The word of the day, according to Merriam-Webster, is resilience. It is a word I relate to at some deeper level. Resilience refers to the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress. It’s what happens to us after the world tries to break us. I love listening to punk music, especially punk covers of pop songs. Google Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and you’ll discover the longevity of the best-selling 1980s record. Remember when they made records? They are making them again. Vinyl is all the rage.
Poet James Douglas Morrison died fifty years ago. The world knows him better as simply Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors.
A man I speak with on a regular basis likes me to pray the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.
When I pray it over him, it appears to bring him solace. Which is good because life on the streets is hard. All me and my teammates are trying to do is love our street people well. Some days we do better than others.
I remember rule #1: The boss is always right.
I remember as a young boy sitting in the cockpit of a big jumbo plane crossing the ocean.
I remember growing up with sounds of blended banter—-German and English spun together—-sometimes separate, sometimes connected, word by word, phrase to phrase, birthing a new language, creating a new way to communicate.
I remember getting up early to catch the school bus.
I remember conversations, discussions, arguments, shouting, yelling, joy, laughter, and tears.
I remember the green and brown town and country station wagon that served as our family car.
I remember the Saturday night Fish Frys, grown men drinking, lightning bugs flashing, and arguments brewing.
I remember thunder crackling through trees as lightning emblazoned the night sky. I remember my bedroom window rattling.
I remember the smell of beer and cigarettes.
I remember swimming pools, girls in bikinis, and parties all the time.
I remember Dad’s midnight-blue Lincoln Mark IV. A classic, as he called it.
I remember the mercy offered by the setting summer sun.
I remember not understanding people.
I remember my first kiss, copping my first feel, and the rush of sliding into home.
I remember when everyone didn’t get easily offended.
I remember the grace of a sunrise heralding a new day.
I remember rule #2: If the boss is wrong, please see rule #1.
T, as she does, has mapped out our trip. I love to drive. She loves to navigate. We make a good team. We loaded the truck. We sat in the driveway. Were we really finally going? It is the first vacation of any sort for us in nearly six years. Our first getaway since my 50th birthday and a week in Playa.
Getting out of our North Dallas suburb is always the longest part of any trip. Once we are on the road, we head to Memphis at a quick clip. We are making good time. Then, we get a few miles outside of Memphis, just on the edge of Arkansas and the city of West Memphis, and an apparently dangerous place in America. Due to the I-40 bridge repair, traffic is diverted. A fact we had known. What we hadn’t foreseen was the dead stop we would come to in West Memphis. We tried to navigate around it. T googled alternate routes and I turned rapidly, weaving in and out, over, under, and around. There was no escape. We had made it to within 10 miles of our destination, the Great Memphis Pyramid. The distance between Dallas and Memphis is 452 miles. We had made it 442 miles in just over five hours. The final dozen miles to our destination would take TWO hours.
We arrived at the Great Memphis Pyramid. This would be our stay for the next few days. It was originally built as a sports stadium for the local pro basketball team. However, that didn’t work out.
The massive glass pyramid sat empty until developer and owner Johnny Morris bought the building after a fishing bet with his friends, including fisherman Bill Dance.
The Big Cypress Lodge is a 535,000 square foot rustic retreat filled with 100-foot tall trees, gators, fish, and other signs of wildlife amid a massive Bass Pro store. We had booked one of the 103 rooms lodged inside the massive structure.
We walked the streets of Memphis that evening, catching a beautiful sunset, and a meal at Uncle Bucks. We were anxious to try some Memphis BBQ and see famous sites like Beale Street, the Civil Rights Museum, Stax Records, and of course, the iconic Graceland.
Memphis is home to music. It may be the heartbeat of American sound. The Great Mississippi flows through the city, which is a blend of old and new. The Lorraine Motel still stands and is home to the National Civil Rights Museum.
We visit several renowned dining places, including the Sunrise Memphis and Central BBQ. We tour Elvis‘ house. I can’t believe it’s taking me this long to visit the King. As a kid, I loved Elvis. I wondered what had happened. Distractions. Life. I noticed my love for Elvis, although still strong, wasn’t like it used to be. That’s what happens over time I think with love.
Love can fade.
I look at T. I love her as much today as always. We’re getting older. It’s hard to believe over twenty years have passed since we first met. Love changes over time, too, I think. Or maybe it’s just our understanding of it or perhaps our perception of it. When I was young I equated love with sex. 100%. No sex, no love.
All that was something, but it probably wasn’t love.
The apostle Paul writes that love is the greatest gift of all gifts. Love never fails. Love never ceases. Love abounds where life abounds. We set aside our childlike views of love as we grow older and mature and grow to understand and comprehend a love like we never did before. Love, Paul reminds us, is seen when we die to ourselves and show love to others. It’s what Jesus taught us to do—-love our neighbors as ourselves.
We stand inside the hotel room where Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed. A wreath decorates the balcony where he was slain. HATE hates LOVE. It strives to quench it. But, in the end, love wins.
T and I are walking in Memphis, wandering toward the river. The sun is setting. A beautiful yellow, orange, and purple glow kidnap the evening sky. A cool breeze blows. We sense love in the air.
I look at her. She is as beautiful to me today as she was twenty-plus years ago.
”That’s what real love amounts to—-letting a person be who they really are.”
James Douglas Morrison
The above piece is a work I submitted for an online course I am taking that focuses on developing my skills at crafting and braiding a personal essay. What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.
I pray your week is filled with the Lord’s favor and blessings upon your life. I pray He gives you strength to remain faithful as you obey His call on your life. He has a plan and a purpose for you. I pray that you are able to experience all that He has to offer you.
The Devotional Guy™