Friday, August 23, 2013

Renting Pigs

I was in a coffee shop this past December, 2012, and the person behind the register said to me, " 2012 was so good that I am afraid that 2013 will be worse."  She was afraid of her future; afraid that her good fortune in life would fade.  So I wondered, how much did she really enjoy 2012.  I wondered if she was always looking over her shoulder, waiting for something bad to happen, waiting for the laughter to stop, waiting for the joy to turn to dread.

Since the downturn of the economy in 2008, I have met and talked with a lot of people who live this way.  They cannot fully enjoy their new job because they fear they will lose it.  They cannot enjoy the stock market gains for worrying about the next market downturn.

While it is advisable to plan and prepare and anticipate, we should not let our fears define who we are.  If we do, then we will become our fears.

One of my favorite movies is Lonesome Dove and my favorite character in that movie is Gus, played by Robert Duvall.  Gus had a sign made for the ranch which was supposed to welcome visitors.  But the sign focused on what the ranch was not rather than any of its welcoming attributes.  The most famous declaration on the sign stated, "We don't rent pigs."  When Gus' ranching partner, Captain Call, questioned why anyone in his right mind would want to rent a pig, Gus replied that that was just the point.  He did not want the kind of person who would rent a pig visiting his ranch.

Too often we define ourselves in the negative.  We think, " I am a person who does not do..."  " I am a person who does not believe..."  "I am a person who does not have..."  In order for us to develop spiritually and to grow in our relationship with God, we have to learn how to define ourselves in the positive.

When Moses asked God's name, God replied, "I am that I am."  Spiritual people are people who are rather than are not.  Moses defined himself as a person who could not answer God's call, but at God's insistence he relented.  When he embraced the fact that he was a child of God, he became the person that God knew him to be.

Spiritual people are always in the process of becoming and God is found in the affirmation of this becoming.  At some point, we can say that "I am God's creation."  " I am a person whose life has meaning and purpose."  And when we see others in this light- seeing them as who they are rather than who they are not- it changes our world view and makes loving others as we love ourselves a real possibility; even the people who rents pigs.


Copyright ©Eric Lanier.  The right to download and store output of the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and materials may not be produced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Last Summer of Innocence

Note:  This was written in June of 1992 when my daughter, Erin, was going into the fifth grade.

School is out.  Summer vacation has just begun.  My daughter is a recent graduate of the fourth grade and she is ecstatic.  She is experiencing that feeling of freedom that comes with youth and the beginning of summer.  The days seem endless and the end of August seems somewhere on the far end of eternity.

But this summer is special for Erin.  She doesn't realize this yet.  She will not realize it for a long time, and when she does it will be a bittersweet memory.  This is her last summer of innocence.  Erin is now standing at a crossroad.  When she crosses that road nothing will ever be the same for her and she can never go back.

Erin is about to learn all about one of the great mysteries of humankind; the secret of life.  She will learn what it is to be a woman and to have a woman's body.  She will learn about the role of the man in this process and hopefully she will learn about the importance of love for one special person; the thing that gives meaning to this mystery.

As her father, I have mixed emotions about this.  I want to protect her from this knowledge, yet I want to see her grow up and mature into a normal adult.  I know that I cannot have it both ways.  So, Erin's crossroad has become my own.

On the day she was born I was in the operating room holding her mother's hand while the doctors closed the Cesarean section.  The nurses cleaned Erin up, put a funny hat on her head, wrapped her in a blanket and handed her to me.  Immediately all the love of my being came pouring forth and I thanked God for this great mystery of life and for women like my wife, and above all for this innocent child who would call me her father.

This is the last summer of that innocence.

If I were given three wishes, I would wish

  • to enjoy this summer to the fullest possible extent.
  • To look back on the past with fondness and not regret the passage of time.
  • For the understanding and the courage to move forward.  

This summer may seem like an eternity to Erin.  But I am sure it will pass with the blink of an eye.

Copyright ©Eric Lanier.  The right to download and store output of the materials from this website is granted for your personal use only, and materials may not be produced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means, mechanical or electronic, without the express written permission of Eric Lanier is strictly prohibited. For additional information, contact Eric Lanier at ericelanier@gmail.com