Southern work

I have worked in private Catholic schools, and so prayer and Bible verses aren’t entirely uncommon here and there slash every morning.

However, any work that I have had outside of these private schools usually has little to do with religion or God.

Sometimes, a prayer or invocation will happen at some event or other, because, well, this is Texas – there is a certain wholesome Christian-ness toy the culture, and so prayer before their performances was entirely normal and acceptable for the theatre kids at my cousins’ public high school in small-town Texas.

Houston is a whole ‘nother story – big city here means a certain amount of he open Christianity is lost – we have people from all over the world living here, and I’m not so sure Christianity has the majority hold here, even.

Therefore, it is uncommon for me to have strongly open Christianity show up at work here – leave Houston and enter smaller towns, and it absolutely is the norm… but not here.

And so, it was extremely odd for me to have the Bible quotes to me as part of my internship training the other day.

Yes, it was totally relevant to what I was being taught, (the quote, I mean), but the assumed foundation of Christianity was never discussed and was somewhat irrelevant to the topic of discussion at the time.

However, it reminded me that, well, I am in Texas and I am in the South, and I’m working with someone who is not Houston…, so of course Christianity is the standard foundation for anyone around – being not-Christian is rather abnormal and extremely uncommon.

And something about it was beautiful to me – no one was aiming to convert or preach or anything like that at all… it was merely a matter of, ‘Well, it is our task, given even by God, to do this and that, so it brings everything full-circle,’ having it make even more sense that we would do something a specific way in this job I’m learning (which, recall, is not a job about religion, but about caring for animals).

In any city-like job, I think I would have been uneasy about the comment, concerned that it was a radical Christian trying to convert me from my sinful ways without even getting to know almost anything about me, let alone the fact that I am Catholic – yes, we have these radicals here from time to time, too – but in the somewhat countryside, working with horses, it was utterly normal and acceptable, and it even surprised me that I wasn’t expecting it.

I guess I was thinking more about how this is a ‘work situation’, which I relate to big city, as opposed to that it is a ‘country work situation’.

Because if I had put in the word ‘country’, I’d have been ready and waiting for all sorts of Bible and God tidbits to show up – countryside in the south equals God-fearing and God-loving brings who are grateful for the gifts that God has granted them in their lives… for men, it means Christian cowboys through and through.

Traditionally, anyway… I guess we’ll just have to see how things go for the future of our Southern countryside, but I do kind of like it – the kindness and love that is always there really is wonderful.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that right now.

Goodnight! 🙂

Post-a-day 2019

Always be humble and kind

Tonight, I bought my own real pair of western boots that not only can I wear to help work on my brother’s property, but that look amazing and totally beautiful;

my mom ended up not being able to come to the rodeo with me and our family friend, and a different friend’s cousin canceled on coming with her and her mom;

the family friend and I met up, therefore, with my friend and her mom;

the two adults (because my friend and I are the children of the group) really hit it off, like old pals;

we all four got to ride in the Grand Entry at the rodeo, on two separate wagons;

I checked for tickets to the concert one last time, and found that there were exactly two available, and right where I wanted, so I bought them;

we discovered that our seats were an error, just as I registered a text message from the ticket office telling me the same thing;

the ticket office e-mailed me even better seats in exchange and kind of as compensation (like way, way better seats);

the two seats next to the two I’d bought ended up being open, and so my friend and her mom didn’t have to split up from us after all (to go to their own two seats elsewhere in the stadium);

Tim McGraw was lovely, as ever, and shows signs only of continuing to be fabulous all around as a human being, as a musician, and as a man (a side I have come to appreciate more and more as I have grown up, especially considering the previous two parts);

Clay Walker just casually showed up to duet with Tim McGraw on one of my childhood absolute favorites (Did you know that Clay Walker is from Texas?);

we had a wonderfully easy time exiting the stadium, grounds, and parking lot, as well as getting home;

and I was lent a truck to be able to visit family next week.

All in all, it was an absolutely magnificent evening.

All week, I wondered about tonight and what to do, because I realized that this concert actually was important to me, due to my deep childhood connection to the artist and his music from back then… and, at every worry, I chose to trust God, and let go of the concern, instead evaluating my present options and doing what I felt encouraged and pulled toward when I asked God.

And then, here was tonight, like Christmas for a small child, with everything landing wonderfully into places I had never quite expected.

Nothing could have worked so well, if things had gone as planned – they still could have been quite good, but nowhere near how they turned out.

In a way, this all goes to show how life can be so much better than we anticipate or think up ourselves – perhaps some divine inspiration in more parts of my life could be just the right thing right now…

Thank you, God.

Hallelujah(!)

Post-a-day 2019

How far we’ve come

I saw the light
I’ve been baptized
By the fire in your touch
And the flame in your eyes
I’m born to love again
I’m a brand new man

As these words rang out across the stadium – quite clearly, surprisingly, seeing as where we were – my lips were already moving in synch, silently matching every word since the initial “I”… and tears welled in my eyes, beginning almost immediately to overflow.

I was attending the Brooks and Dunn concert at the rodeo tonight in Houston, kind of as a celebration of my life, for my birthday – something for me, on my own.

I’d asked my mom to stick around with me, but she was ready to head home, so I was okay hanging on my own for the musicians and their music.

When I was about eight years old, I attended the Brooks and Dunn performance at the Astrodome, also for the rodeo.

During their performance, when walking around on the dirt, they pulled two ladies out from the audience to dance with them.

I remember distinctly being upset and embarrassed as the one lady proved, after two quick but failed attempts, that she could not do any sort of partner dancing, let alone the by of two-stepping one of them wanted to do with her.

Rather than rejecting the lady, reading her out for a better model – that’s actually how my brain analyzed it at the time – he just grabbed her around her waist/hips area, and swung her around in a circle or few.

My frustration at this lady for having been unprepared for such a monumental opportunity – dancing with Brooks and Dunn – was not only projected blindly, but had me consider how I would have done, if I’d been the one pulled out onto the floor…

I was rather confident that I would have been able to manage it.

However, I fully acknowledged that I was not certain.

And so I made it my business immediately after this event to make certain that I knew how to two-step and could do it with just about anybody on demand.

Fast-forward a couple decades, and see me at the concert tonight… I found it almost ironic that, though I never anticipated to be pulled out to dance with Brooks and Dunn, here I was, two decades later, likely one of the best country western dancers in the entire stadium, knowledge, ability, and a world title to prove it.

Isn’t that at least a little bit totally crazy?(!!!)?

Anyway, so I can dance, and extremely well, but that’s only part of my mentioning all of this.

When the guys began playing and singing tonight, I was in instant and somewhat constant tears (even throughout the whole show!), right?

Right.

And it occurred quickly to me, This is the power of music.

I was somehow transported to my life when I listed probably daily to Brooks and Dunn music, as I simultaneously saw all that had happened between them and now, how what felt like a lifetime and ten different people ago had somehow led me to today, to who I am today.

There was a lot of good and a decent amount of bad in there, especially early on, and it was a very, very full time all throughout.

And, somehow, here I am, experiencing it all again, while feeling empowered by the open bliss and joy for life I felt back then, reminded of the sadness of what I went through off and on, and encouraged by the fact that I have made it to here so far, and I’ve plenty more wonderful expansion and beautiful growth yet to come for myself in my life.

All of this from music, specific songs and notes and voices and instruments all put together in a certain way, as though, almost, specifically and intentionally with me in mind.

It was of the best kind of medicine.

And this reminds me of how my high school band director always used to tell us that music is a language… tonight, their music spoke directly to me, throughout every place within me.

Post-a-day 2019

Maybe a cowboy

Tonight at the rodeo, during the invocation, I had a thought that surprised me.  First off, I enjoyed the fact that a stadium full of people was taking a moment for prayer before beginning events of the evening…, even though it was not a religious event, or even religiously-officiated event.  Second, I noticed how much I enjoyed the praying part myself as an individual and as part of the community.  And thirdly, the thought which then occurred to me and surprised me most, I wondered if I might not want to be somehow involved in this kind of thing.  Perhaps I really would love to be involved in cowboy-related stuff, country and ranch stuff.  A visually beautiful place, filled with happy, animal-loving people, and where God is a happy place (as opposed to a sensitive or nonexistent one)…, now that would be nice.  I, of course, do not at all know that I would enjoy such a setting.  I think I fall under the common category of individuals who would be considered to be ‘liberal’, and that might not roll so well for me in the cowboy world.  However, there’s a niche for everything, and it is certainly possible that I could slide in perfectly well in the ranching and rodeo world.  Who knows, aside from God, anyway?

It’s just a thought I had, but I like the idea of considering it some more.  🙂

 

Post-a-day 2018

A foreigner at home?

Have you ever felt out of place within your own culture?  As time passes, it happens to me more and more often.  Last night, I attended an event with coworkers.  The noise volume took me by slight surprise when I first arrived.  How can people be this loud? I thought.  And then I remembered almost before I finished asking the question: They’re americans (from the USA).

But I’m american from the US, too.  Wouldn’t I be used to this, then?

I quickly compared it to a drinking party at an izakaya (like a bar) with nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) in Japan.  Yes, the Japanese can get quite loud there.  It was never to the point of wanting to cover my ears, though, I hear myself thinking.  So, I am very much accustomed to a much quieter environment for parties, then.  I’m not just being a bit dramatic and overly sensitive to normal behavior and a normal situation.

Even still… I felt so oddly out of place, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with myself.  I ended up semi-hiding in the coatroom (it wasn’t a closet, but an actual room, I promise) to take a breather from all the people and the noise from time to time.  I also took extra-long any time I went to the bathroom, because it was cozy and quiet in there on my own. Yes, I could have just gone home.  However, I rarely spend time even around people who aren’t high schoolers right now, so I felt it was somewhat necessary – even if just for social practice – to spend time around adults, especially happy ones in a good, safe environment.

I definitely adjusted after a bit, but I still felt quite out of place for most of the event.  I guess I’m just not so USA american anymore… which doesn’t surprise me, really.  It’s just odd, not belonging in a place everyone calls my “home”.

Post-a-day 2017

It really is all relative

Tonight, I was reminded of a girl I met, while I was living in Toulouse, France.  She was in school (high school, I believe), and doing a temporary internship at the place where I was doing my volunteering.  She was from a small country that was at war (and it might still be, but I haven’t kept up with the news).  She had a boyfriend and a baby of her own, in addition to a younger sister, I believe.  She taught me much.

What I was discussing with my mom tonight is how relative things are in life.  Just as in Aesop’s last fable today, with the bunny rabbits about to drown themselves in their exhaustion of living in fear, and suddenly discovering the frogs at the pond afraid of them, causing them to realize that someone had it worse off than they did, so is life.  No matter what one’s struggles and turmoils, there’s always someone worse off.  And I feel like our turmoils and struggles are saddening next to the real turmoils and struggles of other parts of the world.  This girl spoke to me about her country of origin, and how they moved to France.  And, when she spoke about it all, it were as though she were telling me about a class project, or how she went grocery shopping yesterday.  Those, however, were not the subject matter.  What I remember most of her story, is how people broke into her house one day/night, beat up her parents (and possibly her, too), and then took her father.  Her family tried offering money as a ransom for her father’s return, but no information was even received regarding her father – they never found out if he even was alive or dead, or who had taken him.  Just some men, she’d said.

I mean it that it were as though she were telling me about what she did yesterday after work/school.  She was not sad in her words, nor was she hauntingly depressed in her eyes or spirit.  She was living life as I was, and merely sharing about something.  ‘Yeah, I don’t know where Josh went after dinner, but he left.  We called him, but never got a response.  Maybe he went home, instead of coming for coffees with us.’  That’s was the easiness with which she spoke – no premeditation or practice.  It was just what’s so, and so that was how she told it.

I say a prayer for the world tonight.

Post-a-day 2017