Center City at 2am

11/13/2006

Curling golden brown leaves rustle damply in the cold wind, as we plod the wet amberlit pavement over last week’s newspaper and empty burger wrappings. Shadows dance in the periphery, fooling the eye with movement in the brisk chill breeze, and our collars are turned up against the frigid light mist falling. The sounds of rushing trucks on Ninetyfive below never cease, and we remember many years of sharing the late night interstate thruway with so many truckers so long ago.

Lights blink as we make our way past angled metal sculpture, iron railings, closed shops and bars, a few pubs rebelliously open at the late hour, coaxing the half-sleeping occupants to yell one more time over one more beer. One of us lumbers over a sheet iron sidewalk cover and it clatters with a hollow ring. Hands shoved deep into pockets we glance around bemusedly, minds even deeper in thought. It has been a weekend of change and permanence, ‘now’ turning to ‘then’ with finality. How much more valuable than diamond encrusted…diamonds, these thirty years of memories I chew over while inhaling the moist pungency of alleys and aerosols.

The illumination neon paints South Street shining coldly and wetly, as a few cars pass going way too fast. In silence, while we enjoy the 18th century architecture and its modern accompaniments in the hiss of a light shower, my love for this city rekindles.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Through my foggy passenger window, to an inky backdrop, the bridge soars above us, studded in lights. It’s monolithic towers and cable stride quickly behind us as we thread down into the maze of lanes and concrete tunnels lit dull orange.  When the car is expelled from the guts of thruway, we emerge into the foggy, damp, center of a glorious human-hewn canyon, a mega ghost town.

The sidewalks are empty, dormantly soaking in a sheen of mist in the imperfect darkness. A sustained woosh of sound, like one long and continuous peal of faraway thunder, seems to signify the steady buzz of life as the towers sleep. My head cannot stop swiveling and rocking, as I try in vain to download and store this magical moment, this four dimensional dream of surreal sensation.

Strolling the square of squares, remembering more and more as the familiarity roars back from decades past, my head panics that its sensory bandwidth is inadequate to grasp the enormity and sentiment of this moment. As emotions swell and I am silently thankful and euphoric for this chance moment in time, my love for this city ignites with a popping thud inside my heart, as if the pilot light of my memory has just touched off a gas coil in my soul.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When my feet leap to clear the last tread, and are met with stone tile courtyard at the summit of “The Steps”, heart pounding in exhilaration and remembrance, my love for this city explodes like hydrogen bombs. The lights twinkle back their agreement, as fog hides the pointed spires of ‘my’ skyline.

Tonight, this pre-dawn morning, will be with me forever. With its memory also swells a four (or five) strong corded love of we brothers, timelessly solidified in each raindrop cascading from the rafters of this brotherlove city.

 

Philadelphia.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Several hours later, we laid Uncle John to rest, temporarily.
It is Well. -DD

The Incident

On June 15, 2007, in Melbourne, Florida, our middle daughter Mary Helen was running up the tiled hallway full-speed with the kinetic energy of a roller coaster, when her legs got tangled with each other as they are known to do. We heard a sharp impact and saw her dive headfirst into the tiles, irreparably damaging her front two baby teeth. She was/is fine, and the teeth in question have since been prosthetically enhanced before eventually making way for other permanent teeth to grow in. Here was my “take away”.-DD

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How could You? How, literally, could You do it?

How did You deal with the sickening pain? This pain that numbs from within, and is so terrible that it simply surpasses anger and goes right to miserable tears and brokenhearted desperation?

How did you choke back the sobs? The groaning of utter helplessness? How did we possibly matter enough to You that You could just sit still when we did not even deserve such a costly gift?
…..

It’s like your heart stops, then starts, and then stops again with each attempt to beat….

I rushed over, moments after my own precious, tiny, impossibly beautiful baby had been whisked up from the scene of The Incident, and that’s when I saw it.

My own irreplaceable child’s smudged tiny handprint….in blood.

Drops. Drops, large angry red drops… and small pools all over, and tiny splashes marking the trail to the bathroom…and seeing her gasp for breath amidst the cries, and seeing her injured, seeing her wounded.

It made my insides thud to silence. Broken, brutal, silence.

I could not, nor cannot, keep the tears of pain from welling up in my own special agony. The agony of a Daddy who would do anything for his child, would trade anything for those recent moments before The Incident. A Dad who wished more than anything it was his own blood and not his special, helpless, innocent…above all, innocent, child’s. A Father who would blot and preserve each and every microscopic drop if it would put her back to new.

All pain is not merely physical.

This pain is horribly sickening, this pain inside. I see her precious blood spattering the sink, and my shaving cream, and the toothpaste tube, and I see her tiny hands and arms shaking as she struggles to overcome the pain and interpret what has happened. And I think that there is no way I would ever understand allowing such a thing to happen for someone else’s benefit, or even preservation. I would collapse and die of overwhelming, sickening, regret. Regret that it had even happened, that my child was even bleeding.

Her eyes brim with tears as she stares silently, deeply into my eyes, searching for the meaning of this pain that has shattered her happy existence. Is this, too, what life involves, Daddy? Is blood life?

Yes, my angel. Blood is indeed life.
I do not like it any more than you do, but blood is essential for life. It is joy and at the same time overwhelming pain. Blood equals life.

Eyes dark and silent, her tiny head dips as she thinks over the previous minutes and replays the moment when pain and injury and hurt descended like a crashing whisp of glass shattering to the granite floor. Her eyes move to the blood on my shoulder. Her blood. I see the tears of recognition come and it shreds my soul even more. Her fist and arm curls around and presses against my neck and won’t let go. And I don’t want it to let go.

How could I ever allow my beautiful, sweet, precious baby’s blood to be spilled for ANYONE, nevermind anyone who would be potentially ungrateful?

It is conceptually beyond anything I can grasp, and yet You forced yourself to inaction. You allowed more than I as a Father could even bear. You have to be the most patient, forgiving, restrained, and loving Father to ever exist if You could watch that and not despair. As each beat of Your heart was pain, as You saw those tiny hands and feet wounded, as You saw that innocence brutally ruined, and You willed Yourself to do…

nothing.

Nothing could gain more respect from me than Your simple act of inaction when they, we, did that to Your special little incredible Child. The one You loved so much, the one You cherished like I cherish mine; we spilled Your child’s blood and You forgave us.

As I knelt in the darkness hours later, holding her tiny hand and listening to the quiet peaceful breath, it all crashed in again and I realized how much I don’t know about You and why You would, could, let it happen.

Over and over in my mind I see her blood, the blood, and it brings new pain. My heart will never be quite the same, forever broken again in just a small way today for this child, as it was stirred to anger when they pierced the other daughter’s skin years ago at a cold hospital on a cold night in June. But today transcended anger and went right to numbness, to pain. How could You watch the puddles form and see the precious skin broken? How could You see that and not destroy everyone involved?

How did You endure seeing Your own child’s blood sprinkle the ground, with every drop wrenching and ripping the very heart from Your chest?

The blood is killing me inside.

The blood has been wiped away now, and there are only tiny drops missed here and there, but I still see them and each tiny one is my baby.

The blood is crumbling me, crushing me.

The blood has power over me. It shucks my layers of defense, it makes me raw and unstable, it cuts me to my very soul. It makes me cry as if I were not a thirty-one year old man. It holds ultimate significance and makes the cares of life inconsequential and filtered from relevance. The blood of my child is a bitter, horrible, infuriating, grief-stricken sight, and I cannot bear it. How could You?

Yet the blood brings perspective. It is life and it symbolizes the death we all carry inside us, the humanity of death, and injury, and smashing your teeth on tile floors, and bleeding precious blood. It also represents that which will never be smashed or killed, that which energizes beyond anything we know here and now as life. Each agonizing drop spilled is a bruise to my soul, but it is all that matters to me.

The blood, in that moment, is everything to me. In this moment it is my all.

Be The Counterpoint

February 20, 2017 10:10pm

Its almost like being a counterpoint. The answer to the truest questions that people have, about their creativity, about why music can hurt so deeply and also feel so wonderfully essential. The drive way down in their hearts, the Eternity in their hearts that cries out for something beyond the here and the now, both the moments of excruciating pain and the moments of heavenly bliss.   I want to be the counterpoint.

No, I AM the counterpoint.

I don’t think more highly of myself than I aught, but in fact I AM a Son of

the Living God,

the Source of All,

the Creator of Music and

the Finisher of The Last Note to Ever Sound.

The Answer.

The Response to calls from so many breaking hearts, that shout every second, as each of our hearts grow one second older every second on this temporary place called Earth and in this transitional place called Being Human.

As tonight, listening online for awhile, I have journeyed thru a few minutes of hearing, truly hearing, the creative heart of this mind-blowing producer named Jon Bellion, I have realized that I know the response to his deepest calls. His song “Human” is a perfect touchpoint to which I am called to respond, because in all the world there are people who, beyond an amazing hook or a sick drum sequence or enrapturing vocals, are really wanting it all to mean something. I am convinced that the “mean something” is the essential missing piece, I mean peace, of the WHY we sing and play and create. This entity, the Who We Create For (no, it is not ultimately ourselves, and certainly not the masses).

Elohim. אֱלֹהִים HE is the one Who causes everything to make sense, and I will create for Him. As I always have felt inside, the draw is a “drive or hustle” that stirs at the core and will not stop humming. When I sleep, a hum. When I am awake, a hum.  When I am preoccupied with everything that is not it; still a humming. Not to wax poetic or idealistic, but honestly when nothing else remains, HE IS. The ultimate muse of all muses: the King of all Kings.

This hum has not abated in war, in peace, in famine, in plenty.  It is still humming.

—————————-[~]—————————-

Be the counterpoint. Be the solution. Don’t do it for the people you can influence, the units you might move, the decimal point zeros or the Likes or Follows or anything. Do it because something has to be released into the atmosphere forever that answers all the questions, that solves all the riddles, that finishes the starts. Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End. The Conclusion of Searches, the End of Beginnings, the Solution. Put away the thoughts right now, before people who don’t know you know your name, that you will ever do anything for any other purpose than to Glorify God.

Does each of these elements of strategy glorify God? Does this ______ purchase glorify God? Does this song or written verse or sound glorify God? Does it? Never stop asking that question.  You are a conduit to be flowed, not a cup to be filled.

Conduits are funny things. There are a ton of them at Lowe’s and Home Depot that may never “make it big”. There has to be something to flow, or the conduit is fully valueless. As long as there is something to flow, the conduit is fulfilling its call. Not every conduit is hooked up to a sprinkler system at Fenway Park or Madison Square Garden or Buckingham Palace. Some conduit is functioning under your kitchen sink and below your toilet commode. That conduit is just as important to you as the fuel pump relay on whichever NASCAR racecar which wins the Daytona 500 next weekend is important to the driver/owner/sponsor.

It’s starting to become clear. Please don’t try to make it big. Please. Dear God. Please don’t try to do that. Instead, release what is inside you, the thing which has people sensing the governor coming off your voice week after week, the thing which Garret Gustafson prayed over you, which at times caused both reticence and  boldness in college around the ol’ piano. Release the singular, Matrix-like, music that is in your spirit. And Trust Him that the ears that should hear will hear, and the creative art that needs to be experienced from inside you will be unleashed. Release Joy and Hope and Eternal Purpose into the world.

Will you?

 

The next day after writing this, I researched counterpoint and found that it was a musical term!!!!!!! Means opposing sounds, relationships between voices that are harmonically interdependent yet independent in rhythm and contour. The term originates from the Latin punctus contra punctum meaning “point against point”. -DD

To My Oldest Daughter on Her 15th Birthday