Musings of a 30ish Midwestern Catholic Improv Guy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006  

The Letter "C"

My wife has passed on to me an ongoing meme. The rules are this: Give ten words beginning with an assigned letter, and why they were chosen. The next person who wishes to participate leaves a comment, and is then given another letter.

Now, to begin my ten C's:

Christ -- Jesus, the center and focus of my life.

Caritas -- Agape in Greek, Charity in English, and too often loosely translated as "love". Specifically, it is the divine love, the love one has for another simply because he is God's creation. I try to love everyone in this way; however, I must admit I don't like everyone.

Clive -- the first name of C. S. Lewis, who has had a profound influence on me. His fiction stimulates my own imagination, and his apologetics are clear. His works are an antidote to the fuzziness of The Da Vinci Code, as well as the sharp starkness of practical atheism.

Chesterton -- Another great influence. I'm re-reading What's Wrong With the World, and I now understand why Mark Shea refers to him as "the Prophet Chesterton". Next will be revisits of Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. I do hope my wife will discover this treasure trove of common sense.

Communion -- In times past, I've abstained from the Eucharist when I knew myself to be unworthy of receiving It. Can you say spiritual starvation? Nowadays I try not to do that, because if I don't have His Life in me, his Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity fed me under the forms of bread and wine -- then is my life really worth living?

This brings me to the next one...

Confession -- Every time I hear the words of Absolution, I can feel the weight of my sins removed from me. I may have to make restitution, and some purging is still in order; but the road to Heaven is clear for me again.

Carnivore -- Every Lent, I give up red meat, with exceptions made for Sunday bacon and Saint Patrick's Day corned beef. Then, after the Easter Vigil, I tuck into a large chunk of grilled dead ruminant. Mmmmm...

Cornflower -- As in cornflower blue. My favorite color. I think Crayola still makes it.

Covenant -- Here I'm thinking of two covenants: the New Covenant of Jesus, entered into at Baptism and sustained through the Eucharist; and the marriage covenant with Amy.


Cudahy -- Hey der dey. Town sout' o' M'waukee, on da shore o' Lake Michigan. Pickled eggs, bowling, polka...good stuff, aina?

Any takers for a letter? Please let me know.

posted by Dave | 4:51 PM

Wednesday, May 17, 2006  

A Friend Come Safely Home

I just received word that my friend Brian Ekendahl will return to Milwaukee tomorrow morning, after a year's duty in Iraq.

I've known Brian since freshman year in high school -- nearly 23 years. That's as long as my wife's been alive. We've done a lot of things together during those years: school stuff, video games and drinking parties in his parents' basement, rides to college, a few trips to Madison, watching Packer games together, heading out to dinner, and many other experiences.

And there were the times Brian would be gone, serving his country somewhere in the world.
Brian joined the Army Reserves in 1986 to pay for college. And while they held up to their end of the bargain, they also got the most out of Brian.

The first absence was Basic Training. He took a bit longer than usual to complete it, since it was interrupted by knee surgery. I saw Brian when he came home during his recuperation. And what a sight he was! He was wearing the infamous "birth control" glasses; his blonde hair was shaved off; and his frame was reduced from scrawny to skeletal. He looked like a refugee from the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.

After Basic came his Advanced Infantry Training and some schooling. Then he was home, except for monthly Reserve duty and the occasional trip to Germany or South Korea. I especially liked it when he travelled to the latter. He'd bring back soju (Korean white lightening) and some really nice silk neckties.

Then came October 1990. We had planned on celebrating our 21st birthdays with some legal debauchery (as opposed to what we'd been doing before). But Saddam Hussein spoiled those plans by invading Kuwait, and so Brian had to go deliver mail in Saudi Arabia instead. I wrote more letters during that time than I have before or since. He got home in March 1991, and picked up life where he left off.

May 1995. Some deranged officer picked Brian to go to Haiti to participate in the UN Peacekeeping Mission. By this time, Brian was living on his own, sharing a flat with his brother Bruce. I was in between places, and needed somewhere to stay. I occupied his room while he wass in Haiti. His brother and I nearly killed each other: I was a slob, and Bruce kept me awake by having friends over late at night. And it was a hot, stifling summer, spent in a room facing west with little air circulation and far from the living room air conditioner. Fortunately, Brian came back before things got too ugly.

Time passed. Brian bought a house with his brother, then bought his own after his brother got married. Life seemed to go into a regular routine for him. He worked at Fed-Ex, did his monthly weekend in the Reserves, visited his parents in the Dells, and dated with unspectacular results.

Spring 2004. Amy and I were picking our wedding parties. I couldn't decide who to select for groomsmen. I put names of high-school friends into a hat, and picked one. Brian was selected. He was the instant choice for Best Man. Of course, we knew there was just a slight chance he'd be called up for active duty. But why would they want a paper-pusher who had been overseas twice, when many others in his unit hadn't even left the USA even once? So we made plans. I'd stay with him while Amy moved into the apartment and arranged things to her liking.

April 2005. My ex-roommate, who had briefly dated Brian, called me. Brian had been chosen to go to Iraq. I immediately called his house to confirm -- it was true. He was going away again, this time for a year.

Amy and I spent as much time as we could with him before his departure. One last Brewer game, one last fancy dinner at an Asian fusion restaurant, and one last gathering with family and friends. And then he was gone again, leaving his house and cat in the care of his mother.

Brian was much busier in this tour than he ever was. All we'd get was the occasional email or phone call, one of which was especially memorable...

It was the morning of my wedding. I was staying at Brian's house (his mother had gone home for a few weeks) with one of the ushers. We had just come back from breakfast when I noticed a message on the answering machine. It was Brian, wishing us luck on our special day. Later on, when some of the wedding party returned to the house for a bathroom break and a breather, I was able to replay the message.

And now I'll be waiting for tomorrow's phone call, from his own house...

Welcome home, my friend. Thank God you got back here alive and intact.

posted by Dave | 5:17 PM

Monday, May 08, 2006  

Aslan and I have one thing in common...

...we both call all times "soon".

It's been almost two weeks since I promised more wedding pics...

...I will post some more one of these days...I promise...

posted by Dave | 8:50 PM