I had been looking to this week for a few days. Friday is my birthday, and although my wife was scheduled to be out of town this week at a conference, she was due to return on Friday night, and we would be celebrating on Saturday, with a visit to an Irish pub in town. While she was away, I thought about spending a little "me time" at my favorite big box book store just browsing.
I should have seen it coming. First, we had been pounded two weekends previously with snowstorms which forced us to cancel many of our church activities, something I really dislike doing. I also had to learn to shovel a precariously steep driveway at our home so that we could get out when the roads were clear enough. Not once, but twice.
The second time, I didn't get as much cleared, and on Monday night (two days before my wife's trip), I slipped on a patch of ice, and went down hard. Not quite twenty years ago I severely sprained my right ankle, and thought at first that I had done the same thing here, even down to the same ankle. Our bedroom are on the second floor, so I drug myself up to the room and changed into my pajamas, took aspirin and elevated my foot to try to reduce the swelling, The net morning, after a restless night, I fainted in the bathroom when I got up. So, a trip to an orthopedic specialist later, I got put in a walking boot. I was relegated to sleeping on the couch since our rooms were on the second floor and I was in no physical condition to climb steps. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well.
Between the lack of sleep and the medications, I haven't enjoyed the week like I had hoped. To make matters worse, Today, on my birthday, I learned that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed Mr. Spock on the Star Trek TV series and movies, passed away.
I have not updated this page as often as I would like due to our move to a pastoral assignment, but I felt that I needed to address this as Star Trek was one of the earliest geek memories I have. There was action, there was space travel, there were ideas and there was humanity. And Nimoy as Spock stood out the most in a show full of standouts. He was the one alien in a show dedicated to learning about "new life and new civilizations." His character was explored even more deeply on the films and the contradictory nature of his descent from and human mother and an alien father was itself a fun examination of what it meant to be different to a kid who had always experienced the difficulty of fitting in. In fact, I never felt like I belonged until my sophomore year of high school.
As I got older, I finished college, attended seminary and was ordained. However, I never forgot that earlier gravitational pull toward sci fi and fantasy, and found that there was room in God's kingdom for geekly pursuits, and so I dedicated myself to seeking out way to communicate the old, old story of the gospel message contained in the Christian faith by using the metaphors and stories of genre fiction, including science fiction and fantasy. One of the lessons I believe that Spock learned was that adherence to a philosophy of pure logic and a repudiation of all emotion is essentially empty, or as the author of Ecclesiastes would put it, "vanity." Rather, for there to be true fulfillment, one must embrace a sober balance of the heart and the head.
This has not been my most favorite birthdays of all time, for the reasons outlined above. I hope it doesn't come across as whining, because all in all, aside from the major inconvenience, it could have been a lot worse. I am deeply moved by the death of Leonard Nimoy on my birthday, but I am all the more grateful for the influence he had on my early development as a geek, and appreciative of the opportunity I have today to stop and really think about what his decision to play this role has meant not just to me but millions of others around the world. While I cannot claim to have always been his friend, or that he was the most human of all the souls I have met, I do pray that his legacy and memory would indeed live long and prosper.