Tag Archives: love

“How Hollow is the Sound of Victory without Someone to Share it with? Honor Gives Little Comfort to a Man Alone in his Home… and in his heart.” Thoughts on Valentine’s Day from a Klingon Perspective

 


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Well it is Valentine’s Day and I think that it completely appropriate to talk about love. Now I know that this particular day brings up a lot of good as well as bad memories. If someone is in the middle of a divorce, break up, or just simply is alone it can be a painful experience. On the other hand if you have discovered love, are in love, or even hopelessly infatuated by someone despite the reality that you might be rejected by them it can be a special, and maybe even an expensive day.

However, some of us get lucky and Cupid, the flying naked kid armed with a bow and arrow, shoots us in the ass one day and we discover that one true love. That happened to me in September of 1978 when I met Judy. I fell in love with her that night, but it took a while to develop. We are coming up on our 37th marriage anniversary this June, 6 days after my projected retirement ceremony, which is exactly 37 years after I was commissioned as an Army Second Lieutenant on June 19th 1983. My career in the military, in the Army and Navy has been difficult on her, especially after I came home from various deployments and combat deployments. Though I am now, and have been a chaplain since 1992, I have always been a warrior and soldier at heart, even when unarmed on combat deployments and getting shot at. Thus I find that I am very much attracted to the Klingons in Star Trek the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, because it is in those series we discover just how complex Klingon culture, traditions, and religious beliefs are. Thankfully for me Judy shares my love of Star Trek, especially DS9. 

So I was thinking about what to do for her this Valentine’s Day as for much of my life I have been pretty lousy at giving her the attention and honor she is due, especially things like Valentine’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries. No doubt, though a faithful husband, I pretty much have been at the Mendoza Line when it comes to romance. Part of this is because of the fact that for close to half of our marriage I have been away from home, and came back pretty messed up from war.

When I was going through my Clinical Pastoral Education Residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas following Seminary, that my CPE Supervisor, Steve Ivy was able to connect my compartmentalization of my emotions with Lieutenant Worf, the Klingon Security Officer of the Enterprise in Star Trek the Next Generation played by Michael Dorn, who reprised the role in Star Trek Deep Space Nine. For me that was an eye opening experience. Though I was by that time an ordained minister, and two years later a Priest, I was always a warrior at heart, wanting, desiring, and volunteering time and time again for dangerous assignments. My first 17 1/2 years in the military were in the Army National Guard, active Duty Army, and Army Reserve, and even though I was mobilized to support Operation Joint Endeavor, the Bosnia Peace Enforcement mission, but in a purely support role. I was not until I entered the Navy, taking off my rank as a Major in the Army Reserve to return to active duty as a Navy Lieutenant in February 1999, and the attacks of 9/11/2001 that I got my chance for action at sea in 2002 in Operation Enduring Freedom and the UN Oil Embargo on Iraq in 2002, where I served as an “advisor” to a boarding team, numerous trips to Marine Security Forces in the Middle East from 2003 to 2006, and service in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 with the Advisors of the Iraq Assistance Group in Al Anbar Province, from the Syrian Border to Fallujah and about everywhere in between. It was an amazing combat tour, mostly outside the big bases, working with small teams of American advisors and Iraqi Army, Police, and Border forces. It was the best and most rewarding of tours of my career, but I came back changed. Since I have written about those experiences many times, I won’t go into details, but if I could have remained in Iraq supporting the advisors I would have stayed on indefinitely, and would have gone back given the chance. I left a lot of my soul in Iraq and I pray for the Iraqis, soldiers and civilians alike, who befriended me as the man they called the American Imam. But I digress…

But back to the Klingons, love, marriage, and Valentine’s Day. In one of the early Next Generation episodes Lieutenant Worf is asked by young Wesley Crusher what Klingon courtship is like. Worf replied:

I will sing Klingon love poems while she throws furniture. I duck a lot.

So today I posted a quote from DS9 on my Facebook timeline this morning while waiting at the Medical Center pharmacy. It was from an episode titled Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places where the Ferengi Bartender, Quark ends up helping his Klingon ex-wife Grilka to deal with the financial situation of her House, which he helped her to gain following the death of her husband. Quark is forced to do battle with Grilka’s bodyguard who cannot abide a Ferengi being part of her house. The bodyguard issues a challenge which Quark could never match without help, which Worf and Jadzia Dax give him, but there is a technical glitch and to stall for time Quark issues a supposed Ferengi tradition, which he invented on the spot, The Right of Proclamation, a speech about his love for Grilka:

To this end my blade soars through the
aquarium of my soul seeking the
kelp of discontent which must be cut so that the
rocky bottom of love lies in waiting, with fertile
sand of the coming seed of Grilka’s
affection.
And yet, does this explain my need for her? No. It is like
oh, a giant cave of emptiness waiting for
the bats of love to hang by –

Judy responded by telling people that she would look at my medication list and look for side effects, and that people could direct message her. It was a perfect riposte.

But Quark’s words are those are the words of a Ferengi, not a Klingon, though Quark gave it his best. As Worf gets ready to marry Jadzia, she has to be approved by the matriarch of the House of Martok, and she makes Jadzia’s life hell.

But Martok encourages Worf, saying:

We are not accorded the luxury of choosing the women we fall in love with. Do you think Sirella is anything like the woman I thought that I’d marry? She is a prideful, arrogant, mercurial woman who shares my bed far too infrequently for my taste. And yet… I love her deeply. We Klingons often tout our prowess in battle, our desire for glory and honor above all else… but how hollow is the sound of victory without someone to share it with? Honor gives little comfort to a man alone in his home… and in his heart.” 

When Jadzia successfully passes the tests of Martok’s wife Sirella, the traditional Klingon wedding takes place in Quark’s bar on DS9. The traditional Klingon marriage includes the Klingon creation story, which is enacted by the bride and groom. It certainly is not a Christian understanding of creation, but it does encapsulate the depth of love between two people:

With fire and steel did the gods forge the Klingon heart. So fiercely did it beat, so loud was the sound, that the gods cried out, ‘On this day we have brought forth the strongest heart in all the heavens. None can stand before it without trembling at its strength.’ But then the Klingon heart weakened, its steady rhythm faltered and the gods said, ‘Why have you weakened so? We have made you the strongest in all of creation. And the heart said ‘I am alone.’ And the gods knew that they had erred. So they went back to their forge and brought forth another heart. But the second heart beat stronger than the first, and the first was jealous of its power. Fortunately, the second heart was tempered by wisdom. ‘ If we join together, no force can stop us.’ And when the two hearts began to beat together, they filled the heavens with a terrible sound. For the first time, the gods knew fear. They tried to flee, but it was too late. The Klingon hearts destroyed the gods who created them and turned the heavens to ashes. To this very day, no one can oppose the beating of two Klingon hearts… 
After either courting each other or being married for over forty years I think that Judy and I are a lot like Klingons. I am the proud, yet damaged warrior, she is the proud and faithful wife, and after all these years our hearts beat together.

This may not make a lot of sense to some readers, unless you are true Star Trek nerds, not that there is anything wrong with that.

The thing is that for all its commercialization, and despite the pain that often accompanies love, that Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love between two people, when their hearts beat together. One of my office mates lost his wife of 38 years two and a half years ago. If someone had not told me that he was a widower, it would be hard to guess it. When we talk about life, music, television, life, and family, he speaks of her in such a way that I know that his love for her did not die when she did. Their hearts still beat as one, and I love that, I wish I had actually met her. But, he has his son and other relatives in the local area and still lives a rich life, he is happy, and is still in love with her.

I hope and pray that everyone gets to experience that kind of undying love.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

 

2 Comments

Filed under iraq, life, marriage and relationships, Military, PTSD, star trek, televsion, Tour in Iraq, us army, US Navy, War on Terrorism

Celebrating 35 Years of Marriage to the Kindest, Sweetest, Prettiest Person I’ve Ever Met In My Life…

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Thirty-five years ago today I married the love of my life and despite many stupid and thoughtless actions we are still married and probably happier than we have ever been. We have been spending the weekend with dear friends and the combined 12 Papillon dogs we have. It has been very nice, relaxing and fun.

It has also been a time for me to recharge my batteries because when we return home tomorrow I will have much to do at work as well as at home as we start to repair and renovate our home after the flooding event we experienced. By then we should hopefully have the insurance settlement to allow us to do what we need after the initial contractor provided by the insurance company wanted thousands of dollars more than the estimate they provided to do what we asked. Today we will go to dinner and celebrate at a restaurant that I like in D.C., but I digress…

We got married just six days after I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Three of the men I was commissioned with were in the wedding and I am still in contact with a number of others. We had met almost five years before at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California. I fell in love with her that night.

Our marriage has been a long strange trip, not that there is anything wrong with that. Military life, separations due to deployments and war have been part of our life. Judy has had to endure more than I can imagine to stay with me all these years. She is simply the best. She is creative, talented, kind, resourceful, considerate, and amazingly patient. I have seen her go out of her way to be kind and giving to people just because that’s who she is.

Honestly I fell in love with her the day that we met. When I first asked her on a date a few months later I was so nervous that she thought I was going to ask her to marry me. I loved her and wanted to marry her but I could barely stammer out “would you like to go to a movie?” Thankfully she said yes, otherwise I would have never gotten to the whole marriage thing.

When I think of her I think of what Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, said to Andie McDowell in that movie:

I think you’re the kindest, sweetest, prettiest person I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve never seen anyone that’s nicer to people than you are. The first time I saw you… something happened to me. I never told you but… I knew that I wanted to hold you as hard as I could. I don’t deserve someone like you. But if I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life.

I still do. So to the most amazing and talented woman in the world, I love you, even more than I did that night we first met.

So to all,of our friends, and to all thank you for being a part of our lives.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

5 Comments

Filed under life, Loose thoughts and musings, marriage and relationships

How to Screw up a Wedding Anniversary

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

There are times that I can be a complete idiot and Sunday was one of them.

On Sunday I posted a short article in praise of my wife Judy for our 34th anniversary. I meant every word of it, but my actions over the course of the week hurt her. It was not physical abuse, but it was as harmful as any physical abuse could have been. It was a combination of not listening, not paying attention, and not thinking about how even little things matter.

I had a football coach who told me that was the little things that mattered. he talked about not making stupid plays or taking stupid penalties, about making blocks and hitting the right hole, holding on to the ball, and tackling well, not trying to be the hero making big plays. Sunday, I blew apart our anniversary by not taking care of the little things.

But another coach taught me something else about the importance of actions and how in reality they speak louder than words.  When I complained about not getting playing time he told me that he “couldn’t hear me.”  So I complained  louder, and he simply said “I can’t hear you.” I got upset and raised my voice and he looked up and said “your actions on the practice field speak so loud I can’t hear a word you are saying.” I thought I had learned that lesson a long time ago, obviously I didn’t, for on Sunday my actions, though unintentional, were deafening and very hurtful to Judy.

If you are a good husband the one thing you must do above all other things is listen, care, and pay attention to your wife. I guess the same is true for wives and how they treat their husbands. These may be considered “little things.” They are not expensive presents, they cost nothing, but they mean more than anything in a relationship. Sadly, there are times that I don’t do them well and last week was one that I wish I could get back. Mind you Judy is not one to complain, she doesn’t hound me about little things, and she gives me a lot of grace.

My lack of attentiveness to her needs over the week frustrated, angered, and hurt her, and that culminated on Sunday just when I thought I was going to get it right; instead I took what should have been an easy win for both of us and screwed it up beyond belief.

What brought things on was that we met a number of friends at our local hang out to celebrate our anniversary. Rather than sitting by her I went and sat with the guy I normally hang out with on Sundays, three seats down from her. Instead of just visiting for a few minutes and then going back to her I stayed next to him. She appeared to be having a nice conversation with another friend so I just didn’t think about how she perceived my action. I was so unobservant that it took a text from her telling me that she was angry and wanted to leave for me to understand what I had done; I had taken her out and then ignored her. As I replayed the events in my mind throughout what turned into a sleepless night they only made me look worse.

I am going to do what I can to get this back and do what is right. I had a drill sergeant tell me “there are attaboys and there are aww shits; and it takes 2000 attaboys to make up for one aww shit.” This was a big aww shit moment.

When we got home a lot of people were congratulating us on Facebook and Judy was upset. She told me that I should write about how badly I screwed things up and hurt her. I did on it and I am doing it here. One thing about social media it is very easy to sell the positive things about yourself. It’s a great way to market an image true or not. I am beyond needing to craft an image that makes me look like a great husband when the same day I did something shitty to the woman who committed her life to me thirty-four years ago. It hasn’t been easy for her at all, especially because we have been separated for close to 13 of those years, mostly due to my military service. Then there were the years after Iraq where she had to deal with my PTSD shit and emotional ups and downs. Then of course there were the times when I had jobs that while I may have been home I hardly saw her, and lastly there were the many times that I did stupid stuff like I did Sunday.

One thing that I have been learning over the past number of years is to be as transparent and honest as I can be about whom I am and what I believe. This includes being open about something like this. I don’t expect to be admired for it because what I did to Judy was pretty shitty. For me it serves as one more way to let her know that I got the message. Likewise it’s to let people who follow me on this site especially men to do better than I did when it comes to caring for their wives. If admitting my screw up helps allows someone to learn from my dumbassery without doing it themselves then maybe a good seed will be planted.

My inattentiveness and lack of regard for her Sunday was shameful. I know better than this and it would have been so easy to do this one right. But I didn’t. I know that she loves me and that she would do anything for me, and I do love her, but I really screwed this one up bad. I am going to do some things to try to make things better, but the onus is on me to start doing the little things and listening better. She deserves that much from me.

Have a great day and pray for me a dumbass,

Peace

Padre Steve+

3 Comments

Filed under marriage and relationships

The First Time I Met You Something Happened to Me: In Praise of My Wife of 34 Years


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today just a short post to let you know that I am still married to the most amazing woman in the world. Today marks the 34th anniversary of our weddings and we have now known each other for almost 39 years. We got married just six days after I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Three of the men I was commissioned with were in the wedding and I am still in contact with a number of others.

Our marriage has been a long strange trip, not that there is anything wrong with that. Military life, separations due to deployments and war have been part of our life. Judy has had to endure more than I can imagine to stay with me all these years. She is simply the best. She is creative, talented, kind, resourceful, considerate, and amazingly patient. I have seen her go out of her way to be kind and giving to people just because that’s who she is.

Honestly I fell in love with her the day that we met. When I first asked her on a date a few months later I was so nervous that she thought I was going to ask her to marry me. I loved her and wanted to marry her but I could barely stammer out “would you like to go to a movie?” Thankfully she said yes, otherwise I would have never gotten to the whole marriage thing.

When I think of her I think of what Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, said to Andie McDowell in that movie:

I think you’re the kindest, sweetest, prettiest person I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve never seen anyone that’s nicer to people than you are. The first time I saw you… something happened to me. I never told you but… I knew that I wanted to hold you as hard as I could. I don’t deserve someone like you. But if I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life.

I still do. So to the most amazing woman in the world, I love you, even more than I did that night we first met.

Peace

Padre Steve+

2 Comments

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, marriage and relationships

A Valentine’s Day Reflection: “the kindest, sweetest, prettiest person I’ve ever met in my life”

img_0343

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I am one of the luckiest men that I know. If you need some God talk, also one of the most blessed people that I know. I do guess that I am blessed, but I just cringe at the way that to be blessed has for so many people become another part of the vocabulary of religious mumbo-jumbo that passes for faith now days. Most of the time that I see it the words “blessed” is used for the ungodly amounts of material stuff that clutters our lives. I actually have plenty of stuff, especially when it comes to the “3 B’s”: Books, Baseball, and Beer.

But while I do consider myself blessed, it’s not for those things; it is for one person who I have had the privilege of spending most of my life with, my wife Judy.

Since I am not a fan of Calvinism with its often absurd views of God’s Providence, I consider myself lucky to even know her, much less to have known her for almost 39 years and having spent 33 of those years married, without her either divorcing or murdering me in my sleep, either of which probably would have been ruled justified in the court system at any number of points in our marriage.

young loves

1980 

I met her my first year at San Joaquin Delta College, in Stockton, California. We went to rival high schools and she was a year ahead of me. When I met her I feel in love. I think it took her longer to fall in love with me, but honestly, for me it was love at first sight and I’ve never looked back.

1012128_10151749215177059_1902693993_n

Judy has stood by me through almost 36 years in the military and most of those were not easy. I did a quick count and we have spent over 13 years apart due to my work, and that doesn’t count all the times where we were together when I was in the reserves and working in civilian hospitals where the hours that I worked were so odd that I seldom saw her for 3 years, nor four years of seminary where I was a full time student and worked more than full time, nor when I was home working on yet another master’s degree, and let’s not even mention the time that I spend researching and writing my books.

295_26912077058_3276_n

Then there has been my ongoing battle with the effects of PTSD and mild TBI. Thankfully I am doing a lot better, but from 2008 until 2014 I was pretty unbearable.

Likewise, I am an introvert who can become so focused on what I’m doing that I ignore her. I have done that all too often throughout our marriage. But, that being said, over the past couple of years since I came back from three years of a geographic bachelor tour while serving at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, we have reconnected. I think that part of that was caused when she was diagnosed with Endometrial Cancer last year. She got through it, and so far remains cancer free, but it hit me hard because it brought me to the realization that I could lose her, and that I want the rest of our life together to be better than it ever was. She is my best friend, she knows me better than anyone, and I tell her things that I can tell no one else. I love coming home to her.

She is a remarkable woman. On Groundhog Day I watched, as is my custom, the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. It is one of my favorites. But when I watched it this time I was struck by something that Murray’s character tells her, because it pretty much sums up the way that I feel about Judy.

I think you’re the kindest, sweetest, prettiest person I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve never seen anyone that’s nicer to people than you are. The first time I saw you… something happened to me. I never told you but… I knew that I wanted to hold you as hard as I could. I don’t deserve someone like you. But if I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life.

She is all that, and more. I am so lucky to have her in my life and cannot imagine life without her. We never had kids, but we have each other, our dogs, and some really good friends.

In 1979, the year we started dating the group Dr. Hook released a single called Years from Now. When I first heard it back then on American Top Forty and bought the 45 at Tower Records in Stockton, I knew it summed up how I would always feel about her.

So please, have a great Valentine’s Day with whoever you love.

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, marriage and relationships

The Tsaraev Brothers and the Danger of Faith Without Love

barmherzigkeit

“The separation of faith and love is always a consequence of a deterioration of religion.”  Paul Tillich 

There are many who claim faith of every type, be it religious, political, economic or scientific who have nothing but hatred in their hearts for others.

This was again made manifest this past week in the actions of the brothers Tsaraev in their orgy of violence inflicted on the people of Boston. Their crimes were committed in the name of Islam, as are many like them. However, such actions be they in the name of Allah, Yahweh, Jesus or any other deity show the intrinsic falseness and evil of such “faith” no matter how orthodox it may be.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

Faith can be a powerful thing, for good or for evil. However when that faith is separated from love it is no longer of God, or even human. I do think that the apostle was absolutely right when he noted that if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Love is actually the key and love of God is always connected to love of neighbor, practical, observable and tangible love, not mere words. G.K. Chesterton said it well in this. “To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”

However to the “true believers” of so many religions, political, social and scientific orthodoxies, the two sometimes seem inexorably linked by the often fanatical actions of their most devout adherents being more concerned with power than love. The sad thing is that I don’t think that any of us are completely immune to such behavior and attitudes and probably all of us have a at least a little potential to be terrorists given the right circumstances.

When I read some blogs and websites written by some people that can be best described as “true believers” I am amazed at the violence of the words as well as the hatred and derision for others that do not believe like them that are contained. The fact that those are not occasional slips, errors of judgement on bad days like all of us are capable of making and do make all the time.

If that was the case it would not be that much of an issue. However, the authors of the majority many of these site are consumed with hatred toward others as a means of “defending” their beliefs. Some advocate violence in doing that, unencumbered by any doubts in their beliefs no matter what “orthodoxy” they believe in. Eric Hoffer wrote “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance.”

I think this is exactly what motivates men like the Tsaraev brothers to kill the innocent and which lurks in those that preach hatred in the name of their god or whatever belief system is the functional equivalent of a god for them. The only difference is that most have not crossed the physical boundary from “nursing a fanatical grievance” and advocating violence to actually killing. Somehow I think that once that seed is planted, and cultivated that it sometimes takes on a life of its own.

The apostle was right: “If I have not love….” 

Peace

 

Padre Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under christian life, faith, News and current events, philosophy, Religion

I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues: Valentine’s Day Away from Those that We Love

Judy’s Hearts

I have lost count of the number of Valentine’s days as well as other special occasions that I have been away from my love over the course of my military career. This is not uncommon for any of us that serve away from our loved ones, I know plenty of folks alone or with other friends this Valentine’s Day when their loved ones are away.

Before the military…1981

This year I am again away but at least the gift I ordered for Judy got there on time. She made the best of the night spending the past few weeks making some dark chocolate candy filled hearts for a lot of people. She made I think she said about 85 including a dozen or so that she had me give to people down here. She gave them away today and it is amazing . It is amazing how many people don’t feel loved on a day set aside for love.  I was reading my current favorite comic strip Over the Hedge by Michael Fry and as usual Vern the Turtle was being tormented by RJ the Raccoon when he found out that he is loved just a little bit.

See all of Michael’s Over the Hedge adventures here http://www.gocomics.com/overthehedge/ or his blog at http://overthehedgeblog.wordpress.com/

It reminded me that there are a lot of people that Valentine’s day only makes feel more isolated and uncared for and I love the way that Judy can make someone’s day by making something nice for them.

Back when we were married in June 1983 and I was reporting to active duty as a young Army officer elton John released the song I Guess that’s Why they call it the Blues. The music video had the setting of a young man going off to join the British Royal Army and missing his girl.  I was at Fort Knox Kentucky at a school on my way to Germany when I saw the video for the first time.  It struck a chord then and still does over 28 years later.

So for all those that are away from the one they love tonight I present Elton John singing I Guess that’s why They call it the Blues. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6KYAVn8ons

Don’t wish it away

Don’t look at it like it’s forever

Between you and me I could honestly say

That things can only get better

And while I’m away 

Dust out the demons inside

And it won’t be long before you and me run

To the place in our hearts where we hide

And I guess that’s why they call it the blues

Time on my hands could be time spent with you

Laughing like children, living like lovers

Rolling like thunder under the covers

And I guess that’s why they call it the blues

Just stare into space

Picture my face in your hands

Live for each second without hesitation

And never forget I’m your man

Wait on me girl

Cry in the night if it helps

But more than ever I simply love you

More than I love life itself

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under marriage and relationships, music