Sunday, April 29, 2012

The clash of cymbals

Psalm 150 (NIV)

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
   praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
   praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
   praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
   praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
   praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
When I was a senior in high school, this was my favorite Psalm, pretty much entirely because of the double references to cymbals at the end. And in high school band, I played the cymbals a lot, usually by choice because all the other percussionists used their skills to play more complex instruments. But I prided myself on my cymbal technique, in no small part because it allowed me to make a scene from the back of the room. It was perhaps not the most sound theological reason for selecting a favorite Psalm, but it worked for me, and thus this Psalm at the very end of the book remains a joy to read and re-read.

As I wrote Saturday, the older boys spent the night with my parents, which meant Sunday morning was a chance to do something new for me — enjoy a weekend breakfast with just Charlie. The breakfast wasn’t anything special, but Charlie’s been here nearly 15 months now, and we’ve only been alone with him for one other night. The morning after that night we had to take him down to Chicago for a special medical test, so there was no opportunity to laze about the kitchen and enjoy each other.

When Jack and Max were babies and I was in full-time newspaper work, nearly every weekday morning I was out the door for work well before they got up for the day. But Saturday and Sunday mornings were the perfect occasion to let Kristie sleep in, plop junior in the stroller and head out for a doughnut and a paper. Jack and I also spent a lot of time in our kitchen, me feeding him baby cereal while singing to a Wee Sing CD.

Those mornings were incredibly simple, not to mention repetitive, but those are the kinds of activities that begin to turn you from a guy taking care of a baby into a father. They are the kind of everyday memories I’m sure will flash through my mind as we’re driving the boys to visit college campuses or as we walk down the aisle at a wedding. And because I treasure those times with Jack and Max, I am aware of missing out on the same experiences with Charlie.

Kristie and I have talked on and off about ways to give each boy one-on-one (or, better, two-on-one) attention. As Charlie grows less and less dependent on us, we’ll have more opportunities, but we’ll have to commit to regular activities, or the goal will get buried under loads of laundry, piles of dirty dishes and all the other things that turn the best intentions into irretrievable regrets.

But that is the challenge — to not just go from day to day and month to month, but to move with purpose, to lead a life worth living and to give your children both an example to follow and a hand to hold. The real work is not in the mountaintops of joy or the valleys of sorrow, but in the everyday, like the Sunday morning breakfasts with just you and the kid. What you can do in those moments can last forever.

A prayer for April 29

Lord, I praise you for your surpassing greatness. I thank you for the chance to be a father, and I pray for your guidance as I seek to be the parent my children deserve. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment