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It’s Love, Actually

The international arrivals door is where magic happens daily throughout the world. Mothers greet fathers. Children return home. Refugees and asylum seekers are embraced by a new society. Soldiers return from war. Visitors are welcomed to a new land. Opportunities for meaningful exchange begin. Lovers reunite. It is one of my favorite places, wherever I am in the world.

Yesterday, the international arrivals door at DFW Airport Terminal D was a scene of a different sort. Families waited to greet their loved ones placed in limbo by the swift and callous winds of change. A student from SMU waited, as his Syrian parents were held unable to join him. A 40-ish woman, US green card holder from Iran was detained 8 hours before she could greet her husband who was a US citizen. Another Syrian man on a valid visa coming to see his sons studying at SMU was forced to sign a form he didn’t understand, under threat of arrest.

Then something miraculous happened…people gathered in solidarity with these families to scream into the wind against the rabid offspring of fear. The sound was deafening and relentless, hundreds turned into thousands. Hours of chants, “USA”, “SILENCE IS VIOLENCE”, “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE”, an Episcopalian priest led the crowd in Christian hymns and we sang together in Arabic, led by our Muslim brothers and sisters.

As the frosted white door between customs and the USA remained closed and the SWAT teams stood at attention, we heard reports that there were custom officials in tears on the other side. Unable to get answers from the DHS or the White House. Our mayor arrived to state his opposition to these executive actions and our U.S. House members and Dallas County judges were in the crowd, standing alongside us as we screamed for justice.

The crowd embraced when the stay was ordered and passed around pizza, fruit and well wishes. It was peaceful, respectful and powerful. The police had the slightest of smile and nodded their heads in our direction. When it was time for prayer, a Christian woman took the sign of a nearby Muslim woman and said, “you go pray, I will stay.”

I went to the international arrivals door at DFW Airport yesterday to speak to the families, learn their stories and link them to legal advocates, if needed. Turns out, many of my American brothers and sisters had the same idea. What I saw was exactly what makes America great.

It’s love, actually.

 

Jan 28, 2017

DFW Airport, Texas

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Sublime Vulnerability

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The day I met my first born marks a milestone in my life. A day after which, I was no longer the person I was before. An anniversary of my becoming conscious of complete and utter vulnerability. Upon meeting him, I would never again walk this Earth with the same sense of complete confidence. The physical scars have long since healed, but I remain tragically aware of how profoundly wounded I could be because of this most precious being.

My deep vulnerability is packaged neatly and poetically with laughter – sometimes a chuckle, sometimes absurd, full-on, side-splitting belly laughs. Belly laughs like when we discovered that I pee (just) a little bit when he double bounces me on the trampoline. That’s right, I pee, just enough to make me laugh out loud.

So double bounce away, little man, because the mixture of belly-filling laughter and slight humiliation is truly sublime.

Originally posted January 2010.

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Brown-Eyed Girl

Dear Brown-Eyed Girl,

I lay there on the table with the bright lights shining overhead. There is a chill in my veins and the subtle beginnings of tears forming in my eyes. Your father stands silently beside me, his hand placed gently on my forehead. He is wearing a look of overwhelming joy with a faint dusting of fear.

Although my body is asleep, my mind is alive. I think to myself – who is this child?

Moments later I hear you and, by the grace of God, the sounds are strong. Images begin racing through me – a newborn baby, young girl, a teenager, a woman. A daughter we have in you. A daughter with a small, graceful neck and the frailest shoulders. Continue reading

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Iterating to the Moon

When we are young, we mistakenly believe that once an adult, we should and will have it all figured out. As if the grown-ups have known all along what they wanted to be when they grew up and they act upon this knowledge with grace and conviction.

Some do, I suppose, but turns out most don’t. In my case, it took 10 years and what feels like a trip to the moon and back to see what I believed should have been so clear all along. For a long time I lamented not having more clarity from the get go and resented the side tracks I made to get right tracked again. But not anymore, I now see it as case of simple iteration.

I recently made a trip to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to show my two kids where my childhood dreams were born and hopefully light a spark in them, like the one that was lit in me by my late grandfather. I hoped they would be as mesmerized by science holding hands with adventure and how together they do a dangerous dance beyond the boundaries of our atmosphere.

Mercury…Gemini…Apollo 7…10…11…13…Shuttles…Stations…Mars…all of these experiments designed to advance the greater mission. Each one proving some hypotheses and disproving others. Some were viewed as successes, some successful failures, but all tested boundaries and broke through barriers. Each and every one iterations on the next…innovation perfected.

It is likely the experience lit a spark or two for the kids, only time will tell how significant. But as an adult, I took away something different this time. Along with the coolness of science, engineering and adventuring our way to a new future, I hoped they walked away with one simple truth.

Clarity of mission is essential, perfect execution is optional. With that, you can iterate yourself all the way to the moon.

Today’s post was inspired by good friend, kindred spirit, and fellow seeker, Clark Kellogg.

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I Write…

…because I am a junkyard poet living in a man’s world.

I write…

…because I was brought up believing that only the practical matters so a pragmatist I became.

I write…

…because I have dueled in the hollows with the dogs of despair. They may nip at my heels, but writing keeps me one step ahead of them.

I write…

…to remain awake and help others to do the same.

I write…

…because I have a gypsy heart.

I write…

…because I was told once by someone who mattered that principles don’t and arguing them would get me nowhere. Wrong – they get you everywhere, I have them and they matter most.

I write…

…to swim around in the depths of my soul and look around a bit. When I return to the surface, I write about what I saw – some of it pretty, some of it no-so-pretty, all of it real.

I write…

…to leave the past behind and leap towards the future. A tomorrow that is richer, brighter and more meaningful than yesterday.

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