2011 fraught with travail and anxiety but also provided the crucible for growth and re-appreciation of life and vocation.
Here we go:
1. Best sermon - by far the one I preached just a little over a fortnight ago. Why? Because it was the first sermon preached in a good spell; it felt terrific to be back in the pulpit. No tears while preaching, they waited till I sat down afterwards. Most favorite line was one where I playfully described John the Baptizer containing an alliteration I spent way too much time on, "aggravating attire, bug breath, and honey hands." Honorable Mention: Singing Our Lives: From Mass in B Minor to Prayer in Open D. I had great fun writing and reflecting on the importance of music in worship and spirituality.
2. Best work of fiction: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. How eloquent she described my vocation from afar.
3. Best work of non-fiction: The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate, a biography of Harry Ward Beecher.
4. Most enjoyable culinary experience: Father's day - popeye's fried chicken, cheap american beer, iced tea, mashed potatoes, and biscuits picnic with the kids and wife at City Park. Afterwards we went to the Great Lawn for games and tom foolery.
5. Most Moving Moment - the weekend I traveled to RI to deliver an eulogy for Raymond Houghton. It was my first trip back to RI since we moved to NOLA. I was moved with waves of emotions that began reminding me of my calling to pastoral ministry. I spent an afternoon with Joe Taylor, a few minutes with Michael, went to Dohtery's with Darin, said hello to old neighbors, stayed with Mike and Jenny, spent time with friends, and remembered a wonderful human being.
6. Time I sat in awe of my wife: The Recycled Fashion Show. I have always thought of my wife as an artist: the way she loves and nurtures the children, the care she takes cooking, the manner with which she conducts herself but that night I saw her as an artist in her own right, it was an exhilarating moment.
7. What I Didn't See Coming - I could write a few 1000 words on this one. But instead I will simply say I didn't see how healing and re-creative therapy could be. A trusted colleague recommended that I use my "fictive sabbatical" to plunge the depths of my existence. THe trusted colleague recommended a therapist and man am I thankful. I have referred others to therapy but never thought it would benefit me as much. Naive sure.
8. Best pictures of the year:
Little Man on the Florida Coast
The Greatest Wife in the World at Jazz Fest
The Daughter playing at Morning Meeting. Without any prompting or instruction she displayed the disinterested rock star look. I am still flabbergasted by this.
Little Buddy trying to look like a viscous pirate-ninja.
9. Best CD: American Legacies: The Del McCoury Band and Preservation Hall.
10. Best Children's Author Discovery: Daniel Pinkwater. We have read his works to the kids before but not like we did this year. The man is hilarious.
11. In Memoriam: Joe Taylor, Dorothy & Raymond Houghton, Peter Gomes, and Hazel Dickens.
12. Most Surprising Author find: Frederick Buechner.
13. Best Moment at a Sporting Event: Zephyr's game. I sat in the outfield on the levee with the kids. I told the kids to wait till the outfielder caught the ball (the pitcher's curveballs were hanging) then wave like mad and you'll get the ball. Sure enough with two outs the batter ripped a line drive to the center fielder, the kids waved like mad and the ball came right to us.
14. Most Amazing Donut Experience: The Maple Glazed Bacon donut at Blue Dot, that thing is plain evil.
15. Year in Numbers.
# of times I saw someone go the wrong way on the one way street I live on: 14.
# of times I went to Stein's Deli for a bagel: 10
# of times the properitor seemed interested in my being there: 0.
# of times we went to one of the new chic hamburger joints in town: 2.
# of times I thought the new chic hamburger joints were just overpriced Bud's Broilers: 2.
# of times my wife and I attempted to watch The King's Speech before returning it to Netflix: 5.
# of baseball games I coached: 19.
# of times I taught violin class by myself: 6
# of times I taught violin class by myself and resorted to telling stories to gain the attention of the kids: 6.
# of times I saw Michael Tisserand after I sent him a facebook friend request before he approved it: 4.
16. Best Culinary Invention. The other day we had a bottle of champagne and a bag of cranberries. I knew there was a cocktail in there somewhere. I put the cranberries in a pot with some sugar, heated till the berries broke down and a syrup formed. I watered the syrup a bit then scooped a generous tablespoon into glasses, then poured some bubbly over it and stirred. I know this is not my invention but I like to think it is.
17. Significant moments in my life as a father. A. showed #1 my favorite 80s movie: Better Off Dead. B. while passing ball with #2 he threw one so hard it stung my hand for a good five minutes. C. watched #3 go off to kindergarten.