Playing Laser Tag

Today I hit my “moving targets” 216 times and it felt good. Laser tag…. if you’re going to shoot anything or anyone, this is the way to do it!

Once or twice a year fourteen middle school-aged girls load into vans and head to an indoor laser tag facility in nearby Fall River, MA to play laser tag. It’s a darkened maze of ramps, hide-outs and over-looks with thumping music, random strobes and hoots from all the excited players… We played a total of three games, each lasting about 20 minutes in length. (Between games, young people hit the arcade that’s part of the facility.)

Teams have colors, this time red, blue and yellow and the goal is of course to hit an opponent’s vest with the phaser we are carrying, which seems easy enough to do. But their young, supple bodies move at lightning speed, stop, twirl, duck, and shoot with unnerving accuracy. Me, on the other hand, at 57, wider, and a whole lot slower, I chose my moves more carefully. You know, wisdom, life experience and all that. Sure. Still they spot me, shot me, easily. One girl shot me ten times in three minutes, each time whisking past me, stops, leans back and says, “Sorry Kevin,” then impishly blows me a playful kiss and runs away. Swell. Things are as they should be.

Twenty minutes per game doesn’t seem like much time, unless you’re playing, that is. During our third and final game I spotted an old chair next to the control room and decided to modify my strategy. I dragged the chair into a darkened corner thinking I’d just pick off the little rascals as they thundered by. Worked good, for about 10 seconds. In less than a minute I got hit by every kid in the place.

When each game ended, girls dashed to view the video monitor that shows who won, who shot whom and who had the most points. I got a drink of water and sit down and watch them watch the monitor as their stats roll up. “How come you don’t check your score, Kevin?” one asks. I smiled and answered, “My job is to make your score even better.”

Riding home they joke about how easy it was to “blast” Kevin. Glancing in the rear view mirror, I see smiling faces, nodding to the ever present thumping music. They laugh, twirl in their seats and make faces at the second van of girls traveling behind us. For now, the world is at bay, the weaponry used, just play. There were no tests to take, no tryouts, just fun for the very sake of it.

Arriving home, girls plop on the couches and chairs in our meeting place, waiting for parents to arrive. We close with our usual lit candle and settle into a noticeable moment of quietness. One girl says, “That was fun. I’m exhausted.” And I thought, perfect.

New Footprints have arrived!

New Footprints have arrived is a snapshot at the wonder of new life and the years that follow.

A few weeks ago the world made room for new life at precisely 9:01 PM, October 28, 2007. New Footprints have arrived!. His name is Joshua James Vieira and he comes complete with all the tools to make his way across the planet, all in due time. He is also my grandson, blessing number four.

New Footprints have arrived!

New Footprints Have Arrived!, Joshua Vieira one day old feet

What is it about newborn toes and fingers that seem to hold the essence, hope and wonder of all of life itself? I held this little wonder, fresh from our daughter’s womb, even as his primary goal was to wiggle, suckle and sleep.

Ah, but the photographer in me was itching just as much to capture these early moments that seem to roll on by too quickly. Little feet, barely dry even, outstretched, moving, just because they can!

Time Travel

It is now nine years later. The grandchild tally has gone from four to six! I have lost more hair and have since retired. We are so blessed by the growing “footsteps” in our lives…all six, and all living close by too.

New Footprints have arrived! boy sitting in tidewater at beach
The tide won…!

And the image on the right is also Joshua still moving and taking in his world.

Kevin Lee

Story of the Acorn

Story of the Acorn is an accounting of how my first blog in 2007 came to be, and the lessons learned from the common seeds of the oak tree, called acorns.Story of the Acorn, Handful of acorns

The short story behind my first blog named “News from an Acorn” is simply this; it existed as a vehicle for me to share the wonder, power and awesome burden of living life in the shelter of God’s grace. News from an Acorn is about words, photography, my joy of knowing, hearing and working with young people, and not-so-young people in many settings everywhere. Hallelujah!

The full story of “News from an Acorn” takes longer to share, but seems worth the telling:
Over twenty years ago I met a little boy whose name was Joshua. Joshua liked to collect things and carry them everywhere in his deep pants pockets. There were sticks, stones, pieces of paper, whirligigs, little plastic men, and acorns. In Sunday School, with the lesson out-of-the-way, we’d sit while Josh pulled out, piece by piece, all the treasures he kept there. Each little nugget had a story and it was always good to listen as Joshua spoke.

Sadly, some people, even children, take the short way home to God. One day Joshua was with us, here, and the next, gone, his earthly life ended all too soon by reckless accident. His spirit hovered, heavy and beautiful, before rising up and onward, first as a balm and Light to those who mourned, and then freed, to wander where it may. His little body was laid to rest in 1987 nearby a Quaker Meetinghouse in Westport Massachusetts.

For weeks following Joshua’s leaving I carried one, sometimes more, little acorns in my pocket. Something about their smoothness, their certainty of purpose brought me both comfort and energy. Once or twice I visited Joshua’s grave and left him pocket stones, a stick I carried, and yes, one or two acorns just because.

“Nine Eleven” (September 11, 2001) was a tragic event and resulting phrase that changed our country and our lives forever. It also ended the lives of almost 3000 innocent people. Having canceled our scheduled retreat for that horrible month, I soon found myself planning out next gathering some weeks later, thinking about what to say and how best to comfort the many children who would gather under our care in heart and spirit as our nation mourned and fretted what would happen next.

I was riding my bike, headed to meeting for worship, actually, and not far from the meetinghouse. As I rode I was wondering, asking for guidance,  how best to wrap all that had happened in a way that was both honest and measured into a theme for our upcoming retreat of young Quakers. As the wind blew, a torrent of acorns hit the road I was riding on and many, or so it seemed, bounced off of my helmet with “clunks” and “pings.” I had to steady my bike there for a moment as it rolled over countless little brown nuts. As acorns reigned down on my helmeted head I thought, ah, “News from an Acorn!” In a flash I knew that something was coming, an idea, an approach, a way of truth-telling, and at that moment I had the theme for our next retreat. Suddenly I thought of the acorns that Joshua had carried long ago. and now I was hearing them bounce off of my head and thinking, they’re still teaching us something. Within minutes I rounded the corner of Joshua’s cemetery with the meetinghouse just up ahead.

“News from an Acorn.” Thank you, Joshua. Thank you God. We had our theme and a whole lot more

Kevin Lee (re-edited in 2016)