De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


Secretive Santa

OK, so I'm sitting here rotting my brain in front of the one-eyed god and doing stuff on-line, when the doorbell rings.

Huh? Who comes to visit me at 9:30 on Christmas Eve?

My Bishop.


Someone in the Ward wanted to send me an anonymous Christmas present. Nice. (Even though I've long contended that Christmas doesn't come in a package, but that's another story.)

We chatted a bit, but I still don't know who my anonymous benefactor is. And thereby hangs a tale.

More years ago than I care to admit to, when I was living in Provo, there was a young lady in our Branch who spoke in Church and although I don't remember the bulk of her talk, I do remember her decrying the habit of some people of doing things anonymously. She was more in favor of the personal touch. (Of course, afterwards some of us got to talking and someone suggested that we bake 10,000 cookies, pile them on her doorstep, and then ring the bell and go hide in the bushes. Unfortunately, we never followed thru.)

But this evening's incident reminded me of a story I read somewhere around that time. It was a commentary on James Russell Lowell's Vision Of Sir Launfal (q.v.), an epic poem wherein our knight errant departs on the stereotypical fool's errand of searching for the "Holy Grail".

As Sir Launfal departs, arrayed in his finery and mounted on his trusty steed, he's stopped by a leper begging at the castle gate. Not wanting to be delayed in his quest, he tosses the old beggar a gold coin and rides off. Years later, he returns -- dented, banged up, not even riding his horse -- and what does he see at the castle gate? The same old beggar. So he sits himself down, pulls out his last crust of bread, and tells the beggar the story of his failed quest. As he finishes his narrative, the beggar is transformed before his eyes and Sir Launfal beholds his Savior, who says these words:

"The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need;
Not what we give, but what we share
for the gift without the giver is bare.
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three --
himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me"

Do something nice for someone today. Just don't do it anonymously.



(Note: In accordance with long-standing tradition* in the blogosphere, I'm going to use a pseudonym rather than the person's real name. (*One does not use real names unless the person is a public figure or one has that person's permission.))

A while back, some fool left a snarky comment about "hook-ups" on a friend's Facebook page. I found that offensive in the extreme and left a note to the effect that my friend (hereinafter known as "Wonder Woman") doesn't "hook-up".

Early yesterday morning, I got a nice little note from her, thanking me for my comment and agreeing that the original comment was out of line and disrespectful. I wrote back and reminded her that respect is the foundation for all relationships among Germans.

And thereby hangs a tale. Or at least a blog post.

I've probably already blogged about my philosophy on what constitutes a friend. Hint: it's not someone I've known for 15 minutes. It takes longer. But I'm not sure if I got around to exploring what goes into friendship. Most of it is pretty basic. But respect plays a much larger role than most people realize. Bottom line: if I can't respect you, you can't be my friend. And the way to be respected is to be respectable. Maybe we can get along. Maybe we can even share a joke or two. But friends? Uh-uh. People I can't respect are forever relegated to the Aquaintance Zone.

Many years ago, when I was sentenced to stationed at Maxwell AFB, there was a kid in my Ward who was some kind of Homecoming Queen or whatever. Everyone else fawned all over her like she was All That And A Bag Of Chips. I was completely underwhelmed. Grudgingly, I had to concede that she was "a good member of the Church" (as though that's some sort of bona fides). And I was content to leave it at that. Until one fine day.

One Saturday, the singles had a picnic at the lake. And guess who shows up wearing a one-piece bathing suit that left nothing to the imagination? So much for being "a good member of the Church". Kind of hard for me to work up any respect for someone like that. (The only redeeming feature was that she didn't have anything worth looking at anyway.)

Now, why is it I respect Wonder Woman when we've never even met? Easy -- it's because she has always behaved in a respectable manner. Quite apart from her obvious intelligence, her charm, her whacky sense of humor, and countless other qualities, she commands respect. She affords others a dignity that they do not always reciprocate. So far as I've seen, her actions have been above reproach. And so it's easy for me to respect her -- she's a respectable person. I love people like that.

Too bad there aren't more such people in this world.