I was talking with a friend recently who believes in Bigfoot. My friend is intelligent, philosophical, pragmatic and practical. When I found out he was a believer in Bigfoot I was surprised. At one time he was an avid outdoorsman and through his study and interviews with other people has been convinced by Bigfoot sightings and other evidence. When we talked about it I told him I didn’t believe in Bigfoot. There simply isn’t enough proof that people have seen what they think they saw or that the “evidence” is purposefully or accidentally being misinterpreted. However, I always make this caveat with my friend. “Just because I don’t believe in Bigfoot doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
Wisdom teaches us to be careful about our beliefs. Too often we want to force our convictions on another and convince them to think like we do. The first step on the path of wisdom is the truth that we know nothing. It is the first and only place to begin and exist. Wisdom is a paradox. The more we know, learn, practice, the more we don’t know.
We live in a world full of people convinced they see reality “as is” and if you don’t see it their way you’re wrong! Religion, politics, cultures, ethnicities, separate us into groups and life becomes about “us” and “them.” Maybe, if we listened attentively, spoke softly, and held our fragile beliefs as bubbles ready to pop any time and open us up to a world we didn’t even know existed, we’d celebrate humility instead of hubris.
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Upside Down –
Today, I cleaned out our garden boxes in which we grow fruits and veggies during the summer. We are going to recycle the soil and the dried out vines and stalks were placed in the burn barrel. As I was placing some of the soil into my lawn tractor’s trailer I saw spied something light-colored against the dark brown of the dirt. I looked closer, wiping away the soil and discovered it was a Salamander (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salamander). At first, I thought it was dead but while removing the rest of the debris it began to move. I held it as gently as I could and took it to another place where there was ample space to find a new home.
Returning to my work I thought about the Salamander and how, like it, there have been times in my life where my whole world was turned upside down. Snuggled in the normal rhythm of everyday life, minding my own business when someone or something turned all I knew, trusted, relied upon on its head and before I knew it, home was neither home nor sweet.
It takes time to get used to the “new” normal. There’s a grieving process when we accept that what once was will never be again…ever. Wisdom tells us that life passes, changes, transitions, grows, dies, moves, is never stagnant. In spite of this, we still take for granted so many people and things which are fragile and destined not to last.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Second Book of Corinthians, Chapter 4
Broken Vessels –
Yesterday, on my way to work I backed the truck up to turn around in the driveway and heard a loud crash. I checked all my mirrors and didn’t notice any flower pots or other things I might have ran over, nothing seemed amiss. I proceeded on and forgot about it until yesterday evening. When I took the dog out to take care of business I spotted the culprit who created the loud sound I heard while backing up. It was the dog’s water dish. It was in pieces all over the driveway. What once was good for holding water, giving our active Siberian Husky vitality was no longer good for anything but to be thrown away.
As I picked up the pieces the verse above from Second Corinthians, along with the song from Jars of Clay based on the same section of scripture, recited itself in my brain. I wrote yesterday about a funeral home speaker I listened to at a luncheon on Tuesday and perhaps it was still rattling around in my mind as I reflected on the fragility of human life. What now holds us together physically, emotionally and spiritually will one day not be able. It is not a morbid thought but one which reminds us to live fully and completely in each moment while our earthly vessels are still able.