Part of being retired is that you can sometimes do whatever you want to. When you are home and no tasks wait to be done (mostly – it seems there is always something that “should” get accomplished!), it’s possible at times to sit in your recliner in the middle of the day – on a weekday – and see what wonderful movies might be on tv – in the middle of the day. I’ve never shared how much I truly do enjoy movies, of almost any genre, except for the bloody terror movies that no one should watch. It happens, when Cheri’s gone, that I will sometimes watch a movie that she would not care to watch. Her “sift” of appropriate movies is set much tighter than mine. For instance, in this instance two days ago, there happened to be a movie that showcased the very best of martial arts fighting. I won’t tell you the name of the movie, but I will tell you there was lots of fighting and battles and hand-to-hand sluggings and beatings and such. You could classify it a typical boys’ movie. I’ve only seen it about 15-20 times, usually after Cheri has gone to bed. I do have to admit that in terms of pure, raw acting ability, it is probably one of the worst you could watch. I’m sure they spent about 2% of the time with dialogue, and 98% of the time with staging the fight scenes. All in all it was a lovely afternoon matinee experience.
I had to run an errand after the movie, and so I hopped in the car and made my way out of our development. We live in basically one large circle of homes with only one way in or out of the neighborhood, so I see the same houses and the same scenes both coming and going. Some of the homes look nearly unoccupied, as I never see any activity. Others apparently exist to have the lawn and landscape taken care of, since it is a daily activity, it seems.
Still others are like the home about ten houses down from us. While I believe they only have two, maybe three children of their own, all pre-school age and younger, I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of toys and other paraphernalia that ends up being strewn across the front lawn every day. By the way, just as a side observation – for some reason, younger families today must have their back doors and fence gates locked or sealed up, because none of them have the capacity to play in their back yards. Everything happens on the front driveway! All the yard toys are in the front yard, and the huge fenced in backyards are pristine because the kids never set foot in them. When I was growing up, the only time we ever bothered with the front yard was if we were being chased in a game out of the back or side yard, and then we simply shot through the front yard, around the house to our normal play area – backyard.
Ok – back to the story. As I drove by the house, I saw that there were balls and little golf clubs, and three different battery powered cars to ride in, and just “stuff” that wasn’t being played, and instead simply added to the ambience of the front yard experience. Oh, I also didn’t mention that the family living the house are always the pacesetters for any upcoming holiday. Valentines are in the window by the first week of January, Easter decorations are up in the first of Lent, Fourth of July window stickers usually show up right after Memorial Day, and of course, Christmas lights are lit by the first of November. Appropriate then for this season, by September 15, the inflatable, lit Halloween lawn decorations were already in place. At least they get their money’s worth…
I guess the memory of the Kung Fu battles still danced in my head, but as I drove by the cluttered home, I noticed two of the kids – or maybe they were neighbors… who could tell? – ages about two or three – surrounded the inflated stack of three smiling Jack O’Lanterns, and they proceeded, with their tiny fists of fury, to beat the ever-loving stuffing out of the inflatable pumpkins! Those little bitty hands wailed on the lawn decoration with all their might. One would attack, and then the other, and then both of them together – they beat it until it no longer stood up, but had tipped over on to the ground. The beating continued. The funniest, and yet most unsettling part of the scene was that the two mini-martial artists were having the time of their lives! They were grinning and laughing, each time they landed a blow on Mr. Pumpkin. They threw themselves head-on into the battle, with no let up. As I drove past, and out of the entrance, the pummeling kept on at a furious pace, with smiles abounding.
When I drove by about a half hour later, the front yard was empty. Well at least there no children. All the toys and cars and balls and such remained where they were dropped. At the end of the scene, I witnessed the inevitable result of toddlers beating a pumpkin. It laid on its side, no longer moving, and it appeared… deflated. There was still some air in the decoration, but no where near the amount of a scant 30 minutes before. I could only surmise that the sweet little pounding fists had finally laid a blow or two that split a seam, and sent the Jack O’Lantern to an early demise. Oh well, Christmas is coming in eleven weeks…
I really can’t blame the little cuties for their destruction of Halloween. After all, they are both very tiny and function with no cerebral cortex whatsoever. They were just having a ball with laughter and exercise as they beat up a poor defenseless stack of pumpkins. They have never heard, I’m sure, of the word “consequence.” That’s why you don’t give toddlers keys to the car, or give babies loaded guns. They just don’t get it.
I did ponder a little while, however, on how we big people sometimes act as thought we don’t understand consequences either. Now, of course, we do – but it just seems that sometimes, even often, we choose not to let that concept enter into our world view, or decision making. Sometimes we just smile and laugh and have a good time beating a blown-up pumpkin ourselves, without either thinking or caring to think of what we are really doing, and what will happen as a result.
That’s not right. Too often in our world we are subject to the consequences of someone else’s lack of accountability. We, or those we know and love, end up bearing the burden of senseless or mindless behavior, which best befits a two year old, and not a full grown adult. Now, some things just happen, and no one is to blame. Part of living is realizing that sometimes mistakes happen as well, and they truly are examples of “accidents” in their purest form. I tried to open up an English muffin this morning, and ended up shanking a good third of it, leaving it unusable, and the rest looking kind of sad. I was even attentive while doing the procedure, but there must have been a weakness in the muffin framework. An accident.
When, however, a consequence follows a thoughtless, or mindless action, or even worse, a malicious, intentive decision, then unlike little children, we should claim not only the fault, but the shame for acting in ways that do not belong in our lives. As we look at our world today, both politically and on the streets, actions that are care-less, and others that desire to have no consequence all help to diminish the light of this world. They bear witness to our sin.
We can do better. We must do better. It’s not inflatable pumpkins that are at risk. Instead, it is the future of our world, and the ability to fill the world with joy and hope and not mindless mess. Let’s you and I do better – let’s make the good intentional difference, and show the world it can indeed be different – and better.
Word for the day: immorigerous. Pronounced im-more-ISHZ-er-us. Another Latin word, as we begin with im meaning “not” and morigerous divided into two more words, mos and gero. The first word means “custom,” out of which we get “moris” which is a custom or will – also “moral.” Gero means “to conduct.” So we put it all together and it means conducting oneself according to the customs or will of the body. Throw the “not” or im- on it, and it all simply means “being disobedient, or obstinate, or uncivil.” An immorigerous person has “that” attitude, and refuses to be part of civil society, or to even abide by the rules of the group. In our common language, an immorigerous person is really a jerk.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.