One of the things I’ve discovered about the empty nest is that we celebrate things — whether holidays or special events or even the daily non-celebrations — differently. Not better or worse, just — different.
I enjoy it, as one enjoys the different seasons. So this season in our lives is slower, less complicated by hustle and bustle. And, to my amusement (and no doubt my mother’s relief) a lot neater.
I don’t think I would have ever attempted to throw together the clippings from the Christmas tree into a vase, and work around some Advent candles. That’s a fire waiting to happen on that dinner table. That’s why we keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen — you know, this propensity to have a nice quiet dinner go up in flames.
And so, we begin Advent today with joy, and hope, and a little bit of wonder and anticipation.
It’s no secret I like science fiction. I like superhero stories, too. And fantasy, though I make no excuses for a mild dislike of Lord of the Rings. I think it’s like a million pages too long.
I know, a bunch of people just judged me and found me lacking.
Anyway, what Tolkien gets right (among other things — I know the work, I just don’t like it) is the authenticity of the relationships. The characters are likable and believable, and their actions are plausible in my world of suspension of disbelief.
I’m not necessarily drawn by special effects or explosions or cool gadgetry, though it’s entertaining enough. I like good strong characters, the more flawed, the more human, the better.
Which is why I mourned the cancelation of Firefly, stood by X-Files after the sixth season, stuck with Star Trek and all the iterations, including Voyager, when the less popular Deep Space Nine was better. It’s why I stood in line to watch a midnight showing of X-Men, forgave George Lucas for crappy writing, and hope for a reconciliation in the cinema world so Spider-Man can return to the Avengers.
It’s why I’m loving Agents of SHIELD even though many are complaining that none of the heroes show up. Well, consider this, the real stories are not the super heroes, but the regular heroes…the folks who have no super powers except those qualities such as sacrifice and love of neighbor that have them respond heroically. And by the way, the show is about Coulson, and his “humanity.” Is he now a cyborg or what? I’m enjoying the hints about his death and resurrection after the battle of New York. Give it a few more episodes, Father Roderick, I think you’ll learn to love the series enough to explore its Secrets [wink].
Which brings me to Almost Human. I’m loving it after only three episodes, partly because of the concept and mostly because of the developing relationship between Detective John Kennex, and his cyborg partner Dorian. Dorian is almost human in his response to things. It’s making for some hilarious exchanges. It’s a tired old trope in science fiction, but I think people return to the idea of computers with artificial intelligence and the development of robots with emerging human qualities to be an interesting way to explore the human condition.
We’re quick to assume that the real exploration takes place in the robot’s development of human qualities, but I think it’s the opposite, that the robot serves as a foil for the human to explores his own humanity. I saw an inkling in this as John Kennex and Dorian begin to bond after the first episode, and Kennex, especially, demonstrates an unwillingness to trust, and in many respects, a rejection of life because of depression after losing his partner. By the third episode, in which Dorian risks his “life” to save human hostages, Dorian’s regret at being close to destruction elicits empathy from Kennex, who observes the end of life is, indeed, tragic.
It flirts a little with the idea that all life precious. Whether or not Kennex attributes this appreciation for Dorian’s consciousness which does not have a soul, in a reflective moment, he begins his own healing. Coulson has a similar revelation in Agents of SHIELD when he risks his life to stay with a man until the very last minute so he does not die alone. There’s great humanity in that.
I look forward to both series unfolding and hope I’m not disappointed in the themes that develop.
A few days ago I was whining about the leaves not changing fast enough for my liking. It’s been an exercise in patience, for sure. Sometimes, okay, often I am impatient, wanting things immediately, like a little child. Lucky for me my friend, St. Teresa of Avila, reminds me that I need to trust God in all things, even in adversity, even when things aren’t going on the timeline that I want.
Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes / God never changes
Patience / Obtains all
Whoever has God / Wants for nothing
God alone is enough.
Heaven smells like
brown sugar and cinnamon,
Don’t you think?
And if it doesn’t,
It must smell like
fresh rain, then.
Or my grandmas’s kitchen
on a Saturday afternoon.
It could smell like a baby
after a warm bath,
on a cold night.
at the beach.
A field of wildflowers
on a breezy day.
Heaven, I think,
will smell like home.
I put my pen down
and took a walk
played with birds
who played with me
watched leaves fall
spoke to a squirrel
jumped in some leaves
followed the birds
from tree to tree
they led me where
I need to go
I ate pistachios
made some soup
tormented the dog
took a nap
in a hammock
smelled the flowers
played a song or two
sat on a swing
and picked up my pen
I took this picture on my phone early in the morning. I’m not a fan of the grainy filter, but there you have it. It’s the two birds that captured my imagination, anyway. They made me laugh, like they were having a conversation.
It’s hard for me not to personify them and imagine lovers sharing a secret. Or two friends confiding in each other.
I thought about these birds long after I took the picture because I couldn’t get out of my mind how human they seemed to me. They’re out in the middle of this lake, standing on a broken tree branch or something, surrounded by water. They have only each other. I imagine how a moment of intimacy like this can transpire between two people who love each other.
I know; they’re only birds. And we’re only human.
It reminded me of the people in my life that I can turn to and whisper a secret, share a confidence, or ask for help.
“What good is confiding one’s pains, miseries and regrets to those to whom one cannot say at the end, ‘pray for me’?”