Stepping Into the Dark –
Last night I told Trooper, our Siberian Husky, it was time to go outside before going to bed. He jumped up and headed for the front door. I opened it and then walked to our screen door on the porch to open it. As I was stepping a sudden pain pierced the bottom of the middle of my left foot. At first, I thought it was a rock but the pain increased and I knew something had stung me. I waited for Trooper to come inside and when we got in I told Beth; “I think something bit me!” We looked at the bottom of my foot and sure enough, there was a big, red, raised welt forming. I put some Benadryl cream on the sting and took a couple of pink Benadryl pills and went to bed. My foot and leg were itching and the pain in my foot hadn’t gone away. After a while, I went to sleep and when I woke up this morning to let the dog out there was enough light to see on the porch was a dying bumblebee. I write; “dying” because when I moved it out of the way the stinger was still twitching. Maybe tonight I’ll put on a pair of flip-flops before adventuring out into the dark.
Life is full of surprises. You live it, doing the same things, finding your rhythm, your groove. Everything seems okay until it’s not. All of a sudden there’s shock, pain, uncertainty, life changes and there’s nothing we can do to stop it from happening. However, we can learn, accept, adapt. We can gain wisdom and the ability to be content with the truth that life isn’t predictable. As much as we would like to think we have everything planned, scheduled, organized, we can’t know what’s around the next corner. We are, as always, stepping into the dark.
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Wait, Hurry Up! –
This past weekend I went to see “The Last Jedi,” the latest movie in the Star Wars saga. Beth with went me and when we bought our tickets they told us to go stand in line while we waited for the designated theater room to open. We were first in line and as time ticked by we noticed some people who had bought their tickets weren’t waiting. They were going into the theater room while the rest of us stood by and watched. After this happened several times the line behind Beth and me started to grumble. Finally, a man a few people behind us broke from the pack, hurried to the room and then signaled for us to come. We were swept away in the wave of frustration and elation that at last something was happening. I’m not sure what the manager thought when the line broke but people would not wait any longer!
When we arrived in the room showing the film it was large, seating over 1200 people. The people who had not followed the protocol were already seated but didn’t seem nearly as many in such a sizable place. Everyone found their place and the disgruntled ones settled down and after a few moments and too many previews the movie started.
Afterwards, Beth and I were talking about the movie and what happened before. There was a sense of injustice of the rule breakers being rewarded while the rule followers were punished. This isn’t how its supposed to happen. However, there are reminders around us every day that good doesn’t always win, the righteous aren’t always rewarded, and injustice triumphs more than it should.
So, what do we do? Do we all become rule breakers, go our own way and let the rest of the world be damned? It is a choice we all must make but remember what the Master said; “What good does it profit a person if they gain the world, yet lose their souls?”
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.
A few months ago I spoke with someone who was heartbroken over the life choices being made by someone they cared for deeply. It was an agonizing conversation and a stark reminder of how little control we have over another’s path. We fool ourselves rather easily when it comes to those we care for and the way their life ultimately unfolds. We like to think we can convince them to turn around, take a right or left, choose the way we believe is best for them. In truth, this power eludes us. We have no more real control over another being than waves that roll on the ocean, a moon staying in orbit, whether or not the sun shines. Good or bad, right or wrong, negative or positive another’s ability to set out on a course cannot be diverged from unless the other chooses to do so or gives their power over to someone or something else.
What we do have control over is our reaction to their actions, our responses to their choices. Will love or rejection be the way, grace or condemnation shown, presence or absence in one whose life choices we struggle with, don’t understand, would change if we were able. One of the hardest and most difficult battles in life is the acceptance that each of us choose our path and the ultimate destination.