Tag Archive for: Dad

Miyagi, Dad and Pythagoras

Armodoxy for Today: Miyagi, Dad, and Pythagoras

A recent social media challenge asked to mention a line from a movie that would identify the movie. A few come to mind, but one in particular hit me: “Wax on. Wax off.” Ah yes, the Karate Kid! Mr. Miyagi taught the Karate Kid how to defend himself by assigning him mundane tasks such as waxing the car. “Wax on” with a rotation of the arm. “Wax off” with the rotation in the opposite direction. The Karate Kid didn’t understand the value of this practice, in fact, he resented learning it, until he put it to use in defending himself.

My father was a pharmacist, which in those days meant he was a chemist and all-around scientist. And so it surprised me when he took a look at my high school schedule of classes and suggested that I take, not a science elective, but typing. In fact, I thought it was silly. This was during a time when young girls made up the majority of the class, which was not a bad thing for the guys who dared to get in the class. I should mention that high school typing in the 70s was taught on manual typewriters – imagine a computer keyboard, where every key had to be pressed hard enough to trigger a small hammer, with a letter on it, to hit the paper, through an ink ribbon and make an impression. Usually the letters “o”, “b”, “d”, and a few others would have the centers punched out by the heaviness of the hammer, giving a feel to the paper of a Braille hand-out. I was not happy, but I promised my dad I’d try the class for one semester, which I did. When a few years later, my first parish landed me in Silicon Valley, during the rise of the computer revolution, I found I had a distinct advantage over everyone else, in that I knew how to touch type on a QWERTY keyboard! I was able to pump out material in high volume. Later I was invited to teach computing at our son’s elementary school.

In High School I excelled in mathematics. I was able to follow through to college Calculus. Geometry, however, was a stumbling block for me. I remember the Pythagorean Theorem in particular, memorizing it and wondering when, if ever, I would need to figure out the third side of a triangle. What practical application could this have for me? We have rulers, and other measuring instruments if I needed to find the missing side of three-sided objects. But I learned it just the same. Many years later, after our kids were born and we moved into a house with a backyard, I set out to build a picnic table. The table top was easy; hammering the boards together was fun. But when I got to the legs, I needed to angle them in an “X” shape to support the top. I put the planks of wood together only to find I needed to calculate the third side of this triangular shape. The Pythagorean Theorem to the rescue! We enjoyed that table for many years. It became a congregating spot for our family.

Thanks Mr. Miyagi, Dad, and Pythagoras. Yesterday we spoke about wisdom. Today we speak about the foundation, knowledge. The lessons in life aren’t always revealed to us at the time of learning. What may seem foolish or unnecessary are merely matters left for time to reveal. Time is the fourth-dimension factor that often confounds our understanding.

Jesus tells this parable, asking us to listen attentively, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the weeds also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the weeds you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”  (Matthew 13:24-30)

Lunch Date

Armodoxy for Today
Lunch Date

Several years ago, I was interviewed by one of the local newspapers here in the Southland. One of the questions they asked me was, given the chance to have lunch with anyone, historic or contemporary, dead or alive, who would I choose?

These types of questions come with some expectations, especially of the clergy. The obvious historical character for clergy is Jesus Christ. Even in secular circles, among non-religious people, the influence of Jesus and Christianity on human history and thought is undeniably tremendous. And so, in a sense, it’s a loaded question when asking a clergy person to pick out a person, from all of time, with whom to spend the lunch hour.

I disappointed the interviewer, and perhaps you, the reader or listener, not because I didn’t want to take the bait but because there’s nothing more that needs to be asked of Christ. At the Crucifixion, Jesus is recorded as saying, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) He had come to the world as a gift from God as the ultimate expression of love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) It is finished. He has given us everything we need to know, everything that is necessary to make “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” He has given us nothing less than what is necessary to enjoy life, live it abundantly.

Part of the joy of life is the wonder, the mystery, the search and discovery for ourselves. Jesus has given us the Truth, which applies across generations and civilizations. As Christians, we all come with our own set of circumstances and are touched by the Truth. We search, make mistakes, mark accomplishments, wonder, marvel, cry, laugh and in the end, we live. It is the process of that gives life meaning. Our prayer is for the wisdom, to live in harmony with all that is around us. St. Nersess’ prayer is, “Jesus, [you are] the wisdom of the Father, grant me your wisdom that I may speak, think and do that which is good in your sight. Save me from evil thoughts, words and deeds. Amen.

And, who would I have liked to have lunch with, dead or alive, historic or contemporary? Well, my father, of course. We lost him at an early age. I would love to see him one more time, share with him the wonders of life, the magic, the music, laughs and sorrows that I have discovered… and perhaps compare notes.