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.
Earlier today I was weed whacking and mowing the grass. As I maneuvered around one of our smaller trees a movement caught my eye and I stopped to see a big black spider fleeing from the lawn mower. It paused for a moment and I had a choice to make; step on it or let it live.
A few weeks ago I suffered a bite from something that caused my hand to swell and turn partially red with splotches. It occurred to me that perhaps it was a spider bite. As I stood there this morning I wondered the same thing. The spider didn’t move and finally, I began pushing the mower in the other direction. I had decided I wasn’t going to kill out of fear this spider, in the middle of the yard, might bite me.
After finishing the chore I sat down with some cold water and my mind drifted back to the spider but also to the way fear can impact us. When fear finds a place in us we can become angry, vengeful, and cruel. We begin to be suspicious of things we may not consider beautiful, acceptable, normal and wanted. We allow the fear to make decisions for us and use it as an excuse for deplorable thoughts, words, and deeds.
Fear runs rampant in our world today. We can’t read online magazines, news, opinion columns or watch the news, many shows without our fear factor being dialed up to the extreme. We are told those who think different, talk different act different, look different, from us are to be feared.
As a result, our world is lacking grace, kindness, and love. The choice is ours to make; live in fear or love like the fate of the world depends on it because it does.
“Unrest of spirit is a mark of life; one problem after another presents itself and in the solving of them we can find our greatest pleasure.”
Late last week I was speaking with a friend who was complaining, again, about a co-worker. The person being lamented about doesn’t seem nice, pleasant to be around or take other’s feelings into consideration when she says or does certain things. My friend is struggling to find the good in this person.
After a few moments of listening I interrupted my friend and remarked; “We sure talk about this individual a lot.” I then asked; “Have you let her build a rat’s nest in your mind?” I explained that unwanted and unpleasant people can take over our thoughts. Like rats they chew, gnaw, scratch, bite, consume our waking moments. If a rat is in your house it has your full attention until it’s dealt with permanently.
Unfortunately most times its difficult to get rid of the “rats” in our lives but we can keep them from building nests, taking up permanent residence, in our minds and spirits.
This morning before dawn, on my way to an early appointment, I was travelling on a busy highway and rounding a curve spied the unmistakable flashing blue lights of a police car. Immediately I took my foot off the gas pedal and began slowing down. Apparently a truck, driving too fast for the rainy conditions, hydroplaned into a guard rail. I applied my brakes as another parked law enforcement vehicle came into view. As I slowly navigated the scene a small gold Honda came quickly around me and had to suddenly stop his car from hitting a semi-truck in front of me. “What are you thinking?” I said out loud. “Didn’t you see the multiple vehicles with flashing blue lights? All the brake lights of the line of cars and trucks ahead of you? How’d you miss that?!?!?” After passing the accident the driver of the gold Honda zoomed around the semi and was soon out of view. As I watched him go I tried to figure out why the wreck, the lights, the backed up traffic didn’t clue him in to drive more carefully, especially on this rainy, dark morning. Some folks can’t or won’t heed the signs.
I then reflected on times in my life when I ignored or disobeyed warnings, advice, wisdom offered by others and hurried my way directly into avoidable difficulties and trials. Wisdom teaches us to listen and consider the words and experiences of those who have traveled the road of life before us or refuse to and proceed at own peril.
This morning was communion Sunday. At our place of worship we celebrate it monthly. This sacrament is special to most believers and specifically for me. Normally, communion is held on the first Sunday of the month, however, the pastor was on vacation last week so today was when the elements would be served.
I’ve been fighting a sinus infection the past several days and the symptoms that go with it. Being sick is never fun and meds plus mucus can equal bad breath. Fearing someone might collapse as I was talking with them I’ve been keeping a supply of breath mints with me this week.
Coming into the sanctuary this morning I popped a large spearmint candy into my mouth. About half way through the service, and my breath mint, the stewards were called forward and began distributing the wafers and grape juice (our denomination doesn’t use wine). “Uhoh,” was my first thought. “What do I do with the too big to swallow, don’t want to break my teeth trying to chew it, piece of candy?” Finally, I surreptitiously removed it so I would be able to; “eat the bread (body) and drink the juice (blood.)”
After reflecting upon the symbolism of the Last Supper, prayerfully considering and confessing the state of my spirit and life I ate and drank. The taste was odd. Unleavened bread, Welch’s grape juice doesn’t mix well with spearmint. Slowly, the strange flavor faded and the taste of the elements was all that remained.
As the worship service continued I thought about the breath mint and what to do with it. I decided to discard it. I preferred the new taste was better and wanted it to last as long as possible.