Monday, September 26, 2011
Something Got in My Eyes
Years ago Bruce Feirstein wrote a best-selling, tongue-in-cheek satire about masculinity titled Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. The book was a hoot as it attacked the mythology and symbolism of the masculine mystic. I had to laugh--and laugh a lot--because this witty little book hit me right where I was living in parts of my life at the time that I read it. Apparently quiche is not considered to be a real man's idea of food, thus real men don't eat quiche! Instead we run out to the backyard, kill the nearest wildlife, gut it, cook it and call it a meal . . . or we go to McDonalds. But never, ever, would a real man eat quiche!
Nor would a real man ever cry. Crying is a sign of weakness--especially for men. No real man would ever be caught crying unless his favorite hunting dog died or the Dukes of Hazzard reruns got canceled. No man would ever cry at a movie--unless John Wayne died, and we all know that only happened once in the classic The Cowboys. Men don't cry at weddings--even their own daughter's wedding--unless it is when he is presented the bill. Crying is just not "manly" and is frowned upon by the brotherhood of men! Real men don't eat quiche and they sure the hell don't cry.
No, we men don't cry . . . we usually get something in our eyes.
In the past three days I have gotten something in my eyes a couple of times. Our youngest son's girl friend's step-father died a week ago after battling cancer for quite a few years. He was almost 60 years old--not too far up the road from where I am, but that did not bother me. I regret that the wife and I did not get the opportunity to spend more time with this man as he was a pretty special guy. We only had one opportunity to spend time with him and that was not nearly enough to really know him. This past Saturday we drove the two hours south to Sheridan, Wyoming for his "celebration of life" ceremony.
As a minister I have done quite a few--many, many funerals--and for the most part, I really had no difficulty with the service. Outside of my sadness for Joshua's girl friend and her family in their mourning, I was not really too moved by the service. It was a fairly typical service--appropriate, loving, and truly a celebration. I did fine throughout the first three-quarters of the service . . . it was when we went outside for the presentation of the flag, the 21-gun salute, Taps, and a Northern Cheyenne drum ceremony that I got something in my eyes.
Through the presentation of the flag--I was fine. Through the 21-gun salute--I was fine. Then they began to play Taps . . . with an echo . . . and something got in my eyes. Something wet. Something wet that only got worse as the drum circle began to play their ceremonial song. It was haunting and beautiful. There was a lot of wetness, but being a real man I hid it well. It was hard to do, but I succeeded. I am not really sure what happened, what struck a soul chord within my heart--whether it was remembering my father or if it was a summation of everything--but the tears appeared. I was moved and I cried. It felt good to acknowledge the emotion that was filling my soul at this moment. Besides, it was a sunny day and made that made a perfect excuse if anyone saw my tears--the sun got in my eyes.
Then this morning it happened again! I got something in my eyes while I was at work. I got an email with a video that someone had sent me that I had not yet watched. It was a video about one of the performers on the television show called The X-Factor--I guess it is a sort of hardcore American Idol sort of show. I don't like these shows as I find them to be mean and belittling towards the contestants. Because of that I usually do not watch them, but then again, I hardly watch any television--unless my beloved Big Red are playing a game. Out of respect for the sender, I opened it and watched it. That was a big mistake!
Before the tears arrived I could feel them swelling up in my chest--working their way up the body to the eyes. I tried to take a deep breath to ward them off but that only made it worse. Then I looked around to make sure no one could see me--no one was to work yet. I looked for the sun so I would have a convenient excuse, but my office has no windows. These were tears. As I listened to the young singer's life story and heard him sing--well, I was a goner. Maybe it was the story, maybe it was the song (John Lennon's Imagine), or maybe it was a combination of all of it, but the tears came. Second time in three days that I got something in my eyes--man, was my manhood disappearing. I suddenly had a hankering for quiche!
Here is the video I watched:
The truth of the matter is that real men do cry. It really does not matter how it is described--the sun got in my eyes, something is in my eyes--but real men do cry. I guess I am getting tired of fighting it and making excuses for it--I cry. I cry when something moves me. I never am sure from where it comes, but it sure feels good to let it loose. It is probably the Spirit of God moving through me and playing me like a cheap guitar. Twice in three days! Maybe it is because I am getting older--who knows. I just know I cry when the Spirit moves me . . . sometimes it is when I hear harmony sung in worship, sometimes it is when someone overcomes great odds to succeed, and sometimes it is walking my daughter down the aisle to be married. I cry!
If my admitting that I cry means that I have to give up my place in the fraternity of men, then so be it. It is better to be honest than in congruent. God made me with a heart and sometimes that heart just needs a good cry. Oh well, I hear a quiche calling my name. I think I will go eat some quiche while watching a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood movie--that sounds pretty darn manly to me.