The past few weeks there’s been an invasion of Middle Tennessee! The multi-legged, orange-colored, flying insects called Ladybugs. They’re everywhere and this morning they kept stealing my attention away from the pastor as he spoke from the Book of Saint John, chapter 12. They were collecting near every light fixture which was about 10 feet from the pews the people were sitting in. Every now and then one or ten would fly across the room landing on someone. One tried to use my neck as a resting place but he didn’t stay there long. I watched hundreds on one light fixture as they crawled around it seemingly looking for a way in. I am not sure if they were attracted to the heat or the light. Of course, once in it was nearly impossible for them to get out. They very thing they were after was actually a trap. They would die there getting what they wanted but not able to get out.
I reflected on the Ladybug’s fate and how it also mirrored our own fascination with those things in life which promise safety, warmth, and light. We become fixated on things which we believe will make life better, bring satisfaction and enlightenment only to find out once we’ve achieved or possessed them it was an illusion. Wisdom teaches that what is worth having comes to us. It is our humility, our acceptance that we are not able to control or manipulate love, peace, kindness and a grace-filled life that makes it possible for these to permeate our minds, emotions, and spirits and bring a unique warmth and light to our cold and dark world.
Cleaning Out –
The last two days my mother and I have been working in my dad’s garage. It may be mom’s house but it will always be dad’s garage. We’ve been going through a lot of stuff which needed to be sorted. By the time we finished I had things to throw away, to keep and the garage was clean and organized.
It was a sad and enjoyable time rummaging through dad’s things. He loved tools and one could tell as we tried collecting them in one place. There was paint from projects long ago completed and recent work. Other items hadn’t been opened yet and we wondered; “What project was he thinking about when he bought this?”
The garage was a sacred space for my father. None of us would’ve dared gone in and rearranged it before his passing. My mom said this morning; “I know it needs to be done but I don’t want to do it.” I understood what she meant. There was a sense of invading another’s domain, eery and holy at the same time. There were items we kept not because they were important but because we just aren’t ready to part with them.
I think this best describes our walk down the path this week. We know we must go on without dad but we just aren’t ready to part with him.
Open Hand –
I was speaking with someone this week about what it means to live a life of simplicity and poverty. Both of these are part of the vows I took when I became a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html).
I told him it was best summed up as the philosophy, theology, of “the open hand.” Life is transient. It moves, is never still. All the things and people we love are constantly changing, growing, getting older, decaying. Sooner or later we say; “Goodbye” to all things, even ourselves.
To live with an open hand it to allow and accept when any and all things come into our life. We do not grasp, possess, control but let them stay for as long or as little as they’d like to or can. Then, all things leave. They go away, decay, are fickled, stay for a season, die. As the remnants of what was, blows from our hands, we accept the truth that nothing is forever. We are blessed not because we have but because we experienced and this is enough. The experience changed us, taught us to love openly and to be reminded us there is nothing which is ever truly; “ours.”
To live with an open hand instead of gathering, collecting, hoarding, imprisoning we become detached to all that is only for a moment, and so make ourselves available to be held by the one who is eternal.