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.
Change Myself –
The older I get the less knowledge and wisdom I think I possess. They say the beginning of wisdom and knowledge is two-fold; fearing God and knowing you know nothing. As each year passes the second part seems to get easier.
There was a time when I believed I knew much. Not just about myself but also about others. I could perceive motives both inward and outward, judge with impunity, and thought myself better and more able to live a life pleasing to God and myself than most other people. Then, I began to grow up.
The word growing brings with it a sense of serenity but growing is painful. It is bursting through old barriers, going places that are uncomfortable and unknown, daring to die in order to live, braving the challenges and elements that surround you.
With growth comes the realization you cannot force others to change. You do not have that power. You cannot stop the world from spinning out of control. You don’t have that ability. You can’t even get past your own hurts, habits, and hangups most days. You, I, am a perfect example of imperfection.
Wisdom and knowledge. They are as different as night and day but compliment each other when embraced and allowed to exist mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact, please you.”
Turning Loose –
Last weekend Beth and I took a trip to see some family in another state. When we left the yard seemed green, the bushes and trees covered with leaves and even a few blossoms dotting the yard. However, when we returned after only a few days things looked very different. The yard had begun to turn brown, the blossoms were gone and the bushes and trees had brown leaves which had begun to fall. In the last week, most of the yard contains the leaves that until recently were holding on. The clocks were turned back last weekend and it seems fall has finally settled in and winter is not far behind.
I don’t like the end of summer. The bright days growing shorter, the green trees and bushes getting bare, the colors becoming a muted brown. However, I also know it is the cycle of life. What is alive and flourishing will diminish and die. The long winter nights remind us of the journey each of us will make at the end of our lives to the other side. There will come a time for all of us when must turn loose of the lives we have and accept the passing of time.
I have spoken this week with a young woman who is getting married next Saturday. She has two young children and loves these symbols of spring and new life. I also connected with someone who is faced with the reality of how quickly life passes.
The cycle of life is ever-moving. We don’t know where we are in the circle but we do know it’s movement, fast or slow, never stops.
Beth and I were talking over the weekend about perspective. It amazes me as I get older the more control I lose and the greater perspective I gain. Whether it’s a few moments, days, months or years, our lives, which we like to plan, can come undone.
The world has never been predictable. I was speaking with a friend the other day about the instability which surrounds us. Our political systems, family and community systems, even our environment seems to be spinning out of control. Nothing, if it ever was, is normal nor inevitable.
Last night I read a quote from Eugene Peterson, a pastor, writer, and scholar. He writes;
“The whole of the spiritual life is learning to die.”
This quote resonated with my spirit and experiences over the last several years. Dying takes many forms. Death of all things is a given but we seem to organize our lives as if we might be the ones to escape the fate of everyone else. Death is not a negative word if you’ve learned to die. If you do not hold on treasures and trinkets, live each day as if it’s your last; being kind, grace-filled and loving, never putting off to an uncertain tomorrow what can be done now, in the present moment.
We are but sojourners on this path called life. We are not meant nor built to last for long. With this perspective; how we choose to be today could be how our transient life is remembered tomorrow.
Muhammed Ali died this weekend. Tributes have been pouring in from celebrities, heads of state, famous sport’s writers and more. They are celebrating his athleticism, his political convictions, his religion, his personality, his life. His funeral will be televised world wide and led by former President Bill Clinton. It should be a spectacle to behold.
The world lost another person this weekend. A woman with grace and class. She gave her life to important causes, impacted many people, had friends from all around the world, was a wonderful mom and grandmother, a committed wife, a cherished friend and an example of what it means to give yourself away so others can find meaning and purpose. Her funeral, also this week, will not be televised, most of the world will not realize she has passed but those who love her will share stories, shed tears and laugh at this one who touched them by living and loving well.
At a time when being famous is a drug many are hooked on and people knowing your name has become the meaning of life. I want to live quietly, love extravagantly, help all I can without publicity and die knowing my existence made the world a better place.