Wednesday, July 20, 2011


“Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”

The origin of this descriptive phrase isn't known. It refers of course to boots and their straps (laces) and to the imagined feat of a lifting oneself off the ground by pulling on one's bootstraps. This impossible task is supposed to exemplify the achievement in getting out of a difficult situation by one's own efforts.

Day 14 of abs

I remember early summer mornings of my childhood my brothers would be forced out of bed at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am. That’s pretty tough for a kid during the summer. They would mount their Schwinn bicycles, still half asleep, and ride halfway across town to the church. It was their week to be altar boys (they call them servers now since girls are allowed to carry out the duties) for the morning mass. I know that they weren’t “called” to do this, Mom and Dad made them. My oldest brother likes to tell the story of how he and fellow altar boy, Steve Barrows, would sneak the communion wine after mass and how he would ride home with an 8:00 am buzz at the ripe age of twelve. He is the other alcoholic in my family but he learned his lessons by the time he was thirty and has been sober for twenty-eight years.

The summer mass server at the church I am attending in the mornings here in this little NW Colorado is the same one every day. Poor guy! He is at least 70 years old and he does double duty as a communion minister. I guess parents don’t make their kids get up to serve mass these days. His hand shakes a little as he presents the host to the communicants and sometimes he chimes the bells a little early during the Consecration of the Host but he doesn’t use that as an excuse not to do it. Today as he preceded the priest in he stumbled and fell at the raised altar. He got right back up, thank God, and went on carrying out his duties during the mass. I don’t think most of the churchgoers even noticed since they were looking at their prayer books and reciting the entrance prayer but I’d bet that through the rest of the mass, that little stumble was all the server could think about.

Instead of congratulating himself on getting back up and carrying on through the mass or even the fact that he showed up every day when no one else would, right now he’s thinking about the fall. How embarrassed he is at his frailty instead of being proud of his strength of will in standing back up and turning to face the rest of us and carrying on. He’ll do it again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that.

So today I’m out there doing my best to stay upright but reinforcing my bootstraps JIC.

PS.  Really God you didn't need to make that poor man fall just so I had something to write about.

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