I am sore today! Yesterday we spent most of the day trimming and hauling away a big limb from one of the four huge trees in our yard. Today I am paying for it with sore arms, back, and legs. I don’t think I’ve developed any muscles but trying to lift some of the pieces we sawed off yesterday gave me an appreciation of how strong the wind must’ve been to down the limb and how strong the tree was to support a limb of such great weight. It took a lot of energy, strength and time to remove most of the obstacle.
I spoke with a few friends today who are also trying to overcome a great obstacle. They are, like we did yesterday, dealing with it one piece at a time. When you’re faced with a huge challenge there is a part of us who’d like to get it over with NOW! However, life doesn’t usually work according to our time schedules. We must take each step, walk each mile, and hope the journey ends well.
I imagine a person who lifts and cuts wood as their job must be strong. I also know that those who face tremendous battles will develop the strength and energy necessary to see it to the end, what the end may be.
Absence of Disease –
This afternoon, at a staff meeting, we listened to a Harvard University graduate talk about happiness, mindfulness, and contentment. He was humorous and engaging with lots of information.
One of the things he said that seemed to resonate with the staff was; “Absence of disease is not health.” It takes a while for the truth of this sentence to sink in. We often think sickness, a diagnosis, a trouble, challenge, a difficulty, is what keeps us from a contented life. Perhaps it’s a new job, losing weight, a promotion, a relationship or whatever that will make us happy.
Wisdom teaches us that anytime our quality of life depends on outward circumstances we are not where we need to be, ie: unhealthy. CS Lewis says; “Never let your happiness depend on something which can be taken away.”
Head On –
On Friday, my chores included riding the lawn tractor around the property picking up limbs, leaves, trash and other debris. I was finishing up just as it was getting dark. There were a couple of pieces of trash on the corner end of our yard which is next to the road. I stopped, picked them up, threw them in the trailer attached to the mower, checked both ways and drove the lawn tractor up and on the road. I had the headlights on and as soon as I made it on the road a semi-truck turned and began driving toward me. I was a spot where I couldn’t stop or pull back in the yard because of a steep grade and tried to figure out how far I had to go before me and the large truck would be at an impasse. I was going as fast as I dared and the semi didn’t seem to be slowing down. With my limited headlights on, while being blinded by the brightness of his, I searched for a location to pull back into the yard. Looking, longing, becoming anxious at the thought of being flattened by the truck I found a safe place to get off the road and avoid anymore; “playing chicken with motor vehicle” scenarios.
After breathing a sigh of relief I reflected on my; “Fast and Furious” moment. There are times, on the road of life, where there is little light by which to see. We are blinded by what’s coming our way and helpless to stop it. We do everything we can to find a safe place but disaster, danger, difficulties are looming and we don’t know if we’ll make it. Sometimes, at the last moment, we discover a safe spot a place out of danger. Other times we keep going, hoping, praying, there’s more strength, power, and courage in us than we’d ever imagine.
This morning, on my way to a Father and Child reading event, I noticed a pair of long skid marks on the road leading to an even longer pair of tire marks on the grass which came to an abrupt stop on a small incline. It was obvious a driver wrecked but not what ultimately happened or the cause. Perhaps the person behind the wheel was taken by surprise when a deer darted in front of them. Maybe the road was slick, the car or truck began to drift and the driver over corrected. There are countless scenarios of how and why the wreck occurred and the final outcome.
As I wondered about the skid marks I also reflected on a group of incarcerated men I spoke to this week. I told them I had no idea the choices made that resulted in them being in jail, what happened in their life that brought them to this place. I also let them know I had no idea what happens next. “The rest of the story of your life will be determined by your choices.”
The road of life is full of twists and turns, hills and valleys, places of danger and difficulty. Oftentimes it’s not what happened before but what happens next that is most important.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for several friends. Many are suffering pain and loss. There has been death, injury, mental diagnosis, health issues, setbacks, financial struggles, legal battles and more. You hurt when others are suffering; feelings of inadequacies, trying to figure out what you can do to ease their burdens lays heavy on your mind and spirit.
Someone in the office asked today; “Why do people bring food to families whose loved ones have died?” A co-worker answered; “Because there’s nothing you can do about death.” I thought this was a good and truthful answer.
There are so many things we can’t do anything about, so much that’s beyond our control. Death, disease, and other extreme difficulties descend on people we treasure and if we could we’d take it away but we don’t have that power.
Accepting our powerlessness is the first step in helping. We are finite beings. We are limited in knowledge, expertise, special abilities and do not posses powers to make all things better by wishing it to be so or worrying obsessively.
Awareness of what we can’t do enables us to see how we can assist those in need. Then we take action. The size of our offering isn’t as important as the spirit in which we give. There is no act of good so small that it’s ineffective. Our hearts propel us to do, not for gratification, but because there is a way to help, love, give hope, be a light to someone living in darkness.