Gone West

looking down into the canyon
AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN

 

I am sitting in the Las Vegas airport in an airy, glass and steel alcove overlooking the tarmac. The sun is several degrees above the mountain range, and jets rocket down the runway. I watch as their sleek bodies realize their weightlessness, and the landing gear suspension pops out as if surprised at such a sudden, newfound capacity, and then they’re off.

We’ve been in the southwest for a long weekend vacation, and I’ve been trying to play it slow, to soak it all in: the glass wall, the aluminum struts that support it, the cabling design that connects down to the terrazzo floor, the small brass plaque dedicating this sunlit area to someone named Maria. The plaque is hidden down at the bottom of the windows, square with the floor. There’s a little brown bird trapped in here with us. She’s found some popcorn spilled over in a corner.

Perhaps it was the time change, or the constant movement of our itinerary, but this has been the kind of weekend that’s stretched out in time. Breakfast this morning seems like a long time ago, but it was barely two hours ago. Still, the setting seems otherworldly. We ate in a one of the many hotel restaurants in front of a different bank of windows, this time overlooking the pool deck, where men busied themselves with staging the area for another day in Las Vegas. Continue reading “Gone West”

Our Country’s Grand Canyon

mountains majesty
AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN

 

I am weirdly patriotic. As cynical as I often feel about our country–about its sanctity of capitalism, its perverse bureaucracies–I have a ready-made soft spot for the pageantry of this land.

In the years following September 11th, I teared up singing the third verse of “America”: Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears….

When I traveled to Washington for work, I was drawn to the avenues crowded with granite-faced monuments, testaments of our people’s hard-fought efforts.

I choke up anytime a military officer tenderly hands a spouse the flag that moments ago draped a casket. It doesn’t matter whose.

There is something comforting about our systems, the simple drawings of our order: the conformity of interstate highway markings, the plain hues of printed money. Even the modern aesthetic of National Park signs moves me, the efforts to carefully note the blessed continental cathedrals wrought by time and, depending on your point of view, the Creator. Continue reading “Our Country’s Grand Canyon”

I Talked to Conservatives about the #MuslimBan. You Should, Too.

no trespassing sign
AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN

 

I’ll bet you didn’t think you’d spend the weekend talking about immigration policy.

In the wake of President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the national political conversation has exploded among two camps: those who believe we are veering toward 1930s Germany, and those who think we finally have a leader willing to stick up for American security interests.

I happen to disagree strongly with this action, but in my zen-like quest to quit engaging these issues using anger as my sole vehicle, I figured there was no time like now to get started on peaceful conversations.

So last night on Facebook, I asked for some help from my conservative friends: Continue reading “I Talked to Conservatives about the #MuslimBan. You Should, Too.”