A Letter to My Grandson

Dear Cole:

Thanks for yesterday. Lunch with you and your mom was fun. Getting your diaper changed with that irritated tookus was a drag, but you were a good sport. And holding you after nursing time was great. You were, as your mom put it, boob drunk. Congratulations and enjoy it while it lasts because the intoxication options of adulthood are a dead-end and won’t do your immune system any good.


Work that smile, boy. Work it.

You’re starting to track the people around you, which is a blessing you’ll understand decades from now, if you’re lucky. Today, January 9, 2014, is your fortieth day on earth. Your pastor grandfather can’t help thinking of the wilderness and Noah’s Ark.

Last night, when your grandmother and I stopped to see you, I believe you finished leaving the agape-nave of your mother’s womb. You awoke from the long om nap that gives life. You seemed to me for the first time genuinely, authentically awake, aware as I understand awareness.

And you looked at me for at least ten seconds—in infant time, this probably equals a week. I mean, you laid one on me. It was luscious. It was a twice- or thrice-in-a-chunky-man’s-life look. It was a Joe’s-Cheese-House-in-Marinette, Wisconsin-15-year-old-sharp-cheddar look. It was a four-days-on-the-schooner-Victory-Chimes look. It was a week-of-solitude-in-a-hermitage look. It was an everybody-in-the-family-is-doing-fine look. You get what I’m saying, Cole? You looked the wind out of Grandpa. That look could’ve raised the Titanic from the ocean floor. Powerful look. Amen! Hallelujah!


Titanic. Should I inform National Geographic of your powers? (Credit: Wikipedia)


In your carseat, dreaming you’re Yoda. “RMS Titanic, you will surface.”

Or you may have been negotiating with a gas bubble or savoring Mom’s milk on the back of your tongue. If so, I’m glad to have been the object of your gaze, a visual mantra. But I don’t think so. I think you saw me and heard me. At this point, I suppose your mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, and uncle are all big-screen faces drifting in and out of focus and cartoon voices trying to tell you something.

This morning, little buddy, I figured out what we long for you to know. I had so much trouble getting out of bed that I prayed lying on my side. So tired, Lord. Some parts of life lately have been disappointing, persistently sad. So I opened myself to the Sacred Presence as best I could. A song from church when I was a teenager came into my head, so I let it play:


From Psalm 51

Restore unto me thy joy, thy free spirit. That was the prayer. Joy and freedom! Then I thought of you, thought of how many people are picking you up and staring at your eyelashes and speaking strange words and singing my-grown-up-heart-is-bursting-nonsense songs. And whispers. And kisses on your head—such a scent. And fingertips brushing your cheeks.


Nice lid, pal. Just don’t wear one like it in high school.

I’ll ask your mom and dad to save this letter for when you’re a teenager having a terrible day. You’ll feel like nobody understands you and the world is harsh. On that day, read this and hear what we’ve all been telling you. Hear these words that are so merciful and urgent that they get caught in our throats. We want to write them on your spirit before loveless authors line up to inform you that you’re a loser and your mother goes moo.


You don’t always drink from a bottle, but when you do, you prefer expressed.

Hear these words today, Cole, that we mimed and rocked into you before you could hold up your own head: You are beloved! Sure, you’ll fail others, and they’ll return the favor. If you end up like me, pain and worry will sometimes make you want to find a remote cabin and disappear.


Dick Proenneke’s cabin in Alaska, forty miles by air from the nearest town. No roads. Visiting it is on my bucket list. Want to join me? (Credit: Wikipedia)

Close your eyes, buddy. Breathe. And trust me: our lips kissed you are beloved into your sweet head; our eyes stared you are beloved into your face as you slept; our hands anointed you are beloved on your pink bum with Desitin and on your neck with an old cloth diaper after a good burping; our hearts made you-are-beloved drum beats against your chest as we napped together.


Your Uncle Micah is trying to tell you something, Cole.

Understand? When you blessed me with a long look last night, I blessed you back with the first and eternal truth of Cole Martin Thompson: You are beloved! Remember.


Grandpa John

Napping Pods for $12,985: A Commentary


Ovei-pod (Photo Credit: Sean Fry)

Leave it to capitalism to profit from a simple afternoon nap. I’ve stumbled upon an array of Google photographs of napping pods. Imagine a comfortable dentist’s chair with some portion of an eggshell providing shelter and privacy. The good news about the advent of the napping pod is the progress it demonstrates; the business world is slowly figuring out that employees work better if they’re not tired. I don’t think for a moment that businesses generally place a high priority on comfort, but the science is clear: if you let people sleep for twenty minutes in the afternoon, not only are they more productive, but you can also squeeze an additional hour’s work out of them at the end of the day. Still, whatever’s behind the napping pod, I’m grateful at least for the imagery: a siesta is sleek, profitable, smart, and hip. If people peek through my office door and see me curled up on my old daycare mats, maybe they’ll think their savvy pastor is taking his lead from techies at Google and financial wizards at Kodiak Capital Group. Both companies, along with AOL Huffington Post Media Group, Cisco, and plenty of others, are setting up napping areas for employees.


A Lutheran Pastor’s Napping Gear


Googlenappod (Photo Credit: Joe Loong)

Google especially isn’t messing around. Management.fortune.cnn.com says, “Google’s Mountain View campus has received quite a bit of attention for its “Energy Pods”—futuristic-looking white capsules that rent for $795 a month or sell for $12,985 where nappers can recline out of other people’s sight and set timers to wake themselves up with vibrations and lights.” AOL Huffington’s “NapQuest” rooms also have Energy Pods. The article quotes napping authority Bill Anthony of Boston University, who thinks napping’s growing acceptance is related to improving economic conditions. If companies have to compete for the brightest and best, a workout room and glossy napping eggs might sweeten the pot.

But, seriously, $12,985 apiece? They’re made by MetroNaps, which spells them EnergyPods. (Is English heading in the direction of ancient Hebrew? The spaces between words are disappearing.) The company website’s homepage doesn’t quote the price, but they want you to know a lot of thought and science went into the design:

  • “The contour of the EnergyPod takes pressure off the cardiac system with the elevation of the feet and relaxes the muscles of the lower back with a slight bend in the knees.”
  • “The EnergyPod’s sphere provides semi-privacy without overly enclosing. Rotate the privacy visor for additional seclusion.”
  • “Specially devised rhythms play to facilitate relaxation and eliminate surrounding distractions.”
  • “Wakes gently but effectively as the EnergyPod executes a programmed combination of lights and vibration.”

Podtime Sleeping Pod (Photo Credit: geekalerts.com)

I suppose the EnergyPod is the Mercedes Benz of corporate napping. For $2,112.00 plus shipping and handling firebox.com will send you a “shippable, stackable, sleeping sanctuary” manufactured by Podtime Sleeping Pods. “Never again,” the website promises, “will you think to yourself ‘Curses! If only I had a comfortable, stylish and secure sleeping compartment right now’. Because that’s precisely what the Podtime Sleeping Pod is. A practically indestructible polycarbonate tube, with heavy-duty frosted doors, a luxurious fitted mattress and outstanding air circulation; meaning you can relax in comfort and privacy.” The white (of course) pod looks like it would work great, but it’s a little too private. Innovative employees could meet for alternate forms of horizontal refreshment in the Podtime Sleeping Pod.

Also available from firebox.com are pup tents that look like a slice of watermelon, sheep in a pasture, a turquois book entitled The Natural World, and a man and woman on their knees, leaning into each other for a kiss–$600 to $800, which is as high as I’d go as an employer providing private napping spots. Employees can bring their own pillows, mats, and blankets.


G-1 Glass Pool Table (Photo Credit: shoepecia.com)

Lingering on this playful website is much better for the spirit than obsessing over my usual worries. The black and white Retro Invader Couch for $8,722 looks slick and comfortable as a steel floor. The G-1 Glass Pool Table would be fun, but not for $61,846. Best of all is the Hoverwing Flying Hovercraft: “It’s a boat, it’s a plane.” More specifically, it’s “a floating speed-machine, made from a super strong fibreglass/PVC composite, that can carry 4 people over pretty much any terrain you can think of. Then they added wings. The increased elevation means that you can glide for long distances and achieve clearance heights of up to 6 feet, making even choppy seas and small inclines a breeze. Eat your heart out James Bond.”


The Victory Chimes (Photo Credit: Brad Smith)

$237,870, with free shipping in the UK. Is this for real? I must be boring. If I had $237,870, I’d be debt free. My splurge would be a great bottle of Pinot Noir and a few days on the Victory Chimes, a three-masted schooner sailing out of Rockland, Maine. The sailing is calm, and napping in the cabin to the gentle rocking of waves is unbelievable.