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Friday, December 14, 2012

Back from Middle Earth to Planet Earth...

Middle Earth is one of my guilty pleasures.  Guilty because it feels like an escape from Planet Earth and I'm not escapist by nature.  Pleasure because the whole of it fills with me such exceeding joy I feel as though I want to pause the movie over and over again so that my eyes can take in the vastness of the landscape and the detail that is often missed as the tape keeps rolling.

For the past couple years I haven't frequented nature as often nor appreciated it with my grateful gaze...this is one of the deadly dangers of preoccupation.  I find that when I'm thinking about something else other than the thing I'm doing, or thinking about someone else other than the person I'm with, or thinking about somewhere else other than the place I actually's impossible to have any relationship whatsoever with nature.  Nature can't be experienced outside the natural.  The more unnatural my patterns of living, the less relaxed I am to do much of anything naturally.

And so it is with creation.  As I drive by the beauty of creation lost in thought, so goes my creativity.  As my separation from nature cuts off the natural, so my separation from creation cut off the creative in me.  I'm just trying to put something into words that typically just sticks around as a pesky feeling.

So back to Middle Earth...

I watched "The Hobbit" last night and after nearly 10 years since the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I think I was surprised how much I missed the landscape of this story.  The mountains and valleys, rivers and waterfalls, mountain caves and crags, idyllic pastures and rolling hills.  I missed the sweeping scenes of forests and valleys.  I soaked in the colors and textures and layers of life found in the adventurous journey of the fellowship.  I drank deep of the imaginative worlds and words of Tolkien.  The languages, the songs, and the creatures all set within this great place called Middle Earth.

The storyline was secondary to the setting.  Most of the time, the plot trumps the place for me.  If the story stinks, I couldn't care less about the special effects or seismic scenes of grandeur.  But Middle Earth cut me to the quick with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel.  I can't innumerate the times when my arms were covered with goosebumps simply because the land opened up in front of me in all its vast detail.  I felt like the man to whom Jesus gave eyesight...and I can identify with his simple response: "I don't know what happened or how it happened, all I know is that once I was blind and now I see."  That's what those moments of transcendence felt like to me.  Moments before, unbeknownst to me, I was blind and all at once I was given sight.  Glorious and unspeakable sight.  Where before I could see shapes and shadows, I could now see design and delicate detail with all its splendor.  And when the scales come off your eyes after years of 'not seeing', there are no words to explain the simple joys of seeing.  "I once was...but now I..."

I'm just grateful to live in an age that culturally can transport us to places that before were locked up in our imagination.  Granted, nothing can replace the boundlessness of our imagination, but the movies that are being made keep pressing the limits and I, for one, am grateful.

Something about Middle Earth makes me want to live a better story on Planet Earth.  But I haven't the time to explain that mystery.  So I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Daddy Daughter Dance - Her First Dance

Her First Dance

First things first,
I've the need to explain
I'm a father with daughters
all three hooked to my train.

Each year at this time
I’m blessed with the chance
to accomp'ny a daughter
to her "Daddy-daughter" dance.

Now you can't put a value
on this calendar date,
For what dad’s could see as duty,
His little girl sees as fate.

While you're in a routine
filled with deadlines and demand,
She's anticipating the evening,
every move has been planned.

Right down to the dress
and the braids in her hair
She's putting touches on dreams
that have always been there.

Tucked deep under tissue
bound up in her heart
these longings for love
have been there from the start.

But this longing for dresses
and makeup and dancing
makes its appearance
and starts its romancing.

It's hard to describe
this spell on your daughter
and the spell it casts
upon me as her father.

I saw it in Taylor
when we got the letter
of all her reactions
there isn't one better.

Her eyes gaze and glaze
with a little-girl wonder
the power of this invite
irresistibly stuns her.

She starts to prepare
for months in advance
moving about
as if in a trance.

The week of the dance
She has a scandalous way,
reminding me to remember
the long-awaited Wednesday.

The day just before
she put a note on her door
"Keep out of here, Daddy!"
There’s no way to ignore.

She was hiding her dress
in the closet within
if I peeked for a second
I'd be committing a sin.

The day soon arrived
You couldn't ask for more
the weather was perfect
So I went to the store.

I purchased some roses
and I searched for a card
That would touch little Taylor
and hit her heart hard.

When I returned home
I arranged the three flowers,
I wrote out my heart
As I counted the hours.

We picked up the girls
from their long day at school
and headed to dinner
where they literally drool.

Logan's Roadhouse 
is Tay's favorite place,
the kid’s steak-tip dinner
puts a smile on her face.

After packing our guts
with peanuts and steak
we headed for home
preparations to make.

As we pulled in the driveway
Taylor jumped out the car,
You could see in her eyes
That her gifts weren’t that far.

She opened her card
Eyes scanning each line
Soaking in words
For which girl’s hearts pine.

She glanced up when finished
Eyes catching my face,
She shuffled to hug me
I absorbed the embrace.

But this wasn’t the time
She wasn’t quite ready,
So she darted upstairs
To make herself pretty.

With all kinds of help
From her mom and her sisters
She dolled herself up
As they lovingly priss’d her.

I tried to get dressed up
In my tie and my suity,
But they sent me downstairs
Guarding “Her Beauty”.

I heard the commotion
Downstairs through the floor
It seemed more intense
Than the year just before.

They paced back and forth
All to get things just so
I heard them reacting
With an “Ahh” or an “Ohh”!

And before I could say
A hearty “lickity split”,
My princess came down
Her lips pursed just a bit.

The glide in her stride
And her head held so high
Let me know she was feeling
Like a pure, spotless bride.

She flew to my arms
That I wrapped all around her
Holding her body
Soaking in all the wonder.

Without further adieu
We sped out the door,
The night was still young
Tay was ready for more.

On our trip to the ballroom
I reached out my hand
She clasped like a locket
Grabbing hold of her man.

Goin’ a mile a minute
She talked her heart out,
Sometimes I’m not sure
She even knew what about.

The excitement could almost
be cut with a knife,
This girl was dream-drunk
Havin’ the night of her life.

We arrived and we parked
And we walked to the door,
We were greeted by hosts
Telling us what’s in store.

We hung up our coats
And took a quick photo
I felt like the party
Thrown for Bilbo by Frodo.

The chandeliers glistened
and the music was soft,
there was even a staircase
to led up to a loft.

And hand in hand
We made our way,
To the wooden floor
To dance away.

The music was upbeat
But it didn’t take long,
for the deejay to switch
and play a slow song.

And over the speakers
Came my favorite song
As I snatched up my girl
And sang right along.

“Everything I do,
I do it for you”
As she laid on my shoulder
Pressed together like glue.

She straddled my waist
As I spun her around,
And a tear graced my cheek
And fell to the ground.

I wish I could bottle
This moment of time,
Freeze-frame with my daughter
Capturing the sublime.

We fast danced and slow danced
I was starting to tire,
But the songs just kept going
Adding fuel to fire.

I would toss her and fling her
And twirl her around,
As her body was spinning
So was her gown.

It would spread out and widen
And fill up the room
It felt like a wedding
And I felt like the groom.

But just when you felt
Like the night just got started
And this daddy and daughter
Could never be parted.

The announcement was made
That the night would soon end
Taylor got all her stuff
And said ‘bye to her friends.

It seemed we were leaving
Behind every dream,
But, alas, I cried out:
“To the land of Ice Cream!”

We found a sweet spot
Where we made our own sundae
The night wasn’t over
On this beautiful “fun day”.

As we cleaned off our spoons
And headed toward home,
Tay turned and she said,
“Dad, I like being alone.”

I knew what she meant
In a family of females,
Where it’s easy to feel
Like spam among emails.

I told her I loved
Being just by ourselves,
That there’s just something special
Without everyone else.

And sitting alone
On the way home that night,
We talked of the evening
and shared each highlight.

Next thing I knew
We were back out our house
Where every creature was stirring
Including each mouse.

We came through the door
And the questions came flying,
Putting Tay in the spotlight
For which she was dying.

She replayed the night
With her steel-trap mind,
There wasn’t a word
She was strugglin’ to find.

Her sisters inquired
Leaving no stone unturned
Until I declared:
“This meeting’s adjourned!”

Their mom and myself
Promptly said our goodnights
And just like they’re used to
We turned off the lights.

But turn off their mouths
We didn’t attempt,
For on the night of their dances
They are somewhat exempt.

For though you can force
A girl into her bed,
There no way of stopping
The dance in her head.

A head that is filled
With words that need voice,
So we let them keep talking
As a logical choice.

As I sit here reflecting
on what seems the last chance,
it hits me that this
may not be my last dance.

For though school dances
Have come to a close,
There’s a possible dance
In the future, who knows?

When a day may arrive
Where my daughter will marry
the “man of her dreams”
Just the thought is so scary.

But right in the midst
Of that beautiful day,
In the fullness of time
Bryan Adams will play.

And I’ll dance with daughter,
And she’ll dance with her father
And the guy who she married
Will seem like a bother.

He’ll just have to face it,
On this day of romance,
He might be her lover,
But I’m her first dance.

That way back when he was
Roughhousing with boys,
Picking his nose
And playing with toys.

I was the man of this
Young girls heart,
I was the one that
Gave Taylor her start.

He might be the one
To sweep her away,
But he’ll never know
Her heart the same way.

For though it may seem
That he’s her romance,
He better remember
I was her “first dance”.

I love you, Taylor Hope Lena