I have a Parlor Trick.

“I can name 5 of your classmates.”

Anytime I come upon a USMA grad, I start off with this game. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it freaks people out.  One time it got me a Yankee double header but that’s another story.

Having spent my first 18.5 years at West Point means I know a lot of people. And they know a lot of people. Between all of us we are close enough to reach out and touch Kevin Bacon.

As a teenager, being the Chaplains daughter was a protection (though I didn’t think that at the time.) Getting hit on in the area by a particularly attractive cadet was a thrill until his roommate grabbed his arm and said, “Dude get a clue that’s Chaplain Camps daughter.” sigh. Recently a grad contacted me on social media and said,

“I remember people mentioning the Chaplain had a teenage daughter. I also remember thinking, I like trouble. But that’s a LOT of trouble right there…..”

About 5 years ago, my friend and I hopped in a cab outside the Philadelphia Marriott headed downtown for dinner. A mid 40’s well dressed man wanted that cab to catch his plane. Being kind (but not that kind) we shared our ride. Since i’m Chatty Kathy and possibly armed with a little wine I said, “nice ring. i bet i can name 5 of your classmates.” Although he exhibited real fear and legitimately tried to jump out of the moving vehicle, I eventually assured him I’m not clairvoyant merely that I knew who he was. Former football player, (a really good running back from the 90s) and former guest at our Sunday brunch table. He eventually remembered me as an awkward 12 year old.

He blew off his flight and took us out on the town.

I named 5 of his classmates.

God bless the Long Gray Line.

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Jim Backlin ’66 and Chad Llewellyn ’14 taken a few months ago.

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I am not Catholic. Sacrificing for our faith wasn’t a part of our Easter time rituals. (Be clear – there were plenty of pro-faith sacrificing we did. Stay tuned for my “Dress as your favorite Wise Man or Shepherd” Halloween post.)

I remember there were a few years my father gave up his beloved daily pot of black coffee for tea. Those were not happy years.

This year, in the interest of being stronger, faster, thinner err healthier, I’ve decided to give up alcohol.

You can now ice skate in hell.

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What is Lent really all about? Andrew Boyd from the Orthodox Church talks about the parallel between athletes and religion – about engaging during the season of Lent. Being intentional in our actions.

“Now, an athlete who can run for miles and has perfectly toned muscles has a great beginning, but that is not the end of the story.  Go into any gym across the country, and you can find countless people who fit the bill of having great cardiovascular ability and strong muscles.  What distinguishes a star athlete from a dedicated fitness buff is athletic skill.  A baseball player can hit home runs; a football player can catch the ball and run through a field of defenders; a dancer can weightlessly glide across the floor and leap through the air.  At the end of the day, an athlete actually plays the game, and for a Christian, almsgiving is “playing the game.”  Christ commands us to love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:39)  Almsgiving is a concrete act of love for the neighbor.  When we give alms we offer ourselves to those in need.  This does not have to be exotic and dramatic, like giving your college savings to an African mission.  It can be as simple as taking someone out to lunch.  Even better, taking someone out to lunch who does not have much money and who does not have many friends.  It could mean giving an hour of your time to visit an elderly shut-in.  It could also mean volunteering as a mentor for a young person.  It could also mean giving money to the poor.  Almsgiving is the way that Christians do the will of God in concrete terms; showing mercy and compassion to real people who are in real need.  Fundamentally, we do this because Christ did the same thing for us.  He gave Himself for our salvation, and in following Christ we give ourselves for the service of others.”

I will use the season of Lent as a reminder to be more intentional. Don’t just sacrifice to fit into your Easter pastels. Sacrifice as an exercise. 

I’m going to be more intentional about relationships. I’m going to reach out to more people and be an encourager.

Harder than that, I’m going to give up wine.

If you don’t hear from me in the next 40 days, look for me in Napa. Vegas. Virginia wine country, the cupboard of some old ladies house sipping blackberry brandy circa 1984.

You’ve been warned.

In the meantime, lets be kinder. Gentler. Slow to anger, quick to forgive. Intentional in our actions. Because it’s Lent. Everyone is hungry and pissed off.

Cheers!