This past Wednesday night, on my way home from a Dad’s Community Group, I was lost in thought on a two-lane road headed home. One moment I looked in my rearview mirror and there was nothing the next time a huge, black, Hummer was riding my bumper. I had no idea where it came from but the driver of this large SUV was in a hurry. There was no place for me to move over, nor dotted lines for him to pass. He stayed there in the middle of my rearview mirror hovering like a black cloud. I instantly became anxious. I have a mid-size Nissan Frontier which pales in size to a Hummer. I wasn’t going to slam on my brakes because you never know what’s going to happen when you pit aggression against aggression. I also didn’t want to speed on a windy, country road at sundown. So, I took a breath, accepted there was nothing I could do about this giant vehicle hovering behind me and tried to drive as I normally would. Eventually, the Hummer turned off on a side road and I made it home safely.
I reflected on that Hummer and life. There are times, on our journey, where difficulties, intimidation, challenges appear and hover over us. We try to choose the best way to get away from them but nothing works. Eventually, we accept that we’re going to have to learn to live with this threat to our way of life. We remember to breathe and keep going the best way we know how. Maybe it goes as quickly as it came. Maybe it’s here to stay. Either way, we trust the road, trust ourselves and find our way home.
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I was part of a conversation today where someone suggested another person, not present, had “an attitude.” It was news to me. I’ve had several encounters with this person and never picked up anything other than pleasantness. I’m also the first person to admit that I’m not the best at noticing.
When I was interviewing for a position in the mid-2000’s I felt like everything went well but Beth had a “feeling” about one of the members of the group who were in charge of filling the position. Sure enough, though I accepted the position, this person was a thorn in the staff’s side during my brief tenure.
I believe in looking for the best in the people I know, meet, work and live with but also old enough to know not everyone gets along, like each other, has compatible personalities. There are people you’d stop and help change a tire but wouldn’t go on vacation with or spend extra time with unless its necessary. I don’t think this has to be a negative trait but a truth we should respect and recognize in each other and ourselves.
Project: Never Ending –
Today my wife and I hung the screen doors on our “never-ending project” we also call the porch. The doors made it look more completed and the end is in sight! However, we’ve said that before and then life gets in the way. Too many things to mention are more important than the project and we’ve set it aside several times to go and help others or have accepted the help of others during the past couple of years. When we finished hanging them we stepped back to the driveway and admired our work. Not perfect but not bad.
Wisdom teaches us that our lives may be never-ending projects but not in the same way as the porch. Those looking for truth accept that we will never stop learning, growing, if wisdom is what we seek. There will be breaks in between. Times when we need to accept our place on the path and rest. Other seasons where we focus our energies elsewhere by helping our family, neighbors, community, nation, and the world.
Finding balance is the key to grow, not at the expense of others, but with them.
Where You Heading? –
I’ve spent much of this week thinking about my past and considering my future. It’s always scary, wondering what’s around the corner.
I started two new jail classes this week. One of the first disciplines I teach is for them to consider their present and think about their future. The first part is necessary because it helps us take stock of what we’ve done, who we are, and how choices have led us to this place in our lives. After you’ve accepted where and who you are, then you decide if it is where you want to stay. “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”
Most of the men I work with tell me they want to make better choices, be better men and fathers but it’s not enough to want, action must be taken. Different choices must be made to be a different man and father. I explain that; “What you do today determines who you’ll be, what you’ll be, tomorrow.”
This is true for all of us.
Safe to Land –
Today, I was mowing grass and doing yard work for a friend. Most of the grass has already turned brown for the winter except for a few green patches. As I mowed over a patch a large grasshopper jumped up and from the ground and landed on my shirt. I didn’t have time to figure out what to do because he got his bearings and jumped again to a safe space. This happened more than once as I kept infringing on his territory.
Each time the grasshopper hitched a ride I thought about our lives and the times we need temporary safe places to land. Not spaces we will occupy permanently but where we can get our bearings, catch our breath, take stock of what’s happening, see the challenge and the difficulty and perhaps a way to avoid it or, if needed, endure it.
I also reflected on the need to be a place that is safe to land for others who are in trouble. A place where they can feel accepted and be safe. A space that has a listening ear, no advice unless asked for, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, patience and empathy to endure and understand.
Grace and Work –
Someone asked me today; “So, is it grace or works which get us into heaven?” My answer was; “Yes.” After a moment to let the words sink in I went on to explain that grace is God’s “unmerited favor” or “God’s love for us is absolute even if we never love God in return.”
“Grace is given to us and then we give it to others. This is the ‘work.'” We are blessed to receive God’s spirit of love, forgiveness, and kindness and in return, we give it to others. When grace touches the deepest part of us our worldview, the reason for living and being, come into focus. We are placed here, at this time and place, to give God’s love, forgiveness, and kindness to others.
Too often; “work” is made out to be dogma, discipline, dutiful acts of trying to be good and acceptable to the God who alone is good and has already accepted us. “Work,” should be a celebration. We freely give to others what we have freely accepted.