One of the positive by-products of time in the National Guard or Reserves is that we learn to appreciate things that are often taken for granted. Sometimes it’s the simple things, like hot, running water, or just having a toilet; other times it’s a bed to sleep on, out of the rain and mosquitoes. Or maybe it’s a lunch that didn’t come out of a plastic pouch that was sealed up during a Bush administration. But mostly, it’s the people.
As I prepare to mobilize for a 400 day deployment, I find myself looking a little more closely at the people in my life, reminding myself how much I love them. At the staff meeting yesterday with Christin, Lulu, and Rita, I was so grateful for the quiet connection, for their dedication and support, for the easy way we all got things done together, and for the love we share. And at rehearsal last night for the Bards of Birmingham production of Romeo and Juliet (in which I play Friar Lawrence; opens Easter weekend - don’t miss it), I was struck by how much I love what we are doing, and the people I am doing it with. Laura Bernstein does such amazing work with the youth who are the primary actors in the company, and they are brave, hard-working, good kids. And the handful of other adults are such good souls - gladly pitching in to coach these young actors on the side, and do what has to be done so that “the show can go on”.
My Dungeons and Dragons group, which has now been ongoing for over a year, have started showing up for our regular Monday night sessions two hours early, so we can get through the adventure I have been running as the Dungeon Master (OK - I’m a geek) before I ship out. And one of them will take over and start a new campaign, and they are talking about changing our day and time, so that I can Skype into the games (I’ll be seven hours ahead). And then there’s my family. My daughter Cheyvonne has already visited; my daughter Colleen will be coming down to take Murphy to Chicago for the duration; I expect my brother to knock on the door any day; I’m on the phone much more often with my sister. And all of it is precious. I will even spend some time with Christine, because in spite of our divorce, she’s still the best friend I have, and we love each other deeply.
Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s really about - love. Not all of the money, or the “things”, or the recognition, or whatever it is we think we’re chasing when we go out the front door (or the garage) every morning. You see, as much as I have learned to appreciate living in a nice house with less than 60 people, that has air conditioning and wi-fi and a refrigerator, what long periods of time in spartan conditions have taught me is that I can actually get by without all the comforts and conveniences. What is irreplaceable is the love of family and friends, and the things we share. This Sunday at Unity of Birmingham, I will be talking about the Power of Love. I hope you’ll join me, in our house that love built.
With much love and many blessings,