The Fife & God’s Mouth – a Senior Breakfast Speech

The plaintive cry of the fife.
[fife—almost play]

In your mind pick a number from 1 to 4.

You chose 3.

Who picked 3—raise hand.

If you didn’t, pick 3 next time.

If you didn’t pick at all: [tsk tsk]
choose this day whom you will cooperate with…

The fife.
[—almost play]

Senior breakfast.
Whose good idea was that?

“We’ve worked ourselves to pulp for 4 years, let’s kick back and celebrate—at breakfast.”

“Whew! What a fast! Anyone else been fasting? Let’s break, I’m starving…”

“To commemorate your 55 years of dedicated service, we honor you here at this farewell breakfast...”

“Dude, I proposed over a candelit breakfast…”
“Yah, he got right down on his knee in the middle of breakfast…”

[French] “Good morning, monsieur, madame, may I start you out with an appetizer—oh, that’s right, it’s breakfast.”

Breakfasts are for people who can’t stay awake in the evening… the other kind of seniors.

“LIVE FROM HOLLYWOOD, it’s the 87th annual Academy Awards—at BREAKFAST.”

There’s a reason they don’t do that.

Think of the stars & celebrities—at breakfast.

Samuel L. Jackson: “Mhmm! That is a tasty danish!”
Ian McKellen “Not just a poached egg, my good man.”
Nicholas Cage: “I don’t care! I don’t think we should be eating sausage!…”
[sorry, that was actually Keanu: “What do you mean ‘half & half’—which half?”]
Al Pacino: “Ok, ok, ok, muffins—gweat, we gotta eat muffins… Bwing ‘em.”
Bill Murray [cigarette]: “Are you planning on repeating this every year?”
John Lithgow: “I’ll have an omelet!—with a side of hash brown.”
Tom Brokaw: “That sounds lovely, I’ll have an omelet also, and a jelly roll.”
[I don’t know why Tom Brokaw’s here, how’d he get a ticket?]
Jack Nicholson: “Soft shell crab, por favor. [passes hand over forehead] And that’s probably not grapefruit juice.”
President Bush: “This whole thing: it was my idea, see? My menu. My scrambled eggs.”
Bill Clinton: “If it were up to me, my preference would be to do it as late as possible…”
Mark Sargent: “Moons over my hammy?”

See, dinner—dinner’s at the end of the day, and you’ve come to the end of college, but breakfast is at the awkward beginning of the …


Ok, all right. Well, there are some things I want to say to you, Senior Breakfast Class. Now that you’re beginning—you better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go; you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow; this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.

That’s not quite what I mean, I have trouble finding the right words.
So I’m going to quote someone instead, let him speak for me. I bring you this passage from Steven, a text from earlier in Steven’s life and work—Steven Martin—and it’s one he set to music, too, so:

I don’t know how to play this thing.

OK, here it is, deep, deceptively simple admonishments for a time such as this:

Be courteous, kind and forgiving,
Be gentle and peaceful each day,
Be warm and human and grateful,
And have a good thing to say.

Be thoughtful and trustful and childlike,
Be witty and happy and wise,
Be honest and love all your neighbors,
Be obsequious, purple, and clairvoyant.

Be pompous, obese, and eat cactus,
Be dull, and boring, and omnipresent,
Criticize things you don’t know about,
Be oblong and have your knees removed.

Be tasteless, rude, and offensive,
Live in a swamp and be three dimensional,
Put a live chicken in your underwear,
Get all excited and go to a yawning festival.

And to that I add:

Strive to be at least as tall as Jennifer Beatson,
Yearn to dress as well or better than Ron Kay,
Endeavor to be half as articulate as Dick Perard,
Don’t be worried until your laugh gets louder than Dorothy Boorse.

If you need a kidney you know who to go to, Sue Hakes still has one,
Try to be as passionate about something as Irv is about Johnny Cash,
Know that it’s ok not to be as smart as Elaine Phillips or Suzanne, no relation,
Realize that wearing Birkenstocks may make your voice one crying in the wilderness like Paul Borgman.

You can always apply for a job with Public Safety,
This song’s not as good now as it was and meaningful,
Just you try to be as cheerful as Pat the lunch lady is,
Let us all seek to live as long and whistle half as well as Grady Spires.

Music goes with Message, you see.
The few other things I care to say, with or without music, are also pilfered material.

One is: He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

And if Paul’s not your thing at the moment, this: For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

And if prophets aren’t your bag right now, try: Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the fire, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

And if Jesus just ain’t all right with you at the moment, then I care to say, from myself:
Speak up, complain, argue, shout,
wrestle with the angel;
maybe she’ll wrench your thigh.
Be hot or cold: God shall keep you in God’s holy mouth.
And, as often as you can, put God in your mouth: go to communion.
I’ve been at that place, and at times all I could do was go to the Eucharist. Good.
Stay at the table.

We believe: help thou our unbelief.
Suffer us not to be separated
And let our cry come unto Thee.

At all times and at some times especially you will be Exiles.
We began this year with Dr. Daniel Johnson, acknowledging that.

By the waters, the waters of Babylon
We lay down and wept, and wept for thee, Zion
We remember, we remember, we remember thee, Zion.

Remember these dear hearts, Dear Heart, now that You’ve come into Your kingdom—
is my breakfast prayer for you.

-Still is.

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