This morning we were summoned to court...and we loved it!
This morning we had Carter's adoption finalization hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, PA. While he has been in our hearts since the day he was born, this was the last and final step in the legal process for us to officially adopt Carter as our son. [It's a long process, and even though he has been in our site every night since his birth technically he has been in the legal custody of the adoption agency until today.]
It lasted less than fifteen minutes in the court room, but it was joyous, surreal and emotional (I'm tearing up just typing this right now...) Full of smiles and handshakes and tears of joy. With Judge Stanley R. Ott presiding, we were sworn in and took the witness stand to answer some important questions, including the the following:
Do you understand that after the Decree in Adoption is signed that Carter Nathanael Briggs will be considered as a natural born child to you complete with all the rights and responsibilities that flow from that relationship and are you prepared to assume those duties?
Do you forever want your child's name to be Carter Nathanael Briggs?
And with that, the judge signed the Decree of Adoption making us legal guardians and parents recognized in the state of Pennsylvania at last. It sealed the deal. Carter is officially now and forever a Briggs! We chose Carter's middle name specifically because Nathanael means "gift of God" He certainly is that...and then some.
We will always celebrate two special days a year in Carter's life. January 3rd, his birthday and September 26th, adoption day. (Or, as friends of ours who adopted called it "Gotcha Day").
The last several weeks as I have been watching Carter sleep in his crib I have been writing a poem, which was finally completed today on his Adoption Day.
"The Sleeping Gift" by Carter's daddy
The sound of Peace inhaling, exhaling The sight of stillness and rest.
So innocent and yet so fallen; so beautiful and yet so broken.
Harsh grief replaced with gentle grace: a living, breathing person.
A gift undeserved not expecting, not suspecting, we were surprised by joy.
We thought we were redeeming you but, in fact, it is you who has redeemed us.
Carter Nathanael. A gift of God.
Here are some pictures from the morning (click to enlarge):
Carter all gussied up for the big day. (The attorney said it looked like he was ready for a golf outing). He did great. It's as if he innately knew the significance of this day in his life.
This is my favorite picture. I love the symbolism of this shot, looking through the glass into the courtroom waiting our turn. I know Megan was anticipating our time, but it's almost as if Carter was anticipating it as well.
After the official ruling, Judge Ott was kind enough to take a picture with us in front of the bench.
My friend James Chester (formerly of the band of the James Chester Band) and his musical posse have reinvented themselves and are now a band by the name Wakeup Sleeper. They've got a good sound and you should hear them.
Check out their website and listen to some of their music on their myspace page.
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a poem by beat poet Taylor Mali that I first read about five years ago. Upon first reading, the poem struck me as funny, satirical, prophetic and thought-provoking. And it's worth sharing.
Totally like whatever, you know?
In case you hadn't noticed, it has somehow become uncool to sound like you know what you're talking about? Or believe strongly in what you're saying? Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences? Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?
Declarative sentences - so-called because they used to, like, declare things to be true as opposed to other things which were, like, not - have been infected by a totally hip and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know? Like, don't think I'm uncool just because I've noticed this; this is just like the word on the street, you know? It's like what I've heard? I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay? I'm just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?
What has happened to our conviction? Where are the limbs out on which we once walked? Have they been, like, chopped down with the rest of the rain forest? Or do we have, like, nothing to say? Has society become so, like, totally . . . I mean absolutely . . . You know? That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . . whatever!
And so actually our disarticulation. . .ness is just a clever sort of . . . thing to disguise the fact that we've become the most aggressively inarticulate generation to come along since . . . you know, a long, long time ago!
I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you, I challenge you: To speak with conviction. To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks the determination with which you believe it. Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker, it is not enough these days to simply question authority You have to speak with it, too.
There are three new films that really intrigue me - for reasons of entertainment, exegesis and subtitle.
(1) Entertainment Into the Wild opens in theaters nationwide today. It's based on a eerily sad, but true story (and the book by Jon Krakauer based on the same title) about a young man who went to Alaska to live in the wild and paid the price for it. I read the book several years ago and was captivated by it entirely. I can't wait to see the movie. It's also directed by Sean Penn, which certainly doesn't hurt. Check out the movie promo here.
(2) Exegesis I do not know much about this next film and I am not entirely sure about its agenda, but by the looks of it I have a feeling that I won't agree with it. However, the topic nonetheless intrigues me - and its a topic that is becoming even more significant for Christ followers to address appropriately. The Bible Tells Me So is a documentary about what scripture says about homosexuality. The questions remain: How literal should we take the Bible? And how do we handle the question of homosexuality in the Church? What is proper scriptural exegesis?
Just like the movie Jesus Camp, I am almost certain I won't agree with it (and I don't think that I will have "fun" watching it), but I bet it will be very insightful and helpful in understanding differing opinions on the issue. I am sure my thoughts will be provoked and stirred a bit. This looks like a good conversation starter to me. Check out the trailer on YouTube.
(3) Subtitle I have no idea what this George Clooney movie is about (looks like the lawyer/cop shoot-em-up-bang-em-up type), but Megan and I saw the poster for this movie when we were out on a date recently and the subtitle was so intriguing that I had to write it down. It made me let out a verbal hmmmmm.... when I saw it. The movie is Michael Clayton. (See the website and trailer here). I probably won't see the film, but the poster was a real head scratcher in light of the postmodern shift that has occurred in our culture.
Courage means taking risk. Risk occurs only when there is a vulnerability.
In her chapter called "Feeding the Lake" Madeleine L'Engle writes in her book about vulnerability and truly living.
"Vulnerability is something we instinctively reject because we are taught from kindergarten on that we must protect ourselves, control our behavior and our lives. But in becoming man for us, Christ made himself totally vulnerable for us in Jesus of Nazareth, and it is not possible to be a Christian while refusing to be vulnerable. I am beginning to see almost every definition I find of being a Christian is also a definition of being an artist...I love, therefore I am vulnerable. When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability...It is easier to be safe than to be vulnerable."
Vulnerability is very comfortable, but it can awaken us to really live.
"To be alive is to be vulnerable. To be born is to start the journey towards death. If taxes have not always been inevitable, death has. What, then, does life mean? No more than 'Out, brief candle'? The artist struggles toward meaning...art is the affirmation of life...To serve a work of art, great or small, is to die, to die to self."
"Dare we all die? Willingly or unwillingly, we must, and the great artist go furthest into this unknown country."
Risk is difficult, but it makes us come alive...truly alive. Therefore, we create.
Tonight as a community we celebrated the one year anniversary of resonate. Hard to believe its been a year already. By God's grace, we've come a long way...and yet, at the same time, we have a long way to go. Here's a shot of our little faith community. (click to enlarge)
Tomorrow morning I head to Lexington, VA to speak at a two-day retreat with a few hundred middle school and high school students. The retreat is held at Rockbridge, a camp owned by Young Life (an organization that is close to my heart). Rockbridge is nestled in the mountains of Central Virginia and is a great location for a retreat. I've spoken there two other times and I am really looking forward to going back. It's absolutely beautiful, especially this time of year. It will be a tiring and quick trip (I'll be back Tuesday night) but I am really looking forward to it.