Unorthodox and Unhinged

Tales of a Manic Christian


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Let the World Turn Without You

My dad, Dr. Peacock was a healer and I was in awe of him.

When I was a child, I remember him pulling wondrous things out of his little black bag – the things he would use to prod and poke me, if I claimed I was too sick to go to school. A stethoscope to listen to my chest.  Tongue depressors to look down my throat. A little flashlight to peer into my ears.  A little hammer to knock my knees which, mysteriously made me kick somehow.

Invariably he would pronounce me well, prescribe two aspirin and send me off to school.

(I won the perfect attendance ribbon – seven years running at Holy Family School!)

Being a doctor, of course, he worked doctor’s hours: weekends, holidays, Holy Days, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter – no exceptions. As a child, it seemed to me he was always making rounds. And on very rare occasions, I got to go around with him and troop behind him at the hospital – like an acolyte.

He was forever coming home late. After dinner was over. After we had already gone to bed.

Healing is exhausting work.

Just ask Jesus.

Jesus’ reputation followed him from town to town. Who is this wonderworker that restores sight to the blind and makes the lame to walk? Wherever he went, crowds pressed upon just to touch the hem of his cloak.

Just say the word, Jesus, and I shall be healed.

He cared for all who came to him — the sick whether in body or soul. But Jesus, just like us, had only 24 hours in his day. Just like us, he needs to eat, to sleep, gather his thoughts, recharge his spirit.

The Lord’s prescription? Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while. That includes him. That includes everybody.

He needs a solid 8 hours, like the Jesus Christ in the Superstar song:

Let the world turn without you tonight. Close your eyes and relax and think of nothing tonight.

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Sunday is the Christian Sabbath (which we swapped out for Saturday, the seventh day of the week.)  God rested from hanging the stars and stocking the oceans. God rested on the Sabbath and made it sacred.

The old Blue Laws, once upon a time, helped us to keep it holy.

On Sundays, we went to Mass, slid into the back pew, squirmed in our seats, and tried to look pious. We listened to the lessons, snoozed through the sermon, rattled off a few Hail Mary’s and nodded our heads in prayer.

Sunday afternoons after church were lazy and uneventful. Even my workaholic dad, Doctor Peacock put on a pair of jeans and puttered around his workbench. We read the Sunday comics, played board games, and took cat naps.

It was not all  Let all mortal flesh keep silence. There were nine of us, after all. But we slowed WAY down. We stopped doing and just started being.

Not so true anymore, right? On Sundays we shop ‘til we drop. We’re glued to our devices: our smart phones and our MACS.  We answer email, we return calls, slip in meetings. All stuff that could wait.

Sunday blurs into Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. You know what I mean.

Being summer, sabbatical time, we are a little better at this.  But even our vacations are often over scheduled out the wazoo.

This Sunday, give it a try and see if you can keep it holy. Put down the newspaper. Leave the dishes in the sink. Leave the beds unmade. Go no further than your backyard. Swing in a hammock. Listen to music. Read a good book. Soak up a little silence along with the sun.

Close your eyes and listen. To the birds in the trees. The airplane overhead. The occasional breeze. Water gushing from a hose. Kids kicking soccer balls in the yard next door.

Tune in to the sound of your breath. The rhythm of your beating heart.

Be grateful for the life that surrounds you.

Be grateful for the life within you.

And for 24 hours, just like Jesus, let the world spin without you.

Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.

It’s God prescription for a hurting world.

JoaniSign


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Leaving on a Jet Plane & a Trip to the Duty Free Store

The golden era of air travel.

The golden era of air travel.

The very first plane ticket I ever held in my fat little hand – I won in a contest.

It was an essay contest sponsored by Eastern Airlines (now long extinct). I was twelve.

500 words on “The Duties of Citizenship” launched me into the friendly skies for the very first time. I don’t remember a word of what I wrote but I do remember what I wore: a powder blue, polka dotted shift with pleated sleeves. Elegantly accessorized with black patent leathers and white anklets, of course.

Flying was way glamorous back in those days. It was 1967. A PanAm flight bag was a sexy accessory. Stewardess was an even sexier career choice.

Butterflies fluttered on my insides, as we contest winners boarded the plane. Listening to the safety instructions both mesmerized me and terrified me. And as I buckled my belt, a little thrill went down my spine — sipping Coca Cola in the clouds.

And where did we go? Nowhere really.

We went round and round circling National Airport (Not Reagan National as it is now known and never will be to me.). We circled for about half an hour and then landed safely back down to earth.

Friendly indeed were these skies on my fairytale flight. Not always to be, of course. My Frequent Flyer Followers, I am sure you have seen the Christmas classic: “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”?

So get our your pre-flight checklist and lets count them down:

Lost luggage. Check.

Oversold seats. Check.

Late arrivals. Check.

Delayed departures. Check.

Security nightmares. Check.

Flights cancelled. Check.

Planes grounded. Check.

Stuck on the tarmac. Check.

Wings icing up. Check.

Barometers raised. Check.

Anxiety produced. Check.

Anger riled. Check.

Irish up. Check.

And still we cannot wait to board that plane.

As I write these words, my baby brother, Joseph — my rocking, single,  gay baby brother — and I are on our way to visit our elder, horticultural sister, Maureen. We are on a plane, of course,  headed to Vancouver.

This rainy, cloudy, cold November, we are psyched for a little cross-country adventure: walking the seawall, wandering the gayborhoods, day tripping to Victoria, marketing with the farmers, and pub crawling through the West End.

We departed from seedy BWI (Baltimore-Washington) and landed just an hour later with Lake Superior in view. We had five full hours to fill before we boarded our next Airbus out of Toronto.

We could have just sat on our butts — but instead we miraculously turned our five-hour layover into a day at the spa.

We had brunch: poached eggs over polenta and sour dough toast. Joseph’s Chelsea boots got a shine and my fingernails got painted —RED for the very first time! We had coffee and read up for our Canada quiz. Then we calculated the exchange rate on our debit cards (very much in our favor.) We shopped a little and we talked a lot.

5 fabulous duty free hours!

Airports are duty free – whatever the hell that means. In reality it’s about not paying taxes on overpriced stuff. But “duty free” really works much better as a metaphor.

Imagine airports as magical places — declared totally duty free. Free to wander. Free to wait. Free to play. Free to adventure. Free to splurge. Free to vacate wherever you have come from. Free to get excited about wherever you  go. Free to get lost and free to find out who knows what.

A marvelous trip to the duty free store.

Vancouver, here we come!

JoaniSign