. That was 1980. For the next few years our summers began with meeting the other neighborhood kids outside after breakfast to sketch out the day that would inevitably last until our moms called us home for supper one-by-one, interrupted only by a noontime lunch. But then it was back at it. There were sandlot baseball, football or soccer games. Riding our bikes everywhere. Building THEEEE coolest treehouse EVAH (you had to scale a makeshift ladder over fifteen feet to enter, and if brave enough you could sit up on the roof that had a backrest, our version of a rooftop deck. The shag carpeting proved a nuisance when it rained and we learned of the holes in the roof though.) If out at night after dark we’d sit atop the large green electrical boxes on the corner, soda pop come out our noses from laughing at the absurd popping noise made by a car running over one of the many small toads that had been unfortunate enough to pause on the road. After a few days on the gravel in the hot summer sun and being run over a few times more they were dry enough (and flat enough) to be a nasty Frisbee. On rainy days we’d use sticks to dig channels on the curb of the gravel street and create our own rivers; used popsicle sticks making great boats for the “river” races that ensued.
Later, in the summers of high school and college, Bill and I would drive around town endlessly and listen to the Eagles and Hotel California too many times (is that even possible?) One summer night in 1991 we drove to Clarkson for Czech Days and our mutual love for Blues Traveler was born on Highway 15. Don’t even get us started on The Hoopsnakes.
In 1992, when we were both registered as Democrats, I awoke in my Omaha apartment the day after the election of Bill Clinton to a message machine recording of Bill, and the clinking of beer bottles and shouting, celebrating from his dorm floor at St. John’s in Minnesota where he attended college. “We did it Jeff! Clinton’s in the White House. By God we did it!” Within a few months for me, and a few years for Bill, we had each left the Democrat party.
Bill and his wife have lived and worked in Hong Kong for the past four years as their jobs are there. We haven’t seen each other in at least fifteen years and it was only because of Facebook that we reconnected three years ago. We’d have preferred an evening spent at Tiny’s Bar in Schuyler, Nebraska, over too many beers and unhealthy fried food, but at least we had a few hours on a beautiful fall afternoon in Lincoln while he was back to visit family and friends. Before parting we each learned, once again, of our mutual decision to leave the Republican party. Once more we are allies in exile.
I have friends like Bill all over the world. I am a blessed man in this regard. Talented friends who are writers, are involved in high finance, in politics, or education. Friends who own businesses and live and travel all over the world. Friends who do all the things I at one time or another dreamed of doing when I was growing up on D Street, sipping sodas and throwing pebbles into the light at night and watching the bats dive bomb them as they mistook the pebbles for insects.
I have friends who do all those things. I pretty much stayed put. I’m right here. It’s a good place to be.
The world needs ditch diggers too.
— 3 —
The Vampire State, I’ve said, despises ordinary women. It fears ordinary men. An ordinary healthy man might command the respect of his fellows. He might preach a godly self-reliance which is a form of charity for his neighbors. He might wean some people off the dead blood. He might even try to hammer a stake through the Vampire’s heart. The Vampire can’t have that. For the Vampire is an effeminate old cad. His métier is not honest confrontation and clear debate, but subterfuge and seduction.
So the last thing the Vampire State wants is a lot of strong men around.
— The Vampire State by Anthony Esolen, writing for the Catholic World Report.
— 4 —
You must hold fast to faith, be firmly grounded and steadfast in it, unshaken in the hope promised you by the gospel you have heard. It is the gospel which has been announced to every creature under heaven. – Colossians 1:23
From Evening Prayers for November 15, The Liturgy of the Hours
— 5 —
“I love you Daddy.”
Sophia Rose, as I tucked her into bed last night.