March 31, 2013

Yesterday I walked the first hole at my favorite golf course, Portsmouth Country Club. While other golf courses I’ve played in the area (Green Meadow, Sagamore-Hampton, and Pease, to name just a few) are already open and accepting their first foursomes of the year, on a warm and sunny afternoon Portsmouth was still locked up in its winter setting, the course as barren as if it were January, the practice green (and all greens, for that matter) covered in plastic, the grass all gnarly and winter-kill brown. While others would have given it the quickest of glances and walked away, I couldn’t help but stand on the first tee and imagine myself looking out over a sun-drenched, green vista on a warm spring or summer afternoon, the trees full and green, birds chirping, the happy colors of the planted flowers, the sounds of golfers chatting around the putting green and drivers being launched off the first tee.

The sun being warm and I being the only human being around as far as I could see, I walked the first hole down towards the woods that bound the property, Great Bay shimmering in the afternoon sun past the second hole to my far right. Having played this hole many a time, I found myself juxtaposed between past (where I’ve played various shots in the past) and the present. In the earliest of Spring afternoons I could hear the sound of the young peepers – the young tree frogs – awakening to their new life. I could see along the fairway trees starting to bud and the sprouts of daffadils and jonquils bravely emerging from the chilly soil. And it occurred to me that, in this one small corner of the world, there is resurrection taking place before my very eyes – the seeming death of winter being replaced by the annual renewal that Spring brings.

We all spend far too much time dwelling in the present and all the bullshit that goes with our day-to-day lives. Were we to step back and take a look at the bigger picture, at the annual dance of death and new life that goes on all around us each and every day, we’d understand the powerful force of resurrection as part of God’s plan, not just for us, not just at Easter, but for the whole world on a daily basis. In God’s eye, nothing goes to waste, nothing is lost forever – we, through the death of Christ Jesus, are part of a greater plan beyond which any of us can (or should) comprehend.

Live your life as God has called you to do each and every day. Appreciate everything and every gift of God’s creation for what it is, recognizing that you’re no more special than anything else around you, for we are all part of God’s creation and God’s plan for creation. Resurrection is not some old dusty tale from two thousand years ago, it is happening all around us if we only have the eyes to see. And we shall all be a part of it someday.

Jesus Christ Is Risen today.

Welcome happy morning, age to age shall say.

…and my presonal favorite:

Come ye faithful, raise the strain. The lyrics to this hymn have always touched me in ways that make me want to cry whenever I hear them sung:

Come, ye faithful, raise the strain of triumphant gladness;
God hath brought forth Israel into joy from sadness;
Loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke Jacob’s sons and daughters,
Led them with unmoistened foot through the Red Sea waters.

’Tis the spring of souls today; Christ has burst His prison,
And from three days’ sleep in death as a sun hath risen;
All the winter of our sins, long and dark, is flying
From His light, to Whom we give laud and praise undying.

Now the queen of seasons, bright with the day of splendor,
With the royal feast of feasts, comes its joy to render;
Comes to glad Jerusalem, who with true affection
Welcomes in unwearied strains Jesus’ resurrection.

Neither might the gates of death, nor the tomb’s dark portal,
Nor the watchers, nor the seal hold Thee as a mortal;
But today amidst the twelve Thou didst stand, bestowing
That Thy peace which evermore passeth human knowing.

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 02:27 | Comments (0)
March 30, 2013

There’s not much to say on such a poignant day in the Church Year. Jesus of Nazareth lies dead in the tomb, his disciples and followers have scattered, believing their mission and their cause, even their very lives, to be over and in danger. The Kingdom of Heaven so promised by their Messiah has been battered, bloodied, and killed before their very eyes. The eternal God of life and love, however, has a different plan in mind:

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Heaven awaits the arrival of the eternal Groom and His bridesmaid the Church to be born out of the horrifying, puzzling, and even frightening past two days. In the days ahead God will reveal through the power of Resurrection a different plan for humankind, a plan unlike anything anyone has seen before. The stillness of death and the tomb overwhelms the earth today; tomorrow a whole new world will be born yet again with the cries of “Alleluia, Christ is Risen!”

We Christians wait with a sense of apprehension and anticipation. In the darkness a candle is burning bright, but we cannot see the light just yet.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 02:38 | Comments (0)
March 29, 2013

[Ed. note: On this Good Friday, please excuse me if I reprint one of my favorite blog posts - this one from 2007. Hard to believe I've been blogging this long! Reading this post I'm struck by just how timeless its message is. Hope you find it as meaningful today as I do OIand did then).]

stein On this Good Friday, I’ll leave it to the story of Edith Stein (1891-1942), a German philosopher who grew up in Judaism before converting to Christianity in the 1920s, to speak for the day. On a trip to Cologne during Holy Week in 1933, Stein attended a Maundy Thursday service at a Carmelite convent with a friend. Afterwards, recalling how deeply she had been moved by the priest’s homily during the service, and fully aware of the political goings on in the rise of Nazism during that time, she wrote:

“I told our Lord that I knew it was His cross that was now being placed upon the Jewish people; that most of them did not understand this, but that those who did would have to take it up willingly in the name of all. I would do that. At the end of the service, I was certain that I had been heard. But what this carrying of the cross was to consist in, that I did not yet know.

The following year, Edith Stein entered the Carmelite order and took the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. It is amazing to know that, even as a Roman Catholic nun, she was forced to wear a yellow Star of David on her habit. Fearing for her safety, her convent transferred her to Echt, in Holland, but it was to no avail. Stein was arrested by the Nazis in August of 1942 and executed at Auschwitz shortly thereafter.

For her oft-expressed willingness to offer herself as a sacrifice for Christ on behalf of her people, her service in promoting understanding between Christians and Jews, her martyrdom, and certain miracles that have been attributed to her (including, BTW, a highly-publicized one that took place in Massachusetts back in 1987), she was beatified as a saint of the Catholic faith by Pope John Paul II on May 1,1987.

Edith Stein is a living example of how, if one is to take up the Cross of Christ, it must be done unflinchingly and half-hearted, all the way, and wherever it may lead – even to the point of death.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 04:13 | Comments (0)
March 28, 2013

Thursday of Holy Week has a couple of different names based on your Christian affiliation. Growing up as an Episcopalian, it was known as Maundy Thursday:

While different denominations observe Maundy Thursday in their own distinct ways, two important biblical events are the primary focus of Maundy Thursday solemnizations:

Before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By performing this lowly act of service, the Bible says in John 13:1 that Jesus “showed them the full extent of his love.” By his example, Jesus demonstrated how Christians are to love one another through humble service. For this reason, many churches practice foot-washing ceremonies as a part of their Maundy Thursday services.

During the Passover meal, Jesus took bread and wine and asked his Father to bless it. He broke the bread into pieces, giving it to his disciples and said, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the cup of wine, shared it with his disciples and said, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you–an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you.” These events recorded in Luke 22:19-20 describe the Last Supper and form the biblical basis for the practice of Communion. For this reason, many churches hold special Communion services as a part of their Maundy Thursday celebrations. Likewise, many congregations observe a traditional Passover Seder meal.

Roman Catholics know Thursday of Holy Week as the beginning of what’s known as the Paschal Triduum:

The Easter Triduum begins on Holy Thursday with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, is continued through Good Friday with the celebration of the passion of the Lord on Holy Saturday, reaches its high point in the Easter vigil, and concludes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

The Season of Lent ends on Thursday of Holy Week. Then the Church remembers the death and resurrection of Jesus during the Easter Triduum. These three days are the most important time of the Church year.

I found this wonderful short homily by Jane Stranz to commemorate not just Maundy Thursday but World Water Day as well:

Water Passion and Betrayal…
Water Passion and commitment…
Bread, water and wine

Judas does it with a kiss
Pilate does it by publicly washing his hands
Hoping that such ritual political cleanliness will prove it wasn’t his fault
The Chief Priests and the authorities plot and scheme, set traps, try to buy off his friends and incite the crowd to call for blood
And the crowd do it by shrieking in glee and passion “crucify him!”
(Of all these we only ever hear of Judas feeling unbearable guilt…)

Betrayal…

In the end they come with spears and swords in the night

Truth and integrity won’t stand much of a chance

The bowl and the towel are symbols of that truth, integrity and resistance

Jesus takes responsibility
The great leader becomes a foot-washing humble slave
The teacher does not run away or hide
He takes responsibility in a very personal and intimate way for his disciples and their future

Passion…

There is beautiful intimacy and caring in the way Jesus washes and cares for their feet.
There’s some obstinacy and focus too in the way he says “no, this is the way I must do it”
Kneeling there to wash his friends’ feet, this is his priority,
his passion and cross are not far away,
yet he takes time to do this unessential, essential, caring thing.

Commitment…

The flogging and mocking and the crown of thorns and the cross will break his human body and spirit.
The friends will be alone, their feet will tread the path without him, but not one step will be taken without a deep memory of this intimate final washing by the master.

From that time forwards every time they wash one another’s feet, every time they serve others sacrificially in the world they will remember him cleansing and cooling their aching feet and pains with water, their master kneeling before them in humility.

In remembrance of that profound act of caring and service we also seek to follow Christ today as we care, heal and serve.

Jesus’ first miracle in John’s gospel is to turn water into wine.
Dead on the cross, water and blood pour from his side when it is pierced by the soldier’s spear. That water is a sign of the body’s agony and breakdown in death and speaks deeply of Christ’s humanity and life offered up.

Later risen from the dead he will call his disciples to conquer the deep and make a miraculous catch of fish from the waters.

As we meditate Christ’s passion,
As we meditate these signs of sacrament before us
As we meditate his deeply personal service of others,

We reflect on our own service of others.

We also seek to understand and enter into the suffering of so many in our world whose right to be human is being undermined by their daily struggle for access to clean water.

So are we going to follow Christ source of living waters
and take up the cloth and the bowl
or will we follow Pilate and wash our hands?

Indeed.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 03:05 | Comments (0)
March 27, 2013

Here’s a great story for Holy Week. You may not agree with it, but I sure do.

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that:

* We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism;

* We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism;

* We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle;

* We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery;

* We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare;

* We have killed our unborn and called it choice;

* We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable;

* We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem;

* We have abused power and called it politics;

* We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition;

* We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression;

* We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will, to open ask it in the name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen”

The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Minister Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on “The Rest of the Story” on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord’s help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called one nation under God.

Hat tip: GodGives.com

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 03:32 | Comments (0)
March 26, 2013

Today’s Holy Week homily is from Dr. Ralph Wilson of Joyful Heart Renewal Ministries. It’s a wonderful site filled with easy-to-read (and relevant in today’s world) meditations on The Bible, issues of faith, and the Church. Given that we have entered the season of Passover, Dr. Wilson’s homily ties together the themes common to these most sacred days involving two of the world’s great religions:

It begins as a typical Passover meal. Peter and John have made the preparations, purchased a yearling lamb and sacrificed it in the Temple. Now they have prepared the traditional meal — lamb, unleavened Matzos bread, wine, bitter herbs, fruit puree, and the rest.

Jesus, as head of the household of his disciples, presides at the meal. He begins by recounting for them the familiar Passover story they have heard at every Passover since they were children — of Israel’s deliverance from oppression in Egypt. He tells them …

•How the Israelites sacrificed a lamb for each household and took some of the blood, painting some of it with a bunch of hyssop on the top and sides of the house’s doorframe.

•How they ate meat roasted over the fire along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast.

•How God had promised Moses, “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”

With the taste of lamb still fresh in their mouths, Jesus now takes a piece of the unleavened Matzos bread and breaks it. “This is my body given for you,” he says. “Do this in remembrance of me.”

With the image of blood still vivid in their minds, he takes a cup and pours into it the rich red wine. “This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” he tells them. “Drink from it, all of you.”

And so Jesus fulfills the Passover for all time. “Do this in remembrance of me,” he calls to us. “Drink from it, all of you,” he invites us. For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 02:39 | Comments (0)
March 25, 2013

As we head further into Holy Week the shadow of the Cross looms ever larger. I found this wonderful homily by Fr. Rodney Kissinger, SJ on his Seasoned Spirituality blog, which also contains a trove of resources associated with spirituality and Catholicism. Here’s his homily on the Cross and the role it plays in each of our lives, whether we know it and are willing to accept it or not:

People wonder and often ask, “Why did Jesus choose the cross?” Jesus did not choose the cross. In fact, he tried to get out of it. In the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed three times, “Father if it is possible let this chalice pass but not my will Thy will be done.”

Jesus chose to do the will of his Father; to become one of us in order to redeem us and to give us an example of what it means to be authentically human. It just happens that the cross is an essential part of the human condition. We enter the world in the pain of another and we leave the world in our own. And between the entrance and the exit there is more of the same. The cross is built into human nature.

We are not God. We are not self-sufficient, although we often think that we are. We are dependent on God. God made us for himself, and nothing else will satisfy us. This “transcendental neediness” is the source of our existential loneliness.

We are one person but we are not integrally one. We do not have integrity. Each of our faculties goes out after its own proper object heedless of the others. Our higher faculties do not have perfect control over our lower faculties as we all know by our personal experience. With Paul we find a law in our body warring against the law of our mind. Often, the good we will we do not and the evil we will not that we do. Discipline is what we need most and desire least. We all know the vulnerability of the human body. The intimations of mortality get more frequent and more impressive as we get older.

We have a lust for knowledge and certitude. We want to know and we want to be certain. And the one we want to know most about and to have the most certitude about is God. But God always remains the incomprehensible obvious. Each person is a mystery and life itself is a mystery, not to be understood but to be lived in faith, hope and love, and laughter because God loves us unconditionally and He will provide.

We are social beings. We live together in society. And when people live and work together, especially in a highly competitive society like ours, there is friction, frustration, pain and suffering. Add to this the fact that everyone has moral and professional standards that he never achieves. This results in a constant tension between our ideals and our accomplishments. Then there is the negative influence of the counter culture in which we live the temptations of the devil and the effects of our own personal sins. Human life is no adventure for a coward.

The cross can make us or break us. The same heat that hardens brick melts butter. “One ship drives east and another drives west on the self same winds that blow. It is the set of the sails and not the gales that tell them the way they go.”

The cross is an inevitable fact of human life. It can make us or break us but no one can escape it. Each one has to solve the problem of the cross for himself. And there are three possible solutions. The first is to deny the inevitability of the cross; to think that we can go through life without having to carry it. So we set out in pursuit of all the pleasure we can find and at the same time ward off all pain, sorrow and disappointment. But this is really no solution at all. How can you avoid the inevitable? How can you avoid what no human being has ever been able to avoid?

The second possible solution to the cross is to admit that the cross is inevitable, and to make the best of a bad bargain. To grit our teeth and endure what we cannot cure. This is a better solution than the first. But it commits us to a dull, dreary, monotonous, passive existence.

The third possible solution to the cross is to accept the invitation of Jesus to pick up our cross daily and follow him; to see in our cross a splinter of his cross and an opportunity to prove our love for him. Then life becomes a great adventure, a battlefield where we do battle for Christ the King. Then our suffering is transformed into sacrifice. And we know in our hearts that it costs to be a lover, that the language of love is sacrifice. And no matter how dark the prospects become we never lose heart because the victory is certain.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 03:41 | Comments (0)
March 24, 2013

Another Holy Week is upon us, and with it comes the annual flood of memories from Holy Weeks past spent at various churches along the way in Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Arizona. The highest of the high points, of course, were the Great Vigil of Easter services at the Church of the Advent in Boston – nothing will ever scale the heights of pure solemnity and joy of those. Palm Sunday servics are also pretty easy to remember because in most Protestant and Catholic churches you have the procession of the congregation as the palms are distributed. I remember attending (I think) St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Louisville my last year there and they did Palm Sunday very well.

Some of fondest Palm Sunday memories are from my years singing in the St. Anne’s Episcopal Church choir with my mom and dad and Auntie Marge with my godfather Milt as organist. I sang tenor with my dad, but when we gained a couple of other tenors I’d slide over to bass to supplement Don McKeown and Charlie Corkum, both of whom being elderly, their rich and beautiful blend not as strong as it once was. Ah, those were great times, great memories.

One of the Palm Sunday anthems I remember us doing the most is the classic “Open The Gates Of The Temple”. I found a pretty good version of it on YouTube for your listening enjoyment. We didn’t do it quite this well, of course, but what we might have lacked in numbers we made up for with passion and verve.

This year for Holy Week, I’ll be keeping this space a little sacred and will offer some daily thoughts and/or homilies by others in the spirit of the week. My prayers for all for a holy and blessed Holy Week.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:22 | Comments (0)
March 22, 2013

A Great Blue Heron swooped in front of me.

A rabbit insistent upon marking his territory stopped in front of me to pee not once, not twice, but three times.

A family of prairie dogs skittering around my feet.

It wasn’t nature alone that was wild on 544-yard, par 5 sixth hole at Bear Creek Golf Course, a sun-drenched track on the southern outskirts of Chandler, AZ. If we roll the tape you’ll see a sequence of shots my golf instructor Alex Black certainly didn’t have in mind during our lesson last Saturday:

1. Duck-hooked 3-wood into water right off the tee (penalty)
3. 3-wood shanked left into adjacent fairway
4. Duffed 5-wood traveling no more than twenty yards
5. Duck-hooked 5-wood into trouble right, ball perched inside a wild acacia bush
6. Pitching wedge out of the bush twenty feet straight, prairie dogs scatter in every direction
7. Pitching wedge pushed into trouble right
8. Miraculous pitching wedge onto green to three feet
9. One putt for a crowd-pleasing nine

They say the first round after a golf lesson is the worst, but I honestly thought I would be the exception. I wasn’t afraid of playing the blue tees at Bear Creek (in terms of yards and layout the course actually sets up very similarly to Passaconaway Country Club in Litchfield, NH, a course I’ve played many times). On the driving range before teeing off I felt really confident – a small bucket of crisply-hit wedges and solidly-struck irons. OK, the 3-woods and drivers seemed a little flaky – I can’t remember ever shanking a 3-wood or driver (that privilege has historically been reserved for my irons), but I chalked that up to nerves, which for some reason I had a case of. Even after pushed my opening 3-wood far left into desert scrub I still wasn’t concerned – especially after chipping out to 163 yards and crushing a 5-iron to sixteen feet before two-putting for a bogey five.

The 346 yard, par 4 fourth at Bear Creek is the second-easiest hole on the course. My first ball shanks left and hits the grill of a minivan passing by to our left. Taking my mulligan, I do the very same thing, except this time there’s enough loft to bunny hop into the strip mall on the other side of the street. Dropping three I proceed to do the very same thing with a 5-wood. Lynn, trying to be as patient as she can, suggests I aim further right and I do, dunking my 5-wood into the pond right. Seven minutes later, I’ve one-putted for a quintuple-bogey nine (no Goodboys double-par rule for me anymore!) and suddenly realize I’ve forgotten how to swing a golf club. Mere mortals who have said, “sod it” an gone back to their old comfortable swing, but The Great White Shank has lab work to do. I soldier on, solidly bogeying the par 3 fifth.

And then came that sixth hole.

I know what you’re thinking: The Great White Shank fell apart like a cheap bridge table the rest of the way and put up a big number. But I didn’t. I hung tough for a 51 going out – a 51 with two nines on the card. Not bad for yours truly.

Starting out on the back nine I decided to give the 3-wood a rest and grabbed driver. Alas, whereas my tee game suddenly came into form I lost my putting game and racked up two straight three-putts followed by an embarrassing four-putt from twelve feet on ten, eleven, and twelve for a 7-6-7 before settling into five straight rocking-chair bogies. That snowman I make on 18 is a pure throwaway – my de facto golf shrink Dr. Bob Winters would be horrified to learn that once I realized I couldn’t break 100 I gave up the chase and just hit shots I wanted to play for the hell of it.

While the numbers (51 + 52 = 103) don’t lie, there are still a lot of positives to take away from today’s round at Bear Creek. Sure, those ten putts on three holes (36 total, seven more than Alex Black would approve of) were ugly, but I did have three one-putts and came within two whiskers of five. I also reached a season-high total of nine holes at bogey or less, showing some serious Great White Shank resilience after those nines on four and six. Like that old Timex watch commercial went, I can now take a licking and keep on ticking. With my new Alex Black move I hit my irons consistently better than I ever have in years, if ever. How do I know? On the five par-3s I was a total of five over. That’s how you keep your scores down. Last year and before, a round like this on a 6400-yard course would result anywhere froma 105 to a 115; today, I shot a 103 and left a dozen or more shots out there while playing a round of golf for the very first time in my life by mechanics, not by feel.

The numbers, of course, don’t lie, but there will come a time (and it’s not far away) where a good five or six of those shots won’t be left on the course anymore. You can do the math; I’m not far away at all, and rounding into where I need to be for this year’s Goodboys Invitational right on schedule.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:23 | Comments (2)
March 21, 2013

One of the great things about living in the Valley of the Sun and the way they do things around here in most of the established subdivisions is the fact that you can, if you wanted to and if you’re housing situation is such, you can spend you’re whole life outside without clothes on. Of course, if you live, say, in a one story house and have one or more neighbors with two-story houses that’s not really possible, but that’s not us. With six and eight foot high cement walls separating us from our neighbors, no two-story houses around us, and no kids, there’s really no reason why, when it’s nice outside like it was last night not to enjoy your nitecap au natural.

What a lovely night last night was. A thin cloud cover turning the half-moon into a shimmering silver, a soft breeze from the East (very unusual this time of year) stirring the wind chimes ever so slightly, and the soft fragrance of fruit trees budding in the night air made the patio so enjoyable that one could have slept outside if they wanted to.

I’ll admit it – I enjoy having my nitecaps and enjoying the night air (and, in a month or so, a late-night swim) without clothes on. It’s the ultimate feeling of freedom and independence – it’s just you inside the concrete walls, but what a beautiful backyard within those walls we have cultivated. Palm trees, swimming pool, landscaping, patio – it’s almost like living a dream. I haven’t taken a swim in a bathing suit since we moved here and don’t plan to. And I don’t take one second of it for granted. I’m talking health, having a job, owning a home I could never, ever have imagined owning, breathing in deep the fresh night air, nursing a Johnny Walker Red (one ice cube) as the palm trees and wind chimes stir. If there’s such a thing as pure contentment, I came close to feeling that.

It won’t last forever, though, which is why I just try to enjoy it as much as I can. Times, health, and circumstances will change, but I’ll (at least hopefully) always have the memories.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:48 | Comments (6)

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