Thursday, September 25, 2008

simple things - september 24, 2008

I went to Minute Maid Park here in Houston last night with some friends to watch the Astros play the Cincinnati Reds. Both teams are pretty much out of the playoff picture. The Astros are currently in third place in the division and the Reds in fifth. I think, and this changes daily of course, that there is still a miniscule chance for the Astros to be the wildcard team, but I’m not sure.

Still, there were probably twenty thousand people there to see the game. Twenty thousand.

This is still a city very much in recovery mode. All over town, there are lots of traffic lights out. Pretty much a NASCAR event when an intersection with three or four lanes of traffic from every direction suddenly becomes a four-way stop. People rev their engines like they’re on a drag strip. Once you’re in the intersection, you’d better just gun it and pray.

There is debris everywhere. What used to be beautiful trees shading beautiful neighborhoods are lying on the sidewalks waiting to be taken away to who knows where. Might be a good time to go into the mulching business.

But I, and twenty thousand of my closest friends, took a few hours off and made the trip downtown to see two teams that are playing for Sunday – the last day of the regular season. After Sunday, they’ll pack up their lockers, put away their gear until next February, gather their families and probably take a long vacation. Fishing, golf, Disneyland, World or whatever the new Disney thing is today. Lots of them will relocate their families back to their real homes, leaving the rented villas or townhomes or country club properties they occupy during the baseball season While some live in Houston, others spend the off season in different parts of the country. That’s where they’ll collect their thoughts and memories of the 2008 baseball season – the things they did right and the things that went wrong. That’s where they’ll begin to recharge for the next season. “Wait ‘till next year” will be on their minds in a matter of days or weeks.

They played the game last night, although it was meaningless to the playoff picture, because that’s what they’re paid to do - play ball. I went to the game because I’ve just always loved the game. In the past, out on motorcycle rides in the country as night was falling, I’d always turn my wheels toward lights in the distance in hopes of being able to sit still for a few and watch a game. It didn’t matter if it were a little league game or a high school game or even a game of softball. It was comfort. It was timeless. Living in the city now, I don’t do that much anymore. But still, when I’m traveling anywhere at night and I see the glow of lights on a ball field, I want to stop and take in a few innings.

Simple things.

My mom is settling into her new life in a great little nursing home in the town where I grew up in Louisiana. She was ready to go. The burden of my childhood home was too much for her. She lived there alone these eleven plus years since my dad passed. Now, she enjoys the security of her room, the attention and love and care of professional medical personnel and the fellowship of her neighbors. She just loves to visit and talk. That’s all. She reads, listens to classical cds (and maybe, some of mine) and watches some television though I suspect most of the stuff on the box these days is way too racy for her. I can see her gasp or sigh at the loose moral fabric on display in current popular tv shows. I shake my head at most of it myself.

Her life might not sound very exciting but the simple pleasures that happen every day bring her happiness. She still finds consolation and peace in God’s Word. She’s never strayed from that rock that’s been the touchstone of her strength her whole life. Even when she can’t reconcile what is with what ought to be, she trusts it to God and the vastness of His mercy and grace.

It’s just that simple.

Our city is getting back to normal but I’m not sure I really like everything about normal. Hurricane Ike set us on our heals and took away a lot of conveniences – things that allow us to go through our everyday lives and routines. Now, the routines have changed. Most of them have been forced slow-downs that involve more waiting. I don’t like waiting. Waiting is so . . . so simple and mindless to some degree.

I can’t imagine the conversations, the games, the forced togetherness that might expose some real needs in relationships. With the television off and the internet down, now might be a defining moment for lots of families. I’ve prayed that it will be for all of us - that we’ll take advantage of the unexpected guest of stillness to sift through some of the issues buried beneath everyday distractions.

You can, too. Wherever you are. There are “power off” buttons on just about everything! Push ‘em.

Thank You, Immovable, Unchangeable, Unflappable Father for Your Mercy and Grace and immeasurable blessing.

Wayne Watson
September 24, 2008


Anonymous said...

My neighbor and I were just talking about how comforting the simple pleasures of life had come back to Houston since Ike. Our neighbors had downed trees,roof tiles blown out, and fences blown down.But not as much damage as many other neighborhoods in town.The day after ,eveyone went out to access the damages , to console one another ,and help prop up fences or to help tarp someone else's roof. It was a time to visit , rake up the debris, and work side by side with your neighbors pausing to trade stories.
It made me think of Saturdays when I was young, all the dads and moms worked in their yards and the kids played or helped. You really got to know your neighbors.Now lots of folks have such a full schedule , that they are rarely seen by their neighbors. Our street has regular get togethers and backyard grills.
We got our power on the next day after the hurricane. My husband's brothers and their families did had three extra families of folks staying with us. It was kind of fun. The little kids loved camping out in the playroom and the adults played chicken foot dominoes and cooked and talked and took the other bedrooms and any available couch or cot. I think of the people who lived that way during the great depression. They had it bad in some ways but good in family support and loving environments.
I hope that feeeling of we're -all- this- together stickshere in Houston. It was kind of neat having complete strangers talk to you at the grocery store of where to find basic needs and to smile that knowing but encouraging smile to hang in there.I hope you and yours are well and things are coming back to normal for you as well.

DyDee01 said...

Hi Wayne! I'm a KTIS radio listener in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) area and I have been bugging the station to play some of your oldies but goodies as I had not known where or what you were doing or if you even were singing still. I am so glad to have looked you up, and hey, you look terrific! Us women should look so good as we age!! Well, now I know you have current albums out, I'm going to get them and get that radio station on the ball. Good luck in all that you do and God Bless you for all that you have done, for all of us.