Exhaling with a sigh

My old man, who ran for judge as a Republican once in one of the most Democratic counties, kept sighing. He and my stepmom took turns. One would sit down in a reading chair in our rented beach cottage over Thanksgiving and sigh. The other would nod and shrug. Then the other would read something or remember the impending doom and exhale with another sigh.

It was comical but then the shtick became something of a default, a modus operandi.

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We are still exhaling with a sigh in this house as we consider January’s inauguration, and the requisite exit of beloved leadership. It is with a sigh we concede that the electoral process has wrought what it has wrought. We sigh because our resignation feels like all we can offer to the universe, for if we allow the anger and the feelings of betrayal to rise too forcefully to the surface, they may consume us.


Yet here we are in the season of Advent, lighting the candles of expectation. Here we wait in this lobby, not just paging through a tattered back issue of Good Housekeeping, but sitting reverently as we ponder what it must have been to wait for the Christ child’s arrival. We think about the thousands of years when creation ached for a Savior who would set all things right. “And the government will rest on his shoulders.” All the earth groaned with expectation.

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I consider that sighing is not the motion of the expectant, the hopeful, the conquerors. Sighing is the reflex of the resigned.

Christ offers us so much more than a lobby for the lukewarm to wait out a president. He bids us come and rest awhile, but also to serve, to go into all the world and make his name known.

Am I mixing my politics with my priestly priorities? I hope not. I believe in rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to the Lord what is his in kind. But I also believe that one can apply a particular philosophy to a number of life’s endeavors. So I endeavor for my citizenship to be one that, like love, believes in all things, hopes in all things, and, in the way of love, never fails.

May our resignation turn to resolution as the new year offers so much hope.

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All the pictures we did not take

We rented paddleboards on the Tennessee River this past weekend and there are no pictures to prove it. We took the kids and we met up with dear friends, but you won’t see any selfies of our imperfect formation in the wake of a passing motorboat. We traded kids and played in eddies and explored McClellan Island. We balanced and wobbled, we fell in and then we dove in. But there is no hashtag #riverlife to accompany the nonexistent Instagram post. We didn’t have our cameras. We didn’t bring anything save for our sunglasses and our holiday spirits.

Here in this digital space, The Blog or whatever is most en vogue to call it, I purport to preserve life’s moments and lessons. But this all is a pantomime, a chasing after the wind with a plastic bag from Tarjay. I am merely a scribe pressing key to pad, uploading and downloading, but never truly etching anything of real permanence. Nothing is solidified in amber here. There is no fire to singe or moth to destroy this album. There is also no firewall strong enough nor anti-viral software to guarantee its immortality.


This past weekend, we smelled all the seasons of putrid sweat that our life preservers absorbed. And we tried to absorb the life that we could not preserve.

There was no perfect filter to best capture the glistening waves, the silhouette of the Market Street Bridge.

No likes, no faves, no hearts, no mentions; only the feeling of total insignificance against nature’s majesty. And the wonder of having captured nothing but being filled up full of every good thing.

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Fieldtrip: What we found in the Sculpture Fields #CHA

There’s a new sculpture field in Chattanooga, even though it advertises itself as plural. Maybe that means there might be more. I hear an amphitheater is coming, adjacent to the field o’ sculptures. Right on top of a landfill. Isn’t that great? We could be singing along to “Cheeseburger in Paradise” while Jimmy Buffett performs (wearing a parrot hat, obvi) all the while an actual cheeseburger is decomposing underneath our very feet? Living in the eco-kingdom is phenomenal.


I don’t know if sculpture fields are the new cupcake shop, the new pop-up shop, the new record players for old vinyl albums. Are they the latest hipster movement or are they old news? Despite the fact that Chattanooga enjoys the fastest internet in the nation (so fast that it should be making me younger and lighter simply by the velocity at which I am downloading gigawhatevers), I’m really behind the times. I’ll have to watch some Portlandia tonight and see if they spoof the Sculpture Field Craze that is now so played out.

I think my favorite sculpture is this one. From one vantagepoint, it reminds me of a guy desperately trying to hail a cab (Uber wasn’t around when he was sculpted). From another angle, it looks like he’s waving to Lookout Mountain.


When I made Little Man pose for this one, I thought, this would make a great bridal backdrop. Just hand me my megaphone because I became a minor prophet that day. I’m seeing it on the ‘gram like you would not believe.


Parents in usual places: “Stay off that rusty rail. You’ll get diptheria or tetanus or something!”
Parents at Sculpture Fields: “Oh, you guys look cute. Let’s take a picture for the ‘gram.”


If you go on a swelteringly hot day, you can pretend to be Bowe Bergdahl running from the Taliban in an arid wasteland. This is not, as it turns out, what our kids were playing here. They can’t get into Season 2 of Serial, I guess.



This one is called Granite Windows. It spins. That’s way beyond my sculpture wheelhouse. Hahah. Wheelhouse.



Little Man

To go:


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