Monday, January 11, 2010

Hey, y'all

I am a son of the South. When writing, as well as when speaking, I tend towards use of our great Southern colloquialism “Y’all”. In a humorous email sent out today among our EFM class I wrote it once again. One of our group was intrigued by the word and researched its etymology. He sent back the dictionary definition and I took “minor” exception to his findings as they seemed not to recognize its legitimate use in a singular manner. So, for all y’all out there here is my understanding of the correct declination of the word in its various forms, though always a pronoun of neuter gender.

Y’all 2nd person, Singular or Plural
Y’all’s 2nd person, Singular or Plural – Possessive form
All Y’all 2nd person, Plural ONLY
All Y’all’s 2nd person, Plural ONLY – Possessive form

Be advised, this does not necessarily describe its usage in those most famous last words of many a youthful redneck Texas male: “Hey y’all, hold my beer and watch this.”

And that, boys & girls, is today’s lesson in English of the Southland.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Vaya con Dios, Decade of the “Naughts”

Just before this Thanksgiving some very close friends tragically lost their son. He was around 36, an Oral Surgeon and an overachiever. Other acquaintances lost their son, slightly younger and another overachiever, under similar circumstances about 10 days later. We learned of the surgeon son’s death only some 12 hours after we’d found out a close family member (a sister in actuality, if not by birth) was terminal with cancer. Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas plans were thrown into limbo, as we began dealing with quite a bit of turmoil, an all too frequent occurrence it would lately seem.

I was reading the Sunday paper before Church the other morning and came across an op-ed piece by Leonard Pitts regarding what to call the decade just passing, he suggested: “Uh Ohs“ resulting from so many facets of life as we know them falling apart within the period. He describes “Uh Oh”, saying it’s: “that interjection you mutter when the excreta hits the ventilation device, that word you whisper when the wheels come off the bicycle,” but I disagree, I see it as the “Naught” Decade (nothing or nothingness; ruin, complete failure; to have disregard or scorn for; disdain. In Mathematics nought is used as a term to refer to “0”, nothing, zip, nada).

01/01/2001 to 12/31/2009 Rest in Peace, don’t stick around any longer, I’ve enjoyed as much of you as I can stand”

That got me to pondering events of the last month or two. It’s been a profound recent journey.

A long time family friend/associate was buried the 21st and I began that week attending his Funeral Service on Monday. It was held in a non-denominational Church and before the proceedings there was a montage of photos showing on a retractable screen, representing his life, as has become common in this day and age. While watching I was struck with the thought that though he operated his own business for 56 years there were no business pictures in the presentation, only family, his ranch, hunting trips and vacations. He had his priorities straight. I should do likewise. Were it I in his place, what pictures would they show for me? I fear far too few to reflect back on a life well spent. I saw a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a lamp pole as I pulled away from that funeral. I’ve come to see special birds in unusual locations as signs from God calling me to closer attention, a wake up call if you will, God’s way of saying: “focus”. So, I have been…

I’ve spoken about T.A., so I’ll let him rest in peace. And mentioned the “sister in actuality”, but her story deserves a bit of expansion.

At the first of the month with her two sisters (1 twin, 1 younger), we hosted the bunch at our house for the weekend. I saw God at work while they were here. They’ve been gone from town for onto 40 years and their Dad, a really talented Architect, died even before that. Their Mom sold the family home, remarried and also moved away. While the wife and all the girls were enjoying lunch at an obscure “burger joint” Saturday, they ran into a friend from their youth and the friend’s mother-in-law who coincidentally had purchased that childhood home from their Mom. She was still living there and graciously invited them over to visit. I’d mentioned that their Dad was an extremely talented architect. The current owner of the home was so impressed with his abilities that some 40 years ago when she bought the home she chose to keep it as original as possible and has ‘till this day. So, after being gone for such a long time, with one of the girls not long for this earthly realm; they were given the opportunity to go back and revisit their childhood, together, one last time, in the family home virtually unchanged since those early. Yeah Lord, I hear you loud and clear: “Focus”

All the kids and their spouses made it home this Season, even some of the in-laws and we all went Midnight Service on Christmas Eve as is our tradition, transitioning yet once again from the secular to the Holy. Christmas Dinner the 25th was wonderful with everyone around. On the following day, the “sister” with Cancer was back through with her twin on a return to Dallas following time spent in Austin with the younger sister. It was a difficult visit for I fear she’s failing fast. It further brought the importance of relationship into focus.

That same day, we and the kids went to see “Up in the Air”. Highly recommended and thought provoking to the max. However, I came far too close to identifying with George Clooney’s character in regard to his uninvolvement… that focus thing again.

Then Sunday, during a joint Church Service held since we’d “churched out” even the faithful the prior week (I failed to mention an Ordination to the Priesthood of a friend on the 22nd, the wife’s and I’s Anniversary, BTW), and our Rector decided only one Sunday Service after Christmas was appropriate. I was struck by the fact that I knew all but a handful of the people there. Our Parish is reasonably large (near 400 ASA at three different Services, I’m 11:00 AM, myself) all mixed from 8:00, 9:00 & 11:00 AM crowds. Reflecting on the folks there that day, they all seemed more like family than Church acquaintances. Our Deacon, Billy, offered a good sermon and then we had Communion. I was yet again struck by the thought we omitted the General Confession as we’ve done in years past during the Season. A bit of additional grace, unmerited and unearned… focus.

Finally, while going to an appointment this Monday, I saw another Red-tailed Hawk where they’re not normally seen. It seemed to be urging me to complete my thoughts of the last few weeks, that I might again focus… and learn, but what?

I suppose it would be to concentrate on the important things and let the day to day minutiae go. Accept that offered gift of Grace. Value what’s important and be able to set aside that which is not. “Illegitimi non carborundum”, (don’t let the Bastards wear you down). It seems only occasionally are we given the chance to really have the important things in life brought to the forefront and for me that’s what it seems life has been urging me towards this last year or two. I’m really trying to identify and get a handle on my priorities. The only issue left is how to effect them. I hope the New Year and decade enable me to accomplish that, preferably sooner than later.

So again, to the Decade of the “Naughts”, I say: “Vaya con Dios, Go with God… Just don’t let the doorknob hit you on the way out.”